Sunday, June 28, 2009

No Combat Reflex

Combat Reflex has some problems. Discussed in the following thread:

Is enhanced defense Purely cinematic?
Should I allow Combat Reflex in Historical Games?
and other threads you care to search more thoroughly through.

my main concerns for Combat Reflex is the following:
  • Its cost (+6 vs mental stun, +2 fearlessness, +1 on all Active Defenses) for 15cp, seperately the advantage would cost arond 30-40cp. (I thought the new edition is "you get what you pay for" philosophy, no more "free-bees" and discounts like in 3rd ed).
  • It is the Only source of "realistic" Combat Awareness
  • Its +6 Combat awareness or Bust (no gradating flow)
  • It OUT-Values Soldiering Skill and Tactics, which is actually the Cause of Such Combat Awareness. Soldiering represensents the experience and the discipline, Tactics represents the Combat Awareness and ability to quickly take action. You can just put token amounts (1cp each) and just invest in Combat Reflex.
The reason a lot of gamers would like to simplify it to Combat Reflex is the... i said it already: the simplicity. For that simplicity is what qualifies it as Cinematic.

For simulation nuts like myself, the 1 or 0 for combat experience is unfun and unrealistic. The difference between 100hrs and 1000hrs of combat experience has nothing to do with the gradating values in between but if you can be deamed "combat veteran".

Where the Bonuses All Fit in. It is a -6 Penalty to roll vs Mental Stun in a surprise combat situation. In My interpretation that is any situation where there is Little or No build up to the action. 2 factors should be considered when adjudicating it: is it a matter of Shock or Confusion.

  • Occassions of Unguarded moments. When the situational context is negatively predisposed to violent action, and where the is strong reasons why Violence cannot be the one occuring Roll Will + Soldier. Ex. an ally drawing a weapona and aiming at the PCs. The key mental tag for such a situation is the overwhelming belief the situation cannot be what it simply appears.
  • On the reverse, this is a Secret Roll for the GM. The GM presents bad or incorrect information to the Players of what the PC's believe, especially appropriate when the PCs have reasons to expect violence (like Intollerance, Reputation, etc.) the GM rolls a Per+Psychology (If no psychology default is -6). Still the Players are the last officiators of what information to act on.
  • Occasions of Anticipated Action. Sometimes when violence and events escalate there is no more surprise left, instead there is the shock of confusion that affects who acts first in a situation. This is more appropriately an Initiative roll, by which the roll determines who acts first not by physical speed but by speed of situational awareness roll IQ+ Tactics.
  • Occasions of Confusions. There are occasions where the situation is confusing and rushed. PCs may have overcome the initial shock but they may not know what is happening. The GM can delay providing details of equipment, movement, until the character can find time to analyze he situation. Until then, the GM will just use simple and fast dictations (speeding up game play) with the barest detail. When the combat LuL arrives for the situational assessment, the GM can make a hidden (Tactics + Per; or Soldier + Per -2; add Eidetic Memory) to measure how much information the PC were able to pick-out.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Game Organization: Checklist

When I think of all these homebrew rules I put in this blog, I better have a check list to make sure that in a given situation I can remember to apply important Limitations that make things realistically harder. I need to think this through more, but here are ideas to keep things in better order and execute them as organized as possible (with the minimalest waste of time).

  • First it would be easier to organize the checklist based on the kinds of situations PCs usually find themselves in.
  • Irregardless of Speed let everyone declare their actions based on Seating (clock or counter clock) and All NPCs declare their actions in one go as well (when the turns reaches the GM). The GM then Resolves matters that happen simultaneously based on speed.
  • Always Pace yourself and Call for a break when there is any doubts. Allowing one's self to catch a breath, grab a drink, get some much needed calories and reorganize ones thoughts can take 10-15 minutes and remember that the players are all friends and they can fill time while you Re-Focus.

Intelligence/Counter-Intelligence Gathering Scenario (in the works)

  • Finding the Trail.
  • Staying on the Trail.
  • The Pay off.
Diplomatic Scenario
  • Psychological and Situational assessment. This should be Passive, the GM ideally describes the scene based on the Psychology, Body Language, and Detect Lies of the Characters. The GM uses the rating as a guideline and only rolls in a schelling point.
  • Lay out your tools (and the Players should also) for the Scenario: All Social Relevant Skills and Advantages and don't forget bargaining chips! Note that Acting Will Give Phychology, Body Language and Detect Lies problems.
Physical Scenario
  • Consider 1st if the Party's FP can make it, and if not make sure the PCs do something about it if they can't before the physical scenario begins.
  • B354 HT rolls every Time Increment. To save from rolling the GM may determine ahead of time how much FP a scenario will cause a person of a given fitness level will lose and Tax the players this FP perportional to their HT. As a rule of Thumb, in an HT10 standard, HT15 loses 10%, HT14 loses.
  • Tracking Lost time and Fatigue Points. Use tokens
Dynamic Physical Scenario
  • Telescopic Time. Will be using the 5-6 sec turns and abstract the action even more to simplify and lessen the rolls. Zoom into Bullet Time (second to second roll) any time it is appropriate.
  • The Initiative Tracker, also Tracks time Increments, Action Horizons (the time an action taking several turns will be completed), FP is lost more quickly in this scenario.
  • Same as Physical Scenario.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Exoskeletons, Load Bearing Gear and Encumberance

So you can carry 45lbs with no encumbrance, does that mean one can still move as freely as a person without armor. I've learned when it comes to Gear, there is a serious underestimation in the importance of Load Bearing Gear.

What is the difference between LBG and a Nap-sack that can hold the same volume and mass- other than the ease of drawing? It is in the distribution of weight. Logically, without the Proper Distribution of Weight a PC will suffer a Bulk Penalty to his Dex checks despite having the strength to carry a load.

I've been studying my equipment load out in airsoft and discovered quite provably how much distribution of weight affects one's combat load. I'm sure former soldiers can attest the value of equipment organization and it can be expected that a professional combatant has the basic knowledge and experience needed to customize their weight distribution BUT not all combatants are professional. Poor Quality Troops can be expected to either, not have LBGs or not know the Value of LBGs. Quite across the Technology Spectrum LBG has a very imporant roll that becomes a realistic and serious disadvantage because despite its small contributing factor it adds up over the long run.

In Simplification, Load Bearing Gear Affects the Follow:

  • Combat Logistics. Reduce the effective operational range or Increase depending on the Professional Soldier Skill Level. In a game, it means adventurers can last a day longer simply cause they can fit more supplies or equipment without affecting their performance. Inversely Players can choose an increased Operational range but suffer penalties in Strategic Mobility.

  • Bulk of Primary or Secondary Gear. This is quite simply what Key pieces of Gear the PC can afford to carry without adversely affecting his Tactical mobility. GM can penalize tactical mobility when PCs take, a heavy weapon like a Pole Arm or a Light Machine Gun, or it may remove the “secondary” weapon slot reducing the secondary weapon from portable Sub-Machine Gun or a Shortsword to a Dagger or Pistol.

  • Quick Draw and Readiness. LBGs have only few limited Quick Draw Slots, these are slots in Easy Access to the Seconday Hand while the Primary Hand maintains the Primary Weapons.

  • Tactical Options. One Key thing I noticed that really affects so much of a tactical situation is tactical load out. Players who opt for Maximum equipment Arrangement while at the lowest Strategic Impact to mobility will have reduced Strategic Options. One interesting loss that I see in Airsoft a lot is the Inability to go Prone and Crawl. In Stealth- crawling and Prone are one of The best or only stealth modes available. Bandoleers and LBG Vests basically cut that in half or if pushed causes a piece of frontal equipment to break or come loose and get lost. (good luck finding that in a combat situation). Backpacks in the same lowest strategic impact to mobility gives Stealth Penalties from being spotted or Taking cover.

Note on Strategic and Tactical Mobility. What I mean by Strategic Mobility is effective mobility measured in Hours or Days, while Tactical Mobility is measured in minutes and Seconds. Sometimes its easier to push harder in a small circumstantial time increments (second to second) while sometimes over a longer expanse of time certain factors create a much larger effect.

Tactical back packs x2-x3 cost of normal backpacs

Tactical Back Pack -1 bulk penalty, 4lbs

Tactical Framed Back Pack -2 bulk penalty, 8lbs

non-tactical Back Packs suffer Double penalty and are -1lbs and -2lbs respectively.

Load Bearing with Regards to Light Combat Exoskeletons. Exoskeletons would reduce LBG efficiency signifactly especially since the contact points in the body for maximum security are limited. It would be simple and realistic to reduce Tactical Effective Load Out by 1/3. So 1/3less items. Fortunately at High Tech Levels you can actually make a rugged Drop tactical backpack. Basically a backpack that has a quick release and rugged items inside as well as a homing beacon or alarm.

Tactical Advantage of Extra-Light Exo-skeletons or in fantasy light Armor of Strength.

  • - Firepower: LMGs and possible HMGs and extra Ammo

  • - Longer Performing Endurance

  • - Strength to get through obstacles

  • - Melee Edge


  • A Cheap Gun has the chance to damage and ruin an Xlt-Exo

  • Logistics: batteries and it is a piece of sophisticated electronic machinery.

  • A whole new tactical doctrine to consider

Reinforced Extra-Light Exoskeleton DR24; $20,000; HT12; HP10; S-ST+4, L-ST+4

Monday, June 22, 2009

Game Maps

found this Beauty:
I don't know where the guy gets his map templates or if he makes his own. I'd like to get my hands on that template and use it on Mybyzantine

Sunday, June 21, 2009

GURPS and Intelligences

In GURPS Raw intelligence is 20cp per level
This includes awareness, attention and will power (Perception and Willpower).

Other Intelligences are:

Perception 5cp/ level
Since there are physical limits human range of perception This mental attribute may be refering to Attention, My interpretation of this is in its Mental Competence. Specifically Attention and Awareness. If you look over the skills carefully it is balance of Awareness (reactive attention) and Attention (Concentrated Attention) that makes up this mental attribute.

Willpower 5cp/ level
Comment: Personally, i'm beginning to steer away from the concept of will power as being defined as Control, Instead ,IMO, Will is the Shock-absorbing or Buffering ability of a mind to take large amount of stress (like fear, panic, anxiety, frustration, etc. etc). I don't in its Control aspect now that I'm learning Game theory and a bit of Psychology. People will act acording to their Beliefs, values, and Motives. Control over their impulses come from their values and these impulses stem from their cathartic/compulsive needs. A person who is extremely given to their belief structure will not budge an inch from it.

Mathematical Ability 2cp/ 5cp.
Comment: Interestingly its only 5cp to have an advantage that make up what Einstien and Stephen hawking's abilities (on top of the IQ15-16). Given the description of the advantage: some mathematicians may consider the point value of this too cheap. Especially the 2cp version which is mental calculator- my calculator (in my smartphone) is a scientific calculator with finance and all the various conversions of different measuring standards. If I had that as an internal ability that would possibly equate to a Mathematics (applied) skill level 15! (which would cost 24cp!).

Empathy: Sensitivity and Empathy 5cp/15cp
comment: Rare but Empathy can be trained if you ask me. It falls around the same mental attribute of Awareness, but focuses more on people. The ability to empathise is a skill IMO and can be learned and trained. IT also has varying levels of competence. The difference between the Physcology Skill description and Empathy is very little in actual practice and use.

Charisma +1 to +5, 5cp/ level.
My experience with charisma has more to do with confidence. After learning more and more about Diplomacy, Studying examples of Diplomats and again- how game theory factors into all of this- Charisma is a skill, but a skill that requires it to Conditioned into someone and in built into their lifestyle. If you look at overconfidence and how it actually affects the naive real charisma does roughly the same thing- Charisma is portraying one's Credibility in every aspect of their own actions, persona, presence and bearing. It is the proper balance of Humility/Modesty, Confidence and Reasoning that lends great Credibility without physical Proof! A charismatic person has to have some measure of credibility- or else be called simply a liar or cannot give weight to any threat or promise. From how I'm describing Charisma- its is more and more how Diplomacy should be used- as the tactical execution of social maneuvering.

Eidetic Memory: Eidetic and Photographic Memory 5cp/10cp. By description this is MORE powerful than Empathy. Heck, unlike Empathy which encourages Manipulation and Diplomacy, Eidetic memory is Quite Cheap. If one would power down Eidetic memory to what is commonly understood as Short-term memory and not the more permanent and useful long-term memory look closely

Monday, June 15, 2009

GURPS disadvantages of what would be considered normal

From this thread I semi-started and continued from an older thread.

Alternate Title: Disadvantages that fill you up quick!

I remember there was talk started by snowball about what kind of person a character with No Disadvantage would be, remembering the discussion leading towards considering such people as sociopaths. So I looked up the description of sociopaths in wikipedia. I admit that it may not be the most credible source but it probably suits game purposes just fine. Having read the description of the different kinds of sociopaths i tend to agree. I've had these in place in my games for a while, but since my GM has opted to use it for his game I thought I could share it in its own thread- specifically discussing what GURPS disadvantages are considered to be found in "Normal" People.

Although I admit that there is still a lot of debate about this since the definition of normal is ever changing with the leaps research is putting into the hands of regular people. (Check out the discussions of Dan Arielies and Hans Rosling)

Anyway, here is my standard list of disadvantages for people that would be normal and accepted in society.

Typically -50 disads in all.
  • Pacifism: Cannot Harm Innocents [-10]. Typical for combat oriented characters and adventurers.
  • Honesty (12) [-5]. Any respect for authority, organization, structure or laws.
  • Discipline of Faith [-5]. ...or adherence to a chosen belief structure.
  • Code of Honor [-10]. Personal Integrity or Internal Consistency of belief with the character actions, since Honor is a culturally relative term.
  • Duty (12) [-10]. (any set of social responsibilities chosen or given by society to the individual where by if they do not maintain such responsibilities will lead to troubling consequences; Ex. a Job- consequence: no Income)
  • Intolerance [-5]. Everyone has intolerance, especially intolerance for those who do not adhere to the same belief structure or for those considered Deviants (or Criminals).
  • Sense of Duty: Close Family and Friends [-5]. Typically.


My responses, are found in the thread as well as an interesting set of Point of views from my critics. Especially in where everyone differs in Point of View, Experience and perspective. On observation where we all differ paints quite an interesting picture of how the world is perceived. Of course the lack of detail and my lack of canon adherance to RAW can be subject to much discussion and debate.

Especially my take on disciplines of faith. Its really controversial- especially when different people (and not just the religions) have different views and interpretations of how religion or beliefs should be practiced. there is that slight undertone that is expressed between the lines that secularism or anti-theism (and agnosticism) are not valid disciplines of faith. It is also interesting to note how severe some views are on a supposedly -5cp disadvantage. fanaticism and Disciplines of faith tend to have conjoining or overlapping elements. Disciplines of Faith, in my experience as it pertains to religion should be more flexible to encompas the many belief structures out there. as a former member and thoroughly educated catholic from the much-contraversial sect of Opus Dei I have to put in my strong emphasis of tolerance, understanding, resisting the temptatin to oversimplify and generalize and approaching a complex circumstances with an open mind and as few assumptions as possible. that being said- could such a diplomatic action be counted as a Discipline of my Faith (Belief) in Secularism?

Anyway its all up to the readers to form their own opinion. My opinion is colored by my studies, "belief system" and own disadvantages as taken from above.

Note: These 7 disadvantages have a varying mix of intensity. some others might be -10 instead of -5 and vice versa.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I realized I have a lot of GM notes!

Some Background. I ran a successful Post Apoc Game (to my players)- my personal name for the game is Situational Awareness and Response Exercise.

My most recent notes and the latest responses of my players have molded my current gaming style as democratic referee. I'm mainly there to provide obstacles for them to run into- I'm on their side, and I also come into the same situation without any predisposition or my own ideas how they should get out of the situation. This has enhanced the cooperative element of the game between GMs and Players. It is acceptable for the Players that I pose Murphies to their situation- because that is what you can expect in an REAL LIFE extreme situation. Of course, these murphies shouldn't be TOO unlikely- that is why its called a Murphie not Force majeure.

Here are a lot of things to "roll-about" in adventures and extreme circumstances.

Mental Rolls.
These are rolls simulationist GMs should consider when dealing with realistic but extreme situations. I would recommend this to even Fantasy Gamers, especially when the GM and the Players want to take home something interesting to think about. One added element of these kinds of Rolls are the marked revelation I had about my players when our games focused on analyzing a situation and analyzing our own mental hurdles in being able to work in extreme circumstances. Awareness of these real weaknesses in a given situation not only adds to the depth, drama and complexity of the game- but further enhances the Players' (and the GM's) problem solving skills.

Roll IQ, Will, Int or Wis...

Against Panic. Failure is a judgment penalty (penalty to IQ rolls). the penalty should be dependent on the severity of panic (margin of failure) and lasts as long as the percieved threat (so if the PC still thinks the threat is there- the penalty is ongoing). Other PCs who can objectify and rationalize the threat can make a diplomacy, public speaking, or leadership roll. On a success, the threat is mentally neutralized and the PC's judgment is not impared by it.
Panic is deceptive, that is why i don't call it Fear or Fright. Panic causes people to rush judgement, to overestimate threat values, and basically poisons the rationality of a mind. I would recomend self reflection to be aware of this, if the GM has very few experiences with Panic in an extreme situation- GO out there and GET SOME! Its good for you and helps build character and better awareness of personal weaknesses.

Against the "Hive". Failure is basically the same penalty as Panic where the crowd's Mob-mentality is making the PCs unable to effectively assess a situation because of the misinformation a Crowds actions, words, and information is sowing into the PCs. Unlike Panic, there are more frequent re-rolls for the Mob-mentality roll- because of the mix of Accurate information along with Misinformation that tends to suck the PCs back into the Mob-mind.

Against Confusion. Failure is basically the same consequences as Panic. Confusion comes about when PCs are sowing misinformation and start second guessing each other. Normally the Players acting on this and suffering this tends to be enough- but it can be pretty insidious if the GM doesnt make them aware that they are working with misinformation- The PC are not the Players and despite the Players strategic knowledge- its the PCs that have to process his surroundings.

Against Tunneling. Failure is you lose an extra half round (a round is 6 sec) after your action. If you play GURPS then you may find the Second by Second system Realistic- but surprisingly it isn't because Humans, regular People- Tunnel. Our group calls it Tunneling, and the term comes from Tunnel Vision. Basically, when you do an action, you are not certain how many seconds it will actually Take you. Any action IN a dynamic and changing situation falls around the 5-6 second tunneling standard, the few exemptions are highly practiced Drills (or Route movement, call it Combo's if you like) found only in skilled professionals and zealous hobbyists.
Coming out of a Failed tunneling wastes valuable time in the form of only being able to do half as much as everyone in a round-for that round. Tunneling occurs when the Action is usually beyond the Character's Threat appetite (a very relative term), but basically anything very dangerous and uncertain will cause a charater to tunnel to get the job done right.

Athletic Rolls.
Health, Vitality, Energy, Endurance or Constitution... call it what you will in any other game system but Fitness is a ROLL every time you do a time crucial action. The Old-assumption or Calls that failure means failure to perform, makes such rolls as Running from point A to point B quite absurd, BUT the truth of the matter is that there is risk in daring physical actions.

This is where Arm-chair Scholars differ with those who try to do what their characters do. One the simulationist learns is that- Failure MAY-NOT be tripping or falling (make it only that if the margin of failure is 5 or worse) because our own fears prevent us from pushing too hard that we hurt ourselves- Instead failure is valuable time lost. Lost time, is lost opportunity.

In GURPS B354 is my basic guide rule for Athletic Rolls. Read the Fatigue Cost entry for Running.
  • 15 sec (2-3 rounds) of Spriting (Which is Maximum Physical Perfomance) roll HT
  • 1 minute (10-12 rounds) of Paced Running (which is highest SUSTAINED physical performance) roll HT.

The B354 rule is a great rule of thumb in any athletic situation. This is because, knowing that rule allows you to effectively simulate the physical drain any athletic situation will have on people. Normally, in my observation, many games ignore the value of endurance- but if you played any sport- your endurance severely limits your strategy and tactics. Suffice to say, ask your players to roll, given the examples above when their performance is over that said time, you will notice that they will BURN through Fatigue or energy in no time- Just like in real life. HT is a 10cp per level attribute in GURPS, but is WAY too underestimated IMO.

Marching through Thick growths: Hiking + ST, Failure is double time.
Any action that would absurdly be successful- but can stand to risk precious seconds. This is energy/stamina dependent rolls and thus HT based. this can be Jumping+HT, Climbing+HT, Stealth+HT etc... Failure is the PC starts his next round flatfooted or with less time available, failure by 5 or more is failing to be effective (like the jump is too short, slip while climbing, you step on a very loud twig... etc).
Crawling: Stealth + HT, Failure is double time.

NEW Situational Task Difficult Modifer.
Some new TDM examples.

Uncertain Penalty -1 to -2. Based on the Familiarity, this penalty really emphasizes the value of Drills and experience. Familiarity is underappreciated in GURPS, and there is a Perk that was recomended to eliminate all weapon unfamiliarities. From personal experience (like trying to use GIMP isntead of Photoshop) unfamiliarity is a BIG disadvantage- not a severe as flat Defaults of -4 to -6 but still painful if your acceptable risk are like mine 5%.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Merchant's Vested Intrested

Credibility. In game theory and business, I learned that one should really have a stake in the transaction, in order to be credible. Looking at the GURPS Traveller I've noticed something odd when I was trying to create the scenario for PCs to enter into contracted service or package delivery- nothing can really enforce them to follow their contract and there is no real way to chase someone down who has breached a contract-short of sending a ship (which is REALLY expensive). In light of a maturing audience and current economic circumstance I've done some thinking to remedy this for the sake of game and business believably.

PCs are entrepreneurs who are severely vested by an enforcer who is capable of physically holding them to an agreement. How can the enforcer do this? By physically holding the ship hostage through a device in the ship that requires the PCs to update every quarter or year (which can be made changed by different contracts and agreements) enforcer's representative office.
How does the Imperium make sure this measure is never tampered?

  1. Exclusive control of military grade and the most sophisticated security measures
  2. Thorough character background check and high character standards (a preventive measure).
Ideally this enforcer would be using the Imperial Scout Service station to allow for updates, and when a full update is needed they have to go to a major Imperial office.

Severe Punishments of Forced Labor and Death would probably be the standard to give greater credibility of such contracts as well as giving the backers due satisfaction and making sure the "character" of such entreps would be sufficient for the task.

I see this as the best way to establish credibility in an interstellar range. A ship that has a verifiable Imperial approval is someone that MANY business will be willing to do work with. Since the pay-off is so high (in millions) for such risks and hazards, it would be only reasonable to have such regulations. Even in the RPG point of view, its actually not a game-killer because its illusory to think that someone will go into business with a credible and unreasonable third party (the Imperial authorities who will enforce it).

I'm currently using my wife's CFA case studies to develop an adventure, of course spicing things up with murphies. My wife is not a fan of RPGs but we both like the problem solving and deductive sleuthing of other businesses quite fun and intriguing. Translating it to RPGs allows me to provide other people and myself with practical skills in a gamer format that makes the pill so much more tasty to (chew and) swallow.

Come to think of it, as a backer the Imperium will see a pretty penny every transaction. No wonder they can afford to maintain fleets if they make money insuring every interstellar deal.

Come to think of it, as a backer the Imperium will see a pretty penny every transaction. No wonder they can afford to maintain fleets if they make money insuring every interstellar deal.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sorry for the Late Update

I will be taking a bit of break cause I'm sick and Post an answer to this forum questions. Particulary a generic Medieval Setting. I've read a copy of harkwood and I find that todays better understanding of Medieval Life should be applied to the game.

One is that the Town should have a population of up to 8,000-12,000. The Lord's relationship to the Town should be clearly defined, his rank, his retainers, his duties as well as his loyalty to the crown.

Provide a Strucure and Instead of making a bunch of Possible Bad Guys. Illustrate the duties, problems, and challenges that particular area may have for a party of adventurers.

Define Adventurers in the context of the setting: In a realistic setting they would be knights, squires, or sergeants looking for a liege lord. Even allow for the possibly a Mercanry captian and his possee (his exectutive officer, his specialists and officers).

Emphasize that nothing exists in a Void in an RPG and provide examples.

Provide Map (Looking for Autorealm for ubuntu right now).