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Thief 2 fan missions and campaigns

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
Klatremus has done a cool thing: He's released a video featuring scenes from ten Fan Missions, and it's up to people to guess the titles of the missions.



Instructions are included in the video.
 

octavius

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Aug 4, 2007
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I remember this one, and I almost rage quit as well... until I discovered that the statue in the chapel is still sanctified, meaning that any Undead that come near it are instakilled. More than that, you can climb on top of the statue to be safe from the Undead. I had to lure a great many of them to the statue, but it greatly thinned their numbers.

Navigating the cellar was still crap though.

Thanks to your help, I was able to finish it.
PjzUVIP.png


An interesting mission, oozing with atmosphere, but just too frustrating at times. Playing it blind seems almost impossible, since the clue to to the undead zapping statues is in a place with marble floor and there's an army of the undead parading in front of the entrance.

The sunken cellar was a low point too, in all respects. It's just needless padding to make the player have to take one step forward, retreat to get his breath and then take another step. And finding that bloody sack of flour submerged in the water in the dark cellar...:argh:
But luring the undead towards the statues and see them explode was fun.

It seems most of the Thief missions released in 2001 were either of the gimmicky type, or made for taffers with the patience of a saint.
I miss the more traditional missions, like Order of the Vine and Cult of the Resurrection type of missions.
 
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Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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I found the entrance, but not the means.

IIRC there's a hard-to-spot pressure plate somewhere in the cemetery. The bother is finding something heavy enough to place on it.

In other news, I gave the updated "Off to Milhorn Manor" a go. This is much better than the original. The number of guards has been reduced, the tunnel with the Chaos Spiders has been cleared, the loot objective is more lenient, but best of all is that the backtracking to the alchemist's place towards the end of the mission has been removed. The end result is a challenging, but far more enjoyable affair. Milhorn Manor is still vast and crawling with guards and the hedge wall is still being a thorny twat, but otherwise it's good fun.

I didn't give it a rating the first time round, but JarlFrank gave it a 7/10. I'd say the updated version is a 7.5/10, so JF may want to revise his score.
 

JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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KA.DINGIR.RA.KI
I didn't give it a rating the first time round, but JarlFrank gave it a 7/10. I'd say the updated version is a 7.5/10, so JF may want to revise his score.

Milhorn Manor? I gave that a 3/10. My AngelLoader comment:
Meh 3/10, horrible scale, long empty corridors to trudge through; the mission shows some potential and some places within the manor itself are actually nice, but it's really dragged down by the long and uninteresting corridors as well as some keyhunt elements
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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A small end-of-year present: Through the year I played various FMs and wrote up short reviews for them, but never got around to posting them. So here are some of them:

"Raid on Washout Central" by belboz

In this FM you play Ryalla, who's been hired by a crook gone legit to cover up his sordid past. That means tracking down his former partner, and then stealing the evidence he has. This task is made somewhat harder by the city being on lockdown due to incessant raining and risk of flooding.

If I ever played this ancient FM before now, I have no recollection of it. Which is a shame, because it stands out in many ways, the biggest one being how much of an inspiration this must have served for other FMs down the line. This is a cityscape mission with multiple paths of exploration (above-ground AND below), a consistent theme running throughout (the weather), an above-average writer writing lots of little texts that help flesh out the place, and even some traces of "show, don't tell"-exposition.

It doesn't get everything right, though. The omnipresent fog is present in very weird ways, and will interact with complex architecture in a very strange and off-putting manner. Compared to more recent FMs the cityscape is mostly barren, and at least one place offers no alternate approach vectors except walking through the front door, in plain sight of a stationary guard. A point in the mission has two thieves spawned into the map, they do so only at a certain moment in time that allows a quick taffer to prepare and stand behind them as they appear. Wall textures are often ill-aligned and far too many rooms are completely empty.

But it's the things that are present that count, and the point must be made that this is one of the oldest (T2) FMs around. It's simply amazing what it has on offer, and I think at least one of its ideas (using an above-ground aqueduct as a means of travel) has not been replicated in a later FM. So despite its age and flaws, there are still plenty of reasons to give this one a go.

Rating: 7/10. The grandfather of most FMs is still worth a visit. Bring an umbrella.


"Silent Nightmares" by HipBreaker

Garrett is trying to find his friend who went missing while treasure-hunting in an abandoned (and now haunted) Mechanist facility.

This is a great example of "good idea, not-so-good execution." The place certainly is creepy, but most of it is just room after room after room, with the occasional corridor thrown in. There's a crypt area that barely serves any purpose, a comically oversized elevator that doesn't have a 'call'-button, and the key to the exit is located in a chest at the very top of the building on some kind of altar. The worst part is that while it's playable I'd say it's unfinished. The soundscape isn't in place for many rooms, and some objects are hanging in mid-air.

Rating: 4/10. There are many great ideas here, but they aren't given the chance to shine. Fortunately the author got better at his craft and made such excellent FMs as "Insurrection" and "Eclipsed".


"Deep Trouble" by Dark Assassin

Garrett intends to rob a count by sneaking into a cargo crate to get inside his mansion. Unfortunately for him the Mechanists steal the count's shipment and take it aboard their latest submarine.

This is not just a "Cetus Amicus"-type Mechanist-mission, it's also in three parts. The first part is just sneaking around on a submarine, trying to find an exit. Things take a strange turn in the second mission when 'something' kills all the Mechanists and you find yourself wandering through an empty facility trying to find an exit, but soon enough Garrett has to take the fight to a new enemy. This is also a sequel (epilogue?) to a series of missions outlined in this post. My opinions in that post still stand, and honestly I quickly got tired of these missions as well (that they employ graphics from System Shock 1 & 2 doesn't help).

That said, except for pointless UI changes there's nothing wrong here... it just ain't my cup of tea.

Rating: 6/10.


"Heading Out" by camus

Garrett is out for some quick cash, and he picks a seedy part of town where an archeologist has just returned from a rewarding expedition.

What struck me about this FM is that it's VERTICAL. You start at ground level but will quickly have to ascend and leap across rooftops to reach the "other" part of the map.

That said, it's a vertical mission made in 2005 and quickly finished by the author in 2008. It runs into numerous DromEd restrictions and hardware limitations. As a result it's barebones. Many sections were clearly intended to be fleshed out, but were just left "as-is" instead. But what's in there is very sweet while it lasts.

Rating: 7/10, despite its barely finished state. Worth a look if your vertical fancies aren't quite tickled yet.


"Karass' Diary: Prophecies of Gold" by Thorin Oakenshield

Garrett is tasked by the Keepers to deal with the New Mechanists, an offshoot zealot faction of the Mechanists that's turning itself into undead abominations to please the Master Builder. The Keepers think that the best way to defeat them is to show them the truth, by uncovering Karras' Diary and watch then tear themselves asunder as they read it.

This is one of the oldest FMs to try to make an epic, sprawling map with varied locations, optional places to visit to score loot and multiple pathways. It almost makes it all work, too. Where it fails is at some of the bone-headed decisions of the author in order to make this FM feel suspenseful or full of action... except that's not what Thief is about, is it?

Why are more critters spawned into the map after reaching certain places/completing certain objectives? Why is half the map covered in marble? Why do I have to sneak across a well-lit marble-floored room, with two mechbeasts standing guard, in order to complete this FM? Why is that immediately followed by me having to circumvent two more mechbeasts by dodging into a secret passage? Why make a FM have six mechbeasts (and a dozen of the little beasts) and only have a grand total of TWO water arrows available? "Oh, but there's a secret at the start with more gear, you can get some more there." Yes, except you need to build a CRATE LADDER to get up there. Taff that.

Why is the end of the FM blocked off by TWO code-locked doors, after the player has passed EVERYTHING ELSE on the map? Why does the third last door need to be blown open by an Explosive Device? Why are keys and doors in this FM acting all retarded? (Can't unlock a warehouse door unless you unlock both locks, for some reason.

Rating: 5/10. It's a nice try and probably inspired many later taffers, but those same taffers have made this FM redundant.


"Eastwater Bank Gold" by Yandros

Garrett's robbing a bank, part the first. This bank is built like a ziggurat and looks kinda interesting from the outside, even to this day. Even though it's a small venture, it's still an enjoyable one, despite the fact that it's almost entirely on rails - very little room for breaking the key hunt-sequence, even with New_Mantle. Special mention must go to 'Benny's Magic Place' in the basement. This is how you would do a quick bank-heist FM.

Rating: 7/10.


"First City Bank and Trust Annex" by Telliamed

Garrett's robbing a bank, part the second. This one's gotta rank among the smallest non-joke FMs I've played... or at least I'm thinking it's not a joke, because this is NOT how you would do a quick bank-heist FM.

There are four critters overall, a mechbeast in the basement, two guards and a camerabot on the ground floor. The camerabot is the least concern, but the guards are positioned in such a way that frobbing the door beside them (which you must open) immediately alerts them. The mechbeast is the most groan-inducing one, though. It's located at the far end of a long corridor, looking down the hallway so as to catch any intruders that may try to fiddle with the vault doors.

And the vault doors are the single-biggest problem with this FM (even surpassing the restricted frobbing distances for everything in the game except light switches, for some reason). The vault door is operated by a panel, this panel has a lever, three cylindrical buttons, a red light above them and then a regular button. Fiddling with the buttons will lead to above-average cranium to understand that the lever opens the vault once the cylindrical buttons are pushed in the correct order and the red light goes away. The last button resets the cylindrical buttons... which just leaves players trying to figure out the sequence of pushing the cylyndrical buttons, EXCEPT THERE ARE NO CLUES PROVIDED FOR THAT. It's all trial and error, good luck!

Once you've either brute-forced the combination or looked it up online, you're left with the vault itself, where for some reason the safes are all locked with advanced locks where you have to choose the right picklock or the lock resets itself. I don't mind that myself, but putting it right at the end during the player's "victory lap" through the vault takes all the fun out of playing this one.

Rating: 4/10. At least it's short enough that it won't annoy for too long.


"The Search for Crom's Blade" by Schwaa

Garrett journeys to the frozen norths to recover the eponymous sword before the Mechanists do, as its mighty power would make them unstoppable.

For a 2001 FM this one ranks surprisingly highly with me, probably as it gives me huge "Ruins of Originia"-vibes. The focus is primarily on exploration, with lots of dark passages and little nooks and crannies to look into, both in the ice caverns and the frozen castle. That samples from the 'Conan the Barbarian'-soundtrack are used only improves the FM. Playing this on Expert-difficulty ups the challenge as a collecta-thon is thrown into the mix.

While I recommend taffers give this one a go, I must give some pointers first:

# If you go look for the nine gems of Lydia, keep your ears open. If you hear "epic" music you're close to one of the gems.

# If an opening looks like you could just squeeze through, try it. There's one such opening early on that leads to a large section that's otherwise unreachable.

# Smash every unfrobbable wooden door you come across. For some reason the author thought it was a good idea to have some in the castle, there's stuff beyond them.

# Be careful when taffing about in the Navicon's tower. I had two SHAS-instances there while trying to traverse between floors.

Rating: 8/10. This is best in life. :)


"Darkness Falls 1 - The Royal Garmyth" by Hidden in Shadows

Garrett's after a highly valuable gem which is stashed in a nearby warehouse.

The readme with this FM suggests that not all is at it seems. This is true, just not in the way people would think. The objective-list is pretty straightforward; get the gem from the warehouse you start next to, grab a harbormaster's key from the nearby house (for undisclosed reasons), score some loot and then return to your starting position. Seems like an easy little mission, right? Then where's all the loot? Well, if players find the secret passage that leads to the backyard, and then the key to the door there, they'll find a cityscape that triples the size of the FM! Seems a little backwards to me, but besides this little oddity this FM is decent enough, it's simple, doesn't do anything wrong and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Rating: 7/10.


"Darkness Falls 2 - A Dire Venture" by Hidden in Shadows

Garrett's thinking that the gem he just stole may be cursed, so he turns to his Keeper-pals to see what they know of it. And since he's stopping by a sizeable warehouse, he might as well strip it of its valuables.

This one is actually easier than the prequel, and again it's the loot objective that will have people stumped. As this FM serves more as a exposition platform for further missions in the series (which sadly never came to be) it's a bit bland, even though the warehouse is decent enough.

Rating: 6/10.


"Sturmdrang Peak" by nicked

Garrett gets roped in by an ex-flame of his to visit an island stronghold to both save herself from a grim fate, and recover an ancient pirate treasure. What could possibly go wrong?

I hate to say this, but "everything" comes close to the answer for me. I took issue with this campaign back when it was released, and replaying it now that answer remains unchanged. While I understand that this is a huge effort on behalf of many individuals, it sadly does not mesh into a coherent whole.

For starters, any Thief FM that uses these new objects/textures/whatchamacallits that were introduced back in 2006 or thereabouts, automatically gets a downvote from me. They look good, but they don't "feel" good. This goes double for the character models. This FM prominently features pirates and they use the new models. As a result they look like animatronic robots from a 'Pirates of the Caribbean"-exhibition gone wrong. The 'conquistador'-models used to represent the guards don't help either; due to the Dark Engine's lighting they often look like armored troops wearing sombreros.

That doesn't mean that there aren't any positive points here. The main theme throughout the campaign is rain... and it's portrayed brilliantly. Raindrops are falling from the sky, but also shown to be falling from house edges. Better yet, stand in shelter or in a building with a "thin roof", and you can hear the rain plodding down above you in a muted manner. This adds an incredible slice of atmosphere that very few other FM's have captured, to my recollection.

Another point of note is the voice acting for the pirates and other 'new' critters in the FM. While it sounds like amateur-hour overall, the writing behind it is really good. I spent some time purposefully bothering the drunkard in the wine cellar just to hear what he had to say. Sadly the written aspects drag down the voiced aspects. This campaign is one of the worst Audiolog Syndrome-laden FMs I've ever come across. This comes doubled with the author's desire to have almost every no-name nobody in the FM have a backstory. This made the second mission (the harbor town) feel insufferable to me.

BUT, as mentioned before, the new 'look' can provide some awesome visuals. The 'Great Hall' lives up to its name, especially the wall-long mural along one end, and the spiral staircase in the third mission looks very nice. I was also impressed by the highly detailed look of Garrett's flat in the 'first' mission (read: Visual Briefing).

Rating: 6/10. As I said it doesn't change my overall impression: This FM doesn't do anything for me. Maybe others can enjoy it.


"Keeper Investigations" by Intruder

Intruder had an entry in the most recent Thief-contest, but this is probably his magnum opus in the FM-field and also his first release, a five-mission campaign that takes place just before Thief 2 where Garrett is tasked by the Keepers to learn of a new sect of zealous Hammerites who have quickly risen to power. The plot quickly takes a sharp turn and a deep dive into uncharted waters.

The first mission is a trek through the city, but sadly lacks the freedom of movement (or easy movement, for that matter) that we've gotten used to, even though the readable claim that it's better to use the rooftops to travel... the problem is that there isn't that much of them here. While the layout is linear and straightforward most of the time, there is an essential split in the path that sends the player to a Hammerite church, but the way to get there is quite hard to spot, even with at least two clues provided nearby. Players who miss this will have to backtrack a bit, and will wonder why the nearby gate can't be opened once you reach it from the other side.

The second mission takes place at a waterfront warehouse, full of 90° angles and straight paths. The exteriors felt dull and lifeless to me, but fortunately the interiors were nice and fitting for the setting. It was fun trying to outwit a bunch of smugglers and how they stash their ill-gotten gains.

The third mission takes place out on the high seas, and is also the shortest. As this one is actually somewhat interesting I don't want to spoil it, but then we get to the fourth mission, which is a massive, sprawling underground complex on an island. What fun was intended to be had here was ruined by the excessive objectives-list - finding and reading a series of books so that the author can press all that background exposition into my face felt extremely forced.

As the fourth mission ends on Garrett getting back to the city, I was fully expecting the fifth and final mission to be a short epilogue to wrap up the story. Nope. Dead wrong. The fifth mission is a rather large 'Thieves' Highway'-sprawl as Garrett is tasked to find three valuable artifacts, and possibly uncover a serial killer along the way. What irked me about this FM were two things. The first being that this has NO CONNECTION to the other four missions, and would have been better off released as a standalone-FM. The second thing is the artificial manner in which the difficulty-bar is raised. I have good spatial awareness, but more than once I was completely lost on how to progress. The first such hurdle is telling of what to expect: There's an apartment complex with a sleeping area, tiny hallway, a noble's reading room and a kitchen, and it's the kitchen that holds the path to the next area. There's a door in the sleeping area leading right to the kitchen, but for some reason it's unfrobbable. No, what the player must do is go into the reading room, frob a hidden lever inside the fireplace so that a secret passage from the fireplace into the kitchen opens up. Why I couldn't just use the kitchen door like a normal person is one of life's derpy little mysteries.

Another thing that peeved me with the fifth mission was a point where there were two chests, side by side, and a plaque in the floor that reads something like "To the left lie riches, but the right leads to safety". The trick is that you can only ever open one chest, the other one becomes unfrobbable once you do. Considering the FM's extreme loot requirements, and that this essentially locks out a piece of loot if the player chooses poorly, made me question the author's mental well-being.

What did I mean by extreme loot requirement? On Expert it's about 95% of the total loot on offer, and it applies to the whole campaign. Sure, only three of the missions mandate a loot objective, and the fourth one makes it optional, but it doesn't change the fact that players will be busting their balls trying to find enough loot to meet the demand. Thank the Builder this FM has the lootlist included for all five missions.

Rating: 7/10. It's not a bad set of missions by any means and you're bound to have some fun with them, but be warned that there are lots of rough edges here to contend with.


"The Abominable Dr. Dragon" by Chiefdreams

Garrett is asked to sneak into a castle of the eponymous doctor to find out just what the taff is going on there. Featuring thieves, treebeasts, floating ghosts, the Frankenstein monster, killer fish, animated statues and highly radioactive materials, this one is a step apart from most other FMs you'll ever come across.

This one has its issues even before its age is factored in. The soundscape is literally all over the place, especially in the castle.

Monster in-fighting proved to be very useful here, especially when the Hammerites dropped in for a visit. Stay out of the moat as much as possible, and try to keep quiet once you're inside the castle, so you can at least mitigate the threats before all hell breaks loose.

Rating: 6/10. It's not a top-tier FM and is quite cheesy at times, but it's also something a little different.


"Two Fathers" by Uncadonego

Garrett must steal a healing potion from a doctor who's recently moved to a newly-built part of town, but accidentally learns more than he could ever imagine.

There's badly designed - and then there's Badly Designed. At first glance "Two Fathers" seems to fall squarely into the latter category. Garrett is supposed to break into some houses in this one, but to do that he first needs to reach them. That means first getting past some thieves who are so conveniently located that the only way to progress that doesn't involve abusing the Dark Engine is... running like hell past them and hoping they don't spot you - not very thief-like behavior there. Then there's the caverns leading to the houses. They are long and dark and seemingly designed with the sole intention of killing the player. There's a water section deliberately designed not only to require every bit of oxygen available, but to have FAKE water surfaces that don't give any oxygen. One wrong turn is literally death here. Then there's a platforming section (uh-oh) where every other mantable surface can get you stuck in the scenery, and that's before we get to the non-mantable parts of the scenery where you can get stuck in.

The worst part is, the two above parts are absolutely pointless, no value would have been lost if the two above segments had been cut. In fact, it would have left more resources available to flesh out the rest of the FM, which is actually made with care and attention to detail. Every room with electricity has light switches, every critter has a name (and not names, but titles too. That guy isn't just "Enrique", he's "The Lawford's personal guard Enrique". There's even some thought put into the readables, even though it's all for the author's elongated fan-fiction. It's just such a damn shame players are forced to go through two horribly bad sections before they get to the good stuff.

As much as I want to blame the author here, the fact that this is his first FM speaks volumes. Instead I'm gonna blame the half-a-dozen playtesters who did a run of this, any one of them should have seen the trainwreck that is included here and pointed it out.

Rating: 7/10.


"The Time That Has Passed" by Uncadonego

The sequel to the above FM, now Garrett seeks more information on his revelation, but people only seek to take advantage of Garrett's inquiries by having him run gopher tasks through the city.

Both this and "Two Fathers" were made a long time ago, and "TTTHP" was made two years later, so age is a factor. Yet it boggles my mind that the author learned absolutely nothing from "Two Fathers" - people were not pleased with the needless and badly designed opening stages there... so he goes and does it again. Except this time it's the entire city, or roughly 75% of the FM. The city is filled with narrow bottlenecks guarded by perfectly placed guards, a vague lightmap so one can't really be sure whether a shadow is gonna conceal or not, GUARDS THAT ARE SPAWNED IN AT KEY LOCATIONS WHEN CERTAIN OBJECTIVES ARE COMPLETED, vital frobbables concealed, and all seemingly done for the sole purpose of adding some 'challenge' to the FM. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that's the large mansion which houses the MacGuffin. But sadly that comes and goes all too quickly, and soon Garrett will have to make his way back through the city, with extra guards spawned in because the author thought it was clever. Honestly, if he'd stuck with the mansion alone and spent time on that that was wasted on the cityscape, this could have been something special.

It saddened me to see the attention to detail of "Two Fathers" is also lacking here. Gone are all the named individuals, it's just a long line of "Unconscious Body" now. The readables are longer, yet less interesting, and electric lights are now freely mixed with torches. This time it's clearly the author who's to blame.

Rating: 5/10. Others have come and done the exact same things this FM does... only better. As a result this can be safely skipped.


"The Hole" by eepcat

Garrett hears of something having gone down at a remote prison, and knows that one of the inmates there holds a journal with valuable information, so he sets out to grab it before the competition and the authorites there first.

Prior to this FM I had been playing numerous FMs which all had the same theme of a large cube/rectangle serving as the central structure of the mission (Not exactly the Cubism-era I would have wanted to hit the Thief-community!) such as "The Diamond", "The Gallery", "Mad as a Hatter" and "Worlds Collide", though "Ominous Bequest" also belongs here as they were all released in the same year. "The Hole" seemed to follow their footsteps from the onset... but fortunately takes a left turn into other areas and turns out to be surprisingly enjoyable. It's sparse and rough in many places, but it provides an acceptable story at a good pace, and is one of those 'journey'-type FMs where the player progresses through a linear set of areas before reaching the exit.

Rating: 6.5/10 It's a nice but aged little romp through hazardous areas, worth a go.


"Mixed Messages" by Uncadnoego and Thorin Oakenshield

In a FM set in a very specific point during the T2 OM, Garrett must throw the cops off the scent of Jennifer who he helped elope with Basso, while also learning more about the inner workings of the City Watch.

If one asks the question "Does this FM fit in with the OM's?" then this is one of the most resounding "Yes"-answers out there. It has the design style, the story, interesting readables and even some new voice-acting to make it squeeze right in there. About the only aspect where it deviates from the OMs is on the gameplay-front: This FM is not easy to beat and would easily become the hardest part of the OM, if included there.

It's not the bizarre acrobatics involved in the first three houses the player comes across, where one needs to enter the last house, but then backtrack via the rooftops over to the first house in order to reach a lever that opens a hard-to-reach door, only to find that the 'reward' for this fracas is... some loot.

It's not the police station which would only be more locked down as a fortress if it was covered in loud surfaces and guarded by mechbeasts. I counted eight cameras and fourteen coppers just on the outside of what amounts to a rather small building (there are at least six more off-duty coppers around as well). Strangely enough the interior is barely guarded at all.

It's not the ten secrets that if found, will both reveal a hidden objective and a brand-new area to explore.

No, it's the puzzles and runarounds that the FM demands in order to complete the objectives. There's a combination lock to uncover, and the only way to solve it is to learn braille. There's a timed puzzle that involves running quite a distance to solve successfully. And in the case you do uncover the hidden objective, you must assemble a decoding machine, find an encrypted message and decode it - because this FM has a 'theme' of mixed messages. :roll:

There are some FMs that just go over the line in what they're trying to do... and this is most certainly one of them. Mind you it doesn't cross the line with total disregard - it's more of a sidling step across it to see if anyone notices. Not a major crime, but it sets a precedent that some FM authors blindly followed.

Rating: 7/10. It hasn't aged very well and offers more busybody work than it should, but it also offers enjoyable challenges.


"Retrieval of the Soul" by Istvan Varga

Garrett. Big cube mansion with cube rooms. Big gem. Yawn.

Except there's a twist; on Hard you can't knock out anyone who's unarmed, and on Expert you can only knock out five guards at the most. This wouldn't be a problem were it not for all the cheese in the FM. Early on there's a storage room with three chests in each corner of the room, and a guard who rotates on the spot in the middle. Fair enough, except all three chests contain 'junk' items which need to be discarded. A little further on there's a storage room on the floor above, the first chest you come across has a 'junk' item that needs to be discarded. North of that are the barracks, of which every bunk has a chest, and about half of the chests have 'junk' items that need to be discarded.

Same thing with the servant's quarters, but it was the kitchen that pushed this over the edge for me. There's a servant preparing food in the kitchen, around him are all kinds of items to take, like food and loot. Also, directly above his head is a plate that's loot (this is established because there's an identical-looking plate in the sink on the right, which counts as loot). Knowing the risk of being spotted I reach for the plate... and it's a 'junk'-item that needs to be discarded (and he spotted me).

To me, this shows intent on the author's behalf to artificially inflate the difficulty by constantly placing the player in "Gotcha!"-situations. On top of that there's a hidden Bonus Objective of not taking or dealing any damage, and you can't access the final secret if you fail this objective. If the FM had other redeeming qualities these things might not be such a big thing... but there's absolutely nothing here that hasn't been seen or done (and better) in other FMs.

Rating: Taff off/10. This FM is nothing but cheese, and should be avoided as such.


"A Night Visit to the National History Museum" by Louve

Garrett has found a way to break into the heavily-guarded museum exhibition storage, which is full of treasures... by sneaking in via sewer passages leading from the adjacent and unguarded National History Museum. But is the National History Museum as safe and innocuous as it appears?

This FM has a strange vibe. It has large, open spaces, yet they're sparsely populated by items and scenery... except for tons of coins and rings scattered about as loot, so get out your microscopes! The NHM looks great, but again is wasting a lot of space on nothing. There are surprises to discover. The biggest pain is the secrets, you must find most of them to progress, and they're fiendishly hidden, even more so than all those blasted coins!

And yet... I had a fun time with this one. There's a lot of things set up with the potential to become relevant later on, some neat jokes presented and the basement storage of the NHM is a really cool place to explore. But ultimately it's the lack of potential here that I lament - a tighter map could have left more resources available to fill in the museum better.

Rating: 6.5/10. If you don't mind long treks and keeping your nose to the ground, then this is worth a look.


"Just Friends 1 & 2" by bassmanret

In these FMs you play Burt the Burglar, who's gone to ground after the local Lord placed a high bounty on his head. But when the Lord kidnaps the burglar's former love interest, the burglar is forced to mount a rescue mission.

Part 1 was released in 2004 and it shows. After a rough cave passage it changes to a primitive cityscape that seems to have lost a lot of content on the cutting room floor, yet it still provides interesting challenges to get in and out of places. It has WAY too many unfrobbable doors though and a very high loot requirement on Expert, and some of the obstacles on offer are solely there to slow down the player.

Part 2 was released in 2010 and takes place in a symmetrical, right-angled mansion. It also sports what I believe is the longest list of Objectives in an FM (26!) but fortunately most of those are optional. Sadly some of those objectives are bugged, meaning players are forced to cheese the FM to get them to work properly, and the ending 'escape'-sequence is pretty rough.

So even though they're old and have their faults, there's a very good reason to play them. That is the humorous writing. Part 1 has piles of puns and witty rhymes, while Part 2 has a tragi-comical family reunion, and which of the two endings the family gets is left up to the player. There's also an adult tone to the writing (you'll never look at a Genetically Enhanced Cucumber the same way again) but the absolute high points are the songs, written and performed by the author himself. They made me smile, and give "Just Friends" a very personal touch and mood.


Rating: 7/10.


"Relic: Left for Dead" by Schwaa

Garrett wakes up dead, in his own grave, somewhere out in the swamp. After gathering his things (including his own head!) he sets out to track down who killed him and return the favor.

This is one of the most original premises for a Thief FM, and is also one of the hardest FMs out there. The vertical elements alone present quite a challenge, and you'll get lost in record time! At least the loot objective is kept reasonable (though a bonus objective involves finding all of it) and some of the challenges are optional.

Rating: 7.5/10.


"Insurrection" by HipBreaker

The Undead are on the rise, and it looks like the end times in the city. But a small slimmer of hope exists - a scientist has found a cure for zombification, and Garrett has enormous dollar signs in his eyes for that... so he descends into Zombieville to steal it.

This is one of the most atmospheric FMs ever made, and one of the best early attempts. Colored lighting is used to great effect, the music is very fitting and foreboding, and extra care was taken to show just how gloomy and apocalyptic the setting is. I was almost sold on this being an overlooked contender for "Top FMs of All Time", except HipBreaker screwed up on some minute details. The whole FM runs on scripted events, and he almost gets them all right. But a perfectly-placed guard ruins all chances of any kind of ghost run, and one scripted event spawns guards out of taffing nowhere within eyesight (that kinda stuff is unforgivable) and if you go for the vault you're in for a Bad Time, stealth-wise. But beyond those slight stumbles this one is a corker. The city looks ready to collapse, guards are either drunk or injured to the point of despair, and the attic-section in the mansion has Shalebridge Cradle-esque levels of suspense. The poor man who locked up his zombie-wife also deserves special praise, don't forget to visit him later on.

Rating: 9/10. One of the essential FMs out there.


"Ack! There's a Zombie in the Basement" and "Sinful Opportunities" by Polygon

Two little FMs that are only loosely connected, but are a case example that bigger isn't always better. In fact they border on the tiny size, but they'll still provide a challenge and entertainment.

Rating: 8/10 on both counts.


"Greyfeather Gems 1: The Shipment" by Morrgan

Garrett has been hired by Lord Greyfeather himself to retrieve a valuable set of gems from the former family estate, which was buried in an earthquake eight years ago. But first Garrett has to get there, and for that he's going to have to join a Mechanist expedition heading the same way... without their awareness, of course.

Although somewhat simplistic by modern standards, "The Shipment" is easily a milestone achievement by 2003 standards. It's well-designed, offers good urban variety and has good writing. The only real downside is the painstakingly-crafted-to-be-as-annoying-as-possible ghosting section at the end.

Rating: 7.5/10. Enjoyable, but not quintessential, unlike its sequel.


"Greyfeather Gems 2: Rodamill" by Morrgan

Garrett's journey towards the Greyfeather estate continues, but first he must get through the Mechanist-occupied ruins of the mining town Rodamill. But soon it becomes apparent that more than just an earthquake destroyed the town... but what exactly?

This FM was years ahead of its time, and gives even modern-day FMs a run for their money, especially the horror-themed ones. In fact, the only downside to "Rodamill" is that Part 3 was never made, so it ends on the mother of all cliffhangers.

Rating: 9.5/10. A quintessential step on the taffer's path of quality FMs. Take a moment at the end to mourn the tragedy that is the missing finale.


"Happy New Year, Mr. Lambert" by Gaetane

Garrett has heard that four invaluable statuettes that were thought to be lost in a museum fire actually survived, and are in the hands of the aforementioned Mr. Lambert. Sensing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to steal them, Garrett braves Lambert's mansion during his New Year's party... and an on-site murder. Are other parties interested in the statuettes as well?

The "L'Arsene"-series of FMs both showed an author who can craft a good enough story that's told through setpieces rather than written exposition, and an author who is progressing in their talents. "Mr. Lambert" is a culmination of that learning process and works brilliantly precisely because it's a standalone adventure; everything you need to know is contained within this small mansion-heist. It's not a faultless adventure though, as the difficulty is higher than usual, secrets need to be sought out in order to progress the story, and some events won't happen unless prior, seemingly insignificant events have been triggered first. But the story is a good one and will keep you gripped right to the horrifying end reveal.

Rating: 8.5/10. Make a note of the music being played at the party, and enjoy the ride.


"Heist Society" by AsyluM

Garrett has a fat target lined up, Lord Gellard seems to be getting too big for his britches, and his britches seem to be bursting with valuables.

Despite its age this still holds up as one of the best mansion-heist FMs ever made. The attention to detail pays off, but even more enjoyable is the effort put into the voice acting. The mansion itself is brilliantly designed, with multiple paths of entry and movement flow.

Rating: 9/10.


"A Pirate's Downfall" by nicked

Garrett decides to help out a noble widow after her husband died and left his entire estate to a less-than reputable nobleman and his 15 men on a dead man's chest. There's no sin in robbing pirates, is there?

This FM is just full of surprises. The mansion seems big enough to hold its secrets, but there is just so much more to it than that. There are plenty of punnable titles in the library, a book with long and detailed descriptions of the various paintings in the mansion, something ominous in the graveyard (besides the epitahs), new voice lines, character models with such piratey attributes as peglegs and missing limbs... but then there's the Dragon's Eye-puzzle. Even with generous clues provided, this puzzle is a reach and a half. Fortunately it's not that much of a drag on an otherwise excellent FM. Highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10.


"Dark Messiah" by Schattengilde

In the aftermath of the Metal Age a power vacuum appeared which one former Hammerite/Mechanist by the name of Bassilus seems poised to fill all by himself. Strangely enough the Keepers have next to no info on him, so they dispatch Garrett to try to learn something.

This one holds special significance for me, as it was the first FM that I played that showed me that there's a real community at work creating Fan Missions ("Autumn in Lampfire Hills" took my FM-virginity). I figured I'd give it another go, many years later to see how it holds up. Nostalgia wears rose-tinted glasses indeed.

There are some very strange design decisions made with this one, most of them dealing with architecture. There's an attempt made here at a cityscape, but I feel like the idea wasn't thought through - lots of hard-to-reach empty rooms around. On the upside there are LOTS of opportunites here for climby taffers. One of the main objectives is located in a safe almost right at the start, but the key for it is literally located on the other end of the FM, so you're in for one hell of a trek back... and woe be upon you if you forget to snag that key before heading back... like I did while playing it now, AND when I first played it back in the day. :facepalm:

But what it has going for it, it's going at a good speed. The Old Quarter-segment is excellently done, and the readables keep a above-average quality. The 'way back' also has a strong "Ruins of Originia"-vibe to it, which I always like.

Rating: 7.5/10 Worth a play, and don't forget that key!


"A Debt Repaid" by Ottoj55

Garrett has been arrested by the City Watch, and it's up to Basso to spring him from prison before he's executed. But is Basso up to the monstrous task ahead of him?

Originally released in 2004, this FM received updates all the way up to early 2007, but even with DML-fixes made as recently as March 2021 we're dealing with massive problems here. For starters, the UI has been tampered with so that the light gem is unreliable, at best. Second, there are several puzzles in this FM which rely on out-of-the-box thinking on a scale beyond what most FMs expect, with the sole intent to be annoying and requiring extra steps to bring some sense of "added gameplay" to the mix. Quite aptly for a third point, the entire FM hinges on the fact that there's a third lockpick, and whether you find it or not is a matter of microscopic observation. And THEN we get to the engine-based problems, like whether you grasp on to strangely-located ladders or not and so on. And I didn't even get to the worst part which is a essential puzzle in there which doesn't have a badly-needed reset-button, despite dozens of posts from the community demanding it for over 14 YEARS (and counting). One chance is all you're getting at that one.

I'm sorry, but I only have patience for so much bullshit from a FM, but this one surpasses the quota even before the half-way point. Reading users on TTLG praising this FM to the high heavens actually made me sick to the stomach, and that's rare for that lot. But the cold, harsh truth is that this FM, despite its minor points of brilliance, is a turd.

Rating: 4.5/10 "A Servant's Life" is more fun than this one, and that's saying something for a pile of monstrous shit. I hope someone learned something from all of this.


"Dance With the Dead" by Yandros

Garrett is hired by the Hammerites to recover a sacred artifact... from a tomb currently ruled by a proverbial King of the Dead. With desperate Hammerites funding his efforts, Garrett has the option of a sizeable budget to help him out.

You may think that the simplistic, almost modular design of the place would make this a laughable affair... but the laughs are with you for once, as the architecture is purposefully kept simple to accomodate other factors - namely, replayability. Here you pick a playing "style" - Classic Thief, Classic Duke Nukem or Suicidial Tryhard-modes are on offer, which combined with the regular choices of difficulty should provide about nine different playing experiences.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the metal band Iron Maiden (and their music) are featured heavily throughout the FM? (The title screen should be a big clue to that one.)

Rating: 8.5/10 It's rare that a Thief FM opts for 'fun' and actually succeeds at it, and it's even rarer when it sticks to its thematic guns in the process. This is one of the 'must-play' FMs, even though it's a departure from the Thief-experience.


"Same Shit, Different Day - Tipping the Scales" by GarrettWannabe and Apache

Garrett is tasked to foil a dodgy casino owner by switching out his 'lucky dice' with a pair of fake ones. But things are never that simple, are they?

Despite being a 2007-FM, it feels much older in architectural design. There are some bizarro-level ideas being thrown about in here. Fortunately it's much more modern in other areas, but the primary gimmick of this FM is that every time you seem to be reaching the lucky dice, the FM throws another curveball at you to lengthen your mission. Starting roughly in the center, you first journey to the western end of the map to get your objective sussed out, then you head east towards the casino, where you learn that the dice is kept in a specific place... except when you get there you learn that it's been moved to a safety deposit box at the bank. So after securing a key that allows us to reach the bank, following by breaking into the bank, we learn that the dice have been moved from the safety deposit box to the underground bank vault, for which you'll need the key, the code, and to dodge guards in a tight corridor. This gets tiresome really quick, but somehow this FM possesses enough charm to keep me going right 'till the end.

Rating: 6.5/10. It falls smootly into that trodden path of "nothing special to see here, but still good fun".


"Scepter of Dor Am'al" by Jesps

Garrett hitches a ride on a boat to reach the last known location of a valuable scepter. The ship crashes along the way and our protagonist is the only survivor, so not only does he need to find civilization, he needs to know where the taff he is.

This FM is a gigantic and slightly convoluted maze of passages, but it manages to pace things as such so that players normally don't notice this. On the downside the whole thing feels stretched out - I feel that much the same could have been accomplished better with a more condensed map. Expect a LOT of walking through empty passages. Because it also encourages and rewards exploration, this FM comes up above-average in my books. Sadly the author abandoned DromED after this one and moved on to the Dark Mod, so hopefully he did better things there.

Rating: 7/10.


"All For a Night's Sleep" by Morrgan

Garrett can't sleep because some stupid taffer has a wind chyme banging on at all hours, and he wants it done and gone. This is one assassination mission where no one will mind a bloody murder!

Probably the best example of "Bigger isn't always better" out there. It just works flawlessly, with only minute flaws in architecture attempting to blemish what is otherwise a perfect effort.

Rating: 10/10. Please welcome the third FM into my Hall of Fame of Thief Fan Missions.


"Bloodmist Tower" by kfort

A while back I posted this:

Garrett plans to rob a nobleman of everything's he's got. Things take a weird turn when an innocuous-looking horn takes him to Somewhere Else. Hilarity Ensues.

After recently recommending it to an aspiring taffer I felt like having a go at it myself. It is Awesome. It is Smooth. It is Gold. It Sings to Me. It has Taffing, it has Style, it has Humor. Though some may disagree, I'm henceforth gonna rank it as one of the best Thief FMs ever made.

A perfect 10/10? Perhaps. Not sure yet, but it has a better chance of it than many others.

Just confirming that Yes, Bloodmist Tower is 10/10 material. That makes four of them now.


"Rust Belt Prison" by John Denison

A sequel of sorts to the notorious "A Servant's Life", Garrett is imprisoned in one of the worst prisons around, and attempts an escape.

FMs with unskippable in-game cutscenes always get a penalty from me, as do missions with extended camvator sequences... except when the camvator-sequences in question prove useful. Such is the case in "Rust Belt Prison", which takes close to five minutes to allow the player any control, but you get a small tour around the facility in the process, which helps planning the next steps. That said, the opening parts of this FM are a killer. There is virtually no room for error, patrol sequences must be learned and timed with perfect precision, and the way to freedom is as convoluted as one can imagine. But once Garrett is reunited with his blackjack, the tables are turned for real.

Rating: 7.5/10. Despite various shortcomings, this jailbreak is highly enjoyable.


"Memoirs of a Dead God" by Nicked

In this two-part FM, Garrett hears that a noble is building a vault to house a highly valuable item. Planning ahead, Garrett breaks into the manor to case the joint first, even before the vault is complete.

"Who's mad enough to make a FM based on "Casing the Joint", easily the worst OM in the Thief-games?" Then I check who the author is and decide that's it worth a look, at least.

It's worth it. It's SO worth it. I won't say anymore, as it will spoil things. Even though it's not everyone's cup of tea and presents a considerable challenge, I say that this is one of the "Must-Play FMs" out there.

Rating: 9/10. Remember kids, Chili Burrick Burgers are BAD for you!
 
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nicked

Educated
Joined
Feb 7, 2017
Messages
78
Location
Lincoln, UK
That's quite a list!

Somehow I'd never played Bloodmist Tower before. Gave it a go based on your recommendation, and can't say I was disappointed. It's hilarious!

I can see why you didn't like Sturmdrang Peak. It's quite a rambling mess in parts. From the time when I had enough skill to try and HD-everything, but not enough sense not to. And I like to think my writing has improved since...
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
30 minute-opinion of Ravensreach: This is pure nicked

To explain better what I mean, I'm going to copy-paste the last paragraph of that long Thief.txt file I have, of which I shared with you recently:

I'm starting to think nicked is the best DromEd'er out there... at this point in time, at least. He's skilled, he's versatile, he's not afraid to experiment. Not all of his FMs are worth playing IMO, but they all sport high production value and often have strong themes and consistencies about them. In a way, he Dares to Be Stupid.

Meaning: I'm finding things in Ravensreach I find a bit off, but I'm also finding things that are really cool and demonstrate a mind at work that's not afraid to push boundaries, while still keeping within a structure.

I'll admit that I find the "lo-fi" approach to this FM a little too low... but then again I'm raised on 8-bit home computers, I've smelt, breathed and eaten bits worse than what Ravensreach has on offer.

I recommend people give it a go, if only to form your own opinions. I'll give a proper review later.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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And finished. ~200 short of the total loot, and found all but one secret.

"Ravensreach" has Garrett trying to recover a cursed book from a haunted manor where three brothers damned themselves in three different ways. Naturally the book is locked behind a multi-part lock, with each brother holding part of the key, so each brother's domain must be visited and stripped of everything of value. Throw in the search for a band of adventurers who preceded you, and you've got a quest on your hands.

There's nothing really new here to talk about, but there are still some pleasant surprises abound which I'm not gonna spoil. One deviation from standard Thief-gameplay is that there are no lockpicks. This means that the FM is essentially a keyhunt, but since there are only 4-5 clearly marked keys, that's not a big bother. Instead the emphasis is on exploration and circumvention of obstacles, though most obstacles can be circumvented with a sword through the middle.

The architecture and aesthetics are just right IMO, though special mention must go to the paintings. Those might keep someone up at night...

Rating: 8.5/10. A great start to the year of Taffintaffintaff.
 

Scrounger

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Mar 26, 2018
Messages
42
Gotta add, those horrific faces of dead adventurers are hilarious with these low-fi textures. What a nice little adventure!
 

Maggot

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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
I enjoyed Ravensreach a lot but it's definitely not "lo-fi", there's more detail in every room than there is in all of T2, and the level looks better when you stop pretending it is and enable filtering. Great New Years present though and everyone should play it.
 

Riskbreaker

Guest
Indeed, nicked is overplaying the lo-fi bit so that you'd think you're up for something which, as someone here said, has the geometry of an early Doom wad whereas this is a looker from the start, especially when you enter the courtyard. It is an interesting aesthetic for a 2HIEF mission, a strange mixture of old and new, maybe like TDP from the memory of one who hasn't played it since the release, like that already oneiric game remembered in a dream and from that dream recreated.

Now my problem with this mission is the same as with any mission featuring nonhuman foes for in such I don't bother with the whole, you know, sneaky bit or, more precisely, I bother with it just to the extent where I'm in the position to introduce sudden pain in the back to the unlucky critter.
 

Unkillable Cat

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With thanks to JarlFrank for his work, here's the end-of-year Taffing report:

20220103023125.png


(For those thinking this is Decline, keep in mind that the rise of fall of things is inevitable, and we're looking at 20+ years of work here. That is amazing no matter how you look at it.)

But this reminds me that it's time to pick T1/T2FM of the year for me, and this year the pick was obvious: "Alcazar," with "Whispers Below the Cobblestone" and "Katharsis" being the runner-ups, though I'll say that this year's 'crop' was excellent overall.
 

JarlFrank

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With thanks to JarlFrank for his work, here's the end-of-year Taffing report:

20220103023125.png


(For those thinking this is Decline, keep in mind that the rise of fall of things is inevitable, and we're looking at 20+ years of work here. That is amazing no matter how you look at it.)

But this reminds me that it's time to pick T1/T2FM of the year for me, and this year the pick was obvious: "Alcazar," with "Whispers Below the Cobblestone" and "Katharsis" being the runner-ups, though I'll say that this year's 'crop' was excellent overall.

I may have to update this one though, as taffersparadise didn't have the Summer Speed Build Contest missions, so there's a handful more to be added to the total.

The funniest thing is the sudden resurgence of TDS FMs, though. WTF is going on there? The last one was released in 2014, then we suddenly get a new one in 2020, six years later... followed by TWO in 2021.
 

infidel

StarInfidel
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May 6, 2019
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436
Strap Yourselves In
If anyone cares I've been streaming me playing Thief FMs on twitch to what I can only assume to be 0 viewers
You're a bit quiet in the only video that's there, mate. Also increase the brightness a bit, stream moar and store the vids pls, this looks like something I'd put up on my second monitor when working.
 

toughasnails

Learned
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Sep 20, 2021
Messages
441
Revive?
It is not dead.New fm's come regularly and that is even for stuff like dark mod which is somewhat niche among the thief community.
If the way I have initially posed the question is somehow offensive (I wasn't in any way intending it to be) how about this: if there was a Night Dive remaster of some sort (ND guys tweeted that they'd love to do it but to me it doesn't look like Square presently cares for any Eidos IP that isn't TR) could the increased interest in Thief 1 and 2 lead to influx of new authors, maybe return of some old ones, in any case increase in number of new FMs?
 

SharkClub

Cipher
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May 27, 2010
Messages
800
Strap Yourselves In
If anyone cares I've been streaming me playing Thief FMs on twitch to what I can only assume to be 0 viewers
You're a bit quiet in the only video that's there, mate. Also increase the brightness a bit, stream moar and store the vids pls, this looks like something I'd put up on my second monitor when working.
Unfortunately Thief is extremely fucking dark on streams even on max brightness in-game (something to do with steam compression of the color black I'd guess). I'm not sure what the best way to go about fixing it is but the image on stream never seems to match what I'm seeing. I could put it up to max brightness but then I'm actively harming my experience while playing for only a minor benefit to anyone who happens to watch the vod. I do have vods saving now, there was a couple of FM streams before the one that is sitting on my twitch page there that didn't get saved.
 

Mikeal

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Dec 19, 2016
Messages
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Location
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Fellow taffers I need your help! First I'm in a dire need for missions where Garret has to explore forgotten catacombs, ancient ruins, mines basically everything underground/hounted etc. Second I need a name of one fan-mission. It was set in mansion where everyone prepering for funeral of the owner and ghost of said owner tasked Garret with finding who murdered him and with protecting his kids. I remember that mansion despite being huge didn't filled empty or filled with filler.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
Fellow taffers I need your help! First I'm in a dire need for missions where Garret has to explore forgotten catacombs, ancient ruins, mines basically everything underground/hounted etc. Second I need a name of one fan-mission. It was set in mansion where everyone prepering for funeral of the owner and ghost of said owner tasked Garret with finding who murdered him and with protecting his kids. I remember that mansion despite being huge didn't filled empty or filled with filler.

The FM you're looking for is probably "Transitions in Chaos 1: Conspiracies in the Dark" from 2006, though it could also be "Violent End of Duncan Malveine" from 2020.

EDIT: Typo.
 
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Riskbreaker

Guest
I'm in a dire need for missions where Garret has to explore forgotten catacombs, ancient ruins, mines basically everything underground/hounted etc.
Cryptic Realms for T2 would be right up your alley. It's easily my favourite as far as that particular theme goes. For TG, The Tomb of St. Tennor.
Both are also quite a bit bigger than you might expect at first, so you should get some mileage outta them.
 

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