Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GURPS Magic Notes 09: Sample Mages for the Setting.

NPC mages using Ritual Magic. Having these set up determines the value and accessibility of mage resources. Layer your appreciation of HR and you the formula of a complex and intricate system of magical manpower and logistics.

Magical Infrastructure: Assistants 

This is where RPM and RM diverge, in RPM the mage does not need so many assistants and can basically achieve a lot without a magical footprint. This is the advantage James' character has in a setting with mostly RM mages who have Powerful Patrons and a population to exploit for mana.

Take note Powerstones are one of the core pillars in using RM mages. I've capped the starting available powerstone in the WBH Setting, because its going to be a head-ache for me if I didn't. Still at the cap of 15 power plus the Mage's own FP and maybe a skilled mage familiar's FP the mage can be formidable. Able to employ about less than a handful of powerful spells in an encounter... but unlike the RPM mages who can employ a whole weeks worth of spells almost all instantaneously.

As Powerstones are important in both Encounters and Enchantments, the Mage needs Ceremonial Magic to allow him to have an Assistant supplement his FP. So basically Ceremonial Magic is a trade off of Time to get more FP. At 20FP per casting of a powerstone mages need assistant to draw from and typically more than one assistant, it depends on the setting how many assistants since Mages have skill penalties for every assistant. In WBH setting, at Magery 15, it is typical to have 5 assistant (the Ally group advantage).

The caster needs mage assistants, and an organization needs mage assistants with a "succession" plan if rivals/competitors assassinates or pirates them. A dedicated assistant, is very useful for a mage since they are very prep-intensive. Ritual Magic Mages require more assitance than Ritual Path Magic Mages.

GM notes. Allies that are compensated by the PCs are very loyal, especially when paid in CP. In this point I grant the "Plot Protection/Armor" to the Ally when it comes to matters of Loyalty but these are still dependents and the PC should take care of them.

FTE, or Full-Time-Equivalents is a useful term to measure manpower.
Freq-9 (11 days out of 30) is Head Count * 0.36 FTE
Freq-12 (22.5 days out of 30) is Head Count * 0.75 FTE

So if you have 10 people and they have a Freq-9, any workday there will be only 5 people available. (10 * 0.5 = 5 FTE)

This is considering 20 work day a month, assuming a buffer for leaves and weakends.
FTE can be used to determine 24/7 presence. If you stagger your Allies into shifts, you can determine your 24/7FTE. Simply its getting
Freq-9 (11 days out of 30)  is Head Count * 0.07 for 24/7 FTE
Freq-12 (22.5 days out of 30) is Head Count * 0.15 for 24/7 FTE
Freq-15 (28 days out of 30) is Head Count * 0.19 for 24/7 FTE

You want a novice that will always guarding the PC 24/7, and you have 20 people. 20 * 0.15 means at any point there are 3 novices present.

Novice Ally (Startup Level)
Ally (Ally 50% of Mage's Point Value; Frequency: Very Often, x2; Supernatural +50%; Dependent at 50% the Mage's Point Value, Freq-6 -2 points) [7cp]

At freq-15 a day. that translates to 27 days a month, if you are a generous employer you would probably just give a few days leave to the ally per month.

Group of Initiates FTE 7 (common in the Mid-level Covens)
Ally (Ally 25% of Mage's Point Value; Frequency: Often, x2; Supernatural +50%; Group x6; Dependent at 25% Point Value of the mage, Freq-6 -10) [8]

At freq-12 a day. that translates to 18 days a month. Pretty much a work month with leaves lolz. Since a mage in WBH setting only needs 5 at a time (to maintain the skill-20 level) then he will "shift" the 5 other mages to all him to enchant 30 days a month while giving them a fairly generous amount of leaves.

Group of Initiates FTE 15 (common in the Top Covens)
Ally (Ally 25% of Mage's Point Value or 50cp for a 200cp mage, 1 point; Frequency: Often, x2;  Group x8; Dependent at 25% Point Value of the mage, Freq-6 -10) [4]

Group of Novices FTE 7 (typical for the most most powerful Mages)
Ally (Ally 50% of Mage's Point Value or 100cp for a 200cp mage, 2 points; Frequency: Often, x2; Group x6; Dependent at 50% Point Value of the mage, Freq-6 -5) [19]

Group of Novices FTE 15 (typical for the most powerful Covens)
Ally (Ally 50% of Mage's Point Value or 100cp of 200cp mage, 2 points; Frequency: Often, x2; Group x8; Dependent at 50% Point Value of the mage, Freq-6 -5) [43]

Group of Novices FTE 37 (typical for the most powerful Covens)
Ally (Ally 50% of Mage's Point Value; Frequency: Often, x2; Supernatural +50%; Group x10; Dependent at 50% Point Value of the mage, Freq-6 -5) [55]

Group of Novices FTE 75 (typical for the most powerful Covens)
Ally (Ally 50% of Mage's Point Value; Frequency: Often, x2; Supernatural +50%; Group x12; Dependent at 50% Point Value of the mage, Freq-6 -5) [67]

Use the FTE to calculate their ability to make enchantments of Slow and Sure method. Basically the most powerful Coven has 75 man-hours to use. a 1000fp effigy would cost 13 days or 2 weeks straight of work. Each effigy earning the Coven about $250,000.

Top Covens (FTE 15) can find work making an Effigy in 10 weeks.

Mage, Novice

55 / 75 points

Attributes [0]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 10 [0]
Secondary Characteristics [0]: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL9kg; HP10 [0]; Will 10 [0]; Per 10 [0]; FP 10 [0]; SPD 5.00 [0]; Move 5 [0]
Social Background [0]:
Template [0]: Wealth (Struggling) [-10; Duty, Hazardous (Freq-15) [-15]; Patron (Extremely Powerful) (B72) (9) [15]; Unusual Background [10]
Advantages [45]: Talent (Hidden Lore, Theology, Religious Ritual, Savoir Faire, Acting, Psychology) [10]; Magery 10 (Granted by Familiar -40%; Verbal and Somatic Components -40%) [25]; Formidable Familiar (150% point Ally 10 points or 112 point Familiar; Sympathy, death of ally brings Character to 0HP -25%; Constant Frequency x4; Dependent Freq-6 -1cp; Gadget Limitations - Can be Stolen, Opposed DX roll, -30%; Gadget Limitation - Size -5, -15%; Gadget limitation - Breakable, DR 15, -10% ) [7]; Mind-link (Granted by Familiar -40%) [3]
Typically has Mindlink (Granted by Familiar -40%; Limited Use, x10, -10%; Takes Recharge, x5, -20%; Maximum Duration, 1hour, -10%; ) [1]
Typically in the form of a metallic charm. example - a bracelet, necklace, amulet,
Disadvantages [-50]: • -50 points choose from among Addiction (B122) (Expensive, Legal; Inexpensive, Illegal; or Inexpensive, Legal, Highly Addicting) [-5]; Bad Sight (B123; Mitigated by Glasses, -60%) [-10]; Bad Temper (B125) (12) [-10]; Bloodlust (B125) (12) [-10]; Callous (B125) [-5]; Chummy (B126) [-5]; Code of Honor (B127) (Professional) [-5]; Compulsive Behavior (B128) (work with the GM with a appropriate mania or philia) [-5]; Cowardice (12) [-10]; Dependents (Family; Loved ones x2 cost) (6) [-7 to -15]; Enemies (B135) (Hunter, Equally Powerful or Small Group of Less Powerful) (6) or (Rival/Competitor Equally Powerful or Small Group of Less Powerful) (9) [-5]; Flashbacks, Mild (B139) [-5]; Greed (B137) (12) [-15]; Insomnia (B140) [-10]; Intolerance (Name a Social or Ethnic Group) (B140) [-5] Loner (B142) (12) [-5]; Nightmares (B144) (12) [-5]; Obsession (B146) (long term goal) (12) [-10]; Odious Personal Habits (B22) [-5]; Pacifism (B148) (Cannot Harm Innocents or Self Defense only) [-10]; Phantom Voices, Annoying (B148) [-5]; Post Combat Shakes (B150) (12) [-5]; Secret (B152) (will serve Prison) [-20]; Selfish (B153) (12) [-5]; Sense of Duty (B153) (Small Group) [-5]; Social Stigma (B155) (Criminal Record) [-5].
Primary Skills [32]: Theology (H) IQ [4]-12; Religious Ritual (H) IQ [4]-12; Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8]-20; College/Path (VH) IQ [8]-20; College/Path (VH) IQ [8]-20;
Secondary Skills [20]: Acting (A) IQ+1 [4]-13; Hidden Lore (Mages) (A) IQ+1 [4]-13; Politics (A) IQ+1 [4]-11; Savoir Faire (Servants) IQ+2 [4]-14; Psychology (H) IQ [4]-10
Background Skills [8]: Area Knowledge (E) IQ [0]-10; Research (A) IQ [2]-10; Administration (A) IQ [2]-10; Artist (Calligraphy) (H) IQ [4]-10.

Mage, Adept

75 / 100 points

Attributes [0]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 10 [0]
Secondary Characteristics [0]: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL9kg; HP10 [0]; Will 10 [0]; Per 10 [0]; FP 10 [0]; SPD 5.00 [0]; Move 5 [0]
Social Background [0]:
Template [10]: Duty, Hazardous (Freq-15) [-15]; Patron (Extremely Powerful) (B72) (9) [15]; Unusual Background [10]
Advantages [55]: Talent (Hidden Lore, Theology, Religious Ritual, Savoir Faire, Acting, Psychology) [10]; Magery 10 (Granted by Familiar -40%; Verbal and Somatic Components -40%) [35]; Powerful  Familiar (150% point Ally 10 points or 150 point Familiar; Sympathy, death of ally brings Character to 0HP -25%; Constant Frequency x4; Dependent Freq-6 -1cp; Gadget Limitations - Can be Stolen, Opposed DX roll, -30%; Gadget Limitation - Size -5, -15%; Gadget limitation - Breakable, DR 15, -10% ) [7]; Mind-link (Granted by Familiar -40%) [3]
Typically in the form of a metallic charm. example - a bracelet, necklace, amulet,
Disadvantages [-50]: Template -5 • -45 points choose from among Addiction (B122) (Expensive, Legal; Inexpensive, Illegal; or Inexpensive, Legal, Highly Addicting) [-5]; Bad Sight (B123; Mitigated by Glasses, -60%) [-10]; Bad Temper (B125) (12) [-10]; Bloodlust (B125) (12) [-10]; Callous (B125) [-5]; Chummy (B126) [-5]; Code of Honor (B127) (Professional) [-5]; Compulsive Behavior (B128) (work with the GM with a appropriate mania or philia) [-5]; Cowardice (12) [-10]; Dependents (Family; Loved ones x2 cost) (6) [-7 to -15]; Enemies (B135) (Hunter, Equally Powerful or Small Group of Less Powerful) (6) or (Rival/Competitor Equally Powerful or Small Group of Less Powerful) (9) [-5]; Flashbacks, Mild (B139) [-5]; Greed (B137) (12) [-15]; Insomnia (B140) [-10]; Intolerance (Name a Social or Ethnic Group) (B140) [-5] Loner (B142) (12) [-5]; Nightmares (B144) (12) [-5]; Obsession (B146) (long term goal) (12) [-10]; Odious Personal Habits (B22) [-5]; Pacifism (B148) (Cannot Harm Innocents or Self Defense only) [-10]; Phantom Voices, Annoying (B148) [-5]; Post Combat Shakes (B150) (12) [-5]; Secret (B152) (will serve Prison) [-20]; Selfish (B153) (12) [-5]; Sense of Duty (B153) (Small Group) [-5]; Social Stigma (B155) (Criminal Record) [-5].
Primary Skills [32]: Theology (H) IQ [4]-12; Religious Ritual (H) IQ [4]-12; Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8]-25; College/Path (VH) IQ [8]-25; College/Path (VH) IQ [8]-25;
Secondary Skills [20]: Acting (A) IQ+1 [4]-13; Hidden Lore (Mages) (A) IQ+1 [4]-13; Politics (A) IQ+1 [4]-11; Savoir Faire (Servants) IQ+2 [4]-14; Psychology (H) IQ [4]-10
Background Skills [8]: Area Knowledge (E) IQ [0]-10; Research (A) IQ [2]-10; Administration (A) IQ [2]-10; Artist (Calligraphy) (H) IQ [4]-10.

Mages, Masters

115 / 150 points
Masters serve as Lieutenants to Arch Mages.

Attributes [20]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 10 [0]
Secondary Characteristics [0]: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL9kg; HP10 [0]; Will 10 [0]; Per 10 [0]; FP 10 [0]; SPD 5.00 [0]; Move 5 [0]
Social Background [0]:
Template [30]: Duty, Hazardous (Freq-15) [-15]; Patron (Extremely Powerful) (B72) (9) [15]; Unusual Background [10]; Wealth (Wealthy) [20]
Advantages [55]: Talent (Hidden Lore, Theology, Religious Ritual, Savoir Faire, Acting, Psychology) [10]; Magery 10 (Granted by Familiar -40%; Verbal and Somatic Components -40%) [35]; Formidable Familiar (150% point Ally 10 points or 225 point Familiar; Sympathy, death of ally brings Character to 0HP -25%; Constant Frequency x4; Dependent Freq-6 -1cp; Gadget Limitations - Can be Stolen, Opposed DX roll, -30%; Gadget Limitation - Size -5, -15%; Gadget limitation - Breakable, DR 15, -10% ) [7]; Mind-link (Granted by Familiar -40%) [3]
Typically in the form of a metallic charm. example - a bracelet, necklace, amulet,
Disadvantages [-50]: • -50 points choose from among Addiction (B122) (Expensive, Legal; Inexpensive, Illegal; or Inexpensive, Legal, Highly Addicting) [-5]; Bad Sight (B123; Mitigated by Glasses, -60%) [-10]; Bad Temper (B125) (12) [-10]; Bloodlust (B125) (12) [-10]; Callous (B125) [-5]; Chummy (B126) [-5]; Code of Honor (B127) (Professional) [-5]; Compulsive Behavior (B128) (work with the GM with a appropriate mania or philia) [-5]; Cowardice (12) [-10]; Dependents (Family; Loved ones x2 cost) (6) [-7 to -15]; Enemies (B135) (Hunter, Equally Powerful or Small Group of Less Powerful) (6) or (Rival/Competitor Equally Powerful or Small Group of Less Powerful) (9) [-5]; Flashbacks, Mild (B139) [-5]; Greed (B137) (12) [-15]; Insomnia (B140) [-10]; Intolerance (Name a Social or Ethnic Group) (B140) [-5] Loner (B142) (12) [-5]; Nightmares (B144) (12) [-5]; Obsession (B146) (long term goal) (12) [-10]; Odious Personal Habits (B22) [-5]; Pacifism (B148) (Cannot Harm Innocents or Self Defense only) [-10]; Phantom Voices, Annoying (B148) [-5]; Post Combat Shakes (B150) (12) [-5]; Secret (B152) (will serve Prison) [-20]; Selfish (B153) (12) [-5]; Sense of Duty (B153) (Small Group) [-5]; Social Stigma (B155) (Criminal Record) [-5].
Primary Skills [32]: Theology (H) IQ [4]-13; Religious Ritual (H) IQ [4]-13; Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8]-26; College/Path (VH) IQ [8]-26; College/Path (VH) IQ [8]-26;
Secondary Skills [20]: Acting (A) IQ+1 [4]-14; Hidden Lore (Mages) (A) IQ+1 [4]-14; Politics (A) IQ+1 [4]-12; Savoir Faire (Servants) IQ+2 [4]-15; Psychology (H) IQ [4]-11.
Background Skills [8]: Area Knowledge (E) IQ [0]-10; Research (A) IQ [2]-10; Administration (A) IQ [2]-10; Artist (Calligraphy) (H) IQ [4]-10.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Less Posts; Longer running campaign

Since I've got so many projects at work and for personal, I will have to trim down my posts by 33%.  So I'll be posting on Tuesday and Thursday. Hopefully I will achieve many of my new year goals in both work and personal projects that I can post material related to it.

So I've got a lot of personal projects planned, and there really is no point on writing about them until they are done. There are Inspirational Posts about

Long Running Campaign Lessons

Many of the future Posts will be about the War Beneath Heaven, the current Campaign I'm running. So far its had 11 sessions. 8 sessions in the first season, which was a very basic and my skills were really problematic. I was not able to mix things in a way to keep it entertaining and really depended heavily in the trust the players gave me to improve my GMing.

After the 9th, 10th and 11th session, it seems to have improved and there are many lessons I've learned regarding the game.

  • It takes time. The games of 9th, 10th, and 11th are well balanced in combat, problem solving, and role-playing. One thing I realize is that it takes time for me to convert a Sand-box situation into a good narrative. I give the players a sandbox, and I cannot convert it in 2 hours to a good mix of gaming; it takes me about 4 hours to balance things and control the narrative. This is really something I cannot help and I wish my abilities were better to achieve 
  • Timing means a lot for something I used to think pure ability can fix. I have less distractions with the time setting of 7am Saturday in Philippine time. This helps immensely because GMing concentration rapidly degrades if I have any chores left undone and I get into trouble because of that. Also Timing is great for getting players from 12 hour difference!. GMT+8am 7am Saturday is great for EST & CST, as well as those in the AUS, NZ, and PH. And it is a Saturday. 
  • Always in a rush; I can't help but be a little rude and Screw the app I'll just narrate the damn thing. I catch myself being not as courteous as I should because I am always being in a hurry for every player to get their turn. Good thing its recorded (which i can download and listen to on long drives) so that I can catch myself when i'm wasting time. The App is there to serve to Illustrate a situation and when I depend on it I should multi-task, setting things up with listening to the player declare their actions and plans. 
  • Applying StoryTelling Skills. My consumption of media helps in the flow of stories, so it does take time to tell a good story and as the players declare their actions and activities I apply all that I've learned in writing and storytelling to tie things together. This sounds like common sense but its the practice of reading a story: predicting the outcome of a TV show/Novel/manga/Comics is what really drives the narrative towards things the Players can Intuitively understand. I want the players to plan and try to implement plans, but in order to do that they need to understand and comprehend the setting and their limitations and capabilities. This means that I have to convey Cliche's or Memes or easy to get Ideas and build up from there. So Drawing from Cliche's or popular media is there to create common ground Quickly. Storytelling Professionalism comes to play, meaning do your job even if it doesnt meet some high standard, just get it done and we can edit it to make it appear better in the Game Notes!
  • Endings was always my problem. It was always my problem that by the end of the game I was too tired to think of a great clincher. The trick is really to have a great Idea result from the current situation and use that Conditioned Response to Stop and Think about it. So you have this great situation, now Stop and Think. The game ends a bit prematurely, but thats ok its the Aftermath Notes where you can rally your thoughts into a Great Ending piece! 
  • Always take the Time to Rally Thoughts. Being single minded is a disadvantage because the instinct to Step back and re-assess the situation is severely hampered. Everyone can concentrate when something needs to be done, but the ability to make sense of  subtle hints that things are going wrong is more talent than trained; to compensate condition the virtue of stepping back to re-assess the situation. 
  • Discretion. Leaving things open to interpretation is great tool and practice in work and in the game. In the game, there are times where being very specific is great, but broad strokes would serve better in some cases. Especially broad strokes that Dont Paint yourself into a corner. This is practiced using particular language, knowing which kind of details are worth saying.

Its ok for the players to know the techniques. Players who are also GMs don't need to be sold the illusion, they get into character and the game, and as a Facilitator my job is really to make the Game and Powerlevels sustainable, but really give them the chance to do amazing things. Thats the funny thing about Table-Top RPGs it is consensus and we have fun by working together.

I can't help but meta game a bit since I'm also a GM, but it never spoils my fun in the game. In fact its a kind of commitment that pushes me to ignore bias created by my being a GM and enjoy the game. Its a very adult thing, and I admit I had a big problem with this when I was younger. Unleashing one's own Role-playing urge is what is important and the main catharsis, the only details that matter are in the clues about the GM's narration.

I'm writing this because a Hiatus means I'll get rusty. Its easy to get rusty as I get older. I miss a day of jogging and my performance falls like a brick. Same goes with drawing and all other mental activities. At least in this blog, capturing the ideas and crystallizing them into words help preserve it for after the hiatus.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Analyzing Inspiration: Proceedural, Legal, Political Dramas

On of my current inspirations is "The Good Wife", especially since it takes current events and current debates and weaves it into the narrative.

Given whats happening at work and in the world, I've noticed there has been a trend for "Competent Professional" dramas. In one anecdote, The Office with its professionally incompetent characters have been replaced by "Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn 99 which have a cast of competent and sometimes amazing professionals despite being quirky.

With whats happening with work, its inspiring to see Competent Professionals and my gamer mindset always invading my reality, I cannot help but stat and look at problems in work and stories told to me in a Gamer perspective - as though the GM posed the problem (without having any solution in mind and regardless of the powerlevel of the players).

So my current inspiration are stories about very competent professionals, whether they solve their problems, take the hit, deflect it, make a trade off, and various other courses of actions and consequences. In light of all the uncertainty, its nice to see even a fictional character shrug and carry on. Some real-world inspirations don't actually apply because they themselves are living by a razors edge, and some are just lucky (which is not really inspiring; I can't aspire to be Luckier lolz).

Personal Grooming

So I got to talking to the Google+ GURPS community and there is a consensus that Savoir-Faire covers personal grooming. Yeah, I'm one of those clueless guys who really don't see it until someone points it out... then I can't help but keep seeing it.

I'm often the target of my wife's criticizm in my Lack of Professional appearance... and I personally try to compromise it by choosing clothes with a military theme that can be used for work. So you will see a bunch of work clothes that are OD and Khaki lolz.

But, other than my personal struggles with fashion and personal grooming It makes me think more about the double standards that exist with women and men when it comes to appearance. As a guy I have it easier, I can wear the same expensive thing over and over again. To a woman its worse, they have to update their wardrobe.

When players say they can't finish their TL8 starting wealth in GURPS, the first response online is "80% settled lifestyle" check your work clothes for the year and you pretty much have a lot of "baggage" you may want to spend on.

So why a post about Personal Grooming?: well now that I'm aware about the double standard and got into learning more about it (and its quality time with the wife going with her in these things), I got to realize little details that are pretty funny - like how older men who are my boss's age like manicures and pedicures. It can seem a bit funny, but in a room with these higher status people and their personal grooming the difference in status can be quite stark.

If I think thats pretty excessive, then I only need to think about what my wife has to go through to look professional and the judgement she is trying to dodge about her competence versus her appearance.

So yeah, its a silly detail that shouldn't matter but MATTERS which makes sense if you remember your CAT or ROTC then magnify that to a REAL military dress code lolz. I remember spending an four hours a week just prepping my gear for airsoft, and back in ROTC and CAT spending about an hour for polishing and prepping gear for these not-so-military activities... I can just imagine the habits that must be gain and mindset adapted to make this investment in time less intrusive lolz (talk about trimming down habits).

So its part of Savoir-Faire and the name doesnt really capture "Personal Grooming" or the Attention to detail. Maybe a General Perk is needed to say that this character is meticulous, well groomed, well dressed, and has no detail out of place.

The fine habits for a good hit man or a hustler if you ask me lolz. Really, its the details that will end up killing you, so since you don't want the GM to use those minor details to get you having such perks as "Plot  protection" only makes sense.

Reaction Rolls are made with Attribute Modifiers from Savoir Faire should suffice for Appearance and Presentation.

IQ+2 Savoir Faire 4cp adds to Attractive, Charisma etc... Fashion Sense add and
Sanitized Metabolism and Well Groomed and Dressed perk affect a variety of situations like Close Quarters and standing out of a crowd or subtle use of wealth.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

RPing different ethnicities, cultures, and genders; Fear of Being Offensive

Leslie Chow from the Hangover is a legitimate character and I don't find it a disparaging archetype. Stereo types are tricky and for me, I'd just rather play them than Not Play them out of fear of being offensive. I just realized the huge gap that Fear of Being offensive can create in the awareness of the world and things around myself. I mean, if I ask certain questions I'm bound to offend someone's belief... what offensive compared to mis-informing people. If there is an ethical fault Mis-information is one, being offensive cannot be helped because our medium of communication is not telepathy with complete empathy of the situation.

I'm a big lover of freedom of expression, and in interactions and relationships we really don't know the boundaries until we cross it. but when we do Good-Faith is there to catch us and repair and strengthen these relationships. Good Faith is such a necessary element in society that the recent controversy regarding spying underlines how much Good-Faith has been so absent that it marks a breakdown in the ability of society to communicate empathically.

Back to being able to RP the variety of Beings and Conditions some of us would like to explore and contemplate. I know people enjoy RPGs for various reasons, so this post is definitely not for everybody and may fall in the lower tiers of nerdiness in the heirarchies of geek elitism. "Role-playing Different Peoples and Nationalities: How Boring!" comes to mind when I was much younger. But then again, these are real people and there is an inherent complexity to their problems and personal trials that even a glimpse of this can leave one speechless and doubting many long held beliefs. But yeah, philosophy nerds are pretty low tier in geek society so its not something people will want to talk about... hence the freedom of being a blog with no real audience Lolz. 

This is a Topic Covered in Happy Jacks that brought out a lot of discussion: Accents are Regionial, and not Racist (Damn it!). In fact its so taken for-granted it gets annoying if you want to be elitist about it, I mean you gotta be consciously a eugenics believer to believe that manner of speech has to do with race instead of linguistic culture. 

Having played in Online with various peoples of various nationalities there are a ton of accents one can be experiencing. If I'm trying to be clear and emphasize with who I'm talking to I'd eventually speak the words in their tone or accent. Speaking different accents is pretty fun, so fun that the wife and I have a bad habit of mispronouncing words as a way to test how far one can interpret the sound and spelling.

My wife and I have this little quirk where we mispronounce words. Like consider the sentence and try pronouncing everything differently and try to make it as alien sounding as possible. Basically thats a nasty habit I got from trying to learn other languages and exploring the accents and pronounciations of the many peoples we deal with. She's in an international Company in Finanace and I'm dealing with Internationals that deal with BPOs, so exercising the ability to fathom various pronounciations become a funny game we play almost unconsciously.

If you tried to learn a language like Mandarin and had to learn the 4 tones you begin to realize how you cannot hear the difference of these tones as a born english speaker. As a Tagalog speaker and Otaku, some japanese we deal with are amazed by how authentically we can capture their accent when we talk about the words and how close the sylabalic nature of Japanese is to Tagalog.

Its a world where accents is a trivial matter and we need to learn languages with very different alphabets and organization of speech... more than ever. If your a futurist or sci-fi geek, learning a Non-Romance language becomes an important experience when understanding how amazing and limited it is as a medium of communication. Again the nerdy topic, not for those who want to complicate their lives with complicated hobbies lolz.

Enter the GURPS Modern Fantasy game I'm running which is in an African Setting. One of the reasons behind it is because of how insignificant in the grand scheme of things It can feel like growing up from a country far from being the G7-20. To have no world policy leverage or attractive market to have any influence or protect one's self kinda sucks balls. Being one of the easiest to be bullied or made into a Pariah by more powerful countries really gives you another level of Disempowerment (if you think Cthuluh is scary; trying growing up in Syria as it is NOW; where girls are being sold off to for $300USD to have a chance to survive).

Growing up in the Philippines during the 80s onward, being the 3rd world upbringing has an interesting perspective in my socio-economic studies, the narrative I want to tell, and the current events as economies are slowing down. Listening to my “Kuya's (older male relative) generation talk about how it was in martial law growing (contrasting with the Marcos propaganda online at the present) gives an interesting perspective worth telling in a world that is experience record levels of unemployment (especially the youth) and conservative economic units (the extended families as a single household).

I don't have any African friends, is it racist if I run a game that has a large African population while being Asian? I mean I've felt my share of racism, at the same time I also feel like my ethnicity did not matter to the friends and interactions I've made. I think failing to explore those gray areas of human nature is worse than the “fear to offend” maybe finding it un-interesting or worth knowing... their real and human suffering maybe be a more worthy thing to be afraid off... if the argument holds any merit. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Writing Financing my Writing

I got an unexpected check in the mail the day I wrote this. My calculations of how much it pays per word was way off by 1/3. So it looks like I earned more than i expected writing and where I am the check is how much I used to earn as a 3d Artist for a month's work (200 hours). In the Philippines this check goes such a long way that its actually allows me to afford some help in writing.

It really is the first time I made money doing something I\m passionate about, compared to the projects and frustration in my day job. So how I want to spend it says a lot. My friends were telling me, jokingly, to buy more airsoft guns and gear. I am my mom's son when I think: What the heck is that going to do for me staying in the closet 6 days a week? The only reasonable thing is to invest it back into writing, in my case finding an editor, in the Philippines even if a copy editor or proof reader should be within my budget for such a simple job and task, now that I have enough liquidity to pay a down for writing services (having been a starving artist a long time I know how it feels).

I plan to do such for the most of the money I would ever earn with the writing I have planned once I can be freed from these projects and squeeze in some writing. Writing between projects seems to be easy, because I really get frustrated at work and nothing like writing on the desk makes time fly just too fast.

It seems Work and a constant source of stress and sadness is a great source of inspiration and fuel for writing and gaming. Since I plan to write 19th Century Philippine, Crusader/Byzantine, and Transhumanist fiction I don't think it will make a lot of money my current strategy is Dime Electronic Short Novels. I'd probably make more money writing for SJGames if they publish the things I have lined up (mostly material designed to make OCD gm's jobs easier by letting me do all the work for these GMs like a good little GM Personal Assistant). I'm still going to have a full time job but at least I can tell my kid that I did this Novel and got published lolz.

I think in this world where jobs and economies are slowly stagnating, that the jobs that are available are those that are unbearable, where the jobs we want put us in so much educational debt and are such a gamble, and while having that deep and conflicted relationship with optimism, the small wins become so much bigger and satisfying. Its like the world changes in that one instance before level headed decision making and forethought kicks in and that magical afflicting is forgotten and the sensation is but an ideal I can barely describe.

Hopefully I've made headway when this gets published. Thats the cool thing about scheduled posts, I have time to put my money where my mouth is.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Behind the Scenes: GURPS Modern Fantasy Prep

I think you can click to enlarge. This Layout is from my "ranging" in the most crowded areas in Divisoria. A little background: divisoria is where you get the best deals for knock-offs, direct-from-suppliers and hard to find goods and not a place tourists should go to without an experienced guide. I stick out like a sore thumb even as a local, especially since my first language is not filipino.

As you can see there are a ton of crates, crates are tricky because they can hide areas and can be red herrings. Players can basically waste time trying to check out a what is behind each create. Its common for interesting stuff to be behind these creates a bunch of baddies shooting or monsters can make the decision making processes easier. 
By the time I've posted this the map has been already used up. I'm drawing mostly my experience with bldgs for map making and how in 3rd world countries many buildings don't exactly follow the building code. 

If your interested to talk, call me up in Hangouts and we can have a chat about modern map making. I can set up GIMP and we can go step by step in making something like this. 

You can see I stopped drawing doors, if its an open passage way and LoS is blocked then its a door. It saves on space. You can also see how Modern Places can be as maze like as a dungeon and very dangerous. It was so easy to get lost in Divisoria especially since I can just pull out my phone without risking it getting snatched (good thing my brother came with me and we were able to watch each others backs). 

The yellow blocks are easier to make than lines, because lines require precision and the blocks don't. In the end stacking a bunch of yellow blocks is easier than carving out a layout. 

The interior hollow is supposed have windows but I'll just narrate it, allowing visibility is too time consuming compared to the GM just describing it.  I wish Roll20 had a way to copy a Done Map so that I can make variations of floors. 

I will have a "walled" City encounter (based on the Kowloon Walled City and movies like the Raid or Dredd where its urban warfare. Such maps will fall under a template which I flip and move around the parts. I'll post it when its done. I get to play out my Airsoft frustration when making such a map lolz. 

This map is a Tracing of Old Manila and there was no City Planning. The roads are still wide enough for 4 lanes for carts but 2 lanes for cars. I plan to have running battles in these maps, mostly narrating whats happening instead of second by second combat. Its easier if the players trust me or work towards tinkering the rules to fit this kind of encounter. I've been here and did a lot of walking around and research because of the Military Gear shop that I frequent that is over here. 

For another game, I just flipped the map to represent another terrain. Corners and directions are what matter. A to B and going through this whole mess in the terrible traffic and overcrowded city makes for a scary and action packed encounter. 

Note that I like sharing my work, I share can share my pix and maps you can copy them off this post. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

War Beneath Heaven, S02E03 Aftermath part I

News Report May 30
A massive fire has rocked the Warf area, in one Fortalez Labs, a subsidiary company of the Quijolo Group of Companies. Many lab workers were able to escape, because the violence from the Sangre Sacramento and other Gangs Slowly escalated but a number of Quijolo and Order of God's Work executives and a pilot were caught in the fire when the private helicopter that malfunction preventing them from escaping. This tragic....

Chronicler Special: May 29 2013 Fire in
  • The labs and warehouse, had powerful necromantic auras and residue. The chronicler was able to get samples with verification from a Magus Warden that there is no broken chain of custody. The samples place the lab as the highest possible source of the Ecstasy/Necrosis drug that hit The Heights weeks ago.
  • The following report is the research into each of the men who died in the fire. This is the background checks. Xavier Obono is the VP assigned to this task, a high ranking member of OGW and one of the COO directors of Quijolo's subsidiaries.
  • There was a necromancer's circle residue that can be detected in the warehouse.
  • Below are other speculations and various other leads, which can be confirmed but may or may not be related....

The Tower's High Temple lost all its color in the dark and starless winter night. The great hall and its symbols of power, and pillars of magic breathed life in a meeting of shadows. A man in a leather mask, stood before a circle of mages and forgotten deities. He breathed life into his testimony with Illusion and pieced together a remarkable Reconstruction of what happened in the warehouse fire.

“Inquisitors!” Says a young man behind his mask and form hiding robes. “The chain of custody is unbroken, and I have tested the samples myself!”

Older and calmed voices hushed him, one voice bearing the practice of command spoke next.

“They have begun their move, but it does not mean we should move ourselves. There is still a choice for a peaceful resolution, we can invoke the Geas of the Vatican and ask them to clear up this mess.

“Or...” Dylan Baker did not care for masks or hiding his presence. He repeated himself and rang clearer “Or some of us can see the opportunity to take out the OGW and expand our territories now that the Gangs have been weakened. I'm sure i'm not the only one thinking it, I just want to make sure everyone knows their options.” ending with a look at the one who spoke just before him.

A woman voice rang, “The better question is how do we divide the Heights, now that Balthazar is gone. A fight for territories will just diminish the advantage we have just gained in the weakness of the Inquisitors.

“The answer my lady, and my fellows is rooted in a tradition I would happily illustrate: the Method of Talmud, with the catch that those who offer the most to our cause will gain the most. I will remove myself from the claim of territories, and will happily serve as arbiter.” many voiced contested the offer, but those more senior hushed their apprentices and eyed each other. In their experience, as it is with many important deals a Geas is used to ensure fairness, even powerful mages can be bound to a geas even the Mage of the Tower.

“You seem to have this for certain” one of the more senior Magi. “But such an offer has to have its consideration. Get to the point Mr. Baker, what do you want in return?”


While the Team was successful in destroying enemy command center and a huge asset setback for them, the work was mostly about managing the repercussions and cleaning up after themselves still needed to be done. Thomas was busy with managing the details while Speedy went to work in trying to find out more from the Laptop the team acquired. Moving quickly, they implanted a simple worm to lie in wait anticipating the system purges and password resets.

HSS core competence is network and data security, so its their specialty to break into such systems. The worm is of a simple design, all it will do is allow the HSS locate and flag targets for social engineering. The team then filters through these targets towards the most vulnerable, and from there uses that crack to open a font of information. This crack only gives them OGW and its dealings with Quijolos.

Vash was on it in about 6 days, because of all the preparations they had to do for this kind of work. The passwords are reset and many systems have been purged, a version of the worm is meant to hide in the many functions of the main data systems after its other replicants flag some careless exec to have his phone and sim copied and eventually allow the team to add more worms and malware to capture emails, texts, phone numbers, personnel and HR information, and calls.

After the fire OGW and Quijolo were not in good terms, despite the front they put up. The team was able to capture the bids and the business plans of the Quijolos and OGW, particularly information OGW hid from the Quijolos. Osman, Thomas, Jeni and Emily were on the job trying to intercept their suppliers, clients, and their put pressure on their "Paid" gov't workers. It was easy because it was practically cheating, they had their final bids, contracts, and their chain of command at HSS disposal. They were four steps ahead and basically took over the same projects. The only challenging thing was making money out of these projects so that these activities paid for itself, that was Thomas' job.

HSS vs OGW, HSS was able to buy out the opportunities of OGW. HSS has gained more revenue generating assets in The Heights and is slowly growing back to full strength.

Game Summary

  • party attempted to rally and organize all the gangs to attack Quijolo Labs.
  • thwarted an ambush, and was able to assemble the gangs using Paolo Confessor
  • prepared magic and equipment for the siege, and enlisted the help of three mages.
  • they attacked, despite a screwed up implementation of the gangs. 
  • they faced undead, and a mage machine gunner and one more in assault.
  • The machine gunner was taken out with a suicide drone attack of flashbangs. 
  • they flanker was able to take out Fish, almost killing him. 
  • as the flanker got closer, fish used a grenade with a critical success landing on the feet of the Flanker, the flanker still gets to evade and dodge. the flanker uses Mystic Mist to escape.
  • Clearing out the undead, they hit the Command center of the mages. They find Jakub, balthazar, and two other people who were tortured by the enemy mage.
  • The looted and ran before the fire spread to them. Tasha is able to quickly extract them. The team took a lot of damage, recovered comrades and was able to deal damage to the infra of the enemy company.
  • Scrolls: Delay x2, Reflex x3
  • Laptop, OGW resources.
  • 2 other tortured personnel
More posts to Follow. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Inspiration: Death Note

Finally Got to Watch Deathnote and it is Amazing and gave me a lot of Ideas.

Anyway, the ideas expressed and storytelling in Death-note is great material for my GURPS modern fantasy game. Particularly a focus on Mages, Mafias, Mega-Corporations, and Ministries. The Planning need not be overly complex, I plan to use a GURPsified version of Wilderness of Mirrors game effects and resolution (basically Yes&/But method)

The idea is that in a 3 hour session of 5-6 players I have a budget of 30 minutes per player or 10 minutes of 3 scenes each (or 2 hours of 4 players). The scenes follow the following format:

  • The Planners/Command characters rolls with his margin of success determining the pieces he moves and how much he allocates. The commander who has the largest margin of success goes first with the GM yes&/but.
  • Each character tasked, including the leader, have a set up scene - Player will make up shit telling the GM how he is implementing the plan or his action with what skills and resources at his disposal. The GM yes&/buts based on the skill level and the skills employed by the character. This is a 10 minute scene at MOST. Ideally the GM cycles quickly to give everyone less waiting time and more things to do. More than one Player can be in this scene. 
    • The GM is like, "ok what is your objective and how do you plan to achieve it given your abilities go!"
    • Player is like "Dan will do X and Y, and will try to achieve...". Player can ask and go back and forth with the GM doing this. The GM takes note and writes down his response.
  • The GM' with his yes&/but consume the NPC's margin of success like the PC, as he allocates an asset against that maneuvering pc or NPC asset. Since the GM is taking notes, he is mostly on the Listening and recieving end giving the players more opportunities for air-time. Players should feel free to use it as efficiently as possible to enthusiastically describe their actions. Give the GM the chance to make things more interesting by giving him a lot of material. 
    • The GM ok, "so Dan is doing X and..."  He narrates how the plan goes, and since it is a "LAW" that no plan survives first contact he ends this player's scene a cliff hanger switching to the NEXT Player. the GM marks resources expended by the opposing NPC group/or opposing PC group.   No Rolls yet, but the player should put in the Chat Log what skills and multi-tasking he plans to use. 
  • This continues as the GM cycles, by 1/3 the time everyone should have had a decent intro and their plan gets interesting. By the second round, the players are at exchanges with the GM with yes&/but depending on how much they are multi-tasking and their skill level. Gm and Player takes turn resolving each skill and part of the plan. Let the player narrate and capture his mindset, mood, and the feel of the scene. 
    • Player: "Dan does this, and he is etc...  he is paranoid about the risks but..." GM goes, Dan is right to be concerned, etc... happens and X&Y are staring down at Dan with tendrils of magic coursing down the barrel of the gun.  Roll A at ...
    • The Gm basically uses the build up and cliff hanger from the Intro to build up tension and to create a problem for the character that he has no time to make a solution for. it is together with the Player they navigate the problem. GM errs on the drama and emotion. 
  • The GM devotes more of the Encounters resources from this point on until the Problem is resolved by the next 2/3rds of the game. He balances the challenges for every scene, weighing more time in a scene with more players (ideally). How much resources the GM puts into the encounter is noted and will be reaped by the end of the session. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cost of Living in Haven 2

Haven is supposed to be based an amalgamation of 3rd worlds. Such that the cost of living defaults 20% to purely housing (no utilities), but in a wealthier country CoL is just utilities, food, transportation and lifestyle and one takes on debt to have more comfortable accommodations... prior to 2008-2009 (the book was published in 2004). Suze Orman suggests %40 of income (combined or single) for lifestyle, housing, and utilities, was a benchmark i remember and agree with.

To reflect the depressing circumstance of the present, people are renting apartments more instead of owning their own home and paying for the mortgage (such housing, in game-theory wise is a broken system better saved for a deeper discussion in economics and game theory). This is pretty much the circumstance poorer countries have faced prior to the economic crash and it takes some adjustment to calibrate one's expectations and adjust their lifestyle. There is  news of developers in europe, asia, and even here building apartments to capitalize on the future misery (sigh)... which is pretty depressing if you ask me.

These days, if your lucky to be educated happen to be born in a 3rd world, like Haven, unless you happen to be in the "right" industry expect that you will be renting an apartment or 3rd tier developer in the very dense residential neighborhood. renting in such a way would be %40 CoL in GURPS and losing 20-25 hours a week and 10-20% of CoL on transportation (thats depressing lolz). Food and recreation can finish the rest of CoL (50-30%; see B265) even though its recommend to save 10% of gross income when possible lolz.

Basically since 2009 the what Wealth and Status brings in B265 found in the Basic Set Equipment does not apply anymore. If you count transportation, people are "working" 80-100 hours a week sigh. (as a GM i'd rule that as duty, non-hazardous  freq-15 -10). So more people are struggling -10 and have -10 points of in duty  (B133).  the only way you can squeeze in Quality time is to have bad sleep habits, unfit, and take a hit on HT lolz. (the gamer economist in me wants to convert the 20-25 hours into revenue in some way lolz; either working remotely or take a hit on privacy and share accommodations near where you wish to work).  

$300 CoL (status -1); this is the growing Working Class of Haven.
~$80 Transportation (20 hours a week; lose 2FP)
~$120 Shared Utilities and Housing (Security Encounter 12 per month)
~$100 for food and entertainment (Status -1; HT-1, and unfit)

City Stats Modifier: Poor x0.5 *2600/TL8 = Average Income of Poor nation of Status 0 is $1300; Status -1 is $650 for struggling and $260 for poor. Disposable Income after cost of living is
any disposable income should be savings... but HT9, unfit, security concerns, and poor quality transportation has a lot of problems that can eat away and leave no savings.

Only a Hobby or Loved ones can keep one sane, roll for sanity when it comes to loved ones. lolz.

Man I can't seem to balance the budget, better take on some debt (sigh and lolz).

Expats in Haven

Haven is very westernized as a former Spanish and US colony and has a strong asian migrant population, because of its historical ties to Zheng He and the Temple dedicated to him in its Haven's sprawling China Town. In the economic depression, many expats from Asia and Europe have moved to Haven to start a new life. They find employment in the emerging High Tech industries and the many Infrastructure projects that this heavily populated country .

Expats, despite being from the middle class of their own country have a special place in Haven because of the centuries of colonial mentality and the testy relationship of Multinationals with their local executives because of the rampant personnel piracy. Expats are relatively cheaper despite their pay being triple to quintuple the local equivalent and have living at a much higher status than their home country when they finally adjust to Haven society.

The educational infrastructure left by the Americans made it the most advanced in the region but was not maintained and wasted away amid Oligarchical politics prior to the Civil War. The most talented and able of Haven migrate away for income of x5 to x10 that of what they are offered locally. the  Brain Drain Effect is because of the way society and the industry is set up, that even the most skilled native Havenite cannot get reasonable pay in Haven, and are easily pirated abroad. Haven having one of the largest African diaspora of about 10% of the population being manual laborers to skilled executives to the world. The Multi-cultural background of haven makes them fairly adaptive despite.  

To be an skilled professional expat in haven, is to reap the rewards of a new frontier or be eaten up by its risks and dangers. The typical strategy is to get into one of the lucrative mega-projects the gov't has set up. Navigate the red-tape and politics, and set up one's own fiefdom amid the many Princes who offer vassalage for much needed expertise, and loyalty.
GM note: Its easier to make Haven more depressing with Incompetent and Impotent Gov't than to be of an Evil and Competent. Its sooo easy to make a Competent Villain, but its more depressing and tragic to have a well meaning but incompetent gov't.     
I know how scary it is to migrate, because I am a former greencard holder and I couldn't cut migrating to the USA (especially the healthcare costs). By how frail my health is, I wouldn't have lasted  2 years and would have succumbed to pneumonia since I was the most sickly of my brothers even when I was at my healthiest. My brother couldn't take the stress, he got type 2 diabetes and several permanent health problems along with it. Health stat is taken forgranted by the young and cherished by the old, lolz.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Problem Solving is the Dungeon Crawl; Mature Theme: Financial Security

Problem Solving is the Dungeon Crawl

The idea behind debt is leverage future earnings in a way that when it us invested it multiplies productivity and a strategy that nets a net profit even with the "interest". I let players Role-Play and Problem-solve their characters and consequences are not limited by Points gained per session! 

Meaning if you managed to reduce your debt through an effective strategy or gain more income its yours to keep what you earned! Its basically like Dungeon Crawling to me, but instead of fighting monsters in a dungeon your Problem Solving lolz. That's the sandbox world to me, no GM to be some karmic overlord playing god and dealing retribution or favor (to me GM is the devil's advocate always bringing up problems, but cheering the players on as they solve them). The GM merely facilitates consequences, and sometimes badguys win.

Evoking Emotion; Financial Security as a Mature Theme

Current events as depressing as it may be is a great guide for both tragedy and drama. The number of many broken dreams the economic crash created and how deeply such fears go into the psyche of some mature players is something that is mostly avoided and unspoken. It would be awesome to bring it to light in an RP environment where these demons can be fought. These demons that gamed the system to breaking at the expense of so many innocents, and to face the problems with Epic Skills, Discipline, Introspection, and Emotional Maturity would be awesome for me as the GM and the audience of the players (as I cheer them on).

I believe (emphasis in the Hypothetical) that you can't get a strong reaction if there is no personal investment through something as simple and universal as financial security.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Inspiration, catching up with Anime lately

I was able to visit Toei here in the Philippines and have some friends who used to work there. I'm inspired by the production output the Anime Industry comes out and how many sorts of Sci-fi Fantasy it comes out with.

I found out that the production facility in the Philippines, has one division coming up with 4 episodes a week. This season has about more than 50 titles of anime's and the variety and content can be interesting.  Even with this advanced production line, the quality is pretty good.

Now that I'm catching up I'm surprised by the level of quality in the art and background. There has been greater use of 3d graphics like in Kingdom 2 and Galilei Donna as an example. The quality is only getting better and the market seems far from hitting a curve.

I'm wondering why doesn't a named fiction writer in the US subcontract Toei or the like and a get a production team and workout something with Netflix, Crunchyroll, or one of the many corporations that would actively consume the content?

Looking at all the Sci-fi and Fantasy Novels my friends are recommending, I'm wondering why isn't a company using those IPs and converting them to Anime or Manga. The production time can be very efficient, and this is an era where one can sell and produce their Anime made IP with close work with the right people.

As much as I admire Anime, many have targeted marketing in place. There is fan-service anime and a lot of unnecessary elements that don't add to the story but is there for broader audience appeal. Such activities makes me think that the market for anime has so much room that the way they re-use IP can be absurd.

I know some hardcore scifi guys would just HATE it if their favorite Hard Scifi novel would be done in anime, lolz. I could already hear the internet arguments and flame wars from this parallel universe of how they feel their favorite writers "sold out" at the same time, a NEW audience of young anime watchers are being introduced to variatioins of Hard Scifi and Fantasy that weens them out of such cliche tropes (so cliche you can name 10 animes/mangas that use the "special trope").

the smorgasborg of Mary Sue characters can cause a bit of violent reaction except for all the eye candy and visual graphics. One particular Anime that has caught my attention is Kyokai no Katana, which uses In-medias-Res, Fore-shadowing, and various other storytelling tools that makes it a non-linear story compared to many of the anime in the season. It also is an anime that is willing to leave questions unanswered (check out episode 06 shocking pink lolz).

Wow, Id wish some writer in Downton Abbey or The Goodwife would do consulting work for an anime script lolz. Really the way the scenes are organized can use a lot of help, and if its given the 3 scene treatment like in Downton it would just add value in how the resources are used.

Anyway, right now Its giving me a lot of visual energy since the G+ anime group tends to flood my wall with eye candy (some NSFW). Wish I had the luxury to practice everyday.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wealth Checks with the Speed/Range Table

Simple resource system for GURPS for less Bean Counting. Use the Speed and Range Table in B550. Basically

Begin with a Professional Skill, Merchant related Skill, or Administration. The GM sets a bonus or a penalty depending on the skill used. Typically Merchant or Administration is used. The farther the skill is from some fiscal management role, the more the skill becomes a default. Someone completely clueless of fiscal management has -5 default to their Highest professional skill. So a bartender with skill-15 still has a clue regarding finances at 10.

Looking at/Using the Range/Speed Table Yards in B550 x500USD to set the Task Difficulty modifier. The assumption is an Average Person of Status 0, Wealth Average has a very poor chance of scraping up $1000 USD. After a transaction the margin of failure plus 5 becomes a Future penalty to resources checks. On a success, Half the Margin of Success reduces the -5 penalty in future rolls. The resource penalty diminishes every month with another Job Roll for every margin of 2 success.

Before every income period, for every transaction has a Time Cost. Typically 40 hours, borrowing from GURPS Traveller Interstellar wars. Allow for Extra Time and Hasted Action rules in Basic Set. You can allow for -10 for almost instantaneous or within the hour.

Basically this Follows the Size Modifier to hit in B550
Poor -4
Struggling -2
Average -0
Comfortable +2
Wealthy +4
Very Wealthy +8
Filthy Rich +12
Millionaire +18
Multi-Millionaire 1 +24
Multi-Millionaire 2 +30 

1-3cp -1
4-6cp -2
7-9cp -3
10-12cp -4
13-15cp  -5
16-18cp -7
19-20cp -10

Independent Income
+10cp +1
20cp +2

Cultural Familiarity Penalties also apply to this and so will Reaction Roll penalties B560.

So example The Prince and the Knight (GURPS modern fantasy) are Filthy Rich. 
So they are +12 modifier to Resource rolls, but have 10points of debt at -4 to the resource rolls. This totals to +8 (their lifestyle and resources are as though they are Very Wealthy since with 10cp of debt they have 60,000/mo left; 60k/2600 = 23 so roughly like a x20 wealth modifier). 

The Knight has Merchant-18 with +8 to his resources he can a total resources score of 26 when making deals. If he is dealing with Banks and Financial Companies his Merchant Defaults to Finance-4 at skill 22. The prince on the other hand has a Merchant of 13 with the same debt at +8 modifier (total of +21).

Resource Rolls are useful for bribes and a lot of circumstance in a Technological Setting with Financial Instruments, Credit, and a Complex Economy.  

Thomas is trying to source Peiter some NVG equipment. The cost is about $5,000 USD but x2 its cutting edge and needs to be imported. So Thomas has a -6 penalty for a total of 20. Thomas Rolls a 9! an 11 margin of success, he does it without a dent to his finances. He knew a guy working in one of the multinational who wanted to trade for a rack of old Avayas and a Ciscos that was getting old in his storage. 

Example 2
The Prince is in a party, and uses his Politics to look for someone in the group to influence. He finds Lady Palatabalanza and notices the strained smile in her eyes. He approaches her, and graciously wards off her sycophants with a Performance-16, spilling some drinks on them and embarrassing them(TDM -4; (critical success at 6). The sycophants seem outraged, and he calls his manservant who brings him his Tablet. He sweet talks them helps them repair their attire, while calling his manservant to seek help from the Host's servants to mend the circumstance. He makes a grand show of using his tablet to peruse a worthy reparation to the slight, (part of the performance) bringing the Lady Palatablanza in the joke as they choose the clothes of for their helpless victim. The new attire ends up costing $15000 -7 penalty, but he Fast Talks the sycophant into getting something else at Fast-Talk-16+8 -10 hasted for 14. He rolls a 6 (I was using the Roll20 dice reference and it came out a 6! lolz) with a margin of 8. While he fast talks the sycophant, he gives well placed nudges and winks to Lady Palatabalanza who almost cries out laughing hiding her expression behind her fan.
The prince manipulates the sycophant to owe him, wins lady Palatabalanza's humour, and it didn't make a dent on his pockets. Until the end of the month, after his job roll he has a -1 penalty to succeeding Sourcing rolls. 

Example 3.
The Legba group, has Antonio Ugandale taking point in a financial acquisition of Dawn's Light Holdings. The Legba Group has resources of +24 and a Antiono has expert staff +2 to his Merchant skill of 15 and while the DLH has resources of +18, a merchant staff of +1 and a CFO who has Finance of 14. A total of 34 for DLH and LG 41. DLH choose to fight out in the backroom while Ugandale chooses to the boardroom. LG rolls 9 for a whopping MoS of 25 while rolls also a 9 for a 32. They have MoS of 6 over the other. This lets them acquire 60% of DLH, a controlling interest, if they want more they have to spend 40% more translating for a 4 added penalty to the -5 to future rolls until they recover their resources as they streamline DLH for their own uses. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Mary Sue Test

This Mary Sue Test is pretty cool. I don't like mary sues, that much. I have limited abilities so my knowledge used to assess people is used to appreciate characters, when character are "too good to be true" this is a red flag in business world and a red flag to me as a GM or writer. Everything follow some kind of economics, and when something doesnt add up it stretches my suspenders of disbelief. 

It doesn't stop me from appreciating simple stories, like many of the anime's Ive been catching up in. The Harems, the Emo, the destiny, the misogyny and cheap thrils etc... of course I fast forward a lot watching this and really skip to the "Get to the Point". There is not much stretching and savoring the moment for Mary Sues, they're like pornography - in that it causes a disposable and inauthentic attraction and affection. 

Game wise flaws are a big deal, and like them to really be in the charactersheet in the game system, but I want strengths to be clearly shown in some form of economy. Point buy systems do that, but I also want randomness and odd combinations the way the world and chance creates. Why certain dominant strategies fail to exist primarily because of interconnected/interlocking complexity. 

This is the character I'm researching about. Im using all those Sci-fi notes for games used for internal consistency and writing it into a story. This Mary Sue test is promising and shows how much work I put (hopefully). 

Sadly this means its a Niche Audience, and not something to really do full time. Thats ok, the frustration at work drives me to write a lot so at least I walk away with something. One thing the test doesn't check is how weird or deviant the character is. Nothing wrong with Niche audience, I'm niche because of my interests but I do know as a market I can not help the producers much.  

T*** is nothing like you. She isn't really very cool: she blends into crowds, she hangs out on the fringes at parties, and wearing shades after dark makes her run into things. She may have sometimes thought that she was special, or destined for greater things, but probably dismissed the idea as a fantasy. She's come in for her share of hurt, but gotten off with minor damage. And she's gotten no slack from you. 

In general, you care deeply about Tedora, but you're smart enough to let her stand on her own, without burdening her with your personal fantasies or propping her up with idealization and over-dramatization. Tedora is a healthy character with a promising career ahead of her. 

Score Breakdown Do I Know This Guy? 0 You Mean Plaid Is Out? 5 I'm Destined For What? 5 Can't Complain 6 Momma HATES Her! 2 Total: 18 _

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Putting yourself Out there; Hosting some Hangouts OnAir

Well you heard about nothing ventured and nothing gained? So its kinda true when I'm trying to sustain my gaming hobby. Life keeps changing and everyone's schedule, priorities, and problems change. So the default is to put myself out there and using Hangouts to meet other gamers and talk about stuff.

Recent Hangout Forays

Recently I've been bugging various people about joining a Gamer Talk on air event even if I really can't  competent enough to be a host. I like talking about the RPGs as much as I like playing them. I like talking to different people with different point of views... more importantly I'm not there to give unsolicted advice.

I don't feel a need to really run these talks, I'm actually trying to get other GMs to run it even if they don't plan to run it regularly. Just know how to run it so that in the future they can hold talks to grow their own games. In this strategy, once other GMs have the confidence and technical know how more and more people do it and I can find more people to Hangout with... Paying it Forward kinda.

Lessons in Hosting

Last discussion there was such and a friend pointed it out to me how important it was that people can talk about their games without feeling that someone would judge them about it, to the point of providing unsolicited advice. I mean, I give a lot of unsolicited advice in my blog but I don't think it can be helped, although in a discussion with new people I think the default should be: give advice when asked but otherwise the line of questioning should focus on the experience of the other person.

Line of Questioning: Ask the other Person about their Experience

I like hearing about other people's challenges, primarily for the reflection. When I hear about problems, I think first about if I have that problem and try to visualize it. If I don't, i just feel grateful and empathize with the person with the problem. If I have the problem, then thats a check in the box and if possible pursue a Problem Solving line of (non-leading) questions.

People need to get it out (I'm assuming), I want to get things out but I have a blog so I kinda good, but I would be happy still talking about my own problems. In that kind of need is the common ground of most gaming discussions. We all have some problem that is nagging at us, and often it needs to be teased out by a line of questions from an open minded and accommodating listener. The kind of environment we want to talk in is the mirror of how we want to be when we are part of a discussion.


I put myself out there, and I don't mind getting a lot of posts in my wall about the other blogs, but strangely I have an irrational caution to plug my own stuff in communities unless there is an event. I try to come up with 3 posts a week thanks to Scheduling. This post has been written with an intention to air in about 2 weeks or hopefully more (hopefully building a good buffer). 

I guess its because I am not a professional and my content is really not professional grade. Other blogs are professional by professional writers so I guess they really should be the ones in the front lines posting their weekly posts. I've seen and read that material regularly and they are professional grade, I cant say that about my stuff lolz. So if you publish in all your communities you should be professional grade... and very importantly you have Professional Savoir-Fair when dealing with people. 

Hard sell marketing is really annoying, I got exposed to them in the BPO we operated and as a former artist (where jobs are usually marketing related). My knee jerk reaction is negative for good reason, to entertain it is to draw more Hard sellers at your door (basic game theory). 

If your not familiar with MUTE function in G+ you better check out that upper right corner marking on a G+ post or in facebook and learn to mute the marketing. If you want to be able to filter the content on your wall easier, use G+ IME. 

I guess its my very overly zealous filtration of content is the reason why I don't want to plug my stuff too much. Once you worn out your welcome, getting people to give you another chance is x10 harder. Which brings me to the conclusion that the best way to show you are something else is by doing stuff more than plugging stuff (lolz). I mean, the talks are something to do and gets more problems out in the open, aired, and new perspectives. 

Politics in Groups

One really annoying thing of putting yourself out there is the consequences and perceptions of what you say and do. Age is great because you tend not to care, simply because you have a body of work to make mistakes an anomaly and not the statistical norm, but to the untried and inexperience can make politics a frightful thing. 

I'm sure everyone has felt social politics of a group now and then, and heartily try to avoid such complications and serious emotional investments that lead to such complexities. AVOIDING such complexity was my greatest focus and why, i stopped being in the forefront of things when I was younger. If you were the idealist who always had the energy(and naivete) to start something, only to realize running something is overly complex and your intentions is muddied by perception and politics then you have that much in common with me. 

I usually leave leadership to the most diplomatically adept and neutral to the group (scores high on everyone's reaction roll/ relationship score lolz). Im very happy to be logistics and technical support, because experience has told me I have a long way to go before ever being able to deal with such and suffer from foot-to-mouth disease severely. 

Framing honesty in the best light can make every sentence an laborious as an essay made under a minute, by the amount of processes you have to undego to vet it Ok for public consumption. Still I, and I'm sure others, want to get things off our chests and have to worry less about these perceptions assuming the worse of us. 

Its just a Game

In the end of the day, one cannot hold too severe a judgment or worry about what they just said while talking about Games because its not Politics or Religion. It has Consent and No-Fault elements (it doesn't take wrongdoing to end the relationship) in the unwritten social contract. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

War Beneath Heaven S02:E03; Clashes before the Dawn Primer

(Happening during the Events of the Previous Game)

Thomas was exhausted, his migraine got worse because he couldn't run that day with all the fires that had to be put out, but mostly because of the disagreement with Osman. Harsh words were exchanged, and he felt guilty to admit it that he did really lose sight of what was important, good thing Osman was there to remind him.

While Osman called in favors, Thomas did his own digging and footwork. He called on the network his father gave him, his childhood friends who are scions and heirs of the current administration. He had to track them all down, and dig for information. With each lead he conferred with the Prince and was getting closer to finding a way to rescue Jakub.  

Jakub was not just a friend who prepared his drinks, he was his fighting instructor and his client - he helped finance the martial arts bar and dojo. Thomas wanted best marital artist he can get his hands on within arms reach and indebted to him, but it was Osman who cultivated the real friendship that could not grow in such pragmatic soil.

Jakub was and is Osmans friend, and he wanted to desperately to know what happened to him. Its only been 12 hours, and Jakub is tougher than any man he has ever known. He’s been known to take on UAE Spec Ops Commandos although his tactics is that of a streetfighter and not a tactician, has added to both their worries. It maybe that reason he may not fare so well against: whatever they may be facing.

What Dylan Baker told Osman struck the fear of god into his heretical partner. Osman went on about the Inquisition with lingering disbelief. Thomas auto search flashed the data and access on various forum discussions of the key books brought out details of history that took only Osmans empathy to piece together in the narrative and vivid form… details that dawned on Thomas at the possible fate of someone like Jakub. Inquisitors, Witch-Hunters, and Crusaders: mass murderers with great PR and unbridled consciences. A kind of violence and suffering that made the Haven Martial Law look like a day in the park. Monsters are something Thomas can deal with, but monsters that have divine powers are something that need extra help.

All Thomas’s digging leads him to a trashy trinket shop way past midnight, in a very poor and desolate part of Old Town where two men seem to be having a business dispute. They look of the same age, although he can’t gauge the age of the western man accurately. Their body language, despite being rigid and guarded, betrays a confidence that can only come from a very close familiarity. Being able to hear their argument, and their carelessness in concealing it only leads him to conclude close friends arguing over prices and petty debts. He approaches them, when both men suddenly stop to look at him. He saw the tension and sudden change of expression in their eyes when they moved quickly to…

2:45 AM Old Town; Channel 9 News Alert

A Fire has spread destroying parked cars, stalls, and the front of a small shop in the corner of Luna and Eldiberto street. No one saw the cause of the explosion, and there are 1 casualty: a man burned beyond recognition. Sources say…