Saturday, October 24, 2009

NWN Plotline, Take 2

Okay. I had a few adjustments to my overall plotline, and spent today restarting my map. Everything is going much quicker now, and I'm trying to focus on one task at a time so I don't jump around between too many different aspects at once and feel overwhelmed.

At first, I'm going to just build the town(s), then start drafting conversations that build the plot. My old plot hooks were based on an entire town that had been wiped out, but that doesn't really leave much opportunity for writing conversation trees. It was going to be a mysterious empty town, but that's pretty boring, I think, in the end.

Here's the final rundown:

Two Cities

The exterior land plot is twin cities, divided by a river. Two bridges join the two sides, one bridge leading onto a small island, and another leading off.


The northern village is dying, its inhabitants overrun by a deadly virus that has all but wiped them out. Both towns are comprised of simple farmer types, except for one outsider (of a non human different race) who was their doctor. As the virus began taking hold in the northern region, the doctor worked frantically to find a cure. His wife (a local human girl) had passed away long ago in a farming accident. The doctor himself was found to be immune as he was another race, differing from the humans of the village. He doubled his efforts when his only son (a half human of just 9 years) became infected as well. The virus worked slowly on his son, due to his race, but was slowly overtaking his immunities.

Soon the entire northern town had fallen victim, and it was only a matter of time before everyone in the northern village was dead. The northern bridges were barricaded off to prevent the spread of the deadly strand of virus. Frantic, he began to delve into deeper and darker cures, until at last the day came when he finally made a breakthrough and discovered the cure. But it was too late; his son had passed away that morning while the doctor was working in his laboratory.

Days passed, and the doctor became more and more detached from reality, never leaving his house, and shutting out the rest of the villagers who came to call on him. Anguished, he called upon dark magics to bring his son back from the dead, in order that he might finally administer the cure he worked so tirelessly on. So distressed was he at his loss that nothing mattered. He loved his wife very much, and to be all alone again would be unbearable. He managed to actually raise his son from the dead, and cured him; but the boy was an empty husk. The doctor, delirious, collapsed in exhaustion, and the son wandered outside, much to the surprise and dismay of the townsfolk.

The doctor awoke suddenly to screams and shouts from outside, and was terrified to find the townspeople standing over his once again lifeless son. They had been horrified to find a walking dead amongst them, and had struck him down. The doctor ran outside, grabbed his young son up in his arms, and cursed the villagers. Sobbing, he fled across the bridge into the northern town, across the barricades, into the ghost town, with his dead son clutched to his chest.

Time passes, and people moved on with their lives. After an uneventful year, the southern village is stricken to find the first new victims of the virus they thought had passed them by. They remember the tragedy that befell their northern sister town, and pray to their gods that the same fate won't befall them as well.

Amidst their new problems, they've all but forgotten about the doctor. They saw his dead son that day, but never knew he was *cured*, as well as reanimated. In his sudden aguish and anger over finding his son killed again, the doctor never bothered to reveal that he had finally discovered a cure.

The doctor hasn't been idle for the last year, and his memory of those fateful days hasn't dimmed. He's been keeping himself busy, over the bridge to the north, under the cover of night. Amassing a small army from the graveyard of the church, or the corpses that litter the streets. Soon there be a reckoning...


So, yeah...

Basically, having the southern town still be 'alive, but infected' builds a sense of tension for the townsfolk, and allows them to reveal the history of the two towns in conversations. Our hero will share the same race as our doctor, and the villagers will respond to that when they see us wandering down the road past their town. Our natural immunity will allow us to travel into the previously shut off northern area to collect items that they've needed, but were too scared to venture forth to get themselves. Across the river on some of these errands, we notice some undead, and the full story of the doctor and his son is revealed.

This plotline keeps the doctor/son combo for the final boss/miniboss showdown, but presents it in a more fleshed out area instead of 'and then you're walking along and notice a ghost town, woo woo, what happened here?' kind of thing.

Anyway.

If these kind of posts bore you, prepare to be bored over the next few weeks as I flesh this out. Some people have expressed interest in seeing these things, and I blog about what I'm doing, and this is pretty much what I'm doing ;)

Once I get the town in a position where it's even able to be walked around in, I'll start posting the modules up here, for now there's waterfall, and a river, some houses, and not much else. I'm still working on the scale of the entire area. I had it set to maximum size, and wanted to actually even make it larger, and was coming across posts on the toolset forums that (rightfully) point out that you don't need 10 miles by 8 miles to make an interesting area. Empty space is just annoying to run around in, so I pulled all of my structures much closer to one another, and will focus on having town density as an aim. Not choked up to where you can't move around, but running isn't fun, solving puzzles and moving the plot along is.

More later...

12 comments:

Sage said...

One thing to note about NWN versus WoW. DnD requires a party. So a Rogue is going to be screwed here, due to lack of Sneak Attack. Soloing generally benefits Clerics and Mage/Sorcerers. If you want people to solo, expect to start them off as level 4 against level 1-2 enemies, culminating in a level 2-3 fight (I'm taking this from the Penultima series, you might want to look into the Authour, Stephen Gange).

Ixobelle said...

Sage, do you know if it's possible to tie a player to a module?

Like, when you play my module, your only player choice is to pick Ixobelle the Knight (or whatever)? I know one of the big bonuses of the NWN toolset is creating modules that you then take your already leveled character into, and I've just recently discovered scaling encounters where it will match the difficulty against the party it sees attempting the fight.

However! I'd be much more interested in being able to hard code a person into the storyline, and just go about creating a self contained story... is that possible?

Cap'n John said...

Just my opinion, but I really like the way that story unfolded.

Ixobelle said...

Thanks, John.

I'm thinking there still a bit missing. Maybe the doctor wanted to help the people in the north, but those in the south (where his home is located), forcibly detained him against his will, "for his (and the town's) own good".

This can create a further conflict where the doctor is embittered against the southerners for more than striking his son down. Perhaps, the doctor lived in the north, but was brought to the south forcibly when they realized he was immune. They would be afraid to cross the bridge, but he could come and go as he pleased. Maybe as he came south across the brigde with his son (before it was barricaded), they leapt on him and held them captive (again, for his and the town's survival), but forced him to abandon his neighbors to die.

This would tie in better with his going back "home" to the north, to resurrect an undead army and have his revenge on the south.

Typing this up, it all sounds like a bizarro american civil war gone horribly wrong ;)

Klepsacovic said...

I liked the way you told the story. Though I have to ask, was no one able to figure out anything by searching his lab after he left?

Ixobelle said...

that's another thing that occurred to me, and another reason why I think his house is going to end up on the northern side of the river.

however! this raises the question of how he continued his research in the south, away from his lab...

one final solution occurred to me: i could make him a kind of cross between a sorcerer and doctor (which would explain his dabbling in dark magics to raise his son later). A spell could be cast on his house that would block any humans from entering his house. His wife is already dead, and his son is half whatever (elf, what have you) so they could come and go as they pleased without worrying about keys.

This allows US to enter, since we share the same race as him as we wander into town.

The placement of his house, and how to keep it locked is a problem to be solved. Perhaps the local folk are just afraid of his magics, and steer clear of there once he's gone.

hmm

niconorsk said...

On the tieing a player to a module question, I know this is possible, as I've played modules that did just that. Couldn't for the life of me tell you how to do it though.

Ixobelle said...

just knowing it's possible is enough though, thanks! I'll just figure out how to do it, but will at least know it won't be a wild goose chase.

Tesh said...

Interesting. I'm not really a fan of pure revenge stories; they always seem too shallow. That said, I like how you're framing things here, and it's fun reading about what you're doing.

Of course, one of the things I wondered about early on is the virus transmission mechanic. If the river really is all that is separating two relatively close towns, that's a fairly constrained virus, likely with an extremely short incubation period and low transmission potential. (Or the two towns didn't communicate much to start with.)

Ixobelle said...

yeah, i hear that.

There could be a much larger river, or a mountain pass between them, but I'm more interested in focusing on the interacting scripts than the scale of how long a walk it is from one area to the next.

I hope that doesn't sound like a cop out....

Tesh said...

Nope, not at all. Gameplay should come first, methinketh. I'm not even arguing for a longer separation.

It's just something that stuck out as a potential story hook since it could bear further analysis. See, if there's a way to explain why this virus didn't behave like previous ones, say, by giving it a magical genesis (especially since it's racially sensitive), it might be a way to dig more into the storytelling. (Or even set up hooks for a larger story as a way to lead people into a bigger mystery; wheels within wheels and all that.)

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