I guarantee I misremember some things, and the order, but I didn’t take detailed notes. I will state that I do like the game. I have DM’d other TTRPGs and am very familiar with 5e through play and watching streams. I report my experience, some thoughts, and bugs.
I tried first with a normal party but couldn’t get past the 1st Soraks in the caverns, so I made a 2nd group - 4 wizards. This defeated the Soraks because Magic Missile doesn’t care about ‘unlit’. I continued on afterwards using the 2nd party. I know full well that they have no AC nor HP and really have to manage their spells to avoid screwing themselves due to lack of rations (the long rest currency). Regardless, I hereby report that Bone Keep was very tough. I only survived due to preventing enemies from reaching me - I suppose this balanced out the weak-in-melee wizards. My next run through will try once more with a normal party - hope it’s doable now that I know what to expect.
→ Update: I now recall finding 4 rations at a long rest camp outside the castle. The below review is likely missing a long rest somewhere. Possibly it was taken after fighting the courtyard skeletons or after the lab woman who only shows up on occasion. So there is an error in the review’s details. But make no mistake, I was very much in a low-resource state at various times, the despair was real - the inability to long rest very much constantly looming.
--------------------- Random Things -----------------
Unlit: It comes up very frequently, even with Dancing Lights right next to an enemy. Characters with darkvision shouldn’t have any trouble with an unlit enemy - yet it still states ‘enemy is unlit’ when the dwarf fires a shot - and he is in fact doing it at disadvantage with nothing else that would force disadvantage on him. Given that Light cannot be cast on an enemy - there’s nothing I’ve found that deals with this ‘unlit’ problem - other than lots of magic missiles.
Enemies: I hope more sounds are in the works, because hearing a wight grunt like a living creature seems odd.
Clicking: Just getting the option I clicked to go through.
Dash and other actions can’t be canceled.
Inventory: With too many rows filled, collecting an item of loot will instead select an item from inventory.
Looting: Some enemies don’t drop loot. One of my last traveling encounters was a group of orcs. They didn’t drop anything. Aksha and her spawn dropped nothing.
Spell recovery: The tutorial says that when being attacked on the road that I needn’t hold back, as I’d get a long rest later, or finish my current one. Well, I encountered some enemies after a few days and I didn’t have all my slots available.
Wand of Magic Missiles: Don’t know if the rules Solasta are different, but it never recovered its charges. I did not use all 7 of them.
Feats: Potent Cantrip does not work. I’ve used it with Acid Splash and Poison Spray - both are saving throw spells, and no enemy ever took ½ damage from a successful save. The feat that grants heavy armor proficiency also doesn’t work, at least not on a wizard.
Fog Cloud: I don’t think it’s implemented correctly, but I’m not certain. I’ll be fully in it yet the orc archers roll normally. Also, for enemies fighting each other in it - the advantage / disadvantage aren’t cancelling.
Spiderclimb: Does not work on all walls, such as the walls in Bone Keep’s 3rd level (the maze). I don’t mean to climb walls that hit the roof to bypass the maze, I’m referring to getting up to the long rest’s landing, as well as other walls. There’s a flat, smooth wall leading to it, and the wall that touches the bannister - neither are walkable. No idea how to reach it. With this spell, vertical surfaces ought to be displayed as traversable, I’m referring to the circle that shows where a character is heading.
Herbalism Kit: Being proficient doesn’t matter if no one can cast Cure Wounds. Just noting that. For my playthrough, I bought a lot of them to compensate.
Scrolls: Boy I wish I could buy those and successfully make the Arcana check to put them in my spellbook. Faction-locking is unfortunate. I may be misremembering this.
Rations: The game’s really stingy on them. I can understand not wanting players to spam long rests, but Bone Keep is so far away that I had 1 long rest’s worth by the time I arrived - this includes survival checks and looting bandits. Not having access to multiple long rests (I thought at the time) really hurt in Bone Keep.
--------------- Experience ------------------
I thought this was just fine, until the Sorak (who apparently came through the top floor) appeared on the bottom floor. Then I had to deal with the underground caverns. At this point, my party of level 2 adventurers had to deal with goblins and those flying things. Using any resources on those fights would be a grand waste, given what’s to come. Assuming one fails the CHA check with the Lt. dwarf woman and actually has to deal with the caverns - that was an unexpected sharp increase in difficulty. You get 2 NPCs who are mission critical - if they hit 0 HP it’s game over. They are solely front line, and you can’t give them anything ranged. You’re fighting SIX Soraks, 3 of which can bonus action howl and make those adjacent weak to the damage a Sorak does. This is an almost insta-kill on those NPCs, and your LEVEL 2 party. Especially if you have the 12 HP NPC. There are 2 rocks that can be moved to fall on them, but that only does ½ the HP on 1 Sorak. The further one is suicide as that character’s cut off from the party and would be quickly surrounded by the wall-climbing Soraks. Let’s not forget about the unlit enemies, so very unlit while directly next to a lit sconce. Having that encounter, at level 2, before a long rest, with 2 NPCs who are melee only and aren’t allowed to die… even without the unlit problem the 2 critical NPCs with no ranged weapons are just a hindrance - especially combined with that howl of vulnerability.
The Library Tower:
There’s a quest here, but if you fail just 1 check then there’s no completing it. That’s my only thought. Well, that and the fact that if you don’t have the exact right ability then you’re not getting some of those chests. One long rest would solve that, but that takes rations - an extremely scarce resource.
Failing the CHA check on the wolf guy, I left him alone - I really should have killed him. This comes up later and relates to the stingy rations. I fought the ghouls on the right side of the keep, then made the unfortunate choice of climbing up on a wall nearby - this alerted the courtyard and started a big skeleton fight. Then came the conversation with the wight - in the background I could see the skeletons I defeated and wondered if I’d have to fight them again if I failed the CHA check. Fortunately, I succeeded and didn’t have to fight everything over again - I know now that’s what would have happened given the below paragraphs. I entered the castle.
There are 4 rooms on this floor: the start, the zombie patrol room, the dark acolytes bunk room and study, and the lab room. There are 3 encounters to deal with and they alone are worthy of a long rest. My first run of encounter #3 ended with, after defeating the enemies, an immediate dialog with a woman who wasn’t in the room during that fight. After failing the CHA check I had to fight her… along with all the enemies I just killed - alive again. One party wipe and reload later, I decided to use my last long rest outside the keep - surely I’d find more rations inside and in quick order right? I did fight #3 over by luring the enemies to the 2nd room. Eventually everything was killed by cantrips (saving spells). The dialog did not proc this time - no idea where that lady is. I headed up. My scout wizard was caught in a very… dead position and so I reloaded… but failed to save after the previous floor’s fight, so I did it again. Unfortunately, I wasn’t far enough away from room #4, so I refought the defeated enemies and the lab woman. I saved, then headed up.
→ When fighting the dark acolytes, they could see me while standing a few tiles back from the door, but I couldn’t see them. There’s multiple instances of Line of Sight not matching up.
This floor has a bunch of ghouls patrolling around. There’s a way to bypass ½ of them, but 3 are hanging around a room with mana lamps and attempting to sneak by failed - I reloaded. I stationed my group atop a wooden structure that was only accessible by jumping a gap and had 1 of them block my end of that gap. The ghouls’ AI had nothing to do so they just sat there while I pot-shotted them. There are 2 more fights in this area. One is in the library where 4-6 ghouls spring up out of nowhere. I did look, using both a dwarf and dancing lights, but saw nothing - and then when I reached a certain point - they all popped into existence. 1 reload later, I tried again and the ghouls just appeared out of nowhere again, the character being at a different point for that one.
Reloaded again and went to Aksha’s room - boy does this fight suck. A CR 8 vampire woman, her 2 spawn, and my party at level 4. I suppose I could have tried the library with 6 ghouls first for resources, but I’d spend more than what I could receive. Anyway, Aksha drops darkness and hangs out on the 1st floor, in the corner. Despite being 2 tiles over laterally and perhaps 3 or 4 down - my ranged attacks would have the disadvantage for having an enemy near. Then there’s all of the unlit nonsense despite the dancing lights. After dying the 1st time I reloaded and found something of minor interest. I reloaded multiple times and failed the CHA check for each (rolling a 3 on the die for insight each time - clearly the rolls were locked in at that point). If I walked into the room the fight goes off as normal. However, if I stealthed, then despite her announcing the fight, the party’s still stealthed and no combat actually begins (running further in or just moving to her will start it anyway). To avoid dying again, I had to lure them to the little broken stair area and had one character block the path to 1 v 1 Aksha while the spawn hung back with nothing to do. Somehow survived that, but was in bad shape - frontliner reduced to 10 max HP, everyone out of spells, used maybe 4 of 6 magic missile scrolls, few potions left, and no way to long rest as I had no rations.
→ More unlit shenanigans, and inability to select enemies on the wall below me across the gap. They’re clearly in sight, but no game recognition of that. Darkness snuffed out a Flaming Sphere even though it isn’t a light spell, given that Flaming Spheres don’t provide enough light to handle an ‘unlit’ enemy..
At this point, I checked on the wolf guy outside of the castle (who I couldn’t talk to again as he hated me), just to check if he or his shack has rations. As one would figure, he didn’t like my trying to get into his home without permission. Thankfully I only sent 1 person that way so just that character was dropped at first. After dealing with him, I managed to lock pick into his home (that’s right, he had no key for it - imagine if all 4 characters failed that check?) and found 4 rations. Picked the back door and found 4 rations more. Oh boy, was I both heavily relieved and terribly upset. To think that he had 2 long rests just lying around. Used 1 rest immediately and hit level 5 - fireball for everyone.
The next floor is fine in terms of encounters. I couldn’t find how to get to the long rest area. No trigger opened a path, the character pathing didn’t find its own way, and Spiderclimb couldn’t scale any of the walls around it. I presume you need Fly to reach it, then push the block over for the rest of the party - kinda specific. I Fog Cloud’d a room of undead. The skeleton archer ran up into melee and proceeded to shoot arrows point blank. Some characters could target the skeleton sorcerer in the back (and in the cloud) but others couldn’t. The Master was terribly disappointing as a 15 HP character I Magic Missile’d to death, perhaps he actually does things if he lives long enough.
Please keep in mind that I finished Bone Keep by reloading and luring enemies around corners, or preventing them from attacking me by blocking their path. Even with these tactics, I am astonished I actually finished it. The inability to long rest more than once, in a dungeon with so many fights, was a problem. If I hadn’t
Return to the city:
Couldn’t buy any faction items, despite all the stuff I gave to the Arcaneum. I think some things were available before I left, but definitely not afterward. So, so much money and nothing to spend it on.