Saturday, April 29, 2017

World Building as we Play

There is more World Building Tools and Settings than the market can explore, learn, use, and share. That at this point everyone is making worlds and making tools to allow us to make worlds. The more difficult challenge is World Building Collaboration in a reciprocal and personal level.
To differentiate this from the collaboration done to populate a setting, there is collaboration where in we experience the affect of other games or other stories in our immersion as well as we play.

Shared Worlds and Living Settings

Living Settings would have been this reciprocal and personally involved collaborative world building but is has not yet fully developed and matured to meet such goals. Among its many challenges any community with a setting ultimately fractures and cannot sustain the connections over time. Pretty much it suffers the problems of transitioning from an Organization to an institution. As An institution it would have a core set of processes, goals, and methodologies in dealing with issues and conflicts with its goals. As an institution it would have greater levels of cohesion.

While this is going to require a lot of steps and skills to bridge the RPG community to an RPG institution, I'll think about this a little bit more. Particularly what are the trade-offs of the Institution-like qualities it will need to be a collaborative process in such as the scale of several Game Tables.

World Building as We Play. 

One set of Tools in World Building I've only heard about but not has fully developed is the Build as we Play model. Particularly tools that Facilitate Collaborative World-building as we Play amidst a session and not after or before we begin the story.
I dont mean a front loaded preparation process, instead we have the  tools that facilitates quick building of the many consequences and iterations of a particular aspect of a world. That when a Player introduces an Element of the Setting - it takes an elevator pitch or a 1-2 min spiel by which he alters the reality of the game and change the setting. Unleashing this idea into the world doesn't mean it gets to be dictated by that player solely - the other players set Scope, Constraints, Mindset, and Unintended consequences of what one Player has set upon the world (see Gamer Skills Counterpoint Technique).

My Hypothesis Process:
  1. The game begins with 3 key assumptions about the setting all the players agree on. 
    1. Recommendation: 3 criteria assumptions
      1. Timeline. Example Ancient (specific ex. Axial Age, Mythical Age, Proto-Civilization age, Dark Ages, Low Medieval Age, Enlightenment, etc... )
      2. Realism (called Austerity by Kenneth Hite in GURPS Horror; His definition is one of the best thought out and worded ones around) . Mythical, Fantastic, Sorcerous (magic that has a lot of limits  and  scarcity), Heroic, Gritty etc...
      3. Scale-Scope. Scale is how much of the actions and consequences ripple out in the setting, and Scope is what the Players can directly affect. (another thing discussed by Kenneth Hite in GURPS horror). 
  2. As they create characters and fill in their backstories, they talk about the world and the setting. This is when they introduce elements like: Magic, or Magical Items, Lost Artifacts, Lost Technology, Psionics, Aliens, Other beings, Wars, Treasure, etc... 
  3. The other Players Modify these elements as the Player tells the back story. So while one player takes 2-3 minutes talking about his background the other players modify the: Scope, Constraints, Knowledge/Ignorance/Misinformation/Common Practice, Attitudes, and Unintended Consequences of that Setting Element. (see Gamer Skills Counterpoint Technique). each player can have a turn in modifying.
    This means the player building his character will work in feedback from the other players as they collaboratively build the world as they play. 
  4. repeat 

Setting Elements

The next step would be making setting elements like Manorial vs Specialized, Republic, Empires, Scientific Method, Various kinds of Status Quo, Communism, Theocracy, Capitalism, Liberalism, Fascism, etc.. Drawing from various "Civics" (from Civ 5) about cultural and institutional constructs.

Making these elements modular, where the Setting Impact will be spelled out and how it affects individuals and societies made into a formula or mechanic (a way to simplify the huge mental load such Elements of the Settings reality).

Yes &/But

Heuristic. Adapt most feedback to Yes and or Yes but. This tests the Improvisation and collaboration Skill.
A well known technique in Improvisation discussed at length in Happy Jacks and other more Narrative Driven Gming Styles.


Heuristic. Alter someone's contribution with Yes And/But/Or with the following ways
  • Scope,
  • Constraints (ex. Scaricity, rarity, costs, time, availability, utility, etc…)
  • Mindset (which is Knowledge/Ignorance/Misinformation/Common Practice/Attitudes regarding what people think or feel about this; Example its taboo, its a mistaken assumption, no one knows that its wrong and its really something else, etc...), and
  • Unintended Consequences

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Methodology Upgrade: Formula, Definitions, Example, and Anki Deck

I updated the Gaming List  document to be more actionable. Basically i now added a methodology section as to state how it go about it. My methodology improvement is inspired by my Chinese studies as Grammar and Sentence building is formulaic just like how many narrative techniques are formulaic.

Note that It would take me a 2-3 hour uninterrupted writing session just to update all of this, among all the distractions I'm juggling. So you're going to have to wait a long while before I input: Narrative Combat Techniques - Heuristics and Procedures so that the gamers can best describe Combat in as fewer words and as little time, while maximizing its effect and engagement. These next tools is designed to educate and train ME (or any other gamer who wants to collaborate) to be able to describe action scenes (i'm drawing from my favorite authors Christian Cameron's and Bernard Cornwell's simpler techniques that I can formulate).

After reading all those books on Gaming, some have processes, few books give Actionable knowledge beyond the most basic Technique: Yes and/but/or... I will hope to correct that and give gamers Framing, Narrative, Influence, Inquiry, Analysis, Ideation, and Problem Solving procedural techniques for their game. These are techniques meant to be learned like a language - recalled and formulated without thought because of the Spaced Repetition System and Active Recall exercises.


The methodology is written so that:
  • Collaborators can feedback
    • Corrections,
    • Identify steps, sequences, or elements that have reliability or risk issues.
    • to improve on the methodology
  • Collaborators can use the same methodology

Formula, Definition, and Examples

The formula, a grammar like algorithm, will be given and its elements given definitions. In this way, like Grammar, it is a procedural processes that can be exercised and trained. Gamers who want to get better can try to exercise plugging in variables of the algorithm and working them into a narrative or descriptive or immersive exposition.

Actionable Knowledge

Giver readers action and a way to adapt to feedback and new information. Action first, then we discuss the theory where supporting experience, knowledge, and information can be organized along the theory for analysis and evaluation.
  1. Untestable Thesis
  2. Echo Chamber or Circle Jerks

Study Time

As each of these techniques are exercisable, they all depend on the use of Active recall.  

Anki Deck of GMing Skills

There will be an Ankideck for this created so that gamers can work on this. The Methodology of Formula, Definition, and Examples allow that Spaced Repetition System and Cards can be created to exercise these techniques.

Challenges for the Anki Deck

  • Random Elements. The knowledge presented here is best used with randomly generated elements that can be filled into the formula’s variables.
    • Interim solution. There are many random word generators that can be used along side the anki deck. The Gaming Skills deck can be physical (as index cards) and the phone can just host the random element generators.  


Core Skills and Heuristics are those that are prioritized, as it has the most utility/usability and reward for the time spent learning them. The differentiation of Heuristics and Skills is so that end-users can break down a skill into component heuristics they can train in, and bundle into a skill for the future.


Heuristics are simple formulas or processes. Typically they are:
  • one or two testable statements (see also falsifiability),
    Example would be
    • What limited resource is spent by the action?
  • a condition and action,  
    Example would be
    • Listen to the (other)players and say “Yes and/but/or…”


Skills are more complicated heuristics that are linked or chunked together.
Examples are
  • Pacing,
  • Active Listening
  • Planning

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Touch Time and Value Adding to Ideas in RPG Collaboration

There is a concept of Touch Time in Lean Six Sigma time and Motion Studies (Aka processing time). Its brilliant and simple way of measuring waste. Its basically the actual time the worker is touching the product in a value adding way. Its such a revelation to me because it applies to Ideas and Information and not just materials.

Am I adding value to the idea?
Is my GM or the Player adding value to the Idea?
How long am I processing this idea? How much value am I adding to it?

Now its relevance to RPG is how much "touch time" do we have in Mechanics and Ideas? This is exemplified by the GM who creates a lot of Fluff and how much of that fluff is "touched" by the Player's minds. How much of that fluff is handled by the Players.
Like in Touch Time studies its as simple as who has Known the Idea and remembered that idea, and who it matters more.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Biases/Criteria of RPG Review, Looking for Feedback

I've been ask to review an RPG and I realized that this Criteria I have is worth publishing for feedback.
All review is subject to the Bias of the Individual who is reveiwing it, but that reviewer has to be able to think of the market or audience the product is trying to address and must be constructive in that consideration.

My Criteria/Biases/Values are for feedback and adapting to new information.

I dont think one is supposed to score 100% in the reviewer's Criteria, instead they have to score 100% in their Goals and their Model of their Target Audience/Market. The review has to try to objectively assess if it makes this call.

There will be definitey Stupid sounding questions as this progresses.

Again I'm biased in the use of a Collaborative Project Documenation Sheet. Where it is easy to put all supporting links and the specific ideas being discussed.

Biases or Criteria of the Reviewer

  • Focuses on Limiting Scope of Learned TRPG Mechanics, or careful and calculated introduction of mechanics. 
    • Updated 4/18/2017 - more specifically how the Designers count the amount of mental load it asks of its Players and GM. 
    • Updated 4/19/2017 - the 20 rules of formulating knowledge is a great guideline in game design when there is an expectation of people following or learning the game system. 
  • Focus on how the system improves on GM-Player Collaboration. This means if the game system improves or aids in the sharing of narrative or creating a way for collaborative complicated escallation is resolved through collaboration (and the use of a Randomizer). 
  • Focus on methodology, how does the system or the game designer try to prepare a GM or player to get into TRPGs. What is the Designers’ methodology and what are their values? How do they allocate their competing constraints (utility/quality - cost - time) . 
    • 4/18/2017 Updated. The document will involve a growing definition of terms we can agree on. 
  • Looking for the self-aware nature of the Designer’s Products as compared to market trends and drawing from best practices from other disciplines.  
  • Looking for Feedback Mechanism - how does the Knowledge base react to and adapt to feedback? 
    • 4/18/2017 Updated. You may examine my methodlogy and criteria to see if it is in your best interests. Otherwise if it  isn’t we can alter it. 

Methodology of the Reviewer. 

  • Once a Week updates. (i’ll try)
  • About 100-200 words of review. 
  • Typically in the form of clarifying questions. 
  • As I match Goals to Execution and Implementation, 
  • How the proponent handles competing constraints (utility/quality/value, cost, time) and my other criteria
  •  Answers are tracked and allocated to either:
  • Clarification of Goals
  • Tracking of Constraints, Methodology, and Issues. 
  • This all serves as a Project Documentation so that if anything happens anyone else can pick up where it left off. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

80% Storytelling Techniques, and 20% system mechanics

Its easy to progress in Game mechanics since there are so many to learn, but the Collaborative Storytelling, Preparation, and Session Running seems to have a greater weight per Scene than mechanics.
What I mean as per Scene is the elements that build up right before "What do you do?" part until the scene is resolved (ideally we have enough of a transitional pause to jot down 20 seconds of notes).

  • Various Framing Techniques (frame a loss, risk, gain, strawman, steelman, etc...), 
  • Show not Tell, 
  • Counterpoint Sandwich (like a compliment sandwich but with either buns as counterpoints or the middle is the counterpoint), 
  • 3 contrasting descriptors, 
  • Action not Adverbs, 
  • 20-30% sensory narrative (in words or gm talk time; this means that when the GM narrates he narrates 80-70% in visual and makes sure he dashes it with other sensory narratives), 
  • Yes And/But/Or, 
  • Listening and Collaboration (as an exercise this would mean listening for 2 minutes and having to make good notes related to that; and as part of collaboration infer all the other goals and constraints of the speaker), 
  • etc.. is not given as much emphasis.
    If it was a GM screen it would be 80% of the space, and mechanics would be 20%. 

It reminds me of Grammar Cards for Language Learning Anki Cards- its a formula and there are randomly generated elements (nouns, verbs, descriptors) the Learner has to work into the formula.

I can imagine a Anki Card for Counterpoint Sandwich asking for me to Work in Cat, Watch, Coughing, Redish, Quickly and GO! Conditioning the brain till it can improve on the most subtle mentions of the other person.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Index Card RPG

I've discussed Index Cards as a key tool for RPGs before. I've not had the inspiration or the framework to make a fairly complete system until I saw +Matthew Isom's post of Index Card D&D. This is the resulting product.

What has Changed and Why was I able to do this now?

  1. Mathew Isom's system was great Scaffolding/Framework to start with. 
  2. I learned all that Lean techniques at work inspired me to engineer the system differently. 
  3. I learned to set Goals better, SMARTER,  and various other Analysis and Problem Solving skills have matured to get me through most of my mental blocks.
  4. My Goals Have Changed
    1. GMless is the ideal. But how do we do that? 
      1. First Break it down to Encounters and Scenes (which I've droned on an on about). 
      2. Learn Pacing. This is a Process Heuristic. Knowing how to build up conflict and expectation. An example of a Pacing Structure (this is not the only one)
        1. Work with Assumptions and Expectations. Work them in. Say Yes-and or Yes but! 
        2. Turn those around. Do not let the "Plan survive Initial Contact!" Complicate and Compound. 
        3. Resolve - Through Change, Development, Learning Something new, Coming away with something Different. 
      3. Keep Tight Feedback loops. You can begin with Any Process! There is no wrong answer BUT you need feedbackloops to correct and adjust and adapt. So Start something but COLLABORATE=FEEDBACK. 
        1. Ideas without Feedback is masturbation lolz
    2. FUN AS YOU GO! Do all the stuff while having fun!
      1. Learn as You Go!
      2. Having Fun in the Prep! BUT involving EVERYONE in the Prep!
      3. Have fun making Characters as you go!
      4. Immerse as you go! 
      5. Do the stuff, but the stuff is FUN! 
    3. Give the Players Scaffolding. Things are more fun when we dont have to worry about balance and fairness. 
      1. Give a Benchmark or use a Testable Statement. (the lack of testable statements is why we have bad laws lolz). 
    4. Keep it Short and Simple. 
    5. Leave Room to Collect Feedback! Have a Reference Document to keep track of suggestions and feedback. 
  5. Well I kept track of my failures lolz. Keeping a blog or documenting as I went basically allowed me to be able to say what was different between then and now.