Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rolling Diplomacy; Been Busy

A recent event has made me aware that Diplomacy Rolls, social circumstance, rolls can be varied in difficulty (like Duh). I think we are able to detect nuances in social situations - being able to notice : hard and easy situations.

Normally we measure the difficulty by intensity/cost of what is being asked... in this case, I've realized i should factor how many POV I should be able to align/re-align.

So a list of projects are delayed

Been Busy.
Sorry I've been busy of late, the recent events has put off some of my time; so has my bad health, the baby's teething (crying every 2 hours, and i've used the gum pain relief gel), and some work work, installing Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS on my Ideapad Y430 (it cannot accept bootable USB stick). I know what I'm supposed to produce. Although I admit my airsoft - which I consider an RPG related hobby - kept me also busy (really need to update my airsoft blog).

I wake up with regrets every morning, my morning self is more pragmatic and more distant to a situation and to my "last-night" self. Remembering the circumstance carefully, I'm shocked and afraid the same distance may worsen the company's situation as time may also improve the situation.  ugg... worked leaked into my RPG blog :(

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When a Game becomes Hidebound

This is a big deal to me, specifically because it is one of the contentions I had that made me leave a group. I know games are supposed to be comfort zones, and I understand that. Although one has to challenge and continuously define what are the assumptions and parameters of the "comfort zone".

My brother was telling of his last game which ended up with him walking out. It echoed my own reasons of walking out as well, so it hit a nerve. In essence, they played with the SOP instead of looking at the problem and adapting to the situation. Instead of solving the puzzle, they buffed and took needless risks. Instead of using strategy, they tackled the problem head on (undead berzerkers instead of simply destroying the bridge that tied them).

What was annoying is them telling my brother he could not act because he was the lowest status. that was stupid; status means you have worse consequences if you don't follow the norm: it doesn't magically make you ignorant and unable to act on information. In that call, they breached the 4th wall and Meta-gamed preventing an action that had all merits of being Role-played, Strategic and Creative. It was annoying to me because, this was the same problem I loathed about certain gaming styles - they have become Hidebound and to me, thats associated intellectual masturbation.

Intellectual masturbation is a personal demon. I still do this sometimes, but I've, at least, grown up enough to catch myself more often and stop. Given how I struggle with it, when I see someone flaunting it I get more "judgy". I can't exactly name the cognitive bias of "Misery loves company" but it falls under that mindset, why I can be harsher about a fault I control about myself which I see in others who do not appear to exert the same effort and the fault being more visible.

I guess I'm ok now, having verbalized it and understood it. Its funny that I'm listening to Cryptonomicon and a character there is a Gamer who learned practical, complex, and high skills in gaming that eventually lead him to stop gaming and focus on more practical pursuits. It makes me reflect alot about my situation. I guess i will continue to make excuses about why I still cling strongly to games, and will never know the extent of the merit of those excuses. I can argue that I do so, so that I can replicate my skills in others; having a connection from how it began to the present allows me to better emphasize... the way remembering how I was when I was a kid allows me to understand how kids think (still clinging strongly to this, because I have a little boy now).

Still, I am too biased and have to accept that maybe its pure sentimentality and there are better uses of my time which i am avoiding to my future regret and detriment.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

13,000 people ordered 225 minis for $100

Well its almost done and I guess I'll have to wait for March 2013. The Bones KickStarter is going to give gaming companies a benchmark on how much people will be interested in ordering high volume and quality minis.

Actually It inspired me to go to Ebay and look for Mini collections and set deals... and I had a really hard time finding any. Minis were roughly their supplier cost last I checked. It makes sense the benchmark is only so low and economies of scale don't really factor in old minis. Although there was sponsored links to a place selling but the best deal is 50 for $99 and a random assortment :( Clearly there is a market for what DH has done.

I've gone around alibaba for some chinese suppliers and how much such an order would cost, not planning on selling such. It may cost about $100 per design of fig or less if the 3d artist costing is to scale; probably as low as $30 but 20 designs.
Note on Chinese Whole Sale suppliers - you can't get returns and exchanges. this is as much as a legal problem since the Qin Gov't doesnt let dollars out, and the lack of cooperation from the vendor. So you really need to measure how much your willing to lose and the more return business you can offer and relationship you can build the more leverage you have. 
I don't recommend going into it this since Dark Haven now has a large market share and there is a possibility its saturated (you'll end up targeting those same 13,000 buyers). There is also a huge marketing cost being a new up and comer.

But moving forward to next year if DH can make more of these sets I'll buy and if someone can make more larger value sets I'll consider it. Having less time, and having my own little gamer i could imagine a lot of fun playing imaginary games with such plastic toys. Especially if there are blocks. If its cheap enough, I can have the moral hazard against the risk of him destroying the figs.

Can't wait for the march 2013.
Toys for me, my brother and my son.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kazam a Open Source Screen Caster for making tutorials

Found Kazam through Nixie Pixel if you use ubuntu you can download it in the Software Center.

too bad this is an awkward freeze frame. 

Anyway, it was awesome and easy. If ever I am to make a vblog/podcast I'll use Khan's format and take myself out of the vid or use an electronic puppet (via blender) or blue screen the puppets (i have a pig and a frog). Of course I'll have to see how hard that would be.

I wonder how weird would it be if I use our company as a sponsor; since our core training involves a lot of Role-playing (call simulations and confidence building) and happens to be our main differentiation among other training centers?

Tried to have a discussion about GURPS vblog or podcast that got no attention. I guess thats fore-shadowing how much such an endeavor would be a fail... still I'll do it just to try and experience something new.

Some Drawing Updates

I'm drawing some mountain to be made into vector Icons. I can only work at home where I have a large screen and my new tablet. Anyway, learned some things doing this experiment. I think this is the style I'm going with except the mountains will be more of a Top View (will look for a such styled map as a reference). One of the things I learned is that I should fix the gradient because it made the mountains translucent. Will fix that.  Will experiment in other methods of drawing the top view mountains.

So my smallest project right now is getting the icons right. I think I will draw the mountains like this, but will draw the forests like green clumps instead of individual trees. Again, focusing on the Top View look. I'll have to be really organized creating layers for Mountains, Forests, Elevation, Water, and Infrastructure.

I'll probably draw from harn Maps in how to draw villages and settlements. Love harn maps.

The maps I'm doing is for Tactical Purposes. The first map I'm going to make is based on Caithness. So people can make it Caithness or rename it for some generic wargame. Caithness fits in a portrait AI document; its currently in a A0 landscape map, so I can even fit megalos in a 16km hex map. The less work the better, so I'll move to the A1 portrait map then.

If I use the hexes to measure areas each hex being 56sqkm (being 16km across) that's about ~11 manors/knights per Day-Scale Hex. I can over simplify it to be 2d3+7 knight squads (1 Go Go HC; 1d+2 Ba In HI/BM) for ideal terrain. Partitioning out hexes for each Fief/castle, day hexes of territory is about 7 hexes (~77 knight squads; 1 center hex, 6 surrounding hexes) to 20 hexes (~220 knight squads).

I think I'll have to give named value for each hex, to simplify the number of Knight Squads called up. at 16km per hex, they can force march to 2 to 3 hexes; a hex more if mounted. That would be fun, tactical and exciting.

What determines Control of a hex in contestable areas will also be a fun part to play out. Land disputes is a common conflict even in times of peace; and are strong motives and rewards in times of war.

One more puzzle is how to elegantly deal with commanders/generals. Highly skilled and talented commanders are a big deal and rare resource. It should only be minorly influenced by chance, but greatly influence by RPing and Political Saviness of the Player.

Hexes are further subdivided among commanders. Can't have too many commanders. Definitely NPC  material. Ideally drawn from a Pool generated by a GM with some declared assumptions and RPing and Tactical Notes. The GM partially uses chance to generate these. Players are allowed to generate but there is a greater influence of chance.

Found the style I'm looking for. Its going to be madugo (roughly translated as "bloody") to do by hand. I'm going to follow the FR map (forgotten Realms) map style. meaning I draw the spine, with branching lines of ribs. Its just going to be tiring, but a map like that of the FR really did take a while. Also it would allow me to be more accurate in tracing mountains.

If I were to draw this method, the path between mountains and barriers would be more visible. It will allow players to see the tactical bottlenecks and why certain traffic travel through mountains.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting a Graphics Tablet for Mapmaking

I got this 10" tablet only to find out that its not compatible with my Ubuntu 12.04 home PC. I even went out of my way to track the OEM to see if there is really no way around fixing it. It is really a AERY GT8607BK Graphics Tablet and emailed them if they had any support for Linux.
They emailed back and it was a No. Looking for it I found out from ALIBABA that there were 3 Chinese Graphic Tablet OEMs.

Sorry about this.We don’t support Linux. Best regards,Anna 
Anyway I called CDRking and asked them if I could upgrade into the 12.1" tablet  They allowed me, it took a long while. So I have a working Tablet now.

But that was a tiring trip and I'm going to rest.

I HAD one of these before. I lent it to my boss for his sons to play with; I heard they were home schooled and I wanted help them in their education.
Unfortunately this boss, lost our company a lot of money and "resigned" only to leave and take an Brand New Office Laptop and Brand new Company Projector.

What was also sad was that my mom bought the Laptop in the US, taking the time to get a good deal going to various electronic outlet stores. Also, my mom who is 61 had to carry 5 of these laptops (handcarry) because of how we have more than 3 incidents of theft in our luggage (and the porters throwing our luggage in JFK and Newark). I guess I can't help but not expect any decency.

We can't exactly dock his pay since he was AWOL for a whole month....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Methods of Resolving Dramatic Actions

Combat is not the only Dramatic Action we will experience in an RPG and the interactive games in life. There are races, contests of will, social maneuvering, politics and diplomacy, and various other conflicts.

My problem of combat is that it takes a full chapter when you compare it to rules regarding Physical and Mental Limitations. I find this an inefficient way to go about a ruleset; combat is not the only Dramatic Set of Actions a character will experience and should not take up so much time as to define a system.

Dramatic Action and Conflict is an integral part of an RPG and should have more space attributed to it than merely just combat. In fact Dramatic Action System (DAS) should allow for the resolution of various conflicts that come up in the game.

I realized the Cost leadership aspect of RPGs is the ability to get people into the game mindset. If I can break that barrier by making a set of more Intuitive and scientific/theoretical game terminology that allows people to Role-play in mediums they are more comfortable in then I would have reduced the Cost of getting into RPing farther below the market cost leader... Theoretically.

That means a system or process that is open for various forms of conflict. A conflict simulating a school project, a work project; or adversarial conflicts like races, contests, social and political situations. A system that allows the GM and players to the option to Blackbox or Elaborate certain processes and scale of conlfict.

Meaning that I can use the same system for Wars as for Small Unit Skirmishes, for Duels, for Contests of Skills, or Projects. That DAS is a medium that has the Flexibility of Tactics and Strategy; where What is Tactics and Strategy depends on where you are (again from the Strategic Thinking lecture). Taking lessons from the lecture as well as the Time and motion limitations, I think I have a kernel for a DAS. Hopefully by wording, it will occupy 5000 words give or take 20%. I'll also provide a flow chart.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

GMing and Personal Brand; and other ideas

Ok I'm heavily under the influence of a lecutre. I got to thinking about GMing and a Personal Brand. There is really no point in selling GMing and to Pander to player is simply out of the question when you consider how much work the GM really does as compared to players and who over all gains a benefit.

What a Personal Brand means in the lecture I'm taking is more of having a strong hand in developing one's style and forging ahead without External Benchmarks.

External Benchmarks - I find this such a scary idea. That means going off someplace where people might think your crazy. Might think... It is more accurate to say its most probable that people think the person is crazy until proven otherwise. The lecture is goading me to push ahead and take a risk... when I think about it I've pretty much alienated a large number of gamers by my approach to GMing and Gaming as a Learning Tool. Especially in the Philippines, the chance I can find a player who will run my gauntlet... well all factors being considered I easily get sick (on my 6th sickness this year) which cripples my productivity and delays my plans.

Still I guess its not all that bad if I consider that I'm all doing this to exercise what I am learning from the lecture: Practice, elaboration, and application so that a communicated Idea can transform into a skill.

Going back to cultivating a personal brand... do I as a GM conduct in a way similar to other GMs. Is there something in GMing that can be compared to Cost Leadership, Differentation, and Target Market.

I guess my Open RPG System is an extention of my self as a Gamer. Do I provide cost leadership?... what is cost leadership in RPG Systems? Is it the reasources it cost to play or the Cost of being able to quickly immerse into the Game. Since DnD is the most dominant, I think Cost Leadership is how easily one can enter into RPGs, not by resource, but by mindset. By that abstraction, Traveller, WOD, Exalted, and all other RPGs differ in Differentiation and Focus.

Using the Chapter 9: Finding my Blue Ocean.

  1. What is Taken for granted by the industry?
  2. What should be reduced well below the Industry Standard?
  3. What should be raised well above industry standard?
  4. What was never offered by the industry?
Taken for Granted by the RPG industry - Market demographic growth. I'm thinking its similar to the example of the yellowtail wine and the wine industry. RPGs have a particularly slow growing and aging market. Designing Games to bring in people who would normally be alienated by the material is something the industry has long accepted. Especially now that pickings are small and there is a new DnD version coming out. 

Reduced well below the Industry Standard - Packaging
I think we should embrace E-publishing and explore the advantages of Smart Books (discussed with no. 4). $200 Nexus 7 and the Phablets, I think we should embrace the portability of the medium and the power of the small computer we carry (again part of no. 4). I'm sure people love dead-tree books, but there are things they can't do with dead tree books that Ebooks can handily do, especially when we look at the next 5 years. 

Raised above the industry Standard - Being the medium to connect gamers
Forums have always been the medium of connecting gamers, but as a service never before offered, why not go creating a matching system and medium that allows players and groups to connect regardless of physical limitation.??? (i have many doubts about my answer here) 

What the industry never offered. -  Interactivity and more Prep Aids
Your RPG book on your phone or tablet being your complete GMing or Playing Tool? PDFs with interactive notes, allowing the GM to plug in rules or to quickly roll tables since the program is Built-in to the PDF saving having to roll a die (and produce a receipt for very skeptical players). PDFs that do more computing and more of the GM work; allowing the GM to quickly build little Shops, Castles, Maps, etc... for the Game. If the PDf technology can't do that, why not an accessible Web Based Server as a paid service... You can link it to your PDF as a gateway. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

USP: Using real world skills in a game so that we can hone them.

I am using hours as my “Character Credits”. My system uses the Term “Character Credits”, to differentiate the kinds of hours a character spends. Again my system emphasizes and puts into practice what I have learned my various studies: that practice, elaboration, attachment and inspiration affect our ability to learn skill and knowledge.

Basically I'll make a template spreedsheet/table and some calculation aids to allow GMs to quickly and intuitively calculate how the character spend their time and thus come to how much goes into their “transforming the character”. Of course RAW hours are not enough, Role-playing is pivotal in showing commitment, cleverness, and economy of action.

Inspiration and Persperation.
Character Roll gainst their current level of skill for inspiration. This is like a save more than a “roll” since it tries to against an uphill difficulty. What I mean is that inevitably most character fails the Inspiration roll, BUT they can still get mastery because of perserverance. Failing just means less hours are converted to Character Credits.

Every Story or Chapter in the story character are allowed to roll Inspiration to convert the hourse into CC (Character Credits).

Economy of Action – One action: Many Skills
Some activities affect more skills while others activites affect a very narrow band of a skill. There are certain activities that provide many complimentary hours of practice, take for instance travelling by foot: there are mental activities like navigation, strategic judgements in modes of mobility, perception exercise in analyzing the terrain and hazzards, physical activities like energy management, and more skills in practice depending on the anciliary activities in the act of travelling: like foraging, tracking, hunting, climbing, etc...

These hours are very fruitful and can yield CC for various skills at the same time as it hones its primary focus. Each time a character has the chance to gain inspiration in practice.

Intuition and Insight – Stats Can Be Raised.
Built into the system is that characters who have a rather a lot of skills invested in a particular kind of intelligence or ability can raise that ability. The system accomodates the growth of the character's key abilities over time. This is a special kind of Inspiration Roll, that is modified by the amount of complimentary skills the character has and their average level. This means if a character has a medium level of a bunch of skills that compliment Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha.

Wisdom – Non-Standard Intelligence
I know how frustrating to define all the modes of intelligence so I've found it necessary and inspirational to just lump them together under wisdom. The great thing about this is that it defines while allowing greater interpretation of different kinds of Intelligences. I know its wishy washy and the geek should be more exacting and accurate but leaving this room for interpretation will allow a flowering of other modes of thinking and problem solving in the game.

I'm currently listening to How to Think Strategikally and I'm beginning to realize Strategy and Tactical as defined by the course is an exercise in Wisdom. Since the game system is ability modular, a character who is an expert Barkeep may use Wisdom to strategize for his business... of course the difficulty is another matter.

System Peculiarities: All Ability Scores are all a form of Intelligence.
Strengh and Constitution are an Intelligence based Ability. Strength is based on upper body Kinesthetics, while Constitution is conditioning and the body's own non-conscious Intelligence in managing resources, dealing with stress and pain, and hightened efficiency. Build is a factor that trully affects Work or Kinetic Energy output, which is influenced by Strength and Constitution to determine efficiency.

By definition of Constitution certain kinds of breathing and meditation is Constitution based, while some kinds of meditation (like mindfulness) is Wisdom based.

You could say I'm in the Chapter about Differentiation, Cost Leadership, and Targeting. This can be considered my Unique Selling Proposition as I continue to define, differentiate, and set out to achieve a unique strategic proposal for the open rpg system. Using real world skills in a game so that we can hone them. By the system and nature of the character creation format, one can strategize how they will learn skills and more efficiently (with a process that can evolve and improve) make more sensible decision regarding personal development. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Adventures Hooks for your GURPS Hot Spots: Constantinople

I wasn't satisfied with the hooks in the GURPS hotspots:

The Nika Riots
Wiki the Nika Riots and you have the understanding of the Race Factions that practically controlled the city. The Colors were used as a "Proxy" war and frequently escalated into Riots and real war. The cycle continued because the hippodrome was one of the best sources of distraction Politicians can get in those times.
  1. PCs are part of a Gang Turf war
  2. One of the Colors gets the PCs involved in their Political maneuverings. It begins with some honest races, then escalates to a hedonistic crime spree. 

The Roman Intelligence Service
If you've not read the Strategikon then grab it from your local library because its one of those vestiges of the Roman CIA. If you've read about Leo the Mathematician in GHS:Constantinople then you' know about the extensive logistics and infrastructure of the Romans (AKA bysantines). If you've read about the way they've dealt with their enemies (like Alexius capturing cities with diplomacy when his armies were at a march) then this is enough of a picture of how extensive and organized is the Roman CIA. Of course you can only use this when you have leaders like Justinian, Basil the Bulgar Slayer, and Alexios.

  1. Alexios - pre Crusades Intelligence Gathering. Advanced and Scouting Party, weeks a head of his force. 
  2. Justiian - Pre Reconquista Intelligence Gathering (like above, about weeks or months ahead of Belisarius's attack)
  3. Basil - rinse and repeat. 
  4. Justinian's time and keeping everything under control during the Belisarius wars. he was also fighting the East - Sassanids. 
  5. Alexios - Post crusades and dealing with the future crusaders. The instability the crusades have made has made such services more important. 

the First Crusades... 
Too long to explain, but this has so much things to do that I'd rather save my energy and just ask you to wait till my Ancient Era: The First Crusade is done. About 8 crusader armies and what to do... what to do...

In a Poll I did a long time ago

  1. Diocletian - The Divided Empires. Rome is divided into Two empires and what bunch of high stakes adventures can you have here??? Two super powers... think Cold war and apocalyptic possibilities. Throw in supernatural to make it even more fun: Shadow Empire, Zombie Apocalypse, Sparkling vampires Emperors with teen hormones...  
  2. Constantine - The New Rome - The rest of the world awaits conquering and christianize-ing. Its like WH40k ultra-lite... For the Emperor 
  3. Justinian and Belisarius - The Reconquest... Keeping an Empire Together at the same time Fighting the Sassanids Etc. etc... this is the most busiest times of the empire no wonder it was a "two" man operation. 
  4. Heraclius - The Greek Empire - Pretty much a repeat of above, another good try to rejoin the empire.. but as Greeks instead of Latin. You can go for Alexander's second coming for the greek theme. . 
  5. Basil II - Total War - you have a shiny new army in the deep dark ages guess what I'm gonna do with it...
  6. Alexius - The Crusades...
  7. Andronicus - The Dark Ages - this is actually the most depressing part. A lot of RP and existential crap can be plaid out because its just so damn depressing. Exploring what makes for a "fall of an Empire".,
  8. Palaiologos - The Nicean Empire - This is an alternate universe... what if this Dynasty can do it, incorporate all the lessons in the past and all those failures and rebuild the empire. if Palaiologos had some help *cough*gunpowder*cough* excuse me *cough*citizen army*cough* and a new republic state entity. 
  9. Constantine XI - The Fall of Constantinople. Also depressing but an exercise of saving what you can. Still a worthwhile adventure. I find the part about studying more about Turkish culture and the Characters then a very good thing to take out of it. Specially in this Islamiphobic times. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review of GURPS Hot Spots: Constantinople

Review of GURPS Hot Spots: Constantinople 

My Praise
Its a great introduction to Byzantine World and its Core City: Constantinople. As a great Introduction, it does very well to focus and highlight all the key elements you would need to run adventures in Constantinople and the 48 page booklet is light reading for players.

It goes well with GURPS Crusades, Middle Ages I, and the Low Tech franchise.

My Criticisms.
First, this is an Introduction to the Byzantine world and compresses a lot of information that would have been found spread out among the books found in the bibliography.  So if your the type to have read alot about the matter this does not add anything to your stock knowledge, except relieve you the TON of work to prep players who are not famliar with the Byzantine Setting. So despite its not really a great tool for Byzantine History buffs: its a great Introduction for people who have no knowledge or appreciation of the Byzantine World.

Suffice to say it does alot of explanation of concepts that are very broad and abstract; which is important for newbies. What I was looking for as a Byzantine Nut was more facts and data. Along with the City Stats (there are about 4 city stats) I would have liked major industries of the city and probably Mass Combat Stats. $24M monthly Military budget is very very broad... does that include fortification and artilliery maintenance? Does that include Naval assets and infra? How do I calculate logistical forces?

Note that as the Empire became more Bureaucratically inefficient the economy was not efficient enough to keep a standing force. Gradually their budget shrunk and evolved towards levies/oaths of military service. So a budget does really help much in making armies. Its better to just write down the force numbers and stats or at least make a table with die rolls to generate the standing force.

My biggest chip on my shoulder is that none of the secondary sources are from Kenneth Harl: The Byzantine World. Kenneth Harl is instrumental to me in making it come alive because he did a forensic economic analysis to balance with the interpretation of archeological and written sources. His two books are about coinage but he is one of the two audio books about Byzantium (the other being 12 byzantine rulers by Lars Brownsworth). For me he's the go-to-guy in Byzantium and He is even in The Teaching Company; found him through my independent research and was ecstatic when I found out he has audio book lectures - a way this filipino can have access to his lectures! But I understand that you can't exactly put him or his material in the book... or can you

Of course a medieval-o-phile will not be complete without Dorsey Armstrong's Medieval World

So for me it is useful in the sense that I can give this for players to read, which may be complimentary with the introduction to the First Crusade  which I am making. Although I do want to point out I had a blog entirely dedicated to byzantium Note that the Justinian Era is just a small part of the book, I had this poll a long time ago and i think its a big deal.

One more thing: Don't forget to grab Osprey's Constantinople of 1453 for more added fluff and don't forget awesome Osprey art.

I should really make a mass combat army generation table, designed to be compatible with City Stats...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Maslows Heirarchy of needs in an RPG; My Preferred CC license

I can imagine the flack I would get making a system where the GM can enforce the Maslow's Heirarchy of needs. Its a hypothesis, I know, its just a really reasonable one comming from my observation of behavior.

What is weird is that I've used this as a format of explaining system limitations. The Basic Rules is the Resolution System, what do you call the Physical and Mental limitations? "Intermediate rules?" "Advance Rules", "Post Basic Rules?"... I'm defaulting to Intermediate Rules right now.

So my Intermediate Rules System kinda follows Maslows Heirarchy of needs as a method of organization. I start with the very basic needs: like food, shelter, water, breathing, SLEEP etc... stuff that is surprisingly common sense but one of the first rules "broken" in many systems. Something I know I may not be on the same page about is Human Limitations and Performance levels.

In Hiking (which my wife has shown interested in) and Camping, its all about managing human limitations. We are not sporty people, we are pretty practical and we get fit for the purpose of a lower cost of living and better quality of life. This is basic for everyone, to know how to get fit and know what to avoid, but surprisingly it is something you don't learn in school (especially if you look at Philippine Secondary and Higher education curriculum). You'd thing PE would have some PT.

So basic human performance and limitations are FAR from the stock and basic education of many players and many game systems. Well this is my experience when I've been listening to the adventures of others. Its weird that an All Powerful Warrior can collapse because of heat exhaution - the no. of Airsofters all decked out in Tacticool Equipment only to go down because of Poor hydration... (airsoft games are often at 30C degrees in the shade or 86F.

I guess I'm jaded by some of the experience in hiking and airsoft; how frequently someone botching up the details can ruin everything (thats why i always keep redundant guns, and -before the baby- maintain my guns). I make lists and i make journal reports, and most importantly trying to never to make the same mistake if it is a kind of mistake that can be corrected easily).

Now MHoN is pretty awesome; you can make it a psychological framework for characters. you can make it the Default/Baseline human psyche to build over and list exceptions and the rules. Well i'm doing this for the Rule Book I'm making. Of courses its CC Attribution, Non-Commercial, and Share-Alike.

A little Note on why CC BY NC SA...
The material and the medium and tools are free... the services using those tools are not. Give people the tools so that they have the means to provide a valuable service. The cheaper the tools the easier it is for people to enter into providing the service (providing the service is still work). When it comes to IP, I believe we have exhausted all the possible Ideas regarding Game Systems and begun just creating some technical iterations that have lower and lower value - as far as fantasy goes. Modeling Reality - a game system that illustrates science should be Open Source IMO and can always be improved. But as for modeling fantasy its pretty much arbitrary and is like arguing metaphysics ("how many angles can dance on the pin of a needle").

cheaper tools, for easier Job migration in a world whose needs and demands continues to shift is one of those expenses that I believe has a very good Return On Investment (depending on the common good within a society).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Frustrations with Art

I don't know what artistic directions to go. I guess I should have thought about it more. I was making icons but I dont know if I should make it: Overhead view, isometric view, or some abstract symbol. I guess I haven't done art enough to go by and make carefull thought of my assumptions. 

All i can do is the walls at a random angle. 

I event went so far as maybe using Blender to make a simple town with simple blocks then trace it. Of course I need to remember how to use Blender after about 3 years of last modeling with it. :(

Anyway, work, the weather and my 18mo. old baby boy has been a useful distraction given how frustrating is the problem.   

Monday, August 6, 2012

Experiments with Inkscape and Form Controls

Nicu's Open Clip Art is indispensable but its missing some things.

  1. I have to improve his city clip art. basically making it more elements and detailed.  
  2. I will have to make a low defensed town 
  3. I may have to alter villages, the "fields" look wierd.  

Doing some experiments I'm working on Caithness. As an MIB i plan to contribute this 32 scale map.
The Caithness Map in GURPS Banestorm takes about 4 x 5 landscape letter sized hex map in 32km per hex scale (day marching scale) where there are 13 x 8 hexes in each map. 
Do-able using GIMP DnD 2nd Ed Hex Map Tools. Probably 1 hour per map once all the prep is done. So at least 20 man hours to map the whole thing. 
As a JPG file it really needs to be fixed to be print quality; will research if there is a way to use Inkscape instead. 
it is a relatively easy project since the map is not detailed at all. As compared to the Anatolian map where there are divisions of themes and a lot of towns. If I pull this off I'll have a process in doing a map, hopefully with about less than 1 hour per map (total cost of ownership).

Inkscape saves into SVG files, but I can't upload that and must export it to PDF. You will notice there is no pixelation when you zoom in. That is Nicu's city map which I have to improve on. Since this is a low powered setting aka historical there is not going to be a lot of impressive castles. There are fortified towns, but some castles but not that grand as found in fantasy.

Notice the file is 77kbps the SVG with the Copyrighted Caithness Map I'm drawing from (since I really have to redraw it) is roughly about 350kb. I predict it to be about a meg each letter sized map when done. its going to be as sparse as the Banestorm Map BUT the svg file is going to hosted in a mediafire or zipped in a google drive link so that people are free to add details. Of course I have to upload the new low tech Icons I will make using Nicu's work.

I'll try to find or make tutorials for terrain features.

Another project I'm researching on is Editable PDFs, particularly NPC character Cards in an editable PDF that would accept image files. Basically Preformated letter sized pdf where GMs can upload pictures, save the pdf, and print out NPCs. I'm still working on what form function will accept images once the form is a PDF.  Still in the middle of research, the main problem is not yet solved.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Organizing Outlines - What do i want to achieve?

Its kinda a mix blessing the freedome to do what you want but no one to give constructive criticism (or may not be able to act on constructive criticism). After all, someone was to go through the work to critique it and by the time that happens, i might be on a whole other page or direction.

I broke it up to 3 booklets and maybe I can bring the page count down. I have to be efficient and follow my own Analyst Training: My job is to Compress information - if the person wants to get the details they need to just look at my sources. Still I have to remember to bridge my sources with my conclusions, and that means stating and keeping track of my assumptions.

Book 1 - Introduction to The First Crusade. This is a very very narrow introduction to the Medieval Era. It is so narrow, that I focus on the highlights of what makes it wonderful without any of the build up going into the study of subject matter. Focusing on the highlights, I hope and guess that the reader may like the same things I do, as I take those things out of medieval historical context and make it simpler and approachable. The Draft Outline in this PDF.

I realized that in the Book 1 is where I should put the Sample Play and some of the lengthier explanation regarding what is a RPG.  

Book 2 - Game Booklet - This booklet is sufficient for someone already familiar with Medieval Adventures (technologically 11C). This booklet begins with a short intro to RPGs, proceeds to focus on the aspect of Characters, and then Character Creation. Then ends with all the Rules; which is summarized with game physics/ world physics. Most of these rules are just gamification of many health, survival, logistics, and the combat system.

This is where I realize that in such a game we all draw from human limitations for all the rules; where we differ is how we interpret combat. In my interpretation its pretty much time-and-motion in a scale of time most humans average out in processing and action (increments of 6 seconds). Don't be surprised when I Gameify Variable Priority Training as an inspiration to situations like combat.

Book 3 - the GM's booklet of Running the First Crusade Campaign - actually Book 1 is a sandbox and pretty much everything you need to run the First Crusade (it has Everything!). Book 3 follows the tradition of Orcslayer and Harkwood with the writer Telling You Explicitly What to do and How to GM. This is going to be my take on Newbie GMing.

Of course in the end of the booklet, it shows you how to shake things up, improve and find your methodology (if you took management engineering then I guess you know how to improve any process  and I'm pretty much using a layman approach to this), and evolve a GMing process that will meet your real world limitations.

By shake things up, I mean use the rules and tools already in book 1 to make more NPCs, keep the murphies unpredictable, and make the game re-playable.  

So pretty much thats what I've come up with.

TL:DR broke it down to 3 booklets. Advance gamers only need book 2, New players need only book 1 & 2, and Book 3 is a GM book that tells the newbie GM explicitly what to do.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bloating of Word count; trying to prevent being overwhelmed

Bloating word count, normally this cripples a project. Will try to keep things organized and develop a way to prevent the project from escalating to the point of being to big to do and to overwhelming.


  1. It is about the impending First Crusades. Focusing in 1095 and leaving what may happen in the next few years open. 
  2. All the major cities and towns, leave the rest to be filled up or changed since: i can't research that deeply (neither money, time, or effort available) and it allows replay ability and changing.
  3. The Intro is designed for people familiar with medieval history; will design a introduction to RPGing in Low Powered Medieval Settings. One of the key focuses or strengths I can write about is Cultural Difference: not just a purely western view of "Middle Ages". Cultural Nuances, Dominant Strategies, and economics will not be explained. Leave that for another book, the primer. 

55,000 fluff
30,000 crunch

  • averaging 900 words per page  makes it about 94 pages
  •  having about 30 letter sized maps makes the total size of booklet about 124 so far with no Art. 
  • if I make art it has to be utilitary - Picture Profile Cards of various NPCs - the Crusader Lords, Alexius and his generals (Manuel, Takitios, John Doukas etc.) and various Blank Lords.  Probably 10 pages of NPC cards and a blank card template. 

Generate your own House. The ability to make your own house: there are a lot of noble houses in New Rome. There are a lot of families and real-estate to be assigned to nobles. The Maps can allow me to assign coordinates, hexes, to houses and give these stats like: resources, army and possibly some family members.

NPC Cards. I can be the one to personally make/draw the cards, sadly I can't get the counter maker in inkscape to work but libreoffice>view>toolbards>form controls allows me to make some cards that can be "auto-filled" by data placed into a spreadsheet/database. I can make a space that accepts images. Basically I'll try to make as many CCG character cards with NPC portraits as I can, and then some to be used as other NPCs.

The NPCs are set up so that they can have different resources and abilities; this allows different motives and roles in the story allowing GMs to replay this game with the same group and to make every group that plays this a different game.

Introduction to Medieval Settings. This is a document design to introduce people into the mindset of the medieval setting; it is for newbies and role-players who want to try to identify modern concepts they may be taking into their ancient game. This also helps newbie GMs consider the medieval mindset.

Focusing on 11C, Europe, Byzatium, Levant, the Middle East, and Far East (China and Japan; as well as South East Asia). That is the cultural range I can write about. I'm not that familiar with Indian Subcontinent in the 11C I'll leave that open for other gamers to write about. I'll try to break elements down to cultural adaptations based on circumstance. This way people can get ideas in creating cultural elements that suit the economic and physical circumstance.

Finished reading GURPS medieval I and got pretty disappointed. It was england centric, as many of the other critiques were about it said. You only get a better idea of how english centric it is when you look at the examples; very poor in examples from german, french, spanish and italian areas and cultures.

I'm looking at a fantasy gamer and how they may not like low powered historical games and how it is simple of change of mindset to accept the limitation and the mortality of a low powered game. (are we more "mortal" in low powered games? does that mindset affect the way we role-play?) I guess approaching that a GM has to be more forgiving in a more lethal setting until the player has been given a chance to learn each lesson. Anyway, something to cover that aspect of why people like settings like harn, banestorm, castle and crusades, etc...

How to imagine medieval structures: more mud, packed earth, logs and less quarried stone.

Basic Medieval Economic Considerations. Manorial, Town and City life.  Must find a way to organize this in a booklet that is easy reading.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

progress report - anatolia and levant mapping; Interactive PDF books

in terms of expectations I hope its pretty low, since I'm doing this in my limited free time. 

anyway here is what I've done so far: 

I was able to find out the 200mi zoom of gmaps is perfect since US letter-sized landscape hex maps with 13 columns x 8 rows is about 10hex-inches x 8hex-inches. At 32 km per hex, it fits perfectly at 320 hex-in x 256 hex-in because 200mi is 320km. 

I've already done the grid, now I'm putting it to action. The delay is that Inkscape with the boardgame extension is crashing in my home computer that has 21" screen and the 4G RAM and 2000 pasmark CPU. My office computer is crap compared to this and has only a 14" screen. So you can imagine how much work I can get done with a much larger screen. 

The Process:
  1. Have a fair map of Levant and Anatolian Peninsula. 
  2. make a SVG inkscape file in letter size 8x13 hex map. 
  3. Scale the Anatolian and Levant map properly against the 8x13hex map even if the image file so much bigger. 
  4. With use of Layers and extra hex map layers, Plot where each maps fits into the whole picture using the grainy A&L map. 
  5. Chop it all up: save an instance where the correctly ploted sections of the A&L map is on the hex. That would be a saved file per hexmap. 
  6. use these maps to align the map made by Cplakidas to get the Anatolian side ok. Cplakidas maps' details remains intact. Use filters and extensions to soften up the map into Vector shapes. 
  7. Repeat till whole area is macro-maped on day scale. Since I assume it will take about 30-45 mins per map and there are about +21 maps this project will suffice for now. Wargamers and any Gamer can use it. Hopefully the map when done is something printable and something that can be assembled. 
  8. Create a Tutorial of this process (I need to figure out how to record doing this). 
  9. Create a process so that I can probably hire a student to do this in the office when I move to hourly scale 4km per hex creating 40kmx32km map on a 13x8hex US lettersized map. Find out how much it costs to make one so that I can theoretically cost how much it will cost to make maps of the key locations of the crusade. Find out how to make this on the cheap or free.    

Of course I will be writing will do this. 

Revelation:  After all those audio lessons I finally get it since I started looking at the map. Having done my own pathfinding exercises (miserable competence) in Airsoft I fully appreciate how difficult it is to navigate and travel on foot and looking at the map I can see why one side is greek and the other side is Hittite/Turkish/Analtolian etc. Cplakidas maps were very helpful in putting names to places, and I finally saw where the Isaurians were from and the other Roman Military colonies. 

This would be a very fun Campaign setting, especially in the "randomly" rolling the stats of various cities. I could probably make a Libreoffice spreadsheet to generate those or make the calculator built into the PDF document... 

PDF Document with World Building Tools built into it. 
Why not? have the tools that generate the towns, the manors, the equipment lists etc... built into the spreadsheet? Its Libreoffice Basic based on VB, one of the most obsolete and poorly used programming languages used outside school  yet very common in Philippine educated IT graduates.

Why not? If I could make a simple script and forms functionality, what more a team of programmers and their PM creating a PDF that generates the output for game material? 

What if the Expansion of the Ancient Era: The First Crusade + Large Scale Game expansion allowed the generation of varying town stats, armies, and NPCs with a form button and option to print out the data... and make more and generate various other random data.

My Open Source Mindset
Open Source doesnt mean you will give your Time, Motion and Costing to the world and run yourself out of business. You show how its down, but all the indirect costs and complexity is up to you to keep. I personally want to end the regurgitation of game material, automating what can be automated... even if it appears I'm killing off a way to make money. 

I think this is an era that innovators have to look farther forward, constantly pushing the envelope to to do things that cannot be "replicated" by automation (like GMing). If someone can close of something to automation that will increase productivity but close off a market... why not. Close it off  and push to create a new business, fill a new need. 

This is what is underlying in Open Source; sure you can give people the means to do it for themselves but as the economy grows things change and sometimes it can support it self. OS and Office Tools are open source now, so: "get out of the OS and Office Tools game" and leave it to the people dedicated in keeping this great product free and innovating. Move on to a new business, a new model of making money.

the white space is for reference purpose. Its for my hex maps, the hexes should completely cover the white area. 200mi wide or 320km.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Open RPG project - how many and how big are the maps

Ok this is my guess: it will take about 19 maps. each map is a letter sized hex map with 1" hexes each hex being 32km (1 days march). Constantinople is at the center of the maps as a reference point. I will draw heavily from the works of a wikipedia contributor Cplakidas

I will keep a list of stuff I made up, since I will have to make up a lot of stuff to fill in the gaps. like the roads, it will be more work digging up accurate information than making stuff up. Since it is impossible to have very accurate city demographics I'll make stuff up. 

I will make all the maps vector so that people can add to the details and share-alike easily. Will have the files in a mediafire account. I'm currently using the Inkscape extensions >boardgames>hex mapper. Will try to publish the creative commons and the original credits in every map. 

There are 42 red boxes symbolizing letter sized hex maps to be assembled. 

Will try to document and create tutorials of how to do this, including the amount of time it takes in hopes people will contribute either works and improvement of process.

currently using xubuntu on an old PC