Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GMing Techniques and Tools, Anki Cards

A couple of months ago I overhauled Game in the Brain and consolidated some tags. Recently I've reorganized my blog writing projects - it boils down to my Open RPG stuff and Gming Techniques and Tools.

The odd challenge is that my Open RPG stuff is intentionally designed to be overlayed on other Game systems that do not have certain types of mechanics - particularly logistics, complex situations (like some fairly macro economic rolls where there is almost no agency), more narrative but tactical combat, and narrative warfare.

I made these subsystems so that they can be used in Any Game Systems that doesn't have it or someone would rather use the scope of these systems is designed for instead the existing one in their core system of choice. After finishing Never Unprepared and Odyssey  (and also going through David Allen's Getting things Done), a common thread is that people have adapted to their Game Systems and some game systems not being as modular as they could be.

My challenge with my current tools is that: a more modular game system is a more open game system. That there is no authority that says what is best but a community (as a reference) that says what they are doing and what works for them. Instead of a single linear uptake on a system - there are various models of systems that describe and definite itself so that users can really pick and choose and coordinate easily with those who will play with them. So without any authoritative figure to simplify the signalling process (signalling that this is a good system), then there is a challenge of distributing these ideas and methodology.

All game systems are inherently modular, we really can pick and choose but that is modular in the way that you'd have to try them out first, experiment a lot, even reflect and think about it a lot, before we can really pick and choose. I was hoping of a modularity where the "time and motion" is stated. The way I am working on the Index Card Heuristic - get as modular as the system and its components can be Anki Cards that can be picked up and dropped.

The card thing is getting reinforced by Getting things Done, Anki, and my Portable and Modular Gaming Needs. So as we all get older and have more responsibilities to Juggle we will want our TRPG being more portable and easier. A modular system that allows us to pick and choose more easily as well as communicate those choices with players better (like sharing the Anki Deck of the game system) would be best.

Also since you can't have Anki decks of copyrighted game systems then open systems like Eclipse Phase, Traveller, Fate, Apocalypse Engine, DnD 5E etc... will be the earliest decks to be created. I believe that there maybe some GMs who will sending these modified Decks to their Players would be one of the significant "hacks". GMs compare and look at theirs and other gamer's decks as a way to measure if they are in-over-their heads in juggling tasks and creative challenges. A player can see a GM's deck and easily pull a card to ask more questions about it and get into the points more quickly.

Community Decks for their Settings, like Traveller, Eclipse Phase, OSR Settings, etc... will be available and the GM can easily transmit valuable information. A GM who is keeping some rules and discarding others, while adopting some alternative rules, can communicate it to the Players and they can look at the cards and ask questions one topic at a time. The ability to reinvent and edit these decks is a big deal and much easier.

I remember when I got the War Hammer 40k universe Biblio, or had to read through all the FR books of the Current setting of 2004 to run an Epic Level FR game, as well as all my Philippine and Crusade History studies - all would benefit from Anki Cards. These decks can be used for In-My-Traveller Universe Code - every setting assumption described and clarified.


  • Deck of Key Concepts from GMing sources like Never Unprepared, Odyssey - the compete guide to Campaign Management, Storytelling, 
    • A deck of storytelling tropes (See TV tropes)
    • A deck of key concepts in Scifi (like a deck drawing from concepts discussed in Atomic Rockets)
    • A deck of key world building terms and concepts: 
      • Economics and Demographics, 
      • Anthropology, Cultures and Languages 
      • Historical Analogues 
  • Game Mechanics and how they are organized and made modular
    • Game systems being more modular by clearly signalling what sub systems or options are being used and not being used. 
    • Fate, Eclipse Phase, Apocalypse Engine (Dungeon World), Traveller SRD, and DnD SRD can have their own decks easily made. 
  • Settings and Worlds 
    • Setting Fluff Customization Notes. Using TV tropes, World Building Decks, and Setting Decks 

A measure of Information Barriers.
Lets say GURPS and DnD 5E at the sum of 500 pages (if you bundle the 3 core books and 2 core books) each work out to around 3,500 cards. A GM just measures how many cards are part of the Deck he's running. In any given game the gamers use probably 10-50 card concepts a session, and 150-200 card options in the course of play. Since Options become Sub-decks managing these options becomes much easier.

Many concepts would be fine with a familiarization. Some require some basic understanding, and only 2-3 concepts require a good understanding: typically Core Mechanics, Framing the Challenge (different settings have particular framing techniques like Mysteries, Horror, Fantasy, Scifi etc...). Master is optional but is normally sought and is rewarding.

The head ache the GM who will have to run with 500-700 cards-concepts as part of their game unless he's mastered a few sub-systems already that whittle that to 200-300 cards. The ability to see what I'm juggling and say: No please / No thank you!

The trend of my Gaming reading has been personal organization. Which is awesome. That's the hobby that improves me as I get older and there is more challenges that make me want to retire and take it easy - TRPGs are pushing me even if I'm not 20 any more.

If a new Gamer learns all the Personal Organization Skills in Gaming because he just wants to find more time to game and make the game experience more awesome - then the hobby is serving a greater good!

Interested in Anki Cards for self study, check out A year of Spaced Repetition where a teacher uses it for his class.

Time and Motion.
Note that if I have 40 mins of an hour to do such cards. I would only be able to make 1 per 2 minutes (assuming a 20 word description; it works with what ever your composition wpm is and how many drafts of Ideation you work with; It usually takes me 30 minutes to reorganize 10-20 ideas and i do about 3-5 re-writes). Including half the time reviewing the cards and the material I want to convert. That works to about 10-15 cards per 40 minutes (not counting the 160mins of drafting and rewriting).

Thanks to +Jay Dugger in introducing me to Anki Cards, Spaced repetition studies and memory techniques that let me discover this use.

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