Thursday, March 31, 2016

GURPS Magic Notes 26: 2016 Update

So I'm listening to Kenneth Hite's GURPS Cabal using @Voice. I bought the book few months ago and only now had the time to listen to it. Its 93k words so it would be 3 hours with Google's Text To Speech at x3. Its a testament to his writing that the ideas are well understood even with a TTS system is reading it.

So it got me thinking of all the Challenges I had running a complicated Kitchen Sink pseudo Africa setting of The War Under Heaven Campaign.

GURPS Magic, the Orphaned magic system in GURPS because it is in dire need of an update they created Ritual Path Magic System. Like in any complex project without Any Game Design Goals and Documentation - its better to start from scratch and rebegin the Design Goals.

Gaming Card Heuristic. I want the Magic System to be compatible to my Index Card System. This means that a spell or the mechanics is easily hand written to fit an index Card (A7 paper). The Index Card System is my metric for Game Concepts and Character Sheets. If I can fit the description in a Hand Written Index Card - thats good design. This is to pursue more Portable Gaming, for running games in Cafes, Parks, and places of work.

Some Arbitrary GCH.

  • A character should be able to fit one side of 7 index cards. 
  • the smallest mechanic should fit a hand written index card. Any over all system should fit 3-7 index cards. These systems should be modular and optional, people can physically take it or leave it. The thickness is a tangible reminder of complexity. 

GURPS Basic Set Magic April 14 2014 Spell Sheet this is my cliff notes. It would take me a year to remake all the Spells as well as remake all the Design Goals of the Alternate GURPS  Basic Set Magic System.

Alternate GURPS Basic Set Magic System

I dont know when I can get to do this, but right now this is the first draft of design Goals and its open to comment and revision as I'm trying to figure things out. 

  • Rework all the Spells. Following the Index Card principle and the spells are fairly open to imagination and creativity in use. 
    • Using a Spreadsheet (Libreoffice Spreadsheet) recreate all the spells to make more sense. F*ck sacred cows and make them internally consistent and well designed. 
    • Currently experimenting with scientific values like Horsepower or Watts of work to explain what can be done. 
      • Example- what if Move earth was measured in Horsepower of work. moving certain volumes of earth or accelerating a small amount of earth to dangerous velocities. 
      • Example - the implications of being able to fuel fire and what energy ratings of fire. What KW of fire means per unit of Fatigue. 
      • Example - growing plants and being able to convert X amount  of matter for plants. 
      • Its a bit more sciencey but its a great opportunity to understand what goes into the reality we take for-granted. 
  • No Spell Roll. You only roll spell skill on Quick Contests, otherwise spells automatically work. 
    • This follows the Less Rolls Design Philosophy. 
    • Elaborate on Techniques and Manuevers. 1-2pt perks that give a minor bonus to a limited circumstance, or a significant bonus to a very narrow circumstance. 
  • Rescale the Spell Skill levels. Instead of Skills of 15 and every 5 (so the rules are for incredible Skill Inflation) leaving an open ended level system of up to 50.
    • Making Spells from 8 to 18, beyond 18 is diminishing returns. 
    • Make levels Count and recalibrate what each level means. 
    • See Changing Skill Threshold.  
  • Relevant Write up on the system. Outside the Cards Heuristics there will be the following Notes per spell and School of magic. 
    • Doctrine Notes and Spell Design Goals. Opportunity Cost or Strategy guide. How this spell was designed and what was its goals. Aka Best Practice notes. When designing a magic system as to the combat system the design is meant to achieve a particular effect and how closely the system meets its desired goal needs all assumptions present so that outside view can correct for errors. 
    • Market Effect. How this affects the Market and the Economics of the Setting. 
  • Easily Printable Sticker Layout for all the Spells so the GM running it can easily give it to players. 

Previous GURPS Magic Research and Tools

  1. GURPS Magic Notes 01 Initial Review
  2. GURPS Magic Notes 02: Basic Set Spells Strategy Guides
  3. GURPS Magic Notes 03: Review Basic System Mechanics
  4. GURPS Magic Notes 04: Reviewing Enchantment Process
  5. GURPS Magic Notes 05: Enchantment, meta spells, and basic magic economics
  6. GURPS Magic Notes 06; Doctrine 01 - The Most High Use spells
  7. GURPS Magic Notes 07: Doctrine 02 - Magical Defense
  8. GURPS Magic Notes 08: Doctrine 03 - Information Gathering
  9. GURPS Magic Notes 09: Sample Mages for Haven (Campaign)
  10. GURPS Magic Notes 10: Energy Reserves, Extra Fatigue, Modular Abilities, and Magery
  11. GURPS Magic Notes 11: Changing the Skill Threshold
  12. GURPS Magic Notes 12: Power Inflation (inspired by Fate Zero)
  13. GURPS Magic Notes 13; Using Magic Items
  14. GURPS Magic Notes 14: Familiar Templates
  15. GURPS Magic Notes 15: Earth Spells
  16. GURPS Magic Notes 16: Ritual Magic Basics and High Magery
  17. GURPS Magic Notes 17: Spirits
  18. GURPS Magic Notes 18; Zombies
  19. GURPS Magic Notes 19: Ghouls
  20. GURPS Magic Notes 20: Darkness Aspect and Shadow Path Mage
  21. GURPS Magic Notes 21: Swarm Familiar
  22. GURPS Magic Notes 22; Demonic Ally
  23. GURPS Magic Notes 23; Ghostly Companion
  24. GURPS Magic Notes 24: Side Effects that Affects the Time Stream
  25. GURPS Magic Notes 25: Magic Items in Haven (Campaign)

                                                  Tuesday, March 29, 2016

                                                  Design vs Art

                                                  Design has purpose and should be understandable. Art is Expression and needs to affect the target audience. They are two mindsets that we juggle when we do anything - from creating workflows, doing projects, DIYs, all mediums of communications, and  (of course) Preparing or Running our Games. The key idea is to know how much resources is invested in either one or the other. 


                                                  Design has to meet some Purpose and can be measured. Design can be complicated and simple because there are so many vertical levels we can go to meet a particular goal. If we want to be relevant we incorporate art in the design, if we want to be used well we employ techniques in design.


                                                  Art is to evoke an emotional response. You can say Art is design to create an emotional response. The only way to measure Art is by the people who appreciate it and keep the thing around because of the intrinsic value (utility) it gives them.

                                                  Economics of Design vs Art. 

                                                  When I'm making material I'm usually by Design and relevance and novelty are one of my goals. But Attention and or Signalling (Behavioural Economics) is not where the bulk of my resources is attributed, instead its trying to make a better workflow in running games.

                                                  Strategy and Tactics with Design and Art

                                                  Design allows me to get to the point and give a practical tool, Art can make things fun. If I make something if I want it fun, I have to think about how I want to create a response from my audience. What Idea I want to express and what emotion am I drawing from (for fun its my curiosity and wonder). Deciding on what to use and what I want out of my pet TRPG projects is a matter of Art vs Design as well as the tactical and strategic employment of either Art or Design.

                                                  So in Game Design, consider Art and Design as two mindsets we can employ. When I make a game about History then its ART, and as such it evokes the emotions that is commonly triggered when we associate history with our own personal narrative (history evoking a sense of wonder as to our relationship with the past with our self). If I make a bunch of System Mechanics with a particular Intuitive workflow in mind and to achieve a particular set of measurable and tangible goals - that's Design.

                                                  So the GM or Player playing TRPGs with its ability to evoke  strong emotions and responses to all those involved is ART (by the definitions in this article). The Players performance is ART, the GM's machinations to create an awesome battle or intrigue - is Art.

                                                  Its Art to the point that people will record because others may want to watch or listen to the games. Yet the Game system, the GM's preparation, and the Players character build are elements of design.

                                                  Articles I quickly burned through to write this.

                                                  Minor Gripe after all those Articles
                                                  Artistic Talent is a quality that gets thrown up a lot in this discussion. I grew up with people saying I and others have "artistic talent" and met people with "no artistic talent" and I find it kinda strange. One thing that doesnt make sense is how do I measure artistic talent, and thats when I had a serious gripe about the subjectivity of art. Design can be measured and the rationalist geek in me loves that. Art is subjective and is as annoying as solipsist philosophy.

                                                  I want Art's not to have that solipsist quality. So after these articles I've come to use Inclination instead of Talent. As in "Jerry has an Artistic Inclination".

                                                  Thursday, March 24, 2016

                                                  GURPS Languages

                                                  Collaborative Gamer's GURPS Language and Some thoughts

                                                  Language should be treated like a Real World Superpower. We take it forgranted now, but it is a superpower by the amount of difficulty and challenge that goes into learning and MAINTAINING it. Like any bilinguist knows, constant exposure of the other languages is important.

                                                  I have a Teacher who took Chinese when he was much older, at college, and proceeded to gain mastery from there. Even a professional Langauge Learner and a Teacher he has limitations in his mastery. Training for more than 10 years and even then he has many barriers and limitations. These are some of my learning notes.

                                                  Matching Expectations: That language is a superpower
                                                  If players dont feel the same way then too bad. If your player feels that way than awesome for them. This goes for anyone reading this, if you believe that Language is Easy good for you and you dont need to read further. If you think it a much taken for granted ability then lets work on making it appropriately so.

                                                  Framing Language as a Super Power.
                                                  Having more than 1 Language is a superpower when both cultures are really leveraged or complimentary. In the Philippines someone who can speak good english and has vernacular that is impressive gives off a good reaction bonus. Language should be a Reaction BONUS that we begin to notice more in this More Globalization World.

                                                  • Reaction Bonus. Being familiar with the ways of a culture and the langauge coming from a foreign culture grants a reaction bonus or in any game system a better situational challenge.
                                                    • Special Access. From getting Access to the "Special Menu" to small perks, having a Language can allow for much deeper dive into a People and Culture (if you can imagine or dream up, or you happen to be insatiably curious about People and Culture) then there is a world that can be opened up about it. 
                                                    • Common Ground. How people live and make a living is opened up by language and culture and thus the ability to sympathize, empathize, or understand the other person becomes a way to find common ground.  
                                                  • So many skills become available. Using defaulting, a character can use the Defaulting Skill or Language penalty, which ever is worse or better when using a language or cultural relevant skill. 
                                                    • Signalling for Credibility, Attraction, Negotiation, Saving Face all work differently in different cultures and languages. 
                                                    • Asking Questions - a very potent ability gets nerfed with language barriers and being able to ask questions is definitely an opportunity opening option when there is access to a language. 
                                                  • Innuendo and Cultural Norms. Blending In, Not Making Waves, or Going with the Flow in a culture can be important if one is to observe and to find out more information. No one wants to stick out or draw attention to one'self and Cultural and Language access helps fly below the radar. 
                                                  Why People in the Real world Learn Languages
                                                  Learning some languages is harder than some Master Degrees simply because its not about understanding but about Hacking your brain so that Ideas start forming in more than one language. The Mastery, the ability to use a language the way I use my own natural language is a lot of brute force brain hacking. 
                                                  The way we carry strings of words and ideas around in clusters and in less than a second can recognize and create word patters - imagine how many hours of constant drilling and study that boils down to. 
                                                  Being able to appreciate the doors and worlds it opens is what leads for some Fun Framed Language Challenges and that Languages are not disposable. Just because there are Millions of Bilingualss doesnt means that Languages are such a Disposable Skill. if that was the case then Knowledge Workers with Language specializations would not get much pay. 
                                                  I hate it when stories or media Cheapen mastery - the sacrifice and constant overhead needed to maintain a skill. The scarcity of attention

                                                  GURPS B23-B24


                                                  Writing, Public Speaking, Poetry, Performance arts, Calligraphy, Interrogation, Body Language, and Psychology can be used with any language/culture possessed.

                                                  Language works more like this below. Especially in Chinese and Arabic with very strange scripts.

                                                  Speak Comprehend Read Write

                                                  Rules Tweak: Harder Languages.
                                                  see these references of Languages by Difficulty. Also this Voxy Info-graphic and Language by Speakers. Note that another metric is Language by User Generated Content. This means measuring a language by how much Content out there and having access to that content gives access to the language learner. Can't seem to find any census about that. For English, 510 Million Speakers

                                                  Easy (Regular GURPS Points)
                                                  • Spanish. (420 Million Speakers)
                                                  • Italian
                                                  • Portuguese 
                                                  Medium. (regular GURPS +1 cost per level)
                                                  • Russian
                                                  • Hindi (490 Million Speakers)
                                                  • Thai
                                                  Hard (regular GURPS, +2 cost per level)
                                                  • Arabic (255 Million Speakers)
                                                  • Chinese (1 Billion Speakers)

                                                  Add to the Cost, from 1-3. The GURPS as is would be great in English Speaker learning Spanish. But as the English Speaker somethign harder like

                                                  Partial Broken. Instead of -3 B24 the character has an additional penalty equal to the missing points for full Broken level.
                                                  Partial Accented. Instead of the -1 B24 the character has additional penalty equal to the missing points for full Accented.
                                                  Partial "Native". The character has a penalty in impersonating any Accent or trying to overcome his accent. So a very skilled speaker of the language has no problem learning the accent of the various other speakers of the same language.

                                                  So A person with 3 points can on be a Fluent Speaker of Spanish, Partially Accented in Hindi, or a Broken Japanese Speaker.

                                                  When I run my games this will be the default. Since I relate my games to globalization, frontier markets of SEA and Africa, these really are super powers.

                                                  Tuesday, March 22, 2016

                                                  Base Rates in TTRPGs, using Social Media to gather information and create better tools.

                                                  Base Rates are RARE  and can be useful to overcome Planning Fallacy and Overconfidence Bias. So why not use the Communities as a way to contribute base rates via crowd sourcing?

                                                  You're just volunteering opinions and it doesn't need to be so scientific, but it helps create a picture. Particularly if the questions is making leaner and better Gaming Tools and Prep. It also creates a platform to build on to make better questions and tools to measure the best sort of gaming.

                                                  Tried to do it in Philippine TRPG community and its its a ghost town compared to the Facebook Group. Other than the dissenter who doesn't like the Measuring it was near complete indifference and participation from people who do not know me personally (so only my friends answered; which becomes a reinforcing bias).

                                                  Although this assumes the GM uses these tools and has such philosophies that makes use of base rates. I know - Who uses base rates? Like when asked do you thiink people will help this person in need, the base rate of Volunteers Dilemma and Bystander Effect has base rates that make people question their initiative to  help those in need.

                                                  Medium  of Discussion.
                                                  Also a Reddit type format where Comments can branch off to talk about some aspect of a category would be best IMO. Branch off from the main poll (using Gforms) and discussion and create a sub poll and discussion. Then aggregate all the information or someone makes their opinion of the aggregation to the critique of his peers.

                                                  What to Ask?

                                                  • Barriers/Challenges to Gaming
                                                  • GM Burn out Rates
                                                  • Barriers/Challenges for Player to GM conversion
                                                  • Barriers/Challenges for getting people to learn to Game
                                                  • Problems by Frequencies and Complexity
                                                  • Blue Ocean Thinking of Tools and Material
                                                    • Material Creation
                                                  • GM weaknesses, creating tools that assess GM's chief challenges
                                                    • Create a Set of Questions that Ask a GM to help them make a personal and private assessment of their skill and abilities and direct them to material that will help them. 
                                                  • Example: Social Interaction Heavy Play vs Combat 
                                                    • Key questions and framing that help someone get into Social vs Combat
                                                    • Key questions for Problem Solving vs Social vs Combat vs etc... 
                                                  • Key Exercises to do a particular Technique. 

                                                  Saturday, March 19, 2016

                                                  Updated the Game Mastering Technique Gdoc List

                                                  The Game Mastering Technique gdoc list is an Open List of Techniques drawing mostly from Storytelling, Rationality, and Productivity studies and strategies.

                                                  Edit. This link should be automatically viewable.

                                                  The Success of a Game cannot really be influenced by the stupendous mastery of the GM, but choosing players with the right motivation, engagement, and play style will have a GREATER weight on the enjoyment of the Game. Still Good players means the Ability to have higher levels of mastery Manifest in great feats of storytelling (worthy of being recorded and captured).

                                                  I'll try to update it Monthly. Adding Biases and the Counter Strategies for these Biases or Adding more and more Counter Strategies, or Having a Technique that can be easily implemented by having heuristic means of measuring and tracking its effect as well as exit strategies or abort strategies.

                                                  Thursday, March 17, 2016

                                                  Progress report 11C Random Character Generation Booklet

                                                  Here are some mental models and notes of my progress.  I know if I keep needling in useless details my progress will be stalled.

                                                  • 11C is the default. (if you follow the First Crusade, Komnenian Restoration, the Norman Conquest of England, and Reconquista this may be an awesome era for you). This can be 11C in the Real World History OR a setting with Tech and Economics equal to 11C. 
                                                    • In China its the Song Dynasty, a great Rise and Fall. Also a very well documented Dynasty. Check out the Houizong Emperor in Chinahistorypodcast or the Book. Chock-full of very interesting tidbits that give you a sense of scale and economic situation of the time.  
                                                  • Had to do an updated writeup for GURPS Wealth and Status. This took most of the day (5 hours; not counting the 6 hours during the workweek I had to set aside for this lolz) and needs some polish. 
                                                  • Military Service Tax and duties. I switched from Hides to a more general term many other names and tends to be universal is incorporated. 
                                                    • I moved from hides to just calling it a Warrior's Service (tax or duty). A warrior's service has an upkeep cost of a handful of tenant households
                                                    • See Knight's Service, Flyrd,  Roman Legion,
                                                    • The warrior's service depended on Institutional traditions of the culture for the availability of the role of warrior: light, heavy, archers, or cavalryman.  Later on I'll provide notes for the people who don't depend or measure themselves in Tenant Households: the Merchants and the Horse Nomads.  
                                                    • Made provisions that Warriors services like Mounted Warriors (who needed 5 more tenant households to provide the horses) and Cavalry (who needed 10 more tenant households to provide the warhorses). 
                                                    • Economic Efficiencies. I'm aware that there is economic efficiency and infefficiency when it comes to tenant households. 
                                                  • Time to write up the Backgrounds and thats 36 entries. I hope to simplify it by grouping them like the Religious Backgrounds, Freeman or Mechant Backgrounds, Agents and Clients Background, and the Elite. Probably 6 hours again doing this. Maybe 3 hours needling to edit it and polish it (I wish I can have someone else do this lolz). 
                                                  • You will notice I put a "Mundanes" which has worse stats than PCs. 
                                                  • From where I am it will take 20 hours for the TRAITS d36 because of the number of Sub Trait tables. 
                                                  • Then about 20-30 hours for the Professions as it requires a lot of page references and sorting work.  

                                                  Reiteration of Design Goals

                                                  • This Booklet will help someone make a complete character and some of his story in 5-15 minutes. (1 minute if I can make a google spreadsheet do all the work lolz). 
                                                  • Organic Characters (they do not exist in a vacuum) and definitive set of motivation and goals. 
                                                    • That the traits and the circumstance is enough material for the GM to create a story. 
                                                  • Make Newbie Introduction quick and easy to learn. Minimize the biases built into an overloaded Option set. 
                                                  • Do many of the Heavy Lifting for the GM. Provide a useful set of mental models. 

                                                  Tuesday, March 15, 2016

                                                  When Certainty Fails 40% of the time, and Luck has a greater factor to Success than skill.

                                                  “But the evidence is unequivocal — there is a great deal more luck than skill involved in the achievements of people getting very rich.” - Daniel Khaneman

                                                  this got me to reduce the Influence of a Skilled Leader on the Success of the Organization he is helming and Emphasize the Situational Modifiers.

                                                  In Famine or War, the Farmer or the King rolls at a Situational Penalty or Harder Difficulty. In Boom or Surplus Cycle the Farmer and King rolls at a Situational Bonus. Everyone Rolls and the situation will show its effects.

                                                  Edit: as +Gerardo Tasistro pointed out I have to clarify that this is only for Complex Problems like Leading an Organization, a Job Roll, or a Task that is very complex and that we are trying to resolve it as a Roll. (see Daniel Kahneman's discussion on the topic of Businesses and Biz leaders).

                                                  Mastering 1 Factor (or Broad Category of Factors) has a Minor Influence. In D20 this would be a +1 to +2 or in GURPS or in traveller a TN of 7 or 8 on its 2d6 system. Mastering or Controlling for a Multitude of Factors can have a bit of a bonus but cannot move the odds by more than 10% deviation from 50%.This follows that Awesome: "When people are 99% certain leads to 40% mistakes".

                                                  If your players don't like those Odds then point out this is a Matter of AGENCY. And bring up the Challenge What can someone do in the face of such odds. When the average business has a 1 in 10 to 3 in 10 survival chance in 5 years ask "How can they beat the odds?" and watch their approach. Watch for Planning Fallacy, Risk/Loss Aversion, Forecasting Bias, and Narrative Bias.

                                                  In truth your not going to prove them wrong, their answer are your tools as a GM. These exceptions and biases are your tools and buttons to press to get them engaged. Sounds Manipulative? You're playing a game of Pretend, by that context its not.

                                                  HARD MODE is when you use a Case Study method and check if they controlled these biases. By Case Study Method you us the tools found in Rationality and Decision Making Studies to see if they've controled for their Biases and throw the worse case scenario and watch them adapt and show off their creativity and unshakable AGENCY! Enough conditioning through these kinds of adventures and one gets a better grasp of  their own character and not just the PC they play.

                                                  Risk Aversion. Pointing out someone's bias can illicit a range of responses and my own risk aversion is not to entertain such strategies. The safest route is talking about it openly: "How much would you pay in character points or XP to have a 99% vs 60% chance of success in a field of expertise". Its actually a discussion worth having because a lot of the material around Risk Aversion is about bringing out the irrationality when we look at opportunity costs we could have had for the resources we put to be "SURE".

                                                  Going System Two  (Slowing down to think and work on the problem) and Thinking Like a Trader  (or Thinking like a Gamer) rationalizes the trade-offs, opportunity costs, and the diminishing returns on Risk Aversions spending in light of better uses of resources. In the end of the day, when players practice working through their risk aversion and master the very difficult skill of being Empirical and Rational while Framing the Problem in the most truthful and motivating way is a skill that improves their lives and the engagement in the Game IMO.

                                                  Edit: Planning Fallacy.
                                                  Dealing with planning Fallacy and the odds of chance is not the end for the players who incurable in their Risk Aversion. Choosing more Favorable Situation is Narrowing the Scope and Fighting in a more Favourable Situation.

                                                  Examples: If the market is on a down turn, we dont fight the tide of the market we look for where the opportunity is in the trend of the market. A GM cannot hope to make an awesome game with terrible players (and players cannot expect much from a terrible co-players or GM) so he shouldnt fight that battle and move on to a better circumstance. A fighter does not hope to turn the Tide of the Horde, but find the small battles he can win to work on a bit at a time (guerilla warfare and asymmetric warfare). A small biz owner in light of the 30% survival rate of biz over 5 years doesnt just gamble, he should look for a nich he can win and not just jump into an adventure he has no clue what to do iin.

                                                  GURPS Job Roll B516
                                                  Instead of using the Key Skill, just check if the Skill is at 14 and above. Being an Expert grants only a +1 to the Job Roll. Being fairly competent 11-13 grants no significant enough effect to provide a bonus or a penalty. Being unskilled in such a matter can be equal to the half the Default Penalty rounded to the worse value (From -2 to -3).

                                                  What has the biggest effect on the Roll is the Economic Condition or Cycles. Basically Famine, War, Political unrest all have a penalty while Trade, Good Laws, Climate, Peace etc... grant a Bonus. This can be a +4 bonus to a -4 bonus on its extremes. But its bell curve would put it at about +2 to -2 in most circumstances. A peace with all full labor force would be +2 while manpower shortage and war -2. Being the subject end off scorched earth campaign means moving and working in harder to reach regions a -4, and a surplus of slaves, good weather, and wealth and opportunity affecting most farmers would be a +4 .

                                                  Johann the Farmer Villain who has two tenant households has a -2 when Arp Aslan and the Turks are harrying the Roman Borders, divesting his risk into sheeps and herding instead of a serious effort in his lands. But he is a skilled Herder and has a +1 for being an expert. After the Komnenian Restoration his son, Johannes has a +2 after the borders were secured but has a -1 because of his youth and the premature death of his father at the hands of mercenaries turned bandits. 

                                                  Thursday, March 10, 2016

                                                  Extra Credits's Byzantine Empire Justinian and Theodora Series

                                                  I wonder how many hours will it take me to dig up my old notes for this campaign? I love how Crusader Kings, Extra History, Crash Courses History, and many other such sources have made historical gaming more accessible and more enticing in the Imagination.

                                                  Being able to GM Historical settings and eras of history is one of the more challenging and fulfilling types of games for me. File this under Tools, which also includes valuable gamer resources.

                                                  Professor Kenneth Harl's he Great Courses Series. I wish he could do an audio tour of Turkey, and then I'd really want to go to Turkey.

                                                  Wednesday, March 9, 2016

                                                  GURPS updated Effort level March 2016

                                                  Let's centralize the Rules of Fatigue and to change some In-game incentives and strategies.

                                                  Rules Modifications
                                                  • Fatigue Levels and Penalties. B426 Fatigue affects the Mental Faculties of the character. 
                                                    • 1/3 remaining FP is the Hitting the Wall and can do with penalties to IQ, DX, Will (and Self Control) and Per (attention). I recommend a -2 when "hitting the wall" or exhausted. 
                                                    • 2/3 remaining FP the character is Tired and has -1 penalty to IQ, DX, Will (and Self Control) and Per (attention).
                                                    • Full FP. 
                                                    • 0FP left. -4 penalty to IQ, DX, Will (and Self Control) and Per (attention).
                                                  • Extra Effort. Needs to be modified with this understanding of how the body works. You don't really Lose a lot of Effort by Pushing your Limits: you actually induce greater Injury doing that. The Fitness Literate equates Extra Effort = Potentially Debilitating Injury. 
                                                    • Crippling Limbs Threshold B420-B421.  Consider the Core or Back HP. Substitute FP to HP "lost", particularly the part of the body the Extra Effort is involved. So most full body Extra Effort affects the Back (as many of the older Gamers who do sports may ache to be reminded) 
                                                    • Less Roll of Extra Effort B356. Don't make two rolls when you can make 1. If a character tries an extra effort, don't ask him to make a separate HT check. Just compare his Rolls against his Skill or HT modified. Use the roll against the Skill he needs to succeed in the Task and his Modified HT or Skill. 
                                                      • Example. HT10 but Lifting-14, someone does an Extra Effort -2. He rolls a 12 he makes it on his Lifting BUT he fails with his HTof 8. He takes HP damage on the limb or core he used. 
                                                  • Carrying Heavy loads
                                                    • This screws with the encumbrance rules as when a PC starts carrying more than a Moderate level of effort they get tired much faster (in a couple of minutes interval). Very Fit is one of the few ways to get through this. 
                                                    • Soldiers can have Increased BL for hiking and marches. Learning the conditioning they had to endure kinda makes them deserve those points. Since this is purely for Carrying by pack, you can discount the BL from 3 to 2 (Condition: back and packs only). Allow up to 5 levels. So a Soldier with Carrying BL of +5 ST15 or can carry 90lbs for HOURS. But he's sorely taxing his back.
                                                  • Performance Limits.
                                                    • When PCs use their Performance limits (their max speed etc) any failure can result in 1 HP injury to that limb (remember the crippling limb threshold in B420-421). This means movement and all others over time. Taking it easy becomes a matter of risk aversion as well as knowing when to risk. 
                                                    • Using HT or Skill as a second benchmark of any Roll would be troubling but incentives a balance. It shows how much skill and training goes into being a warrior or athlete. 

                                                  Rules Notes

                                                  Effort/Activity Level Intervals Examples Enc BPM
                                                  Rest FP/ hr Siting and breathing well

                                                  Light Activity FP/ hr Walk or Hike Unenc 80-90
                                                  Moderate Activity FPx2/ hr March or Moving around 16lbs for an hour. Light 100-120
                                                  Serious Activity FP/ 2mins Combat or Bursts of High Intensity to Intensity Activities. Firemans or Farmer’s Carry ¼ of Two hand BL. Medium 120-140
                                                  Intense Activity FP/ 1min Paced Running or Swimming at ½ max speed.
                                                  Firemans or Farmer’s Carry ½ of Two hand BL.
                                                  Heavy 140-160
                                                  High Intensity Activity FP/ 15 sec Sprinting or a Max Weight Capacity or max swimming speed. Firemans or Farmer’s Max Carry of Two hand BL. Extra Heavy 170+

                                                  Time. An "Hour" is really just 45 mins of straight work, and none of the breaks or adjustments. This is the measure of the Pace in Small Wars Manual and in many productivity studies. A person doesn't normally do anything straight for 1 hour. this is not a hard rule. Typically after the 45 mins the remaining 15minutes is rest. If it was a mild effort no extra FP carries over to the next hour.

                                                  B354 Running and Fatigue Cost.
                                                  • Hiking (FP/Hour). B351 and B426
                                                    • Hike or Trek, Light Activity/Effort. FP/Hour. In heart rate zones or effort level would fall in about moderate activity. This is about 1.5-2 resting heart rate. The hiking rules have been fixed to 1/2 move in mph per hour. so a lightly encumbered character moves at about 2mph or about 3.6kph. 
                                                    • March, Moderate Activity/Effort FPx2/Hour. There is an implied pace when the term March is used versus a Hike. Marches (following the 45mins per hour rule) is at about faster than Hiking's. In my own treadmill self assessment just increasing my pace (adjusting the treadmill's speed) by 20% is almost double the felt effort. I would recommend doubling the FP cost per hour. x2-x2.2 resting heart rate
                                                    • For GURPS call it Hiking Effort Level and Marching Effort Level.
                                                  • Combat B426
                                                    • B426 Its strange that combat is not as consice as it should be in description. I'm sure if the Authors in 2004 discovered the literature on HIIT and Heartrate zones they would have have a lot more to work with and would have something very awesome as a product. 
                                                    • Serious Activity or Effort. An FP going in and FPCrippling Limbs Threshold B420-B421.  Consider the Core or Back HP. Substitute FP to HP "lost", particularly the part of the body the Extra Effort is invovled. So most full body Extra Effort affects the Back (as many of the older Gamers who do sports may ache to be reminded) /2 minutes. This is a the level of many Anerobic Activities: brief but high intensity effort levels with many breaks. Basically shredding muscle an micro-damaging bone and ligaments. This is around x
                                                  • Paced Running or Swimming (FP/Minute). B354
                                                    • Paced Running Speed. Paced Running is x2.25 to get mph or x3.6 to get kph. 
                                                    • Swimming Speed at a Paced Running Level. x0.45 to get the mph or x0.76 to get the kph. 
                                                    • Intense Activity/Effort. Resting heart rate x2.2-2.7
                                                  • Sprinting B354
                                                    • High Intensity Activity/Effort. FP/15 seconds. 
                                                    • Apply this to performing maximum Strength and movement activities for the same time interval. Example is Doing a flurry of attacks, a HIIT's 
                                                  • Lifting and Moving things and Effort level rule. B351
                                                    • When performing the tasks in Lifting and Moving things at max capacity consider that it falls under the High Intensity Effort/Activity level. So it is measured in 1FP in 15 second increments (half a HIIT interval)
                                                      • ST10 Firemans or Farmer's Carry 160lbs or Performing Activities in Extra Heavy for a minute  for 15 sec
                                                    • Intense Activity/effort. 1/2 of Capacity (side note, many machines are supposed to operate in 1/2 of its capacity like Forklifts and other Lifting devices) in 1 minute intervals per FP.
                                                      • ST10 Fireman's or Farmer's Carry 80lbs or Performing Activities in Heavy for a minute. 
                                                    • Serious 1/4 capacity. Example A ST10 character moving around 40lbs for a couple of minutes or Performing activities in Heavy Encumbrance for a minute. 
                                                      • ST10 Firemans or Farmer's Carry 40lbs or a distributed weight or performing activities in Medium Encumbrance for 2 minutes.
                                                    • Moderate  1/10 capacity. Example A ST10 moving around 16lbs (1/10 of deadlift) or performing actions in Light Encumbrance for an hour.
                                                  • Physical Labor (FP/Hour). Use Digging in B350 as a baseline or a reference for any Physical Labor. Using the Lifting Rules above to set the Work level. 
                                                  How to Simplify them All.
                                                  • Level of Intensity is set by the Performance Level needed. It the Player wants his PC to go to the next level to get the performance desired then the GM goes there. 
                                                    • Intensity Changes the scale of time. More intense the smaller the time increment. 
                                                  • Tired or Hungry People make Bad Decisions. this is now reflected in the rules. This encourages players to rest and take it easy. 
                                                  • Easy, Moderate, Max and Extra Effort. At Maximum Performance Parameters we get injured and beyond that the Chance of injury significantly increase.  By moderate and easy these are respectively  1/2 performance to and lower performance. 

                                                  Tuesday, March 8, 2016

                                                  GURPS Random Character Creation Draft

                                                  Its going to take a lot of work to reference and fill this up. I want the Traits to be something that would be easy to Write on an Index Card. The Trait can be summed up very well in hand written in 160 characters. 

                                                  My Default Setting will be the 11C 1st Crusade Period. Which is one of the Starting Challenge in Crusader Kings 2 called the Komnenian Restoration and the Campaign I wish to continue in the next life (lolz), which is also the era of William the Conqueror, The Reconquista, The Rise of Robert Guiscard, and Various other important Campaigns in Crusader Kings. 

                                                  You will notice the Following:
                                                  • Random Stats. ST, DX, HT, and IQ, Per, and Will. Not just the 4 stats. 
                                                  • a d36 roll for Background. I went and tried to work out categories that would be instresting and broad enough to allow the players to work. 
                                                    • Example is the Underclass - the Pornai - Prostitutes, Sin Eaters, and various unsavory but necessary professions. 
                                                  • 1-6 Traits (Disadvantages AND advantages), which is rolled in a d36 table. (you will notice its Physical, Mental, and Social Traits). 
                                                    • The broad 12 element categories allow for subtables. I'll simplify these when I migrate the system in my Open RPG system. 
                                                  • Finally some Psychology of the Character. The basic GURPS Character is kinda an unusual  creature that needs some humanizing. Just because you didnt get disad points for such it doesn't mean the character exists in a vacuum (I hate that part of GURPS; played with too many munckins in my day). 

                                                  Can you Believe this sparse document took about 15 hours, and I've gone through 3-6 different versions of this (depending how far back you measure the versions)? I feel like an idiot when ever I do stuff like this because it looks so simple but I have design princples I need to adhere too, while allowing for the Complexity of my own Historically bend tastes.

                                                  Design Goals

                                                  • Random Characters that would be believable (does not exist in a vacuum). 
                                                    • I can guess the personality or what would be the personality because of his grounded circumstance. 
                                                  • Easy Carrying and Remembering the Details. Stats, 1d6 traits, the background, Psychology and the Profession (next part), and Equipment (and templates).  
                                                    • There will be only a few broad categories of professions. Influenced from Traveller. Migrants/Wanders, Service (Agents and Servants), Trade (Specialists, Business owners, Masters etc...), Clergy (Caregivers, Missionaries, and Clerics), Literati (Doctors-Sages, Herlads, and Administrators), and Warriors (of course, divided by Auxiliaries, Main forces, and Specialists). Only Nobles can be Knights, and they are broken into domains of (Champion, Commander, and Courtier).
                                                    • These Professions will be similar in the Traveller Life Path system. It will be FUN and part of the GAME play. I will reduce the complexity and entry barrier.  
                                                  • It should take about 10-15 minutes in complexity to make a character... unlike the 1-2 hours of GURPS characters lolz. If you need to have had hundreds of hours of GURPS under your belt to make a character in 30 minutes tops thats Not a good system. it should be from a COLD try (guessing 30 mins from a complete newb! and half the time on the second or so tries)
                                                  • It will have Equipment Packages.
                                                  How much work there is left to Go? 
                                                  • 30 hours Hopefully. 
                                                    • I've narrowed the scope and hope the new revived GURPS community can give me some constructive help in polishing this. 
                                                      • Ideally someone makes it simpler and elegant. 
                                                    • One big problem I have is the sub-tables while judging how hard it is for a GM to accommodate a set of Traits. 
                                                    • Dry Runs of testing the tools and Timing them. I will need to print them out and have a few dry runs. 
                                                    • Making the Layout Easier to read, experimenting with Font Sizes and if this can be put in a Digest Size (Statement or A5 size). 
                                                    • Costing and Logistics of finding out how to 

                                                  I'm just thinking if I had these tools in 2006. Ran with much smaller scopes and managed expectations lolz. I would have had more games and more people who would not be intimidated by the 500pages of RPG book I hulked around lolz.

                                                  Now to add descriptions to these 36 entries.

                                                  Saturday, March 5, 2016

                                                  Games and Dining in the Philippines

                                                  There has been a growth of Games and Dining places in the Philippines. Currently the are focused on Board Games, and it makes sense.

                                                  Boardgames and Dining

                                                  • 5-8 usd per head for the meal
                                                  • 45-90minutes of play and eat. 
                                                  • Light and Little Prep, the games are there and its part of the service. 

                                                  Value to money over time can be pretty high for TTRPGs, since their books cost per hours they spend using them are pretty high. a GM who obsesses and does prep at 5-10 hours a week will get a lot of bang for buck for a set of books totalling 100usd for a number of months. While in boardgames which each cost 100-200usd which is great  if your income disposable income is at the 200usd per month and over.  

                                                  The Common Average Gamer are the following by my own experience
                                                  • 20-40 years old
                                                  • 300usd to 600usd, at about 100-200usd disposable income for games per month. Far less if they are family men. 
                                                  • regular meal at work would be 2-4 usd, and about 1.5-3usd of transpo per day. 

                                                  Tabletop Games and Dining
                                                  • 120-240 minutes of play
                                                  • 0.9sqm or 9sqft per person of space. 
                                                  • 8-15usd per head. If they will eat and play far longer than the average "table". People, assuming they are really burning a lot of energy, would be about 2usd an hour would be very low value for an establishment. I could imagine they would rather about 4usd an hour per head.
                                                  • A lot of prep and books. eats more space. 
                                                  • A lot of noise (a tragedy of the commons in noise and atmosphere). 

                                                  Light System and Prep for Tabletop Gaming.
                                                  I'm biased for lighter and more portable systems. Which is what I've been currently working on. One of the reasons is that of logistics. Light System, not just in rules but in tools, will help make the habit of play more accessible. 
                                                  • Zone system for location. 
                                                  • PC Cards and various other card systems that are designed to be easy being held constantly would be perfect. 
                                                  • Light Systems that use very little clutter and reference tools would be best. 

                                                  Proposals for Gaming Spaces.
                                                  Spaces to run games outside one's home. As many gamers will live in small spaces to reduce the cost and improve their quality of life they cannot just run games at home. 
                                                  • Public Common Areas. (While I advocate: its easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission; this is for a repeated event, and thus its better to ask permission first.)
                                                    • Parks. A nice picnic blanket some drinks, and if the weather is right a game in a park. 
                                                      • Velasco Park here in Salcedo is an example. Adequately Shaded, but come March to April, the height of the hot season i would recommend the malls or late afternoons. 
                                                      • Ayala Triangle Park. 
                                                      • Bonifacio Global City Parks.
                                                      • Ayala Mall Parks
                                                      • Aura's Roof deck Park.  
                                                    • Common Areas of Malls. Ask the guard if you can have picnic there. Some common areas in malls, like little parks can be treated as parks. The wealthier districts have this. If there is space and convention to allow for picknic set up then it would be a great place to go to.  
                                                    • Exclusive Village Parks
                                                    • Waiting Areas. School waiting areas are free during weekends and after school. 
                                                  • Cafe's.
                                                    • Ask for Cover Charge. If you can talk to the manager and start a simple set of questions, ideally how much in drinks should you order to cover you and your groups stay would keep these places in business. No need to really haggle, if thats their cost of doing business look for a places that meets you and your groups price.
                                                    • Cafe's are more cramped (about 0.7sqm or 7sqft), with small tables. But they are really meant for lounging around. 
                                                    • Light System and Prep is needed.
                                                  • School Premises
                                                    • If you are an Alumni of a College, and have an Alumni pass, as well as can get access to guest passes for non Alumni Friends, then School premises are one of the best places to run games. The waiting areas are designed for studying.

                                                  •  Restaurants. Gaming in restaurants is only ok if your group is helping it cover its costs. Ask the restaurant manager how much to cover your time play, but understand that they are running a business. Sadly restaurants who have trouble covering their costs will be the kind that would not turn away your potential business. So in most cases Restaurants entertaining Gamers are only going to be a rare circumstantial thing. 
                                                    • The Base Rate of business failing is, sadly, why such gamers can always find a resto who will not turn away our business. 
                                                    • As much as I would love games to be a source of value in a restaurant does not compute. If people playing in that Resto will someone how draw money - outside of food and services, then it may work. It boils down to a few people eating up 2-4 hours of table space that 2x-8x more people would pay to occupy that same space.  
                                                  While I want TTRPG Dining to succeed, I cannot make sense of it. The best I can do to help people game is to help them by referring them tools to cut their prep time, keep an easy set of materials, GMing techniques, and easy to learn the games rules and techniques. 

                                                  Thursday, March 3, 2016

                                                  Rationality Tools for Gaming: Thinking Fast and Slow Ch 21-23

                                                  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman has been a strong influence in game design of late. Especially since I want to design the game to allow GMs and Player to practice the virtues and techniques found in the book and others like it.

                                                  Gaming is an opportunity that allows a GMs to run scenarios where Critical Decision making skills can be practised repeatedly.

                                                  Chapter 21: Intuition vs Formulas

                                                  • Few Key Metrics vs Complex Factors. Death by Modifiers is not just clunky in Game Design, its not as accurate in light of the arguments FOR algorithms. 
                                                    • Still we need our best judgement to determine the Key Metrics. 
                                                    • It encourages a few handy metrics, those that our Attention can juggle. So KISS applies and the GM will follow suit.
                                                  • Narrative Biases. How they work and how to best use them in storytelling. Basically its the lack of information that makes us form narratives to Fit In All the limited Facts. 
                                                    • A story which has all the facts explained is more  believable and acceptable to our bias than a story which cannot explain all the facts. 
                                                  • 40% of people who are 99% certain are wrong. It just gives Certainty only a 10% advantage over 50% lolz. pretty much arguing that After a 60% chance of success the Player may not know what his odds are. How to do this mechanically? As well as how to practice this in a way that the Player will Role-play on the Overconfidence but will have the dissonance to know its really just 60% instead of 99% lolz. 
                                                    • I'm tempted to make Complex Scopes (I've begun to use Scoping as how the GM defines the challenges to exercise that much needed skill) a category where the maximum modifiers are up to a 60% chance of success, even if the PC would feel confident about it. 
                                                    • The way a seasoned veteran despite having 10,000 hour in campaigning has only his attitude to make him confident, and not his competence. Mechanically being able to have this in the game would give players RPing tools. 
                                                  • People don't like Algorithms. People dont like algorithms making the decision when they can be more consistent since there are biases and moods that affect the expert. 
                                                    • If a Gaming tool can be made into an Algorithm, try it. Example is Player Compatibility or GM rating. If you an make an algorithm for this you can easily identify weaknesses and prioritize techniques to practice. I love how subjectivity gives breathing room for my Ego but I do really want to improve Objectively. 
                                                    • Use algorithms to determine if a Player is getting enough attention or importance. One simple one is Timing their spotlight. 
                                                      • Egg timers. Thats why I recommend buying those egg hourglass timers. Every Scene all the players have the timers and everyone has to exhaust theirs before the Scene moves forward. 
                                                      • Or just use Apps to Count time. Ive been looking for a Board Game Timer App so I can have everyone just use that to count their time. With the remaining time the GM can experiment in ways to get the player to be more participative - like some key questions and alternative framing the situation techniques. 

                                                  Chapter 22: Expert Intuition, when to trust it? p. 234

                                                  • the two criteria for skills. It deals with the question of what would be a skill where expertise would have a strong relationship to success. As compared to skills that just show knowledge. 
                                                    • Criteria 1: Practice and Repetition. 
                                                      • Can it be practised repeatedly? 
                                                      • What is the cost of time, money, or opportunity cost per opportunity? What is the total cost per opportunity. 
                                                      • What would each opportunity to practice look like?
                                                    • Criteria 2: Clarity of Feedback.  
                                                      • How immediately does the results of the attempts arrive?
                                                      • How clear is the causality of the attempts and the other experimental attempts have on the results? 

                                                    • The chapter points out how in complex disciplines like prediction of Stock and markets, Economics, Politics, Technology trends,  are no better than a "random walk" or "a rolls of dice". That their ambiguous environment, delayed and questionable causal relationship to the actors, and limitations for practice has no opportunity to have a usable and practical skill to be applied. 
                                                      • There is a difference in a Political/Market/Economic Expert who knows all the Players vs his ability to predict who will win or fail. Prediction is different from Knowledge and a 'problem substitution occurs' where the problem is substituted with Knowledge of the Players instead of knowledge of the Circumstance and how all the complex factors interplay. 
                                                      • Market Analysis or Information Analysis in GURPS is not just a hard skill, but I will be using Base Rates of Small Business Success as a base rate to give a more anchored in reality approach (see Outside view).  
                                                  Chapter 23: Outside View p.245

                                                  • Base Rates. Look for them! I found that the base rates for small biz success. I know its "substitution of what is more knowable" bias but its better and more informed than a guess. I plan to use for difficulty benchmarks. Using it along with the rule of 3 and 10 for magnitudes of complexity. 
                                                    • Give more base rates in the System Mechanics notes (this is for my Open RPG system and my Warfare system). Until someone gives something better, anyway the best chances I have is making a wrong answer  and someone correcting them. 
                                                    • There is a surprising amount of base rates to be found and as well as 
                                                  • Planning Falacy! Every Players Dread, what i love about TF&S vs the other books as I've read is that it gives the answer in how to prevent planning fallacy better than my other books - Find the Base Rates! Getting things Done by David Allen basics would be the next thing to implement in a Facilitating a Game session in a Fun way where practice drills down its key skills. In the other books it talks about planning fallacy but doesnt give a constructive and step by step way to overcome them.
                                                  Hope this helps your game. Sorry I can't really do a proper GURPS or Open system tool as of late since my priorities are Chinese and TF&S in my free time. But These are tools I will bring to the game table so I hope you may consider bringing them to yours. 

                                                  Tuesday, March 1, 2016

                                                  How Google's research in Team Dynamics relates to your Game

                                                  Let me try to break this 5,000 word article to something easier. Note that I'm summarizing and simplifying its still worth checking out. As Game in the Brain - I can't help to always relate everything to TTRPGs lolz.

                                                  • Group Norms - How the group is organized, everyone's roles, and how the members relate to each other. Like the brain, we can have very sophisticated and powerful processing parts but how they worked together determined the sum's competence. 
                                                  • Everyone feels Valued: they can disagree, and genuinely care about what the other has to say and feels
                                                    • "As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well. But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined."  
                                                    • In TRPGs its creating an engaged and feeling relevant and heard. Particularly being able to listen AND WANTING to know what your fellow players want to say and giving them equal time. 
                                                    • That's why I recommend the spotlight counting method: regardless of everyone's powerlevel - everyone gets the same amount of attention. The guy who has a problem being more vocal and assertive is aided by the Facilitator: The GM. 
                                                      • There are various techniques in Story telling that makes an underpowered PC, relative to the Party, as relevant. Particularly those found in Narrative Fallacy. Using sequences of events and our irrational need to make a causal narrative even if this causality is really just an illusion. 
                                                    • My own flaw I failing to reign in some domineering players. I dont need to give just equal spotlight, if the player doesn't like the spotlight, but I can give him equal gravity = importance in the story. 
                                                  • Sensitivity to how others Feel and their Needs.
                                                    • I would go further and say "If you feel authentically curious and concerned" of the other people in the team and what they have to say then this is a good fit. If you can't make yourself just like someone or be at least curious of what they have to say and who they are, then maybe its time for an assessment of your relationship. 
                                                    • Wanting to know what other people have to say and who  they are requires a lot of internal behavioural hacking. Steel-man-ing, Benefit of the Doubt, Suspending Judgement, and Various other cognitive techniques comes into play. For me its just curiosity.
                                                      • - knowing I don't know makes me curious about other people and their own Point of Views. If you have something interests that may make you more interested in people, then maybe its worth hacking or framing the goal to include people and relationships in my interests. 
                                                  • Awareness and Adaptation. Its going to be a constant exercise and self evaluation. So get ready to make this a way of life (as with any skill worth acquiring or goal). So I need:
                                                    • a good attitude, 
                                                    • a list of evaluations about myself and from friends trusted to give me their honest and perceptive advice, 
                                                    • keep notes, and even record my games and how I act towards others.
                                                    • Create a scope of work (on my weaknesses and flaws) that is realistic and achievable. 
                                                    • Take the time to work to break the goals down to smaller achievable wins, 
                                                    • and be able to be more consistent and practice constantly. 

                                                  Source: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team New research reveals surprising truths about why some work groups thrive and others falter. By CHARLES DUHIGG