Pet Peeves or Please No More of These

For my own information I have copies (that I made at the time) of various old threads (on now dead forums). One of these threads concerns a discussion concerning things about some modules that really annoy the posters. The actual purpose of this thread was to list things to be at least cautious about using when building a module. As finding all eleven pages of this thread on the wayback machine will be, at the very least, very time consuming I thought I would start a similar thread on here. For this thread I have included some of my own pet hates along with some from that thread that I have paraphrased (for copyright and other reasons). If something that you find a turn off in modules isn’t included, please feel free to add to this current thread.


No Atmosphere
Near silent modules using the default lighting and the default music, yech! Even when these are got right, you’ll come across modules that don’t pay attention to the little details that can add so much to the atmosphere of an area. Example - Your PC enters a long-abandoned monastery. There are skeletons all over the place - presumably the former residents. There is no obvious sign of any looting. Yet there isn’t a single religious text to be found.

Empty (unfinished?) Areas
Now there can be good story reasons to have the odd empty area in a module. Creating empty areas just so you can say your module has X number of areas isn’t one of them. Unless the story demands it, don’t have 20 unlocked empty houses in a town/city when the PC needs to find just the one occupied one.

Walking 5 blank areas to get anywhere
Doesn’t have to be exactly 5, it’s the underlying principle here. Walking through 5 such areas to get to the dungeon is barely acceptable. Having to walk back through the same blank areas after clearing the dungeon is just plain boring. Give the player a shortcut to “home” at the end of the dungeon.

No-rest module
Someone must really hate spell casters here. “But I gave them a safe area to rest… 20 floors up”, “But it’s supposed to be hard for everybody.” and other such excuses don’t cut it especially if you claim the module is for all types of class.

Supposedly Sane, but Totally Mad NPCs
I recently gave up on a mod for another popular game because of this. “Help! Kidnap! Come with me to rescue my wife and child from the evil-doers dungeons”. So, sneak in through a forgotten entrance, deal with the guards and free the quest-giver’s family. The sensible next step is to get out the way you got in. So, what does the quest giver do? “Charge, let’s kill the 20,000 troops on the level above! Oh, and we’ll take my family with us”. Yeah, right. Stopped playing at that point.

No module description
So, tell me, when I start your module with no description, how am I supposed to know -

  • What class is this designed for?
  • What level is this designed for?
  • What type of module is this? Rp, H&S, Comic, etc.?
  • How did I/We get here?

By this latter I mean, what is the story behind our arriving at this point? Example “Having escaped from Baron Von NeinGutt, you travelled many days through the almost silent forest. This morning, shortly after breaking camp, you stumbled upon a strangely deserted village. Against your better judgement you decided to see if there were any supplies just laying around. Your adventure starts here”

No Readme File
Closely allied to the above. No description? I know, I’ll look at the readme file… Wait, there isn’t one! A good readme file should, for a start, contain the same information as the description. Additionally, it should contain any special instructions/warnings about installing/playing your module. Also, if you want feedback, try encouraging it by including a link to the project page in here. “But I put all that information on the download page!”. So, I’m supposed to remember the location and go to one page out of thousands because you couldn’t be bothered to copy and paste such information into a simple text document? In that case tell me why I should bother with your module?

Descriptions/Readmes/Project pages that lie
These are the ones that say good for all classes and/or levels when they are patently not. If a module is really designed for a fighting class and is only tested with a fighting class say so. Similarly, with levels. Telling the potential player that a module is suitable for a brand new 1st level PC when you’ve only really tested it with your level 30, god killer, tank is not really on.

Respawning Monsters
Unless there are good story reasons don’t do it. Trying to increase the difficulty level of a module just by having the same mix of monsters keep respawning, I personally find a turn off. If I clear an area, I expect it to stay cleared.

Infinite monsters
Even worse is where it seems like the monsters that you are fighting just keep respawning every 5 seconds. I know some people actually like that sort of thing. Not Me.

No build up
So, you step off the ship and a stranger comes up to you - “I don’t know you stranger. Now please kill the monster in that building I own”. Sheesh, gimme time to catch my breath and get my bearings already. Let me wander around a little. Maybe have the PC respond to a “Most Wanted” board and kill/capture a bandit or two before people trust them with their problems.

Modules that strip for no reason other than to increase the difficulty
Only strip if the story/back-story demands it. Otherwise you will annoy a bunch of players. This has been done to death. Aside - Yes, I did this in “A is for Adventure”, but it was for a brand new 1st level character and the back-story that I knew (and the player would get hints of) demanded it.

Lack of map pins
Hopefully you, as the builder, know which building is the “Inn of a Thousand Giggling Rats (long story)” but I as a player will at some point probably forget. Put a map pin outside to help my feeble memory. It only takes seconds and will elevate the perceived quality of your module. And don’t forget to use them for exits from an area too.

There’s a rat in my cellar and I’m too mean to buy a trap
Please, please, please. No more kill the rats in the cellar quests. If you must do this try changing it up like was done in TES 4 : Oblivion where you’ve got to stop the rats from being killed. Alternatively, have a search and find quest that maybe features secret passageways or puzzles or anything just not more rats. Heck even rats with rabies/plague/whatever is better than boring squeak, squeak ordinary rats!

Round-Robin Quests
Joe -“I’ll give you my doohicky of doughnut making if you get me something from Fred.”. Fred - “Sure you can have my something but first I need you to get me Jules’ rat trap.” etc. ad nauseum. What really killed this type of quest for me was one in Dungeon Siege 2 which went through about twenty steps to finally get the item you originally wanted. Don’t do this. Another done to death thing.


So, what do you think? Have I missed any that you would have included?

TR

6 Likes

Realised another one


Bare mod/hak/erf files
So you click a download link and instead of the file(s) downloading your browser just fills up with garbage. Why? Because there are other file types that have mod, hak and erf as their extension which means that your browser tries to legitimately open them. Always put your mod/hak/erf files in archive when you submit them.


TR

3 Likes

kudos, TR ! i think that’s got most of them, if not all.

one of my own personal peeves [and i admit it doesn’t seem to be shared by many] is absence of game balance. you can often see this quite easily when the builder advertises the module as ‘levels 1-4’ but then has shops and drops containing epic-level magic items – and, usually, opponents to match ! O_O     a game isn’t balanced when you end up using a +12 vorpal sword of everything-slaying to win.

granted, it’s difficult to write balanced encounters, and even more importantly, it becomes increasingly difficult as combat levels increase. but the mod builder should pay at least a little attention to this. and if not, then the builder should clearly state ‘play with single-player ILR turned off! – so that i know i can skip that module. ;p

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Please if you do a readme file name it something besides Readme.

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I’ve got a bit of an odd pet peeve in storytelling, in general: Made-up languages that, for all practical purposes, consist only of specifically-named items and social ranks, as the language is only ever being used to introduce additional words for objects, flora/fauna, or social ranks/institutions.

Please can we just refer to a ceremonial cup that is being used for a specific type of ritual as a “ceremonial cup” or a “(ritual name) cup” unless it’s an item that we’re going to be using frequently and will need often to distinguish from others of a similar type. I do not need to memorize that the word Balbalbongablir™ equals “a cup linked to a ritual used for (x)” in fictional language (y) that exists only within the setting of one specific story when I will be using the cup exactly once and then never hear mention of it again. This information can be very quickly and easily conveyed through the words used to refer to the cup. There also already are plenty of words for multitudes of types of social ranks or institutions, most of which have perfectly good synonyms one can use for variety.

If you’re going to create and make consistent use of an entire custom language - good on you, and I approve, and I’d probably be quite awed of the amount of thought and planning that went into it. But if it’s just about making stuff sound mystical and outlandish because you’re worried that your writing sounds boring without that - please don’t. Your writing is fine. Impress me with your plot twists, your logical consistency, and the amount of personal choices you afford me as a player. It’s not about how impressive the words you use are individually, it’s about how you put them together with others.

:face_with_monocle:

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This is an interesting post, and one that I believe I can appreciate too. My approach to the “Pet Peeves”, however, stems very much from my expectations of what I consider to be a D&D game. And on this point, I am not talking about the many variations of approach and themes builders may take, but certain elements that I believe should be included. If, any of these expected elements are missing, then a game can feel “lacking” in some way. That’s enough preamble, let me see if I can elaborate. I apologise for any “repeats” of elements already mentioned above, but that’s because they are important.

ATMOSPHERE: SIGHT & SOUND: Without doubt, as players, we have become spoiled with the fine graphics and sounds we have been blessed with, especially over the last few years. That said, I remember games (such as System Shock 2), which still had superb atmosphere with the levels of graphics from around the year 1999. In this case, the sounds were the best I have ever experienced in a game, and have proved to me the importance of such in a game and is why I try to address such in every area I build. So, to underline what has already been written, atmosphere, with careful use of design and sounds and lighting are the first attention to detail required to grab a player’s attention. A NWN(2) specific that turns me off is when I see “white” area backgrounds surrounding an area I am in, or if I see “tile” elements quite clearly. Nothing loses immersion quicker for me than this kind of thing … and especially if the lighting is completely neutral, as if adjusting the gamma setting will simply wash out the area universally.

AREA DESIGN: Very closely tied to “atmosphere” above is the overall point of area design with respect to practicality. Having designed and played modules in NWN(1/2), I have become quite aware of its awkward path-finding (to be polite). This, even when running relatively smoothly, can have an added problem when areas are too restrictive. My own approach now, is to give a little more “breathing space” for players to move their PCs, as I can recall my own frustrations with respect to moving difficulties when an area is designed in such a way that it looks good, but can be frustrating to play in.

VERBOSITY: Sadly, I find that many games (not just NWN) simply dribble on with monologues that serve practically no purpose other than to claim they have over x thousands of words in their game. For me, it is a sign of both bad writing and poor design. Don’t misunderstand me, I like a “lengthy” discussion, but only if (a) I am contributing to its flow and (b) I am gaining information that is going to help progress the story. The third point, © To add to the story, must come across without compromising points (a) and (b). Verbose conversations of the type I mean, are a very quick turn off for me.

HISTORY BOOKS (PRESENTATION AND CONTENT): Tied closely to verbose conversations (above), I have to claim that I detest the way NWN handles “books” within its default EXAMINE window. Again, do not misunderstand me, I like writing my “lore” for my own module as much as the next builder, but I refuse to “info dump” as much as I can help it. Certainly, there are places when such information fleshes out a campaign, and helps give the player background and a sense of being, but if the “book” is boring in the first place, then they never get read! This is why, in my own module, I changed all book formats to Readable Books (bigger presentation, differing fonts, and images), and then only included ones with which the player gains important and relevant information to their own situation. i.e. Most books read served a purpose other than info dump background! I also dislike “borrowed” worlds backgrounds to help “fill” another builders own story. I know this will be met with mixed views, as I am aware how much players like familiar backgrounds. However, part of the attraction for myself (and maybe other D&D players out there), is the appeal of discovering an entirely new world with new stuff to read about. :slight_smile:

AREA MAPS: I know what I write next will meet with mixed views as well (most likely), but I strongly dislike having maps revealed to me the moment I enter an area. I appreciate the gaming practicality of needing to reveal a world map, but breathe a huge sigh of disappointment if I enter an “unknown” area, only to find I can see every detail of the area the moment I open the map. For me, D&D is as much about exploring as the story, and when I explore an area, I like to feel as though it is being uncovered for the first time! That’s why I have a mapping system that does exactly that. In PnP (pen and paper), the players had to draw their own maps as they explored (with a little help from the DM). Never was a map given in its entirety and fully known, unless it was part of the story that they had acquired such.

RESTING & RECOVERY: Now I know this may cut deep into the hearts of players in different ways. Some want “rest/recovery” at the drop of a hat, whereas there are others, like myself, who come from the PnP background, where there are rules that help govern when this is possible. In every instance, however, I believe a player should be able to rest their party whenever they like as long as they meet certain criteria. For example, resting in water or in the middle of a public space should be restricted for “common sense”, but once in the open or in an abandoned area, then rest should always be an option, bearing in mind that encounters may happen too! Personally, I do not like games that default to the “I can rest/recover anywhere” because it makes spell-casting a potential “rinse and repeat” meaningless exercise if they can recover at the drop of a hat. On the other hand, unless there is sound reason for not being able to rest, then hitting the “R” button should come up with an option for the player.

INVENTORY DESCRIPTIONS: This issue is a game engine one for me. I do not like the way NWN presents its inventory without the need to have to right-click examine any item I want information on within it. (The same with stores.) Suffice to say, that is why I rewrote those GUIs for my own campaign. The problem is, I am really missing it when I play another module.

CONVERSATIONS: (NWN2) I am surprised when I see “old style” conversations rather than cut-scene ones. I find the smaller interface that some builders use a little disappointing, whereas a cut-scene one can add a greater element of immersion. (NWN1/2) I also find conversations that simply repeat the same options after going through it once to be a little “lazy”. I am not talking about root lines where a player is given the option to follow a different path of conversation of a regular contact NPC, but “root” lines that repeat on an NPC that you may only meet the once. If I am going to only have one conversation with an NPC (or speaking to the NPC adds nothing new), then either (a) the conversation was waste of time anyway, or (b) If it was that important, then it would have updated the journal for me if I needed to recall something. There should not be the © option (which I am referring to) that allows a conversation to be repeated from the top menu that delivers nothing of any worth.

MONSTER ECOLOGY: Having monsters for the sake of an encounter with little other thought to their ecology is frustrating for me. This is tied closely to LOGICAL FLOW, which can be a bane for many builders. Like logical flow, however, time and effort should be put into this side of the game or else the game feels nothing more than an exercise in “monster bashing” with little real purpose. I know some players may like this kind of game (and sadly appears to be becoming a normal approach nowadays), but such examples of a quest feel more like a PLATFORM approach than an RPG to me.

CRAFTING (INC BOOKS): I nearly forgot to mention how disappointing the default NWN crafting is. If a module uses the default of “having to find all the books to learn the recipes”, then I will most likely ignore it completely. Furthermore, (as I say above) reading such “books” via the examine GUI is a pain also. To top it off, the economy for crafting is “broken” in the default system in my opinion, which all means the default crafting is a chore. That’s why I made the changes I did in my own campaign that (a) Allows PCs to only need to purchase two “Crafting” books to know all the recipes immediately and (b) Reworked the economy so that crafting became viable. I also kept the newer style crafting, which was an improvement on the original one. (Where you use recipes instead.)

ACCESSIBILITY (MECHANICS AND FEEDBACK): I have already touched on some aspects of this in individual comments above. However, there are a number of other aspects I find frustrating with the default setup of NWN and maybe some module designs. At a most generic level, lack of journal entries, or lack of map pins on a map. However, I also find lack of information with respect to encumbrance limits, or even being able to place a map pin as problems too. (Not wanting to shamelessly promote my own campaign here, but I have addressed all these kinds of issues within my own campaign. The bottom line, if I did not like the way something worked by default, then I did my best to update it to the way I like it to work.)

ATTENTION TO DETAIL (LOGICAL FLOW): I know its rather cliché to talk about “attention to detail”, but I say it again because quite a few of the modules I have tried lack it. I know it can take more time, and perhaps that is why it is left out in many situations. After all, why “waste” time making a detail that may not even be noticed appear more accurate when most people just want monsters to bash? And it may even be that I am in the minority. However, I tend to notice the small things, and if too many add up in a game, I start to feel like I am “wasting” time by picking up on points that I feel are missed rather than playing the game itself. So, on this point, I appeal to others to comment. After all, there is an element of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” on this point I guess. One example from my own campaign: I have employed an accurate time system because certain game elements require it. Having such a system in place means if I have a clock chime at five o’ clock, then those chimes will sound five times. How many people will notice that? The point is, if I have accurate time, and a clock is supposed to reflect the time, then it needs to be right.

MODULE SUPPORT: I also like the idea that if I have a problem that I know where I can get help (if I need it). Module information both in-game and at the download site, as well as any forum notices, is always comforting in my opinion.

That will do for now, but I may come back and edit a few more later … :slight_smile:

Disagree. No module is complete without cellar clearing quest. Bonus points if critters drop greatswords or full plate sets. I do however remember a module where you could use a bag item to spawn commoner rats that would attack/disease your enemies.

I don’t have many pet peeves since what you described often appears en masse in shoddy / beginner modules. Avoiding those solves the problem. However I’d like to contribute 3 things that can appear even in the “best” works:

  1. Not enough testing
    You think your module is ready for release? It isn’t. Replay it. Then replay again. Check all possible player approaches. I’m currently trying to play The Defense of Fort Tremagne and that thing is good but bugged. Check my post if you get stuck.

  2. No respect for my time (I guess this is a broader term for “5 blank areas”)
    NWN is a slow game, especially combat and exploration. I don’t mind exploring, but I really don’t like when there is a locked door/placeable in plot area “X” that opens only after you get a macguffin from NPC “Y” who is at area “Z” at the opposite end of world map. Why not let me pick it up and add a “I already have it” dialogue line? Railroading is one thing, but blatant prolongation is too much. If I had more time to play, I probably would mind this less, but this isn’t 2009 anymore, so I just jump in DebugMode.

  3. Too many things to download (applies to all contributions in general)
    I know people like their download counts, but is it really necessary to put everything in a separate archives, with vague names, with 3 versions of each? Keep it simple, delete obsolete, use one name convention so your stuff sorts itself nicely on directory listing.

I also have more pet peeves with the engine rather than modules. They are much worse since they cannot be fixed just by putting more effort into one’s work.

3 Likes

From a builder viewpoint, I totally agree with you. But, also as a builder, sometimes we need feedback from players as one can become “blind” to the same errors. I cannot tell you how many times I have tested my module it is so many. And that also had around 5 beta testers before initial release, and I have tested it MP. And my wife is on her third replay, deliberately trying to test the order of events to “break” it. And then there are the times we builders “update” something, that somehow breaks something of long ago coded. I am guilty of that, but as I continue to test, those problems have been ironed out. And, part of the reason we builders tend to release as soon as we think all is well, is because we want players to enjoy them. I for one feel so disappointed whenever I have had to release a patch, simply because it means I missed something yet again!

As an aside, would you be interested in playing my module, as I hope it addresses all these points you make … and I believe your feedback would be invaluable?

Agreed. However, I quickly want to add that I have seen players who have tried picking a lock (and fail), then try “Knock”, and the door resists, only to then discover they did not try something obvious like bash it! :slight_smile: I am not saying this happened to you, but sometimes a door can be opened in a number of ways other than a key, but the player may not have figured it out yet. That said, I am 100% in agreement of finding the scenario you describe as annoying.

Duplicated or old versions I also find confusing. I often wonder why earlier versions have been left to download alongside latest versions. If you check my own “download count” you will see that it is negligible where I have often had to upload a later version (which I hope will slow down now), and so I am certainly not relying on download counts. However, sometimes various folders are useful if one particular folder or two get updated more than others or are “optional”. It makes updating easier for the builder and player.

Do let me know if you are up for playing my module (The Scroll) to give feedback. In my opinion it “fixes” many of the game engine issues I personally did not like, and maybe its fresh look will appeal to you too? Anyway, contact me via a PM or here to let me know if you are up for playing it and giving constructive feedback. :slight_smile:

And (if you want), you can check out my blog of the entire build over many years with all its ups and downs from here: http://worldofalthea.blogspot.com/

1 Like

About pet peeves:
For me, number one will be lack of logic and coherence - when module is basically bunch of disconnected quests without main plot, every NPC suddenly knows PC’s name and vice versa.
Number two - time - based rest restrictions (i.e. you can’t rest because … you’ve rested x hours ago). I’m okay with no-rest areas, more logical choice.
And, finally, bad henchman’s AI - like no matter what - your henchman always changes his weapon to something totally unsuited. But this is more game design fault, then module creator’s error. I had great hopes, that NWN:EE would include full party control - and was severely dissapointed.

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I think “having to wait x hours” is a matter of adhering to D&D rules, which is a “good” thing when managed properly. For instance, spells can only be learned every 8 hours. Therefore, if a PC spellcaster has just learned spells and uses them immediately, then it makes no sense for a PC to be able to learn again without the passing of time.

This can be sensibly managed by allowing a player to also control the passing of time. That’s why the later resting GUI allows players to control this too.

The point is, you would be contradicting your first pet peeve about logic if you do not acknowledge the need of passing time to be able to learn spells again.

However, if you say there are modules that do not allow players to pass the time to enable resting, then that does appear a little strange. Do you have an example of a mod that does this? As it may be they have an alternative option available, and they need to make it clear for players.

Also, henchmen are NOT the same as companions. AI differs between them … And AI for companions can be individually controlled. At least, that is the case in NWN2.

I just realized you may be referring to NWN1. In which case I do not recall if these type of issues have been dealt with like they have been in NWN2.

It looks nice, but NWN1 only here - sorry :confused:

But it makes sense for player who doesn’t want to do nothing for X real time minutes - remember William Shakesman.

A module builder should have 100% freedom in making game rules as they want (within engine limits, of course), as long as they are explainable within his/her own world. After all, it’s trivial to hit the party with positive energy to counter that hardcoded rest full heal.

Hi,

Having NWN1 explains why you have some of the experiences you encountered by the sounds of it … IE Resting. As NWN2 allows time to pass as the “compromise”, which means time sensitive situations may fail if a player prioritizes learning spells before seeing said task done.

If you ever get NWN2 (with expansions), do give my mod a try and let me know. :slightly_smiling_face:. Thanks.

@Lance_Botelle,

  • I can understand you viewpoint (stick to the D&D rules), provided, that other parts of the module are D&D based. This was not the case in some mods I’ve played (no magic, no spellcasters, custom - created world, but still those restrictions were present, with no way to bypass) - hence the lack of coherence. I regret that I can’t give you some examples - after so many years, I tend to remember mainly the good ones.

  • I was referring NWN 1 companions/henchman issues, there’s no difference in AI in this game.

Hi DrA,

AI - No diff with NWN1 - Sorry, I forget that, as it has been a long while since I did anything with NWN1. In NWN2, there is a definite distinction, which I think you would appreciate.

As to your first point, if the builder has created a custom world, then I guess anything goes. However, (as you say) these should have a good alternative system in place so as to alleviate the player having to do something.

I did create a NWN1 module based upon an outer plane, and so it was very different from the normal type of game, as it changed pretty much everything due to the PCs now being within an “alien environment”. If you fancy a challenge and want to try something “new” and can accept there were some big changes, then try out my NWN1 Soul Shaker module, which was inspired by System Shock 2 (SS2). So, if you have ever played SS2, imagine a D&D plane of existence that played along the same lines, but is obviously NOT in space! :wink:

I stress, you will have to learn to adjust to the style of play if you want to succeed, but once the gaming understood and things like “Watchers” are mastered, then it is a blast. At least, my friends and I thought so as we played it MP too. However, there is both a Game Manual and a Walkthrough available at the same link!

If you are able to try it out, and want any advise (if you decide to stick at it), then feel free to contact me here.

Cheers, Lance.

Typically, I think I make up my mind after about five minutes of playing a module whether I love it or hate it. I suspect I am not unusual in doing that. Atmosphere, presentation, and overall aesthetic are crucial if you want to hook someone into playing your module within five minutes. And if you do that, I think players are probably more forgiving about other imperfections you may have in your module.

Contrary to good Shakespearean storytelling, I do not think you need to get to a lot of story or action in the first five minutes. I like a chance to soak in the world before I have to do any heavy thinking.

I like the way the Aielund Saga starts. Since it was the first module I played that made extensive use of CEP content, maybe I was easily impressed with the new tilesets and models I hadn’t seen before. It starts with about two sentences of plot in your Journal, and a closet with several sets of clothes to pick out. When you first step outside, there is that constant torrential downpour- on the one hand I hated the dreariness, on the other hand it set the tone (and in a way became motivational when I figured out that solving the central plotline could end the torrential rain).

I love Citadel too for its entirely unique atmosphere and world- at least it’s completely different from the original NWN campaigns and like nothing I’d every played or read. It doesn’t through that rich, deep world at you all at once though. You start with the vaguest of plot outline, and the first area is nothing but a mountain to climb. You examine a few mysterious statues, have a couple of brief conversations that give you a few more plot tidbits, and find a few treasures like Easter Eggs. The naming conventions and descriptions of the treasures are an important part of filling you in about the flavor of the world.

Contrast those with Darkness Over Daggerford, which in the first five minutes throws a huge backstory on you and shoves you out in the middle of a combat. Once the dust settles and you have a chance to look around, it mostly looks like the NWN original campaign worlds. Except I do seem to remember that the lighting seemed unnaturally bright in many places.

Aielund and Darkness Over Daggerford are both very polished modules, with few bugs or broken parts. Nevertheless, one is easy to like and the other seems tedious (at least to me). Citadel could still use a good revision to fix bugs and tie up incomplete ends, but I don’t mind the imperfections at all because it does so much well, starting with atmosphere.

When it comes to rest, there are a few crucial differences between playing NWN1 and a PnP game.

One is that, with the NWN official campaigns, there is far more combat than one would experience in a PnP game (at least as compared to any PnP game I have ever played). I think that the PnP rules on recovering spells do not anticipate the waves upon waves of combat that come with NWN.

The second is that, in a PnP game, the gamemaster can advance time as needed. If I am playing a NWN module with a rest timer, and I need to rest my character before continuing, I have to stare at my computer screen for x minutes waiting for the timer to allow me to rest. (There is such a rest timer in the Aielund modules, for example).

Frequency/availability of rest is a balancing concern. Limiting it reduces the power of spellcasters; unlimited rest greatly increases the power of spell casters. Of course it also affects any power that is usable x times per day (including magic items with such powers). The treatment of rest should fit in with all of the other issues of game balance within the module.

A timer is a fun concern. Typically it is no fun to do nothing while waiting for a timer to cycle. If it makes an impact only occasionally, I can sort inventory or re-read journal entries while waiting. But eventually I will run out of busywork to do while waiting for the timer.

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Realised there is another and it was recently popular within some commercial games.

Kobayashi Maru
I know that the endings to Mass Effect 3 and Wasteland 2 where the PC must die in some form or other were almost universally reviled. Unless your module is part of a series don’t end it by killing off the PC. Deliberately killing the PC and then having them find their way back to the land of the living is another matter though. Just don’t kill the PC as the very last part of a module with no follow up module(s) planned at the very least.

TR

There is a difference between an AAA game character dying and a PC dying in a module. But why focus on death alone? You’re left with the same feeling when all endings are miserable.

I don’t see anything wrong with PC dying as long as the module does not pull a fast one on the player, for example: you are given a choice to sacrifice yourself or escape, but eventually rock falls and everyone dies. Speaking of fast ones, there is another annoyance of mine:

Fake skill tests
Conversation allows you to use a [Persuade] line or whatever, but it always returns failure - no check is performed. Module builder, don’t give the player an illusion they could pass the check. Either drop the check text or at least show it succeeded but that wasn’t enough for other reasons.

2 Likes

Saw this thread and wanted to add some points unmentioned so far.

NPCs Sharing Appearances

Usually an issue in older modules, but it’s lame when named NPCs have the exact same appearance, even worse if its the static ones such as the Commoner, Nobleman, Innkeeper. Depending on whether custom content is included, head selection may be limited, but at least try to give unique NPCs custom clothing to have them stand out.

Lifeless Filler NPCs

Ever play some modules where there’s a bunch of guards or commoners standing around facing the same direction doing nothing, not even having a conversation file? This outright breaks the immersion, because it’s clear they are simply dropped there with no further customization to populate the area.

Obscure Secret Areas/Doors

Secrets are great as they encourage exploration. However, some modules have them in really large interiors with no indications that there is one. This means that unless the PC has a high Search score, it will take an unreasonable amount of time to find. For example, in “The Shadow of Innsmouth” module, a hint is that there are strange noises from the cellar, but the cellar comprises of two large generic interior cells connected together, I didn’t find it until the second time I backtracked and had a lucky Search roll.

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This needs a little more explanation as

The job of these type guards is to stand there and do nothing unless something untoward happens.

TR

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