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  1. #1

    Creating an adventure (4e Parser + 4e Module Workshop)

    Hi guys!

    I'm trying to create an adventure module using the 4e Parser and the FGII 4e Module Workshop.
    The adventure I'm trying to get into FGII is Khyber's Harvest, which is a free adventure from WotC and I do have an actibe DNDI account.

    Great deal actually, as I can scrape NPCs, items and some more stuff from the DNDI Compendium. What what I don't get from the compendium are the story and maps.
    At this point the 4e Module Workshop comes in. So I copy some text from the pdf into the workshoptool and saved it as "story.txt".

    I put the compendium scrapes, story.txt and map image dir into the parser config and start parsing and the module get's created successfully.


    Even though all that sounds quite easy, I have a few problems/questions:
    • I don't see any story elements in FGII
    • The story container in FGII is empty
    • Is there a way to automatically create an input file for the encounters?
    • How can I link tokens to my NPCs in the input files? Do I have to add them manually to the module?
    • How does this NPC database work?
    • And most important question:
      Is there a documantation for those 2 tools anywhere out there?


    Attached to the message you can find the story.txt created with the module workshop and the parser instructions.

    Thanks a lot in advance and regards
    Neph
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Zeus's Avatar
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    Wow. I didn't think anyone aside from Tenian and I were using both of the tools to create adventure modules. Nice to know others are using them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    I don't see any story elements in FGII / The story container in FGII is empty
    A few problems I spotted:

    - Your missing the required ZCATEGORY tag for each entry
    - Encounter 2 has a few tag errors, mainly erroneous <frame> tags following <p> tags
    - I couldn't get your Index page to parse until I inserted a blank line before the entry. In other words force the first line of story.txt to be blank -- I think this is a Parser problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    Is there a way to automatically create an input file for the encounters?
    Yes. If you create your story-encounter entries using the F3 hotkey/button (New Encounter Entry), the workshop tool records the entries in a cache. When you have finished compiling all the Story-Entries, save your story.txt file and the hold down Cntrl and press 2 (New Encounters). An encounters.txt file will be generated and output to the current save path.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    How can I link tokens to my NPCs in the input files? Do I have to add them manually to the module?
    If you scraped the NPCs from the Compendium, you will need to manually create a FLUFF file, the scrape process only pulls the stats. In the FLUFF file for each group or entry you then need to add the ZTOKEN or ZIMAGE tags with the appropriate names for the image files. The Parser configuration defines where the image/token subfolders are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    [*]How does this NPC database work?
    When you parse your source books which contain NPCs, in the NPCs Monster Stats tree you will see an extra option, 'Database Directory (Optional)'. If you define a path in this option the Parser will add the NPC entries to a MS Access DB. If the db doesn't exist, it gets created, if it does exists it adds the NPCs to the existing db.

    Now if you parse all your modules containing NPCs and pass the same file path to the database you will end up with a database that contains all WotC NPCs. Very handy as you will see in a moment.

    Now in the Workshop in Configuration options you will note two fields under the NPC Database Group:

    - a path to the NPC Database itself
    - a path to a global folder which contains all your NPC tokens and image files (they can be in subfolders).

    Once configured you can access the NPC Database through the Workshop by either holding down Cntrl + 3 or clicking the button on the 2nd toolbar. Once opened the NPC Database form appears. From here you can either import your encounters.txt file or search on NPCs using the Search + Filtering facility to add NPCs to the 'Queue'. Once you have added all the NPCs you require hit the Output Queue button. The workshop will now sift through the database extracting entries in line with whats in the queue. For each NPC the workshop will also hunt down the token and image files (prompting if not found, duplicates are found etc). Once complete, you will find the npcs.txt, npcfluff.txt and tokens and images (in subfolders) in the current save path.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    And most important question:
    Is there a documantation for those 2 tools anywhere out there?
    For the Workshop, aside from the Readme.txt file the only other guides are the videos I quickly prepared. I do intend to pull together a more detailed video guide but as of yet have not found the time . I will get around to it just as soon as I have finished some extension updates.

    For the Parser there are a few guides found here at the FGII forums, a couple of smaller guides are also on the FGWiki and finally the holy grail, Parser Document.txt (found in the Parser's program folder) contains a complete reference for all content types and the required syntax.
    Last edited by Zeus; August 14th, 2010 at 19:26.
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  3. #3
    Bookmarking this for extreme goodness.

  4. #4
    Hey DrZeuss,

    thanks a lot for long post. I really appreciate the time to spend in helping me (and also other ppl) and also developing your great little tool.

    Most of your hints got me to right path and almoste everything seems to work as it supposed.

    There're 3 points atm:
    • What is the deeper sense of the ZCATEGORY-tag?
    • I tried to link items, but the link isn't working. (See mi.txt and story_new.txt)
    • The DB-feature allways gives me an error message when parsing. It looks like the a record couldn't be inserted into the npc-table of the db.
      That's why I didn't go deeper into this feature for now.


    Beside my personal problems of understanding how the parser and workshop tool work, I guess I found some bugs in the workshop tool:
    • When the Workshop Tool is running it's not possible to use F-keys in other programms, even though the Workshop Tool's windows doesn't have focus.
    • When inserting a link to an encounter (via F4), it would be nice to have the encounters from the workshop tools cache file availible as presets.
    • When parsing the copied text from the PDF file while inserting into the Workshop Tool (via F6 - insert paragraph) some formats are not recognized sometimes.
      (e.g. there is a passage about 5 skills-checks and each check is represented as the skills itself + DCxx in bold followed by a description. Checks 1,2 and 5 recognized correctly, 3 and 4 are treated as "normal text" in check 2s description)
      If you're interessted I can give you more detailed information.


    I also would like to make a proposal/feature request:
    Having all the encounters in the cache is actually great. But pittily there is no option atm to manage those encounters, whichs leads to some problems.
    Example:
    I put in an encounter using the F3-key. Afterwards I noticed I made a spelling mistake/forgott to insert a category/whatever, so I actually need to make a change to the existing encounter entry or at least delete the entry, which is not possible.
    I'll end up with a messed up story cache and generating the encounters.txt will spit out inconsistent/double entries.

    So what is need if actually some kind of list inside the Workshop Tool which shows all the inserted encounters and those need to be linked at the corresponding ZNAME-entries.
    (I think in .net you can use the XML of story_cache as a dataprovider for a list-element or something. Then highlight 'linked' ZNAME-entries with a color and give the user the possibility to add/change/remove the encounter-data which is linked.)

    Even though there's a lot of finetuning to be done in the adventure, I would love to share my work, potentially here in the FGII forum.
    All data and picutres inside the adventure module can be downloaded freely at WotC website. Is this possible/allowed to post the entire module here?

    Which would be really great! In this case I will think about writing a tutorial/howto how I did create the adventure and hopefully more ppl will join in converting those free adventures from WotC and other 3rd party developers.
    FGII will end up which a wide basis of free adventure which are ready to play and much less work for new FGII-GMs.
    (Yes ... the work behind getting an adventure started in FGII is still a big obstacle you need to get over. )

    Regards
    Neph


    PS: Did you and Tenian every think of putting your tools together in some kind a "module creation toolkit"?
    I think a userfriendly and easy to use tool like that would be a great enrichment to the FGII-4e-community and lead to the distribution of a lot of free content ... very attrective for potential customers.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    What is the deeper sense of the ZCATEGORY-tag?
    ZCATEGORY defines the category or group the entry should be listed under in the Adventure Class Story windowlist (Story Shield Icon on the right hand side of the FGII window). If you take a look at the Adventure Class Story Items window, you'll note the Group icon (bottom left of the window). By right-clicking this and selecting Add New Group you have the ability to define multiple groups. This is a very useful feature to have as it allows you to sub-group content. By default when you open a module, its content is listed in a new Group (using the name of the module as the Group name).

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    I tried to link items, but the link isn't working. (See mi.txt and story_new.txt)
    Your telling the Parser the link reference is a story entry when in fact what your attempting to link is either a specific Magic Item or a Group of Magic Items.

    Try this notation instead:

    ZLINK milist;weapon;New Magic Items: Weapons
    ZLINK milist;armor;New Magic Items: Armor
    ZLINK milist;itemslot;New Magic Items: Symbionts
    ZLINK item;The Coat of Eyes; New Artifact: The Coat of Eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    The DB-feature allways gives me an error message when parsing. It looks like the a record couldn't be inserted into the npc-table of the db.
    That's why I didn't go deeper into this feature for now.
    Hmm not sure about this, one for Tenian to answer. Have you made sure you have the MS ACE drivers installed as per the note at the top of the Parser Document.txt?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    When the Workshop Tool is running it's not possible to use F-keys in other programms, even though the Workshop Tool's windows doesn't have focus.
    This is intended functionality, the global hotkeys enable one to work exclusively from a PDF without having to switch application focus. The downside as you have highlighted though is that F key functionality is overridden in other apps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    When inserting a link to an encounter (via F4), it would be nice to have the encounters from the workshop tools cache file availible as presets.
    Duly noted, I'll look at possibly adding this in the next release.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    When parsing the copied text from the PDF file while inserting into the Workshop Tool (via F6 - insert paragraph) some formats are not recognized sometimes.
    (e.g. there is a passage about 5 skills-checks and each check is represented as the skills itself + DCxx in bold followed by a description. Checks 1,2 and 5 recognized correctly, 3 and 4 are treated as "normal text" in check 2s description)
    If you're interessted I can give you more detailed information.
    There are simply so many formats that I can cater and so some specific formats may not auto-format correctly. I can look at adding further format support but will need a reference to work from. PM me either the name of the source material your using, including page and paragraph references and I'll see what I can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    Having all the encounters in the cache is actually great. But pittily there is no option atm to manage those encounters, whichs leads to some problems.
    Example:
    I put in an encounter using the F3-key. Afterwards I noticed I made a spelling mistake/forgott to insert a category/whatever, so I actually need to make a change to the existing encounter entry or at least delete the entry, which is not possible.
    I'll end up with a messed up story cache and generating the encounters.txt will spit out inconsistent/double entries.

    So what is need if actually some kind of list inside the Workshop Tool which shows all the inserted encounters and those need to be linked at the corresponding ZNAME-entries.
    (I think in .net you can use the XML of story_cache as a dataprovider for a list-element or something. Then highlight 'linked' ZNAME-entries with a color and give the user the possibility to add/change/remove the encounter-data which is linked.)
    Yes Tenian has also requested this feature, I see the point your making and I'll look at making a couple of changes for the next release. As you highlighted its relatively simple to create a new Window form to manage the internal cache entries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    Even though there's a lot of finetuning to be done in the adventure, I would love to share my work, potentially here in the FGII forum.
    All data and picutres inside the adventure module can be downloaded freely at WotC website. Is this possible/allowed to post the entire module here?
    Hmm redistributing content (free or not) should only really be done with the author/IP owners permission. I would send a note to Doug or moon_wizard they are better positioned to advise on whether permission should be sought first.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    Which would be really great! In this case I will think about writing a tutorial/howto how I did create the adventure and hopefully more ppl will join in converting those free adventures from WotC and other 3rd party developers.
    I think this would be a great addition for the community. I know Xorn's video guides have gone down a storm with most users finding them to be a very useful. Feel free to create a guide on Adventure module creation using the Workshop approach, I am pretty sure Tenian will be happy if you want to include the Parser as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephilim667
    PS: Did you and Tenian every think of putting your tools together in some kind a "module creation toolkit"?
    I think a userfriendly and easy to use tool like that would be a great enrichment to the FGII-4e-community and lead to the distribution of a lot of free content ... very attrective for potential customers.
    We have discussed it but as the code base for each tool is extensive it would take significant effort to merge the two tools.

    In fairness I never intended for the Workshop tool to be a long standing application, merely a stop gap until official tools become available. If anyone wants the source code to adapt the workshop for other rulesets, drop me a PM and I'll happily share. The code is written in VB.NET and requires Microsoft's full 4.0 .NET Framework.
    Last edited by Zeus; August 15th, 2010 at 19:42.
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  6. #6
    Hey Zeuss,

    Thanks again for long and detailed post.
    I have limited time atm, so I cannot answer anything right away. But one thing just came into my mind when redaing your post.

    We have discussed it but as the code base for each tool is extensive it would take significant effort to merge the two tools.
    Is it really like that? It should be quite easy for Tenian to compile the core parsing classes/methods into a single static library (.dll) which can be used by other applications. He'd only need to build parametric methods around each use case of his gui. (If he followed MVC-princeples, all this should be there allready. )

    In fairness I never intended for the Workshop tool to be a long standing application, merely a stop gap until official tools become available.
    I didn't know there's is something in development on the FGII side. In that case you're right. There's no sense to invent a the wheel several times.

    Regards
    Neph

  7. #7
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    Your welcome.

    Tenian has already begun a process to expose some of the functionality into DLLs, thats how I integrate with the NPC Database feature of the Parser into the Workshop tool. However, whether Tenian has any intention to release ALL functionality via DLL(s) is another matter altogether I haven't spoken with him for a week or so due to the holidays so not sure what his current plans are, hopefully he'll see this thread and provide a comment or two.

    And just to be clear I am not confirming anything official is in development
    You'll have to ask Doug and moon_wizard for that. I'm just stating that I wrote the app and am happy to share it with the community as an interim solution.
    If and when an official tool is made available, I would discontinue development and support of the Workshop in favour of supporting the official toolset.
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  8. #8
    Hey,

    Tenian has already begun a process to expose some of the functionality into DLLs, thats how I integrate with the NPC Database feature of the Parser into the Workshop tool. However, whether Tenian has any intention to release ALL functionality via DLL(s) is another matter altogether I haven't spoken with him for a week or so due to the holidays so not sure what his current plans are, hopefully he'll see this thread and provide a comment or two.
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to push anyone or anything. I just saw you're nice tool and how they're linked together, so I was just brainstorming.

    Your telling the Parser the link reference is a story entry when in fact what your attempting to link is either a specific Magic Item or a Group of Magic Items.

    Try this notation instead:

    ZLINK milist;weapon;New Magic Items: Weapons
    ZLINK milist;armor;New Magic Items: Armor
    ZLINK milist;itemslot;New Magic Items: Symbionts
    ZLINK item;The Coat of Eyes; New Artifact: The Coat of Eyes
    I'm really sorry as I attached the wrong information to my post.
    I have story-element contain a detailed description for the magic items and a link to the items itself inside the descriptions. Those links aren't working.

    In Tenian's parser doc the follwing can be found:
    Code:
    ZLINK {link class};{id};{optional display text};{[Module Name]};{[Modestring]}*
    Supported values for {link class}
        item = magic item
        armor = for individual armor
        weapon = for individual weapon
        equipment = for individual equipment
        [...]
    So I tried to follow this documantion and put the following line into the ZTEXT-tag of the corresponding story-element:
    Code:
    ZLINK item;Tongueworm
    [...]
    ZLINK armor;The Coat of Eyes
    [...]
    In mi.txt the items look like this:
    Code:
    The Coat of Eyes  Level 1
    Crafted by the daelkyr Belashyrra, [...]
    Armor: Leather Armor Enhancement: +1 AC [...]
    
    Tongueworm        Level 1+
    This thin strand of quivering muscle [...]
    But I cannot get the link working.

    There are simply so many formats that I can cater and so some specific formats may not auto-format correctly. I can look at adding further format support but will need a reference to work from. PM me either the name of the source material your using, including page and paragraph references and I'll see what I can do.
    I'll pass over the information later where exactly the "problem" appeared.
    Out of curiosity: How do oyu do the parsing? Are you using regular expressions?

    Regards
    Neph

  9. #9
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    OK. Check to make sure your magic items are parsing correctly and that you have an entry for each new one you have listed in mi.txt

    You can do this by right-clicking the Magic Items node in the Parser config sheet and clicking Parse.

    The Parser will now step through the mi.txt file and compile the XML. If successful it will open an XML Browser window. Open the root node and then open the magicitemsdesc[modestring] tree.

    Now step through all the items and make sure that all the fields in each entry have been populated correctly. You want to make sure at least Name, Class and mitype are all populated correctly.

    As for how the Workshop parses and recognises the different text block formats, yes I am using LUA's in built pattern matching feature built into the string library. Its a cut down version of REGEX.
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  10. #10
    The parsed items look fine for me. (see attachment)

    I tried to link the first entry (The Coat of Eyes) using the following lines in the workshop tool with no luck:
    1. ZLINK armor;The Coat of Eyes
    2. ZLINK armor;The Coat of Eyes +1
    3. ZLINK armor;thecoatofeyes_001
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