Monday, November 1, 2010

CM "Partners" Branwen and Caridwen

You've seen my old companions, Dawn and Lilith.

Decided yesterday to roll up a couple completely new ones, and see how that turned out.

Originally, I had planned on them being vampires.

I had forgotten an important detail: Oblivion makes vampires look like shit.

So that had to go away. The vampire condition was hastily removed from their custom race...

Oh, yeah. That's better. Still need to do some tweaking of textures around the mouth... but it's at least workable from this point.

For individual introductions:

This is Branwen. She has blue eyes, and pale - nearly white hair. Branwen is a general purpose magic user (Mage class). She's handy with a fireball spell, likes summoning undead when a fight breaks out, and has been known to conjure a Daedric battleaxe for the purposes of brutally mauling her opponents who make the mistake of getting too close.

She collects alchemical components as you travel, and occasionally comes up with her own equipment.

This is Caridwen. She has green eyes. Caridwen is an Assassin, and quite capable with either blade or bow; with a heavy emphasis on stealth. Caridwen too, has her own varying equipment; going so far as to come up with magic arrows for her bow.

What separates these two from most CM companions (aside from the aesthetic), is that they don't have set starting equipment. They use a technique I played with in FO3 - using leveled lists to determine clothing, equipment, and jewelry.

This means that not only will their starting equipment vary based on your level; but they actually swap out their equipment for better stuff on their own, when you hit higher levels.

We were fast-traveling after I hit level eight. When we arrived at our destination, Branwen had gotten rid of her basic blue robe, and replaced it with a higher quality black one.

I'm used to leveled lists doing this sort of thing when you leave a companion someplace, but this is the first I've seen it while they were in tow the entire time. I can only assume the fast travel caused her to be re-loaded from the template, which informed the engine that the LL said it was time for new goodies.

This opens up some very cool possibilities. I think I'm going to construct some custom leveled lists for them; causing the girls to upgrade their weapons and armor/clothing as you progress - to make it look like they're looting and buying as you do. Eventually (haven't decided on a level) they'd start coming up with magical goodies.

The only exception as it stands is weapons: I've set them to start with silver daggers, and a silver bow for Caridwen. I picked this because realism aside, few things suck worse than coming across a ghost or such at low level, when the party doesn't have a silver weapon between them. That said, I'm probably going to revert to a more standard list for weapons, too.

Kind of missing the glowing eyes, though...

If nothing else, it makes them easy to keep track of in a dark room. Those glowing eyes are like a damned IR beacon under a night-eye spell.

I'm also relearning another lesson: that being that more than three companions in Oblivion is a Bad Idea(TM). Why? CM "Partners" are really bad about blue fire.

We end up taking more damage from each other than the enemy. The CM's are prone to simply lobbing volleys of arrows into a melee in progress. I think I picked six arrows out of Maeva after the last ruin-crawl. I caught four, myself - and a fireball spell in the ass.

Further interesting is watching the two sets of combat styles. While Maeva and [CENSORED] use my custom made styles, Branwen and Caridwen are running default CMs for their classes. Branwen and Caridwen seem to hesitate a lot more; and Caridwen is prone to trying to use a bow in close for several seconds before switching to a melee weapon.

I'm not positive exactly what I did to make the others more responsive; but I suppose I'll have to check closer and see if I can't figure it out.


  1. Looks like some good peeps ya got there. (I really need to come up with my own companion system someday and call it Personalized Endearing Evolving Partners... PEEPs.)

    Speaking of evolving... I had once intended to release a set of peeps that would have inventories and spell lists of nothing but those green boxes... but then I imagined a bunch of comments crying about it, so I abandoned the idea, but not the characters, and uploaded them with set starting equipment. But your description of the in-game workings of such here has put the idea back into my little brain. Like you, I'll probably do it only for my personal use, but I'm gonna whip up a couple and see how they fly. Thanks for sharing the concept with us!

    Which also reminds me... somewhere recently you mentioned a mod that makes followers gather gold and equipment as they travel. What's the mod? I could search through all our past conversations, but just asking again is so much simpler...

    And I'm totally with you on the glowy eyes. One of the reasons why I got hooked on the Ainmhi was being able to see if they were paying attention when we were in dark caves. And then came your resource for FO3, which you of course know I like.

    And in regard to your mysterious, enigmatic AI: I honestly believe there is something special that has grown inside of your computer and yours alone. I know you lament its specs at times, but I think it has evolved somehow to compensate. So don't throw it out of the window just yet; if you do, the Tommyknockers will get out!

  2. "And in regard to your mysterious, enigmatic AI: I honestly believe there is something special that has grown inside of your computer and yours alone. I know you lament its specs at times, but I think it has evolved somehow to compensate."

    More devout occultists than I would say it's the countless hours of mental and spiritual energy I've poured into creating the NPCs. Imbuing them with an energy, if not an actual will of their own.

    I'm generally willing to chalk it up to equal parts random convergence and wishful thinking.

    "Which also reminds me... somewhere recently you mentioned a mod that makes followers gather gold and equipment as they travel."

    Not a mod, Madam. Leveled lists again. Give me a second to grab the names...

    Gold is LL0NPCGoldNobleClass - there are three others for Lower, Middle, and Upper classes. Noble turns in the most gold.

    The way this works is that when you put leveled lists into NPC inventory, they can't be removed. When you take the items that the list spawned, the list itself is still there.

    So as you walk; game days pass; cells reset, the list periodically adds more gold to inventory. Not replacing the old, but adding to it. Even Noble class doesn't add much at a time - looks like 22 to 25 gold at a time. But, if you want them to have more, add more of the list. 5x LL0NPCGoldNobleClass in an inventory would produce a projected 113 gold each instance.

    Other lists work similarly; except that armor and weapons seem to be replaced when the list decides to spawn something new - where gold and alchemical components don't.

    There's a few many of the lists for components and weapons to go through it in detail here, but if you want I can toss you a Nexus PM detailing my evil sche... *ahem* totally benevolent plans in more of their entirety.

  3. Ah... now I see...

    I think a complete detailing of your totally benevolent plans won't be necessary just yet. Now that you've grabbed me by the ear and turned me in the proper direction, I'll just tinker with it and see what I come up with. I run some things that add to the vanilla leveled lists, like Francesco's and Armamentarium For Francesco's, so the outcome of such tinkering could be rather interesting, even at lower levels. I'll just have to remember about the armor and weapons getting replaced when the respawn happens, just in case the peeps come up with something really sweet. See, I'm thinking about utilizing the leveled lists meant for the NPC bosses too, and maybe even ones meant for containers where they pertain to weapons and armor, or maybe even potions and other magical items. Sure... that wouldn't unbalance the game at all...

  4. Oh, yeah; you can use any list you like.

    I started simple before getting too into it is all. I've already looked though and there are several Boss lists that look interesting, since they pull armor from more than one type.

    I could be wrong about the items being replaced, but when Branwen switched out her robe, the blue one disappeared; so I have to assume it pulls previously spawned armor if it's still in the inventory.

    Testing would certainly be required.

    I still want to modify the Goddess store plugin so that it modified leveled lists. Would be so cool coming across that stuff on bandits and such... but I'm not sure if the Francesco's conflicts would be worth it. Especially since most of the armor isn't unisex, and there'd have to be male and female separate leveled lists.

  5. Evil minds really do think alike. I was just busying myself before bed by adding all the Corean, Babe, Soya and Ren's hairstyles and Nequam's eyes to the vanilla races so that with a fresh start in the morning I can start whipping up some groovy companions and try out this leveled inventory business. Then I thought to myself that it would be great if I could implement Apachii's stuff somehow and decided to pop back over here to leave one last comment about it. But now I realize that you're absolutely right; it could quite possibly be a lot more work than it's worth. I'm not sure how simply adding more items to the already existing lists would conflict with Francesco's, but I'll take your word for it. And yes, having low-cut bustier Goddess armor appearing on every Marauder and Bandit male would indeed be... disturbing...

  6. Well... there are script commands to allow adding items to an existing list; so we could in theory modify the Francesco's lists from within the game and thus avoid conflict...

    ...but I'm not sure what happens in that case when you switch the plugins off. I was still in the initial thinking-out stages, and hadn't done much digging.

    There's also the detail that if you didn't spawn the Apachii armors in whole sets, you'd get some weird looking results.

  7. Looks nifty and I will just take my normal seat and watch you two plot things out.

  8. *wonders if such a scheme would work in New Vegas*

  9. @Michelle

    I would think it might as it seems they use the same backbones of the system but no idea how they do thinks in the NV Geck. Yet would be nice.

  10. With my luck, that's how Nos pulls off Cloe's "magic" with her inventory.

  11. Actually, Chloe's "magic" inventory involves two scripts, about three dozen lines of dialog with result scripts, and six merchant containers. Or... maybe it's eight containers. There's also the reserve container and the general dealing container, in addition to the store specifics...

    I wish it was as easy as using a bunch of leveled lists in one container.

    The leveled lists on companions should work fine. I did it in FO3 with my companions pack to make the girls spawn 20th Century Weapons without a separate plugin. Just never bothered with armor.

  12. I've tested the concept with a mage, and it seems to work nicely. To give her some personality I did as I normally would with a spellcasting CM's spell list by keeping it focused on a certain type of spell, in this case health and attribute damage and drain spells, but rather than add each individual spell as I normally would I instead used the leveled list versions of those spells. She seems to hold her own in combat rather nicely, though her AI could as we often lament use some tweaking. In one melee she decided it was best to target two nearby mudcrabs rather than the two bandits that were in her face trying to cut her to ribbons, and as a player I still need to learn not to place myself between a spellcasting companion and the enemy. Anyway, back to the leveled lists. It seems that both fast travel and going through a load door will make her change clothes, so I never know what she'll be wearing but I seem to have chosen the proper combinations to keep her from being left naked. And I have to admit that the addition of leveled gold loot is the most ingenious money-making scheme Matt has come up with so far. Next step: let's see how this works with a warrior or battlemage...

  13. You've been placing individual spells all this time?

    Oh, Child... we really need to work on your technique.

    Leveled spell lists are great. There's often one already set up for the class.

    For instance, LL2Mage100 contains the leveled lists LL1AlterationMajor100, LL1ConjurationNoArmorAllMajor100, LL1DestructionAllMajor100, LL1IllusionMajor100, LL1MysticismMajor100, LL1RestorationMajor100, LL1DestructionAllMinor100. So, with one drop into the spell list box, your NPC can have the complete Mage's toolbox 'o spells.

    There are similar lists for Necromancers, Crusaders, Nightblade, Priest, Warlock, and so on. Just drop the list with the name of your NPC's class into the spells box, and voila. No fuss, no muss; no picking and choosing required. And there's no limit to the spells box... so if you wanted them to say, have the Mage's toolbox AND a specialization in summoning, then you'd just drop in LL0SummonAllMajor100 as well.

    Leveled lists are the only way to do magic using NPCs.

    For the record, leveled lists will spawn armor just spiffily too. I'm playing with it a bit heavier myself; trying to get companions to spawn a random mix of different types of armor (like you'd get from scavenging and looting). Seems to be working quite well... although I may have overdone Caridwen's arrow spawning. Last I looked, she had about fifteen types of magic arrows, two of which were 40ft area effect blasters.

    Thinking I may need to scale that one back a touch...