The Three Towns is a server vault persistent world. The Three Towns takes its name from three small settlements that have entered into a mutual trade and protection pact in the turbulent years following a Cataclysm: Wheaton, Fer and Arakan. These towns lie in a somewhat triangular formation at the eastern end of a landmass, blocked by impassable mountains to the north, inhospitable forests to the south, and the enemy pressing in from the west. Each town has its own strength and resources; Wheaton its grain and sheltered position, Fer its access to what little iron is left in the mountains, and the skills of the dwarves who make them their home, and Arakan its closely guarded magical secrets. Together, this fragile alliance has thus far managed to hold the enemy in the central fields, known commonly as the Contested Areas. What limited manpower the towns possess is dedicated to holding their lines at the passes into Fer and Arakan, but they lack the sheer forces required to drive them from the Contested Areas.
There are more settlements than just the Three Towns, but these are relatively isolated, by circumstance and sometimes by choice. These small settlements are poorer than the Three Towns, generally speaking, but usually have they provide an alternate base of operations for adventurers seeking to stay closer to the enemy's deeper holdings.
The first thing a player needs to understand about Three Towns is that it may be more difficult than other modules or persistent worlds. The enemies are custom-designed to be challenging but not stupidly overpowered, many changes have been made to otherwise buggy and unbalanced spells and systems, and the difficulty in getting metal-based gear can be daunting, especially at the start of your career. Encounters are not scaled to the level and number of the adventurers who may come across them; they simply exist where they exist, and if your new character winds up in over his head, it's probably because he stumbled into an area where overpowering enemies were present, not because of a fault with a spawner. Chalk it up to experience and make a note to return later, or with a larger group, or both.
Monsters in Three Towns are all custom-created, and with the exception of certain very weak or very strong monsters, all have character classes, intelligently chosen skills and feats, and 75% to 100% of their maximum possible hit points (as opposed to the NWN standard of 50%). In addition, most use 3T's custom built artificial intelligence.
Three Towns runs using the D&D Hardcore Rules difficulty setting, and a custom created AI system. This means that monsters and NPC's can and will critical hit, use talents like knockdown and disarm, and generally defend themselves to the best of their ability. Three Towns is primarily full PvP, which means that not only might you want to keep an eye out on other players who may not have your best interests in mind, but you should be careful about where you toss that fireball, unless you don't mind crisping your teammates along with the enemy.
Because of the difficulty in Three Towns, it will be greatly to your benefit as a player to have a solid handle on "strong" character design. This means that while your halfling bard with base 13 in all attributes may have done fine in the single-player game, your experience in Three Towns may be somewhat unpleasant. The idea of min-maxing, or optimizing your character design, may be anathema to many members of the roleplaying community, it is nevertheless valid and, due to its very existence, governs the path a module design may take. A world designed for so-called average characters will be a joke to min-maxed characters when it comes to combat, and unlike in a real pencil-and-paper game, there are almost no counterbalances to this optimization.
Systems and featuresEdit
The Three Towns uses many specially coded systems and features to enhance the world. Over the years Three Towns has been running, these systems have been designed, implemented, tweaked and improved. Some of the systems used are:
- Custom AI: The Three Towns uses an artificial intelligence (AI) system coded in-house. This system makes full use of spells, feats, creature abilities and tactics, while limiting the impact on performance. By assigning different sub-sets of the AI system to different creatures, a good balance between combat performance and impact on module performance can be achieved. For example, a simple NPC melee fighter does not need code to check for spells and abilities, they just have to fight. Certain key NPCs have additional logic to provide a complex encounter; beware the dragon's AI.
- Trapping: The trapping system on 3T has been heavily modified and now scales into epic levels. The default trap scripts have all been replaced with custom trap effects that produce different effects based on recipes found throughout the module. Crafting traps, level effects and more had been available in the server's wiki.
- World manager: In a standard single player module (or single run-though multiplayer module), creatures can be placed into areas, ready to encounter the players when they arrive. However, for persistent worlds, like Three Towns, creating creatures becomes more problematic. Firstly, if all the creatures in all the areas come into existence when the module is loaded, the strain of creating and maintaining all of them will be huge, and module performance will degrade. Also, once the creature has been killed, you want it to come back after a while (respawn) for the next player who comes through the area. In Three Towns, we use a system called the World Manager. This system monitors all the areas in the world, and when a player enters the area for the first time, it will spawn the creatures for that area. The World Manager also handles despawning of creatures (if a player leaves an area, it waits a while, then removes any remaining alive creatures so they are not a drain on resources) and cleanup of areas (if the area is empty for a while, it cleans up any left over loot, items or other objects on the ground to free up resources).
- Guild system: To help players get involved with the module, to feel a real part of the world and to build up communities, the Three Towns includes a six guild system. The guilds are coded systems with headquarters, merchants, guards and inter-guild relationships. They are split into two good aligned guilds, two neutral guilds and two evil guilds, and equipped with the tools needed to let players join, leave, change relationships to other guilds, buy more guards for defense and so on. After being set up and coded, the guilds were turned over to the players. They are player run, player organized and player defended. This helps bring players together into communities around the guilds, and promotes team based PvP as the guilds roleplay against each other.
- Unified Quest system: Something that most players do not see but the module uses a custom written quest system. This makes it very simple to create the path of a quest and label such things as NPCs, items, and conversation branches with generic scripts rather than having to code new scripts for each new quest.
- Full database support: The Three Towns uses NWNX to store module, player and creature data. This means that instead of having to use item 'tokens' to record quest status, it can be recorded in the database and leave players inventories free. It means that we can store all the information we need about players to ensure that unauthorized players cannot access other players accounts. It means that we can easily and efficiently ban and player causing major problems in the world. It means so much more, but listing all the things you can do with NWNX would be dull!
- Dual servers: Over the last several months, Three Towns has had more players than it can support. With a 55 player limit, the server was usually completely full, with multiple players waiting for a slot to free up. So, through generous donations, we obtained a second server, which was installed next to the first in a data centre in London (UK). This means we have doubled our player capacity, but brings with it a few new features.
Firstly, persistent locations - when a player logs into the server, they will be moved directly to the location they were in when they logged out, even if the server has reset in the meantime. No more restarting at town and having to run back to the dungeon you were exploring, now you can log in and continue from exactly where you were!
Also, with two servers, we added support for portalling between the two machines. Both servers share a single server vault and database, allowing players to use either server without having to create a new character to play on server B. Players are able to portal to the other server at bind locations and major towns, allowing them to choose which server they play on.
- Extensive game mechanic changes: Several systems — such as spells, traps, classes, and picking pockets — have been overhauled for epic levels, DC, and sanity. See the wiki and forum for more info.
Wheaton is a town of grain and farms, it is the starting town for new players and it located between the other two towns in a pocket of safe, easy areas.
Arakan is a town of mages situated south of Wheaton in the forest. Arakan is the home of the Templars of the Arcane.
Fer is the main town, one of dwarves and iron, and as such it is the biggest. In addition to being the home of the Guardian Guild it is the usual meeting place townside with the expanse of Fer Territory outside of its gates, also the usual site for PvP action.
The guilds are player-run organizations that are based around a guildhouse and guild wands. The Guildhouse houses a guild-only area containing a merchant selling special equipment based on the amount of reputation the player had with the guild (to ensure it remains a low magic world, based on level). Various ranks are available for players allowing for a command structure to work, promotions are made through the use of guild wands which can also remove people from the guild forcefully. Each guildhouse has guards to protect it from enemies and whose death costs the guild reputation.
The available ranks descend as follows: guild leader, lieutenant, officer, then member.
Although the diplomacy fluctuates with shifting alliances, generally the two good guilds and two evil guilds are allied together and at war with the opposite alignment.
Based at Fer, the Guardian Guild is the largest of the good guilds and probably the largest guild on the server. The GG takes most classes but generally consists of fighter orientated characters.
The Church of Donblas, based at Wheaton, is the smaller of the good aligned guilds and is less involved with PvP, instead concentrating more on roleplay. The guild is mainly based around clerics with a few paladins.
The Templars of the Arcane are a guild dominated by mages, whilst they are neutral their members participate on both sides of the good/evil war. The leadership is run by a council instead of a single player and on occasion they have declared war on one of the other guilds.
The Outlaws from V6 turned into the Cult of Exiles. Based around their own town, they are the main evil guild.
Starting as an unofficial guild in V6, the Servants of Lloth spawned from the Darksoul clan — a gathering of merciless halflings who sought their own place in the world. To hear them tell it, they sought freedom from the oppressions of the "tall folk". Lead by Damien and Destra Darksoul, these halflings were some of the most feared, untamed elements during V6. They also had many non-halfling allies, mostly from The Outlaws who shunned the ways of the Three Towns alliance.
When V7 was released and the guilds were consolidated into what would become the six official guilds of 3T, the Darksouls were converted into the Servants of Lloth, to become a direct counterpart to the Church of Donblas, and one of the two available evil guilds. This also allowed members to be halflings, elves, and half-elves, increasing the character range. Though no official roleplay reasoning was given for the joining of the Darksouls to SoL (especially since the Darksouls had their own beliefs), most members agreed that the goals of the Darksouls and the dark elves who served Lloth were compatible, and joining forces against the Three Towns alliance was natural. (Non-roleplay reasons were probably due to the idea that enlarging the racial base for characters would make it easier to have more members.)
The Servants of Lloth never enjoyed the same popularity as the other guilds, probably for several reasons, including the distance of the guild house from the main travel paths, the limits on race, and perhaps the difficulty of being out-numbered by the good guilds. As well, many evil characters chose to join the Cult of Exiles, given that the character backgrounds need not be as complex (ie, lighter roleplay).
The Unseen are the assassins of 3T and although are neutral as a guild, their members fight on all sides of the war as paid mercenaries, or to further their guilds own political agenda.
The Mu yearsEdit
The server was created in 2002 by Musashi and Kynn as a difficult and different Neverwinter Nights server, made in Mu's characteristic style of making it as hard as possible for the players and ignoring what they wanted. This was a lawless period in 3T, arguably when it was most pure, there were few rules and if you could do it then it was allowed. The server was fairly basic and had a player cap of 20 and a level cap of 20 running on basic NWN. The towns themselves were there but the module was fairly small with the current core areas being fringe areas then. Eventually Mu got bored of NWN, annoyed at the players and gave the module over to D.S Clegg, otherwise known as DM Dave.
The DM Dave years Edit
Old 3T (V6 and before)
During this period 3T was still a relatively small server but despite this it was full most of the time and, famously, required repeated clicking of the join button for periods sometimes exceeding 30 minutes to get in. The DM Team was fairly small in this period as well and so it retained many of the characteristics of the previous period, such as indiscriminate killing and exploiting in some areas. However this was slowly toned back and became less frequent. The server also upgraded to Hordes of the Underdark and raised the level cap to 25; the player cap also was raised to 25 as well during this period. Much of the server was created and the Guilds, DM Team and 'vet' players were formed during the pre-V7 era. The server also spectacularly exploded at one point bringing it down for weeks until it was rebuilt with player money. At the end of V6 the Team talked to players and together re-wrote many of the rules for 3T and added new content, before V7 was initialized a wipe of characters was occurred to remove many of the unbalanced features and items.
DM Dave & Scytale Edit
New 3T (aka V7)
Scytale came on board as a lead coder and started a major revamp of a lot of the fundamental code of 3T; this included a new AI, complete replacement of the spawn and cleanup scripts (titled world manager), unified quest system, crafting system, major zone expansions, guild system, database support and more. In addition almost every area was rebuilt for a consistent look-and-feel as well as massive zone expansions. This was titled as version 7.
Due to the sweeping set of changes, plus the fact that many players had very old & powerful characters, it was decided by DM Dave and Scytale to precede the release of V7 with a server wipe. Technically a migration of characters V6 to V7 would have placed huge strain on Scytale - given the new quest system & new database. So it was that V7 went live with a fresh start upping the player limit, eventually, to 50 and the level cap to 40, it had been rebuilt from ground up and this version (which is still being updated) has a polish lacked by the previous versions.
During the new months, additional new high level zones were brought on line and the level cap slowly increased, believing that the level cap should only be increased when the zones were available. The notable disaster in all this was Scytale's attempt to create high level crafting, aka The Forge.
This version of the server has been going many years and has seen a change in the server as a whole; many people feel that the server has gone too soft and drifted away from the dangerous roots whereas others believe it has become more friendly to beginners and casual players. With talk of bring back the Outlaw system, 3T could well be moving back towards its roots. Also during this period 3T made the turbulent transition to two servers, paid for by the community.
During this time, the servers were brought by DM Dave from Edinburgh to London. DM Dave handed them over to Scytale who moved them into a professional London data center, which stabilized latency and bandwidth.
A long time after the start of V7, DM Dave found his pockets were not deep enough and his time not long enough to sustain 3T and thus passed it onto the next Dave to carry on otherwise known as DM Orion. Scytale ended up getting a proper job and had to retire as coder.
During Orion's time 3T has brought both servers into the same ruleset. Initiating PvP without interaction or a positive choice by the 'victim' is no longer an option (i.e. random PKing). That said, Full PvP is an option on the server and it doesn't take much to initiate it for those who wish to indulge. The rules have been clarified to regulate twinking and muling via items
Unlike V7, V8 was not preceded by a vault wipe. Instead, V8 changed the layout of 3T's areas to make it more consistent with the storyline, as well as allowing for the addition of several new quests. V8 is the first version of 3T to make full use of the monster resizing trick. V8 also introduced OmegaAxis's Custom Trap Crafting System, which has helped define the trapper as a viable subset of rogue and sparked several new builds. Bow forging was also introduced, which now makes the epic forge a powerful tool for almost every class (but not as overpowered as it was in V6). V8 includes several hundred new custom items, some of which have been created by the players.
The Development team continue to produce new content. Several areas are due out for the new release (Post 801c) and may include some previously un-used tilesets. Extra quests, more monsters and more zones to explore in a mod already packed with hundreds of zones!
The DM team is responsible for running special events on the server, settling player disputes, and helping players when they have problems with the server. The DM team is currently headed by DM Taroc.
The members of the DM team:
- DM Orion - Owner and chief admin of 3T.
- DM Taroc - Head DM
- DM Dacarlo - Server/Website admin
- DM Xanadan - DM
- DM Obyvatel - Server Admin DM
- DM Tyke - Events co-ordinator
- DM Dakota †
- DM Hads
- DM Velkon
- DM Killian Darkwater
- DM Kabura-ya
- DM BanditCleric
- DM SpookJr
- DM Knite
- DM Sammy
† - Evil Spider Demon Lord
Past members of the DM team:
- DM Dave
- DM Scytale
- DM Zaspath
- DM Castral
- DM Eilestraee
- DM CChant
- DM Kal-El
- DM Radu
- DM DragonDiner ‡
- DM Seraphim
- DM Marius
‡ - Fairy Lord of Server Crashes
The development team is responsible for making all the content in 3T. The current members are:
- DM Dirion Scrab - Chief developer
- DM Orion
- DM Scytale
- DM Wocidej
- DM Chreelister
- DM Cyberglum
- DM OmegaAxis
- DM SiberSpook
- DM Goat
Past members of the development team:
- DM Mu
- DM Scytale
- DM Kynn
- DM Alabama Harold
Three Towns can be found in the "PW Action" room in GameSpy. No password is required, but players should try to check the official home page, especially the FAQ and rules sections, and lurk into the forums before connecting.
Some basic information:
Level limit: 40
Player limit: 60 (120 spread over two servers)
Game mode: hardcore
Vault type: server vault
PvP mode: Full, some areas such as Towns and Territories are No PvP
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