Saturday, September 28, 2013

GURPS Modern Fantasy Session 06 Gungeon Combat

This Combat Filled Session went well. I think we got to cycle through about 20 seconds. Realistically thats not how long scenes take to happen. Players were mostly confused what is happening because I could not give them information beyond 1 second of comprehension.

I like the Noise in the decision making process of a Combat and a Game. Its in the Noise where maneuvers and cleverness can be seen. Deduction and Induction are more important in games where there is noise, and you need only give small pieces of information.

Lessons Learned: 
Keep the map Really Small 25x25 units vs the 120x150units I made. BUT use grid scale to 0.1.  I think a smaller JPG is going to help a lot. If I use a lower res and smaller byte sized map there would be less lag.

Multi-Task Multi-task! I noticed that since people have to input their actions, its time for another person to act and roll. I don't want the NPCs to eat up time, so I end up moving them while the players are declaring their actions and moving their tokens. Its saves time. Its 4 hours but the combat was about 3.5 hours. On the first half hour we went through 3 seconds with 5 players and 3 other badguys.

I want to give combats some Luls and times where people can re-evaluate. I have to think of a way that minutes of consciousness and activities (non combat activities) can happen.

I used the Temple of Elemental Evil's Temple as the Map and it was inside a 100story Skyscraper thats about 18,000sqm on its highest floor.

The thing about GURPS combat system is that if you watch the less combat guys, they have less things to do. The only way they can achieve more is through long actions with skills and concentration. I'm worried for the enjoyment of the non-combat characters because I had a player who was playing dark souls while playing the game.

I'm GM, i have the power to implement what will improve the experience of the players and can see where problems might arise in the future. So I should try, at some experiments, to work around those problems Trading off some things for greater enjoyment.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Burn! Wait, I'm burned too!

This basically reminded me that I form an opinion completely on egocentric reasoning. I understand its only natural, since we know ourselves better than we know the opinion of other people.

But then, I realize that all if all my opinions are Ego-centric then their validity and utility is greatly diminished because I am not an indicator of the market or popular opinion.

With my niche tastes and habits, my disatisfaction is probably marketing doing their job correctly. I'm the kind of consumer that will game things to extract maximum value/utility, while taking the time to give a monetary value to good will.

The older I get, the more conservative I am with my money, the more I realize that marketing really plays on those weaknesses of collective consciousness (how slow it is to form its own informed opinion; and how it really needs to delegate verification and opinion to aggregators).

What the F*ck does that have to do with gaming?

Its Marketing, the Bane of a Good Designer! In economies of Effort you can be a Good Designer or Good Marketing person (this is my problem with one of the characters in my Modern Fantasy Game: He's good in marketing, but not in making stuff) to be (relative to the industry) good in both Design AND in marketing has a great cost.

Marketing has the advantage of getting Collective Support and thus beat out Good Design using the power of CASH (pooled resources)... Good Design is handicapped because Support is a product of Good Marketing NOT GOOD DESIGN (it can be, if your market are FRUGAL nerds ... which is still a resounding NO!)

I'm begining to realize that Batman Quote: We don't get the product we Need, we get the product we deserve!

I'm more often looking at products and development through the eyes of skepticism. Knowing that I've relied on marketing to tell me how good a product is, and I can only be really sure of the products I know intimately because of GM Tinkering (Tappy of Happy jacks is the only popular figure I am aware of that encourages tinkering and used to actively pushes it; pretty much a freethought "pusher").

And enter the bias towards Open or Creative Common Systems, whose' value is very much inherent and the easiest to assess.

Thats enough Meta Cogitating.

Using PC Gaming lessons in RPG Gaming

Learning from Gabe Newell's presentation about PC gaming and looking at how it applies to RPGs and the rest of the technology Industry. I sound like a Business Student Lolz, trying to apply academic thinking as though the world is still a classroom.
  • User Generated Content is something that Open Systems and Playing Mediums like Roll20 and Tabletop Connect is pretty much poised for. Especially when there is a market place for it, and they get a small cut for Facilitation. 
  • Technology is improving and it is going to find its way in how we do things, your phone or wearable computer will be able to allow you to improve your User Experience: beginning with it being able to match you with other interested parties. 
  • User Generated Content: Open Systems and Apps like Ubuntu Apps (few years ago) is a great learning and exercise for people who are not programmers to slowly learn and participate in the Computer Industry. It brings down barrier of participation, and at least alternate revenue stream or a way to fight obsolete. Game design is a very well rounded medium to learn, because its made up of many fundamental design skills. 

  • Will RPG running blend with Computer Games as the barriers go down between the two mediums? Will GMs and Game developers, eventually have enough automated tools that the user experience still has the dynamics of a Table Top but Richness of Computer Game and a market and economy that supports this?
If this true then an open minded approach allows one to see opportunities, and a forward thinking to invest in skills and abilities that will allow someone to be prepared to take advantage of this change. 

So basically being the Facilitator of this market puts you in the position to reap the reward. But to be such a facilitator you have to be the most loved and credible entity, and it takes real risk. Someone who puts their business on the line, will gain the credibility.

18:50mins mark A Valve Linux Debugger! (which from my research help measure performance of your computer to see what Games are compatible)!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

30 RPG blog topics for any game system

  1. Most embarrassing or humiliating lessons in gaming. Each significant lesson could deserve its own post. Humbling experiences are best? 
  2. Post game reflection, problems and challenges you encountered? 
  3. What is your favorite system and why? 
  4. Another system you've tried and compares to your favorite system 
  5. Gamer origin story.
  6. How will the hobby change in the next 5 years, and where will you be then? 
  7. What is your experience pursuing your hobby as a career or why you never tried? 
  8. How growing up affected your games, relationships, and adventures?
  9. How did you prepare for the last game? 
  10. How are you preparing for your next game?
  11. What was the last time you got inspired to run a different kind of game? 
  12. What are your priorities that eat up time you could spend gaming or prepping to game? 
  13. What is the biggest obstacle or challenge in gaming more or gaming your desired genre or style?
  14. How would you describe the gamers who grew up with you, your tastes, influences, archetypes, and tell tale marks?
  15. What gamer archetype are you, and where does the archetype fails in describing you and such people?
  16.  What Academic or Technical (or any non Geek or Entertainment Media) Influence your gaming, gaming prep process, style or tastes? 
  17. How much has Marketing (probably describe what you count as "marketing") affected your gamer tastes (Any, No Influence, Strong, )?  (word of mouth counts as marketing) Examples of great marketing or wishes publishes would do for your prefered system. 
  18. Hypothetical (no research required, answer off the cuff): Choose one: You have 1 year and (8 hours a week x 40 weeks; part time ) or 2 months (320 working hours; fulltime), how would you spend it in a Gaming Related Activity? 
  19. How many hours of prep and how much would it cost you to run a game of your Ideal level of preparation and detail. If you could delegate, it to an personal assistant, what would you ask them to do (cite hours this PA is going to pull)? 
  20. What would you make your players contribute to the game if it wouldn't be too weird?
  21. When has being a nice guy gotten you into trouble as a player or GM? When has being a d-bag paid off as a player or GM? 
  22. List of 10 annoying geeky habits that you were made aware or realized? Justify in gratuity!
  23. What gaming trends you will never get into (what the crazy kids are doing these days)?
  24. What skill would you like to have that would help your game immensely but have no clue how to gain?
  25. For those who's significant others don't play, how would it change your relationship if your SO plays? What is your ideal scenario (believable or outrageous) narrated or described?
  26. Nostalgia Disillusion, entertain the contrary of your nostalgia: games being that good or that bad, and seed it generously with doubt. 
  27. A magical gaming software appears: list its features!
  28. Describe your Geek Cave/Den/Shelf etc!
  29. Why do you keep old gaming stuff, and what old gaming stuff do you keep? 
  30. A Genie GM Appears, he asks you what game would you like run for you. Describe in needless detail all the aspects you would want him to grant. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Princeling or Princes of the Bots

One Pregen Character we don't have yet is a full support character. Basically a character who takes advantage of the power of remote systems we have in present day.

The concept is a character who can use the Wearable computing of the other characters as a way to aid them by providing support: a lot of skills and flexible expertise.

Introducing Princeling/Princess
Basically the transgendered son/daughter of Osman Al Din who happens to be a prodigy. His (for now) strengths are basically, IQ14, Jack of All Trades maxed out at 3, Photographic Memory, Single Minded, and Versatile. Basically creative problem solving is the strength of this character drawing from a diverse set of skills.

Many Skills Princeling will perform at 11-12 (average default of -5 or -6) and has the single minded ability to add 3 to the task given enough time. Used "Creatively" the character has +1 from versatile.

Princeling has the Intelligence assets of his father, and resources of his "uncles" and "aunt" (mama mary). A creative problem solver, basically he can default many technical skills to aid the characters. The idea is that the character is "telepresent" and supports them through a secure connection in Osman's house and powerful wireless network Thomas, Osman, and Speedy have set up in the Haven.

The Chaos of Urban Sprawl allows illegal access to the City's technology infrastructure. You can basically bribe technicians to add cabling to their current installation, and have wireless diversions around. Osman business provides Rogue Internet, Connectivity, and Encryption.

In light of the NSA fallout, a Chaotic and Uncontrolled "Rogue State" like Haven would be perfect for sheltering the Good and the Bad privacy and encryption can bring to the world.

This connectivity, a boon to the black market of Haven, allows the Princeling to have unparalleled connection security and bandwidth within the backwater of Haven. Of course, it can never provide the bandwidth a Collectively Bargained Connectivity but it makes money and grants an unfair advantage to the extremely rich good guys which are Osman and Thomas.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The RPG Business is exhausting to puzzle

Its 2013 and GURPS 4e is now about 9 years old. Prior to GURPS 4e, GURPS 3e was 1988. The product cycle can be seen in the wiki. It looks like there is going to be continued support and products continually coming for as long as the 3e. Hopefully its going to exceed the 16 years of 3e.

That said, can a business survive in this Long Game? New versions is a way to consolidate all the new rules and learnings into one reorganized package?

I'm so glad I'm not in the RPG business, because those are hard questions. There is so much theory and marketing that goes into the business, that sadly, a great product is not enough. I've come to appreciate support and community, and that also is not enough. There is also that Perception and Reputation that gets annoying, that really is the most exploited in business as it does not need to be grounded in reality (it just needs to be a little grounded) and the emotional temperment and fickle nature of consumers.

Can you believe economics and trade is build over such fragile and illusionary concepts of value?

Everyone has their preferred system, but not all systems are equal. In all the preferences and perception, there is some reality to be found despite our childhood nostalgia and fanboy enthusiasm. Some systems can be said to be "mathematically" simple and elegant, to others "WTF is MATH doing in a story telling exercise?!". In gaming the RPG market one can approach the lowest common denominator OR creative and thrive in a niche.

The more I look at what makes a succesful product, the more it is the marketing and not the product. Because the "market" is that one advantage that once you have it, for what ever reason you gained it, you pretty much just have to figure out how it would happily part with its money. Again i'm so glad I'm not in this business.

All skills are not equal, and marketing (propaganda and merchant in GURPS) does not need to have a great product, you just need to gain peoples trust (OR just make everyone else appear as a worse option) and you can build that great product while people wait for it, even if a better one is out there which no one trusts. (this is basic customer support and public relations).

Its not even about credibility, one can be in the market for the longest time and has one of the best track record in a business analysis metric, but its worth squat if the market is not the kind to shell out cash.

So how do you win the RPG business game? You grow out of it, you adapt your IP to be more than just RPG material.  You create worlds, build stories, and use that internally consistent expertise into a new experience.

I was talking to a friend about trying to supplemental our income, and puzzling all this it seemed pointless. Of course, the only thing going is all that imagination we got from playing. I realized might as well use that and pursue Blender, programming, art and story telling. Build those up and have fun with it, make in a way you can share it. Or make a way for others can build up their worlds easier.

The way we game is changing, with this technology that can "bring a lot to the table" literally. I'm thinking, hopefully we can be part of it.

Friday, September 20, 2013

After my first article

Wow, it was my first time to earn anything outside my income. I've never been successful selling my art, much more getting anything I've written published. Although looking back at the amount of hours it took me to write it, its not a bad way to earn a living (assuming more opportunities are there and I've checked: sadly there isn't any**) but considering how much I've tried and my success rate in getting published I'd have to reduce that value to a very small decimal two and more spaces to the right of zero. So its a great one-off thing. Good thing I have my day job.

Still I believe in my work and I want to contribute something more. I've gotten my Graphic Tablet to work and I've started doing some sketches to see how rusty I am. Back when I was drawing it took me about 4-6 hours to make my amateur work. I had a long way to go, but I didn't have the time to learn since Income was a problem. Now that I have a job, with my free time I can revisit my hobbies and train in skills essential in the future (like mandarin, programming, and 3d).

Now that there are more free programs and all these tools to better track my progress and tutorials I can access, with time I can get good again. I might even have to play Computer Games for brain exercises lolz (seriously I'm not fan of computer games anymore, I feel too slow and old playing them).

Moving forward my games will be OnAir so that there is no illusions to my GM skill level. I guess it show cases my story telling skill and what my interests are and hopefully some people who are into the same things will find my work and join my game or check out what I publish or put out.

I'm still realistic that its going to still be a part time thing, but hey it beats losing hours in useless GM prep or doing anything else with nothing to show for. The accomplishment is a good feedback loop, and I hope to escalate and level up.

**working on something.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The GM just blew up our Ship!

The Pathfinder Chronicles: So Last Nights Game of Traveller Hit Hard: I do not normally do this as I figure that I record the sessions so if you are keen to find out what is happening that you would watch the s...

Well as the Cut Throat Accountant the first thought in my head is: "Thank Goodness I had no equity in that Ship" the second thought was "Oh no the captain!... " well honestly Jia is a "bad guy" in the Walter White kinda way but walter wight still cares about Jesse and he cares about the crew. Although like your friend who may have some pretty twisted priorities, Jia would be bitching and whining more about the lost assets, all that hard work, the datasystems, having gotten so close to breaking even finally etc etc... just happy most of his friends are alive.

So +Mark Knights  asked its an opportunity to start fresh... well its an opportunity alright. You can imagine the guy with the Str2 and Dex3 at max encumbrance not exactly liking the idea that he was a pay off away from having a PROSTHETIC exoskeleton.

The Quote of the night was "WHEN DID THIS BECOME GAME OF THRONES!?" i can't remember if it was Scott or Tom who shouted it out. When the captain died, undramatically (he got zapped) It didn't sink in too painfully.

Uggg... the pressure to make the game different is on the GM and I think he shouldn't worry. I appreciate Traveller and played it despite that I came from GURPS Traveller, as long as its traveller. I've told Mark this, I think, that I don't mind it +Bobby Navarro my traveller GM brought me up playing the 80s traveller as compared to the Hip new Sci-Fi them Young-en's play like Eclipse Phase, Cthonian Stars, Transhuman Space, etc... which I've only Run but never played.

Fading Suns and the backwardness and intolerance of a Dark Age Sci-Fi strangely fits the 80s Traveller mindset if you consider the Value system (removing the Value system of Asimov and the Secular Humanists Sci-fi writers). In Transhumanist Sci-fi the questions are Political and Ideological discussions. Never bring politics, religion, and ideologies into your RPG game... so thats the funny thing about going to a "deeper" thinking Sci-fi its to dangerous that its not fun. I think its better to just write your Sci-fi Story or Discussion, or play it with those who signed up for the same ideological background.

Accomodation may seem like it sacrifices depth, but I'm admittedly having fun in the previous set up. I didn't mind that Jia was the accompanying the rest of the crew in to dangerous situations with the captain doing the trading. I know its work to track and make money in traveller, so I don't mind if Jia is not using his best skill in something that actually requires PLAYER WORK. I appreciate it so much I'm glad I wasn't doing it.

Anyway now Jia has to step up and given his skillset, he has to play Mastermind. +Tobie Abad ran us through Wilderness of Mirrors which is inspiring on how the mechanic for Mastermind works. Although Leverage should be a more of what our Group might turn into if we just do Odd Jobs.

The thing about Master Mind is that it needs special mechanics because I don't want to control or make players do what they don't want to do. Thats why I just go with the flow, I don't want to presume to tell them what to do. We just role-play our cooperation and problemsolving, the thing is that its not going to be coordinated and I'm really holding back OCD levels of control because I know its not healthy in a game but I'm worried this is what the GM may want for precision problem solving.

One can be a D*ck in the office, but not in the gaming table and i want to relax and not be a big floppy donkey D*CK in a game.

Also I wanted to have fun and kick back, I just finished Hangover Series and want to base Jia a bit of both Chow and Alan. Nothing like the death of a business partner (and major Asset loss) to fuel revenge to make Baron Jia a fullblown villain... lolz. uggg I'll play the villain if the other guys needs me to, and I can have fun playing the villain.

So what am I rambling about? I just said I'll have fun any which way the wind blows. I just need the wind to be blowing, and the GM doesn't need to worry about making maps or details, I don't mind making things up because i can work with what ever to have fun.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

[GURPS] Character Sheet Organization: Concept Clustering/Grouping

I don't know if anyone noticed this but In my character folder, that's publicly viewable, I have a very different way of organizing my characters. I follow the Writer's Guidelines for Character Format.

with one exception - I do not organize character skills and advantages in Alphabetic order. Instead I group them in concepts.

Example would be Drolf, my Dwarf in +Christian Blouin
in a 250 point game I had a lot of skills, and in GURPS you have a lot of skills to be both realistic, well rounded, and optimised. See Kromm's post about well rounded basic skills and thats only for "Basic Stuff" that doesnt include Professional Specialization (Mage's Magic Skills, Face man's key influence skills, etc...)

in Drolf i had to make his Soldier Career Skills and his Sociopathic Skills.

The reason behind this is simple: I want to be COMPLETE and thorough. Immediately I can see what are all my complimentary skills and what skills I may be lacking. You will notice that Fast Talk, despite having no points, is in his Sociopath Skill grouping. This allows me to see where he would be growing or expanding to, as he developes OR lacks in the field he is supposed to specialize.

Why am I going to keep going line by line in an alphabetic listing if I have or don't have a skill? If it is in my Liar Abilities then it should be there, if its a combat ability it should be with my combat skills, if its a Soldier ability it should be in my soldiering skills.

Its easier what you are looking for in a cluster of 10 skills than a cluster of 30 skills.

Also you will notice Perks will also be there, especially when they relate to a Theme/Concept. Weapon bond, a Influence Shtick, Skill Adaption.

You can't do this in many character sheets, and I cannot put notes Near the skill groupings. If you also check Drolf you will notice he has Tactical Best Operating proceedure for me to just cut and paste. I would extend this to Social Situations if I could.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Knowing your self is a Skill

My wife and I are getting into running, and because we tend to have more friends older than us we are more aware of the anecdotal problems with running. Also, since we are both geeks and we research a lot there are a lot of interesting studies and discussions that make the simple feat of running more complicated.

This brings me to Knowing yourself as a Skill. I grew up with a weak constitution, despite being athletic as a kid. Where i'm weak is in disease resistance and various other alergies and nuances. I come to realize there are so many nuances to being me, I can organize and make a cheat sheet that would fill pages.

Then I realize where is it in my Character sheet where I know my limits? People don't normally know what their stats are unless they know some statistical benchmarks (to differentiate from anecdotal benchmarks) and have taken the time to measure against such and figure out all the assumptions and factors that should be inconsideration.

Like I'm tracking my Treadmill performance (because it is so damn polluted where I live) and consider it Ideal, and going by my wife Tread mill to Jogging around our area to 30% diminished performance. You have to do it before you know how much you can do, and you have to be careful not to injure yourself. Now that I'm going to take running as a crosstraining for my airsoft I realized I have to get a sports medicine check up if all the parts are working as it should.... how often do characters know what is really going on in their body... only the GM knows.

Since I found out in a random office test that i have Hepa B (a disease I was supposed to be vaccinated against) I am acutely aware I don't know squat whats going on in my body. Its only with age am I more hyperaware of pain and carefully documenting my conditions that I'm able to see patterns and learn from mistakes.

Its even worse in a non-scientifically literate environment like mine, where many horror stories are people who just started running without a checkup and consideration of their family's medical history losing kneecaps and having a heart attack.

I consider myself lucky so far, when I was younger I would push myself to breaking playing while having shin splints. That was stupid, but not as stupid as diving into concrete for a soccer game and having a very bad wound that didn't heal good as new.

What I'm getting at is that, even your body needs gaming. I can't advance my health level until I get a medical check up and build a strategy with the limitations with the doctors' help. Seeing my father who is in his 60s slowly shrink should really emphasize how damn fragile bones are and  how I should be taking better care of them if I want to be an ass kicking old man.

Funny that there is no skill for that in GURPS or in any system, which is ok. Although I do have a feeling "personal health" will be a skill eventually, when there are better ways of tracking our patterns and using hard data versus anecdotal information. Its going to be one of those skills that may be essential like basic science, being able to fill taxes and bureaucratic forms, research, ethics, and practical economics.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

GURPS Modern Fantasy Session 06

+Matthew Williams and +jj123382 joins our band of "big damn heroes" in the latest session of GURPS Modern Fantasy. JJ plays Vash a streetwise thug working for Knuckles, who is friends with Matt, played by Matthew, who is a rescue professional and medic.

The game has its usually bugs, but we power through it to start more or less on time. I'm a bit rusty, and it shows a bit, some where near the 2nd hour my ability to cycle through the Turns gets buggy. I have to find a way to compensate for a 3-5 second lag for one of the players.

If you have an action, try to communicate the whole idea. Talk over me if you have to because the Lag I don't know if your waiting for me or you were just about to speak. When in doubt, type out your action with the /me in roll20.

Introducing new players into the arc is pretty challenging, because strangely it has to make sense even when the world and setting doesnt have to.

As usual, everyone gets 1cp, 2cp to give out to other players and 1cp for a Post about the session or 1cp for Backstory about your characters and how they intertwine till the next session.

GMing Notes

Ending with a Crunchy Combat Situation I guess is the best way in such an Open Game Style, this way I can build the Dungeon or Gun-geon the guys are going to be fighting in. I Love the Night and Darkness penalties, because its the best way to make full use of the Roll20 tools and to make a rather small area feel bigger.

I will allow for 6 second GURPS Turns, to resolve more significant actions per cycle of initiative. if I go by regular 1second turns things will be too slow and 6 second turns tend to fairly realistic in Decision Making Increments.

I hope the Roll20 Zoom toolbar works, cause its not been working the past month for me for all my games. Now that I'm GMing its going to be a BIG deal if it doesnt work.

Big Screen Helps Alot and so does having a fast Computer to have a better responsive feel. Love Modern Fantasy, since I can pull out Dungeon Material in a Modern Setting but Love also that people will have to play much smarter when GUNS are in play (smaller room for error).

Can't wait for the Game (of course I can I have about 4 dungeon maps to prep)

Friday, September 13, 2013

False Sensations

Tao of D&D's talks about Hearing Checks.

GURPS B358 has a similar table but only in ranges. Decibel reference would be useful.
Since the Average person should be able to hear this in the distance given, the Basic Task Difficulty Modifier would be +4 (routine or mundane). In D20 this would be a DC5. when circumstances have more Stress and Distractions then you can have TDM +0 or worse and for D20 about DC10 or worse.

False Sensations

Note that in the real world we have false sensations of sounds, especially when we are expecting it. The cool thing about this is that you can make failed rolls, quirks or disads, play in the way of false sensations.

in Fast Twitch Games and in Combat Simulations like Airsoft, we have a Ton of Sensation Noise and False Sensations. When I first began I was struggling to filter these out, and we learned a lot from our Captain and in about 7 years of playing.

There is this thing called Pareidolia and the Cognitive "hacks" our brain has to increase our response time by gaming the statistics its a foe before confirmation results in friendly fire. I've had about 4 friendly fire incidents where I accidentally took out an ally in 7 years of airsoft and a innumerable number where I was lucky not to hit them.

Friendly Fire and Decision Making is well discussed in The Art of Critical Decision making by Micheal Roberto in chapter 20 Practical Drift.

In the Game

What does False Sensations mean? It means the GM can F*ck you up. 

Seriously the GM can pull out sensations from inside his @$$ and play it on a character with disads and a circumstance that would fit well. Verification of information is a SKILL, which can be summed up by GURPS observation skill or a Multi-Sensory Skill like perception in some games. 

Getting back to the Game Applications of False Sensations - PCs will needs skills to verify and Noise is part of the game. This incentives a well rounded character or Old School Player Skill Virtues.  

I don't know where "ROLE-players" stand in Problem Solving exercises, because I get the impression such Versmilitude gets in the way. I on the other hand, I believe Information asymmetry adds to the believability and realism of a Story, because life is without enough certainties and too many doubts. Making bad decisions that hurt yourself, loved ones, your team, and your career, because of many distracting and noisy factors is just Simulative Decision making that pushes us to think of better strategies or try out other strategies. 

Its nice to Know that because of the growing number of people playing RPGs thanks to Roll20 I may find other like minds who will help me and each other grow and learn better problem solving through the games. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Schelling Point again

Learning a new system, WH40K, I see the same Talents = Feats (d20) = qualities (SoIF) = advantages (GURPS) while skills are similar to skills in D20 and GURPS.

Basically in some systems there are things tasks you roll and you can buy certain mechanical benefits so that you do not have to roll. 

What I find odd is that in many such systems they cannot just make a simple linear cost to being able to do something vs how difficult the task is. to better explain my point, lets look at how GURPS resolves Fast Draw which is a skill roll but in many systems its automatic  when you buy an ability. 

What I like about making Fast Draw automatic is reducing the amount of rolls in my game and reducing the amount of requirements for a course of action to succeed (reducing complexity). So in D20, WH40k, SoIF and other systems Fast Draw is automatic IF you pay the points. 

But now that you've observe that, start looking at how some advantage grant an automatic success but does not scale with the cost of making the skill or the roll automatically successful. 

An example is D20, where you can sacrifice Accuracy for Power in the Feat Power attack. Why can't a untrained person make that economic trade off, of course less efficiently, when it seems such an intuitive leap even to an amature. Note that in D20 you gain weapon proficiencies and given the weight and cost of a feat it should have intrinsically some more knowledge and familiarity with the weapon. 

I find that some advantages like Lightning Calculator in GURPS or Eidetic Memory should have a corresponding cost or penalty when people are attempting such a feat without the advantage. It just makes things more consistent. But such a complain is addmitedly pointless because so many systems have that cognitive dissonance.

What this observation does for me is reinforce my authority as a GM in any system, as to when or what calls for a roll. Again I find my conclusion going back to Schelling Points

You automatically succeed in Tasks where you have a 12 or 60%+ chance (don't ask permission just assume you succeed) unless you are an opposing an NPC. I'm trying to reduce rolling for more special occasions or Schelling points so that I can give more airtime.

In situations where you are stacking the odds in your favor, keep track of your bonuses for me. So when you narrate or tell me what you are doing, you can focus on your part of the story and not worry about the system. Details, logistics, and preparation matter in Problem Solving very much but I don't want to roll for every detail. To keep information asymmetric I won't say the roll Modifiers nor will i say if you finish all that you've done.

I will assume, Your character does what he sets out to do optimally if that is his specialization or forte, (A matter of good faith) so know that all the bonuses that you may have missed the GM has considered but this does not guarantee success BUT it does clear up that you should attempt a different strategy if you fail. Don't worry about the rules focus on you getting the details or narrative right (which ever story telling method you enjoy). The ability to change strategy on your feet is important, even for me as the GM who will have to do the same for every player. 

Some emerging scientifically studied techniques Variable Priority Training is why turn order is important when GMing. my players who read this, should help me follow the turn order because its easy to loose track because there are "interrupt" or "reaction" actions that skip the turn order. I will try to cycle as quickly as possible for every player.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Mistaken Game, an Opportunity

There are so many new entrants to Games because of Roll20 they don't bother to read the fine print. My GURPS Modern Fantasy Game gets people who think it is DnD! Lolz

I should feel insulted, at least cautioned because these people didn't bother to think it through. If they didn't bother to even read the TITLE, that should be a red flag... but thats the thing. This hobby is not growing If I'm cautious and a filter out these new guys. Once they play DnD they are going to be playing that game there is a very low chance they play something else. The Game I'm running is MODERN FANTASY, with guns monsters and current events. Real or Fiction, it can find its way in the game. Intentionally a Kitchen Sink setting.

Sorry if it sounds bad to the DnD Guys but there are so many systems out there and not enough of the new guys are trying it IMO. I want others to try out GURPS, and eventually try out other systems like Mongoose Traveller (or Classic Traveller), Fate, Fading Suns, L5R, House of the Blooded, Song of Ice and Fire, etc. etc... (WH40k has ENOUGH people wanting to get into the RPG from the wargaming side).

People may complain about GURPS as they might, but we have the best Editing in the business. Check out our Errata and FAQ (no BALANCE ISSUES!!!). The system has not needed a new version since 2004, and prior to that it was in 89 was the previous versions. If Grognards want to talk value for money, editing, and comprehensive and well references books plus getting REAL WORLD EXPERTS GURPS is your game. Also the number of science geeks in GURPS is comparable to Traveller and Transhumanist Sci-fi fans.

So basically its all about Attitude. Turning this mistake into an opportunity, and using the opportunity to open people up to other RPGs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Minorities in my stable of pregens

Exploring the modern world through games, I'm considering making my next batch of Pregens of something far less common and rather mundane considering Disenfranchised/Disadvantaged Minorities (to distinguish it from Elite Minority that typically rule).

Being a minority means being in a very weak position in society. The reason why the "weaker" is protected is because Democracy/Liberty does not means Might or Many makes Right (although most often forgotten; in at present Facts and Truth slowly lose their value).

Of course many people "feel" like a minority when they are in power, simply because its their first time to not-get their way that's another interesting dilemma that would be useful in game.

But being a real minority, under-represented and so few that no one cares if you and your people live or die is something interesting to play.

Please ignore this if you don't like this kind of clutter and overhead in your games...

I can't speak for others, I'm just guessing some people may feel the same as I do, but inter-connectivity has made the experience of being oppressed, a persecuted minority, more real and tangible than ever. Many liberties I take forgranted  are brought into new light, and degrees of seperation are overcome by empathy regarding the plight of such people.

What is strange is that playing a Psychopath or Sociopath is a more accepted norml and does not make people uncomfortable, but playing certain minorities can make people very uncomfortable. Sure the morality of a monster is a great vehicle to tell a story, but why can't playing these minorities be also.

In light of the persecution reminiscent in the last world war, i can't help but see the parallels and be fearful. Then the game in the brain takes over and curiosity wants to explore that fear and the emotions deeper. I can relate with these people to some extent, and can be made a social outcast by certain "mindset" if not for status and money.

Since we deal with Heroes and heroes need challenges to overcome, being a Minority... a persecuted minority in this day and age is something interesting to play.

at the risk of offending, I'm particularly curious about having characters that are LGBT and various minority faiths and circumstances. Most interesting is that if their circumstance, makes their beliefs or preferences harder and definitely there is a certain lacking of the same rights we have taken for-granted.

Several instances of complexity I can think off is inspired by real world events is the Philippine Hermaphrodite Runner, the canadian trangendered miss world contender, and of course the more controversial LGBT persecution in Africa and Russia. There is also the minority of Non-religious, and their killings and jailing in Sharia countries. Of course, educated and empowered women fall in this depending on the culture and countires.

Modern Day has many interesting and muddy issues and interesting circumstances and PEOPLES that would be too fun to ignore. A Game is as much a Vehicle of Story Telling, so why not deal with heavy issues? ANyway, its a game you can always turn down or turn up the gravity of the situation.

Anyway, the GM doesnt' have to explore it in gritty detail when he can see that people are uncomfortable, he can short hand the scene.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Migrating to GURPS Spaceships

There has been no update on GURPS Traveller ship combat rules. Its really time to dump them despite all the effort I've gone through making a spreadsheet, doctrine, and consolidating all the rules from all the various sources in my notes.

Spaceships has support, and plug in rules for GURPS mass combat for fleet action.

I was talking to +James Austin since he has the books and I was able to learn what else it supports. It was a great coincidence that he was also a honorverse fan and we can talked munchkin.

Man they thought of everything, the best edited and proofread system and rules, and it's more science crunchy with game blogs that talk gurps talk science.

If you have beef with the rules, then call on the Men in black or Steve Jackson Games volunteers who will help you out - I'm an MiB too.

Its going to cost me about $90usd to get all of space ships and the pyramid articles but I have to wait till Xmas when forex is in my favor. Wish they had a bundle discount lolz.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Host and Guest Protocol in RPG session

Talks with +Ken Kthulhu regarding technical set up for his Dark Heresy game made me think about why its a hard job being the GM.

I can compare it to being a Host and your players Guests. since there is no convenient etiquette protocol to reference I will supply my cultural hospitality protocol in Hangouts. (note that in Real Life Face to Face, these protocols are just ideal in polite society... gamers who wish differentiate themselves from Douches or D-bags may want to follow the protocol). 

Duties of a Host

Make Sure Guests are Comfortable, this includes making a comfortable environment - making sure your technical considerations for your Hangout Game is well in order.  
Take the time to entertain Each guest - GM facilitates and gives spotlight to each player.
Provide a means for other Guests to Busy themselves in the event - this is tricky, because it requires multi-tasking but in a Game either Face to Face or Hangouts.

Duties of a Guest

Its the Hosts's Event don't make it about you - when rules lawyers or dick players act out they are breaking this duty. In an event where there is out-game argument consider if it serves the game or it serves only your character. The GM is god and if he's not a douche he will work with you outside the game to deal with whatever prompted discussion. 
Guests Bear gifts, tokens of appreciation - well in games the GM forfeits this in exchange of emphasizing above, its Hangout/OnAir.  
As much as the Host makes the Guests comfortable, the Guests makes the Hosts job easier

And as in all things Deal in Good Faith. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

A little more imagination and empathy: Gamer Good Faith

I was having a discussion with friend about GMing and RPing, and we came to the topic of preparation and skills.

Personally I don't need the GM to make a big performance (unless it feels spontaneous and on a whim), practiced at improv, accents, and a lot of props prepared (virtual or actual). I look for a comfortable environment and trust. Everything else is really just made up of imagination, as +Christian Blouin put in the game "Its all in the theater of the mind' (I don't know where he was quoting from, but I remember it being a philosophy of the mind quote).

One big hindrance to imagination would be attitude. Lethargy would really hamper attitude, and checking to see how your player's day was actually prepares the GM how much effort he should allocate to power through bad moods or dispositions. I think i've covered that with a previous post in Emotional Energy.

Imagination can get hindered also by rules or technicalities. I noticed in a recent game I played, i was in "tactical mode" and based my narrative of that. I guess if the system was 3rd Gen RPGs that are focused on Narrative then I'd be inclined to give way to narrative and hold back my technical.

In that game I paid a small price for being reckless, I deviated from my plotted optimal strategy and suffered the predictable consequences. I guess in some systems you have to really master the rules to get it out of the way as it informs you on the best course of action.

My inner munchkin feels bad by the mistake but my role-playing part feels indifferent. I did do the research and should have trusted 2-months-ago Justin with his final analysis.

Back to Imagination AND EMPATHY fueling the creative side of the game I find myself talking about +Mark Knights Topsy Turvy Traveller post where he regrets certain GMing decision. As one of the players I didn't mind the Retro Feel and simply assumed the best of him (which is very Naive but I find a great way with dealing with people even though I'm the paranoid guy who looks for and sees risks everywhere).

The Empathy part of imagination was that I tried not to second guess his assumptions, because I need to trust the GM. I also try to do the same with all my GMs and Players (but as a GM I screen players). Trusting and Assuming the best in intentions is where I think one cannot go wrong, even if they are fooled more than thrice to learn. Its that empathy that makes all my Roll20 games enjoyable (I admit its Naive but its not like I'm giving anyone bank information).

It also helps that after many many hours of Debates and Flame wars, I learned my lesson about never assuming the Assumptions of another person. I can't read minds, I may have clues, but I will never know for certain their assumptions and motivations and the Diplomatic thing to do is deal in Good Faith.

Good Faith (a wikipedia link)
One of the business concepts that is in the tackled also in Philosophy, Ethics and even in Cognition/Psychology. You can say, its even a pillar of society because without it (or very very little of it) destroys economies, communities, and civilization.

Pretty much how Empathy is used as I talked about it above falls under Good Faith. but there is a Catch to good faith, you have to be clear in assumptions and proceed to communicate clearly and comprehensively. Often you will write and communicate like a lawyer being clear with your objectives, motives, and intentions.

I know it bogs down the game, but I do ask if certain moves are legal (unless its a Yes&/Yesbut game where there are no permissions) before proceeding. The problem which arises and triggers "Lawyery-ness" is assuming that your assumptions are the same.

(Even friendly) Arguments begin when we have contradicting claims, and there is need to peg assumptions and bring about the burden of proof. My policy is that if I'm not prepared to bear the burden of proof I'm not going to argue AND if the other person doesn't know how Burden of Proof works then I don't argue AND if the person doesn't know that assumptions have to be pegged down I do not entertain even a "friendly" discussion.

Its like sparring but the person doesn't know how to keep it non-lethal, its just gets lethal... and people get pissed and everything is ruined.