Scenario Creation

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* BOE Scenario Links
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* Scenario Creation
    Scenario basics
    Spiderweb Software resources
    Sources of ideas
    Utility scenarios
    Helpful text files
    Graphical libraries
    Special node sequences
    Other useful links
    Beta testing
    Similar games
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Making a scenario is a long and demanding task, but the rewards of appreciative e-mails and a sense of accomplishment make it well worth it. Besides, aren't you getting tired of your party getting beat-up by sadistic designers? It's your turn!

There are several steps involved. First is understanding the BOE Scenario Editor and its limits. A good storyline provides the framework for the scenario and its features (such as graphics and special node sequences). The Blades of Exile Community provides a lot of assistance - resources, forum discussions, and beta testing. Finally, games similar to BOE are listed.

Scenario basics

A Walkthrough for Basic Scenario Creation (RTF, 38k zipped) presents material derived and copied from the BOE Scenario Editor Help file into a more organized outline.

The Special Nodes Reference (RTF, 24k zipped) lists the special nodes and some special node sequences (derived from the BOE Scenario Editor Help file). It should be used with the above walkthrough file.

Optional - The BOE Scenario Editor Manual (RTF, 67k zipped) is the complete and unedited BOE Scenario Editor Help file.

Spiderweb Software resources

Spiderweb Software has a Scenario Workshop with user written Articles and examples and Utilities (such as scenarios and other files). Download the first 50 articles (text, 96k zipped) that I compiled from their site. Their user's questions answered (UQA) page is listed by date submitted (here is the compiled UQA text file, current to 11/6/01). Some of the UQA have been sorted by topic - Scenario Editor Questions and Non-technical Questions.

Sources of ideas for BOE scenarios

Dave Wilkerson wrote Creating Your Adventure: Part 1- Plotline for the Amethyst Circle, The International Roleplaying Guild ezine. It is a nice overview.

There are many Role Playing Games (RPG) available - both the traditional rule-book and paper and computer (CRPG). Consider adapting the ideas, concepts, plots, etc. from the many RPGs available to BOE. Spend some quality time at The RPG Consortium, RPG Host, and RPG Network.

I have enjoyed many hours playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) - in fact Skyle and Jared are the BOE equivalents of my AD&D Ranger and Fighter/thief. An AD&D module is similar to a small BOE scenario and an AD&D campaign would be like a large BOE scenario. Go to the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons page for more information.
    Arthur Knight's AD&D Links page (Geocities) rates a lot of sites with AD&D material
    The FTP of gaming resources has an AD&D directory with lots of files (check out their netbooks)
    The Lair of the Red Dragon has a lot of AD&D links

Akhronath provided these links of Tolkien's works: The Grey Havens, "The Ultimate J.R.R. Tolkien Resource Web Page." Take a break at The Tolkien Sarcasm Page.

Make maps to help design the scenario and to showcase it a little. Several programs allow you, the designer, to make nice quality maps of the towns and outdoors. Annotate printed copies to help design the actual BOE maps and to place the towns and dungeons. Also, consider making a player's version of the scenario map - this allows a player to add details to the map as he progresses through the scenario.
    Irony Games has a World Maker and an interactive Java Map maker
    Profantasy Software Ltd has many map making programs
    Fantasy Mapmaking 101 (Geocities) has ideas and the background for the whys of maps
    The Great Net Map Archive has buildings, worlds, towns, and links to other sites with graphics of town layouts
    The PCL Map Collection has some real world maps that can be ideas and a link to city maps
    The Maps and references at CGRER are real world maps

Here are a few general information sites with nice content that may provide some ideas (for names, plots, etc):
    The Greymage's RPG Site is an excellent and comprehensive site with many links to related sites
    The Cave has a collection of tools for RPG players, mostly consisting of three generators - Name, Village, and NPC - and has a workshop of examples
    Chris Pound's Name Generation Page has random vocabularies to help with generating names
    Arthur List has a Random names generator (Geocities) for Dwarven, Elven and Orcish themes
    The Annenberg/CPB Project Exhibits Collection - The Middle Ages - describes life in the Middle Ages
    Georgetown University's The Labyrinth Home page has a lot of scholary info and resources for medieval studies
    Sir Clisto Seversword's Tome of Adventure and Knowledge has "all topics related to the Medieval or Renaissance periods . . . and is an excellent resource for Students, Historians, Medievalists or Re-enactors"

Stronghold's site will soon have history links about Castles and likely the medieval period.

Utility scenarios

One of the following bladbase scenario files should be used when creating a scenario in BOE's scenario editor (these files contain supporting documentation). The other scenario files are mainly towns with no npc personalities. See also Stareye's list of Free towns (Geocities).

Scenario SizeAuthor and Description
Bladbase v 1.0133k Jeff Vogel, keeper of Exile. The official scenario source file.
Alternative Bladbase v 1.3042k Skyle. The above file with many changes, corrections, and additions.

Black Crag Fortress26k Jonathan Pelloth. Exile III's Black Crag Fortress (password is 666).
Fandore37k Skyle. A three level town (with a logic puzzle) and a two level house.
High Level Party Maker26k Tarl Kudrick. A very popular party builder (bundled with some scenarios).
The Nexus27k Skyle. Play with Affect Party specials. A town with the BOE sounds.
The Tower of the Magi24k Skyle. A two level tower with a similar layout of the classic Exile ToM.
The Tower of Magi51k Stareye. Another ToM (it has 4 Spy's Quest towns, password is 17248).

Helpful text files

Lists of names: 500 names compiled by Aceron and 1000 names compiled by Zaloopa
Grid squares for designing towns (32*32, 48*48, 64*64) and outdoor sections (48*48)
Mage Lore guidelines for placing spells and alchemy recipes (by Stareye)
Alchemy balancing - recommended changes to alchemy

Graphical libraries

A scenario can have custom graphics for terrain, items, and monsters. Their use can support the storyline and enhance the playing experience. Two sites have large graphical libraries:
    Khoth's Graphics Archive at Edwin's Webpage
    Tim Farland's Hooraga's Hut (Tripod)

Special node sequences

Doors (2) - place specials on the doors and avoid using Impassible doors
Features (2) - nice little touches to a scenario
Items and rewards - a complete example by Leon Lin
Outdoors combat - a complex example by Leon Lin
Party register - have SDF values based on party composition
Regenerating monsters - by Drizzt
Stareye's Special spells - have monsters "cast" spells with specials
    Angry Bob - an example
    Basilisks - placing monsters
Water counter - track the party's water (inspired by Brett Bixler's Destiny of the Spheres)

Other useful links

The Lyceum's Designer's forum, created by Alcritas, contains many informative articles.

Brett Bixler's site contains a BOE Scenario Rubric that describes many elements of a well-rounded scenario. His site contains his graphic archive, a list of town services, a graphical flowchart of some of his special node sequences, and images of the default Terrain Types (to aid in selecting terrain types for special node sequences).

Drizzt's site has a Scenario Design Resources section.

Roger Moore has created an excellent Java program, Scenario Dump, that creates a text file listing special nodes, dialogue, spell placements, and other useful information. It readily works for the Macintosh (OS 7.6.1 or higher), but there are instructions for Windows users (it does not readily with with its java system).

The Graph Paper Printer is a Windows shareware program ($20) with a 7 day trial period.

Beta testing

Once a scenario is completed, the designer has several tasks to do to ensure the scenario provides a positive playing experience for BOE players. First is a spelling and grammar check, which can be done by using the scenario editor's scenario dump feature and a word processor (one that checks spelling and grammar usage on the resultant text file). The next step is playtesting it - many times - to ensure the graphics, monsters and npcs, and special nodes complement the scenario's plot. This is an iterative process to fine tune the scenario. Next, beta testers should be selected to look for town design flaws, special node bugs, plot problems, and the balance between plot, combat, and logic puzzles. They will also offer suggestions to help improve these many aspects. Other observations they make, based on their playing style, are also valuable.

The scenario/beta testing checklist has important scenario aspects. My beta testing experience briefly describes my testing style and lists the scenarios I have beta tested and those I have offered significant feedback on.

Similar games

Finally, other games can offer ideas for Blades of Exile scenarios or perhaps be influenced by the gameplay elements of BOE. The known games similar to Blades of Exile (team of player characters and an included game editor) are:
    * Haemimont's The Druid King (03/01/02, Windows) - has an adventure mode and will be similar to Spiderweb's Nethergate
    * Gas Powered Game's Dungeon Siege (04/01/02, Windows)
    * BioWare's Neverwinter Nights (09/20/02, Windows) - based on the AD&D 3rd edition has a series of articles for creating adventures - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.
    * CrossCut Games' Runesword II (Windows) - reviews indicate it is combat oriented
    * Torrential Development's Trilindhec (Macintosh) - Jeff Binder's game

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