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Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Adventure Continues .... 21. A Well That Wishes Well? (v2.43)

The latest session was smooth and stable, with enjoyment had by all. There were a couple of minor issues that I discuss below, but apart from that, this post will mention some latest news and updates in general. Of particular note: I updated another puzzle (the dwarf four runes lock) for multi-player support. I have also been working on encounter balancing and planning some module two areas.

The List of Fixes

1) AUTO-PAUSE FEEDBACK: In TB combat, the auto-pause would sometimes report a combat was "over" and give the incorrect message if a character fell in combat, because I had set the character check loop up wrongly. The loop has now been fixed to check all characters before reporting if needed. (Intercepted.)

2) TB SOUND NOTIFICATION: There were some instances when the sound to indicate combat was started would not sound. This was due to not being able to locate a nearby useable placeable object to play the sound. Now, I have added a check to compensate for these situations, which should prevent the lack of sound in future encounter situations like this.

3) REVIVE DISTANCE: I have now added some checks to ensure any fallen companions or henchmen cannot "revive" after a combat if they are still close to an enemy that the rest of the party cannot see. i.e. The heroes need to be able to reach a fallen companion without any nearby enemy activity within the vicinity of the fallen party member.

4) RUNE PUZZLE (PAIRS) TIMER: There was one instance spotted in our last session when a timer for a puzzle did not start. I could not see any obvious reason for this, but altered the code slightly to give the timer a priority in the code calls, which may help ensure it starts correctly. I will keep an eye open on this one.

5) SOUL CONVERSATION (LOGICAL FLOW): There was a logical flow error in Soul's conversation, where a PC could mention Soul by name, prior to them knowing it. This has now been fixed.

6) SOUL'S QUEST AWARD: The final XP award was broken, and required a fix to ensure the final XP award is granted and give the "Quest Complete" message. (NB: In the broken version, the quest did complete in the journal, but did not give the reward.) This has now been fixed. I remind my own players that while they missed out on this XP reward, that it was easily compensated on the earlier XP award issue that gave ten times the amount that should have been given then. The differences balance out. :)

The List of Updates

1) FOLLOW/STAND IN COMBAT: I have now re-enabled the "Follow" and "Stand Ground" buttons in my GUI to be useable during combat as well. They override any existing combat actions for all group members the player controls, and so must be used with caution in combat situations. However, it may be useful to use to enforce a "regroup" and prevent PCs from wondering off to a distant enemy when you do not want them to.

2) AREA MAP NAME: I have updated the code to enable a builder to be able to rename a map on the fly with scripting. I needed this for my own work with module two. NB: This required an XML change, which means all players in a MP game require the updated campaign folder to play.

3) DM SPELL FEEDBACK: I added a small debug line that gives a single DM information about spells being cast by either players or monsters.

Helden Deals With The Barricade!
A Plush Room Lies Beyond ... With A Well!
A Library Behind A Locked Door!
No Way Out!
A Battle For Freedom!
A Crypt With A View
Disturbing The Dead!
But Returning Them To Peace!
A New Passage Opens Up Ahead
Myara Picks The Locks Of Ancient Crypts
The Adventure Continues ... 21. A Well That Wishes Well?

Anything For You Masters?

NB: Contains spoilers for ALL backgrounds.

The Goblin Tower (Soul)

"It's no good. We need a specific password," said Myara as the heroes tried to open the door at the bottom of the stairway. Lacking the information they needed to open this door, the heroes decided to turn back and head back upstairs to learn what lay beyond the barricaded section instead. Upon reaching the barricade, Helden made short work of removing it with his battleaxe. Behind the barricade was another door, but this one was locked by a dwarf rune lock, which Myara was able to deal with successfully this time.

The room ahead was large and brightly decorated, much like the plush area they had seen in the tower's lower levels before. Yet one strange feature stood out: there was a well here! As the heroes approached the well, a voice from its depths spoke to them in common tongue. The well was sentient and addressed itself as "Soul". It appeared to be a unique life form, offering its services to keep the heroes (it's new "masters") as comfortable as possible.  As the well continued to chat with Helden, Myara gently whispered to Elana, "I bet 'Soul' is the password to that riddle for the door below."

Eventually, the conversation with the well was over and Helden suggested the heroes be on their guard. He felt there was something off about this inanimate being, and gave the order for the party to search the area for anything that might be useful. There had been something about the way the well had spoken of it's previous "masters" that made the group feel uncomfortable, in contrast to the well's efforts to ensure their comfort!

The heroes continued their search of the whole area, including the lower regions (Myara had been correct about the password for the door that led to the lower level) where the library and study were located. As they rummaged around books and items that had not been touched or disturbed for a very long time, the group gradually built up a picture of events that had transpired: It appeared that the builders of "Soul" had become prisoners of their own invention.

"We need to get away from this place fast!" said Helden, after he realised the implications of what Soul had done. Without further delay the heroes made for the exit, only to be stopped dead in their tracks at a large wall that now blocked the way out. "It's the work of Soul!" said Karasten.

The heroes made their way back to the well and tried to reason with Soul about letting them go free. However, Soul was not prepared to let them leave in much the same way he had not let his previous "masters" leave. There was nothing more the heroes could do now, except to follow through with a plan that they learned the previous masters had prepared (but obviously failed to deliver), with respect to destroying Soul, in the hope to gain their freedom.

After pouring the destabilisation potion into the well called Soul (that Karasten had prepared), the heroes tried to reason with Soul one last time. Sadly, however, the bond between Soul and its "masters" was too strong and if the heroes were ever to leave this tower again, then there was nothing left but to destroy the well while it had become destabilised. With a sigh of regret, Helden led the blows, which the rest of the party soon followed, that began the destruction of Soul. As the last blow brought the well to an end, magic beams shot forth from the remains of the well, animating books all around the heroes, and attacked them.

The books, although many in number, did little harm to the heroes, who quickly slashed the animated objects to pieces. The room had gone dark now ... lifeless. The entity called Soul, which had been keeping the place bright and warm was no longer present, and in the dark, one could even feel the temperature begin to drop. With no further reason to stay, the heroes made their way back upstairs, hoping the wall that had previously blocked their way had been dispelled as well.

As the heroes reached the exit level, Helden was immediately aware that while the wall had indeed been dispelled, that a number of animated beings now roamed the area where the wall had been instead. It seemed these were the last vestiges of what had remained of Soul's previous "masters", who now, lifeless, served in a twisted form as servants of the one that once served them. If the heroes wanted freedom, then they needed to get past these lifeless beings as well.

Karasten initiated the combat when he released a fireball in their direction. Unfortunately, it appeared to do little or no damage to the humanoid figures who appeared to be made from the stone wall that once blocked their way. However, it was enough to alert them and start a combat. Thankfully, Flint and Helden were positioned for the attack, and summoned creatures were already engaging with the stone-like humanoids before they could reach the spell casters. The battle, like so many others beforehand, was short lived, due to being well prepared.

The stone creatures now disposed of, the heroes were now able to see and reach the exit. As Helden opened the door, the cool pleasant evening breeze welcomed them to their freedom once again. "That's one of the three towers dealt with!," said Helden, who now led the party back out of the valley in which the tower stood, and made his way north and east, knowing only too well that this path now led to the crypt that Zak, the hermit had spoken of only a few hours ago.

The Ancient Crypt

"That's the second lock done." said Myara. Flint had already given Myara the answer to the first riddle lock: Abbathor. Now, with both locks disabled, Helden had to make the begrudging decision that there was now nothing stopping them from entering the crypt, where undead no doubt awaited, and so should enter. There was a brief hesitation by everyone though, as the entry to the crypt was not by a door, but by some sort of magik that was going to teleport them inside. Was this going to be a one-way trip? After reasoning away that fear, the heroes let Myara place her hand on the teleport activation and within a heart beat the heroes found themselves in a dark and musty chamber ... the entrance to the crypt.

For the time being, all appeared quiet, much to the relief of Helden. There was the usual dungeon debris laying around, and a gong beside a bridge that led from the entrance chamber deeper into the crypt ahead. After a quick scout around, the heroes could do nothing more than take the bridge ahead of them that spanned a large drop going somewhere deeper into the mountain, which they assumed they were now within.

As the heroes crossed the bridge, they were suddenly brought to a stop when a spirit rose from the remains of a body that lay halfway across the bridge. Helden did not know whether to attack or run, but it soon became obvious that this spirit was not going to attack. It turned out that this gnome spirit, who introduced itself as Dringle, was actually quite talkative, and not intent to do evil at all ... or so it seemed. After a long conversation with the spirit, the heroes were to learn that Dringle (and his own party) had become the victims of a curse due to a Succubus demon that now lay entrapped within these halls somewhere to the south. The curse led to their eventual deaths within the crypt.

When quizzed further, the heroes also learned that the Succubus likely possessed some runes that the heroes would need to activate the teleport to exit the crypts. It appeared that the heroes fate was to deal with the Succubus not only to help rid Dringle of his curse, but also to acquire the runes they needed to eventually escape the crypt themselves! Dringle spoke of something called a Demoncage that currently held the Succcubus captive and mentioned a means by which the demon may be destroyed. However, it involved finding a book ... and that could be anywhere within the crypts, assuming it survived at all! Having learned all they could, they bid the spirit of Dringle farewell, and the spirit dissipated. Much to Helden's relief, the heroes were alone once more.

However, Helden's relief did not last long, as shortly passing to the far side of the bridge, the heroes encountered more spirits from nearby corpses, but these ones were not friendly like Dringle, and upon manifesting, immediately attacked the heroes. Helden's nightmares had just come to life!

The fighter need not have let his fear ride too high at this time, however, as the heroes were able to successfully deal with the threat, even if Elana's attempt to turn the undead creatures appeared to have no effect (or failed due the spirits' resistances). Maybe these were not that "type" of undead after all, thought Helden, who imagined dark fingers of death sucking the life from his very soul.

"Inner crypts!" blurted Myara, giving Helden a sudden jolt from his dark thoughts. "Could be treasure ... I mean something useful in these." Helden gave the nod to Myara suggesting she crack the door locks so that they could search their contents for anything useful. Without the need for further orders, the halfling quickly went from crypt to crypt, cracking locks and searching their contents.

They had only explored a small section of the overall crypt, but already the heroes had had to deal with both violent spirits and painful traps. On the plus side they also found some unusual runic scrolls, that looked to hold some promising crafting recipes. However, these recipes, like the exit door lock, required runes ... and in their search to date, they had only found ten runes out of twenty four they knew could be found. If they hoped to use the scrolls, or more importantly escape the crypt altogether, then they needed to find the other runes. That, as already had been shown, meant the heroes would have to confront a Succubus.

TOTAL SESSION TIME (UNPAUSED): 4 Hours 23 Minutes. (Roughly speaking.)
GAME TIME SINCE START: 40 Hours 31 Minutes.
QUESTS ACTIVE: 13 QUESTS COMPLETE: 17 (Ignoring Rule Info)

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