I was inspired this evening to load my unfinished module, Sanctum of the Archmage 3: Mission to Rayche, in the beta version of the upcoming Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition. Here’s a shot of the “Midland Inn” area at night, courtesy of Six’s marvelous Wild Woods tileset.
Dale just asked (on my 2011 post of the opening scene) whether there was any news on Sanctum 3. Since my comments on the status of the game modules is probably somewhat scattered throughout my blog over the last couple of years, I thought I should probably clarify the situation here. I added the following about this last year on the main modules page:
*As of summer 2013, further work on the game modules has been suspended until further notice, in order to work on completing and releasing the initial Sanctum of the Archmage novels. This includes the unfinished v4.2 update of Chapter 1 and remake of Chapter 2, as well as completion of Chapter 3 and work on Chapters 4-7.
Since there’s not a great deal of work left to do on the Sanctum 2 v4.2 remake, I do expect to be able to release it early next year. That will probably be just after I publish the first of the Sanctum novels, Dawn of Chaos.
At this point, however, I’m afraid I have to admit that it’s not clear to me when or even if I’ll be able to complete Sanctum 3 (much less the rest of the series), in module form. I very much want to do it, and if it were my only project I’m confident that I would be able to. Unfortunately, though, it’s not. As I wrote in the post when I announced that I was resuming work on the novels,
I’ve also had to take a hard look at my somewhat ambitious plans for the module series, given a realistic assessment of my other goals and the amount of time I actually have to work on it. My “real life” career as a computer scientist demands most of my time and attention, and I have plans for developing it further that will require additional focus on learning certain new technologies. Both writing and modding are things that I can only afford to do in my (unfortunately, not especially plentiful) spare time — which I need to be more hard-nosed about rationing. Some reflection has consequently forced me to the conclusion that while I’m not quite ready to give up on Sanctum as a modding project just yet, that I need to make more time in my schedule for other efforts as well.
I haven’t yet cancelled work on the modules. They remain in my mind as projects that I want to find time to get back to, when and if I can. At this point in my life, however, I simply have no choice but to put other priorities ahead of them. And at the present time, those have to be the demands of my career (and of striving to remain employable in today’s dysfunctional economy), and publishing Sanctum of the Archmage as a series of novels.
I thought readers might enjoy some plot and character previews from Sanctum of the Archmage 3: The Miracle Worker, Act II – Mission to Rayche, currently in development. The following are excerpts from the Sanctum 3 design document, edited slightly to remove spoilers.
Main Quest Profile – Ally With Rayche
The party will land on the roof of Castle Highpeak. The Pegasi will tell them that they will be on call to fly to nearby areas should they be needed, and then leave. If Robin is in the party, she’ll don a disguise to keep her from being recognized by any of the Raychian nobility. When they try to enter the castle, they will be confronted by a squad of guards and brought to the Castellan…
From the Castellan they’ll learn that Chancellor Rhys has just been assassinated and the Royal Treasury looted, and that the city and castle are in chaos. The King has retreated to his apartments under heavy guard, with strict orders that no one except his most trusted and loyal advisors be allowed in to see him. The Castellan is loath to make an exception to his orders until or unless the party can win his trust…
The party will need to fulfill a certain number of “points” worth of quests to build up their reputation with the King’s advisers in order to gain an audience with him. The King and his Court are also influenced by public opinion, so developing a positive reputation among the people will help to win their support as well.
Character Profile: Captain Flynn
Captain Flynn is a young officer who is also Marshal Briggs’ most trusted assistant. He’s charming and a bit of a rogue, romantically speaking, and will flirt mercilessly with a player that shows an interest in him… As a henchman, he’s a fighter with excellent combat skills. He’s charged by the Marshal to help them with the Defeat the Demon Force and Destroy the Demon Base quests… He’s also a skilled dancer, and if the player enters the Dancing Competition in the Grand Tourney she can choose him as her partner.
Quest Profile: The Shield of the Defender
High Priestess Aleanne is worried about the peoples’ morale in face of the demon threat and the crushing taxes that have had to be imposed to make up for the looting of the treasury. She is convinced that they need a symbol of divine favor to inspire them, and proposes that the PC undertake a dangerous quest to recover a holy artifact: The Shield of the Defender, once wielded by the great hero Calindra. The shield is a symbol of the archetype of The Defender from the statue gallery in the Ancient Ruins from Chapter 1.
The Legend of the Defender is an ancient story, now thought by many to be more myth than history. But Aleanne believes in it, and the tale of Calindra is a personal favorite of hers that has always filled her with inspiration. She has faith that the shield can be found again, but doesn’t know where to look for it. She recommends that the party start their search by visiting the library in Highpeak Castle and consulting the definitive book on subject, aptly titled The Legend of the Defender…
Character Profile: Prometheus The Giant Slayer
Prometheus Antonos, also known as “Prometheus the Giant-Slayer,” is a member of the renowned adventuring group, The Heroes of Glorn. He was sent by the Magistrate of Glorn as an emissary from the Free City-States of Landis to coordinate the hasty marshalling of the Landissian and Raychian armies at the mouth of Stonegate pass. He can be found in the King’s Throne room and the player can talk to him about his adventures, and the lands of Landis and Glorn. He adventured with Nimrod and will recognize it if the player is wearing Nimrod’s Ring.
Prometheus is a large and powerfully muscled fighter who wields a huge battle hammer named “Iron Thunder.” He also has bright green hair, the result of opening a cursed door in a dungeon on one of his adventures. He affects a pronounced “tough guy” manner, but has a keen intellect and a highly developed sense of honor. Prometheus can join the party during the endgame sequence (for the “Find the Traitor” quest), and as henchman he’s a ranger with giants and demons as his racial enemies.
Copyright Notice. Copyright 2011, all rights reserved.
Posts on the Sanctum Blog have been fairly sparse recently, though I hope to be able to start changing that again soon. The main reason for the dearth of updates is that I’ve temporarily had to set aside work on the saga (especially on Chapter 3) for a couple of other priorities. The main one was professional: my career was badly in need of a reboot, and I needed some time this year to work that out. The good news is that I have a new position now, with better prospects and in a better area. I’ll be moving over the course of the next month, and hope to be able to get back to modding again in a more serious way once that’s done.
One thing that I have been working on, though, is a final remake to the first two chapters to implement a lot of the design changes I’ve made to the series for Chapter 3. I mentioned this in a recent blog post, and the changes are actually quite major. Part of my motive in doing the update was that I wanted to get some of the good work I’ve done for the third chapter out there. Some of it is custom content related, such as integrating Project Q and CEP 3.4, using the fabulous Sanctum Flying Skyscape tileset that Estelindis built for me to remake the flying areas at the end of Sanctum 2, revamping the score with some of the new tracks from the expanded Sanctum 3 soundtrack, and so on. The technical base of haks used by the v4 update will be the same one used by Sanctum 3 when it’s released, which will make integrating the third chapter with the first two a much easier task.
Some of the changes, though, are to start removing some of the unnecessary D&D references included in the modules. I originally did a lot of that for convenience, and to help make the setting feel a little less unfamiliar to NWN players. When I first built the modules my ability to do things like create new races and appearances was limited, and using player-familiar ones from the toolset was much easier. Most of these elements really don’t fit well with the non-D&D story world of the Sanctum novels that I’m working on, though, and on which the modules are based. Some examples of this are the Drow and the Deep Gnomes, which don’t even exist in them at all.
I’m reworking a lot of that now, and including a lot more of the lore from the original world of the novels — including things like history, religion, custom races, and the like. (For a spoiler hint about what will replace the Drow, and the new face of General Y’Thra, see here and here.) I expect to have the v4 update out before the end of this year, and be back on track building Sanctum 3 for release sometime next year.
Here’s a screenshot and video clip showcasing Sanctum 3’s unique flying system. These use the Sanctum Flying Skyscape tileset, custom developed for the series by the very talented Estelindis.
Essentially, there will be two ways to travel in the module. One that should already be familiar to players is journeying overland, using linked areas along the roads on the map that I posted recently. The other, faster and more dramatic method, though, will be by flying through the “Sky Over Rayche,” which the player can ascend to and descend from at designated locations across the land. The video clip (about 75 meg) illustrates this latter method.
Here’s a short video clip from the Midland Road area, built with Sixesthrice’s terrific Wild Woods tileset. This one shows how I was able to use the (very conveniently walkable) roof of the Midland Inn as a “landing pad” to facilitate travel to and from the area.
Here’s the opening scene of The Miracle Worker, Act II – Mission to Rayche. Just click the image to launch a five minute video clip. (Warning: it’s about 150 mb, so be prepared to wait a few minutes for it to download.)
Here’s a rough map of Southern Rayche, the setting of Sanctum of the Archmage 3: The Miracle Worker, Act II – Mission to Rayche.
Although I hadn’t originally planned to use NWNCQ or any of the original Bioware tilesets in Sanctum 3, I finally decided that I did have some areas that I needed them for. After some work on them I have to say that I’m very pleased with the result. Here are a couple of screenshots to show why. 🙂
Here’s a new screenshot from Sanctum of the Archmage 3: The Miracle Worker, Act II – Mission to Rayche. This one uses a fantastic new tileset custom developed for the series by the very talented Estelindis.