Seminar: Area Design Essentials
Hosts: Loriene (P4), Danalae (P2), Meriel (P1), Bartlebee (P3) [I think I got that right.]

First off, there were so few of us there (8 players) that the GMs invited us to pull chairs right up to their table so we could have a nice, friendly conversation.

This is sort of like "GM training light," or what an AGM might learn when starting out as an area designer.

First comes the pre-building stage. This comes into play for a shop, an NPC, or a critter. Sometimes such a thing has a backstory, so please take the time to read room descriptions and talk to NPCs.

Then we went on a crazy series of tangents:

Then we went back to the original outline of the seminar. Determining the backstory of an area is part of the proposal stage. Then they went off the outline again, for Loriene to tell us that she relies on Ranik's maps. Merial revealed that she has maps with nitty-gritty details like distances between cities. And they told us that rooms may not be in the game at all if nobody is there. Bartlebee said that, from a physical/geographic standpoint, Ilithi could get a port. The Map of Elanthia on the website is an "artists conception."

Back to the outline, again. Once an area concept is approved, individual rooms must be designed. A finished area can be pretty different from the proposal. Hey, did you know that Meriel built Merkresh without a general store? She hid her face at the mention of that. Anyway, a room can have a maximum of 512 characters in its description. Loriene once accidentally left a blank room somewhere. Most of the time if you see an empty room, it's because you have inadvertantly squelched the description. If you really think there's a blank room somewhere, ASSIST or REPORT on it; they want to know! It's hard to have different room descriptions in a forest, since it's all trees.

There are some things you can't do in a room description. You can't tell the character what his or her reaction is to things in the room. Merial wants to ban the use of the word "dancing," especially if it's being used to describe shadows. And you can't use "left" or "right," since a person can move around in the room.

Meriel wants to blow up the new Crossing Temple.

Loriene says that in the Realms, especially Shard, you may notice that some rooms have different descritpions by day or night, or by seasons. Danalae added that some critters have multiple descriptions depending on if the viewer is male or female.

Did you know that the road from Langenfirth to Therenborough was finished by GM Loki, who rushed ahead just a few rooms in front of the approaching crowd of adventurers?

Once a GM has designed a room, they must ask themselves, "How am I going to get this through QC?" Does everything in there work? Are the spelling and grammer correct? Does this make sense IC? And do we really want this IG? For example, the bed in the Dirge Inn used to have manacles on it...

It really takes a long time to design an area. Danale has been working on the new road from Riverhaven to Therenborough for more than six months. With that much effort expended, they want to make sure every area gets used regularly. Right now, they know that the Sun Vulture area is underused, and they will probably need to reassess some factors. Then Blasword suggested that everybody go out and lick Sun Vulture hearts.

Meriel likes for the items she makes to be STUDY-able to learn the verbs you can use with them.

Danalae says that Shard was originally conceived as a Circle 25+ area, for those who had outgrown P2. But now they want the area to have a greater sense of community, so characters can have the idea of having grown up there.

When GMs use the word "scripting" among themselves, they mean creating ways to interact with items.

And there are sometimes bugs with the coded position of a room, where it winds of being somewhere it shouldn't. You can detect this problem by observing where you can hear the gweth from known locations.

We moved the chairs back, and were on our way.

--David (Jolebin Swordstaff, Elemancer of Riverhaven)

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