Welcome to Planewalker Games! We are the home of The Broken Hourglass, a new CRPG in development for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers.
PWG in Indie RPG Interview
RPGCodex has just published a new interview with four independent studios working to publish their debut titles, and Planewalker Games took part. Be sure to read the interview, with information about The Broken Hourglass and its upcoming cousins, here.
 
Inside the Engine: Introduction to sprites
On the fourth Monday of each month, we explore the code underneath The Broken Hourglass, the game environment called "WeiNGINE." This month, we look at the basics of creating a sprite--an in-game graphical representation of a character, monster, or special animated scenery object.

If it walks, talks, swings a weapon or just gently moves across the screen in The Broken Hourglass, chances are that it's a sprite. Because WeiNGINE uses 2D graphics techniques, most animated objects, from heroes to water fountains, are represented by sprites. Conceptually, sprite animation works much like a flip-book. Instead of pages, the engine flips through small PNG images. To make a character walk across the screen from right to left, that character's sprite has 12 frames which represent a complete, looping walk cycle.

In theory, these images could all be drawn by hand. In practice, this would be impractical. Animating a single humanoid hero requires roughly 4,600 frames. Add in the full roster of available equipment for a hero sprite, and the total leaps to nearly 30,000 frames! As a result, the frames are generated not with traditional 2D drawing techniques but through 3D animation software. Models are created, rigged, and animated in a 3D rendering package and then the results are saved as sequences of PNG frames, specially labeled so that the sprite files used in the engine can find the right images at the right time.

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Rules and Mechanics: Hiding and Finding

From tripwires to deadly assassins to a storage nook behind a wall painting, hidden people and objects help spice up the experience of The Broken Hourglass. Here, we briefly explain the rules for hiding as well as finding that which has been hidden.

Although individual characters have their own sight range, from a mechanics standpoint all members of the same party are considered to be sharing the same knowledge about the people and things they can see. This reasonably approximates one party member's ability to alert companions that "He's heading your way!" or "Look out! She's behind you!" When people or things are hidden, then, they are potentially hidden from every single party in the game.

Hiding Characters and Creatures

Any character or creature with at least one point in the Stealth skill may attempt to hide at any time. As far as they are aware, they are now hidden.

An opposing individual or party which encounters the hidden creature will spot it if its Perception score exceeds the Stealth score of the hider. Perception is a group skill, meaning that when party members are within a certain radius of one another, they are able to fractionally combine their abilities to have a better chance of locating a hider than they would on their own. (Group skills were discussed in a previous Rules and Mechanics installment).

Example:
Messenger is attempting to sneak past both the Guards and the Player Party. Messenger's Stealth score is 25.
The Guards have a combined Perception score of 20.
The Player Party has a combined Perception score of 30.
The Player Party will spot the Messenger, but the Guards will not.

The benefits of hiding from opponents speak for themselves:

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Moonshine, Chapter 1

This month we introduce a new story--the four-part Moonshine. Unlike our previous tale, which highlighted some of Mal Nassrin's richest and most talented, Moonshine offers a glimpse of how the other half lives through the eyes of Klavel, partner in one of the city's illicit pitfighting rackets. If you missed On the Fly, or want to keep up to date as this new adventure unfolds, see our complete list of serials here.

Moonshine
By Sonja Littell-Trotter

Chapter 1


"It's hard to live in a world that is dying," Larius says, delivering this lofty pronouncement in the pious tones of a drunk.  A drunk so sloshed that the very air is causing him to wobble slightly.  But be that as it may, I cannot stop my eye from rolling, though I do it looking away so he won't see.  I hate it when he's like this.

"Don't be such a sop, Larius," I tell him, and he fixes me with a sour look that has anger at the edge of it.  He's long on bark and short on tooth these days. Still, one never knows what day he'll decide to reassert his position as the leader of our duo.

Larius and me go way back, long enough to have a solid history of friendship and animosity.  I suppose that I really would be his protégé and not his friend, if we were being honest.  But I'm not.  Honest, that is.  I don't hold to honesty. It rarely does as much good as a kind and careful lie.

It was late and the moon was bright; with night-eyes afield you might not even need a torch to light your way.  Not here though.  The moonlight hadn't made it down here yet, but I could see the light cutting a high line on the tall buildings across the street.  The air is cool, but the stones had held the heat of the day for a long time and now in the early morning the worn stones had a beady sheen of condensation that made our hobble home a ripe pain.

I go back to ignoring Larius, keeping my head down and watching those snot-slick streets.  I walk slower now than I used to, slower even than the old man did on a night like tonight.  Once on a long ago day something had given way deep in my hip and even the least autumn chill would tighten that rotten joint up tighter than drying leather and it took 'till near noon before I could do more than just limp along.  It used to be worse; I used to have the gimp hip, the gone eye and a pop in my jaw that made me drool.  Drool, for gods' sake!

That got better at least. I don't know why, it just faded away like hope and snow.  The local temple priest had told me it was a blessing, right before he hit me up for tithes.  Yeah, blessing.  What kind of gods would fix that?  Why bother?  Mercy, my lame ass.   What's that saying?  Those that the gods love die young and those they favor go mad?  What about the ones whose jaws they fix?  A setup to the death and the madness, maybe?  No thank you, holy father.

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Sanelon: A Cure, At a Price

Sanelon portraitSanelon is one of the characters who may join your party in The Broken Hourglass. This conversation was overheard at a small bakery near the main gates of Mal Nassrin, a few weeks before Wasteland Day:

Teofano: "...oh, Iulia! That's terrible!"

Iulia: "I know. They are so sick... little Eirene must have lost 10 pounds alone, and you know how small she is for her age already. Chosti puts on a brave face but I see that he is weaker every day."

Teofano: "And Palladius? He is sick now as well?"

Iulia: "Yes. He helped me with the children those first few days, but now he is like them--listless and wasting. Mother has been helping now, but I fear... I cannot help but fear the worst. She said she was tired of hearing me fear the worst and sent me away saying I need fresh air... that is why I came to call on you today."

Teofano: "Poor thing! Yes, you must get away for a few moments, even at times like these. I will have you home soon, I promise. But you say nothing works? You have seen the priests and the lay healers?"

Iulia: "They come, they see the wasting... they try, they fail. I feel as though we have tried fifty remedies already! All they can do is tell me what a remarkable illness this is, as though they are excited to see it! Should I be excited to see my... my children die under my very roof?"

Teofano: "I truly am sorry, dear Iulia. Is there anything I can do? I can spell you and your mother, if nothing else."

Iulia: "Thank you, lovely Teofano, but no. I have called on the priests and the healers, yes... but there is another man I could call. I hear he frequents a small tailor's shop in the Walk. Once we have finished our cakes, I intend to meet him there."

Teofano: "You don't mean Sanelon? The man is a user! A killer!"

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Inside the Engine: Introduction to items
On the fourth Monday of the month, we discuss content development and modding topics in The Broken Hourglass. This month we introduce item creation.

In keeping with last week's discussion of itemsets, we will use the engine mechanics column this month to discuss the basics of item creation.

There is an old joke which goes like this:

What is the best way to make one million dollars?
Start with two!

The best way to make most WeiNGINE items is, in fact, to start with an existing item. The power of template inheritance means that there are really very few cases when a good base will not already exist for an item you wish to make.

We will dive right in and make a simple magical longsword. We want our magical longsword to differ from a standard longsword (already part of the game) in the following ways:

- It should be lighter, and therefore easier to wield without penalty
- It should do more damage
- It should give us an increased chance to hit-the blade magically helps steer itself towards the target

These traits also imply a couple of other things:

- This sword is more valuable than a standard longsword
- This sword has magical abilities. Under WRPG rules one typically must devote some mana to controlling magic whether it comes from within or from an item.

A standard longsword has the following attributes: 

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