IntroductionBetrayal at Krondor
Man, Betrayal at Krondor. Alongside Albion(1995), it was absolutely one of the first RPG's I played and enjoyed, enough that I still appreciate a lot of things it does. Oh, yeah, and that guy on the cover? That's an elf. Elves in the BaK setting aren't barred from having sweet facial hair.
BaK was produced by Dynamix(rest in peace, beautiful angels. If you don't know them, they later brought us Tribes and Tribes 2, they were an odd mix of RPG's, adventure games and sim games) back in 1993, and I want to say it was kind of ahead of its time in having a 3D world(even if the Y axis didn't see much use), digitized photos for characters, tons of animations, a really good soundtrack and probably one of the more intellectually demanding RPG combat systems of the time(for context, this released in the same year as Darkside of Xeen, yet looks generations younger).
Set in the world of Midkemia, it was developed and written in cooperation with the setting's primary author, Raymond E. Feist, and received a proper novelization about five years later(and is, in my opinion, one of the rare few videogame novelizations that aren't rancid dogshit). Midkemia itself is both a bog standard fantasy world(it has elves, dwarves, goblins and wizards) and has its own unique flourishes at points. Since Betrayal at Krondor is a canon installment set after four major novels in the setting, obviously some things will need explaining(but the game is actually quite good at explaining what needs to be explained without the player having read the books, I will, of course, provide huge, poorly-remembered lore dumps anyway.). Not everything about the setting and books have aged equally well(good luck finding a female character with meaningful agency in the first four books. In proper form for late 80's, early 90's fantasy writing by men, their roles are mostly to pine for their missing men and occasionally cry when said men happen to get their dumb asses killed), but at the same time they don't feature anything I recall as being outright gross(no racism, slurs, etc.) with the exception of one book(Jimmy the Hand) which I have opinions about, but since that was a cooperative work with another author, I'm willing to drop most of the blame for that on the other author since it doesn't seem to be Feist's thing in his other books.
I'd also say it was like... one of the first genuinely open-world RPG's, in my opinion. Like, yeah, the Final Fantasies and etc. eventually, grudgingly, let the player have an air ship once they'd exhausted about 80% of the game's content in a linear fashion. But this map? Like 80% of it, you can just wander off the path and go explore from day one. There are very few barriers, though some chapters are a bit less tolerant of fucking around since you're meant to be under some sort of time pressure in-world. It's also absolutely possible to run off the path and wander into something that'll flatten you good.
So, please, join me, as we find out whether this is another case of having my nostalgia shattered like plate glass being hit with a sledgehammer. I do genuinely expect this to have held up much better than Albion, though.
Gorath is hundreds of years old and has been having a pretty bad decade. He's divorced from two wives, he's got a handful of dead children, his entire civilization has descended into fascism and now he has to ask a bunch of idiot humans for help to stop them getting exterminated.
Locklear is smooth, mildly noble, has a sword, a moustache and a womanizing reputation. Despite looking young and untested, Locklear has seen more atrocities than most soldiers twice his age and spent a brief while as a blood-thirsty berserker after his first girlfriend got stabbed in front of him.
Owyn lives somewhere in the east where he mostly spends his time embezzling his father's money to pay for magic tutors. Now unfortunately stuck travelling with two hardened warriors that are being chased by assassins. Owyn's week could be going better.
Like Locklear, James is actually a canon character and not invented for the game. His specialties are being the canonically sneakiest character, being super good with a sword, super good at dealing with traps, a super smart administrator, generally more intelligent than anyone he's in the room with and full of snarky remarks that sounded a lot better to the author than they do to me. He's much better in this game since this is the first one where he's no longer a teenager, and thus considerably more tolerable. Probably helps that Feist didn't write him this time.
A snappy old wizard, Patrus is responsible for Owyn's early training in magic. It's hard to say if Patrus was a bad influence on him or if Owyn just sought out a teacher who was somewhat like himself. Patrus is perpetually crotchety, has little patience for people younger than himself and enjoys needling people when they're at their lowest. Despite being a bit of a prick, he's thankfully also quite funny and very useful at his job of doing awful magical things to the opposition.
Pug Condoin is the mightiest wizard in Midkemia. Has saved the world like a half dozen times, has helped defeat a kaiju made out of supermonsters that were ready to fight the gods and win, has travelled in time, has put up with Macros the Black several times, is an adopted son of the royal family. In this game he will be played by a doofus who's less competent than a 19-year-old who just happened to bumble into the plot after running out of ways to embezzle his dad's money.
Obviously, please don't talk about stuff that hasn't happened yet.
With regards to the game world, since I'd rather like to be able to waste some time on big lore dumps, also please don't write a 200-page dissertation on elves before I even mention the difference between a Moredhel, Eledhel and Glamredhel. Trust that I'll get around to eventually explaining who all these doofuses(pointy-eared and otherwise) are and why some of them are A Big Deal. And of course, once I've brought something or someone up, its fair game for you all to start arguing about whether Tomas/Ashen-Shugar or Arutha/Murmandamus is the superior fanfiction pairing(no, I haven't looked up the Midkemia books on fanfiction.net, please don't tell me what the pro pairings actually are).
Sometimes there will only be one path ahead, but usually there will be several. I'll leave it up to the thread as often as possible whether the party goes raring off after a dumb side quest, takes the long way around or scoots cross-country in a straight line to their goal.
Probably a post every week or two weeks? I expect updates to be slightly shorter than they were for the Might and Magic games, and resultingly also more consistent since it'll be rarer that I have to sort through four hours of footage for each post.
Table of Contents
- Update 01: Angry About Elves
- Update 02: Lore Dump 1
- Update 03: Caves, Traps and Laundry
- Update 04: Lore Dump 2
- Update 05: [Goblins]
- Update 06: An Intentional Bug?
- Update 07: Lore Dump 3
- Update 08: Dim Adventurers In The Woods, Part 01
- Update 09: Dim Adventurers In The Woods, Part 02
- Update 10: Words, Words, Words Part 1
- Update 11: Words, Words, Words Part 2
- Update 12: Grave Mistakes, Part 1
- Update 13: Grave Mistakes, Part 2
- Update 14: Grave Mistakes, Part 3
- Update 15: Grave Mistakes, Part 4
- Update 16: BaK on Track, Part 1
- Update 17: BaK on Track, Part 2
- Update 18: The Spider and the Sidequest, Part 1
- Update 19: The Spider and the Sidequest, Part 2
- Update 20: A Mysterious Mystery, Part 1
- Update 21: A Mysterious Mystery, Part 2
- Update 22: Mystery Solved
- Update 23: Do the Crime, Do the Time, Part 1
- Update 24: Do the Crime, Do the Time, Part 2
- Update 25: Explosion Chest, Explosion City and Explosion Cave, Part 1
- Update 26: Explosion Chest, Explosion City and Explosion Cave, Part 2
- Update 27: The Return of Locklear, Part 1
- Update 28: The Return of Locklear, Part 2
- Update 29: A Missing Pug, Part 1
- Update 30: A Missing Pug, Part 2
- Update 31: A Missing Pug, Part 3
- Update 32: The Majesty of Elvandar, Part 1
- Update 33: The Majesty of Elvandar, Part 2
- Update 34: A Very Dramatic Twist
- Update 35: The Beach Episode, Part 1
- Update 36: The Beach Episode, Part 2
- Update 37: The SFX Budget