Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I learned: RL Character Creation

Cheat sheet: what I learned

Character Levels
I've finally have more free time. Its about time to start documenting what I've learned. I have to convince my brother, who is working along side me, to try to participate despite his lack of confidence. I'm also getting some of my trusted friends to participate.

The way my brain is hardwired, the best way to approach this is via an RPG game. I began last night by looking at income brackets. My Rationale behind the income brackets is that we are all a team and we only succeed by moving forward together socio-economically, even if it means splitting up.

If my team mate can make a killing doing something else with his unique set of skills I should help him where I can, and the reciprocity begins there. Everyone is in the Low level temporarily, you help them move up in your org but when you cannot accommodate them, you help them go to somewhere better, in return train their replacement.

Its not a BAD thing to have a good friend in a larger and bigger organization, who can compensate them better than you can in your previous set up.

It begins with characters the career progression, standard builds (to understand why the status quo), and what are the epic characters and how they relate to the basic career progressions and how fate, circumstance and ingenuity changed them to be what they are.

Productivity in Real Life
Payscale has little to do with competence or ability, especially in the lower levels. Ideally Payscale is related to Productivity, someone who is more productive is paid more to keep him/her from going somewhere else (when the person falls far below the market average, EVERYONE can pay better thus no point to staying). In the nitty gritty, HR, productivity experts, and leaders are supposed to measure all forms of output, even those very difficult to quantify like goodwill and unique characteristics. In the end it all boils down to how much money the person brings in and how much that person costs to operate.

Measuring real productivity is a personal matter, but it is a matter better done with close confidants, good leaders, and mentors for greater objectivity and being able to clearly see the goals needed to achieve Level Up. Making remarks about someone's productivity is the same as making remarks about someone's character, it can be rude at the same time partially objective.

Real productivity, as much as a personal matter is better done with friends who can afford to be objective and honest while knowing this bitter pill is what is needed when how one can improve. When discussion of this kind occurs, Ideals arises and all sorts of justifications may fill the air.

Now back to the Gaming, amongst trusted people we can find our Class or Career progression and find out if what we are doing matches our goals. If we want to make millions and set up all sorts of businesses, travel, or broker, we look and analyze the best strategy to achieve this given our backgrounds, abilities and circumstance.

Sadly some Careers do have a pay ceiling, and when people hit this, they move on to Prestige Classes... change career that allows the person to utilize their Background but in much larger projects taking greater risks, handling more critical interactions, and implementing them.

A good background of friends and loved ones, help in the Prestige Class upgrade. there is always that instance in a transition that we cannot see what is over that hill until we get up there. In that temporary blindness people who have your back are the best way to navigate.

Fortunately all these Character Development data and templates is finite and only the subtleties of strategy is what is really infinite. If I can get on paper the Character creation for career in the Philippines maybe my friend can better understand the strategy I'm taking (and get some help in the corrections)

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gaming Craving: GURPS the Mist

Gaming Craving: GURPS Mist
The Movie the Mist has a great feel and mood desirable for an RPG, especially with that Cthulu-esque suspense. As a Gaming Craving, a great quick way to prep and wolf down this kind of adventure is to gather a themed set of monsters and set it loose on the adventures who are stuck in a supermarket.

The fun part to start with is asking a bunch of other gamer or gms to suggest some monsters, imagining how they work and how they would react if a portal to another world, with softer and easier prey, opens up.

DnD monsters that come to mind are Aberrations. Especially when they appear least like any of the terrestrial creatures found on earth, except for the most disgusting vermin.

Even with old-DnD monsters converted to GURPS, set out against mundane humans with realistic levels of lethality, off set by "fudge" points that allow PCs to survive by creative elements of chance or fate (justified by how character death can derail the fun and slow down the pace of the game, yet the limit of fudge points make death still a possibility).

Even if everyone in the table has watched the movie would not derail any fun to be had or suspense, it might even enhance it. Anyway, the GM is basing the creatures actions based on their abilities and what would consequently occur. It is practically an new and open ending and just arbitrating the monsters closing in (monsters with limitations in their abilities, no improvised abilities "for effect" and function with their basic predatory instincts and intelligence)

My idea is setting the adventure in Baguio, a mountain province where there is a former US military base, beautiful landscaping (thanks to American colonial city planner Burnham, unlike the urban manila is today), and the natural foggy and misty climate.

Players play mundane characters, they each make a character based on an officemate with some extra points, then Pass the character sheet around clockwise/counter-clockwise. So the characters are not themselves but someone else they, ideally, at least respect enough to write up to do justice (or they may have a crush on).

Materials are easily found in Google maps, tourist maps, and old declassified 1940s barracks and military installations.

The nice expectation is to leave it open ended, record the sessions, manage the breaks, and kick back and have some fun. I think researching and finding the material would take me 10 hours.

Character creation should take less an hour per player. The Players also provide roster of archetypes and personality traits from and circles for fodder and tables with names for the GM to roll , a week in advance so that he can have a lot prepared by game day.The can all fill a spreadsheet then the GM cuts and pastes then uses the spreadsheet to generate the values for rolls.

Some considerations: Roll IQ per day, the more sane the character the more difficult to grasp the situation and they cannot act on the impending doom (they must deal with the more immediate needs). So IQ+6 and the GM makes this roll. -1 per day and per instance of life threatening terror, until they fail their IQ and realize the madness of their circumstance.

What monsters would be best for such a GURPS adventure?

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Being Hardcore Gamer vs Real Life

Being Hardcore Gamer in Real Life or is it vs Real Life

Ok my definition of Gamer is very loose, more specifically I associate Gamer with someone willing to pay any game. The guys who take on systems and use or possible abuse it to achieve certain results.

"You can't do that in level 1" is something the GM would say, and something opposed by the player. In what I think of Hard Core Gaming, I think can a gamer take all those things he learned through gaming and push the envelope in what regular people would think unlikely or impossible.

Its that expectation that you can't because of the way the rules are set up, but the possibility that you can because of how things can be made to fall to place.

"You cannot do that because of your limitations: economic status, social status, background, training or education" are very general assumptions. It is in the details where a Munchkin thrives, the little bonuses and multipliers that add on temporarily (because it is a temporary loop hole or you can only excuse your self once). Small Hacks to get one by long enough till resources come in, the cavalry arrives, or possibly Leveling up.*

There is a trade off living the comfy and familiar gamer surrounding to that being in the battle lines: because your mind, as much attention as possible has to be in the game to predict, execute and adapt as quickly as possible one has to surround oneself with the material. The way our RPG books fill a wall in our private space, so does the Game rules of work.

End goal is to level up to a comfy position where you can have enough quality time for the family and personal pursuits, and storing, refining and replicating all the skills learned to one most trusted colleagues. End the sacrifice of having not enough time with the people that matter, with enough skill its easy to adapt to what the world throws at you.

*one of the reasons I'm so pro open source. The barriers guarding this well kept secret is: Time and Attitude. Attributes of only the young and Idealistic.

Gaming Real Life: Tough Negotiations

Gaming Real Life: Tough Negotiations

Tougher than any Temple of Elemental Evil is the Negotiations or Shakedown of Ruthless or Criminal Business Dealings.

What makes a realistic Negotiation is the stress you get when you are fully aware someone is taking advantage of you and you have to watch and listen to them justify it.

I have a history of panic attacks, even in airsoft I get those shakes. Of course I've done a lot to overcome them (hence playing milsim) but there is that tunnel vision when you have to deal with such stressful people.

There is a Battle raging in negotiations. There are maneuvers and tactics as well as distractions and harrying attacks. If I were to use battles to illustrate negotiations, one vital difference is how subjectivity prevents any real winner... unless you have an audience which becomes the 3rd party to grant some objectivity (or recording the conversation to give you political capital to those who would easily see the unfairness or treachery).

There are economics in negotiations. To keep things civil, at least in the beginning, they hear each other out. There is an allotted time and this can be determined by your status, significance in the interaction and the other factors like audience, subject complexity, and chance.

Using the 5 min attention rule. 1d minutes to bring up your points, the GM makes this a secret roll. Status, Significance and many other points add to a the social attribute roll vs the other groups or persons. A contested roll success one more minute, failure none gained, and critical failure 1 less minute.

In a two way relationship leverage matters more than anything else. Three ways and larger groups perception and procedural justice matters. Of course people can gang up on other people making it an "us vs them" thus making it a two-way instead of a more democratic negotiations.

I would role-play most of this, the dice is for determining the time to deliberate and some of the adjudications. The GM and other players should grade how well the other present the points, with the GM the 3rd party and neutral arbiter, and how some points challenge others.

Ex. Who has a stronger claim of being the "victim", who failed to provide burden of proof, who is being the least transparent, who is making the most barriers to understanding, who is muddying the issues.

Technical considerations, for tracking skill, who best abuses/utilizes fallacies and biases to support their argument can be a side bar. It is used to see who can gain sympathy or political will given their arguments.

Now the time to try to play this... and players who are interested in playing this game. Thats one more big challenge.

sent from my Ipad

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gaming Plans by around August, Hopefully

This month has my sched full. Since May, when we entered the company and tried to do its turn around we were facing many opponents and challenges. One of the many lessons that is at my current attention is the comprarison of incompetence vs mutiny. 

No other time can I say that someone working from the inside against your own group is a much greater barrier than incompetence. Few games ever create such a classic real world problem as the enemy from within. 

One particular problem with an internal threat is how easy it is to blow it out of proportion. Paranoia can be difficult to control or keep in check with an enemy from the inside. Especially when you do not have the tools, data, or opportunity to sit down and work out the logical puzzle of "who had the most to gain, the opportunity, or the most compelling motivation". That also there is that Darwin's habit of always putting quite clearly the evidence or facts that can best defeat his own arguments. 

The lesson of the enemy within is that in the Real world it is much safer and better to focus on the goal, so that as to move quickly and make it more difficult to be sabotage. Of course you will have to filter information, double check sources, and watch your back. But actively trying to match or beat the Ew/in eats up TOO much resources while tying up your current objective. Like a shark you keep swimming or you might die.

Time is one of the greatest barriers to such a puzzle. Economies of time, regarding eating, sleeping, work-life-balance, catharsis, and overwhelming amount of duties. 

Realistically, the GM SHOULD give a laundry list of tasks that is more than x3 to x4 times greater than the PC can handle. (Maybe 50% more than the PCs handle if he manages his time expertly (Discipline and self control-15+). 

These tasks have various priorities, from low, moderate, and high. Typically we all do all the High priority stuff, and do the moderate to low half-assed, then some of the low can be resolved with a 3d vs 9 (roll below). Roll every week. On a roll below 9 its stays and can give some minor complications to current situation, when these do solving the situation can also solve the minor problem. On a roll of 6 or less, it escalates to a moderate problem. All problems escalate every week when left untended. 

Familial Duties and Relationships in general should impose a -5 worth of "hurried" task modifier for many situations. It basically means the PCs try to achieve the desired results at half amount of time. 

Failing to satisfy Family or Relationships degrades the quality of life. If we were to role-play ordinary people then Family, Hobbies, Passions, Loved ones, etc. matter. Diminishing the security or satisfaction regarding these brings down character morale. 

No one intentionally destroys their priorities and what they care about the most. Consequences have a domino affect Human Bounded Rationality can barely see in advanced. See Normal Accident Theory, and try applying that to Life.  

Low Morale is like being burned out, it takes MUCH more effort to do anything or get anything done. Treat it like fatigue, where it takes twice as much work to do anything. Its visible to anyone who takes the time to notice. Low Morale can be from arguments with the loved ones, some bitter personal disappointment, or a consequence of several small things building up to be something more difficult. 

It is a penalty the character is unlikely to notice or objectively feel, but something the Player will note when certain things don't go the character's way. 

Gamers with a coping mechanism, seeing the Game or being aware of the game aspect have the disadvantage of being considered delusional. Its not that it doesn't exist,  but it is an intuitive sense with very little facts to go on and mostly follows Economic and Behavioral principles which can be considered "soft" empirically speaking. 

Anyway, I'm learning a lot. I had an interesting learning about Profit Margins and the pattern they take. How opportunity cost and scale affects them. The easy take home is that 30-35% is the typical margin that makes an action worth while. Less than 15% and your better off using financial instruments where you spend less effort, less risk, and less head ache. At 40% you have luxury or items of convenience. Of course there is a lot of context in this. 

Many of the things I learned in the BPO industry (I had a crash course in Labor Laws of 3rd world countries like Phils and India, and Pay scale) apply when you consider that My Traveller Universe. Basically My idea of Angel High Tech investors, kinda of fall under the KPO business model. 

For my brother and some Friends, I plan to run this. Around July I will be able to write more because things are getting easier. Hopefully around mid August I can "start marketing" the campaign. In a worse case scenario, I'll have a Pseudo Case study/Adventure module where I can compile all my rules of thumb and list down all the skills I have observed used. Maybe save it for the company archives and database.

Thats another thing in the REAL WORLD. Seeing social and Technical skills employed and measured by Time&Motion studies as well as Six-Sigma methodologies, one begins to notice a lot of odd things.

Like Social Skills are measured and can be seen in the training of Telemarketing agents. Never has there been such a way for a person to learn social skills other than having a slight natural talent or advantage, and using it to get more practice from the rest.  

Social Talents like Charisma, Appearance, and Environments where you abundant opportunity to practice with little punishment or threat of loss, while having a sufficient reward were the circumstance that allowed skilled manipulators. The opportunity to practice had many barriers. Now telemarketing, its training and the access to so many opportunities to practice is unprecedented when compared to ages past.

 Maybe getting a telemarketing job fresh out of college would be a great way of explaining Fast-Talk, Diplomacy, Savoir-Faire etc. all at 13+

I better stop rambling.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If there were ever a Methodology to Munchkin...

...I guess Six Sigma would be it.
Science and Gaming = Something Like Six Sigma.

I've begun my self-study, I picked up and spent my bday gift checks on the McGraw-Hill 36-hour course for Six Sigma.

Its a lot of measuring and understanding of statistics. It can appear heavy but after all the hype it is a idiot proof process of min-maxing for regular people, like me. Formulas, Graphs, Notes and the Internet are all there to make understanding all these things easier. Its mastery of those tools: good note taking, framing problems some other way, and being able to use the "expanded memory" of writing thoughts down and drawing relations that makes all this confusing symbols something understandable.

Its not Magic, well it a kind of magic.

Its a 36 hour course... but realistically I bet I will need to spend x3.5 more hours, based on the metrics and rules of thumb on learning I've read. I also have to find ways to apply what I have just learned.

To think this in GURPS 126 hours isn't worth even 1cp, but in reality it can mean a success in a project.

I'm having more time to write... but not as much about games.
Well here I am trying to hit two birds with one stone. I'm trying to write about work and about RPGs, but basically by the way my brain works I'm always in an RPG even though I'm at work.

In its definition of success, its not about awesome leadership, strategies, opportunities or all the sorts of razzle dazzle that become central in a story. It is the subtlety of discipline that makes winners, according to the book I'm reading. The winning qualities are those that get subtle reference and not the Spot light like Heroism, sacrifice and all the key imagery that gets an audience's attention.

Right now I'm trying to figure out what to write about without so much boring topics about min-maxing in business. BPOs and biz opportunities in the Philippines is an expertise I'm surprised to be learning rather quickly.

It makes me aware of how Current Affairs (business) is a skill naturally part of any professional template. Heck, it basically means understanding the current situation, essential in figuring out what to do. The freaking skill means understanding context.

I have a much greater understanding of income generation, particularly how it relates to competence. Particulary, many of the most competent don't just get CASH, they get a ton social norms and unquantifiable advantages. Also the most elite begin with trust and leadership that gives them resources to level up.

Right now we are doing several skill captures designed to replicate into our IT all the necessary and normally protected skills. Protectionism, protected skills, make jobs stagnant little strongholds where ignorance rules. We want to break up all that monopoly and unnecessary overhead.

In breaking monopolies and protectionism we found allies in Open-Source Communities. We want to break away from the increasing overhead costs licensed products and hack ourselves a effective solution. We are migrating away from licenses that take us away from our core business and the politics of the major corporations. We are moving towards contributing freely to the open source community and focusing in our service delivery.

Real World Career Paths.
A useful artifact of DnD is the prestige classes and leveled classes mindset. In a way their is some truism in the concept. My view of professional classes have been greatly broadened beyond my art backgrounds staples, which tends to be more related to manufacturing as there is a "churning" out of art that has some of it recycled heavily. Now I tend to see these as: Finance, Entrepreneurs, Managers and Technicians/Experts.

They differ heavily in their core philosophies and skills. Any of these classes can have strengths in Process, Analytics, Social, and Technical. Consider these 4 a set of skill categories, not absolute and with many skills that fall in between of 2 or 3 of these. They also have circumstantial advantages like: Status, Wealth, Network, and Backgrounds.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of cognitive biases exerts a very strong influence over objectivity as to what advantages or strategies are best.

My Opinion, and feel free to comment or make your own classification, is that Finance are the Magic Users as they make money with "Instruments" and by playing with non-physical forces. Clerics: which are bureaucracy and organization can be found in the management. The Front line: Technicians are the Fighters, like the many kinds and forms of engineers and experts. then there are the Entrepreneurs who exploit any opportunity or look for a situation that can become an opportunity.

Battle Mages are the Finance people who can be in the thick of the fighting. Process expertise is a skill tree of a Cleric, but does a great amount of puissance as it would to a Mage.

Rangers are the entrepreneurial technical experts (rogue and fighter), who take analytics skill tree. They process a lot of information and kind find opportunities, weaknesses and strengths given time and resources.

Fighters have a lot of flavors as there are kinds of engineers and technicians. Although, given this day and age, there appears to be more kinds of technicians than ever.

Marketing are a kind of Rogue. One that use persuasion, manipulation, or simple skullduggery (alluding to the marketing scripts that intentionally deceive).

I got carried away with the work to play comparisons. Oh well, gotta go back to work.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Real life inspiring a game: complete dysfunctional management, fraud, and some criminal activity

I've been gone a while and got into serious on the job training turning around one of our sub companies. As the COO (child of the owner) I was a newb privy to all that is happening but was under the apprentice ship of two veterans who helped me with my crash course. Coming out of the experience so far, it's not yet over, has so educated me and inspired me.

Like everyone else in the gaming blog circle I see things in gaming terms, mindset, and a bit of munchkinism... Don't forget the appreciation of the drama. We are documenting all the issues and how they were handled and I plan do fully develope it as a case study aka adventure module. All the moves, counter moves, and things happening behind the scenes are coming to light as this mystery gamer (thanks to Lisa j. Steele's books) was able to appreciate the nuances and the wonders of human deviance.

The case study will be there to develop future management talent and possible, in the off chance let my siblings in to appreciate the family business much more. I have to just proclaim that gaming helped me be more engaged and mentally flexible enough to keep and learn quickly how this "game" is played and think out of the box.

The was fraud, drama, a sex offender (and a misappropriated funds used to have a week in olangapo, a sex vacation), tons of conflicts of interest, harassing maneuvers, traps, IT fraud and information gathering, great betrayals, surprising turn arounds, collective efforts, teamwork, playing on each others strengths, and a greater engagement and improving morale.

With a game-int-the-brain gamer with average stats going through the experience. Definitely not an epic level story, but given the challenges it is in a study of how ordinary people can be given a chance to shine and improve themselves beyond expectations and to the surprise of everyone else. No magic, no cinematics, just some empathy, good people, seeing opportunities in adveresity and a shared effort to help each other succeed.

A realistic and attainable level up is something I am guessing everyone really wants, and not just me.

Typing in the iPad, sorry for the errors.