Monday, March 8, 2021

Earthsea Influence - hopefully make a Magic System

 I can't wait/impatient to work on a magic system after listening to so much Earthsea. 

I'm imagining a simple one where the level of Activity is an account compared to the Endurance Threshold. A very simple work model - similar to HP is a threshold vs Damage. 

The more "Work" I accumulate I compare it against my Endurance, and  it represents how Tired a character is. 

  • For example - the endurance threshold is 14 hours of Light Activity.
  • Moderate Acvitivy = Medium Load = x2 Light Activity of Work. 
  • Strenous Activity = Heavy load = x3 Light Actvity of Work. 
  • exceeding the threshold calls for Rolls which may result in Damage, and damage results in penalties. 

As for the Magic - A basic Concep-Affinity System. the Feat of magic has a Cost and margin of success and failure determine both Costs and Consequence/Outcome. With thresholds where various damage and magical tradeoffs occur. 

The thing about ANY magic system is that GMs cannot just RUN it without knowing. They are always inherently going to be about more intense and condensed rules. The few things one can do to make magic easier is to use existing mechanics - like Fatigue, concentration, skill checks, damage, conditions, etc... 

the only way it becomes easier to learn a magic system if it BUILDS over existing rules and uses existing rules in special cases. 

When I think of this kind of design I keep thinking of Global Maxima vs Local Optima. we tend to go back to Fundamentals over and over again and happen to learn ways to SCALE-UP fundamentals instead of creating new Global Maximums. 

Local Maximums

TRPGs dont benefit from a lot of AGILE or Incremental Improvements or Total Quality Management type of Engineering. People will argue "its an Art" - but like Wintergatan who seeks to improve his craft and I myself coming from an Art Degree - if we stick to it being an ART then we cannot improve - we will be always limited by "Talent" as a bottleneck and limiter. 

For those of us not born with Talent - Engineering - the application of Science is our edge. The great thing about Engineering is that those who dont have talent can participate in it in some degree. Science is not supposed to have Gate-Keepers, so are TRPGs (better the more accessible it is). 

One of my Problems is many Magic Systems is they Don't build on Foundations of Fundamentals. the introduction of NEW exceptions should be very limited as the magic effect scales up. 

One of my design philosophies is USE EXISTING KNOWLEDGE - the use of many real world heuristics in my TRPGs instead of specialized or EXCEPTION mechanics. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Load Outs Rabbit Hole. How games taught me to be good at lists.

I've made a couple of spreadsheets to automate load outs, as well as long series of load-outs, as well as planned my loadout for trips abroad, airsoft, family outing very systematically over time and I know from experience - no one likes to do this, while its necessary for some, its not necessary for most. 

I realize this skill of getting materials all organized and planned is part of PMBOK, manufacturing and construction. As I help prepare the Bill of Materials and Quantities systems - this is all about Load outs. 

Since I'm part of the QA and I do the summary analysis of our Non-Conforming Outputs - many of our issues are "lacking materials" tools, missing parts, furniture, and works. 

Project Management Lists for Dummies, The Checklist Manifesto, etc... come to mind. 

The strange part of language where Schedule means Lists or Table of Data (Schedule of Parts), 表格 biaoge or Form or Table, or Schedule or Template. 买单 buying list means receipt AND menu of options.排队,安排,整理,经理,etc... words to mean Order or Arrange slowly drifting to mean Schedules, Tables, Lists, and grids drifting to mean Manager, Director, Controller, etc... 

It's so weird and I find myself so weird in how these all are interconnected in such a weird way. 

Mentally I visualize it a Bullets and parent and child trees, Pivot Tables (shifting tables of relationships), Arrays, Flow charts, mind maps, and how I need to switch Visualization of how I want to see the data - the categories, relationships, and interconnections.   

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Playing Traveller as a 3rd Worlder

 I wish more 3rd Worlders Like me Played Traveller.  

Eventually, Social Inequality Will make those at the Bottom of society Appreciate what is it like being a 3rd Worlder.

Going to an Imperial backwater in Vilani Space - a Client State with TL6 or TL7 Tech - is basically the story of Going to a Developing or Frontier market equipped with stuff to make you a prince. 

1) You have the Economic Literacy to know the difference of the Cost of Living and Comparative Advantage. 

2) You have a comprehension of the Risks - and thus Come from a Highly Mobile and Transient Culture (One of the things Filipinos and some 3rd Worlders are - they go to more developed markets) 

3) Of course you not only comprehend the risk - you have the risk appetite - or conditions that make your status quo worse than the Risk. 

4) You can take what relationships you have to this Venture - Family, Friends, or other Professionals. 

5) There are Economic Incentives that make this attractive. 

I have a western or developed world education in a 3rd world. having tried living in America - I would be struggling in the US while being comfortable in the Philippines - a 3rd world. 

Although I don't mind going to Vietnam or Thailand if I can get more Cost of Living for my family there. I don't mind going to Africa as well or South America if I got more - in Cost of Living perks and manpower access and power.  

That's the Strangest thing about Playing Traveller and being a 3rd Worlder - it looks so different from where I stand.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Found the Legend of Galactic Heroes Audiobook - reflections on hard scifi

it's really different listening to Legend of Galactic heroes translated novel vs the watching it - It got me thinking of how different I imagine my space combat. 

My harder sci fi - space combat is similar to Yang Wen li's ideas in the sense that the main constraint is DELTA-V Budget. the finite energy needed to get around anywhere in Space - and the constraint that determines your tactics in Children of a Dead Earth. Unlike LoGH where supplies are an afterthought - Hard Scifi is all about Delta-V budget FIRST - then next is INFORMATION warfare. 

Drive Efficiencies and the MANY types of Drives, Fuels, and the Tradeoffs are what makes for a high UNCERTAINTY even in the fact that there is no Stealth in space - it's just that Space has Context Overload - Space warfare information is all about NOISE - a lof to noise. That each planet, asteroid, moon are grains of sand kilometers apart - the scale of space creates a TON OF NOISE. 

Then there are the Smart Weaponry - Weapons that close the distance of Light Seconds in order to Deploy tactics and effects that prevent the Latency of Light microseconds to be able to react in time. 

It's funny that the ECONOMY of building Space Infra is far more reliable than the unreliability of humans in predicting human Progress - that many technologies would probably not arise and humans will deploy "BRUTE" force tactics cleverly applied like Inertia Banks, Sails, Mirrors, Mass drivers.  

Instead of Carriers - one of the MAIN strategic depots of any Military Engagement are the KM long Tethers that store Kinetic Energy to Impart or Take from Ships. Tethers that can Convert Explosive Energy, Ion Thrust, and other such propulsion into a giant battery for Inertia. 

They "Catch" and "Hurl" ships and material. Setting up Tethers per strategic point is such an Interesting puzzle. Then you have the mass Drivers that can POWER the Tether. 

I'm imagining a Tether - orbiting a powerful Gravity well and using the Gravity well to multiply its effectivity - the Tether with its spiral arms creating more Delta-V as something is farther and farther away from its Axis. So its possible for the tether to Hurl something from its inner spiral into the gravity well only for it to return and be taken up by another point farther and farther up its spiral arms until it reaches the target velocity and BAM: Shot out from the end of its arm. 

One shot - Push Plates designed to be used and then discarded only to be caught by a Mobile Tether that hurls it back. As the craft gets hurled with its disposal push plate - it creates two sets of explosions - one from the push plate and another from its thrusters - to cushion the combined Accel. 

I can imagine a ship - so powerfully hurled that a significant time before it arrives it has started decelerating for weeks.   

Handwavium - the "Jump" that arrives in the Lagrange Jump point in the system maintaining Trajectories.  

Its so close - will hope to run the game before the end of the year.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Superiority - Open Mechanic

In a resource Superiority contest (Time, Manpower, Material, Attention, etc...) - Organization skills like Admin or Profession (appropriate to a specific trade) determines How much Attention one can allocate. Attention is how much resources can be efficiently employed, beyond the attention is deployed poorly or with greater risk of ineffective. 

I noticed that We Split the Party against a Superior Foe in hopes to cause the Superior foe to SPLIT its attention. It only works if there is a TIME constraint and the superior foe has to Parallel its Tasks in PMBOK -Schedule Compression - it doesn't work if the Foe can Take its Time. 

When the Superior Adversary has to sacrifice attention - then more empowered and High Agency individuals stand a chance. It's like the Attention Economy. 

In ANY superiority contest - CONDITIONS AND TERRAIN - are another overlaying Factor of success. When resources are scarce - exploiting Conditions (Information, Difficulty and Easy of Movement and Visibility, Threat, etc...)  is where an Inferior force can win. 

The thing about it Chance plays a BIG part in all of this. Its like each side has a only marginal chance to win or lose - like 55% or 45% and if Time is a constraint they have to take that chance.  

Skills that are about Organization and Control determine how much resource there is Available per UNIT OF ATTENTION/AGENCY. 

In Asymmetric Warfare or Contests (if not about violence but Market or Social Contests).  Attention and Time are HARD CONSTRAINTS that GMS have to plan for, and Players have to monitor to Change their Strategy. 

As I slowly move towards HARD SCI-FI - I find myself thinking of Project management as a Way to be Engaging with the Players. I Fantasize talking about Project Scope, Accidents, problems that are Encountered, and Players applying their General Intelligence and Diligence in Approaching and Tacking this - like Novels of Seveneves, Delta-V, the Martian, etc... 

I know that Violence is one of the main sources of Agency in TRPGs because of the UNIVERSALITY of survival but I think one day GMS will be equipped in framing adventures as Win-Win and not Zero-Sum. I hope to contribute to that. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Visualizing Administration - as fluid mechanics

 Anyone here finds Precedence Diagramming Technique / Sequencing Actions /Critical Chain/Path or Workflow/Resource Optimization /Resource Leveling helpful in narrating how A PC aids another PC given the limits of their skills and resources? 

Basically, you can Imagine the Task - inputs, discrete activities, and outputs and know what tasks can be "parallel". 

Imagine Actions and Resources as a Fluid that moves along the terrain and constraints. Without having to go into the grit of this - you can just use your inherent imagination.

One of my problems now is Action Economic Implications in SCIFI, particularly traveler, If you have players who like expressing their skills creatively and allow them to let it bleed into the Game - the scifi elements of Traveller (or GURPS) can lead to some complexity. 

With Robots, Autonomous Programs (like INTELLECT and AGENT), cheap electronics, Expert Programs, someone with Electronics and Admin can use their 1-week Jumps to prepare some very useful protocols.... and that's pretty much what professionals do on their "downtime" - make tools to make the job easier.  

This can be the same for spells that achieve the same autonomy - and aid in work. 

Admin -  is not limited to lists, with TL8+ software - Modeling, Wargaming, (Statistical) Simulations, as well as Probabilistic Models - and stuff I've mentioned before - Critical path/Chain - Taking the Complex and sorting it to Human Comprehendable visuals. 

Abstracting it for game mechanics - I tend to use a Homebrew mechanic called Resource Arbitrage/Difference - Basically ratio of resource (Time, Manpower, Materials) vs another Party's time, manpower, and materials. The Degree of Difference modifies the Difficulty and roll. Someone with more Resources just has a better chance - but not an absolute certainty on some things. 

I tend to see it in anything - 2 vs 1, someone who Aids another, Suppression Fire and Flanking, its all having more resources against another party with less. Sometimes the resource is attention. Like splitting up against a larger Foe with centralized leadership - I'm trying to divide my enemy's Leadership Attention, by sacrificing the opportunity to consolidate my resource and scale and creating more independent challenges. When one Subdivides attention of their adversary - there is a chance of a mismatched encounter. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Initiative is not Sequence in Time, but Influence in Chaos.

What if Initiative is not Speed. If everything is happening "simultaneously" then Initiative is the action that has the strongest influence (among many influencing factors, it just happens to be the largest influence see plurality). 

The Guy who acts first in the order of initiative Influences everyone's actions and options. 

If I try to make it an element of Sequence - it contradicts simultaneity - the initiative is the Actor and the Actions that shape the initial conditions. 

Everything is happening Simultaneously - but Some Actions influence Others more. 


What happens is that that as the Player Converts/Transform the Conditions into his Actions the GM determines the Difficulty and Modifiers for the Roll, and then considers the effects. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Traveller Auto Fire Rules and AnyDice Tutorial Studies

I've been bothered by some Traveller Dice statistics/probabilities. Particularly Dice statistics of Autofire Rules.
I found a great Tutorial on Anydice by just googling. 

Look at the Left at the Target Number and the % to make that roll.You will notice after the FIRST extra attack roll 41% chance to hit jumps to 66%!Then it slowly climbs up to 88%,A TN 12 with 1 attack was 2.7% and now 10.66%

X: 2d6

output X named "this is a [X]"

output [highest 1 of 2dX] named "Autofire 2"

output [highest 1 of 3dX] named "Autofire 3"

output [highest 1 of 4dX] named "Autofire 4" 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The most common ship in IMTU Hex Rockets.

 The Advantage of HEX modules. This is a 5m Radius Hex Module with 3m Elevation (Vertical). When the Hex Triangles can be reconfigured to carry Hex Containers.

There is a hex Core that holds the modules. The modules are modular and ships can Fill or leave the slots open.

I'm imagining Space X Starship Rocket profile - 6,000 to 30,000dton Scales of these modules. the 6,000 tons (400dtons) are the most common.

The Hexagon is the bestagon that has influenced my design - it's VERY modular - that means HEX rockets can be "SLOTTED" into HEX Carriers which have Drives that are more efficient at larger scales (like Orions).

Hexes can be Converted to RINGS. Broken up and SPUN for long travel. Then Configured to be "Slotted back" onto a section of the ship has to do atmospheric re-entry and cannot afford to park its habitat in orbit.

The funny thing about doing this in FreeCAD is the FEM workbench that allows me to do stress tests if I can consolidate the shape.

This is a 5m Rad, 3m High/Elevation module
beside a 20m high 2.5m Rad hex container

This is a 3,000 dton rocket
Doing studies of how big of a Spin grav,
with just 20m radius. 

Using Space X Starship as a reference,
It would not be too hard to image hex rockets. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

What will it look like? Future or games as we have better Tools and Access.

 As we increase in understanding and have that understanding accessible - thanks to games like kerbal and world building and history modeling tools - What does fiction and story telling look like? What do games look like when people capitalize this knowledge? 

Authors develop a way to visualize the world in their storytelling, GMs and its audience now have a better model of something complex. Many Authors create many competing concepts and Tribes of models compete which is best - the tribe that can communicate the best is the most popular - even if its not the most accurate. ACCESSIBILITY is what determines if its popular. 

Material - Shows, Games, and other Books that are inspired by this Imperfectly communicate these concepts. These concepts Compete with older and established concepts that have so much Inertia to be changed. 

Finishing Edith Hamilton's MYthology and Comparing them to my Author notes of Keneth Hite, Stephen King, etc...  What changes is our ability to Manage the Attention of the Audience - to tell a story focusing on REVENGE, relationships, conflicts, virtues etc... 

Future fiction (scifi, historical, and fantasy) will have DATA that probably Exists now - told in stories that few can tell a layman audience. 

You learn HEMA and now the Biomechanics of a Fight but the Italian terms for Various Biomechanic Forms and movements will be lost on the Audience, you draw from Physical Therapy and Generic Exercise forms. 

You learn Logistics and Mechanics of the Roman, Indus, Greek (through Alexander and Xenophon), and Chinese Warfare and extrapolate the warfare of Assyrians, Medes, Achaemenids, Ur, Babylonians, Akkadian etc..  

You learn marvelous concepts - but they are all useless if you cannot Engage your audience and give them the tools to understand the logic and APPLY it. 

As an Author or GM you learn to apply the logic - by letting your players predict and see if their predictions are correct. An author does this with repeated Hooks and Conflict/Tension throughout the story (mini-games) to see if the Audience can almost predict the course of the story. The GM is easier, allowing the PCs to apply and test their abilities and understanding of the system. 

What it will look like 5 to 10 years from now will be very different. What it will look like 3-4 months from now as GM and Author world builds in a Budget of time will add only so much as not to alienate the audience with something so different. Something very different and profound happens when we accommodate more people to be able to enjoy the work. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

GMing and Writing - Identify Stakeholder and Collect Requirements

 Everyday I review my PMBOK with ANKI. 

I realize that 

  1. Players are the Stakeholders - End Users of the TRPG. 
  2. Applying PMBOK - thus we identify the players and what makes them Enjoy the game. 
  3. What makes them enjoy the Game are the Requirements. 
  4. Don't forget the GM. he's also a Stakeholder and should also enjoy the Game. 
  5. Lets simplify things: The GM can only juggle so many strategies to make the players enjoy the game. Let's Say 2-3 strategies. We want to limit the strategies because the GM's job is a lot. 
  6. of the 2-3 strategies you have to: Categorize them, and you have to ALIGN them with the Stakeholders. 
      1. Let's try ACTION Combat. let's say this is narrative pacing where the Players and the GM improvise. There is the Hook and an Immediate Feedback/ACtion from the Player, then the GM feedback/Escalates. I would recommend WORKING with your storytelling metrics - how much bandwidth does the GM have to plan out and "ANIMATE" the scenario. the GM's ability to ANIMATE scenario - his improvisation, his knowledge of scenarios, his ability to ESCALATE and DE-ESCALATE, his ability to create Conflict or Tension and to be able to release this tension (Catharsis). 
        1. Whats special about ACTION storytelling is the ABILITY of the player to ACT. You don't have to think - emotion and its catharsis. "he attacks, you hit him back." EMOTION + CATHARSIS. Throw consistency out the window until you get a hang of what presses your player's buttons. 
        2. Not limited to Combat - it can be SOCIAL, Technical, etc... if the PLAYER can respond instantly with an action that makes them feel catharsis then its working. 
      2. Lets say PUZZLES. Let's say this is narrative pacing where the Players can Look at DATA and process it. they have the Opportunity to Look for an Angle. The ability of the PLAYERS to apply their PERSONAL skills and intelligence on a problem. 
        This also includes TALKING points and Interactions. 
        1. It can be planning the Ship Rout in Traveller, SHOPPING, preparing for an Encounter, social puzzles/mysteries, etc... 
        2. Give the Player DATA that his strengths will complement. Like ACTION but a slower burn.  
      3. Role-Playing - Interacting with REALITY and being SOMEONE else. reinforcing the WORLD and reality the PCs exist in for the Player's immersion. 
    2. ALIGN.
      1. WHO enjoys what. Lets try a SURVEY using Players All give RANKING to the various things the GM can offer: Puzzles, Role-playing,  (after learning about RANKED voting - and how it works I LIKE it for most DEMOCRATIC decision making)
      2. NEGOTIATE, CHANGE/MODIFY, and ADAPT. Interview and feedback with the players - negotiate what they ENJOY and how they expect to use their time. 
  7. Prepare and Plan Accordingly. MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT. have X scenarios that are employed with the Strategies. At my 40s I can run probably 2-3 hours. I'm exhausted and dizzy after that.