Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I’d forgotten what it feels like the day after the marathon. At least I am now able to walk somewhat. It was a perfect day for running in Chicago, though. The temperature at the start was in the high 30s and it hit the low 40s by the time I finished. Well, maybe it was a bit chilly, but that didn’t stop us runners from putting in a good performance. I ran a 3:13:25, which was on the fast side of what I was expecting-- so I am pleased with myself. For comparison, the guy who won the race (Sammy Wanijru) ran a blistering 2:05:48 or so, setting the course record. That is smoking. We are talking running an average per mile pace that is probably beyond what most people can run for even 1 mile (i.e. 4:50 or faster)

So what does running have to do with gaming? Well, if it wasn’t for running, I think I would go crazy. Most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer, and I find that too much sitting and not enough physical activity has some nasty side-effects like a flabby belly, bad back, and host of other trivial ailments that when added together are not so trivial. Running is an extremely efficient form of exercise so far as it packs the most intensity into the smallest amount of time, and it improves the one muscle in your body that you absolutely do not want to fail (i.e. your heart). In other words, if your heart stops working, your gaming days are over with, to say the least.

I also like to feel a little bit like one of those characters in the video games. You know, the lean fit ones that are always running everywhere in full armor. I haven’t quite perfect the running in plate mail part, though. Maybe it’s not entirely realistic… I have to say, though, that when I am out on a nice brisk run, I sometimes feel a bit like a wood elf ranger with an 18 constitution, if not exactly being one—more like a balding 30-something guy.

On the subject of “Blood & Gold,” I got nothing at the moment. I will probably be able to post some pictures of some areas I have been working on soon. I have also been adding some quests and rewriting some parts of the plot. That is pretty typical for me--getting ideas as I am actually building. This is also probably why every project I work on quickly balloons from being very manageable to epically ambitious (i.e. never getting done).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Marathon and Plot Hooks

I am making some progress on “Blood & Gold”, but I’ve been a little distracted this week. The reason is because I am running the Chicago Marathon this year (my first time in a long while) and it’s this next Sunday! I hope the weather is nice…

After the marathon, I will probably feel like spending the next several weeks sitting in my chair in front of my computer and not running—or very little running. That bodes well for me making some good progress on “Blood & Gold” in the next few weeks.

I’ve just started putting major conversations and plot mechanics in place, and I hope to have most of the plot and conversations done by the end of October or early November. One of the features I am proudest of is the multiple plot hooks that players will be able to choose from in the opening cutscene. I would be lying if I said that each plot hook will lead to a completely different game experience--I just don’t have enough time or resources to do something like that. But each choice will start the player off in a different direction and have some perks associated with it (think opening vignettes in Troika’s “Temple of Elemental Evil”). For instance, the hook you choose will determine where your characters call home during the adventure. Your choice will also lead to different starting quests. I am also toying with the idea of making some special rewards—such as magical items—available to characters based on the path they follow at the start.

Some of the plot hooks are as follows:

1) Aiding a Friend – you have been called to Deadsnows by Observer Kerilla Gemstar of the Hospice of Marthammor. She is concerned about the disappearance of one of her clerics, an old friend of yours.

2) Couriers – you are engaged to carry important documents from Silverymoon to Deadsnows. The documents are to be delivered to Lady Icespear (the nominal ruler of Deadsnows) and seem to concern some agreement between the Silvermaches and Deadsnows.

3) Duty Calls – A Harper agent in Deadsnows has observed unusual orc activity in the region. You are called upon by the Harpers to investigate.

4) Gold Fever – After hearing tales of the gold rush in Deadsnows, you set out in hopes of striking it rich either as a prospector or as a mercenary.

5) Law & Order – you have heard of the troubles visited upon Deadsnows by the sudden influx of prospectors and are headed to town so that you might help restore order in the area.

What do you think? Are there other hooks you would like to see?

I promise some more screen shots next time. Maybe some interior shots.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blood & Gold: What is it?

So what is this thing I am working on? Blood & Gold is a module for Neverwinter Nights 2 set in and around the small frontier town of Deadsnows. Deadsnows is conveniently located on the northern slopes of the Nether Mountains in a land known as the Silver Marches--think small gold mining town that is often cut off from all traces of civilization during the long, cold winters. It is a land filled with many dangers, including harsh summer squalls, spring snow blizzards, deadly avalanches, and unhealthy inhabitants such as dire bears, orc brigands, and worse creatures.

Once a small outpost built on the ruins of a keep of a human lord who dreamed of establishing a kingdom here, Deadsnows is now a booming mining town. It all started in the spring of 1372 DR when a hunter discovered gold in one of the mountain streams he often traversed. Soon after, word spread and prospectors descended upon the small town in large numbers. In many ways, I imagine Deadsnows as having the vibe of an old American West gold mining town full of dangerous outlaws and bloodthirsty natives prowling the hills.

I am aiming to make this a very free flowing type of game where the player has control over what he will do and see, and the plot revolves around these choices. It will use an overland map similar to the one in Obsidian’s SoZ expansion pack and the player will be able to create his own party—if he chooses. I will also include several companions that can be used to fill out the group.

Another feature I am proud of is the use of several opening plot hooks from which the player can pick. The player can choose to either be a courier from Silverymoon with a message for Lady Icespear, nominal ruler of Deadsnows, or he can be on a personal quest to answer a plea for help from an old friend. There are other hooks as well, each leading to a different opening and possibly with larger plot consequences later in the game. You can even play the game as a blood thirsty mercenary who kills everything in sight.

While the focus will be on exploration, I also want to include one or two good dungeon crawls with strong story lines. In fact, the original inspiration for the campaign was a longish dungeon crawl that I was planning with the provisional title of “The Chaos Horn.” In deciding where to set it, I ran across the Blood & Gold scenario as outlined in Wizard of the Coast’s Silver Marches supplement. The idea I was working on seemed like a perfect fit, so I blended the two together and came up the current form of the game—a longer and more ambitious project.

Well, I guess that is enough for today. I will try to post some more screen shots in my next post and give some idea of progress.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sample Shots from Upcoming Module: Blood & Gold

So why don't I start this whole blogging thing with some posts from a module for Neverwinter Nights 2 that I am working on called Blood & Gold (that's just a provisional title). 

Now ain't that purty

And here is one more of the same area.  Note the way I did the multi-leveled stream using placed effects.  I'm not sure if it works entirely, but it looks good enough to me.

Now that's a better close up of the stream effect I am going after.

In case you are wondering, this module is roughly based on a scenario published in Wizards of The Coast's Silver Marches supplement by the same name.  Originally, I was working on a separate idea for a long dungeon crawl type thingy, but saw that I could fit my original idea into the above mentioned scenario.

I can't promise I will actually finish this module, but it is what I am working on at the moment.

I'll post more details about features and such in future posts.