Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adventuring Skills Part 2: Physical Skills

A lot of the adventuring skills mentioned here can be pursued out of fitness sake. As a Gamer the pursuit of these skills also means being informed, inspired, appreciating, and having a deeper understanding that helps in the role-playing and storytelling.

There is also a transformational aspect to these skills, it leaves its mark on the bodies and psyche of the character. Their habits change and the opportunities open to them and how they view the world changes - particularly in physical constraints.


Physical Skills 
Part 2
  1. Trekking.
  2. Running
  3. Climbing
  4. Swimming
  5. Strength
  6. Combat skills 
Trekking
This is the ability to walk sustainably for hours in a day, and for days straight. What is usually misunderstood about trekking are:
  • is the amount of load one can sustainably carry, 
  • the pacing in an hour, in a day, and in weeks 
  • the equipment
  • a bit of navigation and place finding
  • a bit of outdoorsmanship when it comes to the weather, terrain, safety and care. 
  • the injuries and risk related to it
  • and how to train to be able to trek at 
    • greater sustainable speeds, 
    • sustain it in longer periods of time
    • in all manner of weather, terrain, and conditions. 

The biggest problem with Trekking is how its so misunderstood and poorly modeled in games. Typically the first thing I look at is the movement rules in a new game and check how they model travel. Going to a deeper level is if they can gamify or frame travel and trekking well. There is a lot of life philosophy and strategies to be drawing from trekking - how much baggage we carry, how fast we want to move, do we watch our surroundings, do we enjoy the trip, etc... Yet it can be nothing and an afterthought. A character may spend 90% of his time travelling and the player and the charachter get nothing out of it as we skip past it.

Leadership/Teamwork and Trekking Notes
I found that trekking (or travelling) is a good example of leadership and teamwork in a very simple scale. When a team is trekking we see the roles, weaknesses, strengths, and abilities of each member. How a group deals with the slower and weaker members, and how the more able members act.
We can "fudge" trekking and just ignore these elements or spend the 1/3 to a lot of time not getting along or trying to get along, or working out something.

The other modes of travel: running, climbing, and swimming doesnt have as much baggage as Trekking.

GURPS trekking is Hiking. Its  leadership test to increase a group's speed by 20%.
The thing is that: what is a groups speed? should it be average or the slowest pace? In many things regarding a group: we move by the slowest unit and not the average. But what is the slowest unit if we have "average" stats? Then its probably within the lower deviation of the stats, typically  10%.
I would suggest that it not be a leadership roll but a Hiking roll as a technical guidance towards a squad sized group (if you want to give penalties for larger groups to the roll feel free or you are free to only allow only a small sized group to handle technical instruction and guidance).

Running
Running is similar to trekking in the scope of the skill and the level of misunderstanding around it. The skill itself is more for greater management of bodily and mental functions in a more intense physical task.

The differences are:
  • Lighter loads
  • there are two shorter increments of time but greater distances.
  • There are two specializations in Running that change the body's morphology:
    • Sprinting - more powerful legs an
    • Long Distance Running. - leander build 
Running is an aspect of travel and a skill when evading from or advancing to a challenge.  Its a complex skill that deals with conditioning the body and mind to deal with greater levels of stress and internal distractions over a long period of time. Simple feats like breathing and footwork become something effortful in running.

GURPS Running
I would prevent the "Move" characteristic to be bought up independently and instead work something out with the Running Attribute Modifier.


Climbing
Climbing is a key skill in overcoming physical obstacles. Its not quite flight but it can get the character over some heights and depths. A key take away with climbing and adventuring is that as much as it can overcome obstacles in evasion it can put obstacles in the way of pursuit. A fitness take away is that its good practical conditioning for upper body strength - its not just to lift a weight to build muscle but to have the flexibility, strength, and skill to lift one's body up and out of harm.
  • Its a skill if every member of the group does not have, will mean someone being left behind or the whole group's fate hinges on that prerequisite.
  • its also a skill that, like swimming, could mean a fear of the medium. 
  • Its also a great way of training for strength and keeping fit. 

*Vally Uprising


Gurps Climbing is pretty much as is. If a character takes up the skill its like a personal gym allowing him to use his own bodyweight for strength training (i realize this does not matter to a lot of characters but does in real life lolz).

GURPS climbing. I'm currently still learning more about free climbing since its the most applicable to the game but I'm going by Valley Uprising stats of speed climbing of El-Capitan of 2.3 hours of its 2km elevation. more crunchiness to follow (working back the TDM of El Capitan, what would be the skill of the fastest climbers and how it works out to 2.3 hours factoring they did a well known route).

Swimming
Swimming is much like climbing as it moves the character through a medium that few may pursue and allows him to survive in that condition. Like running, swimming makes the simple action of breathing effortful and a range of conditioning happens to the body when it pursues greater levels of swimming performance.

Strength
Strength is a particular skill that is misunderstood, filled with superstition, and underappreciated. Its one of the skills that has a certain stigma of being associated with a certain group and negatively, while having as much depth and science as the other physical skills. Feats of strength can be as sophisticated as a Martial form despite the simpler form and motions - because like martial techniques subtle improvements matter, and getting good at it is a lot of subtle improvements.

In RPGs this is lumped into atheltics, in GURPS its lifting and doesnt seem to really matter so much or come into play so much (which I want to correct). When I injured my back I didnt realize how much the form mattered in so many aspects of how I move until I got a pain signal when I moved the wrong way.

I went overboard and went to make a "strength" advantage that mimicked the cost of maintaining strength: dietary restriction high protein calorie that tends to multiply the cost of eating by x2 to x3 (thus making cooking a necessary skill - see mealprep) and exercise of 2-4 hours a day for those who have ST13+. Strength is one of those lifestyles that take up a bunch of time, money, and mindset of a character.

Like all the Physical skills - its a lot of Pain, tearing, sacrifice, for so little gains and a real test of grit and perseverance.

Strength got me thinking of Physical therapy became much appreciated and I dont know yet how to model in GURPS.


Carrying Forms
These are forms that one may be familiar with when one tries to go into Practical Strength Feats (and want to avoid injury). In any game system having a way to resolve these would add a lot of visceral detail to the scene and appreciation of the skill.
  • Load Bearing Gear
  • Fireman's Carry
  • Farmer's Carry
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
GURPS skill Lifting. Giving lifting the same bonus to certain standard feats of strength, like the carrying forms, would be the simplest. A character with Lifting +2 and 10 strength can perform a firemans carry or deadlift at ST12.


Combat Skills
Combat skills are the most over emphasized in the hobby and tends to lack the emphasis the other physical feats. Combat skills are like sports and are sports in themselves. One take away is that all these skills depend on each other and compliment each other. As an airsofter and from reading up on SCA Fitness is strangely not a priority when learning Combat Skills - there is no other conditioning done to improve on combat ability. Most systems do not Cap combat skills to a certain limit if the Character does not round off their physical abilities with complimentary pursuits. Most systems do not give Diminishing Returns to the pursuit of martial ability - despite the masters (the 5 rings, the art of war, Arma, and european fighting texts) kinda point it out.

Related Notes:
GURPS combat skill.
I like the strong "bow" perk as a default ability with gaining a attribute modifier to a skill. I didn't need to go out of my way to learn to hit harder when I learned to use a weapon or fight a particular way - it was part of the skill. It would be "out of the way" if I could hit much harder than that.

So recommending: Attribute Modifier up to 2 for combat skills to strength for damage and the perk allows up to 4. Unless you find gurps damage too high already. But in my games i don't mind the lethality.


Social Skills in Adventuring
Part 3
  1. Social Awareness 
  2. Negotiation/Bargaining 
  3. Conversation/Communication
  4. Courtesy 
  5. Threats 
  6. Deception
  7. Argument

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Random Character Gen update: Life Event Table

Creating a Life Event Table for Any Game System (of course it can be used in GURPS but it will be usable in D&D and in my ORPG) inspired by the Traveller's life events but taking it further (there are so many design patterns that can make a simple 2d6 roll generate A LOT of interesting data in one roll).

I realized it can be helpful to looking at Problems in an Social-Economic Perspective. That Problems, Threats, Events, Relationships, Groups, Associations, Failures, Achievements etc... how it can move the character UP or DOWN Socio-Economic status. Narrative Bias fills in the details lolz.
Excited by this project because its one BIG component to Random Character Gen for GURPS, D&D, and my ORPG (and any game system).  It summarizes and gives color to Life Periods (= terms) of the character. An Interesting way to look at life,  which I would not have been able to appreciate unless I was in my 30s lolz.

The system works under these dichotomies:

  • Positive or Negative. On a bad life event roll, something a negative version of some category. Typically this is relative to societal norms and status quo. 
    • Example:
      • Reputation - can be positive or negative
      • Opportunity is positive, the negative is Problems or Threats that limit opportunities. 
      • membership, patronage, or mentorship can be also a positive or negative influence. 
  • Work vs Personal. What would improve the character's ability to make money, earn a living, advance in his career and what would develop his personal life. 
  • Loss or Gain. Either to Gain a Problem, Threat, Opportunity, Reputation, Accomplishment, etc... 
It will be a Gdoc as well as a blog post - I hope to get feedback to help improve the mechanics. (the Random Char Gen system is based of traveller but drawing from the Design Pattern of the newer gen systems that are more elegant). It will be out a week or two from this post - finished or not finished.

Personal Aspects of Character Development is one of those things that is more challenging to define. Its harder because gaming Personal Well being is not very much talked about as compared to gaming making a living. It can be measured in a way great personal development gives a person greater agency and resilience against bad fortune. Definitely it gives goals and motivations greater than the self.

Sorry I'm at 15+ hours if I count all the times I've made it and remade it and rewritten it on paper and electronically. Its only now I've gotten a good grasp of what would make a good life event table and system.

Edit: I forgot to add Health matters in the event, as well as clarifying opportunities for shared experience. So it will add probably 4-5 more hours as I recalibrate them all.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Adventuring Skills part 1: Problem Solving Skills

Gaming has been influential in giving me a sense of adventure and exploration. It has helped frame much of my life experiences in this way and helped me choose some books [1] that help reinforce this gamer mindset in other aspects in life.

This had lead me to view skills more carefully and to pursue them more thoughtfully. This makes me reevaluate how some games veiw some skills and abilities, and try to gamify much of what I learn in real life into the game and see how the game helps me frame real life.

Skills I'll first Tackle are the most basic Problem Solving Skills:
  1. Observation
  2. Research
  3. Inquiry
  4. Language
  5. Technical Expertise
Skill Levels 
  • Basic Understanding
    • Awareness and Familiarity of the expertise and many elements related to it and interconnected to it. This include some key benchmarks, and insights that cannot be gleaned from a glance or a surface inspection. 
    • Able to perform some basic aspects of the skill. 
    • Some awareness of the occasions the skill applies and can be used.  
    • In GURPS this is skill 8-10, modified by how easy or hard the feat can be. 
  • Good understanding
    • Able to communicate the key concepts well or a near intuitive grasp of the key principles when performing the skill.  
    • The skill takes up less working memory and its minor feats can be employed automatically. The ability to perform the more sophisticated feats with some preparation. 
    • In GURPS this is skill 11-13, modified by how easy or hard the feat can be. 
  • Mastery
    • High consistency of performing the skill, 
    • The skill is ingrained or conditioned into the user, the abilities granted by the skill become in passive. they can be used without much thought.  
    • In GURPS this is skill 14+, modified by how easy or hard the feat can be. 
Research
Research is finding information. This is the most basic skill that begins the Rationalist or Intellectual pursuit. Aided by Curiosity, interst, and wonder this skill fundamental and the gateway to other pursuits and interests. This is the use of Literacy to pursue knowledge.
Research deals with:

  • knowing sources of information
    • Knowing under what category information may be found
    • Knowing who deals with the information
    • Knowing what may collect or reflect the information, an indirect sources of information. 
      • Example looking at sales to determine demand instead of asking a population on a particular amount of demand. 
  • knowing how information is organized
    • Key words, search terms
    • Key concepts, typically abstract or epistemological concepts
    • Key questions 
  • Searching for information in various mediums
    • Using a Libraries System
    • Accounting is Medium of Information
    • Finding groups that discuss the topic or may know the information
  • Note taking
    • Accounting is a form of Note Taking or a Storytelling with numbers. 
    • Sorting and Organizing information in a meaningful or effective way. [2] 
      • poorly sorted information creates confusion and even hampers understanding and remembering. 
GURPS notes
  • Research
  • Intelligence Analysis. This is the contextual interpretation of data. This tends to overlap with Professional Skill. If you want to value professional skill more you can build into it Intelligence Analysis.   
  • Accounting. a medium of information. 

Observation
Managing attention is a key part of Observation. It deals with being able to direct attention efficiently and effectively to pick up details, patterns, and deviations. It also the working memory to hold this information for comparison and for bounds of processing.

  • Pattern seeking and seeing pattern deviations
  • Ability to hold a number of details for comparison. 
  • Ability to break down the subject of observation into workable chunks of data


GURPS notes

  • Observation. there was some confusion about this skill being able to approach a target unaware of observation. Its better to just use stealth or acting for that and leave observation to the scope described above. 
  • Intelligence Analysis. Some analysis skills allow for enhanced observation, we can leave it with Profession and just make it a difficult use of the skill. 


Inquiry
If research is searching for information in literate mediums, Inquiry is asking questions and verifying that information from people and stories. This is also the ability to generate a lot of meaniful and useful questions .

  • Knowing what is not known or uncertain.
    • the ability to detect certainty or doubt or completeness of information
  • Being able to organize information, getting stories straight
  • Inquiry and Ideation
    • the ability of asking questions, and follow up questions for every question answered. 
    • this allows the creatiion of many ideas and opens up directions for inquiry or lines of questioning. 

GURPS notes

  • Interrogation. this is the inquiry skill in GURPS, which sounds antagonistic from the description. if you dont think this fits well you can use Diplomacy or Philosophy (Socratic). 
  • Diplomacy. Humble Inquiry puts diplomacy and negotiation as a
  • Philosophy (Socratic). This can serve as the Inquiry skill in the western tradition. For the eastern tradition Confucianism and Bhuddism has some Inquiry. 


Related Notes


Language
I may be the only one in the room that may consider language an Adventuring skill, but I do really believe it - but i may be collored with my perspective as someone who grew up bilingual. As I was learning chinese it lead me to re-examine all the things I took forgranted with my language skills.

  • Speaking Skills
  • Phrases or lines of speech that convey Courtesy
  • Being able to make requests
  • Being able to make deals or facilitate trade
  • The ability to communicate Research and Observations.
  • Facilitating Inquiry skills
  • Facilitating the use and understanding of Technical Expertise


GURPS notes



Technical and Professional Skills 
Technical and Professional skills are defined as Specialized Knowledge that are job or task specific. There are many technical skills and they are generally covered as a category. The category of technical skills are actually broken into two more sub categories: Technical deals focuses more on the core skill while Profession deals with the general field and roles related to the core skill.
The difference between an Engineering vs Engineering Profession, Programming Skill vs Programming Profession, etc... In a Profession there are multiple roles while in a Technical expertise there is the highest valued skill.
Examples are engineering, manufacturing, art, crafts, professions, certifications, degrees,

GURPS notes
  • Professional Skill 
  • Expertise Skill
  • Some core skills of a profession example:
    • Farmer and Farming,
    • Blacksmith and Smithing (Iron)
    • Programming and Programmer 
    • Civil Engineer and Engineering (Civil works). 
    • Etc... 


[1] The Experiencing self vs remembering self in thinking fast and slow by Daniel Khaneman.


Part 2 Physical Adventuring Skills

  1. Trekking
  2. Running
  3. Climbing
  4. Swimming
  5. Weapon skills

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Professional vs Technical

My petty breakthrough is differentiating professional and technical skills. Which is pretty much: professional is about being able to perform multiple roles within a specialty while technical expertise is superior technical competence at the expense of being flexible enough to change roles or work well within a team.

So in gurps and in my ORPG I'll be using this concept to differentiate the two. The definitions bellow can be used also in DnD 3.X with the Craft Skill vs Profession Skill but double the Penalties and Bonuses because it uses d20 vs 3d6. This would be also useful in Traveller as is.

GURPS Definition (3rd rewrite)


Technical
  • made up the Core Technical skill with familiarity with some of the other related skills and roles.
  • Performing its specific role and tasks, this skill functions at +1 level of competence.
  • Once outside and dealing with the other roles found in the general field the skill suffers an Unfamiliar penalty of up to -2.
  • Characters with this specialization, when not in their Ideal specialized role or tasks perform at -2. (thus not making them team players)
  • Functions 2 levels removed from their core task is at a -4 to -5 penalty or worse.
Professional
  • this made up many of sub technical skills and knowledge related to the Profession and the many roles that are part of it. A familiarity with all of the roles and the ability to know how they all work together.
  • Depend on the support of others, Professional performs at -2 level of technical competence.
  • With the support of others, Professionals function equal to the Average skill of the group +1.

Trade Offs and Game Mechanics
A team of technical need to have defined roles vs a team of professionals can mix it up but are not as good as a team of technical that have their specific roles.

It solves many of the problems in games where there is a professional skill but there is a key technical skill. Wording it just right will take many iterations.

Specialization vs generalization game design mechanics that make them both important but make it a challenging and fun thing to balance.

see notes on Professional Skill Scope

Some Notes

  • The Technical Specialist vs the Generalist of the Field will be something which will fluctuate constantly from the past to the future. Generalists may incorporate more unorthodox skills into their professions with disruptive technology and market factors. While specialists will be valued for their superior value - of their expertise at that point of time. We dont know what expertise will be obsolete and we don't want to keep generalizing and lose focus in key capabilities. We will rise to specialization and fall back down to generalization (if our skills are still relevant in the industry).
  • In a more high tech setting, former Specializations would be more common as we change careers more often and disruptive technologies take up the specializations.
  • Generalists will specialize over time at the expense of other functions if they don't perform it or work more closely to it. 
    • As a rule of thumb the GM can let players shift between the two in Watershed moments of character development - the way in Real Life we have normalized deviation or shifts in how we do things and our skillset. 
  • In Real Life - people cannot help but have the skills they have. Only a few would have the agency to have more influence in how their skills work. One of the barriers in real life is that most people and businesses are really winging it and can get away with it (examples like the Big Short and Thinking Fast and Slow attribution of Skill vs Luck in Trading). 


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My notes on Organization in TRPGs

These notes serve to help the GM or Player think and imagine an organization scaled up or down. When the gamer thinks of organizations he can imagine the those up the chain, around, and below the group. This helps imagine the chaos, the conflict, the challenges and problems of all these inefficiently coordinating groups and how to use the friction as providing a rich source of interesting elements in the game. .

Defining an Organization for a Game

The most basic and easiest way to approach organization is treating them as an entity like a character.  Seeing to tackle organizations in any game system. 

  1. Identify the Organization. the name or what they can be called. 
    1. Determine their Reputation.
      1. this is what groups positively or negatively associate with them. 
      2. how hard it is to know of them. the simple mechanic is making it harder and harder for every step the PC is removed from knowing the group.  
  2. Determine its Size or Scale
    1. from a Team, to a Platoon, or to a Brigade (you may use Military Grouping as a useful mnemonic). 
      1. determine sub groups or internal organization and their size/scale. 
  3. Determine its Scope and Purpose. 
    1. What does this Organization do? 
      1. key words or categories they fall into. 
    2. Follow the Money, how does this organization support itself? 
      1. Determine the Assets Value
        1. Typically this is (2% times Administrator's skill, times average wealth level) of its Operations Cost for the years its operated to put it simply. 
        2. Note that speedily liquidated assets lose a lot of their value (1/2 to 1/10 its value).   
      2. Determine the Annual Operations Cost - Revenues
      3. Determine Reserves. x0.25 of Operations per year of ops times (the average margin of success or failure )  
  4. Determine its most Influential or Important members.
    1. Determine its secondary key members and redundancies
  5. Determine its Vulnerabilities. 
Non-Cash in low Tech
Low tech tends  to be Cash poor. typically 1-10% of all these taxes are in cash the rest in in kind. They typically go  to Maintenance and upkeep since a lot of everything in low tech tend degrade over time (wooden structures rot in a year without constant upkeep, with very good upkeep slowly integrates stone improvements).

Example


  1. Identify the Organization: 
    1. The Office of the Logothete of Opsikion 
      1. Positive reputation to those who reap the benefits of their taxation. 
      2. Generally negative for all those who are taxed. 
    2. The Band of the Red Ravens 
      1. Positive reputation for their previous employers save the Duchy of Elrand. 
      2. Negative reputation to the enemies of these past employers and Duchy of Elrand. 
      3. Neutral states and groups tend to have a positive reaction to them because of their competence BUT most people who have interacted with them have a negative reaction to them because of their use of magic and arcane methods. 
  2. Determine its Size or Scale
    1. Logothete of Opsikion - The region has a population 1 million in 1080s (the time of the Alexiad) but the Logothete itself only has 200 members carrying the office. With members at the lowest rank are Scribes, to Couriers, and Magistrates. They have about 80 other support servants. They are given authority to draw from the Osikion Theme for military support, but that depends on the relationship of the Logothete, the Dux of Opsikion, and the Emperor.  
      1. Teams of Scribes of 3-5, there are 20 of such. 15 are moving seasonally. 
      2. Teams of Couriers of 3, some are lead by a magistrate. 20 of such constantly moving 
    2. the Red Ravens - they are actually a squadron or platoon of 30 members.
      1. 2 teams of 4 in reserve, rotating. 
      2. 5 teams of 4ish on operation.  
  3. Determine its Scope and Purpose. 
    1. What does this Organization do? 
      1. The Logethete of Opsikion administers the Province of about  50 thousand households, about 30,000 sqkm, and about 20 million in GURPS usd in kind, duties, service obligations, and 1% in coinage. 
      2. The Red Ravens. They are a squadron of scouts that take their name from their employment of raven familiars and other trained ravens in their information gathering and communication. They have a signature binding process that reddens some of the feathers of the ravens they bond with. 
    2. Follow the Money, how does this organization support itself?   
      1. The Logethete of Opsikion is funded by a percentage taxes they collect and from the support of its Patron. They maintain the administration and the ability to tax and deal with the debt many have when they fail to pay their taxes. 
        1. Taxation, Administration, Intelligence/Census
        2. Assets: 9M (2 * 13 skill * 8 years * wealth level of x2 =x4.16 of ops)
        3. Operations Cost  2.9M/ 20% of gross taxes (from the 20M in taxation)
        4. Reserves: 8.7M 
      2. The Red Ravens charge a premium of 15 silver pounds per month plus a long list of expenses in horses, equipment, and tools. Their pay doubles in wartime activities (when a side has clearly declared war or battle). 
        1. Recon, Stealth, Light Cavalry, Magic
        2. Assets: (2 * 14 skill * 6 years * wealth level x3) 
        3. Operations Cost 720k / 2.9M (90% in kind)
          1. They charge about 3x monthly operations expenses in kind. Remounts, rations, equipment, and much of the CoL taken care off by the employer. 
        4. Reserves. They've had a challenging recovery since Duchy of Elrad 3 years ago. they only have 360K in cash reserves. 
  4. Determine its most Influential or Important members.
    1. the Logothete of Opsikion 
      1. Mathaios of Akropolites is the 58 year old mayor of Prusse (modern day Bursa). A patriarch of his dynasty and sponsoring his eldest son in the court of Nikephoros III but was quick to withdraw and come back to court pledging allegiance to Alexios.  
      2. Irene, his daughter of 26, has been at his side in running the Province and actually knows where all the bodies are buried. She has managed the province despite the many bungles of her husband Iohanness of Palailogos. 
    2. The Red Ravens. 
      1. Nikomedos "the great raven" runs the squadron with his nephew Ramwren. He took over when Ramwrens father was imprisoned in a coup that left their land devasted and probably for the better. With their wealth and special skills they left their land to rent their services as mercenaries.    
      2. Ramwren is his uncle's squire but serves more as combat front line in many of the night skirmishes that is part of their operation. He is well rounded in his skills and persistent in his training, unfortunately there is some great anger in him when he learned of his father's sins.
  5. Determine its Vulnerabilities. 
    1.  The logothete is an administration and has been competently run in the past 30 years, and only in the last 8 has been proving to be thriving. Their major problem is the lack of educated men of action to draw from and their convoluted bureaucracy that only Mathaios and Irene seem to understand. They are relatively fast compared to the other Logothetes but suffer from their less influence in the emperors court and their start up resources. 
    2. The Red Ravens key vulnerability is the wide age and skill gap between Nikodemus and the rest of the team leaders. A veteran of running the Black offices for nearly 10 years Nikodemus is rare and has an unusual set of skills. Skills he's not been able to successfully transfer to those he trusts and his only heir: he brothers son. 

In summary

  1. Name (Reputation)
  2. Size (Organization)
  3. Purpose/Function
    1. Assets
    2. Ops Cost / Revenues (What they Charge)
    3. Reserves 
  4. Key People
  5. Vulnerabilities

Organization and Roles

The simplest way to approach to populate an organization is to look at roles. There is the assigning and sorting Roles or Functions that make up any level of organization. It takes Professional Knowledge to know the roles and how they relate to each other. 

In any time the GM or Player looks at an Organization he may need to sketch out or ask about the roles. The two primary roles in organization are Support and Operations. 

Operations (Key Activity) 
Operations are the key activity or has the most direct relationship to the final product. In manufacturing its called production, in construction its called construction, in IT its programming, in the military its fighting, etc... 
Support  
Support is all the other activities that is indirect to key activity or final product. Support has task of Organization, Recruitment, Training, various Human Resource management roles, Accounting, Documentation or Reporting, even Leadership, Quality Control, etc...

Backup and Shifts
Considering what kind of work the organization has consider back up or additional manpower needed for a particular role or operation. In TRPGs this means elements of an organization have secondary roles or may have some critical vulnerabilities with the lack of redundancy or back up personnel. Its always much easier ,

Teamwork and leadership
After the Support and Operations there is another set of roles relating to Leadership and Teamwork. Secondary roles and characters may exist to fill these leadership or important teamwork roles. Some characters have a primary role as a Leader, while some organizations have leaders that are highly trained with everyone else being disposable, while some organizations have mesh-type teamwork that can survive a loss of a leader. 

GURPS and Organizations

The board room and the curia is a special splat book for Organization.
If you don't have the book above you can pretty much keep notes of an organization using the some repurposed GURPS stats.

  • Name (Reputation)
    • reputation by association
    • how legitimate members are identified and signaled
  • Size (Organization)
    • sub grous
  • Purpose/Function
    1. Key skill. the organizations general competence in performing its role. This is usually from 9 to 12 with TDM of the conditions giving a -4 to a +4 modifier.  
    2. Assets
    3. Ops Cost / Revenues (What they Charge). 
      1. just take a CoL and Income level, but I recommend annualize it. 
    4. Reserves 
  • Key People
  • Vulnerabilities

Key Heuristics

Learning these useful heuristics help inform in dealing with organizations. 

  • Rule of 3 and 10 in Organizational Size
    • how it works: every time an organization triples or decuples that roles and tasks groups need to be re-arranged.  Its a signal to reorganize or in anticipation of changes in structure to reorganize. It fits perfectly with the military rule of thirds and military grouping structure.  
  • (Military) rule of thirds.
    • how it works: basically divide your resources or force by 3. One part is used in operations (or what counts as direct desired output, in manufacturing this would be considered production), one is in support (support could be flanking, guard, logsitics, etc..), and one part in reserve or being moved around between support and operations.
      Typically used in conjuction with Miligary Grouping Structure. 
  • Brooke's Law
    • How it works: Manpower has factors of  coordination and information that take time and effort. That in an N amount of Elements/People the number of one to one communication channels is equal to N^2.
      Example. If we have 10 members, and If each member has 1-hour-bit of information to pass then we would have 10^2 * 1-bit-hour to get everyone up to speed.
      This rule is useful in being able to look at the mental "bandwidth" an organization will need or go through and all the factors around information channels like data-degredation and misinformaiton that will factor in.
      Finally if one is going to tackle the corrdination problem it gives a sense of scale and scope how to deal with this problem one bit at a time. 
  • Military Grouping Structure
    • How it works: Use military grouping structure in naming what the various sizes of the groups. It's easier to use because there are built in roles within a group.
      Example:  Using a 100 or so people group a company, a group of 3-7 a team, or 300 group a battalion etc..
      It helps to think of the groupings as levels. A team is two levels below platoon. A Platoon is 4 levels below a Brigade. 
    • Example
    • 3 Team
    • 10 Squad/Section
    • 30 Platoon
    • 100 Company
    • 300 Battalion 
    • 1000 Regiment 
    • etc..

Related Posts

Thursday, June 2, 2016

GURPS Lite Character Creation May 31 Report

I'm still hammering away at it. I've under-estimated the amount of hours it would take to gamify this.

If there is a long task in the game system: gamify it. Character creation should be gamified. If its a big front loaded task, it should stand on its own as a session.

  • the GM doesnt do this alone in his free time and instead share this fun with his players. It should take him 10-15 minutes to do this as a test run to know how the system work. 
    • There should be a checklist in the end (my experience of running the Traveller character creation) to make sure all elements are created. 
  • Layout and Information Load should be strategically assessed. Currently I'm going for 2-page spread for the lite, and 4-page spread for the long outline of Roles and Tasks. Then Appendix all the details.
    • The long may need to have some helpful details like page references. The long has to explain some historical details like peoples and roles. 
    • Flow from process to process is going to be a challenge.  
  • The Appendix is easily searchable epub or pdf. the player should be able to find the details easily. 

You'll noticed I've scaled down the task since I only  have 3-4 hours a week in total to write for game in the brain and my research projects. The thinking part of writing takes up valuable time of the writing process which I need to break up and do in the free moments throughout the day.

Asymmetric Status in a group. now this is takes a much longer post. feel free to ignore the status roll or average the status roll of the entire group to get the group's status.

GURPS Lite GURPS character creation (long)
  1. Roll Stats
    1. Roll 6 d6 for 6 Attributes and Characteristics. 1 for 9, 2-3 for 10, 4-5 for 11, and 6 for 12. 
    2. ST, DX, HT, IQ, Per, Will
  2. Roll Background
    1. Roll 2d6 for Status. Status -2 to 2. Status 2 is on a 12. Status 2 can shift background by 2 levels. 
    2. Roll 1d6 for Background. 1-3 Farmer, 4 Merchant, 5 Clergy, and 6 Warrior. 7 Noble. is available on a status 2. 
    3. Roll 1d6 for (Ethnicity/People). Dominant, Secondary Dominant, and Minority. Various language and cultural traits for belonging either.
  3. Choose Appearance and Some Traits. 
    1. Character chooses Appearance and Identity.
    2. Choose some Archetype traits 
    3. Some physical archetypes
    4. Some mental archetypes 
    5. Some Social archetypes
    6. Personality Archetypes (not Black and White)
  4. Roll Profession.
    1. Choose a Profession and roll to Enter. (noble is only allowed to Status 2). 
    2. These are: 
      1. Warrior: defensores (heavy infantry) and hippiko (cavalry)
      2. Auxiliary: kurasores (light to medium infantry) and Toxotai (archer). 
      3. Rogue: logos (specialist) and mesítis (broker)
      4. Clergy: Erapostolos (missionary) and frontistí (caregiver)
      5. Noble: Equites (knight commander) or Silentiaros (courtier)
    3. Success, Partial Success (partial failure), and Failure. 
    4. Roll to Advance in a profession or change Profession. 
  5. Appendix of Templates and Packages. 
    1. Equipment Packages. 
    2. Sample people or languages. 
  1. Roll Stats
    1. Roll 6 d6 for 6 Attributes and Characteristics.
    1. ST, DX, HT, IQ, Per, Will
  1. Roll Background
    1. Roll d36 (two d6s one as tens and ones) This takes up 1/3 a page for the table itself and would mean about 6-10 pages of entries. Each entry is easily 100-120 words long because of the various elements from "People".  
    2. I dont know how I'm going to implement 11C peoples and places. 
  2. Roll Traits
    1. Roll d36 3x for Like Backgrounds this can be very long and adds to about 4000 words
  3. Choose Appearance and Identity. List of elements the player may want to describe what is notable about their character. Not to be filled out at once. Ideally 2-3 elements are described in the character creation session and more in following sessions as characters develop.
  4. Create Motivations and Psychology.
    1. From the Traits motivations and psychology.
  5. Roll Profession. This works with the base of the Lite version but up adding more options for roles within a profession.
       There will be more detail on the "Noble" which will be Commander, Champion, and Courtier. 
    1. IN  
  6. Appendix of Glossary of Terms, Templates and Packages. There is going to be need to explain some historical peoples and roles. this is going to be have more options and packages. Players just pick and choose or roll dice if they can't decide. 

GURPS is a property of Steve Jackson games. This homebrew system is for my personal use. Athough I will definitely make an Open-RPG version of this once I've created a successful version so I can share it (eve the editable documents). 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My notes in using Zones

Zones (in Fate SRD) is a method of handling the location of a scenario or scene. Instead of working with precise details instead we work with abstract details and we try to maintain internal consistency when we declare the features of the location.

Instead of working out details like:

  • various measurements
  • relative locations of NPCs 
  • special effects of various features
  • Tracking all these elements
Zones works on the principle of simplifying this with a "Yes&" approach found in many more narrative systems. It lets the players make up the other details instead of asking permission from the gm ever time to speed up play and relies on a higher skill level of improvisation and problem making ability of the GM. 

Zones simplifies things to:
  • Scale
  • Abstract Features
Drawbacks to Zones
  • Higher Improv Skill requirement. The GM can be more likely stumped by a player when he does something clever. The GM may not be able to manage the challenge to match the expectations as easily with less control and more unpredictabillity. 
    • Improv Skill can be practised, trained and tools prepared. 
  • Not as Tangibly and Visually Satisfying. It takes more imagination effort to do this and it kinda throws away the hours and dollars spent on minis. Its easier if one has not "sunk cost" in the props. 
Strengths of Zones
  • Portable. It doesn't take a lot of minis or maps to pull it off. 
  • Less to preparation. instead  of having a lot of details to communicate

Scale 

Scale is describing spaces in small, medium and large. Saying it can fit a team, squad, a platoon... army, field armies, etc... Being familiar or proficient in the scales a location can take would be useful.
Typically I use the organizational scale of Armies and use the nomenclature to describe how much people can fit in a given space, how much time it takes to move, and to organize and recon surrounding spaces. Typically most game systems are in the Team scale of describing spaces and only uses the larger scales in narrative.

Features

There are many ways to go about features but I've settled with the Art of War's most used terrain feature terms. Six terrains and Nine Conditions (also known as Nine Grounds).
Features follow the Action, Evasion, and Position principle in more Narratively part 2.

Superiority. 

  • If a Side has up to 50% superiority in an ability as compared to another side they gain an advantage in the form a favourable modification to their TDM of 2 or a penalty to the other side's TDM of 2. 
  • More that 100% better than the TDM is modified by 5.
  • Kinds of Superiority
    • Numbers
    • Movement
    • Position
    • Certain Actions 
  • Some Superiorities Stack.

Various Terrain Features

These various terrains are the most often used. There are more but they have just minor nuances as compared to these basic features described. This should help make the use of zones easier. This has been factored using GURPS. 


  • Open
    • Open terrain is a level and accessible ground. 
    • Movement Superiorities
    • Numbers Superiorities 
  • Broken
    • Broken terrain is have small obstacles that provide cover, and sometimes concealment
    • Movement Superiorities. Half the bonus (round down) what can be gained in superiority.
    • Number Superiorities. Half the bonus (round down) what can be gained in superiority.
    • Other Kinds of Broken Features. 
      • Entangling. Marshland or Bogs or ground that gives bad or worse footing. 
        • Movement Superiority. None. movement is half or quartered. 
        • Numbers Superiority. Half. 
        • Bad footing penalty of  -2 to -4 TDM fighting in this terrain. 
        • Fortifying a Position negates the penalty fighting in the bad footing.
        • Advantage is when one is staying put to fight in entangling ground and the other party has to Move and Attack (action and position).  
      • Concealing. This can be a temporary feature because of weather or a natural feature from the plants and the terrain itself. 
        • -2 or -4 TDM in fighting in this terrain because of poor visibility.  
        • Recon or Coordination action are important to use this ground. Having mastered the concealing terrain allows one to negate the penalty fighting in this ground.   
  • Strategic Features
    • Scale. Determine the size of the force that can hold the strategic ground. 
    • Numbers Superiority. only if the forces are below the scale of the strategic ground. Otherwise in large groups there is no advantage in superior numbers in strategic ground. 
    • Movement Superiority. Movement superiority only matters in taking strategic ground first. In a contest to seize it the movement superior force has an advantage. 
    • Position Superiority. the GM determines how much advantage does holding the superior position in the strategic ground grants.  
    • Narrow.
      • Scale. Determine the size of the force that can hold the Narrow ground. 
      • Numbers Superiority. as strategic ground.
      • Movement Superiority. as strategic ground. 
      • Position Superiority.  typically from 1-2 favorable advantage to TDM. 
    • Fortified
      • Scale. Determine the size of the force that can hold the Narrow ground. 
      • Numbers Superiority. as strategic ground.
      • Movement Superiority. as strategic ground. 
      • Position Superiority.  typically from 3 to 10 favourable advantage to TDM. 
      • Other Superiority. depending on the other features Fortified ground can have more advantages. 
    • High 
      • Scale. Determine the size of the force that can hold the Narrow ground. 
      • Numbers Superiority. as strategic ground.
      • Movement Superiority. as strategic ground. 
      • Position Superiority.  typically from 1-2 favourable advantage to TDM. 
      • Ranged Superiority. higher ground grants a ranged superiority.


Other Terrains not Covered

  • Stand Off Terrain
  • Remote Terrain



Other References




Land Forms

I stumbled on Land forms from my research on zones. I was trying to examine terrains and discovered a lot of them. Here is a list of a lot of Landforms that may be useful to expand and enrich your imagination.

List of Landforms in Wikipedia