Monday, March 30, 2009

Minutes of the meeting: Post Apoc Game Prep

Here are the last parameters discussed
1. 100cp, 50cp from basic disadvantages.
  • 1.1.Basic Disadvantages, choose up to 50 points (you may exceed this but not recommended)
a) Humanity (GURPS pacifism) [0, -5, -10, -15]. Respect for the Life of others
b) Honor (GURPS Code of Honor) [0, -5, -10, -15]. Personal Integrity.
c) Honesty (GURPS honesty) [0, -5, -10, -15]. Belief in the Rule of Law
d) Ties (GURPS sense of Duty) [0, -5, -10, -15]. The presence of personal ties, like that of a "Family", "Tribe", or "People".
e) Duties (GURPS Duty) [0, -5, -10, -15]. Repesents the responsibilities the character chooses to take on.
f) Faith (GURPS Discipline of Faith) [0, -5, -10, -15]. The extent of a character's religous observation.
g) Bias (GURPS Intollerance) [0, -5, -10, -15]. The extend of a charcter's personal bias.

2. Natural Ability Range 9-13
2.1. 9- Mundane and Unpracticed
2.2. 10- Average and Used
2.3. 11- Good,
2.4. 12- Remarkable, Really Stands out in a Crowd.
2.5. 13- Extrodinary, Comes with a reputation

3. Combat Skill Cap: 14
4. Standard Starting Wealth: (this is multiplied by the character's wealth level).
4.1.Php 2M in movable assets,
4.2.Php 7M of non-movable assets,
4.3.Php 100,000 disposable. The expense of this is balanced by your economic role as breadwinner, co-breadwinner,
dependent, etc.

5. Special Background Effects
5.1. Social Stigma (Uneducated) [-5]
5.2. Philippine Minority [-5]
5.3. Masters and educational equivalent is Status +1 [5].
5.4. Experience IQ +1 [20]
5.5. Worldly IQ +1 [20]

6. 5 CP per game, Limited Use Fate Points.
7. The Game Setting has a very low Detail and Dressing standard. Priorities keep the game focused on Tactics and Decision making.
8. Games are targeted to last 2-3 hours.
9. No Combat Reflex in the Start.
10.Professional Lenses are Made on Demand.

Rough Translation of Philippine Status .
1. Status - 2 Masses with poor upward mobility (est. less than Annual Income Php 40k)
2. Status -1 Lower end Middle Class, Independents, (est. Annual Income Php 40k to 120k)
3. Status 0 Middle Class Filipino Family, with a combined (est. Annual Income Php 120k to 360k)
4. Status 1 Upper Middle Class to Very Wealthy Filipinos (est Annual Income Php 480k to 20M)
5. Status 2 Philippine Aristocracy, Celebrities, Minor Political Families, Minor Warlords (est Annual Income Php 10 to 100M)
6. Status 3 Political Families, Warlords (est Annual Income Php 100M to 1B)
7. Status 4 Active Political Families and Warlords, (est Annual Income Php 1 to 10B)
8. Status 5 Taipans, Faction Heads, (est Annual Income Php 10 to 100B)

Friday, March 27, 2009

RPG Business

This Discussion. I really should not comment, so I'll comment over here.

1. What is Between the Lines. A new Setting? why would the OP want a new setting. GURPS can do any setting and its players play any setting that tickles their fancy. What is really frustrating to many GURPS lovers is actually the Market for RPGS. Its golden age has been almost 25 years gone. There are many and strong factors that are contributing to its weakening grasp, despite it new freedom to play the game.
1.1. Virtual Table Top. WotC has the business strategists and experts to see this is the direction in where gaming can reclaim some of its lost market. If they are the industry leader and see that this is where it is going, then why isnt SJgames going there? We'll get to the reason soon.
1.2. Ebooks. Many have moved to EBooks, SJgames has their e23 and Drive Thru RPGs caters to this market as well. EBooks saves money in costs: in inventory, printing, and publishing. It allows for a wider distribution and shores up most of the advantage the Internet could provide, but that's only as far as the Internet goes.
1.3. MMO. White Wolf has moved to computer gaming. It's success is not as remarkable as those who are firmly entrenched in the industry but you don't see them doing very well either.
2. Developing a Settings. Lets go to the reason I shouldn't post this on the forums. Its the Money! It takes Money to develop a setting. It takes skilled people organized, scheduled, planning, execution and deadlines to make a setting... and what will it achieve relative to what the problem really is? I'm a fan, but I know how it is to tunnel vision and think of the games in my own distorted view of the world. Facing reality and facts would be harsh and painful, but you need it if you want any Idea, worth believing, to have a fighting chance.
2.1 Escalating Standards. WotC has escalated the Standards of RPGs. It is more visual now than it was informational. Its not about rules, its about ease and quality of fun. There are escalating and changing standards that cannot be solved with a new setting. Asking for a new setting is like asking GM, Ford and Chrysler to make a new car that will save its industry. Changing how it is organized, how they make money and its sustainability is what will make GURPS thrive or survive the change of a new generation.
2.2. Outsourcing. Strangely, with the costs of producing games, inherently Gaming has a lot to gain by outsourcing many of its aspects. Unfortunately it is the FUN of making it, which will "never" let it take this advantage. Re-organize it, break down the elements into what just needs direction and what can be done by someone else, and let higher levels of standards cull its previous weaknesses. The Global market, is a two way affair and the current culture will not be ready to take advantage of this.
2.3 Returns. Let us say one creates a really good setting and it meets all possible realistic expectations, then what? Make a good setting, you create buzz for as long as the setting gets support, people try, and people can play it. But given the factors that are affecting RPGs from being played, a new setting does not solve any of these problems. Still it becomes an exercise of futility.
3. Where are the RPGs in markets. Where are they? Markets are the first priority. If you want GURPS to succeed then where are its possible avenues of expansion? If you look at GURPS carefully it has many unique product strengths that gamers may appreciate but a business strategist will find useful in deducing what market it will choose to enter.
3.1. Product Strength: Versatility. Compared to the Industry Leader and many of its competitors GURPS claims to be something of "an" RPG. It claims to be Generic and Universal. It is a product that is Designed to be Tailored to a target market. This is IMO its key product strength when considering where it can possibly go and how sustainable it will be.
Ask yourself, How would people in the growing Middle Class of China and India think of a fairly cheap game, that has tons of replay value, and attaches itself to many of its easily identifiable Icons (like History, Pop Culture and Literature)? RPGs are all about Role-playing but different Cultures and People have their own style of Role-Playing, how would it work if WotC tried to sell DnD to India? It would have to sell DnD for Indians and make DnD more Indian. Compare that to GURPS, which already has GURPS India. Compare it again to GURPS, who also have GURPS China?
Businessmen and SJGames is a business have to Create VALUE for their product. Creating Value is not just making a product but allowing possible consumers to identify the product as it is for them. RPGs are versatile, you can sell it as a learning platform. One can sell it as a cheaper alternative to more expensive games with only paper and pencils as their primary operating capital. It can work the way it worked for the American Middle class when it first emerged. RPGs have been a mark of the Geek culture that it can be a marketing platform for Geeks of other cultures and other countries.
3.2. Technology. Add some technology in the mix. Virtual Table top but with a more GLOBAL market. It may not be an MMO but it will be an interesting ball to get rolling. If people from other countries gamed together? Will that increase its market? Will that be a good thing? And how could you spin that?
Repercussions. New market means New Cultures. Within the natural Culture of RPGs, it has been already saturated. If it were to grow in another culture, expect that culture affecting the way the game to be played. That Culture that will entertain RPGs will be in dialog with another culture and certain elements will mesh well, some cannot be practiced and a lot of unpredictable things will happen. The Certainty about it is that, the Game will Change. It will change in a way, the traditionalists will not like or possibly abhor.
Personally I welcome this change. Because, RPGs can't just stay the same in the next era to come. It has to grow. it has to adapt and through it, we understand what unchanging element underlies the hobby that so many feel strongly for.
4. Conclusion. I don't think RPG will change much or will take on these changes. Culture is a very irrational thing. It will reel back when it sees anything different. It doesn't look forward to potential change. A culture open to change is still a bit too far a way. The generation that created the hobby or the companies will not be inclined to move or innovate of this moment. There is so much too lose in the status quo and more likely an RPG from outside the west might be the one to come along and take advantage of this market.
Personally I have no mind for that. I've long ago made peace with what I know cannot change within the hobby. I feel that is because I understand its real place in my own life and I'm not so blinded by my zeal for it anymore.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Modern Combat in TRPGs

Modern Combat in TRPGs.
Have you played airsoft? Because one of the best things about that game is how it puts modern combat into perspective for gamers. I'm just an amateur in airsoft, btw, and I'm not exposed to life threatening RL combat.

From my experience in it, the main difference modern combat has with its archaic equivalent is that you cannot afford to trade blows. It is the lethality of modern combat that makes it more of a contest of maneuvers.

Instead of losing hitpoints, one side tends to lose available options. It is hard and lengthy to explain but if you tried out the hobby I'm sure you'll get how it will work great in a TRPG. Nonetheless i'll try to explain it.

Fog of war is very important in Modern Combat, because one of the basic things I've first learned when I started out was Displacement. From the way my friends tried to teach me, because MC is very fast paced, making sense of the Tactical situation was the key challenge. Having experienced being fired on, I've come to realize there are very many threats beyond the opponent shooting at me. I did not only have to take cover, I had to find one with a suitable position considering my future options, I also had to consider the actions of my allies.

The way it translates into tactical combat is that there will be many Perception + Tactics Checks. Often, these were made to determine and confirm the positions of allies and enemies. To speed up resolution, the GM must filter the information from player to player. Confusion is veil for the players and NPCs, which has a strong influence on their decisions. There could also be other decision influencing factors like time, objectives, emotional disposition and other real life circumstances that always get in the way of everything.

There are a lot of Fright Checks for both Involuntary Character reactions, when circumstances change, and when the character is made to do something very risky. Mob mentality and Panic are infectious and affects combat sometimes strongly but subtlely.

In such a game, for non-military trained players luck and Cp for auto success are very useful. Even combat trained players may need it, just because of the freedom not to risk their own lives in the simulation they may actually take more risks.

Hex grids have to be much larger and represents a larger area then usual. A weapon's effective engagement range is pretty important, terrain is also important (especially when firearms can penetrate many forms of cover), and the availability of information prior to combat can means life and death for the PCs. All because, even before they get hit their options are their HP.

And unlike MANY Computer Games, FP is very important. I remember just getting winded in the first run to cover. It doesn't help that crawling is the safest form of movement (when you are not sure where the enemy is). Panic attacks drain FP for me when adrenaline is pumping too hard when it shouldn't. Communications are also very limited in modern combat, you can barely get a word out if your under fire, too tired, or busy.

Melee combat is pretty clean in comparison to modern combat. Gritty-ing it up with confusion, dispersed positions and the high lethality lends more authenticity. Since Modern Combat is more lethal, giving the PCs a do over at the cost of a CP or two would be helpful and not indulgent at all. The difference between survival may just be luck in many real world encounters.


Well, i don't think a map signaling a fight can be too bad. Admittedly a lot of players get their fun from fights. You can use the map to heighten their expectation by pushing the combat farther down the course of the game.

Combat may be bad if not everyone enjoys them. Here is some of my suggestions to your situation.

Tactical maps, speak volumes instead of having to repeat everything you have to say.

1-Tracking Action Horizon. Modern Combat has a more complicated action system. Typically, you have a lot of long actions, in between short second based turns. Long actions have to be played fast and loose, as it builds up to critical moments. There are many ways to solve this.
a) Use a gant chart to keep track of second-by-second time flow. On a graphing paper (landscape), in the left-most column (up to down) list the relevant parties and NPCs. On the top, list the turns second by second or increments of 2-3 seconds. Let the person taking initiative use it to keep track of the PC initiatives use this, in this method you can see the event horizons of each actions .

2- Maps in Modern Combat, the maps should be represtational of a much larger space instead of 1" to 1yrd or 1m. Depending on the size of your hex map, consider in advance what scale you are using based on the encounters you're planning. Don't feel confined from scale up and down often.

3- Don't let detail bog you down. Fast moving turns are important to a successful game and for the players' enjoyment. Define each area's value in circumstantial bonuses (cover, concealment, elevation, ability to cover an area, etc.). You can doodle the terrain and obstacles without so much detail. You can mark down the bonuses with a post-it or marker if PCs make a successful Tactics-Per check.

4- Markers. Each player has a Marker, when they think they spotted a target, that player may leave a marker on the enemy position. Of course, PC may only attack targets with Tokens of their own, this prevents them from shooting at targets their PC could not have possibly seen.

I would appreciate some feedback on how these suggestions fared with your group. Good luck with your game.

(edited recently to fix my writing mistakes)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To not reply

A reply that wasn't going to happen.

if that's what your looking for, then you're better of going on your artistic fiat. There is the knowledge about the organization and there are secrets with in it. What is on the surface could be very different with what is in the inner workings.

In my experience, as what is defining Catholicism in view of current events, it is that it has many inner conflicts: the role of science in religion, secularism, internal and external politics, changing values of the world. The role of "magic" would change its face entirely and throw all this out of the window.

If you are able to follow current events, the chruch at present is slowly coming to a head with changing values of the world.

Another thing that may get in the way of magic wielding priests is the long history of Inquisition. They were one of the first to magic was condemn magic as hersey since the earliest days of the church and not from supernatural aspects. The Inquisition was one of the defining traits of relationship of the church and anything supernatural. That is why the church invites skeptics and has a love-hate relationship with secular thinkers.

If this inner conflict is too much, you can just make it all up and ignore the consequences of how it can change things.

If you consider to keep this conflict then you have to understand some fundamentals of the church's power. Understanding this, will give you a very interesting insight and material for intrigue and shades of gray game.

In this route the church doesnt have its own magic and mysteries instead it uses that of other religions and breakaway factions. You can make it that they may have acquired their magic from all the other religions and theologies they suppressed and destroyed (there are a lot btw, more than any other religion).

If dive further into it, you begin to find out where this power is going to preserve itself and build up an interesting web of intrigue for players to explore.

The role of the Catholic Church in Rwanda Genocide and Hitler's regime.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Self Control

Participating in Discussions.
I've decided to post stuff I stop myself from posting here. I tend to run on, I stop myself and find the large amount of words i've blathered tend to repeat itself like a mojo jojo. So Instead of running on I just delete the entire thing and stop myself from mouthing off. Sometimes what I wanted to say was nice but in appropriate. I asked myself, "why not just post it here?"

So I will.