Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 16, June 2002
Section:Game Information

Apeomancer's Topical Quest Collective - Part 6

Hi all! Apeomancer here, home for Easter, with the second of my quest reviews from this batch; this time of Cat’s Balloon Quest.

NB - ‘Realism rating’ refers to how many bugs, tricks and errors I find in the quest and how real the place feels to me. The main Land, tested to destruction and continuously improved over 20 years, is considered to be 10/10.

Cat’s Balloon Quest

Author: Cat the Wizard
Method of entry: A hot-air balloon that moves between the ford, high up in the sky, and the abandoned road at the start of the quest. Quatrins (little 1 point coins) sometimes appear at various places in The Land when the quest is up.
Personae allowed: Anyone
Risk level: Most areas are Low, but can suddenly jump to High (and up to blooming ridiculous at one point!)
Realism rating: 7/10 (the classical theme combines very well with the ruinous and overgrown nature of most of the quest, but there are a few minor problems, especially with the balloon)

Analysis: I’m liable to be slightly over-enthusiastic about this quest, as I did do very well on it - clearing out one of Cat’s quests completely (well, I killed the two big monsters and got all the big t) in one set is no mean feat.

Blowing my own trumpet aside, this is a well described and atmospherically themed quest. It’s set in a ruined town which has a classical Greek and/or Roman theme - Cat goes to great pains to show the place’s derelict nature, as the buildings are now surrounded by encroaching jungle and some rather dangerous quicksand, and are all ruined. This helps to create a dark, foreboding atmosphere - just what happened to all the people here? The fact that there are loads of statues lying around might give you a hint ...

The buildings themselves vary between Greek and Roman types - they include the Temple of Sulis Minerva and a labyrinth on the Greek side. The Roman ones include a grimy bathhouse (through a dangerous section of jungle) and beyond that (through some even more dangerous quicksand!) an amphitheatre. There’s also a dank mausoleum with a bit of t up for grabs.

One thing should be emphasised in this quest - Cat is SADISTIC. And those capitals are fully warranted. Though there are warnings about what the two big monsters (whose identities I won’t reveal here, as it would spoil the surprise!) in the quest are, it’s awfully easy to blunder into one of them unprepared. And as for what he does to you when facing the other one is just pure cruelty - good job I used a cunning way of getting rid of it rather than fighting it! Although your purpose and the course of your actions are not nearly so enigmatic as in Cat’s Runes Quest, Cat is still the master of springing a trap on you just when you think you deserve a reward for figuring something out.

The other mobiles in the quest are few and far between, adding to the deserted atmosphere of the place - there aren’t any obvious ‘wandering monster’ types for you to deal with. They mostly consist of predatory animals, such as a jaguar, some vicious bats and a tigress (one of which is another one of Cat’s infamous ‘unkillable’ mobiles, which veterans of the Runes Quest will probably be familiar with). There is also an untrustworthy dryad hanging round in the woods to the south of the town.

Equipment and healing items are as rare (to the point of non-existence!) as ever - you’re going to have to bring in stuff from The Land. The treasure is much less stingy than in the Runes Quest though. It mostly takes the form of coins, such as the quatrins I mentioned above, Roman denarii, the trinket-like leptons, and the very valuable aureus denarii. The statues of defeated Picts are also good easy t, if you can be bothered lugging them back to the swamp one at a time. The choice of coin treasure is a good one, because their VALs do not vary with the number of people in The Land. This is much fairer (if you ask me!) since the difficulty of a quest varies little no matter how busy or quiet the main Land is, so neither should the rewards.

This is another great quest from Cat - quite hard and very cruel in places, but nonetheless highly enjoyable. Some hints for those struggling with it - a good knowledge of Greek mythology comes in handy in it, as does a good knowledge of Cat’s website! (this link along with many others can be found on MT’s links page) Oh, and good luck - you’ll probably need it!

Have fun!

Apeomancer (aka Maxmage)

P.S. You never know, I might get some more quest reviews done soon, so you might see them in the next issue of MT!

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