Saturday, July 31, 2010

ORPGS character sheet up

Finished a sample character sheet. It took a while to get pegged down to a particular list of abilities. Now that the character sheet is down, i can work on the flow-chart of character creation.

I'm surprised that the size 5 font is still readable. I'm sure there are some spelling errors but having the sheet tangible, some decisions will be easier to make.

Edits for the Character Sheet:
All combat relevant details in 1 page.
All character personality and abilities in 1 page.
Stuff missing are the Wound conditions and the Fatigue/Reserve Conditions.
Character Level, XP cost notes, Professional/Career Levels.
Detailed Equipment List.

I think Fatigue and Wound Conditions should be a seperate card 3.5 x 2.5 card. Something replaceable because of the tendency of erasures that add up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Inability to gauge Encounter Risks a Good thing or Bad?

What Huensao pointed out is really interesting. Is the inability to gauge how deadly an encounter is Good or Bad? It also is echoed in KODT, when Heidi Jackson wanted to get rid of all the deadly risks and installed a "time out" system. It also follows question is the sense of risk essential for something to be heroic or worthwhile?

Challenge Ratings, HD progression, Encounter Levels, etc. All figure into making risks and death predictable. So when the system becomes this transparent, that all odds of success can be calculated with encounter formulas etc. what happens to the immersion?

uncertainty and risk cannot be divorced, both in a situation and in the meaning of the words. Once certainty kicks in, you throw away risk and everything just becomes a repetitive ritual... Its just a matter of going through the motions.

Some of the Old School Rhetoric is about risks. Its easy to take on great risk if characters required little personal investment and the process of attachment came with the achievements garnered despite odds. Until there is a way to make believable and lovable characters easy to generate, i think overprotecting the investment will always be a problem in achieving real adversity.

I guess, character detailing being achieved on a installment basis. Where the player has access to a huge Roster of Characters and through the campaign gets whittled down to survivors. These survivors only get their character made fleshing out per session they survive.

Humanity, a premise of Game System

I just participated in a thread discussion about Callousness. Funny thing about it is I sucked at bringing my point across. Its been a while since I've participated in any argument, so its plain to see how much I've dulled.

The argument about callousness comes from the effects of not caring about how other people feel. Realistically, if a person was really callous then they would make no action to be diplomatic, to frame his communication in the best way for his audience, or be able to be in-tune with other people in a team effort. Also any action to pretend is a form of manipulation or self-preservation.

The argument began from callousness to what was the use or requirement of empathy. Here, personal views about empathy begin to point out everyones own premises. This is where I realized that our attempt to find an objective reference point for debate will not be achieved if we don't have the same idea, opinion, or understanding of what empathy is.

My Personal view of empathy and Intra-personal Intelligence is very much influenced by my experience and the books that made sense of these experiences. Particularly material about Game Theory (Scot P. Stephens), Economic Behavior (Predictably Irrational by Dan Arielly), the Art of Critical Decision Making (Michael A. Roberto), Cognitive Biases, Confucian Analects, Philosophy, and those works I can get from Paul Ekman. Also, having worked with and against functional psychopaths really hammered the lesson home.

So this is where personal views on the world begin to collide in rules interpretation. Beyond to argue, anymore would require making one side alter their premises and that will be a very very long discussion. Particularly when it wasn't very easy for me to find my supporting material, I had the motivation to look for it and it coincided with my humanistic values... so once you reach down and realize we have different premises arguments over.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What are tasks for Spatial and Visual Intelligence?

In games, Spatial and Visual intelligence (Awe) is usually lumped together with logical-mathematical intelligence (Int). Although i would say it is very different and doesn't have a competing relationship with each other.

For Short I'll call it Awenesss or Awe. Its short for the other description, spatial awareness.

We know artists and highly visual people have gifted with this Intelligence. Artist Checks where drawing and sculpting is concerned is a definite no-brainer when it comes to which intelligence, although both require some minor level of highly specialized manual kinesthetic int (aka Dex).

What is surprising about Awe is that as I learn from my team captain how he processes tactics and movements, the way he describes it and the way I've experienced successfully executing it, I've realized tactician is more dependent on Awe than Int.

One of the things I've noticed when my captain describes the enemy movement he would look out, remembering the terrain and with his hands follow the rise and fall of the terrain. Also the way he describes how he "spots" opponents, its not as much as he sees them but he can narrow down where they could be hiding. I realized that this kind of processing is easier when processing visual references into a 3d mental picture than to go through a logical list of possibilities (which is the first instinct for my newb self).

Einsteins brain. In the lecture the mind, consciousness and thinking machines there was a story about Einsteins brain and description of the neural geography. The cliff-notes is that it seems he learned to speak very late in life was because his visual-spatial specialized core competed or was more well developed than the language part. I'm not sure about the accuracy or how much true this is but I'm working on the assumption it is.

Other Intelligences. This got me thinking about challenging some other assumptions as to the usefulness and the validity of various intelligences. One intelligence that may be considered a dump stat is music. In my observation, i think in an RPG a high musical ability can be an alternate for memory. Another aspect of Musical ability is time sense or rhythm not just for instruments but also for manipulating complex operations. Unfortunately, Music as an Intelligence Ability is not going to be popular. Although, good thing it is designed as part of a Random Character Generation System, in that way Ideally people can't use it as a dump stat... on the other hand, people who are who roll Music as their strongest if not one of their key suits, will be very interesting character to role-play.

What is an Overly Detailed Character Creation System

still working on my homebrew. I have a long list of things that I want to incorporate into a character creation system. Its a very long list, and when i can figure it out hopefully have way to electronically generate it.

*Choice of
**Randomly Generated
  • *Gender, *Ethnicity/Race (except for clearly more advantageous ethnicities/races; Hair, Eyes and Skin color is dependent on Ethnicity/Race or can be random), **Social Status, **Birth Rank, *Background (limited to what is available by opportunity; there is a roll for each attempt)
  • **Build (which affects): **Height, **Weight, Strength-related to build and physical condition, Movement (Stride).
  • **Physical Condition (which affects): **Endurance, **Resistance, **Appearance, **Voice
  • **Sense of Sight (Vis)
  • **Sense of Hearing (Hear)
  • **Sense of Smell/Taste (Smell)
  • **Sense of Balance/Agility (Agl)
  • **Sense of Touch/ Manual Dexterity (Dex)
  • **Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
  • **Spatial Awareness and Visual Intelligence
  • **Empathy and Intra-Personal Intelligence
  • **Socialization and Inter-Personal Intelligence
  • **Language Ability
  • **Musical Ability
  • **Memory
  • **Medical Background (roll up some Physical or Mental disabilities or minor quirks).
  • **Basic Education (aspect of Social Status, Birth Rank, and Ethnicity/Race),*Aspirations and Circumstantial Adaption (unique skills or conditioning).
  • *Professional Background. **Professional Career Events that can de-rail, challenge, stagnate or complicate the character. The option to Change Careers.
  • *Motivations (but with the option to roll up some common ones; a motive generation system made up of randomly rolling some key words, an exercise of creative thinking)
  • **Key Individuals from the character's background.

I guess, I need a context for all of this. I think Basic Medieval set up would ideal. Its easy to add on the fantasy anyway.

I'm currently stuck at Build, as I'm trying to reflect the normal range without considering Gigantism. Surprisingly some 7ft people are not considered to be afflicted by it, like Yao Ming. Although they occur at about 1:60,000,000 I think that is the equivalent of rolling around 10 natural sixes. I guess some kind of open ended die-result is needed for height generation. Also for dwarfism or stunted growth from being malnourished.

Gender Dimorphism affects Height a bit, still ironing out the math how that works. The rule is 15% difference in averages. Since Height determines much of the physical architecture tat relates to strength this will indirectly affect strength. Although, women have a slight advantage in rolling Physical Condition. Its to reflect that in a species the larger individuals tend to die out more frequently.

Special Build formula for Dwarves who are supposed to be shorter but stronger or as strong as humans. Elves are lighter build by just as tall if not taller than humans. Halflings or Gnomes who are smaller but have more spring allowing them to keep up with humans.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Qualities in People: Multiple Intelligence Stats affect judgement

these are the GURPS plug in of multiple-intelligence Stats I've been working for. I've yet to fill out the text. At first, MI seems to be very complicated. There are so many facets of the human mind to keep track off, how can I get them all straight.

What happens is that, I get them straight by being able to break down people I know by looking at their qualities through the lense of MI.

The problem with just IQ, or simplifying Intelligence as one trait is that it oversimplifies what should be a very complex assessment of a person's mental qualities. It is not even a cop-out to saying "at least I'm smart in other Things", looking at the odds and appreciating how random our inclinations and mutations tend to be, one can appreciate how personalities are the unique mix of strengths, weaknesses and circumstances.

Even DnD has 3 intelligences: Logic-Mathematical is Int, Wis is intra-personal, empathy, and Charisma: Influence.

typically there is an argument that Intuition is part of wisdom, but in my readings it is actually better illustrated and observed when viewed in the context of a skill, mastery and experience. I like the interpretation in lecture 5: Intuition - recognizing patterns in the art of Critical Decision Making. Recommended readings of the Chapter: Benner, From Novice to Expert and Klein, Source of Power . Basically, it is the ability to recognized a set of patterns from a specific set of experience (or skill). An experienced nurse is more likely to come upon an intuitive sense of something wrong in a medical paradigm then in a fire-related emergency. Same goes with a an experienced fireman having a good intuition about in a fire-emergency than in a combat zone, a classroom, management meeting, etc.

Sorry for not filling them out just yet. I just learned how to work templates, having my first experience with Wiki. Its not like there is a dummies about how to work with various headings in openoffice.

Some GURPS Low-Tech Templates

Here are some GURPS low-tech templates. They are again another take of the RPG archetypes. I think a few posts back I tried to make the real world equivalent of the DnD archetypes.

It ended to something like:

Rogue > Scout with greater investment of
Ranger > Scout
if you know gamers who have a very low esteem for what it is to be a scout, I highly recommend reading the Strategikon and The Art of War!

Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits;
it cannot be obtained inductively from experience,
nor by any deductive calculation.

Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men. - Sun Tzu

If Sun Tzu, a 7Century BC General did not rely on Divinations or Magic, there is something to be said about the eternal nature of his wisdom. Especially when in many other quotes, he can be attributed a empiricist.

Scouts must be chosen who are stead, keen-eyed, reliable, serious and fonder of their reputation than of money; such men make accurate reports. - Strategikon.
Spies should be very bold and move right in among the enemy, so they may be regarded as belonging to the same race. The men making patrols should be reliable; they should look very manly and be a cut above the other soldiers in physical appearance, morale and equipment, so they may project a noble image in confronting the enemy and if captured make a good impression on them. -Spying on the Enemy, Capture of Scouts or Spies trying to Hide in our Army the Strategikon.

getting back.

Fighter > Soldier (which can be Archer or Heavy Infantryman)

Barbarian > Medium Infantry, Kurasores or Assault/Storm Troops. these guys are meant to move quickly as to flank or shock the opposition.

Consider all the other Spellcasting Classes are powerful courtiers that rely on social resources and moral cause (Cleric), organization (Wizard), or charisma (Sorcerer) to achieve great feats.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Creative Jobs and its bit of a relation to Gaming

This RSA Video is about Creative Jobs, in the GURPS forums I lurk discussion went to unskilled jobs vs skilled jobs. It reminded me of the video and its relation to Wiki-phenomenon, wisdom of crowds and the Open Source movement.

Unskilled Skills vs "Creative" Skills the studies this RSA video highlights are very useful in being able to differentiate what really is "skilled" job. One interesting thing about unskilled jobs the study highlights is that you can design incentives as to more reward creates more work... the way this doesn't work for highly creative and human intelligence and judgement intensive skills is highly enlightening.

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Profession (mining)-15+ would be the type of skills that require escalating levels of complexity. Such a "skilled" job would mean, the professional exhibits judgment and knowledge that would be expensive and hard to acquire. Such a profession is more of looking at how a mine is run and working towards anticipating Normal Accident Theory, Normalizing Deviance, Practical Drift , as well as effective means of problem solving specific for his profession technology and subtle nuisances. Suffice to say all unskilled aspects are completely automated.
I'd best leave the video to explain that unusual nuisance of "creative" or skill-mastery.

Note for the people burned by the banks, when it comes to bonuses and designing incentives for the executives and people who work in the financial sector where judgement can be easily compromised.

If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.- Sun Tzu
[Chang Yu has the best note on this passage: "Wealth and long life are things for which all men have a natural inclination. Hence, if they burn or fling away valuables, and sacrifice their own lives, it is not that they dislike them, but simply that they have no choice." Sun Tzu is slyly insinuating that, as soldiers are but human, it is for the general to see that temptations to shirk fighting and grow rich are not thrown in their way.]

Friday, July 23, 2010

if making Open Role-Playing Game System make a wiki

I just realized that if I plan to make my home-brew transparent, accessible and easily improved/altered to make derived system. I might as well pour all my homebrew notes in a wiki.

maybe because I didn't want a half assed system scrutinized before its ready!

But it will never be ready, not with just one perspective looking at it. Anyway, my design notes litter the mechanics, its easy to just cut and paste it all.

Plugging the 7kingdoms IGE

I didn't know Larps were called Interactive Game Entertainment-thingys now. This is the gaming direction my brother took with his writing. I keep telling him he should just write a book but he's one of those really professional and obsessive about his craft GMs you can compare to fictional GMs like B.A. Nitro (hard-assed but not part of the "school" debate).

Anyway he's the Rules Director/Event Coordinator and he gives out good material. Especially since Game Writing is about marketing and selling stories of Players and the context of their achievements through the setting. This kind of writing is not easy since any GM who works with players would know there is a lot of diplomacy, work and credit sharing, as well as giving up alot of strong ideas to the players. Its pretty close to Gaming for a Living, so I hope people in the area could check it out.

I play Airsoft, so I have nothing against Larp. Heck in the end its the same pretend, while the athleticism, strategy and tactics still matter.

Its not a good Idea to play LARP in a tropical country even with the Massive Cosplay Population. There is no place to play, the weather is miserable in the rainy season and too hot in the summer, our nature is an unimpressive bunch of low trees, and a lot of tangled bushes and high grass, and the litter-less and taken-care of "parks" are 2 hours from the city.

So its kind of a blessing to have a temperate climate to play. The amount of heat stroke victims in our running and airsoft events here are pretty common.

Human as a Baseline of a Game System, Why not?

My position is to use Human as a Baseline for game systems. There is some philosophical problems when "human" is not considered the baseline. In this thread about Human as a Baseline for GURPS. One of the interesting problems is that what are you using for comparison. One particular problem I have when people fail to consider what science has revealed about being human is the tendency to portray characters are inhuman.

Isn't that wierd? How else can we differentiate a robot, alien or another sentient race without knowing how it differs from the human baseline? Heck how about understanding how people differ from one another. Much of the study and breakthroughs regarding animal and artificial intelligence is through looking closely at how we think as compared to other systems.

Although, such a claim and disclaimer for a system is pretty understandable. That means I can say my home-brew system and game design is the "first" system to use human and science as a baseline to draw game-able or playable systems of simulating the world, work and actions. I mean, if GURPS is not planting that flag, I would!

What can of worms am I opening? Discussion, Debate, and Arguments particularly ones backed up by reason and science and allowing for multiple interpretation of the rules. Isn't this the backbone of a Evolving Game System? Isn't this the flexibility that allows games to innovate as a medium, because of the freedom to take a part that works, that stands subjective interpretation of multiple gamers, and to become on of many ways to interpret and perceive the world?

Endless Debates are only endless when you can't pin people down to objective and mutually agreed foothold, an argument at a time. Resolving, handling and progressing from arguments built around logic and reason are very workable. Logic, Science and Reason is a language of its own, and when everyone is speaking it things progress very quickly.

Freethinking and Gaming really go together because gaming grew up to become a science of its own. Its thanks to philosophers, mathematicians, economists and their drive to understand how the world works and create a winning strategy for all people that gives gaming such profound purpose and pedigree.

My Open Role-playing Game System (which I'm calling my homebrew) is supposed to be a game system that applies as much real-world knowledge in a game-able medium in order to Fame useful and practical skills in a way that allows Flow effect.

Its about applying Framing and Reciprocating System that is designed to encouraged an optimized strategy and outlook towards learning.

Anyway, an open and transparent game system where anyone can take anything they want or what works for them and bring it to their table is not meant for those who plan to work with a business plan. Realistically, having only reason and open interpretation is no way to sell "official" material. It pretty much relies on common sense or a freethinking attitude and approach regarding situations.

I mean, its going to be practically like a wikipedia where it collects systems for combat, human damage simulation, action resolution, work and effort tracking, dogfighting, mass combat, etc. etc. etc. which keep getting newer and newer revisions only when there is enough political will towards a particular game aspect.

Realistically, you'd need a 10x the active RPG blogger participation to have something like that. basically that the equivalent of all the developing countries (that would be china and inda, and that is expected at 2040; this does not count the emerging markets like my own country) matching the developed countries in quality of life and internet access.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Making World Builder Program Exectations Transparent

Dream Big then Whittle it down to what you can do with your budget and priorities. This World Building Program Expectations list of Functions is very ambitious. After finally writing down all my thoughts I realize it is on the unrealistic side. The idea is to have all the purposes laid out so that the particular processes needed to achieve such an end becomes more easily visible.

That these programs incorporate Accounting, Economics, and Management Studies. Its plain that the program draws a lot on on several historical examples as its base templates so that users have something to work with. At the same time, the user can just click randomly generate and it will produce lists, tables, rosters, maps, and stat sheets that doesn't exist in a vacuum.

The program is open to ambition and a community build. Its also bit like solitaire where the novelty of it is in the way it allows the writer to Build a set of circumstances randomly but have all the details on hand when he/she plans to veer in unusual direction.

For those of us who want to get lost in a world that can withstand the scrutiny of our own attention to detail as well as explore the persona of other world builders through their works. it is a culmination of their life experiences and personal view of the world, veiled by randomness so that it keeps the viewer guessing how much is by design and how much is chance.

Anyway, Dream Big then narrow down to the specifics that work towards a more worthwhile goal. Being able to see the step needed to make that great journey.

It reminds me of playing civilization how the random and AI events can suck you in as you are telling the story of a world, and not just an individual.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some consulting about Software for Random Generators

Character Generation Systems are more interesting when there is a good character sheet to display all the details. Also, random generation systems are also more interesting when you can get it all done in a short amount of time.

Applying a bit of entrepreneurship in the hobby, I might as well check how much it would cost to make the program. Since I'm consulting with the head of our development dept. I might as well ask about other forms of tool generation like the Wilderness map generator and a Holdings generator.

I know typically software savy GMs tend to make these things for their campaign, but I'm not one of those guys. My software skills are for 2d and 3d graphics programs. My skills regarding the excell and others are basic. (although I did make an excell sheet for 19th century ships of GURPS vehicles for my Mahadlika game).

I guess, there is a niche market for a Universal Wilderness Encounter generator and the Fief generator of near realistic levels. Realism is the baseline of most settings, and adding fantastic elements is pretty easy comparatively. I guess what should make the list is Warfare Economics and Logistics Programs as well. Below are some Ideas for Programs, depending on what the meeting turns up I'll know how much it will cost to make these things.

Wilderness Encounter Map Generator. Rolls up the strategic and natural hazard features of an area. Compete with GM and Player map print out in B/W. A plug in makes these maps adjusted for war campaigns. Color would be a more complicated program. Future expansions work on larger and larger chucks of a campaign world, up to the point it can detail sections of a continent. Ideally a whole campaign world can be made in a few clicks and experiments with different settings and can be done every campaign. Useful up until premodern settings.

Fief generator. Roll up and create Villas, Manors, Throps, Villages, Towns, Cities, and Capitals fitting for any real-world setting. The Extension of the system helps build economies and price modifiers for regions.

Since these are all universal, it allows the GM to quickly generate detailed and random equipment tables for every region or location, or chose to bring it down to micro-level and roll up shop inventory, and roll up assets of an individual.

Fief-generator Expansion: Setting Economics. Configure your setting Economics, so that you know how much resources for war and conflict it can support. Basically, have an electronic Quarter Master or Steward who will tell you how much resources you have at this time. GMs can find this useful when running military campaigns where players like to take on the tasks of great personages of history.

This kind of program would be great in keeping track economic conditions and impacts of events. As well provide a list of probably natural calamities and events that would affect the world.

Since these are all universal, it allows the GM to work out the currency of their game world, modify inflation up or down, generate detailed and random equipment tables for every region or location, or chose to bring it down to micro-level and roll up shop inventory, and roll up assets of an individual.

Detailed Character Generator. This is something of a novelty, a detailed character creator that allows for characters to be created with some stat-able biometrics. Of course, the realism and the range can be modified by GMs and World builders but it is a way to roll for someone with a level of detail, which only requires the polish of imagination and creativity.

If this would be possible, all the programs are designed to shorten the work done in world-building and campaign detailing to a few hours a week for the busy GM. All of the crunch that Modern Economics and recent historical and anthropological finds regarding conditions of the past easily integrated into the setting. So GMs will spend most of time time detailing their settings and exchanging campaign creation files to discover more ways to add more verisimilitude or randomness to their setting. Part of the GM's obstacle is deciding on the infinite amount of elements to weave into the story and these programs give the GM a shorter list of options, or decide for him so that he can focus on the creative story telling.

This is me daydreaming. Of course, the step in the direction of possibly making this is looking at the opportunity cost of doing so, and the cost benefit analysis. at least the dream has a price tag, and if I can figure that out, maybe someone who can more afford it would make it and I'd buy it from him/her.

My target cost for these programs are $10 (Php500) each, assuming there are more than 5,000+ plus purchase of each. At that price-tag I would buy it without blinking. The business plan would be that the community likes the product enough to "buy" it so that it will keep producing more stuff. The amount of detail and verisimilitude that can go into campaign creation is up there. Consolidating all the realistic world builders into a program and a business that plans to run to a finite amount of time with an acceptable shareholder exit strategy would be nice so that the company will only produce what people want not products with no market which are 90% marketing 10% crap.

Imagining a GM armed only with a netbook, churning out reams of Campaign details. Maps he can assemble with some tape and a few minutes or through a large print service. Players move into an uncharted area, and with one click and a very fast laser printer, print out a 4x5 letter size tactical map with hexes in assemble it in 5mins with the help of the players under a plastic sheet for white board markers.

A GM creating several detailed fiefs in just under an hour, with the rest of the week just writing up and drawing NPC portraits. Communities of GM uploading zip files of these works for other GMs to grab and modify in just a few hours a day before the upcoming game (of course giving credit to the source GM).

Players having their own Army or Holding Spread Sheet to keep track of their resources in military or grand scale campaigns. Being to update real time details like losses, gains and random event impacts. A detailed and fairly random set of NPCs with aspects only the GM can see. The GM can even run PvPs of factions battling it out.

GMs can now easily run Political Intrigue Campaigns with all the numbers, factions and the resources quickly generated into player friendly stat sheets. Especially since the Gm has his hands free detailing faction write ups instead of calculating assets or rolling each and every NPC.

Mass combat details for units printed automatically in card form to be easily organized and laid out. With enough space for Unit Portraits.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tinkering with Random Character Generation

I'm aching to game again, but I've been a bit system picky. Right now I've accumulated a lot of notes on random character generation.

Currently I'm wondering what part of the character should be rolled up first? Its as much a philosophical exercise as a game design one. One thing it communicates to the player is how the designers see one's lot in life and the color of the world around them.

I typically use 3d6.

Which comes first: Social Status Background or Ethnic background? To me the skin or race we are born in are something not subject to change. In one of my settings elves are the ruling class. Everything people associate with the wonders of civilization is attributed to Elves: beauty, manners, architecture, art, music, fighting styles, perfect, and pretty much in a pedestal (the way Elf-lovers are assumed to see elves). A human can't be an elf, dwarf, orc, goblin etc...

3d6 (Ethnicity)
18 Elf
16-17 Half-Elf
13-15 Dwarf
10-12 Human
8-9 Human, Barbarian
6-7 Half-Orc
4-5 Orc
3 Half-Ogre/ Half-Giant

After determining Ethnicity (which is more politically and scientifically correct than Race), we look at all the modifiers it generates for the succeeding rolls. Each ethnicity has a modifiers to all the other rolls.

Social Status: +8
Vis +2
Hrng +2
App: +2
Lang +2
Music +1
Awe +1
Cha +1
Voice +2

Social Status: Ignore and Reroll 1s and 2s
Vis +1
Hrng +1
App: +1
Lang +1
Music +1
Awe +1
Cha +1
Voice +1

Social Status: Reroll 6s
Build -1
Strength +2
Con: Ignore and Reroll 1s and 2s
App -1


Human Barbarian
Social Status: -1
Lang -1
Build +1
Con: Ignore and Reroll 1s
Lang -1

Social Status: Ignore and Reroll 6s
Build +1
Constitution: Reroll 1s
Music -1
Lang -1

Social Status: -1
Build +2
Con: Reroll 1s and 2s
Smell +1
Music -2
Awe -1
Lang -1

Half Giant/Ogre
Social Status: -10
Build +3
Smell +1
Awe -2
Lang -2
Music -2

Social Status is the next roll, followed by a roll for Family. Details of social status apply what kind of work, education or skills the character will have opportunity to develop. Family determines finer details because contrary to idealism broken and dysfunctional families are as much a part of history as they are a common occurrence (hence the Ideal!). Not to mention, family peculiarities provides a RICH mine for psychological traits and quirks.

18+ (status 3) Noble / Aristocrat
16-17 (status 2) Gentry/ Ruling family of Tribe
13-15(status 1) Freeman/ Ruling Family of a Clan
8-12(status 0) Peasant/ Villein/ Commoner/ Tribesman
6-7 (status -1) Serf / Slave / Bonded Servant
5 and Below (status -2) Outsider/ Criminal / Exiled / Outcast
Social status and Family affect opportunities like profession, education, and skills. although before that is settled, character roll on their natural abilities. Characters are assumed to survive childhood, because it is a waste of time having a character die in Character creation despite how "fatal" it may make the system be.

Legitimacy - if the family is outside wedlock, shunned by society (like incestuous marriage), differing ethnicity, race or religion. Roll Basic Attribute Modifier from below (-3 to +3). the good score means an Advantageous marriage or parentage. A character could have been loved child of a powerful individual.
Birth Rank - How many siblings, half-siblings or where the character falls in his family's pecking order. This affects the character resources or education. Roll Basic Attribute Modifier again, to determine how much of the family resources the character was able to get.

Education - Still roll a 3d6 (modified by Status, Legitimacy, and Birth-rank)
18+ Master's Private Tutelage (3d6 x50 study credits)
16-17 Schooling (3d6 x30 study credits)
14-15 Private Tutor (3d6 x20 study credits)
10-13 Apprenticeship to a Tradesman (3d6 x15 study credits)
8-9 Family Trade (3d6 x10 study credits)
5-7 skilled Servitude (3d6 x7 study credits)
Below 4 Unskilled Servitude (3d6 x5 study credits)

Next is mapping out Physical and Mental genetic dispositions. Here one rolls the traits people are born with. Not all Stats are meant to be rolled as skill modifiers. Although, they can be used to check if people happen to Like how the person looks or sounds, or for just purely for comparison.

the context of this roll is in the Default Starting Area, which is the fringe most City. the table may be different based on where and what the World Builder feels is reasonable.

All Stats are Averaged at 10.
3d6 Basic Attribute Modifier
18 +3 Extraordinary
16-17 +2 Remarkable
13-15 +1 Good
8-12 +0 Normal
6-7 -1 Poor
4-5 -2 Handicapped
3 -3 Near-Disabled

Build: which affects Height and Weight. Height, Weight, and Physical Condition affects Strength. We are not born with muscle - an court bound aristocrat can be 6'5" but never having worked on it can be 300lbs of fat. A well-to do farmer, woodsman, mason, can be 5'6" but ripped.

Physical Stats:
Eye-Sight (Vis). Thankfully there is a scientific way to rate vision. Visual Acuity is a great way for a Game designer to describe and translate how good eyesight. Average person will have 20/20 with the highest end for human being 20/8 (being able to see details at 20 feet where most people will only see at 8!). A stat of 10 is 20/20, a stat of 13 is 20/8, but a stat of 7 would be 20/200.
Hearing (Hrng). Hearing can be done at the same kind of standardization. Hearing things most people hear at a specified volume and distance. heck you just use the same details 20/20, 20/8 and 20/50+.
Smell/Taste (Smell). taste and smell goes together. useful in determining where someone came from: rain, passed through the slums, among smokers, incense, if they are hiding another scent etc. Great for cooking, checking for freshness and tasting dishes.
Manual Dexterity/Touch (Dex). These Fine manual dexterity goes with the touch sensitivity. This counts also as kinesthetic intelligence.
Agility/Balance (Agl). Good footwork also means having a good sense of balance. This also means the character is sensitive when the ground beneath him is moving. This counts also as kinesthetic intelligence.
Constitution (Con). Is the basic attribute considering the physical predisposition against disease or the character's immunity. Constitution affects Endurance, which is a fitness condition and Vitality a condition of adequate satisfaction of physical and metabolic needs.
Appearance (App). Is the character's aesthetic appearance which is also modified by Vitality and Charisma. A good stat increases the odds of people liking how the character looks, thats all it means.
Voice (Voice). Roll for the aesthetics of the character's voice. Rolling here is just meant to see if people happens to like that voice.

Intelligence (Int) is Logic/Mathematical intelligence. This is the most common and most appreciated intelligence.
Wisdom (Wis) is Emotional Intelligence (Intra-personal Intelligence). this is a common kind of Wisdom. This makes wisdom essential in dealing with psychological quirks (rolling to control, redirect or manage them).
Awareness (Awe). This refers to Visual and Spatial. Drawing, Measuring by Vision, Imagining 3d Spaces
Musical Ability (Music). Yes, its an important enough stat to roll for. Even just to bring up or down Memory. A good musical ability affects memory which affects all the other skills.
Charisma (Cha). Is the sum of many of the character's social skills, disposition and their intro-personal Intelligence. All social skills default to charisma.
Languages and Literacy (Lang). This is Linguistic Intelligence. there is a stat for it,

Memory (Memory). Memory is the Average all Intelligences instead of 10 plus the Roll Modifier! Now this is particularly interesting. Brain plasticity, meaning our ability to make our other specialized brain parts temporarily give up their roles on other tasks has a lot to do with memory. The funny thing I'm learning about memory is that when people say its a muscle, its eerily works so much like a muscle so you can't just assign a natural born trait to it. The way it takes work to build a muscle, so does memory. Like Build, there is a predisposition, but it all depends in how much a person gets to use all the other parts for other tasks.

So actually having a Well rounded background, does wonders regarding Memory Muscle compared to specializing and keeping one self in a small comfortable niche!

What game system is this for? Since all these stat are valued from 5 to 15, its a simply leap to just use a basic roll below stat with a 3d6 system like in GURPS. GDW system works with this also (Although recalibrate for 3d6). Target Number System or D20 can be used for this to, of course remove the 10 and all the stats are just pure modifiers.

How about the Skills? Measuring Work that Goes into study can be can be done by getting Credit/Unit Hours. 1 unit is 24 classroom hours, which is expected to be matched by x1 to x6 work hours (x 1d6 minus -appropriate Intelligence modifier; minimum x1). The character rolls for the number of Study Credits He Has and the GM rolls how many each skill will cost. Purely Self Studied skills cost Double the Study Credits! The random work involved can mean the character had distractions: like other classmates, a bad teacher, had to work part time etc.

ex. Musical -1, and the character rolls 4 for a 1 unit skill (4 minus negative 1 musical = 5; 5x 1 credit). The character will take 5 credits to be able to sing. A character who has Lang +3 can learn a language in (1d6 minus 3; times 3 unit Basic Language).

Bad rolls means, the character has a bad set of experiences that make him learn the skill slower... good roll means the experience circumstance has given him/her allowed him to learn the skill quickly.

A bachelor degree is 124 x 1d6 study hours. Some Skills range from 1-3 credits or several 3 credit subjects. You can use the same terminology to describe the level of proficiency: Basic (+0), Intermediate (+1 to +2), Advance (+3 to +5), Master (+6 and up).

Looking at it this way, breaking down the work to the most productive hours and exercise can high light one's own progress towards mastery. Strangely looking up at what I just wrote, i might as well apply it to stat a real person out.

As for genetic diseases, scars, experiences all these imperfections and details should be left for the player. Using the same Basic Attribute Modifier roll, he/she can just roll and arbitrarily determine bad or good quirks that make up the character. A scar, susceptibility to a particular sickness or allergy, common or uncommon quirks or perks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wilderness vs Dungeon Encounter Map Generator part 1

Dungeons are more linear and have been adopted by how much it eases the GM's job by boiling down options to doors, rooms and hallways. After being much exposed to natural hazards from my other hobby, I wonder why can't we just use slightly more sophisticated set of options and decision of a wilderness encounter.

The thing about wilderness is that, as much as we would like to think every path is traversable, they are actually not. You can walk outside the trail or foot path, but it will cost you twice more effort and maintaining that for hours is at a dangerous cost of energy (not enough to escape, fight effectively or think). There are things that may look traversable, but the cost and the risk will have you limping and aching in frustration.

I remember when I thought that scouting a head will just be a difference of distance, boy was I wrong. Not only was I supposed to be ahead of our main group, I couldn't just use the same trail if there was a real threat of danger. Moving outside the trail was harder, and noisier if I was too tired to round an obstacles and hazards. Carrying one's own supplies or foraging was another compounding complexity.

I can go on about the merits of Wilderness over Dungeon, but it mainly requires experience and a nagging demand of realism to go with it. Assuming you have the same problems as I do, lets go to figuring out what are the problems of using the wilderness as game staple.

Wilderness Encounter MapGeneration? A wilderness terrain generator needs to be able to allow GMs to quickly create maps. If there are any specifications on such a system, it should take a GM 20mins to work out an encounter good for the average group. Mostly that will be rolling on tables, appropriate for terrain. 10% of the time to rolling, 50% to writing what the tables say, 20% to drawing and coloring (4-5 minutes on a letter sized paper) and 20% to polishing it up.

The 3 maps. These maps have to be workable in 3 scales: Strategic, Encounter and Tactical. Trying to imagine my own limitations as a GM, I have to have a map players can make strategic decisions.
Strategic maps. These are maps that allow the players to plan how they are going about the adventure. Ideally, they can allow the GM to prep in more detail by being moder detailed themselves. Basically the GM takes into account, dangerous terrain where encounters are more likely to happen or the climax of the adventure.
Encounter Map. This is where encounters happen. Each hex is a Kilometer in length. Hiking (2.5mph or 4kph) straight would take 15minutes. On a map, this can be at the scale of 1cm to 2.5cm (1inch). Although because trails would typically be winding, rising, and falling, double the time it takes at default. So the default wilderness hex takes 30mins to negotiate or 15mins if straight like a imperial highway.
Each Hex will be marked by coordinates and the GM will have tools to generate randomly what can be found, what physical obstacles, natural features, subtle land marks in a separate sheet. typically traversing the entire map takes about 4-5 hours (about 15-20 hexes across), which is a good segment of the day.
  • Hexes and Revealing. Fog of war can be created by Painting an acetate or plastic sheet over the map and erasing to reveal the terrain in the hex (or some similar technique).
  • Time and Maximum Endurance. Increments of time are 15min increments. This is because characters can Double time and spend half the amount of time or slowed down eating 50% (45mins) to doubling the amount of time they would spend (1hour). Given that normal human high range performance is at 1liter or quart per hour of heavy exertion characters can tire very quickly (B426 under dehyration and Starvation) AND double the servings of rations. Realistically a GM can impose unrecoverable FP penalty when these energy requirements are not met. This stress Strategic thinking severely. Consider a Cut-off or Exit strategy when things are going no where.
  • Behind the GM's screen. Imagine this kind of Wilderness encounter where there are other scouts, forces, or monsters moving along the hexes. The GM has his own map and moves units on macro time (30min increments).
  • Distances of 1KM hexes. At these distances only very few and tiny clues can give away what is happening in the other hex. Wind Direction, Observation of Animal Behavior (birds taken to flight, circling birds, wild animals, unusual animal behavior, etc.) and reactions (Survival check), Dust Clouds etc. (examples of these can be found in Sun Tzu's Art of War).
  • Ideal Tools. Google Earth will be a very useful cheat for this. Slap on a hex and draw over the villages and other locations and your pretty much set.
Tactical Maps. These are maps the GM can quickly draw (5mins average) on their plastic covered hexes with colored white board markers. Ideally there are a legend or language matrix of symbols and colors that will allow the GM to communicate very effectively and clearly in the short amount of time he will draw.
Examples would be small x's in of the same color as the area boundaries to symbolize the whole area if of that color, instead of taking the time to paint the whole area. Diagonal lines, Cross hatched Lines, Crisscrossing lines, and Swirling Lines all mean some thing in the legend.
Colors represent what appears to be what. Example Green for plant and vegetation, black for natural ground earth or stones, blue for man-made structures, and red is for notation.

FP Tracking (GURPS).
  • Temperature. beyond the <1c>26C (B430 and B435). Dont forget Wind Chill that reduce the temperature further and Humidity that Increases the heat factor up to +10C. From experience, shade can mean lasting 2 to 10x longer in some cases.
  • Fit, Unfit, Very Fit, or Very Unfit. These all work well with the 15min increments.
  • HT based skills. Haviing good HT matters even more! The penalties of low FP are very bad B426. Realistically

Tasks you will find in the Wilderness Hexes.
  • DX. checks, balance and footing... Unskilled, emphasis on athletics can be enforced by making all tasks that fall under a skill considered default.
  • HT. energy to shrug and flexibility... Like DX, HT rolls where which a skill covers should be at a default penalty.
  • Flexibility. A character who is more fit, can have joints take more punishment. Tasksthat require reach, odd feats of balance, and using weaker muscles mean rolling HT or sprain, pull or twist a joint or muscle. Carefull characters with experience will be trained to stop, fall or react in a way they hurt something less important.
  • Climbing DX or HT. When hands come into the picture, it becomes climbing. If it is an obstacle that doesn't need any hands, it is an Acrobatics (Parkour).
  • Stealth DX or HT. Moving Stealthily takes effort, if you read up on the methods of sneaking: Apache Spirit Walk, Ninja Stealth step and Ghost Walking these are all tiring and hard. They are more HT than DX when you are doing them for the long minutes leading up to an encounter.
  • Acrobatics DX or HT. Parkour! The practicalities of Parkour is being able to travers difficult terrain at near or AT Running Speed. A cinematic take on the Mexican tribe Tarahumara are a precedent of Acrobatics (Parkour).
  • Jumping DX or HT. Note the Jumping Stats, and consider the extra effort
  • Running DX or HT. Running on Flat, level and firm ground needs no DX checks, unless for added feats like stopping abruptly. Flat/Open, level, and firm terrain is DX-based at +5. The BEST Pre-Modern (like roman roads) or Manicured Pitches are TDM of +0 to Run on. Cleared fields and most heavily used trails (which are packed earth) are TDM-1 to Run DX. It is really easy it is to twist an ankle or knee when running at full speed, especially when encumbered (add encumbrance penalty to checks).
  • Tracking Per or Int. Finding tracks are Per, Identifying or processing the clues uses IQ.
  • Search Per or Int. Searching is Observation in the immediate very narrow area. A small burroughs, mixed into a dirt patch, in the tall grass of your intimidate area.
  • Navigation (Land) IQ or Per. Finding old, hidden, faint paths is a Perception-Based Task. Imagine broken and unused paths and how there are so far apart and are counter-intuitive.

Similarities to Dungeons.
  • Puzzles are Tracks, Old Trails, Camp Leavings, Forensics etc. I admit it is a bit CSI but if you imagine a scene as vividly enough and get what happened there straight the clues are easier to figure out or extrapolate.
  • Corridors and Hallways are Paths of Least Resistance. In the wilderness almost any direction can be taken, its just depends on the work you are able to afford.
  • Traps are Natural Hazards, Natural hazards are anything that would force the party to linger too long, give away their position, or be in tactically unsound location when an enemy is encountered. They are just as difficult to judge and deceptive as any Fantasy Dungeon trap. You never know if the ground can support your weight, the same way even arborial monkeys never know if a branch can support their weight.
  • Treasure can be found in every area. Treasure can be information, water, forage, or valuable remains. It depends in your framing.
Wilderness Hazards.
  • Sharp Edges and Pitfalls. There are a lot of sharp edges and pitfalls in the wilderness. The more wilderness you see, the more you realize how dangerous it really is. In natural terrain, what can be so mundane like a rocky outcropping, strewn jagged rocks, and grass hidden earth can be very dangerous when forced to run or move quickly. Shallow Pitfalls in a run, slip, or fall can cause one to fall, injure a joint, or trigger a set of consequences that add up to a very bad accident. Sharp edges can cut tough fabric, flesh and bone all by accident. Plants and erosion change the landscape and hide many of these natural hazards.
  • Thorns. Thorns are natural plant and animal defenses. Some can only scratch you or damage protective clothing, while others can grow large enough to stab through a limb or torso and damage vital organs or arteries. .
  • Allergens and Toxins. Spores, Pollen, Dust, and other Invisible and Toxic substances can cause allergies, rashes, paralysis or death. Even terrible smells can cause nausea, irritate eyes, nose and mouth, give problems eating and penalize concentration and alertness.
  • Parasites. Insects, Viruses, some plants, critters and small animals can act as parasites. They can directly draw nutrients from the characters, from their supplies, or add to the discomfort that prevents them from resting or recuperating. They can penalize the characters in alertness and concentration, fatigue, or worse drain them of life or kill them outright.
  • Mimics. Things that appear not like something else happens in nature a lot. They can be as subtle as mimicking a kind of wild forage, herb, or water source. More insidious are mimicks that throw off pathfinding, survival and tracking skills. Most mimics, would be traps that lure something, which can be the players or something very dangerous into the area of the PCs. Some mimics, use PCs as a tool for reproduction carrying seeds, pollen or microbes to either attract something.
  • Dangerous Ground. Most often, the terrain will be disadvantageous for the PCs if enemies were to push them against them, entrap them, or push them where they will have a harder time surviving or defending themselves. This is not just Humanoids who are able to exploit Dangerous Ground, hunting packs, predators, and monsters can be the easily have the natural cunning to draw PCs into these situations.
  • Fauna and Foliage. Then there are the Direct Threats, some creature of some form that is dangerous to the player. It can be a simple and direct as a pack of wolves.

Notes on Strength.In my run of GURPS there are no strength checks (specifically Basic Lift). Strength is like Weight, Height or any measurable attribute that is not "tested". What is tested is HT, how efficiently the body can generate the energy to perform the work. Performing action that exceed the Work Capacity of a Characters are covered by extra effort rules (B356).
To illustrate,
I would say a "tangle of vines" obstacle needs ST10. A character with ST11 will have +2 on their HT (obstacle ST/Character ST). The character can push through the vines with no FP loss. The HT check is modified by the relationship of the ST requirement to the Character's ST, encumbrance and bulk.

ST Ratio Rules.
Take the Obstacle ST requirement and compare them to the Character Strength. Divide the larger ST by the smaller ST, this is the percentile difference. Then divide this percentile difference by 5%. If the Character has the higher ST, he gets the resulting value as HT bonus to the roll, if he/she is the lower stat it is an HT penalty.

Taken further. use this system when Making Wrestling or Judo Checks against characters when they are trying to overpower each other. It just represents who was quicker in bringing the necessary energy to bear. This is done in lieu of opposed ST checks.

So Incredibly Fit ST10 joe with HT15, is quick to apply necessary leverage on his stronger opponent's limbs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

[GURPS] Magic Problems II

A problem of the magic system that can be annoying is that, mastery of a more complex form of magic is entirely independent of the more fundamental skill. A character can sink 1cp on ignite, shape fire, and create fire, and 20 on fireball.

there is a simple solution to this, and its been done before in the game system. If certain spells are skills, why not go all the way and apply technique sub-system to it. Begin a specific Thaumaturgical Discipline, partiuclar to a school of magic. The most basic spells there after are Hard techniques that default -4 or -6 (if VH) to this skill with the same non-spell prerequisites. Every more advance spell, defaults -4 or -6 to the technique it requires.

Consider 35 points:
  • IQ12; DX10; Magery (Fire) 0 (5)
  • Thaumaturgy (Fire School of Magic) (VH) IQ+3 [20]-15
  • Ignite (Hard; Default Thaumaturgy: Fire School+0) [5]-15
  • Shape Fire (Hard; Default Ignite -4) [1*]-11
  • Create Fire (Hard; Default Ignite -3) [2]-12
  • Fire Ball (Hard; Default the Average of Create and Shape Fire -4) [1*]-7!
  • Spell Throwing (E) DX [1]-10

*because hard techniques require 2 points to budge the default modifier. Consider 1cp a 0 modifier budget that gives the character the ability to perform the feat.

Notice that more complex spells cannot be better than the fundamental techniques. if Mr. fire wants to master Fireball, he has to master the Thaumaturgical school and all the basic techniques first.

Combine this with the:
x6 (I think I might go with x5 time modifier on ALL spells)
and the Takes Extra time and Haste Rules.

I prefer my system compared to this (35points)
  • IQ12; DX10; Magery (Fire) 0 [5]
  • Thaumaturgy (VH) IQ-3 [1]-9
  • Ignite (H) IQ-2 [1]-10
  • Shape Fire (H) IQ-2 [1]-10
  • Create Fire (H) IQ-2 [1]-10
  • Fire Ball (H) IQ+5 [24]-17!
  • Spell Throwing (E) DX+1 [2]-11

I do admit its a bit easier to min max, but

Monday, July 12, 2010

[GURPS] Magic Problems

The magic rules in B237 under Magic Rituals are very odd when you compare them to Time Spent Rules in B346. Note how as the Skill goes up the amount of Time and effort to cast the spell goes down.

In my opinion what should happen is this: Spells should be calibrated to the Hasty Action Rules under Haste B346. Spells taking HALF the time is a -5 Feat, which means it requires a skill of 20 to have a >95% certainty or looking at it in another way, a spellcaster with skill 15, can performing this amazing feat at the cost of 45% certainty!

On the other Hand, when you look at the Skill-9 entry you already have 1/3 chance of success and the casting time and cost are double! Isn't the risk punishment or deferent enough. If you multiply the risk and the additional gains for high skill you have a very steep rising curve of economic profit for the action. My Opinion is to make it a more reasonable Climb.

In my opinion, what should happen is that at Skill-9 where the Spellcaster multiplies the time to of the action by 32 to have a 90% certainty of success basically makes a spell like Ignite fire take 32 to seconds or half a minute, a 2d Fireball a whole minute.

Nerfing Magic in upcomming Fantasy Game.
x6 all Casting Time. Since the default is 1 second, at 6 seconds a 3d fireball will take 18 second. Hasty casting will be a feat of -9 will bring it down to 2 seconds. Extra-Time casting of x32 will take 10 minutes! Analyze magic will take 6 hours!
Low Magic. Basic part of Nerfing magic. A general -5.
Rolling For Spells. There should be some random element in spell access. some, the most basic ones are very easy to access.
Infrastructural and Economic Consequences. 2% of the modern population in a developed country is in food production. Thats how effective and efficient technology has become. It allows these 2% to make 150x more food and all other specialties and export. An economy that can support a BIG chunk of its GDP in security or army. In economics, Armies are not like Businesses which grow to meet the demands and quality of life of its population. Armies and Espionage is the price we pay for a quality of life that we can never figure out how to cut. Even if spells that peer into the future affecting the Information Asymetry, all the progress Magic may be providing may just be all drained by the armies, spies, diviners, monsters and special equipment and investments made in defense of each land.

The trick of finding Equilibrium is enforcing an appropriate cost to the Magical Action. I will draw on a historical era and just look at how many engineers, architects, scientists, managers, builders and planners to keep civilization running and convert all those peoples to mages. Cost of their education and skill, the same as that of an engineer or scientist... as well as the gravity they are capable of given time and resources.

Basically what I could do is tak 15C economic data and converting to swords and sorcery.

Has this Happened to You?

My bros and I were the first to buy the KODT Bundle of Troubles 1-7 and bring them to the Philippines. It was the first and Everyone wanted to borrow it. Being gullible and naive we lent them out, now they're gone.

What sucks is that, its not that they wanted to steal the books. Its mostly that they borrowed it, but without the respect of taking care of something 3 young boys SAVED UP and POOLED their money for with their low buying PESOS. So the books got torn up, damaged, destroyed, stolen and lost.

Sigh... books should not be lent out, unless the person gives you something of equal value collateral. Raised differently, I feel to responsible for what I borrowed... thats why I'd rather not borrow. Screening for who to lend too is just too complicated... so never lend out books on rare exceptions.

Pondering different types of gamers or reasons why people get into gaming

Thinking more about old school and the complaints of the ilk regarding the more negative stereotype with the new generation.

One interesting evolution about the games is that they have been made to be more consistent, robust and easier to use. Imagine the GM and Players of yore as work and responsibilities had finally caught up to him/her. Market Share dips, and these gamers voice their reasons: ease the prep or prerequisites, more robust and consistent rules. Then what happens, the market and makers listens and begin to put more work in order to help these people out.

As the games became easier, the cost to get into the hobby got smaller. More people came in. Some like the previous adopters, but found the hobby just slightly out of reach before. Then there are those who were very different and had a very different view about the game.

Eventually the gamer market grew and inevitably it changed. You have another group of people who came into the hobby with a different take and a very different point of view of the same familiar things. As the market diversified, tastes diversified. Old and New got to sample different genres, flavors and styles. As with much of human experience, subjectivity and personal experiences win out arbitrary lines of difference. We have our old and new schools.

Has anyone looked at their own personal evolution and change in the hobby and admitted to the "bragging rights", the in-jokes and stories that prevented new friend from being made, arguments about style, or when unhealthy amounts of projection and escape were pilled into the hobby? Getting into the hobby when I was in highschool in the late 90s and seeing the values of various groups up till now, same pitfalls are still there. what changed was a more recent adopter.

Although something has really changed, a trend that is very much different from when the games were just trying to be better. The quintessential game fictional GMs like BA, Nitro, and Pete keep aspiring to seem to be a more distant memory. It seems the new systems and its simpler and simpler evolutions are headed to the opposite the direction of the earlier innovators were going.

When the first Gamers took their wargame and decided to perform actions using only their own logic, reasoning and imagination to resolve they opened up infinity... the new systems seek to simplify to the point that infinity is eliminated and all there is are the very very specific rules.

When the Old School Gamers complain of skills are doing the thinking for the player, they are largely correct. The system was designed so that a player with very little or no investment in the gaming-problem solving skills can just jump in. The rewards were designed to intensify the imersion by providing a more fantastic and addictive escape from reality. They were more disconnected to real world sensibilities that sh*t happened and sometimes there are no rewards. The games were designed to hook these new crowd into the hobby and identify themselves as Gamers. The idea was to get them to brand themselves as Gamers so they would be more manipulatable... of course there was no intent to teach them these hard won skills that cost patience and so much time gamers of old so loved.

It seems, the last bastion of the old school is not the new products but the compilation of skills, problem solving habits and outlook to adversity that most of the veterans attribute to the hobby. In the end, its not the game system but how their hard work, camaraderie, fair play and fun changed their lives and outlook on life.

As to replicating all that, I think it does come from any gaming material. It comes from the Player or GM and the values he/she projects in life. That is what people see and what attracts them to what these people find fun and interesting. When they take up the dice with such people, it is only natural that learn and realize the usefulness and the effectives of the gaming medium.

Simply put A Good Person, who happens to love the Game is a Good Gamer. Their presence and character are where the next generations of good gamers will come from... by helping in the development of other Good People who happen to love Gaming.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Less Investment on ME, more on THE character

I find it easier, to role-play a character who I've not invested so much effort in. Role-playing someone very detached from my own personality or who I am, lets me make decisions based on their personality instead of my own ego-in trying to build my investment.

I guess thats what the random character generators are all trying to instill vs the more controlled point builds. Letting "the dice fall where they may" requires a detachment of a story teller who knows that death, loss or adversity is an important part of the story.

So a PC being run by a fellow story teller, who likes his puppet to be very engaging, imperfect and like-able to the audience but lets him go down the path fate has chosen for him without spoiling the ending or the story for the rest of the audience.

Love this post about Behavioral Economics. Game Theory Gamers out there may find the concepts helps understanding player action and behavior.

If GURPS Fantasy only had a random generator like HARN... wait a minute, I could just generate a harn character and just convert it to GURPS... Better, I just get one of those well fleshed out NPCs they have in the website convert it to GURPS without any POINT notes. Yeah, that would be sweet running a modified old school 1e Dungeon module or Harn module with those characters.

Hard decisions in an RPG; KODT helps.

I gotta blame it on KODT, the comic makes me want to role-play. I can really relate to what the GM agonizes through when characters act psychopathic and unrealistically. Reading more on Emotional Intelligence, I gain more appreciation on subject matters like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I got a lot of ideas when I saw excerpts about Restrepo, that documentary about the lives of soldiers in isolation during their afgan tour.

In the traveller game, my best friends character, min-maxed marine with subdermal armor took my dying character and used him as a human shield.

Since rounds are simultaneous, Adrian, our mild mannered civilian angel-investor had just gone limp from a shotgonne scatter when he was caught by a enhanced marine and used as a body shield witnessed by his his young and scrappy bodyguard, Finn. The young man, never saw such inhuman disregard for a comrade especially his mentor. After the battle, when the marine Maguay Jones turned his back, he basically let loose with the primitive alien WWI submachinegun. He kept shooting, ignoring the "captian" who was called him out to stop. Finn just kept walking, dropping the submachine gun when it ran out and taking his autopistol to finish him off at the head. The subdermal armor more visible more than ever, I could Finn was asking himself
"WHY!?! you're a freaking monster! You could have taken those slug throwers, why did you have to use him as a shield!" - Finn thought.
Before he even had a chance to avenge his principal and mentor, he was gunned down with a MG, by the captain. I found that over kill, in the point as a director and the audience.

No one tried to use Psychology bring him out of Shock because the only two people who had the skill were my characters.

Considering what I should do, before the act, I imagined what one of those soldiers would have felt, or I would have felt if I saw my captain abused like that. In many airsoft games, the cheating and the trash talking, it wouldn't be hard to lose one's temper, see red and resort to violence.

Its funny to be a Psychopath in DnD, Hackmaster or in stories of KODT. I guess if I were playing DnD, and the game was like a slapstic comedy that would slide. But, if it was an episode of Firefly, I think the audience and myself would be scratching our heads if it the reaction wasn't appropriate.

After the act everyone did agree it was the right thing to do. Strangely, before the action was about to happen I pointed out to my BF that it is highly unrealistic for anyone to take an ally's recently dead body (because death is not that instantaneous as they would make you believe) and use it as a shield without any consequences. Quickly the term: Marine was used in defense... of course studies regarded PTSD have a different take on what a REAL soldier would do in a situation. I was imagining Nitro, what his reaction would be if the term Marine was besmirched in that way. Being one doesn't excuse a person to act like a psychopath and I feel confident many would agree.

In my critique, a Captain should not have tried to gun down a Civilian Bodyguard and should have first made a check at the context of the action and the appropriate response. Good leaders are not trigger happy, and when it comes to morally ambiguous circumstances they quickly weigh rational action against the humane one. In these instances, they would use diplomacy or pep talk to snap a soldier or civilian out of the trance.

I'm happy that both characters died, while the marine survived (yes he took point blank burst shots, rolled 2 11s). It would have been weird and unfair if the marine died and I wouldn't not be able to face by BF so easily. I was worried he would take it personally, and the character death and his surviving despite the action would have very interesting consequences if played out- if the players decide to act on it. I guess if they do decide to act on it, it would be more interesting and people would begin thinking: how would a person really react in this circumstance?

It was fun that like the old school tradition, I gave my characters to the GM after they died. That was cool.

Freethinking and RPGs... hmmm...

Anyway, our GM said it would not be a great feat to introduce 2 new characters in our game. There are XPs being dished out for RPing, its just more interesting to watch in the mind's eye when humans interact more realistically.

All that KODT, made me appreciate characters dying for the actions they did with the information and the behavior they have established. None of this Acting on Player information or motives. Anyway, I didn't spend any effort making or min-maxing the character, I just rolled them both up in the 1001 Traveller UPP book (really just rolled and took what came up in a 1d100 in the merchant section).

Strangely, I've think of BA and Sara as the Quintessential RPG players and wonder how they would have played it out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

GURPSing Theory of multiple intelligences

I'm trying to write up the intelligences as Talents using Theory of multiple intelligences
Interestingly 15cp Talent has NO limits B90. (13 or more related skill).

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence is the Int that handles a lot of the serious scientific and modern cognitive heavy work. all the things we owe to technology, innovation, and reason is handled by this intelligence.

Check this out Breaking it down:
Raw Int (minus Will and Per) is 10cp! Thats cheap and easy to min-max especially with racial templates. Thats +1 per 10cps to any IQ skill. Now looking at talents, the most expensive talents has a finite (as long as it is related) and expensive bonus of +1 every 15cp with a limit of +4. Talents are more nerfed than the IQ... which is weird because it makes the dominant strategy is to max out IQ and using talents becoms a draw back. Talents detail character and express their personality because they act on their inclinations.

As broad as Logical-Mathematic Intelligence can be, it would be better if it was broken down to 10 point groups. Now abstracting or rationalizing would be very difficult, because like many people LMInt is not my strongest suit.

Real World Role: the Agent aka Pushers

The Rogue is supposed to be an adventure that lives by hits wits more than his blade. The value of Wits is pretty much what many RPGs escalate towards. Hacking and Slashing isn't as savory when tactics and strategies employed allowed arrange the situation to give them the advantage.

Looking at intelligence or cunning, it is amazing how simply by re-arranging certain conditions something totally different comes out of it. In combat, imagine positioning where forces surround and divide players vs positions that allow the players to funnel weaker forces against more superior ones. In social and diplomatic puzzles, it is finding and converting a resource or leverage you have into something that can influence someone who can give you something in return.

My definition of Rogues are those who resolve problems with their witt and cunning, and not through direct violence. A kind of Rogue that exists in the real world are Courtiers, Brokers, Valets, Sergeants (another term for servant), Entrepreneurs, and Agents. More specifically, I want to simplify on the concept of the Agent: someone who looks after the his master or patron's interests because his own are rewarded by doing so.

The kinds of Rogues I've mentioned before: Courtiers, Valets, Brokers, etc. are all kinds and forms of agents. They represent the interests of parties more powerful than themselves. A courtier represents his Lord, the Arch Bishop or Patriarch, A Merchant Prince, the Guilde, A far flung kingdom etc.. Valets, and Sergeants represent powerful individuals when their presence needs to manifest indirectly in the events these agents oversee.

So what is it that people look for in representation: Judgement or the ability to know what is best for their master/employer/patron. Even in real life, among employees, comrades and peers our representative must be the one with the best presence of mind to see that things occur in a particular way.

Like the diplomacy I'd like to break this down to something simpler and easier to digest. The first set of skills are those that involve information gathering. This is the most basic agent. Spies, Scouts, Representatives, Diplomats, Scribes, and Couriers all come back or send information to their masters.

2 fundamental Skills: Observation and Writing. the most basic is to Perceive and the be able to communicate it accurately and in detail. Assume Language is a prerequisite.
Next group of skills deal with Information gathering into greater depth: Research, Body Language, Psychology, Detect Lies, Interview/Interrogation, Administration (Bureaucracy), Accounting, Merchantile (analyzing basic economic condition), Military Intelligence.

All these skills, will be useless if there was no way to communicate it readily and effectively to the parties concerned. Of course useful set of skills are: Languages, Cryptography (ciphering information), Holdout (hiding and disguising information), Slight of Hand, etc...

Pushing. Above, intelligence gathering is useful but very difficult to use when information has a short expiration date. In courts, marketplaces, empty hallways of the palace, parties, and bedchambers Agents primarily push. They make things happen in a way that is advantageous to his master. One thing is to react, which requires information to address such an appropriate action the other and more simpler course of action is to CAUSE an Action.

Take away the daily reports and the meticulous details, a highly skilled Agent PUSHES his masters agenda. He courts the right people, puts into the air the right kind of information, and manipulates the information environment to be a certain way, so as the subjects to act a certain way.

Pushing Skills: Public Speaking (Oration or Storytelling), Acting- playing a role, Persuasion (Pushing the right buttons, framing information in a way the audience is most receptive), Arguing (Diplomacy, Philosophy, theology, Law skill in GURPS), writing,

These skills all serve to push, while the more complex information gathering skills point to WHERE to push. Use Religious Righteousness to push a cause, Play to the Weakness of the Lord, be it his Pride, Envy, Fear, Lust, Greed, Vanity etc, Play to the Crowd's Desires: demonizing a foe or people, make them see themselves as liberators, civilizers, and bringers of justice. Play to the self-interest manifesting as altruism.

The Agent Pushes the mark to act: to declare war, to wed, to spend, to tax, to punish, to build, to ostracize, to associate, to court, to move, etc... all towards what would be to the advantage of the Agent's master.

When I write my Agent Template, it will be a LONG and arbitrary list of builds designed to Push. there are tried and true strategies, but unlike other templates Agents are better when they build on their diverse background and strengths than to follow the most advantageous and traveled routes.