Ruined Tail's Tale Ruin Companion Mod.
RUINED TAIL'S TALE (AKA: Ruin Companion MOD)
Version 0.70 (Dated as of: 23 April 06)
In my opinion, Oblivion is one of the most complete games ever, featuring some truly amazing visuals, interactive large-scale quests, a vast world to explore, and multiple path options to take. In fact, the only thing that I truly consider wrong with the game is how lonely it feels. From the outset, you really are the "one-man army," and even in the brief instances when you do side with an NPC for a quest or two you still know that you are in charge, and that in reality the NPC will be gone in a quest or two (Amusai).
My favourite RPG (and indeed, favourite game) of all time is Baldurs Gate 2, and for one simple reason: Depth of character. In BG2:SoA you are the hero, you are a demigod, yet despite this you depend on your companions, and serve as a teacher, friend and even father-figure to those in your party. They talk to each other, they get mixed up in past affairs, they go crazy and turn evil (at your manipulative advice) and some of them even share romances with you. In truth, the storytelling is what makes BG2:SoA unique.
With this in mind, I set about to make Oblivion the perfect game (in my opinion), by adding an NPC companion (only one at this point in time) who is more than just a henchman. He has a history (which his quest revolves around), he has questions for you -mostly along the lines of moral, philosophical and theraputical-, he has flaws and can be a nuisence, yet he is still a loyal companion. He will respond to the things you say to him, and they in turn will shape his persona and eventually his status as a companion class. He is FLAWED, and that is what makes him a true character, and a story-driven companion.
When I began working on this, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to create an NPC companion with the depth and individuality of Solaufein in Westly Weimers SolaRomance mod for BG2:SoA (http://weidu.org/). I wanted an NPC who players could genuinely like, and I wanted one who did not need you to make his choices for him, but rather simply asked for the players advice. To some extent, the player was to be his conscience, providing moral suggestions without giving specific commands. Westly Weimer captures this perfectly in Solaufein, and used poetry, philosophical references and parabols to develop the character into a companion that you genuinely feel for. He is UNIQUE, and DEEP, and will not be forgotten in my gaming history.
Thus we have Ruined Tail (or Ruin for short.) Somewhat typically he has a dark past that he is tormented by, yet rather than come out and speak to the player directly he will ask subtle questions that tie together to form a coherant background. Your choices will make or break him (eventually) and whether or not you want to play a valiant Crusader, or a manipulative acolyte, Ruin will be YOUR companion, and no one elses.
The Demon that we fail to see is the Demon that lurks inside.
*NPC Companion "Ruined Tail" (Argonian Battlemage) who will follow you, fight, sneak, loot corpses and everything else you have come to expect from your Oblivion MOD companions. (Thanks to Blocky and Aridale for direct inspiration in this regard.)
*Using Reznod's companion share MOD Ruin is now also able to have his equipment upgraded and to serve as a "pack mule" for the player. Previously there were ssues with armour-checking not taking place, this has since been fixed and Ruin operates in all ways like another player.
*Detailed character conversations/storyline. What the player says will directly affect Ruin's development as a character and an NPC, and determine the eventual outcome of his quest.
*Quest relating to the NPC - As Ruined Tail's tale progresses, he will become involved in a quest. The player can choose to take part in this (and develop the character further) or disregard it and use him as a "meatshield" NPC.
*New encounters/fights - Using some "different" encounter techniques that I've always wanted to try in Oblivion I've incorporated a new fight that I hope can be considered "strategic." Previous players of this MOD will find this fight in the new section of Ruin's Quest.
0.70 UPDATE DETAILS:
1) Added the next installment of Ruin's Tale, which essentially continues from where it left off. HOWEVER, previous players of this MOD will be unable to continue their existing saved games in which the RUined-Tail's Tale MOD has already been completed. To get the full experience of the MOD you will need to install the updated version and start again. Alternatively you can skip to the second part of the quest using the instructions outlined at the bottom of this README.
2) Further balancing of Ruin as a Companion, hopefully eliminating any further "Overpowered" problems that have been reported.
3) Fixed up an "equip armour" bug that was causing Ruin to only equip armour given to him when changing city zones. He now performs an armour check everytime you select the 'I've...' Dialogue option. (Thanks Rychek444, you're my saviour mate)
0.52 UPDATE DETAILS:
1) Added compatability for Reznod's companion share MOD, allowing the player to give Ruin specific items, and also serve as a "pack mule" to some extents. This has been thoroughly tested with all aspects of the NPC and his associated quest, thus far I have found no major problems. All credit for the COMPANION share MOD (and the associated script used on this NPC) goes to Reznod. Kudos to him for going out of his way to make a modders life easier. Reznod can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Fixed up a bug where a certain wall in Anvil was being disabled as a result of a typing mistake.
3) Added several lines to the existing scripts which has set up the MOD in a way so that it is ready for the main quest to continue when I get around to adding the dialogue for it. These changes don't mean much to you guys, but at least it is a sure sign that the next installment of the quest is en-route.
4) Performed a bit of NPC balancing on Ruin in order to make it "fairer" on players who are still using fairly low characters. Additionally, some of the opponents no longer where equipment that will make the game way too easy for lower players once looted.
0.51 UPDATE DETAILS:
1) Improved two specific encounters towards the end of the mod-so-far. Specifically, better scripting for the final encounter, and a certain group of enemies advancing out of a hiding place in the water rather than simply appearing. Seriously, this is a major improvement over what was there before, and makes it much more enjoyable to play. Even if you have already made good progression through the MOD so far, I suggest checking out the updated version just for the better final stages.
2) Mode_Locrian pointed out a minor inconsistancy regarding Ruin's name. I fixed that up.
STILL TO COME:
*Progressive Story - I'm still not done yet. Ruin's tail (pun intended) still has a long way to go and as I get more time to continue crafting his story, I will release further updates.
*NPC updates - More realistic AI functions that can make full use of the Radiant AI in Oblivion.
*Voice Acting - Okay, I'm Australian, so an Argonian with an Australian accent probably wouldn't sound particularly realistic. To counter this, Agro has offered his considerable voice talents to the game and is working long and hard hours (in amongst studying) to add a more lifelike essence to Ruined-Tail.
*Pathing - There are some weird pathing bugs that occur occassionally (especially if you are running along with high SPEED over a long distance. If Ruin runs to slow and gets left behind, when you zone-into another area or quicktravel he should come back.
1. Extract the contents of the .zip file to your Oblivion directory. If for some reason they don't go into the correct folders, the Ruin.esp and Easy_Companion_Share.esm files need to go into the Oblivion/Data directory, and the Folder containing the sound files (Ruin.exp folder) needs to go into Oblivion/data/sound/voices/ directory.
2. Start Oblivion, go into "data files" and tick the "Ruin.exp" file, AND the the "Easy_Companion_Share.esm" file to activate the MOD.
3. Load a saved game or start a new game to test it out. I wouldn't reccommend starting in the ARENA since that is where Ruin is located, and I've had some problems with him not spawning if you don't start OUTSIDE of the Arena.
4. Go find Ruin (by the statue in Arena) and start destroying his lively persona (or cheering him up, if you prefer.)
This is if you want to start Ruined-Tail's Tale over again, but still use a SAVED game where Ruin has already been in the game.
1. Delete or disable the Ruin.esp and Easy_Companion_share.esm files (either deleting from the DATA directory, of simply disabling in the Oblivion launcher) and start Oblivion.
2. Load the specified saved game. It will come up with a message advising you that "some parts of the game may not be enabled" yada yada, just ignore it and click on "yes." Start the game and SAVE the game. Then quit Oblivion.
3. Extract the contents of the .zip file to your Oblivion directory. If for some reason they don't go into the correct folders, the Ruin.esp and Easy_Companion_Share.esm files need to go into the Oblivion/Data directory, and the Folder containing the sound files (Ruin.exp folder) needs to go into Oblivion/data/sound/voices/ directory.
4. Start Oblivion, go into "data files" and tick the "Ruin.exp" file, AND the the "Easy_Companion_Share.esm" file to activate the MOD.
3. Load up your recently saved game and start playing.
CONTINUING THE QUEST (existing players only):
If you don't want to start Ruin's Tale all over again, there is an alternate way of skipping the first part of his quest by using a "cheat" item I created for testing purposes. Bare in mind that this item IGNORES your relationship with Ruin (eg, romance or villain) and assumes that you chose the nuetral path towards friendship. Using the PORTbook has only one major downside aside from this, which is that it ignored several timeline triggers early on (eg, just after the ending to the first part of Ruin's Tale.) This probably doesn't mean much to you, but it does break he experience somewhat.
To skip to the second section of Ruin's Tale:
1. Go to an OPEN area (preferably with no grass or anything else that summoned items can be lost in.)
2. Bring down the console by pressing the Tilde (~) key.
3. Type in: "Player.PlaceAtMe 0201184e 1,256,0" (Without the inverted commas) and press ENTER.
4. A book called "Port Book" should appear on the ground near you, when you attempt to use the book you will be relocated elsewhere. It might help to fill in the gaps in the story if I tell you that the relocation only takes place during a "resting" period. (AKA: sleeping)
Q: Ruined Tail keeps on pathing all over the place, what's going on?
A: Good question... Answer: I don't know. Lots of companion MODs have been having similar problems, and modders with more scripting skills that I have are also being challenged by this. We'll figure it out eventually.
Q: Ruined Tail is too deep, he's giving me a headache.
A: Then don't talk to him. He won't care.
Q: Ruined Tail tried to crack on to me. I'm playing a male character mate, that's just messed up...
A: I couldn't be bothered being selective based on gender. And someone on the Elder Scrolls forums was talking about marrying off her female character to a male Argonian, so I thought that she would probably get kicks out of this concept.
Q: How come he hasn't talked to me in X minutes?
A: There is a time delay on most of the conversations. Others need to be triggered by events or even resting (Hint hint)
Q: What is with the MP3 files that don't play any sound?
A: I get asked this a lot. Okay, the way that the CS works you HAVE to have a sound file attatched to EVERY piece of dialogue otherwise it only stays on the screen for about 2 seconds. By attatching a "blank" sound file I can force the text to stay on screen for as long as necessary (in my case 8 seconds) and that is why there are some 700-odd silent mp3 files.
Q: How do I know when I have reached the end of the second part of Ruined-Tail's Tale?
A: For Evil or Neutral companion players, there is ONE conversation after Ruin is returned to you. For Romance players there are TWO conversations after Ruin is returned to you.
Q: Mate, what is with this ShadowScale lair battle, it's insane!
A: True, it is tough (well, at least I found it tough) but it is definately not impossible. Here are some hints:
*Don't use Area Of Effect weapons/arrows/spells (for obvious reasons)
*Use the terrain to your advantage. Remember, the enemy isn't as efficient at jumping/avoiding obstacles as you are.
*Pick out a specific target - There are at LEAST 3 other targets to fight before you go after the boss, and one of those just happens to have something you are after.
*Don't let the enemies corner you or bunch up as a group. If they do, stray hits from the other opponents is going to land you in a world of hurt.
*If you end up with more than 5 duplicates running around, load up a saved game. I never managed to win it with more than 5 being played at the one time.
EDITING, USING, DISTRIBUTING:
I really don't care where or how you distribute this MOD provided that you don't change this ReadME or take credit for it. Feel free to use my script and NPCs all you want, but PLEASE don't plagiarise my story/dialogue. Obviously I can't do anything to stop you, but seriously, there can be no justifiable reason to steal my writing.
Simyaz - Writer/scripter/creator
Josh - Playertester
Scott - Playtester
Reznod - Creator of the 'Reznod Companionshare MOD' (email@example.com) that is used in this MOD.
Rychek444 - invaluable assistance with correcting the armour scripting bug, and going out of his way to arrange hosting for this MOD.
Agro - Our current "voice" for Ruin (still a work-in-progress) for lending us his vocal talents to give Ruin life.
Westly Weimer - Creater of the SOLAUFEIN MOD for BG2. The greatest RPG Modification ever created in my opinion. (Actually, two conversation topics with RUIN were taken directly from his MOD. Check out the masterpiece at: Weidu.org )
Robert Frost - Whose poetry is used in this MOD.
William Shakespeare - A quote or two of his were also purloined.
BlockyHead - Companion MODS - Providing inspiration
Aridale - More companion MODS - Providing inspiration
Elder Scrolls Forum thread for Ruined-Tail's Tale: Elderscrolls.com