When I started on Dark Avenger I wanted to create something that felt like a story with D&D elements rather than a D&D mod with story elements... if you see what I mean. I put the comment 'this is less about killing rats in basements' in the description to try and convey what I intended... the rats in the basement type quest was back in the gorund of Candlekeep and is used in several mods to provide some quest based xp and items usually to get a character on their feet and maybe with an extra level or two. But scripting can do those things too...
You don't get those kind of starts in heroic fantasy - Rand al'Thor isn't driven from his village by rats as a boy, Conan doesn't long to crush some mice, see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentation of the little baby meeces... True, the Dread Pirate Roberts did combat rats, but they were Rodents of Unusual Size, so I think thats the exception to prove the rule*
...But after all that, I do find myself working on a 'Someone's in my fruit cellar!' quest at the moment that is essentially more rats in the basement, but hopefully with enough of a twist to add something different. But it is a departure from the story driven mod I planned and more traditional D&D dungeon adventuring. I'm hoping it will add something for those who found chapter 1 too linear and by tying it in with a companion's back story it shouldn't feel too out of place. It's compromising what I had in mind slightly (as was the H&S bandit approach in chapter 1, which I know I didn;t pull off as well as I'd hoped), but I'm trying to focus on atmosphere to help this feel right in the story.
*(apologies to all those reading who have used rats in basements! I am of course exaggerating the issue here!)
Speaking of companions, thanks to all who've filled in the poll so far. I'd been toying with adding a new companion but an wary of the additional workload it includes. I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on the companions generally, and what could be changed or added. I always think it's a little sad when you read comments on modules, and the companions are referred to as 'the dwarf' or 'the cleric' - it kinda means that the immersion and story telling has lost something, and as a writer, you'd want to have the players thinking of the characters by name. Reading the forums, it's obvious companions are such an important thing to so many players, it's key to get them right.
Off on hols to Mexico at the end of the week. Will post some development screenshots before I go.