Hearkenwold

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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

(First two parts of this retrospective are on the previous page.)

Part 3: The Last Five Years and Beyond

Starting the new year in 2017, I prepared to work on what I would call Chapter III of the module. This would include the Fortress Relmfur and surrounding outdoor areas, as well as the city of Skardale. The content would emerge as a focal point of the adventure, making the investigation of Kelton Manor essentially a hook, leading up to more important events. How the party would reach this point, and how they resolve the conflict, would be left up to the player. It would be a very large update and add the Dwarven Village as well, as a prelude to the Mountain Halls, releasing in June of 2018.

Naturally, the next step would be to work on the Halls of Hamhock adventure. This was the first of several older NWN2 projects I had started or completed, which would find inclusion as part of the Hearkenwold campaign. Other examples are Broken Vessels and Places Deep that would be used as separate guild adventures, and the most recent Edinmoor. Interestingly, while going through the dwarven halls is optional for the player, there is quite a bit of lore tied up in this location. Bits of the game world’s history would be presented in pieces throughout the module, and this was one of those depositories. I would have a new version available halfway through 2019.

I then started on the guild quests, which were class specific, so there would be six in total. Working on one at a time, I would release subsequent updates to the module as each was finished. Beginning with the Cleric quest, followed by Ranger, and then the Thief adventure to kick off 2020. This was followed by the Paladin quest and a return to Asherim, while the guild mission for Fighters required new outdoor maps for the Ephghan Plains. Finally, by the end of August, I would have the Wizards guild adventure in place. These separate quests tailored to each player class would be critical to the ongoing continuation of the module. Another key design principle that went back to early development was the idea of one of the characters needing to fulfill conditions in order to meet the King of Hearkenwold and advance the main story arc.

Thus, the next module update I would make would do just that: allowing the party to join the royal council, as long as one guild member is present. And then taking the adventure past the events in Skardale, which would lead to a climactic confrontation. However, this would only open up a new path for the heroes who would be at a higher level by this time, should they choose to take up the challenge. At the moment, this is as far as the Hearkenwold campaign has reached.

Yet there would be still one more version released back in June of this year. Edinmoor is now part of the game world, providing some additional content to test players. It should be mentioned that throughout the development of the module, I had made partial conversions into the Dungeon Craft editor and the Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures construction kit. And of course, a thorough fully complete port as a Knights of the Chalice 2 adventure module. These escapades into different toolsets would often give me ideas that I would later incorporate into the definitive IceBlink version of Hearkenwold.

Moving forward, I am right now in the process of building new content, which will further the adventures of the party. As I wrapped up a Psionic-focused dungeon, it is something that will exist as a random location waiting to be explored, or an optional guild for wizards to join, while even tying into the main quest. There should be an update available later in the New Year.

Here are a couple of screenshots to end with, showing some interesting reading material the characters might discover. The stanza shown is one part of the poem.

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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

If anyone is interested, I have uploaded a video of Hearkenwold from the Knights of the Chalice 2 version. This encounter comes from the recent Edinmoor adventure, also present in the IceBlink module.

Here, the battle map uses a Fog terrain feature that limits movement. Notably, the tactical five foot step is disabled, making it a big risk to move away from level draining undead. Our party's ranger took a beating here, reduced to 1 hit point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NqQ18rqWEg
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slowdive
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by slowdive »

I really enjoyed reading the history, development, and inspirations for Hearkenwold. Some of it I was already aware of, but some I had not heard before so it was an amazing read. Thank you for the write up and for sharing it with us! It is crazy to think that it has been 10 years already, it seems like it was almost yesterday :lol:
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

Thanks! I probably should have gone more into some of the different gaming influences, but I think I rambled on long enough. I'm glad you enjoyed the read. Ten years have gone by fast! Looking forward to the next...
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

Happy New Year from Hearkenwold

I did more work on the Psionicist adventure, as well as river encounters, during the last month. I've almost finished both, but there are still some details I will need to return to. One thing I added is a new location the player can find, if the party choses to get off the boat and explore along the shores of the river. I enjoy off the track diversions like this, that are divorced from the main campaign, just something that characters can discover on their own. There are some references to previous content, as the place is still firmly grounded in the gameworld. But it will be an optional area of interest for the characters.

One of the creatures that will be encountered elsewhere are a race of interdimensional bounty hunters. I try to avoid using uniquely Dungeons & Dragons monsters, but sometimes it is unavoidable given the material's strong influence. Here, I hyphenated them as Gith-Yanki, and they have their own lore as part of the Hearkenwold campaign.

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Here is a narration scene used as the party is sailing along the River Astar.

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And, as mentioned, if the player decides to pull into shore, then there is a chance of running into danger, such as river trolls. A character with high intelligence will point out that they are also known as Scrags.

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Another encounter has the party battle a number of different monsters, including Drowned Zombies. Their first action is to release a noxious stench in the form of a stinking cloud, which makes this a challenging fight.

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Now, into the new year, I must continue the main adventure path. Unlike the content talked about above, that can be reached really at any point in the game, the latter stage stuff obviously requires the player to have made a significant amount of progress. I also need to design encounters that will be appropriate for characters that will have completed some or possibly all of the guild quests. In the testing I have done, I am pushing 11th level. Although it is likely characters would stay around this range due to the way the experience table grows exponentially.

I have a starting point to work with, a not-so-friendly desert town. From there, the party will finally have a chance to continue their overarching mission. The target I have set for release is by June, but if I am realistic, I think some time during the summer is a reasonable expectation. All of this content will be available in the next version of the module.
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

I posted a new video from the Hearkenwold version in Knights of the Chalice 2. The latest update introduced a new feature, an additional combat maneuver that lets you attempt to throw an enemy. But first you have to make a successful grapple check. And then that character has to succeed a second check in order to throw. It took me a few tries, but our paladin was able to throw a bugbear to its death down a chasm, at the end of the battle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJJ6j7zD5mY
cartons
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by cartons »

Love the off-the-beaten path content!

I first encountered the Gith back in BG2, which opened up the universe of D&D planes to me. Hope to learn more about the inter-planeary lore you've developed for your world.

I should also mark it down every time I catch an old hymn reference, hah!
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

Thanks, cartons! Just a quick summary of how I am handling the Gith in Hearkenwold, they are half human/half demons from another dimension. Full demons use them as bounty hunters, and on rare occasions will send them into the world for some nefarious mission.

And yes, those scrags are a real piece of work. Good catch. I further expanded their taunt with a reference to Mystery Science Theatre 3K's "row your MURDER ashore", which itself is a riff on "Michael, Row your Boat Ashore".
cartons
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by cartons »

Dorateen wrote: Mon Jan 09, 2023 4:20 pm And yes, those scrags are a real piece of work. Good catch. I further expanded their taunt with a reference to Mystery Science Theatre 3K's "row your MURDER ashore", which itself is a riff on "Michael, Row your Boat Ashore".
A man of taste and sophistication! 8-)
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

February Update

For the next part of the Hearkenwold campaign, I wanted to create the destination of a desert town called Sinestra. This is actually referenced vaguely, much earlier in the module, if the party has visited the Asherim content. One of the NPCs makes reference to a trading town with caravans. This is that town. It is always exciting to build that connectivity with previous areas or concepts.

However, the town itself is not that friendly. Another reason I found the idea of continuing the adventure from Sinestra appealing is because of the contrast of a heroic party (or at least considerably successful by this point) with an atmosphere of distrust and contempt. In other words, this town won't exactly welcome noble characters as such.

The map itself is laid out with buildings on the sandy dune tiles. Some buildings can be entered to open up larger maps to explore. Here are a few new screenshots.

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I am going back now to finish up the Psionicist adventure I started at the end of last year. I want to get this out of the way so I can turn all the focus on higher level areas beyond Sinestra. Although I still need to wrap up one location along the river, which I might get to in the next few weeks. Regardless, I want to have the module ready by the end of June. This means I will probably go as far as I can with the main adventure stuff and release what I have. This update will already contain a lot, so no sense dragging it out over the summer.
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