Guidelines for Literature
Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:06 pm
- The absolute character limit on a text is 64,000. However, the realistic length of a book is limited by practical considerations. Most books should be no longer than 4,000 to 6,000 characters. Exceptionally, a book can be longer than 10,000 characters, though it is advisable to split such books up into different volumes. No book should go beyond a hard limit of 15,000 characters.
- The game engine does not support italics, bold, or underlined text.
- Changes in color (for example, red text) are supported by the engine, but should be extremely rare. Also consider that not all colors show up as well against the paper background (or people's texture replacers). To change text color, edit <FONT COLOR="000000"> using hex values. Not all colors appear to be supported.
- The size of text can be edited through SIZE="3", however, this is not advised save in unusual circumstances.
- Remember the physical constraints of the book page: a couple of lines in plain text will turn into a dense paragraph in-game. Long, dense text should be avoided at all cost: use short paragraphs and plenty of white space.
- Text can be centered, but this is usually only used in scrolls, pamphlets, and title pages. Text can also be right-aligned, though this is quite rare. To affect alignment, change <DIV ALIGN="CENTER"> to "LEFT" or "RIGHT".
- Text can be written in the basic font (MagicCards) or in Daedric. No other fonts are currently supported. Only use Daedric where appropriate. Font can be changed by editing FACE="Magic Cards" to say "Daedric"
- Books can contains images. These should be saved in the bookart\pc folder, in .dds or .tga format. Books adhere to the same limitations of other textures: they must be 512 or 256 pixels in size, with transparency to show white space on the page. Bookart can be used for maps, drawings or seals, but also for texts in fonts that the engine does not support (for example, dwemer or ayleid).
- In general, while unusual formatting that deviates from the above guidelines can look very interesting and engaging if done well, it should be used sparingly and only when a good reason presents itself.
- Books should follow native Morrowind style and way of writing. When in doubt, check existing texts for examples.
- Titles can be written in caps, centered, left-aligned, or wholly absent.
- Authors can be noted, but this is not necessary. Avoid writing things like "by anonymous" - if the author is unknown, simply to not mention him or make an editorial note.
- Editorial notes at the beginning of the book or in the text should be placed between square brackets. A general out-of-text note on the meaning or significance of a book can be very useful to contextualize a book. A distinction should be made between editor's notes (which are present in the physical text) and contextual notes (which do not technically appear in the text, but give it more meaning). The following it an example of a contextual note:
[This is a chronicle of events of historical significance to the Dwemer Freehold Colony of Nchuleft. The text was probably recorded by an Altmer, for it is written in Aldmeris.]
- Remarks or impressions of the player character should also be places between square brackets. Notes that describe how the player feels or acts should be avoided where possible. The same goes for dialogue: the player is in control of their character, and should be able to decide how they feel.
[No words can describe what you see. Or what you think you see.]
- Sometimes, generic texts can be summarized in a single sentence, with no further text. This can be a time-saver, but should only be used for the most generic and uninteresting objects.
[This parchment shows a list of contracts to purchase ebony or work in the mines.]
- Many texts consist of only a couple of notable excerpts or fragments of a larger book. These can be marked by adding ... to the beginning and (if necessary) ending of a paragraph, or by placing [...] between text blocks, signifying that parts of the text are being skipped or are lost.
- "Unique" aspects of a book can also be noted between square brackets: handwritten notes, pages torn out, damages etc. However, these should only be used for unique books such as journals, notes etc.
- When using hyphens to distinguish parts of a sentence or two sentences, Morrowind books use double hyphens "--". Of course, this does not apply to normal usage of hyphens within words. This also applies to dialogue.
Mehrunes Dagon seems to prefer natural disasters -- earthquakes and volcanoes -- for venting his anger.
- Always remember that you are writing an in-game object. Consider the fact that a book has to be written, printed, sold, make a profit, etc. when designing its content and context. For example, an "Adventurer's Guide to Dungeon-Diving" might seem like something the player can use, but it is unlikely to be created in-universe because its contents are irrelevant to most people, and because terms like "adventurer" and "dungeon-diving" make little sense from a realistic, daily-life point of view. In contrast, a cookbook with some local recipes is a much more immersive object.
- Book object IDs should adhere to the data naming conventions: "Books" are divided by actual books, scrolls, enchanted scrolls and notes/letters. Books with text contain the abbreviation of the project they are from. This is to show which project added (and possibly wrote) this book.
Books that are split into volumes contain a volume suffix in their id. Enchanted scrolls are additionally categorized the race the associated spell belongs to.
- Book weight is dependent on the length of the text and if the text is a book, scroll, or note. Most single-page notes should weigh between 0.10 and 0.20. Scrolls vary between 0.20 and 1.00. Books range between 1.00 and 6.00, with the vast majority weighing in at the 3.00 to 4.00 range. Exceptions can be made for magical or otherwise strange texts, or if the book uses a unique model.
- Book value fluctuates wildly. In general, single-page notes or personal letters should be worth nothing. Cheaply printed, popular and widespread books can cost anything between 10 to 30 gold. The vast majority of books costs something like 40 to 120 gold, with more rare and exclusive tomes going up to 400. Only the rarest, unique books are worth 1000 or more gold. Always consider the relative rarity of your book, and wether the player is more likely to pay for it or sell it. Enchanted scrolls or spellbooks should always at least be worth a 100 to 300 gold.
- Physical models and icons can be found in the pc\m folders. P:C uses its own set of books and letters, as does SHOTN. Unique models or textures are possible, but should be used sparingly.
- Books can be set up to teach a certain skill, or (using TR scripts) to teach a spell. Such books should be rare, and the spell or skill they teach should be appropriate to the content of the book. Skillbooks and spellbooks are rarer and more expensive than normal books.
- Books can be set as scrolls, which will cause the text to scroll down instead of being divided into pages. Naturally, this is dependent on the object's model. Scrolls can also receive and enchantment, or be set up as objects to be enchanted by the player. Enchanted scrolls are one-use objects, meaning they dissipate after the player casts them.
- Consider the role your book is to play in the gameworld. Books are never narratives that stand on their own: they must always express something about the world and the people, faction, etc. that exist in it. A book that does not inform us in some way about Imperial culture is a waste of space. Books are tools to enrich the gameworld in ways that dialogue or the worldspace cannot.
- Consider both the author, publisher and the audience of your book. You are not only crafting a fiction within the text, but also a fictional writer with his own prejudices and ideas. Having a defined (but not exaggerated) authorial voice makes your book more believable. It is also worthwhile to define where and when a book was written (though this should only be noted in the text where appropriate). Finally, consider the publisher (who would print this book? For what reason? Would this be a profitable venture?) and its audience (who would read this? Why? In what kind of locations can the book be placed?)
- Always remember that you are writing a book, not an audiolog. Avoid writing in accents or dialect, and avoid audible remarks ("snorts", "spits", "coughs", etc.)
- Consider the genre of your book. "Adventure novels"and fantasy stories about questing heroes should be avoided, instead, consider what kind of books are popular IRL and in various historical periods.
- Do your research. Books should adhere to the existing lore of the Morrowind-era setting. This does not mean that no new lore can be included, but only that this should not contradict existing lore, or only do so in measured and well-considered ways.
- Books should also adhere to the planning and development of the mod itself. In general, proposing extensive new pantheons, locations or factions in books is bad etiquette. If you wish to develop new ideas through literature, do so in the lore forum first or make a brief summary of the new concept above the book text. This goes double for books touching on the works of other projects, such as SHOTN or TR.
- Your book should never be objective truth. Your text is always an interpretation of events, filtered through the worldview of your author and his culture. Also consider what your author can and cannot know: many things we take as a known fact in lore are unknown or speculative from in-game.
- Remember that it is not always necessary to write a complete books - many vanilla books feature only excerpts and fragments from what are supposed to be larger texts.
- Proofread your work: check your grammar, check your tense (use only one tense!), check your spelling. It is best to read your text out loud to see if sentences don't go on too long or sound weird.