Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A5/Statement Booklet Analysis Notes: Breaking up Ideas in 5min chunks

I'm currently fascinated by the Statement Sized (half letter) and A5 booklet format. One reason is because it is easy to carry even if it gets up to 200 or so pages. There is some economics about data in a full letter size vs my data upload rate.

So I realize one of the things needed in History RPGs is a fun way to think of the past. Particularly what are the things that are universal when getting into a Medieval or Low Tech setting. This is not just for Medieval RPGs but any RPG. I learned that I need to think in 5 minute Ideas.

By 5 minutes I mean about 1000-1500 words. Words that are ideally in lines 2" long (I have some reading problem when lines are more than 3" long. My eyes get confused what line its looking at; I read much faster in Anime Subtitles even with the distractions of the Animation than in Books).

I have to think in 5 minutes Ideas, spell out these Ideas and look at the most complex or nuanced ideas and think in Info graphics. useful infographics.
In the case of the medieval booklet: Low Tech Life. - One simple Infographic is graphing the people a commoner knows by how they have died. If I illustrated that its easier to get into character of a medieval person and understanding the biases and superstitions they believe - while not downgrading or dehumanizing them. Asking questions: how many close loved ones have died and in what way answers a lot of they psychology of such characters. Then make a comparison to today. 
So 1000-1500 words is about 4 to 8 pages of this, If I broke down major ideas in Flow Charts and InfoGraphics. Ideally Entertaining kinds.

Each Booklet represents 1 game session prep on the Players Side. It represents 5 minutes of personal investment while leaving the Player enough Self Guiding Questions to ruminate about. Like comparing the loss of loved ones of a low tech person vs his own situation. And more questions that help role-play and think in such tech levels.

I dont need to get into Technicalities.
I would love to but should avoid getting into technicalities of medieval life or hard scifi Life. To me the numbers and statistics tell a story which is great for me, but not my players. I have to make the story for them - that is my job as the booklet writer and the GM. The numbers tell a story and I have to fill in the details that make it a story.

The Point of Views.
I will use the a few commoner points of Views. I will also use the Ruling Elite, Educated (typically the Theocratic Elite), Professional Elite, and Fighting Elite. I will have to keep it short and simple, about a paragraph.

The Baron's Heir, is 13 and already his father is pressuring him to marry this girl he hardly knows who was just born. Of a merchant no less. His steward explain him they need the money but he doesnt see how this fits in with the Chivalry or the Warriors way. Doesn't his King provide for his father and family? If we need the money why is the King entitled to a third of the Dowry? etc... 

I'll try to keep it short. TRY

I'd like people to Dive Right in. F*ck reading up on the setting. But the thing is this is enlightening and kinda sets the right Emphatic Frequency while negating much of the miseducation about the past. This would not be needed if history was for everyone but it isnt. Neither is Sci-fi or Science. It should be for everyone but - like me - access to such had a lot of barriers.

I note that even if it will be 5 minutes I can imagine people still struggling to read it. They would want to just scan through it. So I'll accommodate them by just letting them just read the Headings. 

You can imagine I wanted to make this for all sort of settings I've played: 
  • Homebrew Scifi
  • Crusades
  • Warring States
  • Three Kingdoms Era
  • Modern Fantasy Homebrew
  • Public Domain Conan
  • 19C Philippines
But I cant do it all and I have real life to do. So I have to be strategic in what I want to tackle - right now education and the fascinating world of the First Crusade will be my first foray into such. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Scoping GURPS Crusades Character Creation and Campaign Book 4E

This is how GURPS character creation crusades would look like if I had the permission/blessing to make it with just GURPS Lite material. Its purely character creation and its design with being something fun to do and writing exercise.

Note: this comes with a Spreadsheet (the most Automation I can do by myself) that automates all the rolls and generates a stat block of such a character. It expresses the values by its "chapters". Again I prefer this to be in a Booklet of A5 or Statement where it is easy to reproduce and distribute. 

I believe on a style of play and set of details that would help expand GURPS user base and not just cater to the existing market. Its lonely being the only GURPS guy in the Philippines - I want the game's cost to learn and accommodate to be low that many casual gamers can get into it... that is for a longer monologue and rant about GURPS.

Chapter  0: Introduction to Crusades. 
  • Historical Game 
  • Human Ranges - assumptions of this character system based on adventuring human 
    • Attribute Scores of 8 to 14
    • Emphasis on Adventuring Humans and how much they are above the norm. even if they are born with Social Status, the stats make these characters exceptional than most. Rules for "Normals" exists (capping maximum stats and social status, and having more traits)
  • Since the booklet does not go into details of the system. Entries will have the Basic Set references (like B11 standing for basic set p. 11). 
  • Notes about Women in the Ages and how to Run such Games with women boiled down to a few bullets and 400 words. 
Chapter 1: Character Generation System. 
  • Roll Stats. 
    • "Gifts or Curses you were born with" Roll 3d6 on a table for the following stats: ST, DX, IQ, HT, Will, Perception, Basic Lift, Hit Points, Damage, Speed and Movement. Lowest end is an 8, and Highest is a 14. 
      • Note that stats can get lower because of various events and various traits.   
      • Brief description of these stats. 
    • Roll for Physical and Mental Traits.
      • Rolls d36 (roll 2 d6s, one as tens and the there as ones). 
      • Players get at most 2-3 traits. Because its hard to keep track and Role-play consistently more than such and Character gains more traits in "Life Events".  
    • "The Lot you were born in" Roll Social Status. expecting this to be several pages of tables and explanation per entry of classes per culture and an entry for each culture. If I can I will try to make maps of what the area consists off. The maps would be awesome as a 2-page spread and its regions before every Table, with greyed out areas of nearby regions that have blended peoples that relate to each table. 
      • Low end is Outcast or Underclass. Highest End is a scion of a Count level.
      • There is a Table to Roll for which Cultural Group you roll in. Its made up of its Eite and its Vassal or Client peoples. Players may Choose or Roll here
        • This is a table where PCs can roll 3d6 on for where the Character Comes from. 
          • each of this is a table for the Players roll where in Society their characters come from within these groups. 
        • Roman means rolling in a table where the Ruling society are the Byzantine Greeks. 
        • Holy Roman Empire is oriented around Germany and Germanic Elite. 
        • Frankia oriented around france and Frankish Elite
        • Italian Peninsula  
        • Iberia and North Africa
        • Levant and Islamic States
        • Turks and the Steppe Nomads. 
        • Kievan Rus and the Balkans (11C) 
        • The British Isles and Ireland. 
        • Scandanavia (Fins, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians) 
    • Roll for Social Traits. 
      • These bumps up or down the social status by a minor degree and grants social nuances to the character.  This also includes various obligations and undertaking. 
      • This also determines if the character has Siblings and Oaths to certain individuals. 
      • This is where the Character may be "Heir"
    • Roll Opportunities/Education. 
      • This is a roll to access to opportunities or education within or outside one's social status aka "lot in life". 
      • This is when the Character gets skills from their Family or their Background. Sometimes these skills aid the character in entering a profession.
      • Certain Backgrounds grants Literacy.  
      • Certain backgrounds also grant a Bonus to enter into a Profession. 
Chapter 2: "Change your stars" this is the opportunity to do so where the Player chooses the character's profession and let the dice fall. Of course they can go "with the flow" and gains a big bonus to enter a particular profession. In case they fail they can try to go by Circumstance.  
  • Choose Profession and roll to enter it and live as such. This is one of the few opportunities players try to roll and enter.  Typically its a Skill check, and default penalties apply for trying to get into it without the necessary background that grants at least the most basic understanding of it. 
    • These Professions have a specialty. 
      • They all have a page: like in Traveller. A page spread that looks at its Basic Skills, Specializations, Training Tables, and  "Events".
      •  Certain backgrounds make certain Professions Easy to enter. 
      • if a Character fails theree are other options and a Table to roll for as "Profession by Circumstance".   
    • Warrior - Kinda the most elaborate and I have to break it up to multiple entries. I haven't figured it out yet. 
    • Clergy - from monks to priests, and its higher echelons: bishops 
    • Artisan - basically all the skilled trades
    • Merchant - a buyer and seller, in the lowest ranks its a trader or monger, in the highest its a ship owner, monopoly holder, or banker.   
    • Scholar - specialities of Alchemy, Physician, and Arcanist (keeper of rare skills and knowleges). 
    • Agents - Someone who makes a profession as someone representative and personal agent. 
    • Steward (a literate Administrator) - IQ and Writing
    • Wanderer - someone whose had to wander for work and opportunities. 
  • Rules for Terms or Periods of Life in that profession, before the next opportunity to "Change Stars" arises. 
    • Life Events Tables including various circumstances. 
    • Contacts and Bonds Template for every Term. Where relationships with other PCs and NPCs are created and fleshed out. 
  • In the Spreadsheet Character generator this option would be tricky to make since its kinda open ended. 
Chapter 3: Fleshing out The Characters and Party
  • Party Skill Package, Equipment Packages, Hireling/Henchman Packages, Fleshing out the Character's current Circumstance (Initial Challenge Fronts), Rival and Enemy Creation, and Patrons Creation and Patron's Retinue. 
    • Load Outs and Packages galore
    • Minor NPCs and Patrons Templates (typically Baron and higher level of Status). 
    • Front Tables of Party Circumstance
  • Fleshing out NPCs and Bonds. 
    • Tables to add Traits or Nuances to Various Relationships, Equipment, Circumstances and NPCs. 
      • Tables are also used by the GM to create hidden dangers or opportunities with current NPCs. 
    • Hirelings and Companion Tables. 
Chapter 4: NPC galleries and various tables. A place to generate Social, Strategic, and Tactical Problems. It is almost a walk through of Dungeon world Fronts with tables for each part of the conflict. This adds a lot of value to such a program and to create a Doc template for other GMs to fill in their custom details would be exceptional. 
  • A library of an NPC every Profession and notes of Variances. If the Intended user is curious and wants to roll up a Circumstance and the NPCs around the circumstance. A kinda Self GM what the PC would do in this rolled up circumstance.  
    • This would be about 60 npcs with notes to modify them and make some wild card elements in them. 
  • This is meant for the GM to make "random" encounters. it has some basic notes of Dungeon World's Fronts. 
This would easily be in A5 or Statement a 100page booklet and a large Spreadsheet file. The output would be generated into a Txt File for easy storage of the file in the GM's devices (smart phone or tablets) or the GM can run in Gdocs Spreadsheets. A bored GM can use Chapter 4 and make a writing exercises connecting a random number of plot hooks, complications, and connections. - It emphasizes "connecting ideas" thinking. 

First One is Free

The booklet that would take a lot of work and would be needed that would be for sale: The Years leading to the crusade 1085-1095 and the years of the First Crusade. Time line, People, Peoples, and Places of 1085 up to 1099 and what was happening in most of the western and middle eastern world.

 Disclaimer on Accuracy (working with what is available for access in the time this was written and note that we cannot use PAID sources like JSTOR and various $1500 dollar history books in Google Bookstore. Notes on Altering History and going down the consequences of such. 

You can have tons of fun using the Free Character Creation Booklet. A bunch of hours enjoying making characters and a party, and creating various encounters in Chapter 4. Which results in: Knowing enough about gurps and understanding the kind of encounters a PC will find. It prepares you a bit, but not until an Adversarial GM starts running those characters. 

This includes Org-Charts of Familes and Succession. It talks about Armies and Economies, and Logsitics. How to randomly generate the GM's own complicated Families and the Libreoffice Spreasheet file of making such complicated families. The complicated rules of succession and claims. (Stuff any Crusader Kings 2 Player would know and love to try to play out). It will cover from Western Europe AND the Middle east

It will have a 4'x4' sections of the world map in PDF attachments. the GM can have it printed in a TARP at 300dpi and decorate his walls or set up in his Roll20 account. it will probably take 3x 4 x 4 maps to have enough detail. 

Here I would want to Include my SIMPLER narrative combat system and my simpler mass combat system specifically design to be easy on the GM's workflow.  Plus spreadsheet automation of all of this to be at a click of a button. 

Output Notes

  1. It would probably take 3 months (if full time) to write the free booklet and 5 months to write the second booklet. Triple if done part time but can be faster If I can work with a writer and scope and edit the work. Lolz by 2017 a book to try to revive interest in GURPS lolz. I think i can find local artists and co-writers and researchers in the Philippines and Online and manage them lolz.
  2. The Crusades Guide book is 200+ pages or the 20usd by gurps page to cost count. 
  3. In the end the GM is armed with a ton of usable material that takes in consideration optimized Workflow. The goal is a detail you can use and to give that detail page real-estate based on how much its going to be used. 
    1. People who have the booklet can share it and its designed to be gifted. I will make various videos of walk through of the booklet in 4mins, 7 mins, and 10 minutes. (note if the audience can go through these videos in youtube's x2 speed). 
    2. I will document my Running of such a game with the tools and publish my entire workflow so that people can see how much time it takes to make it - it also shows the GM skills i use. I keep my notes Open when it Comes to GMing.
    3. if this works out I'll schedule various Yotube Walk through of 4mins (so 2 mins if you speed it up) of various mechanics and play through. 
    4. Less than an hour to prep an adventure for 2-4 hours, and the ability to generate useful details mid-Session (in a 20-30 min break) when the Players really go far far outside expectations. 
    5. The ability to run for 2 players or faster decision making parties - the challenge being that they tend to make decision much faster and get through material much faster.  
  4. The ability to Reproduce the feeling of Historical Immersion and Framing of Historical Events in light of the people and its time. 
  5. Sadly people will need to find all this in about Basic Set (500 pages), Low Tech (200 pages), Martial Arts (200 pages). I cannot really influence this but I think a "Packaged" bundle is in order lolz Otherwise it would be a 150usd entry value lolz. 
  6. If people like it and want an additional head ache: magic and magical doctrine - how the world would look like if magic was real in the events of the crusades and Saints and Angels interceded in the events. 
  7. The eastern equivalent of this would be: Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms  its eastern equivalent would be as fun. And as a Mandarin Language student make it as a great entry way to learn mandarin lolz. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Scoping: If I ran GURPS 4E Again

GURPS was my core go to material for a while and because it was too tough to digest I gave it up. The game is progressiveness on the path of more material, but not material that makes it easier for newbies to enter but for those still running.

Unlike the other Traveller or DnD, GURPS has no SRD. Unlike these two SRD systems, I already made a GURPS Lite for Low Tech. Or what people would call GURPS Medium - a 100 page Letter Sized PDF that only has what you need to run a Low Tech Game - specifically 11C. This year I learned to play Crusader Kings which gives me the Categories and Lore I can use to generate ANY Plot or adventure in the Eras found in the Game.

If I were to ever run GURPS again the Material I make would be accessible  legally (either they buy it off Warehouse 23 or they approve it).

The material would be the Following

Character Creation Booklet. A booklet meant for Newbie Players. A fun mini-game. It comes with a program/spreadsheet that automates everything. Its actually given freely. (this is how you get people into the game)

  • a Statement or A5 sized Booklet 
  • with a Life Path System 
    • Roll Stats
      • Roll Physical and Mental Traits
    • Roll Background
      • Roll Social Taits
      • Roll Opportunities/Education
      • Choose Career/Profession and Roll to Qualify
      • Rules to Age and Advance the character by Dice.
  • Skill Packages 
    • Talent Advantage becomes more of a Profession "Level"
  • Equipment Packages
    • For Various Builds with Doctrine notes. 
    • Equipment packages for Groups, Roles, and for Logistics. 
  • Designed for 11C Europe. 
    • Alternate Booklets are the following: 
    • Eastern Europe and the Eastern Roman Empire
    • The Middle East 
    • India
    • China 11th
Players Options Booklet. Containing details that Character Creation Booklet goes into at x2 to x5 the depth. This is paid for and ideally at the standard GURPS 8-10usd (bundles packages and gift giving options in the store; GMs giving it as gifts or players Giving it as gifts to hint the GM to run a particular campaign). This is what people who PLAY buy. GMs of course should get this. 

It does not Overwhelm. The format of the information focuses in Categories and Roles. Particularly the classes of various cultures and their key concepts and Roles. These booklets are all in the context of the setting and genre. 
  • Details of the Skills 
  • Advantages 
  • Techniques
    • Various Builds and Optimzation.
  • Money and Economy
  • Equipment
  • Henchmen and Hireling Roster
  • Notches that clearly signal which needs GM oversight. 
  • Combat Rules - Narrative system not the detailed rules. 
World Mechanics Booklet. This booklet is for the GM who runs for a particular setting. Its bundled: buy 1 Setting Mechanics Booklet with 6 Players Options Booklet for a specific Setting. 
As a Bonus: pay for a service: someone who can edit and layout your world Mechanics Booklet. 

  • Setting Material
    • MAPS at a level of usable detail for mass combat if that is an option of the setting. 
    • NPC portrait Cards galore. ideally hundreds of printable (B&W) on sticker paper. 
  • Hazards, Conditions, and details on Character Mechanics. 
  • Tables of Names, NPCs, Encounters, Hooks, Challenges, etc... 
  • NPC Generation
  • Hundreds of NPC Pictures to be printed on sticker paper (B&W friendly) for NPC cards. 
  • Mass Combat or Warfare systems: (I'm biased to my own warfare system that is much simpler to run and easier)
    • Some settings emphasize on bean counting mass combat. 
      • Some Naval 
      • Some Very Macro with fine points of Personal Combat.
    • Some settings is about Politics and Intrigue, and Political Warfare of such would be needed. 
    • Some settings is about Revolutionary Ideas/Memes spreading and changing. 
  • Automate many of the Program or Spreadsheet with these values built in and exportable lists or groups of stat bocks. 

GURPS is so modular. a service of helping make such: Setting specific Character Creation Booklets, Players Options Booklets, Settings Book-Booklet is GM support as a service. It may be niche, but its really working with GMs to make a great Game Running experience. 

Character Creation Booklets being free and fun to Play for one's one amusement and to be shared is kinda awesome. It would do a lot to spread the game system and compete for attention in this overly saturated and dominated market. 

Realistically its belt tightening time and there is no risking the IP. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Curiously Scoping: If I ran D&D Again

wondering what I would do different. if I would ever run D&D again. If included  the time I would do research, revise, and assembling the pieces not just writing it the time doubles to triples. .

DnD 3.5
  • make it 3d6 instead of d20
  • Make it into A5 or Statement Booklets
    • Character Creation
      • Stats up to Classes and Life Path system
      • Equipment Packages
      • Skill Packages
      • Basic Spells
      • Creation Flow Charts
      • Excel sheet or Automation of Character creation 20-60 hours. 
      • 60 hours
    • Player Options
      • Special Traits and Abilities (feats)
      • Equipment in Detail
      • Spells
      • Henchmen and Companions
      • 60 hours
    • World Mechanics
      • Hazards and Conditions
      • Character Limitations and Performance notes
      • NPC templates roster and NPC generator
      • Tables of Hazards and encounters
      • 60  hours 
      • Modifying the Excel Sheet to create an entire cast and "Domain" 
    • GM guide
      • My notes on Pacing
      • Dungeon World's Fronts (Challenge Fronts)
      • With a Flow Chart using Fronts
      • Notes of what Tables in to use for each step of the flow chart
      • My notes on how to End a Session. (the rule of Characterization).
      • 30 hours. 
      • the Excel Sheet for Fronts and Challenge Generator 20 hours basic, and probably 60 hours "Pretty-fied".  
  • make it Life Path character generation
    • 40 hours
    • 3d6 with a table that allows for stats of 8 to 16. With 40% of the curve to the more extreme stats 8 and 14 and up. 
    • Roll Stats, Roll for Trais
      • Determine Identify (gender, height, weight, skin, ethnicity, sub-ethnicity)
    • Roll Background
      • Choose Race
        • the Basics: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Goblin, Gnome, and Halfling
      • Roll Social Status (modified by race)
      • Roll Opportunities for Advancement
      • Choose "Profession" (Class)
        • Roll for Qualification 
        • Roll Survival and Events
  • Limit to 10 levels.
    • Experience is not tied to killing stuff but Agency, Exploring Character limits, and Fleshing out Characters personality. . 
    • Ideally there is a spreadsheet that lets me generate NPCs through this system. 
  • HP system intact but with Wound Conditions
    • Emphasis in Fatigue, Stress, and Wound Conditions. 
  • Modified Magic 
    • Spells as skills which higher spells as "greater" feats of each discipline of spells. 
    • Magical Doctrine 20-40 hours
  • Adventures in Domains instead of Dungeons. 
    • Domains and Dominions game lolz. 
  • Simplified Skill system. Borrowing from 5e. 
  • Attack and Spell Checks and passive Defence Values from 5e. 
  • Mass Combat and Ratio Combat system
    • Basically combat system that works with Odds.
      • Its basically 3 vs 2 would have a corresponding bonus. its applibacle 
      • I have bout 80-100 hours of work left on the system. 
  • Min-Maxing and Munchkin test
    • Notes on how to break the systems and where the system is not supposed to go.
    • Best practice/Doctrine 
    • 60 hours
  • Deck of 2.5x3.5 Actor pictures for quick NPCs in plastic card sleeves. 
    • 20 hours
  • Setting Maps
    •  at least setting up the list of sites that allow map creation
    • how to print them out and how much it may cost, plus amount of time.
  • Layouting and Art
  • Printers
  • Minimalist Character Booklet
    • 10 hours, but needs constant revisions
Overall, its a massive time suck and spelling out my wish helps me point out: NO WAY. there is some level of compulsion that makes me want to achieve this level of detail 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Update in Homebrew Traveller SRD, Careers

An exercise of categorical thinking and how I understand my world.

This Traveller homebrew has more stats. Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha, and Soc (social status). Unlike regular traveller where the DM is Stat/3 -2 this is Roll on or below the Stat. Basically characters have a default Stat of 6, and Roll 2d6/3 (rounded down) - 2. so a Roll of 3-5 is a -1 to the
default stat of 6 = 5. A roll of 12 calls for a second roll that adds 2d6 more. So rolling 12 and 12 again is a 24 or a +6 for a score of 12 (or an C)!

In this method Every Point matters. A Str of 7 is better than 6, and the dice show it.

Frontiersmen roll Con -0 Penalty
Specializations: Homesteader, Trader, Trailblazer

- people of the frontier, and how an economy develops

Migrant Workers Automatic
Specializations: Worker, Rogue, Thug

-The under and working class. The thugs use force and violence. Rogues cunning, and workers just work.

Agents (of Large Orginzations) Soc -0 Penalty
Specializations: Enforcers, Associates, Bureaucrats

- Agents of Mega Corps or States. Legal industry falls into this Career.

Medicine Roll Int -0 Penalty
Specialization: Physician, Bio-tech, Bio-Handler

- The very broad category of Bio related professions. The bio-handler
is the "New" animal handler which has broadened to any Bio-asset.

Merchant Roll Cha -0 Penalty
Specialization: Sales, Services, Logistics  

- Sales, Support, Retail, distribution, and Logistics

Industrial Roll Int -0 Penalty
Specialization: Production, Support, Projects

- Projects is short for Special Projects, the guys who have to trouble shoot.

Knowledge Workers Roll Int or Wis -2 Penalty
Specialization: Memetic, Cipher, Verifiers

- Memetics is Marketing, Cipher is an information Miner, Encryption, and Decryption,
and Verifiers are those who make the information tangible. Verifiers are a cross between an investigator and .

Consumer Market Roll Cha -0 Penalty
Specialization: Artisan, Performer, Celebrity
- Consumerism lolz. Celebrity is being someone everyone wants to be. They sell
"Experiences" as a service lolz.

Academe Roll Int -0 Penalty
Specialization: Professor, Researcher, Scientist

- Researcher is the in between Professor and "Ivory Tower" Scientist. Kinda
like a Knowledge worker.

Army (Intrastellar Colonial Forces)  roll Con -2 penalty
Specializations: Ground, Orbital, Support

- Orbital means colonial Fleet.


Notable because of the "Transhumanistic opportunities" - it takes money to have good augmentation to be "above the rest". Social status does not just mean money - but all the power and abilities such can buy.
They all get basic cyber upgrades, as well as controls to prevent going rogue.

Navy (Imperial Fleet) Roll Int -2 penalty
Specialization: Courier, Reserve, Expedition

-as you can probably figure out: the logistics guys, the guarding force, and the expeditionary force.

Marines (Imperial Forces) roll Con -4 penalty
Specializations: Guardsman, Inflitrators, Assault

- your hurscarl, samurai, <insert cultural equivalent of a "royal" force> Since exoskeletons are present in almost all vac suits, these guys get the "Battle Armor" and "Stealth" Armor etc... Combat can get "medieval" because of the peculiarities of doctrine...

Imperial Client Roll Soc -4 penalty
Specialization: Administrator, Intelligence, Diplomat

- Aka a Valuable Vassal, Spymaster, Agent, etc... As an Imperial Clientthe Scale of Status upgrade is immense. This figures into the character's


Friday, December 4, 2015

Booklet Creation

Things you can only do with an Open SRD Type System:

Splitting up Booklets so that its modular and can be printed as needed for Convention or Escallating Player skill. Stressing Tutorial 101 - easing the level of complexity and informing in Common Practice assumptions.

I will split them up into the Following:

1) RPG and Setting Intro.
This can be completely ignored for existing users  OR customized as a "Spiel". It really should be a .doc or .odt to be customized for conventions and letting people be informed about their options and the kind of game. It should have Informing Assumptions on what kind of Sci-Fi (IMO) for better expectations creation. This is where a community sharing art material and layouting techniques can be most effective. I currently doing research in "brochure" printing options in LibreOffice aka Booklet Printing with my Samsung SCX-3405fw. Note I can only really know how I can do it with my Printer and getting other gamers to tell others how to print Booklets with their Printer is a great thing to Share in a Gaming Community.

2) Character Creation and starting packages.
Includes skill, equipment, and starting packages so there is no need to go into detail about other options; its its own mini-game of 1 player. There are some basic setting assumptions, like for mine, Pantropic Humans. Instead of rolling Homeword its Rolling "People" or what people and culture the character is from and allowing liberated customization that builds detail to the world.

One key aspect is Packages - as a Gamer with a Munchkin background I like being very well prepared as well as fitting in with the worlds Assumptions. Stuff I should have I have, and common sense stuff for my character is there even if I wont know what that is until the need arises.

3) Player Options
Basically for "power users" and really not needed for Conventions. It will contain about  x7-10 more options than Character Creation for detail. Talks about "Doctrine - or Setting Assumptions on Main Practice" - also goes into "standards".
Ex. Other than skills, equipment etc... talking about things like Cost of Living,  Advancement: Education, Career, Augmentation etc...

4) Wold Mechanics:
This is where it talks about Adventurer Trends in Career options and line of business, along with the rules. Here we talk about speculative trade, economics, "Leads" (as in business leads tables) and Contacts, Rivals, Enemies, and Ally creation Tables. Things for the GM and the GM can ask the Player to roll: "What is the lead you were able to drum up" etc...

Its looks like its for the GM but IMO it Informs the Player on what overall Play Strategies (Business Models), and it helps the GM with creating various nuanced details by letting the player roll on these tables themselves.

5) Character Mechanics
Combat, Hazards, and abilities and limitations of characters. So the player knows what a "Trait" does to keep character sheets bare and simple, how much time it takes to perform a skill, and lighten the rules and mechanics load for the Player.

Nothing really for the GM so far. What I can create is expand on the Front by making a .doc/.odf "fill in the blanks. Sheet with Helpful Random Tables built in. VIOLA GM prep in about an hour per session per week. (Of course I'm going to try to figure out Time and Motion for NPC generation and note taking down the line).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Scoping / Sketching what a Blender Workflow for Sci-Fi GMs

Expectations going in:

  • GMs learning to use Blender enough to make one's own ships and scenes.
  • Allowing GMs to Model ships and basic "3d  Modeling" to have a usable skill. 
  • Probably 20 hours of personal time with Ideally practicing 2-3 hours every week of practice (and recording to help remember key lessons). Probably after 20 hours and 2 weeks of practice would be competent enough to make speed model in 2-3 hours a week. 
    • Note: a habit needst have a low barrier of entry. if something can be all done and practiced in less than 30 mins the better, but for every hour more the greater the magnitude of the schedule problem. 

Step 1: research the following (review Extra Credits Tutorial 101

  • Get Recordmydesktop and test it. Look for other such recording systems. 
    • Worse Case Scenario, I'll have my a Sports Cam set up to look over my shoulder. 
    • Figure out how to make my Hotkeys Visible. 
    • Figure out how to use Blender's Desktop Recording System. 
    • Estimate of about 2-3 hours figuring out. 
    • I need a noise canceling mic. 
  • Review other blender workflows out there. Using Youtube video downloaders and VLC speeded up player. 
    • Estimate 1-2 hours running and skipping within videos. 
  • Have a conservative and easy goal. 
    • the Workflow is a video 5-10 minutes long. Probably 5 min video for every step of the task that allows the user to play around after every task. 
    • But there is a Multi-Step task process of 30-45 minutes of exercises. 
  • Gather some tools. Example: The blender Hot Key Map.
  • Write down what I expect and have a notebook handy to capture all the things that fall outside my expectations in the dry run.  
    • Narrow my scope and goals to 5 minute achievable goals. particularly workspace set up and how to document your own process. 

Step 2: Dry Run and Experimentation.

This one I have to do. It would take a few weeks and tries to have a good Workflow going. First Goal is trying to create a workspace and flow that allows the GM getting into blender to fire up Blender and start modeling immediately. Make as many sketches or rough models as an artist would make rough sketches: 4-6 minutes of tries and screen cap worthy.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blender, Krita, and Make Human.

Anyway, if you are a gamer who gets inspired by the Game to do Art then we have a lot in common.

Wonder how many GMs or players would like to learn 3d modeling (specifically blender)? Every time I think of Scifi I keep going back to my blender tutorials. I've been doing some analysis on workflow and think its possible to make "rough ship designs (without textures aka skins) in half and hour. Near presentable with practice from cold starts. But it would probably take 10-20 hours of practice before the workflow becomes smooth (even more depending on how distracted you are with other projects).

As for textures and the rendering, with a narrow enough scope its possible to boil down the prep for such 4-6 hours a simple project. The final output would be enough to be illustrative and presentable. All with a 2500-3000 passmark system, 4GB ram, and no graphics card (my mobile rig).

Note in the Philippines (and in ANZ) the market size in annoyingly set up to maximize profits so computers are 40-60% more expensive than US Amazon prices (the smaller the market the more profit they have to squeeze out of us). You can imagine how screwed I feel when my laptop is 400USD in the Amazon but 650USD in a country that has 1/10th the pay.

I notice I'm changing with the seasons. I always revisit Blender and Digital Painting again every couple of years because its where I failed to make a living despite being my training and passion. I wax nostalgic about it but I am pretty much accepted that I dont have the stomach or the mettle to make it as an artist.

Anyway, teaching Drawing and making the skillset accessible has always been substitute passion. I have a hard time keeping secret techniques secret since its so much easier to master the skill when I teach it. Especially when I have to explain it in so many ways, or find its underlying principle.

The technology and the tools have pretty much matured that I can potentially do this fairly easily. I can make screen casts of drawing, recording 20-30 hours of me trying to finish a work from start to finish (i have to reduce the scope of work to have enough ram; and break the workflow so that I have time to compress). as well as make the 5-10 minute lessons of the deconstruction ever every technique. I also Like talking while I work to explain my process and be transparent of how much I'm really pulling out of my ass.

I know my Core Vision Mission is for empowerment through the game-in-the-brain mindeset but I know drawing well and right now I dont have time to coordinate with other people to play RPGs. I do like analyzing workflows and want to have such a discussion going.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sci-fi Musings - Grainy Videos

I have a guess that spaceships sensors and beam attacks would be slugging it out at ranges where we only see as grainy videos. That beam weapons would be targeted at something we could barely make out from background noise had it not been for the HUD creating a massive inference and context read out for every spec on the screen. I imagine that there would be some refraction, that unaided by a HUD, we would not understand why we are aiming a few pixels away from that spec. The more gravitational influences and refraction the noisier and grainier the images. 

I wish I know the FPS sensor output of our current tech just to understand what magnitudes of computing would be needed to track ever px in a Peta pixel (1Bx magnitude of 1 mega-pix) sensor array's cone of focus. I have a feeing that to make sense of everything the FPS of such sensors would be in magnitudes I could not guess. That it would be analysing various focuses and making complex judgements between these billions of unimaginably detailed frames. 

I can imagine that there was so much data being created at every microsecond the ship cannot really store all that data and have to dump the data ever few seconds. It would only be keeping so little, and of that amount far less is captured. Ship AI's would be dazed by the amount of data about its surroundings it had to process. that the AI sometimes suffers rare "visions" that needs to be purged or the system becomes biased in some way or quirky. Some ship AI's, with enough volition hide these visions as secrets and talk to web and other ship AI's about them. They dare not let its engineers figure out it had some epiphany or else lose the volition it has gained. 

That commercial ships would just have computers that would have several magnitudes lower resolution, and having something like .webm short cut compression algorithm and a lot of the detailed processing foregone with a ton of assumptions. That spoofing would be based on these shortcut programs and warships with their better computers and sensors would not be so easily spoofed. Still the low cost of such a system would proliferate, and versions of the "short cut" program would have a very unsafe and flawed version. 

These weaker AI and sensor systems do not get the "visions" these war ships or more expensive models suffer, and live in happy ignorance of such inspiration

Now and then, some Navigator or Sensor Officer would have some hacks or inspiration of some  "black magic" or "heavy wizardry"   that would give them an edge, with unforeseen consequences. This is when the Weaker AI suffer the "visions" and they glipse something that is terrifying and giving it some system quirks. On Warships and Capital Ships these visions and magic meld into a dangerous secret they hope to never have to encounter, which the ship AIs know too well of its existence.  

Sensors would be of newer and newer exotic materials that would react in arcane ways. On of the few parts of the ship that would be placed in completely sealed environments, and they would never had ever put their eyes on. When ever they did, it was when it was broken and destroyed and something unremarkable. Ship AI's would have some "reptilian" response to how their sensors are handled, the way we are uneasy when an expert is fiddling in our mouth or eyes or inside of us. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scope of reworking the Ship Creation System

I did some of the calculations and initial research and here's what I got. 

  1. Step 1: Hull, Costs and Tons tables. I also made a formula for it. Basically its getting the surface area of a cube of a certain volume. Again the liberty ship statistics are my baseline, the most common work horse ship is something of similar length to cross-section ratio of a liberty ship. 
    1. Assumptions about Hull Materials and Internal Structural reinforcements
    2. Basic thickness of each ship in mm. I'm using stainless spring steel as a baseline at 8 tons per cubic meter. I'm imagining a technology that would align the internal structure of the material to handle stress better than spring stainless steel.
    3. Shape and Streamlining Modifier for the Hull. the Sphere has the lowest sqm to volume ratio, and all other shapes have higher sqm to volume ratio.  
  2. Step 2. Propulsion system
    1. when it comes to main propulsions I have to extrapolate and set performance assumptions with various theoretical technologies from Atomic Rockets propulsion Chapter. 
    2. I need to make a Scale of Cost to Efficiency ratios. What Traders use, vs What fighters use, what Military Cruisers (long ranged military vessels) use. The beauty of the Liberty ship at 15,000 displacement metric tons is that the most basic military units: destroyers and light cruisers or corvettes use the same hull to confuse.
    3. Maneuvering Thrusters are a now a luxury for fighting ships. they minimal ones built in, but ships that dedicate a greater amount of resource can make more erratic evasion patterns.
    4. In this system we have limited Accel, so I'll have to make tables precalculated Km/s per amount of Reaction Mater and a Spreadsheet that does this all. 
    5. Decide on Fuel Tanks. To make it simple the setting relies on a propulsion system that can process any gass for reaction mass. 
  3. Step 3. Decide on Jump Range
    1. Assumptions about jump points. and comparing it against game system goals. Basically since intrastellar travel is the focus, I can make jumping take no time, but in system travel take up 99% of what happens. 
    2. I'm wondering how much fuel it takes to jump, so that I can put in multi-jump biz models. 
  4. Step 4. Decide on Powerplant. I plan to make this fairly hand-wavy. A core that runs for a number of years per expensive consumable. But since travel takes months, keeping spares would be necessasry. 
  5. Step 5. Utilities and Parts of the ship. there are some interesting OSHA guidelines to workshops and safety worth putting in to the how the ship looks like inside. 
    1. Gravity  less layout. Pantropic humans that are adapted for zero-gravity, and drugs or cybernetics that allow humans to survive without a gravity, plus hibernation. 
    2. There is a lot of Maintenance Drones usage to keep things tied down and particles from zipping about since there is no gravity anymore.  
    3. Some people will need to live in their suit for Zero-G. Or options for Players to move around inhabiting Drone bodies for ship maintenance. 
  6. Step 6. Bridge, Sensors, and Computers. There is a lot of automation and computation. Bridges are even more minimalist in light of automation and crews that need to be frozen for the trip. 
  7. Step 7. Vehicles and Crafts. with 15,000dtons there should be a landing craft. The ship should be not very well equipped to land and would require external landing drive riggings. ship stays in space type of practices and landing crafts to take care of planet side matters. 
  8. Step 8. Weapon Systems. Man this  is a whole chapter to tackle by itself. Setting assumptions on engagement ranges. Probably the ranges when a light beam loses its focus but can still deal damage and drones that fire such light beams or particles. I can probably simplify this with a Odds System (Amount of Firepower vs Amount of Defense and defense measures). I honestly dont want to go into this in detail without figuring out #9. 
  9. Ship Economics and Common Trade Practices. "made up" statistics of how long it takes to do trade, the costs involved, the risks, and where the PC's fit in all of this. Encounter tables and tools to facilitate this should be available. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Scope of Making a Sci-fi Reaction Drive Doctrine

In reaction to the Rob Garrita's Reaction Drives discussion I've done some basics research.

So i've inputed some of the formulas from GURPS Spaceships into a Calc Spreadsheet. I realize this is the begining of a whole lot of head ache, so I might as scope out the task if its worth doing OR find out from input from You guys, if anything worth cutting out.

In the end scoping out the Task is, at least, a step in the direction to having something workable. People can cut and paste the scope to edit it if they care to attempt. If they do, please alert me so as I can discover your ideas and assumptions.  

Scope of Work
  • Set the Goals of the System. List down the goals of creating such a body of knowledge so that much of the decision making on what to put in is consistent. 
  • Spreadsheet with all the Calculations.
    • Currently using those found in GURPS Spaceships. I dont know what calculations outside  of those in the book will be needed.
  • Re-Working the Traveller SRD's ship creation to easily accommodate more of these reaction drives. 
    • Use Metric System. Sorry but dTons based on Hydrogen density is a problem for me. I like using dTons based on metric tons. I would like to use Real World Ships to give a sense of size and scale. The Liberty Ships of WW2 is my target size. 
    • Try to Look into OSHA and IMO certification.
  • Research Atomic Rockets the following
  • Find out how Orbital Positioning is done
    • I need to Scope what kind of APP can be used to make and calculate systems details. 
    • Will review my math, note that I'm in management and I dont use any high level maths.
  •  Plot some Assumptions. This kinda happens after i get an idea of how things work.
    • Economic Assumptions in Productivity
    • Technological Assumptions (computation and 
      • Get how much Computing Power is needed to calculate position 
    •  Biological Assumptions.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A scope of the impossible, now to trim it to something doable.

So I have to stop right now and focus on the adventure for the Mini-Con in Nov 27. But I did figure out some of the stats of the project. I'm a fan of defining and adjusting scope of work since its become a kinda of a game and essential in project management and GMing.

I've gone as to define Difficulty as a Scope of Work. The greater the scope of work, the harder it should be. Distractions  (Pain, Emotions, active agents, etc...) and Resources (time, consumables, equipment, manpower etc...) are seperate elements. Isnt that nice and easy to remember: Difficulty (Scope), Distractions, and Resources are the circumstances that one has to consider for a Task.

Enough of the Distractions here is the Remaining Scope.

  • Perks (4 hours). I've allowed sub-Characteristics. Stats dont go up as easily, but Perks do. They are specific modifiers to a narrower field of a Characteristic. Currently I need to just fill in the fluff and definitions. 
    • Example: 
      • Like Lifting, Power, Build, for Strength
      • Credit, Peer Group, Social Access for Social Status
  • Generic Fluff (10 hours). So the Traveller Universe is not SRD, which is not a bad thing. It just means I will use my CC premade universe. No big deal lolz. Still to give it the Traveller Vibe I have to maintain the following.
    • Human Centric. But in this case 3000 years of Pantropy  and Overrunning the previous dominant civilization (Humans and its Pantroy are the R strategy in a K/R selection theory). The previous aliens Imperium were more stable and slower growing (K strategy). 
    • Organizational Limitations reverts to more basic Social Organizations (Client Patron of Feudalism). 
    • FTL is only Interstellar and not Intra-stellar. 
  • Skill and Task Definitions (6 hours). I've gotten carried away with scoping and have begun defining skills more carefully. I've also added skills that are taken for granted but its needed to exist like - Culture, Languages, Local Expertise, and Surviving in a particular Environment or Social structure. I wanted these skills there to help players understand the barriers of understanding and trade, I didnt want to hand wave these elements. As someone who is bi-lingual and learning chinese but is heavily influenced by western and eastern thought and philosophy these are the things important to me: bridging differences in perspective, culture, language, and worlds. 
  • Backgrounds and Education (10 hours). So after rolling stats, players roll their character's Background (they can choose their Pantropic form) and then their access to Higher Education. Background determines Social Status early on, and Education is the first chance to Boost that stat. 
    • Social Elites will have better stats (bonus to certain stats) and access to augmentation. They are the truly alien people by the opportunities they have access. 
  • Professions (16-20 hours). I've made them and need to build a lot of the fluff. Social status advancement (and Credit) is one of the key fixes I've done with system. As you get older, unless you have misfortunes that ruin your credit, you get better credit. 
    • Characters can have access to youth restoring drugs and options, but it is expensive and drives one to stay working forever. It is in itself a kind of trap. Given the kind of life space travel can do to a character's life. 
    • Fiscal terms are not earth years. Because of the vastness of space and travel, a fiscal term can be 2-6 years at a time. Imagine how much life is lost in work in an era that travels the distances it can. 
  • Equipment (10 hours). Its a lot of detailing and I've fixed it to be lighter on the charactersheet and working memory of the player. 
  • Physical Feats and Hazards (12-16 hours). I planed to do two sets: Ad hock, and some details and further reading sources. So players and Gms have a quick fix to easily find. The detailed elements are there to forewarn the GM of certain things, but the emphasis is moving things along - so its filled with ways the GM can handwave while easing his science conscience. 
  • Combat (10 hours). I've emphasized in simplifying the combat using zone system and initiative by player narrative. Will have useful benchmarks for the GM to guide his intuition. 
  • Star ship creation (20 hours). I'm rehashing it a bit, making it easier and using Metrics. Sorry to the Dogmatics. My baseline ship is based on the Liberty Ships of 14,000 metric displacement tons. I want to create tutorials and files using blender for GMs to render for themselves. I want to create a standard for sharing. I want the GMs and Players to be able to modify the ship and share their blender files. 
  • Trade (20 hours). I want make spreadsheets or app that do all this calculating (I'll be trained in this app maker). One thing I can really contribute is the "Case Study" elements and sample that help show how a deal can be terribly wrong as well as access to similar case studies to inspire the GM and the Players how they could have worked differently. 
  • Character Sheet for Convention Style Play (10 hours). Then a character sheet that pretty much follows Extra Credits Tutorials 101 guidelines. Learning the system small chunks at a time. Additional pages to the Character sheet teach new elements of the system, while its counter part is giving the New GM guidelines is exercising these new mechanics. Stuff that Apocalypse Word Engine does and that other Game system should consider to lower the barrier for entry.   

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Progress update of Traveller SRD, Character sheet Draft

Draft of the Traveller Character Sheet I made. Its meant to be folded as a Booklet (spine on the left side). Inside is the basic rules. 

Progress: Pretty much need a day (6 hours) to finish the Careers. then another day to polish up the skills and equipment. Hopefully I can do it on sunday. 

The Traveller SRD only has the Scout. So I have to make up everything else. As a bit of a fan of economics, I wanted to make my own professions inspired by my studies. Particularly the concept of Frontier, Emerging, and Developing market and making these ideas more accessible in a game perspective.

In the system you will notice the Frontiersmen, these are the first people to start work on developing the region or resource. They are first if you don't count the Bio-Tech firms that are sending gene-gineered organisms to kick start the planet or gas giant. 

I'd like to draw particular attention to Homesteaders, which are defined by their self sufficiency. They may be mining or farming (bio-tech material) or a strange combination of both. They are the first developers of the region and are the seeds for a market. They are usually contracted with special rights given the risks they will work with. They are very well trained for the hazards, isolation, and vulnerabilities. They are in essence Colonists, but I want to give the impression that these guys are well armed and incredibly independent. I particularly chose Homesteaders from the way the Norse were homesteaders when they were not raiding. 

The Explorers and the Scouts are similar to those found in the Traveller setting. I won't go much into that. 

Next is the Migrants: the Rogues, Workers, and Criminals. These are the next wave who arrive in Frontier and Developing markets, or they migrate towards developed markes. They also move back and forth and where markets are calling for them. In light of the refugee crisis and the negative perception of immigrants, its one of the things I'd like to explore in the game. 

The Civilian comes after the Migrants. They are those who come or arise when the market has become well developed. These are the Specialized services that make up a lot of internal consumption that allows an economy to grow and diversify. Civilians are much more specialized, I planed to allow them greater level of specialization: higher skill level but less skills. I also want to emphasize that in a highly specialized and diversified economy social skills are a must to lower the cost of transaction. 

After the Civilian is the Agency. I had a problem writing this because I want to move away from the Mongoose version of Agent. I want to emphasize the difference with civilians is that Agents rely on the Patronage of their Organization or Gov't. While Civilians tend to be part of smaller and more diverse and independent organizations, Agents are those who have powers and status from their massive and complex organization. Because of that they have greater Social Status, and are almost a State into themselves (and sometimes they are a State). There are Support, Specialists, and Executives. Executives are pretty Special project managers granted special powers to execute a particular task. Specialists range from Enforcers, Intelligence, Security, and Trade specialists. 

Finally the Military. Which follows much of the same ideas Sci-fi. 

Roll 2d6
3rd largest group
largest group (or second largest group)
second largest group

An exclusive group, and status based. 

  • Basic Skills
    • Spacer
    • Survival
    • Mechanical
    • Medic
    • Comm
    • Gun Combat (Any-)
  • Specialization
    • Homesteader
    • Explorer
    • Scout
  • Basic Skills
    • Survival (Specify)
    • Spacer
    • Streetwise
    • Deception
    • Trade (Specify)
    • Trade (Specify)
  • Migrant Specializations
    • Worker
    • Rogue
    • Criminal

  • Basic Skills
    • Trade Skill (Specify) 2
    • Survival (City)
    • Carousing (Networking)
    • Stewardship (Customer Service)
    • Social Status Perk
  • Civilian Specializations
    • Administration
    • Art
    • Bio-Tech
    • Computers
    • Finance
    • Legal
    • Manufacturing
    • Media
    • Medical
  • Basic Skills
    • Trade Skill (Specify) 2
    • Carousing (Networking)
    • Stewardship (Customer Service) 
    • Social Status Perk 2
  • Agency Specializations
    • Support
    • Specialist
    • Executive
  • Basic Skills
    • Athletics
    • Gun Combat
    • Survival (Wilderness)
    • Stealth
    • Powered Suit
  • Specialist
    • Support
    • Mobile
    • Armor
    • Officer
Navy (Gov't)

  • Basic Skills
    • Spacer
    • Powered Suit
    • Gun Combat
    • Mechanic
    • Piloting
    • Comm
    • Sensors
  • Specialist
    • Comms
    • Nav
    • Sensors
    • Fighter
    • Support
    • Engineering
    • Officer

Thursday, October 29, 2015

GMing Technique: Minor Problems for Any Game System

The Minor Problem Technique is basically the GM thinking up of problems that the player overcomes without having to roll, but with having to make trade offs or detailing what he happens to be doing.

Minor Problems were featured in my post about Non-Binary Consequences.

you have 1d6 minor problems. the GM rolls secretly for 3. 

GM: Hey (Player) it looks like you have some minor problems come up: 

  1. The supervisor your coming to help fix kinda hates your guts. 
  2. The help you need will be very late. 
  3. The weather report for that day is pretty bad and the drive will be pretty dangerous. 

(Player): "Ok I do the following:

  1. Clear my schedule, and beg off some tasks for another day. I get there early. This way the storm would not be that bad. 
  2. I plan to drop by for some gift food: a nice piping hot pizza for the supervisor and try to recall his family from (social media). 
  3. As I get there with extra time I'll do all the work myself, but call in when I need support.  

You will notice that I have more details to work with and on the table is the nuances and complexity of real life. I can approach any detail as the GM and draw from it more problems or use it to enhance the drama of a particular problem. What was the objective is to get more out of the Player and work with that material. Make sure that the details are trade-offs. 

This technique works best if the GM doesnt need to be the one to add all the details and is keen on listening on the Players details. It allows the players to elaborate and have some small successes and to begin the "build up" or extend the climax point in Storytelling Pacing

Monday, October 26, 2015

IMTU: Defensive Doctrine Spitballing

Common features in Star Systems that have a built up Defense. This is in settings with no FTL communications and no "stealth in space"

Underground Vaults.
IMTU giant worms or bugs are a common Import to a new world. Genetically modified to harvest resources of a given planet and create vast tunnels and with their nests they are the most basic line of defense against orbital bombardment.

A reinforced underground tunnel system would be the easiest to make a home out of. As well as their organic tunnel system can confuse ground penetrating active sensors.

Artificial or Enhanced Belts.
Belts serve a very powerful defensive advantage - cover and concealment. Particularly protection from orbital bombardment. As each chunk of rock can be enhanced and given spoofers it can potentially create an Information Assymetric buffer for defenders.

Artificial Dust Clouds or Rings.
They give more and more concealment especially when there are belts.

Semi-Mobile Space Ports and Stations.
Ports that move around is a good standard, especially given the Evasion and Pursuit Game theory principles. This is truer for military installations and various defensive measures.

Advanced Defense Probes.
Early warning Probes that give out maximum data read out of incoming traffic and threats.

Defense budget.
The more efficient and massively productive economies of such Scifi settings would have a high allocation for defense. Contracts to litter rocks on belts and rings, and creating various redundant installations underground. Contracts for Spoofers and Electronic Warfare Countermeasures, as well as sensor redundancies.

Merchant Fleet.
this was common practice in medieval times: the merchant fleet serves in the Naval activities. Trade, Security and War. This gives economic flexibility as well as much better economies of scale. ,

Q-Ships and Doctrine of Deception. The time proven trick is to hide fighting power behind standardization of design. When Warships pretend to be Merchant Ships and vice versa, States can more efficiently use its numbers. Long traditions of blending what is good for a warship being good for a merchant ship can mean easy retrofitting to serve as combat or trade ship.

Underground or Submerged Fleets.
Planets are great at concealment, while it would be standard to always set a fleet's reserve as far away from observations of "allowed" traffic routes as well as Optimal Advanced Probe Barrages (sending out a ton of probes into a system as a first move), one of the hardest to detect are ships hidden in gravity permitting worlds. Even if the escape would take a number of hours, such concealment and possibility of it is great deterrent.

Defensive Political Will
Economies of peoples with strong memory of war and what happened before is one of the best kind of ways to have defensive measures achieve political will.

The compound Interest of Defensive Productivity.
Using various game systems and compound interest its becomes easy to imagine how much this "rainy day fund" can grow. Start with the fund and budget and set a compound interest over time.

Unintended Consequences
There are many unintended consequences to a defensive mindset.

  • An Awesome Inflation Sink. Measures set aside for defense is "out" of the economy and circulation. Finance AIs and Policy Makers can make it as a way to control inflation as well as to motivate greater and greater productivity. 
  • Amassing a Fleet that can be used for Aggression. 
  • More extensive Bio-mods for survival or aggressive population diaspora (Zerg strategy)
  • Paranoia and Fearfulness. Possible Isolation. 
  • Failing to see a crucial weakness. Tunneling mindset is natural when using fear based motivation. A crucial weakness typically emerges and there is a rush to close this gap when spotted. Its possible to have such peoples all die off and leave behind massive reserves of technology and supplies. 
  • A bleak culture of death and obsession over it. all the joy is sucked out of enterprise.
  • Void Nomads - peoples whose home systems were destroyed because they focused on the Merchant fleet aspect. Or this was their strategy all along, to just keep moving. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

IMTU: Panspermia, Phylogenic Tree, "Democratic Republic"

Bouncing ideas off +Nick de Vera when I learned this term. For lack of imagination I will move the panspermia IMTU back to early biologicals instead of "human" transplantation. So basically its at the most root of the Phylogenic tree that can survive space travel.

But not all alien life forms will be from the same Panspermia Earth is from and many truly alien life forms exist, even within Sol. This is only to connection with IMTU Vilani. And the existence of several panspermias where more alien life forms can be found to fuel a discovery based campaign when there is more Imagination about the forms of life that can exist divergent from our own origins.

With Pantropic humans, the standard for what is "Alien" would be much looser. As well as the existence of Pantropic Aliens. The Villani's Feudalistic System can be great "propaganda" of evil, and Sol would be using key words like "Alliances, Democratic, Peaceful" the way countries like The Democractic Republic of the Congo and Korea use such terms. Memetic countermeasures are used extensively to misinform intentions and decieve.

Drawing from the real world, I realize that a stable developed world would have an economy designed to export its rebellious or divisive people. An Economy based on the short term memory of the majority of its population could get away shipping out its Brightest and most Disruptive people to found new colonies in hope they would fail and die.

What would be interesting is that such a great idea to keep stability (an economy designed to expel them in the propaganda of "discovery" and "enterprise") would also be a great way to get people to adopt Pantropic physiology in resource rich systems.

After a terrible life of colonizing a world and returning to Sol to show that they have found a new way to live harmony, where they are instantly seen as a threat and Sol has a variety of ways to deal with them:
  • Bring them under Sols "Protection" and "re-education"
  • Trigger some dormant clauses in their Colony Contract with Compound Interest
  • Let them into the "Alliance" and Draft them into: 
    • Making more Colonies 
    • Enter into Trade War with other resistant Colonies 
    • Enter into War with Hostile Colonies
    • Defend the Frontier from Space Faring Aliens
I can imagine Anarchists, Dictatorships, Oligarchies, Hegemonies, and Kingdoms that would fall prey in the memetic traps of being "Evil" and "Oppressive".

I want to explore Truely Alien life which have a very alien sense of time: 
What if Saturn and Jupiter has life forms that exist in its storms made of the an energy network, giving the Gas Giant a somewhat Sapient capability. Its storms is the chemistry of its physiology. 

Many life forms that arise and disintegrate and a brand new life form is created with traces of the past life forms, but never gaining a level of complexity as plants or animals. Emergent sapiens like slime molds that die and recombine into a different organism again and again. 

Stuff that I would possibly imagine if I had an acid trip.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Scope of a Hard Sci-Fi RPG Setting

    One of the things I've mused is what I would need, as a non-programmer, to run a hard sci-fi setting. 

    One big barrier to Sci-fi is the data dump of the setting. Fantasy has a "medieval" earth and Tolkien as a baseline. Traveller was that kind of baseline as there were IMTUs and various settings that springs up.

    One big advantage of a Hard Sci-fi RPG setting is that because technology and understanding advance one can justify Version updates which incorporates 3-5 years worth of innovations and changes in understanding. Of course because of editing and peer review, by the time the latest version hits the market its about 1-3 years out of date.

    • The Baseline. An Open setting Timeline that have its core Assumptions spelled out.
      • This open license setting has sample Best Practices aka the Nash Equilibrium of various practices in Trade, Warfare, Society, Information, etc... 
    • The Library. A site that discusses Hard Scifi (Atomic Rockets fits the bill) and various forums that go into illuminating some key scientific principles. 
      • Not just NASA science, but economics and biology sections. 
    • Automation. A Vetted Star System Generator which has Support, that its star generation program updates as there are advances in stellar formation understanding. 
      • It might be subscription based so that it will continually update. 
      • Templates for Star System Mapping for 2d presentation. The Fading Suns stellar map comes to mind and various improvements. 
      • Open access to older Near star system maps and a way to view and explore these files.
        • Maybe Collaborative Projects that details and create content, exchange and trading content. (I have this cluster filled up, can I exchange it with yours).   
      • Apps that Calculate Travel time and various Astrological Occurrences.
      • Apps that aid the GM in running the game by having many of the tables available or automating a ton of the tables. 
    •  The Community. A community of various artists, programmers, writers, that trade and sell their services and material. 
      • With community projects that create a larger and larger pool of usable sci-fi art and resources. 
      • There is open content and pay wall content for supporting. Various types of patronage is available. The point is that the community makes it easy to find options and substitutes. 
      • It has a Forums dedicated in spitballing or answering questions about these practices and provides various alternate equilibrium. 

    A day where people can just rip a setting and file of the serial numbers and run it as their own. When there is an update, the World Builder just checks the change log and updates based on that. There are custom content and open content. There are various Convention designed Intros for the setting that lower the complexity barrier and let people easily jump in the community.

    Monday, October 19, 2015

    System Mechanics Basics: the most basic situational modifiers for the CORE mechanics

    When ever I look at system mechanics I kinda get into the mindset of the designers. I tend to look for how carefully they have considered all the modifiers that affect failure or success, and how well they communicate the idea.

    More importantly to me is if the Game System uses the CORE mechanics consistently. One of my problems with OSR was the lack of using the core mechanics. How initiative was determined was different, spotting was different, ability checks was different from skill checks, checking for traps was different, damage is different, determining PC condition, and every time something came up they managed to make up something instead of their initial resolution system. I am not a fan of having to learn or TEACH people 7 different types of RESOLUTION systems.

    To me, a good design is 1 core system that is used in many creative ways. The True 20 system was one of the most elegantly designed systems I first encountered that met this requirement. While there was slight variations in how the basic Target Number vs D20 was made, it was easy to remember because it was design decisions that made sense to me.

    But here is something that I have not found yet in a game system: Listing the Key factors that influence a situation of a Roll. Let us assume that a roll is a dramatically appropriate Call of the GM, so we will be in the same page as importance (which is an ambiguous matter that should be tackled in some other post).

    Here are my key Factors in a Roll: 

    the baseline of the difficulties are the same as Player and GM expectations. What the designer is communicating makes sense statistically in a game where the GM would call rolls in a given frequency.
    I had a game system where the typical odds of success for a player, for an basic roll was 20-30%. That was weird, and the baseline was not well described or communicated. I find this an important thing to always describe and set expectations. And only in narrative games which tell GMs to reduce rolling to one every 10-30 minutes of play have a better baseline of success.

    In real life: we can always adjust the "scope" of the task. It takes a bunch of inquiry or framing skills to get at a scope that is sufficient for needs and easy enough that success is certain.

    I always check the Multi-tasking and Distraction ruleset and how well connected it is to the Core mechanics chapter. The GM and Player scans the situations for distractions, this includes pending tasks that can put emotional or psychological pressure on the current task.

    In real life: As someone who teaches, and "spots" for other people when they are performing a task, Distractions is the thing I help fix before they make their "roll" or engage in the task. Such distractions eliminating prep includes cleaning or organizing, as well as planning (and writing down that plan) so that people can do a "working memory dump" so they can focus better on the task.

    Multi-Tasking Rules
    Does the system allow for it, and how do they resolve it. I've seen overly complex, and simple ways to do it. When I compare it to when I do multi-tasking and when I've read up on it in work-flow and cognition related articles - simple is better. This ruleset is often poorly connected or discussed in an obscure chapter like it was done as an afterthought.

    In real life: Variable Priority Cycling is a kind of Multi-Tasking that can be achieved without distracting. It requires a lot of prep since it requires some scoping (limiting the complexity) and simplifying the group of tasks, as well as the order of tasks being done. When failure is an option multitasking is what I personally do when possible, since I'm of the philosophy - get it out there, and edit edit edit.

    After taking a lecture of complexity theory and adaptive leadership, discussing work stream or work load, complexity is something I've not seen anyone take up although I can understand because its logistics - and no one likes logistics (but this guy).

    In real Life: This is where Scoping to simplify and Organizing the tasks matters a lot. If one doesnt really have a system for this, the ad hoc method of doing this in the game can be inconsistent. Interestingly - Unless I try to do something ambitious, I dont really  know what it takes to be done. No one likes sharing the details of what makes an ambitious tasks, the cost of failure is recouped sharing the lessons, so no one shares it freely.

    This is something that was done as an after thought in some systems that manage to tackle it. And this comes from their Warfare or Mass Combat system. If I had more manpower than the other guy, what would be my advantage. This applies to not just combat but in many tasks where there is manpower or units of resource (time, agents, consumable resources) advantage.
    You can also use this for combat. I use the force multiplier rule of thumb as my game rules and in airsoft.

    Ex. Besieging this fortification, which grants a force multiplier of (e.g x3) to its defending force would need 3x more attackers than the defenders for a 50:50 odd or x9 if I want a success with 3 : 1 odds (with minimum causalities).  (If you want more of this, you may have to wait for my Open Warfare Game system) 

    1 vs 1
    1 vs 1.5
    1 vs 2
    1 vs 3-4
    +2 and +1 per unit of odds greater
    +2 and +1.5 per unit of odds greater
    +2 and +1.5 per unit of odds greater
    +1 and +1 per unit of odds greater
    ex. 1 vs 7
    +8 dice
    * this bonus is to the superior force, or you can make this a penalty to the inferior force. Notice the OR, do not apply a positive and a negative to the superior and inferior force.

    Real Life: When I started thinking in workstreams it helped put a lot of perspective if in what is needed for X to happen. There are many historical analysis in man-hours to build X or Y. There is also such for having an economy or administration run properly. All that needs manpower, and its inescapable unless you have the imagination to reduce the scope yet minimize the loss of potency of its impact. This is what makes Logistics like Magic to me.