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Monday, 21 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 19. The Enclave of Three Towers (v2.41)

I made some important changes to the campaign after the last session, including some game combat balancing. (Please also note that there is a module update this time around too.) Some of the changes were due to things that *I* noticed during play that my players did not, which indicates how "minor" they were. I have also been looking at the second module again, with respect to players entry, irrespective of their "past". i.e. A new player, a player with a saved game, or a player with an exported Main PC. Once this section of the code is finalized, which it is reasonably close to now, I will then be able to start concentrating on the plot. Time will tell how this pans out, but it is something I would like to finish if possible. After all, most of the the areas are completed, so I would like to make use of them. Anyway, here is what has been fixed:-

The List of Fixes

1) CUTSCENE CONVERSATIONS: While playing our latest session, we came across a conversation (Blood Guard on cave exit) that did not use a cutscene, which would have worked better if it had. I believe the reason this conversation did not was because it allowed a player to switch between PCs to offer other conversation choices subject to PC abilities. However, this ability to do so is not worth the loss of the dramatic effect - in my opinion. Therefore, this conversation, as well as some others (e.g. The hermit and some others) now have been returned to cutscene types. My intention is to add PC ability checks back to these conversations via my own scripting, like I have for many other cutscene conversations. Hopefully, this will be catered for in the next release. In the meanwhile, I will make such conversations cutscene (if I find any that are not) and check their content for ability checks as I go along.

2) CHAMELEON PUZZLE TRAP REPORT: I noticed that Orechin's Chameleon Puzzle indicated that a trap may be present even when the party were given the impression it had not. There was a problem in the code, which has now been fixed, meaning the correct response should now be given for activating a Chameleon Stone which does not have a trap. i.e. "It may or may not have, but none detected" kind of response.

3) INVENTORY FEEDBACK: There was a rare occasion when a left clicking on an inventory item no longer gave feedback. This was due to a new variable that tried to prevent irrelevant feedback during loading a new game. The variable appeared to not reset when it should, so I have now added a backup at the time of calling the item description itself. This should squash the bug once and for all.

4) READBOOK PAGE TURNS: After making Readable Books MP compatible, there was a slight error remaining where a player could be left with the incorrect "page turn" arrows (forward or backward) subject to whether they started the book action or not. This has now been fixed.

5) MONTY BUGS: There were a couple of bugs related to the Monty quests. There was effectively a "double or nothing" XP award bug for the following reasons:- (a) Sometimes the Talanthians would attempt to attack and kill Monty during a battle with the PCs. If Monty died, then the XP was zero. (b) However, there was also a bug in Monty's conversation (if he survived and the heroes rescued him) where it was possible to receive the completion XP twice. Thankfully, my own players only received it once on the night, but I noticed the duplication on testing further and fixed it now. I still have not totally stopped the Talanthians from attacking Monty if combat is initiated, and may leave it as a consequence. However, my ideal goal is to keep him available to talk to after combat and so may have this "fixed" by the next release.

6) MISSING TREASURE: This problem will only affect players who have ever run the v2.12 version of the campaign, which is probably only myself. Back in v2.12, I managed to introduce a memory leak, which was quickly squashed. It caused unwanted placeable objects to be dropped in areas that contained companions. At the time, I wrongly assumed the bad code had affected only those companions the players had interacted with. Last session proved this not to be the case, but also affected the companions the players had not yet met. Therefore, while I had removed the bad placeables related to some areas, we had been left with two areas that were still affected. This in turn affected those two areas in other ways. One aspect was to cause treasure allocation to be stopped due to this memory leak. These remaining areas have now been "cleaned" of the unwanted placeables (in our game), meaning the code will now fire correctly. (NB: Players should search objects again.) As an update, I have now also removed this "placeable drop" code from happening n the first place, as I do not think it is needed any more. I will keep an eye on this to see if I do need to reinstate it (in its fixed format) for any reason.

7) GEMS NOT AUTO-ALLOCATING BAG: There was an instance when collecting gems from fallen NPCs were not auto-allocating into the gem bag carried by a PC. I believe this was related to also finding "gold coins" on the same NPC, which in turn was previously undergoing the same "consolidation" checks that other stackable items go through, which caused the code to stop before the gems could be correctly allocated. The check to consolidate now avoids this "gold coin" item, which runs its own dedicated script instead. Please can players let me know if this continues to be a problem.

8) DEATH GUI AND RESPAWNS: In checking the code, I noticed that the game may respond incorrectly if a player died and respawned using essences, in that dead companions no longer came back when they should do if the player has the correct VOL feat. The check in the code was wrong, and has now been fixed to only stop revival checks for a host PC. All other checks for companions or other Main PCs of other players should now continue to be checked.

9) PLAYER ENTER AREA BUG: This problem was only likely to happen in a MP game, as the erroneous code was checking "players" entering an area. Occasionally, (subject to timing), a player may have received the "MISSING ITEMS" GUI, which when checked proved to be wrong. This is because the code was checking the item on the entering creature rather than the Main PC, which in a MP game (where timing makes a difference) could return the wrong player. This has now been "fixed", but I will keep an eye on this in case I have missed something else. At worst, it is easily worked around, because the player can simply hit "escape" after closing the GUI (which removes the black screen) and continue play as normal. Please report if it happens to you.

10) JOURNAL ENTRY (TOKENS): I have updated a function to prevent a double call to the journal token update function. Now, rather than update the journal (first call) and then update any potential tokens (second call), the updated function now simply passes the data once, updating journal and/or tokens in the same call as required. I did this because I (as the DM on the last session) did not receive the same update as the players and considered this double call to the same function  may have been responsible. It's a minor issue (as the DM is updated in the next journal update anyway), but I applied this update to help alleviate the issue as a possibility.

11) ASSOCIATE NEW AREA FOLLOW: I have added associates to the automatic follow the controlled PC when entering a new area. For some reason, any summoned creatures (and the like), did not continue following their master after an area transition. This has now been rectified.

12) STORE STOCK (SPELL BOOKS): Store are supposed to have "blank" spell books available to purchase in the event the PC "loses" their spell book somehow. In much the same way clerics can "recover" or "acquire" a new prayer book from a sanctuary, the wizard needs to be able to "recover" their own source of knowledge. Certain stores now have these available for just such an instance. The latest campaign release (v2.41) also has some "fix" code to accommodate earlier module releases.

13) ENCOUNTER TRIGGER MOVED (MODULE ONLY): There was a trigger that the players managed to "miss" on their first arrival, which I have now repositioned for future module. The new position should make it impossible to miss.

14) OTHER FIXES: (i) There were one or two other minor TYPO fixes (Taloy about Aubrey). (ii) Fixed code to ensure any abandoned companions would either properly "run away" and leave ... as well as no longer giving a player the warning GUI about abandoned companions if they had asked the companion to leave anyway. (iii) I adjusted the code that balances an encounter, especially where a player has a large party. (iv) Prevented the cave guard repeat asking for permit after being shown once.

The Other Side of the Portal
Talanthians Defend!
And Defend Again!
The Way Ahead Is Blocked!
A Beautiful View!
A Stunning View From The Bridge!
At The Bottom of the Waterfall
The Heroes Meet Zak, The Hermit

The Adventure Continues ... 19. The Enclave of Three Towers.

A Hidden Valley!

NB: Contains spoilers for ALL backgrounds.

"I've decided. We need to rest first", said Helden, concerned that the party could be at risk if they entered the portal in their current state. Without further ado, he then led them back to the cave exit. Just before they exited, Kasandra caught up with them and they left together. As they all exited the cavern system, a patrol of the Red Guard Brigade noticed them and asked the heroes what they had been up to. Helden explained the discovery of the Talanthians and the imminent threat to the village, and Aubrey, the Red Guard leader, suggested they reported their findings to Taloy too, while he secured the caves. Helden dutifully agreed, and led the heroes back to the village (Kasandra made her own way back) whereupon they passed the news to Taloy (while picking up a permit to clear them for wartime duties) and grabbed some rest before reporting back to Aubrey.

Now fully prepared, the heroes made one last report to Aubrey and then Helden led the party through the Talanthian portal into unknown territory. Upon materializing at the portal destination, the heroes found themselves within another cave system. Nearby was a large tome and some sort of control panel. Upon reading the tome, it became clear that the control panel was the means by which the portal could be activated or not ... or even destroyed. Helden instantly knew that their new mission had to include the destruction of this portal to prevent the Talanthians from using it again. For now, however, they needed to explore their immediate surroundings.

The heroes had barely moved along the first tunnel, when a Talanthian guard, tucked into a nearby alcove called out that the portal had been breached. The heroes drew weapons and entered combat. The first guard had barely raised the alarm before he had fallen, and one that followed at the alarm shortly after went the same quick way. However, the heroes did not want to lose the advantage of surprise and so quickly continued along the passageway, after only briefly examining another strange device that the original guard had been standing next to. It had meant nothing to them at this time.

A little further into the cavern system, the heroes met with a larger entourage of Talanthians; this time supported with clerics too. The enemy clerics quickly summoned creatures to aid in their defence, but had not been expecting similar strength in the heroes own resources. A bloody battle ensued, but the advantage of surprise worked in the heroes favour, allowing them to overcome the resistance before it had any chance of an organised defence. By the time the last vestiges of the Talanthian brotherhood had called to arms, the heroes had already tipped the scales of the battle to their own advantage and within a further few bouts of combat, the caves this side of the portal were now in the control of the heroes.

The immediate threat of the Talanthians dealt with, the party of adventurers were now free to investigate the caves, and the first thing they discovered was Monty being held prisoner in a makeshift jail in the cave furthest from the portal. Needless to say, the New Edgeton villager was relieved at the heroes presence and thankful for his release - once they had found the key to his cell in a nearby desk. Happy that the party did not need any more information from him, Monty thereafter made his return to the village, leaving the heroes to continue in their quest.

Having explored the entire cave system, the heroes were now confronted with another barred door that blocked the exit from the cave system. Thankfully, Myara recalled seeing a lever in an alcove they had passed by earlier, and sure enough, when tested, it opened the way to the cave exit. Helden picked up the lead again, and led the heroes upward and out ... and to a wonderful view, high on the side of a mountain, looking across and down into a lush green valley. From their vantage point, the heroes could see what looked like three towers rising within the mist and settled between the hills. What a contrast to the confining dark caves this view offered, which only improved as the heroes followed the mountain pass onto a large bridge that spanned a large drop between the hillsides.

"This must be a valley somewhere within the Holy Mountains, many miles from our own village," surmised Karasten. The flora was definitely different, and the mountains presence did make it likely. Knowing they still had to learn more about how to destroy the portal meant the heroes did not have much time to fully appreciate the view, and so pressed ahead, making their way to the valley below. Before the heroes had descended into the valley proper though, Helden spoke, "Actually, before we go any further, I think we ought to take this opportunity to report back to Aubrey on what we have discovered so far." The rest of the heroes agreed, and so the party quickly backtracked, and used the portal to return to the caves near to New Edgeton where they were met by Aubrey, and to whom Helden made the report.

"So, the barrier problem we have does not look like it's the work of the Talanthians after all, " concluded Aubrey after Helden gave his report, backing the heroes own theory from reading some scrolls found on the Talanthians they had killed. "It's also the reason you need to go back after resting to get to the bottom of this threat." the Red Guard leader continued. Helden agreed.

A few hours later, the heroes had rested and had used the portal once again to return to the caves in the Holy Mountains and retrace their steps back to the Enclave of the Three Towers. The descent to the valley below and the walk across its first plain was relatively quiet, and eventually led to the bottom of the waterfall that they had seen from above only a short while earlier. "One of those scrolls we read spoke of somebody in a cave somewhere around here," said Threska. Sure enough, a quick search beneath the waterfall revealed a cavern exit that could be entered on the far western side. The heroes, therefore, followed the river along its route until they came to a small bridge that allowed them to cross to the other side in safety. Then, leading the way, Helden led the party back upstream and into the cave beneath the cave system they had exited earlier.

"My name is Zak, and I like living alone" said the hermit that the heroes had discovered living in the small cave beneath the waterfall. At first the hermit appeared abrupt, but softened after a little more discussion. Zak even ended up asking the heroes for help in exchange for information about the immediate area. Helden took notes as Zak explained about the history of the Enclave and the Talanthian presence, but was slightly unnerved when the hermit spoke of a book that he hoped the heroes would retrieve for him. Helden's nervousness was not related to retrieving the book itself, but was from the fact that the book to be retrieved was to be found in a crypt potentially filled with undead. Helden hated undead!

After a short while conversing with Zak, the heroes made note of where the crypt could be found, filled their oil flasks from some oil the old hermit offered, and then said their farewells for the time being. Back outside, Helden once again started to lead the heroes downstream, following the river which he knew also led to that dreaded crypt!

GAME TIME SINCE START: 35 Hours 56 Minutes.
QUESTS ACTIVE: 11 QUESTS COMPLETE: 16 (Ignoring Rule Info)

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