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.

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