September 19, 2010

Jalanthar reloaded

As anticipated, I am completely redoing my first area, the town of Jalanthar. I have long considered scraping it and starting all over, because it was too big (24x24), sparse and naif to say the least.

However, too much work had already gone into it, so I decided to keep the basic structure, a hamlet guarded by a semicircular fence and by the mountain slopes, and just redo the textures, fill the gaps and add placeables and vegetation. There is still a long way to go.

Here are some WIP screens, especially of the druid glen, which was originally done mainly with the colour tool and now is textured and populated with plants (which makes, in my opinion, the nearby bee-hives more realistic).

Unfortunately Taanyt Varde, Jalanthar's druid, is missing. Just when the town is struck by the restless orcs dwelling in the Nether Mountains in an attack much more violent than the usual skirmishes. Oh well, when wanderlust calls...

September 05, 2010

so much to catch up with!

After a long break from NWN2 due to work overload and summer hobbies taking precedence, I am back to modding.

I have a several blog posts to read, and many new interesting mods to play. Sadly, no forum anymore to ask my obnoxious n00b questions.

I have, however, been working a little during the last months, resulting in a couple more areas. Herein below is a completely out-of-place Bedine camp in the Nether Mountains. This guys (not featured, as I haven't learned ambience yet) must have some very good reasons to travel so far west from their home in Anauroch desert!

Presently, I am completely re-doing my very first area (the first both in the mod and in my toolset experience), the town of Jalanthar, because it was poorly done. Not a good idea to start with a town!

So, back in business! ;-)

February 21, 2010

Moon Pass - a plot device

The Moon Pass is an ancient, spectacular, sheer-sided gorge splitting the Nether Mountains into two ranges, towering on either side of the River Rauvin with an east-west bend in the middle.
The Rauvin is often called "The Road Through the Marches" and its icy waters are navigable from Sundabar to Silverymoon. The Moon Pass Gorge, however, is impassable without the help of a strong and experienced tow-team from the shore, equipped with multiple lines, or, even better, two teams operating from both banks. Without such assistance, vessels tipically either capsize or smash against the rocks.
Worn towpaths, resembling wide ledges (lacking railings or handholds) were long ago cut into the cliff walls by dwarves and gnomes, and flank both sides of the river, maintained only by usage by the towteams.
The towpaths are too narrow for wagons, and run unbroken along both sides of the gorge.
No wagon road crosses the Moon Pass, but two high, treacherous mulepaths clinging to the slopes of the gorge allow (difficult) passage through the mountains to travelers on foot.

In Lore of Luruar, passage throgh the Moon Pass, both by river and by foot, has been interrupted by a (not entirely natural) rock fall which formed an impassable dam, blocking the road and the water flow, except for the occasional waterfalls spraying among the rock fissures, projected by the pressure of the water-mass pushing against such gigantic stones. The gorge behind has been filled with the water of the blocked river, and the foothpaths have been submerged.

The foregoing is nothing more than a plot device. I have often wondered about the motivations driving a PC through a RPG and, specifically, the motivations inducing a PC to accept a quest. Any quest, even the main plot. Of course, doing quests is quintessential to a RPG, so it is in a way assumed  that the player is interested and willing to undergo quests. However, considering the variety of character personality, background and other features allowed by a D&D based game, I have always been intrigued by the question "why should this particular character be enticed by and accept this quest?"

I don't want to go philosophycal, but I believe that most "chosen one" story-lines, albeit often ferociously criticised, simply intend to provide an answer to that question, in order to offer a plausible play-through motivation to any kind of PC, hence to the widest possible public of players. Side-quests are more complicated though, especially in their typical layout of "helping somebody with something". So, their acceptance is frequently driven by very simplistic motivations such as the PC's good nature / sense of duty / interest for reward.

In Lore of Luruar there is no "chosen one" path. The plot unfolds and the PC can stick to it for a number of motivations and personal beliefs/interests, pre-existing to the plot or stirred by the four companions, which I won't spoil. The PC's doings will ultimately result in saving the Silver Marches from great perils, but the PC is not at all required to have such goal. In fact, the existence of a threat to the confederation will not be revealed to the PC until late in the game (differently, the player will receive hints as to what is going on, a bit à-la-OC with the initial Black Garius cut scene).

Paradoxically, though, just the PCs who might indeed have the goal of saving Luruar, may be refrained from undergoing the adventure. This may be particlarly true for lawful PCs.

The fact is that, when beginning the mod, in the town of Jalanthar, the PC will be automatically assigned a quest, which is necessary to provide a bit of background and to justify the presence of the PC in Jalanthar itself. Specifically (no spoiler, as this will be said upon modul load), the PC has been informally asked by a friend, member of the Council of Elders of Everlund, to investigate upon the rumors of fiends reported in the Sundabar Vale. Such fiends should be escapees from Hellgate Keep, destroyed in a epic battle just a couple years before.

So, for those unfamiliar with the geography of the Silver Marches, the PC travelled from Everlund to Jalanthar on the road that follows the River Rauvin, and absolutely needs to cross the Moon Pass Gorge to get on the other side of the Nether Mountains to the Sundabar Vale. Needless to say, our PC will never even get close to Sundabar, for the adventure will lead him / her in the wildest lands of the south-east Silver Marches and in the Anauroch Desert.

For this reason (primarily, but also to introduce other quest-lines), the Moon Pass Gorge needs to be dramaticall shut, so that even the most stubborn PC is forced to a detour in south-east Luruar, where another trail allows passage through the mountains, the infamous Turnstone Pass, abandoned since the fall of southern Hellgate Keep. Of course, by the time he / she gets to Turnstone Pass, rumors of fiends in the Sundabar Vale shall be the last thing on the mind of our PC.

January 10, 2010

Nacaal's Holiday Project

This kept me away from working on the SoZ Holiday Project.

Shame on me!

December 20, 2009

SoZ Holiday Project - who wants a cave entrance?

I may not be very experienced but I thought I should contribute something to this commendable initiative!

For time costraints, I couldn't make a brand new area, but I am glad to give one of the areas I made for LoL: the Nether Mountains! Conveniently rearranged with jungle grass 02 and a nice splashy river instead of the poor dry Rauvin River, so that it can be placed in the Samarach Overland Map!

Now, the thing is that there are 4 cave entrances, and I have time to make 1 dungeon max! The Fred has reserved 1 entrance for the dungeon he is making, but 2 remain empty. Needless to say, the area would feel stupid if 2 out of 4 caves led to nothing, so...

Who wants a cave?

Come one, somebody among my countless followers must be willing to make a little mountain dungeon!!! It is for the community!!! Perhaps an area previously discarded from your mod?

To solicit applications, I post new screenies of the area and of the 4 entrances (the last one is the one I would use myself). The cave with the blood spot is particularly cute and recommended to anyone!

p.s. day/night settings by Ovocean (Exquisite Day Night Settings - normal setting)

November 11, 2009

The mountains and the mastermind masterplan masterbedroom

This weekend I have actually done my homework!

Now the Nether Mountains area is finished! Relatively finished, at least, as I hope to learn better texturing techniques as I progress, so hopefully it can be improved.

Admittedly, this area features certain inconsistencies with the Lore:

- the Nether Mountains are supposed to be "dark". However, I chose a light texture because the PC crosses this part of the mountains from Jalanthar to the Moon Pass Gorge at the very beginning of the mod and has to kill moderately annoying baddies (Tuskers!), so I didn't want it to be excessively foreboding. The darker tones will be used for more dramatic landscapes like the Telkoun Tower, Hellgate Dell (former site of Hellgate Keep) and Dalagar's Daggers / Doomspire where the Morueme's dragon clan dwells (if I have the time, as this would be optional in my plot);

- the flora of the Nether Mountains described in the source books cannot be related to the real life flora supported by the toolset. Therefore, since the maps of this region indicate that south of the range the vegetation is deciduous, I went for it. I just tried to give a very bare and desolated feeling to the poor things.

I post screenies for the experts' advice, and please tell me if it is clear that something is wrong with the water level of the River Rauvin ( a plot devise).

I have also been making my very first interior area! I don't like it as much as making exterior areas ... placeables are a mess! and I never find what I want! I could not find a orizontal pole to hang the tents of the four poster bed, so I had to use the mask exposition rescaled! And I wanted to use some custom content, but it was conflicting with SoZ placeables, and I don't quite feel up to the task of editing 2da numbers, yet, so it will be for another time (pity because that "huge mirror" would have been stunning in the wardrobe/boudoir corner!!! ;-))

Anyway, I am happy with the result as I succeded in making the room as kitch as intended. This will be used for a cutscene hinting at the conceiving of the evil plan setting the plot in motion, and I hope that the obstented lush of the furniture can give an idea of the personality of my villain (definitely NOT an aged austere wizard).

As always, advice appreciated!!!