Just had to add these for Randall. I think the camera adds 10 pounds. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure of it.
Take #3 at the Field Station for the Convergence gathering. My prior pictorial post got mangled beyond belief when I tried to update it with the original pictures. So here’s a new gallery of photos. T minus 7 days.
Balance has been a hot topic in RPG design from the origins to the modern day. Its easy to find examples. Tweaking classes to make certain one is not more powerful than the next. Tweaking feats, skills, and other abilities to ascertain the sets available to each prototype character are matched. Everyone seems to want balance except when they don’t. Balance really isn’t all that necessary.
Around the time I launched the Grasslands of Merakai campaign, I was heavily interested in ecology, ecosystems and natural cycles. The research and knowledge had a significant impact on how I approached the campaign. Just as influential were the games I had been playing within. Either the GM was heavy handed in feeding the party only encounters they could overcome or he’d generate implausible situations with the caveat that no players would die.
Balance is nice on paper but its just not natural. Ecosystems generally trend toward equilibrium but rarely do they stay at the balance point for long. For example, take coyotes and rabbits. As the rabbit population increases, the coyote population will as well due to the available prey. When disease wipes out most of the rabbits, the coyotes starve and have fewer offspring. With fewer predators, the rabbit population begins to increase again. The cycle starts all over.
I’ve never been a fan of the rule where you should use monsters X, Y, and Z when the party level is generally A, B and C. I understand the benefit and I’ve made use of such balancing techniques quite often. If you succumb to the approach, the system has just rail roaded you into making choices from a limited pool. The majority of quality campaigns follow the balance is normal model. You need not follow the balanced approach. Is there some meta god rolling around scooting all the creatures not within a certain hit dice range away from the party?
The original version of the Grasslands of Merakai was a knee-jerk response to balance and other game master’s unwritten rules of no character death. By design, it was brutal, chaotic and very deadly. No creature was off the table. Creature hit dice were not a meaningful determinant for encounter feasibility.
The only rule I had was the party been given a chance to avoid dying. The window of chance was often very limited. Choose to run immediately, or be prepared to die or alternatively make the choice during an encounter to escape due to some distraction. Rarely were player characters not given a chance to escape. If they were surprised and had no obvious means of escape, I’d try to work a chance into the encounter. I was evil and didn’t make the choice readily apparent.
Characters had to make difficult choices. Adventuring is not for the meek. Personally, I don’t feel adventurers should plan on long lives. If anyone could do it, why would adventurers exist at all?
The body count was staggering. Players often were busy rolling up a new PC as the campaign was rolling along to the next element. Some players died more than once per session. Based on my recollection, not a single player escaped death over the course of the entire campaign. Not a single player ever refused to play in the campaign even after I’d killed them repeatedly. For some it was frustrating but they quickly learned how the campaign was designed.
Would I run such a campaign today? If I were in a similar situation to when it originally occurred, yes I would. Playing several times a week with a dedicated group of 5-6 players makes such experiments easier. Since I’m not, I probably wouldn’t. Most of the game masters I play under today are more realistic and allow the possibility for death. Occasionally, someone dies.
Deadly should be a tool at the game master’s disposal. If the players are overly confident and cocky, toss something completely unbalanced at them. Let the body count grow but give them an out. Everyone needs to be shocked back into the realization they are not the most powerful force alive on occasion. If death is onerous to the majority of the group, the approach will alienate the players.
Use at your own risk.
CityGen was originally designed as a precursor to KORPG’s What’s at this Intersection?. It was also a proof of concept utility to generate images on the fly with PHP. Sound crazy? The overall idea was simple on paper but caused a lot of frustration during the implementation.
The premise of the idea was to randomly determine commercial, residential, and residential location types and present them as geomorph style buildings. The random portion was pretty trivial. Artwork isn’t something I do well. Kevin over at KORPG produced some great art for his variant. In the end, he couldn’t fold in the prototype I wrote and I’m unlikely to produce art. Result? Two variations of a general concept that are both useful.
I may get around to stripping out the on-the-fly image generation. It is not necessary for my simplistic variation. As Kevin has done, layout with tables using stock imagery is far faster. Unless you need to rotate, scale or do fancy stuff. Fancy is unlikely.
I’m a bit cross-eyed but I cleared out all the pending posts from my time over at KORPG Games. Fixing the media links was painful. I left a number of broken links in place. I may get around to fixing them but it is unlikely. Time to move forward, not spend more time repairing the past.
Media from prior comments is not present nor do I plan on fixing it. Other than some of Kevin’s responses, it was a minor. I may fix a few post cross links as I get to them. They are not that important since search works fine.
I am glad I took the time to import the posts even if it has sucked up a lot of time. History is important. In hindsight, I should have added a heritage specific tag to the imported posts. I didn’t and I’m not going back.
Thanks Kev, for the data.
Computers are already aware. I swear they know the worst possible time to die. If life is hectic and you are reliant on a computer, it will select the best particular moment for it to frustrate you completely. Luckily, they don’t seem to share that information to neighbors. If they did, I’d be in the midst of a complete rebellion. So far, only the one standby machine has decided to thwart my creative efforts. Now that one machine is down, this one is likely considering dying.
Artists are some cool people. I’ve corresponded with half a dozen of them over the last couple of weeks. They can be hard to find but everyone I’ve contacted has been extremely helpful. I’m in exploratory mode trying to determine rates in an industry I know nothing about. Every single person I’ve contacted has given me the information I asked for. Top that with every one of them has also offered additional advice from general rates to cover vs. one time art. Even the one who is too busy to consider commissions currently gave me pointers to alternative artists and where to look. From all appearances, my initial emails were received well and clearly demonstrated my complete ignorance of art and commissioning artists. Thanks all. The advice is much appreciated.
Work has ramped up to a crazy level just as I’m trying to prep for the all important non-work aspects of life. Stuff like gaming, fishing, boating, and basically anything and everything not work related. The corporate overlords may be conspiring with my failing machines. They will not win. I refuse to let them. The paychecks are only useful for paying for the good portions of life.
Our semi-annual old guy gaming get together is now just 2 weeks away. Three full days of crazy gaming across as many systems and game masters as we can fit in. Along with decent food and some cocktails. Every outing is a cool mini-vacation. The wives probably dub it a boys weekend and that would be accurate unless they want to come game. It might happen at some point but not this time. I’m looking forward to it. Always a good time no matter what we play.
I’m evil. Evil2 is more evil.
Identities hidden to protect the less than innocent.