Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Memory House Rule, based on Studies

Because of the emphasis of route Memorization in Ancient education I think Eidetic Memory, or it should be renamed Exceptional memory, is a much more accessible advantage. Maybe Photographic Memory should be renamed Enhanced Memory - and follow the feats model of Method of Loci - that these are memory tasks that requires concentration and a skill check.

I would half the bonus if the PC would perform a minor memory technique: writing things down or repeating over and over again the piece of information (any easy quick ritual). Full bonus if the PC performs the extended time consuming rituals used by memory techniques. So +2 or +5 for Exceptional memory, and +5 to +10 for Enhanced Memory.

The skill check for memory depends on the technique - writing, drawing, area knowledge (for method of Loci), etc...

I should give Aging Memory Penalties at Adult (30 and older) and every level when remembering stuff not related to their profession. not a direct penalty to IQ


influenced by Professor Patrick N. Attill's the Art of Teaching and how we Learn by Professor Monisha Pasupathi    

 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Adjustment of Post Frequency and Projects

I am currently working on several long posts that would take up about 5-10 hours to fully edit and make. My sickness and exercise regiments is going to hamper a lot of my work. Its better to measure in terms of Months how much hours I can scrounge up. About 10 hours a month on these projects.

Up-Coming projects:
  1. Narrative Mass Combat Warfare System in an A6 pdf draft version 2015
    1. I think it would take me about 3 months to finish this, it would need about 10 hours of work to finish, and maybe 5 hours to finish. 
    2. There is going to be a Logistics made-fun in the case study method 
  2. Narrative Combat Guide in A6 pdf 2015. An overlay system to some various RPG game systems as well as part of an Open RPG system I'm developing that suits my purposes of running the case-study school of GMing.
    1. Probably the next after the warfare.
    2. Hoping in succeeding drafts will have more flow charts to explain structure. I would love to dress it up with art but as my health is not as good I have less and less time.
    3. Apply the Narrative Combat System on GURPS lite - modifying it to be lighter and easier to run. (using areas, initiative by being ready to say what they are going to do instead of stats, and other Narrative enhanced mechanics)  
  3. Using Free-Mind, Mind mapping the Game. A guide of efficient use time and how to frame goals in prep.
  4. Editing my GURPS Low Tech Western 11C. Hopefully i get it all done by the end of the year after the other projects above. I will have more time if I pause my campaign but I need to keep running so I'm currently wrestling with the need for more time to develop better techniques and document them and the material I gather running games. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Preparation and Improvisation; The Need to Declare Gaming Cred

These are two life skills the hobby values and we can use in work and life. The complex and ambigouity of gaming prep challenges our Scientific Skills in trying to define the complexity and frame the problem, while the Improvisation carries with it a variety of skills that make us or what we talk about interesting. 

Preparation


Preparation (and Planning) is a very well defined skills in our time. The skill of preparation and planning are various skills, feats, and techniques that: 
  • set, clarify, and adapt goals, 
  • as well as break down complexity and complex tasks, arrange and adapt them to best suit goals, and order them by our resources, strengths, and opportunities. 
  • the discipline in negotiation has very similar preparation techniques work to clarify and enhance the goals and steps in a complex task. (MESO, and Topics, Targets, and Trade-offs come to mind)
My influences here is Professor Michael Roberto's works in Transformational Leaderships (buzz word warning), and, Professor Seth Freeman's Negotiation the Art of the Best Deal. 

Improvisation


Improvisation is a combination of Public Speaking skills, or what the ancients would call Rhetorics, and Creative Thinking Skills - yes there is a skill set under this. 

Creativity or Creative Thinking as a Skill. These are techniques that force us and our brains to generate ideas in a rapid pace (5-10 ideas per minute) and challenge our minds to create connections with very disparate/incongruous ideas. There are several techniques under this, and it takes practice to use them. The skill also allows the person to facilitate creative thinking in others. See Professor Gerard Puccio's Creative Thinkers Toolkit in TGC. 

A Great source of Public Speaking skill for Gaming is Teaching, because it has one of the most interactive elements as compared to Performance arts of Public Speaking. Public Speaking though has the most repetitive exercises and painful reflection: watching and listening to oneself perform. 


Unpopularity of Humble Inquiry 

Kaizen or Lifelong Learning is a general philosophy towards the things we do. its a Life Philosophy that comes with a particular disposition and temperament: that of Humble Inquiry. Sadly I've encountered a few people who are averse to it, but they are just a few loud minorities that have no statistical influence in the Gaming Community as a whole - but it bears in mind talking about it because these Loud Minority will make you believe they have all the answers. 

Again we go back to basic Socratic Philosophy: I know nothing, this is Socrates Philosophy and the CORE believe if I want to perform the technique Humble Inquiry (Prof. Seth Freeman) with any consistency and sincerity. 

I didnt realize how powerful this is a tool and principle that to seek it in others is the best signal of Sincere Discourse (not just someone who wants to laud their Gaming Prowess*). 
If I talk to someone, do I assume they are Ignorant of the matter? Then like a mirror, is the other person painting me with his assumptions the ignorance he assigns me?
And in here lies the measure of sincere dialogue. It is the temperment of the annoying minority of Gamers to preach and act like a Know it all: talking down to people who ask.

The Need to Show of Gaming Prowess

I keep wondering why certain people feel the needs to interject their gaming prowess into conversations that have nothing to do with it. People interjecting how many years they have been gaming was a shtick many gamers, including myself, did. worse was when it had no bearing in the conversation and was more and more repeated and forced into a conversation.

I assume its insecurity that of a life that is generally unsatisfying - that the gamer is not living life and has to declare his prowess as a way to re-affirm some nagging fear about the choices he's made in his life.

The things is the moment I feel like I have to make that kind of Declarations I go and ask myself: how about my work, my family, and my other hobbies? The moment I branched out to have a real LIFE this insecurity disappeared. Its thanks to Tobie and Gman to help me figure this out.

So the next time there is a Insecurity Signal in the Conversation, maybe invite the person over to have a life: have coffee, play another hobby (running, airsoft, hiking, travel, history, etc... ), meet new people, and enjoy life. Then without being a douche pointing these out to them. Then there is simply breaking away and waiting for them to be in a better place - but does that constitute being a Fair-weather friend?

Lets have a life, so we can be better gamers.  



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Extended Discussion currently occupying me

So to summarize, the person is trying to persuade me that my questions are bad and irrelevant to gaming. I ask and seek clarification as to where he gets that claim and why he things so.
This discussion can be found here.






I did state that it is taking up too much of my time to answer, so I'll be back to answer this when convenient. My policy is that any discussion this "tunnelling" needs to be Aired, a lesson from many such other discussions.  Too bad I'm the only verifiable ID in the discussion :( maybe I should have that as a Policy, not to entertain at length pseudonyms or masked accounts. maybe a 3 strike rule on replies. Testing for Active Listening and intentions, then just ignoring. Will do that after this one. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Role-Playing Buzz Kill or Challenge?

Here is a Simple Survey if you find certain historical circumstances a Buzz-Kill or a Role-Playing challenge. <

2015 Houserules update on GURPS Wealth

I've been making a lot of Wealth rules. Social Economic relationship to Game Theory is always getting the right kind of model of circumstances of a certain period. Here is a new one, based on my current learning




Here is a random wealth table that can be used to apply to a group or individuals.
  

Random Wealth Table.

3d6 Random Wealth and Status
3-4 Struggling (Average x0.5), Status -1
5-8 Average (Average x1), Status 0
9-10 Average (Average x1.5), Status 0
11-12 Comfortable (Average x2), Status 1
13 Comfortable (Average x3), Status 1
14 Wealthy (Average x5), Status 2.2
15 Wealthy (Average x7), Status 2.4
16 Wealthy (Average x10), Status 2.6
17 Wealthy (Average x15), Status 2.8
18 Very Wealthy (Average x20), Status 3







GURPS Wealth Levels

Some more notes on GURPS wealth levels.

Dead Broke.

Status. -3 (-40 points; -25 points from wealth, -15 from status)
Social Class. Slaves and landless tenant farmers. This is the condition of every adult in an overpopulated areas (100 people by sq mi or 40 / sq km) born of  Serf.
Assets. None, what property they "own" is a secret or what their master allows them.
GM notes. Not Playable. 
Historical Notes. This is the bottom 20% of the population. These are adults who are in overpopulated areas that work the land as tenants. Life in such a state does not make one live long, many expire in their 40s if their lords have no mercy or surplus.
Social mobility here comes in the form of running away and starting new.



Poor

Status. -2 (-25 points; -15 points from wealth, -10 from status)
Social Class. Poor Serfs. 
Assets. Typically a Virgate of 5-15 ha (15-40 acres). Typically has a mule or a small ox.
GM notes. Not Playable. 
Historical notes. second to the bottom 20% of the population. These smaller independent serfs do not last long. Often (50-50 chance) in the 3-6 years they are absorbed a better off household or manage to survive for a little longer. Everyone knows this is a very hard and unstable venture.

In overpopulated regions these are bachelors who will take over their father's oaths as serf or extra sons who are commissioned failed farms or new lands. If there are too many successors to divide this, a land may end up divided at this level.

Census is never perfect, there will always be some people living off land they may not own by rights. if they "squat" on such land, they would be typically this small (a virgate) or two. the Balkans and the various mountainous regions had such places. Bandit or Raider tribes would live in such conditions with the wealthiest only as much a struggling. 

Struggling

Status. -1 (-15 points; -10 points from wealth, -15 from status)
Social Class. A comfortable Serf. a Peasant, or Commoner. 
Assets. Typically a Virgate 10-30 ha (40-80 acres). A pair of small oxen or mules.
GM notes. Not typically playable. Typical for Light Infantryman or Raider. 
Historical notes. around the middle way of the the population. These smaller independent serfs have some stable condition. They have a size of roughly an extended household or two. These households contribution support a servant or two of their overlord.  Everyone understands this is a fairly stable amount of land.

Freemen,  can be found at this level and make enough not to resort to pledging fealty as a serf.  While they are free, they have no patron to give them land to work. Many travel as tradesmen who work a village route or seek commissions. 

A Raider is the term I use for Light Infantry warriors. But note that they spend a lot of time scrounging of foraging. Their light load requires and allows them to be self sufficient. this is a trade-off in skills. These warriors face the potential of starvation and their lack of better equipment has them at a high attrition. These warriors have less to look forward to. 

Examples.
  • Traveling Tradesmen. A tradesmen without an established commission of a community.
    • Ex. Mason, Blacksmith, Leather worker, Healer,
  • A Clerk or Scribe, making money on the side writing or reading letters and basic bureaucratic work. Typically they are paid in small gifts.
  • A herd of Sheep, Pig, or Goat herder, 100-200 animals. This is a typical livelihood in contested regions where there is risk of raiders.  
  • A Brigand, Bandit, Marauder, or Raider. Feel free to let them have random equipment they have stolen or looted. Its better to have them as a wild card of stuff. 

Average

Status. 0
Social Class. Average Freeman, or Wealthy Serf, Peasant, or Commoner. 
Assets. Typically a Hide which is 25-100 ha (~250 acres) or his lords support in arms and equipment and a shares of their lords loot.
GM notes.  A basically equipped adventurer. 
Historical notes. This is the upper middle class made up of freemen living in urban areas and . These smaller independent serfs have some stable condition. They have a size of roughly an extended household or two. These households contribution support a servant or two of their overlord. This is the ideal size and sought after by many serf's sons, this is what they know as success: having enough land to have a team of plow oxen. 

Wealth in Wages or Commission. A warrior can be given the control of a Hide, small manor or villa or he can be part of a Lords physical household, in which he is given a wage mostly in goods, privileges, shares, and, coin. In the Game these are very different things, and court is where the action happens. A warrior close to his lord is of greater prestige than that managing one of his assets, while a lord may not like all his vassals personally and may have work to be done. 

Shares. much like the modern term, as a person is higher up the ranks he gets more shares. Shares are measured by the smallest unit. The lord simply takes to total sum the shares he owes to hims men and his own cut and divides the spoils by that. There are many share systems over the ages but this is to keep things things simple in game. 

Population Density. Because Hides are measured in productivity (and Taxes) since so much variables in any given amount of land, I can use Population Density (Land per Households) as a factor to make up the area . I just take the number of households (1 per virgate) and multiply it to an appropriate amount of hectars or acres or reverse that.
  • 20 hh per sq mile (~640 acres or ~260 ha) or 8 households per sq km (100 hectares or 250 acres). Ex. France
  • 15 hh per sq mi, 5 hh per sq km. Ex. Italy and Germany
  • 9 hh per sq mi, or 3 hh per sq km . Ex. England and Anatolia Turkey

Comfortable

Status. 1 (15 points; 10 points wealth, 5 points status)
Social Class.  Freeman with Commission, Cavalryman, Mounted Warrior.
Assets. Typically 2-3 Hides or his support in arms and equipment and 2 shares of their lords loot.

GM notes. Cavalryman, or Mounted Warrior with remounts, or a small team (3-7 men) of Raiders
Huskalars, Varangians, Imperial Guardsmen, Personal Guard, etc... all fall under this wealth class. They may have a lot of equipment that is better than their class would appear taken as part of spoils or gifts. Don't limit the kind of signature equipment such characters would have by their wealth

Historical notes. Typically this is the most common wealthiest class a Lord would support as part of his household. His personal warriors would be considered comfortable. 
This is also the wealthiest class a freeman land holder can meet. Its about 2-4 hides of land or up to 20 households working under him with the aid of agents managing them. A lord would have land holder tenants would serve him managing his various estates at this level of wealth. Theoretically a serf or slave can be this wealthy. Wealthier freeman got into more mobile and technologically advanced business like shipping, trade, high value commodities, or banking. 


Cavalry vs Mounted. A mounted warrior doesn't necessarily know how to fight on horseback. When a warrior is capable of fighting while mounted they are called cavalry, when they have enough wealth for a horse they are called mounted. Note to have enough practice to fight on horseback requires being able to own around 2 horses and be able to replace them regularly. In a workload, around 4 hours, a horse can carry a load of 200lbs around 30km (20mi) or endurance run at 60km (40mi). Sprinting a horse can move a rider on a battlefield up to 30kph or 8m/s or 50m in 6 seconds. 

Concentration of Wealth. Calamities and the farmer's own chances to get sick when important work needs to be done in the course of every year happen. Then there are calamities that can ruin a family, with productivity having a huge deviation of up to 50% a small farm (a virgate) can fail very easily in the course of 3-6 years. If they want to improve their lives they need to risk and the cost may mean watching one's family starve to death. When farms fail this causes lords to re-allocate land under "new management" or abandon it, or the family dying off or running away. 

Personal Note. There is not much  solid statistics for this but I'm using my demographic experience and it appears small farms, at the independent virgate size, would have a 50-50 chance in the course of every 3-6 years. Surviving every time gets more and more unlikely and typically they are drawn under a wealthier serf who manages it with subservient families (relatives or servants). So you can imagine every 3-6 years the landscape consolidates the smaller farms, or new waves of servants try to tame the wilds and the limits of lord's domain. Over time these farms coalesce as the unlucky fail and over the course of generations the hides then break up again when wealthier serf families redivide the land after the pater familia dies a new conqueror redistributes for his vassals. (Rinse and repeat)

Wealthy

Status. 2 (30 points; 20 points wealth, 10 points status)
Social Class. Landed Knights. Sergeants leading a Light Infantry Squad (or Small Band). 
Assets. Typically 5-6 Hides, or his lords support in arms and equipment and 5 shares of their lords loot.
GM notes. Depending on the society and their circumstance there is the Knight, which is pretty "high tech" for its era, and his equivalent is the Leader Vassal who leads a Squad-size of men (8-15). 
Historical notes. This is what people of the medieval and ancient era's call "humble beginnings". Robert Hautevile aka "The Guiscard" is one such example, he and his brothers rising from this humblest of ranks to that of a Duke. His father being what we would call a low Baron or Baronette with modest holdings.


Wealthy 2, 7-8 Hides, 25 points
Wealthy 3, 10-13 Hides, 30 points
Wealthy 4, 15-18 Hides, 35 points

Very Wealthy

Status. 3 (45 points; 30 points wealth, 15 points status)
Social Class. Baronnets or Knight Leaders, Captains. 
Assets. 20-25 Hides. 20-25 Shares in the Spoils.
GM notes. PCs who are part of a household at this level are family to a Count or greater. PCs who are are each of this level are Captains or Knight leaders, each with their own Comitatus, serving their Lord Captain. This is a level where money for better equipment have such diminishing returns, its better used to arm a fighting man.  
Historical notes. This is the highest amount of wealth supported within a lords household - and typically Emperors and Kings can support their Captains of their guard or personal retinue at this level. At this level lords have the money to specialize and budget for a military leader - a captain. I've encountered this in later medieval and Chinese history. At very wealthy there is enough stability a Lord can afford to hire a full time Company or Platoon of warriors. Because they are full time, the lord really tries to get his moneys worth and employ these men in maximizing taxation as well as represent him for his overlord in times of war. 

This is interesting because at this level we see some lords spend on themselves and their personal guard vs lords who delegate this and have much poorer equip men (relative to knights) but with more soldiering experience

Very Wealthy 2, 20 Hides, 40 points
Very Wealthy 3, 30 Hides, 45 points
Very Wealthy 4, 50 Hides, 50 points
Very Wealthy 5, 70 Hides, 60 points

Filthy Rich

Status. 4 (70 points; 50 points wealth, 20 points status)
Social Class. Baron or Viscount (Vice Count), A Knight Captain. 
Land. Typically 100-120 Hides.100-120 shares.
GM notes. Last Wealth Level allowed because every few points buys a Company Strength of warriors. 
Historical notes. Check out the benchmarks for Population Density in households.  At 500-600 household this is the economy of a small Barony (~500 sq km. since denser lands are gobbled up by those higher up the food chain). 
Consider that sometimes a Lord may be have surrounding petty lords who are independent of him or his own lord. Very unlikely that a lord has control and dominion of 100% of the households in his "de jure" (rightful) territory. 


Territories as Benchmarks



Getting the Sqkm or (Sq mi ) helps give a sense of wealth and resources. As well as how poorly managed a territory can be. When you can imagine 1 hh to 20 hh per sq km it helps to quickly grasp the scale of wealth of anyone who can muster those resources.

 500 sq km Bremen
700 sq km Berlin
1,000 sq km 
1,500 sq km Greater London
10,000 sq km  Upper Normandy
15,000 sq km Lower Normandy , Schleswig-Holstein
20,000 sq km East of England
25,000 sq km South West England
30,000 sq km Brandenburg, Burgandy, Brittany
50,000 sq km Lower Saxony  , Orleans, Aquitaine  
70,000 sq km Bavaria

Regions of England 
Regions of France
States of German
China Regions is worth noting to give a sense of Scale 
Indian States are also
and of course the USA's own states  
Territorial Units of Turkey

Monday, July 6, 2015

Success Quota Mechanic. Complexity in Major Tasks.

I'm moving to failure is OK mindset because of the influence of my work and studies. In GURPS this means the having roughly a success quota of 2 in 3-4 attempts. To put it as briefly as possible:

  • Workload tasks is in intervals of hours, for up to 4 attempts.  
  • Man-Day task is in intervals of Workloads, typically 4 attempts or 2 workloads per day with 3 workloads pushing the limit. Man-Day task is -1 to -2 penalty to the roll. 
  • Pushing the limit causes an immediate interval cost to rest right after on a success, and a failure causes two intervals of rest and doubles the cost. 
  • A Week-long task is in intervals of Days at, with 1 day of rest needed for every 3 days. -2 to -3 penalty to the roll. 
    • Teaching someone to Ride a Horse 
    • Writing a simple treatise or composition with a lot of thought. A speech, or a summarized report compressing several thousands of words of material.   
    • An Audit of a season's accounts for a Barronet.  
  • A Month-long task is an interval of Weeks, with 1 week of low activity for every 3 weeks of attempts. -3 to -4 penalty to the roll. 
    • Fortifying a Town or a Small Section of a City
    • A Diplomatic even of the Scale of Counties, Towns, or Petty Court. 
    • Training a Company or Small Battalion.
    • Intensive training of Basic Literacy.  
    • Writing a Small treaties of a few to a dozens thousands words. 
  • A Season-Long task, is an interval of Months with 1 month of low activity for every 3 months of attempts. -4 to -5 to the roll. 
    • Court Intrigue or Major Diplomatic Event in the Scale of Empire or Kingdoms
    • A Major Trial
    • Training a Battalion or Regiment, Gathering supplies to prepare for an Year long Campaign
    • Fortifying A City
    • Intensive Training someone Working Literacy.
    • A major or Important Treatise of about scores of thousands of words, if the material to draw from is on hand.
  • A Year-long task is an interval of Seasons with 1 season of low activity for every 3 seasons of attempts. -6 to -7 to the roll. 
    • Examples: One of the initial stages of Great Reforms of Great People of History.
      • A portion of Justinian's Hagia Sophia, Belisarius Campaigns, Tribonian's Corpus Juris Civilis, John the Capadocians Tax Reform. 
      • Alexious Re-invigoration of the Roman Empire, Currency Reform, 
      • Alfred the Great's Reforms
      • Charlemagne's Reforms
      • Augustus Ceasar's creation of the Roman Empire
      • Marians Miltiary Reforms
      • Emperor Maurius' Military Reforms. 
      • Tang Emperor's Military Reforms and Sections of the Great Canals. 

Why this changes?
  • From the Art of Teaching and Creative Thinkers Toolkit lectures particularly, Failure and Attempts are part of success. The mechanics inform and enhance the problem solving process by allowing PCs to make multiple attempts to simulate the attempts made and the many set backs that are part of Success. 
  • I find most gaming Systems that do not allow setbacks which is terrible. What I mean by terrible is it is sets mindset that may be hard to separate from realities of problem solving and creates the false narrative that heroes succeed on their first try. It is dramatic to fail. and failure can be fully explored as part of Role-playing. 
  • The BIGGER the project, the more complexity and distractions abound. From my many lectures, I haven't gone around to Understanding Complexity by Professor Scott E Page but they've talked alot about his work to point out that Bigger Projects are more Complex and many instances of failure and setbacks happen along the way.
  • Emphasis in Preparation and Planning. While the system implies the PC breaks up the project into many sub-tasks the way the Player can approach the problem is open ended. By thinking in this Frame work the system encourages the players think in how to set about Smaller Win-able tasks that build up to the much larger scale task. 
    • A Player with Skill-12 will try to work towards tasks at Workload level, avoiding taking on much bigger tasks on the Man-Day level. This encourages more planning when he is at a lower skill level. 
    • At a Higher skill level the Player can take on bigger tasks, and his appetite and ambition can be more grandiose. 
  • This is an important mindset when thinking about Major Tasks and how they can fit in the Narrative. I want these things in my games and if possible the game of other GM's. 
  • How I solve problems is how I game. The same tools I use in GMing or Role-Play is the same tools I use to frame problems. It needs an update, to something better.  

Disclaimer
  • People have different Burn Out Rates. Factoring Characters with shorter or longer rates before burn out, try using a "save" system for every attempt. Feel free to modify to account for different burn out rates. 
  • Cogntive Biases of Hyperbolic discounting or Degrees of Separation exerts a very strong influence on people like a frog being slow cooked. While one can make themselves feel urgency, communicating that urgency or setting that tone consistently is hard. Plus the complication of Burn out and Paranoia. Urgency with the Need to Rest is troublesome and worth throwing into a challenge. 
  • Emotional Intelligence. It was in professors Robert C. Solomons Passion Philosophy and Intelligence of Emotion that I was made aware I tend to know my emotion by its symptoms and not how I feel. Emotions are complicated and Burn-Out is hard to detect, but the cost of Burn-Out follows the Cure vs Prevention model.