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Area layout and room descriptions

Area layout and map

I have found that different builders work in different ways when working out the layout of an area. Some will work on paper, some will work out the layout on the computer, others will just go with it on the fly. This is how I (Mystra) work. If you are unsure where to start, then give my way a try, till you find your own way of working on the layout of an area.

First map out your area on paper. I have a pad of graph paper that I use. I use a mechanical pencil because it gives a nice fine line. Each box is 1/4 inch square. I prefer to represent each room as a box, giving it a title as needed. So my drawn square will cover 4 of the smaller squares on the graph paper. Sometimes I will use 1 square of the graph paper to be the size of the room square, and I put a number in the square and then I put a legend on the page, so I can refer to it, to see what the number represents. I only tend to do this when I am working from a real Forgotten Realms area that has a published map and legend.

Generally when you are working on your first area, you have been allocated 50 or 100 vnums. These are easier to layout than some of the bigger areas. Some of my bigger areas ended up being on 4 bits of paper taped together.

Once you have it all mapped out number each room from 0. I tend to do this in red pen, so it stands out differently from my penciled numbers and notes. Before I mark the map in red pen that cannot be easily erased, I will do a quick count to make sure I have not gone over my vnum limit for the area. If I find I have 208 rooms, I will prune my area down to 200. I allocate builders vnums in blocks of 50 for small areas, and then blocks of 100 for larger areas. The number of total vnums available is not infinite so we must use our vnums wisely and well. Remember as you are numbering the rooms from 0, your final room number will be 49 or 99 or 199 and so on (depending on how many vnum blocks you plan on using). I often try to not use up all of my room vnums that I have allocated the area, I like to leave a handful like 5 free. I sometimes find that when I am writing a quest for the area, that I need to add a room to make the quest work, and having a couple of rooms spare allows me to do that.

Room Descriptions

I work on my room descriptions (and the area file as a whole) in a plain text editor program. My personal recommendation is textpad. But dos edit, note pad and word pad will work, though without the niceties that textpad offers. (You can use Word but I found it irritating to use in the way it likes to save things as a doc and uses auto correct) Use the following format for your room and room description. (Please note that the following example creates a no exit room - exits are covered in following lessons).

Room Name~
{70}This is the description of the room. Make it a minimum of 4 lines if you
can. We dont mind if you cut and paste to copy similar rooms, we are not as
fanatical about such things as making you make all rooms unique. Try and
make the room description no more than about 10 lines. You dont want the
description being too big for someones telnet client. It is important that
you put a tilda after the room name and the room description like this.
0 0 0 0 0 0

Now lets look at each aspect of the room's code:

#QQ01 - The hash is used to denote to the game code that you are starting a new rooms information. QQ is the vnum of the area. For instance Waterdeep had all the QQ's replaced with 80 as its vnums were 8000. If you have more than 100 rooms then for room 100 use QR00. And so on up if you go to more than 200 rooms it would be QS.

Room Name~ - The room name is what you see above the exits in vt. Don't forget the tilda ~.

{70}This is the description .... ~ - This is where you put your room description paragraph. If you read the paragraph of our sample room, it has some guidelines for how we would like the room description to be. All rooms must be colourised. See the lesson on room colourisation for more information. Don't forget the tilda ~.

0 0 0 0 0 0 - This is where our room and sector flags go. This is covered seperately in the rest of the room lessons.

S - Finish each room off with an S. At this point your room is a no exit room with no room flags.

You don't have to worry about exits for now. However if you want to do them all in one hit (I do) continue with the rest of the room lessons. Later we (the area admins) will do a global replacement on the QQ's (and QR's etc if needed) to your vnums once you have submitted your area for testing. You will be allocated vnums once your area is ready for testing. Do not try to allocate numbers to yourself. You have no means of knowing what numbers are available.

The rooms tend to be what many builders find the most tedious and I personally have always made a policy to get them out of the way first before getting into the real fun stuff :) OLC when you earn the rights will make rooms far easier to make.