Showing posts from October, 2022

Boolean Advantage & Disadvantage

The advantage and disadvantage rule was introduced in Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition . It is explained as follows: when you have advantage, roll two dice and take the higher of the two; when you have disadvantage, roll two dice and take the lower of the two. The rule abstracts certain factors of character ability tests that prior (in Third Edition ) would have been handled by adding or subtracting minute value from the roll. Instead the dungeon master need only decide if a character is advantaged or disadvantaged to such a degree that the roll warrants the appropriate procedure. In this post, I want to offer a new view on how this mechanic impacts chances of success by looking at it in terms of boolean (binary) logic and probability. This has implications for how we combine rolls in general, whether we view overall success as lacking failure (disadvantage) or overall failure as lacking success (advantage). Still no working computer. :c The Rules Part An ability test or check

Mathematical Analysis of "Long Live HD"

There was a recent blog post by Undead Waffle that offers an alternative to the typical D&D hit point system [1]. Rather than rolling your hit dice to determine your hit points, just hold the dice. You won’t need them until you get hit. When you are attacked, your enemy rolls a six-sided die. The result indicates how hurt you are. You get 1 wound point per pip and can sort of sustain up to 4 wounds, but you start bleeding out at 3 wounds. Your hit dice allow you to try to soak up those wounds, to better sustain or even negate the hit if you’re lucky. Suppose that your attacker rolls a 3, which means you’re not dead yet but it’s coming up. If you have a hit die, you can spend it and roll it. If you rolled a 2, you would ultimately gain just 3 - 2 = 1 wound. You can spend as many hit dice as you like, but each one is a gamble. And I’ve done the math: toe to tip, it’s a gamble. My friends asked me to figure out the mathematical effects of the rule on player longevity. Being bored

FAQ U: What is the Death of the Author?

New blog series, “FAQ University”, to answer questions I commonly get in comments or discussions because of my blog! PSA: my computer is currently broken, so I can’t reply to anything for a bit :( Often, I see people in independent spaces (of publishing or journalism) refer to the “death of the author” in pretty weird ways. I’ve seen some people say that whether the author is dead depends on the genre of the work. I’ve seen other people say that writing towards an intended meaning is unethical because you are imposing your own interpretation onto the reader. That’s all pretty goofy, but I think it comes from confusion about the difference between intent and meaning. The author being dead is not a moral stance towards texts, and it’s definitely not an ethos of producing texts. It’s not something that applies unevenly to texts in general. It’s a principle of literary criticism to ensure that, when we’re reading a text, we evaluate it based on what is supported by the text itself. What t

A Course of History

This was a stupid idea. I thought it would be handy to talk about the transition from feudal to capitalist society to get a better basis for an elf game economy, and ended up writing about economic development from the origin of organized society (according to some) to the state of the world since about the twentieth century. The section about pre-society is mostly speculative about how mass organization originated and why, but afterwards I talk in more general terms about a historical path from feudal or tributary society (whatever) to a capitalist one, and also the impact of capitalist imperialism on undeveloped or developing nations. I was wanting to do something like this for Traveller , so this is kind of killing two birds with one stone. I apologize for teetering the line between speculation and painting with too broad a brush, but at least it felt engaging to write. Enjoy? Pre-Society See: Engels (1884), Mumford (1967), Irigaray (1979), Diamond (1997), Scott (2017) It is n

Exchange, Encumbrance, Experience: Reconstructing D&D's Economy

I think 90% of people take for granted that Dungeons & Dragons (1974) has a market economy totally unlike whatever predominated in medieval Europe, i.e. rent and social credit. Then, 9% of people acknowledge that D&D has a market economy because the setting is really a fantastic reimagining of the early modern period, in particular the American (Wild) West. That is totally correct on the level of cultural criticism, but it does not tell us much about how that economy factors into D&D at large. Let’s start with a new set of questions: how does the market economy impact play, especially as prescribed by the classic TSR books? In this post, I’m going to take a systematic look at the role of gold pieces in D&D between different contexts of play: exchange, encumbrance, and experience. Then I will see how, despite this symmetry, D&D fails to be fully consistent or intuitive in practice. Finally, I will develop an alternative to D&D ’s economic system, that reta