Just when I think I have reached the total areas I am going to need for this module, another requirement pops up in a timely fashion, requiring me to have to reconsider more conversations and, more importantly, more quests for the player to undertake. For every time I introduce a new area, I then also feel obligated to make it an area worth visiting, and as any builder knows, this means the need for a quest or two. Read on to learn more about the latest developments ...
It all began when I started to write an important conversation that moves the heroes from one situation to another. Originally, this was going to be a basic conversation with an NPC whom the PCs may or may not know, subject to the background they have originally chosen for playing the module. The problem was, however, I could not easily introduce this female elf NPC in any of the areas I currently had available without it lacking authenticity. i.e. I wanted to have the PCs meet this new NPC in the environment they worked in, rather than the local tavern.
So, I found a rather good prefab on the Vault (details withheld to prevent spoiler), and place my NPC in a suitable location within it. I now had a neat new area with the link I required, but the area felt very much underused. In my mind, there was no other course of action other than to consider some suitable quests for the area to flesh out the experience for the player. It also offered me a way to add some personality for the NPC as the PCs carried out some particular tasks for her. It did not end there, however, as I also wanted to give some depth to the new outdoor area, by allowing some buildings to be enterable. This meant having to create some new interior areas too. It did not take long before I had four new interior areas too, but I am not convinced that's the end of it. i.e. Arguably, I think there should be at least another two interiors to make most use of the area. Thankfully, I also managed to track down a few interior areas on the Vault that I could also potentially use for the ideas I have in mind.
I am also aware that I still have one scenario in mind for another area that will also require one or two (possibly more) interior areas to complete the quest. That quest is also based on an old pen and paper scenario, and so may require a tailored design when it comes to it.
I now wanted to come up with some additional material to ensure the area was interesting enough to stand alone in its own right. To this end, I decided to flesh out this NPC, making her more fully rounded, and with an agenda of her own. I located my original pen and paper notes about this elf, and expanded on what was already known about her, basing some new tasks around her character traits.
In the process of doing this, I ended up doing some interesting new scripting that gave better interaction with the game environment. Unfortunately, I cannot go into much detail, except to say that something the player does is now reflected in the game environment. It sounds petty, I know, but it looks quite neat when played out. Another task I designed has multiple paths to its conclusion, subject to skill tests and player choices. The conversations involved were quite complicated to put together, but the end result is quite satisfying.
Also, all tasks to date, have included some random elements, which could allow a different gaming experience on any potential replays.
My approach to the building of module two has undergone a number of changes over the last few years, and so what I may have reported a few months back may not be what I now say. Basically, my approach has changed from a rigid approach of trying to finish one area at a time to a more dynamic approach, after recognising the story forces me to refocus on various aspects as they reveal themselves in a dynamic way.
For example, as regular readers will know, there will be 'were' creatures in module two ... and that means a risk of contracting lycanthropy in the Althéa Campaign ... which means I need to provide a means for its curing. There are also other issues involved when introducing gaming elements where a PC may polymorph at any time! So, in this example, I have spent some time making sure a solid means of a player being able to cure their PC was in place, as well as ensuring such a curse did not detrimentally affect the game in other areas. I also wanted to stay true to the D&D rules with respect to any lycanthropic curse, which meant it was reasonably involved. Therefore, when it came to designing this aspect of the module, I found myself having to deal with a number or items, NPCs and areas all at the same time, which meant I was forced outside of a "one area at a time" approach. There are many such design situations like this I have in module two, which simply do not allow me the luxury of a single area at a time approach.
Anyway, bottom line, this module will be done when it is done, and as much as I had hoped it to be ready by the beginning of the next year, I may simply have to accept that the dynamic story has as much to say about when it is finished, as I thought I had. ;)
A screenshot from the latest area of work ....