Hearkenwold

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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

November Update

As I mentioned previously, I am working on a new location in the IceBlink engine as a continuation of the Hearkenwold campaign. This is the port city of Saldanus, known for its rich resources and wealth. Anyone who has played through the module in its present form all the way to the end, will know the significance of the town. However, there are a few NPC interactions that have already alluded to the city.

Saldanus also has a founding fable, which tells how it was originally raised by powerful wizards seeking to reach the heavens. That is why it is constructed in the form of stepped tiers, leading up from sea level like a giant staircase. I'll share a snippet of the lore, likely to be discovered somewhere while exploring.

The third step, a level soaring one hundred and fifty feet above the sea, took the Folk but ten years to finish; just one decade until the last arches were raised and the eternal ascension continued. Then the Enchanters strode forward to celebrate their glory. Before them stretched the wide world blazing red in the glow of the setting sun. Nothing stirred down in the open land between the horizons, nothing that could hinder their boundless dreams. Very soon the mysteries of the universe would be theirs, secrets, which they alone could relish. Behind the Enchanted Ones, the Folk danced and feasted for on the morrow they would begin work on the next level. After that, a new plateau would be reached and then another; forever and ever without end. Each step following another, climbing, reaching, soaring, ascending... grasping for a higher reality that was only beyond the lip of the Next Step.

That was when the mountains fell.
 

Now this of course is only folklore and legend. It will be up to the party to discover if there are any grains of truth, or not. In the meantime, here is a glimpse of part of the city. One of the features of the map is that the elevated tiles representing building walls and roofs and be accessed and walked on.

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Here is a descriptive narration as the party transitions between the different tiers.

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And finally, this screen shows some combat with a half dozen black pudding. These dangerous blobs crawled out from the sewers. Nasty! It's also a tough fight, because the monstrous oozes are affected by very little and they can potentially paralyze a character on a successful hit.

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Speaking of the sewers, there will be a sprawling network of levels beneath the town as well. So while Saldanus will be the primary focus of the next update, it is a big city and will contain a lot of content to explore.

If everything follows the same release schedule as the past couple of years, I hope to have a new version of the module ready by June.
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Dorateen
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Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:03 pm

Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

December Update

Heading into the end of another year, I am continuing the work on Saldanus, the city adventure that will be the focus of the next version of the module. At the moment, I am setting up encounters outside on the streets of town, which the party can freely wander and engage with. The intention is to balance content here for a party with level ten characters. Based on recent feedback from players who went through the Knights of the Chalice 2 version, 10th level seems to be where the current adventure leads to. That tracks pretty well with IceBlink, where the test party I am running has a level ten thief.

One of the things I like was a new encounter that gives the player a chance to pick up an Efreet bottle. This bottle can then be used to summon a mini-efreet as an ally in future battles. Where this comes in handy is the black pudding encounter I mentioned previously, against monsters who are resistant to almost all forms of damage... except fire. Because exploration of the city is non-linear, they party may or may not have this item at the time. On the other hand, if a player is having trouble with the black puddings, the efreet bottle will serve as a possible help to overcome the challenge, if it can be found.

Here is a screenshot of the fight with the efreet.

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And here is a later battle with Hill Giants, showing the summoned efreet. He's a little smaller since PC tokens have to be sized 100 x 100. But our new buddy here does cast fireball and flame fingers, which is nice. The bottle itself has 5 charges.

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Finally, here is a more seasonal screenshot showing the weather effect of snow falling. Saldanus is a northern clime location, so there will be intermittent snow showers while outside.

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After the encounters are set up outdoors, I am going to move into the buildings that are available for the party to enter. I am looking finish up with the underground sewer level, that will likely span the same amount of the exterior city maps. All told, Saldanus is going to introduce dozens of new explorable maps. I'm still planning to complete everything by June.
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

I was stuck indoors yesterday due to stormy weather, and decided to record another video from Hearkenwold in the Knights of the Chalice 2 engine. This shows an encounter with orcs at a desert oasis. Dorateen had a bit of a rough time in this battle, but got the last laugh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AS0JS5zD8c&t=54s

The scenario is part of the Asherim content that can also be found in the IceBlink module.
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

January Update

It is a New Year for Hearkenwold, and I am continuing work in the coastal city of Saldanus, with expectation of releasing updated versions of the module for both IceBlink and Knights of the Chalice 2, later in 2024.

By now, the party is probably thinking why did they even come to this place. Hopefully there will be enough points of interest as the characters further their exploration. One such location is a multi-level bell tower. This is what I have spent the past couple of weeks on. I plan to finish up this area and start building other interior maps for the rest of the month. I'd estimate that these buildings will occupy the first quarter, before turning attention to an expansive sewer level.

Here's a screenshot taken from the belfry.

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Previously, I talked about the target level for this content being around 10th level. The test party I'm running does have a level ten thief, and other players have reported reaching that level as well, in the KotC2 version. Interestingly, IceBlink uses an AD&D style staggered leveling system where different classes advance faster or slower than others. The thief I mentioned of course is the fastest to reach level 10. So in IceBlink here, I've actually got a mix of 8th and 9th level characters as well. But I think it is a decent measure of ability when crafting encounters.

I do want to challenge such experienced parties, so here is one optional fight for the characters to stumble across. It is a "wave" encounter with Lightning Bugs. Three monsters appear at the start of combat, and then three more arrive in Round 2. If the battle continues, another three appear at the start of Round 3. This can get quickly out of hand, and the party will need to take every bit a precaution and a little bit of luck to survive. Imagine the ignominy of dying to Lighting Bugs.

Here is a screen of the encounter set up:

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And here is the start of Round 2, where three more bugs show up, and half the party is unconscious and bleeding. Not good.

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The purpose of this fight, again, is to provide a challenge to test more advanced characters. The idea being, what doesn't kill them, will make them stronger. I want to make Saldanus a worthy destination for the party, as it also advances the main adventure.
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Dorateen
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Re: Hearkenwold

Post by Dorateen »

February Update

During this short month I am working on the interior locations in the city of Saldanus. This is going to be the module's focus in the next version of the Hearkenwold campaign. Last time, I talked about a bell tower. And here is an inn available for the party to visit. It is called The Glittering Fountain, with carpeting awash in the color of the sea and mountain streams.

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Unfortunately for the party, there is a chance they can run into some unpleasant people. The enemy types in this encounter include fighters, magic-users and clerics. The map is also an example of a closer "zoomed in" look at what was the lobby area when the battle started.

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Elsewhere, I have been adding new tiles to the combat maps that take place upon building rooftops. The entry narration describes the tiles as an imbricate style, those with an overlapping wavy appearance.

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These tiles will be seen when the party climbs on top of a roof, and if they are lucky enough to get attacked up there. Maybe by manticores and their wizard riders. The screen below demonstrates the red tiles along the perimeter, while I kept the main area of the battle map the lighter shade of squares because it would be easier to view during combat.

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After spending the next few weeks on the indoor maps, I'm going to turn attention toward the sewer level that is planned. Since it will sprawl the same number of maps of the city, this will likely take me most of the spring to complete. I am hoping to have the module with Saldanus as a location ready by the end of June.
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