Dec 182013

Is it my imagination? Or did that thing move?
Is it my imagination? Or did that thing move?

Update 20 brought two new quests. I confess that I have not yet run one of them (Brothers of the Forge), but I have run the other and it is nothing like any existing DDO quest. A completely different experience in every way.

The maidA Study in Sable is an old-school murder mystery in the spirit of Ten Little Indians and The Mousetrap; a remote, isolated manor, a cast of several eccentric personalities, all served by (of course) a maid and butler. Really, what mystery of this sort has ever failed to include a maid and butler? Even if the butler is a Djinni?

The quest hits all the traditional manor house mystery notes; the crazy attic, the dusty wine cellar, the creepy hedge maze.

The setting alone would make this quest utterly unlike anything before it, but the play of the quest is what really sets it apart. The entire quest is essentially a puzzle! A dialog-driven puzzle, rather than the more traditional floor-tile puzzle, but a puzzle nonetheless.

Just to be clear, you don’t have to solve the mystery. You don’t have to read the dialogues. You can simply click and swing if you prefer the brute force approach; the quest does not force you to play along.

But it does reward those with the patience to do it up right with additional XP (although maybe not more XP per minute) and of course, the satisfaction involved in solving a middling-tough puzzle.

Did the butler do it?
Did the butler do it?

Yes there are walkthroughs. I’ve avoided including the Wiki link until now because it is very spoilery. And again, there is always the brute force method. But these are all so … indelicate. If you prefer to solve the mystery by hack-slashing, may I instead recommend some of the other more recent quests, such as the entire Druid’s Deep adventure pack, featuring all of the swording you could want, while bothering you with none of the thinking.

But this is not like that, and personally, I think it would be a shame to miss out on a unique experience that is only available in this one quest.

Future cosmetic armor kit?I have a murder mystery adventure too, one I created for tabletop D&D many years ago and have since adapted into other rule systems. I think I could adapt it again for DDO but it is not a straightforward adaptation. And it would have one major weakness, once you’ve figured out the surprise ending, well, there it is, no longer a surprise. It would be hard to do my mystery adventure in a way that retains replay value.

But A Study in Sable has found a clever way around this inherent flaw in concept. The quest tells you whodunnit right away, and instead focuses all of the parts you need to figure out on actions the bad guy will take (and with whom).

There is a whole developer diary talking about the construction of the quest. It is not all that spoilery, you can probably read it before playing the quest if you really want, although I am glad I encountered it after running the quest once. The diary does contain background and context type meta-gaming clues. I’d recommend playing the quest cold. In fact, this write-up itself has potentially dampened the fun of discovery by including similar contextual clues.

Nothing spoilery about an extra shot of Flora Reynard, the best dressed NPC I’ve encountered (right). I am certain that if her look was available as cosmetic armor kit, it would be the most popular one ever.

But I digress. This is not about NPCs in hot dresses, it is about a mystery. No more talking. No more pictures. Go and play the quest. You will definitely appreciate going in cold. Even with Turbine’s clever wrinkle, it will never be as mysterious as it is the first time.

So go. Have fun. Let us know what you thought.

But no spoilers in the comments!

🙂 😀 🙂

  2 Responses to “A Study In Varied Level Design”

Comments (2)
  1. Nice reminder. Haven’t gotten out to either as yet I am ashamed to say. This changes tonight. Sry bout my one-star. Birdie jumped on tablet

  2. I haven’t seen such low-cut artwork on an NPC since Torio Claven in NWN 2. And yeah, I would buy that for my girl NPCs. Betting she’s the femme fatale in this one. Stopped short of trying that quest out but I’ll add it to the list. A little brain teasing keeps the juices going.

What do you think?

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