Monday, September 15, 2014

Selective Humanization

Humanization and Dehumanization is something we exercise a lot in RPGs. We humanize our characters, our NPCs, and Allies, and we dehumanize enemies and other characters in order to simplify the problem solving and the context of the situation. (Humanism is a philosophical stance that can be religious or secular)

Story Tellers, players or GMs, play around with this Humanizing and Dehumanizing their surrounding NPCs. Gms and story tellers like to challenge the players or audience by Humanizing Villains, and Dehumanizing allies and the victims of the characters actions (to see if they will continue to abuse these victims).

The strange narrative that is found online in recent events talks about dehumanization, particular of women (see Objectification). Although I don't like to limit it just to gender, but like to observe its selectivity in poverty, nationality, ethnicity, and even online.

The funny thing about dehumanization is that "good" people do it to "sociopaths" dehumanizing sociopaths/psychopaths. Treating someone as disposable because they do not fit our own standard of morality. Then there is Animal Rights and applying Humanization or Humanism to being we cannot fully understand but we discover little by little can feel as much as us.

Its a really complex topic, and RPGs are a great vehicle by which we can explore the issues... especially when there is good faith among those participating.

One thing you have to note about Dehumanization is that it happens internally, and it can become a common practice among a group of individuals. You cannot really measure it, or say one thing dehumanizes X or Y. Which leads me to an annoying point is that - you cannot have an Authority call for what dehumanizes in such a simple call - especially when there is colorful rhetoric instead of bland and neutral analysis.

I love flowery words as much as an audience, but to maintain good faith I need to describe things in sanitary and measurable terms. Especially in a matter as tricky and confusing as Dehumanization. My fear, which was realized, is that it can be used as a form of "Heresy" - an arbitrary excuse that can be called upon to incite fears to set on another person the Burden of Proving Good Faith - instead of just by the merit of the argument.

What is a bad sign for me is that I can only talk to my friends about these maters, because they can vet me and know I mean well when I ask. Although that should not be the primary measure of discussion - instead  what should be focused on the argument. Many Fallacies are based on Poisoning the Well or Attacking the Credibility of the person who asks, Guessing their intent instead of looking at the Question/Argument/Thesis.

Dehumanization and Humanization is a great metric to measure our own biases. it can be simplified as a basic system of ratings. How people dehumanize minorities, slaves, poverty, cultural enemies, etc... How they humanize their peers, ideological compatriots, countrymen, etc... its a simple tier system and grouping. I like exploring it in game, and testing the selectivity of characters (as the Players internalize them).

As we humanize interesting connections arise, we connect to something we may know little about - the way propaganda tries to make people connect with its leaders despite how disconnected they really are from each other - or how people that are suffering the same tragedies are all connected but may be in opposite ends of the conflict.

We humanize people with the mental disability in empathy, but we dehumanize sociopaths/psychopaths. Can you humanize your predator or abuser? lolz anyway I wanted to pointed that this is fun aspect of RPing. happy gaming.

Open Humanization System

Break down society in Gender, Wealth, Ethnicity, Race, Religion, Profession, Nation, etc... Along these groups there is a hierarchy, one is "subjectively" better than the other. For every step or category someone is different, that counts as a modifier to how the PC humanizes or dehumanizes another person.

So a PC has a Social Position - where he is in society, if society was a map and the differences were locals. The farther the another person is in the Society map, the less they can care about this person. Empathy is the Highways or Worm Holes or Warp Gates of Humanization lolz.

Then we set what is Neutral and what is Positive, then negative. Neutral is 0, what counts as 0 is almost arbitrary. Typically the minimalist relation - their culturally related individual. Then we proceed to be negative as we go farther, and positive as we go closer. Examples found on the character sheet in the form of their "relations".

Notice how this Falls in the Hyperbolic Discounting but in Relationships instead of Utility.

A diety is the highest possible Humanization rating. Since it is a projection of one's self, the humanization of an Ideal or Diety grants great influence over the character. This can be used as an external influence - for devotion or even Fanaticism, or rallying for a Cause.

This also aids in dehumanizing as well, which history is rife with examples.
You can always use a Diety as an excuse or a cause to rally behind because it appeals to the most humanized being the person knows.  This can be used in many ways, often exploitative (abuse is a dominant strategy of utility maximization).

Lolz. basically people who don't trust them selves are those with the least influenced by this Mnemonic, while those very sure of them selves are the most influenced by this form of leverage.
This mnemonic can exceed the natural instinct of self preservation by making the self an external element - seeing ones self of very low value and the claim of a greater value outside ones' self.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Player Agency. Incentive Points.

I'm a fan of narrative games - house of the blooded is the only I've played but I've followed +Tobie Abad's Tagsessions which play mostly such games. I love the Initiative and the  "Player Agency". I like reacting to the players being unpredictable. I like going with the flow, and when there is a flow I can read players better and know how to better prime a situation for more drama and excitement. It is controllable, if you are not too attached in doing things in a particular way.

You can do that in GURPS, its under the rules of Influencing Success B347. Players have the power to use CP to buy success (buying success rule) and influence the kind of success (player guidance). Lastly, you can BRIBE your players to act on their disadvantages a certain way.

If I were to Teach New Players into GURPS, those of a different point of view, I would like to show them this Narrative Side using Wildcards and Influencing Success rules. Actually it is possible to have multiple ways of enjoying the game, as long as everyone gives each other the space or spotlight. You can play GURPS like a simulations or like a storyteller/thespian.

To gamers where certain details matter - , like the number of shots, the halfswording technique, if the armor edge protection, etc...  This may not be for you but do try it out.


Influencing Rolls (B347)
I allow buying success rules to spend CP for success
I allow player guides rules to allow the Players to influence the nature of a success.
BUT, I reserve the option to "give" (Bribe) the player CP (1cp only) in exchange for the player to act on their disadvantage in a particular way.

So basically Imagine GURPS Lite with the Core System, Wildcard Skills, and Influencing Rolls and GM bribery. Its like a Fate mishmash with GURPS but the detail can be scaled (or called upon) if you want it to be. Its a great medium for a GM to try out Fate from GURPS, or Fate to GURPS.


In Other Game Systems

Its as simple as making XP into a Currency of Character Development for Bribes and Costs for Dramatic Success. It can be done with any system since you can influence the die roll. the GM can even "recycle" the spent XP or Character Dev Commodity into a "fate pool" when a Player spends a lot of his "points" to alter success they get a different set of incentives and challenges. 

Example in a DnD Game, XP is in a currency of Points related to the Level. The higher the level the Higher the Points are worth in XP so it always stays the same to the PC, X no. of points is equal a level. Now the GM Bribes the Players with more XP influencing their character, while the Players spend Xp to influence their Success. 

You dont have to stop there, XP spent in this way may go somewhere. This is where some Home brew guys will get a lot of fun. Making XP benchmarks and what it does. It can be based on "Alignment" or the "Class", goes into their reputation, or a secret random kind of fate (a mixed blessing). After enough XP in this "fate pool" something happens. The PC can have kinds of nemisis, a lover that brings problems, a family with a lot of responsibilities, etc... they can have a low level but their Fate has more in store for them than they can potentially handle. 


Monday, September 8, 2014

Community Building Focus Transition.

I will be changing content direction slowly. I have a ton of old posts and material, which I will evolve to be more System Agnostic. Game in the Brain will be shifting to Open Gaming Community Building.

This means DIY Projects, Organization, Consolidation, and Sharing of best practices in Open Gaming. This is not just RPGs, but any form of Gaming (including some LARPing, Heavy Combat, Adventure Games, and Combat sims). It is moving away from the traditional model of Gaming where we produce a product and sell it, instead we build a community which enables the people to Game by their own terms.

Community management is being able to create an environment that draws the resources of a crowd  and manages the negatives of diversity, dissent, and personal tastes and goals. Inclusive, the focus allows families to find more avenues to play together, and play with other families. Its a gaming community that is not just an Adult pursuit, where parents can have their children participate in creative and constructive ways. Where they will learn many skills through these pursuits as well as socializing with a range of people, topics, and disciplines.

I believe through this model Artists, Writers, and Designers can find a more sustainable means by selling their services and modular products designed to grow the community and lower the entry, complexity, and personalization barriers.


Projects:

  • Open Gaming Starter Kit   - This defaults in the Philippines because I only have local knowledge of how to source materials there. But it serves as a template of how to create user friendly DIY instructions that include how to find the materials needed and benchmarks of costs. One thing is to tell a person how to make something, the harder part is finding the materials given the limits of their surroundings. 
  • Racing Game System - A simple system that allows parents and children to play with the cheap Die-cast cars in a friendly competitive race game where they can make their own maps, cars, devices, and genres (from Tokyo Drift, Off-Road, to Post Apoc Road Warrior, Prison Death Race etc...). Take your map ma
  • Templates for the Creation of Custom War Games, RPGs, and other Table Top games.
  • DIY Repository and Wiki allowing people to speedily evolve their best practices
  • Finish that Homebrew Projects - basically projects where groups can finish together their Game Systems they set out to do. An exercise of project management, creating feasible deadlines and objectives, and working with all the limitations. Growing the Skills that can be applied to tackle anything really. 

Why this focus

In the Freemarket of Ideas, things Change and Evolve. I believe that we are transitioning or creating a niche where Gaming is about community building through playing together and making games. Game in the Brain cannot be just one system, since that is a dogmatic approach and should focus on a more Adaptive Approach to gaming - evolving best practices and allowing real life skills to be honed as we play. For me, Gaming as a Coping Mechanism for learning, dealing with difficult problems (both personal and professional), and Socialization. 

There is room for Gaming as a traditional product that needs to be sold to a market, but we are entering an age where knowledge and tastes are more individual and nuanced. that Gaming is more about relationships with others than the Game System, and realizing that then cultivating a community that is sustainable, and able to draw from many positive habits will create a better game experience and people who feel better about themselves and their situations.  

There will be barriers for entry, learning, and personalization. This is where artisans come in, producing services and goods to grow the community, allow greater personalization, and improve their craft and skills. 

Its not for everyone. Its indeed Altruistic, and everyone has their own disposition and circumstance where this perspective does not work for them. Its just an idea, and its only looking for those who share in it and its goals. The more the merrier, and we get to learn from each other and feel good knowing others are learning and sharing as well.

Consider such a community an exercise in Diplomacy and getting along with minimum use of hard tactics and authority (and being very open and honest despite the cogntive biases that reduce the common good with honesty). Minimize Externalizes and Manage Conflict and Dissent and Difference of Perspective. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Anygame System - Gamer Guide to Small Wars Manual part 1

Any Game System or GM will benefit from this Free Public Domain Book! It will highlight Tasks  any Adventure (aka Operations) the PCs will engage. Note that this book has Pack Animal care and logistics notes, which can be used and translated into your Game Systems' needs (some thing that is not covered by many game systems).

I will highlight some chapters so you can easily digest this massive book from the most important and relevant gaming pieces to the more theoretical and strategic elements that may be important if your game goes there in a series of posts.

Logistics in the Game

For every detail the PCs cannot perform with mastery consider noting it down. Skills like Packing, Organization, Recon, Basic Navigation, Leadership and Due Diligence are often done in conditions where someone practiced and proficient can succeed almost all the time. But when there is room for failure, this is where the GM can roll for where some internal challenges can come up. No plan survives contact, the GM has to make the internal challenges happen to test the adaptability of the PCs

Basics. Check out Infantry patrols> the March (6-38 p.23-34)

It talks about Rate of March, Load, and Bivouacing aka Camping!
If your game system has no rules for this, you can make them up using these practices. GURPS covers the marching part pretty well (but you need to set limits) , but not the Camping part.

SWM 6-40 Rate of March
Basically its 45min march because there is 15 min breaks. Breaks that go to fixing packing gear and hydration BUT see the book for more of the details the GM has to consider.

Even if you have minimal experience of the outdoors you will notice natural paths, worn trails, and difficult terrain. This is really a matter of awareness and familiarity, witht little experience and reflection you will notice these details. These practices (the book) is there to mitigate risks and because time and effort are of short supply, people tend to march the safe route - a visible natural path or worn trail. To deviate means to risk bad footing, which penalizes people in progress or the chance to injure themselves. A shortcut through difficult terrain is very difficult to capitalize because of the level of exhaustion, coordination (they have to be together, you are dragged down by your weakest team mate), and the risk of injury. Once you've sprained or injured you're leg, like pack animals, it has very serious consequences. So common sense - stick to the path, unless you're so good in navigation or survival you can pick out a path hidden by the foliage (if there is another PATH, the GM is the final arbiter).

Pack Animals

Important points in Packing 3-26 p.18
A successful packing easy roll should be 30 mins. Since this is can be a trivial task, the GM doesnt really roll for this If you make this whole march a task, one of the road bumps could be in the packing.
Mounted Detachment > Care of Animals >
Rules for Handling Animals 7-9 p.8
Management of Animals on the March 7-16 p. 11
- you will notice that animals are not the same as humans when carrying a load relative to their body mass.
Spare Mounts 7-35 p. 28
Animal Encumbrance

you will notice it takes a lot of effort to take care of animals. Other than camping (see below) you will need to care for your animal - your mount or pack animal. A your "torch bearer" better have packing and animal handling skills.

SWM 6-58 Camping. 
Camping is done 3 hours before sundown, 1 hour to look for suitable place to camp (ask your the player who is tasked to recon for the best camp sight to make a roll, the margin of success can be used as a reference point against ambushers) then two hours to move into the area, clear it and prep it, and then set up camp.
You can guess why this is a big deal? (does the system have penalties making camp at night?)

Summary

  • Hiking is 45 mins per hour with 15 mins for breaks. breaks mean eating a quick meal, drinks, and readjusting packs. Re-adjusting packs mean load outs are important and good quality gear and efficiency is key. This means PCs that overpack will be penalized.
  • Hiking in Daylight Hours, longer in seasons with longer days and shorter over seasons with shorter days. 2 hours before night fall, look for a safe place to rest and set up camp. Assuming you have limited man power security and details eat up more time.  
  • Packing is time consuming and takes 30 mins for a skilled packer. Typically specialized, that means mobilizing as soon as daylight arrives will be an hour or two from daylight when you need light and want to maintain security. 
  • Animal attrition is at about ~20% over a period of a short campaign. So there is a buffer for how much pack animals. Animals are time consuming, having such adds to the number of specialists to reduce the time impact or it will increase the time it takes to ready and preapare. Without such you may end up spending 1 hour for animal to be feed and prepped. 
  • All the details add up and your hiking time shrinks, then there are other security considerations. A party moving fast and lightly encumbered will have to "take" their supplies as they go, this means they know where they are going, the odds and are equipped to face them. Note even Mongols did due diligence (making maps of Europe prior to invading). 
  • Factor nature, Magic and Technology, civilization complexity, and economics. A setting with multiple packing animal options with trade offs, magic in logistics, how communities are organized and where they position. 

My Jabbering 

Ignore it if it will ruin the above (most likely it will).

This book was around in the Phil-American War and was the traditions drawn from by the Philippine Scouts in WW2, so I can pretty much appreciate its historical relevance and has impacted how Philippine history played out.

I bought my copy of the small wars manual in 2010, while in Singapore in the Borders there. We don't get these kinds of books in the Philippines and I've never heard about it until I've saw it then, bought it, and read up on it. (I also bought the Combat Leaders' Field Guide 13ed there and the SAS survival).

I consider these book necessary homework for GMing wilderness and logistics. The "doctrine" and practice is present to reduce the complexity of a task and highlights the main risk each tasks most likely encounters.

It is in this Doctrine do I see more supporting evidence of the differences between Human marching endurance and animals (see Animal transportation 3-25 p.17 on wards and Care of Animals 7-5 p.3 and onward).  It also talks about the kind of attrition expected for such animals. Already the details and specifics about care speaks volumes of the kind of problems the Adventurers would encounter if they adventure without Doctrine or a Tradition to draw from. this is Biomechanics.


Oh yeah, Drawing from Military Tradition is a BIG deal. These practices are honed over the frequency of use, ingenuity and pragmatism of fighting conditions. These traditions are indispensable and to "Make them Up" as you go would be a truly fantastic feat of genius (like someone just coming up with Gunpowder in a low tech era!). You can guess why Nomadic and Migrant Peoples were special favored for conscription, once you settle people they forget many of the logistical consideration of travelling over great distances. of course we can ignore these details to have fun, but once you realize the gap of knowledge offered by tradition vs "winging it" it may come nagging at you how your Players Set camp, or how many daylight hours they allocate on a march, or how much manpower they allocate for recon, if they bother to deal with local guides etc...

One sure use of the SWM is GM Ideas. If the GM looks at the practices and the reasons for it, every lack of diligence due builds up the challenge up for the players. Although, I'm a fan of the players, and ask them to roll Administration, Soldiering, Tactics, Information Analysis, Observation, Strategy, etc.. etc.. when I see that they overlook something that should be practiced by people of their level of ability.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weight of a Roll or Opportunity in a Game

Edited for Clarity:
Here is a funny thing about most of the systems I've read, no one gives guidelines as to how many rolls matter. I learned this from some Old School GMs who make it tough by just making me roll more, and arbitrarily choosing which of the times I rolled matter more.

Further Explanation: No system really talks about: That in a span of a session or event in a session, how many or which rolls matter. If you look at Combat Systems, which have more rolls than all the other circumstances in a game (much higher relative to in game time) you will notice that there are More rolls and each have various weights in how they influence circumstance. There is so much emphasis, yet if you step back and look at all the elements of the adventure: social, logistical, intrapersonal, etc... and ask "what should matter more?" its completely arbitrary. Like why can combat be a simple roll, (like any other skill) brings to light more of how arbitrary emphasis can be. 


This is a simple and powerful technique, and something that comes naturally in logistics, echoed in the For want of a Nail. If the GM so wishes it, he can make the entire adventure hinge on a nail or a characters life, a magic items survival, etc... . In GURPS it can mean a character can die because he failed a fast draw roll, or in other game systems that death can be from Logistics or Fatigue, or that one can only die by the hand of the enemy.

Why the technique is so effective is because our attention and memories are easily played with, even when we think we are paying attention. These memory errors come out more if you record your games. One Interesting internal feedback I get when I do so is - Thats not how I remember GMing or Playing it! The weight of the roll, when viewed more objectively outside the game can be manipulated, Skills to do so can be found in Verbal Self Defense techniques and many other Social management skills.

F* u justin why the heck are you bringing out this closely held GM secret!

I'm an open source nut, and my tricks are all in display, because I want to learn. Of course, you cannot execute any trick without practice - yes the f-ing reality that we cannot do things on the fly - only a logistician would nag this reality. So practice in privacy or among friends and enablers allows you to perform these tricks well. Its freaking science, there is a rational to the trick but it doesnt stop being amazing just cause you know whats behind the veil. For me, what is amazing is the work and inspiration behind the trick. 


The other funny thing about this trick is that it is used in conversation, its called "changing the topic" or "deflection" found in. Hell just using the verbal self defense listed give you an array of Gaming Tools for both GM and Player.

Makes you wonder if the Gamers Hanging Out  Community a Verbal Dojo where we practice facilitation by just  hanging out and listening to each other? What kind of conspiracy is learning to amicably listen to anyone willing to share their gaming experience, joys and frustrations has the self interest of self improvement.

In Narrative Games (like Fate and other such systems), Players who understand this concept cannot be controlled - as they shouldn't be because it is more of a collaborative game. Same goes in many simple discussions where everyone is contributing and no one is trying to dictate the issues without everyone's consent.

No matter what the system, the GM (and the players) should have power to emphasize what matters.

Because, even with this Power over the story the Players have the power to say your game is no fun. Awareness of the technique means, you can see how hard the GM is working to make it challenging or so that you can give the GM the opportunity to look deeper into the context of the situation and turn it around. And if both parties are trying to make it challenging, then the experience becomes more rewarding.

So we make a judgment on the GM based on how he uses such a power (like if he wants to share it).

So basically, the same Cognitive Framing techniques we naturally use can be further honed to surprising flexibility and adaptability as to help us GM better AND deal with people and life events better. *cough*bullshit*cough*


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dispelling Myths: GURPS is too rules heavy



There is only one way to dispel the myth and its to actually count the pages (plus notes on average word count).  Its annoying when people use anecdotal evidence and throw around opinion like facts. In order to quantify how "crunchy" or rules heavy a system is, lets go about its system and in its

Options are what fills the Pages of GURPS - options in Ads, Disads, Perks, Quirks, Equipment, Skills and Techniques.

Core System -
3 pages - Success Roll, Contested and Quick Contest Rolls, Reaction Roll and Damage Roll
Characters Rules and System -
2 pages - Character Stats (ST, DX, etc...)
3 pages - Social Background (wealth, appearance, culture, language, rank, status)
3 pages - Rules behind Advantages and Disadvantages.
2 pages - Skills and Techniques
2 pages - Character improvement
Game Physics
4 pages - Equipment, Armor, and Weapons
3 pages - Physical and Mental feats
4 pages - Basic Combat
4 pages - Hit locations, Mounted Combat, and Tactical Combat
6 pages - Injury, Fatigue, and Hazards in general

Magic
12 pages

I've tried using simpler language to re-write the rules of my own game hand-outs and you can boil this down to 1/3 as many words/pages. If I illustrated some of the concepts instead of wrote them down, even less words. Now here is the awesome part - add the pages of these rules to the FAQ and the Errata and then you get the entire bulk Data Size.
The FAQ and Errata should always count towards this.

Of course this all very easy to learn if someone was showing it to you... and many demo and show how simple it can be. If your frustrated or don't get it there are enough who are interested to hang out and talk you through (consider that as way to measure the community).

Advance Rules
Martial Arts - more combat options, more detailed rules on many aspects of combat.
Tactical Shooting or High Tech - modern weapon rules and some technique and skill options.
Low Tech - options and most importantly how the technology is used.
Mysteries - some social rules
Magic - adds 10 more pages worth of rules
Social Engineering -  emphasis in social campaigns
Mass Combat and City Stats - Macro campaigns - leading armies and nations.
Vehicles - making vehicles
Space Ships - abstraction and simplified ship combat system
Space - more detailes about physics and futuristic games.

OPTIONS per Book Gaming Model

The Options per Book is a great model that DnD was already pulling off that was later Refined by WOTC as a great money making engine. Options per Splat Book creating more nuances in essentially stuff you already have. I remember when Sword and Fist first came out, and how successful it came to be which became the standard marketing for a lot of games: Sell Options to Players and secondarily the GM. Many game systems followed suit. 

Now You may be overwhelmed by GURPS and Martial Arts but note how Two Books covers, one being the Core Books, covers so much of Martial Arts and draws from Historical and Real World martial arts. It also gives you tools to make your own stuff. If we are inventing stuff, I don't see the difference between the game designer and the hobbyist (which is a Courtier's Reply a kind of fallacy about the source). So yeah - GURPS gives you a lot of your not burdened by Bias for Authority - and a lot of Non-Game writers produce awesome set of rules and material which they share for free (my bias is to whats FREE). 

The trade off for all those options being in a couple of books than buying them bite sized is that there is a lot and one may feel obligated to read them all. If your getting value for money, I don't think one should be complaining that they got too much value. I think the writers did their job and the reader just needs time to digest - and its not even that hard of a problem when there is so many friendly gamers willing to share their time to help others understand. Take the Mook's stuff for instance and the bradley harvey's gurps youtube stuff and many others. 

In the end learning can be very easy, if you're busy google someone to help you learn it. 

Options and Implied Rules, the EUA for Players

If you're a GM and you want more realism, GURPS is not only your friend it is that End-User Agreement thats biased towards you. Its already in the book that you can pick and choose what ever rules you want, but what is great about it is that the Near-Realistic Baseline is the Implied Assumptions at how challenging the GM can make it. 

When a new set of rules come out, its a modification to the EUA between players and GMs. When ever someone chooses an Add-on Book, that's an EUA modification as well. If you are a heavy modder, that's parr for the GURPS course. There is no STAMP of SJGames approved needed, if it makes sense to you and you guys have fun and there is no Stigma for heavy mods as the rules are really very modular.

You don't even need to read the other rules, and most people don't. When I did my flow chart of GURPS rules I noticed there are many rules that would be nice and can bring a lot of realism. In face to face, with apps, spreadsheet and some automation they are great but in my current automation I use most (automation via Roll20 Macros)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Entrepreneurship of Adventuring, GMing Flowchart

Some Family History - my father came from a Roast Pig and a grocery store business (Lechon is common in all spanish cultures, despite how ignorant most filipinos that there is lechon outside the Philippines)  when he was growing up. In that very young age, despite how much business and work they got it was too much work for too little take home and the risks involved. He went into technology, manufacturing, and construction.

Working Smarter is something I really believe in, and I take it to my games. Which makes it a bit of a sandbox, because part of the problem of working smarter is the Information Asymmetry (as to which is the best way to make money). In that I have no answers, just propose the PCs to go what ever direction and I will bring the problems, details, and logistics that come with that strategy (the Case method)

With Sins of the Crusades, the War Beneath Heaven, and The Warring States - I've been trying to be open with various methods of problem solving as well as letting characters perform outside my own ethical preferences (where the consequences are subject to the same chances - sometimes bad things and no good deed go unpunished; there is no Karma in the setting).

The challenges of this method is Follow Through - which is very realistic. With the world of opportunities, we try out various things and some things have diminishing returns. It can be demoralizing and that's when the GM finds a way to light a fire under the players. It doesn't mean their path is right or wrong - it just means the world keeps moving regardless of the PCs own activities (a very Daoist or Adam Smith perspective, amazing how these philosophies parallel in this).

The flow chart below should illustrate my sandboxy method of GMing and help you devise your own method.


Some Points

  • Open Minded is key - because the players will always want a direction that may never make sense to the GM unless he is a good listener and able to frame the situation to be exciting to everyone involved. A lot of Freethinker (science disciplines) and/or Leadership skills (stuff tackled in many Business leadership curriculum - gaining consensus/buy in, small wins, active listening, managing conflict in a healthy way etc. etc....)  we are talking about Working Smart. 
  • You don't have to achieve this all in one session, but you do need to make each session something memorable and exciting. Well dont feel too much pressure, this is not a Job so there is a very low bar unless you involve money (like paid GMing, which monetizes good will which in studies behavior economics, like in predictibly irrational, make people act more like jerks).
  • Knowing your players and their buttons makes this all so much easier, as well as going through the catechism of cognitive biases to improve ones ability to mentally shift around blocks.