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Hiliadan

Major
Jun 17, 2018
501
1
This is a continuation of this post on the old Triumph forum: http://aow.triumph.net/forums/topic/shadow-realm-campaign/

This thread discuss the story of the campaign of the Shadow Realm Community Expansion, its goal, its content (maps, characters…), etc. The campaign is developped by Refineus.
 

Hiliadan

Major
Jun 17, 2018
501
1
Some comments:
  • 1st map:
    • The name should be "Through the Shadow Gate": https://age-of-wonders-3.wikia.com/...ansion#1st_scenario_-_Through_the_Shadow_Gate
    • As discussed on Steam and following the feedback of Badok and Markymark, the Dragon Quest should be modified: give an Egg, or make it start later, or give a Wyvern that we mod to Evolve into a Dragon at Champion I
    • Esnodil is still moving all the time in his domain, and it's quite annoying. I thought we agreed he would be frozen for the first 10 turns?
  • 2nd map:
    • Name: why not Shadowborn Threat but I'm sure we can find a less generic and nicer name. Anyone has any idea?
    • I did some edits in the draft file. It seems like the content of the .xml is not the same as the content of the draft file... It would be much easier to collaborate on this (HousePet, and others might also help with the drafting) if the .xml and .docx were updated in parallel.
    • The introduction of the map in game (with the sentence "could not explain why Werlac made it through... ?" is a bit confusing: it should be written from the point of view of Sydran, since the human player is now Sydran. I could not find the text in the .docx
    • I think the map picture needs more explaining otherwise players will really not get why we have so many stars (by the way, there might be a better way to represent it than stars, or arrows) and why there are 3 contested areas. It might also be good to indicate on the first map where WE are as a player, maybe with an arrow, to anchor the description.
    • So the Wizard Realm is another level beyond the Shadow Realm, right? I think we need to provide a lot more explanations about how it can be accessed, what is the nexus core, etc.
    • In the end are Luna and Bowan Stargazer players in the SR?
    • What about Julia and Sundren, do they appear as hero or player?
    • What about Merlin? Drax wrote: "Meandor and Merlin estimate that between them they can hold off two Wizard-Kings, but if a third is summoned into the fray, they would be overwhelmed." so would be good to have Merlin have a dialogue with Meandor.
    • Overall I feel like Sydran has a very strong personality and takes the lead while Grevara just follows. Isn't that a bit weird? Why is Sydran so willing to help people in Athla? And why is Grevara, who is supposed to lead the mission, such a follower? Shouldn't they argue more often?
    • Meandor - since we didn't have time on the chat, I write it here where we can get more time to answer -. The thing that triggers Meandor first spawning is a turn timer launched when the SE city is controlled, right? So can he spawn without the player being near the area where he spawns? If yes, then what happens: no dialogue launched? He starts to roam?
    • I suggested a way to convince Meandor to ally, see scene 10. That's an important decision here. I see 3 options, do we agree?
      • Player works with the Archons to convince Meandor to ally
      • Player uses the Beacon of Light (or something else) to communicate with Julia and/or Sundren and gets a message from them to convince Meandor to ally
      • Player acts in a way that Meandor stays an enemy (e.g. attack Archons and do not use the Beacon) or talks to Meandor in a way that makes him an enemy. In this case, the player has to beat Meandor and then open the teleporters, etc. to get to the Wizard Realm. Otherwise Meandor opens the teleporters to provide access to the Wizard Realm.
    • Is the multi-map Quest we talked about (with an item to take from a Fey Dwelling in 1st map to bring to characters in a later map) in? Basically see "Random Hiliadan stuff section:" in the draft of the 2nd scenario (several points below are also linked to that).
    • Scene 7 and below would gain from improvement by Drax. I asked him and he said he wouldn't be able to help before November.
    • I would it interesting to have some side discussions between Grevara and Sydran, to reveal more about their personality and story. They could trigger after X turns or at some chokepoints the player has to go through. They would not be linked to any event on the map, but would just be dialogues.
    • Would also be good to add some secondary Quests not linked to the main story, for instance a Quest about investigating Syron artifacts to try to understand where they disappeared. It could be given by an old Shadow Elf scholar who has some scrolls about an old Syron Tomb (that the player would then have to explore) that reportedly contains tapestries describing the end of the Shadow Demon Wars and why and where the Syrons left.
    • Would also be good to have a few more real choices in the dialogue and not just always "Ok". For instance there could be a scenario where the player decides to kill the Archons, and then all the narrative arch where Meandor is convinced to trust the player because the Archons tell him so disappears. Instead the human player will fight Meandor but at the end of the mission, Sundren or Julia appear and convince him it was a mistake and he allies with the player (so the end result is the same).
    • To avoid the scenario being too easy, I think it would make sense to have a counter attack from the Shadowborn arriving near Splindyr at some point (maybe 3-5 turns after the player beats the hidden units from Unoras?). The "off limit" area north of Splindyr could be opened with a teleporter just behind it, and a stack spawning there (in addition to the regular troops the AI is going to send through the Teleporter).
    • For the same reason, it could be good to add a few spawners on the map: Larva Pools in particular (and near the area where the human player starts), but also the other spawner valid on the SR: Warband Campfires.
    • I need to keep checking things in details from scene 14 down, but I think we need to agree on Meandor before.
    • Comments from first play test:
      • The Archon Dwelling of Splindyr starts discovered because some of its defenders are just next to our starting location: maybe move our starting location farther away to avoid that?
      • Mispell in "Soldier" for "Archon Soldier" in the first dialogues
      • Is it possible to display on screen the "Old Archon Forts" Quest? Currently it's added to the event log but not displayed if you don't click on it. Also maybe move the camera to the Fort?
      • "The Archons haVE" in the Old Archon Forts Quest
      • Splindyr becomes our Throne immediately after the Quest is offered, instead of being given AFTER the Quest is completed
      • I suggest to start at 150 gold at least, because you are at -13 gold/turn at the beginning and you need some time to complete the Archon Quest to get some income
      • I think the Reflective Pool near Splindyr should be moved to the other Archon Dwelling (and should not be accessible until the Quest there is completed). The original idea of Drax was that the 2nd Archon Dwelling could provide vision to the Nexus Core, not the 1st one (see Word draft).
      • What is this "off limit" sign north-west of Splindyr?
      • I got Archon defenders at the Mine down the road south-west of Splindyr, did you set the defender set yourself? It's a bit weird to get Archon defenders.
      • It's a bit weird that you reach Russor BEFORE reaching the Archon Fort the Archons talked about. Also, as I pointed in the .docx, the dialogue talks about a "messenger" but there was no such messenger.
      • We should not receive 2 free Hunters and 1 free Shaman at Russor, it makes things too easy. At best 1 free Hunter.
  • 3rd map:
    • I see you wrote these 3 options but they do not match what Drax had written: "Far to the south of the Blessed Continent, in the heart of the Tigran empire, the head of the Cult of Yaka is working towards building a set of beacons – one to Yaka in his own domain, but is also coordinating populations of High Elves, Draconians, and Goblins to construct beacons to Serena, Tempest, and Mab respectively"
    • Story of frostlings in “Brisska”, return of Artica.
    • Story of Tigrans in “Relikesh”, return of Yaka and Tempest
    • Story of “Valley of wonders” or “Nirvenkiln” revenge of Arachna or Nekron taking revenge of them?
    • So in the end, what do we decide for the Wizard to bring back? Isn't 5 (or do you mean Arachna OR Nekron?) a bit too much? What about 3 or 4 like Drax suggested.
 

Refineus

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Jun 16, 2018
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I would remind of the earlier priorities so we do not lose track of expectations:

Map including terrain, decoration, cities, leaders and enemy spawners etc -> Campaign script for map order -> Most needed scripts and quests to make the campaign run -> Adjusting keymap/story elements -> Story Quests -> Minor quest.

The reason is that there are lots of backtracking in campaign making and it’s a lot easier to work with something that is 60% working rather than something working partly only. In these order, extra fluff quest is my least priority, as with triggers and such. It will take time, but things can be expected to be done.

Only when the time is available; I will add the various things and move away from the linear story options. This is a reminder that I still work in the same way as earlier, only when the time is available or when we are stuck in the process - I will switch the focus of work.

Some comments:
  • 1st map:
    • The name should be "Through the Shadow Gate": https://age-of-wonders-3.wikia.com/...ansion#1st_scenario_-_Through_the_Shadow_Gate
    • As discussed on Steam and following the feedback of Badok and Markymark, the Dragon Quest should be modified: give an Egg, or make it start later, or give a Wyvern that we mod to Evolve into a Dragon at Champion I
    • Esnodil is still moving all the time in his domain, and it's quite annoying. I thought we agreed he would be frozen for the first 10 turns?
I will try something for balancing. This was in the same discussion where things were too hard and suddenly too easy now. I will see if things can be changed in the next revision.

  • 2nd map:
    • Name: why not Shadowborn Threat but I'm sure we can find a less generic and nicer name. Anyone has any idea?
    • I did some edits in the draft file. It seems like the content of the .xml is not the same as the content of the draft file... It would be much easier to collaborate on this (HousePet, and others might also help with the drafting) if the .xml and .docx were updated in parallel.
    • The introduction of the map in game (with the sentence "could not explain why Werlac made it through... ?" is a bit confusing: it should be written from the point of view of Sydran, since the human player is now Sydran. I could not find the text in the .docx
    • I think the map picture needs more explaining otherwise players will really not get why we have so many stars (by the way, there might be a better way to represent it than stars, or arrows) and why there are 3 contested areas. It might also be good to indicate on the first map where WE are as a player, maybe with an arrow, to anchor the description.
    • So the Wizard Realm is another level beyond the Shadow Realm, right? I think we need to provide a lot more explanations about how it can be accessed, what is the nexus core, etc.
    • In the end are Luna and Bowan Stargazer players in the SR?
    • What about Julia and Sundren, do they appear as hero or player?
    • What about Merlin? Drax wrote: "Meandor and Merlin estimate that between them they can hold off two Wizard-Kings, but if a third is summoned into the fray, they would be overwhelmed." so would be good to have Merlin have a dialogue with Meandor.
    • Overall I feel like Sydran has a very strong personality and takes the lead while Grevara just follows. Isn't that a bit weird? Why is Sydran so willing to help people in Athla? And why is Grevara, who is supposed to lead the mission, such a follower? Shouldn't they argue more often?
    • Meandor - since we didn't have time on the chat, I write it here where we can get more time to answer -. The thing that triggers Meandor first spawning is a turn timer launched when the SE city is controlled, right? So can he spawn without the player being near the area where he spawns? If yes, then what happens: no dialogue launched? He starts to roam?
    • I suggested a way to convince Meandor to ally, see scene 10. That's an important decision here. I see 3 options, do we agree?
      • Player works with the Archons to convince Meandor to ally
      • Player uses the Beacon of Light (or something else) to communicate with Julia and/or Sundren and gets a message from them to convince Meandor to ally
      • Player acts in a way that Meandor stays an enemy (e.g. attack Archons and do not use the Beacon) or talks to Meandor in a way that makes him an enemy. In this case, the player has to beat Meandor and then open the teleporters, etc. to get to the Wizard Realm. Otherwise Meandor opens the teleporters to provide access to the Wizard Realm.
    • Is the multi-map Quest we talked about (with an item to take from a Fey Dwelling in 1st map to bring to characters in a later map) in? Basically see "Random Hiliadan stuff section:" in the draft of the 2nd scenario (several points below are also linked to that).
    • Scene 7 and below would gain from improvement by Drax. I asked him and he said he wouldn't be able to help before November.
    • I would it interesting to have some side discussions between Grevara and Sydran, to reveal more about their personality and story. They could trigger after X turns or at some chokepoints the player has to go through. They would not be linked to any event on the map, but would just be dialogues.
    • Would also be good to add some secondary Quests not linked to the main story, for instance a Quest about investigating Syron artifacts to try to understand where they disappeared. It could be given by an old Shadow Elf scholar who has some scrolls about an old Syron Tomb (that the player would then have to explore) that reportedly contains tapestries describing the end of the Shadow Demon Wars and why and where the Syrons left.
    • Would also be good to have a few more real choices in the dialogue and not just always "Ok". For instance there could be a scenario where the player decides to kill the Archons, and then all the narrative arch where Meandor is convinced to trust the player because the Archons tell him so disappears. Instead the human player will fight Meandor but at the end of the mission, Sundren or Julia appear and convince him it was a mistake and he allies with the player (so the end result is the same).
    • To avoid the scenario being too easy, I think it would make sense to have a counter attack from the Shadowborn arriving near Splindyr at some point (maybe 3-5 turns after the player beats the hidden units from Unoras?). The "off limit" area north of Splindyr could be opened with a teleporter just behind it, and a stack spawning there (in addition to the regular troops the AI is going to send through the Teleporter).
    • For the same reason, it could be good to add a few spawners on the map: Larva Pools in particular (and near the area where the human player starts), but also the other spawner valid on the SR: Warband Campfires.
    • I need to keep checking things in details from scene 14 down, but I think we need to agree on Meandor before.
    • Comments from first play test:
      • The Archon Dwelling of Splindyr starts discovered because some of its defenders are just next to our starting location: maybe move our starting location farther away to avoid that?
      • Mispell in "Soldier" for "Archon Soldier" in the first dialogues
      • Is it possible to display on screen the "Old Archon Forts" Quest? Currently it's added to the event log but not displayed if you don't click on it. Also maybe move the camera to the Fort?
      • "The Archons haVE" in the Old Archon Forts Quest
      • Splindyr becomes our Throne immediately after the Quest is offered, instead of being given AFTER the Quest is completed
      • I suggest to start at 150 gold at least, because you are at -13 gold/turn at the beginning and you need some time to complete the Archon Quest to get some income
      • I think the Reflective Pool near Splindyr should be moved to the other Archon Dwelling (and should not be accessible until the Quest there is completed). The original idea of Drax was that the 2nd Archon Dwelling could provide vision to the Nexus Core, not the 1st one (see Word draft).
      • What is this "off limit" sign north-west of Splindyr?
      • I got Archon defenders at the Mine down the road south-west of Splindyr, did you set the defender set yourself? It's a bit weird to get Archon defenders.
      • It's a bit weird that you reach Russor BEFORE reaching the Archon Fort the Archons talked about. Also, as I pointed in the .docx, the dialogue talks about a "messenger" but there was no such messenger.
      • We should not receive 2 free Hunters and 1 free Shaman at Russor, it makes things too easy. At best 1 free Hunter
The first 5 point I leave for Drax to decide on and regarding the XLM file not corresponding to the draft is probably due that I dont update it often for every minor change from the draft. I usually do an big update and update everything at some point.

The "Nexus" and "Wizard Realm" are both something not so much explained. I invented the Wizard Realm and the nexus comes from Drax originally, I invented the core as a sort of location to progress with the story somewhat. It's hard to define both of this things as they are only words from the beginning and not something featured within the game from the start. It's something we invented.

So the Wizard Realm is another level beyond the Shadow Realm, right?

- Yeah, or "above" where the Wizards power originated or was drawn to. I think it can be improved.

In the end are Luna and Bowan Stargazer players in the SR?

- Well, it was a suggestion, as if, they were supposed to be guardians in the realm. It has not reach story-wise to an agreement if they should be there or not.

What about Julia and Sundren, do they appear as hero or player?

- I have not seen them other then reading them in text in dialouge with Meandor.

What about Merlin?

- I cannot see him before scenario 3, suggest somewhere he can be featured. If anyone else has an Idea, I would be happy to see him be fitted somewhere it makes sense.

Overall I feel like Sydran has a very strong personality and takes the lead while Grevara just follows. Isn't that a bit weird? Why is Sydran so willing to help people in Athla? And why is Grevara, who is supposed to lead the mission, such a follower? Shouldn't they argue more often?

- They both share the same goal, their intentions aline and Sydran was protecting Athla as I understand together with the rest of the Shadow Elves. If Grevara saved Sydran in the previous mission, I would not consider their relationship in an arguing position when Sydran should have more knowledge and understanding of the Shadow Realm. I do not understand why Sydran's goal should be so different from Meandor's other than that Meandor currently sees everyone as a traitor leaving their post. I would let Drax consider their relationship more closely, but if Grevara does something wrong, it "might" provoke Sydran.

Meandor - since we didn't have time on the chat, I write it here where we can get more time to answer -. The thing that triggers Meandor first spawning is a turn timer launched when the SE city is controlled, right? So can he spawn without the player being near the area where he spawns? If yes, then what happens: no dialogue launched? He starts to roam?

The timer is activated when the city is under Sydran's control. The dialogue is launched when the timer expires and Meandor will target Sydran. Depending on the Timer and how far Sydran has went it's impossible to not face Meandor. Timer expires after 3 turns.

I suggested a way to convince Meandor to ally, see scene 10. That's an important decision here. I see 3 options, do we agree?
  • Player works with the Archons to convince Meandor to ally
  • Player uses the Beacon of Light (or something else) to communicate with Julia and/or Sundren and gets a message from them to convince Meandor to ally
  • Player acts in a way that Meandor stays an enemy (e.g. attack Archons and do not use the Beacon) or talks to Meandor in a way that makes him an enemy. In this case, the player has to beat Meandor and then open the teleporters, etc. to get to the Wizard Realm. Otherwise Meandor opens the teleporters to provide access to the Wizard Realm.
- Player is working with the Archons already. However, we can add the options later when the campaign is fully set up and working. Linear, yes. But, it's functional which is the current target. Please add drafting regarding it and identify a suitable location you might think can be good for triggering a signal or dialogues that can be represented for Julia and Sundren. They can be spawned and removed without being on the map itself with scripts.

Is the multi-map Quest we talked about (with an item to take from a Fey Dwelling in 1st map to bring to characters in a later map) in? Basically see "Random Hiliadan stuff section:" in the draft of the 2nd scenario (several points below are also linked to that).

- None of this has yet been confirmed, the Hiliadan sections are randomly still being saved for later. However, we were discussing certain events from the first scenario would bring over frost cannons for Grevara, if done correctly with one quest. Nothing has been confirmed yet.

I would it interesting to have some side discussions between Grevara and Sydran, to reveal more about their personality and story. They could trigger after X turns or at some chokepoints the player has to go through. They would not be linked to any event on the map, but would just be dialogues.

- Function, before fluff fluff comes in. I can also say that in the first scenario their is room for more dialogues considering how unknown many of Werlacs lackeys are. We leave this section for now.

Would also be good to add some secondary Quests not linked to the main story, for instance a Quest about investigating Syron artifacts to try to understand where they disappeared. It could be given by an old Shadow Elf scholar who has some scrolls about an old Syron Tomb (that the player would then have to explore) that reportedly contains tapestries describing the end of the Shadow Demon Wars and why and where the Syrons left.

- No problem, there is some reserve space left for these kinds of things. We save the ideas for later. It's the same with "hints" which is a type of quest that we could use for the new sites in the expansion. It's not a priority before the maps are functional.

Would also be good to have a few more real choices in the dialogue and not just always "Ok". For instance there could be a scenario where the player decides to kill the Archons, and then all the narrative arch where Meandor is convinced to trust the player because the Archons tell him so disappears. Instead the human player will fight Meandor but at the end of the mission, Sundren or Julia appear and convince him it was a mistake and he allies with the player (so the end result is the same).

Good idea. We will keep it for later.



To avoid the scenario being too easy, I think it would make sense to have a counter attack from the Shadowborn arriving near Splindyr at some point (maybe 3-5 turns after the player beats the hidden units from Unoras?). The "off limit" area north of Splindyr could be opened with a teleporter just behind it, and a stack spawning there (in addition to the regular troops the AI is going to send through the Teleporter).

For the same reason, it could be good to add a few spawners on the map: Larva Pools in particular (and near the area where the human player starts), but also the other spawner valid on the SR: Warband Campfires.

- This is the same problem with the first scenario, there are no real spawners of enemies or counter attacks. I think only one or two? Spawner is not currently the highest priority even if it should. Those will be added later.

  • The Archon Dwelling of Splindyr starts discovered because some of its defenders are just next to our starting location: maybe move our starting location farther away to avoid that?
  • Mispell in "Soldier" for "Archon Soldier" in the first dialogues
  • Is it possible to display on screen the "Old Archon Forts" Quest? Currently it's added to the event log but not displayed if you don't click on it. Also maybe move the camera to the Fort?
  • "The Archons haVE" in the Old Archon Forts Quest
  • Splindyr becomes our Throne immediately after the Quest is offered, instead of being given AFTER the Quest is completed
  • I suggest to start at 150 gold at least, because you are at -13 gold/turn at the beginning and you need some time to complete the Archon Quest to get some income
  • I think the Reflective Pool near Splindyr should be moved to the other Archon Dwelling (and should not be accessible until the Quest there is completed). The original idea of Drax was that the 2nd Archon Dwelling could provide vision to the Nexus Core, not the 1st one (see Word draft).
  • What is this "off limit" sign north-west of Splindyr?
  • I got Archon defenders at the Mine down the road south-west of Splindyr, did you set the defender set yourself? It's a bit weird to get Archon defenders.
  • It's a bit weird that you reach Russor BEFORE reaching the Archon Fort the Archons talked about. Also, as I pointed in the .docx, the dialogue talks about a "messenger" but there was no such messenger.
  • We should not receive 2 free Hunters and 1 free Shaman at Russor, it makes things too easy. At best 1 free Hunter.
- These are most bugs and balance issues needed for a fix. The off-limit sign is just a planned area. I did not set the defender set myself, this is the default and probably a bug to be listed. The messenger is pointed towards the end of the first scenario which I pointed out in the draft document. So the messenger is correctly set up.

3rd map:
  • I see you wrote these 3 options but they do not match what Drax had written: "Far to the south of the Blessed Continent, in the heart of the Tigran empire, the head of the Cult of Yaka is working towards building a set of beacons – one to Yaka in his own domain, but is also coordinating populations of High Elves, Draconians, and Goblins to construct beacons to Serena, Tempest, and Mab respectively"
  • Story of frostlings in “Brisska”, return of Artica.
  • Story of Tigrans in “Relikesh”, return of Yaka and Tempest
  • Story of “Valley of wonders” or “Nirvenkiln” revenge of Arachna or Nekron taking revenge of them?
  • So in the end, what do we decide for the Wizard to bring back? Isn't 5 (or do you mean Arachna OR Nekron?) a bit too much? What about 3 or 4 like Drax suggested.
Nothing is confirmed yet. All of those are ideas. Feel free to add in corrections. Yaka domain could be on the continent of Kesh for example. We decided to finish the scenes of Scenario 1 and 2 before moving on to scenario 3.
 

Hiliadan

Major
Jun 17, 2018
501
1
This was in the same discussion where things were too hard and suddenly too easy now.
Not really. The fact that Esnodil moves is not linked to balance.
The Dragon thing has always been here, was reported from the beginning and you never modified it. I didn't use the Dragon when I played.
So basically things are too easy with the Dragon and have always been. Things without the Dragon were too hard and should be ok now. So we didn't move from hard to easy.

What about Merlin?

- I cannot see him before scenario 3, suggest somewhere he can be featured. If anyone else has an Idea, I would be happy to see him be fitted somewhere it makes sense.
Drax had written: "Meandor and Merlin estimate that between them they can hold off two Wizard-Kings, but if a third is summoned into the fray, they would be overwhelmed." (see https://age-of-wonders-3.wikia.com/...an/Shadow_Realm_Community_Expansion#Details_2)
It's fine to remove Merlin from the story though. So it would just be Meandor saying that he can hold off 2 but not 3 Wizards.


For Sydran and Grevara, yes their goal align. But relationships are also about power struggle: who leads, who follows. Who decides, who just takes order. I would expect Grevara to want to affirm her authority.



For the spawners, I think it would be worth to add them now because it's very important for map balance and it's also in your first step:
"Map including terrain, decoration, cities, leaders and enemy spawners etc -> Campaign script for map order -> Most needed scripts and quests to make the campaign run -> Adjusting keymap/story elements -> Story Quests -> Minor quest."
:p
 

Refineus

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Not really. The fact that Esnodil moves is not linked to balance.
The Dragon thing has always been here, was reported from the beginning and you never modified it. I didn't use the Dragon when I played.
So basically things are too easy with the Dragon and have always been. Things without the Dragon were too hard and should be ok now. So we didn't move from hard to easy.
:p
I actually did modify the quest by increasing the amount of guardians and punished the player for failing the quest. Slight oppositite the way you say :p However, I never touched the reward which makes you think otherwise.

When it comes to balance I take into account what said earlier and adjust every time little by little. With only two other playtester and you it makes certainly the process more slow on balancing dont you think? :) Especially if your words affect the hard-easy counter :p

I do not neccesarily write down every change occuring on the maps if one change means that we put up blockers for the enemy or cities goes from weak to medium etc. It would be extreme in the end. Next revision will towards more difficult.
 

Refineus

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Drax had written: "Meandor and Merlin estimate that between them they can hold off two Wizard-Kings, but if a third is summoned into the fray, they would be overwhelmed." (see https://age-of-wonders-3.wikia.com/...an/Shadow_Realm_Community_Expansion#Details_2)
It's fine to remove Merlin from the story though. So it would just be Meandor saying that he can hold off 2 but not 3 Wizards.
It comes down to when is the moment? When is the time right? It really comes down on timing. If Merlin should come down with lightning or be featured as a playable character in the third mission. As long as the theories stays as theories in the third draft document it wont come far.

I think Merlin is far harder to implemt than the rest of all things. Its not so easy at it seems.
 

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Hei here is a third playtester :) I just finished the first campaign it is stunningly great!
I played with only the 4 necessary mods (shadow realms rmg, shadow realms, decodence and decodence rmg integration. So no PBEM and single player balance mod. game was set on normal difficulty.

Here are a few remarks:
- When I start the campaign i get the objectives and afterwards all the nice story scrolling, so when I finally started i already had forgotten the objectives (well doesn't matter they are given at the beginning of the map anyway) but maybe that order can be switched?
- The first contact message with mestar contains a small typo it says "We are control of the dungeon" when i guess it should be "We are in control of the dungeon".
- It was written here before but the Giant quest in the beginning is too hard and the reward too big. Actually I failed in my first attempt as i explored the area quite early and wasn't ready to take on the giants in turn 7 or so. When I restarted I played accordingly and outnumbered the giants heavily in turn 10. Got the dragon no problem. More on that in the end.
- I had a crash when taking the shrine of the guardian angel south of esnodils realm, couldn't repeat it though, might have been a one time thing.
- All my heros had inherent resurgence. Is there a reason for that?
- The mountains to the northeast of the undead dwelling of Acoria are impassable but don't look like they are (my scout was very surprised)
- I always had to give units an extra click to move over the borders of Cirfennas (Vervlukts capital) towards the shadow gate
- The Undead kept spawning at Melenis city even after i purged it to dwarves (I killed vervlukt before taking the undead city, maybe that is not the intended order?)
- The light effect make it really hard to see where you are going at some points in the underground (see picture i want to move the stack in the city to the shrine of the spider queen, but the path is nearly invisible)
whereamigoing.png

- In the Shadow realm I noticed that the shadow void looks like lava when zooming out

- When I first venture in the direction of the shadow gate Julia and Bormac appear telling me they'll be ready when I enter the shadow gate. But i never saw them again, don't know what happened to them? Did i miss something?

- When you "win" the map Esnodil turns "hostile" but the quest to keep him alive is still active leading to this pretty baffling victory picture:

winningindeafeat.png


On a general note: Getting the dragon made everything else pretty easy. Mestar the tigran necro is actually still fine as he doesn't have much to clear and starts spamming (cheap and shitty, but nonetheless) units in your direction quite early, but he has this undead dwelling and you are still building up your empire, still with the dragon it is easy but ok imho. But from the moment I beat mestar the game started to feel a bit like an endgame drag already I had a running economy with enough cities to support an endless stream of cannons, flame tanks, engineers, firstborn, golems, musketeers, forge priests and draconian eldars. And Vervlukt is absoutely in no position to deal with it. There were barely any T3 he had when I entered and the undead that keep coming at you are a pretty neat idea but my army was so geared up to dealing with the undead because of mestar that I just put one fire damage stack in their way and autocombatted them away as they came while dealing with Vervlukt. Putting a Goblin as opponent there is actually a nice idea because of the inherent demolisher trait that goblins have, but he barely had any beetle rider and everything else was just dead meat against my forces. Especially with a T4 dragon that by that time is already on gold... So, as every dreadnought should, I just steamrolled through the underground and by the time I encountered the first "real" opponent namely the eldritch horrors I was outnumbering them so massively that they were done with just as quick. As was any opposition in the shadow realm.

So my suggestions: The Giant quest: If you just happen to send your scout in the wrong direction in the beginning and already spent your gold on a builders hall and a settler or lab when you get the quest I think it is unreasonably hard to complete the quest in the 5 turns. I suggest to give 10 turns to do it and if possible get the dragon join you in another 10 turns or as Hiliadan said a hatchling or wyvern that evolves to a dragon at elite. It's a nice quest but if left as it is it is the only real challenge of the whole map.

- Make Vervlukt stronger! Give several of his cities the Beetle rider hall from the start or something, now he just tries to fight your cannons and flame tanks with untouchables, mosquito darters and a few warg riders...

- Shadow realms can be left as is. It is easy, but at least the map is small so it's quickly done with and at that point I don't know IF you can possibly cram a real challenge in there considering that at this point you already have the surface and the UG under your control and can spam everything you want through the Shadow gate in essentially limitless numbers.

- Last remarks: FUCKING HELL THIS IS SOOOO COOOL! The map looks awesome, the dialogues are good, the map design is extremely well done (your allies are busy killing their units against some stupid indies at mana nodes while the enemy AI soon runs out of indies to kill and thus starts pestering you). The Underground has these nice sidequests with the undead and rescuing Ella and keeps shrouding areas unless you take the watchtowers to keep vision and the shadow world is also directly alive with the conflict going on there already when you enter. Really really well done!
I hope my wall of text does help. You did great work there!
 

Refineus

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Thanks Fluksen for your proper and detailed bug report. It certainly helps for debugging some easy things like by the border of Vervlukt. The marker is stopping you for example :)

And well undead.. I guess they never quit for some reasons. And what I been suspecting that the a.i are to weak.
 

Hiliadan

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I actually did modify the quest by increasing the amount of guardians and punished the player for failing the quest. Slight oppositite the way you say :p However, I never touched the reward which makes you think otherwise.
I'm not talking about the Dragon Quest. The Dragon Quest will always be too easy, the point is that a Dragon should not be accessible before turn 30.

"Things without the Dragon were too hard and should be ok now. So we didn't move from hard to easy."
Again, I'm talking about things without the Dragon so I don't get why you say it's the opposite of what I said. Things were too hard without the Dragon and are probably OK now. The issue is only with the Dragon and the issue is still that you can get a Dragon with the Quest. It's not related to the defenders, it's related to the reward, which should not be a Dragon.

To clarify once more: the issue is not to change the difficulty of the Quest (Fluksen says it's too hard but he completed it on turn 10 so it's NOT too hard). The issue is the reward needs to be changed. No need to change the difficulty of the Quest, it's pointless.
Solutions to change the reward:
- give an Egg
- or make it start later
- or give a Wyvern that we mod to Evolve into a Dragon at Champion I

I can have this modded in the next build, it's very simple.
 

Refineus

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I'm not talking about the Dragon Quest. The Dragon Quest will always be too easy, the point is that a Dragon should not be accessible before turn 30.

"Things without the Dragon were too hard and should be ok now. So we didn't move from hard to easy."
Again, I'm talking about things without the Dragon so I don't get why you say it's the opposite of what I said. Things were too hard without the Dragon and are probably OK now. The issue is only with the Dragon and the issue is still that you can get a Dragon with the Quest. It's not related to the defenders, it's related to the reward, which should not be a Dragon.

To clarify once more: the issue is not to change the difficulty of the Quest (Fluksen says it's too hard but he completed it on turn 10 so it's NOT too hard). The issue is the reward needs to be changed. No need to change the difficulty of the Quest, it's pointless.
Solutions to change the reward:
- give an Egg
- or make it start later
- or give a Wyvern that we mod to Evolve into a Dragon at Champion I

I can have this modded in the next build, it's very simple.
Then what do you want exactly? This problably the most confusing. The reward will change. Okey? :) The difficulty of the map itself must change, its self explanary concering the feedback. Tweaking will come for the next revision.
 

Fluksen

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Fluksen says it's too hard but he completed it on turn 10 so it's NOT too hard
There is no way you can possibly complete it later at the moment unless you already know it is there. It triggers when you enter the area that is maybe 10 hexes south of your capital you are pretty much bound to scout this area early on. Once the quest triggers you have only 5 turns to complete it. And that early the quest is pretty hard.

I beat it easily only because I knew it was coming and played accordingly, deliberately avoiding the area with my scouts during the first turns and postponing buildings to quickly get more units and have the gold to buy even more at the circus (cool that building is back btw.). The first time I didn't know about the quest and played "normal" it was a disaster and I failed pretty hard, my scout triggered the quest in turn 2 or 3 and I had gone with my usual routine of building a builders hall, a lab and a settler quickly so I had no means to acquire an army when I noticed that I only have 5 turns to beat two stone giants and three ogres with your starting stack + 2 low tier units you can get from the nearby farms.
I think it is hard enough if you give the player 10 turns to complete it, then it also wouldn't be such a problem to accidentally run into it that early.

It seems we all agree on the reward though.
 

Hiliadan

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Many thanks Fluksen for the feedback! :)

- In the Shadow realm I noticed that the shadow void looks like lava when zooming out
Yeah, that's a known issue of the mod, not the campaign. We're trying to deal with it.

I think it is unreasonably hard to complete the quest in the 5 turns
Oh I didn't even know it lasted 5 turns. Indeed it's a bit unreasonable to give 5 turns while at the same time having very strong defenders. See above for a real solution to the Quest (the point is not to have a super hard Quest to balance it, the issue with the Quest is it gives a reward that should not be accessible at turn 10).

Then what do you want exactly? This problably the most confusing. The reward will change. Okey? :) The difficulty of the map itself must change, its self explanary concering the feedback. Tweaking will come for the next revision.
Well, I think I said pretty clearly what I wanted:
"Solutions to change the reward:
- give an Egg
- or make it start later
- or give a Wyvern that we mod to Evolve into a Dragon at Champion I"

Is the Egg transforming into a Dragon after 10-15 turns do-able with campaign script? I guess only the Evolve would require modding?

Other than that, I repeat that I do NOT think the difficulty of the map needs to be changed. It is NOT self-explanatory that the difficulty of the map must change. Fluksen played it with the Dragon so what made it easy was the Dragon, same for previous playtesters. Remove the Dragon and let's see what people say. It is currently the biggest unbalance of the map.
The only thing maybe to change is the point below, but that's not exactly about changing the difficulty of the map, it's more about fixing Vervlukt, which should have Beetle Riders but for some reason doesn't.

- Make Vervlukt stronger! Give several of his cities the Beetle rider hall from the start or something, now he just tries to fight your cannons and flame tanks with untouchables, mosquito darters and a few warg riders...
From my obversations in early versions of the map, Vervulkt had Beetle Riders but lost them in auto-combat. So yeah, maybe also reinforce a bit his starting stacks.
 

HousePet

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Sorry I haven't had a chance to test this yet, but it sounds like good progress is being made.
Refineus: I haven't looked at the design document, but in a couple of places you have said that something is "Fluff" and can be added later. This might already be the case, but just in case it isn't: I suggest you split "Fluff" into "Critical Fluff" and "Fluffy Fluff" in the design. "Critical Fluff" is something important for explaining the story/situation/mechanics/character motivations and while its fine to not write it into the campaign maps yet, it is critical that it is included before release. "Fluffy Fluff" on the other hand is decorative side quests, witty banter between characters and random pieces of background lore that don't have any impact on the campaign. This "Fluff" is not as important and can really be left until last.
 

Refineus

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Sorry I haven't had a chance to test this yet, but it sounds like good progress is being made.
Refineus: I haven't looked at the design document, but in a couple of places you have said that something is "Fluff" and can be added later. This might already be the case, but just in case it isn't: I suggest you split "Fluff" into "Critical Fluff" and "Fluffy Fluff" in the design. "Critical Fluff" is something important for explaining the story/situation/mechanics/character motivations and while its fine to not write it into the campaign maps yet, it is critical that it is included before release. "Fluffy Fluff" on the other hand is decorative side quests, witty banter between characters and random pieces of background lore that don't have any impact on the campaign. This "Fluff" is not as important and can really be left until last.
Then we can have a pool of fluffy things.

Give a go and add new scenes in the draft document and your thoughts about it. I can provide templates for you if you have any ideas. We need more background for later and I wont neccesarily have to be one adding the ideas. Drax usually do the altering and feel free to add background and fluffy things.
 

Hiliadan

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Just some quick balance feedback from map 2 seeing one of the beta tester who reached turn 40 and just reached Grimshaw (average player, taking his time): he has 912 gold (+136) and 269 mana (+113). That seems a lot of income to me so I'd suggest:
- removing some structures, for instance the Gemstone (?) Mine and Mana Node at Postas and/or making Postas a wooden fortress and adding the Gemstone Mine in the 3 hex radius; move the Gemstone Mine 1 hex farther from Zandria; moving the Sword to the Ashen Rose somewhere else and requiring a Fortress (Water Fortress?) to get its income; switching the locations of the Cristal Tree and Flowrock Quarry in Uirmo Thi.
- making Zandria starts smaller maybe?

Then as discussed briefly before, it would really be good to add a lot of spawners to have some actions because currently it looks pretty quiet and easy, though I see on his game log that he got some trouble with Meandor.
Also it might make sense to add a one-way teleporter to let Tren attacks the player, with a Quest to find the origin of the teleporter (which would be near Tren's throne).

Without the Hunters and Shaman (see previous comments), the map should also be more balanced.
 

Refineus

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Its noted for next revision.

All cities are currently unamed in scenario 2 which randomly assign names for default unlike the previous scenario which uses custom names and city names reused from Eternal lords. I try identify the ones most clustered.

Without further due, some of the enemy spawns by reading from the text seems to be blocked by quests, which seems to prevent both Unoras, Werlac and Tren attacking the main location at all. Good pointing out the portal due to their mal-function and for a new portal.

Which of the Meandor's are giving the most trouble? His first or second assualt?
 

Fluksen

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Hei so I played the 2nd campaign somewhat but I'm quite sure I broke it. But regarding this:
one of the beta tester who reached turn 40 and just reached Grimshaw (average player, taking his time): he has 912 gold (+136) and 269 mana (+113).
I actually wonder if i have the most recent version of the map... because basically none of the cities that you get in the beginning had a goldmine so i struggled a bit with gold in the beginning, then I broke the campaign somehow and then well here is the report:
- The campaign still has a lot of missing text (intro etc.) so I won't go over that.
- When you venture south of the first shadow elf city you meet Meandor and he seems quite upset but he didn't declare war, however he came with two stacks towards my city and I figured that he'll probably take it so i attacked him. Maybe a little known fact, but when a neutral force is within your territory you can kill them without having to declare war, thats what i did and i think that maybe broke the game?
In the end no one declared war on me i had to declare war on everyone and no one of the Ais seemed to play. I took the whole map without any resistance and didn't get any texts or whatever even when i killed Werlac, also quite some of the teleporters couldn't be activated or were 1-way only. So I can't comment on difficulty. Now I have killed all opposition that I can reach in the shadow and wizard realm (ok there it was only one hero, who apparently didn't have a throne) and there is one force unknown by me and meandor who i can not reach I think.

lonelyatthetopb.png

So the feedback I'll write now is only stuff that I think is not related to this obviously pretty nasty bug.

- The not undead-archons ask you to purge their forts, and I found two forts that were occupied by other good archons. I killed them and again got that failing and winning the quest simultaneously. Also why do you have to purge the forts from their own kind? wouldn't it make more sense to have undead archons occupying them?
failornotb.png

There are quite a few of the new structures that have a square picture that I guess should have transparency. Also what "goldmine" is this ? that gave 10 gold and 10 mana (very north at the stone fortress from werlac, the teleporter towards there was only 1way for me btw...)
pictureb.png

There is this odd spot at the lower right of the map with an insane amount of treasure sites, it also had a spawn camp for shadow demons so i was basically forced to go there. This made me really think if I have the right map? Maybe I forgot to do something? Because this surely isn't supposed to be like that?
slightlymuch.png

Not sure if intended, but there is a small path towards Werlacs Island that doesn't need a teleporter.
passage.png

When I have time I'll check that I did everything correctly and the msitake is not on my side. sorry if that is the case!

On other notes: Again the map looks absolutely stunningly great (apart from the crazy amount of reasure sites at the bottom right and the absence of treasure sites in your first shadow elf city). And the Shadow elves are pretty fun to play with. Great work!
 

Refineus

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You have a early version of the map Fluksen. The right bottom was just a reference of which treasury sites availble in the shadow realm.

They were removed in the newer version so thoose bugs are old one with quests.
 

Fluksen

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Ok thanks i suspected as much, will play the updated version once i get it (and find time...)
 

Refineus

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I have taken care of some crashes concerning the Shadow 2 scenario.

The imminent crash Marky Mark discovered upon the Goblin and Orc pens are now working as intended. The script needed a workaround for the trigger to be applied and not crash. The destruction had to be delayed in order for the game to understand who is the current owner of the cities before the self-destruct trigger is applied.

I had to do some workaround for the "old archon forts" to correctly apply the quest so it's actually applied as completed. Both dwellings had some owner problem due to their diplomatic integers were not set up properly. Now they work as intended or (expected). It should not be possible anymore to receive the first dwelling for free without doing anything,

Also, the map has seen some improvements, layout exchanges and reduced cluttery in sites. + 150 gold in starting gold has been set. Cities, forts and dwelling have new names.