June 14, 2009

Olothontor, the minstrel wyrm

"Oh, come let me sing of
Olothontor the Old.
Music in thrall this lone
wyrm doth hold.
If you would live to see
sunrise again,
Sing long of love, and
loss, and pain.
Sing as you've never
sung before,
And alive you may be
gently shown the door."
- Stanza from "Oh, Come, Let Me Sing," a Harper drinking ballad.

Olothontor is a kind, old, reclusive wyrm.
Well, he is as kind as a lawful evil blue dragon may accomplish to be.

The fact is that he has developed an unwavering love for (lore: addiction to) fine music and has only three goals in life:

1) find a singer female blue dragon: once he mated Ingeireirautha, a blue female from Anauroch, but she did not meet his standards and things didn't work out very well and the two no longer get along. Olothontor once suggested to an emissary of the Cult of the Dragon that he might consider joining the cult and become a dracolich if that may somehow magically empower a female blue dragon to sing;

2) find and hear the music of the finest minstrels of Faerun. If they second this desire to his satisfaction, Olothontor might even let them survive the encounter. Harpers and other bards often attend his lair on Mount Araddyn. Otherwise, Olothontor just wants to be left alone by other dragons, creatures or adventurers who do not love music;

3) collect items and spells that enhance his exploration of music. Since he is really only concerned with riches relating to music, he will gladly trade even more valuable items for musical stuff.

"Continue just as before, and all will be well"
- Olothontor to a unknown Harper.

June 12, 2009

Jalanthar

The town is far from completed, but since upkeeping this blog is far easier (and less time-consuming) than modding, I will ego-stroke myself with a few screens of the rye, orchard, fields and cemetery in its outskirts, as well as of the druid grove inside the town. And if anyone is wondering... yes, there will be druids in the mod! Next time, I will post a selection of pictures of Tall Trees.















June 05, 2009

The logarithmic spiral



Tall Trees was once Teuveamanthaar, the capital tree-city of the Eaerlann elves. This powerful kingdom is now dissolved, and few remnants of its former glory scatter the lands between the Turnstone Pass, in the Nether Mountains, and the High Forest. After the the Fall of Eaerlann and the departure for Evermeet of most of the moon elves (the Fair Folk of Eaerlann), the city was abandoned amidst the towering trees that are peculiar to this spot of the High Forest.



The inner centre of Tall Trees, however, has not been overcome by the wild growth, and is currently inhabited by a handful of Druids of the North, mainly of the Mielikkian faith. Among them are Uthgang Jyarl, Great Druid of the North and appointed Regent of Teuveamanthaar, Sinklayr Greenstroke, former Grand Druid of the North and currently Hierophant Adept, and Vaeros Fireshield, a mysterious man rumoured to be the next Great Druid of the North. The gigantic trees, considered the most ancient of the forest, are held sacred by the Druids, who wish to preserve the ancient Eaerlanni settlement, and on more than one occasion protected the trees from the attacks of the demonic horde risen from Hellgate Keep.



Provided that anything “elven” in the toolset is hardly pretty, and that there is no placeable fitting a tree-top city (in this respect, I have high expectations for a future delivery of RWS, mentioned in their forum), I focused my attention to the ground, and particularly to the shape of Tall Trees. I wanted to find a solution that could mediate between the harmony of the natural environment and a supposedly sophisticated architecture.



Accordingly, I resorted to the concept of fractals. To make it simple: self-similar recursive geometrical patterns available in nature. Basically, I have built the city as a revolving convolution based on the logarithmic spiral, a binary fractal that is represented, mathematically, by the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence and, geometrically, by the golden ratio or divine proportion, a irrational mathematical constant applied by certain major architects in ancient Greece and, more widely, during the Renaissance in order to achieve aesthetically pleasing results. A very good example of the logarithmic spiral is found in nature in the seashell whose English name I do not know, but a self-explanatory picture is posted above.



So, I have built Tall Trees as a logarithmic spiral, with trees growing at regular intervals on a revolving hill and connected to the inner line of the spiral (a path whose shape is enhanced by a row of torches) by wooden terraces intended to resemble the cells inside the seashell. The terraces become smaller as they get closer to the centre of the spiral, where they merge in a sort of natural amphitheatre where the Druids congregate. Actually, I wanted to put fences around the steps of the terraces, but the placeables of the toolset are too sturdy and ugly for what I have in mind… I will have to surf the Vault to find something better. I already owe to the Exquisite Day and Night Cycles posted there by Ovocean, which brilliantly overcome the problem of excessive darkness that I was experiencing under the leaf canopy placed all over the area.




June 04, 2009

Hello World

And so it was, that Nacaal got herself a blog.

Worse, a NWN2 blog, a place to write down my progresses in developing a module. I am not completely sure about the reason why I am doing it, mainly because I have been reading other modders' blogs and I like them, so now I want to try too. But also because I think that keeping this up may urge me to focus on this little module project of mine. In fact, I am a bit volatile in my hobbies - let's just say that passions wax and wane - and I need a little discipline in order to accomplish anything.

In the worst case scenario, I will learn a new thing and practice my English language writing something that is not work-related. For a living, I am a lawyer. It is not as well paid as it would seem in movies and tv series (especially if you are young and don't have a big name to spend), but it is an interesting job. Of course it has its drawbacks, for instance certain nasty rejection crisis that can tear your psyche apart - the risk is particularly high on those sunny days when you would die to be at the sea, while you are in fact, only half-way your 14 hours daily working routine.

But I have a remedy against the detrimental effects of such cruel Real Life: I atone and redeem myself by playing obnoxious holier-than-thou paladins! If during the day I am the dedicated caretaker of the greedy interests of evil corporations, at night (well, when I don't crash on the couch, of course!) I sit before my NWN2 game and turn myself into that shining beacon of goodness and hope that only my grandmother still believes I am!

So, that is why I like playing CRPG (now: when I was 15 things were much more simple).

Now I should probably state why I like modding. The point is, I have not quite found it out yet. I am still learning why. Admittedly, I am still a bit overwhelmed.

I have recently read a post on the Bioware forum suggesting another beginner builder that the three things to learn in order make a decent module are writing, area designing and scripting... warning that learning all of them from scratch would be though.

Well, what can I say for myself? That the acronym LoL was not a random choice! Learning is proving painful, yet engrossing. As with other things in life, humility and commitment will make the deal, I guess.

I had never written anything in my life, but most of the story and setting is now decided, and it's coming out nice and smooth (at least, the main story: I have difficulties with the side-quests, but there is time for them). The module is set in the Silver Marches (aka Luruar), in year 1369 (or 1370, still have to decide!) D.R., just after its founding. And of course, the future of the young confederation will be threatened from within and without - where will the struggle for power lead a twisted mind who is not afraid to uncover and abuse a secret buried beneath the dust of time?

I am slowly getting the grip on area designing, at least exteriors. Well, so far I only have two areas - LoL!!!! One is a city and it admittedly sucks, but I abandoned it for a while and created another one, the sacred grove of Tall Trees in the High Forest, and I am pretty satisfied with it. With what I learned, I went back to the city - Jalanthar, an outpost of rangers and trackers in perpetual war with the orcs, which is now starting to take shape.

Scripting still gives me a migraine, but if I learned "legal English", I do not see why I should not be able to learn such a simpler language!

Ok, enough ramble for now. This was really just a test post, so next time I will write about the module! In the meantime, let's see if I can establish a slideshow of my Tall Trees pics...