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Quest Authoring Guide

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This guide is not meant to replace the Quickstart or Full Guide, but rather as an additional tool to help create good quests, therefore, this guide will not cover the Foundry UI or operations. Also, most of this information has been compiled from discussions on the forums, and in-game with many different authors, some of it is subjective.

Major Quest Types[edit | edit source]

When writing a quest, they will generally fall into one of these categories.

  • Heavy story—these quests are very heavy on dialog and sometimes exploration, but often have very little in the way of combat.
  • Exploration—these quests are heavy on exploration of the maps created by the author, and often have the “golden trail” guide path turned off for objectives.
  • Dungeon Crawl—also known as Hack n' Slash or Combat quests. These quests often have very little in the way of story but quite a bit of combat, and often include puzzles and exploration.
  • Puzzle—these quests have a lot of puzzles in them. For instance:jump puzzles, riddles, and other logic puzzles.
  • Balanced—a balanced quest tries to combine story, exploration, puzzles, and especially combat, into one quest in as balanced a manner as possible, though one or more categories may be left out of a quest (for instance, a puzzle section may not be included). Combat is never left out of this type of quest, however. This kind of quest is what many authors strive for.

Story Writing Tips[edit | edit source]

  1. Try not to force an action on a player, but rather give them a choice. For instance, don't tell them they are killing an innocent person; give them a CHOICE to do so. If they choose not to but that person dying is integral to the story, find a way to kill that person but in a way that makes the player culpable for the death (if they need to be).
    1. Example: if you need to give them a reason to save someone, don't make it the player's dog, their background may have them as a dog hater. Instead someone ELSE should approach them to save that persons dog.
  2. DO NOT tell the player how their character feels or reacts! You want to evoke that feeling with your story, and not insult the player.
    1. Example: would you like someone to tell your terribly honest, pious paladin that he/she cackles with insane glee as he/she slaughters a village of innocents just because? No? Yeah that's why you should not tell a player how their character feels and also reinforces why you should not force a choice on a player).
  3. NPCs are your best storytelling friends, but need some work.
    1. Customize the names of all NPCs in your quest; even background NPCs should have either an actual name, or something referring to WHY they don't have one, such as, “Tavern Patron” for an unnamed tavern NPC.
    2. Customize the costumes of any NPC that the players will be directly interacting with, this makes them stand out as being part of YOUR quest. This isn't really necessary for background NPCs (but that said, it WILL improve your quest if you customize all the costumes, time consuming as it may be.)
    3. Make sure they have an appropriate animation. An NPC that's just standing around nonchalantly in the middle of a group of kidnappers is out of place.
    4. Do your best to make sure a player can't get stuck, use invisible walls and other assets to block off areas you don't want the player going
  4. Story doesn't have to be told through objectives on the storyboard. You can create a lot of story through clever use of dialog, interactables, puzzles, and exploration. This is also really the only way to create optional side quests. Telling your story off the storyboard allows you to create non-linear quests and/or create sidequests.
    1. Example: You could have an optional side quest to save a little girl from a pack of wolves while the player travels a plain to an orc encampment. So the player has a dialog with the little girl, some wolves spawn, the player fights them, then has more dialog with the little girl, before wandering off on their merry way. This entire event would have to be off the story board; otherwise it would not be optional.
  5. Try to make sure your is story both entertaining and sensible, if something is important, make sure the player actually deals with it first hand. An example is having a player go explore an area, and when they come back and talk to their contact, the contact tells them about all the stuff they found…when they never found it while exploring. It's confusing and not very logical.
  6. Spelling and grammar count. Big time. All of your dialog should be spelling and grammar checked and proofread. A quest will likely be completely ignored and/or quickly down-rated if the players cannot understand the quest due to poor editing.

Creating Maps/Environments[edit | edit source]

  1. Plan your map/environment. Look at it from the point of view of an engineer. What rooms/locations are in this map? Why is that room/location in that spot on the map? What is its function (or original function, it may have been monk's quarters, but those orcs are using it as a trash dump)? Overall, try to make the layout make logical sense. However, one thing to be wary of is many players don't like to “backtrack”, or go back the way they came, so you may want to avoid that when you can.
    1. You can still use layouts that aren't necessarily logical, but they should be the exception to the rule, make them special. For instance: The TARDIS is larger on the inside than on the outside. That's part of what makes it special. Obviously, magic can also throw this for a loop…who knows where that portal goes, right?
    2. Properly size your maps for the content in them. You don't want the player to feel like they're running all over for no reason, but you also don't want the player to be pulled in too many different directions. Give them a few options perhaps, but be careful about overloading a location, and just as careful about leaving a location feeling empty.
  2. Remember Neverwinter is a Fantasy setting. Don't be afraid to make good use of teleporters, illusionary walls, magical FX, and skill checks to give the player different paths in a map/environment, to give different classes different options in the story, or even for side quests.
    1. Try not to let everything be mundane, include “magical” objects and effects where appropriate for your story.
    2. Make sure to include an exit of some kind at the end of the quest; don't make the player run all the way back to the beginning to leave your quest.
  3. Details make the map YOURS. Use the original and current functions of the room or location to decide what details would make the area come alive and help present your story. Again, be logical about it; don't just randomly throw stuff in the location (unless of course, it's supposed to look haphazard for some reason, such as a trash dump).
    1. An empty room/location with no details should *never* be considered finished. Even a jail cell has some kind of outstanding details, even if it's just some kind of FX such as floating dust and/or a crack in the floor or wall, but whatever it is, it should show just what the location is intended to be, or say something about the occupants.
    2. Using the built-in ‘populate' function can help sometimes, but the objects it puts in the location should be used as a base, and just like an empty room, you shouldn't consider a location decorated by ‘populate' as done, delete assets, add assets, make it different, give it your aesthetics, not Cryptic's.
    3. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting. Don't just use the standard lighting. Think about changing the locations lighting property, and make use of both static and dynamic light options to enhance the feel of your quest. Lighting is one of the primary ways to set the mood in a quest, and also gives you additional ways to make your quest unique.
  4. Traps currently don't do a lot of damage, but you can use a good number of them in a quest. Good to give Rogues something to deal with.
    1. Traps usually consist of an emitter, a target, and a trigger plate. Some consist only of an emitter and trigger plate. The trigger plate should always be above the ground or else Rogues will not be able to disarm it. That isn't nice, nor is there any way in which it enriches your quest, so don't place the trigger plates under ground. That said..you can(and probably should) still use other assets to make them harder to notice.
    2. Don't position all traps in easy to see locations! Place them in shadowed areas, or around corners, use other assets to make them less visible, etc. Make them actually seem like traps! When you do this, be sure to leave hints using other assets, such as arrows lying on the ground around the target of an arrow or dart trap, or dead creatures near a gas trap, etc. You can be really creative here and even if the trap doesn't do a lot of damage, you might just cause a memorible moment for your players.
  5. Built-in traps are not the only traps. You can build custom traps or mix custom traps with built-in traps. For instance you could build a pit trap and use an illusionary rock to cover it, and at the bottom? You can put a spike trap, or gas trap. You could also put an encounter of zombie adventurer's down there, in addition to or instead of the trap. Again, you can be really creative with this. Deathtraps are generally frowned on (and are difficult to create), but nothing is stopping you from creating a trap that somehow instant-kills the player, it's your quest…just don't expect awesome ratings if you do.
  6. Remember that combat, exploration, and dialog are NOT the only options for a map. You can create different types of puzzles using interactable objects and asset placement. For instance, you can create jump puzzles, mazes, and riddles (though these usually involve dialog).

Mapping Tricks[edit | edit source]

  • There is a prefabricated Tavern map available for authors to use but predictably, it is terribly, terribly, overused. You're better off creating your own tavern from scratch, but if you do use the prefabricated tavern map, make sure to add in your own details, change the lighting, modify the layout with other assets, etc.
  • When creating a custom building from scratch, use the large flat map, it provides the most space to use.
  • Use an invisible wall to keep from falling through floors when making custom multi-floor buildings. Rotate it 90 degrees on the ‘R' axis and place it under the floor you're creating, when done you can simply turn its visibility to “never” and it will be completely unnoticeable during normal play, while still accessible if you ever need to change the map later. If you think you will not need it again, you can simply delete it as well.
  • Create a “palette” of details you intend to use a lot in your map somewhere out of the way, so that you can copy and place them wherever you want without having to leave 3D edit mode, at least until Cryptic gives authors a way to access assets in 3D mode.
  • Use teleporters for easy access to the area you're creating, especially to and from the palette, if you are using one. Once done creating the area, you can simply remove the portals for normal gameplay. You cannot however, make them invisible and just leave them there.
  • To keep players from seeing enemies or objects spawn, use stage tricks, e.g. have the switch/activator that causes the spawn be out of view of the spawn from any direction, but if wanted/needed, use sounds to clue them into the event (such as perhaps a hidden stairway sliding into place in another room)
  • Obvious, but useful: You don't have to use entire rooms or prefabricated locations; you can use walls or other assets to “cut them down to size.”
  • Shadows from dynamic lights are more than just eye candy, they can be used to hide things you don't want seen, though it can be difficult, and generally doesn't work on items that are interactable, due to the sparkle effect.
  • Static lights are especially useful for throwing light in areas you don't want shadows to be thrown, but still want to be lit.
  • When trying to place objects in a multi-level building, place a barrel where you want the object and note the Y position of the barrel, then place the object at that Y in 2D mode (assuming you don't just grab it from a palette and position it in 3D mode).

Encounters[edit | edit source]

  1. Plan and customize your encounters.
    1. Why are they in that location? What actions are they taking? Are they patrolling? Gambling? Be creative, but logical; would a wererat guard be more likely to be gambling, or praying? Probably gambling. Make it match up with your story.
  2. Give each actor in an encounter a meaningful name for your story, and change the group name for each actor as well. Don't just use an unchanged Nasher rebel encounter when they're supposed to be from “Blarglphrags Thieves”. You could name the actors “Blarglphrag Thief” and make their group “Blarglphrags Thieves.”
  3. Change the costumes of your encounter actors, ESPECIALLY your boss; make sure there is variation in your encounters. Make custom costumes in the costume editor if need be. You can get away with standard costumes for some encounters, but bosses especially need to look unique. The more unique your encounters are overall, the more unique your quest will feel. This will also let you mix different creatures in the same encounter, for instance an orc, skeleton, and kobold could all be members of the same encounter, just by changing the costume of two of the members of an orc encounter.
  4. Vary your encounters when possible. Don't just throw the same encounter at the player for the entire quest, this is actually easy to do simply by changing costumes; if all the encounters are the same, it leads to the quest feeling bland.
  5. Be VERY careful if you stack encounters. You should not do so at all if the quest is intended for solo players. For the most part, let Cryptic deal with difficulty scaling, but you probably shouldn't stack more than two or three encounters in one place even if you intend the quest for a party. If you really intend on doing so, I would suggest consulting with more experienced authors in the NW_Foundry or Foundry chat channels first.
  6. Every boss has lieutenants in addition to minions, try to come up with some named mini-boss encounters if the story and maps allow for it (indeed you might think about mini-boss encounters while developing your story and maps). A good mini-boss can add flavor and uniqueness to your quest.
  7. Use easy and normal difficulty encounters for most battles, save the hard difficulty encounters for boss encounters and named enemies/mini-bosses.
  8. There are “solo” encounters, monsters that can equal a player all by themselves, reskinning these is as close as you can get to an actual “boss” encounter.

Solo Encounters[edit | edit source]

Notice: This list may be incomplete!

  • The Ogre Savage in the Orc encounters
  • The Shocktrooper Devil in the Ashmadai encounters
  • The Plaguechanged Maw in the Abolethic encounters
  • The Magma Brute in the Fire encounters
  • The Hulk in the Foulspawn encounters
  • The Thoon Hulk in the Mindflayer encounters
  • Fomorian encounters; the mobs marked as (null)

Encounter Tricks[edit | edit source]

  • Create one encounter of the difficulty and type you want to use, set it up with the proper group name, then you can copy and paste that encounter to suitable locations and follow up by modifying costumes, actor names, and visibility settings as needed for each specific encounter. Obviously, you need to do this separately for each Cryptic encounter you want to use on the map.

Patrol Paths[edit | edit source]

  • After you create an encounter and give it a patrol one-way or looping path and set up the path points, if you copy that encounter, it re-uses those same patrol points. This is great if you want more than one patrol, perhaps on a long path, or several patrols walking around a castle or large building. Simply duplicate the original encounter, and place it somewhere else near the patrol route and it will begin it's patrol at the closes patrol point.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

  1. Use sound effects to help give players clues as to what's going on and things that might be interesting, or dangerous.
    1. Use ambient sounds to give your location life. In a crypt? Perhaps use some of the ghostly ambiance sounds.
    2. Have something special happening? A magical explosion in another room perhaps? Use an explosion sound effect. A monster spawn in a room they were just in? Use a monster taunt sound effect. Similar for other happenings.
    3. Music selection can enhance a quest greatly, especially if you make sure to change them up so they match what is happening. Silence can be used to help create a creepy or dramatic atmosphere, especially if you have made sure to make use of sounds and background music throughout the quest.

Resources[edit | edit source]

The best resource for help with quest creation is other authors, here are some of the best ways to talk with them:

  • The Foundry chat channel (though this is shared with Star Trek Online, and that can cause some misunderstandings, as their Foundry is slightly different than the Neverwinter Foundry)
  • The NW_Foundry chat channel (a lot of good authors hang out here)
  • The Neverwinter Foundry Forums, you can find information on many advanced techniques and workarounds here, for instance, advanced lighting techniques and timer workarounds

There is also Mosby1's “DM's Studio” short code: NW-DHZ5DAV4R. It is a quest meant to show off tricks and capabilities of the Foundry to Authors, you can access it by searching for the short code listed, if you don't see it on the best list.

Terminology[edit | edit source]

  • Linear quest—a quest in which the player is required to go from point A to point B to point C, and so on until they reach the end.
  • Non-linear quest—a quest in which the player has no required path, the player may find their way to the end however they wish, within the capabilities of the Foundry and your design.
  • NPC—Non-Player Character. A computer controlled entity such as a commoner; Sgt. Knox is a prime example of an NPC.
  • Actor—an individual mob in a placed encounter, these can be seen and modified in the Detail view.
  • Asset—anything that can be found to use in the asset library window and placed on a map is an asset.