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Default Knights of the Chalice 2 - A Chance of Gaming Heaven

October 1st, 2021, 17:52
I simply adore the low level adventures, romping through a bunch of goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc is a lot of fun!! Makes me want KoTC two even more.
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October 12th, 2021, 11:21
Harkenwold is a nearly full RPG created by Dorateen that has been around for many years, so Dorateen was able to relatively quickly convert it to a Knight of the Chalice mod. It's available on KotC2's Nexus Mods page and I completed it a month or two back.



First of all, this is an open world D&D adventure. You can go in many different directions and traverse the world map in your own preferred way, follow the main quest or just nob about doing stuff. The various areas are gated by monster difficulty though, which will be different for different parties and different playstyles.

I went the every nook and cranny route and easily passed 40 hours of content, though I've no doubt if you beelined the main quest then it would be much less than that.



It's a visually impressive game with lots of different environments and monster types to encounter. But not only this, as there is also quite a lot of story-beats to engage with. Not only does the main plot take you on an interesting journey but also there are many side-quests and side-dungeons which are much more than fetch quests. Similar in vein to an Avernum game in structure.



In terms of difficulty, it's a low-level D&D campaign and so you'll spend quite a while at level 1-3 before you can make the breakthrough to the higher spell levels. I found the game to be challenging at first, then brutally hard as I found myself stuck at level 3 for a very long time, struggling to find the right way to go to get enough XP to advance without being party wiped, and then a stark change in difficulty from level 4 onwards as the game got progressively easier by leaps and bounds until, by levels 5-8, I was pretty much lol-stomping everything the game had on offer. Though this may just have been because of my party selection and the choices I made for them.

But even when it lost its challenge factor it was still supremely entertaining as you never really knew if you would stomp and enemy or not as every now and then it would still throw a curve ball your way and give a you fight that needed brains as well as brawn. Also, the plot is interesting enough to carry it by that point as well, combined with the simple joy of exploration.



The loot is both interesting and fun and does feel genuinely impactful, different weapons and equipment can and will have a huge impact on how you perform. How you come by the loot is a bit more quest-based than shop-based though, with most shops being not very interesting. This gives a great incentive to go nook and cranny hunting.

Though do be aware, by the end of the game I had sack loads of one handed swords, one handed axes, maces and bows while other equipment types are not at all as numerous. For example, I tried to make my Paladin a great sword wielding DPS monster but in the end pretty much gave in and did the usual sword and board.

One character had to go most of the first few levels without any weapon at all, having specialised them in clubs, and in the end I gave up and gave them a feat in a nice spear I'd found instead. Which is actually more entertaining and rewarding than you think as it really makes you realise how versatile some characters are even without weapons.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Harkenwold and was very enjoyably addicted for the duration. The only thing that I would say was a bit sucky would be the ending. It doesn't have a "well done, you won, all is peace again" type of ending but instead leaves you mid-plot as it were, or, rather, with stuff still going on in the world that suggests the plot isn't over yet. I guess it's sequel baiting, but there are ways to sequel bait without it feeling like a non-ending.

But even here there's a good reason for it as, should you have gone solely the main plot route, the game is still on-going at the end so that you are then free to explore all the nooks and crannies still.

I wont rate the game as if it were a professionally made finished product by a renown developer, but shall rate it as a one-guy mod, to which this is easily an 8/10 and one of the best mods I've ever played. There might have been the odd bug and a few wonky aspects, but they don't last too long in the memory.
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October 12th, 2021, 12:57
Great review of Harkenwold. I also enjoyed the mod. The 3rd LVL was a killer in this game and then opened up after that when some magic weapons and better spells were obtained. Exploration was fantastic and so were the magic items. Hoping for many more mods in KotC 2.
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October 12th, 2021, 17:31
Wow! Thanks for the reminder. I think I bought the game and never even installed it. I may have even given my key away. I'll buy another copy and give this a looksee. A 2nd campaign is just icing on the gooey-ness that is KotC.
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April 5th, 2022, 10:36
I bought KOTC2 after it released on Steam and started on the Augury of Chaos module right away. Finished it today, and I've got to say, what an amazing game. @lackblogger already captured a lot of it in this thread, but this is like going to back to an earlier age of RPGs, mostly in the good ways and not the bad. There's never been a D&D game, maybe not any turn-based RPG period, with character-building + combat + enemy AI that's this well done.

Ironically, the main reason I didn't do the Kickstarter was that I thought I wouldn't like the token graphics. You don't have to play in token mode anymore, you can use sprites, but I found myself switching to tokens (Alt+T to toggle) in combat everytime because you can see all the battlefield positioning better. Eventually I just stopped switching back and played the rest of the game in token mode. They grow on you. Also, another issue is if you're playing with tokens you can turn on friendly/hostile indicators around the token border, and you also see the health of each unit on their token. If you're using sprites, I don't think you can get either one of those which is annoying.

Difficulty-wise, I played it on "Challenge" difficulty, which is Normal mode according to the game. I didn't fiddle with any of the individual difficulty settings, just picked Challenge and went with whatever it sets. If you were still waiting for Augury of Chaos to become reasonable, I'd say it's perfectly playable now (and I don't think any more changes in that area are planned?) You will need to min/max your party well, and plan on reloading a lot, because this Normal mode is still a LOT harder than other RPGs' Hard modes. But since most of the game consists of combat, it makes sense, there wouldn't be much of a game if you just breezed through everything.

One other thought… Mainly to support the developer, I paid extra for the deluxe edition that included (among other things) a 410 page guide, and the guide is actually very impressive. The first half of it, which I read before playing, is kind of a very detailed (no spoilers) manual, focused on giving you general gameplay tips, discussing the available classes and spells etc. The second half is a walkthrough of the game, and it can be useful if you get stuck on something, since there's not a lot of KOTC2 info out there on the net yet.

So, maybe I need to try Hearkenwold next…
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April 5th, 2022, 12:11
@stringray - would you say you need to read that manual to really succeed? I played the earlier version (including after some extra XP gathering activities were included above ground), and just ended up being overwhelmed a lot of the time. I did struggle through some of the earlier iterations, but eventually resorted to editing in healing potions and whatnot since you could hardly sleep anywhere (and camp fires often only allowed 1 sleep etc). Is that still the case? And the super high gold cost of leveling…. I never minded the tokens. I never min/maxed characters - just chose some in my mind sensible complementary ones and then started.
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April 5th, 2022, 12:27
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
@stringray - would you say you need to read that manual to really succeed? I played the earlier version (including after some extra XP gathering activities were included above ground), and just ended up being overwhelmed a lot of the time. I did struggle through some of the earlier iterations, but eventually resorted to editing in healing potions and whatnot since you could hardly sleep anywhere (and camp fires often only allowed 1 sleep etc). Is that still the case? And the super high gold cost of leveling… I never minded the tokens. I never min/maxed characters - just chose some in my mind sensible complementary ones and then started.
You don't need the guide (I'm assuming you mean the first half of it) to succeed, but it will certainly help avoid some mistakes. If you don't like having to restart your game because you made some bad decisions that you need to correct, it could help you avoid the need. For example, there's a completely insane number of spells in the game, and in the first half of the manual, one of the sections highlights what the more important spells to get might be, and discusses why.

Currently, in Challenge (Normal) difficulty, there is no gold cost for leveling. It's only a thing at the higher difficulty settings, or if you were to manually toggle it on for some reason.

As far as resting goes, there's plenty of places to rest in all the chapters except chapter 3. Chapter 3 is sort of a war of attrition, and you have to try to get as much as possible done between rests. If you just use up each rest as you get to it, you're going to be in trouble. If I recall, there are 6 rests (5 campfires plus one other special one) you'll get during the chapter - it's not too bad if you know what you're getting into. Also keep in mind there are items in the game that you can buy that will replenish your spell slots and your psionicist's power points (buy these items whenever you see them on vendors), which at least for me, was the main reason to need to rest anyway.
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April 5th, 2022, 18:09
Stingray, I thank you for the review, as a sponsor of the kick starter it's likely the game I'm looking forward to playing the most this year. I'll probably get around to playing Knights of the Chalice two later this spring, or summer. I'm considering a fifth run through the first game prior to dipping into the second!
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April 5th, 2022, 18:12
Ah that sounds more doable - thanks for the info. I remember the items to replenish spell poinst etc- always hoarded those for a rainy day. I know some spells are absolutely critical- I learned through bitter experience (and web is super nasty early on). I remember quite a few fights where just one bit of bad luck with the dice meant redoing the entire thing. anyway, looks like the default setting is reasonable so I'll give it a bash when I get some time.
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April 5th, 2022, 19:53
Originally Posted by Stingray View Post
Currently, in Challenge (Normal) difficulty, there is no gold cost for leveling. It's only a thing at the higher difficulty settings, or if you were to manually toggle it on for some reason.
Why would there be a gold cost for leveling? Is that in the PnP version of OGL 3.5?
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April 5th, 2022, 23:29
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Why would there be a gold cost for leveling? Is that in the PnP version of OGL 3.5?
Not that I know of, but this game is very far from being strict OGL. Lots of things have been modified and added, generally with the goal of making for a better computer game, I suppose. Gold cost for leveling is one of the stranger additions, because I don't see how it makes for a more fun game, but maybe that was your point…
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April 6th, 2022, 02:44
I'm particularly fond of the absence of weapon specialization feats. Instead, you just have weapon proficiency groups and attack focus feats.

I never liked having to specialize without knowing what the best weapon in the game is. It bothered me in Pathfinder:WOTR.

It does make not taking a Fighter quite a hard decision, for me. I really wanted to try out some of the new classes so I've gone with Death Knight and Gladiator as my two melee characters.
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April 6th, 2022, 02:49
I used a Mantis Gladiator in my party, and it ended up being my best melee by far, but it was mostly due to the Mantis part not the Gladiator part. If I was doing it all over again, I think I would have gone Mantis Fighter. The Wade In feat that fighters get is just too good. My party also had a Half-Giant Fighter, a Human Samurai, and I also used the Half-Giant Barbarian as one of my 2 extra companions. The Samurai was rather disappointing..
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April 6th, 2022, 16:37
Re: needing gold to level-up, this post from a random poster on a random forum explains it quite well:

I always found it interesting that the AD&D PHB said on the topic of training; "…but none of this is suitable to gaming. It is, therefore, discarded and subsumed as taking place on a character's 'off hours.'" But then the AD&D DMG says to grade the performance of the character over the course of the last level to determine how many weeks (1-4) training will take and also has the cost equation, "Level of trainee character x 1,500 = Weekly cost during study/training."

Some later editions made the time and cost of training into optional rules, which I much prefer over the presentation that sends mixed signals.

5th edition also presents training to gain levels as a variant rule (found in the downtime activities section of the DMG), with time and cost based on tier (2nd-4th; 5th-10th; 11th-16th; and 17th-20th) instead of the actual level number itself.
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