I abhor rat quests.
You know the rat quest, right?
Invariably, when you begin a new character in many games, your shiny new PC must venture in to a reasonably-easy environment to gain a modicum of experience and treasure that will serve as the basis for the epic deeds yet to come in that character's life. In most cases, the aforementioned environment is usually a sewer. And those creatures pitted against the character as the antagonist in this, the first of countless life-and-death struggles? Rats. Yes, friends, our epic journey begins as a glorified mousetrapper. Sometimes the rats are skinned with creative names like "goblin" or "kobold", but don't be fooled. If you're a low level and have been sent into the sewers beneath the city in search of grinding experience, you are fighting rats, however they're disguised. You'll kill enough rats down there to wallpaper your entire man-cave in 1x1 pixellated rat hides. Make no mistake, though. It's not that I dislike rats being the starting point of an epic character. Everyone's got to start somewhere, right? Instead, I object to the cliche use of such a device to artifically provide experience and treasure to characters.
When designing Arenthyor, very early I knew that I did not want a rat quest. Arenthyor is a hard world; intentionally so. You get a sense of that as soon as you walk out of your faction home and either end up running quickly back inside or discovering what it's like to be eaten...alive. In Arenthyor, experience is earned fighting difficult monsters from the get-go. There's no shallow end in the river that is your character's destiny. You either plunge into the frigid waters head-first and swim to keep up, or get pushed under to die horribly against the rocks.
This strategy has worked well with players who agreed with the philosophy that success should be earned and that the taste of victory is sweeter when the effort to achieve it has been greater. Other players were willing to give it a try, but may have thought that this difficulty was unintentional, for surely low-level characters MUST have a place to hunt and gain experience, yes?
Enter the indomitable spirit of the Player. As water will run downhill, players will explore every nook and cranny of a world in an inexhaustible search for the "optimized" way to engage and interact with a world. This is by no means a bad thing. In fact, I view it as exceptional. It is part of the process by which a player adopts a world and becomes comfortable with it. It is part of making the world of Arenthyor his or hers.
What did this indomitable Player spirit discover in Arenthyor? I'm sure you guessed it. A rat quest. Wha-wha-WHAT?? Imagine my surprise, no, dumbfounded shock when the players realized that they could hunt the ambient rats, dogs, and crabs that wander the alleys and docks in the city of Bastion for experience. How ironic that the world designed specifically to avoid rat quests was discovered to have one after all.
The idea is so shocking that I like it. Unintentional that it is, there's a sublime sense of satisfaction that comes from the knowledge that characters, in their quest for initial experience and treasure will be hunting the ignominious rat while other characters, in the city to do more civilized pursuits, will watch in barely-disguised disgust and pity.
Yes, my friends, that is a rat quest worthy of Arenthyor.
Guess what? NWN is turning 10!
Neverwinter Nights was launched in the US on June 18, 2002 and on July 3, 2002 in Europe. Wow. To be here, still playing the game with the community as strong as it is, the players still playing, and the developers still developing is a testament to this revolutionary game.
In celebration of this milestone event, we're taking part in a community-wide celebration of the existing community and help bring in new players.
What is NWPAD?
Glad you asked. Arenthyor, along with a number of other persistent worlds (PWs) are planning to host special events throughout the 2 weeks +1 day (June 18 - July 3) of the celbration. This could be through hosting "social days" where players can just lounge about enjoying each other's company to special roleplay events for veterans and new players. Each PW will celebrate in its own unique way, so be sure to check their own schedule. Here's ours.
In addition, we're planning a special cross-PW event, an around-the-world-in-80-days event, where players need to acquire a code (gained by "checking-in" with a PW's admin or a special chest hidden somewhere in the world. This chest will be easily found by new players). Players who achieve a certain number of these codes will be able redeem them for valuable cash and prizes in the participating world of their choice (e.g. XP, gp, or items of proportional worth in-game).
How can you get involved? Its, simple.
1) Ask every DM on the worlds you play on to support the event. The more PWs that participate, the stronger the community will be.
2) Help spread the word! Shout NWN on every social media tool you can...Twitter, Facebook, Myspace... extoling the virtues of the game AND the special days to join the community.
3) Write reviews of NWN on retail websites that sell it
4) Participate in the events.
5) Above all, HAVE FUN!!!
Been a while since the last update, but that's only because there's been so much development work going on that there hasn't been much time for letting everyone know about what we've been up to. The biggest update, one that's taken the past few weeks of time, has been the development of a boating system as a method of transportation around the realm. Now, you might think to yourself, 'boating? Um, what do I care about boating? I want to hunt monsters, not go fishing!'
Well, we think that you'll quickly become as enamored with our boats as we are. Up until now, your choices for transit included: walking, riding a horse, or magical travel. Boating enables you to "quickly" traverse to new areas of Arenthyor that might have been more time consuming than if you ran there. Essentially, this allows you an immersive role-play integrated method of jumping to areas of Arenthyor that are most relevant to your character, whether it be questing, treasure-hunting, or yes, hunting monsters.
Some of the interesting features of this system include:
1) Dynamic travel times: The time spent on the boat is based on the distance of your destination.
2) Sea-based combat: The waters are deep and hide creatures better left to nightmares. This won't be some lazy float down the river. Take care you don't accidentally fall out of the boat.
3) Underwater adventure: Fighting on a boat is dangerous and you may fall in yourself. If you do, you better get back to the boat before you drown or worse, the boat leaves you behind.
4) Travel forward and backwards: If you realize that you need to return to your departing destination for some reason, the boat can turn around and return to the same port you used to gain passage. Also, the time it takes to make this return trip will be the same as the time required to get to the point where you decided to turn around.
Take care, though, for if you find yourself swimming in the depths as your boat nears its destination, you'll be left to paddle yourself home and have to catch the next ferry.
Hopefully you'll find this as enjoyable as we believe it can be.
Other smaller updates include minor bug fixes, addition of new areas to support the boating system, optimization of code to make things go faster/reduce lag, and general updating the server to remove unused resources.
The server continues to improve in quality and scope. As always, post any bugs you find onto the forums.
See you in-game!
So lots to discuss and long overdue for an update.
As you may have noticed, the server is offline. This is due to a thunderstorm knocking our beloved world out of commission. After much triage, we were able to salvage the data, so no character data or database information was lost. Later, we were actually able to get ther server running again, but decided to take it down again and replace it with a new rig (as yet to be purchased - the search goes on). Its our intent to put a more stable, faster, and sturdy rig than we previously had (which was good in and of itself, but there's always room for improvement).
At the same time, we've been continuing to develop the mechanics and world. New quests have been added, enhancements to the unique weapon system, an upgrade to CEP 2.4, incorporation of the CEP's classic roleplaying adaption features and more.
Most exciting of all is that whereas in the previous incarnation of Arenthyor, the cities that you could join were very much aligned with racial types (humans in Arenthyor, Elves in Ithaeria, dwarves in Khanstone, etc...) We're excited to announce that we've opened up the doors for some (not all) of the cities, which would allow your character to shift allegiances to new cities/towns as their character development progresses. Thus, for example, a dwarf will no longer be constrained join only the Khanstone Delve. Instead, they may shift allegiances to Arenthyor, the underdark city of Cheath Er'Sadria, or the Delve. Of course, only dwarves will be allowed to join the Delve (as fey will be to Ithaeria, halflings with the Shire, gnomes for Mt. Deephill, etc...). So, there will continue to be factions that are exclusive to certain racial types, but this exciting new development will allow some characters more flexibility to choose the faction that best fits their character development.
All in all, please know that module development continues, even during this "intermission".
As with previous posts, this is confirmation that that the server continues to be actively developed, with small updates occuring 3-4 times per week. Of late, that has involved a lot of work redesigning conversations so that even though you may not notice it, things are more efficient on the back end.
The Underdark has been getting a lot of love. I've enjoyed creating that environment and think players will have a great time exploring it and creating the dramatic tension between themselves that the Underdark is known for. I'm also soon to begin working on something special for those who live in the dark, but that's for a later post.
Also getting some changes are the deity altars. Currently, there are 22 deity options in the game and they each have a unique altar that I hope captures the dogma of their church. In playtesting, some of these altars were not functiong as they should, so I needed to go in and make some updates. Hopefully all are working correctly.
Next, the planar city of Sigil has been built out with many, but not all, of the resources of a full city, for those planeswalker PCs. Probably a little more to do here, but not much. The idea is not to make Sigil a full stand-alone city, but rather a waypoint that planeswalkers come to on their journey somewhere else.
One thing that I'm really excited about is alcohol, in-game alcohol to be exact. I've made sure that the taverns in each of the "cities" all have unique drinks for that place. The dwarven tavern has dwarven drinks, the Underdark taverns sell drinks that could be found in the dark places. The fey drink refined fare. The Brushfellow Shire, Sigil...they all have unique and signature drinks. All told, there's about 30 different drinks with different costs and different effects - some harmless and some quite...potent. To that end, I'm thinking of a "Spirits of the World" challenge to amass one of each of the different spirits sold. More to come.
There's been a lot more, probably some worth mentioning, but hopefully you get the sense that not only is the world being developed, but it is being developed with an eye towards expanding the world and providing you, the player, with opportunities to enhance your roleplay.
See you in-game!
A general update. Server updates continue to occur almost daily. Since the last post, the most notable updates include that Cheath Er'Sadria, the underdark city of the drow and other subterranean races is fully developed and working. What's more, the Underdark is built and connected to the wider world of Arenthyor. Additionally, Sigil, the planar city at the center of the Outlands, is also up and running. Planar subraces now originate from there and acquire a Planar Gem that will allow them to return to their home cities a couple of times per day. From Sigil, planeswalkers can jump to Baator, land of devils or Elysium, the land of harmony, or the prime material plane. More to come here.
Factions have been refined. Merchant pricing has been updated. TONS of minor fixes not worth mentioning but improve playability.
See you in-game!
What is the Underdark? In Forgotten Realms, the Underdark is the series of caverns and caves that house the (mostly evil) races that live underground. While I like the idea of an Underdark for Arenthyor, the name "Underdark" has always struck me as being Surface-centric. I mean that a drow, for example, who has lived her entire life in the lightless depths and the comforting enclosures would not consider herself, her world, to be "Under", nor "dark", for those are concepts that would be foreign to her. She would consider her world to be the center of the universe, not below something that she has never experienced (the surface world) nor would she comprehend the world of light in order to recognize that she lives in darkness.
The new year continues to see sustained server development. Most of the past month or so has been spent in testing and refinisystem upgrades.
With the launch of the new "Bastion Wall" quest in late December, the random dungeon system has had numerous "small" upgrades that while might be relatively unnoticable by the player, improve the quality of the system and expand its useabilty. In addition, there have been upgrades and expansions to the treasure system, the journal system, the boss system, and the quest system. Over the period since the last update, these systems have undergone tremendous testing and appear to be functioning as intended with only minor adjustments still needed to be made. Also, the "Bastion Wall" quest, once a solo adventure, has been expanded to allow 2 adventurers to go through at the same time.
On the development horizon is (hopefully) a new random dungeon system that will reduce the impact of the system on the server, speed up development times, and make for completely new dungeon experiences on each run. This may be a pipe dream, but I've got some ideas...Additionally, there are planned updates to the boss system to expand their powers and defenses so that you'll be even more challenged and frightened by they. Also, the randomized trap system will be expanded to include new traps and possibly some of the more visually interesting traps (pit traps, gas traps, flood traps, boulder traps, etc...)
On the area build horizon, the Underdark and is of prime importance for expansion, as well as more quests and overland maps.
On the server development horizon, hardware updates are being considered to improve the stability and speed of the server.
See you in-game!
Quick post about quest bosses.
Arenthyor is a quest-based server. By that, it is meant that quests are provided similar to modules in Dungeons and Dragons. There is a world that your character can explore and engage in. There are beasts to conquer and kill for accolades. There are small quests that your character can engage in that are not part of the larger quest system. But, the Quests are a primary feature of Arenthyor and are progressive adventures designed to challenge a party of four adventurers. Completion of one quest leads to another. At the end of each quest, your party will face the Boss. As explained in earlier posts, the boss system is dynamic and is built to ensure maximum replayability.
I'm exited to announce one of the newest enhancements to the bosses. This enhancement expands the intelligence around the weapons and armor bosses choose. I've added a significant upgrade to the selection of weapons that expands the already robust variablility built into the boss system. Now, boss will weild a number of different weapons and weapon combinations. One-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, one-handed with a shield, one-handed without a shield, no weapon at all (choosing to bite, claw, gore, or slam you). This is in addition to the special surprise ability that each boss has to unleash upon you.
The boss already has a high level of variability built-in (the type of boss you fight depends on what alignment last won the boss fight last, the bosses are given random special abilities every time, the difficulty of the boss changes (it will always be a difficult fight, but sometimes it may be a little more or less difficult). These new enhancements build on that platform.
The sum total of these systems hopefully reinforces the feeling that you're experiencing a new dungeon each and every time you play it (that 'I don't know which way to go and I'm alone in the dark' kind of feeling). In addition, it supports your roleplay such that your character has a new story to tell about "When I entered the crypt this time, I faced the beast... while last time I went into a crypt, I faced a fearsome..." rather than having to explain why your character faced the exact same creature in the exact same dungeon for the third time in a row.
Now, take a good look at the next boss you face. He looks angry and that's a wicked weapon he's holding. .So, better buff up, friend, and pray to your gods, for he's coming your way.
See you in-game!
Hadn't updated the community on the latest updates in a while, so I thought I'd do that here. Module development continues at a strong pace, especially over the holiday season. The random dungeon quest system has become more dynamic and is probably something you won't notice, which is a good thing. You may notice "debug" information in some of the quests that are still in test. Disregard those, as they are to validate coding. The newest quest "Bastion's Wall" has been added and is, in my mind, one of the most fun quests yet developed. It is made even moreso by the fact that it was added after a discussion with a player AND it integrates the story of Bastion into its reason-for-being. It is intended to be a solo quest, but you are allowed to take 2 players through it, if needed (some characters may find the difficulty quite high...yes, I'm looking at the mages).
The journals and quest development systems have also undergone significant updates. These systems, along with the random dungeon system, were some of the first code I ever wrote, so as I went back through to add new functionality, there were many opportunities to streamline the code and make it work more closely with the latest direction of the server.
Other changes include edits to spawn lists, area design, individual quests, deity system updates, quality control checks, etc... Although you may not notice many of the changes, I can assure you that the quality of the underlying systems is more comprehensive and stronger to bring about a higher quality of play and support your roleplaying.
See you in-game!