Showing posts from April, 2023

Unusual Hirelings in OD&D/FMC

Let’s get one thing out of the way: unusual hirelings are not regular hirelings. On its face, this seems like a truism—but this is a distinction that OD&D makes which its successors do not. Your character can hire as many mercenaries and helpers as they please, but there is a ceiling on how many so-called unusual hirelings they can employ or otherwise retain. So, what is an unusual hireling, and what does this tell us about how OD&D plays unlike its later editions? Classed Characters Fortunately, the text gives us a hint. After introducing the concepts of charisma and loyalty with regards to non-player characters, it says how a player might build up an entourage of various character types, monsters, and an army. There it is: character types, monsters, and army troops all constitute different categories of non-player characters and different methods of how to enlist them into your service. When it comes to classed characters, you can hire a first level human NPC for 100 gol

Minecraft Slime

Using the simple monster scheme : D(anger) and A(rmor). Slimes come in three sizes: small (D2, A1), medium (D4, A1), and large (D8, A1). Small slimes do little harm, especially if one were to wear decent-enough armor. A small slime is funny. A medium slime is annoying. A large slime is dangerous. They are all pretty slow, jumping and jiggling around, so they are easy to run circles around. More likely, however, is that they will block passages and require you to deal with them anyway. When a large slime would take damage due to a bladed or blunt weapon, it will instead split into two medium slimes. Likewise, a medium slime splits into two small slimes when it would otherwise lose flesh to such a weapon. Small slimes will just perish. Missiles (or pointy things in general) don't do anything against medium and large slimes. Sometimes they shoot right through, other times they get stuck inside. Common sense kind of thing. The good news is that slimes are highly flammable. Burning

Red Moon: Cadre Backgrounds

An earlier inspo mockup by Emmy, using a screenshot from a DOS game adaptation of Traveller . Red Moon is a sci-fi setting that Emmy Verte of Spooky Action at a Distance and I have been floating for maybe like a year at this point. The basic premise is that you’re a spaceship crew from a moon that has just revolted against a big space republic. The details have shifted over time, but lately we’ve been talking about the goal being to seek aid from a socialist system before being annihilated by the republic (a possibility in the characters’ minds, but already underway unbeknownst to them). It’s giving Cuban missile crisis. Et cetera. To this end, I’ve written a d66 background table to try to suss out the vibes of how the world works. I was going to say “It’s inspired by this and that”, but maybe it’s more interesting to leave that unsaid? Backgrounds & Language Roll d6 for a background category, and then roll d6 for that category’s own table. The initial d6 also equals how many

Wizard Is An Animal

12 is always a wizard, because all of our games could use more wizards in them. Because wizards are the coolest, fuck you wizard haters. Nick LS Whelan, “ Structuring Encounter Tables, Amended & Restated ” (2022-07-22) Wizard is an animal of danger 12 and armor 3 , three-legged and as large as a farm pig . It is white-skinned and hairless except for its hind leg ; its epidermis has been characterized as a membrane . The hat on its head is part of its body , and is dangerous to the touch , though physiologically it is just a hat . Wizards grow indefinitely, and stop for nothing but themselves . They are generally gentle and docile but also prone to fits of violent rage ; they are feral animals , after all. However, this is mostly directed at other wizards as a form of play. They will not attack human beings unless provoked, and will remain calm if not approached . Let them come to you. They can teleport at will to escape harm (i.e. on their next action after being harmed), or

Simple Monsters for Simple Combat

Here's the pitch: Select a damage die from {d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20}. Hit points equals maximum damage. Select a subtractive armor from {-0, -1, -2, -3}. Throw it into whatever. The original idea to define monsters by die type is by my friend Emmy Verte of Spooky Action at a Distance , who was going to do something like that for her FLEE ruleset but decided not to (I think hers would've used contested rolls?). The idea always stuck with me, though, so just today I did the math with some additional rules and it works out really well. I simulated 5000 against of each die type against each other, for each armor type. Below are the results: each row is the attacker, and each column is the defender in the same order (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20). Matrix for armor 0: d4: [2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 8] d6: [2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 6] d8: [1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5] d10: [1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4] d12: [1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 4] d20: [1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3] Matrix for armor 1: d4: [3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 14] d6: [2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 9] d8: [2,

Variable Cookie Recipe

I've been getting really into baking cookies as a way to regulate my own sweet-eating proclivities and also surprise my partner. Going to keep this updated as I experiment more! Base Recipe This is what you need to make a cookie without anything fancy going on about it. Ingredients 2 cups all-purpose flour. 1 tsp baking soda. ¾ tsp salt. 1½ stick of butter (12 tbsp or 6 oz). ⅔ cup light brown sugar. ⅔ cup white sugar. 1 large egg. 2 tsp vanilla extract. Directions In medium bowl, combine: flour, baking soda, salt. Put aside. In large bowl, mix 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter and sugars. Mix egg and vanilla extract. Mix flour mixture from step #1, slowly. Add ½ stick (2 tbsp) melted butter. Cool for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease baking tray and scoop cookie dough. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Additions In a way, this is kind of the important part! You can do one or multiple of these things. If the dough looks and tastes good, you're good. Salmonella is a so

Color, Sex & Evolution

I was at a party and a friend and I were jokingly arguing about whether our solo cups were purple or pink, and drunkenly asking around others what they thought. A guy friend told us, on a tangent, that women ("[those] born as women") discern more colors than men ("[those] born as men") because back then they had the job of picking berries and had to discern between which berries were nutritious or dangerous. I didn’t think that sounded right when I was drunk. Now that I’m sober, I really don’t think that sounds right. So, let’s review the idea: do (specifically cis, apparently) women have a physiological advantage over (specifically cis, apparently) men in discerning color because of an evolutionary development? With the current political climate, the answer to this question might have interesting implications as far as whether gendered traits are evolutionary or socially developed. The Facts Nidhi Jaint et al. published a paper in 2010, “ Gender based alteratio

Interesting Procedural Generation

Been thinking about procedural generation lately, especially in a paper-and-pencil context. What are some good attempts at procedurally generating game stuff? What do they do well, or poorly? What are some best practices we can glean? Defining Procedural Generation Let’s get the annoying definition out of the way. What’s procedural generation? It’s helpful if we break it down. A procedure is an algorithm or sequence of steps which we can use to solve a problem or arrive at some result. So, something procedural is something that uses such a procedure in order to arrive at something. Our particular use case is procedural generation, which means that we’re using a procedure or algorithm to generate some kind of content. In the realm of computer games, we use procedural generation to create maps, images, or AI behavior programmatically. Take Minecraft as an example: starting from a randomly-determined or user-set “seed” (a long number or string used to generate pseudorandom data), the g

A Message From Rainbow


Pre-Greyhawk Thief & Exception-Based Design

A long time ago, I talked about how the board game Pandemic designed its different player roles around posing exceptions to the rules . If a city overflows with disease cubes, then the disease spreads to nearby cities—except if you're a quarantine specialist and can prevent the spread. Players can remove one disease cube from a city per action spent—except if you're a medic and can remove all cubes at once. It costs five cards of the same color to cure a disease—except if you're a scientist and need only four. This makes the game really interesting, since with different player roles you will end up with very different strategies for how to counter the disease and win the game. No one's a stranger to the thief discourse at this point. Thieves prevent other characters from doing things they should be able to do! Or, actually, no, they just have special abilities that let them do those things better. Thanks to the thief, D&D was ruined in 1975, the year after it was