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Arthmoor

[Oblivion] Creating Alternative Start Mods

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Alternate start mods can be a great way to liven up the beginning of the game, or to do quick testing starts without having to go through the entire tutorial dungeon every time.

Unfortunately creating them can be a frustrating experience to get right due to the intricacies involved. In order to aid others in doing so with a minimum of hassle, I will list the minimum steps that were needed to produce the Alternative Beginnings mod. Referred to in this tutorial as "ALB" from now on.

Markers and Locations

The CGPlayerStartMarker is a hardcoded marker the game expects to move the player to at the start. Due to where it is located, it is not possible to move the marker out of the prison dungeon. However, the prison dungeon CAN be modified and this marker moved to where you'd like the player to appear. It's usually best to construct whatever modifications you want in an isolated part of the ImperialDungeon01 cell. Consider this cell free reign for your mod, because by their very nature, alternate start mods are not compatible with each other.

In your modified area, you will need at minimum some way to allow the player to:

1. Access the race menu if they want to.

2. Access the birthsign menu.

3. Access the class menu.

4. Proceed from there into the main game.

How you go about this can vary widely, but those elements must be available.

You also need to keep in mind there is a serious bug which will almost certainly cause a CTD if the player is able to access the race menu again after using the class menu. It is therefore advisable to make sure this cannot be done.

Quests

At a bare minimum, you must alter the CharacterGen quest. Specifically, stages 5 and 88 both need to be altered in some way. In each case, the result scripts need some tweaking to prevent them from doing some of the mundane tasks.

In stage 5, the result script looks like this in vanilla Oblivion:

; in chargensetinchargen 1; set quest delayset charactergen.fQuestDelayTime to .001set MQ01.fQuestDelayTime to .1; disable map markers;ChorrolMasterMapMarker.disablestartquest MQ01set MQ01.timer to 0set MQ01.stage to 5; Emperor, Blades ignore friend hits in combatUrielSeptimRef.SetIgnoreFriendlyHits 1RenoteRef.SetIgnoreFriendlyHits 1GlenroyRef.SetIgnoreFriendlyHits 1BaurusRef.SetIgnoreFriendlyHits 1player.moveto CGPlayerStartMarker

For ALB, stage 5 has been changed to read as follows:

; in chargensetinchargen 1; set quest delayset charactergen.fQuestDelayTime to .001set MQ01.fQuestDelayTime to .1; disable map markers;ChorrolMasterMapMarker.disable;startquest MQ01set MQ01.timer to 0set MQ01.stage to 5StopQuest Tutorialsplayer.moveto CGPlayerE3Marker

It may be subtle, but the only important thing done here was to comment out the startquest MQ01 command. MQ01 is the tutorial quest for the prison dungeon and it contains no game critical functions, and so can be left off. I have also added the StopQuest Tutorials command to bring the secondary tutorials quest to a halt. It also contains no game critical functions.

Note that the game is hardcoded to force the race picking menu before turning over the controls to you. Keep that in mind.

Now on to stage 88. In vanilla Oblivion, CharacterGen stage 88 contains the following result script:

; finished with Baurus's speech to playersetstage MQ02 10setstage MQ02 20addtopic AmuletofKingsTopicaddtopic WeynonPrioryTopicaddtopic OrderofTalosTopicaddtopic JauffreTopicaddtopic UrielSeptimTopicset BaurusRef.chargenOver to 1autosave

In ALB, this stage has been changed to this:

set BaurusRef.chargenOver to 1setinchargen 0stopquest charactergenCGAssassinFinal.killsetessential UrielSeptim 0setquestobject UrielSeptim 0UrielSeptimRef.killsetessential Renote 0setquestobject Renote 0RenoteRef.killsetessential Glenroy 0setquestobject Glenroy 0GlenroyRef.kill

You can insert more commands. The first 3 are crucial to keep the game from performing unnecessary operations as you play. The rest is optional, though recommended because it's possible that those NPCs might show up somewhere later they're not supposed to be. Which could be especially bad in the case of the assassin if the player is in a populated area.

You will then need to either cut up the remainder of CharacterGen from stages 6 to 87, or write up your own quest with its own stages, scripts, and other components. Only your imagination restricts what you can come up with and how elaborate you get with it.

Initiating the Main Quest

At some point after entering the game world, it will be desirable to start the Main Quest. How you go about setting this up is entirely up to you, but in order for it to make the most sense, the "Deliver the Amulet" (MQ02) quest is the most logical entry point.

Stages 10, 20, and 25 of MQ02 are prime targets for rewriting the beginning of the main quest. Since it would be assumed that the player has not witnessed the Emperor's assassination nor met Baurus in the dungeon, stage 10 and 20 should be considered free reign to write entirely new journal entries. Stage 25 is completely unnecessary and can therefore be safely used as well. Don't worry about the result script there, those commands have already been dealt with.

In ALB, I instead chose to insert a new stage between 25 and 30 when the letter is taken from the adventurer's body. The written details in the letter allow you to then seamlessly insert yourself into the prisoner's role. In that stage, I gave it the following result script:

addtopic AmuletofKingsTopicaddtopic WeynonPrioryTopicaddtopic OrderofTalosTopicaddtopic JauffreTopicaddtopic UrielSeptimTopicshowmap weynonpriorymapmarkerset ALBPalaceCourierQuest.NewsDelivered to 2

The addtopic commands should look familiar. I transplanted them from stage 88 of CharacterGen. The showmap command merely logs Weynon Priory on the map, though the player still has to walk there. The last command is specific to ALB and tells the Geldall's Manor start to end the quest where the player is supposed to go see Chancellor Ocato.

For ALB, I chose to plant the body of a dead adventurer at Fort Ash who is the prisoner you would have been if the tutorial dungeon had been used. On this adventurer's body is the Amulet of Kings, and a note from Baurus to Jauffre detailing what happened. The poor sap got himself killed trying to reach Weynon Priory. One can roleplay it as the annoying highwayman's fault, or the fault of goblins in the immediate area.

Another example of how MQ02 was edited, in the "Alternative Start - Arrive by Ship" mod by Robert Evrae, stages 10 and 20 are used to deliver the main quest in the form of a dream the player has before arriving at port. Since the player has to use a bed to finish the character generation sequence, this fits in well. The Amulet of Kings is placed on a rat in the starting sewers, and stays there until the player decides to go retrieve it. An extra stage is added between 20 and 25 to update the quest when the player takes the amulet from the rat.

Let your imagination run wild here, there's almost no limit to the possibilities.

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No, Skyrim's system is entirely different and far more complex. I keep meaning to write one up for it but keep putting it off because other stuff always comes up.

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How in earth could I miss an excellent tutorial like this one is beyond me, but I guess that I need to browse around these forums more often than I had in the past.

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