Monday, November 30, 2009

Your Own Hell , Ravenloft your Setting.

Looking at my old Ravenloft books and how much I've learned about history over the years, my definition of Tragedy has changed. Especially since I've become more humanist in my views.

I've read some of the old Ravenloft novels. There is a sharp difference when you compare historical fiction and the non-fiction tragedies to these novels. Particularly different is the market, and the work that goes into making them.

Looking into my old Domains of Dread, it is quite interesting to read up on all the misery injected into it and comparing them to how bad it really was in history.

It is quite sad that there are 2 domain lords based on the Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Drakov, Strahd_von_Zarovich... I know there is one more but I forgot). Then there is drawn from analogs of literature: Frankenstein and Jeckle and Hyde. This, after some time, gets old and I begin to wonder... is there any other sources of tragedy in history these writers could have drawn from?

Villains inspired by really scary sh*t in history and turn them into Ravenloft Analogs:

Justinian I- The Anecdota, Justinian's Plague, the Massacre at the Hippodrome, His personal Inquisition, Tribonian's debauchery etc. etc... As a villain, with an empire descending to glories of the past, draws a poignant picture of melancholy in the middle of swirling chaos.

A Ravenloft Analog of Justinian would already incorporate a huge cast: Belisarius - the Paladin General, Antonina - his promiscious seductress and manipulative wife (who is rumored to have carrried an affair with their adopted son), Emperess Theodora - the master manipulator and spy master and true equal of the Emperor Justinian, Tribonian, Procopious, Narses - The Eunuch General (you can make him a wizard general since he was a bureaucrat turned general).

Qin Shi Huang - a Death Obsessed emperor who is both ruthless, a genius, masterful tactician and manipulator. I don't know much about him, but already the way many historians portray him and his quest for immortality is quite legendary and tragic. The creation of his tomb and his terra cota army should be inspiration enough

Queen Isabella - Imagine Queen Elisabeth ruling a Theocracy and having a powerful fanatic army and legal arm (the Spanish Inquisition). A woman ruling a Man's World, and not just any man's world, the Patriarchal Church and their rabid dogs.

Some added touches: Spain's then oppressive and unchecked Aristocracy (compared to the more egalitarian European equivalents). Throw in conquered peoples from their colonies (which is a different era but adds more flavor). Don't forget the more Archaic and Overly Idealized and Uncompromising honor system. If they had a look, they would be using more "ancestral" and older equipment of exceptional quality but a generation or two out of date.

The Crusader Barons - Godfrey, Bohemond, Raymond, Robert, Bishop Adhemar and the rest of the Crew. You can easily trim down this cast or keep it as but just use each Baron as you see fit. The tragedy of the Crusades and how it contributed to the rest of the world, creating the precedent for Global Holy War, is fairly easy to fit into a riveting and complicated story line.

A Ravenloft Analog of the Crusades doesn't need much "gloom" dressing. It was actually contentious stories of tragedies. Check secular historical sources and comparing it from the historical perspective of both sides.

Ivan the Terrible. Now this guy is tragic. Killing his own son, actually working against the social inequities with a secret police, while being viewed by most as a Tyrant. Stragely, I'm surprised Vlad Dracov was recycling Vlad Tepes instead of Ivan the Terrible.

the Failed Father figure of Ivan the terrible is something I find interesting. What would be cool is incorporating the Story Line of Saul (the Bible) from the TV series Kings into this kind of Story Line. Especially if you can inspire your Players by imagining Ian McShane as Ivan the Terrible and all the other cast in that show as the other characters of the tragedy transported back to a medieval setting.

The different type of Gamer Geek

I just started watching Big Bang Theory. Of course, they had to make the Nerds-Geeks there a bit more cartoonish than more realistic geeks. Thinking about studio 60 and 30 rock, I was wondering if they could make a drama version of Big Bang Theory with struggling realistic nerd geeks.

There are very interesting archetypes in the whole plethora of geeks. Most interesting for me is the... gamer geek and those that evolve beyond their archetype to be something better equip to shape one's own unique identity with realistic functionality needed to achieve in the world.

There are many geeks who are nerds with a pragmatic application of their skills, but really have a really geeky under layer running the "normal" looking GUI.

Instead of complicated Physics, there are the Game Theory geeks who apply strategy formalization techniques to optimize any aspect they are currently tackling- from games they run, to work, to social interaction, and of course trivial pursuits.

Part of the drama is the approach to failure and growth. Not all geeks grow, but the more interesting ones get forged in the fires of trial and failure. There is a growth processes where in success is nothing more than delaying the inevitable of failure. Failures and Murphies can be the light hearted elements of the Stories.

What is another take about such a story is having something as mundane and everyday about being a geek highlighted by the sophisticated pattern of failures and success shot in a way that makes it sentimental and sublime.

Maybe a short 8 episode drama arch, someone growing up to be a powerful mogul from a background of a total failure and nerd. The friends, loyalties, betrayals and the geekery.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where is the place of the Bow in a Realistic GURPS Game.

In realistic conditions, Bows are still very advantageous despite their reduced comparative effectiveness to fantasy ranged combat. The opportunity expense of learning to use them (4cp) and acquiring them are still very favorable. Soldiers and freeman warriors would have the skill. It would be cost-effective that every party member get a 2cp on bow, 1cp on fastdraw, and 1cp on weapon bond (if your not following MA's perk limitations) if they have a DX of 12.

Characters can easily purchase a Longbow or if they have a patron to equip them, they can get a Composite Bow. Trained to proficiency a Kinestheticaly able Combatant would have a Bow-13 (Weapon Bond).

In most realistic scenarios where speed is limited to human norms, application of wilderness conditions, and considerations of visibility the “First Strike” advantage of a bow can mean death or survival.

If you consider realistic conditions, any terrain less stable than packed earth of worn roads will have movement penalties (giving time to archers). I would adjudicate Running+DX check if you want to move at full, without tripping. Penalty appropriate to the terrain, starting with +0 (challenging) at dirt pitted roads to -5 to inclined rocky or thickly rooted forest floor. Failure in such would reduce move to half, make it will allow for an arbitrary distance covered at full move (representing great footing). (critical is a trip) (I got the experience in soccer when playing in uncultivated fields; you cant run in grassy when you can't see the pitted areas, you'll easily break an ankle at full speed)

At 1d+1 imp (ST11 for Longbow) or 1d+2 (ST11 for composite bow) allowing for an engagement beginning at a distance as little 20yrs/m away (-6, and the visible engagement distance in fairly dense forest) and opponents are, at most, lightly encumbered. You will have a difficult scenario like below.

1 sec - (knocked arrow) Aim (skill-13+3)
2 sec - Aim (skill-13+3)
3 sec - AoA:D Fire (skill-13+3+1) (assume a the opponent covers 15yrd, -2; effective-14) and Fastdraw weapon (ideally reach-2 weapon).

A worse case scenario is when the opponents are better at ranged combat and have terrain advantage.

A similar effect can be achieved by using Bonded Balanced-Javelins ($200) at a charging opponent. As a GM, I would adjudicate javelins mounted behind shields easy to reach to be a DX check for fast draw).

This would be typical of Byzantine Soldiers (all were required to be proficient in around the Dark Ages, see Strategikon) and Chinese soldiers.


To prevent Imperial Soldiers from getting restless, they were set loose on the country side of “barbarian” territories to keep them busy. They tear up the place, and actually get carried away with their military exercise. They begin demanding tribute, as the exercise's costs go up. In a diffusely populated region that had not seen so many well armed and organized forces, these “barbarians” find themselves being plundered. Aid is called and, several of the Freemen assemble themselves to fight the Soldiers.

Terrain- Far from the empire's borders with few good roads. Diverse Terrain, the reason why growth in the region is slow and the population is diffuse.

6C Roman Soldiers. 110cp (75+35) 5cp left

ST11, DX12, IQ10, HT11

Move 4 (light encumbered); DR4/2 (body), DR4 head

Combat Reflex

Patron (roman army; minimal intervention, provides equipment, freq-6)*

Primary Skills:

  • Broadsword-12 (broadsword 1d+1 imp/ 1d+2 cut; Parry-11)
  • Bow-12 (composite bow, 1d+2 imp, Acc3)
  • Fastdraw (arrows)-13
  • Spear-12 (Longspear 1d+1 imp, Reach-2, Parry-11U)
  • Shield-12 (Small Shield, DB+1; Block-11)
  • Knife-12 (Long knife 1d-1imp/1d-1 cut)
  • Wrestling-11
  • Brawling-12
  • Throwing spear-12 (Javelin 1d imp, Acc3, 11yrd/16yrds)

Secondary Skills:

  • Soldier-12
  • Hiking-12
  • Packing-9
  • Riding-12
  • Running-10
  • Survival (Temperate)-9
  • Navigation-9
  • Savoir-Faire (Soldier)-10
  • Animal Handling (horses)-9
  • Stealth-12

Background Skills:

  • Theology (Orthodox Christianity)-8
  • Literature (Folk lore)-8
  • History (Local)-8
  • Housekeeping-10
  • Farming-12

*a patron that provides “equipment” (like an army).

6C Freemen Warriors. 110cp (75+35)

ST11, DX12, IQ10, HT11

Move 4 (light encumbered); DR 3 (Torso), DR 4 (Head)

Combat Reflex

Wealth (Comfortable)

Primary Skills:

  • Broadsword-12 (broadsword 1d+1 imp/ 1d+2 cut; Parry-11)
  • Bow-12 (Composite Bow 1d+2 imp, Acc3)
  • Fastdraw (arrows)-13
  • Axe/Mace-12 (Axe 1d+3 cut; Parry-11U)
  • Spear-12 (Longspear 1d+1 imp; reach-2, Parry-11U)
  • Shield-12 (Small Shield, DB+1, Block-11)
  • Knife-12 (Long knife 1d-1imp/1d-1 cut)
  • Wrestling-12
  • Brawling-12
  • Throwing spear-12 (Javelin 1d imp, Acc3, 11yrd/16yrds)
Secondary Skills:
  • Soldier-10
  • Hiking-12
  • Packing-9
  • Running-10
  • Riding-12
  • Hands-free Riding (riding-2)-12
  • Survival (Temperate)-9
  • Navigation-9
  • Savoir-Faire (warrior)-10
  • Intimidation-10
  • Animal Handling (horses)-9

Background Skills:

  • Theology (Pagan)-8
  • Literature (Folk lore)-8
  • History (Local)-8
  • Housekeeping-10
  • Tracking-12
  • Area Knowledge-10

Use The Legionary Eqiupment Load Out.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Background Skills for more Realistic Games.

Characters have some cultural background skills that make them who they are. Typically almost every character have the skills: Theology, Literature, History, and Savoir-Fair (typically at 1cp).

In Real World Terms, a character knows... (re-eximine the gurps description)

  1. Theology - because almost every character has a religion. Those who do not have a religion, have a Philosophy. In a setting with agnostics, atheists, anti-theists, and objectionists (Ayn Rand) their motives and beliefs/unbeliefs that shape a character's psyche is typically from theology. In this new global world, we are more aware of the key differences more than ever, and it provides valuable context in the game where you are trying to figure out how the other person is thinking. The key differences when dealing with a Religious Apologist vs a Fundamentalist; A Pragmatist, vs an Objectionist; Deist vs a Theist.
  2. Literature - It is more ingrained in our language and how we communicate ideas. Growing up with a different set of stories from someone else marks the visibile differences in culture. In the way we speak, and how meme work, metaphors, similes and all those language tools that allow us to communicate concepts too difficult to break down in a few words. In a game, it allows you to determine where someone is from despite their mastery of the language.
  3. History - who doesn't know a bit of their own culture's history. Like literature, it is an important marker of cultural background but history is also important because of fact finding relevance.
  4. Savoir-Faire - manners and how to act before their peers, lessers, and betters. this is something that can be communicated with just a glance. Un-equipped a character automatically stands out. Even lower leved folks have their own manners, which makes anyone alien to it stand out.
How about Philosophy and Theology in my game?
What is the difference between someone who uses Rationalism and some other methods like Philosophy or Theology? - there is a difference between how each come by their conclusions, in terms of accuracy only one method can be verified (rationalism/empirical method).

Characters who use Philosophy and Theology can manipulate the concepts and ideas to suit their purposes. In an argument, use the appropriate Philosophy or Theology. In a Rationalistic Argument, use Philosophy: Rationalism/Empiricism along with the Empirical Data that the PCs have found/collected.

In very strategic games, where characters are fact finding and trying to generate solutions - Philosophy: rationalism (or its earlier iterations like Pragmatism and Empiricism) gives the Players a TIP from the GM when they cannot make heads of the clue.

Compared to RAW intelligence, Rationalism/Empiricism is a method. It is an assumption that high GURPS intelligent characters are Rational/Empirical in their methodology. Especially since there exists a skill that allows for the training of the methodology.

Comparing a Character who uses rationalism vs a character who isn't, has a telling psychological difference in certainty and how they use their knowledge. A rational character is not that trusting about his own experience and certainty, unless there are ways to verify it outside his own conclusions.

In Gametheory, and in Games, the Way a NPC and PCs behaves is based on the certainty and accuracy of their information.

Not all Philosophies are learned in the Classroom. many great characters and people of history were Pragmatists (an earlier incarnation of Rationalists) who lean on their own understanding and conclusions. They are not easily swaded by hearsay, they tend to have a higher Psychology, Detect Lies skill.

Another use of Philosophy/Theology is understanding key points of difference that lead to conflict. Roll Philo/Theo to see if your gonna have problems with this person in the foreseeable future working together.

Psychology (along with Philosophy) allows a person to deduce another character's Philosophy/Theology based on their actions and credible intentions.

Inspired by Google Wave

Finally got my google wave account. There are only 8 invites, and I've already used up 4. planning to give one per group, so that within that group people can distribute their 8 invites.

Anyway, having checked it out, I've realized one really fun game I could run online: 1898 Philippine Revolution. I've got my history books, I can fix up the characters, there is a dice roller program out, and we have gmaps running on the wave! Oh yeah, and don't forget playback!

It works visually, organizationally, and allows for a great variety of locus. Of course, I'll certainly miss the theatrics. Although it doesnt necessarily stop there, a laptop face to face RPG game is plausible.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Someone Planning to Run a Modern RPG Scenario?

A Warlords Gambit - the Power Vacuum in the Wake of the massacre will change the status quo. Territories are up for grabs and the remaining warlords see a red horizon. Lines and Guns are Drawn and what will be left may be a cancer or hope. A Game of Diplomacy, Violence, and Survival.

Inspired by Real World Events: Ampatuan Massacre that is still unresolved as I am writing this.

The funny thing this game is that it isn't a game at the same time it is for those our Politicos here in the Philippines. Its really happening and as we speak, the question is asked how will this change Mindanao. Will it be another blood bath (victims were noncombatants, pregnant women, raped and mutilated) or will it end with a stronger resolution against further violence in the war torn south?

  • Anyone who has read up the detail will find out quickly all the relevant dirt as the premise of the game.
  • A way of using Game Theory in analyzing in attempting to predict politicis
  • An Exercise of unconventional Game Thinking
  • No need for Research into Graphic Details, just go on the net.
  • Connecting to the Victims and the Circumstance, the ability to understand why this madness happens and what will happen next.

  • Disturbing.
  • Not everyone's cup of tea.
  • Keeping certain assumptions in check

GURPS 4e, TL1 (reflected in cost of living vs earnings), 150cp Characters, Gritty and Realistic.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

They liked it. - Free thinking RPG

They liked it, they appear very excited (I can replay the videos and try to read the body language).Anyway, it all seemed to go well.

Ran a 19th century Philippines in the style of GRRM's story telling. Gritty, realistic, and highly probable characters that don't exist in a vacuum.

Cons -
  • Distracted, (to much political, historical and trival side comments).
  • too many unfamiliarities (system, style, people, engagement, and setting)
  • Connection - they connected to the past. To how it was again to be a second class citizen, an outcast, to be satisfied with what little you have...
  • Learning - Its easy to learn my system and my formula. Its usefull and they seem to be getting a hang of it. Eventually they'll be using it on me (which I look forward too). The only way I evolve is someone else beating the crap out of me.
  • Exciting - Because there is a strong relevance of the topic. identifying a culture that lacks definition, I feel a strong response clicking (or it can be me being reading what I want to see in a situation). Its a big deal in the Philippines to understand our historical identity because the poverty and poor education here are huge obstacles in doing that.
  • Getting Relaxed - people were getting relaxed quickly with each others company. it helps when they have the same belief structure and read the same stuff.

I've only met 2 of the 3 players once and in a brief conversation.
Given the severe unfamiliarity, I only got out 3 out of the 9 scenes i expected. I should have foreseen that severe handicap of having to explain a lot of my nuances.

Looking forward, having exams in the next month. maybe the video can be edited (5hours originally). It will be compressed to probably 20 mins of material (60% would be background primer). With a basic multi media presentation.

I really should get a terrabyte HD.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freethinking Game is a Go

Update, my game is pushing through as of the confirmations received as of now. Hopefully, the Murphies will be stuff I can handle.

Hi, I usually run Role-Playing Games and have an open invite for those who want to try. In theme of free thinking, i won't run fantasy or supernatural. Anyway, I usually run realistic or simulationist scenarios. The topics I usually like gaming about are taking an emergency or extreme but plausible scenario and have characters, who are either suited or ill suited for the task, go through the scenario given the best of the Player's own ability.

My favored method of conflict resolution favors creativity and applying game theory, although if people want tactical exercises I am very flexible. I'd like to say I specialize in running social scenarios that emphasize in negotiation, diplomacy, empathy and awareness (although the lack of players interested in only such tactics are rare and my practice is limited).

Things usually like running are Calamity scenarios (like civilians in coup d'etat, trapped and survival), events in Philippine history (specializing in 19th Century), detective mysteries, and entrepreneurial adventures (free lancers and opportunity seekers out to make a buck and some mark). I am also open to a other variety of scenarios and games, depending on what the players want and what I have access in terms of research.

I usually run my games short (3-4 hours) and with a small manageable size of players at 4 (which is my limit... any more and I exhaust myself and the quality of the game suffers to a point against my pride). I use GURPS a Generic universal Role-playing Game System, but I don't stress on the system or mechanics. The game system is merely a way to arbitrate abstract quantities of risk. I usually run a rather rules-light Character creation with just a short talk defining the character strengths, limitations, and stance.

If there are other GMs out there who like to use their games as a way to create safe exercises of free thinking I'm also open to being a player.
Freethinking RPG set in 1865 Philippines
  • A struggling Mestizo Actor
  • Tsinoy (Chinese-Filipino) Merchant with shady practices, and a
  • Native American Scout Refugee.
if things go well, video of the how the session went will follow.

+1 Bonus to GMing

My reply in defendse of GURPS Mysteries. This book grants you GMing +1 regardless of the system you run. A must read for the GMs who really are obsessed about their craft.

Actually the format and the organization Lisa puts down is pretty solid. Mysteries can be an organizational nightmare. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but the organization is usable in any game or any system. Particularly running any story where you have a number of NPCs and you want players to interact with them and actually perceive their surroundings in a way beyond cliches and standard dressings. Lisa brings the process into a perfect science IMO.

No offense taken, but I've always looked at how other GMs prep their games and try to always sort the practical and the effective as empirically as I can. Outside observing other GMs Lisa's tips talk about practical limitations of narration and Player/GM attention like the ability of the to keep things in the air, facilitate the Information Players/PCs come about efficiently, and allow for the theatrics of revelations, plot twists, and drama.

As compared to Robins Laws with deals with expectation and player psychology, Lisa deals with organization, preparation and effective communication of the PCs surroundings and their interactions.

Her work is +1 to GMing/Story telling bonus definitely.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Awesome Visuals for your Medieval Game

I found this accidentally found these very mood inspiring visuals of a village in Ukraine. Goes great with mood enhancing music for games of course.

Listening to Elder scrolls Oblivion Sound Tracks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another discussion between IQ in games vs the Real World

Another IQ thread in GURPS.

Why can't success be a measure of IQ?

Quite simply, people want to be smarter so that they can have an "easier" life or be able to overcome obstacles they currently cannot solve.

I don't have a strong opinion of my own intelligence. Although assessing the intelligence of others is a hobby of mine given how it is a necessary part of management. I also have a growing idea after reading books about game theory, predictably irrational, articles on psychology related to problem solving, memory, skills, attention and concentration.

Personal Disclaimer: I believe we have a mixed bag when we try to measure intelligence. Game theory helps bring some clarity for some matters because it sets an important assumption: Motivation and Rationality. This coupled with psychology and human observation (a first and important step in an empirical understanding) leads me to believe that like military training, 90% of all people can be honed and trained to exceptional levels.

This has something also to do with how people view empiricism as actually a choice and not a rational extension. Which i wont go any further on because it invites too much debate.
In GURPS, you cannot do much intellectual stuff with IQ10 because the way the system implied to be executed has some flaws. Particularly, the mechanics surrounding the application of defaults. I'm a stickler for defaults, and it made an IQ10 character a relative genius.

Mentally identifying all your own assumptions is an important mental discipline that is rarely taught or hardly encouraged except in the fields of problem solving and science. What typically happens is that assumptions are usually made that many actions have no relevant skills. So most of the time people roll default IQ10 a lot. If you applied defaults more meticulously, you realize the rolls are usually made with a -4 to -6 (an effective skill of 6 to 4 at 10% to 1% chance of success).

Taken further, rarely is there an understanding of what a skill entails in GURPS. There are many books of particular real world skills that are found in GURPS. In these descriptions and books, you will note a pattern on what is Routine (+4 or +5 to the roll), what is standard expected challenges with an acceptable level of risk for a professional (skill 12, Task difficulty modifier +0), and what is considered hard and mostly an unexpected complication, which usually is considered to risky to venture, falling in the task difficulty modifier of Hard to Impossible.

So a skilled person doing a Routine action will have a 13-15 (80-95% chance of success), while someone unskilled will have a 4-6 (1% to 10% chance to succeed). Note the huge gap. This is because someone trying to do something they have barely a clue, assumes that a clue is enough in Murphy's domain.

That is why even the most trivial actions are drilled into soldiers and professinals, because every little bit matters and increases the chance of success.

1cp means trained, it means the person has spent 800 hours doing this on-the-job, 400hrs practicing it by himself, 200hrs in skilled tutelage, or 100hrs exceptional training. 1cp is no small thing, it can mean the difference of up to 94% chance of success.

What has this got to do with success?

One of the things I learned about game theory is how strategies work with Murphy hanging overhead. Particularly, the role of adaptability. Well rounded characters are realistically very successful. Because given the certainty of a Murphy, having as many alternate strategies available spells a very great difference in odds.

How about the roles?

Roles in games stopped being Flanker/Striker, Blocker/Tank, Leader/Support, and Controller for me because it ceased being about combat and more about problem solving. This happens to be emphasized because of my accessibility to real war game simulations.

Roles in management (try not to immediately equate this to boring, if you don't like the term use dynamic organizational interaction) a team is not exclusively defined by a role, but instead adapts to what ever role is needed of him/her in a given situation.

Opportunity is harder to predict and has the greatest the strategic influences because of the advantages a group is taking. Control is not about trying to Predict Murphy, but looking for Murphy's chinks and adapting to that. Coupled with well rounded skill set, taking advantage of what ever opportunity has more devastating effect.

Bottom Line, intelligence.
So an IQ 10-11 person with the right adaptive skills will be more formidable than a IQ 12-13 individual a 1/3 smaller set of skills because he has more options and more strategies to pursue. Of course there are points of diminishing returns and optimal trade offs depending on the GM and certain assumptions.

The reason why GURPS IQ doesn't really work as a measure of success is because in the end, it is the player's own IQ that determines the success and failure of the character in a Game Theory point of view. A more strategic player can do much more with 100cp than someone less adaptable.

In Role-playing, IQ10 person can sound smarter than the IQ12 person if the IQ 12 didn't take public speaking, literature, and acting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Screw the E-reader war, Get a Tablet PC for your Tech Savy GM

Some Useful Update, I've been spending a few days researching E-readers and getting their Specs down for work research. While the e-readers in the market is all the craze I stumbled on Tablet PCs. I found out there are Tablet PCs at the level of netbooks.

Comparing the Processors and the Ram (performance) of various mobile computing, Strangely the I-phone outperforms most E-readers at 800Mhz (G3S) while most E-readers (6inch) are at 532Mhz (They don't like showing their Mhz and force you to go to the manufacturer's specs to find out).
Even the Huge (with a letter size screen) iRex Digital Reader 1000s is just a measly 532Mhz and Just 128MB ram (which is Half the ram of smart phones) at $750. No wonder it is so slow.

Compared to the stats of a Tablet Netbook (which folds up to become a slate) at $500 performing at 1.6Ghz, 1GB Ram, with an 8inch screen, wifi , blue tooth, a camera, and modifiable memory your GM. Check out the model Asus Eee PC T91.

For the Tech Savy GM out there get the Tablet PC (netbook power). The price range is $400-$800 and is perfect for reading your PDFs, running your game (and dice programs) and keeping all your maps on file instead of printing them out.

Anyway I've researched and checked all the other tablet PCs they are all Laptops with Tablets, so they all cost at around $1300-$2000. Only the Asus's PC T91 is a Tablet Net-book.

Next- Things A GM can dowith a Tablet PC
- All Special written Props can be displayed instead of costly printed.
- Giant Travelling (non combat maps) can be kept on display and ready access.
- Just save the Browser Based Dice roller and save space on the table.
- Use online Browser Based Combat Organizing Programs
- All your (PDF) books in just your Tablet PC!!! (Save yourself 20-40lbs of books going to places).
- Use those combat mapping program, hook it up to a projector and use your stylus to move figures.
- Discrete playing, use the combat map on the tablet zooming in and out. No figs, No mess, and save the map when the game ends.
- Using Pictures and maps on the web, access the entire database of images to describe people, characters, locations, and stuff. As you narrate. Player doesnt know what your talking about, quick jump to wiki or appropriate internet reference source.

Mount&Blade WARBAND: Inspiring my Games

I only began checking back when war band is supposed to be released because I'm supposed to present a game for class. Particularly how Tale-worlds entrepreneured, making this wonderful game from out of No-where.

If you haven't heard of Mount&blade it is a history war nuts dream game. Take away all the "martial-arts" dressing inspired by fantasy and dungeon-delving and get on that Horse.

Horses don't really fit well in the a lot of Combat RPGs. Systems tend to disregard it in lieu of foot combat, but every serious warrior class (I mean the social class) was a horseman. The Horse Nomads, Knights, Samurai, Kataphrakts, Savarans, Equitess...

It is in this game I got to understand why the Horse was so central in the psychology, doctrine, and lifestyle of a warrior.

I don't care for much of the graphics, but the mechanics are awesome. Especially the no-nonesense horse archery. Its really quite an experience. Ever since M&B I've been biased to horse combat and investing in horsmanship skills for my characters (even if my GMs don't understand how valuable it was).

Now that warband is going to provide Multi-player capability. Its like going to be Counterstrike but medieval. My wife might like this better than counterstrike (despite that she doesnt like horses), since its less dizzying because of how much harder it is to kill or be killed.

You can download it for free BTW. at Taleworlds and if you are the game designing sort. Read up on the company's starting history, what they did was amazing starting from so little. Its quite inspiring in the game designer entrepreneur point of view.

Warband Release Date

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Using your School E-Library

I've just gotten access to my gradschool library, and downloaded a ton of PDF's I plan to use to prep my future games. I'm a history nut and I'm of the simulationist school.

I don't like using fantasy settings so much because I can't use it for anything else. I read volumes only to not be able to talk about it in the other circles i go to. Using history as my "Game" setting or Shamelessly ripping off history is both easier and enriching.

The tons of things i learn in history about human nature is just too valuable. It is two birds with one stone, and If I get people to learn more about history it is also enriching to them.

Here are list of things I've just added to my reading list.

  • Naval Combat Logistics Support System
  • Military Families under Stress: Implications for Family Life Education (Character backgrounds)
  • The Horse in Ancient China and Its Cultural Influence in Some Other Areas
  • The Revival of Byzantine Learning and the Revival of the Byzantine State
  • Arabic Lists of the Byzantine Themes
  • 'Luxury Foods' in Medieval Islamic Societies 'Luxury Foods' in Medieval Islamic Societies (both Game flavor and Ideas of what to cook at home).
  • World Maps and Easter Tables: Medieval Maps in Context
  • Islamic Settlement in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula
  • The Convention of Alexius Comnenus and Raymond of Saint Gilles The Convention of Alexius Comnenus and Raymond of Saint Gilles
  • The Byzantine Empire in the Eleventh Century Some Different Interpretations
  • Some Byzantine Accounting Practices Illustrated from Georgian Sources
  • Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy
  • Monetary Theory and Roman History
  • Toward an Ecological-Evolutionary Theory of the Incidence of Warfare in Preindustrial
  • Nomadism, Horses and Huns
  • The Nature of Warfare in Fourteenth-Century Japan: The Record of Nomoto Tomoyuki
  • English Warfare in 1066 English Warfare in 1066
  • Tanks and Roman Warfare Tanks and Roman Warfare
  • Early Germanic Warfare
  • Ancient Chemical Warfare Ancient Chemical Warfare
  • Spanish Horses among the Plains Tribes
  • The Training of an Inner Asian Nomad Army in the Pre-Modern Period
  • The Military Use of the Chariot in the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age
  • Review of Stratagem and the Vocabulary of Military Trickery by Everett L. Wheeler...
  • Greek Chariot-Borne and Mounted Infantry
  • War and Politics in Ancient China, 2700 B.C. to 722 B.C.: Measurement and Comparative Analysis
  • A West African Cavalry State: The Kingdom of Oyo A West African Cavalry State: The Kingdom of Oyo by Robin Law (Is this the GM Robin Law?)
  • The Military Revolution in Russia, 1550-1682
  • Nomadism as a Political Adaptation: The Case of the Yomut Turkmen

and more...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Open Source Tools for Game Material Production

Quick Personal Intro. I come from a multi-media background. I was also a GM who would go crazy with the preping material for my games. Some of them survived and can be found in my deviant account. My Thesis was a RPG based in the 19C Philippines. I am also a trained 3d Artist but I never got to seriously apply my skills after my apprenticeship because my parents pirated me for the family business.

Open Office. I use Open Office. and I use it even when even when I have access to Microsoft Office at work. Back when i started using it, it was still better than the older MS office tool I had to contend with (around 3 years ago). I got introduced to this because of the guys in the sj forums who insisted in it. GMs who spend HOURS on writing and preping handouts will find this an easy learn. Probably 5 hours of practice and its like you were never using MS.

GIMP. Graphic Image Manipulations Program is basically Photoshop that is Open Source (free and no worry about . if you have problems with the site, you can also download it here. The key difference between GIMP and Photoshop is the filters, which isn't that plenty. Of course you will need to learn a different Graphic User Interface but thats not much of an obstacle. In probably 10 hours (a month of free time doodling) of being able to use most of the key features, you'll get it.

If you can get your hands on cheap 12" tablets for $40 and practice drawing on the program, it will take roughly 7 hours of practice to get a complete hang of it. If you want to learn to draw, there are a lot of youtube video tutorials, help in deviant art, and it takes roughly 400 hours to do learn to draw close enough to professional level if you can get someone who can honestly critique you and has an art background to direct you.

Blender. What does a GM need a 3d Graphics Program for? Well if your a GM with a lot of spare time, there are many uses for Blender. When i was a student, this would have been really usefull, but I only discovered it when I was apprenticing 3d Animation (which was for the use of 3ds Max for character animation). One of the best uses for this is Realistic Mapping Effects. 3d programs do the job of map making better because of the special rendering tools you have. Type in Deviant art 3d Landscapes. Blender is very usefull if your the type of GM who is obsessed enough about your own setting to build material for it. The tutorials available for blender are plenty and easy to find. When i made my thesis part of my business plan was to make 19C philippines 3d map to be used as a Computer Game setting, a mix of Sid Meyers Pirates, Sim City, Merchanters, Mercenaries, and Private Armies. Who knows, maybe if I get my act together it still can be possible, 3d artist services are going down.

Scribus. GMs who can be very obsessed with preparing material can find scribus a good substitute for Adobe InDesign. It is a PDF publishing and layouting program. Maybe in two years , there will be enough of an ebook market because of ereaders that the adventure you spend 6-10 hours a month prepping will have huge amoung of buyers to be worth your while. Maybe you can work with some artistically inclined friends together with some art.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Never for Free: RPGs taken Forgranted

Before I had ideals of making a game and distributing it for free, out of the goodness of my naive heart, then people will realize how great it is and people will buy it. That was a long long time ago, after growing up, learning business, and several failed attempts I realized that if its free, then people will never know how valuable it is.

I love Open Source. I love Open Office, Ubuntu, GIMP (open source version of Photoshop), Blender (open Source version of 3d max) etc. I really appreciate the value and economics that goes about making these open source materials possible. I also understand how it works enough to never let these things be taken for granted.

It is commonly found in many books about Human behavior (Predictably irrational and in Game Theory) that people judge value irrationally. So even if it is a GREAT product, people will attribute it more for its price than more than what they can observe and what rationally are their needs from the product.

There is great FREE RPG STUFF online, but people would rather buy it than look for it the internet. As this argument (this Trolling) in the SJgames forums can lead one to realize.

Adventures are one of those things you find everyone has, at one point, contributed. You can find them in OLD campaigns, sample encoutners or adventure logs, premade and organized with a bit of polishing needed, and bloggers who specialize personally helping other GMs prep for their game.

Just because its free, there is a great majority who take it for granted and do not see the passion and sense of community that comes into making such things possible.

Never has there been such wealth of free material in the History of RPGs. Hopefully, in the future, in the evolution of ideas and memes we become more organized, more refined, more diverse and grow in ways very few have anticipated. RPGs may never be as popular as other hobbies, but it sure does something other hobbies can't.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

[GURPS] Hydration in Real World and Games.

We sometimes take the rules for granted when reality stares us in the face. Anyone who's played a sport is reminded how important it is to be properly hydrated. I've seen people pass out in the middle of an Airsoft game because of failing to meet this simple measure. I've almost passed out as well because I was too cheap to buy a Hydration Pack.

I've started keeping Rations, Water Skins and Ceramic Water Bottles on Characters. I can be a little bit critical about this, because In real life, this is a safety issue. If you fall over from fatigue, you can get yourself seriously hurt. This is also an accident that happens often with newbies and people who are not conscious of their limits. Characters with out it might die as a result to crippling exhaustion when attempting to escape. (which has happened to me in an airsoft game).

If you look at the Fatigue Rules. Only the initial 10 sec will you suffer encumbrance penalty to fatigue, the rest is 1cp each minute. If you compare Paced Running to Combat, you will notice an inconsistency in the rules.

Paced Running, eats up more energy than melee. Strangely, Sprinting eats up more energy than Combat. Instead of making a Rule that fits quite the middle, the rule disregards the two precedents of "work" (work defined by force/time).

Personally, I just ignore the rules and use the Paced Running, and Sprinting Rules as measures of Effort and Exhaustion. That is HT rolls at either 15 sec or 1 min increments.

If its modern combat filled with maneuvers effort is expended at the level of Paced Running (Roll HT per min) until contact, where it is shifts to Sprinting (Roll HT per 15 sec), which is not so hard since I've resolve thing sin 5-6 second increments. In melee, its sprinting in a turn preceding contact (from my experience with Larps and Soccer). Note that Paced running, is characterized as the character moving (working) at half their full move. That already means that character who move at around their full move all the time are exerting effort at Sprinting Level.

Such a set up makes PCs with near average HT run out of options VERY quickly. This reflects my real world experience in airsoft and sports. When someone learns a sport they learn to pace themselves, which can be reflected to the skill affect the HT rolls. Soldier+HT, can reflect battle field discipline when it comes to pacing, while maneuvering.

In the basic set, you can recover 1FP from eating and drinking. Using some rules of thumb for sports hydration, you can allow a character to recover 1FP per hour if he has access to at least 1L/Quart of water. That might be small, but if you can remember experience in exhausting sport, the pain of thirst is something of a factor to morale and Role-Playing. Even you hi-HT dwarf will build up a mighty thirst, and even the surly veteran will be shaking from urgency to get a drink.

Having a 14-15 HT might look overkill, but that's the level of Special Forces operate on. If you take a weekend athlete (HT11-12) and put him with maneuvers special forces people or season roman veterans he will be exhausted before the first 2 hours trying to catch up.

From this discussion