Sunday, December 28, 2014

'Everyone should make everyone else have fun. Otherwise what is the point?'

Spoiler for the first game of thrones book - what's the point of Ned dying? Isn't reading books about having fun? Shouldn't he break out of prison and right wrongs? That's fun, right? What's the point of not having that fun?

It's because no, it's not about having fun. Stories started so as to give us warnings abount the real world. Story tellers added fun to the warnings so as to make people listen who might not otherwise.

If you only want to have fun, it's actually you stepping away from what stories are about, not the OP.

The whole "It's all about being entertained/having fun" thing going through gamer culture at the moment is poisonous. Don't get me wrong, I remember the era when it was all about self centered DM's doing things their way and only their way. That was poisonous - and the over reaction to that of making it 'all about the fun' is simply poison from the other end of the spectrum.

Originally posted by me, here

Saturday, December 27, 2014



Just when you're ready to chow down on some more internet bile, someone will go and slug you in the gut with a sneak attack of appreciation! Then you fall to the floor curled up around the blow to the guts, not knowing what happened.

Edit: On the same day. Weird.

More than one type of fun

There's more than one type of fun.

Essentially the benefit of rules is that they stop certain types of fun from happening - so as to enable another type of fun to happen! Maybe not everyone likes that kind of fun (Eg, I'm not a big fan of monopoly, but lots of people have fun with it). But if they stop other types of fun to enable fun type X to happen...and you don't like fun type X at all...then you should probably stop playing that RPG (and look for another RPG that more suits you).

Just giving up on rules arbitrarily (instead of adhering to all/some consistantly) means the book neither delivers it's type of fun, but at the same time you are all putting in effort to follow its rules - for no real reason since it wont deliver it's fun. That's why a lot of people start looking for rules lite games - because they ignored so many rules they find rules useless to follow, so they think the solution is to play an RPG with less of them.

Granted, sometimes the designer just designed the rules badly - the designer maybe had fun X playing, but following his rules doesn't lead to the fun he had because he designed them badly. But again, this is really a sign to move on from the game (though hell, I GM Rifts - and I haven't moved on from it's hodgepodge of thrown together rules, so can I talk about moving on?).

Anyway, essentially the benefit of rules is that they are a buzz kill - of a certain type of buzz. And that enables other buzzes to be experienced instead.

First posted by me, here

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Players Poor at talking with NPC's : a handling method

If you're going to have a right way to approach them, then I'd suggest something simple: After they try to talk to the NPC but get nowhere (or after about thirty seconds of all the players sitting frozen, not sure what to say and being frozen in analysis paralysis), say they get a roll (on chr or wiz or even int, as you see fit or even as the player might like, vs DC 15), but each roll loses Y amount of XP they'd have gained from the encounter. After three failed rolls all the XP is gone but they figure the right way to talk to the NPC (assuming there is a right way)

Originally posted by me, here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Looter Players

The looting is their story.

Granted it wont be a complicated story if they have no moral boundaries in regards too looting.

Your problem as GM is thinking the only story there is is the story you wrote before the game (or the module you bought)

No, the players are making a story.

They aren't interested in your story because they are interested in the story they are making by their characters actions.

Which I think is a way people instinctively play (when new to roleplay) and by that measure, the right way to play.

A more complicated story from their actions would come if they have various scruples, moral principles, NPC's they care about, etc. Sometimes the looter PC has these, you just don't see it. Sometimes the player can add these to the PC after play has started, if you talk about it.

The players are not like book readers and you a book author - you are not a book author trying to get your book reading audience to care about the story. The players are authors of the story themselves - every time they have their PC's act, they write some story.

The question is, how do they get YOU to care about their story?

I'm guessing hard rejection of this premise - because you only asked about how to make them care about your story. That's all that matters to you. So they wont be getting you to care about their story any time soon, I guess?

Originally posted by me, here

Friday, December 12, 2014

No ambition, no participation players? Maybe it's your pre written story, GM?

I posted this here, originally.

Generally I find players have no ambition or spontaniously participate because they have been trained not to do so, because about 90% of the time any ambition or spontanious participation gets in the way of the GM's pre written story. The GM frowns on them when they do these things. Then the GM latter wonders why he has to basically push every PC along through his plot or otherwise they stay still and the players start quoting monty python.

So for pre written story GM's, it is the GM. You can't keep scolding players for going off story without also scolding them for being ambitious and spontanious.

One reply was : "This is so true. I'm playing in a campaign on the side (for now) and this kills my player enthusiasm so much."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'The plot'/'The story' is itself a boardgame?

You get a lot of comments about certain RPG gaming as 'that's just boardgaming' in gamer culture.

But what if the urge to prep a sessions 'plot' that goes from A to B to C is just as much a desire to do a boardgame? You want a fixed progression to occur.

Of course a lot of GM's seem to fool themselves at this point "But my player could look in the wardrobe and find a gold coin at B, thus making B2 option exist - see, I don't have a linear path! Plenty of options! Of course then they go to C after that..."

But if we ignore the relatively minor detours on the way to C, the whole thing has a boardgame structure, really.

Friday, November 14, 2014

S Rank Slayer

Start of Play Tips
You start out with 6 instant attacks. This means you can click on that youngling S rank and instantly slay it, giving it no chance to attack you.

If you do it quickly you will get to 6 strength while the S rank is only at 4 or 5 strength. This will give you a small lead, so you can let the game idle for awhile - the repeated slayings will give more strength charge or instant attack charges. Let it idle for a minute or so, then come back to use instant attacks and hit the strength button.

How Strength Works

If the S rank has between equal to your strength or is only five or less higher than your strength, it makes an inaccurate attack upon you (you might say it's at a disadvantage). Once it's more than five higher than your strength, it makes accurate attacks - so you'll be hit a lot of the time. This will probably be the way your character dies, in other words.

If the S-rank's strength is 50 or less below yours they make inaccurate, weak attacks. Generally bandages will make these attacks meaningless - unless your run out of bandages.

S rank gain 1 strength every time you gain 1 strength from defeating one, but occasionally gain 2 - this is how they catch up and get past your strength.

They don't gain strength when you do instant attacks or use the strength gain button (or when you click on bonus swords). So these are the ways you can catch up to S rank that are stronger than you.

The 'STR: 7/16' is a bit of a tip of the hat to D&D - it represents starting out with a 7 strength in D&D and getting all the way to 16 strength. I like to think of it as what a character went through before even getting starting stats (as char gen stat distribution let you assign a 16 to strength straight away)

And something completely different
Also I'd like to promote a game by another author which should have gotten far more plays than it did - it's a platformer fire rescue game with a lot of nifty features :

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Adventure Writing Advice

My advice:

Don't come up with an adventure. Yep, this goes counter to a lot of other advice you'll find everywhere else.

What you want is for each player to make up a life goal for their PC, like 'Find my sister' or 'Build a grand cathedral' or 'Kill the man who sold me out and left me to die'

Then make up various forces in the area. Try to avoid 'if you don't stop them, the world will end' stuff.

Have a range - some forces might want to destroy a city. Others might just want to steal apples from an orchard. Write up three or so, ranging in size.

Then write up clues that would show these things are happening. Eg, creatures are stealing parts for a powerful arcane bomb in the night. Write up clues that could be found in a number of places - whether the players stay in a bar, delive underground or climb a mountain, try and write clues that could happen in as many of these places as possible - preferably all of them (though that can be hard).

Then write up how, if not interfeared with, these plans will happen over time.

Now do one or two more, per player, in regards to their own goals.

Finally, two things: accept that none of this material might get used!! The PC's might go and do something else. Let go of the idea everything you write will get used - don't fall in love with a piece of material and think 'this is gunna be so great when they do it' - because they might not do it. It's ok, setting wise it might be possible for it to happen another time. But if it's not possible anymore (it involves the king and the king died), just accept its gone. Sometimes its meant to happen, other times not.

And do not fear a split party!

(Sub note: Once again I wrote this somewhere else first )

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Link : 'Back to Square One: toward a post-intentional future'

Could concerns, feelings and qualia be like money - in the respect that money can become deflated - even worthless and has no traction in whatever markets are around it?

That's exactly what you've been thinking about! ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Open Mindedness

Once again indulging my habit of replying to others, then thinking "Hey, shouldn't that be on my blog?".

I just can't write the real good stuff* without a live conversation. Without a live virus.

Anyway, I wrote it on a blog by someone called Eric Kaplan - I think he writes fan fiction or something ;) Clearly just looking for a break into the big time! ;)

Anyway, the topic is open mindedness...because otherwise I'd have to edit the title of this post. And here is the reply I gave:

Thing is, I’m not sure many people are open minded about the ‘meta’ of open mindedness – ie, when they think they are being open minded, they are perhaps in some way actually closed minded.

In fact it makes sense that the more close minded you are, the less you would be open minded to the idea that you are close minded. In a Dunning-Kruger effect where the less competent you are, the less competent you are at identifying how incompetent you are. Here, the more close minded you are, the less open you are to the idea you’re incredibly close minded!

Being so very blind to the point where you are sure you see everything (check out Aton’s syndrome)
Who thinks, when they feel they are being open minded, that possibly, just possibly, just a thin chance maybe, they are being incredibly tiny minded idiots?

No one, because it takes a pinch of self lothing to do that. A pinch of salt over the shoulder. Somehow, in regular culture, open mindedness always involves realisations which are flattering to oneself.

* (by my own evaluation, anyway)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Looking at 'Clicka Lettuce Seed'

Clicka Lettuce Seed

I think I got lucky somehow. Or maybe the idle games market isn't saturated. Some other platformer games I've watched haven't gotten nearly as many plays in the time they were up.

2981 plays so far. So that's a few pluggings of the 'grow your own food' idea. Most of those were in the first two days. I only posted about it on the Stencyl forum, have been saving other options simply to get a better guage of effects. If I advertised on all the places I could think of, I wouldn't know which was contributing what.

Had a few bugs to fix - it's hard to catch them once you're used to the game. Probably should have had some way to test each hour quickly - without a way to go through the whole cycle of the game, you can't run a six hour playtest over and over.

So, I'm left wondering if I make a game with more action in it, will I get less plays? The next game is kind of a blend - part action (navigating the mazes of a natural landscape), part idle (gardening, again, of course!). In fact you can play the game as you choose, action or idle or a mutually beneficial mix of both. And a story in it!

It's a more ambitious project, having a features budget of around 25. Of course the budgets always get blown out, but I'm at feature 15 so far.

Clicka Lettuce Seed

Sunday, September 28, 2014

X-Force, issue 007

Just wanted to say this issue is cray cray. It's got some really hard questions all packed in next to each other like kids on a back seat. Cable clones look forward to one day of life and then have to pop themselves or die in agony (presumably) and that's just the start. Privacy vs 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' issues as well? Man, pile on the issues!

It's the sort of crazy thing that, while I acknowledge as hard to come up with and even harder to consistantly do, is what comics are damn good at and need to keep doing the thing they are good at.

Its an issue with issues. Which is what it should be. I'd recommend getting this one just to be baffled.

Also a neat cover of Domino on the front!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Clicka Lettuce Seed Idle Game

Clicka Lettuce Seed is an Idle game based on gardening that you can do in real life - I wanted to concentrate on that, as a way of making an Idle game and showing what anyone could do. It shows how you could save money and use that saved money to hit a series of donation goals - and past that, have the savings for whatever you want!

From the general game blurb:
A more true life Idle game, with actions you could take in real life to save money every day! Grow lettuce plants and harvest their leaves to save on buying food. Do it alot! Get through the eleven donation goals and you get to the final bonus points screen and finish the game! Play again to try for an even higher amount of bonus points!

Note: Oxfam is mentioned in the game so as to promote/advertise for them for free - it's not endorsed by them or anything, though.

Mouse clicks for everything. Look for the red 'start here' sign for where to begin.


Auto harvest and Harvest Cooldown
With Auto Harvest, when you first buy it it starts out at a 12 second cycle.

This lets you idle and is fine if your Harvest Cooldown rate is above 12 seconds.

But if your Harvest Cooldown is at, say, 10 seconds and your Auto Harvest is at 12 seconds, then your crop will sit idle for the two seconds between 10 and twelve. You could get that crop all the sooner if you upgraded Auto Harvest! And that'll make a big difference over each game day (which, incidentally, is 4 minutes in RL)

So if you upgrade your Auto Harvest to match your Harvest Cooldown, you will be harvesting the very moment it's possible to - thus optimising your harvest and getting it done as soon as possible!

Harvest Rate
At default, whenever you harvest there's a 10% chance you will destroy a lettuce when harvesting from it. The harvest button flashes red when a lettuce is lost.

The Harvest Rate button becomes available once you have 40 lettuce and 1 Karma. Pressing it will reset your Auto Harvest (possibly in future there may be a refund of saved money spend on upgrades) and make your harvesting slower! Yes, slower! But now there is no 10% chance of losing a plant.

This makes it more of a true idle game. You don't have to activate it, you could keep battling against slowly losing crops (and likely gaining far more than you lose, consistantly). But if you don't want to keep battling, normal harvest rate is the way to go.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Getting things done and how procrastination is kind of a fake term (3/3)

So how to apply it in practical terms?

Well, you need to figure what activities you think raise your quality of life above 60 per hour, how many points above they go and shave off part of them, putting those points/time in store towards paying off doing personal projects or homework.

And realise that your actual quality of life is, if you wish to have some control over what you do in life, lower than you thought it was. Every bit shaved off lowers your average quality of life. And that's hard to face!

However, shaving off just a part can feel like it's just a part - and you are doing enjoyable things, in part, towards racking up more payed off homework/project time. Probably shaving off 10 points/ten minutes from the activity towards paying off homeworks potential 30 quality of life per hour.

Write those stored times down. And when you use, them, cross them off.

You can see how this reverses the traditional 'stop doing fun things, that's how you get homework done' ideology.

Your instinct is to enjoy a certain quality of life, not lower your quality of life for a decade(s) distant goal. The old ideology doesn't cut it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting things done and how procrastination is kind of a fake term (2/3)

It'd be kind of funny if I didn't finish the material on procrastination...! But anyway...

Okay, say your quality of life is at 60 per hour. While doing homework or even doing art or even writing on your blog maybe (!) drops it to 30 per hour, or some figure below 60.

Now it's a question of what raises your quality of life score - perhaps you might rate playing video games or browsing web comics or drinking with friends or a number of other things as higher than 60 per hour. Maybe you'd rate it at 90 per hour.

This is the difficult part - if those things have become your own status quo for how you live, then you have to do those things or otherwise enter quality of life debt.

This is the hard part - to realise that to get homework done or projects you want to do personally (rather than being told by a boss) done, you don't live the quality of life you think you do.

Some segment of that quality must be put aside. An hour at 90? Perhaps 10 points of that need to be put aside towards paying for homework/personal project time. That basically stores 10 minutes of time.

But that'd mean your quality of life is actually 80, not 90.

But to get work done without quality of life debt (which just encourages procrastination, which encourages shame, which causes more quality of life debt) means some of your enjoyment activities must be partly dedicated towards paying for homework hours.

Doesn't make sense? Again, think of it like being payed and having to pay rent. If you're being paid $90 for the hour and the rent is $90 for an hour, you'll equal out. But if you want to put aside $10, then you can't afford the $90 an hour place, only the $80 an hour place.

And if doing homework drops you down to a $30 an hour quality of life, well then you'll want to have stored up a number of 10's (three, of course) to treat that hours quality of life at 60. To do that requires being at the 80 points an hour quality of life - which is the hard thing: Realising your quality of life is actually lower than you thought (IF you want any control over your life).

Still doesn't make sense? Well then you're left dreading homework when you could be playing video games or reading web comics or reading magazines and listening to music. And I've just explained why - because homework is less fun. You get that it's less fun. So you need to pay for that lack of fun, right? If you can't pay for it, you'll keep avoiding your homework because it's not fun!

If it still doesn't make sense, then the question to think on is how do you make up for those homework hours being less fun?

No, it's not by not doing homework! :p

Page 3/3 of this series

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Getting things done and how procrastination is kind of a fake term (1/3)

Let me propose it to you this way: Imagine your quality of life metricised to hourly chunks. Let's just give it a number and say your quality of life is at 60 per hour. Making it a neat 1 point per minute.

Now do you put off doing homework or writing or such? Oh no, procrastination.

But here's the thing, if we treat homework or other tasks as dropping quality of life, then they cause a quality debt to occur. Say each hour of homework is at 30 quality of life. That means you're 30 short for each hour of homework.

Are you going to try and argue the extreme long term "Oh, I'll eventually get a job and it'll pay such great money that this reduction in quality of life will be paid off"

Okay, so...are you doing your homework, or still procrastinating? If the latter, then that argument just didn't really work, did it?

So, what to do? I'll get onto that latter, in another post (lol!)

Page 2/3 in this series

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

D&Daughter #5: Shadow of the King

So yes, the dollhousing continued, with the declaration of chopping down a tree. So I prompt her to roll a strength check for it - bang - a 2!

So there's an excuse for combat to begin (well, the 'suggestion' of it was adopted...)! My notes have 'Can I do the actions?' listed - I think she started moving the remaining goblins over. Initially I think I proposed that the goblins, being half way across the map, would bust out their short bows since they couldn't reach us in melee. I get a fairly firm no to that (OMG, doesn't she realise she should say 'yes, and...'? LoL! I'm joking - there's a ton of yes going on here already. It's okay for a no to be mixed amongst it). So the lead one is coming in with his scimitar and the furthest one is firing his bow. Neither doing terribly well at it. And yes, when randomly determining who it'll shoot at, we have flagrant 'I hope it's you' comments! Ah, there's that classic D&D - together yet hoping some other party member gets burned first!

And oooh yeah, ray of frost crit on that goblin archer! Now you're a lawn ornament! Well, till you defrost!

I think this time she waited behind me, and I blasted both of them with ray of frost in the end while she did not draw their attention by firing. I guess you try out different approaches sometimes.

Having defeated them, I think there was some more interaction with Metal the dog, as he is to come with us. And with that the village map is done - it promptly gets flipped over to the half castle map on the other side. I think this double map came from  a D&D 4e dungeon masters kit, late in 4e's cycle.

Apparently this castle needs villagers! So she gets to placing them in some of the barracks.

But it is at this point that Cobra King makes his first appearance! This starts out as her liking some snakemen figures I have...fine, I'll go look up what it is...yeah, it's a Yuan-ti figure, scimitar held high! Proper cobra hood on the figure.

Not actually having any stats for such a creature, I decide if it comes to it, I'll use a Redbrand ruffian (I think that's the name) from Phandelver's monster section, reskinned as Cobra King. Mostly because Redbrand ruffians are freakin' dangerous, being a 100XP monster that has two attacks! At this point in our career, that's kingly!

Cobra King takes up one of the towers of the castle, while we scuttle in the other way. I'm not quite sure she understands how castle walls work (when viewed directly from above, as they are on a battle mat) as we sort of walk through the walls to get towards the villagers. But it just doesn't seem that interesting to make a fuss about - D&D monsters are pretty well built to work just by themselves. The specifics of the castle don't need to be enforced to have any eventual battle with CK to be fun (in a 'I'm dying, I'm dying!' way!). Possibly if the monsters weren't so self contained I'd enforce it - but I don't think it'd make up for what just having a well designed system and monster has to begin with.

So, we make it to the villagers and she's roleplaying them, that they have no food to survive and don't have any armour. Eventually we go to another room, again on the opposite side of the map to CK, and gather food and bring it to them - in what is more dollhouse action rather than rolling dice or anything. Whatever, why not just let pure freeform be the mode to get the villagers some food, when it's flowing nicely already and she's having fun (and again, it's not going to spoil any encounter latter).

And it was there that we finished up another section. I think I must have said something about having a battle, because although play here ended in us scuttling around like frightened mice in the shadow of Cobra King without fighting stuff, things went crazy next session!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

D&Daughter #4: Zombie in the Dollhouse?

And then we got a healing potion. No, we got two healing potions.

I don't know how I feel about assigning ourselves healing potions. They cost 50 gold by the book. I can't see any real middle ground alternative. I'm considering to just pay for them retroactively - save up the gold and 'spend' it, which is to say to lose it, afterward.

Anyway, my notes read 'fake pvp' here, as daughter gets a bit frisky in terms of batting my figure across the tile with her figure. I say 'Hey!' and then ask, does she want to run a battle between them? Even a fake one where we wont keep the results (ie, HP loss)? No, apparently!

Anyway, also apparently a set of stairs lead out of the dungeon up to the surface into the village map I have. We climb up in someones back room. And there are several goblins all through the town! They are stealing the crops from the villagers - which are pictured on the map as well as the homes.

But we really need a rest! Or so my notes said - I guess we both had HP damage by then and I was probably out of spells. So lets just sleep in this house we climbed into! Sure, why not? But what do the goblins do during the eight hours? 'Oh, nothing - they're full and they just sleep'. Okay, then.

I think I tacked on a stirge in one of the trees during the sleep, just to have something build up from us just napping all over the place.

As I recall, play got a bit 'dollhouse play' at this point - she's tottering over the map, saying she's doing this or doing that (and the goblins and stirge are on the other side of the map), she's eating the vegetables from the garden ("Wait, isn't that stealing the villagers food?" " grows back really fast!" "So...the goblins aren't really doing anything super bad, just being pests since the food they stole will grow back soon enough?" "..." . Yes, I include socio-economic forces in relation to morality that make us uncomfortable with our assumptions, when I game!!) and petting the metalic dog. The metalic dog is there because that's the mini I own and I don't really have any other dog figures. It is soon adopted and called 'Metal'. Come to think of it, all head bangers should call their dog Metal, so they can shout that in the park when they are trying to call the animal.

And now the idea is that the dog will chase off the goblins. Granted, I've played AD&D where you'd buy warhounds just to survive level 1, but you were in the fight with them. Also we watched those warhounds die in those AD&D games (yeah, I was DM'ing when the last died - I denied resurrection. To show the horror of war. Then they forgot about it anyway). So I'm not so jiggy on 'well, when there's trouble, we get someone else to solve it'. That sort of play is for Call of Cthulhu. So I signal my reluctance on that one. So she passes on it, but this leads to more doll house play - with a villager figure or two coming in and then she gets a bit bossy about what I'm to do on the map. I have a note reading 'I'm doing the talking', when I pick up one of the NPC's and have him speak rather than her animating both. As I recall I think she relented, but then it was 'well, what are you saying, then!'. It's like playing with a GM that you are thirty years older than - exactly the same emotional base, just lest sophistication in the delivery. BUT, if you're gunna play with other people, you deal with other people rather than expecting a sanitised ideal. That way karma might eventually come and they might put up witht the lumps and warts of your own personality, one day. Not that I did not chide on the bossy bit.

"So, I think maybe a zombie has been attracted by the goblins noise", I attempt, bringing out one from the bottom of the map, having sustained what I can of the dollhouse play until now...

"Nooo, no zombies!"

Zombies are apparently a bit creepy. Though weve faced about three skeletons already.

So, I see I have a passed skill check and I decide to try out that combat wheel idea, placing a red die for it on the map. She even checks me 'Hey, why are you standing next to it!?', as last time she shot an arrow. I say you can use it at range or for a melee attack. My wizard is hitting it with my staff...wait, no, my sword. Wizards can start out with swords these days rather than a stick. I think I hit the AC on it as well, converting the passed skill into 10XP.

I'm thinking now of making some skill check tokens to potentially plonk onto the map, because otherwise I'm just not thinking of things in time during play and so play is gravitating to violence only for XP. And as said previously I want to lean it another way. Violence isn't violence when there is no alternative - it becomes normalised and worse, it then (if you never die) becomes boring (and then the tiresome 'oh, I'm all about the story!' brigade get their claws into the whole affair based on that).

So for this episode, I leave you with the dollhouse play, with the lack of a climax that it usually entails. Next time we might actually engage the goblins and that stirge, but mostly because dollhousing fails when it comes to chopping down a tree and rolling very badly! Till next time, question is fail! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

D&Daughter #3

So, where were we?

'Have you been writing the story?'

She's spotted me taking notes. In fact I think no matter how stealthy I try to be, never mind if I'm writing down health changes or gear gains, people notice when I write notes?

And of course she means the story that's just happening as we do stuff. We don't have a pre written story/module here or anything. Though we do have some nifty tiles and a ruleset.

Anyway, at this point I needed to rest and I'd forgotten about short rest hit dice spending. You can actually spend them while your unconscious - I'm pretty sure I asked Mearls that and got a reply! But I can't find it right now, so don't trust me on that!

But I'd forgotten, so I need an eight hour rest - and daughter is kinda incredulous at that. Curious - I mean, I suspect she knows to some degree that for us it's not going to be us waiting eight hours in real life. And yet still incredulous?

Anyway, so I say do you think monsters could turn up while were resting? I get an adamant No! Given there's a magic circle on the tile I say perhaps it's a circle of protection, blocking out monsters - but maybe we can only use it the once.

We'd finished play about there. But it left me itching for revenge against a skeleton. When next we played I tried to establish that another skeleton was coming out of the portal we'd fought one from before. But she's all like 'no!'. C'mon, you're supposed to say 'yes, but!' - all the cool kids are doing that and it's the only way to play! No, I didn't say that! Just a bit of satire. Eventually she relented to putting the skeleton in the next tile, which contained a number of stone coffins - so that pretty much made so much sense to me I rolled with it. However, since I'm trying to go for an average encounter (100 XP) but I don't think we can handle an average due to lack of party synergy (ie, only two members), I add a (twig blight reskinned as a) spider next to the skeleton. She protests, and I stay my ground, but then she grabs it and puts it in the webs in the corner of the room. Well actually that does make alot more sense, so now it's further away.

And I propose stealth, since were kind of around the corner and out of sight of it. We fail miserably and then we have that weird 'no, I was here' talk since I said we'd be walking around the corner, having moved my character. But she stays hidden around the edge. Actually reflecting on it now, you just determine if you get a surprise round, then people just do the round so really she should just move her figure as she will after finding she had the round or not.

I have some notes that read 'Oh, skele is forward'? I do not know what this means now. The next line is 'Who fights who?' I do recall as I think I got higher initiative and then she wanted to be all over the skeleton, while I was saying I wanted revenge!! She relents in the end to slay the spider in the corner, which on her turn she hits neatly and minimum damage would kill it. However, after I magic missiled it without laying it low, on it's turn, the skeleton drops me with a roll of six on damage (+2 = 8 damage!). Just enough to drop me to zero! Dammit! Again I am defeated!

There's a thing I'd like to qualify here - disappointment that's within the expected range of the game vs just disappointment with the game (or session, or peoples, even) itself. I think a lot of gamers have real trouble having a seperate notion of them - they can't be both sad at a in game result, but actually happy with the game in general. Any time they are sad, the game is going bad. I suspect it's this 'all about the fun!' cultural backlash against the tyrannical DM's of the mid 80's to mid 90's. Now the tyrant is fun. Everyone must reject any reduction in fun, utterly. It's the one true way - if you're fun is 7 out of 10, you can't accept it going to six or five! No! Reject immediately! Only same or higher! I mean I've heard an account of someone playing Phandelver (with an oversized group), not getting to kill a goblin and...saying D&D 5e was not for them.

Thing was, I was put down to zero hp, and I was dissapointed - but I was not dissapointed in the game! It's possible to feel both!

Anyway. So now the skeleton is on her! And it's hit her while she's missed and the air is filled with tension!

And then it hits her again and...that'd take out the rest of her HP. And because were a two woman party, there's gunna be no one to stabalise us, let alone finish the fight. This would be the end!

And this is where I remember second wind. Buuuut...well, it's not applicable, since you do it on your turn, not when unconscious. So I kind of half describe to her were gunna cheat (yep, I've decided to cheat!) but only half because I know the technical details of that are going to be anti-climactic to understand. Still, it's better than just pretending we played the rules absolutely normally. So we cheat and roll the second wind dice, which gets all her HP back! And I think she still got hit one more time and I rolled a 1 on my stabilise check! That means two fails out of three - so every time she rolls to hit, I'm rolling for my life on my turn! She might get through but I might be dead! Buuut, I make it! Delicious 16's rolled (way more than the 10 needed, thus delicious!). And finally she lays the skeleton low, with her very next turn going towards stabilising me and I think she made it on the first roll!


And oh yeah, some XP!

Though I'm not going to make a habbit of this ret conning second wind cheat - I'm commiting to reminding about it during play when it's still possible to use it and damage has been taken.

And that's when we short rested and spent hit dice for the first time!

Next time, we just 'luckily' find some healing potions - and teeter on the edge of casual PVP! Plus gratuitous goblin garden thieves!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Incrementing the incrementer

Hmm, don't want to write up my notes (doing enough of that in writing up my book notes). So...I'm working on the last little pieces (of the main gameplay) for a so called idle game. It's one of those painfully edutainmental or whatever you call it ones, as it's about suburban farming and setting up trays of plants (rather than the hard yacka of digging and de weeding soil), going from saving money to selling excess produce.

I'd actually intended it to be shorter, then insisted to myself to include the full money making cycle. I've kept a record of each 20 minute chunk of programming I've done. Though that's just the programming - I've skipped listing times for light debugging (ie, fairly straight forward debugging that doesn't require reprogramming). And I don't include compiling time. AND I don't include testing time. It's a bit of a gyp, but those things are fairly straight forward to me and I can do them like some people can knit without thinking very much - just on a sort of auto matic mode.

That was all in an attempt to budget the project instead of giving more game to the world without any sense of proper recompense to the author, like so many programmers out there do (many of them not needing any extra funding and so like a semi retired person who takes up a job for a hobby that someone else needs to pay rent and food, kinda annoying).

We really need a union. Yeah, I know, blasphemy word to some of you. Even as you've no doubt benefited from strength in numbers from time to time (or alternatively the world is a kind place full of kind bosses and kind government officials who helped you - that's how you got along. Wait, no, you were just that tough you did it. Never relied on any infrastructure at all. Of course)

Monday, August 4, 2014

D&Daughter 5E

So the next time we sat down to play she'd laid out the dungeon tiles again in the same order as before, but I seperated the next tile and added my diary to represent a rickety bridge. She looked at it dubiously along with me saying it was a 15 dex check to get across safely. Well she made it and I didn't!

I have this thing I've added to play but it hasn't really kicked in yet where if you pass a check you record that. Latter you can spend them to attempt to use a target wheel to have a chance at XP, or you can fight animated marionettes (I think I've mentioned them in a previous blog post) to get XP. This is because while combate encounters are fairly discrete and work by themselves, the D&D designers still haven't done that with ability checks. Anyway, we haven't done these things yet, but she records her passing a check dutifully when I inform her.

It's a ten foot drop as I called it so my wizardess takes 1D6 from falling off the bridge, then has to scrabble up the other side to rejoin the fighter.

And were at the next room, which has skeletons chained to the wall in its tile art. She thought we'd have to fight them all in a previous session and me knowing that there being eight of them that's way over what we can handle, I'd suggested they are just chained to the wall skeletons that don't move. Indeed this time I suggested that the dias in the middle of the room was a map. It kind of looks like a map on the tile art (as it has many undulations), though it isn't. And it'd be a skill roll to try and decypher where a hidden stash of treasure is. And it'd be non violent annnnnd she's dubious. No, actually she's 'No it's not!'. And 'It's a portal!' and 'And a skeleton comes out!' (or it may have been 'Sooo what sort of monsters could come out?' she asked, looking around at the figures. I think it was which is what prompted my scaling concern below)

Righteo then! So, I'm guessing that we can take on two skeletons for an average combat. So I put them out and she wants to be at the back so she can shoot her cool long bow which she was attracted to from the begining in some of the starter set art ("I'm like that one *pointing at (a drow, IIRC) archer* but a girl!"). Okay, wizard tank! I decide I atleast have mage armour on, anyway.

I think they get a massive initiative roll and go first. One misses and then the other one murderises me, partly because of the prior damage I'd taken from traps. I crumple to the ground at zero HP. And here, yes, I propose that perhaps one skeleton is the amount we can handle? She does not resist me taking one away.

Afterwards I find it technically is the right XP amount. But the thing is I think a party synergises - and so a party of two is not half as strong as a party of four - it's actually weaker than that. So really two skeletons is too much. Or so I think. I'm not blaming the devs for that - the game is for four players, really and so really were 'doin' it wrong'. ;)

I think a bit of a whiff fight occurs between the skele and the fighter. And it's tense. Whiff is fine when it's like two seconds between each roll and one hit could crumple the hated skele (and one crit or even a good roll could drop the fighter. And at this point I'd forgotten/didn't really know about the fighters second wind healing). And then she lays it low with her long sword (as it had obviously advanced on her and made bow use disadvantagious)

And of course whiffs are even more tense when you're making freakin' stablisation rolls while it's happening! Actually I notice now that if you make three passes (straight 50% chance to pass) then you stabalise yourself, which is nifty, I think! Previously in the play test you were just trying to get your head above water by passing (only a nat 20 would get you out of dying).

So she goes to stabalise me (do either of us own a healers kit? We aught to! They auto stabalise!), just needing 10 or higher on a wisdom check (oh yeah, she's at -1 on that...hurr hurr...fortunately made it anyway!)

So, lets go back so we can rest, hey?

"We can't go back"


"We can't go back"

But can't we just go back through the tunnels and that other portal?

"No, it's gone"


"And I needed you for this next room.", she says, pointing at the wizardly accoutrements in the next dungeon tile, despondantly.

So what am I gunna do!?

I find I have gotten only a little way through my notes and it's taken quite some typing to get it out, so I will pause at this juncture though play did not. Till next time 'Question is a fail!'! ;)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Some D&D 5e starter set play with my daughter

An account of playing some D&D 5e with my seven year old daughter. Atleast at first level I think D&D has evolved now to cease requiring several combat encounters to wear down the PC's before a combat become frightening and you're at risk of the soft losing option of unconsciousness (as opposed to hard lose condition that is PC death). Now, since part of your HP are stored in hit dice (formerly healing surges in 4e), it means you can have alot of HP for a longer days fighting, but you can loose all your current HP in the fight your in. It's like a classic D&D character has 20 HP while a new edition one has 10 HP and 10 stored in hit dice. The 20 HP character really has no fear of soft losing to a monster. The 10 HP does, thus making every combat an actual game you can lose where the monsters do 1D6+2 or suchlike, whereas the 20 HP character has to be worn down to 10 to be scared of losing. BUT the 10 HP character can call upong their stored HP to continue adventuring latter, like the 20 HP character can. I think it's a pretty clever way of compromising between the two. And in regards to this account it matters alot, because the combats are all discrete and there is no fixed sequence of them for a wear down effect - making 5e a pretty important choice for this game (and given its simpler than 4e (atleast for me), also important for ease of play with a young player)

Indeed I must stress, no actual pre written adventure is involved below, despite me owning the starter set - things were just thrown together as we went. And frankly it turned out to be a classic dungeon in doing so (actually not so classic as in there were no left right choices and empty rooms. Which is probably a plus).

Also play went fairly quick and I did not want to bring down the excitement by taking a long time writing notes - thus my notes became fairly short and with time, cryptic to me. I hope this all reads fairly well!

Anyway, so I own some dungeon tiles from a D&D basic set from way D&D 3.0 days? I bring them out and my daughter swooned over them and laid them out herself. Okay, you go make the dungeon then...

At some point she asks pointedly 'Aren't you playing too?'. So yeah, why aren't I playing as well? I pick the wizardess, since I like her fireball thingie on her figure (though she doesn't start with any fire spells, IIRC) in what is probably a fairly ill thought out party composition moment. But I just went with what I felt like rather than trying to knuckle down every dang choice into some optimisation. But cleric prolly would have been better.

Anyway, so we have two figures on the board and as she moves her figure around the corner I declare there's a pit trap...there *pointing* on that square and that her character risks falling in. So I pick out the Phandelver bit on a pit trap, with a spot check and then a dex check if you fail. I think she spotted it and made great ado about pointing it out and telling me to come on and walk around it. My notes mention a stirge somehow coming in, I think at my behest, and a nat twenty from her for initiative. It lasted not very long! Honestly I thought the first thing she'd fought was a spider, which she (not me) put in the webs of the room herself (I didn't make the monster be there. Though I used twig blight stats for it because a giant spider was too badass for us). Probably we did both, with her slaying them (I think I held my turn at first, since it's more about that moment). She got some XP - and I did too, which I did enjoy getting instead of simply being an observer like GM's generally are. I think we found some treasure in the webs. 3D6 silver each! No, she has no real feel for currency so it's not that amazing a moment. Anyway I really should have written these notes up sooner! I think we played for about twenty minutes and I wrapped it up there, for various reasons of HR management, really.

Next session, further on there is a trap and I succumb to it for something like 2 damage. She gets quite insistent 'C'mon, heal yourself' and I say in this game wizards can't 'Just say you can!' 'Well, I'm saying it's like these rules say it is, and they say a wizard can't'. So I go on with my two damage, which matters latter.

We get into some brick and stone collecting since those are on the map and she's under the influence of minecraft. Which consists of saying we do it, enthusiastically.

We get to a room which has a 4X4 grid of strange symbol tiles on it and suddenly she decides there's a code. It's about now that it become empirically proven I'm not the GM (or atleast, not all the time). I really have no idea as to how to solve her puzzle, as there are no clues and I opine as such. I end up just trying squares one at a time in a brute force method. Eventually I can see a pattern to it that she had in mind and it is solved! I think it opened/she said it opened a portal or something, then. We obligingly hop through.

I have '2 more??', 'Bottles' and 'Be 1! Is 1??' written in my notes. The bottles refers to more imaginary world resource collecting and that we never really had any bottles to collect the water on the dungeon tile - so suddenly the last chest we'd been to had some bottles in it. '2 more' might have refered to the last step of the puzzle, but along with the 'Be 1!' stuff, I have forgotten! Something went down! This is what you end up losing even if you take some notes.

And then there was a skeleton. I called this one into being. I'm beginning to suspect that while there was a kerfuffle on forums about hobgoblins and bugbears having special damage, the skeleton is actually a secret bad ass when it has considerably more HP than a goblin, which gives the same XP. Or maybe it's because I totally forgot about their bludgeoning vulnerability - must bring a club next time!

Anyway, the first seemed fine at she rolls another nat 20 and crits it to shattered pieces! The skeleton does not get to shine on its first appearance...not yet, dear heart! Anyway, more XP! And now were breaking up a table that's pictured on the dungeon tile for materials! And that wrapped up that roughly 25 minute long session.

And so that's the first side of my notes written up. Next time, the rickety bridge, the skeletal terror and a wizardesses unslaked thirst for revenge!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Impromptu D&D 5e games are going well

Basically monsters and traps in the game I've/we've run can be popped in at any moment, so there's been no prepping of the dungeon - just spontaneous 'I think a monster would be over there!' stuff.

Must write up some non violent encounters and suggest them into play, otherwise the violence becomes normalised and then it ceases to be of interest.

I've basically got two methods of dealing with non violent activities - each time you pass a skill check of 15 or higher (and sometimes on 12 or higher) you note down you passed a skill roll.

You can find target wheels or combat training animated mannequins.

With the wheels, if you have a skill point you can cross it off and make an attack against the wheel. If you hit it's AC 15 and do 5 or more damage, you get 10 XP. If you miss, you get nothing. As stated previously on this blog training wheels can be found in various ruins.

With the mannequins these were used for training troops and so can also be found in various ruins. Each is effectively a skeleton. You need five passed checks to animate one into combat. Getting a surprise round is very difficult to achieve: A dex (stealth) check of 20 or higher and they don't spot you and you get the surprise round. Probably only a rogue could manage this). And you need an amount of mannequins that would make for a medium difficulty combat. Remove that number of checks from your sheet. PC's can pool their passed checks for this purpose.

If they knock all party members to zero hp, they cease attacking but they will not stabalise you, so it's likely you'll die. OR if the GM says they do before the combat begins, in the event of everyone being knocked down they will attempt to stabalise you (straight roll vs 15) with their weird fingers but your HP maximum goes down by one until either you donate 500 gold at a temple of a god that favours you, or perhaps it can never be recovered (it's probably the latter, but were not going to make you feel comfortable about this result). The mannequins have, over the years, gone a bit chaotic and rogue, so they tend to attack anyone who is around - it's not really possible to have someone who is 'out of the combat' to just come in and stabalise the party if they all get knocked to zero - the mannequins stay active for some minutes after their opponents are laid low and will attack anyone else who comes into sight. Hopefully they are of the sort that stabalise their former opponents! Generally it's possible to tell which models will or wont do that by looking at them.

The manequins only activate if the players have sufficient skill passes to activate them and decide to do so. Over time the mannequins repair themselves and reform, but this can take some time (weeks or months, even - up to the GM). They grant the same XP an equal number of skeletons would grant.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gamble based RPG's and the urge to 'put the players to the test'.

Originally posted by me over here. In regard to putting the players to the test, an urge perhaps felt by people even as they use a largely gamble based RPG:

I'll give the background to this 'challenge the player' impulse.

1. D&D and many others have no option for not to the death of gaining XP, or little in the way of that.
2. So players are forced into potentially lethal combat in order to play at all.
3. Which is based around random rolls, which they can't affect.
4. Then the players get hissy when they lose (especially a beloved character perma dead) or threaten to get hissy or the DM just second guesses they will or might.
5. The DM then starts looking for ways to invent challenge for the player, so it's the player who screwed up if they die.
6. The dice are still there and get in the way of #5.
7. It all hinges on the fact that to play at all involves going into potentially lethal combat, whereas if there was a non lethal option then players could choose (that actually gained XP and gold) whether they go into non lethal activities or potentially lethal combats is their choice. Thus forfilling #5 by dint that they could have chosen non lethal/stayed in the shire, but didn't.

From someone who wrestled with this, each of those steps, for years.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

D&D 5e starter set, solo player

I'm thinking of running my daughter through the set. As intimated previously, I don't want to require violent play in order to play at all. Not to shield her from violent play (ie, killin' goblins) but because it makes being voilent not any sort of choice at all/not anything that can have consequences. So as per some previous posts I've got in mind some exploring of ruins. Some hunting for game to cook and sell the meal to those that pass on the road. It'll start near the start of the starter set adventure (wow, said 'start' too often there) so maybe she'll enter it by chance? I haven't drawn up the contents of the starting hex she'll be in - as said, it'll have some ruins. But not sure what else. I'm thinking one of the ruins will have some warning of a fell creature behind a door - and from behind the door the sound of slow scratching on the inside of the door will eminate. It'll be a skeleton. Don't have to fight it. Probably best not to if you're a solo player.

Might have a stirge in the distance as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Band Vs Audience Participation

I made a couple of posts over at reddit, as is my wont to put content somewhere else then I link the first here on my actual blog.

Strangely it got no upvotes - I'm not sure why given some more ephemeral topics near it got 26 upvotes. Weird, you'd think a more fundimental thing would get more upvotes than a thread on wanting more randomness? Maybe I don't get it? Anyway, here's the first post:

Coming away from the GM-nastics thread, I think it's probably good to outline a certain way of playing. I'll use a band analogy, because I think there's alot in common between bands of musicians and...well, atleast the way I run games.

Okay, now there are some musicians who will engage in audience participation. Maybe he gets the crowd to shout out some names or things and then this clever musician combines them all into a song. Okay, that's nice, the audience is a bit more than just a passively observing audience.

But in the end it's about the musician being the creative one in the whole thing.

The OTHER model is an actual band - where people write songs together. Not just one guy taking a few words from the others and then he goes and writes the song all by himself and how clever is he. They work on it together - roughly equal in creative value (sometimes they aren't that equal, but it's never allowed to become to unequal).

Part of this is compromise - you can't demand anything, because you're working with equals. And you can't demand to be entertained, because you are not some passive audience. If you just try and demand someone writes some lyrics about X (like you come up with the idea to do it...but someone else goes and does the work), that's a double black mark!

Frankly the majority of gamer groups seem to follow the former model - the players yell out stuff in some category the GM called out for, then the GM combines it all into something as he is the sole creative force. But these groups think of their players as very liberated, when they compare themselves to the now more rare groups where players are pure audience and merely observe the great GM's work. So obviously when they think of themselves as liberated, any GM who doesn't just grab yells from the audience seems to be blocking the audience (rather than wanting more from the audience than this fairly light amount of creative input).

Ultimately the band can actually look like less creative freedom, because you can't just scream out something and have someone weave it in (to whatever degree that person will decide to weave it in). So I get how it can appear.

On the other hand though when you suddenly realise you are not just waiting for the GM to subtely tell you how to follow his plot/story and instead how you play your character is what makes the story right here and now, then you might realise how constrained the prior liberty actually was.

Edit: Actually what might be fun is if anyone wants to present a player situation and I will attempt to give an example of BOTH methods of GM'ing responce to it, for contrast.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Non violent game world activity - target wheels.

Just an idea to generally test the actual combat abilities without having to go into actual combat to do so - scattered around various ruins are target wheels. These magic devices helped train soldiers when the ruins were fortifications and by their nature were very heavy or magically fixed. Now adventurers often find them and attempt their skills at the wheels. For ranged it's simply a target. For melee, it magically spins and one must hit the right spot with a weapon when it pulses at a certain moment with dim magical light!

An adventurer can learn a thing or two from these wheels, but not consistantly - perhaps they worked better in the old days, but now generally each adventurer can only use a wheel once. After that maybe in days or weeks they can use it again, perhaps after years (and since they tend to aid only those of level 1 to 2, they are probably no use after that). It's up to the DM! As best you can make them feel like they might never find another and this is a special moment!

Players can roll to hit with their weapon - if they hit and do 4 or more damage, they gain 10 XP! If they miss they can try again, but there is a 50% chance they will get no XP from it. You really want to hit on the first go. Also the devices give nothing to those who recieve help - they were made to resist cheats!

These wheels can be found in various ruins, so they become a kind of treasure to discover!

A note on XP - I'm planning for all non violent activies to grant XP. It depends - you may feel PC's have to have survived an actual combat to be worthy of getting to level 2 (if you're fine with it, no need to read this paragraph!). Ask your players if they think so to. If so, then set up a combat or three they could choose from and if they never go into any, perhaps they stay 1 XP short of level two in perpetuity! If they are okay with leveling without ever facing combat but you wish they had, atleast you now know that these are combatless level 2 characters - and so a different thing than those who survived combat to get to level 2! Possibly no one else but myself might be bothered by this - so just indulge this inclusion! :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Non violent game world activity: Making torches

This is in rough draft form, so forgive the stream of conciousness format!

This time it's making torches, either for sale or for personal use. I'm thinking maybe you roll a DC 15 check, with the GM randomly determining if it's a INT or WIZ check to find or dig up a pool of bubbling tar.

Once you've found one the GM randomly determines if you use INT, DEX or WIZ to make it. Ie, if you're figuring out the technical details - or if you're just juggling the components into place - or if it's a matter of working with what you have into a synergous whole.

Roll a nat one and you fail and the pool has been used up (whether that's forever or a few weeks is up to the GM)

These tasks assume this is not the end of the world stuff - your character is not pushing themselves to the limit, because frankly that's a sucky way to live. So you can make two attempts at torch making a day.

Must figure out a way of fitting various tasks with each other.

Also write them all up in a set format as well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ideas for non violent RPG activities (re D&D 5e) #1

I'm working on this post in regard to the sort of conflict between being forced to place a bet (as opposed to the excitement of making a bet when you want to) and a combat system being the only fun of a book. So you have to do combat to have the fun of the book, but that means your forced to make a bet (the 'bet' being gambling your characters life on dice rolls for XP and gold)...and maybe you can see the contradiction.

Anyway I wanted to have some ideas for play with the piece and although I can't think of a bunch, I thought I'd have some posts that include one at a time.

Lumbering - if you do this, you're okay! See, I want to keep with the gamble aspect, so maybe a strength roll DC: 15 and if you fail that, a DC: 15 con check or otherwise you are too tired to do any more lumbering today and you have to make a con check tomorrow to see if you're too tired for it then as well (if that fails you can try the next day without rolling again). If you're using a hand axe, you are at disadvantage on the strength check.

You can make 1 silver for a log at town or 5 copper at a village. Probably up to three a day (perhaps after a week it's just one a day as local demand diminishes)

Gamble aspect: Go to the blacksmith and you can get your axe sharpened by a blacksmith (for 1 silver in town or 5 copper at a village if they have one) - this gives you advantage on the strength check. However, sharpening only lasts for that day (sorry simulationists, this is for game purposes. Please don't argue. It's boring)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Who are the Dunyain?

Imagine a vending machine. Now imagine it has legs. It walks around, sloshing it's contents around inside itself as it waddles across the landscape, gathering more contents. You can go up to the buttons, press them - maybe put money in or maybe you put money in but you've jimmied the coin collector so it simply pops out again into your hand. It's rather like those beetles that have learnt to simulate the antennae movements that will prompt an ant to give up it's crop of food to a fellow ant, since that helps the collony - but since it's a beetle, one who takes while only aping the gestures of giving, the circle is broken.

Is that what the Dunyain are?

Oh no, that's how the Dunyain see you!

You better understand what they are by understanding how they see you! Because from outward appearance they are just another ant...sorry 'person'. All benign, all loving, all waving their antenae in just the right way for you to open your wallet to them. To hand over your children to them.

Also they are part of the speculative fiction (speculative fantasy fiction, no less) 'Prince of nothing' series, by Scott Bakker.

Here's the fan forum and the link, for a few more twisted perceptions on the idea:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Looking into Stencyl

Found this tutorial by a user the easiest to get into, in programming with it for the first time

It shows the tutorial in flash with the game at the end of the tute, so even if you're just curious you can load it up to see how it ends.

It's slightly out of date with newer versions of Stencyl, but I managed to muddle through. So if you have trouble post a comment since I was able to get through it I might be able to help you do the same.

Anyway, I kind of want the flash capability but at the same time if it's more of a struggle than using Unity is, then I dunno about pressing on with it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Watch Dogs : Did hacking just turn out to be a gimmick? Do all sandboxes suffer from gimmickdom?

So it appears that perhaps just classic old GTA style driving can get you away in Watch Dogs. And even if you do hack, you don't see it because it's behind your point of view, or if they show an exploding pursuer in slow mo it tends to make you crash because of the disorientation from the camera going from the explosion back to driving.

Do all sandbox games have this trouble? Dishonoured seemed to have this problem too, where just a few powers were needed to complete a mission and anything else was just getting baroque about the matter. And the sandbox - if it doesn't force the use of hacking, then hacking becomes a throw away, unnecessary gimmick. If it is forced, then you get less of a sandbox!

That's the thing about a sandbox - it tends to make everything not matter. Just another thing amongst many things. A bit like real life!

But seriously, do sandbox game makers need to start thinking about how they implement these things, giving a secondary layer of rewards for using hacking. So someone could be rated a supreme hacker if they wanted to, or maybe they might focus on conventional escapes and fighting.

But ultimately it's the audience that might have to accept that any new thing in a sandbox will, at best, have some incentives and ratings for it - it's not going to force gameplay to be entirely different, all by itself.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Enquiries that try to appeal to the heart

I watched a bit on the 7:30 report I think it was on an enquiry into the commonwealth bank. The bank had released a statement that some of their employees had acted 'inappropriately'

The lead of the enquiry sort of went on to enouciate on whether that was at all the right word for what he said was flat out fraud. He gave the example of when his three year old daughter draws on wall, that's inappropriate.

With a poker face the person from the bank says they believe it was behaviour that was not appropriate.

What's the point of enquiries which make appeals to the heart?

These guys are ruthless, having sealed away their hearts in leaden jars years ago like some kind of liche.

If it were a game, it's like asking someone if they are bluffing - that can only work if they aren't good at bluffing!

Is this really how we investigate the cold, calculating mega corporations? With people who really think they can activate the guilt in one of these bank guys?

You're basically dealing with robots. And unless the legal system gives you any capacity to punish them further for showing how utterly ruthless and remorseless they are about just calling fraud an 'impropriety', there is no room for an appeal to the heart.

An appeal to the heart is something you use when your three year old daughter draws on the wall.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dust 514 Clone Charity Page!

I like coming out of a battle in Dust with a profit. But in the end I'm not really spending any of that money on anything - it just sits there!

So like all blogs, I like traffic and I have idle ISK. So what happens next??

The first two people to give their character names in the comments section below will get a nice, round 5 million ISK sent to them from my character!

And on this initial foray, the next 20 people to post their character names in the comments will get 1 million isk each (in future it may be 500k of ISK each). Since not many people might post, you can post once per day for a million each time (that'll save me on writing in contacts as well!). But if you post more than once per day, it doesn't count, sorry! :)

That still wont drop my bank acount below 100 million. It was nice to get over a 100 mil (I know others have alot more!) but if I don't spend any, what's the point?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Game of thrones TV remake: What's with the rewrite of certain sex scenes?

It seems to be twice now - I've heard the Daenerys/Drogo, while broken in the book because it's a child bride situation but there's room given for consent (and as much as it's a broken situation, she atleast gives some consent about as much as a child can (presumably raising the question of informed consent). How is this remade in the TV series - well, I heard it described as he rapes her, but then she's sort of into it latter.

Now I read here a similar change - broken incest sex in the book. How do the producers change it - they make it rape, but then she's into it latter??

I'm not sure Martin should be okaying them change stuff like this?

And it seems some kind of...I honestly don't know what screwed up model of just world fallacy that has to maybe decry the books broken events by making it rape (and so clear cut morally wrong) - but then make the rape victim okay with it latter (morally okay??)? Probably because to not do so would break the future story and shit, the person changing it has a mortgage to pay!

And that's the charitable reading!

The other reading is that they think these things are so wrong that some sort of rape is better.

I don't know how much creative control Martin signed over (did he know he was signing it over - interesting consent question...). But how could you feel comfortable with that sort of weird change as an author?

May as well be comfortable with having anti semetic material slipped into your TV adaption. Its the same alien message stuck into what you wrote - and who as an author thinks someone putting words into your mouth is like a good thing?

Perhaps if they put money in first you can't taste the difference?

Oh wait, that article: 'While the rape of his sister was a change from the books, their relationship is beyond messed up, and so it sadly was something entirely within the realm of possibility. This makes it a viable creative choice.'

Oh, so that's part of how people start chalking it up. It's a bit like how gay people were once associated with pedophiles (as in a certain era they were both seen in the same light). Incest is obviously connected with rape, because bad.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Affirmations & Altercations

I've noticed on the D&D next boards a focus on 'entertaining players'.

I have to say entertaining is basically, once you realise the 'secret' of it, really really easy.

It's flattery.

As long as you suck up to them and flatter them (subtle is best, but often enough you don't even have to be subtle), you've entertained. Done. It really requires no particular skill.

If you want to only partly entertain and partly do something else, now that's where it gets hard.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Destiny FPS - thinking outside the first person frame? How?

There's the funny thing about the first person - how do you escape it?

So how does a new first person shooter like Destiny do something much different than holding a gun by your groin and swiveling like a camera on a swivel mount and making hit points go down on bags of hit points.

What is the new thing?

Or what is the new thing audiences are yearning for, that they think this mysterious new FPS will somehow contain?

"You shoot guns and you cast magic!"


But really, what is it that folk seek - perhaps some sort of new opportunity for gaining fame for themselves that real life so often lacks?

What will the game say about real life and it's many issues - or will it deliberately avoid real life entirely* so as to support those who are attempting to avoid real life?

* Partly avoiding real life is part of the fun. Partly doing so works well. But when it gets to entirely...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The RR Martin pause

I wonder on the RR Martin pause between books as to whether it's sort of an artist protest.

Or reminder.

I mean, were kind of used to the automated providing of various goods and services. You don't have to know the person who delivers it, nor know the people who provided the materials. You can just demand.

So what happens when the person wont just damn well give you what you want, when you want it?

You're sort of left questioning who they are to do that?

Sort of left learning about the other person. For a change.

Though he's not going to learn about you, is he, so is it warranted?

Still, maybe its worth learning this, instead of feeling you live your life not depending on anyone - when were at the peak of infrastructural needyness ever (sorry, do you bury your toilet waste?).

Make our dependencies far more obvious - all on waiting for a book.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good Game: Dave Callan gives the transhuman extinction the nod

As is the trend at the moment, transhumanism gets the usual thumbs up and this time on the ABC program Good Game in a segment by Dave Callan (discussing the game 'Infamous').

I'm not quite sure what definition he might be using - maybe it's a 'you're human, but you have cool powers built into you now' sort of dealio. Possibly even that is a type of extinction - the Deus Ex video game examined the difference between the haves and have nots.

But unless I'm wrong transhumanists think you can modify the human mind as well - and that's fine, because the magical human spirit or ghost that lives inside the skull is still there, you've just modified the brain bit which has nothing to do with being really being human, because magic.

Okay, a less than neutral description. But folk only notice a contrast they haven't seen before when it's an extreme one.

Anyway, I am charitable on whether he's supporting that definition or just the 'regular stone age brain but with supa powers' definition. Though I guess the title suggests he's giving the nod to the mind alteration part, which if you think about there not being any particular ghosty bit to being human, is just making someone, piece by piece, not be human anymore.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

World of Darkness MMORPG cancelled

I like to think that CCP, who were developing the World of Darkness MMORPG and are the makers of Eve online, didn't like how the game was panning out because they looked at the spaceships with crudely drawn vampire faces on the front mining ore and thought, we haven't quite hit this nail on the head, have we?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Working on a less than flattering game

Just really, really un-huge. If that's a word.

Sure there will be some bashing of (minor) monsters, but it's small scale.

It's the sort of 'you tumbled out into the world, maybe there's stuff going on, but it's not like some gods gone and crafted you a special extra last unicorn destiny to pass through'

Oh, well, a fragmentary destiny, yes, because it's a game - so there's like a track where you can get good at self healing. And get some armour. And be able to swing a club or staff a few times without getting tired.

Not the huge 'you are a god in the fictional world, nerdy gamer! A god!' stuff that is spouted everywhere. Even modern games that have rangers or fighter or others have these super capable dudes who are basically gods who, well, what else would they do with all that but follow their super special secret club destiny to big, huge, enormous things...

Tired. So tired.

I mean I know traditional fantasy structure just reeks of this.

But why bother? Unless you can't see how contrived the whole super mega personal destiny is.

How about instead yeah, you can look forward to putting together some nice armour, being able to recover fairly quick. But apart from that, if some lord is looking to invade some land, no, there wont be some promised investigation phase where you discover their plans then a promised combat that is fully balanced and you will save the day.

Maybe you'll build yourself up, stick your nose into that.

And die.

So why do that?

Why do that indeed - it's a good question.

One you don't ask when you've got a super special double famous destiny laid out for you and a GM desperately hoping you wont fall off it by standing in the fire.

Different Topic Side note: Oh, and think the idea of having lying in roleplay design is a social sickness. Just thought I'd chuck that in as a contemporary note. But hey, nobody has to listen to anyone else on social behaviour because...well I dunno, but they don't. So keep on deleting those posts that nay say! Oh wait, this is my blog, can't delete this one - that's disappointing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flappy bird – the poison of pure entertainment and author guilt?

The author of the game Flappy Bird eventually took down the game, stating he couldn’t take it anymore. With some attributions to him of saying it was too addictive.

Is this perhaps the modern guilt (rarely felt) of having something which one took to be a simple sideshow entertainment, and watch it instead become something that does nothing but add an addictive drug to millions of lives? I’m guessing that’ll be taken as hyperbole – nobody is breaking into their families home to pay for this drug, right? But it’s simple math, really – the void, the hundreds, then the thousands, then the millions of hours of peoples lives sucked away. On little. On nothing. And here’s some money for making that happen – no, wait, here’s some more money! And more and more – not joy, just money, and people burning away their lives – not as some community or together. Just burning and burning.

Shorn of the naiveté that lets such a game become a special treat, a special occasion amongst its author and friends, it’s rather like one of those tribal hallucinogenic, used in various honoured rituals – except when it hits the street and just becomes yet another slumped in an alley high.

But that’s the thing – people treat ‘It’s addictive!’ as a great compliment and achievement for a game at this point in time. And why not? When something grips you, owns you, are you going to say you got owned by something weak and bad? Or flatter the thing you’re going back to time and time again that everyone sees you at, over and over? Sip that coffee and reflect.

Dong Nguyen. Did he feel this modern guilt – felt it and the mounting funds every day were just damnation after damnation for releasing something that had a warm place in his heart and to find it just turned black and drugging entertainment once it hit the street?

Maybe he’ll get a movie one day. And get more money over the whole thing, eh?

With a bit of luck the thing will be a student effort.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Coder Block: Size and Audience

Over at I've talked about coders block - possibly the problem of running into audience expectations (and maybe my own expectation as such) which I don't find fun. That of the big, long thing of a game. What's so important about size?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beast: The Blue Sky

The blue sky, a creature with a bulbous head and shrunken, toga'ed body and a mouth in a continual 'o' shape, has a strange psionic power that compels it's foes to utter 'Would you agree with me the sky is blue?'. Strange power, not because the victim is forced to chant these words, but because the blue sky will never agree the sky is blue! Not from petty considerations like at night it's black. It just cannot bring itself to agree with its foes on even the most petty of truths - its foes are from another tribe and even such a small thing brings embittered, accusing silence from it. It's psionice force builds up on 'you just don't agree with them' and in a strange way it seems it forces the question simply to drive this absolutism of thought that unlocks its further psionic attacks. Once the silence builds for long enough, it feels justified in attacking any intruders into it's lair - which is often rocky outcroppings and cliffs, where its mutterings echo back to it on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another beast: The Ad Populum

A replicating beast, grasping, bald humanoids naked but for flimsy loincloths, though repeated mostly by illusionous replicata. The irony is that while it's many replica's are very different colours from each other, many vibrant hues and not at all compatible with each other, the creature is colour blind - it sees it's many members as uniform and singular. The creature never find difficulty here though, for it, through it's many mouths, simply says they all agree. They never discuss what exactly they agree on, except that it opposes their foes colour - and so they never find that their differences in colour are incompatible. They see themselves as a one colour rainbow. Curiously there seem to be able to see some amount of colour in an intruders form and that is the source of their violent reaction - the difference. However this colour vision must be from a very small tunnel vision and the much larger peripheral is colour blind. Smitten with their intruder foe, they do not look at their fellow 'replicas' and so the uniformity of their side remains intact to them.

Copyright Callan S./me, blah blah, 2014 (which goes for everything I write on this blog as it does for other bloggers on their blogs too, but it's worth mentioning as a reminder every so often)

Monday, March 10, 2014

RPG design discussion : Has the wound closed?

As one is apt to do at noticing the same thing twice and deciding a possible trend: Recently a mainstay of the more indie RPG design area has taken to deleting posts on his blog. Bland posts at that. With another, a few months ago, I couldn't seem to be acknowledged as knowing how a particular mechanic worked - it seemed some kind of 'audacity' on my part was what made me not know, rather than a lack of knowledge.

I think roleplay design discussion might just be going back to a good old authority model. Someones the authority, listen to what they say (learn it wrote, in other words) or piss off.

The wound - the point where people would leave their notion of personal authority cut open so things could get past such a callus - the wound is possibly healing. And really, who keeps reopening a wound in their mind?

It's probably not being noted anywhere else as even a possibility, so I thought I'd lodge it here at the cold black of my corner, far flung from the buzzing white of the main conversation.

Further, here are some RPG monsters from a game I'm developing at least for the duration of this post.

The Pryde: A swelling beast, like a puffer fish but with the hairs of a lion, no needles/points and no head. It is actually incapable of doing anything/any harm unless it has a wall on the other side of its foe, in which case it swells as much as it would have anyway, crushing it's foe between its hot air expansion and the wall. This tends to make it expand more, taking the kill for it's own doing, with a balloon like expansion through doorways or through cracks in walls until the extension pressure on these points is so acute the whole thing bursts with the smell of spent breath.

The Lecturn: A vulnerability of this stilt like creature is that it will extend itself to be higher than it's foe. It's position is to take advantage of height - but the extension of it's stilt like legs often means it piles in on itself. Curiously it still makes attacks at this point, but as if its foe were still below it - often shooting its darts into the earth just before it's foes boots. It cannot see itself as anything but above and so often makes itself fall far below for doing so.

The Faux Supernatural: A more hidden beast, it squeaks out from the gap in space and time formed from when one person says one thing, but they actually think another. It looks like a mystery, possibly even to a religious extent - and it works at this as the clockwork squeaking of its parts attest that it rotates to keep its foe in front of it at all times. For behind it is hollow, a set, with cogs and drive belts and spindly copper rods supporting or pupetering the apparatus. It would have you only see the magnificence of the miss informing words non elucidean to the point of supernatural wonder effect. Often accompanied by Inter Portalis, so as to provide the walls it needs to block off such observation, while the Inter Portalis lives in symbiosis by having a use.

That's three for now. I didn't realise they'd take awhile to write up so I'll save some more for tomorrow (which tomorrow's tomorrow, I dunno). For all their fluff text they no doubt come down to having an AC of between 10 to 14 and a half dozen to a dozen HP and that's it. That's about as much as there is to them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

'Making it up' - there's more than one species of it

As is a theme on this blog, forums tend to inspire my writing the most. So here is a post of mine (google, please believe me! Eh, what-ev...) on the matter of two different types of making things up (modified slightly to become it's own post here).

Emerikol, if I understand you right, you do alot of prep beforehand and then in play you reference your extensive prep so as to determine what might be around or what might occur. In play you restrict yourself to only referencing the prep for the determination of what else might exist, not just making things pop into existence out of thin air. And this restriction on relying on the prep only makes the world more palpable and solid, as a result.

If I'm even slightly understanding you right, I'm just saying this because I'm not sure the other posters get the difference - and there is a difference between working from prep to determine what else might exist Vs just making stuff pop into existence because it might engage someone.

I will say though, although I don't know what it was like in the game with the guy 'totally making it up', I've roleplayed for so long I basically have alot of prep about game worlds in my head - it's all written in my head and doesn't need to be written down. I don't think 'totally making it up' is such a problem as you describe it (oh, it'd be better if I wrote it down, I totally grant). I suspect what was happening is that GM was simply trying to guess what would tickle players fancy then say that exists, in what is essentially sucking up to players. I'd find that hollow as well. Though I've been in worse games.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

[ Pathfinder ] City of Golden Death defeated us the other night

In retrospect I like the brutality of this module. I only say in retrospect because roleplay products can be so varied in where they go it's hard to know the overall direction until you've finished.

CoGD basically had either monsters with massive bonuses to hit (maybe +15 or higher) and womping damange (about 20) or a few push over monsters we devoured and utterly destroyed in a moment or two. Which actually works quite nicely!

The thing that really defeated us though is the overall supply chain of healing within a time frame - we had three days before the city floods with molten gold (probably not a good idea to be around at that point, eh?). And we had no real cleric. We had one once, but now the best we had is someone who chose their class levels at random! Yeah. So I think we had all the healing of a level 1 bard even though the character was level 5.

In the end, in a session that had two powerful enemies that nearly crush the life out of us, my fighters on 16 hp, the rogues on like 7 hp and never mind the wizard or the multi multiclassed characters hp. The last thing we'd found had said it's master had put it there to kill anyone who follows. It's MASTER! Uh yeah, when it kicked the living crap out of us and we have no heals and no HP, how much are we going to be able to take on it's master?

And yet I think some players wanted to continue!!

I guess I just didn't feel like having this character fight and likely die, so I said no, we just cannot do this - the city of golden death has defeated us!

I'm not sure what the GM will do with the module or whether another players idea of leaving some traps at the entrance and fighting the master there will be what happens next.

I think the GM could always run it again at some point, if they want to get more use out of it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rifts Campaign

Working on the Rifts campaign I've been running for...maybe a year now, in roughly fortnighly installments.

Well, 'working on' as in thinking about it!

I want to actually do some detailed map work, working out maybe 10 km squares of a map I drew up awhile ago. I have some gridded paper that can just about do a 20x20 grid. But each square being 500 meters seems a little big (that's about two square blocks). On the other hand making them 200 square meters each (about one block or a bit less), while I like the resolution of that more would make one page only cover 4km.

It's curious - I've played alot of GTA 5 recently BUT I want to make a map which is more like the old days of GTA where there was stuff around just about every corner. GTA games these days (starting with San Andreas) are so spartan with regards to having anything there! So I'm aiming for that.

I'm also aiming to not just have threats the PC's could engage, but also relatively minor threats they could instead engage. The reason is I've come to think the model of 'well, do you take them on' is problematic, because it's actually 'well, do you take them on nothing'. And that's actually just bad gameplay. Sure they could head on to something else - but in that moment, if they don't take it on, then they are doing nothing.

Anyway, that's what I'm up to. Also must remember to put a path through the map - this is a map they travel through a bit, so it'll need a path. Whether it's a smooth sailing path, who knows?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Competative online games as a species of hazing?

Hazing is an 'unauthorised' practice in the military and other areas where various tribes within destroy the dignity of an individual before incorporating them into their tribe, so as to better reform their diginity as the tribe will.

Actually that's probably a contentious enough description by itself! But I'll still go one further.

After playing a certain first person shooter (not one of the main stream ones) for a long time, and having played GTA 5 online for a brief time - with the senseless snuff movie killings, what are these things but a kind of phone book to the ego. So many deaths which follow no particular solveable formula, or even have a solution in terms of mitigation (ie, gaining something even as you lose).

It's not about gameplay and working out a solution or even reflex - it's about being crushed down by someone else and wanting revenge or payback for that - which keeps you at the game. But do you get it near the start? Not if it uses any RPG mechanics, hell no - they'll all have the best stuff.

But even asking that, I'm dipping into the haze/revenge cycle. Even if you can get them back, what is the point of getting them back?

It's like when Bart and Milhouse sit bored, on the kurb, punching each others shoulders.