Thursday, January 26, 2012

[GURPS Mass Combat] Ancient Armies Part 1

This is a Part 1, I'll follow up later on. I've been sitting on this for about 3 weeks now. I can't find any more time to add a greater level of detail.  

TL and army organization. You can give tactics, soldiering (no soldiers till TL1), leadership and strategy a TL. Intelligence Analysis (Military) becomes available in TL2.

How Organizational Technology Levels Works:
  • Concepts can be gained and lost. Some Eras gain heights that are lost and are relearned.
  • Higher TL occurs when key/fundamental concepts are mastered, which allow for more sophisticated concepts to be employed.
  • The primary focus is organizational and conceptual systems. These discount tools.  

TL0 - Warrior Bands
War Leader. Organizational limit of 50 combatants, modify coordination teamwork and planning rolls. Every 5 more, -1 penalty to tactics checks. Inversely, less 10 increases the ease of coordinating up to a maximum of +4 or 10 combatants. At TL1 and onward, double the limit to 100 combatants and every 10 more is -1; ever 20 less is +1 to a maximum of +4 or 20 combatants. 

GURPS Rules Terms: There are only up to Two "Military" Ranks.  

TL1 - The First Armies

  • Army of Sargon the first and his successors (Mesepotamian Civilizatin)
  • Armies of the Xia and Shang  
Generalship: Now War Bands are capable of organizing into a much larger group. There are now formalized ranks of leadership and sub-organization. Army organization reaches Six military ranks. Organizational Limit of around 1000, -1 to coordination, organization and planning for every 100 more for the General; +1 for every 200 less, maximum of +4 or 200 subordinates.
Organization is about ratios of leaders to subordinates and support staff. Take your current officer corps and look at their optimal subordinate ratio, for every 10% more people they have to lead beyond the ideal, they suffer a -1 penalty to their organizational, coordination and teamwork rolls. 
Organizational Penalties: When Lacking enough Trained Officers (one can always promote someone to an officer position), Generals have penalties. For every 10% beyond officer capacity 
Logistics:  Administration Skill for tests of logistics, cannot be higher than Soldier and History (Military) Skill. 

TL2 - Drilled and Organized Tactical Units 

  • Armies at the Height of the Hitite, Egyptian, and Assyrian Empires
  • Armies of the Punic War
  • Armies of the Spring and Autumn period 
Organizational Limit of around 3000, -1 to coordination, organization and planning for every 500 more for the General; +1 for every 250 less, maximum of +4 or 2000 subordinates. 
Informal Military Education: All Strategy, Tactics and Military Intelligence cannot be higher than Military (History) and Current Affairs (Military) Skill.   

Soldiering: Soldiers have fighting styles and perks.
Military Intelligence: Military is an informal skill. 

TL3 - Military Operations
This is when there was a greater and formal understanding of military operations. At this level of organization, the matter of logistics is now delegated to a specialist and more efficient methods and discipline are developed for arranging and acquiring supplies.

  • Armies of Alexander
  • Armies of the Spring and Autumn period 
  • Roman Legions after the Punic War, like the Marian Reforms; until the Imperial Era.
  • The Crusades.

Organizational Limit of around 5,000, -1 to coordination, organization and planning for every 1,000 more for the General; +1 for every 500 less, maximum of +4 or 3000 subordinates. 
Formal Military Education: All Administration (Military), Strategy, Tactics and Military Intelligence cannot be higher than Military (History) and Current Affairs (Military) Skill plus 2.   
Soldiering: Soldiering checks allow characters to know how to prepare supplies and their kit for a number of days, how long it takes to travel and dress for the weather, how set up camp, and how to prep basic fortifications.  

TL4 - Combined arms and battlefield 
This is when tactical units were able to maneuver and deviate from their initial plans. Tactical units is now made up of heterogeneous elements: a mix of archers, pikemen, arqubusiers, heavy infantry etc. taking advantage of the best ability when needed. An example are armies skilled enough to clamp down into a defensive posture like tortoise or pike hedge, but open up to make ranged attacks or skirmishers to quickly make forays and return to the safety of the formation. 

  • Armies of the Warring States or the 3 Kingdomes Era
  • Imperial Roman Legions
  • Early National Armies of the Renaissance 

Improved Formal Military Education: All Administration (Military), Strategy, Tactics and Military Intelligence cannot be higher than Military (History) and Current Affairs (Military) Skill plus 4.   
Logistics:  There is an Administration specialization (military) and Soldier specialization of (logistics).

Armies of Sargon and his Successors TL1
These represents the armies of the Sumerian City States, up to the rise of Hitite and Egyptian empires that eclipsed them. The Xia and Shang Dynasty probably has a similar set up.
Poor Inferior Heavy Chariot
Poor Inferior Bowmen
Good Good Medium Infantry
Poor Inferior Heavy Infantry 

Armies at the height of the Egyptian and Hittite Empire TL2. 
These are the armies that moved east to conquer the Sumerian City States.
Basic Average Bowmen
Good Good Light Chariots 
Fine Good Heavy Chariots 
Good Good Medium Infantry
Poor Inferior Heavy Infantry 

Assyrian Empire TL2
These are the armies that succeeded after the one of the early Dark Ages (the fall of the Mycenean Greeks, Egyptians and Hittite Empires; Their apparent and near simultaneous collapse).   
Basic Inferior Light Artillery
Basic Average Light Cavalry 
Basic Average Horse Archers
Basic Average Light Chariots 
Basic Average Heavy Chariots
Basic Average Bowmen
Basic Average Heavy Infantry
Basic Average Medium Infantry  

Armies of the Zhou Dynasty TL2

Basic Inferior Light Artillery
Basic Average Light Cavalry 
Basic Average Horse Archers
Basic Average Light Chariots 
Basic Average Heavy Chariots
Basic Average Bowmen 

Basic Average Heavy Infantry
Basic Average Medium Infantry

Armies of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States TL3 
This is the rise of the Mandarin Bureaucrat because of the innovations brought about by Taoism and Confucianism. This had lead to a greater level of organization and professionalism of the bureaucracy. This also affected army organization, particularly operational organization because of the extensive state administration skills being applied to military operations.

Sun Tzu and his successors gave the era a Technological Leap, they grant the army in their control an the ability to function at TL4 organization, while the rest functioned as TL3. To fully take advantage of TL4 abilities, a kingdom had to have sufficient funds to train their soldiers until they reach elite levels.

Basic Inferior Light Artillery
Basic Average Light Cavalry 
Basic Average Horse Archers
Basic Average Bowmen 

Basic Average Heavy Infantry
Basic Average Medium Infantry

  Basic Average Light Chariots 
  Basic Average Heavy Chariots

Persian (Archemaenid) Empire Armies TL2 
Successors of the Assyrians, the archemaenid empire stretched so far as to eclipse all the previous empires before it. The many cutures it came to rule had their own special military expertise (allied Infantry and cavalry); they reorganized their warrior elite to sustain their heavy cavalry manpower.  

  Good Average Heavy Infantry
  Basic Average Bowmen
Allied Cavalry
  Poor Good Light Cavalry
  Basic Average Light Cavalry
  Basic Average Horse Archers
Persian Warrior Elite
  Good Average Heavy Cavalry
Allied Infantry
  Basic Average Light Infantry
  Basic Average Bowmen
  Basic Average Medium Infantry
  Slingers - Poor Average Bowmen
Indian Elephants
  Basic Average Warbeasts  
Other Units
  Basic Average Light Artillery
  Basic Average Light Chariots 
  Basic Average Heavy Chariots

Greek and Macedonian Armies TL2. 
The military assets depends on the region, its tradition, economy and circumstance. Some City States only have very professional warrior elites, others are more mercantile with great economic resources, others have unique conditions favoring marine, terrain, cavalry and recon expertise

Some City States have more numerous but less well equipped and trained Hopelites, like Athens, Corinth and Thebes. Some City States, like the Kingdom of Macedon, have the Pikemen Tradition. Scithian Allies provide the Cavalry. The GM determines the social political and economic organization of the City State, and that determines what kind of units it can provide.

  Good Good Heavy Infantry
Corinthian, Theban and Athenian 
  Good Average Heavy Infantry with Marine feature
  Basic Average Pikemen 
  Peltas - Basic Average Light infantry
  Basic Average Medium infantry
  Basic Average Bowmen 
Scythian Cavalry
  Basic Average Light Cavalry
  Basic Average Horsearcher
 Basic Good Bowmen 

Alexander's Army TL3 
Alexander makes the organization TL3 for the army under his command. Other greek heroes can be considered as effective.
Average Good Heavy Infantry
Basic Average Light Artillery
Allied Cavalry
 Poor Good Light Cavalry

 Basic Average Warbeast  
Barbarian Allies 
  Basic Average Horse Archers
  Basic Average Heavy Cavalry
  Basic Average Bowmen
  Basic Inferior Heavy Infantry

Polybian Legion TL3
The Roman Republic and Kingdom creates units based on socio-economic status, with a military tradition. Each City provides Velites, Hastatii, Principes and Triarii. Since there is a military levy, the distribution of wealth determines the availability of certain units.
  Slingers- poor inferior bowmen
  Javeliners - poor inferior medium infantry
  poor inferior heavy infantry
basic average heavy infantry
Good Good heavy infantry
Basic Average Light cavalry 

For the Next Parts: either more samples of various armies and sample armies. I really have to get GURPS City Stats (add a level of detail like harn manor) at the scale of the region.  I already have the spreadsheet, just need to add another column for yearly operational costs (professional level, levy level). 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GURPS SKill: Professional Skill

The Professional Skill. When I was in school I had a very difficult time getting what made up a professional skill, of course now things are way different. I realized a helpful way, for myself, to describe it than the way the did it in Basic Set.

Professional Skill is the mastery of all the metrics and rules of thumb, and processes of a given profession. Metrics are the measurable or observable values that matter in the given profession. Rules of thumb are intuitive and abstract values and what to do or how to react when encountered; they are what to do with a given metric.

An example of rules of thumb are the Ratios. In every profession there are metrics that have to keep with certain ratios that help identify assumptions and how to identify root cause of problems. A very well known example of ratios is the Bakers Dozen, a baker knows he always needs to make a little extra in case of accidents, presentation purposes or sampling.

If the profession is part of a larger organization there comes much larger and greater amounts of ratios to track and understand. In a Low-Tech setting bureaucracies, soldiering, guilds, and organized religion have very complex set of ratios.

Example of Ratios for a soldier:Organizational Ratios, how many soldiers to one lesser leader, how many smaller teams to a leader, how many men to a company, how many companies to higher leader etc. Then there are how many support staff for an leader; how much supplies per soldier or team or section or squad or company or army etc. per day, per campaign season, per year. Then there are the ratios of their opponents and their own organizational ratios.

Guilds, Bureaucracies, and organized Religions have similar ratios to be mastered. Social Elites also have such ratios to master, but you can base them mostly on bureaucratic profession. This is because some social classes serve as the Literate Elites: examples are Senatorial Class, at one point the Equestrians, Various Priestly Caste of various cultures and the Mandarins.   

Processes are also a big part of Professional Skill. Processes are the way things are organized and done; processes also affect etiquette and internal status of an organization and profession. These sometimes are so extensive in Bureaucracies and Merchantile Organization, like Guilds or Merchant Princes; that run States or Major Economic Polities that they fall its best captured in Administration Skill. Professional Skills can default more complex feats at -5.

Chain of Command and Escalation. Who you should report too, who is their boss, and who is your boss' boss' boss. This also includes how to address them, show respect, present one's self or present information.

Vetting and Checks and Balances. Processes are also more important in making sure an action is executed well. This is a more elaborate form of Chain of Command and Escallation, with the purpose of getting things done right and maximizing the mental resources of an organization. Of course some organizations are worth crap, and it shows in their Vetting and Checks and Balances.

These are the two primary purposes of Internal Processes in the Professional Skill, anything more technical deals with other skills outside the Professional skill.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[GURPS] Hazards of Lower Status (or being too Cheap)

In case you've ever wondered if it is worthwhile to save some extra cash and live below a certain status. This is mainly a reminder when players game the systems, which they should, to see if there is any consequences to choosing the cheapest options in all things (not the most cost effective options).

It begins with where you live.

Status is not just appearance, or an aesthetic. One of the most keenly felt aspects of status is where you live. In Low-Tech and High-Tech settings this means Sanitation, Protection from Polution, Public Transportation, Crime rate of the area, access to Heal-care facilities and expertise, and general access to various skilled services and resources.

The worse off you are, the worse lot you get. This translates to all the hazard poorer people suffer: disease, food poisoning or poor nutrition, ailments due to pollutions and toxic hazards in their living conditions, and criminal elements: parasites or overlords, are a RISK in a lower status environment. 

Being a RISK it has some circumstantial and random factors, more often (and like all risks over the long run) a character suffers its burden. You may be saving some money, being in a cheap and high crime rate neighborhood but your gambling that saving and more, potentially spending more or getting in way over your head.

GMs have the opportunity to screw the players through crime, disease saves, being constantly probed for weakness in their security, and being pawned scamy products or resources. Because this is the poorer section of town, shops have a higher overhead because of security or the criminal overlord taking a huge cut. The players have some serious risks of spending more.

Opportunities, Access and Education.

In the modern or High Tech settings, the first big problem you encounter being poor (and a lower income) is having less diposable income for education, training, certifications and tools. A higher status person in the modern era, has more disposable income or privilages for all these personal enhancement opportunities. If your poor, struggling to meet basic needs and maintain relationships, then you don't have these things.

Before you meta-game and decide that the character will maintain optimal social mobility and invest highly in education, training and access (in Low-Tech this can be apprenticeships, guilde access, or paying the high price that goes to having a much greater amount of knowledge) there are trade-offs and characters begin certain economic limits.

A character that came from a certain status and background, has opportunities, typical of that status and background (a matter of a social dominant strategy). When that character makes trade-offs to climb higher, he has to take much more risk and work than almost everyone in their status. The lower the status, the more painful and severe the consequences of failure (again reference to the matter above).

Access to Special Resources and Credit with Peers.

The better off one's peers are, the better the resources one has at his/her disposal when they tap their social connections. I left off to dealing with this last because sometimes this is the most ignored because this is sometimes the hardest for the GM to enforce. Typically a GM has to have a “thesis” of how society works in their setting or subscribes to that of a setting with a developed set of social norms. There is a balancing act the GM has to perform accommodating a varied group of characters, and when players all choose to ignore this aspect of society.

Ideally, if players and the game chooses to ignore this element of the setting, it is ignored at the consequences of the opportunities lost. Certain status has access to various resources: the healthcare, experts, the best toys, and people who will do absurd things for them. All too often, everything is on the menu of the players when it comes to gear, magical and non-magical expertise, and man-power. I can't blame the GM, to make special lists of what to allow and what is available takes time and careful consideration of resources. Its not like there is a table that will help Gms quickly narrow these down (this would make a great spreadsheet btw; organized by degree of technological sophistication to determine what kind of community might have this and something to randomize whats available).

Financial Independence 
Greater Financial Independence happened when people didn't need the special advantages of having a family provide their basic needs. instead certain levels of urbanization and financial comfort the market can meet these needs, instead. 
  • Housing
  • Food Preparations and Optimization
  • Social Security in the form of Children or Dependents
  • Management of extra-man power in the form of Children or Dependents

  • Consider the conditions that making poor suck
  • Characters has no cash to pay for training 
  • Some resources supposed to be monopolized by the elite, shouldn't be accessible to low-status characters. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

GURPS Mass Combat Spreadsheet V0.5

Ok, I just tried making a GURPS mass combat spreadsheet. Currently it can only add up all the costs, factoring up the equipment quality, troop quality, and up to 4 features. This is only up to TL5.

Here are things I see lacking:

  • I have not made it look pretty (formatting it with special borders, backgrounds, colored font to make it more user friendly).
  • I have not made it overly user-friendly (which means having comments describe everything, or a workflow)
  • I have not made it able to calculate individual TS for each class in a given list. I don't know how I'm going to make a smart list for that yet. 
  • I don't know a way to export all the information in some Stat Block for compact, easy saving, and easy printing. 
Total Amount of Time I spent doing this and fixing the bugs is about 4-5 hours in between a lot of waiting and idle time. If I were to look at the work left to be done, given what I feel lacking, maybe 16 more hours would fix it. This includes learning to make it export to stat blocks, if it were to me (assuming I can find the method and learn it in about 6-10 hours). 

email me if you want me to share it with you, because of the legal limitations of publishing it. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Virtual Gaming Personal Assistant Update part 4

Here is an update,
  • I've found some sample VPA online, allows you to find a contractor that fits your needs. VPAs I've found are at about ~$6/hour USD. 
  • If a company were to hire and run a VPA campaign it would cost around ~$8/hour USD but you will have an administration that will maintain a high level of quality, a pool of VPAs that specialize in clerical work, tele-verification for all tasks, Finance and Accounting, Web API support and IT support. (VPA's are even more effective if a Web API like a CRM, Enterprise Wiki, ERP, Personal Finance, an Organization or Writing Tool etc...)
  • I've found Neil Gaiman's PA's Blog. I've also found a high level executive assistant who I can approach with profiling questions regarding Service Level standards. 
  • I've also a friend who came back here from Canada who is a script writer and director who needs a VPA to help him more productive. 
  • I've been sick and finding time to do some of the tasks I want a VPGA to do for me, and I've been doing much fasters than my projected SLA. I think its application mastery and screensize as a factor, I should Identify all the high productivity skills for use of office applications (I am a LibreOffice user). 
  • the VPGA doesnt have to just allow the GM to help do his/her gaming work, but also help in their own day-job. That also frees time to allow GMs to spend more time doing their gaming work. 
I think I have to get the other following things: 
  • A profile of the kind of people who would want to do the work from home of a VPA.
  • From profiling EAs, PAs, and Potential Employeers what would be the Service Level Quality and Tasks they expect them to do, 
  • And A detailed and dynamic weekly workflow template to be modified based on the client's profiling.  

As a Linux and Open Source Guy, it would suck having to buy all these MS stuff for clients in the business plan I'm making. Not only its add to the Capital Investment which would go into the Amortizing Costs of the VPA, but the value chain you'd have to buy is over-inflated IMO (coming from a 3rd World cost perspective). I'd want the VPA to use all Open Source and GPL tools. 

I guess another service could to be provided is the Remote Transitional IT Support for someone or an organization moving from Windows to a Preferred Linux Distro (I haven't gotten around to try Mint). 

For my personal needs I and income, I'm ok with $2-3/USD work at home VPA. Since I'm the one making all the workflows and processes in the first place, its an externality advantage of my profession. (economic terms are really useful in gaming, particularly munchkin-ing) and its Philippines to Philippines. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Incentive for MURDER, XP

I can understand how, back in the day, they didn't have a way to accumulate XP except with "killing" and things. Surprisingly the most intuitive ad-hoc action of the GM, the ad-hoc XP reward at the end of the adventure, is more on the money than Killing for XP.

I guess If I were to go back in time and teach myself some things I learned as I grew up, it would be that there is a way to measure work and not feel insecure about it. I can understand the taboo in measuring work and productivity, people can get really sensitive about their work ethic being under a microscope. I'm still not one to judge... until all the facts are in I guess.

So what is the XP value of a given adventure? The solution can be as simple as a number of questions,

  • "what has the character experience for the first time" and 
  • "how much time has the character invested in X kind of experience?"

This becomes a Role-playing and Character reflection paper, which is not a bad exercise but leaves out the shy and awkward gamers.  One doesnt have to go so far as the reflection paper, they can just look at the character journal or the player journal (if the player i juggling more than one character).

Answer those questions and you have your basis for xp, unfortunately that is not enough. Now you need benchmarks:

  • How much XP is enough to improve one's wholistic view of their characer: what is enough for levels?
  • How much XP is enough to improve one's abilities?

Now this is a fun mathematical challenge for non-mathematicians, like myself. These questions all depend on game system, system assumption, style of play circumstance. All of which will take volumes to cover but the short of it is that: declare your assumptions and run with what feels best.

If you heard that it takes 2 years to make a professional roman soldier, and you find out what a soldier does in those two years, then you can use that as a bench mark for a fighter. Of course you have to set some assumptions like, what Level or Skillset a "professional" soldier has as to varying degrees of experience (from green to veteran).

If you are in a field of research, in a technical profession, work in a bureaucracy then you can use your company's HR or professional practice data to plot the advancement.

The bottom line is that you just get the data of how much work it takes to advance in skill and experience (which is survival skill in today's world) and apply to your game. I think self education and one's own skill and understanding how to keep up with the job market and the changing needs of the world will find developing a metric to measure character XP and advancement to be easy and fun (not to mention an exercise of understanding and the ability to compare and contrast with peers). 

I guess if my son is finally old enough to play I don't want him playing a system designed to incentive's murder and killing. I just now realize that I've basically ruined every dungeon delving game with pacifistic game style (which is why I prefer sandbox settings/organic games), I guess you really can't please everyone.

Monday, January 9, 2012

[Traveller, Sci-Fi] Starmap of what is actually known

I just found:

REALISTIC ASTROGRAPHY (version 2.0) for Traveller and other scifi RPGs

Lifted from the Site.
The aim of this project is to map the stars around Sol in a manner that preserves their direction and distance relative to eachother as much as possible. The existing canonical GDW maps of the Sol subsector and its environs are extremely distorted compared to reality - direction is not preserved, and distances from any given star become increasingly distorted beyond J2 range. The inaccuracies of the GDW map are largely due to stellar positions being distorted by "flattening" of a 3D space into a single 2D map, inaccurate stellar location data to start with. and possibly some other unknown factors - it also obviously omits any low mass stars discovered in astrometric searches between 1977 and 2003. Either way, the positions of the stars on the GDW Sol subsector map bears little resemblance to the real spatial distribution of stars around Sol.
In Section 3 I present a series of stacked 2D maps of a 3D volume around Sol using the latest available astrometric data of the stars in the vicinity of Sol. This avoids any "flattening" issues since each layer will preserve the vertical position of the maps, and the data will be much more accurate since it is based on HIPPARCOS and other catalogues. The resulting maps are very different to those presented in Traveller canon - thus they are entirely non-canonical - but are much more physically accurate. As a result, you will not find any attempt to link any star positions on the canonical GDW map with this realistic map.
This dataset is aimed at anyone interested in astronomy or who is interested in adding nearby stars to their own RPG or sci-fi/Traveller universes - the raw data in particular is easily adaptable to any sci-fi setting or RPG. Every effort has been made to make the maps as simple to interpret as possible, though jump routes have not been calculated.
found this through Winchell Chung G+ page,

personal note: I've been hoping to use a realistic star map for my B3M sandbox. I think it will help if I can use Blender to map this, (I wish I could use Sketchup but I cant get it to run in my Ubuntu 10.04). 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WORK = XP + $ + Non-Monetary Gains part 1

Economics is a wonderful tool, micro-economics is a subtool perfect for this particular problem: Player/Character Compensation/Rewards/Awards.
Caveat.  Everything is setting specific, like in other economies the Value of something depends on the economy, the "beholder", the players and the GM. The system I'm explaining is merely a tool for identifying assumptions and "default" way of approaching them. Its not the best way, its just a way where I've been able to identify a bunch of other variables and considerations in my end. 
Offering Price vs Actual Cost
What do you do if the Offering Price is does not fit your actual cost? Patrons, Villains, Bosses, Victims all offer the adventurers something in return for a 'venture. A whole epic stems from an acceptance or turning it down. If Bilbo didn't agree to Gandalf, or Frodo with fellowship, or some hero turned down a deed where would we be? But adventurers, are not all necessarily "heroes". 

To see what Costs can mean lets turn up the degrees:  What if: 
  • if you take the job you have no margin of net profit, 
  • worse you are at a loss (of either social or material capital), 
  • worse you are bankrupt of any reserves of resources, 
  • worse you are bankrupt in BOTH material and social capital?
To make the decision of what will be a loss or a gain, we look to setting/playing style conventions. Sample "real-world" metrics will provided in this series. Of course these metrics, may not apply to many other settings but its identified something to be measured for future consideration. 
From experience, is this a worthwhile pursuit? 
More importantly: From experience, did the GM screw you? 
When GMs don't count the cost and we end up bankrupt or worse I've given the advice: "deal with it!". While I agree whole heartedly with such advice most of the time, I'd like to look at if there was a choice to begin with, and if we go through the game transcript and look at the flow of choices and decision, and I find that it was something inevitable and this inevitability has a pattern, maybe its time to learn from past mistakes and make considerations.  
Observation. This is a completely RATIONAL approach to a situation. This rarely happens, stupid decisions are made everyday and even by the smartest and competent of people. For me, this is an opportunity to do a little bit of FANTASY: The chance to be able to really weigh the costs before getting into something I don't want to do.   
I don't know how that would apply to other people, but I'd like to a choice unfortunately real-life doesn't, and I'm stuck doing what I don't want and sometimes it doesn't pay enough. The great thing about an RPG in a sandbox/organic setting is that I can say "HELL NO!" and not kill the game. This for me is real freedom and my personal fantasy and escape. The ability to shut down stupidity before it happens. 
In the another scenario: if I failed to count the cost yet I agreed and truly had the freedom to agree then, I feel better about the decision and the failure. It would be easy to identify where I went wrong and what values I had a misconception.  
To be continued....
  • Risk and Net profit
  • Identified metrics in a Low-Tech Adventure
  • Best Practices, learning from Past Adventures
  • ... Lather, rinse, repeat... with some Umph!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Organic Game, Thoughts about Gaming Styles

What I call organic games are those where there is no script, but everyone has their own motivations and goals, and all are working toward their own ends. The purpose behind Organic Games is that there is no railroading, characters need an in-game motivation for their character (not a meta-game like xp, cp, levels etc...), and to simulate the Chaos of a world that is indifferent to the characters. Its organic in the sense that it has a life of its own, and I merely facilitate.

This game takes a lot of prep. I need to create an organic set up, that means fleshing out to some detail the motivations of a ton of PCs and having them put into motion. Of course I don't have to make them special or weird, already a lot of the real world motivations (love, family, security, status quo, frustration, etc.) are handy and create a whole lot of character and drama already. (I guess it comes in handy when players contribute to the NPC pool; they help generate a ton of other motivations that criss-cross the paths of their current characters and objectives)

A special trait of the organic game is that: "The world does not revolve around you", in fact it doesn't revolve around anyone. It can appear that it does character to character and from time to time, but it doesn't. This is one of those lessons growing up that has a valuable underlying insight: you cannot stay idle, and you cannot especially depend on the GM or any metaphysical force to help you.

It flows towards the rationale why characters are not safe. That they can die if the player is not carefull and all the risk must be fully appreciated. Characters having no safety net makes actions follow consequences.

Another interesting trait of such a game is that: there is no justice and there is no "deserving". Things happen and characters must deal with it. Bad things happen to Good Characters, and Good things happen to Bad Character. The GM is not granting any favors to anyone, sh!t just happen to happen in that way. The GM doesn't take special pains to make the world "just right". He/she shows the Game Setting and System as an Imperfect system, and what happens is, some of the time, the system is working the way its supposed to, and more often abuses and unintended consequences.

Anyway, this is a game players are really free to make mistakes. (I have my own rules to compensate, so that the pace of the game doesn't crash for one player or everyone, but I'm not going to pull punches with characters.). After playing so many RPGs for so long, real freedom is so dearly prized for me. Even if it craps out the story, I'm for freedom over a Scripted Story.  In fact in such a game players make their best mistakes. When real factors are considered and really f-ed up sh!t happens, that's gold. It gets so real that everyone makes that connections. Its when ideas that normally aren't found together but happen to mesh perfectly in the situation

I'm pro-making mistakes. My favorite thing about RPGs is that I allowed to make mistakes without the severe consequences of the real world. In a Table-Top-RPG I get to do it in a fabulous, catastrophic, tragic, poignant and sometimes gonzo way.

I'll leave it up to the publicist (The creative writer who is in charge of weaving the game transcript; a transcript made by the VPGA) into some story. There was no "invisible hand" of the GM guiding events, things happen the way they did. Some of the plans survived, some plans didn't. Things turned into what they are, despite everyone's intentions. These things can be good, bad, somewhere in-between or something of an enigma.