Browsing articles in "Code"

More Modern Businesses

Dec 31, 2014
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I’ve expanded the original generator into an index page, Modern Business Names, over the last few days. Over the last 72 hours, I’ve added 23 specialized generators to the index and re-factored 3 existing utilities to include additional data.

Today, the additions were Professional, Scientific and Engineering services. The 9 new generators cover a variety of engineering, information technology, and other professional services that include over three hundred thousand unique names.

I have 20-30 more specialized entries to add. My goal is to have those done by the end of 2014 but I also started two new RPG specific projects I’d like to complete. One is an entirely new treasure generation system for general fantasy systems. The other is too nascent to discuss.

I hope you all have a great start to 2015.

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Modern Business Names (take 2)

Dec 28, 2014
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My initial approach to business names for the modern age was a flop. I’ll call it a complete failure. Honestly, it is the unholy culmination of personal knowledge and deciphering a cryptic note written in hieroglyphs. I exchanged expediency for usability — not a good trade.

I’ve embarked on a series of generators to simplify the businesses they cover and to present the information in a far more usable format. The process is going to take time. Several thousand business types are available, which lead to my initial presentation. I’m slowly transitioning the original into category specific generators.

Users generally only need one or two categories of business names. Confounding them with hundreds is obviously not a good design. Additionally, some categories are either dull or do not have sufficient interesting results to make the grade.

Similarly to the City Name process, if the number of entries are sparse, the category is going to be skipped. You can always use a yellow pages entry if you can find one or browse them online. My interests are large numbers of interesting results to produce quick results for writers or gamers.

I’ve long wanted this for a post-modern game. Quick results based on the business name and type allows simple decisions for scavenging. I’m not quite there yet. The end-goal is within sight.

Others have indicated they just need a few names of specific businesses by category. When you populate a small region, choosing a dozen or so small business names can be a challenge. Especially when a small town environment rules out all the major corporations. The current approach is far better. One need not decipher archaic labels to drill down to the category they desire.

Fun stuff.

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5E Treasure Generator + Commentary

Dec 24, 2014
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While I tend to not write generators for recent systems without publisher support, I decided to take a whirl at the 5E system. Mostly, I just wanted to see what the “modern” take on a classic system included or avoided.

My normal process was used for the Random 5E Treasure Generator. It’s simple, straight forward and does not yet contain anything beyond the simple charts.

5E vs 1E/2E Random Treasure

I’ve seen a few comments that suggest the fifth edition is low on magic. I disagree to a point. For individual treasure, there is no chance of finding a magical item. Absolutely zero. Why? I’d wager they intend for such treasure to be found via hoards rather than a wandering orc or two. You can always choose to use a hoard (aka lair treasure from elder editions) over the individual metric if monsters are migrating from one locale to another. For hoards (the 5E equivalent of lairs), you almost always get magic items.

The tables themselves are repetitious. Probably to the point of algorithmically generated. The same set of art/gems values repeat in patterns of 4 along with use of a particular magic table at a proscribed rate. Rinse, tweak occurrences, and toss it back out into a table. Very systematic. The variability works out but it sure looks dull in comparison to the 1E hand-crafted, best guess treasure charts of old.

Gone are the percent chances for a particular item type. The 5th edition tables give you magic as proscribed by a specific table at least 64% of the time when rolling a treasure hoard. For higher challenge ratings, the odds get better in increments (0-4:64%/5-10:72/11-16:84/17+:98). Automatic magic above a certain percentage certainly doesn’t appear to be magic sparse. Thousands of rolls later, I’d say its close to the originals with far fewer die rolls.

It is a far simpler system. No need to look up odd treasure types and roll die. It’s quite simply just a new, arbitrary choice based on Challenge. Same as the old arbitrary choice of treasure type, spun down to use less brain cells. Except the classic treasure types allowed a far better, albeit confusing, fidelity of treasure by creature.

Gems/Art confuse me in the 5E system. If someone wants to detail the exact nature of those items, would it not be likely they would also want to vary the value? When I didn’t have automated tools, I ignored both. Now that I have them, I’m more prone to use them for value variability over type variability. The specific values seem far more useful based on something special rather than generic labels. That’s a failure in 1E, 2E and 5E across the board. At least 1E has random variability. I may add that into the 5E Generator, just because I can.

5E doesn’t have a chance for special items — sentient or artifacts. Logically they claim those should always be planned. I understand that sentiment. On the flip side, sometimes I just roll dice against sentient/artifact tables to spur my imagination. Likewise, if I happen upon an artifact roll, I can just as easily replace that with a map / note / book on the artifact to key interest rather than the item itself.

Oh yeah, maps, totally eliminated. Apparently no one uses them anymore. (I jest). As treasure, they just don’t exist magical or not. They may have been phased out in earlier editions. I used them sparingly; far less than they occurred as random treasure. To see them gone entirely is odd.

What really annoys me is spell scrolls: 1 spell / scroll. Talk about dull. When I played mages in prior editions, I loved scrolls to up my spell knowledge. That and opponents spell books. Those were beyond gold. Perhaps now I just need to poke the elevator button of my level to obtain knowledge.

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1E NPC Updates

Dec 12, 2014
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Fix a couple small details in the 1E NPC Generator.

1) Rangers over level 8 get spells.
2) Paladins also get spells where appropriate.

And a couple of typo’s.

Fricking edge cases in 1E drive me nuts. Often.

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Tarot of Many Things

Dec 3, 2014
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Around three years ago, I mentioned the Tarot of Many Things in a post on the history of the Deck of Many Things. At the time, I thought the Tarot variant would be a fun generator and perhaps campaign idea. The Tarot of Many Things was originally published in Dragon Magazine #77 and authored by Michael J. Lowrey.

To date, I’ve not brought it up in a game but I finally managed to expand the original Deck generator into a 78 card Tarot of Many Things Generator. As with most generators based on specific works, I’ve excluded a few details to encourage people to buy the original document. In this case, a lot of information is missing. The details about how Tarot relates to the card at hand is excluded. From my viewpoint, that information is as interesting as Michael’s results. Especially when adapting it to a non-AD&D game.

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Tinkering: Modern Occupation Random Tables

Nov 17, 2014
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Occasionally, I wander down roads that lead to forks, more forks, and many side paths. Modern occupations are one with many strange journeys. The original parsing had over 100K entries. The details are hard to parse automatically so I stepped back and just hit the top categories. The minor preview fails to express the awesome level of detail I want to show.

Download (PDF, 30KB)

The data is crazily detailed. Far more than I originally suspected. It will allow me to delve into categories of employment within the major categories and drill down multiple levels. Yep, tables of tables. Pretty awesome to determine if a person is a CEO of a mining company or a truck driver in the mining industry.

I’ll likely double-dip on this data and generate not only the original table(s) for a random generator but also a PDF. Due to the detail, I’ll likely utilize a d1000 system since the significant digits drop into the noise with at the d100 level.

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Gygaxian Name Generator

Nov 3, 2014

As most people know, the bulk of my generators use real world information. I love what exists because of the amazing diversity. The Gygaxian Name Generator is no different. It mimics what I’ve dubbed Gary Logic.

From what I’ve seen, his general process for names was taking a person’s name and perturbing it into something more interesting. Sometimes that process was a simple reversal; other times he added or subtracted characters. On occasion, made it into a full blown title style name. Quite often he made use of anagrams. Sometimes, he just made stuff up.

I cannot claim to know his thought process but anagram style names were plausible. Doing a difference engine was also reasonable. Making stuff up Gary style? Not so much.

The limiting factor of this generator is it’s use of real world names. I crossed many boundaries–pulling results from Old West, Modern, Medieval and other databases. I was going to use more but the query time eclipsed the 3 second attention span of most web visitors.

At this point, I still want to tweak and tune it further but it produces interesting results so its live.