I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

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I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

Post by kantus » July 13th, 2017, 11:40 am

Hi all,

I have been contemplating the creation of a campaign for Wesnoth. I have some previous experience with modding, and built half of a campaign last summer before college came in and ruined everything :augh:

To that end, I would like some advice on the topic of campaign structure. I know from experience that I suffer from a degree of "complexity addiction", and my stories tend to lack focus and wander off from the main thread too much. My basic plan, then, was to outline the gist of my campaign narrative in this thread, giving posters a chance to point out any problems they can see in it, hopefully producing a more coherent, focused plot in the process. I'd like to get this part down pat before I try my hand again at WML coding, as I've heard it's easier to code scenarios around plot than to write plot around battles.

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Re: I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

Post by Samonella » July 13th, 2017, 5:34 pm

Sounds like a pretty good story, and it didn't seem to "lack focus" to me. One pet-peeve of mine in wesnoth campaigns is when the entire story is wrapped around a journey and every scenario is just a random encounter that leads to a fight, but I like the sound of the characters you mentioned, and if they reappear frequently I don't think that will be a problem.

I'm not exactly clear about what's happening in the last part of the story. Why do the Stone Elves attack Archibald's party? Is there any particular reason Ragdalon is waking now, coincidentally at the same time as Archibald wakes the stone elves? What makes Archibald want to go confront the dragon head-on? Once Archibald defeats Ragdalon, then what? Do the Stone Elves stop attacking? Most importantly, how are Grot and Montague going to be involved in the last few scenarios?

As far as fitting into wesnoth lore, this page will help out quite a bit; just bear in mind that events relating to the Great Horde are likely to change soon. I think it would be nice if Archibald was a professor at the Great Academy on Alduin, just to ground the campaign firmly in Wesnoth. Maybe it could take place during the Golden Age of Wesnoth (200-350YW), since not much is going on then? Also, things like archeological expeditions don't make much sense if the kingdom is in the middle of a war.

One other thing, if you want any particular geological features around Atria (if it's hidden in the mountains or something) now is a prime time to work them into the official map, check out this thread.
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Re: I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

Post by zookeeper » July 13th, 2017, 6:56 pm

Some random musings:

The Forest of Thelien in the Far North (that is, the SotBE map) is pretty much undescribed. It's not mentioned nor visited in any mainline content, and there's only one user-made campaign that seems to discuss or describe it in any detail (Aria of the Dragon Slayer, which does however place perfectly normal elves there), although it's very briefly mentioned in some others. So maybe you want to look into that as a possible location, if you want to place it in or close to an established major forest.

But then again, if the place was burnt down by a dragon in the ancient past then I suppose you can just pick any arbitrary location for it.

As for the Stone Elves, I suppose they can work as long as they're not terribly numerous and are magical things instead of automata. If they're elves who chose to be turned into immortal statues in order to guard the place, then I'd imagine elves in general to be rather uncomfortable with that kind of magic and for it to be a bit of a taboo subject to them (and/or not even common knowledge) and certainly not something they'd discuss with outsiders.

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Re: I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

Post by skeptical_troll » July 13th, 2017, 11:23 pm

I like the concept, it's sort of a Wesnoth Indiana Jones and from the elements you've already written down I think it can become a really exciting story. Here are few things which came to my mind, and some possible questions/suggestions. I also think Samonella's points are very valid.

-As a general remark, keep in mind that battles in Wesnoth are more suited to 'campaigns' than 'adventures', in the sense that an individual quest could be hard to turn into scenarios with many units, unless you are planning some RPG-like thing. Maybe Archibald convinces the King of Wesnoth to support his expedition with a small army? Hiring few guards could be ok, but then you'd need to keep numbers low.
-What is the actual motivation behind the quest? Pure curiosity? Is Atra already known for some specific reason (like, say, Atlantis) and why is it so interesting? Here you can try to foreshadow what comes later and create expectations. For example, the map mentions some 'hidden power lying below the city', which Archibald think being some precious artifact..
-How does Archibald meet the other characters? It's better if it's not just by chance or because they are on the way, but maybe he seeks them or viceversa. E.g. he knows that Thrand is an expert guide of that region and he wants to hire him... And why do these other characters agree in joining the expedition? Just for money? Maybe they have their own goals, which they keep concealed? For example, Thrand is one of the last living descendant of the Atra elves and want to find/protect it. Or there is a secret sect which venerates Ragdalon and plots for its return...
-What is the origin of the stone elves? If they are automata, who made them? If they are petrified elves, who petrified them? Other elves, or the dragon with a curse? What is their purpose, if they have one?
-One thing I find really weird is that they can slay a dragon which singlehandedly destroyed a whole civilization. How is it possible? Do they have a weapon the elves didn't have? Do they know a weakness they can exploit? Or does some other force intervene?
-Concerning the ending: if it's just about writing it, you can have multiple epilogues depending on the player's choices/actions along the campaign. This may add some replay value to the campaign without complicated scenario branches.

Good luck! I look forward to see this done :)

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Re: I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

Post by Bitron » July 14th, 2017, 8:28 am

zookeeper wrote:The Forest of Thelien in the Far North (that is, the SotBE map) is pretty much undescribed. It's not mentioned nor visited in any mainline content, and there's only one user-made campaign that seems to discuss or describe it in any detail (Aria of the Dragon Slayer, which does however place perfectly normal elves there), although it's very briefly mentioned in some others.
The campaign i'm working on will feature this forest. It's homeland for the thelians (former vilkai).

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Re: I'd Like Help With My Campaign Structure

Post by kantus » July 15th, 2017, 11:08 am

Thanks for all the help, everyone. To address some specific concerns:

-As to why Ragdalon can be defeated by a ragtag band of adventurers despite laying low an entire civilization, perhaps it is the case that long years of imprisonment have rendered him weak and emaciated? (By dragon standards, of course - which still makes him a giant threat to a band of heroes).
-I had plans for the ruins of Atria to be in a snow-covered wasteland, but I *also* had plans in an earlier version of the script for there to be a tribe of rather hostile, isolationist elves living in a forest relatively close-by, who would attack anyone who went too close to the ruins, for fear of disturbing something they shouldn't. Perhaps the Forest of Thelien might work as their location?
-The Stone Elves attack Archibald because they are automatic sentries more akin to an immune system than anything else. They are designed to kill anything that A)has a heartbeat and B)is inside the remains of the City. They're meant to prevent stupid wanderers from accidentally releasing the big evil dragon.
-Perhaps, rather than 'waking up' at this point in time, Ragdalon's chains have finally corroded to the point where he can break them? He's going to attempt to get out immediately, of course. In fact, rather than have a final showdown in Ragda's chamber, it might be better to have him escape, and then immediately attack the heroes looking for sustenance. As established in an earlier bullet point, Ragdalon's been left very weak from his containment, and needs food to survive. This could be a good reason why the party ends up doing something as foolish as fighting a dragon.
-As to the side-characters and their involvement, I had some ideas. Grot can be enslaved and "recruited" as a party member from your first encounter with him onwards, so he could always be present as a party member. If he's not a party member, then perhaps either he or his replacement chase your party to the Ruins looking for revenge, only to have to band together in a tense Enemy Mine scenario to avoid getting gobbled up by a dragon. I had plans for Montague, allowing you to make the second encounter with him substantially easier by giving up the map to Atria voluntarily. However, this would result in him arriving before you and getting killed by Stone Elves, replacing the final encounter vs Montague with an extra Stone Elves battle. If that didn't happen, he'd appear in Atria one last time to try and steal your glory, perhaps ending up being press-ganged into fighting with you upon defeat. These ideas are pretty rough, so I'm not sure if they'll work out 100%, though.
-I'm afraid I haven't played Aria of the Dragon Slayer, and while it would be cute to have both campaigns be compatible lore-wise, that'd probably take a lot of work on both ends, and it's not really fair to ask someone else to change his campaign for my sake in the first place. Perhaps I'll just situate things in another place - the Wild Steppe, perhaps? Alternatively, I could use one of the unmarked forests on the north part of the map.

Thanks for all the feedback!

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