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Thief 2 fan missions and campaigns

hibby

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Joined
Sep 25, 2020
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7
First I'm in a dire need for missions where Garret has to explore forgotten catacombs, ancient ruins, mines basically everything underground/hounted etc.

I enjoyed "Where the Unknown Lurks" by Skejven. There's some creative use of the undead theme that I won't spoil here, and the mansion section is fun.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
A new T2 FM dropped earlier this week, "Reingelegt" or "Double-Crossed!" by Zappenduster.

Garrett is hired for a quick bank heist by an unnamed employer. As the FM's name suggests, there is far more to this than meets the eye, and Garrett soon has to evade the law and find out who set him up.

I have mixed feelings on this one. On one hand this is a complex cityscape mission with thought-out areas and connections between them, has plenty of humour, and is not afraid to experiment a little. On the other hand there's way too many frustrating keyhunts, experiments which don't pan out and pointlessly convulated paths.

Some examples:

# Contrary to OM fashion, only bare-headed guards can be knocked out with the blackjack. Any guard with any sort of headgear is considered wearing a helmet... so why not just have all the guards wear helmets?

# The AI has been tampered with so that they hear and see better. It's not so bad that they have super-senses, but they're more aware than they should be. Just to throw players for a loop, as on Expert-level you mustn't be spotted by the coppers.

# Non-linear progress combined with invisible walls does not a good FM make. Thief FMs absolutely do not require invisible walls at any point, numerous other methods are available that accomplish the same purpose.

# The objectives keep piling on. Most of them just add to the linearness. Escaping the bank, for example, allows for no alternatives. You must take the One Path.

# The FM starting you with a couple of Slow-Fall Potions is a bigger clue than you think. There are some dodgy drops around, and for no discernible reason either. (I managed to dodge most of them by aiming for nearby light fixtures.)

# There are at least two instances of Massive Slogging Keyhunts, i.e. when you have a sizeable area full of locked doors, but the One Key opens them all... if you can find it. One of the keys is hidden in plain sight, but the other is hidden in a completely different building... for little other reason than to annoy the player.

# The mechbeasts have been changed, but that's one of the good points. I'll leave it up to you to figure out how.

# A large and completely optional area can be found by sniffing around (though on Expert it may be necessary to go there to meet the loot requirement). At first glance it may look to be in a half-finished state, but it turns out that it's surprisingly polished and full of content... it's just that the architecture is made to be free-form movement, in almost complete contrast to the rest of the FM, hence the spartan appearance.

# Be very careful with your supplies. I only ever found three Fire Arrows, but I needed two of them for very specific purposes, and one of those was plot-vital.

# EDIT: Forgot to add this one earlier: There is at least one instance where you have to smash a crate open to get at the goodies inside. This has been done in a Thief FM before, but to be so idiotic that virtually everyone condemned it. Basically, if you find a secret room with seemingly no loot in it, check for boxes and get smashing.

# Watch out for the water, most of it has strong currents and only serves as emergency exits from certain areas out towards the docks.

# There are at least four bonus objectives. One involves collecting a set of statues, one involves the rats in the FM, and the other two involve collecting specific loot items.

Rating: 7/10. It's not the best thing out there, but it's still a good trek while it lasts... which it does for quite a bit.
 
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agentorange

Arcane
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Aug 14, 2012
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5,014
Codex 2012
Ravensreach - A Down in the Bonehoard style mission, so the emphasis is on exploration and monster fighting/avoiding rather than breaking and entering/loot hunting (although there is still plenty of loot to collect). A lot of custom monsters and impressively none of them clash with the visual style of Thief. I especially liked the optional objective of having to search for all the members of the lost expedition (pretty sure that sound cue you get when finding them is from Dishonored). The mission has already been praised a lot so I don't have much to add. Reminded me a lot Catacombs of Knoss, one of my favorite FMs.

Morning Light - This is a continuation of the mission The Perdurance by Skejven. This one is more of a traditional Thief mission, whereas Perduance was closer to a survival horror experiment like A Better Tomorrow. Very short but put together exceptionally well. Densely packed and claustrophobic level design reminiscent of stuff like Alcazar. Hope this guy keeps makes missions and attempts something lengthier.

Katharsis - Not good. Didn't bother to finish. It simultaneously felt aimless and also very linear, moving straight through large areas with little to see and little challenge. Was also very slow on my laptop despite not being visually impressive. I recognized some ambient tracks for Stalker SOC in it which was neat.

Whispers Below The Cobblestone - A good mission that by the end turned into a slog. Although some of the level design is impressive, especially the rooftop navigation of the city with all sorts of windows to enter and little rooms to find, some areas felt needlessly large while devoid of interesting exploration; it would have been to the mission's benefit had the entire underground thieve's guild area been shrunken down significantly. I kept ending up in large areas that had seemingly little of consequence and thinking "is that it?" As it is it took me around 2 and a half hours to get to the central objective which then ended up being somewhat of a letdown.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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I especially liked the optional objective of having to search for all the members of the lost expedition (pretty sure that sound cue you get when finding them is from Dishonored).

Akshually, I think it's older than that. It may be from a sound library, as I've heard that exact sound being used in a local crime documentary... except that crime documentary has been aired since around the turn of the century. Another possible source for it is the song "Over" by Portishead, or a remix of it.
 

nicked

Educated
Joined
Feb 7, 2017
Messages
78
Location
Lincoln, UK
Actually it's a sound in the base game, from Thief Gold's Song of the Caverns mission. Not to say it's not a stock sound used elsewhere too, but that's where I got it from.
 

agentorange

Arcane
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Joined
Aug 14, 2012
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5,014
Codex 2012
Disorientation - Shocking that this mission was made in 2009, it feels like a more modern fan mission in terms of how densely the city is packed. This is one of those missions where you keep thinking you've seen all there is to see, then stumble onto another elaborate secret area, then another. The central canal system really ties the whole map together; I immediately fell into the water near the beginning of the map and got flushed all the way to the end by the current--could say I was disoriented. I find I really like these maps that make good use of water, gives an added dimension to any city.

Malazar's Inscrutable Tower - Nice puzzle mission. It managed to maintain a decent sense of difficulty without ever getting outright frustrating. My first encounter with the stone sentinels scared the shit out of me. The last part with the ice golems and the breakable boards left a little something to be desired.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
More from my archives of reviews, I cover three FMs from author 'Balboa', which are unconventional to say the least, but deserve a mention for good reason.

"Tales from the Cleft: Vandal"

A nobleman keeps a priceless book collection at his summer house, so Garrett is taking a walk in the countryside to raid a library while the nobleman is away on a cruise. But the newly installed security-system, the nobleman's failing health and a line of dead people are among the things Garrett will have to suss out first.

"Vandal" sets a good scene for taffing, but its first step off the beaten path is how it tries to progress the story through the FM's Objectives. This seems harmless at first, but the frequent (and silent) removal and adding of Objectives not only creates a mess, but at least one Objective only appears if you fail the mission (feeling a draft) and another can soft-lock the player and prevent progress (killing the frogbeast before getting the Objective related to it). Other FMs have done the same, but not at the depth that "Vandal" is at. In my opinion I'd say this is a step too far in narration.

In addition there are design decisions which don't add up. Doors that were previously inaccessible becoming accessible is one thing, but making previously accessible doors inaccessible because of the plot? The former is to be expected in some manner, while the latter only annoys and wastes the player's time.

The player is forced to ghost the mission until the security system is disabled, but after that it's perfectly fine to knock out everybody?

On Expert-difficulty the player must get 98% of the total loot... but there are areas of the FM that can only be accessed once - so if you missed out on even just one piece of loot in those areas, you're screwed.

Rating: 5/10. Its highly experimental gameplay sadly detracts from the enjoyment.


"Tales from the Cleft: Ladytaker"

In this sequel Garrett is tying up loose ends to the story in "Vandal", as well as pulling off a major heist against the Hammerites. But with an active serial killer on the loose the authorities are on high alert. Can Garrett save the day (again)? Can he save his own skin? Can Garrett find the 16 Hammer symbols dotted throughout the place and unlock the Big Secret?

Once again experiments in storytelling and scripted sequences are at the forefront, and the amount of herding that takes place here makes me feel I'm in sheep country. The primary problem with that is that Balboa is forcing modern-era game design elements into a game engine that was 10 years old at the time. In truth it should have been the other way around, he should have adapted those design elements so that they fit comfortably in the Dark Engine. But he didn't, so what we get is a FM that's appropriately cinematic in some places (Ladywalke-scene, approaching the apothecary and ensuing chase), badly scripted in some places (returning to the inn at the end of it all) or just laughably forced (pretty much every other 'scene' not mentioned so far).

What helps "Ladytaker" along is that the urban setting offers more 'freestyle'-gaming than "Vandal" did - but that only helps highlight how constrained everything is. Go off-script from the story just once, and watch how everything comes crashing down as the only reward is a soft-lock state. Remarkably there is a secret scene in this FM that is so completely off-script and at odds with everything else I'm left scratching my head: A door that was previously inaccesible mysteriously opens later on and reveals... a portal to a completely different location. Why it's there is never explained, what relevance it has to the story seems nonexistent.

Rating: 6/10. This is one FM where it's better to just roll along with the instructions, rather than try to do things your way.


"When Angels Refuse to Die" by Balboa

This was one of three entries into the 2009 'Vertical Contest' and placed second.

As this is a Balboa FM, you know what to expect... but IMO this takes things too far.

The FM starts with a 3-minute unskippable cutscene at the start, where everything stated in the readme-file is repeated. This is then followed by a tiny segment of gameplay involving moving forward into a room, and then ANOTHER unskippable cutscene (90 seconds long) before finally some actual gameplay is presented, as Garrett has been turned into a Mechanist Servant and must do repetetive tasks as part of his conditioning. Frob the wrong item and you lose health, but you're supposed to regain health if you frob the right item, but this only happens once after you've frobbed a wrong item, and then only once.

This is followed by a short series of rooms, until you reach a control center of sorts so bizarrely designed that objects in it only become frobbable when needed, i.e. you need to figure out the correct sequence in which to frob items in the room to progress. This is then followed by a ride in the World's Second-Slowest Elevator before the building must be ascended from the outside. This means shifting from window to window, room by room, before having to make an elevator come down by shooting the button above. If successful you reach a hallway which ends in the World's Slowest Elevator which must ALSO be activated by shooting the button, but this time the button is the one right beside it, well within frobbing range but still unfrobbable.

Once at the top you must dash and dodge an aggroed Mech Beast (because *reasons*) to power up a generator and then climb a ziggurat to flip a lever to start the self-destruct sequence... which requires a ride BACK down on the World's Slowest Elevator. There's a little more after that, but I'm not gonna spoil it.

The narrative- and progression-experiments in this one are extremely heavy-handed, to the point that I must declare that this is one of the worst designed FMs I've come across, and that's saying something. This is not the work of someone who's bad at DromEd bashing out some atrocity, this is all designed with non-malevolent intent and purpose.

Rating: 2/10. The casual taffer can safely skip this one.


So overall, we have an author here who is a good and humourous writer, who clearly knows what he's doing, but has trouble getting it to work within Thief. While this may lead to some wanting to throw shit at Balboa as a result, I disagree. These are valid experiments which demonstrate what works within the Dark Engine... and what doesn't. What of his ideas mesh with what is expected Thief-gameplay, and what of them don't. The end result are FMs that can be passed on by 'normal' players (though curious taffers can play "Tales from the Cleft" with a Caveat Ludious-warning) but they're a treasure-trove for game- and level-designers. In fact, I'm fairly certain that's precisely what happened after their release; a few notable FM authors played them, studied them, then decided to never try anything like this and took their FMs in a different direction.

And as a small comparison/contrast to Balboa's FMs, here are reviews for two other FMs which took a different path:

"Memento Mori 1: Nostalgia" by Random_Taffer

You play Darren, a poor boy trying to help his parents make ends meet in a tiny port village. One day a chance event puts Darren in a precarious position and off on an adventure to retrieve a prized book.

This FM turns Thief into a pure adventure game, and the focus shifts entirely to the story. The gameplay-elements of Thief are only used in one section, and ironically enough that's the part of the FM where the flow slows down to a crawl. This FM is otherwise so superficial that the plot and story can be summed up 100% in text format... and none of it is really that important for the sequel.

Rating: Meh/10.


"Memento Mori 2: Vagabond" by Random_Taffer

Darren now finds himself in a larger port town, but with no money or shelter... so he sets out to find some. But a chance encounter leads Darren onto a new path, ripe with opportunities.

This FM is a huge improvement on its predecessor, where it still has Adventure Game-elements present, but also utilizes Thief gameplay to good extent. This is best exemplified by one objective being an original one (at least I don't recall seeing it before) - hauling a body through the city without being spotted. Overall "Vagabond" still feels restrictive in some places due to many events needing to be done in strict order, but it's still enjoyable.

Rating: 7/10.
 

Maggot

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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
Finished Calendra's Cistern and Legacy and I can see where both sides are coming from. The story and writing are godawful, there's tons of bullshit hard parts, yet I can't bring myself to hate it and played through the whole thing. I do think it would be considerably improved if the AI wasn't retardedly hyper aware after things happen beyond your control but the brushwork was nice and the textures in Legacy didn't feel out of place (aside from the random pin-up girls paintings). I can also see how it's one of those FMs you enjoy more on replays as you know when the bullshit parts are coming and how to mitigate them.
 

Riskbreaker

Guest
I wanted to like some of Legacy's missions if only for their look and feel rather than for how they actually played - that snowy cityscape one in particular was pure magic. The writing was... special. Like a glimpse into the mind of lonely, horny, performatively goth teen (and Purah certainly wasn't a teen when working on this series, was he now).
 

Maggot

Arcane
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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
(and Purah certainly wasn't a teen when working on this series, was he now).
He thanks his wife in the credits. Also the readables were golden and made me laugh out loud several times.
dump005.png
dump017.png
dump018.png
dump019.png
 

Riskbreaker

Guest
The second one was the excerpt from that book of his, right? :lol: The one where he has you reading the pages upon pages of it untill he tells you what it is at the very end, like a good troll? And you'd go thru it all because you are conditioned into it, as such a long readable might contain info relevant for completing the mission.
It isn't bad stylistically. You ever read Clark Ashton Smith? That's what it sorta reminds me of, his French decadence inspired fantasy with lush descriptions of beauties and luxury.
 

Maggot

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Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
I posted the parts that kept my attention, after that it's around 15 pages of very shitty fantasy worldbuilding.
 

Riskbreaker

Guest
I'd be genuinely disappointed if that doesn't feature constantly spawning horde of skeletons/vampires/zombies.
 

agentorange

Arcane
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Aug 14, 2012
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Codex 2012
Heist Society - A straight forward Thief 2 style mansion heist. This is one of those missions that I would praise for its craftsmanship. It doesn't do anything experimental or unique, it's not trying to break the mould, but everything it does it does very well. I like how there were multiple entry-points into the mansion at the outset, and how many windows in the mansion can be opened, allowing the player to traverse from outside an area that might be difficult to approach from the inside. Despite the mansion being very large it never felt overly mazelike, either, and in general the objectives and navigation were frustration free without being too easy. I imagine the mission could be very challenging indeed if the player attempts to ghost or semi-ghost it, which I did not come close to doing; at one point I had about 6 guards chasing me through the mansion scoobydoo style until I managed to knock out 5 of them with a flashbomb and blackjack combo littering their unconscious bodies all over the central staircase.
 

Mikeal

Arcane
Joined
Dec 19, 2016
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Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
My favourite type. :smug:
 

toughasnails

Learned
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
477
I remember that one, it was one of the first FMs I played when I was just getting into them. It's pretty much vanilla Thief 2 + in the best sense. It even had an automap ffs, I think I could maybe count all the FMs I played that had one.

In case you need a recommendation for another vanilla + style FM, I really liked Stones And Glass Houses. It's a p polished mini campaign that feels like more of base Thief 2.
 
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Nixheb

Arcane
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
771
Location
france
Holy shitty marmelade, just spent a couple of hours into "Disorientation" (thanks agentorange) : this is pure liquid masterpiece. I HIGHLY recommend it to thief fans that love city exploration, secrets everywhere, insane roof climbing and astonishing surprises here and there. At first, I was frustrated by this apparent "big grey city" without anything really interesting to explore or do, but man,.... after a while, it turned completely inside down. Top notch !
 
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Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
Clearing out my Thief-archive here. Only two items remain; a review of an unfinished campaign that won't be released until the last part is out, and then this.

"The Sinkhole" by Weasel

A sinkhole has emerged in town, and it's rumoured to house an ancient tomb. As treasure hunters will be crawling all over it in the morning, Garrett only has one choice: To go in tonight. Well-geared with rope arrows and flares, Garrett begins his descent into the darkness...

For such a small and short mission, this one is hauntingly tense and atmospheric. The act of 'mapping out' the sinkhole via flares, trial and error doesn't sound too grand, but fortunately that doesn't overstay its welcome here. There's a rather fiendish puzzle at the end, but the true winner here is the readables. You can count them on one hand, but yet they say SO MUCH and are written so brilliantly that I have to rethink my oft-postponed "Audiolog Syndrome"-essay from the ground up.

Rating: 8/10. A short little FM, yet one you won't forget anytime soon.
 

Riskbreaker

Guest
It is akin to master patting the head of his faithful dog: a show of affection that all the same affirms their respective positions of power. That everyone gets the same rating is the extension of this: individuation is the prerogative of the sovereign master whereas the slaves are seen as the homogenous mass.
 
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JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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KA.DINGIR.RA.KI
[Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.]
Heist Society - A straight forward Thief 2 style mansion heist. This is one of those missions that I would praise for its craftsmanship. It doesn't do anything experimental or unique, it's not trying to break the mould, but everything it does it does very well. I like how there were multiple entry-points into the mansion at the outset, and how many windows in the mansion can be opened, allowing the player to traverse from outside an area that might be difficult to approach from the inside. Despite the mansion being very large it never felt overly mazelike, either, and in general the objectives and navigation were frustration free without being too easy. I imagine the mission could be very challenging indeed if the player attempts to ghost or semi-ghost it, which I did not come close to doing; at one point I had about 6 guards chasing me through the mansion scoobydoo style until I managed to knock out 5 of them with a flashbomb and blackjack combo littering their unconscious bodies all over the central staircase.

It is the quintessential mansion FM.

A lot of mansion FMs have been made over the years. Many are good. Many are shit. Some are excellent.

This is the best.
 

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