Choose Your Language

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Gods, Altars & Holy Books

Let me start with some personal news ... snow! Yes, we had snow here this week and two of our house bunnies were out enjoying it for a while before they got cold and decided to come in again. Although, I think Honey (who lives upstairs) had the best idea and stayed in the warmth. Daisy (left), Bunny "Bud" (bottom left) and Honey (bottom right). All public albums found here.

As for myself, I have been finishing off playing Hellgate: London with my friend before the server closed at the end of January. We have now loaded up LOKI to play. After that, we intend to play Titan Quest and finally get around to SoZ, which should be fully patched by then (hopefully).

Sacred Texts

The Althéa Campaign uses a system that tries to emulate PnP D&D rules as much as possible. One set of rules this includes is how clerics (and wizards) acquire their spells from day to day. For those that don't know, these two classes must carry their holy books (or spell books) to be able to study prayers (or spells) ahead of time. Without these texts, these two classes do not acquire their spells. To this end, I have coded the game to check if the PC carries their text or not. If they are without it, then the PC will lose all spells except orisons (or cantrips) after a rest period. This ensures the player takes good care of these texts for their PCs.

In the case of the cleric, the holy book must be of the same faith as the god they follow. For a wizard, I have designated that a single personal spell book is required. In both cases, the requirement is only one text, which takes up one inventory slot. Both classes start the game with the appropriate text, but if they should lose them during the course of their adventure, then they would need to replace it. For the cleric, it is a simple case of finding a replacement holy book of the god they serve. For a wizard, they would need to acquire an empty tome and personalise it to themselves. (Personalising a book is a simple one click process.)

It is the coding behind the holy books that I have been working on over the last week or two. I made the decision that I will be including all 22 of the Althéa human-worshipped gods, and that a human cleric MUST worship one of these gods only. If the cleric is non-human, then I have left the original chosen deity that the player chose for their PC at character build time (and that come with NWN2). If a PC joins the campaign with a human cleric whose deity is not one of those found in Althéa, then the deity will be changed to one of the common two found in the starting area for either good or evil alignments.

As alignments and a PC's good or evil standing play a part in the campaign, then I needed to make these decisions early on to ensure other alignment and good/evil based aspects of the game can be worked correctly. And having the unique Althéa gods in the campaign help give the campaign its unique flavour.

Party Alignment

I believe I have touched upon this before, but will mention it again now: The actions of any party member impact on the party as a whole. In other words, if a player causes one of their PCs to have an alignment shift towards evil, then all PCs in the party of the offending PC will also have the alignment shift. The idea is that the party are "of one mind" when it comes to their basic beliefs. A player can play their PCs as a good or evil alignment, but will not be able to play a mixed party of both good and evil PCs. This, in my opinion, constitutes a conflict of interest in the group and the party would not exist as such if this was the case.

Worldly Interaction

There will be occasions when a PC can interact with objects that may affect their alignment, such as altars. These are another object I have coded over the last week that can benefit the PCs of the correct alignment. Note: Altars will mostly be alignment (and not god) specific. Therefore, as long as the altar used is in agreement with the PCs alignment, then benefits can be gained. If not, alignment shifts will occur, possibly resulting in the cleric falling out of favour with their deity and losing their holy book until their alignment is restored.

Captured Spell Books

Also over the last week, I was drawn back again to fixing the Captured Spell Book system, which I discovered had developed a caching fault with the main caching function for all the spells in the game. After a day or so at messing around with the code, I managed to fix this and the spell books now function properly again (and I took the time and trouble to update them to work with the new spells from SoZ as well). These will be an important item in the Althéa Campaign, as wizards (and possibly others) will desire them as a source of new spells, and other classes would like the gold they can fetch in the right places. Writing a conversation to handle the offers made subject to the PCs knowledge was more involved than I first thought it was going to be, and I made a few more cost altering functions to cover this.

First Quest?

I believe I have reached a stage of coding where I can start putting some of these system ideas together and start working on the side-quest I outlined last year some time. That's the plan anyway. However, if I come across a situation where I need another "system" put in place first, then it will have to be put back again. The problem is always dependant upon how I want the quest to unravel, which in turn determines other "systems" that I may need to put in place first.


Anonymous said...

Those bunnies are almost too adorable. Bud looks bemused by taking pictures as a whole.

I specifically like the mention of party alignment. It seems too often where the team seems an odd grouping of people rather than of one mind. I can appreciate differing opinions, but there seem some disagreements--do I kill 'X' or not--which cannot allow for a middle ground.

Quillmaster said...

All sounds very interesting, particularly the section on sacred texts. You've certainly been busy.

As you know I've been looking at my options for a similar system for my Relbonian Chronicle Project. To keep things simple I think I'm going to use spell hooks to check on any holy symbols being worn, except for Sorcerors whose magic does not rely on the Gods. You may well be hearing from me when I look into implementing it ;)

Keep up the good work. :)

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Chaos Wielder,

Yes, these bunnies have us wrapped round their little paws. ;) And "bud" can pull off the exceptionally cute pose to get extra attention when he needs it. :)

Party alignment ... Yes, it was an early design decision as trying to play differing alignments situations among the same group just simply would not work. I do allow a player to change from one alignment to another, but it happens to the whole party when it does. :)


I have been trying to keep consistent with my work, but I feel I slip behind now and then ... I keep telling myself, "Get back to it!"

It sounds like you have a similar idea for your world (using symbols instead of the texts) and so should be relatively straighforward to do. Give me a call if you want to get together.


Shaughn said...

I like your approach to the party alignment. It has always bothered me that anyone can join the party with minimum conflict. Opposite alignments or just opposite ideals and personalities seem to have little affect on the party dynamics other then minimum banter of no real consequences.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Shaughn,

Exactly. :) At the end of the day, we need a game that works with some "ideals" in mind. A "Good v Evil" ideal always serves well in a fantasy environment and helps serve the storyline well. Having "evil" characters within a party of otherwise good PCs does not support this ideal, and is not very well suited unless the DM intends to use the evil PC in some way to further the plot ... but then, it would be an NPC or companion that was not really in the control of the player. i.e. They would turn on them at some point.

I guess this serves in some circumstances, but a party chosen by a player (in my opinion) should be either good or evil. :)

Besides, it's complicated enough writng for these two potential paths, let alone a mixture of alignments in one party. :o !