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NWN2 News November 2, 2007

Posted by Rob McGinnis , 02 November 2007 · 7764 views

NWN2 News
Neverwinter Nights 2 Community Update
November 2, 2007

Hello everyone. It's update time again. For this issue we will be taking a look at a mod by Chimneyfish that makes the NPC heads available for playable characters. We will also look at an area prefab by SGK73 and we have a small interview of Kaedrin, author of some great Prestige Classes and some expanded spell books for some of the NWN2 Prestige Classes. But first, before we go too much further, please take a moment to answer this poll question.

Community Works

Playable NPC Heads

Looking for some more diversity in your characters? Chimneyfish has made the NWN2 NPC heads available to players during character creation.

This mod can be viewed here, on NWVault.

Area Prefab: Ritual Sites - Just Add Encounters

SGK73 has created another Area Prefab. His prefabs, always tagged with "Just add encounters," allow builders to create modules quickly and easily by providing high-quality, pre-made areas that can just be inserted into your module.

You can find out more here.

Kaedrin: Custom Classes for the Masses

In case you haven't been watching the forums, there has been a great effort underway by Kaedrin to create some Custom Prestige Classes. What started as a wish to improve one of his favorite classes, has turned into him becoming a one-man powerhouse of custom content creation. So far Kaedrin's work has contributed about 50 new spells, some new feats, a handful of prestige classes, spellbooks for Blackguards and Assassins, ammo crafting and ranged combat enchantment upgrades and new and revised spell domains.

As community members ourselves, many of us at OEI have been watching his progress with great interest, and enjoying the results of his creations, too. It's always great to see what community members can do in NWN2. So, with all of this in mind, I asked Kaedrin if he would be willing to share his experiences with us.

Greetings folks; my name is Matt and I go by Kaedrin in the NWN2 community. I returned back to NWN2 in May when work settled down a bit (Iím a software developer) and finally got to finish the official campaign with my Paladin character. One of the things I wanted to see was more paladin spells as I had been a bit spoiled by WoWís version of the Paladin. I expected a bit more spellcasting oomph in my crusader and decided it was something I could start working on for myself and the community.

Around the end of June I started seriously putting together a list of changes Iíd like to make to the paladin (some were new spells, some were new feats) to improve the class. I put together a small list of about a seven or eight spells I wanted to do and a couple feats. To do this I needed to catch back up to speed on doing custom content work since many things changed between NWN1 and NWN2. I started joining the NWN2 Community Rep Chat in case I had any questions on content changes.

After some insightful help from members of the community, especially the PRC [(Players Resource Consortium)] folks like Stratovarius who was a lifesaver, I started making headway on the content list I had and what I could and couldnít do in NWN2. The spell list I wanted to implement continued to grow out of control until it was up to nearly 30 spells and a half dozen feats. Feature creep is the killer! I started picking up a lot of the sourcebooks so that I could find more spells and PrCs that Iíd like to work on implementing.

In August I switched gears for a while to try and solve the thorny problem of the blackguard being of limited use past level 4. Blackguards and Assassins were both limited in how many spells a day they got in comparison with pen and paper and that seemed the best way to improve them. Feats like Wild Shape and spells like Shadow Conjuration gave me the idea to try implementing it as a subradial styled spellbook with each feat being a level of spells (since assassins and blackguards have a limited spell set). Near the end of August I posted up the first version with the Assassin spellbook upgrade to gather feedback. The next day I posted a new version that included the Blackguard spellbook upgrade and shortly after I posted versions including bonus spells for blackguards based on their wisdom and an improved fiendish servant for them.

I returned to the paladin upgrade to wrap it up with the experience I had gained on the spellbooks. I started experimenting with creating PrCs in NWN2 at this time as well. While working on the content I made the decision to try and support both the single player users and the module developers/PW worlds. So for each of my releases I try to provide a set of files that is most appropriate for how they use the content (overrides vs. hak files).

I recreated the Hospitaler that the NWN1 PRC group had done for NWN1 so I could compare a dry run to their work. When it turned out nicely, I added the Tempest from the Complete Warrior and released the two PrCs as my first PrC pack. A week later I wrapped up the last of the paladin spells (standing at 27 new spells for paladins, 14 of which clerics could use) and released it on the vault.

I was now working on three separate projects (paladin spells, blackguard/assassin spellbooks, and prcís) that had some critical files in common so I rolled them all up together for a single release. Once the community was given the info about the new domains coming in Mask of the Betrayer, I decided to start putting together some new domains and to add more spells for the existing domains based off the spell compendium. I posted a release at the end of September introducing 11 new domains and revising 10 of the original domains.

September turned out to be a busy month as I also released a crafting upgrade for ranged weapons that allowed for the crafting of bolts, arrows and bullets made of various metals (adamantine, silver, etc) just like weapons could be. That was followed up by adding thrown weapons to list that could be crafted in various metals. After some testing I updated the release to allow for enchantments to be placed on ranged weapons based on some invaluable suggestions on the forums.

In October I released the Black Flame Zealot, the Shining Blade, and the Avenger PrCs as well as another spell pack that added 18 more spells to the game. Blackguards were given the option of taking a pair of epic feats to further improve their dark aura of despair. Iíve also spent a considerable amount of time working with other members of the community (Draco and Reeron) trying to avoid conflicts with our content. We are fairly close to releasing a combined download that offers Reeronís spell fixes and prc updates, Dracoís PrCs and warlock buddy, along with my spells, feats, and prcís. From that point on our new content should easy to add to the combined package so that the community doesnít have to pick and choose between content.

So far Iím up to 49 new spells, 4 new feats, 5 new PrCs, the spellbooks for Blackguards and Assassins, the ammo crafting and ranged combat enchanting upgrade, as well as the new and revised domains. I plan to continually add more spells, feats and PrCs as time goes on. More details on the content Iíve done can be found here http://nwn2customcontent.wikidot.com/ which I try to keep updated fairly regularly. Itís a pleasure to be a part of the NWN2 community and I look forward to what the community and Obsidian creates! Iím always open to feedback, suggestions, and bug reports!

I followed this up with some additional questions for Kaedrin:

Q: Do you have experience modding in other games?

Not really. I'm usually too busy playing the games to work in the SDKs they provide on new content. Very few games have had the lifespan and community interest and support that NWN has so it's usually been a matter of moving on to a new game and replaying favorites after a couple years. I did some work in NWN1 though very little of it was released to the public. The content was for a module I ended up not releasing due to terminal feature creep.

Q: What is the most difficult thing for you, when it comes to creating custom PrCs, spells, etc.?

The hardest thing to do is to decide what would be a fair and reasonable substitute ability for a feat or spell that doesn't translate well (or at all) from PnP to a CRPG, NWN2 in particular. I try to come up with a solution that meets the spirit or intent of the original content without making it too weak or too strong. Not an easy task!

Q: Is there anything that makes creating custom classes, etc. easier for you?

I've taken a number of lessons I've learned as a software developer professionally and applied them to how I generate custom content. Before I start working a specific set of content I come up with a feature list that I try to stick to since I have a habit of jumping around content areas. I keep a set of modules for testing the different ways I distribute content (single player and two different methods for multiplayer/module developers) that I try to use for the development of each release. Inside the single player test module I keep a few scripts representative of areas of content (AE spells, persistent feats, buffs) for easy reference along with the magic altar for leveling up test characters. I use the script editor and the Toolset -> Run module option a LOT to speed up development. In order to keep track of everything I have done, I keep a master module saved in directory mode that is the repository for all of my scripts, blueprints, and conversations to make it easy to do a complete rebuild.

When it's time to work on new content, I create a copy of the single player test module and begin working inside that module for all of the new scripts. The first step is to complete all of the scripting work. Second I develop the 2DA entries for the scripts. Then I go back to the source and type up the TLK entries. Once those steps are done I begin testing it with a new character until I'm satisified the content is working and then create the other versions for distribution.

Q: Is there anything we could do to make things easier for you?

There are a few 2DAs that I could use some better documentation on and a few areas of functionality hidden behind the engine that would be nice to have exposed. The ReqType column of the CLS_Pres_*.2da file being one area we have limited information on. In the feats.2da file, I was wondering if the "GAINMULTIPLE" and "EFFECTSSTACK" column were working? I haven't had time to test it myself yet though I will soon to see if I can stack sneak attack dice instead of coming up with a total between multiple PrCs and granting all the feats up to that one.

New functionality I'd love to see would be the ability to have a feat instant like Divine Shield. I believe there was a column added late in NWN1 that would tell the engine to fire off the script instantly. There are a lot of spells and feats that benefit from this without needing to change them to last for a few rounds to make up for the lost round activating the ability.

There are some areas of functionality that would be nice to have exposed from the engine but these are also the areas I expect the least amount of changes in. original.gif There are a few abilities in the game (Death Attack, Stunning Fist, Smite) that a CC developer has no access to. If we could set a local variable on a character that added to certain abilities and the engine pick that up it would go a long way to "customizing" key abilities without requiring they be moved out of the engine. For example, a localint on a character named "DC_Mod_Death_Attack" that the engine would add to it's calculated total would solve any custom class abilities that we might want to tweak. Bonus_Damage_Smite for Smite. This could be used as a way to do "stacking" bonuses for class or racial abilities and would be the icing on the cake. If Obsidian came up with a dozen or two local variables that the community could modify (each of the stats, each of the AC types, a few abilitity DC's that we can't change the scripts on, etc) we would be able to implement just about anything we might want. An alternative might be for Obsidian to add some feats that accomplish the same thing behind the scenes like the RDD feats. One for +1 Dex, one for +2 Dex, etc. A few of the feats could really use this for the number of uses a day as well (Smite, Stunning Fist, Bard Song) since we can't really add new versions of the feat.

The last thing I can think of (shooting for the moon with everything of course tongue.gif) is probably a solution for the need to override the dialog.tlk file. If the OC/MotB modules had a blank custom.tlk associated with them (and they worked from the override) the community would never need to alter the Dialog.tlk file again. Content developers would only need to do one version of their projects instead of two (one with the Dialog.tlk values for single player, one with Custom.tlk values for Module/PW developers) which would save an INSANE amount of time and testing. I plan to experiment with my install directory a bit the weekend after next and see if this would work by adding a blank tlk to one of the OC modules in it's campaign directory and then dropping my custom.tlk in an override without a dialog.tlk and see if the string table values are found.

Oh yeah, one more! Heh. How about adding more domain slots to the character bic file and a script function to add a domain to the character via a id from the domains.2da file? There are a lot of divine PrCs with bonus domains I'm looking at doing with the subradial spell-feats (though I'd need 1-2 per domain) that are going to be deeply time consuming if I go this route. I'm not opposed to it, but there might be an easier way!

Q: Is there any PrC you especially look forward to implementing?

That's a pretty difficult question to answer. Since I got into NWN2 CC in order to upgrade the Paladin, the Annointed Knight is probably the one PrC I most look forward to. The idea of a Paladin wielding an ancestral blade with a thirst for knowledge seeking to stop evil and better themself? Very hard to pass up! That said, I'm really looking forward to working on (and playing) the Seeker of the Song as well since bards are my second favorite class behind Paladins (followed distantly by the Favored Soul, many thanks for the class!).

That's a lot of great information. Thanks for taking the time, Kaedrin.

For more information on Kaedrin's work, you can visit his website here.
Kaedrin's PrC pack with new PrCs, feats, and spells: Click Here
Kaedrin's Crafting mod with enchanted ranged/thrown weapons and craftable ammo: Click Here

That wraps up this edition of the Community Update. As always, questions and comments are always welcome. Also, you can contact me via PM here, or on the NWN2 forums.

Thanks for the update, Rob. Really nice interview with Kaedrin. I have fully enjoyed all of Kaedrin's mods and really appreciate the hard work he has put into NWN2. Obsidian should look at incorporating Kaedrin's Fletching Pack into a patch since the lack of proper crafting has seriously hampered archery. Good seeing Obsidian ask what they can do to help the CC creators.

Downloaded Chimneyfish's NPC head pack the day it was released and am using it now. Very nice to add some different looks to my PC's.
Though I've not tried these community implemented PRCs, it's extremely awesome to see them. Great work there!

And nice interview as well. It's great to see that you're taking an continued interest in the community and keep looking for feedback from modders. It's greatly appreciated Rob.

Now let's have another expansion! laughing.gif
Great interview, Rob. Short and sweet. I gotta tell you, this blogging you do is the one that keeps my interest level up. As a site resource, this blog is the bomb. I have to re-update my links at the Citadel to keep up with these developments.

Thanks for keeping the Community aware, Rob.

best regards,
Admin/Moderator NeverWinter Citadel Project
Moderator NWN2 Forums for Obsidian @ Bioware
Community Representative
Nov 02 2007 03:52 PM
Great stuff, Rob! "Q: Is there anything we could do to make things easier for you?" Golden.

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