Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 11, August 2001
Section:Game Information

Apeomancer's Topical Quest Collective - Part 3

Hi all! Been a quite a while since my last one of these - little things like going to Uni have impeded my questing activities (last October feels like an age ago now!) . However, I'm now back for the summer, and since quests are very much in fashion at the moment I decided (with a little prompting from Karya) to take a look at a few more of them. Up for review this issue - Cat's School of Magic Quest (also known as the Runes Quest) and McNabb's Castle 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 School of Magic Quest

Author: Cat the Wizard
Method of entry: A rune of opening in the hall of the cottage which opens up a pentagram that you can enter
Personae allowed: Anyone
Risk level: Low (except for one mobile!)
Realism rating: 5/10 (beautifully described and put together, but two very major potential problems in it, as well as a few minor bugs)

Analysis: Also known as the Runes Quest, this quest was the first that I ever attempted, before I knew what quests were. It is quite small, not being much bigger than Agrazag's Elements quest, and far less densely packed. The quest is set in a school of magic, where the Magister has been horribly murdered - part of the quest is to find out what happened to him. The school building is in the style of a Roman villa - it is laid out around a courtyard (the peristylium), and all the rooms and some of the mobiles have Latin names. Deeper into the quest, this gives way to a more enchanted, faerie feel among woods and burial barrow mounds.

Most of the important items in this quest are magical runes that you pick up and each one does something different. They are most commonly activated by hitting them a few times, but some work in other ways, such as reading (supposedly) or just being dropped. They all have a cryptic clue to their purpose written on them.

The most noticeable thing about this quest is the sense of mystery that pervades it - even when you begin to make progress, you are often confused as to what to do next. Even when you think that you're due some big reward for what you've achieved, Cat can sadistically turn it into a trap. The level and style of the puzzles is much more similar to the main Land than most quests - where most quests have mid-level puzzles to make you think, this quest has a combination of simple no-brainer puzzles and really hard ones where you're not sure what you're doing and have to rely on trial and error to solve them. This makes for a very hard quest, because you don't usually get to see it often enough to use trial and error (unless you can blag the wizzes that you want to see it again so you can review it in Muddled Times, anyway ).

This quest isn't really dangerous in the conventional sense - there's only one really deadly, proper mobile (though I think it is one of the nastiest ones I've seen), and you are given a warning about it. However, some of the runes can have surprising effects that cause you difficulties or death, so be wary about using them. It is also very stingy about giving you weaponry and healing items, seemingly expecting you to bring your own in. It isn't a terribly lucrative quest - neither the big "t" or the easy "t" in it is hugely valuable, though probably I'm missing something.

Another mildly unusual aspect of this quest is that you sometimes use items from the main Land in it for specific puzzle purposes. This makes the quest a little harder, as by the time you realise what you need, someone might well have swamped it. Also, this quest is now the third I've reviewed to contain a demon/daemon; it seems to be a running theme in these things.

Overall, this quest is one of the hardest to get into deeply that I've seen. However, it is interestingly themed and well described, and is well worth looking at, even if only to recapture the bewilderment of a newbie in a strange area once more.

Find out what Apeomancer thought of McNabb's Castle Quest in Apeomancer's Topical Quest Collective - Part 4

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