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Friday, 31 July 2009

Castle & Classic Cars

While I have been working on the module, I have also had the opportunity to sample some of the better weather we have had of late by taking a trip to a local castle: Chiddingstone Castle. It was a pleasant day out and we were blessed with the added bonus of a free classic car show while there. For those interested in some photos of a castle and a few classic car shots, take a look at this web album. (Can you spot the troll in her lair?) And here is the official Chiddingstone Castle Website if you want more information. It is the farthest and longest I have been out in quite some time and I am still recovering from the trip even now, but it was worth it, as I like to get inspiration for some building designs when visiting such places.

Picking Pockets

One of the gaming aspects I have been looking at is when a rogue attempts to pick an NPCs pockets. Having looked at it more closely, I discovered an issue where a PC does not always get "reproached" after being detected by their target. I made a post at the forums, but no-one has come back to my last post where I mention the issue. If anybody reading this blog can shed some light on how to resolve this, it would be a great help. :)

Zork - Great Underworld Empire

If you fancy a chance to play (or replay) the classic Zork I adventure game using the NWN2 interface, then look no further than Amraphael's excellent conversion at the Vault: ZORK – Rediscovering the Great Underground Empire. Amraphael (a.k.a Nilhar) has done some very impressive work in this module, and I am not too proud to say that there are some ideas that I would like to copy and consider using in my own.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Rewards (POLL: What Reward Gets You Excited?)

I don't have much to report this week, as I have not had much chance to work on the module at all. The little I have done involved a script that attaches to a creature's OnDeath script and has them drop some treasure (of gems and gold) according to their level. I wanted to make sure all gems could potentially be found, as the crafting systems require gems in many cases. However, this also got me to thinking about rewards in general and I decided to flesh out this weeks post with another poll: What Reward Gets You Excited?

I decided to only allow one answer in this poll to try to concentrate the answer, but if you wanted more or had something different in mind, then please add a comment. :) NB: By "Reward", I don't just "treasures", but any kind of "return" for your playing the module.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Moving Along ... With Patch v1.23

Ye Olde Shoppe

With the majority of the costing exercise behind me, I started to make use of the new economical values in my module by starting to work more with some of the shops and trades that will be available in the game. As mentioned in a previous post, each trading place will open with an additional "store" information GUI, giving extra details for the place, such as maximum buying prices, identify costs and limits to the store's gold. In addition to this, I have now created a system that randomly adds new stock items and informs the player of such in the new GUI. New stock may simply be other useful items, or may be a special item that will add more to the game. Note, however, items that don't sell will be removed from stock after a time and new items added, so if there is an item you want and you have the gold, buy it!

The system already works well, and all I have to do now is customize some new stock items for the various shop types and consider adding extra code to the system that decides how to handle items sold to the store from the PC.

Party Maps

Another system that I finished this week was the Party Map system. Readers of the blog may recall that I do still intend to use the map systems from both NWN2/MotB. Each system is used in a different way according to what the PC has discovered. However, I have also adapted the code to allow PCs to acquire map items and view them as a party (including MP mode). The map displays locations discovered and gives some information about them when selected, but the "Travel To" button is disabled to prevent a quick escape from a dungeon environment. The idea is to allow PCs to look at a map together and discuss options similar to old PnP style play.

Dead Weapons

With the release of patch v1.23, I have been able to make use of some of the new functions, including the GetBaseMaterial to determine what material an item (in this case a weapon) is made from. This is useful to me, as it means I can determine what properties may still be available to a weapon that has degraded. i.e. Dead Weapons (*) degrade in my game. However, if a weapon is made from a certain material (e.g. adamantine), then any properties associated with the material in its construction are not lost, as opposed to magic weapons that may have had 2-3 properties on them, but have been lost with weapon degradation and lack of care. This means, of course, that sometimes it may pay to have a weapon made of a certain material, as its properties may last longer than a weapon made from iron that has been enchanted. NB: There are means to keep a weapon in good condition and not lose any properties. Also, Living Weapons, by comparison, do not degrade with use. (*) The term Dead Weapon will become more obvious when playing the game.

Auto-Pause Combat System

With the release of patch v1.23, I also want to make a slight alteration to my optional Auto-Pause Combat System. At the moment, the system works well, but now that instant feats have become available in the latest patch, I would like to make the new "feat" instant in response, as opposed to have an action delay time. However, the new feats.2da supplied with the patch failed to have the new column added, which means although the facility is there, I cannot make use of it until I have managed to edit the 2da file and added a column. I have told it should be possible using Excel, but at the moment I have not had much success. I guess Atari will release the file separately at some point. Even so, I think this new feature of instant feats will be a great blessing to the community.


After patching to v1.23, I found that when I entered Character Mode in game, that I could no longer look upwards, like I could prior to patching. I was about to reinstall the entire game when I had a thought about allowing NWN2 to rebuild the NWN2player.ini file after I deleted my version. Thankfully, after doing this, the game worked again just fine. I know one of my players was also struggling with one of his playing modes, so maybe this might be a fix worth noting for future reference. NB: I don't think the fault was as a deliberate result of the patch, but in my case, it did occur at the same time.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

A Recipe For More Work

Today, I was hoping to bring news of finishing the "costing" exercise I have been trying to sort out for the last few weeks. Unfortunately, while on the home straight (reworking the costs of creating Wondrous Items using the new SoZ recipes), I came across another "problem": It seems that the minimum caster level stated in the Wondrous Item recipe description actually has no bearing when using the recipe at all!

On checking the 2da file and accompanying crafting scripts, I could not see any check for caster level and, in practice, I was able to create a Cloak of Resistance (+5) with my 1st level cleric (after I gave him all the ingredients), which according to the description requires a 15th level caster. I made a post on the forums asking people about it. For now, I have put this final section on hold awaiting any further information on this, as I do not want to edit all the descriptions only to find it "fixed" in the next patch. I don't mind there being no minimum caster level, but if this is the case, it does affect the costs involved to create the item in the recipe.

Spell Alterations

In the meanwhile, one of my players has been helping me go through spells in the game to work out which ones will require extra code to allow variable level casting and any alterations we want to include. E.g. A Summon Monster lasts 1 hour per level (max 20) or until killed now. We have done the first couple of levels and will hopefully get through the rest in time.

The Greater Essences

After closer study of the greater essences and what properties they instill to items, I have decided to alter the level at which PCs need to be to work with them. I compared the level of giving a basic property to an item between the OC crafting system and the MotB system (like giving armour +2 AC) and then adjusted the level slightly for any "cost differences". By my calculations, the level to work with the greater essences dropped by 4 in every case. So now, the caster level to work with greater essences are as follows:
  • Brilliant Essence (x1) : 8th level.
  • Brilliant Essence (x2) : 11th level.
  • Brilliant Essence (x3) : 14th level.
  • Brilliant Essence (x4) : 17th level.
  • Pristine Essence (x1) : 20th level.
  • Pristine Essence (x2) : 23rd level.
  • Pristine Essence (x3) : 26th level.
This allows the players to start using the greater essences much sooner than normal, which is something I want to encourage. The properties that can be enchanted with these essences are now closer in value to their creature distilled lesser essence types.

The only downside to all this of course, is that I will now need to edit the essences descriptions to reflect this. However, as there will be a single tome explaining all the greater essence recipes, I will simply remove much of the crafting descriptive text and leave something a little more generic. This does, however, prompt me to have to finish the Greater Crafting tome that I started some while back.

Free Game

Lastly, has anybody tried playing this free game from Aeria Games? I have not looked at it yet, but wondered if anybody else had any experience with it?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Sum of the Parts ...

… Will not necessarily be exceeded by the value of the whole. This is my conclusion with regards to making items from various ingredients anyway. My initial aim was to balance the cost of making items to their sale value, so that a sensible economy was maintained in the world. However, there are some circumstances where such balance is simply not going to happen. In other words, some items will cost more to make than they would eventually be worth on the open market.

However, after a great deal of item cost rearrangement, the number of items that are worth less than they cost to make are far fewer than before, and those that still are can be justifiably explained (in my opinion). As a general rule, the more powerful the magic, the less you get in return for your input. (Think of the cost of increasing the amount of cache memory in a computer for the return performance it gives.) As an example, a crafter might get a reasonable return for a crafted item up to +5 in power, but thereafter (+6 and above), the cost becomes more than they would get in return for the items used in its creation. This, of course, gives added reason why items above +5 in a world are seen far less than the smaller values. Crafting items of a higher power becomes more of a personal achievement than about money making. And this would also explain why such items would not normally be sold on the open market, unless of course, the seller did not craft the item in the first place and was simply making what they could from the item.

To reflect an area of cost I am talking about, look at the table below that shows the value of using essences to create an item compared to the market value that said crafted item would reach. NB: When I speak of crafting, I also mean it to include the ability to enchant items, as they are closely related. Both speak of creating items using other items as ingredients or catalysts in some way.

Please note that the values above are a guideline only and may not be the exact values acquired in game due to other varying cost factors and bartering. From the above table you can also see that the value of essences has been greatly reduced from the norm. The next table shows all the values of essences available. In the OC, essences costs ran from 150 gp – 100000 gp with no distinction between the types, but now I give a greater value to spirit and power essences, which I believe are used in the more powerful enchantments.

Note also that the lesser essences convert 2 to 1 (unchanged), whereas the greater essences now convert at 5 to 1 (from a previous 8 to 1 conversion rate).

The New Cost Variations

All my modifications to the 2da files have now reduced the costs of items considerably. As it currently stands, it is reasonable to say that adding a single magic property to an item can add somewhere between a few gold (e.g. 40gp for a 20% reduction in weight of an item) to a few hundred gold (e.g. 500gp for a +1 to AC or an enhancement.) Immunity to something currently adds the most cost, running into potential thousands of gold for a single immunity. (This is still an area where I am adjusting ingredients for crafting items to balance the cost of creation.)

Ammunition/Thrown Weapon Costs

Another consequence of these adjustments is that ammunition and thrown weapons will now only be available in quantities of 20 and likewise the same ammo will only be crafted in quantities of 20 at a time. I am using a guideline of around 100 - 250 gp cost for the amount a PC will have to pay for magic ammunition or thrown weapons. I decided to include darts, shuriken and throwing axes in the same relative costs as arrows, bolts and bullets and current testing shows a base cost factor of 0.001 and a multiplier of 0.01 in the baseitems.2da for all of them gives reasonable cost results.


The “modern-day” recipes that describe how to craft or enchant items will also be available in Althéa. Their cost is always around 4gp (EDIT: Some enchantments cost slightly more.) as they will be single use items in my world and creation recipes will still require ingredients to use (enchantment recipes will only need gold). (Molds cost more in the first place but can be used repeatedly.) The advantage of using recipes is that they often (not always) aid the crafter to create or enchant an item at a lower level than would otherwise be required. The disadvantage of using recipes, is that there is usually a much higher cost gold involved (reflecting the ease of use) to complete the item.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the cost of items feels more realistic to me and the economy comes across as more achievable to the population where stores and general crafting NPCs are concerned. No longer will an NPC have a multi-million gp-worth store containing many amazing items (no matter what the level of the module is aimed at), but now, the storeowner will have most items running into hundreds at most, with a few exceptional items at higher levels.

In most cases it will benefit the PC to craft any items that they want to use, as it will be cheaper than if they simply paid for them. Some items will not even be available to buy and crafting (or finding) will be the only means of their acquisition. Sometimes, selling crafted items will bring a little gold profit and at other times the cost of the ingredients will outweigh the final worth of the crafted item; the player must make a decision if they want to make such an item or not. However, as the PC grows in wealth, gold will become less important than the items they can craft and so the decision will become less difficult to make.

The D&D Style Poll

The poll about which style of D&D you prefer to play (more action v more reading) ended a couple of weeks ago with a healthy 40 votes. The results are quite interesting and may be skewed slightly by the way I asked for votes (in that you could choose more than one response). However, if I am to take it that everybody did vote on every aspect they wanted, then it certainly looks like an almost 50-50% split!

For me, I believe that means I need to concentrate on a method of play that allows rewards for both styles of play. In all fairness, I believe the “action” player is already rewarded by their keenness to take on more combat: more combat means more experience. However, in the past, players have not quite had the same direct kind of rewards for doing more reading (unless you consider the read a reward in itself). Therefore, I have concluded that I will continue to invest some time in my “reward tests” for players who take the time to read any books they find. Experience will not be rewarded just for picking up a book and reading it (although that could still possible in some circumstances), but PCs will be rewarded according to how much a player remembers (or finds out) through further reading. How this will play in practise, only time will tell. Whatever the case, I hope it will offer an interesting playing opportunity to those that like to read and become involved in a world mythos.

And a happy 4th July to all our American friends!