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Showing posts from October, 2016

Attitudes of Design

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If I say that I'm going to "storify" or make a "story-games version" or any existing crunchy mainstream game, what does that mean?

Does it mean simply coverting anything an everything in the system to the "Powered by the Apocalypse" engine? 

That might be a valid way to point in the right direction, but misses a lot of the point. My disdain for games that are powered by the apocalypse is well known in a lot of circles, but it's a bit misrepresented. I'm not sure where I made the comment recently, but I'll repeat a paraphrased version here because the intentions still hold true.

It came from two artists that I had conversations with a long time ago. Both artists I had respected for their work, but after a half an hour or more of conversation with them, I really respected them as people too. The first artist was James Gurney, among other things he wrote a book you might have heard of called Dinotopia, and a couple of sequels.



The second artis…

Storifying Mage: Revisited

All this talk of Mage:the Ascension has returned my thoughts to the abandoned project of making a stripped back version of Mage. I wanted it months ago, I basically wanted it when I saw the monster 700+ pages of the M20 edition, and now it seems that a few more people want it.

I suspect my original ideas of maintaining character stats, but playing with the underlying systems may prove unfeasible at this time. Instead, I'm seriously thinking of a FUBAR/Mage mash-up. This would use a quick customisable multi-template system to create characters, and a conversion system to adapt existing NPCs and starting characters in sourcebooks.

If it works, it'd be interesting to generate variants covering Werewolf and Vampire, and maybe a few other games in the World of Darkness.

A quick guide to Mage: the Ascension

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As one of my favourite games, I had to chime in when someone on G+ asked about Mage, why it's good...why it's current version is a 700-odd page tome...what could be done to streamline it...

I thought my answer was pretty good, and thought it needed to be shared.



Having played and run all editions, here's my thoughts...

1st (WW4000, 1993) is wild and a bit clunky when it comes to rules. It's probably the edgiest of the settings, in that it was opening an amazing concept to the world but no-one really knew what to do with it at the time. The players were fighting a war for reality.

2nd (WW4300, 1995) streamlined the rules a bit, instead of different rolls, coincidental and vulgar magic basically now used the same rolls with varying difficulties. The setting was reined in a bit, and like most White Wolf second editions it became more "professional" and more sterile. A bit more effort was made to address global cultures as complex entities rather than stereotypes. …

Roleplayers versus Reality

Further to my discussion yesterday, I've found quite a few additional posts by varipus people who've obviously been seeing the same underlying patterns in modern western society, or they've been seeing similar symptoms and drawing similar conclusions to my rant.

As an example, there's "6 Reasons for Donald Trump's Rise", which seems to theorise some interesting points but probably oversimplifies things by linking the issues in western society to the rural/urban divide.

And then there's "5 Helpful Answers to Society's Uncomfortable Questions", which basically says that we as individuals and as a society are bound by traditions. Those traditions have served us well for millenia, defining cultures, breeding us into what we are today, competing with one another until one became dominant (the Western European Patriarchal paradigm). It defined itself as a competitor with the world and it basically won...and now it doesn't know what to do.

Roleplayers vs Jack Chick

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We won.

So, you've probably heard that the serial hater, the precursor to the Westboro Baptist Church, Jack Chick is dead.

Here's the article that first alerted me to the fact. (Boing Boing)

And another, that I saw a day later. (AV Club)

Here's what the other side has to say (Christianity Today)

Like the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, and more recently Collins and Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent", the Tracts of Jack Chick were hateful pieces of propaganda designed to boil down a message to stereotypes and caricature, building false images of a concept with lies, rumours and innuendo, then make a "righteous" attack against the false edifice. Conspiracies and prejudice fed into the tracts attacking the Catholic Church, the Freemasons, Homosexuality, Science, and anything else that offended Chick's "Southern Baptist" sensibilities. One of those things was roleplaying.

In recent study regarding fields of sociology and a…

Revisiting the Crossroads

I've toyed with the idea of the crossroads as a place of power several times in my games. It's a concept of modern myth that really intrigues me.

Today I was wondering why the most powerful crossroads depicted in popular culture always seem to be in isolated locations. A modern city is littered with grids of crossroads as north-south aligned thoroughfares intersect those going east-west. Why wouldn't a city be a place where thousands of demons are waiting to make pacts with mortals? Maybe they are.

But another option might be to consider the length of the roads leading to the crossroads. In the middle of a city, it might only be a few dozen metres (or yards) from one crossroads to the next, which isn't enough length for the incoming energies to generate much of a charge. In a rural environment, it might be kilometres (or miles) between crossroads, thus giving ample length for the crossroads to generate significant charge levels. If the charge level isn't high enoug…

Tracking the LARP

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For the last few months, after every LARP game, I've been tracking how characters have done in their assigned missions. I've done this by following a few key ideas: Missions occur in key marked locationsTerritories are expanded for factions when their missions have been successful.Territories turn from factionally aligned to neutral if a faction succeeds in a mission in another faction's territory.Influence spreads to adjacent territories if these adjacent territories are uncontested.Influence does not spread to adjacent territories if two different factions could see their influence spread into the territory.The overall power of the factions throughout the region is simply determined by adding up the number of territories they control.
This process started after the third game of the LARP, when I decided the players needed a bit more focus and the factional system was brought into effect. Today saw the end of game 6.
End of Game 3 - The Nomads (Green) did very well, the s…

LARP / Computer RPG crossover

Back in the early 2000s, White Wolf were doing some really interesting things with their World of Darkness lines. Then they went and crashed the whole line to start something new, and I left because I thought it was both a stupid business decision, a great way to alienate existing fans, and generally a step that felt weird. I can understand why they did it, but it just wasn't for me any more.

But back to the good days before the crash. The thing I'm interested at this point is the way the sourcebooks specifically integrated two versions of the rules in them. The background text was exactly the same, but the books provided a way to handle powers from a tabletop perspective, then a separate paragraph (or two...sometimes in a text box) that described how the power should function in their live format "Minds Eye Theatre". The tabletop and live games functioned so differently that there was a distinct need to explain the powers within the structure of each set of rules, e…

The string

Here's the basic structure of the string I'll be working with. It's in a human readable format, but I'll ensure that any time the string is exported out of the website it gets encoded, perhaps with a base64_encode, or maybe with a gzinflate. I don't necessarily want to make the encoding too strong, this is just a simple personal project designed for a bit of fun.

The string format follows...

[xxxxxx][xx][xx....][xxxx][x..x][xx..xx][xx][xx][xx][..]Core         Name             Equipment                     Traits                           Skills                                 Edges                                         Race Path                                             Cultural Path                                                 Progress Path 1                                                     Subsequent Progress Paths
Core - first six digits determine basic stats, race and culture, 

First Digit (Base Attributes): 1 = 1122, 2 = 1212, 3 = 1221, 4 = 2211, 5 = 2112, 6 = …

The Fundamentals Underneath

I basically know how my character string is going to work. There will be fixed elements of the string that are common to all charactes, and there will be variable length elements that will accomodate themselves to the specific character in question. In total, a starting character's string will have around two dozen glyphs in it, while an experienced and heavily laden character might have up to twice this number.

One of the ideas feeding into this project was an online method of keeping track of LARP characters, and the larp system I developed for a new group (Southern Highlands LARP) has been lingering in the back of my mind. The group in question end d up going with a less complicated rule set, based heavily on previous games in the region, but this rule set of mine has been an ongoing evolution of ideas, stretching back to the work I did last year on the Darkhive, and echoing back through earlier work over the years.

Characters have 4 core attributes:

Combat - which basically cov…

But what do we want?

in the last post, I described a hypothetical string that might describe a character in the game Dungeon Robber. There are a few ways that the string could be refined.

Firstly, there were big chunks dedicated to the carrying of coins that might not even be applicable to the fharacter. These could probably be minimised with an identifier that recognises alphabetical and numeric components separately. I think Dungeon Robber has five coin types: (c)opper, (s)ilver, (e)lectrum, (g) old, and (p)latinum. That bit of the string could see the parsing algorithm look for the various letters representing the relevant coin type, starting with the next string digit it identifies a numeric value to show how much of that coin there is, and as soon as it hits the next coin type, it stops...before progressing through the same procedure with the next coinage. A starting character has no coins at all, and their string might simply read "csegp", a character after a few games might read "c15…

Character Strings

If you've been reading through the last few posts, you'll know that the strings I'm talking about here are not the same ones discussed in Monsterhearts, instead I'm refering to a string of digits that can be entered into a website as a password. Once entered, the string of digits passes through a filter subroutine in the website, producing a character that integrates with all of the various systems and subsystems in the online game. 
To describe my intentions here I will use an online game with a similar concept as my core model. 
A character for Dungeon Robber could be handled pretty easily, it follows the standard D&D six attributes, besides these, characters have: A nameA number of experience pointsCoins carriedA range of equipment in their inventory (spells are included here)
Pretty much everything else can be derived from these figures.
The attributes are even streamlined further, either you have a "high" attribute or you don't (where "high&q…

Playing with the back end

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One of the things I loved about playing Bard's Tale 3 back in the very late 80s and early 90s was the fact that I could use my crude disc copying software of the time to read the byte clusters that made up the software. This meant I could cheat by modifying attributes, adding levels of hit points, activating certain character classes (such as the Geomancer) which normally required quests to be fulfilled, acquiring bonus equipment, or playing with the character image, even applying a monster image where my character's portrait should have been.



That was high school and while it wasn't my first exposure to computer programming, it was my first real attempt at "modding" a game. It was enough of an obsession that my best friend at the time became the best man at my wedding over a decade later and used it as a part of his speech at my wedding. It was also the time when I really thought computers could be used for roleplaying in far better ways than they had so far.

So…

Using a computer to take care of the fiddly stuff

Over the years I've been drawn to the idea of an incredibly crunchy, rules-heavy game that remains fun to play and fast to resolve because all the complicated bits are handled in the background by a computer. We've seen a few attempts at augmented gaming apps in recent times, and there might be some really good examples of these that I'm not aware of, but on the whole most of them seem to consist of dice rollers and card simulators, where the outcome then needs to be fed by a human back into some kind of procedural generator.

There was an automatic dungeon generator and explorer I was addicted to for a few weeks. It might have been Dungeon Robber (edit #1: it's the closest I could find while I was in a hurry writing this...edit #2: going back through my blog history, yes, it was Dungeon Robber). That's the kind of thing I'm going for, but more as an open ended town than a dungeon...and with the scope for adding a few players to the adventuring party. It wouldn&…

Week 1 - #inktober #drawlloween #dungeondegenerates

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This month I'm simultaneously doing three drawing challenges, #inktober, #drawlloween, and last month's #dungeondegenerates. 
Here's the first seven results.