Friday, 7 May 2010

A Module Referendum (Poll: A Hung Module?)

For those that may not know, the election for the British Government took place yesterday and the results have been coming in all night. I watched some last night and have been watching other results come in throughout today. The result is a "Hung" parliament, where no single party holds a majority of seats. Talks will now start about whether a minority government will be formed by the Conservatives, or whether a coalition government might be formed.

But that's enough about politics ... However, the whole idea of percentages of control of power raised an interest in me about how a module should run. That is, how much should be combat oriented, how many puzzles, how much exploration and how many conversations? This question is not too dissimilar to the last poll I held, but I hope this poll will crystallize more of what I am trying to find out about players preferences. It also brings together some of my last blogs. Let me first look at the "policies" in question:

COMBAT: How much combat should there be in a module? A fight every area, or every other area? Should there be many minor uncommon creatures (e.g. goblins) or only the odd major monster in unusual circumstances (e.g. a vampire)?

Should the player always have one or two puzzles to be solved between moving the story forward, or reserved only for minor non-essential situations. Puzzles should always make sense in the story or simply be added for fun?

EXPLORATION: Exploration and many areas is a core requirement to a module's longevity or does need not have many areas to enjoy? Exploration is about travelling to distance lands or searching the minutia?

Interacting with the world's NPCs is more important than exploring an abandoned dungeon? More conversations with minor comments is better than concentrating on important conversations only?

Poll: Policy Ratio Preference

This latest poll, however, is not so much about the differences between these "policies" (which I am still interested in your preferences by the way - please comment), but is more about the ratio of play between them. For example, do you prefer more combat (regardless of type) and conversations in a module compared to puzzles and exploration? Or would you prefer a module with more puzzles, combat and exploration but little conversations other than minimal requirements? Or, do you want a completely even split: A Hung Module? ;)

Look at the options available and choose the one closet to your own style of play. And if you get the time, please clarify your game choice by detailing your preferences of your choice by referring to the four "policy" descriptions above.

BLOG FLASH UPDATE: I thought this was an interesting chat going on between Robin Hobb and Sara Creasy about writing. I think every mod writier should have a read: Babel Clash

Campaign Flow

This week I spent some time reorganising the flow of the campaign. That is, I determined how the campaign was to play out and ended up dividing the campaign into three modules/parts. I don't think I am giving too much away with the current working titles for each part, so I will tell them now and allow me to describe work progress on each:

Part 1: Containment: This is the first module where the PCs start their adventure. This module is around 75% complete and is where most of the core scripts have been designed and will be used as campaign scripts for the other two modules.

Target: Around 10,000 XP bringing the PCs to around 5th level on average. (*)

Part 2: Spreading The Word:
The second part sees the PCs making headway with the main quest. This part has had some maps prepared and uses some prefabs. Hopefully, Hosa will be creating one or two unique maps for this section of the campaign.

Target: Around 66,000 XP bringing the PCs to around 12th level on average. (*)

Part 3: Learning The Truth:
The third and last part in the current module sees the PCs dealing with the situation as they see fit. This has had little work done on it to date. Hosa is currently creating areas for this part. Other prefabs are also being used.

Target: Around 105,000 XP bringing the PCs to around 15th level on average. (*)

(*) Actual XP value may vary according to quests played, the number of PCs in the party and some simple luck. Furthermore, these are projected targets and will require beta-testing to confirm actual results.

Please keep up the current polling flavour and cast your vote! And if you want to clarify your vote, please add a comment. (YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!)


Anonymous said...

I chose the last option. The choice closest to my preferences would be the Roleplay/Adventure split, as combat often becomes a bit tedious after some time, especially if it's against a large number of weak enemies. That doesn't mean I want it as low as possible, just at an "average" level (not enemies in every single non-city area for example).

About your other questions:

Combat: I prefer odd and unusual monsters instead of hordes of minor enemies. That's not only due to the reasons listed above, but also because fighting (and interacting with) a vampire is just more interesting than a goblin. On the other hand, dealing with such enemies should be indeed "rare", or there's no point. You'll have to find the right balance.

Puzzles: Personally I would like frequent puzzles even if they are obligatory to move the plot forward. Making sense in the setting isn't necessary (at least for those not involved in the main story), but it's certainly better if they do.

Exploration: The number of areas isn't important for me. Small modules can be fun and replayable (if they are really good). About travelling or searching I have no specific preference.

Conversations: I would say that generally interacting with NPCs and exploring dungeons are of equal importance, though I favor "slightly" the second. Minor vs Important conversations... again I'm not sure. Both work well to give life to your world and characters, so I suppose you would have to decide how much of either is best by yourself.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the feedback. :)

I will reserve commenting until later as I don't want to skew any other possible feedback. :) I can say that I am finding this poll enlightening. I will respond in more detail in a later post.


Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with the points Anom. has made. I voted for a hung mod overall as I like a bit of everything. My thoughts on each:

Combat: I prefer less frequent difficult and/or unique battles. I hated much of the bland filler combat in the official campaigns. Though I do think frequent smaller/bland combat can be made more fun and challenging if there are some rest restrictions imposed. If you are down to less than 50% HP and only a couple of spells, that small kobold encounter can become exciting.

Puzzles: I love puzzles, the more of them the better, as long as they are generally able to be solved within an area. I hate having to go through several load screens unless its a unique side quest with a substantial reward.

Exploration: A variety of areas is nice, but what I really like is a dynamic area that you have to revisit. For example, walking through town for the 10th time between quests and suddenly seeing that commoner you pass all the time lying dead with guards and a crowd around him.

Conversations: I prefer concise and colourful as opposed to lengthy and er.. lacklustre :/. No long life stories no dramatic monologues. Just the plot with some flavour.

Good luck with your mod!

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi ElfinMad,

Welcome to the blog! (It's the first time I recognise your signature.)

Thanks for your feedback. From what you say, I hope my module will appeal to you then. I am still working on the target balance of things at the moment (subject to feedback), but I know my module ticks some of the boxes you mention.

I am allowing more time for feedback from others first, but will give a more detailed feedback after that. :)