Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some more Useful Biometrics, GURPS Increased Consumption Disadvantage

Looking at these numbers I think of GURPS increased consumption disadvantage at B136. since GURPs 3 meals defaults at the 2000cal. Note that there is an optional rule for 50% increases where disadvantages or advantages cost half as much, in this case -5pts instead.

- lv0.5 3,000 calories
Lv1 4,000 calories (6 meals a day; x2 meals)
- Lv1.5 6,000 calories
Lv2 8,000 calories (12 meals a day; x4 meals)
- Lvl2.5 12,000 calories
Lv3 16,000 calories (24 meals a day, x8 meals)
- Lvl3.5 24,000 calories
Lv4 32,000 calories (48 meals a day, x16 meals)

at -10 per level this goes a long way in making character's strength and fitness cheaper.

This is on the assumption that Meals are equal to a Basic calorie Need. Since the gurps template is human, animals are differences from human horses should have 3-4 levels of Increased consumption.
  • 15,000 calories default per 1,000lbs for minimally active horses. (lvl2 Increased Consumption)
  • An Active, but not strenuously active horse, needs 25,000 calories per 1,000lbs (of horse). (Level 2.5 increased consumption. )
  • Strenuous activity, like a competition horse or a warhorse, is 33,000 calories per 1,000lbs. Lv4 Increased Consumption Disad Trait for a Light War Horse of 1,000lbs.
Mariusz Pudzianowski
BMI 41 @313lbs and 6'1"
173lbs heavier than his BMI18.5
consumes 8000 calories a day (allegedly in Flex magazine)

Manny Pacquiao
BMI 24 @151lbs and 5'6"
36lbs heavier than his BMI18.3
consumes 7000 calories a day (with the 151lb target in mind).

off tangent - learning more about nutrition from twitching frogs legs. An interesting source to learn about muscles is that experiment that allows one to make dead frogs legs twitch. The youtube video has a great link that has a bunch of CG of how the chemical works. Understanding the biochemistry in its most basic sense (because i suck at chem) made me appreciate why muscles consume so much calories passively. Storing the chemical energy for future actions, means a lot of nutrients being moved from the digestive system to the muscles. Its pretty amazing seeing the salt releases this energy causing the legs to twitch.

Purpose of Realism in Games?

I think the purpose of realism depends heavily in what the game is trying to achieve, either a Puzzle or trying to create a Story. One of the most important part of an RPG is the Narrative, also known as the Story Telling.

The Narrative is a Good thing. Liking RPGs for the Narrative or Storytelling should not diminish anyone's "gamer cred". In Origins of the Human Mind by Professor Hinshaw I learned the important of the Human narrative and how it Humanizes characters, people, and others. The "narrative" is not only a great way to learn empathy, an appreciation of humanity, and the great things people are capable of, but it helps people resolve personal struggles.

As much as I am a geek for games, I learned in a Psychology and Cognitive Science lecture enjoying a Good Story has a lot of validation. I recommend the Hinshaws lecture.

Realism is for the Challenge. The more you scale a game towards realism, the more complex and difficult things become. Realism is a GM tool in creating validating/useful problem solving scenarios.
Realism is very important in maximizing the authentic feel and difficulty of the real world challenge in a safe and learning focused simulations.

I think, Realism is the spice we put in fun to build up our tolerance for problems and life's awful complexity and baggage.

Realism is not a merit of Good RPGame. I used to be carried away by realism, of course its because of my OCD quirk, but tunnel vision is a common problem in any mode of thinking. Games are enjoyed only by people who can relate to it, and levels of realism may not be appropriate for the Players or even a GM. Appreciating Realism means also appreciating the complexity of how reality really works and that assembling a system to simulate it may not be the best use of time and resources of the GM.

Realism is only a merit in a simulation, and a simulations can, but rarely, are an RPGame.

In Real vs. Cinematic - Steve Jackson Games Forums i think the OP needs to reframe the question. I think it should be a more "objective" analysis of the wants of his players than his own wants. I think a survey to look at the strongest common interests and mutual expectations can help resolve or answer if a particular system is best. Nothing like communication in maximizing utility from an endeavor among allied parties.

I've tried researching more about Simulations for a Business Plan designed to attract more people to adventure tourism in the Philippines and one of the things I learned is how freaking complicated it is.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is this getting around?

Is this just me or chrome or am I finding more of these malware common.

Maybe I should be worried, given the increase readership and connectivity of gamer blogs some criminals might take advantage of this and inflict these blogs with malware for their own devices.

I've been looking for more information about this, when and how will this threat be removed? I'm worried for these blogs as I am worried also of my own skin, if this happens to me how do I fix it?

Will a change of template or design be enough? Will the people that insert these malware keep hounding a blog once they have it in their sights or will google find a way to prevent that?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Social Hierarchy is not the same as Levels

Social Status as Levels tend confuse gamers of how they really worked back then. The Social Rank does not confer any abilities or privileges, instead the Person or the Lord's influence is what determines his pecking order. It is the lord's resource to appear powerful is what determines his social status. The best way to illustrate this is actually giving an example in history.

When Pippin the Short was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Stephen is a good example where to start. If you look at the historical context as to why, Pippin the short was made the First Holy Roman Emperor (when Constantine was supposed to have the title 400 years earlier) was to get him to help defend Rome from its enemies. So its not that the Pope was Great enough to confirm Pippin, it was an audience who was ready to confirm what the pope has just said.

History and Status has a lot of bluff that becomes relatively true because people had reasons to believed it or tell people about it. In Game Theory and JDM Science we learn how political power works and influence through leverage is effectively maximized or how to peel back the actions to determine who really was behind events and how much of it is chance. Cognitive Science, behavioral economics, allows us to understand the irrationalities that can make words move people when there are rational reasons against the action.

The best way to show how Status works is by taking a Snap Shot of History and listing the capabilities of each piece. An quick example* I can give is from my research into the crusades, looking at the Status of Each Crusader Lord, by all accounts Raymond the IV should be the highest ranking Baron because of his wealth. But Godfrey is the most memorable symbol of the crusades and the most charming, or Consider that people ended up doing what Behomond was proposing and he was able to wrench himself from Alexius' pledge and own Antioch when all these lands was supposed to be returned to the emperor.

They all were called Barons, but it was the youngest son the landless one who ended up king of Jerusalem, Baldwin.

My opinion is to develop concepts of Assets for PCs and powerful NPCs to wield or use. It is their assets and their competence and effectivity that determines Status (which projects Power). I guess after all these history studies, I'm beginning to see Lords as Leaders and their Lands, Soldiers, Retainers etc as Assets. It is their effective handling of these resources and their skill in "playing the game". History's ventures, problems and risks translate to stuff to do and not just stuff that happened.

*still working on this with my freetime. It will take a while especially when I have to just guestimate the GDP of these resources and guess everything else. its not like Lower Lorreign is Listed Company with an IPO.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The battle of Towton: Nasty, brutish and not that short | The Economist

The battle of Towton: Nasty, brutish and not that short | The Economist:

"The men whose skeletons were unearthed at Towton were a diverse lot. Their ages at time of death ranged widely. It is easier to be precise about younger individuals, thanks to the predictable ways in which teeth develop and bones fuse during a person’s adolescence and 20s. The youngest occupants of the mass grave were around 17 years old; the oldest, Towton 16, was around 50. Their stature varies greatly, too. The men’s height ranges from 1.5-1.8 metres (just under five feet to just under six feet), with the older men, almost certainly experienced soldiers, being the tallest.

This physical diversity is unsurprising, given the disparate types of men who took the battlefield that day. Yet as a group the Towton men are a reminder that images of the medieval male as a homunculus with rotten teeth are well wide of the mark. The average medieval man stood 1.71 metres tall—just four centimetres shorter than a modern Englishman. “It is only in the Victorian era that people started to get very stunted,” says Mr Kn├╝sel. Their health was generally good. Dietary isotopes from their knee-bones show that they ate pretty healthily. Sugar was not widely available at that time, so their teeth were strong, too."
found this through Phryrangula
1.5m = 4'11"
1.8m = 5'10"
1.7m = 5'6" Average

Thursday, December 16, 2010

[GURPS Mass Combat] "Real Soldiers Dig"

In one of the lectures I heard the term "Real Soldiers Dig".

The roman legionaires were said to build fort-camps every day of march. This made sense when you realize that they budgeted their average marching time to 4-5hours, instead of the travel time in GURPS mass combat at 8hours. If you check out Small Wars Manual, Combat Leader's Field Guide, Vegetius, and the Strategikon you see this time budget, 4-5 hours, more frequently. Special Emphasis is made in Small wars Manual because of Animal Handling, in the care of the expensive assets of pack animals.

Professional soldiers would march 4-5hours then set up fortified camp. In the strategikon it was a combination of camp fortification, foraging and reconnaissance. Those who stayed in camp would dig, cut down small trees, and fashion the camp that would become the basis of many medieval town squares, some surviving to the modern eras.

Its not just the manuals that talked about digging and the importance of keeping men busy, focused, learning and honing useful skills like earth-working, carpentry and rope use, but it can be seen in the soldiers standard equipment. 2 picks, 2 shovels, and some basic carpentry tools (hammers and saws) per squad or contebernium Its rational to consider that for the next 5 hours to watch hours these soldiers are not continuously digging. Trouble can be expected at any time, its always emphasized to minimize exhaustion (Small Wars Manual and Combat Leaders Field Guide) and rotate heavy loads, this is the same with exhausting work like digging and carpentry.

Experts vs Expertise. In GURPS mass combat miners, the engineer combat element, has a TS0.5 at TL2, TS1 at TL3, TS2 at TL4. There isn't a special feature that allows for a limited engineering capabilities given to an combat element. Instead the role of engineer is a specialized unit, not capable of a being an effective combat unit.

I don't like the idea of making a homebrew plug in because it will be less useful. So as a compromise I recommend just adding an 1/10th an Engineering Element per squad. This translates as 10-20% of the force being engineers and In any and every squad will have one skilled engineer.

In the smaller mass combat scale, these rules can be reverse engineered to 1/10th Miner Element which adds $3k to raise, $600 to maintain, TS0.5 (double per every TL above 2), and Engineering-TS0.5 (double every TL above 2).

In the final Tally of Units, its simplified by calculating them separately "on paper" but working with the assumption that every 10 soldiers has one engineer. So when taking loses every element loss, that includes a lost engineer.

Home Brew Plug In.
Added Class Abilities: Under Troop Quality, allow for the adding of Class Abilities instead of TS increase for Good and Elite. These class abilities do not use the Unit's Base TS for Ratio Comparisons, instead it has a value of 1. Each quality level is an Opportunity to gain a Class Ability.

These abilities are:
Engineer-TS0.5 (double for every TL above 2)

Equipment Quality also affects both these Independent Class TS abilities.

  • Good Bowmen; TS2; Class: F,Rec-TS1; Raise: $80k; Maintain: $9.6k
  • Good Light Infantry TS2; Class: F-TS1,Rec; Raise: $80k; Maintain: $9.6k
  • "Legionnaire" Good Heavy Infantry TS5; Class: Eng-1; Raise: $80k; Maintain: $9.6k
  • "Defensores" Elite Pikemen TS4; Class: F-1, Eng-1, (Cv); Raise: $120k; Maintain: $11.2k
  • "Lancers" Good Heavy Cavalry TS5; Class: (Cv)-TS1, Cv; Raise: $400k; Maintain: $48k (inspired by the Civ V unit and Sarmatian Lancers)
  • "Dwarven Crossbowmen" Finely Eqpt. Good Bowmen TS4; Class: Eng-TS2, F; Raise: $120k; Maintain: $17.6k
Lesser Roles. Training and Discipline can be applied with versatility. Units can perform roles similar to a more inferior quality at the GM's discression. Typically this is indicated by Tradition. If a unit is performing a role it has as an Added Class Class Ability, it performs at an Equipment Quality 1 step worse. Use the Base TS of the Element they are emulating.

Ex. the "Defensores"(above example) can made to perform the role of Poor Archers. Their new stats will be TS1.5; Class: F, Eng-TS1.

Ex#2 Lancers can be used as Pikemen TS3; Class: (CV). (note that logical limitations should be imposed; this is a Homebrew rule so there may be some problems)

Ex#3 Heavy Cavalry can be used as Heavy Infantry at TS3.75.

Ex#3 Medium Cavalry can be used as Bowmen at TS1.5; Class: F

Reason to Voluntarily Bring Down Capabilities:
False Intelligence,
  • Reading up on Cartography Guild posts
  • Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia has a great map
  • Formalizing my research on average City GDPs (allowing for City Wealth levels and Cost of Living)
  • Organizing the First Crusader Lords by their chain of command, peerage, subordinates and forces

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Skills in Running a City

To simplify my Civic Stat system, I'll just give a basic competence score that works with the GURPS skill system. Basically, each City, Province, Port, Fief, Pronoia has someone running it for its Lord. As the Status (which will go into into more detail in a future post) of this Asset gets higher it requires greater proficiency and a wider set of specialized skills.

Literacy, Writing
Mathematics (Applied), Finance, Accounting, Market Analysis
Mathematics (Geometry), Engineering (Civic)
Law (Common, Merchant)
Mathematics (Geometry), Engineering (Combat)
Intelligence Analysis (Politics)
Streetwise, Intelligence Analysis (Local) - this deals with goings on in the city
Diplomacy, Public Speaking, Politics

Note on skills - Many of these skills are very difficult to acquire through the recruitment and training of the specialists and professionals who possess them. In low tech settings the poor literacy and education, makes for a very small pool and fragile system that can fall apart with the death of any key member.

This makes it expensive or very fortunate for powerful cities to have a competence-12. exceptions are found in the greatest of cities, in the medieval age before the 13th Century (the sack of Constantinople in 1204) this puts Constantinople at 11 in its lowest points and 15 at it highest points.

Simplifying everything to an Average helps the GM determine the skills of various specialists.

Institutional Strength. The health of the Institution means how quickly and able these people can recover lost knowledge or experts after a damaging circumstances like riots, surrender, sacking, coups, etc.

This is optional, but very illustrative of what can happen if the acquisition of a holding with a precious Institution is mishandled or when the Lord choses to transfer key personnel to other realms as gifts, to bolster administrative competence of another asset, or to diversify his risks.

This can be represented as a parenthetical HT beside the competence rating.

Future Topics. I'm working my way topic per topic towards my Civic Stats ruleset. Along the same line, I've joined the Cartographers Guild in hopes of learning to make Mass Combat Maps for the purpose of making GURPS mass combat more easily playable (its already playable if you ad hoc background resources).

I'm trying to figure out City Status, Asset Costs, and Special Features (Like Developed Industries) hope to post more about them and collect them and edit them for useful Homebrew ruleset for building mass combat, diplomacy, espionage and economic game play.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reviewing: GURPS Low-Tech Companion 1: Philosophers and Kings

Who needs this -
  • Very Meticulous GMs for a Political/Diplomatic Campaign
  • World Builders in the tradition of Harn, Westeros, and near-realistic settings.
Whats Important that you can' get anywhere else -
  • Official GURPS message travel rates,
  • Official GURPS monument building tools
  • Ruling with Accounting Double Entry Booking is in the TL (just apply the TL penalty to Accounting systems before Double Entry Booking)
  • Official Musical Instruments and their Specialties
  • A few pages on Alchemy, Herbalism and Medicine
Can I get the information from anywhere else -
If you review the table of contents its a lot of stuff covered in history syllabuses. what is important about the book is looking at the historical perspective of the writers to understand where you differentiate in academic sides.

What I think.
Overall i'm unsure if it is a cost efficient purchase for me. I understanding that they had explain many fundamental and "boring" aspects of history that only history nerds would appreciate, but it would have been to deal with it by giving sources a bibliography (which it doesn't) so that people can go into the details for themselves. What i think is lost is a lot of the settiing building tools people would come to expect from the title Kings and Philosophers.

What comes to my criticism is that it could do with a little bit more of tools for little Gamer projects: like City building. They have Monument Building rules set, Building Low Tech Landscapes in Pyramid, City Stats, and Mass combat. I feel that they could have finished it off with a Basic Administration system or Rule, especially in the Chapter they dealt with bureaucracy.

The Monument Building system is Isolated and requires a working Economy and administration game system for it to have more value through context.

I think Kings and Philosophers could be the last in the companion set for Low Tech, if they could have fit a more useful City generation system.

I think the key of making people appreciate this book more is allowing them to put their understanding of history to good use, through game elements that allows them to recall these important principles as to why things work a particular way.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prep Work for Mass Combat Module

This is prep work that goes into a Mass Combat Module.
  • Such a module should have a large Poster Sized Map with detail up to the location of villages. (Ideally just get one of those vector drawn maps of medieval duchy)
  • Information on the rents or incomes of each village (at least average), fief, town and city.
  • A set of few key NPCs of potential Rivals, Allies or Patrons.
  • The kinds of NPC retainers, sergeants, yeomen and vassals.
  • A sample of a Typical War-making Itinerary - Schedules for Farming, Harvesting, Tax Collection, Holidays, etc.
  • The Players have to make plans per season, send it for the GM to bring out the risk factors and the game
  • Eventually Players get to raise their forces and campaign (if this is what they will need).
Levy and Voluntary Military Service (GURPS Mass combat p.9) Low Tech Civilizations don't have developed Market Norms culture. Oaths, exchanges of social norms, to provide fighting bodies are not only common, they are pretty much standard operating procedure. Its only in recent history, the elimination of military draft, that we have a notion of voluntary Military Service being the default. So it would be very simple to address most combatant's under some kind of levy.

Of course, Activating a levy may not be easy or simple. There is basic self defense, but when this is not obvious or the situation is not that simple other devices must be used. In the Roman Era, they had the "Just War", after that causes are Jihad and Crusades evolved.

Levy Traditions - What determines if the lord has access to Pikemen, Heavy Infantry, Medium Infantry, Bowmen, Engineers (Miners) or Light Infantry? This is where cultural context are important. Levy traditions should be indicated or noted in the ethnic region.

Pikemen Levy - This tradition are found mostly in cultures with relatively strong individual freedoms. It takes a lot of will to fight and courage to be able to perform these drills.

Heavy Infantry - This tradition is found mostly in a very martial tradition. Heavy infantry is more capital intensive and require some maintenance in the form of continued patronage in return for their contributions. Most levies that can contribute heavy Infantry levies are from former military colonies.

Bowmen and Light Infantry - This tradition is found mostly in peoples who were once a fierce and independent tribe.

Medium Infantry - This is the most common and default fighting method of those without any special tradition.

Instilling a Tradition - Instilling or Changing a tradition requires a lot of resources, use the Cost to Raise to represent the access to highly skilled and veteran retainers who take the

Land Grants for Vassals is basically the equivalent of Settling and Raising a Combat Element. Simply issuing combat elements Lands or Income Generating Assets that can provide their Annual Cost of Living is more than the cost of raising them in Time to Raise a Force (p12).

Sand Box Settings Games. Sandbox settings basically mean the Players make the plans and objectives based on their character motives and the GM draws an adventure based on these plans. Its become this way because, the GM is not supposed to lead the players by the Nose and the Players are in a Sandbox setting so that they can attempt things of their own initiative.

If ever the Tavern intro scene is where the main moving PC recruits fellow PCs and proposes the goals and shares.

This is a game where the GM is filling in the details or creating a extra narrative. Anyway this format is where the Players do more work than before and are more Pro-active.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Centralized Bureaucracy in Medieval War Campaigns

Centralized Bureaucracy. This is the wonder of the Byzantine Throne to the Crusader Lords. The ability to Tax their subjects and impose their will to the farthest holdings and the more absolute control over their vassals. This meant less Vassals and autonomy and more of the resources concentrated to where they choose to have their center.

Vassalage is a Social organizing system. This is similar if not identical to the Roman Patron and Client system. Bureaucracy I'm defining is different from the social organizing system methods because it more of logistics, human resource, and accountability.

The reason why Centralized Bureaucracy is an important topic to deal with before going into the Income generating assets like Fiefs, Counties and Principalities because it lets me understand why armies are organized in the way they are vassalage system.

Fall of Rome. In the Rome and the Barbarians by Professor Harl, I learned that Civil Wars and the depletion of the skilled manpower was a symptom of a poor or inadequate succession system. This sparked Civil Wars which weakened the Roman Empire that eventually lead to its fall. This understand begins to draw the fine difference between Organization, Leadership and Economies. As Innovations per aspect of a Culture may vary these 3 separate groups make it easier to understand whats going on.

If your in the school that say Rome done itself in with their Civil Wars then it would be easy to see the difference as to why other instances of civil wars were not as lethal to other civilizations. The economic factors are harder to ignore in this perspective, especially when you compare the productivity Medieval Europe had but without Roman Organization. Each farm roughly produced 30% more with the 3 field crop rotation system. In my lessons, grossly they add up to 50% more production... but I don't know how the math got that way. Anyway that much production and the expansion into areas that were once unpopulated made for a greater population density and human resource boon for the civilizations after Rome.

In comparison the Roman Economy was more organized allowing farmers greater access to metal tools and resources to make their quotas. While the western farmers had the 3 crop rotation system.
Complicated Logistics. The last time armies carried expeditions as far as the Levant or Asia Minor, all the way from Italy or Western Europe was during Rome's Central bureaucracy in the days of Empire. The Crusades marked the organizational ability that has returned, allowing for long range campaign although not at the same logistical and numerical scale the Romans were capable. When Europe could do this more frequently and at far greater range we entered TL5.
Vexillatio. Armies are complicated organisms to maintain, these men are inclined for their own happiness and many pursue the path of having a family. The state encourages this, of course, because the need future man power. Allowing soldiers to settle gives them motive to defend their lands and family BUT makes it harder to send them out, to prevent trouble or cut it off early.

The tradition of the Vexillatio came to serve this need of a bachelor force that can be sent to far flung regions. The armies who were settled or dug in roots were the "frontier" or the home army, while the Vexillatio was the mobile force.

Understanding the complication of having an army, helps underly the evolution towards the vassalage and increase in individual rights of the common folk. In the end things got difficult and it was cheaper to grant some peasants the freedom to protect themselves so that they will be able to serve in the military duties expected of their lord. Coincidental this is very similar to Pre-Marian Roman Citizen duties and responsibilities, showing it was not a new idea.

TL in Organization and Logistics
TL 1 - Cities and Low-literacy Bureaucracy
TL 2 - City States, Bureaucracy, Vassalage, Patron and Client System.
TL 3 - Bureaucratic Elite and Centralized (The Mandarins, the Senatorial Class at Ceasar Augustine's Era, the Equestrians in the Late Roman Era). - Send Armies to Campaign for 1 to 2 Years or in great distances .
TL 4 - Professional Bureaucracy, which is not limited to the literate elites. ( Third Dynasty Ur, Renaissance Bureaucracies, Imperial Chinese Bureaucracy). Send armies to the edge of the known world, allow to maintain a force for years abroad.

Whats the importance of this with the RPG?
I've been rattling my head as a way to make Provinces, Counties, and Fiefs as assets worth taking. I figured out as much as to make them a Card for players to Win, but I had to understand why Lords gave up 2/3rds of their land assets to retainers instead of taxing them for cash. The answer was Centralized Bureaucracy - why its more cost effective to hand out land to vassals then keeping them all to bank roll your own forces. Without Centralized Bureaucracy Vassalage was the best option, with skilled bureaucrats (the intermediary) this becomes more possible.

Roger II of Sicily. He is the template of the kind of success a character can achieve in such an era. He got Byzantine and Muslim Bureaucracy to run in his Principalities and 30,000 on call. When a Prince or Duke can only summon 3-5,000 and a Count and Lord can only summon 2 to 3,000. As an example of what a character should be capable, he combines strategic use of Human Resources management and Cunning we associate with the Mafia.

Last time anyone had this kind of force access was during the time of Julius Caesar. Caesar early on could summon 4 legions or 16-20,000 while Pompey would only stomp his feet and legions would appear all over Italy. Depending on the accounts its from 6 and up.

Special NPC Cards. One of the more important resources characters are out to win are not just treasure but key NPCs who can work in their Bureaucracy. Its not a simple as kidnapping, although it is an option. So other than Income Generating Land as a Card, we have valuable NPCs to be collected. There should be a easy GURPS compatible system that allows for the acquisition and employment of these human resources.

Mobile Resources. Mobile Resources is a very important factor in logistics. Cash and Coinage is the most mobile or Liquid of resources. When Characters choose to be absentee rent collectors this basic challenge should be reflected in the system. Without it one cannot recreate the necessity of centralized bureaucracy or vassalage.
  • At default rent comes in $2,400 a year per productive struggling to poor family. This is roughly 1/3 of the family's Cost of Living, but duties are very complicated as they are also made up of labor and not just goods.
  • Lose 2/3rds of resources when converting them to movable goods. Absentee land lords earn roughly 10% of the Gross Product of their Income Generating Holdings. This is true even in eras as early as Axial Age. (Multiply Rent by 0.333... or divide it by 3)
  • Lose 4/5ths resources when converting them to cash, gems or highly liquid commodities. (Multiple Rent by 0.2 or divide by 5).
An Overall System Ideally. I'm still working for an overall system to consolidate these rules and its going to take a while. Hopefully the final product is a bunch of easy to make Cards to represent forces, NPCs, and holdings. Hopefully players only have to worry about as many of 30-60 cards and a special character sheet.

Mass Combat resolves by a Poster Printout of Maps with the use of the Cards and GURPS Mass Combat. After mass combat, organizing resources would be simplified by some of the cards, spreadsheets and few special notes.

It would be interesting when Archaic battles are about the same thing as that of old: blood, money and power. Hopefully an affective way to go towards Macro with less work for the GM and give more insight regarding Historic Situations.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Escalation when making Homebrew Rules

I was making my own homebrew rules for City Stats, designed particularly for Low Tech Mass Combat in GURPS and I experienced that escalation of objectives that tends to kill such projects. I've had different attempts in this blog, now I'm ready for a new one learning from my previous mistakes and hopefully being able to accomplish my objectives.

Right Now, I have to make a set of City (from Cities to Villages) that would allow me to create the base set of assets and environments that would finance armies and backdrop of the wars. It started simple enough but...

Revenue is not as simple as Population x Taxes. A problem that became apparent was that taxes affected Families and not exclusively Individuals. Lords don't exactly tax every wife, child of every family, the tax them as a whole. So using the basic metrics of average family unit size, I had to divide the population by 5.

The Role of Forced Labor. Forced labor is an abuse and a method of extracting taxes from the poor. Just like the "Building Lowtech Landscapes" article, poor (status -2) families produce as much revenue as their struggling (status -1) counterpart, the difference is in loyalty/morale.

There is no Leveled Taxes in Low Tech Eras. By my calculation every family contributes $1200 in taxes per year (divide it by 5 when multiplying it with population). Wealthier characters contribute the difference between their taxes and tithes and what is 1/3 their CoL. Traditionally it is Religious Center that distributes these gifts to less fortunate of their community. This is where some of the Reaction Bonus from Status comes from.

Annual Income instead of Monthly Income. Taxes are not Collected Monthly in Low Tech eras, most taxes are collected and generated at the end of the year. So in essence you can only spend what you saved up when everyone's dues were paid up and collected.

Tax Collection has always been a difficult task. Control Rating, Administrative Competence and Internal Conflicts with Illicit Powers all affect Revenue Collection. Tax collection is never perfect and requires such a level of competence that history is made by the effectiveness of these bureaucrats.

Feudal Lords salivate at the Roman Bureaucratic Centralization for this very difficult problem. The success of empire depended largely in the hands of these bureaucrats and it would be pretty fun if the PCs could collect, trade and recruit them as part of their state building endeavorer.

Corruption: Legitimate and Illegitimate authorities. Legitimate Authority is a more "objective" way at looking at government and what happens in history. As culture and social equity changes so does who is considered legitimate. This matters since this creates a seemingly active and intelligent inner conflict within any city: the Illegitimate Force vs the Legitimate one. This is what many inner city conflicts are made off in games. Rolling up these aspects makes characters rolled up in a city not appear to exist in a vacuum. it makes the key city officials have a life and problems of their own.

Special Structures. This is what really slowed me down. Its from playing too much civilization more than being authentic. Still it is these special structures that make a city special. Religious Centers generate Income (through Pilgrimages and Devotions), Administrative buildings keep a city running smoothly, Water Reservoirs and Aqueducts allow for a larger population and better hygiene, Fortifications allow it to withstand Assaults etc. etc.

All these matter when you are world building and war mongering. In history religious relics, market places, public forums, etc. allowed small communities to become great cities. In low tech worlds, each special structure determines the very status and potentialof a city. Its difficult to ignore completely, especially when it matters in aspects of mass combat.

Not only does a powerful city marked by a powerful and historic structures, those structures are a force called on by the PCs or NPC Lords when they tap their resources. It dictates their strategy and affects their decisions.

Morale. Cities have Morale, Attitude means a lot in almost every situation. A city with a poor morale can be trouble for the PCs by itself or another Color or Shade to the circumstance they are in. It matters often when it can means survival against all odds, very often in history.

Make it Quick, Fun and Tangible. Being a little more practical, I believe any system augmentation should be one that can be done quickly and resolved conveniently. It also has to be a bit tangible. I like going back to my CCG days and making the cities into special "Domain" Cards (From L5R) and the Special Structures and Persons into Cards as well. If I can do that then the game takes a whole different life.

Having your Cities in Card form, allows it to be laid out on the table for players to see, putting chaos into order. Being able to hold the cards not only helps in remembering places and people, but allows the Players and GM to form connections better because of the "externalized memory tools".

I wish I can finish this... right now it looks like I can't control my compulsion to escalate. I'll wait a while and see if I could have a clearer vision of what needs to be done.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Biometric Research: More "average" templates should be ST10 to ST11

Strength 10 in GURPS was derived from what is considered "Fit" for military service. Given the increasing sedentary professions found in the modern world what we consider as "fit" is not as easy to come by these days.

Archeological Evidence and Modern Biometrics. I've pointed out that the Roman Soldier was around 5'3" on average (late roman), at a BMI of 18 (because of their diet and work regimen; BMI 18 is nearly skinny) and roughly 133lbs. By military biometric standards, these guys operate at what GURPS considers ST10. What makes a professional and well conditioned soldier, markedly different from their peers isn't much actually. They both do a lot of back breaking labor (professional soldiers DIG!).

A soldiers workload depends on the Historical Era and Circumstances. I can go on and on about that (which I did thats why I rewrote deleted the previous text) so I'll just go to the bottom line: Health is the measure of these Conditions. I would give Augustines and Marius' Reign and changes to the Roman army as points where there was an average HT12! In times of Roman Civilwar and Hanibal's wins where professional soldier manpower were drastically low the average was 10.

Feudal Levies fall under this same poor category, particularly since the warrior elite didn't pay much care for them, on average (while I've heard of some rare exceptions). Levies surely fall in HT10 caregory... until you have the more prosperous and liberal (as in a lot of individual rights) city states and freemen making up the levies (more of volunteers) where HT can be 11-12.

A man who came from the warrior elite of the past, who stands roughly 5'7", who has a BMI* of 25 (muscled), and weighs in around 160lbs. In GURPS this is ST11. I do want to note that the JUMP from ST11 to 12 is about 160lbs to 190lbs. A character who is 5'7" and gained 30lbs of muscle would be very thickly built if you use the imagination tools below** he looks like someone build like a wall.

Bottomline. Soldier Templates operate at the ST10 to ST11. ST11 being Warrior Elites or Modern Soldiers. ST12 and up are reserved for characters who are extremely tall and extremely muscled. Since the advantage height and Strength is a rarer deviating phenomenon in templates that reflect what was common and average, HT becomes a more effective means of group qualities of different forces.

Conclusively, ST10 and 11 will be group my templates for Low Tech between Elites and non-Elites/Commoner templates. Note that time progresses to more contemporary eras, most templates begin to fit the ST11 average.

*BMI doesn't distinguish from the quality of the extra weight.

**Imagining your character's muscle build. Here are where benchmarks are useful, they give context to numbers. Take the BMI of your preferred build. take for instance Strong Man champion ex. Mariusz Pudzianowski has a muscle BMI of 41.3. Bas Rutten who is the same height has a BMI of 27. your imagination can fill out the details.

Strength 9 is not the average. Anyone here who's struggled with diet and exercise will note how much everyone else is struggling. In our modern surroundings, a ST9 seems way more common than a ST10. This can be compounded by the factors of social economic class and current economic trends, more education and more technical jobs that leave all the heavy lifting to automation and laborers.

I guess Strength 9 is appropriate as the average strength desk jockeys. Although despite our surroundings, ST10 is the average strength if you look at the population of many emerging economies and the kind of work they do. To the majority of the world, work behind the desk even one that answers to irate foreigners (the important role of BPO in emerging markets) is still a cushy job by the standards of most of the people in the world.

As for future trends, the picture can be only answered by an honest "I don't know".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A good Horse website for Game Research

The horse com is a rich resource for game designers who want to model horses more realistically/accurately.
Here is something useful for gamers from the article found in the title link.
"Her opinions are borne out by historians, who tell us that the mounts of medieval knights were not the towering Shire-type beasties we envision, but stocky, short-ish equines averaging about 15 to 15.2 hands."
In summary the 20% rule of thumb is just a rule of thumb. Its great for most gamers or games when you consider how realistic most games are. Although, going beyond that level of detail helps if our going to start describing the kind of horses that inhabit your game setting or what are the attributes of creatures that perform that role.

The article does point out that until people can breed horses of about 20cm circumference of knee none per 1000lbs of horse this rule of thumb easily hits its limit at 1000lbs.

Again the Square-Cubed law at work. I tried using the horses, bulls, and elephants to plot the curve of a square cubed law. I was hoping I could use it to predict how monsters I made on an earth-like world be like. I would have to look for that spread sheet again.

Reading up on horses, makes me wish I won that $15M lotto last week. I'm sure I can start a eco-tourism business that uses mountain ponies and maybe a chance to repopulate the wild pony population. Maybe use ponies in WWII or Philippine Revolution adventure tourism re-enactments. Sigh...

Carrying Capacity Puzzles

Working with Army Biometrics. 30% of one's own Ideal weight is the point where penalties to fatigue and agility (mobility) kick in the most. Use the Weight of the person if their BMI was 18.5-25 (average 21).

When you ask a regular person, regardless of size or weight, to carry 48lbs the difference of their performance with or without the weight is rather small. Its too small for many game systems to value. Where the difference between a fit /trained person really are more pronounced is over time.

The Roman 60lbs. Is the Roman 60lbs weight the same as the 30% Carrying Capacity rule of thumb? If you look up the height and weight of Roman Soldiers, (averaging 5'2"-5'4") their fit BMI is roughly at 105-141lbs, 60lbs roughly the 45% the roman soldier's body weight.

How long is a soldier expected to carry 45% their fit body weight? In the SWM, and the Roman marching method 4-5 hours is typically allocated for travel.

Does this rule of thumb work for Animals?
A Pack mule or pony, can carry about 20% their body weight. In the Example of the Pack Horse in the SWM (small wars manual) a pack horse with a philips pack saddle and a m1919 machine guns carries 192lbs total. The animal is probably 900lbs. In SWM this is a load animals are expected to carry a whole march (4-5 hours).

200lbs is barely enough to carry a rider, equestrian gear and the rider's gear. 250-300lbs is roughly the typical load capacity of a riding horse. Thats roughly 50% more their pack weight. In Fief, it mentions that warhorses only have the endurance to carry a rider for 2hours. I would start with the assumption that at 50% more than the safe weight (20% for horses, 30% for humans) any more than 4 hours would be detrimental.

Assuming succeeding increments (hours) of burden is damaging the animal or human in the same way, strained muscles (cramping), or potentially torn muscles (Strength loss/weakening) that will take weeks to nurture back, depending on the degree). Further weakening can cripple a human or an animal, when it weakens to the point that any sudden slip will put a lot of force to fall on the weakened joint or limb.

So Riders who work their animals more than 4-5 hours, their 30% their weight capacity will cripple their animal. The odds of this happening sharply increases by the factors of weight and every Over-Time hour. A game system should be able to reflect this.

Working back with the 30% rule, at what increments are differences of comfort and performance noticeable?

In my experience, I can't tell much of the difference between 24-32lbs when I'm in a mil sim. If I were to ad-hoc it from Anecdotal evidence.
When would run with my camelpack (2liters at 4lbs, 2lbs hiking boots, and running clothes at 2lbs) that would be around 5% my ideal fit weight. When I was carrying my backpack and walking around 8-10 hours in Singapore it really hurt my back, i was at around 20lbs encumbrance. I took out my laptop the next day and had a much easier time. Thats roughly 10% or 16lbs of my ideal weight.

The increments
2%, 5%, 10% and 20%
after the 30% and 45%
there is 70% and 90%

Also there are weight penalties when there is no Load Bearing Gear. Poorly distributed gear doesn't affect the total weight or acts as though there is more weight. Instead they affect the character by added penalties in their Fatigue Saves (their Fatigue/Endurance Condition).

Fatigue penalties and Substance Dualism.
Because not everyone subscribes that in science, substance dualism is a fallacy, the effect of the physical/neurological state of a person on their judgment, perceptions, thinking and attention tends to have no bearing in some game systems. In fact, substance dualism goes against all the effects and evidence of psychotropic and neuropharma drugs, which works on the evidence that the mind and the body is not divorced. Qualia Soups video on the matter explains a lot and does it best.

Its not much of a rant as an observation of some logical inconsistencies with the assumption of substance dualism as it applies to everyday life, and not just special circumstances. Fatigue penalties affect judgement, perception, attention and awareness so much that it is implied in many safety laws (automotive, maritime, operation of construction equipment, etc. etc.) .

Friday, December 3, 2010

Preparing for a First Crusades Campaign

Church history brings me back to my High School days, in my Opus Dei background. When I was young and naive and admiring the idea for killing for the sake of an Ideology.

After a lot of History research, Theological studies, Philosophy, Cognitive Studies and Science Books later I've come around a lot. Of course, nostalgia is that irrational programing that makes stuff that is, rationally, not-that-great unusually pleasurable.

There is no harm pretending to be a crusader and rationalizing killing innocent people for the sake of self-interested biased goals. Its kinda true that the most capable of the crusaders was the one which had no illusions of what they really were, Bohemmond.

GURPS crusades review.
My only critique about GURPS crusades was that it didn't have the BEST and most critically acclaimed sources on the matter, like Professor Harl and Zoe Oldenburg. So there is a slight cultural bias in the writing, unlike the two stated influences that have a journalistic approach. note that Professor Harl does both Archeological, Economic and Accounting Forensics to his approach. I find that his multiple points of evidence and proof gathering less theoretic and more factual. If you want to wash off the cultural bias I recommend purchasing his lectures in the teaching company (wait for their frequent sales).

What is the challenges going to be like?

Diplomatic/"Social Engineering" - In order to do this effectively, it should be easier to put faces to names. So I'll have to research all the named people (Zoe Oldenburg's Crusades has a entire Appendix dedicated to everyone every mentioned in all the accounts) and give them faces and their own CCG card (3.5"x2.5"). If I want the players to really RP interactions, I have to do this, and practice on some accents (and note them down on the Character Cards). No Stats, just general descriptors - if I made stats I'll be stuck forever... anyway its not like I'm being paid for this.

Mass Combat and City Stats. GURPS crusades gives me a working list. Zoe Oldenburgs book has a LONGER list, so I'll, obviously, defer to the one that requires less time. I'll have to use GURPS City stats for towns (which means having to purchase it... I'm having problems justifying its usefulness since it seems only the Military Resources have any use). Good thing I've made some Army Templates before, it's somewhere here. GURPS mass combat will minimize the wargaming aspect (which is slower resolving). Because an Army is a "crocodile farm" (I guess this is a philippine metaphor for a high overhead asset) it will add some needed dimension and motivation (an army creates a Sunk Cost effect). Hopefully the PCs will "least likely" min/max their melee abilities when it quickly meets diminishing returns in their ability to win mass combat, and Cities/Towns/Fiefs are tangible assets PCs can view as worth winning.

Character Creation. I've deviated from the GURPS concepts when I got into my studies, I have to address my perceived faults in the system without going too far and quiet that nagging voice in my head. I plan to make Character Creation a Path based system (with random elements) instead of Character Points. If I can only make it a program, I would (but I'm not that skilled in Spreadsheet). The idea is to remove as much of the "game" concepts as possible and inject more of story elements and personal motivations.

Between two blogs. MyByzantine Blog and Game in the Brain... meta game rants will be in GitB while the material will have to go to My Byzant.

Things to Do.
  • Make the CCG cards templates for NPCs and Cities
  • Post the list of cast in the Byzantine Blog
  • Post the List of places starting from the GURPS Crusades
  • Find a way to organize the Armies. I guess Each Card is a basic group element (10 person squad) and I can borrow some art from Deviant for my personal game (I can do the myself but who's paying me to?). Try to keep them generic and details on equipment only show up in small skirmishes. I think the Details/Differences are minute to reflect only the favored Strategies (Decisive Shock and Force for the Franks, Endurance and Shadowing warfare for the Levantines, none for the Greeks since they depend on mercenaries)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Small Wars Manual - Marching; Combat Leader's Field Guide - Load Outs

In the Small Wars Manual, in Chapter 4 we have the March.

The March 6-38 to 6-40
  • A small breakfast served at dawn, animals fed and watered, camp broken, packs assembled and loaded, and the march begun as soon as daylight begins.
  • It begins slowly, the first halt happening 45mins after beginning and lasts 15mins. This first halt is to check all equipment for security and an opportunity to fix any problems.
  • After the first halt of 15mins, which marks the first hour of marching, march continues at 50min intervals resting 10minutes between intervals.
  • Night Marches (6-99-b) half the rate of day marches. By half the rate, what is meant is that at half the effort. This is described as an "easy walk".
In Combat Leader's Field Guide
  • Soldier's Load p.52. A soldier can carry up to 30% of body weight before serious penalties to agility, stamina, and alterness. Given the average soldier FIT weight of 160lbs, this would be 48lbs. This 30% is also known as the Combat Load.
  • Approach march Load is equal to 45% of the soldier's FIT body weight. This is also 50% heavier than the soldier's combat load. For a 160lb soldier this is 72lbs.
  • Emergency Approach Marches are loads where the soldier needs to bring most of his logistics with him. These are weights greater than 72lbs, at about 120-150lbs carried for several days for distances up to 20km a day!
  • Load Management p. 52 basically a long list of conservative and vigilant awareness of fatigue and conditions of soldiers and their equipment. A lot of careful observation and awareness of how they are doing and adjustment or rest to prevent exhaustion.
  • Foot March by Day p.54, 4 kilometers/hour
  • Foot march by Night p.54, 3.2 Kph.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mutant Future Characters Named Updated.doc - Powered by Google Docs

Mutant Future Characters Named Updated.doc - Powered by Google Docs

Spiel Meister had us roll for levels and equipment. The characters have been modified to include what we got randomly. A lot of basic stuff, like metal pots, and other gear is not in the Core Rules so I had to make it up.

These characters can only travel in plains and where there is accessible water, where their ponies can easily forage. In a 4 hours they can sustainable travel 24km or 15miles if there is an equal amount of time for the mounts to forage.

Without any carts, wagons or wheels they do not need "roads" and can do with pathways and trails.

If there were stats for Molasses*, would help the ponies eat the tougher and rougher grasses they tend to shun, if there is little choice on the matter. Characters with sickles or axes can bring down tree leaves if forage grasses and shrubs are not to their liking. Feeding them around 16lbs each, all 19 ponies would need 334lbs of poor quality feed.

*I've read conflicting remarks on the use of sweeteners for horses. In Baguio, the Philippine mountain province, molasses is part of the feed of ponies while in some searches sugar cubes are not good for them.

The characters have consumed a lot of their weapon shots. I'll have to wait on the Mutant Lord's treasure summary, need to change to better equipment. I'm suffering some cognitive dissonance because real world stats are conflicting with game stats in my head. When I finish my post about using Survival handbooks and the Small Wars Manual for games, will illustrate what I mean.