Beta Tryouts Finished!
Fellow Ossian-mates, Alazander, Hugie, and Maerduin all got a chance to beta Act I, and, despite some head-scratching bugs, the comments I received generally mirrored my own thoughts. I have a bit of work to incorporate some of the comments, but I'm going to wait on the new content coming in "Mask of the Betrayer" to finalize Act I.
The VanGhaunt Mansion Planned
During my lunch hour on Monday, I went ahead and laid out the VanGhaunt Mansion (see pictures). I modeled the mansion off my understanding of Victorian and Edwardian manor houses... with some allowance for conserving file size. In real-world manor houses, the bedrooms for the "downstairs" servants would have been, well, downstairs in a cellar, but I'm not making up a third floor for this reason alone.
As you can see, the red outlines the only parts of the mansion that will still be in use. Most of the mansion will be unused, though not empty, and many of those rooms will be necessary to explore in order to learn the true nature of the family's curse.
The purple oulines the player's suite, which will be the de-facto home base for the investigation. It will be important for the player to return here on occasion, so I'm going to make some kind of shortcut to return to these specific rooms, either by the map or maybe a conversation at the mansion front door.
However, when I went to start putting these into the toolset, I wasn't entirely happy with the tileset options. I looked on the Vault, but there are very few community content sets. After looking at some of the screenshots for MotB, I think there might be something there to work with, so these two maps will wait for now.
Resting and Spell Recovery
I've never outlined this before on this blog, but one of the gameplay decisions I've already made is that resting in Act II will be handled a bit differently. It will only be allowed in your suite via clicking on the bed, but this will only recover hit points. Right after that, the player will need to progress to the chapel - one of the reasons it is put so close to the player's bedroom - to pray. At this point, all spells and abilities will be renewed (but only once per day). This serves four purposes.
- It reiterates the relationship, lost in most RPGs, that the cleric's abilities come from the deity (in this case Tyr).
- It is a truer representation of the D&D guidelines.
- It forces the player to think about which spells they memorize and how quickly they use them, as they will get fewer chances to switch and replenish them.
- On occasion, Tyr will communicate important information through these daily prayer sessions.
Six Maps Complete
As I have to wait on MotB for the VanGhaunt Manor, I went ahead and began work on many of the other maps. I made up the cathedral, though I'm not entirely thrilled with the map. Again, there are no tilesets that allow for gothic vaulted interiors. One tileset on the Vault looks good for dwarven mines, but it didn't do it for me in terms of cathedrals. Nevertheless, my time on the Vault did reveal some nice stain glass placeables, and those mollified me somewhat. See the screenshot for the examples. Finally, here's hoping MotB comes with a spiderweb placeable. How on earth are we supposed to make something look unused without spiderwebs?
Along with the cathedral, I spent many, many hours on the town hall, which includes the archives. This will be a crucial point of investigation for the module, and the player will spend a fair amount of time here. The trick is to make this part fun and interesting, and I'll probably be taking a lot of inspiration in this regard from Fester Pot's masterful "Almraiven." I thought he handled the researcher portion of that story very well. A toolset-level shot of the archives section of the town hall is included.
I also knocked out the joint tavern/ blacksmith map - another toolset-level shot is attached. These are combined to cut down on module size, but I think it works. The tavern will be an important source of gossip and a point to meet various people important to the plot - all the things we've come to expect from a tavern!
The "blacksmith" is actually a jack-of-all-trades due to the town's being so small and backwards and will be a source to buy and sell weapons, though I'm thinking the gold he has will be exceptionally limited and the weapons may all have attack penalties to indicate they're low-grade. I'm currently toying with the idea of making this area more relevant by making the player have to commission some odd item to aid the investigation. In addition, one of the "sidequests" of this portion that I've already decided upon will be the restoration of the cathedral. The PC will need to hire some labor to clean out the fallen stones and debris and then perhaps commission a new statue, some silver relics for the service, some new banners... in short, become integrated into the local economy. Of course, this "sidequest" need not be completed...
I've also completed the interior of the abandoned lighthouse, but I'll post some pictures next time. Those maps are somewhat interesting and deserve a post of their own and this one is long enough for now.