Thursday, January 23, 2020

Phandelver Notes - remaining Prep

Current Challenges.

I quit facebook > I cannot find other gamers

In the Philippines Facebook is everything. If you want to know what is happening, the most reliable way to keep in touch is facebook. Facebook in the Philippines has a lot of social mass that the gravity makes it a very difficult habit to manage and a source of unpredictable stress and complication. 

I quit it on October Last year (2019-10) and If I want to find gamers in my neighborhood I'd have to go back on Facebook. I think I'll just limit my posts... the thing is it tends to be a slippery slope that's why quitting was what happened, I'm not capable of moderating myself in Facebook. Quitting is easier than Moderation in some cases and in some people. 

So I'm in a Stalemate: Cons of Going back to Facebook and Breaking my Streak, and Finding Other Players. 

Finding Time to Play

Prerequisites for playing. 
  • within a 5-10 minute Radius of where I live. That's about 500-800 meters. 
  • 2.5 hours of Game Time. 
  • I can bring my son
  • in a 2-3 hour game 1 to 2 other players are fine. 
Minecraft as my Father-Son bonding experience has some serious challenges, particularly my Spatial Nausea I've developed because of my Age. I want to transition to TRPGs or storytelling.

Phandelver Preparations

200111 D&D5E Phandelver NPCS detailed stats.

Summary of NPCs

This is a Table of NPCs
1) Name and Vital Statistics 3.5 D20 Vital Statistics using Headings, hyperlinking him to the Entry in the MAIN story notes. 
  • Age - Age as a Number and In Parthenthis Appearance
    • Very Young Adult (VYA) = Starting Adventure Age, 20 and below.
    • Young Adult (YA) =  20s 
    • Middle Age (MA) = 30s  
  • Gender - M/F
  • Class - will use the Abbreviation and Note Subclass
2) Function. How they serve the story. are they a Hook for a Quest, Information about the Main Quest, Dressing, etc...

3) Pages of Information. Something like an Index where the NPC was mentioned and relevant. 

Summary of Encounters

This is a Table of Encounters that Happen in the Adventure.
1) Encounter Description. typically named after the challenges faced. "Goblins Guards" "Maurading Orcs" etc...
2) Encounter Function, what part of the story does it move forward or is it dressing, or scope limitation or an Opportunity.
3) Encounter Page Reference.  where to find it.
4) Code of Accounts or Work-Break-down Number. The numbering system that shows which Encounters are Sub-Encounters of a Main Encounter Body. So an encounter that is 1.2 means its a sub-Encounter of an Encounter 1. 

Body of Notes

This is the long body of notes that breaks down information into Bullets and Sub-Bullets. Its easier to visually see things as discrete itemized elements. Its meant for Phone or Tablet Reading. 
Also centralizing all the mentions. 

Appearance. I but more detailed appearances here. Both for Role-playing and Describing it to Players. As well 

Plot Twist. These are notes for Additional Depth and Complication in the Game. It provides details that can be taken at face value or leads to or foreshadows more complicated twists. Its used when:
  1. Players are Metagaming or Murder-Hobo-ing.  
  2. Players find the Simple Plot Flat. 
Tactics and How to Play. Instructions and how to use this NPC Optimally.  

The estimated Work remaining is about 20 hours. About 10 evenings after work If I'm not busy with studies.  

After this I'll go back in Prepping Dungeon Fantasy. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hints of Elder Gods - Moloch and Slavery

When I started separating NPCs to Adventuring and Non-Adventuring, to explain why certain NPCs are "Stagnant" as compared to PCs, I inevitably ran into SOCIAL MOBILITY. The prickly question that "Does Social Mobility" exist in this world? Why?

World Building is taking Economics, history, Ecology, Sociology, etc... and weaving it into a HOBBY. as a hobby there is no wrong way to do it, as long as you're having fun. At the same time different levels of practice gives you insights to different things - like starting out in minis painting might just be for differentiation of your mini, or getting into drawing because you want to draw NPCs and Characters, and then later I become obsessed with color theory, lighting, rule of thirds, telling a story with an image, etc.... I can appreciate the 1st 30 mins of exploring a hobby, I can appreciate the 1,000 hour of exploring the hobby, I can appreciate and relate with the guy in the 90 min mark as well as the guy in the 8,000 hour mark. I dont feel any insecurity about the guy in the > investment of time than me, nor do I judge the person with a small investment of time from me. Whats important that when we play together we let each other enjoy what we enjoy out of the hobby.

So when the question of Social Mobility, Elites, and various problems of INEQUALITY I will take notes and chisel out the details behind the screen. It will be details in how I describe NPC's, that needs to be subtle. Like describing farmers as "Sharecroppers", having an offhand comment about "Taxes and Obligations", hinting on Crop Failure rates as described in my previous studies and subtle hints of debt-bondage.  Since PCs are "Socially Mobile" characters lets see if they can perceive the natural forces of such systems in place.

I just finished Chapter 168 of the Vinland Saga and the narrative of War and Slavery is interesting motivation and plot in the story. Slavery being alive in well in the modern world makes me remember that no matter how much a World Build like the forgotten realms may say Slavery is only practiced in certain parts of the world, when you enter into social mobility, inequality, and the messy details of making a living and economic scarcity you will run into broken Systems.

I was Introduced to Meditations of Moloch in 2016 but I cant help but recall this Elder God that we face everyday,
The question everyone has after reading Ginsberg is: what is Moloch?
My answer is: Moloch is exactly what the history books say he is. He is the god of child sacrifice, the fiery furnace into which you can toss your babies in exchange for victory in war.
He always and everywhere offers the same deal: throw what you love most into the flames, and I can grant you power. 
Moloch is the Elder God that one of NPCs has a pact with as a Warlock. It's also an Elder God that is hinted when I cater to the moods of superiors and not the reasons for the business. When I exploit biases to push my agenda, and the frustration of never being able to argue the assumptions of my proposal so that I may know what I cannot see beyond my perspective - the desire to be told that I'm wrong and be able to follow the logic, or a different experience and perspective that makes so much sense. Sacrificing TRPGs to study and perform these dark rituals of Influence Magic makes relate to Warlocks.

I remembered Moloch during the Ketil Farm Arch, during the arguments between Ketil and his Father Sverkel. The father, Sverkel, argued that a Larger Farm will control them while Ketil desired the security of having more tenants and land under cultivation. Remembering Farm failure rates (i cant remember the exact numbers) that farms fail about every 3-5 years (thats why a "stable" farm is a Hide of 120 acres). That what Ketil wanted was "reasonable" (a prerequisite of being a Moloch warlock, is to make reasonable demands but tended towards decisions that took a life of its own) which has interesting conclusions.

TRPGS are addicting to me because I get to see Players tell their story, in ways that challenge our narrative-biased brains. That AWE one sees in spiritual revelation, seeing nature, scientific discovery, and mindfulness-interconnectivity is what I experience when Players express an Internal Logic for their PCs in new patterns and the many unpredictable sub-optimal ways.

Drawing the Line. The veil that can be placed back.

My favorite technique at work is just not thinking about the Problem too much. I can say its an Elder God dilemma - and my mind will leave it at that. The way GMs who've run Cthulhu has to deal with illogical postulations and can leave it at that. Inequality, Social Mobility, Slavery, in a D&D world can be blend as Irrational things in the Background along with Owl bears, Gnomes, and Elven demographics. I can always cast a Cthulhu shade that - why dwell on the humanity of slavery and war - when there are spell plagues, zentharim, gods walking the earth, etc... To have such values would brand a Character "Crazy" in the setting.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Studying Phandalin - Slowly Detailing the Entries

Plot Twists Formula. Begin by think through the Positives and Negatives of something when encountering the tendency to simplify to Bad Guy or Good Guy, ask Why. An example would be Lord and his Sharecroppers. There is the Exploitation as well as the Economic Arrangement of Security. It's not that simple - and most importantly in a Story - depends whose perspective. If you're talking to the Lord - he'll talk about the sacrifices of his men, the maiming they're suffered, and lives lost in honoring their duties if you're talking to the sharecroppers, all the work and sacrifice they put in. Its Low Tech so there is no "Economic Surplus" where productivity increases the size of the Pie - its a Zero-Sum Game and a Lord's Expenses are very high while someone needs to produce the necessary goods. 

Is the "Story Hook" (Gundren Rockseeker) a saint? What are his interests in Phandalin? What makes him in the Right? Who also can make the same Claim? Who even has the same rights? If he's not a saint, then why is he doing this? Who will be affected?
Is the Big Bad really that Bad? 

My Favorite Part of reading Phandalin is the Players act on HEARSAY and are predisposed to rush and kill people. 
Townspeople say they're evil and rush to kill them. In my experience, most adventures don't CONFIRM or VERIFY the information is one of my favorite lessons learned from work. 
Even if someone is a murderer, thief, abuser, etc... all sides are no saint and blameless. (Currently listening to the last 6 hours of the TGC Lecture on Law - Torts) One favorite conditioned response is that I know there is an unforeseen consequence to any meddling of a System. 

After work, I like reading up on the Phandalin and Putting my notes in Bullet Form. I have a hard time reading Paragraphs these days. I have a hard time because I’m impatient and want to know the Action or Criteria. You will notice I try to summarize the Bullet’s key idea in bold, then proceed to add supporting information. If its a “Fact” or Criteria I break it into a Bullet. I try not to use additional sentences, if its a Separate distinct idea I bullet it. If its a Supporting Idea to Another Idea I make it a Sub Bullet. So you clearly and visually see the order of the ideas and how they relate to each other. 

If I get Newbies then I run it as Is. If they want to make more out of the experience I have notes on the complexity of the situation as they Ask questions. QUESTIONS - what the players ask the GM, and how much they scrutinize the answers leads to very interesting complexities. 

I have to activate my Facebook account to find Gamers in the Area since Facebook is the Primary Socializing medium in the Philippines. Because of the traffic making it 1 hour to drive out of my neighborhood and that office hours in the philippines are about 10.5 hours long its going to be hard finding Players without Facebook that is within a 15min walking distance from my home. I can only run it at 2 hour sessions. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Dogs as Familiars

Just to get over the annoyance that Dogs cant be the "Form" taken by the Spirit of the Find Familiar spell.


Small Beast

Armor Class: 11
Hitpoints 3 (1d4+1)
Speed 40ft; 

3 (-4)
13 (+1)
10 (+0)
4 (-5)
12 (+1)
7 (-2)

Saving Throws Con+3, Str+6
Skills Perception+3, Survial+3 
Sense Passive Perception 13
Challenge 0 (10 XP)

Keen Smell. The dog has an advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell. 


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +0 to hit, reach 5ft, one target. Hit: 1 (1d1) piercing damage.

These small dogs are to serve Familiars. 
Cocker Spaniels (for Bird hunting), 
Terriers, Brussels Griffon  (Used for Rat Hunting), 
Dachshund, Beagles (Hunting foxes),

In the research, someone asked why cats were able to evolve and diverge into 3-7lb varieties to the 310kg (682lbs; Tigers) butut the biggest Canid is the Epicyon at 135kg (300lbs). 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Distracted by D&D

So I was distracted about D&D since I invested in the Starter and Essentials Kit. I thought it would be "easy enough" to get my son into. But I was wrong and strangely It took me about 20 hours of reading everything and videos to really grasp how much I was out of my scope.

My brother has the PHB and DMG which I then borrowed to understand more about the rules.

Even with all these reviewing, I still have to check the books because my understanding is really fragmented.

Modifier Inflation

The Modifier Inflation in D&D5e is a BIG change, especially coming from someone who would run Epic level games in 3.5. I largely agree with the decisions to cut the Inflation to 1/5. A +6 to +8 iscan be found in one ability of the PCs and takes considerable character resources.

Maxing out the Magical Bonus to +3 and Focusing on "Qualities" instead of numeric advantages is a great improvement.

The easy-algorithm would be Get the STAT modifier (-1 to +4) plus the Proficiency Level (+2 to +6). With some classes, the Proficiency level for Non-Combat options are doubled (+4 to +12).

They also limited the Actions Per Turn to One Reaction, Max-One Bonus Action, and An Action. No 4 Attacks of Opportunity.

If you find the ACs low, note Cover modifiers SSRB-12, EKRB-36, PHB-196. These come into play a lot. Movement SSRB-10, EKRB-35, PHB-190 is done in a way that you can "displace" - which means 1) Reach weapons automatically provoke opportunity attacks if opponents do not spend the turn to "disengage", 2) Having reach to attack without provoking opportunity attacks, 3) forcing enemies to move to engage creates a very interesting behavior on the Board. ( When I get experience running the combat I'll try to give a Visual Mental Model of tactics).

Heavy Armors removes Dex Penalty to AC. So by implication and it's not definitively stated that Dex penalty lowers AC in light or medium armor. Stumbled on this when Trying to reflect on the Starting Characters and their Optimum play.

Rest Variants: Gritty Realism  DMG 267

I cannot help but prefer gritty realism because there seem to be minor "Consequences" for bad decisions or bad planning. All damage is "Recovered" in a Long Rest, is pretty potent. As story telling goes to say "A week passes" and "A night passes" is just a slight change in Mindset and a some of Preparation for the GM (1-2 hours of discussions with other GMs and preparing the options, and forecasting the type of behavior the options will create). 
  1. Short Rest is 8 hours.
    1. Non-Spellcasters are able to recover faster.
  2. Long Rest is 7 days.
    1. Resting 16 hours a day.
    2. Able to do Light Activity -
    3. mostly mental tasks with DC no higher than 8 plus modifier,
    4. or Physical Tasks with a difficulty of 3 plus Modifier. So part-time work is 1gp per day.
  3. Healer Feat and Healing Kit are key in Short Rests. PHB 167
    1. 1d6+4+HD of the creature. Once per Short Rest.
    2. Healers Kit is 50sp, 10 uses, and 5lbs.
  4. PHB 186 Resting
    1. Each PC has up their Hit Dice + hp modifier of recoverable HP. They can recover these Short-Rest HD after a Long Rest.
  5. PHB 187 Downtime Activities
    1. Practicing a Profession.
    2. Recuperating
    3. Researching

Lifestyle Expenses PHB 157

The notes below are all DM Homebrew Rules. 
  1. Wretched  --
    1. Potential Encounters
    2. Cannot Rest. Just lets time passes.
  2. Squalid  0.1 gp/day
    1. Potential Encounters
    2. Con Save DC 15 per period or rest is interrupted.
  3. Poor  0.2 gp/day
    1. Potential Encounters
    2. Roll tools proficiencies at DC 10 to fix surroundings to be tolerable for a Period. Margin of Success is number of Periods fixed.
  4. Modest  1 gp/day
  5. Comfortable 2 gp/day
    1. An advantage in Recuperating with Healer visits (1gp/vist)
    2. With Short (8hr) Rests Healer visits healing 1d6+4+HD (1gp/vist).
    3. Or delegate Unskilled Tasks.
  6. Wealthy  4 gp/day
    1. As with Comfortable.
    2. Delegate Tasks to Skilled Professionals.
    3. Hire healing from an “Adept” Healer, able to cast 1st level healing spells.
  7. Aristocratic 10 gp/day
    1. Delegate Tasks to a few of Skilled Professionals.
    2. Hire multiple or better “Adept” Healers .
D&D5e Notes. Of Course Spoilers and all WIP. Planning to run on Feb.
  1. 200111 D&D5E Homebrew Rules
  2. 191202 Lost Mine of Phandelver
  3. 200111 D&D5E Phandelver NPCS
  4. 200110 D&D5E Table Notes

Experience PointsLevelProficiency BonusRequired XP to AdvanceYears of AdventuringYears of Experience
Notice that advancing from 10 to 11 is HARDER than 11 to 12, and out of place when I consider 12 to 13, and 13 to 14

I swapped it out and made them in the order of increasing.

Req XPLevelXP

Years of Adventuring. 

For very Upwardly Mobile NPC/PCs or Retired NPCs. Based on the Speed by which Starter Adventure will conclude in Game Time.

Years of Experience

Using 3.5 Race Ages. Adventurers or Upwardly Mobile Characters are a "Meta Game Construct". The GM and the Players can say who is an "Adventuring" NPC/PC. Non-Adventuring NPCs are characters who just want a LIFE. 

Years of Experience

Cashless Incomes

Incomes are a challenge. Particularly changing the Rewards in "CASH" to Favors, Holdings, and Prestige. If the designers Didn't want a lot of Modifier Inflation, creating a Cashless set of rewards would have been the natural progression of course, that would have nerfed selling more "WOTC" approved options. 

I'm trying to Check out Strongholds and Followers but I plan to just Draw from GURPS and HARN and follow the D&D5e model and simplify. Like at work: Simplify and make a Detailed Breakdown of Assumptions (which I learned in PMBOK its called an Assumptions Log).