FM: Heretics and Pagans
Ghost - Success (Chemical)
Perfect Thief - Failed
Time - 00:48:49
Loot - 340/880
Pockets Picked - 2/9
Backstabs - 0 Knockouts - 0
Damage dealt - 0 Damage taken - 1 (from fall)
Healing taken - 0 Kills - 0
Comments - This is a very large mission, although you wouldn't think so from my playing time or the loot count. The mission is incredibly dark, almost impossible to see in a lot of places, contains very wide areas to explore, high volumes of AI, and barely any loot.
It's too bad there's an invisible barrier preventing the player from entering the pagan village at the beginning. Basically, there are two villages blocked off by a huge wall. The haunt village is where the player starts. The pagan village next to it is where the mission ends, but it's blocked off by a wall. The FM author therefore enforces a long subterranean route to get there. I certainly did a lot of experimental climbing and mantling to see if I could get over the wall but to no avail.
There is one area that would have busted me if I didn't have moss arrows. Descending the shaft into the caverns below the haunt village, I noticed a haunt standing at the bottom next to a shallow basin of water. It's not deep enough to make a splash, but the momentum of falling into the incline of the basin makes enough water noise (like running through a sewer) to alert the haunt. And dropping off the rope arrow onto the rocky ground makes foot noise:
So I fired a moss arrow onto the ground next to the basin and jumped onto the patch; voila - no bust:
Next are the caverns proper. They are very dark and hard to navigate. There's also a large sequence of underwater passages that I tried exploring, but I could find no air pockets and kept drowning even while taking healing potions. I had to skip this area completely and I don't know how the author expects the player to casually explore; it made the WaterWay Tunnels look more appealing.
Continuing on, there is a vertical cavernous shaft with ridges or platforms that need to be jumped down on a la Tomb Raider. The distance between two of the platforms is too much and I could not jump down without taking at least 1 damage. But ghost rules begrudgingly accept damage from falls:
Further into the mission are the catacombs, a pointless expanse of open space with lots of roaming enemies; I just kept to the walls. Later I came across a large chasm separating two ruined pillar-like walkways - very much like the Mines of Moria scene in the Fellowship of the Ring. I had to use a speed potion--hence the chemical success--to make the leap across:
The fortress is huge, labyrinthine, and busy with pagan haunts and burricks. The mission is so dark and the ambient light set so low that I can't imagine trying to search for loot in the fort. I had to keep my eyes really close to the screen to see what I was doing, especially when jumping around.
After gaining access to the roof of one of the fort buildings, I found a low wall that could be mantled onto. But there is an avalanche of dirt blocking the way to a dead pagan with an important key needed to get out of the fort:
Mantling onto the dirt mound didn't work. The trick is to run and strafe to the right and just hold those two keys: the player will then move very slowly diagonally to the right. Once it appears you're about to make it on top of the mound of dirt, crouch and move slowly so as not to drop off and accidentally make foot noise that could alert a nearby haunt. If there is another way to climb up or circumvent this dirt mound, I never found it.
Here's the important dead pagan concealed in a room that collapsed upon itself:
Later, I got to the pagan village that was blocked off back at the mission start. This area is pretty annoying to sneak through because there are no dynamics of light: the light gem is either bright yellow with a red bar or pitch black. I believe it's the moon which is causing the light extremes. Sometimes standing in what looks like very dark shadows is actually as bright as daylight. Not surprisingly, I encountered 1st alerts galore as I snuck around the village.
Beyond the village is a mountainous region connected with a long railroad track. It is possible to fall through the planks, so like a tightrope walker, I moved across the thin outer frame: