Hi Tom
Here is my feedback.
Random monsters and items?
Yes I agree, it will fit the story line if monsters and items are not
random. In shades of doom, monsters and items are never random.  Like you
said, scrolls would be damaged in water and because harpies fly in the air,
they won't fit in water.
As for arcade mode or not, I personally feel the game should have at least 3
lives. When I played  games like  pack man, Mario brothers and load runner
on a gaming console as a child with the assistance of sighted friends, these
games all had more than one life. I would say 3 lives is better than the
save and load feature because the save and load feature can make the game
too easy, for instance  reloading the game when a monster can't be killed
due to low health and these Nintendo and snes games did not have a save and
load feature but more than one life instead.
I am pretty happy with advanced puzzles.
The more advanced, the more challenging.
Some time ago you mentioned a puzzle in the tomb rader games where lara had
to carry jars filled with water and balance it to open a certain  door.
I am not sure how easy this is to program, but here is my suggestion anyway.
If the jar sway to the left side while the player is walking or running, the
player have to press backspace.
If the jar sway to the right side, the player must press backslash or any
other key close to bakcspace.
So while the player walks and runs, climb ropes,  pick up items and fight
monsters, the player must often press backspace or backslash to balance the
water jar until the door is reached that will be unlocked by balancing the
jar. As for jumping warnings, I vote for the least possible warnings.    The
least warning there is when jumping, the more challenging it would be to
jump. Mud in front of fire pits and lava pits, and a metal sound in front of
spikes will be fine.
Hope the feedback helped.

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