D&D 5E Descent Into Avernus & Mad Max: Why the adventure ultimately failed (to me!)

BG3 is shaping up to be much better in terms of storytelling.
I'm surprised to find myself disagreeing actually.

Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot of problems (and yes oh god the driving argh no), but the main story is extremely well-told (like genuinely some of the later story-telling is up there with the very best I've ever seen in a CRPG), and whilst it is a "railroad", none of the games you listed have anything but a railroad main story. BG3 most assuredly has a railroad. It some tracks you can choo-choo-choose, certainly more tracks than 2077 (based on the first act), but it's a railroad nonetheless. You will go through the same stations and you will end up in the same city.

BG3 has a serious problem though in that Larian are writing it, and Larian come from the old-skool pen-and-paper DMing approach of "Every NPC is a total, unmitigated c-word with no redeeming features beyond snappy dialogue, but only that if you're supposed to like them". And I do mean every NPC. They can't help themselves. DOS2 before the enhanced edition was a particularly ghastly rendition of this juvenile approach to writing/DMing (Enhanced really surprisingly contains some significant re-writes which reduce jerkishness of some NPCs). You sometimes see P&P adventures written this way, including WotC ones, sadly. Some DMs are like this too - of the three other DMs I play with semi-regularly, one of them is like, borderline like this, like he tries not to be, but his instincts from years of DMing are to make NPCs into utter jerks of the very worst kind.

Now, let me say, Larian got massive pushback on this. Really massive. They casually dropped this straightforwardly grimdark crapsack world take on the FR, which was more like Warhammer Fantasy, with maximum-jerk NPCs all round, and were very pleased with themselves, and the feedback they got was intensely negative, and to the tune of "This isn't the Forgotten Realms" and "Why is every NPC, especially the companions, a totally horrible person?!". They didn't account for the fact that the FR is not, in fact, a "crapsack" or "grimdark" setting, nor that FR/BG fans expect some characters to be actually nice/good people.

So they've been backpedaling ever since then, and pretty much every patch we've had more and more dialogue options and action options to be nicer to NPCs (that was another issue), NPCs have been less needlessly hostile (even Meany McGith, bless her heart), less randomly jerk-ish, and companions in particular more, well, companionable*. But they've got a long way to go, because they went absolutely Full Warhammer in terms of NPC personalities (never go Full Warhammer - not even Warhammer goes Full Warhammer these days - you know the new Rogue Trader CRPG won't) at the start. I do expect that before release Act 1 will be fairly reasonable, but based on DOS2, Act 2 & 3 (as I understand it there is no Act 4 with BG3) will not have been revised in the same way, so will still likely be grimdark-ish and full of loathsome NPCs and brow-furrowing situations (in a bad way).

TLDR: Given it's Larian, I don't expect them to tell the story well overall. If I am pleasantly surprised, great, but like, given Larian put in a situation where you can bust in on an orc/ogre sex scene which is graphically and disturbingly described (Eric's grandma would shoot me with lightning if I said more, but jesus wept), and which is just totally representative of both the grimdark setting and the utterly juvenile minds of the lead devs, I don't expect anything good except in gameplay/visuals.

* = except Jerk McVampire, but that's his vibe - btw what on earth is with these gen-Z girls and boys swooning over him? He has the accent, attitude and appearance of a disreputable art teacher who smokes hand-rolled cigarettes behind the bike shed. Are kids into that? They're acting like he's Aidan Turner with his top off when he's cut-rate Richard E. Grant in a bad wig!
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous has a goodly share of jerk NPCs.

It is true that Cyberpunk 2077 has some NPCs who are actually likable.
WotR has a mix, like yeah it definitely has plenty, for example Regill and Nenio are absolute trash-people of the very worst kind, who exist solely to jerk the place up and make bad suggestions. But Lann, Ember, Seelah and even weirdly Daeran (if he takes a shine to you, otherwise he's a huge jerk lol) are pretty likeable. And most of the major questgiver NPCs and the like are fairly reasonable, or if they're jerks, you get a chance to take them down (either entirely, or a peg or two). The previous PF game was worse here for jerk NPCs.

It's not grimdark either, despite WotR being set in easily the most grimdark-esque part of Golarion.

And looking at the trailer and concept art for their Rogue Trader CRPG I don't get a "full grimdark" vibe at all. I just hope it has good mechanics.

This is a rather disingenuous additional condition. You can't only play the critical path, since you need to do side quests to gain power and levels. And as I already mentioned, it makes those "huge" games very short. Witcher 3, Cyberpunk 2077 and Dragonage: Inquisition in particular are jam packed with sidequests that don't even bother to dress up their fetch quest nature.
D&D at it's core is a fetch quest. Go into the dungeon, bring out treasure. If the bar is "someone wants you to do something for them so they pay/help you", then I don't think I'd want to play in a campaign that didn't feature some sort of deal brokering on a basic level.

To me, true fetch quests are "obtain meaningless item for near meaningless reward" with little sense of why and low engagement. "Go out and bring me 10 bear butts (where weirdly not every bear has a butt)". Moreover, the means to accomplish said time waster needs to feel rote. "Go steal the Death Star plans" might technically qualify (and no, not the best kind of qualifying), but I don't think most would put it in the same category.

Remove ads


Remove ads

Upcoming Releases