Thursday, January 6, 2011

TMGS II: What Might Have Been

OK, I've taken a couple months off and I'm more convinced than ever that I'm done with large projects. It's not that I'm out of ideas; I've got enough of those, but as I stated previously, I can't justify the time expenditure given other more important commitments. My problem is that TMGS I took well over two years of pretty intense work. Backing off to a level I'm comfortable with would mean TMGS II wouldn't see the light of day until 2017, and that's simply ridiculous.

I am, however, inclined to put out small projects of only one to two hours of play time more akin to good sidequests than anything else. I'm building a belief in my mind that that's probably the way to go to be able to indulge a bit in a hobby without sacrificing other things that are important. Nothing that I've said until now is new for this blog except that my mind is still resolved on that after a couple months, but everything I type from here on out will be first time.

I've already started a bit on a small project. It's a small continuation of TMGS with the same cast of characters, but I'll delay further announcement on the specifics for another time.

For now I've been thinking about releasing my thoughts on where I would have taken TMGS in future full-length campaigns. All of this would have been secret, of course, had I committed myself to releasing them, but now that I've committed to the opposite, there's nothing to lose and I figure some people might be curious.

If you don't want to know, stop now. I'll wait...

OK, if you're still here, you must be interested, so here goes.

First, while TMGS I concentrated on establishing the relationship between the PC and his/her principle companion - either Tancred or Verona - TMGS II would have returned to a full party with the ranger love interest forming just one of the group, albeit one that would have required further exposition and greater attention.

TMGS I also focused on establishing a second crucial relationship that would have flourished in part II: Gron. In part II, the orcish prince would have played the part of bad-ass tank and bruiser. He would have been something like a barbarian 7/divine champion 4, had very high strength and constitution, and sliced and diced with his massive battle axe. The core relationship would have been one of new convert & mentor with him asking a variety of tough theological questions that the PC could have answered a number of ways.

This was why so much time in TMGS I was spent on a seemingly innocuous side story at the orc village and the Tomb of the Just Ones. I always "knew" that Gron was coming back, and he needed to have an established reason to implicitly trust the PC and also accept him/her as an authority figure, at least in a religious sense.

So that gives us the cleric PC, the ranger love interest, and Gron. The fourth member of the group was going to be a female moon-elf bard with an as-yet unsettled name, although for current purposes we'll call her Sylvaria (a likely candidate). This character, an ambassador from the Church of Oghma, would have been met at the adventure's outset and would have, in fact, been the initial quest giver. More on that later.

The final member of the party was as yet still murky. I had a few thoughts but the two most likely were a male human rogue or a male half-drow wizard. The background of each and where they would have been met were different from each other and still not 100% set, but the most likely scenario is given in my summary of Act I below.

The level range would have been set to start around 12 and end around 15-16.

Now for the plot.

Act I: Darkness Rising

The player is recalled to the Bastion of the Maimed God by the newly-elected Grand Prelate. After some scene-setting, they are led into the council chamber – the same one in which Dezlentyr gave his speech in TMGS I – in which a meeting of the church elders is being conducted. Central to this meeting is an Oghmite ambassador, Sylvaria, who has come bearing news of an ancient prophesy that foretells the return of the Darkbringer when certain signs are manifest. These signs, including a comet in the southern sky and a great earthquake in the east, have now come to pass, and the Oghmites seek aid from a religious order with more military might to stop the impending return. Note that “The Darkbringer” is a well-known nickname for Moander, so the identity of the new threat will be immediately known in contrast to the plot structure of TMGS I. For those who may not know, Moander, the one-time lord of rot and decay, was killed during the Time of Troubles.

Next the new Grand Prelate introduces the PC, a rising star in the church who now has a reputation for resourcefulness and solving special problems, and the trio of Sylvaria, the PC, and the PC’s love interest, either Tancred or Verona, depart for the Starmounts, a range of mountains deep within the High Forest that are the only locale specifically mentioned in the prophecy.

The group has a few adventures along the way, one of which leads to the addition of Gron. Gron claims to have had dreams in which he was ordered to aid the High Witch/Great Shaman against the enemies of Tyr and so he left his village to come west to find the PC. Another possible addition in one of these adventures is a human rogue.

Once in the High Forest, the party infiltrates a ruined mountain outpost of the ancient elven empire of Earlann, an empire of special fascination for both Verona and Tancred. As the party works its way up levels towards the mountain’s peak, they encounter several tricks, traps, and unique battles. Not all of these tricks are “mad wizard” puzzles; some are nothing more than finding a way across a fallen bridge or around a collapsed tunnel. Within this dungeon, the party encounters an old forge still manned by a ghostly blacksmith who presents Verona/Tancred with a magical short sword, long ago forged for the warrior of nature that would defeat the Darkbringer. (Note that this scene was presaged in TMGS I if the PC managed to convince the companion to discuss their dreams during one of the fireside chats.)
Atop the Star Mounts, the party finds the Priory of First Union, a temple jointly devoted to Corellon Larethian and Sehanine Moonbow and their initial union of blood and tears that first formed the elven race. On the snowy peak, the group confronts and does battle with another high-level party of Moanderites with as-yet unknown motives. This is the boss fight for Act I. After defeating these adversaries, the group finds a strange ring on the corpse of the party’s leader, but without any other clues, they have no choice but to enter the temple.

Within are histories on the wall that tell of the defeat of Moander by the elves of Cormanthyr (to be clear, these defeats are not the final one that caused his death - way different eras) and still more prophecies of his eventual death and return. The group will learn through ancient texts that the heart of Moander lies dormant in the forest of Cormanthor and only awaits a sliver of Moander’s divine energy to rise again. As they explore the temple, the party finds a room with a portal. An investigation may reveal – depending on the PC’s skills – that the portal once allowed instant travel to any part of the elven empires and even into other elven strongholds. The destination was set by assembling a series of magical runes into the sides of the portals with each combination of runes accounting for a specific destination portal. Further on, the party comes to a final altar room that has been ransacked and now contains the freshly-killed corpse of a half-drow wizard.

The party members will strongly suggest the PC “raise” the drow, a power now well-within the abilities granted by Tyr to the PC, so that they can interrogate him. Once done, he reveals that the Moanderites hired him to guide them to this temple so that they could learn exactly where the heart of Moander was located within Cormanthor. The Moanderite High Priestess apparently discovered the location in one of the texts and took it with her. But before she left, she killed him to prevent him from revealing just the information he now gives to the PC. In addition, he learned through communicating with the Moanderite party en route to this temple that they intended to gain the requisite divine spark in another dimension where the cult of Moander still holds supreme power. Each of the two Moanderite leaders had a ring that would allow a portal to that dimension to open. The PC should now recognize that the High Priestess had one but the second must be the ring they found on the corpse outside the temple. Finally, the half-drow mentions he is a wizard of some power and asks to join the group so that he can enact revenge on the Moanderites for the betrayal. There will be some hesitation on the part of Sylvaria (a moon elf) and Gron (an orc), but they will eventually agree if the PC presses the need for more strength before journeying into the Moanderite dimension.

With everything now settled, the group uses the ring to open a portal to the new dimension and chase after the High Priestess, not only to stop her acquiring the divine spark of Moander, but also – as a last resort – to learn the specific location of Moander’s slumbering heart.

Next Post: Act II: The False Prophet

For the record, all my acts have names, although they are never seen on-screen. For TMGS I, the three act names were “Descent into Darkness” for Act I, “The Curse of the VanGhaunts” for Act II, and “Excommunicate” for Act III.


Anonymous said...

Sad to see the sequel will never come to light, but it's wholly understandable of course. As someone who is picky with community modules and admittedly struggle to retain interest in most I played, TMGS just took my breath away. The roleplay options, character development and story were amazing. You could tell it was a labour of love and that a baffling amount of time was put into it. I just want to say thank for creating something that was so enjoyable, if a bit difficult in some places!

Anonymous said...

LOVED TMGS. Extremely sad there's to be no sequel. At any rate, just finished the game about an hour ago and can only say bravo sir, bravo; wish you could do these full-time.

Anonymous said...

Instead of trying to tackle a large project like TMGS you should get a group of people together and work on the project.

Like a real game development. That way it won't take two years or even a year to work on the project, at least that's the theory^_-


Anonymous said...

I think he mentioned he didn't find team modding appealing. Solo modding is more appealing to some because it's all your creation. With a team you can get incredible things done and pool talents together, but it means your ideas/world/characters won't necessarily be the main focus or even scrapped if the team as a whole doesn't like it.

Tiberius209 said...

I don't mind team modding at all. The lack of creative control is a drawback and I may have stated that as a big negative somewhere else, but at this point in my life, I could get over it. Westgate was a team mod, and although there were some design decisions I wouldn't have made on a personal project, it was one of the best modding experiences of my life.

My problems with team modding are three-fold. First, I don't have the necessary hardware to make it work. Second, I have nothing to offer and so would depend on people wanting to work on it for free. That makes it more difficult to try to get people to work to deadlines, as you're relying on their good graces anyway, and I'd inevitably be faced with having to find new people as the old ones became bored with the project and had no financial incentive to stay. Finally - and most importantly - it is not less time-consuming for the project leader who has to coordinate the whole thing. Sure, I wouldn't spend as much time in the toolset, but I'd still spend tons of time writing e-mails, merging work together, editing work so that it has a uniform "feel," and then I'd have to make up the work others drop when they become bored with the project and leave.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting! Can't wait for the next post.

Tiberius209 said...


Well there you go. You actually posted your comment while I was working on my new update.