Monday, July 30, 2012

Get Writing done: Lower your standard - aka I made crap

That old adage: lower your standards, to get more writing done. I agree is easier to edit and rewrite than making stuff from scratch. So saying what I said, i'm not happy with what i wrote... but i got some writing done. Its hard writing anything with no nanny and an 17mo. old baby (and both the wife and me are writing).

Right now, I'm kicking myself because I had a TON of writing I cannot find. I cannot find my old writing notes, I found some but not those that matter, like the GURPS lite for low tech. It sucks. I wish I started saving on the cloud much earlier and I'm saving with ubuntu one, drop box, sugar sync and media fire for redundancy.

Wish i could just recycle all those things i wrote in the past 10 years. Its so damn frustrating knowing I wrote so much stuff and I can't use it. Work caused me to only recently become more strict with my elaborative file naming habit.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Writing Assignments while Confined

Currently in quarantine for measles with my wife and little boy. I lost almost a week at work, and I'm not due for another check up until tuesday. Feeling better now and was able to do some game writing.

So I'm writing up about the crusades and I've made some progress... not much but some. I've come to LOVE libreoffice, there are so much things it can do and its an all in one layouting tool (if there is few pics).

So I'm making a sample game, and realized that it would take up about two to three pages and will take some revision. So Its kinda a lot, well its a small scene in the crusades and for newbie players so I think there are some explaining and notes (footnotes) to explain what is happening (again libreoffice makes this all easier and awesome.

I'm working on a Glossary... but I'm reconsidering it and maybe will make a concept map. A glossary may be limiting in flexibility in interpretation and a concept map may be too complicated to begin with. Defaulting with glossary.

Will begin with the shortest terms, and then add the synonymous words to it.

current glossary composition:

Game Master
Non-Player Character (NPC)
Setting -
Scene - 

Is Strength, Dexterity, etc... Open?

I plan to use Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma for my open system and wondering if its Fair use or it is allowed?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quick Play ORPGS Ancient Era - The First Crusade

I gave it a lot of thought and decided to work on that quick play bundle inspired by how thorough I made that GURPS lite for low tech I made. I decided to start on something I can do and wing: the first crusade.

I was looking through GURPS crusade, I gave it a good rating but I felt like it lacked a lot of stuff. The rating was more for the gratitude of just having something low tech authentic.

The list of the things it needed were the following:

  1. basic history up to this point
  2. Introduction to medieval life 
  3. further readings
  4. First crusade in a level of detail that would GMs to run campaigns of it OR at least the tools to do so with principalities, towns, armies, and events generators and rulesets. 

What i want out of a Crusades game module, one for a generic system, is the tools to introduce Players into the Crusades and the kind of medieval world those exposed to Pop and High Fantasy may learn to like. Its not trying not about grognards hating on Pop or High Fantasy, but using the difference of the genre to explore another face of RPing.

So I'm Doing my Fluff Outline.
  • Basic understanding of the 11C. 5-8 Pages in all 
    • The Imagery (if i had an art budget) - Matured Feudalism as a result to combat the Dark Ages. A two page spread of the lower section of the booklet that has professional warriors fighting of raiders.  
    • Introduction to the Dark Ages and recovering from it, notes for further reading.
    • Intro the Feudalism and the Social Order
      • Manor, Town, and Court Life.   
  • The Cast of peoples found in the era. 12-15 pages in all.  
    • The Imagery A BW cultural and territorial Map with patterns that mark out peoples and their territories. 
    • The Cast of Peoples - simplify to 7-8 major peoples. Notes on the many others.
    • Part of the Appendix
      • The Cast of Characters of the First Crusade and notes to randomize them for replay-ability
      • The Territories and of course the Stats - for replay-ability a way to randomize resources. Randomize Armies Sizes, Composition and Strength; as well as towns being larger, smaller, wealthier or poorer. 
      • The character creation tool as a quick NPC generator. 
      • Maps of Asia Minor to the Levant and Egypt at hex scales of 10miles or 16km, good for 1 days marching. 
  • The First Crusade.
    • Re-playable Module Instructions - the Players has changed the game, thus so are the characters different, but the core circumstance: is the same you have a crusade.
    • How to Prepare:
      • Mind or Event Mapping after generating the new NPCs, and various other stats. 
      • Party Scale adventure (default) - large scale has mass combat, party scale only focuses on the core individuals.  
      • Game budget - creating an exit strategy to better assess the game and how to maximize satisfaction. 
To follow as a Plug in - Large Scale adventure. Making this game mass combat, allowing players control of armies, towns, and vassals and the kind of GMing of such a game. Sample Time and motion.

maybe as a future format and standard: everything is party based, replayable, and has the option to be large scale. It is complete with maps, quick character and NPC creation, templates, and tools. The Game Map is changable as towns and cities stats may change and thus tactics may change as well. Forts , forests, crossings can pop up and disappear, screwing up the any strategy that worked in the previous play and opening up opportunities not found then as well.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quick Play RPG handout for 2012

Looking at the the old GURPS lite for Low Tech I made a long while back. It was made even before Gurps LT came out. I remember that took me a few months to fully assemble that and maybe I can do that again. Sadly I can't find the original .doc so I can't edit it. I would need to re-input EVERYTHING.

So realized that the 30 page era-specific hand-out can be my new means of catharsis. Much have been made since I last made that: I have made about a ton of lenses for medieval setting and I've done much to improve my Open Source RPG system. In fact I should have everything I need if it were not for the problem of having lost some key files.

So I have a new objective and new way of doing things. What I plan to do is make those 30 page hand-outs again inspired by the GURPS lite for low-tech but with more features: Flow-Charts for character creation, combat, success rolls resolution, and other rules that a visual learning like myself can quickly pick up with the use of presentation mediums. 

Although this will be using Open RPG system, which is inspired more the JDM and Cogniton sciences that allow the measurement of human performance and condition. Its a system that really is designed with simulation in mind and facilitated problem solving exercise like Dynamic Case Studies (case studies that have fog of war and asymmetrical information).

The structure is going to be straight forward, but inclusive is the random character generator rules that are compatible with PBEM tools found online for quick character generation. 

Proposed Structure: 

  • What is an RPG
  • What is this Booklet for
    • explains the Genre this booklet is for. 
  • Basic Concepts in RPGs
    • Players and GMs
    • Characters and NPCs
    • System for success and resolutions flow chart
    • System for Success & Resolution
    • Character Credits
    • Concept Map?
  • Character Creation
    • Explanation of Characters of this Genre
    • Character creation flowchart 
    • Social Status then Cultural Background
    • Random Character Creation tables 
    • Character Education and Skills
    • Character Equipment Assets
    • Character Current Circumstance
    • .. etc...
  • The Human Condition  (non-dualism)
    • Basic
    • Physical Limitations and Capabilities
    • Mental Limitations and Capabilities
    • Combat Rules
    • Combat Flow chart 
  • Players Roles
    • GM roles
    • Team Leader and Lieutenant 
    • Team Scribe and Lieutenant scribe
  • Appendix
    • Character Sheet Form (editable pdf page)
    • GM Preparation form and guide (editable pdf page)
    • Players Preparation form and guide (editable pdf page)
    • 3x4 Hex Maps
    • Hex Tokens (flat tokens for mooks, standing tokens for key characters). 

i'll just have sample encounters on the blog.

Possible Inserts - if i had money

  • Comics
    • explaining what is an RPG
    • explaining Setting - A 5 page spreads that captures the setting's premise. 
      • Example: Ancient Eras: Reconquest of Rome (6C CE) - The Wars of Belisarius. A 5 page comic that captures the ambition of justinian and belisarius and the danger that awaits the players. Probably would cost me $30-40 per page (writing, editing, layouting and illustration). 
    • sample resolutions - an illustrative example of core principle. 
  • Writing Sub-contraction - $20 per page for the really good ones here.  
  • Technical illustrations -- probably would cost me about $2-4 per challenging element (not per page, if a page has about a lot of elements i'd be paying more for that page). Example of a $4-6 (1 hour for skilled fine arts graduate - either UST or UP trained) element: technical illustration of a full suit of 11C mail sketchy but clear, low texture detail, with some shades with references (using osprey).
    • Equipment
    • Assets
    • Vehicles
    • Maps

Sample Titles - assume text primer in as many pages follows the comic.
  • Ancient Eras: the First Crusade (11C CE)
    • a 9 page primer of how ebbing strength of Rome, and a call for mercenaries turned into the crusades. 
  • Ancient Eras: The First Empires (22C BCE)
    • a 5 page the introduction of Sargon, and the empires and emperors that would follow him. 
  • Ancient Eras: The Axial Age (7C BCE)
    • a 5 page look into the age that propelled human thought: the age of western and eastern philosophers that changed the meaning of life. To the west the flowering of religions, to the east the hundred schools of thought. 
  • Modern Eras: the Philippine Revolution (19C CE)
    • 9 pages summary of the tragedy and horrors of what would be the Philippine revolution. 
  • Modern Eras: The Information Age (2010C CE)
  • Future Eras: The New Giants (2040C CE)
  • Future Eras: Intra-stellar Age (2100C CE)
  • Future Eras: Interstellar Age (2200C CE)

Libreoffice Tricks: 

  • Figured out how to have multiple column formats in a Libreoffice Writer doc. Answer, break the elements up to sections. Also Insert > Indexes and tables > Table of Contents has the ability to be broken up into columns as well. 
  • Figured out how to make Editable PDFs, great for Character Sheets and other usefull Forms. View > Toolbar > Forms Design or Forms Control. This takes practice BTW. This is a great trick for Contracts and Agreements, since it allows us to give a "blank" contract. We have a client who like to edit the contract when we give the PDF, without stating clearly what they edited only to be found out too late (fortunately his edits have a strange effect in Philippine law, but in the future we will not leave such things to chance). 

These are all easier with the 21" monitor I have at home than the 14" monitor at work :(. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

I really need to play: answer - quicker set up

Problem: I want to play but all my game preferences require a large prep time?

ok, lets make some compromises:

Top things it has to be:

  1. Realistic/Simulationist - I get to use all the neat stuff I learned in real life and hobbies. Survival, Negotiation, Psychology, Business, Strategy, tactics, etc. etc. 
  2. Players can easily identify the rules - Lets start with reality as a baseline. Everyone's common sense can help fix rules. Any gaps in the understanding the GM can handle or critical thought... anyway there is always the internet.
  3. High Risk or Stakes Premise - The game has to be exciting - common tragedies allow us to empathize quickly - common tragedies can be Coup d'état, War, criminal war, Natural Disaster, Kidnapping or Hit (being the victim or being the victim's family and friends), etc... the news becomes inspiration. ideally normal joe/juans who are caught in adverse circumstances. 

Speed it Up:

  1. Quick Randomized Character Generator - few choices. 
  2. Equipment Templates
    1. Sample Everyday Joe/Juan or Jane/Jaunita with a way to roll up assets. Ideally randomly generated. 
  3. Ready Maps and NPCs. 
  4. A simple premise. 
  5. Randomize the Event, which means I have to be able to quickly generate Unifying rationale for the characters that is not Ex-machina or Metaplayed in the game.  
  6. Game Time-Limit. Everything must resolve in a finite Game Time. no long period rolls (rolling weeks or months) if possible. 
Example Game. 
Looking back, the game where I did such that was a Coup d'état inspired by those that occured during Cory Aquino's Administration. There was a another failed Coup during the Arroyo Administration, but the 1989 one was way more violent and left people off guard. Around the time the game was run, some people were fearing that the generals would be bribed to reinstate Arroyo or make an excuse for a kind of Martial Law. 

The game was a success and hit the spot of my airsoft captain and team (who are also RPG players). They liked working with "constraints" and the characters were far enough from who they were to be enjoyable.

It was a two session game. Although i could have made it a one session game, but they needed the learning curve to understand my intentions and the kind of GM I was. I think this is inevitable in any game, players need a chance to learn from their mistakes in any game.  This emphasizes the learning by recall requirement.

The Work Estimate. 
Making a Character creation tool would take me about two to three 2-3hour instances. The Randomized Asset would take less, I'll simplify it since I have a vague idea of real estate and have some basic cost of living T-accounts i can use. The Premise or adventure builder would be harder tho: a maybe I can lower my standards and open up the table crowd critique. 

Ideally >1 hour I can prep for a 6hour game. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

its about story telling skill

an excerpt from the general analysis curriculum:
People of similar backgrounds with similar experience can relate information better because they use the similar complex experiences as analogies and metaphors; a kind of “framework” or what is termed in learning science as “scaffolding”.

Thus the fastest way to communicate complex ideas is to use a common ground as a frame work to explain. The skill of finding common ground framework is found in the basic skill of storytelling. The greater storytelling skill of the communicator the more expertly he or she can wrestle with abstract concepts that will capture the imagination of his or her audience. The storytelling skill allows the researcher/analyst comprehend the complex data, break it down to a more universal narrative and assimilate the alien idea into something familiar and inherent. 
TL:DR - the skill of storytelling is the ability to absorb and compress large amounts of data by using the specialized processor of our mind. 

That specialized processor is that part of the brain that Makes a Narrative out of the completely random sensations that come out of our sleeping state. The analogy of a specialized processor is to imagine a graphics card and how it augments a computer by specializing in the processing graphics.  

Dreams are just random data bits our storytelling processor makes into story without our volition or awareness. That processor has the ability to compress data into the familiar patterns of a story, a narrative. It creates a timeline of events for predictive and for storage purposes. 

Everyone has different manners of intelligence, some people who may not be good in compressing data in more conventional ways may be unaware they are compressing data expertly through storytelling. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

IMTU working on a Biz Archetype Template

I have some better progress than my previous attempts in making a biz character template. In my personal experience Biz people can be divided into: Operations and Sales. The common thought of the businessman is the sales man. In Transhuman space memetics and as we can see in the learning material that has been opened up thanks to OCW Sales has become a particular specialty.

The salesman in the "light side" a person who can emphasize the value of a product or service. Who can wash away the grit of doubt regarding a course of action - for the company or the consumer. on the "dark side" the sales man uses these memetic or cognitive tricks to distract you from what you really need and what can sustainable afford.

Then there is the person who runs a business. Call it operations or logistics. There is a little of everything in operations, the managers (at least my theory of them) have to have mastered many personal organizational skills (variable priority training, mindfulness meditation, wu wei, problem solving, JDM, etc...) their job is to maximize the productivity and sustainability of each cog of the machine. They can do it through fear, respect, geekery (intrinsically motivated enthusiasm), ideologically, or need. Basically the same managerial skills found in a Real Time Strategy Game but with the ability to address humans instead of machines.

Operations don't need to be able to do the tasks of their people, thats because of specialization. I could be an IT director but not graduate IT or mastered every IT discipline. Thats where economics of specialization start kicking in, the skillset of the leadership depends on how plentiful are manpower resources.

Strangely when is started writing up Ops and Sales, I realized that the core competence is made up of many skills that can be define by Operations and Sales.  Each is face of a coin of business, that cannot be strictly separated by platonian or gamer ideals. Some Ops can sell, some Salesmen can run a biz; and sometimes we find equilibrium when we are not working to our strength (which sucks).

My template still in the works.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

IMTU - No-Stealth - Open to Critique

Open for Critique
Since I choose to remove detection stealth IMTU I wondered its effects. There is still "stealth" but it works like deception. It basically gives a Penalty to Ship Identification. Basically IMTU typical accuracy of inferring a ship 95% and its capabilities are around 75% (an arbitrary value). "Stealth" serves to confuse the mass and heat detection. It doesn't make anything disappear, it just makes measurements less accurate, if certain parameters are taken into account the measurement would the default accuracy. 

Ways to Ambush or Trap

  • from inside the ship: hi-jacking
  • Forging Ship IFF and if the ship can matches XX% (OTU standard) of the profile.
  • In a high density field: a high yielding mineral belt or ring that gives systems just too much to track. The idea is dense enough to give mass  detection a harder time finding hollowed out asteroids. Using concealed passive sensors and probably intercepted Intelligence of movement.
  • In a Gass Giant with a low enough G for the ship to accelerate towards its target. Same as High density field. Ex. Neptune and special equipment to allow personnel to lie in wait.

Affect on doctrine

  • Q-ships will be very very close to normal Merchant ships*.
  • Merchant ships will try to be very much like known Q-ships
  • Q-ships may be the majority of fighting ships
  • Modular Ships that can economically modified for Q-ship or Merchant ship.
  • War Ships are unmistakable, some technologies and doctrines will allow for "power projection".
  • Less Expansionist or non-Imperial Navies will have an fleets of Q-ships; constantly hiding their true numbers. Q-ships
  • Drones are employed heavily to saturate systems and can quickly make a Merchant ship dangerous as a Drone Carrier. Drones in the form of Ships to Missile Pods, to Laser Firing Missiles.
  • Stations are more secure because of the lead distance they have on arriving ships. Fleets jumping in system may find the Stations and Fortresses moving for cover. Stations would have anchored multiple celestial covers - grabbing several large asteroids and mounting unmanned m-drives and sensor and weapon platforms.
  • Systems with Rich Asteroids are the most naturally defensible systems. Thus more valuable for Independent "States".**

*A lot of Beowulf/Hero, Far-Trader, Akkigish/Fat-Tader Q-ships, 2k-10K-ton Freighers and Liners Q-ships. Might as well shorten them as Q-hero, Q-Fat Trader?
** High Trade, but Highly Independent or Autonomous states with few resources. They can vary from Raiding and Trading states like Dark-ages Danes or something like Singapore or Taiwan.

thread here.