I’ve had some inquiries about the status of the Sanctum 2 v4 module remake, so I thought it would be a good idea to re-consider my plans for it and to address them on my blog.
I’m currently about halfway through my original plans for the remake. Unfortunately, as I announced here, I had to put finishing that work on hold in recent months in order to allow time for other projects and priorities. Modding and writing are both things that I do in the spare time allowed by my career — and finishing and publishing the first book in the Sanctum series, The End of the Beginning, and completing the Sanctum 2v4 remake, were both competing for that time. Given how much more work was still left on Sanctum 2v4, I felt that I could no longer delay starting to get the novels ready for publication.
But I do miss modding, and after a few months away from it I think that I may be able to fit in the time for a more limited module update for Chapter 2. The good news is that most of the important work — especially the custom content implementation and the linkages from Chapter 1 — are already done. Most of the rest of the work I had planned centered around an extensive new quest sequence that I was going to add. If I skip that, then it shouldn’t take me too long to get the rest of the remake ready for release.
So I’ve decided to go ahead with that, splitting time on Sanctum2 v4 with my novel writing. Aside from one new encounter that I’m already halfway through, the only thing I really still have to do is to re-build the flying areas at the end with the new Sanctum Flying Skyscape tileset. So fingers crossed, it should be possible for me to get the update out for beta test by the holidays.
As readers of my earlier posts have probably already noted, I’ve been torn between a desire to write a shorter work that could be completed and published sooner, and the kind of more comprehensive first novel that I think the storyline deserves. Now that I’ve been working on Crucible of Heroes for a while and have had a chance to refine the outline, I think I’ve found a way to accomplish both goals.
The solution I’ve come up with is to structure the first novel into three shorter parts that could be published either separately, or together as sub-books of a longer work. Each of these should be roughly the length of a short novel, in the range of about 40-50 thousand words. That will allow me to publish each of the individual parts as I finish them, as well as to publish them together as a single novel once all three parts are completed.
So without further ado, let me announce the planned structure of Crucible of Heroes, the first novel in the Sanctum of the Archmage series:
Part I will tell the full story of the coming of the horde and the fall of Lannamon, and Part III the story of The Sight up to the flight from Blackwing Lodge. These are consistent with my previously announced outlines. The new element is the addition of Part II, which is really the part of the story that’s been expanding the most as my writing has progressed and I’ve continued to re-work the outline. Part II will tell the story of how our three heroes meet for the first time, and of how Mount Cassandra became the center of the resistance against the Black Magus.
After a brief hiatus to deal with some commitments in “real life,” I’m now hard at work on Crucible of Heroes, Chapter 3: The Return of the Horde.
Crucible of Heroes chapter 2 (The Calm Before the Storm) is now complete. The first two chapters come to just a bit over 14,000 words, which at an estimate of about 350 words per page, should be about 40 pages. The whole book should probably end up being about 10 chapters, which should put me at about the 20% mark on a roughly 200 page book. (That doesn’t count editing, of course, which is a whole other ball of wax for which all bets are off.)
The first two chapters are the main ones for background and exposition, and focus a great deal on visual description and character introduction. Those have always been the things I’ve found most difficult and time-consuming to work though, and I’m quite glad to have that behind me. The real action begins in Chapter 3, the first sentences of which I’m just now starting to write. I’m really looking forward to that — and, hopefully, picking up the pace of my progress on the saga even more.
It will still need a few more editing passes, but as of now, Crucible of Heroes chapter 1 (The City of Rainbows) is complete. It ended up coming to three scenes and just over 12 pages of single-spaced type in 11-point font. So far Crucible of Heroes as a whole is just shy of 9000 words and 470 Kindle “locations.”
By SWFA standards that already puts it over the line into a Novella, with at least six more chapters still to go. So obviously, my initial estimate of 20,000 words is going to be a bit short of the mark. As it looks right now, fifty to sixty thousand is probably more realistic, which will put it well over the word count guidelines for a novella.
So it looks like it’s official. Although a relatively short one, Crucible of Heroes is, in fact, going to be novel.
Here’s a brief update on the progress of “Crucible of Heroes,” the first book in the “Sanctum of the Archmage” series (which I’m currently writing for release as a Kindle book).
Not entirely surprisingly, I’ve already had to adjust my plans for the outline of the first installment. Fortunately the reasons are all good ones: I’m writing too much, and I’ve got too many ideas, to realistically fit all of it into one introductory novella. So naturally, of course, I’ve now re-organized it into two introductory novellas. The more I got into writing, the more I realized that was needed, and that there was too much to the back-story for me to cover properly in the space allotted allowed by a short first book.
I think it works better that way anyhow, since it was essentially going to be telling two different stories (the Fall of Lannamon, and the introduction to The Sight). Instead, now, the first two books will now tell each of those stories in more detail. And since they should both be roughly of the same length that I’d originally intended for “Crucible,” the re-structuring shouldn’t significantly delay completion and release of the first one.
Now that I’ve had a chance to to work through most of the (expected) kinks in settling into a writing style and a routine, the work is picking up pace. The first of seven planned chapters is nearly done (and I favor long chapters, so that’s more than it sounds like. ). It introduces Robin (Randia), Orion, and the royal family, and sets up Diana for her appearance in Chapter 2. And it offers a glimpse into the extraordinary events that were taking place in the Kingdom of Carlissa at the beginning of the saga, which help frame and set the context for what comes afterward…
After some delays – more than I had expected or intended, and largely due to the ever pesky demands of life and career – I’m pleased to announce that work is now officially underway on the initial prose installment in the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga. The chapter and scene outlines are done, and the Kindle template is prepared and eagerly awaiting an impending infusion of content.
I’m tentatively calling the first book Crucible of Heroes, subtitled (of course) “Book One of the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga.” The title is still tentative, but I settled on Crucible of Heroes because it focuses on telling the origin stories of the major heroes of the Sanctum saga. The first half tells the full tale of The Fall of Lannamon, while second tells the introduction to The Sight up to the flight from Blackwing Lodge. There’s also a prologue that flashes back ten thousand years to offer us a brief glimpse of the mysterious and enigmatic Andarians, though of course I can’t say very much about that just yet…
I’m also pleased to announce plans for Crucible of Heroes to be illustrated with original pen and ink drawings by the very talented artist, Charles Imbro. I’m extremely excited by the opportunity to collaborate with Charles on this effort, which we expect to be very effective for publication in the still predominantly grayscale Kindle reader market.
I’m anticipating a final length of about 20 thousand words, which according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America should technically qualify it as a short novella. I rather like that idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which is described in this interesting article about evolving publication standards due to e-publishing:
The novella is the perfect length for an ebook. Writers can get around the traditional obstacles that publishers face with novellas, and get their novella onto people’s Kindles directly. Also, in terms of actually getting people to buy your work, it is easier to price your novella at a lower price… than a traditional novella published in print, that would probably go on sale for a similar price to a novel, despite being much shorter in length.
I’ve had to turn off the user registration feature on the Sanctum Blog until further notice due to a large number of spam accounts being created. Hopefully this is just temporary and I’ll be able to re-enable it again soon. In the meantime, if you want to register an account on the Blog, send email to andarian at andarian dot com and I’ll create one for you.
After our recent scare, and in the face of growing uncertainty about continued availability of IGN’s Neverwinter Nights Vault, I have gone ahead and created a new project page for the “v4″ remakes of Sanctum of the Archmage – The Sight on the New Neverwinter Vault:
Sanctum of the Archmage – The Sight at the New Neverwinter Vault.
I strongly encourage everyone who wants to download, play, comment, and vote on the V4 releases of the Sanctum of the Archmage modules to do so here, or to use the project’s new page on the New Neverwinter Vault.
The old (v3.4) versions of Chapters 1 and 2 will remain available for now on their historical pages on IGN’s old Neverwinter Nights Vault.
UPDATE: The Vault is back online, at least for the time being.
If you’ve tried downloading the Sanctum of the Archmage (SotA) game modules, or visiting its (or any other) pages on the Neverwinter Nights Vault since yesterday afternoon, you’ve probably seen the ominous “server not found” messages from that are now coming from http://nwvault.ign.com. I’ve been keeping an eye on this since I became aware of it last night, and I’m hoping that it’s something simple and temporary like a DNS error. However, there is some talk going around through the NWN modding community that this may in fact be a permanent (and not entirely unanticipated) shutdown of the site that has been so central to the NWN modding community for so many years.
As a result, those parts of the SotA module downloads that reference files on the NWN Vault won’t work until it either comes back up, or an alternative is provided. I’m going to wait until this weekend to see if we get more definitive news about the Vault’s status going forward. If it continues to be unavailable, then I’ll take steps to set up new downloads for those files. Hopefully within a week at the latest, players who want to download and play SotA should be able to do so once again.
As far as the future of the Vault is concerned, I don’t know anything more than is currently going around the “rumor mill” on the Bioware Social Network (for example, here and here), or on some other CRPG related sites (for example, here and here). The good news, though, is that thanks to the heroic actions of Rolo Kipp and his band of minions from The Vault Preservation Project for NWN1 and NWN2, the that data has been archived and won’t be lost:
“Pain & Tarot, Werelynx & Henesua. Others. A lot of people have been working hard over the last two months saving stuff.
We have archive of all the project files through last Sunday. We have copies of the meta data and copies of the download counts and award tags and at least the first page of comments.
We have archives of most of the articles and tutorials. We even have the surviving “top ten” lists… The library may be burning, but the books are safe.
“Not everything works. Not everything works right. But the new place is starting to come together.”
So a new Neverwinter Vault to replace the old one is being stood up as we speak — and once the dust settles, module pages for the Sanctum of the Archmage series will be available there.