Chapter 2 – The Society of the Atronach continues onto the quest-adventure that the hero has begun during Chapter 1 – The Dwarves of the Mountain by Emerald Demond. The story takes place after couple months after the events of Chapter 1. During the confrontation, the hero finally managed to get the upper-hand but before the hero can land the killing blow, the Geomancer makes his escape promising that it is not over yet. In the months that follow, the Geomancer has seemingly disappeared for good and Cyrodiil is saved again. Peace once again descends the continent but one question remains. Has the Geomancer really left for good?
Chapter 2 definitely adds onto what was established in the first chapter. This time concentrating more on the Geomancer himself and the disappearance of the Dwemer. The second chapter was certainly one of the more impressive quest-adventure mods that I have played, that had a really solid plot/story that did not die towards the end. Some mods that I have played had a really solid story but when you get further into the story, they tend to somehow lose the point or track of the original story. Which is a terrible shame, and one of the many reasons why this mod was so engaging.
The adventure begins rather innocently enough. The hero decides to get some sleep to recover from the events of the first chapter or to rest from a hard day’s work of dungeon-delving. Whatever the reason is, you drift off to sleep and experience a peculiar and terrifying dream. Upon waking up, you have somehow wandered in your sleep and ended up in the Imperial City (I found this hilarious considering I was sleeping in my manor in Anvil, that is some serious sleep-walking). However I noticed that all the times where you are told to go to sleep; you need to sleep for more than two hours in order for the script to kick in properly. While I understand the reasoning behind it, sometimes I become impatient when I sleep for three hours and the script has yet to kick in. I find it easier to set the character to rest in the bed for about six hours and the script kicks in fairly quickly.
I really enjoyed the variety of quests that could be found in the city of Spectrum. Spectrum had a little of a goofy banner design, in my opinion anyway. I am no designer or anything but I just figured that the city seal/shield could be better designed, since seeing the city’s seal on the guards’ shield and cuirass just looked so odd. Anyway, moving along. I actually really liked how the city was set up, very easy to navigate the city since residences had their own little plaza and the shops were in their own plaza. The statues in the middle of the plaza of the various atronachs that were the guardians of the city. Having atronachs being the guardians of a city was a unique idea. Seeing as how all the vanilla cities use one of the Nine Divines being their patron god. To have a city to be protected by Daedra species, or sub-species in this case was very original. It could be seen as very bold idea since this is a city that does not worship the Nine Divines which is the norm (not from what I can tell) and worships not one atronach, but several atronachs. All of whom are unique and represent certain aspects of nature. The fact that you can actually join the society of the atronach was really neat although you do not get any real perks to joining. Well, the only perk would be being a member of a really cool group who all have a unique atronach companion (except for the leader for some reason who has none).
Although I still find it out peculiar how the castle stables are in the basement of the castle, and the only way to access the sables is going through the castle dining hall. Since the only other way to enter the stables is locked with a key. BUT GOOD LORD, the horses that you could have in the Gemstone Stables was just so wicked. A horse made out of pure gemstone and you could see all of the variations of the gemstone horses. I personally liked the Peridot horse. You can only get one of the horses by giving the stable-owner 20 flawless gems of the horse type you want. So if you wanted the diamond horse, you have to give him 20 flawless diamonds for example. They are faster than all the horses in vanilla Oblivion if I remember correctly, and are a lot more robust (obviously due to being made out of gems) than the vanilla horses. Maybe it is just me but the idea of owning a horse made out of gems is really darn cool.
The main aspect of this mod that I enjoyed the most out of everything was seeing all the unique variations that could be done to the flame atronach model. Seeing the different coloration for the flames and armor was a real treat for me. I was little envious that the residents all had a unique form of the Flame Atronach while I had Cinder who was just a normal Flame Atronach, but a very trust-worthy travel companion. Whom sometimes tried to murder me when I accidentally slashed her with my sword or being caught in my lighting blast attack, I do not claim responsibility for all those friendly-fires (hits?) because she decided to go in my way when I was already executing those attacks. So I had to reload an old save or autosave a couple of times since you can’t really yield to a creature/daedra/atronach. I really liked the madness atronach mostly because it is the only one that will say something. The only line it speaks is the most awesome line ever “madness? this is SPECTRUUMMMM” which I probably laughed at a lot harder and longer than I should have. I am so easily amused. Best atronach ever.
The whole quest of retrieving the atronachs from their temples was probably the quest I enjoyed the most, other than final quest involving the geomancer. All the temples had their own unique challenges before you can find their shrine to retrieve the atronach spirit. The temples that I personally enjoyed was the Green Atronach (I enjoyed the maze), Yellow Atronach (parkour your way to the top above the clouds) and the Indigo Atronach (the one that resides in the cosmic temple). I think the Yellow and the Indigo Atronach had the best temple locations, one being in the skies and the other on Masser (the large moon) itself. A result of high expectations was that I was a little disappointed with how Masser was designed. I was expecting something more cosmic or space-like. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting but I was still disappointed. To a degree. The valley design reminds me of something though…what was it? Ah, I remember now. It reminded me of the sandstone cavern place from Midas Magic where you had to find the one atronach and get the sandstone heart. This is not about Midas Magic.
Special honorary mention to the Violet Atronach for having an equally unique temple location that suited it right to the bone, and being one of the freakiest locations I have been in. That temple had me extremely paranoid. It was hard not trying to use my grand light ring to give me more light (and sense of security) to see rather than the glowing ring that I was provided with. Not sure how I feel about the trials they gave you before they gave you the location of the next temple. Mixed feelings due to the fact that the trial for each of the atronachs was the exact same thing which did disappoint me since it became repetitive so quickly, but I am unsure how to make the trials more unique. I suppose one way would be to make the trials unique by using an element of what each of the atronachs represented but that might had already been used for the temple challenge. For example, since the Violent Atronach is about illusion and fear; the trial could have been related to something like that but I suppose that you already went through that in the temple though. Hm, this is not a particularly easy thing to plan for, especially when you have several atronachs to account for. Perhaps it was best to leave it simple, despite the repetitiveness of it all.
The Geomancer was by far one of the most intriguing villains I have encountered so far, both in terms of vanilla and modded Oblivion. Certainly the most memorable of recent memory. The Geomancer is a very complex character when you look at him carefully, especially during the second chapter. He keeps you guessing at every turn, when you think you have him and his tricks figured out, he pulls out another trick which completely throws you off completely again. He manipulates you so well that you have a hard time figuring out whether you can trust the quest-giver or any person you encounter since he could literally be any body. Not to mention he is
literally bat-shit crazy murderously insane . He is such a well designed and thought out character, you will detest him for his actions. However, when you reach towards the final climax of the mod you are given what feels like an upper-cut when you are given the revelation of who the Geomancer really is.
With that said, that does lead me to my next point. When you chase the Geomancer, you eventually end up at some old ruins. If any of you have played Morrowind, you will instantly recognize these ruins as Dwemer ruins. I might had a…nerd moment when I saw it. To see something that I had loved so much in Morrowind being recreated so perfectly in Oblivion: from the details, the structure all the way down to the loot was such a great thrill. Felt like Christmas. It was a wonderful trip down nostalgia and I was actually impressed to seeing the steel kegs, tables and cabinets being included in the ruin. Especially seeing all the loot that was associated with the ruins, the clutter and the dwemer coins. Such a pleasant surprise.
I thought that was impressive but the inclusion of Lord Kragrenac and the tools used on the Heart of Lorkhan just left me gobsmacked. I never saw that coming at all. I love how Kragrenac’s presence and why he had the divine tools was so well-explained. I really did not see that sudden twist to the story, especially in how it relates to the Geomancer. That revelation about the Geomancer’s true purpose was staggering. What was more shocking was how the Geomancer reacts to this, he goes from a villain to someone who decides to defy what he was “programmed” to do and aid the hero in defeating Kragrenac. Once he helps you defeat Kragrenac, he decides to go travel the world in hopes of being able to repent for his reprehensible crimes. To see Geomancer actually being a tragic villain rather than the downright manipulative and criminally insane antagonist that the player is lead to believe is well, needless to say rather staggering for lack of words to describe the feeling. Which makes the entire experience you go through from first chapter to the second chapter all the more incredible.
Once you are finished with the main quest, you are able to pick up some more side-quests from the merchants of the city whom only provide these quests once you finish the main quest. Just a warning, I would avoid doing the quest with the guy who owns the ingredients store because he is a serious prick. Not to mention his quest is insanely hard to do, not only do you have a timer that will literally kill you if you do not succeed in his challenge on time…you are meant to know the locations of where the ingredients are located. You do get a hint but for someone like me…the hint is not really helpful. On the bright side, if you get stuck there is always the helpful walk-through to help you out. The armorer of the city has the strangest and most disturbing quest that still has me rather unsettled. While the lady who runs the jewelry store has me convinced that she is either got a fetish or an unhealthy obsession over rare and unique gemstones. On the bright side, she does give you a unique and enchanted ring as a reward for her quests so all is well. On a whole, you get unique rewards for doing the merchants in their quests post-main quest line.
If you want an extra challenge, if you return to the scene of the final battle aka the dwemer tower. You will encounter two enemies that been added to that area and are the strongest enemies to exist in the entire game. If you manage to survive and kill the two enemies, you will get some cool loot for all your troubles.
I am still rather depressed that I could not get a unique atronach, although Cinder was a unique atronach in her own right. Not to mention, Cinder does eventually evolve into a unique atronach towards the end, as you see in the above screenshot. I actually became rather fond of Cinder and no longer being able to have Cinder as my travel companion, makes me feel like there is an empty space in my Oblivion world. I suppose I could activate my Frostcrag dlc and make a flame atronach then use the console to rename it as Cinder. Cinder the Second in memory of the faithful companion. Oh speaking about the atronachs, I forgot to mention something. While I am impressed how Emerald Demond used the Flame Atronach model to create unique atronachs, I was little curious why he did not try with the Frost Atronach. The Storm Atronach would be too hard to give a unique and varied model but surely the Frost Atronach could be used, maybe as an evolved form of the atronachs due to the result of a powerful bond between the man/mer/beast-folk and their atronach. So a Frost Atronach could be used as the king’s atronachs or something. Just a thought but the variation of the Flame Atronachs was sublime and I actually think the Flame Atronach actually works better being made into the various atronachs since it is more flexible to work with compared to the Frost and Storm Atronach.
I did notice a few interesting bugs/glitches while playing the mod. One was when you enter the dining hall, the lady who spends her time in there is just literally a floating head. Looking at the nexus forums in regards to this, reveals that it seems the game is unable to find the dress that Emerald made for the character. Even re-installing the meshes and textures did not fix the issue for me so I just ignored it. Second one I encountered was during the To the Moon, Alice! side-quest thing where you were meant to get a small update saying you nearly forgot to return the item to someone. I never got the update till after I finished the main quest, and returning to the Arcane University to enter and exit the Astrology tower. I finally got the notification that time. While I got the update at the end, I am still unable to figure out why I did not get the update at the intended time. What was the final issue I encountered…*thinks for a moment* Oh! I remember now. Some of the residents in Spectrum had really messed up body parts. Not sure if this is a skeleton issue due to the clothing given to the residents which were Thadon’s robe and Syl’s dress which from I recall were not playable. Or a mesh/texture issue on my part. Like for example, the owner of the inn would have her tail stretch out to nearly the roof of the inn. Enabling and disabling the character would sometimes work or make the issue completely worse.
I highly recommend playing Chapter 2 – The Society of the Atronach. You go through a lot of interesting challenges and have your mind messed with by the Geomancer. For Morrowind fans, you get a nice trip down memory lane with this mod as well and get the divine tools used on the Heart of Lorkhan. You do not necessarily have to play Chapter 1 in order to play this but I do recommend playing the first chapter, so you have a better understanding of the story. Overall, had a terrific time playing this mod and is definitely on my all time favorite oblivion mods list. Fantastic gaming experience with an extremely rock solid story. Go download it and give it a shot!