Barovian Hunts

I wasn't too fond of the hunts in Chult, so I was less than thrilled when it was announced that the system would be included in the Ravenloft module as well.

In practice though, the hunts in Barovia are so different from those in Chult that they might as well have given them a new name. No more grinding mobs for a chance at a chance at a chance of a drop (seriously, we've spent weeks in Omu by now and apart from the Razortyrannus Spines we haven't seen a single trophy drop from the rares we killed).

All you need to go hunting in Barovia is a wanted poster - admittedly those are still random drops, but fairly common ones at that - and off you go on a fun little romp in an instance that takes 10-20 minutes. Getting higher rated wanted posters requires you to complete the basic ones first and you're not guaranteed to get an upgrade so there's still some RNG there, but it feels more natural and more like a logical progression system than Chult's randomness.

The hunt target itself again isn't guaranteed to drop much in terms of a reward either, but this is where the zone's tarot card feature comes in, as you can use them to give yourself up to three handicaps per hunt (such as decreased damage output or extra mob spawns), with each one adding a guaranteed reward at the end. Even though Ravenloft has only been live on PC for less than two months, I've already done more hunts in Barovia than I ever participated in in Chult because they are just that much more fun.


Limit or Target?

Last weekend's bonus RP event came with a twist: the now directly awarded points went towards filling up a little bar that showed that you were able to gain a maximum of 100,000 bonus RP per character during the event. I was soon questioning this limit though, because even after several hours of play on my rogue I hadn't even hit 10k. Just how intensely do you need to play to earn that many points? Why even have a cap at all then?

But then I realised: another new feature was that you could buy boosters that would increase your RP gain. So maybe this cap was less about having a cap and more about making people spend money to reach it, knowing that the ambitious would feel bad about not filling their bars. When I think back to all the agonising WoW players used to do about hitting the valor point cap back in the day, it all makes sense. Quite a clever move.



A lot of companions in Neverwinter have little voice lines that they like to spout when summoned or in combat. (The best thing about the Sylph from the Knight of the Feywild pack was that her incessant "Isn't sun wonderful?" and similarly over-the-top expressions of cheer drove my pet tank absolutely nuts.)

I've now repeatedly run with groups in which someone had a companion (but I couldn't make out whose it was) that was constantly throwing weird insults at the enemy, such as calling them "troll licker" or "knobbly knees" (not sure about that one). What keeps throwing me though is that one of his lines sounds like "Your mother was a whore!" and I'm pretty sure that's not what he says, but at the same time I can't figure out what else it's supposed to be... so I keep hearing accusations of prostitution all over.


Shifting Perspectives

Ever since I started cleaning up unfinished campaigns on my cleric a few months ago, I feel that my attitude to Neverwinter has changed in a good way. Before that, the way I played the game was much more limited: I would tackle every new campaign with my pet tank for a while, but often we wouldn't finish it, and then I never dared to go back on my own. I was somewhat afraid of pugging as well, and my solo play was strictly limited to early/easy content such as running cult dragons or Sharandar dailies.

After my cleric's recent success at finishing off old campaigns, I felt encouraged to actually push for some more progress on my alts as well - which has been nice in so far as it means that I've got some of them working on different content now instead of just running the lot of them through the same weekly quests all the time.

Repeatedly besting Tiamat also increased my confidence in pugging. I'm still somewhat uncomfortable knowing that my damage contribution is never very high, but as long as I know basic tactics for the content in question I'm willing to cross my fingers and risk it while hoping for a friendly carry. It's worked out in my favour more often than not.

Together, those things have really worked to increase my engagement with the game.



I've quite liked the look of some of the gear upgrades that my cleric got from Ravenloft, so I didn't bother to transmute them into something else and just switched to a different look for a change. What I didn't consider was that simply wearing the newest shinies would make me look identical to other people doing the same... so I was quite startled when I ran into a fellow cleric in the Barovian inn that was wearing pretty much the same outfit as me (not to mention that she looked like she was giving me the evil eye).

It's funny to think that everyone wearing whatever was the newest endgame set used to be the norm, but with the heavy focus on customising your appearance to look more unique in recent years, it actually feels strange now when you run into someone else wearing the same outfit.


Summer Festival Haul

My original goal for this year's Summer Festival was simply to re-purchase the farmer's weapon skin for control wizards, since I "lost" the old one when I replaced my wizard's main hand. Nothing says "arcane power" like fighting with a floating watering can.

So I did that. While I was there, I also decided to get my wizard the water horse. I'd never been particularly fond of that mount, but it suddenly struck me that it seemed kind of appropriate and magical.

While checking out the rewards, I realised that some of the available mounts might suit my other alts, so I also got my rogue and guardian fighter involved to earn the Sunite Steed and the boar mount respectively. Both are characters for whom I've struggled to find mounts that feel "right" for a while, so we'll see whether any of these stick.

The big disappointment came in the form of the ticket rewards from Sahha. Checking out the vendor, I had spotted a nice set of fashion gear that could be purchased for bronze tickets, the most basic currency. "Sure, I can work on that too," I thought.

However, a dozen ticket balls and more than two thousand volleys later, I realised that I was barely halfway towards being able to purchase one of the items, never mind the set. How are you supposed to ever afford this stuff? Buy loads of balls from the store? Play Sahha all day, every day? Come back to the event five years in a row? I'm used to this game being grindy, but that just left me incredulous. It's not that big a deal in the end since the fashion was never my main goal anyway, but it was still kind of disappointing. At least everyone was friendly and honest during my ball-bouncing pugs (despite of all the warnings I'd read about scamming attempts).

P.S.: It's Blaugust! If you've ever been at all interested in blogging, check it out.