More Modern Businesses

Dec 31, 2014
Mark
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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
Mark
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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
Mark
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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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On the Bearded, White Guy Syndrome

Dec 15, 2014
Mark

An offhand comment by Courtney Campbell during a recent podcast caught my attention. I cannot recall the exact statement but it was something to the effect of “A bunch of white males with beards probably should not…”. His point was relevant. At least to me.

At one point, I had a pretty diverse set of people of people I followed on Google+. The number of folks I saw posts from was far less bearded than it is today. I’ve not trimmed the RPG audience on the platform. Instead, many people have chosen to depart or no longer participate on G+.

On the artist front, the community is thriving, learning and leaning upon one another. Doing crazy, strange, and often awesome things together. Little drama happens among the artists I follow. Plausibly it is just an artifact of who I follow on that front. Likely, it is because they are competing on a differing front.

The RPG world is the complete opposite. It’s filled with nonsense, drama, and a whole lot of stupidity. None of which is particularly interesting — many people just choose to latch onto the latest scandal for something to write about.

I am of the curmudgeon, get off my lawn era. I do not and cannot sport a beard. However, I implore the RPG world to embrace, advertise, and support anyone producing in our community. Criticize on merit; not the sex, race, relationship with Cthulu/English druids or other choices. \

There are far too many white guys with beards in this community and far too few other inputs. Glance around your social media circles or your gaming table, and encourage alternate thoughts to flow forth.


1E NPC Updates

Dec 12, 2014
Mark
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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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Fixed Infinite Recursion in the 1E NPC Generator

Dec 9, 2014
Mark
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Alas, the 1E NPC Generator has had a bug for a few months. It was low on the priority list to fix. The problem turned out to be infinite recursion due to random choices. I added alternate resolution mechanisms to the class selection when the chosen race could never meet any class/racial minimums.

The new paths allow for alternate race selection, attribute swapping, attribute bumping (capped to less than 3 additional points) when the attribute sum is less than average across the board, and finally to just bail and roll new stats and start the process over. I need to refactor the entire approach. For now, the generator cannot just exhaust the available memory attempting to fit a square peg into a hexagonal hole.

The generator needs more time on the development slate. I’ll try to work it more this month to expand the capabilities and correct some errors in the design in the coming months. The twisting turns of chargen in 1E make coding a nightmare of edge case handling.

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Tarot of Many Things

Dec 3, 2014
Mark
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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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