Thursday, December 5, 2019

Concepts I re-learned reviewing the Starter and Essentials Set.

Concepts I re-remembered reviewing the Material.

  1. 3d6 Bell Curve. Rarer Extremes, more frequent near the Median. 
    1. The biggest change is that scores at the extremes, rolling a 15 or higher or a 6 or lower (rolling 3,4,5,6, 15, 16, 17, and 18) is at the 18.52% chance, compared to on a d20 rolling 1-5, and 15-20 is 50% of the time.
      1. Rolling on or higher than 15 is 25% with d20 and 5%  with 3d6.
    2. Less Gambling and More Calculated Risks. The behavior that results when their chance to roll a 10 vs an 18 means instead of hoping you will roll a 20, you assume the challenge is beyond you. This is a style of play for problem-solving and manages some of the Min-maxing behavior that would result because of the knowledge of the Probability. Knowing an 18 is below a 1% and rolling
    3. DC 10 + Proficiency Bonus + Ability Modifier has more relevance because the median is more frequent. In a bell curve distribution, your odds for a hard challenge goes down considerably, so you try to break down the task to smaller manageable tasks/wins.  
    4. https://anydice.com/?dice=4d6l3
  2. Core Mechanic - The Check or Roll. Basing the core Mechanic on Conflict and Uncertainty - Will he climb the wall? ...Persuade the mayor? ...Negotiate the Deal? 
    1. Key Techniques that Teach Players and GM how to Frame a Situation. What is the Challenge? How the Players or GM define if its a Check to Persuade, to Save, Analyze or Understand, to Take Actions that will have an effect on a much more complicated situation. 
    2. A Situation drives the Roll. This means the Players think in Uncertainty and Problems, the GM and Players think in Conflict and Tension. Is the Objective to HIT the mark, or the Objective to Solve the Problem. My problem with certain game mechanics is that I grew up with the “Hitting” the Target mindset and that doesn't lend well to Storytelling. 
  3. Techniques of Narrating Combat or Thrilling Pacing. The mental model of Combat is Attack someone - which is not the case and limits the imagination. Giving players and GMs the arsenal in narrating High Tension Fast Pacing conflicts or uncertainty is one of the things I wish can be tackled in a Starter TRPG. Breaking down the Inputs, Outputs, Tools, and Techniques that allow anyone to have the capability to narrate thrilling conflict. 
    1. It's in Law School for Everyone in TGC I was reminded of Storytelling Pacing. The lecture covered how a lawyer can Draw out a scene moment to moment to slow down time. Controlling the Audience’s Perception of Time is important in Storytelling - even if you’re just the Player but especially so if you’re the GM. 
    2. Speeding up time means knowing the Techniques and having followed attentively HEMA inspired Books and novels. To prevent this barrier it's possible to teach key concepts of biomechanics (and keywords and concepts to understand), but save this for more enthusiastic gamers who want to polish their fight narration. 
    3. Speeding up Time is also seeing the Consequences of the Action or the “Wake of the Action” letting the imagination fill in the details. To imply the action by describing the bleeding gash, the three steps back and their stunned form, and seeing the spear shaft break the rock barely missing the mark, but seeing suddenly the form collapsing. 
  4. The margin of Failure, GM never Rolls. This is the Difference of an NPC rolling “To hit” vs the GM asking for a “Save”? Both situations the PC is being attacked/threatened but the Dice and Agency is with the Player. With Bell-curve probability and better framing techniques, it would be faster if the GM would abstain from rolling. 
    1. No more Roll and Opposed Roll. Set the Targets/Value and let the dice resolve the Conflict. The only exception is rolling between Two Players, in a contested roll. 
    2. Holding the dice, making sure the player knows they can frame or narrate how they deal with the circumstance. Not in the simple binary of attack and defend.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

D&D Starter and Essentials, a lot more work for my Target audience.

Bought the D&D Starter Edition and the Essentials Toolkit. My son is too young at 8, Turning 9 early next year.


  1. Kids  (below the target age of the material) need more Immersion Material. Good thing the Essential Kit has the Material my son needs - The cards and Maps. But it does need more and I'm wondering If I have a chance to prepare and find more, or how do I get him to slowly immerse week to week with our Dad and Son time. 
  2. Kids need smaller and more situational scenarios. Isolated set scenes to grasp the Core mechanic of "Roll in a situation" - so that the my son can grasp the Conflict of a Situation, as well as he has the power to Frame the Conflict, or Define the Problem (which Shapes the Solution). 
  3. Kids need more storytelling Prompts. It can be an hour just talking about the basic concepts of character creation to my son. With his cousins, I doubt I can cover it all in an hour. I need some activities that allow them to Prompt their storytelling. 
    1. Not necessarily Cards for every Prop. From Equipment to Character Features. Dont start with every bit of material - begin with Basic Outfit Packages. The soldier, the traveling tradesman, the pilgrim, etc... 
    2. Reminds me of Getting Once Upon a Time Card game, as part of this Box so that we can have some basic exercises. 
Now I remember why I spent 20+ hours a week in prep. I did a lot of prep because when the Game session happened and I wasn't prepared it would be 1 more week to correct the problem and it may lower the enthusiasm of players.




Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hopefully be able to Game again.

The conditions I need to be able to game again.
1) New Job. I need to find a different line of work.
2) Its going to be only gaming with my Kids and with my friends and their kids.
3) Its going to be 15-20mins away, which means less than a 2km away and within the new place we are moving to.

An update as real life has gotten me and I cannot do what I'm passionate about.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Social Actions - Character Options in Social problems in your games part 2 of 2

What is the Social Equivalent of Flanking?

Options in Combat engage us by giving us Power over the situation. I believe that the thrill of Combat is in the Thrill of being Empowered. Social Situations are more complicated and unlike Thrusts, Blocks, and Swings, they are not as Tangible to an Audience or any onlookers - but the Barbs, the Punching-Down, the Shade, and all the Tactics that Go into Social Conflict is real and something even more painful - given how much people feel disempowered by the complexity or how the Perception may stray from the Reality. 

I dont want to go into the Many Models in detail - GURPS with the many splat books and skills have a TON of options but is subject to a Lot of GM's fiat, L5R and WOD is known for this by giving Characters a Score to measure their Humanity, Honor, and Internal Fortitude and having some Actions specifically named, and D&D has a very basic one with a limited set of conditions.  Then there are those in REAL LIFE which are modeled in Books (and Role-playing Exercises) in Humble Inquiry, Socratic Method, Influence Skills, Negotiation Skills, Due Diligence Skills, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy , Cognitive Analytic Therapy, etc... 

  1. Do we want to explore Social Actions? 
  2. Do we want players to MASTER social Actions as much as they master Weapon maneuver Options?
  3. Do we as a GM want to be versed in the Social Warfare of Aggregated Social Challenges of a Much Greater Social Challenge? 
  4. What is scary and uncomfortable about Social problems in the Games? What are the barriers to entry?
  5. What would make it engaging?  

Monday, June 10, 2019

Do you like exploring Status and Wealth - Social problems in your games? part 1 of 2

Status and Wealth in TRPGs give a framework about seeing Social Issues in Action. Especially when the setting is NEAR modern. Of course it helps to have a LOT of experience (aka being OLD) but I wish there was something like a SPLAT/Source Book (example is HARN's Companions guide which is such a good explanation of status and feudalism) for the PHILIPPINES in various Eras.
It would be a VERY politically Incorrect book - showing how the law and society actually is biased and used - but would be such great reading and discussion.

Or it can be a very Interesting Google Doc with FORKING - where someone takes the same framework, makes a copy and adds the source in the reference links, and then makes their own spin and using footnote options to put their own explanation. The rule would be to see it as a Homebrew - (meaning its THEIR interpretation).

Its interesting how HOMEBREWs (example would be In my Traveller Universe IMTU) - Traveller has a very solid framework in Forking  http://rgd-traveller.wikidot.com/imtu used to allow People to have Respected Differences in Opinion and Perspective.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mechanics that focus on Prioritization and Agile Thinking

As a gamer, when i see an attempt to do something I think about "rolling to do something".
Now that I know the default of even a skilled task i 15-50% success (skill 10 in gurps but considering many -0 to -3 difficulty), I plan - which is like telling the GM: "I do this easier task (+2 to +4) that gives me a +1 bonus to my goal task" rolling these tasks and spending the time to do this tasks before doing the major task.
Because now its not a matter of succeeding - its a matter of prioritization: Which tasks will I do many minor tasks to buff my odds to succeed. So now Time = Success.

  • I cant wait to run a game where I use this mechanic and See how the players PRIORITIZE their time instead of opportunistically rolling. 
  • I want to see how creative players can be in Defining the Minimum Viable Product - the special skill of breaking down Goals to Achievable small wins and the minimum win they need to achieve their objective. 
  • I want to see players Pivot and adapt their strategies, as now that they Time is their resource for success - Problems are Moving targets that change over time. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cult of Personality - Ego in the Games

BJ Recio and I had chance upon each other in BGC recently and I got to catch up on what he’s doing with #Manilaencouters and all the other things I missed when I was not active anymore in Gamers and GMs.

One of the things I realized now that I’m older was the need to have a “Cult of Personality” that this GM was the best and that his capabilities is the pinacle. So much time has passed and my work and life experience changed my perspective. It was BJ’s words -“Cult of Personality” in GMing that best described when the GM became obsessed in racking fame, being exclusive, and had to keep the attention to himself. 

I realized that - I realized the rush and the need for that validation and how stupid and petty it was. The level of EGO at play explained the fractured infighting in many RPG groups in the Philippines. “The Cult of Personality” kinda made so much sense of how how these all made sense the history of gaming groups and how they rose and fell. 

Players were scores or trophies. Being in the center of attention was crucial. And of course twisting reality and perspective was one of the most intersting results of this obsession. This got me to reflect a lot of my “sins” or “faults” when I was a GM through college and until I stopped Playing at around 2015. Family changed all that, I had to change my priorities and I had to stop gaming because the 10-30 hours per week of my gaming had to be transfered to: Studies, Health, and Family. 

There is a lot of Emotional Investment in the Games. When our minds are fully occupied by the game - how its a skill that gives us a sense of flow and a thirst for living - it can make me driven. I still have that Obsessive Personality that really mentally dwells on negative emotions and memories.  Games are very much addicting to me - except that earlier in life I had a hard dose of reality when my younger brother was a better GM than me. Thats when a lot of my reflections revealed a lot of my flaws. I loved him and wanted him to be best, but I had the selfish desire that I had to be better. I was the older brother. That conflict and realization stayed with me: it stayed with me when I flunked grade 2 and had to repeat, and it came with me when I realized the limits of my mental abilities and my place in the attention of the world and in life. When games are my world and I realized I was not the best and have so much to learn is what changed my path. 

Accepting my brother is better made me want to get better, the EGO was still there, now my brother and I was obsessed in learning as many techniques from as many GMs as possible. You see the obsession when you look at the Game Mastering Technique List I made in Google docs. I was still obsessed and trying to learn and to rise up. Things changed when I started Philippine Table Top RPGs in Facebook. When I learned the mistakes of the past and the ego involved. I learned to Tolerate and Accept people and different gaming philosophies. I dont know when I became more Humanist in my Gaming - that I accepted the rule of Fun and learned to get along with good behavior. 

This is when I learned the CONSENT cardinal rule in TRPGs. That when a Player said this ws the Line not to Cross I took it to heart. And that MY GAMING had to evolve with those consitraints - if the Player had some boundaries but wanted to play with me - they could and I can work around it. TRPGs is an exercise of creativity - I shouldnt feel constrained as a GM - imagination is my resource. 

This is when I learned about the example of abusing consent that popped in my radar. The twisting the consent to maintain power over someone. That was when I remembered my brother and how I wanted to stay the top dog - to still be the older brother and to be the best. I realized then the amount of EGO I had invested in my Identity in Games and how I didnt’ grow. Everytime someone thinks theyre the best - they fail to be the student. This is where the Toyota Production System, LEan, Stoic and Humble philosophies of knowledge re-arrangded all my perceptions of myself for the EGO and selfishness I had. I could see it in BJ’s example and I felt really bad how much I’ve stagnated when I believed in my own superiority. 

NOw I see gaming groups and gamers are all in their own Journey and there are ups and downs and they are all in various stages of development. Like a good story - one’s progress in the story doesn’t make it better farther down its progress: we can rewind and fastforward in every point of time and we can see every painful part that needs to happen for every point of development. 

Its like having kids, knowing that any tiny change in history would have resulted in different personalities than that what we have now. Narrative Bias makes us value the flaws and the sequence of the story, despite that any change in our most precious loved ones will be irrelevant to who we are now or the infinite number of variations in probability they could have turned out to be. Narrative Bias helps us grow “Stockholm syndrome” making us love our current circumstance because of our human limitaitons. 

I’m no saint. Hopefully those who suffered when I was a bad GM to can forgive me with forgetting and not ruin the hobby for them. I hope I can play again one day, probably when my son is 10-11 and my daughter is 5, or probably not. I wish I can teach this to my kids and save them from the pain and threat of having a permanent flaw in this fully recorded age. With everything so much recorded and stored, I guess we need to be able to love people with their flaws more now than ever. To allow people to learn and forgive. 

I hope I get over the need to be the center of attention and just let people have fun, and take a place in helping it along.