Want to make a module, how do I get the motivation?

Okay, to clarify, I’m VERY much a noob when it comes to this game. (And DnD in general) So apologies in advance for any dumb questions.

I have ideas bursting from my head for my own module, but whenever I open the editor, I find myself unsure where I should start. I’m probably making a big deal over nothing. (Though I think my idea may be more than a little overambitious for a novice creator.) There’s probably tutorials out there I could look at, but I’m having difficulty getting myself motivated.

So, I guess I wanna ask: how do you guys get motivated? What can I do to motivate myself?

And is there anything I should do before undertaking something as ambitious as making my own module?


Tutorials are really helpful.

Here is a collection you may find useful: https://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn1/other/nwn-university-document-help-pdf-reference-guide-tutorial-xls-collection

Additionally, if you need assistance with scripting, the Lexicon is a great resource: https://nwnlexicon.com/

Additionally there are some great Discords available with people that will give support on specific issues you encounter. Here is the Discord for this forum: https://discord.gg/VuFJVsw

From a motivation standpoint, you need to start small and make To-Do Lists that are easily achievable. Otherwise you’re going to burn out before you can even implement your first quest. Take a couple weeks and nail down some of the critical basics: Area Design, Placeables, Conversations, Encounters, NPC Creation, Item Creation, Factions etc.

For example:

Let’s say you’re trying to create a town that your PC will eventually start in. Week one, focus on building using the tileset and placeables. Just get a general feel and don’t get married to any one design because I guarantee you you’ll adjust and modify as you become stronger with the toolset.

So after week 1, you have the town built. Now you need to make a Guard Captain NPC because, well why not? So now it’s into the Creature Wizard you go, setting up stats, description, gear, etc. Spend week 2 setting up the various NPCs you’ll want in your town. How detailed do you want to go? The more detail, the more effort. (For example do you want the guards in the town to have Unique names? Or just common names like “Town Guard”?)

Week 3 rolls around and now it’s time to give that Guard Captain some basic dialog. Go through Conversation steps and learn the workflow.

And so on and so forth. Don’t try to go too heavy early on because it will definitely feel like a LOT of information. Give yourself lists and goals, include deadlines to keep yourself on track, just don’t go too aggressive.

Best of luck!

The Guide To Building is a decent account of how to plan and build a module from scratch.

It’s actually Volume 2 of the Toolset Manual, which is available from the University link above.

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Back when I learnt how to make a module (before forgetting it all again), I used f1restarter’s step-by-step tutorial on creating the short adventure “The Hermit’s Challenge” (didn’t see it among the NWN University collection).

I’m no expert, but I think what I would recommend is to start small in all regards, and maybe don’t waste too much time with area design before you’ve learnt the basics of creating quests and such. Make your first areas small and simple and concentrate on what’s happening in them. I used to play around with area design in the toolset a lot, without really having concrete plans for an adventure yet, and after spending so much time with areas I had no particular use for yet, I felt a bit over overwhelmed by tackling the rest. Also, don’t make your maps too big in general. Don’t just create a big landcape but think about how you’re going to fill it with life. And if you re-create The Hermit’s Chalice, don’t try to make the most wonderful module yet, save your energy for your own module and just go through the tutorial quickly.

EDIT: Oh, wait, the tutorial I had in mind actually wasn’t f1restarter’s but the official Module Constructing Tutorial by Bioware. Not sure which one is better, you can decide for yourself, but this is the one I used back then.

I’d say you have to feel a lure to “toolsetting” directly. y’ll be spending a lot of time in the toolset …

get a vision, want it implemented, face the challenge, desire to overcome the challenge, like to learn, and have the determination to see the/your vision eventually come alive like paint on a canvass …

in other words, just do it. That’s how i started …


Create a new text file. Whenever you get an idea, add it to this document.
This project has a whole bunch of tutorials by Bioware.

See this pinned thread on how to use these forums including how to post code.
Look in the Toolset, Scriting, etc threads. There are pinned threads in there with links to stuff you may find useful.
See this pinned thread for loads of links to tutorials.


For me, even if I work with NWN2, I tried The Hermit’s Challenge tutorial module at one time a few years back with NWN1. I didn’t have any ideas back then, just wanted to fool around. Then about 2 years ago when I got tired of there being so few good (IMHO) good RPG games anymore, I decideed that ok, I’ll have to do it myself then (for NWN2 that is, since I felt the graphics had come a long way with all the content being created by the community. In the past I always thought NWN1 looked so much better, but ever since the facelift pack for NWN2 and all the new armors I was convinced I was going to try that game instead of NWN1).

Still, it’s the same approach for working with both games I feel…and NWN1 I think may be easier when it comes to creating modules (at least it felt that way when trying out the toolset all those years ago).
Anyway, I had a very basic idea for a plot and just started with downloading some excellent prefab areas so I didn’t have to do everything myself from scratch (which felt a bit too overwhelming for me) and concentrate on dialogue, characters and story instead. Then I just “did it” as kevL_s said. I created my first character and just began writing dialogue.
Ok, what is this character’s motivation, what is to happen next, and then I just went from there. After the dialog and the joining of the companion (henchman in the case of NWN1) and PC to go on an adventure, I found obstacles…

Ok, now I need to do this. I have to do scripts. I don’t know how. I read some toolset tutorial and asked for help online, and everyone was extremely helpful here on the forums, and little by little I got further into the module. I started coming up with side quests and the story evolved. Some things in the story I had never planned for, they just happened, and that got me motivated. It was just like, ok, here’s a new character. Who is that? Well, I wrote a dialogue…Ok, so that is who that is. Can we make a quest out of that? and so forth…

So for me I just made it up as I went along. I had some very basic concept at where I wanted the story to go, but that was all.
Now, I’m currently working on my third module and I have the same apporoach. Very loose storyline, but it keeps me motivated and intrigued to see where the story goes.

By the way, when it comes do D&D and the rules, I’m a total noob too. That’s why I went for my own custom fantasy world.

Start with the story - you can either make your own, or use some elements of ready-to-play DnD adventure, or try remake of some old game you have liked. Concentrate on the main plot first, then expand adding NPCs and quests. Write down your ideas.

Above all - use the story which is interesting to you, it should be fun - motivates you to keep going.
Another thing - create the thread about your upcoming module, share the ideas and ask questions.
Good luck :grinning:

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There are two goals here: (1) know what module to make, and (2) know how to make a module. You try to achieve both at the same time when you aim to release a functioning module. But if you’re just starting you can focus on one and the other will come through it.

Here’s a real life anectode:

I want to hammer a nail to a thing. I need to know to: where to hammer it and how to use a hammer. If I know where then I can experiment with different hammering techniques until I get the desired result (some early results may be quite unsatisfactory, though). If I start with learning how to use the hammer instead, I’ll put nails into many different things (which may be discarded along the way) until I find the one I really want to work with. Then I’ll hammer it nicely.

If you are a novice, you are overwhelmed by all the stuff you need to do in the “make the module” goal. However “making a module” is made from smaller steps, you just need to see them and conquer them one by one. So I suggest to take one of these routes:

  1. write down (on paper) a script of a really good story then play other modules to see the tools you have at your disposal to drive this story through the NWN engine
  2. start playing with the toolset making little individual things that could be used together in your story (or even any story), i.e. PC gets reward for bringing an item, NPC goes to sleep at night, a nice urban area, etc.

This way one thing is out of the way and you can focus on the other.

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Hello Cybersbe and Welcome!

Motivation - In brief, people are motivated in different ways. And you will need to discover what is it that motivates you. Ask yourself what was it that made you write here and ask for motivation in the first place, and that should be a pointer to get you started. :slight_smile:

Philosophy aside, you are probably facing a form of “blank page” syndrome, which every writer experiences. If this is NOT what troubles you, then that means you have a story in mind already. :slight_smile:

STORY IS THE KEY: The fundamental point to get motivation on any level, I believe, is knowing what story you want to tell … and knowing it well! Once you think you know your story, ask yourself what would a player want to know about it? What parts of the story do you know that other players do not … and how are you going to reveal that story to them? Who are the players going to meet? etc. etc.

I would support what other builders may have already said, and suggest writing that story to PAPER FIRST and then putting together some kind of story board. Once you have the main plot of the story in mind, then you can begin to build with the toolset … which will be quite an affair!

Also, if you are struggling with some story elements, try playing somebody else’s module to get a feel for what you like about their module, or what you would try to improve upon.

OTHER ELEMENTS: Once you have the story in mind, all other aspects of the module itself I would call “fluff” and different “fluff” appeals to different players. The strength and pace of the story is what drives players through a module whether they like the rest of the fluff or not. E.g. My wife enjoys messing around with the look of her PCs (hair, build, etc.) I get bored of that stuff just writing that sentence about it! :wink:

FINAL WARNING: You need to be dedicated to your story. If you have any thoughts of times you may not want to give it some time, then you will likely lose focus and eventually it will fail to be delivered. Now, that may not be a waste of time, as you will (hopefully) still have enjoyed the experience and learned something from it. However. just be prepared for a long haul to deliver something more special.

Of course, if it’s just a simple straight forward project you have in mind, then go for it. And as people on this thread have already said, take it in small stages … one step at a time and get help from the forums here.

READING: Apart from all the excellent advise already given with other reading in these posts, I will also give you a link to my own blog, which is currently running episodes of my second module build for NWN2. While not NWN1, it does give you an emotional connection with another builder going through their own processes of trying to breath life into a module: Episode 1 Link. (Definitely worth a read for you to start with.) These posts also describe some of my personal issues will the toolset and design process.

Extract from that blog post:

1) PLOT: Thankfully, the hard part, the plot, is already taken care of … but only in part! The point being, if I did not have a story to tell, then no matter how many area designs I have available to me, a lack of conversations or plot would quickly bring this latest project to an end. However, there is still the problem that even though I have the plot in mind, the same problems of forming a good-flowing, fully cohesive story that a player can have pleasure interacting with, remain. i.e. There are critical plot points, but I need to fill the blanks with enjoyable and meaningful content. I will need to put flesh on the bones of the plot - and that will take time to create. This also means writing all those conversations!

Other episodes available at the blog: Althéa Blog. Or click on NEWER POST at the bottom of the first link given above.

All the best with your project!


Thanks for all the advice so far.

The story and setting were actually the very first things I thought of when it came to my module. (BTW, it takes place in an original setting.) It’s thinking about how I should go about creating it that I’m struggling with.

I’m wondering if perhaps that’s my own fault. The thing is, what I came up with is a epic story that I imagine being about as long as the base campaign for NWN. I do wonder if perhaps I’m getting overambitious, and should come up with something smaller to work on. At least until I get more experience.

Is it best to start with smaller projects before moving on to bigger things?

(Of course, there’s also the possibility I should really should just take Shia LaBeouf’s advice and “Just do it!”)

I know from experience that it’s very easy to be over-ambitious.

One way of dealing with that is to break the main story down into several smaller modules, then focus on delivering the first module.

When building a module, it may help to sketch out the main story in the toolset first. For example, create the main areas from tilesets, without worrying too much about the objects they will contain. Design the main actors and write some of their conversations. You can always add minor characters, encounters and placeables later (in fact, authors often carry on embellishing a module long after initial publication).

Caveat : if you plan to use non-standard systems (for example, fancy creature spawn scripts, on enter / on exit management, custom rest / food / crafting) it’s generally best to build them first. Otherwise, you have to do a lot of backtracking, editing the scripts for areas and creatures that you already made. Much easier to get it right upfront then propagate as you build.