Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 18. Dark Caves & Shady People! (v2.40)

The latest session went relatively smoothly, discounting one or two niggly points, which I have now dealt with. In fact, this blog is detailing more to do with tweaking parts of the code and new updates, rather than fixes. As an update, I did manage to include MP support for the Combination Lock puzzles and the Readable Books and Scrolls that work from placeable objects (not items). Now, when a player starts one of these objects, all other players receive a GUI too, but all they can do is observe or leave. Anyway, without further preamble, here is what you need to know:-

The List of Fixes

1) TRANSITIONS & NEW MODULES: I addressed a minor issue to do with a global variable not being correct with respect to the inventory on a new load. Having addressed this, I had introduced a minor timing issue that caused a new (minor) transition issue (which we experienced on the night), but I have now fixed both of these issues in the latest version too. On top of this, while preparing for newer module transfers, I discovered the "Global Switches" setting was not being set between module changeovers. This required an update to player on area enter to ensure these switches worked again. (E.g. Tagged based switching.) See also the AI tweaks next.

2) AI TWEAKS (HENCHMEN/SUMMONS/COMPANIONS): At a player request, I took a closer look at the way henchmen (and summons) - and even the companions behave in given conditions. In particular, I wanted to improve the "obedience" of henchmen (e.g. Scraps) and summoned creatures with respect to combat. i.e. To "stand ground" or "follow" their master even when in combat. i.e. A player can now override the "seek and kill" behaviour of these creature types to act more like the way companions do, and gives the player more control of these types.

For companions, I have now made it so that they automatically "follow" after entering a new area, even if the player has the "red brain" representing the AI as disabled. i.e. Even when the AI is OFF, companions will now follow the controlled main PC (and continue to follow) after an area transition, until another "stand ground" command is given again, or the player switches PC. Furthermore, if a player now disables "Auto Pause" from the main menu, the game will now switch all followers to AI on, warning the player to turn AI back off again if they want their followers to remain in Puppet Mode.

These "logic" steps will, hopefully, make more sense for players using a combination of the AI controls available, especially when making use of the Auto Pause TB Combat system. Simply put, the "brain" icon now simply switches Puppet Mode on (red - AI OFF) or off (green - AI ON), which turns both spell-casting and follow either on (green brain) or off (red brain) at the same time. NOTE: The "follow" and "stand ground" commands (both the new GUI and the original shout commands), override the current "follow" status of either AI setting to enable quick and easy movement.

A final tweak was to companions (not cohorts, which I define as a player's created PCs), which now no longer have an influence change if a player merely "inspects" another persons property with their PC, but only when a player actually acquires "stolen goods" - and if the player is playing a "good aligned" party. E.g. A player may now try to open a chest, and the companion will stop them. A cohort does the same on the initial attempt, but does not stop the player thereafter, whereas a companion always will. If, however, the player manages to gain access to said chest and grabs the "stolen" loot therein, then the companion will react with a rebuke.

3) MONEY POUCH GOLD: This is about the third time I have addressed this issue, and after observing some debug feedback, I believe I have finally got to the bottom of the issue: The problem stems from using a function to retrieve the number of stacked items after an alteration to the original stack, even though the code looks solid. So now, I have resorted to using my own calculation code and the stack now returns correctly and the gold issue with respect to money pouches should be resolved once and for all.

4) OTHER MINOR FIXES: (i) Combination doors were giving too much XP (by a factor of 10). These have now been fixed. (ii) The White Empire Guardian now no longer has the "sewer problem" entry speech if the sewer problem has been resolved. (iii) I have increased the range of the "Gather Party" check from 10 meters to 20 meters, to help alleviate having to get too close to the transition object. (iv) Some gold loot items found on creatures were being received as "items" rather than the actual gold. I removed some old code that should fix this.

Heroes Enter A Wolves Den!
The Tunnels Continue Into Darkness
Blood Stained Remains!
Talanthian Brotherhood!
Talanthian Portal Magik!

The Adventure Continues ... 18. Dark Caves & Shady People!

The Dark Underworld!

NB: Contains spoilers for ALL backgrounds.

"It's not like I support everything they stand for", said Myara under her breath, trying to alleviate everyone's fears as the heroes entered the Thieves' Guild. The group remained silent as they passed through the foyer and up to the man in charge at the desk, who introduced himself as Travis Coldblood, and front man for Merkes.

Conversation was a little jilted, even for Myara, who tried to act confident in front of her friends, but came across as a bit of an outsider herself. "How do we become a member?" said Myara, trying to gain better influence after failing to sell any of her traps and items to Travis. The shady dealer simply laughed, but after Myara did some quick talking, Travis agreed that the heroes could go and see Merkes if they really felt they were up to joining. Helden was not happy at all with the run of events, but Myara was curious to learn more.

Merkes appeared a pleasant man, although his motives and smooth talking hid a darker side, which spoke about retrieving a gem for him (which Obi Sten had acquired from somebody else), if the heroes wanted to prove themselves as worthy to join his guild. The heroes agreed they would consider it and left the guild leader to check out other rooms within the secretive dwelling. It was not long before Helden and the rest of the heroes were turning a blind eye as the dextrous little halfling was pilfering her way through a chest she found in a side bedroom. "It's not stealing if it's already stolen. Isn't that what Merkes implied himself about Obi's gem?"

Merkes' place also had a cellar, which the heroes decided to investigate. As they descended the stairs and into the room itself, the sound of fighting could be heard. They had entered a "training chamber" where various shady types were attacking dummies to help "improve their grip", at least that is what Scar said, the man in charge of the training area who spoke with them as they entered.

Scar was no better than either Travis or Merkes ... all appearing to be of the same stock and breed ... and all with very selfish motives. In Scar's case, it seemed he had once tried to double-cross Merkes, and only just escaped with his life, and now at the mercy of his boss. Ever since the event, Scar has been trying to get back into the good books of his boss, and now asked the heroes if they were prepared to do a task for him: Search the sewers for some missing stashes of gold. In one of these stashes, there was also a small platinum statuette that was to be found. Scar was after this statuette, and if the heroes either recovered it for him, or retrieved the map from Grist (who had apparently run off with the only map of the location of the stashes), then he would reward the heroes for their help. The heroes said they would think about it and left the shady dealer to himself and decided to leave the guild for now.

"Let's get back to searching for Monty!" said Helden after putting the experience with the Thieves' Guild behind him. Everyone agreed and the heroes set off to the Shoreline Road, where they located the cave entrance they discovered earlier and stepped inside. Although lighter than expected due to some glowing flora, Helden nonetheless equipped his trusty bullseye lantern, and indicated that Myara should lead on, in case of traps.

"I smell wolves!" grumbled the dwarf, Flint. And as if to prove his point, Myara started to run back to the group claiming a pair of wolves were close behind her. The wolves followed the halfling straight into the waiting arms of the two fighters, and so their pursuit was short lived as the fighters made short work of the combat.

After the battle, the heroes continued their search along the dark tunnels of the caves. At the end of the tunnel from which one of the wolves came, the heroes found the remains of some clothing. Elana pointed out that the lack of blood on the clothing suggested the owner may still be alive somewhere. Hopefully, they belonged to Monty, and their search would not be in vain.

"There are some good sources of iron and silver ore here." said Karasten as the heroes continued to search the cave system for Monty. Then, rounding one passageway, the heroes came face to face with another group of people, who Karasten recognised as Talanthians: an evil brotherhood from the far east who followed the evil god Talan. Combat with these normally distant and evil enemy was inevitable. As the evil clerics summoned their creatures, the heroes did the same. However, the might of the heroes was too much for this small scouting party of the brotherhood, and so it was not long before Helden was left picking through their remains in search for more clues as to what brought them here ... and why? Helden found nothing, except confirmation of a Holy Book that they were the Brotherhood of Talan.

Continuing deeper into the caves, the heroes encountered a second group of the evil brotherhood and dealt with them in much the same way as the previous group. Eventually, however, as the heroes traversed another narrow passageway, they found themselves within a larger cave that had some kind of glowing portal within it. Karasten confirmed from the sigils that this was indeed some of the very rare Talanthian teleportation magik, but was unable to ascertain anything more from it. Then, as the heroes were discussing the portal, out from the shadows stepped a young female who introduced herself as Kasandra. Myara spotted somebody akin to herself straight away, and kept silent as the woman explained what she was doing here.

According to Kasandra, she had been spying on the Talanthians for a number of days, since she heard rumours of their existence. She had been unable to ascertain their business, but did work out that the ones the heroes had encountered were only a scouting group, and that as it currently stood, she and the heroes had the element of surprise with respect to checking where the portal might lead to.

Helden asked Kasandra if she might be interested in joining them in trying to learn more about it, but Kasandra, upon seeing how large the group already was, smirked at Myara and simply said, "I think your group is already large enough." Myara bit her lip and refused to rise to the bait. "However, as an alternative, maybe we should warn the authorities instead of going through just yet. After all, we don't know exactly what we will be facing."

Helden stood thinking. The group were already beginning to get tired, and even if they did try the portal now, how long could they pursue the adventure in their current state. Would it be better to get backup and inform the authorities ... or simply steel the moment and step into the portal now? He needed to discuss the options with the rest of the party, of which Myara was quick to point out that she liked the company they already had, and that they could not trust this Kasandra just yet anyway. Helden did not have the stomach to say that was not what he meant.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 32 Hours 34 Minutes.
QUESTS ACTIVE: 11 QUESTS COMPLETE: 15 (Ignoring Rule Info)

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 17. Not So Fair Maiden! (Henchmen Control. Transitions. DM Invis.)

Last night's session was a blast! I mean that in a good way, as the session went smoothly and we all had a great time as we brought the story of the Halls of the Goblin Kings to a timely end. The session had a couple of very minor issues, some of which I fixed even as we played they were so small; and there were a couple that added a momentary point of comment, but otherwise everything went well. In fact the worse bug of the night was at the very end when we discovered another transition bug due to trying to jump while a conversation was ending. Everything is fixed now (see below for more detail), and at the request of my player on WAN, I hope to add another puzzle to MP compatibility (Combi Chest). I am also considering adding Readable Books (and scrolls) activated via a placeable to the MP compatibility too. I will report back in the next blog update how this goes, hopefully.

The List of Fixes

1) SHOW GUI TOOLTIP: I removed a bracket from a tooltip that was preventing the XML from displaying the tip on the follow icon. (XML is very fussy about its characters allowed.)

2) FOOD CONVERSATION: Added an option to drop out of a conversation if the heroes did not want to taste the food on the top floor of the Halls.

3) SKULL TRAP WARNING: When reading the book on the top floor of the Halls, the heroes had a sudden Trap Warning message show. This was due to a check missing to determine if the PCs needed warning of a trap becoming active or not. In this case they did not and the check has now been added to fix any further potential issues.

4) QUEST FANFARE: Upon returning an item the heroes had to collect for Orechin, the quest ended and the fanfare showed (but not properly) and there was no fanfare sound. This has now been fixed.

5) CONVERSATION PAUSE: This may just have been a one-off, but I have taken steps to hopefully avoid this happening again: A conversation fired from a trigger to make Sebastion comment about a door. The conversation is supposed to pause for two seconds, but it did not return from the pause, forcing us to have to reload. Between reloading, I altered the code to have the conversation handle the pause (which had not worked before on another occasion), rather than a script. This time around the node method worked. I have since altered the timing of triggers destruction, in case that had some bearing on the pausing function in conversations, which have a pause action in them. There are a few of these, but some, the players have already played (and they worked fine), and others are yet to be played. I will keep an eye on this one.

6) MERKES' DOOR TRANSITION: The biggest issue came at the point we stopped play anyway: With Merkes' front door we encountered another transition that failed because the PCs were still in a conversation (it was just ending), which prevents the transition from firing. The script used has now been replaced with a "conversation friendly" version. Hopefully that really should be the last of them, as I did another search of the module for similar situations.

7) HENCHMEN CONTROL: My player on WAN said he was still experiencing some disobedient companion/henchmen behaviour when using the broadcast commands (my new GUI worked OK). I looked over the code and made some slight alterations to ensure the commands were being rallied more effectively and upon testing all worked fine for me. I tested a number of combinations and all appeared good. I have also tweaked the henchmen default distances to be a little farther away from the main player (6 meters) so that they do not get under their feet. Again, my own testing found this much easier to use.

8) OTHER FIXES (INC DM INVISIBILITY): Again, we found another typo and I have tried adjusting a variable for the Target GUI, which appeared to be using the wrong object (Main PC instead of oFM). That may fix some feedback that appeared slightly off in rare occasions. Lastly, I added some code to help keep the DM invisible to the players. For some unknown reason, whenever I used the DM previously, the players could simply talk to a companion and I would appear (come out of its invisibility to players). I have now added the cutscene VFX to the default effect, which now makes me completely invisible (even to myself). I do get the target circle on the ground, and can still toggle back to the DM default version to see myself and walk through doors (which was also disabled when applying the new effect).

Not A Friendly Welcome!
The Floor Just Clicked!
Helden Takes A Hit For The Team!
Another Pressure Plate.
The Guardian Of The Realm!
Pewter Statues Suddenly Animate And Attack!
What Happened To Her Looks?
The Adventure Continues ... 17. Not So Fair Maiden.

Meet My Darker Side!

NB: Contains spoilers for ALL backgrounds.

Searching the second level of the Halls for the Upper Halls key continued; the heroes carefully navigating the twisting passageways and investigating many small chambers. The search went relatively unhindered, having dealt with many of the goblins already. However, then they came across the Warden! Thankfully, Helden had heard the lumbering beast long before they encountered it. The lack of subtlety of this large noisy creature gave the heroes all the warning they needed to give them the combat advantage and initiative. Then, spying the slow moving creature at the end of a long corridor, the heroes let the onslaught begin, a primary offensive coming from Threska's summoned Dire wolf that ran up to and ripped into the bulky monster threatening to rip it to shreds in seconds.

Helden and Flint then ran into the fray, as Myara bowed from a distance, supported by the spells and missile fire of Karasten and the two clerics. The large beast that the heroes recognised as a Grey Render, took more blows than expected before it finally fell to the ravaging attacks of the dire wolf. With that adversity dealt with, the heroes really were now left alone within the level to find the key they needed to progress.

"Always in the last place you look!" said Sebastion as the Helden searched through a pile of junk, before standing victorious, key in hand. Without further ado, the heroes returned to a large ornate door they had seen earlier in their search and, as expected, the key opened the way to a staircase that led to the Upper Halls.

The heroes had barely enough time to take in their surroundings of the new level when a skull that had been sitting atop a pedestal suddenly lit up and flames began shooting from it and towards Helden. In a panic, Helden ran up to the skull and smashed it, causing it to explode and damage everybody that stood nearby. Thankfully, although badly injured, everybody remained standing, and the clerics quickly went about tending everyone's wounds.

After the healing, the heroes were able to begin exploring the new area. The decor showed a more refined design here, and Sebastion confessed he knew less of this area than the previous. Corridors, while better kept than earlier levels, still meandered back and fourth, interconnecting various rooms and chambers. In one chamber, Helden spied a large book and stepped up to read it. Yet after taking just a few steps, a large dome opened up in the chamber beside him revealing another flaming skull. The fighter immediately turned on his heels and made a quick exit, escaping the flame jets just in time.

Helden suggested they try new tactics and use missile fire to try to destroy the skull from a distance. The problem was that the skull resisted every missile thrown at it, and all the while, the heroes were still subject to its long reaching jets of flame. Standing it no longer, and realising that he had all the protection the clerics could offer for the time being, Helden threw himself at the skull with his magik sword, took aim, and smashed it to pieces, causing the skull to explode and cover him in flames once again. Thankfully, Helden was the toughest of the group, and while badly injured, it was nothing that the clerics could not heal.

Upon examining the book at last, the heroes learned that if they could find the pen, which could be located somewhere on this level, then they could alter their environment by changing the text in this book with the pen. It was a bold plan, but resorting to nothing less than the Editor had already done itself. They "simply" had to find the pen!

Click! Myara came to a sudden stop after stepping onto a circular section of the floor, which had sunk slowly under her weight and then clicked. "Stop! I may have just triggered a trap. I dare not move."

"Wait a moment then!" said Helden, and Myara stood still, frozen to the spot, daring not to even turn her head to see what Helden was up to. A few seconds later, Helden's voice sounded again, albeit obviously a bit farther away, "OK. Now get ready to turn and run back towards me." Helden had told everybody else to get back, in case there was an explosion.

"Great!" Thought Myara, thinking Helden had been preparing something a little more helpful for her situation rather than getting out of a blast radius. Nevertheless, as much as she was disturbed by the thought, she guessed she would have probably done the same. As it was, when she turned and fled the pressure plate, all that followed was another gentle click and no explosion followed. The plate did not appear to be a trap after all, but maybe some kind of switching mechanism, but for what?

This ended up not being the only plate they found as they continued their search for the pen. In other small side rooms, similar to the first, they found others, all requiring some kind of weight to keep activated. Helden determined these were important, and went about dropping abandoned items across the area on the plates they found, as soon as they came across them.

Continuing along another corridor, the heroes turned right at  junction and followed it to a dead end, at the end of which they spotted a large skull, not unlike the smaller ones that shot flames, but this one appeared different somehow. Then, before they could react, the skull addressed them in common tongue. This skull, it seemed, referred to itself as the Guardian: as in the Guardian of the Realm, in which they now found themselves. The conversation that followed was quite lengthy, and thanks to Karasten's greater intelligence, the heroes were able to learn quite a bit more detail about the realm they were now in and the Guardian itself. Most importantly, the Editor was merely a side of Sebastion's own unconscious personality, which manifested itself as his own nemesis!

Leaving the Guardian, the heroes continued their search for the pen, and found the Upper Halls relatively quiet compared to the other levels. Therefore, it came as quite a jump when passing two large pewter statues, that they suddenly sprung to life and attacked Myara and Threska who had taken the lead. The battle was reasonably tough, as the large statues resisted quite a few blows before finally succumbing to the heroes attacks. Once defeated, however, the heroes were able to see what they guarded: The Pen of Creativity. Myara read a small plaque on the pedestal atop which stood the pen ... and sighing, just grabbed the pen. "Got it!"

Relieved that a trap had not been activated (for now the heroes were a little nervous that Myara had not spotted the pressure plate previously), the "sidekicks" to Sebastion's troupe (i.e. our heroes), made a quick backtrack to where they had found the large tome and used it to edit the Editor's own edits, to bring the story back in line with what Sebastion originally wrote. The edit now made, the heroes were confident that they could now progress the story without any further hindrances by rescuing the Fair Maiden and making their escape.

"There's definitely a female crying ahead", said Myara, as Helden received healing for his burns having just run forward and "deactivated" yet another flaming skull. Everyone in the party could hear the cries now, and even Sebastion was confident that the end was now in sight.

Following the sound of the crying, the heroes eventually reached a small cell, in which the "fair maiden" sat. She acted full of charm and elegance, especially towards Myara as the one who rescued her from her cell. Then, within a heartbeat, the charms and pleasantries changed to coarse anger, as the Editor revealed itself by changing from the form of the maiden into that of its true self: a hideous shadowy dark creature. There was a scream, which Helden had insisted was Sebastion, but it was hard to tell where it had come from, as the large built artist was standing quite close to Helden when it sounded. At that point, combat was engaged, and it was to be the final confrontation of this world.

The Editor had been unprepared for such intelligence and brawn to enter its realm, and try as it might, it had been unable to prevent the heroes from rescuing Sebastion, the true "fair maiden" in this sense. After activating a fourth and final pressure plate that had been in the cell where the Editor had lied in wait, the last arm of a nearby portal lit up, and everybody knew they had found the exit to this dreadful nightmare of a world. Helden led the way as everyone stepped onto the platform.

"Thanks for getting me back!" Sebastion was truly grateful for the heroes actions and after making sure everyone had come back safely, Helden led to the matter of the missing commission, the original reason they had come to see Sebastion. The artist wasted no time in giving the heroes the work they needed to fulfil their quest, and after saying their goodbyes, the heroes marched straight over to Orechin to bring him the package and the news. Orechin thanked them as usual and the heroes were rewarded for their work.

"I need to unload some of this stuff", said Myara, who, like everybody else, had managed to acquire quite a bit of equipment from this imaginary world of Sebastion. Without further hesitation, the heroes marched off to the local market, and sold what they could before heading back to the inn for rest and reflection on what to do next.

"I need to visit the local guild really", said Myara the following morning. Everybody knew she was referring to Merkes' Place, the local thieves guild, of which she was no doubt a member. Nobody questioned this side of her character, being just grateful of the fact that she was a dab hand at cracking codes and disarming traps ... well, most of the time. Helden nodded in acknowledgement, and the heroes readied for the day ahead and made their first stop at the local guild of thieves.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 30 Hours 42 Minutes.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 16. The Deeper Dungeons. (MP Loading, Puzzle & New Mod Support. Show GUI Updated.)

Another successful session, allowing me the opportunity to refine some of the existing code, improve MP performance & gameplay, and continue to prepare for any future modules. Basically, this latest report is less about fixes (I fixed one typo in a conversation with Sebastion) and more about new beneficial code. Check out the news below and catch up with the heroes adventures as normal.

The List of Updates

1) MECHANISM PUZZLE MP SUPPORT: My player on the WAN asked if I could include the "mechanism" puzzle in the MP puzzle support. I have already made the "Ripped" and "Cypher" puzzles MP compatible (in that they are viewed by all players at the same time), and now I have managed to add the "Mechanism" to that list. As usual, the observing player can "cancel" out of observing if they wish, but can otherwise be part of the puzzle by default. I have kept a number of the puzzles to be one player at a time, simply due to the complexity and potential pitfuls of coding such for MP.

2) MP LOADING: Although most won't see the benefits (if playing SP), I have managed to improve the way a MP session loads depending upon whether the host is a DM or not. Basically, if a DM is present as the host, the code now ensures the companions are ready to be taken back on board by any player who enters the game after the DM has first connected. Alternatively, if there is no DM, then the designated player leader (host) loads as normal and all PCs now reattach themselves to the appropriate player.

3) BETWEEN MODULE VARIABLE SUPPORT: I have managed to add some code that enables me to bring across variables from one module into any later modules. I used the "items in container" method, that works behind the scenes as the player moves from one module to another. It works fine, and now just awaits full usage as I continue to prepare the new module for the players who either play the first mod (including having a final save game if present), as well as those players who wish to start the later modules without having to go through the first again. It's fairly stable now, but I need to tidy up what I intend to allow to bring across and what is removed ... and then start the plot lines proper. (NOTE: The current module version is also now shown in the Main Menu.)

4) SHOW GUI TOOL: I decided to rework the SHOW GUI tool to be able to provide a quick way for players to have all their PCs "follow" or "stand ground". (An ability not unlike the Dragon Age 1 GUI offered under the player portraits.) Check out my instruction scroll screenshot for the updated GUI, with all that it now encompasses:-

The New Show GUI Instruction Interface

The Heroes Enter The Deeper Dungeons
These Goblins Are Somewhat Tougher!
Karasten Clears The Way of Obstacles ... With A Blast!

The Adventure Continues ... 16. The Deeper Dungeons.

Who Needs Maths!?

NB: Contains spoilers for ALL backgrounds.

The heroes examined the wall that was currently still blocking their way to the deeper dungeons and noticed that a small alcove in the wall was being concealed by an illusion. It did not take them long to see past this and recognise a mechanism within the alcove that was the key to removing the wall once and for all. Myara instantly got to work on the coded mechanism .... and quite a while later was still working at it. "I never thought I would need maths to bypass a lock" the halfling rogue said, and was grateful that she at least had other skills that helped her to not be under pressure from any timed mechanism reaction. Eventually, Myara cracked the code, and the wall dissipated, leaving the heroes a way to the deeper dungeon levels.

Upon reaching the lower level, the heroes were overcome by a magikal fear, which Karasten, Elana and Myara all failed to shake, leaving them somewhat compromised in their abilities. Thankfully, the main fighters worked through the fear and shook it off.

Sebastion quickly spoke up, "We need to find a key. That's what this level is all about!" After a brief discussion, the heroes recognised that the Editor had added some complications of more chambers to the level, making their task somewhat more difficult than it should have otherwise been. Nevertheless, they needed the key and so Helden led the heroes forward in their search.

It was not long before the heroes encountered more goblins; but this time, the goblins appeared stronger than before and more tactical in their use of magic. And while still not a huge threat, the extra spell power the heroes needed to overcome this enemy, and heal wounds, started to dig deeper into their resources than previous encounters.

Battle after battle, the heroes fought off the goblins, making slow progress through these deeper chambers. At one passageway, the heroes noticed some precariously placed barrels, that could be made to explode with only a few arrow shots. Another time, the passageway suddenly became dark as some unknown power extinguished the nearby wall lamps. In all, they fought quite a number of goblins and searched a number of side chambers, but so far, they had been unable to locate the key they searched for ... but, by Helden's reckoning, there was still a large section of these lower chambers to search.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 27 Hours 24 Minutes.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 15. The Halls of the Goblin Kings. (Rune Lock Fix - Performance)

Another successful session with minor interference. (My favourite session to date.) In fact there was only a single hiccup in the last session to do with the Rune Lock puzzle, which has been fixed for future encounters with such. In any event, the problem was so minor it did not inhibit the heroes progress. Apart from that and the odd typo, everything else went smoothly, and we had an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

The List of Fixes

1) RUNE LOCK PUZZLE: During the adventure, the PCs will encounter Rune Locks, which the player resolves as a puzzle. This appeared to work fine at first, but when a second player used the puzzle (to attempt it instead of the first player), it thereafter appeared to lock the first player from trying again if the second player handed the process back. I addressed a localint that allowed the lock worker to be stored and returned more easily, and now the lock works fine in a MP environment. Furthermore, in testing the lock to ensure it worked, I noticed a memory leak when it started (related to an XML call), which I have now also fixed. Also adjusted the vigour penalty. (NOTE: v2.33b also allows slightly quicker clicking on the runes.)

2) SEBASTION RELATED TYPOS: There were a couple of conversations surrounding the Sebastion conversations that have now been fixed. i.e Bewilder > Rewilder. Heroin > Heroine and Sword > Axe (when Sebastion offers to ID the weapon found).

3) GAME BALANCING: I adjusted some of the encounter levels to help balance the game.

A Floating Book Speaks With The Party!
Goblins Attack!
But Helden and Flint Hold The Ground!
Animated Weapons Attack The Party!
A Door Without A Handle?
The Way Out Perhaps?
The Adventure Continues ... 15. The Halls of the Goblin Kings.

Living The Dream!

NB: Contains spoilers for Option 1 background.

Helden awoke from a groggy dream in which Myara spoke about calling her new sword "Stinky", he had spoken with a book that had cried upon knowing its author was dead, and he was in the process of trying to rescue some maiden because the story had to end right. Then, as he surveyed his surroundings and spied a nearby wall that was blocking a way ahead within the walls of a chamber ... and the distinct smell of goblins, he knew it had NOT been a dream. "Yep! Definitely "Stinky Sewer Sword" said Myara, as if reinforcing to Helden the fact it had not been a dream. Helden reflected upon the events that had brought them to this point ...

It all started the previous evening, after Sally had left the heroes to go and speak with her husband, who had apparently locked himself within his art studio. It should have been a relatively straightforward task, but things went quickly off-track after that. For starters, even gaining access to the studio required the heroes to work a special dwarf Rune Lock. Thankfully, between Myara's skills and the use of Life Essences, the heroes managed to bypass the lock after a few attempts.

Once inside, they confronted Sebastion (who still appeared quite well, albeit with a strange blue sheen about his body), but his responses were very strange indeed. Subsequent conversation revealed that this was not the real Sebastion, but some sort of Simulacrum, which ended up attacking the heroes when it ran out of options for conversation. The heroes had tried to remain passive until it was obvious the copy of Sebastion was not going to stop. It took only one reactive defensive blow from Helden to disperse the Simulacrum to nothingness.

The problem was that during the earlier conversation, the magikal being had somehow made the door to the room disappear. The entrance to the room had now simply gone. Helden remained calm and set about organising a search of the room. What stood out immediately was a book that floated within the room, which when approached, started to speak with the party. What strange magik was this? Further searching of the room and conversation with the book revealed that Sebastion had purchased a magik pen, which had the ability to bring into existence anything that was written with it. Sebastion, the aspiring artist that he is, had determined to make a new work with this pen, much against the warnings not to from its previous owner. To this end, he had started to write the adventure story entitled, "The Halls of the Goblin Kings". This was the nature and story within the floating book, which encouraged the heroes to join in.

After a little negotiating with the book, and overcoming the need to pay for the privilege, the magik of the book transported them into the goblin realm around which the story revolved. Upon arrival, the heroes were met by another Simulacrum of Sebastion, but being more wary this time, the heroes simply held their peace until the Simulacrum led the conversation up to the point when the heroes were told that they now faced the adventure story of the Halls set to a deadly level. Something appeared off with the Simulacrum narrator, which the heroes realised was the real source of the malevolence behind the story ... and the force referred to itself as The Editor.

After the Simulacrum departed, the "adventure" had officially begun. With no obvious lead, Helden set about leading the group into a search of the immediate area: It was some sort of underground labyrinth or dungeon, and the place they had arrived at was some sort of central chamber with four large statues of goblins, whose nearby plaques revealed them to be the Goblin Kings of the story's halls. The central chamber itself had a number of passages and doors leading off, and after determining which doors were locked, the heroes eventually started to make their way cautiously along one of the passageways.

Throughout the rest of the night the heroes faced a number of goblin attacks as they opened up various chambers. They also experienced tremors throughout the region, brought on by some unknown activity. Eventually, however, the heroes discovered a chamber in which they found the real Sebastion being kept captive in a jail cell. The heroes spent some time speaking with this Sebastion making sure he was the real thing, and learned more about what had transpired with respect to his writing of this world. In the end, it was decided he should tag along with the heroes, especially as he was the world's creator, and that he may be able to offer some insight as they continued within its realm.

There were more encounters with goblins, but nothing too taxing for the heroes. However, in one chamber, the heroes encountered a dark spirit that briefly appeared and immediately disappeared again before some nearby weapons leapt to life and attacked them. This had been the second time the dark spirit had briefly manifested itself, and Karasten reasoned that this may be the source of the malevolence that was behind this edited world. The battle with the weapons was more difficult, as they appeared to resist the blows of the heroes own weapons. Eventually, however, even these animated objects fell to the blows of Helden and Flint.

It was in this same chamber as the animated weapons that the heroes found the Greataxe of the Halls, a living weapon that the Editor had tried to conceal from the heroes. Karasten had earlier concluded that the world Sebastion had created could only be partially changed by the malevolent source that called itself the Editor. Therefore, it was possible that both boons and success could be possible (which was the nature of the story), but could be made more difficult by the alterations of the Editor.

The heroes continued their search of the dungeon, fully aware after speaking with Sebastion that the Halls currently comprised three levels, and that the exit to the next level should be nearby. Eventually, as they turned yet another dark passageway, the exit came into sight, and the heroes cautiously approached it, now tired from the adventures and combats of the night. However, as Myara approached the open gateway with the steps that led to the deeper dungeons, a large wall suddenly appeared blocking their way, and a loud voice boomed "No!". The Editor was at work again.

Myara took a closer look at the newly created wall and recognised it to be a magikal lock, which Sebastion was the key. She told Sebastion, as creator of the story, that he needed to be assertive with the wall and insist that he and his fellows be allowed to pass. Stepping up to the mark, Sebastion took on board his role and attempted to make his demands. As he spoke, the heroes kept encouraging him to be more demanding or more persuasive until the poor man was quite exasperated. However, on his last attempt, he managed to build up enough gusto to make the wall break down .... well, not fully, but it had changed, as if a compromise had been made. Hopefully, this would be enough.

"This can wait for now", said Helden. And this is the point at which the heroes decided to make camp and grab some rest, as they were all beginning to suffer from lack of vigour. Within a few minutes, the camp was made and every one in the party grabbed the rest they needed. When Helden awoke, he thought it had all been a dream.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 25 Hours 55 Minutes.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 14. Searching For Monty. (Henchmen AI, Area Enter & Red Leader Fixes)

We had another productive session, with very minor issues, which were not too dissimilar to last time, but with different objects. Thankfully, all issues encountered were easily overcome and did not impact play at all. There was one instance on an area transition at the start of the game when a player (WAN) dropped to desktop, but this was more likely due to the computer not having had a fresh reboot before joining the session. However, I have added some more area enter code checks that prevent over-activity on acquire/un-acquire, equip/un-equip checks when entering a new area. (See fix info below.)

The List of Fixes

1) AREA ENTER UPDATES: There were some situations (e.g. Entering a dark place with a lantern or torch), when the on area enter code did more repetitive checks than it needed to. This has now been trimmed to minimise checks, making for more stable area transitions.

2) NPC NAMES (AGAIN): I am still being caught by these module only fixes. This time the "Scourge Victims" that can be encountered had the default of "Zombie" overriding my names. These have now been fixed. I will continue to update these as I come across them. (Again: These are only noticed as fixed when starting from a fresh module.)

3) HENCHMEN/SUMMONED AI: I noticed that a PC's summoned creature appeared to be ignoring a combat situation and calls to fight, unless attacked itself. I checked the code and I believe I had the wrong function call in the section that mattered, and changed it to what I believe it should be. This should have fixed the problem. I will only report back if the creature (summoned or henchman) fails to obey calls to battle when next used by the players; otherwise assume fixed.

4) RED LEADER CONVERSATION LOGIC: Another logical flow issue with respect to the conversation that can be had with the Red Leader at the end of the Shoreline Road. This occurred if the PCs had acquired a permit before speaking to the Red Guard leader. A conversation node that should not have been available was. (It covered a similar conversation that the players would have already experienced for presenting the permit.)  This has now been fixed. Furthermore, I have added a "Nothing Thanks" to allow players to drop from the conversation immediately, rather than have to ask about the store and then drop out.

Sewer Spiders Attack The Heroes!
Heroes Search For Missing Monty.
Heroes Reach The End of the Road.
Heroes Encounter Scourge Victims ...
And A Battle Ensues!
The Heroes Discover A Cave!

The Adventure Continues ... 14. Searching For Monty.

Good Preparation Goes A Long Way!

NB: Contains spoilers for Option 1 background.

It was 10.00 a.m. and a lovely day outside, and so it was somewhat reluctantly that the heroes determined they needed to visit the stinking sewers one last time, for now at any rate. For although the sewer problem with the access units had been resolved, Helden was not happy about leaving a chamber they had seen hidden behind large spider webs. If there were spiders there, and large by the looks of the webs, then they needed to address the issue before it became a problem for the village. Taking no risk, Helden purchased an antitoxin potion from Orechin in case they did encounter spiders and risk being poisoned.

Next the heroes headed back to the sewer pipe that exited into the lake and entered the sewers again. Compared to previous visits, the sewers only echoed with the sounds of water flushes and pipe gurgles; there were no denizens left nearby to slow them down. Eventually, they reached the chamber with the webs and Helden hacked down the first web to gain entrance. No sooner had he done so, than the group found themselves being approached by no less than four of the large vermin.

The heroes were totally prepared for the encounter, and positioned themselves in the mouth of the tunnel, forcing the spiders to come to them and into the blades of Helden and Flint, accompanied by bolts and arrows from the clerics and Myara. And even before the spiders had reached the point of contact, they were welcomed by a fireball from Karasten, which immediately frazzled one, and did much harm to those that remained. Within only a few rounds, thanks to good preparation, the battle was over and the heroes were able to explore the cavern beyond.

The cavern turned out to be somewhat of a treasure cave. The first thing they discovered was a small chest at the base of where a well opened from above. Inside was a small note and nearly 500 gold coins. The note was from Grimbold: The heroes had finally found Grimbold's Gold, much to the delight of Threska, who felt her presence and perseverance had finally paid off. "From above to Below." said Threska out aloud before continuing to say, "And the reference to water must be about the well we are underneath". The augury clue they had been trying to interpret now finally made sense to everybody.

Continuing their search of the well cavern the heroes also acquired a living short sword on the remains of a skeleton they found here. The skeletal remains were too deteriorated to work out who it had been, but the rough size of the build suggested it may well have been one of the original dwarves who helped build the sewers. Myara was chosen by the group to take the Sword of the Sewers as her own, partly to help compensate her for the loss of her sickle earlier. She was delighted with her new treasure!

The final cavern explored, the heroes wasted no more time in the sewers and made a hasty retreat and quick exit into the fresh air. Glad to put the sewer work behind them, the heroes now looked at their notes to help determine what best to try to accomplish next. There was still plenty to consider: Rods for Ravel ... and rods for Orechin, the crypt of undead, the ants of Frank and a few others. However, it was the note about searching for Monty along the Shoreline Road that caught everyone's attention, simply because it meant they could stay out within the fresh air for the time being, a welcome break from the stinking sewers.

Helden led the party north and out of the village main, and further on towards the Shoreline road, the same road Vol have left them only a few days ago before they had come into the village. Continuing to follow the shore path and road, the heroes eventually reached the Red Guards who had camped along the road at the edge where the barrier prevented egress. After a quick chat with the Red Guard leader (who confirmed that Monty had not passed this way), and showing him their permit, the heroes quickly accepted the task of helping to keep unwelcome creatures away from the village by patrolling the grounds east of the lake and still within the barrier.

As they explored the area, still in search of Monty, they did indeed encounter a number of creatures, including bats, snakes, wolves and worgs, all relatively easy encounters since their own skills had improved greatly over the last few days. However, there was also one unusual encounter, with a group of people who had ignored the barrier and simply walked through it showing no concern. This caught the eye of the party straight away, and with Myara's keen sight, she could see that these people appeared to be suffering from what they had read about in a book they recently bought: The Scourge!

"Do you think we can cure them?" said Myara, who knew the answer really. Both Elana and Threska shook their heads in silence, confirming Myara's own saddened belief in the matter. "They're as good as dead already!" exclaimed Helden, who then went on to order Karasten to cast a web to help slow or stop their approach, as Threska summoned a dire wolf. Then missile weapons and distant spells rained down upon the poor victims until every last one of them lay dead. Respectably as they could, the heroes carefully looked over the bodies and relieved them of any items they carried that could be of any use. Along with some gold and gems, Helden picked up a strange box, inside which lay five wands. A note included with the wands explained that these were Trainee Wands, and a spell caster could make good use of these, if care was taken. Karasten instantly showed an interest and the party agreed that he could make use of this find best. So the wizard stowed them within his inventory, ready to look at them closer that evening.

The heroes continued to explore the area, hoping to discover Monty, but to no avail. However, at a spot where a villager claimed to have seen two strange men appear and then disappear, they discovered a cave entrance. It was quite possible that the villager, who was slightly worse for wear with alcohol, may well have simply seen these people "disappear" into the cave.

"It's possible that Monty may have gone this way", said Helden. The heroes looked and considered, but did not like the idea of entering the cavern just yet as they used many of their spells in the last few hours already. So, it was decided that they should return and rest before continuing the search in the cave. Along the way back to the village, Elana spied a ring glittering on the ground near the stream. It was an added bonus as the heroes returned home.

The heroes rested at the Bloated Buckle a whole day and night, allowing Karasten to work his magic and crafting with the new wands they had found. At the end of the 24 hour period, he had succeeded in creating four new wands of 25 charges each, failing on only one account. In his repertoire, he now owned a wand of Identify, a wand of Magic Missile, a wand of Acid Arrow, and a wand of Fireballs. Although of slightly lower power due to the nature of these Trainee Wands, the wizard was, nevertheless, delighted in his new selection of crafted wands.

It was 6.00 p.m. on the following day by the time the heroes finally left the inn. It was already getting dark and the heroes debated whether to return to the cave they had found the day before or consider something else. After checking their notes, they realised that Sebastion's Creations was nearby, and was on their agenda to visit to determine what had happened to a commission that was overdue. So, Helden led the way. Upon arriving and after a brief knock at the door, Sally, the wife of the artist called Sebastion, opened the door and let them in. Sally was obviously upset, and quite willing to confess the problems she had been experiencing with her husband, who had apparently locked himself in his studio upstairs and not come out in over a week! Sally greatly appreciated the heroes intervention and, at the end of the conversation, she decided to leave the heroes to deal with the problem alone, too upset to remain behind due to her husband's recent behaviour. Now alone in the house with Sebastion, the heroes had a brief recollection of what had happened at the Fairchild's residence, and hoped this was not going to be the same.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 22 Hours 54 Minutes.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 13. A Tragic Day. (TB Combat Timings)

We had a very stable and productive session this time around. There was only the need to reload the once, when my wife's area map corrupted. This is the first and only time I have ever seen this happen, and I suspect it relates solely to being in a MP game where network data is being used. It was fine on a reload, and for the rest of the night. Other than that, the heroes managed to complete four of the journal entries with very few issues. Most of these following will fix SP games as well...

The List of Fixes

1) TB AUTO-PAUSE TIMING: Another tweak to the timing of combat auto-pause subject to the PCs actions with respect to just having transitioned or coming out of a conversation. Sometimes the auto-pause could be slightly off and PCs would start to cast spells in these situations, which is supposed to be automatically disabled when allowing auto-pause to pause at the start of combat. These situations are few and far between, but I believe I have caught the remaining few. If we discover more in the future, I will update them then.

2) NPC NAMES (AGAIN): Frustratingly, even after going through the module last time, looking for other instances where the NPC default name had not been removed, we still encountered another NPC with a default name left attached. (Kerres in the Guildhall.) As most builders will probably know, even though we replace the first name of a template with our own name for an NPC, if the default tool set string is not also removed, then the code will refer to the default name rather than the one we give them. It is one of the more annoying issues that we can come across, and something I did not know until quite late in the building. I will continue to update any more we find and release in MODULE fixes. (i.e. Module fixes only make a difference when playing a fresh game.)

3) MELICAMP CONVERSATION/JOURNAL: This was the biggest issue of the night, although very minor compared to others in the past weeks, and was to do with logical flow and conversation options and did NOT stop play or prevent concluding the quest. Basically, there were two issues:

First, a variable was one out when it came to allowing the heroes to ask about the barrier problem: The option to ask about the barrier is based upon the heroes quest state with respect to locating the rods for Orechin. The option is supposed to be open if the PCs have not yet found all the rods. However, in this case, it had been excluded due to the variable check being out. This has now been fixed.

The second issue was the journal entry after the heroes had finished speaking with Melicamp. The main problem was that the code to update the quest state was at the end of the conversation. However, I had forgotten the fact that the conversation would be held twice, and the script that fired at the end would only be valid after the second time of speaking. Therefore, when it ended the first time around, the wrong journal entry was set, causing the illogical flow. This has now been fixed.

4) STORE TEST (MP): I have now added a quick check to ensure that only the party leader actually stores the variables on a STORE TEST, otherwise a second player could clear the variables if they had not written anything, or even change them if they had written anything different to the leader.

The Last of the Sewer Access Units
A Strange Ritualistic Circle!
A Demon Is Summoned!
The Heroes Battle Fire Mephits!
The Adventure Continues ... 13. A Tragic Day.

Ooze Resistance Oil: Don't Fight Oozes Without It!

NB: Contains spoilers for Option 1 background.

"Oh no! Betsy!" cried Helden. The rest of the heroes watched in silence as the fighter wiped the remains of the oozes acidic slime from his favourite sword. "Why did I not use the oil! Now, your lustre shineth less so!" The heroes had just defeated two more Grey Oozes from the area behind the barricaded chamber of the sewers. It had been a simple fight, and one that the heroes felt they could handle without any real threat to themselves. In truth, it was, but there had been a casualty of that battle, and "Betsy", Helden's living weapon sword, had now taken acidic damage, causing it to turn into a dead weapon. In truth it was still a good weapon, one of the best (as a dead weapon), but everyone could see that the weapon had lost some of its lustre, and Helden felt it the most.

The oozes disposed of, the heroes did manage to locate the final sewer access unit, and after checking its calibration, were now able to start the repair process using the calibration crystals they had recovered earlier. It meant retracing their steps across all areas of the sewers, but Helden had marked the locations of the units on their map and so finding and repairing each unit was a fairly straightforward job apart from the calculations required to determine which crystal was best suited to which unit. By the end of their trek, and repairs, the heroes successfully repaired the status to 91%, so at least they would be rewarded for their troubles, and even managed to earn an extra 100gp for the extra percentage above ninety.

The repairs made, the heroes decided to leave the sewers and come back later if need be. For now, they wanted to collect their reward and return Thomsk to its owner, who had already suffered some acidic damage from some ooze acid splash. Thankfully, he did not appear too bothered by the wound, but the heroes decided not to take further risks. It did not take long for the heroes to exit the sewers via the Guild Hall cellar, and return to the Bloated Buckle, where they found Thomsk's owner. Delighted that her precious cat was returned safe and sound(ish), she gave the heroes a flute for their trouble. It was not until a little later that Karasten pointed out that this flute was magikal and had the power to summon clockroaches! A worthwhile reward indeed!

It was now the early hours of the morning and the heroes had been up all night in the sewers, but they determined to visit the Guild Hall (which would have now opened), to collect their reward. Obi was true to his word, and paid the heroes the 500gp plus 100 gp bonus for completing the sewer task successfully. The sewer reward collected, the heroes finally decided it was time to clean up and get some rest. They had learned a lot over the last couple of days and every one of them had gained in ability through what they had experienced. Threska even claimed that she could now create food and water if the need arose.

The heroes slept through most of the following day, and it was already approaching evening  by the time they were up and heading towards the Sanctuary. While in the sewers, they had recovered the necklace reported stolen on the Santuary's Mercy Board, and so now wanted to return it for yet another reward. Furthermore, they had need to hear if Orechin had managed to learn anything more about the Fairchild's property. The previous evening, the heroes had noticed sigils glowing above the door frames of the property and so reported their findings to the priest of Boran. He had said to return the following day. Orechin did not disappoint the heroes. First, he was able to reward them in gold for the returned necklace, and then he was able to report his findings regarding the sigils, which had involved Ritualistic magic. The heroes were determined to get to the bottom of this mystery involving the Fairchild's and so Orechin handed them a scroll that would enable the heroes to bypass the magikal sigils that acted as magikal locks to the doors of the property.

It did not take long for Karasten to work the magik to break the lock of the sigils, which were now glowing in the early hours of the evening. Shortly after, the heroes had gained entrance to the Fairchild's property. All was silent within, until the heroes heard a terrible otherworldly scream and noticed a strange flying creature turn from the bottom of the stairs ahead. Myara tried to give it a friendly greeting, but it ignored her and the party were soon into combat. Thankfully, Helden and Flint were well equipped and quick to respond. Within a heartbeat, the mephit (for that is what they determined it to be), was dead, and upon it's death, it swirled into inky blackness back to its own plane of existence. What kind of monstrosities had been taking place here to lure such a creature? thought Elana.

The heroes continued to make a careful search of the property. In bookcases downstairs they discovered a number of unusual recipes and spell scrolls. But, it was upstairs that the heroes got their first insight as to what may have transpired, after they discovered the dead body of Nancy Fairchild in a pool of blood! Near to her body, they found an unfinished diary she had been keeping, that mentioned the events that had led to her contacting Orechin. The same writings also mentioned a secret chamber beneath the house. The heroes needed no more of a lead and headed straight back downstairs, unrolled the carpet and found a trapdoor that led to the hidden chamber below.

Within the hidden chamber, the heroes beheld a terrible sight: The scribblings and markings of Ritualistic Magik! Ralph, Nancy's husband, had been involved in some sort of ritual that he believed could rid the village of the barrier, but it had involved summoning a demon! There were details of everything needed to complete the ritual, but was something that Ralph never completed, because his lifeless stone statue form was at the back of the room, a tragic and unfortunate accident all because of his wife's fears and concerns, that ultimately had also brought about her own tragic demise.

"I don't like this." said Helden. "I think we should leave, and leave now!" That would have been the end of the matter if Threska had not piped up by saying, "But the barrier? Don't we owe it to the village and ourselves to try to complete what this Ralph had started, and try to rid the village of this problem?" There were a few seconds of doubt and concern, but the clerics and wizard both agreed that the ritual markings looked as though they would contain the demon and prevent any harm coming to them. "I hope you are right, and that this is worth it." said the fighter, who went on to instruct Karasten to place the ritualistic items they had found into the ritual bowls that would summon the demon.

"Something's wrong!" said Myara. The wizard had placed all the components into the correct bowls, but nothing had happened. Myara read over the ritual instructions again, and this time noticed that the order of placement was critical too. Karasten swiftly collected the components and set about replacing them in the correct order. As soon as the last item was placed into the bowl this time, Melicamp, Ralph's demon was summoned within the circle.

What occurred next was tragedy upon an already tragic scene. At first the heroes appeared to be managing the conversation well, but after realising that the demon was not going to be able to help them with the barrier, they, instead, asked what else may they be entitled to. The demon responded and offered wealth, power or knowledge, but at a price! That price was to complete another ritual that would enable it to increase in power within its own realm. It was at this point the heroes made a tragic error and agreed to its terms, thinking of their own benefits of an increase in power deafening them to the words that the demon would benefit too! This was a heinous and evil act: to agree to a demon's terms that would increase the demon's own power or standing!

Even the knowledge of having to part with Myara's magikally enhanced sickle and some life essences did not sway the heroes decision to see this through. A few moments later, the deal was done, and the heroes were left with a dark fluid potion that supposedly increased intelligence, which was the demon's side of the deal. The deal done, the demon turned to the heroes with a menacing look and appeared to sniff the air around them. It obviously smelt something that it did not like, and gave the impression that if it had smelt otherwise, then they may have been attacked by it. However, something still gave it a moment hesitation, and as it left the scene, it laughed menacingly again, declaring there would be others to taste the flesh of them this time .... and as quick as it disappeared, two larger fire mephits took its place, and immediately attacked the heroes.

Thankfully, although depleted of weapons as part of the demon's deal, the heroes had not left themselves short, and as fierce as the mephits were, even their fiery breaths could not overcome the heroes own fierce resistances. Not before long, the two summoned creatures were destroyed and sent back to their own planes of existence. The battle over, the heroes looked at each other, gathered themselves, and left the chamber in silence, to head back to the Sanctuary and report their findings to Orechin. Orechin was saddened by the news, and all agreed that it had been a tragic end to a tragic day; the gold reward for completing the task, a bittersweet moment.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 20 Hours 48 Minutes.

Monday, 31 December 2018

The Adventure Continues .... 12. Another Day and Night In The Sewers. (Important Updates)

First things first: We managed to catch up on the game-play after having to restart from an earlier save, when I discovered the latest save game had been corrupted. It took around two hours to catch up, and we had another hour new play. Some player feedback also said that this had been the most flowing game for them, and the most free from any issues they had noticed. This post will only cover the gameplay points from after the point of catch up

Also note, that there are some important changes/fixes this time around, after some gameplay experiences. In particular, when relating to certain transitions. (More on that below in the Update Section.) This update also fixes the Show GUI that was accidentally broken in v2.28, and addresses a number of other minor issues, and some return fixes related to disappearing companions and gold (money pouches).

The List of Fixes

1) SHOW GUI: I managed to break this in v2.28, by basically placing it inside a check that prevented it from opening. I hastily restored it (on the night) and have left it restored in v2.29.

2) NPC NAMES (MODULE FIX): We noticed yet another NPC name that was not showing their correct name via the SHOW GUI (once fixed). This time it was "Billy" who showed as "Dwarf". This time around, I have gone through the module checking the names, and found a few more, which have now had the default reference removed, which should restore the names I have given the NPCs. Note that these fixes will only show on a freshly started game. (i.e. Campaign patching does NOT fix this.)

3) MONEY POUCH (GOLD): There was another instance where the gold was not being correctly set after transferring a gold pouch to another player. I believe I have finally fixed this issue. It works in all testing I can do, but have yet to finally test in our DM MP game. (I am hopeful though.)

4) MISSING COMPANION: A return of the "missing companion" bug on a game reload. This relates to a companion not recognising the player's entry to a game and returning to a default wait location. A faction set and check now stops them from disappearing on a player load.

5) ITEM DESCRIPTIONS: On rare occasions, some items descriptions may appear incorrect or relate to another item the PC carries. I have now added an extra line to help prevent this from occurring. If this should happen to anyone, a quick workaround is to drop the item to the floor (if possible) and pick it up again.

6) DM AREA ENTRY FEEDBACK: The DM was getting the patch info on every area entry. I have now placed a check to make sure it is only on first entering the game.

The Transitions Update (SP/MP)

The biggest change this time around is related to some types of area transitions. I made the alterations to help avoid confusion for players, especially in a MP game. Basically, some transitions, which only moved the PCs to somewhere within the same area, could be traversed independently by players and even their individual PCs.

For example, the stairs at the Bloated Buckle, and many transitions in the sewers are examples of the type of transition I am referring to. Originally with such transitions, the player had a choice NOT to have certain PCs follow their active PC if they had told them to "stand ground". Furthermore, in a MP game, every player is responsible for their own transition, rather than have the leader of the party initiate it.

However, these transitions could cause confusion or difficulty in play, especially if there was an encounter shortly after the transition, and definitely if turn-based combat would also initiate an auto-pause. E.g. Player 1 makes the transition with only some PCs, and combat starts, causing automatic pause. Thereafter, trying to bring PCs from the other side of the transition (or more importantly in a MP game, trying to bring a second player and their PCs), became quite difficult to manage - and did not really work.

Therefore, for the minor tactical difference that this type of selectional transition offered, I decided to abandon that working and simply make them the same as any normal area to area transition, which moves all PCs at once, regardless of their current follow status. In a MP game, this also means the lead player must "Gather The Party" as normal, prior to everyone transitioning.

On top of that, I have also improved the Fade To Black timing with respect to auto-pausing a combat after a transition. Previously, a check was in place to ensure the player would not be left "in the black" of a fade if an encounter paused the game. However, the latest version now allows the fade to finish before any potential encounter can perceive the party and take place. It's a subtle difference, but one that means PCs that are supposed to go into puppet mode prior pausing now do so, and there is no automatic spell casting, which was the problem experienced in the original method.

The Heroes Restock Equipment With New Found Gold
The Heroes Acquire New Armour
The Heroes Encounter A Barricade In The Sewers

The Adventure Continues ... 12. Another Day and Night In The Sewers.

I think I am getting used to the smell.

NB: Contains spoilers for Option 1 background.

"I only just got rid of the smell from last time," said Myara. The silence she received from the rest of the party was a resigned acknowledgement of knowing exactly what she meant, but there was no avoiding it if they wanted to complete their task of fixing the sewer systems. They had already found half of the ten they needed to locate, but still had the northern section of the sewers to search in the hope of finding the last five units.

As the heroes trudged on, they encountered more sewer beetles and rats, but dealt with these minor annoyances very swiftly. However, when they had retraced their steps and entered the northern section of the sewers, they discovered some ruffians had also infiltrated the region, and became a deadly threat as the heroes tried to do their work. There was no choice but to kill or be killed, as these thugs obviously had no concern for the heroes, except to try and take from them whatever they could. Maybe this was the reason that the original sewer work notice was found ripped up by the notice board: The thugs did not want anybody going through their zone?

From one of the fallen thugs, Helden retrieved a necklace, which he noticed had a two letter engraving on it, which meant they had managed to recover the necklace that had been stolen and been advertised on the Mercy Mission Board in the Sanctuary. That was one mission solved at least.

As the heroes continued to explore the northern sewers, not only did they discover another four sewer access points, which Helden and Myara alternatively calculated their calibrations, but they also came across Thomsk, the missing cat. Helden was concerned that the cat may come into trouble tagging along with them, but the heroes concluded that it was still better to have it with them now, than run the risk of not finding him again. Once they returned to the surface, they could settle another task.

During their search, they also discovered a metal ladder built into the wall, which Helden reasoned may well come up into the suspicious building they had noticed earlier: Merkes Place. The party had high suspicions that this was most likely the local thieves guild, and Myara's obvious silence on the matter suggested they were probably right.

The search for the last sewer access unit was becoming difficult, with only a few places remaining in the sewers to search. One such place they came across was a barricaded area. The heroes now had to make a decision: either they smash down the barricade and search the area behind, or they retrace their steps, and consider some other areas they had avoided, such as the area that appeared covered in webs, suggesting a rather large spider. Either choice appeared wrought with danger, as the last time they smashed their way to access another unit, they had encountered oozes. Was this area barricaded for a similar reason? Either way, if they wanted the reward, the heroes would have to make a decision.

GAME TIME SINCE START: 17 Hours 14 Minutes.
(REPLAY: 2 Hours. NEW PLAY: 1 Hour 10 Minutes.)