Kendeshel Playthrough,  Modding,  Skyrim

Review of Moon and Star mod (non-spoiler version)

Since Kendeshel’s next post is going to feature my running the Moon and Star mod, and therefore by definition will have major spoilers for that mod, this post is to do a non-spoilery review of the mod for anybody who hasn’t played it yet and thinks they might want to.

The TL;DR version: mixed feelings about this one, though not as strong as with Project AHO. It makes a few small but mostly nice additions to the overall game environment. But I feel like certain aspects of the story are kind of lacking. And after you finish the plot, there are side effects that are kind of annoying.

Details behind the fold. I’ll structure this similarly to how I reviewed Project AHO.

The core concept of the story

Moon and Star kicks off when a representative of House Hlaalu asks for your assistance in tracking down a mysterious criminal wanted in Morrowind. It’s a pretty good start, though be aware that it there is a level requirement here. If you’re running a vanilla start, or at least close enough to a vanilla start that you find Riverwood quickly, you’ll also find the guy you need to talk to quickly. He’s hanging out in the Sleeping Giant Inn.

But if you talk to him too quickly, he’ll blow you off by saying he needs somebody powerful.

Once you reach level 10, though, you’ll get a letter from this same NPC asking to talk to you. So once that happens, you can start the plot at your leisure.

That said, you may still want to hold off a bit. When I did some searching on the matter, I saw players posting on Reddit forums that you will probably want to be up in the 30’s for level range before you try to tackle the end game plot. There’ll be a significant boss you’ll fight at the end of it–and maybe also the criminal you’re searching for, depending on your choices.

I can confirm that holding off until later seemed to be the right idea for Kendeshel. I was in the mid-40’s by the time I ran this plot, and even with that, I found the final boss challenging.

Earlier stuff in the plot though should be fine at lower levels.

Stuff I liked

This mod adds a nice little village to the game, which I definitely enjoyed visiting. The NPCs there were interesting, and the village also includes a little shop where you can do general trading. I’ll go ahead and note that the village in question is on Lake Ilinalta; this has no bearing on the plot, so I don’t really consider that a spoiler. It’s close enough to Lakeview Manor that if Lakeview is one of your primary houses, the village’s proximity is very convenient.

Voice acting is generally good. One character’s performance is definitely over the top, but that character’s specifically set up to be annoying, so within that context, his performance was good too.

I only really noticed musical additions with this mod at the point where I tracked down the criminal, at which point a familiar theme from a different game kicked in. Players familiar with Morrowind (the game, not the location) will immediately recognize the music in question.

The entire point of this mod is a huge callback to Morrowind, which I knew it would be going in. Again, players familiar with that game will understand why very quickly once you begin engaging with this plot.

And the final dungeon you need to run has some nice puzzles to solve and a challenging boss to fight. Even though the quest rewards were a bit rough (see below), I found running that dungeon to be fun.

Stuff I’m ambivalent about

Quest rewards

Quest-rewards wise, there’s a bit of a conflict with this mod and other content–both the AE/CC content and Legacy of the Dragonborn. If you’re running either AE/CC content, Legacy, or both, what quest rewards you can get from Moon and Star won’t necessarily be as interesting. The mod is clearly assuming that some of the artifacts it offers you aren’t already in the game. But you will have access to the same artifacts if you’re running the full Anniversary Edition, or otherwise have the relevant Creations individually installed.

If your playthrough also includes Legacy of the Dragonborn, though, Legacy also has its own copies of the relevant artifacts.

So this makes for a bit of a bumpy experience with getting the quest rewards for Moon and Star. I am running a patch that’s supposed to make Legacy and Moon and Star play nicer together, but this patch isn’t as smooth as it should be. Mostly because it doesn’t resolve a discrepancy between dialogue and the weapon you actually get, at least if you make the same rewards choice I did.

Who the criminal actually is

I can’t discuss this part without spoilers, so I’ll simply note here that this was one of my “things I’m ambivalent about” items about this mod. I’ll get more into this in Kendeshel’s next post, where I’ll delve into the spoilers in depth.

Placement of the final dungeon

The specific location of the final dungeon I’m not going to mention because spoilers–but I’ll note at least that it is very, very close to another location relevant to Dawnguard, and there may be clipping issues. I have not confirmed this yet in my run. Just be on the lookout for this being a potential problem.

Stuff I didn’t like

Trying too hard to telegraph hints to the player

Anybody who’s played Morrowind at all or who is otherwise familiar with the lore of that game will figure out very fucking quickly who the character you’re searching for is supposed to be. There’s a hint for it right in the name of the mod.

That right there was an adequate hint for my purposes. But the mod also tried very hard to telegraph that same hint in dialogue with the NPCs in the village, as well with a significant musical hint in the final area you need to explore. And I found this grating.

Your mileage may vary, of course. If you haven’t played Morrowind, and you want to remain unspoiled as to the identity of the criminal, under no circumstances should you read the comments in the Forum section of the mod’s post on Nexus. The criminal’s identity is discussed there. Be warned.

Post-plot recurring attacking NPCs

Again, because of spoilers, I can’t get into details about this. Suffice to say that once you finish the plot, if you make the same choice that I did, you will run the risk of being regularly attacked by certain pissed off NPCs. I have had this happen to me twice now, and it’s kind of annoying.

(No worse mind you than any other kind of regular random NPC attack you might have. But the locations where these NPCs can attack you is not random, which adds to the annoyance.)

I’m given to understand that if you make the other choice in resolving the plot, there will be adverse effects from that, too. So what I’m saying here is, choose wisely.

The story is honestly kind of flimsy–and surprisingly short

I came out of running Moon and Star with an overall reaction of “was that it?” And I had several questions left unresolved, things that I feel like the mod really should have taken into consideration.

In short

As with Project AHO, not sorry that I ran this mod; it definitely had some entertaining aspects to it. And I do feel it’s worth trying at least once. More, maybe, if you have a lot more nostalgia for the Morrowind game than I do. (Y’all will note that I only started playing Morrowind after I started playing Skyrim, so yeah, I don’t have that much nostalgia for that game since it’s still a current experience for me!)

But it’s probably not one I’m going to revisit. Probably. Unlike Project AHO, though, I feel like I may keep the possibility open of playing it again if the mood strikes.

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.