Community Interview: DM Wise (World of Greyhawk PW)

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    Orion

    “My last project… was more than 9 months in the making… but the germination of it was seeded several years ago and was the reason why WoG moved from its long-standing position of no haks (save the CEP) to haks.”

    I wanted to create an extra-planar adventure that was epic in scope, origin, breadth, and story, and to be both a journey and a destination for 40th level characters.  When most 40th levels hang up their cleats, I wanted something that would just be the beginning for them.

    I had the great privilege to interview DM Wise, the DM and Administrator of World of Greyhawk PW Server. He leads a team of contributors to maintain this action level 40 mid magic PW server. It is one of the longest running persistent worlds, running since 2004. The original founder was DM Raine. Other contributors include DM Nocturne, DM Ratik, The_Krit and MrZork.

    This interview was conducted shortly after the release of his latest adventure on the PW Server. He was also kind enough to supply a number of screenshots, which are in this article.

    Question:
    Congratulations on creating your latest adventure! I understand it was quite the journey! Can you tell me what it was like for you to create this adventure and finally release it? I understand it is a secret epic level adventure (level 36+ parties) for the WoG server, but what can you share with the community about the project that you are prepare to let them know about the adventure, and what was it like to write and create this project? I understand you had been working for the last 9 months on this project!

    DM Wise:

    First and foremost, like everything I do for the World of Greyhawk action server, it is a labor of love, and I’ve always been inspired by the players who play there, who call WoG home, and who help bring the world to life with their characters.  My last project – I’ve been calling it my “final” project – was more than 9 months in the making.  True, it did take me at least 9 months to create, but the germination of it was seeded several years ago and was the reason why WoG moved from its long-standing position of no haks (save the CEP) to haks.  I wanted to create an extra-planar adventure that was epic in scope, origin, breadth, and story, and to be both a journey and a destination for 40th level characters.  When most 40th levels hang up their cleats, I wanted something that would just be the beginning for them.  So it wasn’t done overnight, and I carefully pulled from a variety of custom content that had accumulated on the Vault over the years, and then carefully packaged it into some server haks.  Once this foundation was laid, I was able to proceed with the project.  I won’t go into the details of the adventure itself, other than it is truly epic, original, and one of the few adventures I’ve created that is not part of the Greyhawk canon.

    To this day I still think [Neverwinter Nights 1] is one of the greatest video games ever made because of the toolset.  Most people don’t realize that and think the game is rather humdrum.  But the amount of community-made content has insured this game to outlive even its creators.

    …way back in the 1980s and 1990s I was both a player and a DM, but mostly I did DMing.  I had created my own worlds, along with cities, kingdoms, maps, NPCs, stories, adventures.  But I also spent a fair bit of time with the Greyhawk world when it was just the Gazetteer, and then the Boxed Set, and so on.

    Question:
    You’ve been a DM and administrator for WoG for quite some time now, but I’m curious how it all began – how did you get into NWN to start off with, what sorts of character classes you enjoyed playing with (like fighters, paladins, rogues, wizards, clerics etc…), then how did you get into module creation and designing?

    DM Wise:

    I got into NWN the way most people did back then.  By “back then” I mean around 2001/2002.  Most of us then were former players and DMs from the old AD&D 1st and 2nd editions.  Most of us probably were veterans of Baldurs Gate and the Icewind Dale sagas, so it was a foregone conclusions that all of us would graduate from that to a 3D-based, real-time RPG that had a toolset for DMs to create their own adventures.  To this day I still think this is one of the greatest video games ever made because of the toolset.  Most people don’t realize that and think the game is rather humdrum.  But the amount of community-made content has insured this game to outlive even its creators.  But to answer your question, way back in the 1980s and 1990s I was both a player and a DM, but mostly I did DMing.  I had created my own worlds, along with cities, kingdoms, maps, NPCs, stories, adventures.  But I also spent a fair bit of time with the Greyhawk world when it was just the Gazetteer, and then the Boxed Set, and so on.  So I was pretty familiar with her already, familiar with her histories, and pantheon, and such.  After NWN was released and people began to create and host their own Persistent Worlds, I gravitated to one created by DM Raine aptly called, The World of Greyhawk.  Back then it was very bare bones.  There was Greyhawk City, Borderkeep, some plains in between, and a rudimentary version of the Cairn Hills, some areas that were just “humanoid lands” around Borderkeep, and then Undermountain.  And that was it. At some point Raine asked if I would help DM.  I had no idea what I was doing so I jumped in head first.  I created a few adventures on the fly, live so to speak.  I believe the first had to do with the Cult of the Dragon.  The players enjoyed it so much it was suggested it be added as part of the server permanently.  So I began to learn the toolset then.  It must have been around 2006 or 2007 when I began that.  And then I just kind of evolved from there once I learned the toolset, some rudimentary scripting, and so on.

    The hardest thing is bringing one’s vision to life.  But I was never alone for I relied on the NW community to help me bring these visions to life.  If anything made it easy for me it was having folks like The Krit, Nocturne, and Mr. Zork around over the years.  They can script things in the way most people breathe air.

    Question:
    The transition from being a player to a module creator and designer – was this a difficult process? What were the hardest challenges that you could remember about the transition, and what things made the transition easier for you, and if you could go back in time, and tell yourself say 5, 10, 15 years ago some advice, what would you say?

    DM Wise:

    I think being a good player and understanding the mechanics behind the game, particularly combat and the magic system and the AI, makes one a better module designer.  It gives you more perspective, I believe.  The hardest thing is bringing one’s vision to life.  But I was never alone for I relied on the NW community to help me bring these visions to life.  If anything made it easy for me it was having folks like The Krit, Nocturne, and Mr. Zork around over the years.  They can script things in the way most people breathe air.  They taught me so much and I can never give them enough credit

    Typically after I finish a project like this, I take a break because it is so consuming.  After I finished The Village of Hommlet and The Temple of Elemental Evil, I think I took a year off.  Ghost Tower of Inverness and the Saltmarsh saga also broke me down mentally when I reached the end.  So many hours invested in the creation that one becomes sapped, so to speak.

    Question:
    I’ve observed in the last 15 months you made a large number of areas – Saltmarsh, Verbobonc, Shield Lands, Castle Hart, Grabford, this new Secret Adventure – what it is like to finally release an area and see that everything works? 

    DM Wise:

    It’s a joy to see things work, and to see players get totally lost and immersed in the world and the stories and characters around them.  In my latest adventure, I had half a mind to make it a stand-alone module just because it is rather huge.  I may still make a conversion, but I’m not there mentally.  Not yet.  Typically after I finish a project like this, I take a break because it is so consuming.  After I finished The Village of Hommlet and The Temple of Elemental Evil, I think I took a year off.  Ghost Tower of Inverness and the Saltmarsh saga also broke me down mentally when I reached the end.  So many hours invested in the creation that one becomes sapped, so to speak.

    Question:
    Finally the WoG team (DM Raine, yourself, DM Nocturne, The_Krit, MrZork plus a large number of custom content creators and many others) have a lot of fans out there who appreciate the work that has been done over years. I know Grizzled_Dwarflord is still advertising WoG and its been, what, 15 years? His signature in the ECB forum is still in fact:

    Got Hommlet? World of Greyhawk Action Server
    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/worldofgreyhawkfr/
    (with 1/2 price ales on Mondays!)

    Do you have any words for the players who are fans of the work done on the WoG server? And are there any more exciting plans for the future that you can disclose (without any spoilers)?

    DM Wise:

    Sorry, no plans at the moment, other than to fix any more bugs that arise out of the latest.  When Beamdog plans to release their next stable patch, I know I’ll be spending considerable time behind the scenes merging their new content in with WoG’s.  For those who are unaware, they are releasing a whole host of new items, tilesets, appearances, sounds, loadscreens, etc.  I’m glad they are doing it, but I dread the labor involved in going through all of the 2da’s and splicing and merging and making things play nice.

    All the screenshots are courtesy of DM Wise. The new adventure DM Wise has created is called ‘Waltz of the Damned’.

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