Choose Your Language

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Episode 4: Encountering New Monsters!

Last week had me getting to grips with the overland map again. In the process, I had to start looking at the related 2da files that covered the monster encounter information, and "goodies" that the PCs may find while exploring the map. While I did not get around to the latter, I did manage to get some more updates done on the monster side of things, especially as that is one of the first major differences that the player can expect in module two.

THE 2DA FILES

First and foremost, I managed to finish putting together the terrain 2da encounter tables for my overland map. It involved ensuring the monsters that could be encountered had valid blueprints, and the correct scripts attached. I have edited the way the encounters work because of the way my campaign works, but the end result is the same as a player may have experienced before: While exploring the overland map, a miniature version of a monster may spawn nearby and potentially be the source of an encounter. The monster ones aside, I now need to sort out the "goodies" 2da that allows PCs to find stuff as they explore. This is over and above other "map elements" they may find along the way; some of which may be new areas!

THE MONSTERS

So once the blueprints were setup, I made sure there were various variant types available (e.g. archers, shaman, clerics, etc) where needed. However, I also spent some time going over some older blueprints removing original campaign string references both to the first name and description. This is because even though the description may appear blank, if a valid string ref remains, then that ref will be used with some of the code I use, which I do not want. I believe this may have been an oversight of the tool set design (i.e. a bug), but removing the original str ref resolves the issue. I also spent some time checking over module one for any missed there too, ready for its re-release.

THE BESTIARY

Once all the new blueprints were in place for the map monsters, I decided to update the Althéa Bestiary with entries to cover some of the new monsters that the PCs will encounter. Some readers may recall that I have included a bestiary (accessible from the journal as an extra tab there), that gives an image and some extra information about a creature upon its encounter, which the player may find helpful when dealing with the monster in question. So far, I have added an extra 22 entries to an already existing set. I include a full list of the images I have used for individual entries below. I deliberately removed any naming info, to keep spoilers to a minimum. Furthermore, there is a possibility that one or two of the creatures represented by the images below may still not make it into module two. The ones that I have added to the overland map encounters will, of course, definitely be included.

Note, in the image below, "animals" of the various types are covered by their own single generic image. Therefore, creatures that would fall under such titles as "domestic", "dire" or "vermin" are not shown. Therefore, the icons you see below would represent monsters outside that description. E.g. The spiders below are not of the "vermin" variety, which would include any large or huge variety the PCs may have already met.

The Bestiary Increases In Size!

FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS

As well as general building, I have been testing the campaign further, which makes for improvements of the first module too. For example, I have improved the way spell feedback works, which in turn has helped remove some strain on the heartbeat script. Most players may not notice any difference, but I definitely do, as the PCs move more smoothly in the game now.

And on the note of mentioning the first module, testing continues, all be it, somewhat less now that I am focussing on the second module. However, because I am still finding the odd minor issue (e.g. It was possible for a cleric to enter the world with a invalid god if they imported the PC from a campaign that had their own gods.), I am allowing myself just a little more time for checks.

That time has been helpful, however, as I also discovered one or two other minor issues that I have now squashed, which will all help towards a trouble free game for the player. To end on a big plus, all those points I addressed since the last post have not caused any issues since their updating. ie. The inventory/store/transitions and conversations all appear to be working fine so far.

If there is anything you want to ask, have a suggestion, or simply want to chat about something so far, then please leave a comment.


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Episode 3: Mapping The Way Ahead

Some of you may have noticed that v2.65 has not yet been released, as I had originally hoped to do last week .... latest early this week. However, because of the approach I have taken to module two, I decided to take a bold step and do some fairly "major" design changes, to make moving forward easier. This meant making some important code changes to the existing campaign files, including the following: (a) Inventory/Store Access, (b) Transitions and (c) Conversations. I know, it's nothing small is it! So before I explain what steps I did for module two last week, I want to say a little more why I made these other changes.

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

1) INVENTORY/STORE CONTROL: To be frank, this code was a bit messy, having already undergone some changes in the last beta testing to make sure it worked in a multi-player environment. Basically, it had become quite bloated with a good deal of irrelevant code, and contained an annoying "glitch", which I  wanted to be rid of: One had to click twice to compare an item in a store with existing equipment. So, the bottom line was I stripped the functions and rewrote the routine to now produce a reasonably slick system. In truth, it could (perhaps) be made slicker still, but I am quite content with the latest rendition for now ... and that glitch is gone!

2) TRANSITIONS: In the process of preparing module two, which involves transitioning on and off a world map (more on that below), I found that I also have "messy" areas of duplicated code that I wanted to streamline again. After all, transitions are a key feature of a module, and I'd rather ensure a clean set of scripts for the job going forward. Basically, many duplicated routines and checks have now been moved to dedicated functions, streamlining the code .. and, in theory, making any bug-hunting easier.

3) CONVERSATIONS: Pretty much for the same reasons as the rewriting transitions above, I wanted to make the code surrounding handling conversations tidier and more streamlined for future use. Also, I finally got around to simply placing some humanoids with the various "conversation" settings on them to try to learn how the different settings affected players in a SP and MP game. Before, it was a little hazy - even hit and miss for me. Now, I am fairly confident I know when and where to use the various options. Most interesting, I learned we can send a cutscene type conversation to a single player in a MP game, without it affecting any other players. I had always assumed all cutscenes were for all players. After learning that  ... and a few other conversation tricks, I decided to rewrite the core companion/created PC conversations, and ensure all in-game conversations could no longer be "interrupted". I also rewrote them incorporating a system that enabled all "new" interaction to switch to cutscene for all players, but remained for a single player when not required.

So, that is a lot of core changes .. and as you can imagine, is why I thought it prudent to put the campaign under another short testing period to ensure these core changes remain working for any imminent release. While these changes affect nearly every aspect of the module, I hope I know enough of the key core areas to be able to do some testing that won't take overly long ... That said, I'd rather make sure before release so players have the best experience!

MODULE UPDATES

I can also add that due to the changes I made to the campaign files, I found I needed to change some of the module elements too, be it simply adding or removing a "tick" from an object, or renaming a tag of an object. Suffice to say, the module has undergone some important changes as well in preparation to adding modules.

MODULE TWO

Apart from those important updates to the existing campaign code and module one, last week was about ensuring module one linked into one of the two potential entry areas of module two. One area of entry is a lobby (if bypassing module one completely), while the other is the Overland World Map if playing straight from module one into module two. It was when I was testing the transition to the Overland World Map that I discovered some of the "inconsistencies" of the tag requirements depending upon whether a player is using their own map (for quick travel) or moving straight to the Overland Map for slower movement. (Yes, there is even more than one way that this travel can start too.) Basically, the different number of options at the start for the player are what I am putting together at this stage and hence, the need to clean up those transition scripts. After much investigation, for instance, I discovered one of my tags being search for had an extra "OMWP" in front of it, meaning the transition kept failing. This opened up the can of worms that led me to tidy up the transition code!

Anyway, here is a screenshot of the overland map in operation .... Some explanation is below.

World Map To Explore!
You may be asking what is going on in the screenshot above? What is being shown? Well, a key feature of my world map system is the "Travel Information" feedback GUI. Basically, as the party move around (controlled by the lead player in a MP game), the Travel Information GUI updates as you move with all pertinent travel info, from terrain being traversed, speed of travel, and (importantly) time, as this affects your vigour levels. i.e. Travelling this way has to be managed. Note, there are other ways to circumvent these factors, such as using a map (quick travel) or a nexus (alternative quick travel), but that is up to the player whether they choose to employ them, or even have the means to do so. The "advantage" of travelling the Overland Map, however, will be the chance to encounter monsters for combat and find many locations that may not be found by the direct paths. (Note: Some direct paths may not be available from the start anyway.)

So, if you are able to zoom in on the image above, you will also be able to see some feedback in the chat window giving an indication on how the party is fairing in their current travel with respect to their vigour and how tired and hungry they may be.

Hopefully, (am I always saying this?), I will be able to announce a release of module one v2.65 in the coming days. All I want to do now is make sure I can at least play through the first few areas, conversations, store transactions, etc to be sure all is still fine and I have not done any unknown damage. Of course, I hope if after release you do find anything, you would let me know. :)





Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Episode 2: Getting It Right!

One of the benefits of working on a second module is the opportunity to do it again minus the parts that one did not like so much in the first. Now, let me say from the start that I am 100% happy with the first module and that I would recommend everybody who enjoys a classic PnP (pen and paper) style D&D adventure to download and play it. However, having played it a number of times myself, I can see where I could have improved it, and it is in these areas I hope to do better in the second module.

AREA DESIGNS

1) BROADER PATHS: To be frank, my own area designs are left wanting, in many ways ... and I know that even my newest ones for the next module will be no works of art. However, one aspect of the area design I will look at "improving" is simply to make (if possible) the walk-paths easier to navigate, especially when handling a larger party. For while I have found some of the areas in the first module are good to look at, they can also be let down by too "narrow" paths when trying to manoeuvre a party through them. For instance, it is easily possible to have over a dozen characters in a single party; and while I have made a means of escaping such tight spots available to the player, even this can need some extra persuasion at times.

2) SMALLER AREAS: I have noticed that when loading areas, a MP game can take some time if the area is of the larger size. For instance, when I first designed the Holy Mountains and Ancient Crypt areas (both 32x32 or thereabouts if I recall correctly), I had not tested their load times in a MP environment. Since my own MP testing, I have decided that I will break larger areas into smaller areas to enable faster load times for all play styles. I have not determined my exact limit yet, but I am considering around 24x24 maximum - all subject to testing.

CONVERSATIONS

1) CUTSCENES: Personally, I have come to the conclusion that the cutscene conversations certainly do well to immerse the player in the game, and therefore want to maximise my usage of them in the next module. I actually started making design changes to this end with the latest version of module 1, but going forward, I hope to keep as many cutscene types as possible. Obviously, those that serve an individual player will continue to be such, but I hope to do more cutscene for the players as a party as a whole.

2) COMPANION INTERJECTIONS: These came late in the design process for module one, and did not go without teething problems with the script involved .... which was quite complicated. However, now that the script that handles these is finalised, I hope to be able to use it more fruitfully in the later modules. The script that handles these interjections is design to intelligently supply a response from the most appropriate companion, be they provided by the plot, or created by the player. That was part of the complexity.

SCRIPTING

1) EFFICIENCY: As part of the transition from finishing module 1 and starting module 2, I have been trying to rewrite and make my campaign scripts more efficient. Part of the problem I have, however, is that some of the earliest scripts I have go back over ten years! Thankfully, my knowledge of coding has improved in that time, but with the new knowledge comes recognition of where some weaknesses are in my older scripts. Many of these scripts have been "updated" and "improved" as the years have gone by, but I may have to "lock down" some older code and rewrite some parts to be more effective moving forward. The point is, I will be building the second module with greater understanding of the way things work ... and more importantly, do not work!

2) MINIMISE NEW SCRIPTS: The thing I enjoy most (when it comes to building with the toolset) is writing scripts. And while I am no expert (even now), I do enjoy seeing the results of a script come together in a game. That said, my aim is to NOT to introduce too many more scripts, simply because they can be time-consuming and one of the quickest means of introducing extra work (at best) or bugs (at worst). My aim now is to make use of the scripts and functions I have already tried and tested simply to produce more material. If I find myself needing to write another script, then I will keep it to a minimum if possible.

ITEMS

1) RECIPE INGREDIENTS: Having made a start in the provision of items required for crafting and enchanting, I want to be able to focus more on this area of items and make further provision of such to the player. Once again, having the core crafting code already in place, I hope it will now be a relatively easier process of determining how to distribute some of those items that are less random; such as creature items.

2) MANAGEMENT: Module one already includes a comprehensive item handling system, which has taken some time to stabilise, especially with respect to keeping stackable items and/or plot items in the right count. Therefore, I intend not to go beyond what is already working here. Any future items will, therefore, hopefully be designed to work around the current system already in place.

I hope that by the time I write the Episode 3 report, I will have uploaded the latest revision of Module One and all bug searching will have come to an end, allowing me to focus completely on the new build. We shall see ... Hopefully more on the module two specific latest next time!

The Opening Loadscreen For Module Two

Friday, 3 May 2019

Here We Go Again! (Module Two!)

INTRODUCTION

I am not sure if I will ever get to the end of what I am about to undertake, but I have finally found myself tinkering with module 2 of The Scroll, with a fresh hope of being able to finish it at some point in the future. In all fairness, the second module has a considerable amount of work done to it already, thanks to those who have contributed with area designs, and the fact that the campaign code is mostly already written. However, putting it all together with a plot that works well enough to keep the player playing and intrigued is that much more difficult to do, in my opinion. And that takes time and energy: the former I am currently blessed with, but the latter, not so much. If I don't pace this correctly, then it will never happen, no matter how much I would like it to. Therefore, I will keep this blog as a record and (hopefully) an encouragement to keep going. And any feedback that you (the reader) give me along the way, may well be the make or break of it.

First Things First

1) PLOT: Thankfully, the hard part, the plot, is already taken care of ... but only in part! The point being, if I did not have a story to tell, then no matter how many area designs I have available to me, a lack of conversations or plot would quickly bring this latest project to an end. However, there is still the problem that even though I have the plot in mind, the same problems of forming a good-flowing, fully cohesive story that a player can have pleasure interacting with, remain. i.e. There are critical plot points, but I need to fill the blanks with enjoyable and meaningful content. I will need to put flesh on the bones of the plot - and that will take time to create. This also means writing all those conversations!

2) AREAS: Again, I want to thank those people who have contributed area designs for module 2, which help a great deal towards this section of the work. I can honestly say that I have been most impressed with other people's artistic talent, which have gone a long way to help inspire me with ideas to flesh out the story. If it were not for their work already, then I think this second module would never have left the ground. That said, I still need to alter some parts of some of the area designs, simply because they need some aspects changed to work with the story I have in mind, which is based upon my pen and paper campaign (PnP) from the early 80's. There are also still a few areas missing, which I need to build.

3) CONVERSATIONS: This is the part where the story starts to come to life, with the "spoken" word! Actually, I also like to move a plot line along with the written word in the likes of readable books and scrolls too, but conversations with NPCs are what give a module "breath" in my opinion. However, these also take a lot of time and care, not just for the conversation itself, but to tie in all the events and options that become available to a player as they progress.

Facing The Blank Page

Having the main framework in place is one thing, but I still needed to open the toolset and start somewhere ... and opening the toolset can be much like facing the blank page when writing. In the last few weeks, I have been fixing any problems my wife has found in her SP testing, and updating the campaign to make module to module transfer work more smoothly. That "obvious" stuff now done, I am now turning to the creative element of coding, and hence, the start of this blog record.

Thankfully, I was able to find all my old PnP notes from the past, so that I could refresh my mind with the main plot ... there was a lot to consider. To begin with, the campaign is written for both players new to the campaign and those who have played from the PnP days. Therefore, especially with the first module, I had to consider what the player's PC would know and how they would react when in the world. However, this continues in the second module, especially when the player meets with NPCs that they may have met before if they played in the PnP days ... or not.

With this in mind, and having ensured the core module to module code functioned correctly with the v2.65 release, I decided to concentrate my efforts (for now) on the "first" adventure that the players could potentially come across, either by their own exploration (or guided by the story).

Now, true to form, I will try not to spoil anything by what I write in these blogs, but now follows my latest specifics ...

EPISODE 1: RECALLING THE PAST


As I begin this series on the latest module build, I decided to do it in an episodic format, just because it helps me ... and maybe makes it feel less dry for the reader. ;)

Because the player is still joining the module in one of two backgrounds, I decided that the best course of action is to allow the player to continue with their quest, according to the remaining quests from module 1. This, ultimately, will mean travelling to Boran. However, there are a number of places they could veer off to along the way, as the opening area will be an overland map.  

Possible Exception: If a player plays straight from module one into module two, then they may have the option (subject to items acquired) to travel "direct" to Boran (avoiding playing the overland map for the time being).

Irrespective of this for now, I have decided to work on some interior area layouts to do with an outdoor area that was created for me by HOSA. The outdoor area represents an area my original PnP players PCs will have visited in the past, and so I need to try to be as faithful to its original PnP design, but with some poetic licence thrown in for using the NWN2 toolset.

I find that writing for such an area (like I did for New Edgeton for module one) comes with its own set of challenges, mainly because the buildings provided do not always match what I may have originally drawn. Thankfully, this PnP scenario was played over 30 years ago, and so even my most loyal player would have trouble remembering the original design. The benefits of using previously employed PnP material, however, is that it helps drive me along, much like the other player created areas do.

The other advantage of using material from so long ago is that anything I do rebuild within NWN2 gives my old time players a chance to revisit the places and even redo the original scenario (with some minor plot alterations to reflect the changes since they were last here), and be designed in such a way that the quest works for old and new players to bring them both up to speed with the main plot. After all, the old time players will have most likely forgotten much of the plot themselves in all the years that have passed since we played, and so the remade scenario works all round bringing all players backgrounds to the same point.

So, that will do as an intro for now ... Basically, I am currently working on some interior areas that support the existing area by HOSA, which I have modified slightly. I will write more about this progress, and mention some of those aspects I am changing with respect to design in Episode Two, the next blog post. For now, here is a screenshot from HOSA's area to whet the appetite.

What Place Is This That The Heroes Have Discovered?


The Scroll: New Version 2.65 Release Imminent (Big Update) - PENDING!

First, I would like to thank my wife for giving the time to play test The Scroll in its single-player (SP) mode, enabling me to be able to iron out any new bugs that may have been introduced since our testing/updating of the multi-player (MP) sessions a the few months previously. She is finally coming to the end of the story (for a second time) after playing for another 70 hours (according to the in-game timer).

I would also like to thank all of you who have been waiting patiently for the latest version after the many updates I had been doing to overcome MP issues (and some updates), which may have introduced their own problems in the course of the latest changes. In some tests, I had even had to reverse/adjust some updates, as they did cause some issues of their own. Thankfully now, however, I believe the work has now paid off to allow me to present the latest v2.65, which should be relatively sound, even with the latest adjustments.

THE UPDATE INFO

Of all the changes, the main thing is that the latest code has been finalised with respect to module swap-overs. While this will not have any immediate obvious effect on playing The Scroll, it does now enable the player to keep either, in order of preference (a) A final save game, or (b) An exported PC, with which to start play with any of my modules released in the future. e.g. The Scroll (Part 2). And while this may appear to be a long way off, I am still trying to write this latest module when my health and time allows. It is my hope to release both modules 2 and 3, but time will tell.

The good news with respect to later modules is that the core campaign code is in place and means adding new material is somewhat more easy simply because I am not having to rewrite the core code, allowing me to concentrate on plot and any dedicated story scripts instead.

NB: I need to point out that due to a core change in one of the module's areas, this latest version is definitely NOT compatible with any previous editions of the game. I apologise for that, and can only recommend you start afresh - and hopefully are able to enjoy the game in its more completed state.

IMPORTANT REPAIRS

During the course of many updates since withdrawing the module for repairs, it has undergone probably a further 100 or more updates, ranging from simple typos, to some significant code changes. And while I know it is unlikely that I will have squashed every bug (even now), I do hope the critical ones have finally been put to bed. Some of these have included:-

1) JOURNAL ENTRIES: In some unusual circumstances, in the course of testing, a journal entry sometimes failed to update. Most of the times it was non-critical, but was still misleading. The ones that may have not fired that were critical often related to other areas of code problems, such as critical item drops (need to be acquired to update the journal). Such areas of the code have now undergone some rigorous testing to ensure the journal entries stay up to date. I also had to reinstate some "double" update code to accommodate TOKENS usage in journal entries, so varying journal entry info updated correctly.

2) ITEM COLLECTION: Various aspects of the code surrounding the acquisition of plot items was the most critical area of updating this patch addresses, as it could potentially be the biggest cause of broken quests. From item drops on the death of creatures, to items passed from NPC/PC to others, the code has been looked at very closely. As always, most of the issues were caused by timing of the code, which I have now streamlined.

3) FORCED CONVERSATIONS: Addressed some rare issues of some important conversations failing to fire if the player was either "compromised" or the player was not playing their Main PC. While these conversations could often be recovered (by manual player interaction), this could, nevertheless, not be relied upon.

4) TRANSITIONS: The last of the critical aspects addressed were transitions, which one would have thought to be the most straightforward from the very start. However, due to the number of checks the module makes when a player exits an area, a timing issue caused some failures if the transition was from a conversation. It was a simple enough fix when found, but still required testing to ensure I had caught all places it was required. There was even one last requirement in the last session my wife play-tested, which was pretty much well after she had been everywhere. Thankfully, this is one of those issues that once fixed, will stay fixed.

Going forward, I hope now that all my critical hook scripts, On(UN)Acquire, On(UN)Equip, etc, are now fully settled and tested sufficiently for both PCs and NPCs/Monsters to such a degree that any "additions" are now only made to those linked executable scripts, which do not interfere with the general functionality of the main ones. E.g. The On Area Enter  now calls its own dedicated executable script for events that happen on entering the areas, including any new ones I have to cater for. Therefore, in theory, the existing code (including those parts already in the additional executable) will not be affected as I continue to update with newer modules/areas.

IMPORTANT UPDATES

Many of the last updates I was uploading previously was to do with changes related to the MP side of the game, and the alterations I was having to make for both MP and SP support. This is why (in the end) I made the decision to stop the many updates and concentrate on a SP testing to allow me to re-release the module after further updating/testing.

1) TB SYSTEM: I believe those issues that MP testing highlighted gave me some important pointers on where I needed to improve the SP code too. In particular (and I know not all will be using this aspect of the game), was the Althéa Turn-Based Combat System. I provided a video to show how the newer update allowed better switching between AI and PUPPET MODES for all or individual PC control. As my wife used this system with every battle, I was able to overcome all the issues that she encountered, including such things as "compromised" PCs. I believe I have ironed out all major issues with this system now, and hopefully even the minor issue we had of "ghosted" ammo appearing in an ammo slot when it clearly is not actually available. (Let me know if you experience it.)

2) RIGHT-CLICK INVENTORY: After recognising that the right-click was missing the option to open an inventory, I decided to add it. The default is the Main PC, or the PC you right-click on.

3) RECIPE BOOK INFO: The information for a recipe book now falls inline with other inventory items, in that you now have to left-click on the book to have the feedback in the chat window, rather than simply hover as before.

MINOR ISSUES OVERCOME

As I implied above, there has also been a large number of minor "annoying" bugs fixed, from (a) intermittent problems with the automated inventory item collection system and stacking; (b) the  Summon Clockroach horn failing; (c) placeable damage feedback; (d) Cutscene encounters not firing; (e) Sound files not firing, and even (f) Encumbrance values, among some others I do not mention here.

THE CHALLENGE

Now the challenge remains for both me and you! For me, it is to try to persevere with the next module, especially now that my wife and friend are awaiting the next instalment. And for you, if you feel encouraged to do so (and when it is finally uploaded), is to try out The Scroll for yourself!

Be warned, however, that among other things, I have addressed creature balancing, which my wife found more challenging on her SP game, second time around. I believe it can still be possible to run through the game without taking a "defeat", but the path you take will affect the odds.

Furthermore, The Scroll is as much a thinking man's dungeon as well as a dungeon-crawlers, who usually like to simply hack their way through. You will come across puzzles that require player input, even if there are often short-cuts too.

However, the game CANNOT be beaten unless the player takes note of what is provided by the story, and is involved with what is going on. It is the closest "PnP feeling" game to D&D on computer that I know of, and I have played my fair share of computer games. It was designed as a D&D campaign from the start; and as a DM of pen and paper for many years, I used to design puzzles for my players to overcome within the game as a matter of course. This aspect remains within The Scroll, and would require your attention!

As the advert says in the first Ripped Puzzle: "Illiterates need not apply!"

Monday, 18 March 2019

The Scroll: Version 2.65 Update (Important Update!)

The latest version of the campaign available is now v2.65, but is currently NOT available for download as I am still in the process of testing it. There have been some significant changes since v2.63, which was the last version available to support the previous module build. Since then, both the module and the campaign files have undergone some significant changes that would require a player to start afresh if they decided to download this latest version.

The critical changes include the following:-

1) MODULE UPDATE: The module was updated to correct a trigger variable that allows transfer to the next module (when available). Without this updated module version, transfer to the next module is broken and would require a minor fix (that I could supply upon request), before the game loads the second module correctly. Games played (and saved) from this module onwards should have the correct variable available in their saved game to move to the next module OK.

2) GAME TIMER UPDATE: There were changes to the way the game timer keeps track of time and also a fix applied, which means games prior to this version may encounter timing issues, especially with respect to the time system and vigour levels.

3) JOURNAL UPDATES: The Journal Update section with all associated conversations has been completely revised to avoid the multiple "journal updated" reports that occur in previous versions. I have also altered the priority of some quests so that they hold a better position in the journal when selecting the "recommended" button.

4) GLOBAL VARIABLES: After discovering the maximum name limit for a global variable had to be 31 characters or less, I discovered some PC names (or even player names) were "too long" when added to my own identifier string, forming a variable name greater than 31 characters. This meant the variable was being lost and so broke the code in certain areas - especially with respect to the AI "brain" icon. A string limiter has now been applied to prevent such problems going forward.

5) MOD TO MOD TRANSFERS: Updated mainly in v2.64 and still work in progress are the changes being made to support the module to module transfer code. I encountered some difficulties after realising the first area that a player enters within the next module had some difficulties with respect to companions/henchmen transfers due to the first area types differing according to how the player ended the first module. I had to move the functions around so that they could be referred to from either OnEnter script, taking into account that not every aspect of said functions is required immediately, depending upon the area entered. As I say, it's still work in progress, but I hope now any further changes will no longer affect the rest of the code, as they have been more thoroughly separated from the OnEnter scripts.

I am going to continue testing in both SP and MP mode (no DM this time) and aim to upload the latest version as soon as possible. If anybody is playing an earlier version and is encountering any issues, then please let me know what version you are playing and the issue, and I will make sure the issue has been dealt with or add it to fix.

6) HP BAR STABILITY: Sometimes the HP bat used to flicker. I have resolved this issue now.

7) AI TB INTERACTION: Updated the TB Combat System to support AI controlled PCs. Now a player can switch easily between the various modes during the same combat.

8) TLK FILE UPDATE: The latest version will also have another “OTHERS” to accommodate another TLK update for the AI feedback.

9) WEIGHT REMAIN (ON TRANSFER): Fixed weight info when transferring items between PCs. (It sometimes used to give the wrong PC info in one area.)

10) ADDED RIGHT CLICK INVENTORY: Added a right-click context menu link to open inventory for PCs. Either direct from world right-click (opens currently possessed inventory), or from portrait (switches to PC and opens their inventory in this case).

11) INVENTORY RECIPE BOOKS: Recipe books used to give recipe feedback whenever hovered over, but now they give the information when left-clicked on instead - just like any other item, with the extra info still being given in the chat window.

12) DRESS CODE: Some NPCs were failing to dress properly. Timing now fixed.

13) SPLIT FIX (WEIGHT): Sometimes a PC could report a weight error on splitting a stack. This has now been fixed.

14) JOURNAL FIX (SCAR): After some journal code improvements, a journal entry error was highlighted with Scar. This has now been fixed.

15) TB COMBAT AI SYSTEM: Fixed check to ensure PC not trying to performance action when compromised. Sent system haywire.

16) FAMILIAR FIX: Added some extra checking code to ensure familiars (and animal companions) do not cause some issues.

17) CREATURE ITEM DROP FIX: Added some check code to ensure creature items do not drop if the NPC changes form - i.e. polymorphs.

18) GOLD FIX (ITEM TYPE): Not the previous problems fixed, but a version type of the coin that needed extra attention.

19) DEAD THOMSK FIX: Fixed dead item drop on Thomsk if he should happen to die.

20) DRESSING STACK USAGE: Dressings all used when one used - Fixed.

21) GUILD COMBI DOOR FIX: The combination door would report “somebody already working the lock” when it was not. This has now been fixed. Until you receive this fix, you may not be able to finish some side quests - unless you can bypass the door some other way.

22) GREATER ESSENCE TOME: Finished all entries for the Greater Essence Tome. What a chore! Glad that’s done!

23) PAUSE VIGOUR FIX: Removed a problem that caused vigour drain to be paused indefinitely.

24) AUTO INVENTORY CONSOLIDATION: Finally got to the bottom of the occasional inventory auto-consolidation and placements issue. Had to amalgamate the two functions to work at the same time due to item possession at time of acquisition changing.

25) SOUND PLAY REWORK: A rework of the function that plays sound files to be more reliable when in tight areas. Also adjusted timing when warning about no weapon equipped.

26) DEATH DROPS: A rework of the death drop timing and efficiency to ensure drops do occur and body does not fade too soon.

27) PLACEABLE CONVERTS: I had to convert some placeable objects to environmental ones after discovering some bizarre behaviour of them “disappearing” as if “destroyed” in the presence of some VFX or so it appeared to me). Thankfully, converting these placeable objects to environmental ones appears to have resolved the issue. I only needed to do one area as far as I could see.

28) ON DEATH DROP STABILISATION: Continued to add checks to ensure death drops work as expected.

29) STACKED ITEM COLLECT: Continued to add checks when it comes to consolidating stackable items.

30) MISSING PLACEABLE OBJECTS: Fixed a function that was deleting placeable objects at random.

31) TEMPERAMENTAL TRANSITION: Fixed a transition that could stop working on some occasions.

32) CUTSCENE ENCOUNTER: Fixed cutscene encounters to work with scaled monster encounters.

33) SOUL DAMAGE: Fixed integrity damage on SOUL when switched between talk/normal damage.

34) DRYAD DISAPPEAR: Removed problem of dryad not disappearing if a player saved game during 8 seconds escape scene.

35) GROTTO EXIT TRANSITION: Fixed grotto exit transition after it broke due to a script change.

36) SUMMON CLOCKROACH: Fixed intermittent clockroach summoning horn.

37) COMPROMISED PC: Added further COMPROMISED checks to targetting feedback GUI (if using TB Combat feature).

38) TAKE ITEM: Changed some conversation lines to use homebrew take item, to fix the OC take item script that does not cycle through all player’s PCs.

39) FORCE CONVERSATION: Fixed a forced conversation event if the PC is dead.

40) HENCHMAN DEATH: Fixed a situation where a player may abandon a henchman by mistake and thereafter lose them.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Scroll: Version 2.63 Now Available (Inc Consolidation Fix)

This latest version 2.63 is an IMPORTANT update, as it fixes some “consolidation” code, which can cause some inventory mayhem when you collect more items of a type that would go beyond their stacking limit!

E.g. 1: If you bought some iron rations (that stack in bundles of ten), all would be well until you bought the 11th item, at which point it would fail.

E.g. 2: You have some arrows divided into two stacks of 25 each, and buy a new stack. The stacks would try to consolidate, and then cause mayhem!

As I say though, this latest patch fixes that problem. It also addresses the following:- 

1) ITEM DROPS: Some items “placeable” counterparts were incorrect. I have fixed those I have come across and found. E.g. Books, and a ring found in a shrub.

2) ALTAR BONUS UPDATE: Temp HPs provided by an altar now are NOT removed by resting, so they have a longer life span for the sacrifice made.

3) DATABASE BACKUP: More database fixes for module transfers, including the ability to now recover (more accurately) a lost or broken database.

4) PLOT ITEM RELEASE: Plot items that are no longer used are now made non-plot so they can be sold or dropped after completing the main task of the game.

This marks the end of our DM controlled MP gaming test. However, my wife is currently running her own SP test, and we plan to play another MP run through (no DM this time) in the coming weeks. Therefore, there will be some more intensive testing, which should help rid the final problems that may remain.

Alignment Talk (Part Two)

This is a copy of another post I made in a forum when discussing alignments. It is comprised two sections, the first in response to someone who said they "used the law intuitively" in their approach and the second in response to the full post included below.

POST BY KEVL: 
I think we’re seeing the “intuition” (mine) vs “rationale” (yours) modalities here.
MY RESPONSE:

Well, it may be that what you refer to as “intuition” is actually what I (because it says so in the Bible) calls “the law written on their hearts” : -

Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

We are basically being told that because the law of God is “good and right” and of God, everybody (including non-believers who God created too!) knows what is right and wrong according to God’s law because God has placed the law in every man’s heart.

Basically, they have enough knowledge of the moral law of God in their hearts by virtue of being created in God’s image (morality) so that their consciences are conflicted: sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving. (Moral Law: Ten Commandments. Not the Mosaic Law.) Also …

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

This speaks about how God makes a new covenant with His chosen, that enables such believers to have a new heart and no longer find the gospel offensive and believe it for what it is: That Christ died for their sins. The new heart with the Holy Spirit inclines us to obey the word of God, which includes those moral laws that all know. We become submissive to God’s law, because of our new heart.

So, in summary, both believers and non-believers are aware of a moral conflict (due to having been created in God’s image) and having the law in our hearts. But, the converted heart (only possible by God) is given a new heart of acceptance and has a new covenant where sins are no longer held against them … and the believer also no longer wishes to commit!

POST BY KAMAL:
Pretty much just what I am getting at, we can’t say “picking pockets = always evil act” in dnd. There are valid rationales for situations that make otherwise negative behavior the “good”. As a builder, we are not in a place to judge why for many things a player might choose to do or say.
Maybe the rogue picked a commoners pocket to be able to afford the gizmo they need to defeat the villain, and they had to do so because there was no other work available (no quests, no more random evil monsters to kill or things to hunt for sellable pelts).
Much of my Crimmor rogue specific module is this way, if you play a good pc there is a questline that shows that you are a member of the Shadow Thieves (an evil group) because you are infiltrating them for a good organization, and you report back on what is going on internally with them. You are essentially an undercover agent, doing some bad things because it’s necessary for a greater good.
The “middle area” where we shouldn’t automatically assign alignment points is much larger in a module without a DM. Some things are going to be evil no matter what, randomly killing some good orphans for example, or good no matter what, but the middle space is much larger without the DM to know the intentions of the player.

MY RESPONSE:

This actually reveals the whole point I am trying to make about the responsibility of the builder, and which KevL answers very well and quite succinctly in his post that followed.

However, to expand on KevL’s post, we, as builders know the full story and (as a responsibility to the player) should be building the module in such a way that the player should be able to tell when actions they take are going to be “good” or “evil”. And the builder consequently (who knows all), rewards alignment shifts according to the actions the player takes while trying to complete the quest. A very quick example: Man has key I want: (a) Kill man and get key (Evil). (b) Ask man and man may or may not give key. (Neutral?) (c) Go to authorities, plead case in law and win right to key. (Lawful) NOTE: This is a very simplified example, because it does not take into account whether the law is a good or evil one, or if the man killed was an enemy of the good refusing to hand over a vital key. However, The builder definitely knows, and any well designed module would have given the player enough clues to allow the player to know what type of action they are making too.

"Member of a Group" ... does not specifically reflect the moral nature of the person in question. Sadly, I have met many who call themselves “Christian” whose moral nature is severely challenged … That does not necessarily reflect the group (unless they all hold to such bizarre morality, which then begs the question of the label) … nor does the group affect the person in such circumstances. A label does not reflect the nature of the one carrying it, but their actions do.

“Greater Good” … I believe this to be misleading, as there is no such thing as a “greater good”, even though I have heard it a great deal and have probably (to my regret) used it myself from time to time. Note to self: Must stop using the term. However, that said, I can see how easily it can be used as a “plot device” in any fantasy world, simply because in such a world we have no real definitive “good” like we have in our own real world. Basically, for myself, I will try to keep my own story straight forward and that actions are either simply “good” or “evil” … and hope that the player will work out the right actions to take to complete a quest for good or evil.

Good V Evil : Another point that is often missed, because it is so subtle in our own world (and simply un-believed) is that there is such a thing as Holy War. In our own world, this war has already been “won”, and was arguably always the case, but from a human perspective, the “war” continues in what we see as conflict due to “good” and “evil” that men do. Therefore, if we are able to emphasise this point in our own modules (which many do of course when they involve the gods of the mythos), then the “order of things” especially with respect to what is good and evil becomes clearer. We gain perspective, as does the player, if they know what they are fighting for!

Example: Evil god hands over 1000gp to PC and says go and give everybody a 1gp to join my cause by worshipping me, knowing souls that worship him are destined to servitude in death. Consequently, a good god takes everything from PC and says go and do likewise to all that you meet by gentle persuasion, knowing that by doing so, all that do will be cared for by the good god. Now, the player PC knows that doing the evil gods deed is fundamentally evil, but for those he meets not in the know, this looks like a benevolent god, giving gold and so don’t ask questions and serve. Consequently, the requests of the good god look totally unreasonable and require a step of faith to follow. Subject to which action the PC takes, to serve the evil or good god, by either giving gold or relieving peoples of their goods (not by force like a thief I hasten to add), dictates the heart and mind of the PC … and hence their alignment shift that the builder handles for them. The bottom line is knowing with clarity from the start and ensuring a player knows what they are doing.

The “Middle Area”: My tag line “Even a shade of grey is made from black and white” was written for this so called grey area. Basically, the builder should know every possible outcome and way to achieve a quest because they built it! And at every step (that makes the grey), the builder then assigns alignment shifts accordingly, so the player “learns” what is and is not acceptable according to the steps they are taking. This is exactly what I mean by making every effort! Designing and awarding alignment points should not be arbitrary, but can be made of small adjustments here or there, as long as the more significant steps come with the more significant awards. E.g. Killing is evil. Theft is evil. Destroying evil is good. Taking back goods that were stolen is good.

NOTE: The same actions may be employed in every situation (taking life or taking goods), BUT the heart, mind and law behind that taking is what defines it as either: “killing”/“theft” (both evil) or “execution”/“seizure” (based on good laws of a good god). NOTE: The evil nature of hearts like to change and manipulate words for their own benefit, so it takes a discerning heart not to be manipulated by words that appear “good” to do an “evil” act. e.g. Judas reasoned he was “doing good” when he sold out Jesus to the local law of Pharisees (who had become a “brood of vipers” by this time), and so it is obvious to all (and he as well afterwards as he went and committed suicide - another sin) that his actions were evil, even though he argued (at the time and agreed with the Pharisees) that he was doing good!

A lot more could be said, but that’s enough for now.

EDIT UPDATE:

"As a builder, we are not in a place to judge why for many things a player might choose to do or say."

As builders that is exactly the kind of responsibility I am talking about! However, to be in a position to make such “judgement calls” we (as the builders) need to be absolutely clear in our understanding of the actions that our story is leading the player to take … and thereafter, award the alignment shifts.

The point being, we are not using our own judgement, but that judgment that we know is right and true … Gods! Which is written in the bible … and in our own hearts if we care to listen to our consciences … if they have not become seared. (Hardened heart!)

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Alignment Talk (The Importance of Language)

This blog post is made due to a conversation I was having with somebody on the Vault forums. It speaks about the use of alignment in D&D, and my own beliefs. This was my comment:-

... I think this entire thread/conversation does highlight the importance of language, and how we use it … and that is always a concern to me. For if somebody hears one thing and understands it to mean something else to the speaker, then problems can arise.

While this is not always a problem, and can even make for a moment of mild amusement, there are other times when it is of the utmost importance! And, let’s be frank, if the language being used is talking about matters of good and evil, which, as we know, stems from a real-life perspective of a matter of faith, then its importance is paramount!

Logically speaking, whether somebody is a believer or not, if any conversation is talking about a matter of life and death, then anybody of sound mind should sit up and listen. And, as everybody who is reading this is alive (and knows they will die one day), then it behoves them to give serious thought about anything that pertains to an afterlife, which, as we have been discussing, includes matters of what “good” and “evil” are, and our own relationship to them.

Confusion of terms compounds misunderstanding, and will only serve to lead people into erroneous thinking, which ultimately will (at best) lead them astray while they are alive, or at worst (from a believers understanding), lead them to Hell in death.

The problems that the erroneous use of language (due to a sinful nature) are what give us the sects and heresies in the first place … and, so now we can see why (logically) that the only way a man can be “saved” from such errors (sins and evils) is by the grace of God, who is outside of such errors and bestows His grace upon those He chooses. i.e. A man cannot escape their sinful (evil) nature without outside salvation (God). The ones God saves are known as the “Elect”: http://www.calvinistcorner.com/index.html However, no man knows who God’s elect are, and so Christians still “Preach the Word”, because it is by hearing the Word of God that people are “saved”. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

That all said, and not to understate its importance, I now turn back to the matter of the use of language in D&D with respect to alignment in gaming terms. The bottom line being, and in my opinion, players of the game take a lot of what they “play” and “learn” in their role-playing to heart. After all, that is part of the attraction: to live out a persona that embodies the hero inside them! I can speak from experience when I say that playing D&D for me, opened up a lot of my thinking about life in general … including aspects of alignment and religion. Maybe, as a DM, it required greater thought to “implement” than a player simply “playing” it, but, nevertheless, it made me think … and not always in the right way.

However, thankfully, there were those around me, who, by the grace of God, helped me to discern and appreciate language and its use there of, to the point when I was able to appreciate when something was not “right”. And here is the point: I do sometimes think that players today lack any moral teaching, and only pick up any idea of “morality” from games that have an “alignment” system, including D&D. And if that system uses poor language or descriptions to reinforce an amoral idea of morality (as absurd as that sounds), which basically “subjectifies” peoples ideas of morality, then we are only serving to lead people astray.

Therefore, I strongly believe, a builder has a moral sense of duty to ensure their world minimises any confusion of what is and is not meant by the terms “good” and “evil”, so that it reinforces what we should already know in the real world with respect to “absolutes”. I am not saying we cannot have a morally difficult situation, or even a morally ambiguous situation, but am saying that a player should be reinforced in those areas that are already “absolute”. E.g. Even if a “rogue” does steal, the player should have all consciousness that the action would certainly be perceived as “evil” in the real world, no matter what language they may use (or borrow from D&D) to try to justify a known evil action such as theft. i.e. I hope said players would not be encouraged (in real life) to argue that theft can be “ok” simply because they believe they are not “evil”, but simply a little “chaotic”. That (in real life) is a slippery path to … fill in the blank.

Even a shade of grey is made from black and white!

Monday, 11 March 2019

The Scroll: Version 2.62 Now Available (Bardic Instruments)

There have been a couple of minor updates since v2.59, plus an overhaul to the bardic songs. My wife intends to play through The Scroll again, and wanted to play the bard class. Upon creating and testing a PC, we soon became aware that the instruments do not appear to add any benefit when equipping said instrument, and so I determined to look into it. After all, what would be the point to buying an instrument and taking up an equipment slot, if the instrument adds no benefit compared to a shield or second weapon. To thi s end, I did a search online to see if anybody else had come to the same conclusion and found that Clubok (who also inspired me to go more into Readable Books) had done this:

https://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn2/script/bard-song-buffs-instruments#comment-48111

I decided to pick up the mantle (again) and came up with my own bardic instrument system, which now offers players some minor benefits for using instruments with their bard PC as opposed to shields or a second weapon.

I have recoded the bard songs to work as follows when “wielding” instruments, with the following understanding:-
  1. An instrument’s value determines a base bonus figure, which the bonuses are calculated from. All bonuses use this figure, and I have removed any reliance on “level” as (a) this is already used in some of the songs and (b) I felt the difference was too great and imbalanced the song effect.
  2. Different songs require ownership of one of the three instruments currently available: drum, flute or lute (or any variant name thereof). Here follows a list of the instruments and how they affect the various songs. Currently, only the Haven Song can use any instrument, and all others require a specific instrument to gain the associated bonuses.
  3. The player PC need only have an instrument equipped and the code then automatically searches for the best appropriate valued instrument to allocate the bonus. If no instrument is equipped, then no bonuses are applied, and a reminder is given about the benefits of wielding an instrument. i.e. A player does not need to switch instruments if they have one equipped already and carry the one they need. It’s equipping is assumed.
  4. There are currently three values of instrument available per instrument:- 0-2500 will give a + 1 bonus variable, 2501-4500 will give a + 2 bonus variable, and > 4500 will give a + 3 bonus variable. (i.e. In the values below change a 1 value to 2 or 3 for the more expensive instruments where appropriate … or double/triple the value.):
THE DRUM DESCRIPTION (BASIC MODEL)
  1. Song of Courage : + 1 ATT + 1 DAM
  2. Inspire Defence : + 1 AC
  3. Inspire Jarring : Penalties + 2 Disc + 1 Conc
  4. Inspire Toughness : + 1 Saves
  5. Inspire Legion : + 1 DAM + 2 RNDs Duration
  6. Inspire Heroics : + 1 AC + 1 Saves HP Boost
  7. Haven Song: + 2 Sanc Boost + 2 RNDs Duration (*)
(*) Any instrument does this.

THE FLUTE DESCRIPTION (BASIC MODEL)
  1. Inspire Competence: + 1 Skills
  2. Inspire Slowing : + 1 Will DC + 5% Slow
  3. Cloud Mind Song : + 2 DC + 2 RNDs Duration
  4. Fascinate Song: + 2 DC + 2 RNDs Duration
  5. Haven Song: + 2 Sanc Boost + 2 RNDs Duration (*)
(*) Any instrument does this.

THE LUTE DESCRIPTION (BASIC MODEL)
  1. Inspire Regeneration: + 1 HP Regeneration
  2. Ironskin Chant: + 1 Damage Reduction + 2 RNDs
  3. Countersong: + 2 Spell Resist + 2 RNDs
  4. Song of Freedom: + 2 Level Boost. Large Radius.
  5. Haven Song: + 2 Sanc Boost + 2 RNDs Duration (*)
(*) Any instrument does this.

NB: The CAMPAIGN code allows the instruments to be used to give a bonus after updating the folder. However, the instruments descriptions (as above) will only show on newly purchased instruments from a fresh MODULE start. The important point is that the bonuses apply whether you get the instrument description or not.

Other updates for the campaign in the latest versions include:-
  1. AREA TRANSITION CODE: Tidying of some conversations and transition code.
  2. RAVEL CAMERA: Ravel’s conversation has had some camera angle changes.
  3. PATCH INFO: A default “Aargh! Forgot!” type message just in case.
  4. REST INFO CORRECTION: Rule update that rest limitations can be worse than 50%.
  5. ALTARS: Altars now stop interaction until Life Role set as Channeler or Harvester.
  6. FIXMAINPC FIX: Removes an invisible creature that should be removed after use.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

The Scroll: Version 2.59 Now Available

I have continued to fix some errors I have come across during testing, including:-

1) ON ACQUIRE FIX (CONSOLIDATION): Basically, the OnAcquire script fires a “consolidation” function that prior to the latest fix caused the OnAcquire to FAIL to fire for items acquired at the same time as a gem or other stackable item. The function now has a slight delay to allow the OnAcquire script to finish prior its calling. This will now fix issues like “Bound” Life Essences being collected instead of "Unbound" ones, and allow gems to collect into their appropriate containers (if carried). The “Bound” Life Essence problem was reported in v2.54, but was thought of as a “glitch” only. It has now been confirmed as a bug caused by this issue, now fixed (hopefully). The workaround would be to transfer the “bound” life essences between PCs, which would make them “unbound”. And, gems would have to be placed manually sometimes. This fix resolves those issues from occurring in the first place.

2) GRAVE HIGHLIGHT (MODULE UPDATE REQUIRED): Module versions prior to this latest did not highlight Josiah’s Grave in the graveyard. Originally, I left it more difficult to find, making it only for those players that stumbled across it with closer inspection. However, I think this falls into the realm of “pixel hunting” (especially as the z key highlight facility would also NOT highlight it) and so I decided to update the particular grave with a gold sparkle so players now know it can be interacted with. The sparkle disappears after an initial inspection. If you do not update to this latest version, note that the grave can still be interacted with, but you have to locate it with your mouse pointer first.

3) AWARD TESTS (IF DATABASE DELETED): A few versions back, I added the facility to allow a player to restart the campaign using the PC with the *same * name. (i.e. Effectively, the same PC.) It meant that previous saved games with the PC of this name would (possibly) no longer work as expected (and so were warned NOT to be used), but it also meant the player could easily start again with the same PC if they wished by choosing to delete the associated database with the PC. There was a minor error, in that the optional “Award Tests” game would not reset properly. This has now been fixed in the latest version.

4) VILLAGERS RISK REPORT: Removed erroneous info being reported on villagers and patrons if examined. NOTE: If you are already in the village (or Bloated Buckle), then you would need to leave the area and enter it again before the description updates correctly.

5) TLK FILE UPDATE: I also discovered another TLK description that had some wrong info. Therefore, I have now updated the Others file/folder again with the updated TLK file. (It’s to remove the reference in the feat description of Party Survivor, which says “The Main PC with this feat also has the benefit of not suffering any damage due to hunger. Companions can still die from hunger though.” This is NOT correct information and can be ignored.) The DROPBOX DIRECT LINK FOR JUST THE TLK FOLDER: https://www.dropbox.com/s/bkj9cbv3bfg6cmh/Althea_01.7z?dl=0 (Clear you download cache if you have downloaded this file before, as it is the same compressed file link, but now contains the updated TLK file.)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Scroll: Version 2.57 Now Available

Another update for today: The latest v2.57 addresses those issues listed below … Please note that the Vol Gift fixes simply fix the way the gifts were supposed to work, with the exception of the No Fear of Death feat, which has been changed to the player (as opposed to the party), so it works in the same way as other Vol Gifts that are also only based on the player.

1) VOL GIFTS (UPDATED): In a MP game, the Companion Protector gift will now become available for all players who wish to select it, and not just to the first chooser.

2) VOL GIFTS (UPDATED): In a MP game, the No Fear of Death will now only work for the player that selects it. i.e. No longer can one player select it for all players to benefit from the gift. Only the PCs controlled by the player with the gift will have their PCs benefit.

3) VOL GIFTS (CLARIFIED): The No Fear of Death description will be corrected to read when any character falls in combat, rather than just the main PC (or leader).

4) DWARF SMITH: Open and available if encountered outdoors, even if after close time.

5) COMPANIONS GOLD: Removed gold coin item from companionable creatures. (Fresh start only.)

NB: In our own campaign, Jen does not currently have the Companion Protector feat because it was disabled to her because of the way the options had been setup. This was an error, and led us to believe that her companions were also protected by this feat, when they were not. i.e. If Threska had "died", then a tombstone would have been created because she was not protected by the Companion Protector feat. We never witnessed this to date because Threska was the only companion never to fall in battle! This can be seen by loading a TEST save and reading the Companion Protector feat description (before updating to the latest version), which states the Gift only works for the player that had selected it, and NOT for the companions of other players.

Going forward in our own campaign, (and in the light of this new information), I will allow players to choose their gift again, if they so wish. Jen has already stated that she may now opt for the Companion Protector feat. Bear in mind that this update means that XP penalties will apply on any "death" for characters of a player that does not have the No Fear of Death Vol Gift. i.e. Just like PnP days, a PC will suffer an XP penalty for "dying", even if they "recover" if a player also has the Companion Protector feat.

The Scroll: Version 2.56 Now Available

A player reported they had a situation where the Scroll given by Vol appeared in their inventory multiple times. The following fixes were applied, which the same player reported had fixed the problem. I also addressed a couple of other issues that could occur, especially if a player started the campaign with only a single PC.

The latest version, v2.56, addresses the following issues:-

1) MAINPC HEARTBEAT: If a player started with only one PC (did not create any others), then their Main PC heartbeat would not start. The same issue would occur if the player did not possess another PC at least once. Therefore, the latest fix ensures a pseudo PC is added/possessed/removed to ensure the heartbeat gets started. (This evaded me in the past as I always played with a party from the start.)

2) VOL GIFTS: On the back of the above issue, a player could miss out on a Vol Gift entirely, as it relied upon a heartbeat call from the MainPC. So if a player either had no other PCs or had not possessed one before meeting Vol, then this script would not fire. Now, it is also set to fire the moment the conversation with Vol ends.

3) MOD VARIABLES: As somebody had reported issues with receiving multiple copies of The Scroll item, I have reworked the “between module variable controller” to use an item that the Main PC already carries, thereby avoiding creating another item and thereafter having to rely on destroying said item. In testing, the old method could sometimes fail, leaving the player sometimes with no Scroll item, or even with multiple Scroll items. In testing the new system, this appears fixed … and also no longer prevents a player from leaving an area, as it relies on an integer rather than an object check now.

4) INVENTORY (NEW PC): A minor update. I added a line of code that would ensure the player could read “A New PC Has Been Selected” in the inventory window if they had previously scrolled the window description and then selected a new PC.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 31. Mind How You Go! (v2.55)

Well the last session we played turned out to be THE last session marking the end of all the quests available. We will be having one last "tidy up" session, which will include some PC house-keeping, and a special "Dream Sequence" episode that will cover an area of the campaign not explored by the players. This allows me to test that final section and keep a saved game prepared for any possibility of further modules in the campaign.

As you know, my current task (alongside fixing problems with module one that we came across) has been preparing the campaign for transition between modules ... and writing the second module. I have to admit this has been slow progress, simply due to health reasons. However, now that our play through for module one has almost come to an end, I may be able to do a little more. I am reasonably certain I have completed the module transition code, and can now concentrate on the story aspects. However, like always, time will tell with respect to how far I get.

I do also plan to have another multi-player run through of the first module, but this time as an active player (rather than as a DM). I want to do this so that I can fully test all the changes from the last play through, and test one or two aspects of play that the last play through may not have tried. E.g. Playing through by a different path. Besides, I think it could be fun for me to have a go as a player too ... and test how the balancing has changed things.

As regards to the play of the last session, apart from a few minor issues, we did also encounter another critical broken multi-player transition. Here follows the problems encountered and fixes involved in detail.

The List of Fixes

1) TRANSITION (ASTEND): The game-breaking bug (MP only) we encountered this session was another broken transition, which failed to fire due to a delay added to the end of the conversation. The delay did not serve much purpose apart from allowing a slightly longer view of Astend performing his spell, and so was removed to allow the timing of the transition to work as expected. Thankfully, these transition bugs should have only affected MP games, but I am sorry to those that have had to wait for fixes to play multi-player.

2) FORMULAE PAGES: In our session, when one of the PCs picked up the first formulae page they were meant to collect, it did not fire the GUI to give advise about collection. I think this may have been a glitch, along the lines of those that I explained last time. However, I did alter the code slightly to help ensure the associated GUI on collecting the first page does fire. Tested as working.

3) "STILL BEING WORKED": A couple of puzzles reported "Still Being Worked Upon", even when they were not. One was due to a (non-critical) bug, but the other I believe stemmed from some code changes made over the previous weeks. I will keep an eye open on these as we play again, but hopefully, this is not a problem.

4) OBI REWARD: A reward collected by the heroes from OBI was giving too much, as it included associates that should NOT have been included. This has now been fixed.

5) RAGNOR SWORD JOURNAL ENTRY: The journal entry for acquiring the sword of Ragnor Oran would keep firing when passed from PC to PC. This has been fixed.

6) CLARIFICATION (GONG): I have changed the way the conversation works with Astend's gong. Players would think the conversation had stopped/broken and try clicking again, even though it was "paused" in the process of sounding a second time (when struck twice). Now the gong sounds twice in quick succession without any pause in the conversation. Furthermore, any hostile creature summoned will now correctly un-summon on being killed.

7) CLARIFICATION (TELEPORT HUB): Players did not realise that a summoned portal was an object that could be interacted with. To clarify this, I have made it so a central hub now appears within the portal encouraging the player to click on it.

A Final Word

All in all, after dodging the bullets of bugs as we went along, the campaign played well. Yes, we had quite a few moments of rough-riding when some bugs were more persistent than others, but thankfully, everything was "fixable" along the way, especially as I was present as the DM. Hopefully, our own experiences will help make for a smoother game for those that wish to try The Scroll MP as well.

The campaign lasted far longer than I first anticipated, by almost double! At first, one may think it was due to the way we used turn-based combat, but the in-game timer ignores that part of the time. Therefore, our nearly 71 hours of gameplay was all story and adventure! It did include the times when players stopped to purchase equipment and read the various tomes and scrolls throughout the game, but even after accounting for this, the first module does still offer a substantial amount of gameplay hours.

From my own experience, I believe the creatures encountered needed some balancing, some of which I addressed as we played. Others, however, will only be noticed on a fresh replay. I may even address this some more after I test it again.


In the end, the PCs have ended up at ninth level, nearly tenth, and are very wealthy, having stashed away just over 60 000 gold and are still carrying dozens of precious gems and jewellery. Most of this gold and some of the gems have already been earmarked for crafting and enchanting items, and so that will quickly drop when you consider the high costs of such. However, now that the barrier is down, new equipment will always come in handy for the adventure ahead ... when it is ready!

Astend Is Transfixed!
Helden Examines A Gong
The Heroes Rest Before Using The Portal
Ferocious Raptor Creatures Attack!
The Homa!
The Hag And Her Spawn!
The Heroes Explore Some Caves
And Encounter Huge Spiders!
A Mysterious Cavern!
The Adventure Continues ... 31. Mind How You Go!

The End of the Beginning!

NB: Contains spoilers for ALL backgrounds.

Helden stood in front of the door and blew through the pan pipes that played the annoying tune once more. Eventually, through the fighter's persistence the door finally relented and agreed that the heroes showed the perseverance they needed to continue past its way.

Beyond the door lay another staircase, which the heroes ascended with ease. When they reached the top, the heroes were surprised to see what looked like Astend standing in the centre of a Nexus Gate. How could he be here as well as be laying unconscious in his own tower? Helden tried to speak with the wizard, but Astend's gaze remained transfixed on the huge humanoid figure that stood in the centre of this strange environment. It soon became obvious to the heroes that until they rid the place of the strange shadowy creatures, Astend would remain distracted and unable to be spoken to.

The search was on, and not before too long, the heroes discovered more of the shadowy creatures that appeared to be the source of the strength of the huge humanoid figure that held Astend's attention. Without delay, the heroes attacked and destroyed nemesis after nemesis. And as soon as they destroyed the last one, the huge humanoid creature that stole Astend's attention fell to the ground, destroyed itself. Finally, Astend no longer stood transfixed on the entity that had stood before him, and the heroes could seek his attention at last.

Now able to speak with Astend, the wizard was still cautious of the heroes, but eventually they were able to persuade him they had genuinely come to help. After some time of describing the state of the village and trying to understand how Astend was both here and at his tower, the wizard was finally able to come to some understanding of what had transpired and how his problem and the barrier issue were connected. In concluding, the wizard explained that he needed his formulae pages to resolve the problem and that the heroes had to retrieve them for him.

[To avoid spoiling the plot for potential players, I have missed out some explanations here.]

Without further ado, Astend was able to send the heroes back to his tower, where he had explained how and where they could find his formulae pages. Needless to say, it involved answering a question of the statue that Helden had found within the secret room earlier. To find the answer to that question, the heroes had been told to find a book in the wizard's bedroom that would help them ... and to find that, they had to use the gong that stood beside the wizard's bed.

Five minutes later, the heroes had managed to gain entrance to Astend's secret chambers, and were now able to search the region for the formulae pages. In all their searching of the hidden chambers, they only managed to locate a few of the pages. It had become obvious to them all now that the remaining pages had probably been sucked  into the second portal they had learned about from Astend and now stood before. Before they would use it and explore the land beyond, however, Helden decided they should rest, and so they did.

Having rested, Helden led the party through the portal to the land beyond. Immediately upon arriving at the destination, the heroes were attacked by a ferocious creature that they later learned to be called a Trepid by the locals. The fact that the heroes had used the teleport and arrived at night did not make the combat any easier. However, the creature was alone and the fighters made quick work of killing it, leaving Karasten to loot the creature of anything that may come in use in crafting.

As the heroes continued to explore this lush green land by night, they encountered more of these Trepids which walked its grounds, sometimes smaller, but more often larger. In every instance, however, the heroes were prepared with both summoned creatures and the support of Sebastion, their new henchman, and so quite capable of defending themselves.

It soon became obvious that some of the formulae pages had been transported to this side of the portal, and the heroes immediately started to gather them. As they did so, they soon became aware of a barrier similar to the one that surrounded their own village. This had been expected, however, as Astend had earlier explained this to them. What did catch them by surprise, however, was they noticed a local tribesman of the territory standing on the other side of the barrier from them. At the same time, the tribesman had noticed the heroes too, and called the over.

The tribesman spoke to the heroes in broken common-tongue, but at least they were able to communicate. The heroes were soon to learn that this local man had been waiting for his friends that had passed through the barrier and not yet returned. Apparently, they had had to pass this way to honour something called the Homa, which they held in high regard and as something to be worshipped. It was during this conversation that the heroes then spied the last formulae page they sought, caught on the other side of the barrier with the tribesman. A deal was quickly struck between the two parties: If the heroes used the gold (given by the man to them) to pay homage to the Homa - and keep an eye open for the tribesman's friends, then the man would pass the heroes the page they needed through the barrier upon their return. The heroes had no choice but to agree and followed the path to the Homa as instructed by the tribesman.

After a short while, the large statue of what the tribesman had described as the Homa came into sight. Before it lay the tribute bowls, which Helden added the gold given to him for such by the tribesman. Immediately, a faint smell descended upon him, marking a blessing of the Homa, and the proof they needed for the tribesman to honour his side of their bargain. Fearing the fragrance may dissipate at any moment, the heroes made a hasty return to the tribesman, whereupon they concluded their deal, and recovered the last page. That would have concluded the heroes actions here, but a final request from the tribesman to help seek his friends prompted the heroes to consider one last search of the area while here. They all knew that the tribesmen would be unable to return to the other side of the barrier, but at least all would also know of their fate if they could locate them.

And so the heroes explored the region more closely, and in doing so managed to discover three cave entrances that offered further exploration for the missing tribesmen. However, one of these caves appeared to be protected by some mysterious magik, and while the heroes had managed to find one of the items they believed they needed to unlock the way into the cave, they were missing one other. So, for the time being, they left the mysterious cave alone and searched the remaining two.

It was in the next cave system that the heroes explored where they encountered a hag and her spawn. It also turned out to be these evil creatures that had taken one of the missing tribesmen as a prisoner, which the heroes were able to liberate, and give news of the fellow tribesman waiting for him. The hag and her spawn certainly put up a resistance, but the heroes were quite prepared for such and put the threat of the immediate area to rest as quickly as they had encountered them.

Unfortunately, the heroes were unable to locate any other surviving tribesmen, even after exploring the second cave system, which just held huge spiders and a number of sarcophagi. The spiders had to be dealt with as usual, and care was taken to alleviate some of the sarcophagi of their treasures. A strange nearby candle that appeared never to burn down looked valuable, but Helden decided they would not touch it in case it caused the undead to awake from the sarcophagi.

The mysterious cave was the last place the heroes could search for the missing tribesmen, although everybody thought this an unlikely place to find them as one of the ingredients required to bypass the caves entry protection was a hag's eye! The heroes now had all the ingredients they needed to enter the mysterious cave, and so made their way back to it and performed the ritual they knew would allow them entrance.

Apart from some really useful treasure, the mysterious cavern was empty of any living beings, including any missing tribesmen, as expected. The heroes had now explored every area this region had to offer, and feeling they had done their best, now decided to return as quickly as possible to Astend with the formulae pages with the hope of bringing the barrier problem to an end.

Three portal trips later, and the heroes were handing Astend his pages, and then had to stand waiting anxiously as Astend studied his own work. Finally, after just a few more moments, when Helden asked the wizard if he had found a solution, the heroes had their answer: he did! With quiet apprehension, the heroes stood back to allow the wizard to rework his incantation that would start to unravel all the problems his original incantations had caused. Then, within just a few more seconds and as Astend finished his spell, the heroes suddenly found themselves back at the wizard's tower, alongside Astend ... alive and well.

After some brief acknowledgement of thanks all round from one another, the heroes could wait no longer and proceeded out of the wizard's tower to check for the barrier: It had gone! The heroes quest to rid the village of the barrier was over! Finally, they could make arrangements to go to the capital city, Boran, and bring news of their quest there.

However, before they left, there were just a couple of things that Helden wanted to take care of. The first involved returning to the crypts, which they did, whereupon the heroes were now able to gain access to the tomb of Ragnor Oran and retrieve his mythical sword. As always, the task had not been quite as straight forward as they first thought, but succeed they did. Furthermore, upon returning to Orechin with it, they were able to convince the holy man that they may be able to put the sword to better use, and so were allowed to keep the wondrous blade.

The second task, however, was one that Helden had been looking forward to for some time now, and was easy enough to do; after all he knew where he could find him. Shutting the door to the Bloated Buckle behind him, Helden called out "Scraps!", and within a heartbeat the two were reunited ... and now the party were back together again, the new adventures that awaited them could be faced together.

TOTAL SESSION TIME (UNPAUSED): 4 Hours 1 Minute.
GAME TIME SINCE START: 70 Hours 55 Minutes.
QUESTS ACTIVE: 2 QUESTS COMPLETE: 33 (Ignoring Rule Info)