Ted's RPG Rant

A place to rant about RPG games, particularly the Temple of Elemental Evil. Co8 members get a free cookie for stopping by. Thats ONE cookie each, no seconds.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

My mod is done!

Download it here!! Then go to Co8 to check the latest bug reports, there have been a couple already, and a new upload too. ;-)

I am putting the link on here, rather than, well, anywhere else, for one simple reason. So I can have total control over it staying up, and the link not being broken.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have long since lost count of the number of times I have tried to download maps or waypoints for DoD, or new maps for Jedi Knight, or whatever, and run head first into a broken link. Likewise, while I was looking for sounds for some of the new spells that are coming out atm, or artwork for some of my own mod, I constantly found stuff on Google only for the link to be broken. So I am going to try and make sure that never happens with my stuff in future.

Now, Sol etc do a great job on Co8, this is not some backhander at them, its more about that savefile.com place I have my sounds. I appreciate them letting me keep stuff for free (still not sure how they make money doing that, but anyways) but its not always stable and in future, my stuff may be kept somewhere else. If so, the links at Co8 will in turn become broken.

Soooo, I am keeping my links here, on my page, where if I change servers etc for my stuff, I can also change links at the same time, and never have to worry about inconveniencing someone. Because after myself, the main people I do this for is, well, whoever wants my stuff and enjoys the same games I do. If they can't get it, not a whole lot of point me putting so much effort into it. And I don't just mean for now, but for people years to come who buy ToEE from the bargain bin or whatever. I don't play too many brand new games (too expensive and haven't got the latetst gear) so I know what its like to PRIMARILY play mods. And, as someone who ran straight out and bought DungeonSiege the day I heard about Ultima V Lazarus, I understand how seriously some of us take mods, and how much it sucks when we can't get to things.

Its not a lot of effort all things considered. (Although people who have already clicked to come here might think otherwise).

Friday, July 29, 2005


Well, I've cracked the long-sought scripting workaround, its this:

attachee.float_line(####, triggerer)

where #### is the line number in the dialogue, and since they are always the same - 12014 for a death rattle, 12023 for a critical hit, 12024 for a critical miss etc - they can be easily scripted in!

Well, once i get the hang of serious scripting... BUT certainly death rattles can be put in right away, since it can just go straight into the san_dying bit which every npc has, and I saw a script somewhere for 'if they are missing 95% of HP' so assuming I can find it again (I think it was in Gremag, triggers his running off - Hedrack should have something similar) I can stick in a 'I'm dying, heal me' thing too. Can trigger a 'fear' reaction too once I get the hang of it! "RUN AWAY!!" :-).

For anyone who can't wait 24 hours or so til this damn mod is finished (less if I hadn't got distracted by this ;-)) just pop your favourite NPC's scr file, find the bit that says

def san_dying( attachee, triggerer ):

and add this:


I am adding it after both sides of the 'if... else...' just to be sure.

Well, its not the elegant .dll hack I tried so hard at (and failed so dismally ;-)) but it'll do for now! O and Gaear, if you read this, should be able to add sounds to that trap too, just saw it. Very nice work by Liv!

Now, as for the mod: cracked the whole 'how to make an npc's friends attack you when you hit them' issue, which seems so straightforward when you play the game - smack a monster, all nearby monsters turn on you - yet doesn't just happen. In my mod (re the new npc's) not only do they not attack you, but before I added the dlg files, they called for guards! (They being the utterly evil baddies at the climax of the mod, whom you would assume would be looking for an excuse to start a fight). No idea what is hardcoded into the game, but found a script workaround. In fact, they are the SAME script! Its Gremag yelling out to Raimol (that boofy man-at-arms you can be silly enough to hire) to attack the party. The line number is wrong - good old ToEE - but it is there. I remember Orion mentioning he should do just that, so interesting he doesn't (if indeed he doesn't, which I assume he doesn't because Orion said he should. If that makes any sense). Certainly the script worked, because I added it, and sure enough, one in all in!

Damn I'm happy. O well, better finish this mod, will caper and cavort afterwards.

Two last things

Added all the soundtracks yesterday... a couple sound great, a couple really need NPC voices to work well. O well, something else for the Special Edition ;-)

Only got TWO more things to on the mod. One last dialogue, and getting that 'one in / all in' combat issue solved (I posted a question on that at Co8, didn't get a single reply dagnabit! O well, maybe no-one knows! Have to do heartbeats I guess.)

Should be done in a few hours, then the painful issue of transfering everything onto Cujo / Allyx's stuff, and a last run through to make sure it all works.

Release time: this evening if there are no hickups. (You just KNOW there will be!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Well, I decided to do a backup of my mod since it is almost done. I thought I will just burn my 'modding' folder.

Til I saw it was 1.9 GB.

Not that the mod is gonna be that big - probably under 10Mb (and most of that will be sounds). Just getting the kids to giggle every time u talk to them is nearly a mb, mp3's take up some space! But it does say something about all the crap that has built up in my mod folder. Again, mostly sounds, I have a little assortment I have collected for everything from voices to spell effects to giggling children to dramatic music to sheep (unhappy sheep at that, as I'm sure you can understand ;-)). Had a similar pack of images, but I do my image fiddling on Dad's computer (he is into digital photos and such) and have to keep that cleaned up (its my slow old P3) so I delete the crap once finished. I DID clear out several hundred megs of voices - now they are up on the net, they are stored at my d/l site and on the Co8 server so I can always get them again if I need them. Must do the 'BlackAdder' and 'Al Pacino' voice sets one of these days, but they are not exactly a priority ;-).

Mod is still ticking along, hopefully will be finished today and can do the file-transfering (to include all the other mods) tomorrow, and don one last run-through to make sure it all works. Then she's done, and its on to bigger and better things. Like sleep :-D

Bob Carr, the NSW premier, just resigned. Will be very interested to see the reaction to that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Two steps forward...

One sudden roadblock.

As Co8ers will know, my mod came to a sudden pause, with me being dragged in to work today. On the upside, I solved one of the issues I had, and the end fight is LOOKING GOOD. Woohooo! ETA probably Friday (a reshuffle at work, that's my new day off) which is not that far off, since its Thursday to the Americanians reading this (Oz being a day ahead of the rest of the planet ;-))

Damn I am weary though, too many long hours at work. Well, too many early mornings anyways. Had a GREAT night last night though. One of the kids I work with (who shall remain nameless and confidential of course) has a bad habit of scratching, pinching, headbutting and generally trying to inflict pain. I remember his very first day in, when he was a littl'un, and a bit of pinching seemed harmless. I remember taking him to a holiday show at the shops and carrying him around when he was tired. Now 7-8 years on he is a teenager and if he landed an unexpected headbutt he could break someone's nose. Do'h! VERY frustrating situation.

So last night he was in his usual form and had me rather stressed. I was talking to him, trying to get him to express why he did these things, but his usual form of communication is to repeat what you say, and trying to get him to say exactly what was on his mind is not easy. Not the first time I have tried this and gotten nowhere, not that it surprises me.

Anyway, he started keening and generally sounding upset (though I had kept the questions in a 'pleasant' voice to try to encourage him to talk, hadn't been interrogating him ;-)) But he sounded upset, so, on a whim almost, I started praying with him. Well, praying out loud in front of him I guess.

He calmed down immmediately, so I began praying over him properly. He didn't mind in the slightest, didn't try to scratch or pinch or anything. He became very settled and began speaking to me quite nomally (though not saying a lot), even said 'please' when he asked for a drink (can't remember the last time he said 'please'!)

Long story short - he was cheerful and placid the rest of the evening, and again this morning. So was I!

So praise God! I don't know if its quite a miracle, but it was certainly something. Makes me think... hardly the first time I have seen such things - indeed, I have seen the miraculous, and from my own prayers too - and yet I haven't done any prayer ministry in ages. My prayer group is going well but we haven't been doing a lot of prayer ministry either... must do something about that!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Within sight

Another day, another leap toward the finish line.

Put most of the mp3's in last night to go with the dlg fiddling, 'Playful NPCs' is just about finshed! A lot of work for a little reward, but well worth it anyway I think (this should be people's favourite part of the mod). Just need to add one last butt-in from Bertram and its done.

Hmmm... should possibly explain that 'butt-in' is a python scripting command in ToEE - that last sentence could be badly misconstrued!

Also figured out a way to summon specific monsters from dlg files - adding the special domain summoning stuff did nothing (for me anyway). Off to see if it works.

Still on target for a release tomorrow sometime.

Hey if you are NOT a blogger here and read this, leave a comment! I have no idea if outsiders can do that - I set the preferences so they can, but no one has bothered so I dunno if it works!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Onward and Upward

Well the mod is coming along in leaps and bounds, though I am tied down by a few things. Still haven't got the hang of the strategy.tab, though I have made advances on it. Now the random road encounter works better (though not perfectly), but I still haven't got the final combat to work exactly right (the sorceress still won't use her spells, though now at least she attacks). Got a lot of the fiddly dlg stuff done though, big leap forward. Still on target for a release on Tuesday.

A quick political rant while I am here. Apparently the OECD has declared that Australian mother's don't work enough and are too welfare dependant.

This is insanely stupid on so many levels it beggars belief. Specifically, the government (little Johnny Howard and his right-wingers, no less) has boosted 'welfare' for parents for a number of simple reasons, including rising costs of childcare, and falling fertility rates. To put roadblocks in the way of parents raising their kids because of perceived short-term economic benefits would be an appalingly irresonsible act guaranteeing long-term social problems that would have far greater negative economic impact than any positive result from more mums entering the workforce.

It just reminds us how utterly irrelevant some of these economic organisations are in the real world, and how contemptuous they are of the human beings behind every set of figures. It also makes me wonder what they see as the point of economic growth. Here in Oz, against all expectations Howard has actually got the economy ticking along (unlike Thatcher or Reagan or Bush or his other heroes). Some of the big figures, such as employment, inflation, growth and interest rates etc are very good - of course, many are very bad, with high taxes, massive mortgages, low savings, falling exports, decreasing rates of full-time work and many other things that remind us that as soon as the economy turns down, we will be in serious trouble.

But rather than addressing these things, we instead have industrial relations reforms. Squeeze a few more rights away from the workers. Same idea the OECD has for mothers.

Again I ask, what is the point? If Australians only go off to work in the morning, slave away and get the economy humming so that they can be told to spend less and less time with their family and give up more of their rights, why do it? What IS the point?

Once again, it is the numbers, not the people, who apparently matter.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mod Update

Almost finished the final encounter. Made some new weapons for it, the curved heater that is half the point of the mod, and an unholy weapon that I suspect is a bit overpowered, but then what 'good' monsters are there in the game for you to use it on?

Fought it out, the sorceress just stood there (must look into that) but the others all fought well. Indeed it was a bloodbath, with my (fallen) paladin and Spugnoir both being killed outright, Meleny and my cleric being flattened and my rogue and wizard both losing 90% of their HP but surviving by the skin of their teeth. Only Elmo looked like he might have survived two or three more rounds.

It was also my first encounter with the spiked chain. I stuck it in the hands of an enemy who is strategy.tabbed to be a tripper, and it looked fantastic (when tripping). Whacking prone opponents wasn't so good, the 'hit' noise is off a bit.

Should have everything done tomorrow, then can start the tinkering and adding sounds etc. Ooo, and gotta do the soundtrack stuff, forgot about that - I have all the music, just have to put it in. Won't take long.

I think I shall declare an official release date: Next Tuesday :-) Barring Liv posting 2.0 prior to that, in which case it will all have to be redone of course.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Rules Change in the Reaches

A recent "rules vs story" debate got me thinking (you all know the one - and no, I am not going to rehash or reignite it here. Well maybe reignite, though its not my intent).

Long term D&Ders will remember the doors issue. Monsters could stroll through doors, PCs had to roll to see if they opened 'em with their shoulders.

Bizarre. Ridiculous even. I don't remember even playing that rule.

DM: "You get to the first door of the dungeon".
Lead Player: "Our strongest character puts his shoulder into it".
DM: "Ooo bad roll, the door remains firmly stuck."
Lead Player: "Ummm?"

Silly. It got changed, of course.

But it reflects something in D&D that is worth considering - the rules were always meant to be different for the PCs.

More recent rules incarnations have done somewhat to erase this. For instance, now humanoids can finally level like characters, rather than DMs just arbitrarily saying, "the Kobold chieftain is so big he has THREE HD and is so large, for a Kobold, he can ride a horse" (Hobbit joke). It stands to reason that if humans and cutesy humanoids can level, so can ugly monstrous humanoids if they have the brains and cultural structure. Makes sense and makes the game easier and more consistent which, to a lot of people, makes it more fun (certainly for me - nothing bugs me in any game more than finding the rules don't apply to the monsters. Remember that thread about how salamanders can throw fireballs around corners and over any distance to hit their target?)

But when I say the rules are not meant to apply to the NPCs the same way, I am not suggesting 'monster cheating'. Rather, I am thinking, what is the purpose of the rules, and what is the purpose of the NPCs who are governed by them?

The nature of adventure is that it deals with things out of the ordinary. People, places, events. Supervillains or boss monsters are MEANT to be different to every one else - play by their own rules, so to speak. Interesting NPCs likewise are out of the ordinary.

Lemme give you an example from GG himself. Jinnerth the tailor in ToEE (a favourite talking point of mine) is a puny little runt of 2hp. BUT he "is an expert at throwing a knife and shooting a crossbow, both of which he has, using them at 7th fighter level and causing +2 damage when a hit is scored". Nowdays we might say he has Greater Weapon Specialisation (I notice he has a 10 dex in protos.tab - Orion! Kwik, fix it!).

However, this is UTTERLY against the rules. ToEE doesn't even try to implement any of this: it makes him a Fighter 1 with Point Blank and Precise Shot (doesn't even give him his 3rd feat ). Because ordinary lvl 0 or 1 characters (do they have lvl 0 any more?) don't get multiple feats for multiple weapons of specialisation, or however you want to work it.

BUT we need to have characters like Jinnerth, because they are interesting, and they are real life. You don't have to be Sgt York to know there are ordinary folk out there who for one reason or another would have better 'adventuring' skills than the trained folk. There are farmers out there who go pig-hunting, who could outshoot a soldier (ditto sporting shooters - do you really think the average Army sniper could match it with an Olympic Gold Medalist? In certain combat conditions, of course - in others, probably not). There are locksmiths who have none of the other requirements to be a 'rogue' (jewel thief or whatever) but have better lockpicking skills. There are folks who grew up in the circus who could throw knives / dodge arrows or whatever like a high-level character, but would for all other purposes be an ordinary lvl 0 person. Thats life. These people exist, and encountering them is what make adventures interesting, what make them adventurous.

Why have rules at all? Because while such people are there, you CAN'T have the PCs claiming such things. They can't say, "well my character's dad was in the CIA (in this case, the Verbobonc Shadow Company?) and he learnt everything the dad knew, therefore he should get bonuses for interogate, bluff, intimidate, unarmed combat and picking up rumours". Obviously, EVERYBODY would come up with outlandish reasons to have hordes of bonuses, and the game would become ridiculously unbalanced. (Who, in AD&D, didn't hope their Elf would roll 'armourer' for their background so that he could craft himself Elven Chain? I know I always did!)

Therefore there are strict rules. X number of skills at start-up, X number of feats, and no more til you have the experience to get more.

But these rules are there for the players, NEVER for the NPCs. For the NPCs they are guidelines, again to stop things getting unbalanced, but NEVER to inhibit the creation of interesting, different, out of the ordinary characters that are the spice of rpg life. GG's work happily and consistently uses the rules as guidelines, knowing full well that it is the strength of the story, not the pedantic adherence to the rules, that is what makes the game fun to play.

If we forget this, then the NPCs simply become shadows of the PCs, and the players may as well 'play with each other' so to speak. :

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Well, I was in a combat with, ummm, something or other (a random encounter) and Meleny scored a critical hit with her scimitar. She rolled 3 on her 2 attacking dice. Then she got -2 for strangth.

Yup, she rolled a 1 for damage on a critical hit. How I hate this game somedays. I really have to craft her a belt... and some gauntlets... and perhaps a celtic rune.

While redoing the Imeryds Run, Elmo got swallowed by the behemoth toad (who has about +20 or something ridiculous on will saves against charm animal and such, because lets face it, behemoth frogs are known for their willpower). He now gets 2 attacks per round with his magic axe. He missed both, while inside the toad.

On the happy side, I just did a run through of my mod. All the sub-quests work, I only have to craft the final encounter (and a dozen other things I want to add, all sound-related). Happy Ted!

Monday, July 18, 2005

First ToEE Rants

What could have been

My new mod is almost up, and one of the parts I am slightly more impressed with is a sub-quest involving Sunom. (She is the weaver's daughter who freaks out if a female character talks to her husband). I have added a subquest whereby she only gives you the item you need to fulfill the main quest if you take care of her noisy upstairs neighbours.

The idea came to me when I noticed that her, daddy and hubby all had beds downstairs, but upstairs had 4 more beds. So I wrote in a thing where they rented the upstairs out as a loft.

However, I was recently checking the module and it seems those 4 beds were designed for the 4 assistant weavers who (according to the module) were employed there. (They are even mentioned in the game by the Ploceus the weaver himself). Someone - the designers, or artists, or someone - had read the module that closely and apparently had intended these 4 apprentices to make it into the game, a la the brewery apprentices: so much so, they had sleeping quarters drawn up.

One more thing that never made it to the final release...


Liv has done a great job getting monsters to break free of the web spell, but to me it really highlights the inadequacies still there. I play the Deklo Grove encounter a lot to test new characters (with new voices etc) - it and the moathouse are where I did all the voice-testing to try to isolate the problems involving combat voices - and so I get webbed frequently. Lemme tell u, if you get ONE chance to break free in the whole encounter, its a lot. Otherwise you are reduced to using missile weapons at -2 for being webbed, as well as -4 for the melee the spider you are shooting at will be in and possibly another -4 for shooting over one of your comrades (because of course you can't relocate to get a better shot when you are webbed). And if you DO break free, and are near the middle of the web, you may not even make it out without getting webbed again.

Its completely different for the monsters of course if you cast Web on them. On some occasions the monster you cast on will fail the saving throw, but still get some sort of pity move and just run straight out. Happened to me in the Imeryds Run last night, I had to redo that abomination of an encounter due to a corrupt save (probably related to Agetian's issues with the ToEEWB, same character was present), I webbed the Lizardmen and SeaHag while I dealt with the toads. The Seahag broke free and ran out. Spugnoir webbed again, and she failed the saving throw but just ran on out anyways.

I hate that encounter. I finally finished it, and the save corrupted again . Can't wait til the mod is finished and I can start with a completely fresh install.