Friday, December 25, 2020

GM's perfect knowledge, Old-Min-Maxers, Adv/Dis, Gamer Education

As I got older I stopped mastering the Modifier Tables to Rolls. When ever I see it I end up invoking D&D's Adv/Dis to simplify. Its easier to assume GM's perfect knowledge and instead discuss assumptions with the GM. After learning Quality management (TPS, LEAN), Critical Path, Risk Management, and Art of War and 5 Rings all discuss Actions that can be Taken before Taking on Chance > Getting Old I discovered Due Diligence, Attentiveness/Mindfulness, and Tedium strategies.  

GM's Perfect Knowledge: We discuss GM's assumptions

One of the concepts in TRPGs is the GM's perfect knowledge on a situation. Its an assumption, rule , or mechanic. A GM can be mistaken but it always depends on the Assumptions in a given situation: 

Example. The GM can declare that Jack has 50% success. If the GM declares his assumptions - like "given the current circumstance in your negotiations, Jack has a 50% chance of succeeding". Then the GM can credibly invoke his perfect understanding. This changes when the Player alters the Assumptions of the GM. 

Player: "Jack is going to alter the situation by having Other Vendor Options. He's not just going to go to this vendor, he's going to shop around." 

GM: "Ok this will take X time and effort out of Jack"

Player: "Acceptable, has my prospects improved?" 

Now the Situation was changed, of course, the GM would say the First option was already the best in his setting or more likely the Challenge of Shopping around for a better option yields returns. 

(For me, if the FIRST option was better - then Shopping Around or Market Research makes me Appreciate the First Option if it was the best - but in the Procurement Side of project management - as I come from the Philippines and Construction and manufacturing has a lot of procurement from various trades my experience is 99% SHOP AROUND!!! But I do acknowledge some game where such due diligence is useless and the game is about others things) 

Some Actions are More useful than Others.  

In economics, engineering, and philosophy-logic some actions have more use than others. Why take a chance someone may like or not like my action - why Not Ask? Its better to look stupid and ask then to assume and gamble away the opportunity. Other examples are: 

its better to call the store before spending the long trip to get there if the item is there, 

in some cases its better to plan based on your Constraints than to figure out if you can Change those constraints to fit the Plan

Occams Razor is an example of Best Practice 

Its better to have a Checklist and level it to the chance of memory, Its better to write things down than leave if to the chance of memory, 

its better to resupply opportunistically than go into a situation you have no chance 

Confrontation is the BEST strategy in conflict resolution, (and you have to build up a lot of skills to be able to use confrontation more often - confrontation is not the act of creating DRAMA by the way but to approach the root of the problem with Keen Discretion - Boosting your Emotional Intelligence and of Course the Art of Conflict Management was very illuminating for me)

There are so many best practices that are UNIVERSAL. It doesn't matter what Game you play and even if the Game Opens up the terrible loop hole it Violates the immersion of everyone that they close it. 

More effective Actions part 2: Min-Maxing Effectiveness

Critical Path, Critical Chain, Technical Debt > Not only are some Actions more useful than Others, when you look across all your Options some actions shape the entire Cost, Risk, Scope, and Quality/Requirements of an entire Endeavor. 

Take min-maxer Game Theory nut like myself and teach me Philosophy, Engineering, Psychology, and Business and what you get is the Application of Game Theory (Optimal Strategy) that certain universal actions are more effective. 

And a TOOL of discovering these actions is using your Natural Empathy (what I consider a Latent Coping mechanism) to Virtualize another Being/ROLEPLAYING a person wiser and more attentive than ourselves and guessing how they would act in our circumstance. 

Due Diligence and Due Care Definition is a ROLEPLAYING activity where we role-play more effective qualities and strangely know or KNOW how to KNOW (like asking questions and doing research). You know a smarter person would know X, or would use X to factor this. You then Google what this is or you ask around what X would be for this situation. 

Ending up Applying Empathy to Augment our Intelligence.  

There is diminishing returns in maxing out a MUSCLE or a mental capability. World Building with its Multi-Disciplinary approach makes us Gamers exercise more mental muscles. The way BACK PAIN is a symptom of the disproportion of core muscle development a balance of muscle development makes the body stronger. This is true, for me, in our personal education and development.

World Building - the love of history, economics, art,  politics, philosophy, sociology, engineering, etc... of almost ALL the sciences that make up our world to be applied to make another Virtual World exercises parts of us we never get to exercise in our JOB, in our regular life, in the constraints of our scarcity of time. 

Imagination/Visualization, Empathy, and Skills now enhance our Overall Intelligence because like running VMs in the real world - we can create tiny experiments and models to examine a situation and break down its assumptions and factors. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Operating the NPCs - My work experience applies to both the PCs and the NPCs

One of the takeaways from work experience is my understanding on logistics and support operations. the Family business is Construction and Manufacturing. This is a very logistics heavy type of work, especially now in the pandemic when you have to work and live on-site to control contact and access. 

So basically these notes are the GM or the Writer looking at constraints and listing them down. If you are like me and applying work techniques in your GMing - this is a collect requirements process mixed with stakeholder analysis

This is when - as a GM - you perform your World Building and Build up the NPC Groups/factions (Antagonist Groups). This only works if your PCs have to work with the same constraints - that the PCs have a limited Time/Action resource as well. This only appeals to some players who are used to games where there are Constraints in Time and Action. 

For this just use a simple 5 level rating system: from 1 abysmal, 3 within the average and expected in most organizations, 4 is Above expectations and average. Save 5 for exceptional, as the GM or World Builder who has PERFECT knowledge of the setting 5 is saved for the top tier. 

  1. Determine What and How: Identify the Basic Operations and note the Direct and Indirect/Supporting Activities. What is the basic operation of the NPC group? Are they cultists? Do they process Drug raw-materials? Do they traffic humans? Do they sacrifice humans for summonings and power? 
  2. Determine When and Where: Sketch/take notes of when operations are performed and where.  Is it a Villa, is it a Castle, is it a Biz operating in a Commercial building? etc... Do they work 24/7? As you operate in longer shifts you have to x2 (12 hour shifts), x 3 (8-10 hr overlapping shifts), x5 (6-8 hr overlapping shifts), x7 (4-6 overlapping shifts). How much work hours the Organizations Stretches - from 16 hours to 6 hours per day. 
  3. What are the Systems in place and What isn't? What are the Portfolios, Programs, and Projects of the NPC group? Starting with Communications - from the medium of comms, to how thorough (checklists), secure, and well-thought-out (procedures). Next is Handling* Data and Material (are they sloppy, are they precise, are they overbuilt, are they underfunded?). 
    As you determine the Systems in Place you realize flaws and trade-offs and you list down what the organization is AWARE off that they are working on. Typically DUMB bad guy is serious systematic problems, but thats too cliche but best for easy opponents of the PCs. 
    Examples of systems: Assault/Sales/Market Capture, Security/Defenses/Market Retention, Information Networks (from People and Informants, Subscriptions to News and Special Industry Experts, Physical Assets for Information Gathering, as well as Intelligence Departments). 
  4. Average Salaries and Operations Costs. In the Philippines, I use 400usd as average salaries bumping it up by 20-100% depending on the TOP HEAVINESS of the management. Then I add 20-100% depending on the Company OVerhread to cover Office/Workspace and Equipment.  For China or Malaysia I double these values, in India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam I use the same roughly, and in Developed countries, I use x3 to x10. For Africa or New Guinea maybe -20 to -30%
    In earlier eras I abstract it depending on the types of employment (like Rations for pay and the 1 silver per day; or the throw in a Household and slaves ) it really depends. Typically I have Households and then Tier the Households to Lords/Land Owners vs Tenants. Then calculate the surplus to support Other households. households that generate Incomes (Tenants, Traders, and Specialists) vs Overhead households (like Guards and Fighting troops).
  5. Organizational Footprint. After getting OPS cost I apply multipliers for Reserves and Assets, then I guess Revenues based off of this and apply Shortfalls or surpluses. reserves can be in the form of Credit (how much creditors are willing to extend to the organization). This is the Org Footprint as you now slowly sketch out External Parties like Creditors and Suppliers/Vassals? Retainers etc...

*Handling is transferring, moving and storing materials (physical objects) and data. You can tell a lot about the ANTIPATTERS of an organization by their Handling of Data and materials. If it's Improvised and everyone has different levels of sophistication then the organization operates at the pace of the most unreliable handling system. 

But thats me and its not for everyone. Its great for writing a novel, its great if your Players like to apply their problem solving competencies and role-playing in this kind of problem. 

There is no wrong answer, you can try this all on the "back of a napkin" if you want and just run with it. After doing this a couple of times you should be able to do this under 5 minutes. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Damoren - a review of campaigns i've run and previous reflections.

 I've fun modern "kitchen sink" settings where it has magical elements. And Damoren reminds me of this and like any GM who has run this and prepared for this - we go where our desires take us. Typically if the GM loves history, science, tech, military the GM goes there. 

I love Seth Skorskowsky's Traveller Videos and I thought it didnt hurt to try his books given that the reviews. I've not picked up Dresden Files since forever and the controversy regarding Jim Butcher gave me pause. 

  1. Secret Society Tropes. As a GM, Management, and Science lover Secret Societies and Conspiracies are something we have a special relationship with. One we realize its so easy to unravel one - if you follow the flaws of the conspiracies - you find out that as a GM these are true because once you introduce Players - an unpredictable factor - it thoroughly tests the Conspiracy Systems integrity and it easily breaks it. 

    The same flaws of that collapse a Conspiracy make Parties or Groups Vulnerable to Social Engineering and Internal Collapse. 

    Whichs not a problem for me in suspending my disbelief. I just teat it as a Setting. 

    Got reminded of Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan which teaches the skepticism we use to break down problems and biases into actionable components. 

  2.  World Building. I like the Modern Fantasy World Building and I like the world building Seth does in Damoren.
    I like making rules and mechanics that all things comply in. Reminding moe of Shadiversity's rant on Mandalorian's use of Trackers and Reloading. 
    I ran my own Modern Fantasy and its very Fun applying so much real world knowledge and history to rebuild a world. When I see the world-building I appreciate it because I've tried it and I can see how hard and how organized or a genius you have to be to do it.
    World building affects so much: from the Setting to the Combat and the Tactics. I can't emphasize enough how much this apply so much System thinking to be able to Zoom out and in and knowing when to do so. 

Wealth is Easy, Intermediate is Status: it they still made GURPS Source books

 being a Power-gamer before I'm still hardwired to look for Optimals. As a GM the rules on wealth in GURPS applied intelligently its one of the easy "controls" to master. 

The harder one is social Status and thus not so well understand - you'd have to read Social Engineering and more GURPS books to tease out examples of its use. You'd also have to be more aware of Privilege - and in the FAST CHANGING developing world - STATUS is very very tangible. 

Imagine if 3rd worlders wrote GURPS splat books about their Country: Thailand, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kenya, Philippines, India, China, etc... then after reaching each others books agreed on a more improved system over time. 

MODERN DAY splat books of France, Germany, England, Australia, Italy, etc... and more informed details of their Demographics, Human Development Index, Biases, and Privileges would be such a good read.

I'd be in the Line for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria and want to run Nigeria as a kitchen sink setting.  I want to simulate and run the early adopter/exploiters who will go into Africa and PCs who will play African characters. (The best exercise of empathy is Roleplaying another Race and people; if I am afraid it will show my biases - how do I process my biases if I'm afraid to discover them?).  

Id catch up in my South America, Africa, and South and SEA. 

I'd like to follow concerns and discussion about how some groups do not agree with the MODEL of bias and Status as a Sihk in India or England, 

I would look for the role of Filipinos as migrant workers in various Locations and the different flavors of their 2nd class status. I would look at the flavors of 2nd class status of Indonesians who are fast becoming our co-migrant workers and look and sound just like us (filipinos) to other people. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Finished Tower of Doom with my Son

  1. with 4usd controllers, we played and finished it. It was unlimited life so it was possible.
  2. I only discovered so many moves by accident. 
    1. There is a rising attack (shuryuken) with Jump and not Attack button.
    2. Sliding attack with the Jump button, but I dont know how. 
    3. Found the attacks and moves - here  (will practice this)
  3. Will also read through the strategy guide and find out what everything does. 


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Dungeons and Dragons: Shadows over Mystara - Steam

 Nostalgia Trip. Got Dungeons and Dragons: Shadows over Mystara in Steam to run in an i3-4150 del optiplex 3020 (2015). 

  1. I cannot do this on a keyboard. I need to buy a controller worth 4usd here (200php). I'll be buying 2. I'm used to LEFT hand being moving and right hand being attack and special. 
  2. I wish I could play this like a 4 player console with my wife and son - but I have to pay 40usd for 4 additional ones (2,000php) if I want my brothers (2) and wife and son (2) to play with me. 
  3. I hope to play with my brothers or friend who never got to finish this game and spent hundreds of pesos in the Arcade never having enough talent, time or money to finish this. 
  4. I'm old and my reflexes are slow. 2700php or almost 50usd to play this and experience this with loved ones is not a bad price to pay for 2020. 
  5. The Art takes me back when I was Highschool and my brothers and I would stare and watch the trailer play over and over again. I wanted to draw like this.