Section 1: About the Blades of Exile Scenario Editor
OK. You've played Blades of Exile (and maybe other Exile games), and you have your own ideas for adventures. You'd like to come up with your own twisted ideas, and inflict them upon the general public. Well, now you can! Blades of Exile comes with a powerful elaborate scenario design kit.
How powerful? Well, the three scenarios that came with Blades of Exile were created using the scenario editor and only the scenario editor. It can create fully detailed adventures, including weird special encounters, people to talk to, and a world that changes as time goes by.
There are other great things. You can also include customized graphics. You can distribute scenarios you make over the Internet, so that all sorts of people can play them. Scenarios you make on a Macintosh will work on a PC running Windows, and vice versa. And, best of all, you can make basic scenarios with very little work. If you don't want to learn all the complicated nitty gritty, you don't have to!
How to Get Started
If you want to make scenarios, the first thing to do is play Blades of Exile. A lot. Much of what follows won't be the least bit clear if you aren't familiar with how the game works.
When you're familiar with what Blades of Exile is like, read the next chapter. It gives a detailed, step by step description of how to make a scenario, make a new town, and populate it with monsters and treasure. It will tell you all you need to know to make a basic, fun scenario with lots of chopping and hacking.
Once you have the basics down, the other chapters in this section go into a bit more detail on scenario basics. You will learn how to make multiple towns, create wandering encounters, and do other, more elaborate things.
Finally, when you have a grasp of all the basics, if you are strong of heart you can move on to the next section: Advanced Scenario Design. There you will learn how to make special encounters and write dialogue, the heart of any truly good scenario.
Unfortunately, while you can play all the way through Blades of Exile without ever cracking open the documentation, the Scenario Editor is very different. Scenario design is a tricky business, and printing out the documentation and keeping it handy is strongly recommended.
In this section, you will often see (Advanced). This indicates something related to the advanced stuff described in the next section. Feel free to ignore these things for now.
The Basic Basics
Any Blades of Exile scenario is divided into two parts: the outdoors and the towns (and dungeons - there's no difference). The outdoors is a rectangle of sections, each 48 x 48 spaces (for example, Valley of Dying Things is 4 sections wide and 3 sections high, each section a 48 x 48 grid of spots of terrain). You can have up to 100 outdoor sections (although 10-20 is usually plenty).
Towns have 3 sizes: 32 x 32, 48 x 48, and 64 x 64. You can have at most 200 towns (although 20-22 is already quite a few).
When a player starts your scenario, his or her party will start in one of your towns. From there he or she can leave the town to explore the outdoors. To design a scenario, you will edit towns and outdoor sections, and then make town entrances in the outdoors and link them with towns (this isn't hard, and is well explained in the next section). Populate the towns with critters, traps and puzzles, and you have a scenario!
Three Final Warnings:
Good scenario design is a time consuming thing. Each of the Blades of Exile scenarios involved a month of full-time work. Start small at first, such as with a small outdoors and 4 or 5 towns. Put the massive Exile-sized epic off for a little while, or you risk putting a month of work into a scenario you will never finish, and which nobody will ever see. There is little more satisfying than getting an E-mail saying how much fun someone had playing your scenario. Alas, you never get such an E-mail until your scenario is done.
Also, ALWAYS test your scenarios. Debugging is critically important. Play through them yourself, and, if possible, get someone else to play them too. If you design a scenario which can't be finished because of a bug, nobody will appreciate it.
Finally, back up your scenario file. Frequently. The designer of Blades of Exile does it hourly. Put a copy on a floppy, and hide the floppy in your car. Copy it onto a friend's computer. Put a copy in your safety deposit box. Remember, one hard drive crash can wipe out a month (or more) of work in a moment.
But enough preamble ... let's make a scenario!