Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Management and Role-playing

How interchangeable management skills are with GMing surprises and doesn't surprise me. If you boil management and GMing down to its essential elements, they are both a methods of making a constructive and productive group effort.

Lessons that apply to GMs.
6. Reasoning by Analogy - RPGs are fast moving, you have a short amount of time and you need to communicate complex ideas as effectively and quickly as possible. Reasoning by Analogy has many flaws and many strengths. Understanding it better, helps the GM pose more interesting explanations and problems to the players regarding a situation. It also allows the GM to Frame challenges and situations effectively.
7. Making Sense of Ambiguous Situations - This is about Sense making or making sense to players. the skills presented are very useful in giving the players a puzzle or a challenge that is slowly and subtly introduced. Many game situations are best described in this way, Players are recieving information based on their senses and not just "meta-gaming" so it is important to be able to simulate the realistic and imperfect conditions that instigate their problem solving.
8. The Wisdom of Crowds? - This is particularly relevant since it actually points out that the Players and the Improvisation and their Ideas are much better than any one individual can possibly make up. The key lessons in this lecture is how to promote and maximize the process and how the GM should take advantage of this creativity to make it an enjoyable experience.
9. Groupthink—Thinking or Conforming? - This is highly relevant because, going against group think is what makes for an interesting adventure. When group think happens, possibilities are left unexplored.
10. Deciding How to Decide - This deals with the GM and his role as a facilitator. I really love this one because it re-emphasizes my intuition about GM and takes it further by giving examples and explaining the science.
11. Stimulating Conflict and Debate - Intra-party conflicts may be more real and more interesting than their cohesion. Cohesion, like that of a military unit, doesn't take advantage of other elements found in The wisdom of crowds. You can still have you well oiled team, AND have them bring their valuable differences to the table to make things interesting.
12. Keeping Conflict Constructive - Isn't this another job of the GM? It talks about Passions and how to channel and align the emotions that run high in the game. This is particularly useful because you want your games to be memorable yet sustainable. One of the interesting aspects of this lesson is how to be able to have all players contribute and have a substantial influence over the outcome of the party's action, beyond their combat role.
13. Creativity and Brainstorming - The example of Cid Ceasar is great when considering that a game session is pretty much the same. Maximizing the Creativity of players through frame problems and challenges is where the degree of skill of the GM shines by itself. When a situation is framed interestingly, the way a GM describes a situation the players react to, the players become engaged and surprise and continually improve on the ideas that came before.
14. The Curious Inability to Decide - Moving the Game forward is hard. Building consensus and momentum are always problems. They might appear time consuming but there are methods to push the game along quickly and effectively. it is the GM's job and he's got to invest in his craft to better steer players to consensus.
15. Procedural Justice - HA! Why railroading is UNIVERSALLY bad and why "fairness" matters in your games. Game systems and being fair goes a long way in enjoying the game. Don't go by just your experience, why not check out the science and how it applies to other things in life.
16. Achieving Closure through Small Wins. This is what a lot of GMing is about! In fact this is pretty much what I look forward to in my games.

Damn, I'm such a nerd. How nerdy is it to use science and methods used by the most respected and powerful Corporations and States to achieve fun, glory, and memories in a table surrounded by friends?

I'll tackle this next.
Lessons that apply to Players
1. Making High-Stakes Decisions
2. Cognitive Biases
3. Avoiding Decision-Making Traps
4. Framing—Risk or Opportunity?
5. Intuition—Recognizing Patterns

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Civilization Building GURPS homebrew

Its only recently, from my understanding of economics am I able to make a better informed homebrew system for basic civic building. This Creation of Civic Entities, is useful for the world builder who have players who want more details.

Coming up with the material for this took time and this is a by-product of my mixed interest of business (economics) and gaming. Specifically the allocations and their causes and effects were something I wouldn't be able to figure out on the fly. Having it down on "paper" helps a lot in getting a bearing.

This is not for everyone and this is a work in progress. I am happy to accept any constructive criticism for my works, so that I can improve on them. There are errors i cannot see because of the ideas I'm juggling with in my head, so pardon the mistakes.

This is meant to create civic entities so that a GM can populate his setting with regions that act like "living" organisms. These act like NPCs, reactive and life-like. They respond to events and circumstances: changing, growing, thriving, withering, or dying. Like NPCs, these are in themselves stories of ordinary people and their lives. Their joys, sorrows and hardships told in the abstraction of a rule base, and readily available to the Story tellers interpretation and the Player's observation.

Players who have in them the force and insight of great leaders of old might find these organisms helpful in telling their character's story. Despite the macro scale of the actions of these entity, it is the tiny details that fuels much of the stories. Details that act like allegories to the tale of the entire region.

The other Links can be found in the Stuff I made Section
Civic Entity Creation Spreadsheet
Mass Combat Made Easier
Mass Combat Quality Distribution Calculator Spreadsheet.

Why cube root? Many of the economic correlations are curved by nature because of diminishing returns. Representing it in this way is simpler and fairly easy to pull off. Anyway, i'm not a mathematician and math is not a strength, although I try to tackle them despite the amount of time it would eat up.

Plugging in The Art of Critical Decision making again.
Art of Critical Decision making lessons concerning Productive Internal Conflict, Facilitation and Roles of a Leader, etc. are all marvelous and very useful advice to game masters. again I highly recommend that GMs take advantage of the "science" of handling groups of people and facilitating the most effective and creative output possible.

It is not only fun, it is also enriching. I find the skill and the ability to smooth over conflict, enhance productivity in others as well as myself, and see through the haze of confusion, emotions, risk and fleeting time as powerful tools in working towards maximum enjoyment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Art of Critical Decision Making

The Art of Critical Decision Making is another gem from The Teaching Company that is really useful in gaming. I know gaming is fun, and its supposed to stay fun, but it can always be a little more challenging and interesting.

Imagine, being able to exercise and apply skills such as these in the epic and extraordinary situations of your games. Games evolved as a way to exercise our thinking, and when we seek to challenge ourselves and our surroundings the game only escalates into more productive and imaginative forms. (well in my opinion).

I've purchased the download and find the price SO Worth it (even relative to my income). Imagining the scenarios where I prey on the irrationality of my players: Cognitive Bias, Framing, Recency, Cognitive Disonance etc. A simple puzzle, made into a irrational "mine-field" of shadows and specters leading them towards danger, adventure or demise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GURPS Mass Combat Made Easier and What is the Entity of a State?

GURPS mass combat is a bit hard to take all in. at once There is a limitation of examples because of the word count limit. So what I did is: I made a fairly easy step by step method for me to prepare a Military Campaign Game.

Thanks to Google Docs, I can easily host the it here without having to wory about the incompatibilities of Open Office and Blogger (which is the reason why my format is weird).

This is another of my "If I'm going to make it easier for me, then I should be able to make it easier for everyone" hobbies, within my GMing hobby. Having a method in preparing a game, makes life easier and allows me to completely forget about it when other priorities come up and come back to it after.

What is a the Entity of a State?
In the proccess of developing the method discussed above I hit on a formula by which I can calculate the economic size of a given entity. The formula can be found in the link above. It is remarkably robust and usable with S. John Ross's Medieval Demographics made easy.

An "Entity" is an accounting term that best describes nations, peoples, and states (basically assets) that are not entirely inclusive within the resources of its ruler but still controlled by him or her.

This is another interesting perspective I learned in accounting that is useful in looking at the world and being able to describe it. Accounting after all is a language of business (and in this case: economics). Entities are in that vague division between Possession but not part of one's possession. In GURPS, it is best to represent the a ruler's influence over such through the Patron advantage (B72, Ultra Powerful Organization 20cp).

Kingdoms and Empires are held together by its Rulers. One can say, it is the ruler's duty to the "State" to adjudicate, preside, and devote time to the handling of its affairs. The state can be a bureaucratic machine, like those of empires, or it can be a host of powerful peers, like in a feudal kingdom, republic, or democracy. In return, the ruler has access to its resources: its armies, artisans, and merchant fleets. Occasions where the "frequency of appearance" roll kicks in means there is trouble and the Ruler is needed to fix it.

Rulers have their own wealth, separate from the entities of the state. Typically they are at least powerful patrons by themselves (B72 Patron: Powerful Individual, 10cp). The GURPS "multi-millionaire" which holds Status 5, is already a powerful Baron. Don't let the titles get you confused Counts, Earls, Marquis, Duke and the other titles are merely grades between levels of wealth. GURPS wealth starts taking huge leaps after Status 4, by differences of 1000% (10x). Within the 100x to 10,000x there are many gradients of power which become more tangible because of the Mass Combat System. I prefer generalizing these increments using the Range Combat pattern of 50% increments: 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 etc...

The Mass Combat system basically allows a differences of 50% resources equate to 50% more hired goons. When the rule of thumb to overpower an enemy decisively is to have 3:1 their number, smaller increments gain more notice.

A ruler worth 500cp might have: (i'm not using disadvantage points)
  • Patron (Ultra Powerful Organization; free to take anything he wants +100%) 40cp
  • Allied Peers or Vassals (6-10 men of very high point value: 10cp x 6) 60cp
  • Lesser Vassals (6-10 men of extraordinary point value: 5cp x 8) 40cp
  • Elite Retainers (51-100 men elite point value: 3 x 12) 36cp
  • Wealth: Multi Millionaire 2 (x10,000 times average starting assets) and Status 6 (+4 status 20cp) 120cp
  • 296cp (204 left for the character and other advantages)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feudalism in GURPS and Random knight Generator

Feudalism is very tricky and difficult to reflect in RPG system. It is not as much “ranks” of status but more about oaths of duty. A powerful lord may have a title to give a name to his status, but it is the Oaths of loyalty that truly define where his place is in the world.

In GURPS terms, a knight swears oaths (Duty B133) to a Lord (Patron B72), who in return provides the character with assets (Wealth: Wealthy B25), station and privileges (Status 2: Knight, B28).

As the Character advances, he acquires more holdings (+20 to +50% incremental increase of wealth) and vassals (Allies) of his own. Achievements and Holdings of great significance would naturally translate to more privileges and station (Status).

These vassals are acquired in the same manner, the Character was acquired by his Patron: through the pledge of duties and rents to be rendered in return for the character's own duties, grant of rights, and holdings to the vassal. Typically these estates are acquired displacing defeated, fallen, disgraced, or obsolete retainers.

Yeomen Vassals, who can serve as hand-to-hand combatants or archers, would gain estates (Wealth: Average), rights and privileges (Status 0: Yeoman) as his sworn man. These is both a reward, a hiring fee, and basic capital for maintenance. In return, this retainer mus render armed assistance and contribute some rents.

Man-At-Arms, who can serve as horsemen are given much larger estates, access to the Character's household resources, or small manors (Wealth: Comfortable) as well as some privileges and rights (Status 1: Sergeant Man-at-Arms).

The Players and the GM should be primarily concerned with the opportunities, and not the conversion of these matters into points.

The feudalistic system is too complicated to be reflected with a rigid set of rules. Once the character is made and is in play, it is better to ad hoc the goals and consequences of his/her actions. Very much like in Real Life, the good and the bad is thrown together and unexpectedly. A character may acquire a loose band of horsemen, orphaned by a fallen lord only to also acquire the debtors and the troubles that come with it. He may acquire a new holding, a village, which is suddenly a center of fomenting unrest and harboring enemies.

With each success, there is that escalation of problems and challenges. The character may clear up the debtors or clean up the fief, only to be called into duty by his lord.

Bowmen (75cp) 2cp or 6cp for an element.
  • Heavy Infantry (75cp) 2cp or 6cp for an element.
  • Light Cavalryman (110cp) 3cp or 18 for an element.
  • Horse Archer (120cp) 4cp or 24cp for an element.
  • Medium or Heavy Cavalryman (150cp) 5cp or 30cp for an element.
  • Steward (75cp or 110cp) 2cp to 3cp.
  • Bureaucratic Team (75cp or 110cp) 12cp to 18cp.
  • Specialist (75cp or 110cp) 2cp to 3cp.
  • Specialist Element (75cp or 110cp) 12cp to 18cp.
  • $4,200 estate ($120 Cash annually)
  • $8,400 estate ($240 Cash annually)
  • $16,800 estate ($480 Cash annually)
Why not Keep the Fief and its rents?

There are interesting economic principles at work when an estate is handed off to a vassal. First and primarily, there is a great loss of value as you convert resources to something more tradable and portable (like in the laws of conversions in Physics). Having someone directly benefit from these resources instead of converting them to lower but more portable valuables is significantly more efficient.

Second, security, efficiency and organization improves by having someone directly benefit from the resources of this fief. A bailif or the estate "manager" can only go so far and there are levels of diminishing returns in one's own stewardships. Even hiring more bureaucrats doesn't improve the efficiency of management because of the level or complexity, medieval bureaucracy is able to take on (especially with expensive paper or parchment; and more of a mess to get away with cheating). Consider also how much an already wealthy lord can benefit from the one additional estate, compared to that of a vassal.

In GURPS terms, it may be a $42,000 estate (wealthy), but of that annual income $12,000 in goods redundant to the Character's own resources and perishable or $1,200 in cash. What would rather have: A Heavy Cavalryman or $1,200. Don't forget that the Characters still has duties to his own Lord, taken from 1/3 his cost of living.

Random Knight Generator
Here is another Random Character Generator, tailored for making Knights fitting 12C Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Land beyond the Sea. I'm hosting it in Google Docs, I had to convert it into a PDF because it was written with columns and the format reverts back badly in google docs.

This is primarily meant to roll up Knight Characters quickly. Just add the medieval load-out packages from previous posts to speed up the shopping process.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Real Monsters: the Psychopath

I began to learn more about them as part of RPG 2 years ago. I admit it was because of a nerd argument that got me to read up as much as I did about them. The forum topic was asking a question: What was considered human. GURPS considered: social bonds, humanity (a natural respect or appreciation to human life), socialization...etc not part of defacto human. Which made the default human (a character with no disadvantages) in the GURPS game: a Psychopath. Although a Mild psychopath (there is no 1 or 0 with psychopaths, there are degrees of psychopathy).

Learning more about Psychopaths is never a waste of time. It makes awesome material for a game and is quite useful when role-playing villains. Since Psychopaths are capable of making opportunistic "random" acts of violence, theft and anything that can be advantageous the knowledge is a pro-active self defense.

Someone I argued against which ended up being a cyber stalker and bully 4 months back exhibited all the traits of a Psychopath according to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. Interestingly, he keeps a blog and anyone who is into philosophy, psychology, or criminology can use come to the same conclusion on their own with their own inquiry. I'm sure I'm not alone in experiencing Psychopaths, as they tend to leave a "wake" of psychological destruction around them.

One of the few things one should be afraid of, is a person who doesn't have the same psychological restraints in harming other people. The material you can dig up about psychopaths in the Internet, in science journals and in crime stories is plenty.

The insight that results from reflecting on one's own behaviors, in light of what defines a Psychopath is priceless. Understanding the differences, and commonalities regular humans have with psychopaths makes for better characterization.

I would recommend to anyone who is as afraid of psychopaths, as any sane person should be, is to read up on: game-theory (BS detection, strategy and tactics etc...), empathy, and learning to be more observant.

Search Terms:
Hyperbolic Discounting
Ayn Rand (Bio Shock background story)
Low Empathy
No Empathy

In GURPS some disadvantages that result of a mature psychopath is:
Overconfidence (self control-9)
Selfishness (self control-9)
Compulsive Lying

PCL-R items

The following findings are for research purposes only, and are not used in clinical diagnosis. These items cover the affective, interpersonal, and behavioral features. Each item is rated on a score from zero to two. The sum total determines the extent of a person's psychopathy.[27]

Factor 1
Aggressive narcissism

1. Glibness/superficial charm
2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
3. Pathological lying
4. Cunning/manipulative
5. Lack of remorse or guilt
6. Emotionally shallow
7. Callous/lack of empathy
8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor 2
Socially deviant lifestyle

1. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
2. Parasitic lifestyle
3. Poor behavioral control
4. Promiscuous sexual behavior
5. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
6. Impulsiveness
7. Irresponsibility
8. Juvenile delinquency
9. Early behavioral problems
10. Revocation of conditional release

Traits not correlated with either factor

1. Many short-term marital relationships
2. Criminal versatility

Friday, February 12, 2010

World Builders Tools: Medieval History

The Teaching Company's Medieval World lecture, conducted by Dorsey Armstrong is a great way to get into medieval history if your too busy. It has, like many TTC DVDs, a booklet with outlines and bibliographies which allows you to pursue particular aspects of interests.

I owe it to RPGs that got me into Medieval History. When I was in highschool, my brothers and I saved up to purchase Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Revisited, Combat and Tactics for P1200 around 1996. My high school term paper was about the hundred years war, which was highly unusual and difficult because we don't have accessible public libraries.

Interest in medieval socio-economics made me really appreciate the subject matter all the way to modern Philippine context. Analyzing how people tried to devise better ways of living with each other through game theory and evolution colored and enhanced my understanding. It helped me understand how interactive situations tend to have a flow or a manner of growing more complex.

As for games, understanding the simple allowed me to observe the key fundamental elements that result in the complex. So in the beginning of a games premise, as the story begins to move, I'm able to predict or anticipate to changes and apply skills and knowledge that make me more adaptable to facilitate the game.

Details, particularly historical details have a pronounced affect in how I observe and communicate. After learning so many things which I can't retain, I begin to see a patterns that allows me to organize and arrange the knowledge to more accommodating sizes. Simple ideas become extended to have more meanings and iterations, like what is a land holder, an aristocrat, the warrior class and the subtle differences that have a striking affect in the world around them.

Personal formulas or principles begin to form to accommodate how best to communicate certain ideas. The differences between various land holding people, peasants or freemen, serfs and slaves have profound causes and reason that can be found in the mundane.

An example, the rights to bear arms meant to a peasant. the duty to fight for your lord when summoned, also afforded these peasants the ability to demand rights in return. What it means to have one's destiny or happiness within their own grasp, as compared to the will of fate or one's lord. A peasant working a farm compared to a serf is much more productive not just because he doesnt lose 50% of his product, but because he directly benefits for his innovation.

There are many more profound ideas and ideals that make up the ordinary lives of people, that become extraordinary in the right conditions. These help in weaving detail and ideas to the shared story.

One other nice lesson I would like to point out is the mysteries found in history that allows us to play the role of "detective". Since many works are now available, as they came from pre-Information age, a layman-historian can now compare and refined by many other disciplines that are available at our finger tips. Physical Sciences and Game Theory, which allows me to form my own informed hypothesis is a challenging exercise that hones the GM craft regarding improvisation and escalating complexity.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sun Tzu: Desperate Ground

The Art of war is pretty useful for any war campaign. The anecdotes attached to the document give the GM many ideas of how to describe a situation.

Sun Tzu's 9 situations. is by itself a Powerful GM tool for analyzing character situations. Do not just apply it in combat, approach it socially, and logistically as well. Being able to identify Sun Tzu's 9 situations allows you to simply add on the elements that enhance the risk and challenge of a situation.

(1) Dispersive ground;
(2) facile ground;
(3) contentious ground;
(4) open ground;
(5) ground of intersecting highways;
(6) serious ground;
(7) difficult ground;
(8) hemmed-in ground;
(9) desperate ground.

Ex. Dispersive Ground - this is a situation where the personal weaknesses of the characters can easily overcome them. If you are using disadvantages and understand the motives of your players, Dispersive ground is when they are tempted to give in to a shared weakness.

A party of greedy adventurers might find looting more favorable than a time-sensitive goal that has a much greater pay off. In a situation where the party would rather fight than talk, and where talking is the "smarter" thing to do. The art of war recommends avoiding dispersive ground: or in the case of the PCs, avoid the temptation.

Facile Ground is much like Dispersive ground, except it is in the transition to serious ground (situations where morale and intent is clear). In tenuous conflict, like a difficult melee, there the GM introduces a situations that preys on the discipline of the party. Self-preservation, vanity or pride, and disinclination to think critically create facil ground when the patience of the players wear thin.

Open Ground is when there are too many options, and the NPC opponents also have this many options. Like the dangers noted by Sun Tzu, the first person to move will not be the first to react. These are situations where players who are tempted to make plans and act on unverified information or assumptions.

In much of these situations, the GM is "heaven" or "fate". Since the GM facilitates the situation, he should be able to identify the flow and direction of the challenges through these useful constructs and put his or her finger on point that makes it interesting and engaging.

Random Disadvantage Installment II

This is another random roll table. This is for socio-economic background. This is supposed to be used in tandem with the previous random disadvantage table (Personality background table).

Socio-Economic Background
Not everyone is part of the predominant TL10 society of the game setting. Technology Level in varies greatly. Characters who live in sub-sector capital worlds that has a strategic economic advantage have a technological familiarity advantage. This goes both ways, since technology requires a sophisticated support system, characters familiar with lower tech can operate farther and farther from tech support.

For the purpose of the background, TL is more about familiarity to certain technologies.

  • Roll 3d
  • 3-4 -3
  • 5-6 -2
  • 7-8 -1
  • 9-13 +0
  • 14+ +1

Wealth and Status represents a particular social group the character belongs. Socio-economic conditions have a strong affect on people. It affects their education, the kind of people they are able to access, and what opportunities are open to them.

  • Roll 3d
  • 3 Poor (roll 1d)
  • 4-6 Struggling (Roll 1d)
  • 7-10 Average (Roll 1d)
  • 11-13 Comfortable (Roll 1d)
  • 14-15 Wealthy (Roll 3d)
  • 16-17 Very Wealthy (Roll 3d)
  • 18 Filthy Rich (Roll 3d)

Note: This is meant for Traveller TL10 society. This has a very optimistic division of wealth. Medieval or Dystopic games will have a much larger poor, and struggling class..

Medieval or Dystopic

  • Roll 3d
  • 3-8 Poor (roll 1d)
  • 9-11 Struggling (Roll 1d)
  • 12-13 Average (Roll 1d)
  • 14-15 Comfortable (Roll 1d)
  • 16 Wealthy (Roll 1d)
  • 17 Very Wealthy (Roll 1d)
  • 18 Filthy Rich (Roll 1d)

Poor (roll 1d) (status -2)

1-4 x0.2 wealth modifier

5-6 x0.3 wealth modifier

Struggling (Roll 1d) (status -1)

1-4 x0.5 wealth modifier

5-6 x0.7 wealth modifier

Average (Roll 1d) (status 0)

1-4 x1 wealth modifier

5-6 x1.5 wealth modifier

Comfortable (Roll 1d) (status 1)

1-4 x2 wealth modifier

5-6 x3 wealth modifier

Wealthy (Roll 3d) (status 2)

3-9 x5 wealth modifier

10-11 x7 wealth modifier

12-14 x10 wealth modifier

15+ x15 wealth modifier

Very Wealthy (Roll 3d) (status 3)

3-10 x20 wealth modifier

11-13 x30 wealth modifier

14-16 x50 wealth modifier

17-18 x70 wealth modifier

Filthy Rich (Roll 3d) (status 4)

3-10 x100 wealth modifier

11-12 x150 wealth modifier

13-14 x200 wealth modifier

15-16 x300 wealth modifier

17 x500 wealth modifier

18 x700 wealth modifier

This is followed by an additional roll for for other disadvantages.
Roll for the added number of disads.
Roll 1d-1 (exploding d6; roll again when you roll a 6. Add them all up)
Then roll for the kind and severity of each disad.
Roll the Kind 1d
  • 1-3 Behavioral
  • 4 Mental
  • 5 Social
  • 6 Physical
Roll the Severity
  • Roll 3d
  • 3-9 Quirks
  • 10-11 Minor
  • 12-13 Serious
  • 14-15 Major
  • 16+ Severe
Use this spread which can be found here for a whole bunch of other disadvantages Random Disadvantage Roll.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Random Disadvantages installments

Here are some random disadvantages to be rolled up. This is founded on my basic 7 GURPS defined common human disadvantages. Each of the 7 aspects are rolled up, to create some variety and challenge for the role-player. Its easy to modify the frequencies and odds of some disadvantage depending on what you believe should be more or less common.

This is part 1 of 2 parts of rolling disadvantages for some character randomization tables I'm making. There is second roll for other disadvantages typically: mental or involuntary psychological, behavioral, social, and physical disadvantages. Because of the Self-control roll and variable disadvantage costs, this will take a week or two to fix up.

It won't even be that good after, working to closely with something makes certain mistakes harder to catch, so even if I do finish it, I will have to wait for a couple of weeks before I can look at it again without feeling it was too much work.

This can be used in other games, if you want to roll up the character's general personality but it requires references to what the GURPS disads mean and going beyond the game definition (which i tend to do).


Roll for random disadvantages. First roll for Duty, Sense of Duty, Code of Honor, Discipline of Faith, Honesty, and Pacifism.


Duty represents responsibilities. The parenthesis represents the frequency, assume, 3000 at 15, 2000 hours of work at 12, 1500 at 9, and 1000 at 6 a year. Quite simply, a duty means a Job that allows the character to support his lifestyle.

Jobs are never as they are defined. Many times there is more work than initially expected. The bottom line is to do what has to be done to get it right. Two people with different circumstances, but the same job can have varying responsibilities, many implied and indirect.

Roll 3d

3-5 None

6-7 Roll 1d

  • 1-4 Non-hazardous (6)

  • 5-6 Hazardous (9)

8-11 Roll 1d

  • 1-2 Non-hazardous (12)

  • 3-4 Hazardous (9)

  • 5-6 Extremely Hazardous (6)

12-14 Roll 1d

  • 1-2 Non-hazardous (15)

  • 3-4 Hazardous (12)

  • 5-6 Extremely Hazardous (9)

15-16 Roll 1d

  • 1-4 Hazardous (15)

  • 5-6 Extremely Hazardous (12)

17-18 Extreme Hazardous (15)

Sense of Duty.

Sense of Duty represents social bonds the characters prioritizes. Typically characters have a strong connection to a “family-like” group. This family fill various roles as companions/ peers/ siblings, authority/ father-figure, care-giver/ mother-figure, partners/ spouses, and dependents/ offspring.

Roll 3d

3-5 None

6-8 Individual

9-13 Small group or “Family”

14-15 Large group

16-17 Nation

18 “Humanity”

Code of Honor.

A character's personal moral beliefs can be found within their code of honor. Essentially, it is a set of behavior practiced with the intent to further one believes to be good. Code of Honor defaults to be non-religious in nature, treat religious disciplines as an “add-on” to Code of Honor.

The severity of Code of Honor is how much it is valued compared to the person's safety and survival. A soldier, whose life is at a hands of an authority, has a serious code of honor. A chivalric knight or a religious devotee has an extreme code of honor. Values like Social Bonds, Religious Faith, Respect for Authority/Order is rooted in the character's personal code.

Roll 3d

3-6 No Code of Honor

7-8 Quirk

9-12 Code of Honor (Professional)

13-15 Code of Honor (Serious)

16+ Code of Honor (Extreme)

Discipline of Faith.

This is the presence, absence and intensity of a character's religious belief. Stricter disciplines of faith, impose greater restrictions over a character. Look to the character's Code of Honor as to the intensity he carries these beliefs.

Roll 3d (Typically Secular Society)

3-6 Discipline of Faith (Monastic)

7-8 Discipline of Faith (Ritual Observation)

9-10 Mild Discipline of Faith

11+ None


This represents the character's attitude towards those of Authority. Many factors play into this perception, particularly regarding legitimacy, credibility and their personal moral beliefs. Characters who have a greater measure of honesty, try to enforce on themselves a stricter discipline. Since nothing is without consequence, this measures the character's law-abiding track record so far.

Roll 3d

3-6 None

7-11 Honesty (15)

12-13 Honesty (12)

14-16 Honesty (9)

17+ Honesty (6)


General Humanity of the Character. Pacifism extends farther than just killing, as it applies generally to harm. There are exceptions, to protection and value of life and this is defined by the kind of pacifism.

Roll 3d

3-5 None

6-8 Reluctant killer

9-13 Cannot Harm innocents

14-15 Self defense Only

16-17 Cannot Kill

18 Total Non-Violence


Roll for the odds that the character has a typical intolerance to what his society generally finds acceptable. Rarely are people are able to tolerate everyone completely. There are highly intolerable people that can easily be defined as a group.

Roll 1d

1 General Intolerance

2-5 Towards natural cultural bias

6 None

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Basic Traveller Templates

These templates were made to reflect basic proficiency with regards to the hours of training that would into their contemporary real-world counterparts. I plan to emphasize on specialized intelligence, because IQ is too cost efficient and does enourage the diversity we are able to observe in the real world.

Currently I am working to make a basic: randomizer add on for gamers who want a way to randomize their stats within reasonable paramters.

TL10 Background [5]: Literature (Cultural) (H) IQ-2 [1]; Research (A) IQ-1 [1]; Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]; Mathematics (Applied) (H) IQ-2 [1]; Philosophy (Science) (H) IQ-2 [1]; Savoir-Faire (Communications) (E) IQ [1].

Starship Deckhand

7 points

Attributes [0]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 10 [0].

Secondary Characteristics [0]: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 10 [0]; Per 10 [0]; FP 10 [0]; Basic Speed 5.25 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].

Primary Skills [7]:

Crewman [7]: Spacer (E) IQ+2 [4]; Free Fall (A) DX-1 [1]; Environmental Suit (Vacc Suit) (A) DX-1 [1]; Savoir-Faire (Merchant or Military) (E) IQ [1].

Starship Petty Officer

35 points

Attributes [20]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 11 [0]; HT 10 [0].

Secondary Characteristics [0]: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 11 [0]; Per 11 [0]; FP 10 [0]; Basic Speed 5 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].

Advantages [5]:

Petty Officer [5]: Merchant or Military Rank 1 [5].

Primary Skills [10]:

Crewman [4]: Spacer (E) IQ [1]; Free Fall (A) DX-1 [1]; Environmental Suit (Vacc Suit) (A) DX-1 [1]; Savoir-Faire (Merchant or Military) (E) IQ [1].

Choose from:

  • Steward [6]: Housekeeping (E) IQ+1 [2]; Cooking (E) IQ [1]; First Aid (E) IQ [1]; Savoir-Fair (Servant) (E) IQ+1 [2].

  • Gunner [6]: Gunner (E) DX+2 [4]; Artillery (Missiles) (A) IQ [2].

  • Flight Crew [6]: Mechanic (High performance Spacecraft) (A) IQ [2]; Armoury (Heavy Weapons) (A) IQ [2]; Armoury (Vehicular Armor) (A) IQ [2].

  • Freight Handler [6]: Freight Handling (A) IQ [2]; Hazardous materials (A) IQ [2]; Environmental Suit (Exo-skeleton) (A) IQ [2].

  • Medical [6]: Physician (H) IQ-1 [2]; Diagnosis (H) IQ-1 [2]; Electronics Operation (A) IQ [2].

Starship Officer

45 points

Attributes [20]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 10 [0].

Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 11 [0]; Per 11 [0]; FP 10 [0]; Basic Speed 5 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].

Advantages [10]:

Officer [10]: Merchant or Military Rank 2 [10].

Primary Skills [15]:

Crewman [4]: Spacer (E) IQ [1]; Free Fall (A) DX-1 [1]; Environmental Suit (Vacc Suit) (A) DX-1 [1]; Savoir-Faire (Merchant or Military) (E) IQ [1].

Choose from:

  • Bridge Officer Skills [11]: Administration (A) IQ [2]; Electronics Operation (Communication) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Sensor) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Electronic Warfare) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Medical) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Piloting (High Performance Spacecraft) (A) DX-1 [1]; Navigation (Space) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Gunnery (Beam) (E) DX [1]; Artillery (Missile) (A) IQ-1 [1].

  • Engineering Officer [11]: Mechanic (High Performance Spacecraft) (A) IQ [2]; Electronics Repair (Communication) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Sensor) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Electronic Warfare) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Medical) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Computers) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Computer Programing (H) IQ-2 [1]; Machinist (H) IQ-2 [1]; Armoury (Heavy Weapons) (A) IQ-1 [1].

  • Pilot Officer Skills [11]: Electronics Operation (Communication) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Sensor) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Electronic Warfare) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Piloting (High Performance Spacecraft) (A) DX+1 [4]; Navigation (Space) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Gunnery (Beam) (E) DX [1]; Artillery (Missile) (A) IQ [2].

Starship Engineer

45 points

Attributes [20]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 10 [0].

Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 13 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 10 [0]; Basic Speed 5.25 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].

Advantages [10]:

Chief Engineer[10]: Merchant or Military Rank 2 [10].

Primary Skills [24]:

Engineer [9]: Engineer (Starships) (H) IQ-1 [2]; Mechanic (Jump Drive) (A) IQ [2]; Administration (A) IQ [2]; Leadership (A) IQ [2]; Armoury (Vehicular Armor) (A) IQ-1 [1].

Engineering Officer [11]: Mechanic (High Performance Spacecraft) (A) IQ [2]; Electronics Repair (Communication) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Sensor) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Electronic Warfare) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Medical) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Repair (Computers) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Computer Programing (H) IQ-2 [1]; Machinist (H) IQ-2 [1]; Armoury (Heavy Weapons) (A) IQ-1 [1].

Crewman [4]: Spacer (E) IQ [1]; Free Fall (A) DX-1 [1]; Environmental Suit (Vacc Suit) (A) DX-1 [1]; Savoir-Faire (Merchant or Military) (E) IQ [1].

Starship Commander

59 points

Attributes [20]: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 10 [0].

Secondary Characteristics [0]: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 12 [0]; FP 10 [0]; Basic Speed 5 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].

Advantages [15]:

Commander [15]: Merchant or Military Rank 3 [15].

Primary Skills [24]:

Commander Skills [9]: Leadership (A) IQ [2]; Ship-Handling (H) IQ [4]; Intelligence Analysis (H) IQ-2 [1]; Tactics (Space) (H) IQ-2 [1]; Strategy (H) IQ-2 [1].

Bridge Officer Skills [11]: Administration (A) IQ [2]; Electronics Operation (Communication) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Sensor) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Electronic Warfare) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Electronics Operation (Medical) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Piloting (High Performance Spacecraft) (A) DX-1 [1]; Navigation (Space) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ-1 [1]; Gunnery (Beam) (E) DX [1]; Artillery (Missile) (A) IQ-1 [1].

Crewman [4]: Spacer (E) IQ [1]; Free Fall (A) DX-1 [1]; Environmental Suit (Vacc Suit) (A) DX-1 [1]; Savoir-Faire (Merchant or Military) (E) IQ [1].

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

GM tools: Planning what Random tables need

Its been 2 weeks since my Random Village generator v0.1, which in hindsight needs a lot of improvement. I've been reading all the books again and trying to find out the best way to generate a random village. Mostly this details the steps I need to take, so that I can really visualize the challenges I will be undertaking for this tool.

What I think I will need for a Random Village Generator v1
  1. Select Terrain - Of course the GM will always have a location in mind for the village. Almost everything depends on the location! Location! Location!
  2. Population - Population is next. It is affected by terrain, key modifiers and GM's fiat.
  3. Produce - Since location is a pretty important determinant, several tables for a particular terrain. They will overlap, but a glosary and more trivial tables should follow of how certain details may turn out.
  4. Political Center - This represents how the "organism" which is the community is organized and interact with each other. I've spend most of the week struggling in how to describe it sufficiently for GMs. It sucks when Ideas of politic science can be offensive to some people. I guess I shouldn't try to please everyone.
  5. Wealth - Again this touches on my socio-economic studies that might piss off people. I've gotten often into debates when I assumed that credibly accepted and tested science or hypothesis. Its just weird to be so conditioned to tip toe around such, even in games where there should be not offending anyone who can just click away from the material.
  6. Problems - Everyone has problems, even a community struggles with their day to day, or long term needs. This is what adventures are made off, if there were no problems, no one would leave their comfort zones to do anything. The problems table works with generalized situations applied to the context of the details above. When I say Civil Dispute, I'll provide several examples of the sort (a social arrangement gone sour -like an arranged marriage, typical land dispute, minor feud, petty differences escalating etc...). I'll leave it up to the GM to use the details he randomly rolls-up to tie into the circumstance.
  7. Village Persona generator - this leads to the territory of random PC motives or NPC generation. In my gaming style, I usually grab what ever personality profiles I'm familiar with (which i don't like to do because it makes me predictable and doesn't exercise my improvisation). I'd rather break them down into "schools" of thought using what I learned about game theory and my observation of behaviors: complexity of self interest. The self-interest premise, from my game theory studies can be offensive to the sensibilities of other people. Its a personal philosophy, which will take a lot of source citations and studies to prove and explain. I don't like to make a the typical "archetype" generator all long-time gamers are familiar with from other game systems. I want to apply what I've learned in creating a wide variety of motives that has the ability of making NPCs run deep enough to allow GMs to impov effectively without rehashing familiar and predictable personalities.
I guess I shouldn't worry about offending to many people, anyway its not like I'm forcing my point of views on anyone. Its a blog people can just close the tab or window.

Looking at what's up ahead, It will take me some time to make the village generator. Especially since I'll be work on it, when I wait for each idea to clears up before putting it into words. Probably a 2 weeks or 3.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Telescopic Flexibility and Escalation

A question in the Forums got me thinking to why I like the complexity. It boils down to 2 things: telescopic flexibility and escalation.

Has anyone here, that mainly plays GURPS, ever play with another system and realize at some point that there was a skill/skills you [I]really[/I] missed and wished were available in that system? If so, what was it/were they? - Ragitsu (SJ games boards)

Telescopic. When I compare real world skills to GURPS, which I read up on to give a better story telling effect and it comes up as part of my job, GURPS skills looks simple.

Anything simpler than GURPS for me underestimates the many factors and limitations that affect certainty and risk (which i do a general study as an entrepreneur).

I am aware it is a game and the need for practical speed and simplicity. The details help in "escalating" the game along with the PC's advancement. It does so by giving a informed idea of the consequences and factors that affect situation and flow.

Details are Telescopic in Hind-sight. Its easy to abstract complex to simple, its hard to telescope into abstract to specific details without being informed about the differences. Being able to move back and forth between detail to abstract is a useful (but not necessary) tool among the many skills that figure into GMing IMO.

How details figure in the game and story telling. They enhance realism and allow for a more consistency and allow for more senses to be engage by the imagination (describing via 5+1 senses). It also places more engaging/attractive stimuli before the players (like a trail of candy).

Escalation. Details add Complexity. Complexity are more opportunities to screw up. Thus, complexity and details Escalate challenges. This all has to do with understanding and widening of options.

I'm sure everyone knows the principle: "...with more knowledge comes more questions." It works that way with details. As in Robin's Laws, its pretty much covered by the GM's standard response of "...and then what." and "tell me more.".

Inflicting my players with the problems, complexities, and dilemmas I found in business, historical, and behavioral interest books may sound unworkable. Although, a great measure of understanding is how I'm able to apply the basic principles in a way that is interesting to to the players.

It is a matter of the hobby perpetuating/enhancing the skill that allows me to have more time (and less stress) for other things. One can look at in another way: real life skills that make life workable, perpetuating/enhancing the game experience.