Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Planescape Chant

Progress on Risen Hero has slowed down to a crawl over the last month and will definitely be slow for the next few weeks. Several reasons for this: First and most obvious is the holidays. The season of shopping and weekend parties is here. The second new time sink of mine is the game Left for Dead 2. Normally I have minimal interest in 1st person shooter games, but this one is like crack. So my nights are often spent shooting zombies instead of working in the toolset. Finally Kamal has released an updated Path of Evil to playtest. He has modified a bunch of stuff and added a number of new areas that I am looking forward to playing.

With RH I have been kicking around the idea of adding another companion, because apparently I like to torture myself with massive conversations that have too many branches. I have been mulling this over for a bit and knew if I was going to add this companion I needed to do it very early in the creation of chapter 2. The second chapter will open up and come away from the linear play of chapter 1. If I wait too long to add the companion, updating conversations would be a massive task to include them correctly.

That idea has come to pass but instead of one companion I am adding 2. In a moment of pure genius I figured how to limit conversations, one of them is a mute. He will still have a base conversation and interjections into NPC conversations with probing stares and dramatic fist shaking. The two new companions will be found together and will be using the relationship system. Their relationship will be between level 1 and 2, so they will join with individual bonuses if they are both in the party.

As I started writing their intro conversation, their history and personalities started to emerge. About half way through the conversations I discovered that they were not native to Faerun, but instead came from the Hive in the city of Sigil. This called for a immediate rewrite or modification of the first half of the convo. As I needed to work a bit of chant into the conversation. So now the new companion gets to call people fun things like Berks, Bashers and Cutters. She also gets to tell people to shut their bone-box, or pay up some jink, all while avoiding being added to the dead book.

The key as a research chant is having her conversation lines remain understable. It would be very easy to turn her conversation lines into complete gibberish very fast. Luckily not being overly familiar with the dialect helps, as I need to be able to read and understand what I am writing. For the most part just a word or short phrase is replaced with the chant. These are often easily figured out using the content of the conversation. So my approach will be little pieces here and there and the phrases and words used will be fairly consistent. If she uses a phrase she will generally use it for that saying instead of switching back and forth between common and the chant. I have included several lines with a lot of chant and those will be difficult to understand. But with the PC responses if the player has a high enough lore skill they will translate the line (and earn a small xp bonus) or they can either ask a companion or just say what and have the line translated. These will be very limited. Right now I have two such lines. One is a side-quest opener and the second is how the player discovers where they come from and kind of why they left. "We lived in the Hive half a turn back, but a cony-catcher peeled us into some slippery business and we had to bolt from the Anthill."

At some point I will put together some decent screen shots of the areas I have been working on to break up these rambling posts.