Browsing articles in "Musings"

Half Cocked Idea — Automated Living Dungeon

Jan 8, 2013
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I’ve been pondering relationship modeling and database elements for a few months. On the long, slow drive home this evening, it drifted further afield into the concept of a truly living dungeon ecosystem. The concept of a changing dungeon environment has been around for decades. The locale is not static — adventures and the denizens are constantly changing. So why not toss together some code and shift things about in a mega dungeon setting? Certainly not a novel idea but it would be fun to try.

Start with an open sourced set of maps and perhaps initial stocking. Then completely rethink how monsters, treasure, and such are distributed. My first cut would be encode rooms not as just a specific location but as something with volume / square footage. Groups of rooms should form zones that are easily controlled or should be utilized as a thematic region. Zones could easily span levels if the entry/exit points are contained within them. Dungeon levels are artifacts of system design. They generally contain a specific level of creature / difficulty. While that could be modeled as a concept, I believe an intelligent stocking / disruption model would serve the same goal.

Monsters details would need to grow beyond simple statistics. The region of influence they could potentially control and the desire to do so are interesting starting points. Further, other creatures they tolerate, manipulate or seek to eradicate are far more complicated factors. A group of ogres can dominate the kobolds near an entrance but are afraid of the beholder. If they have a slave or three, how do they utilize them to defend the space they control or increase their status within the dungeon?

Monsters also have metrics for desire. Perhaps they just want to control an area or grab the loot the adventurers might otherwise get. The relationships with other denizens will drive what do on a daily basis. Fear, greed, survival, etc. might all influence what they undertake. Does the desire for treasure lead them to try to overcome something else?

Treasure and traps would be constantly changing elements. If a minotaur steals treasure from a group of adventurers, he’d would control more loot enticing the greedy residents to attack him. Monsters could use traps as deterrents to enter the zone they control or as warning systems. More intelligent creatures would employ more traps but would have to do so at the expense of other activities.

When no one is around, the dungeon would continue to evolve. Based on some fixed time scale, the creatures would continue to live. They might attack others, build stuff, or undertake other activities necessary for daily life. Every action would result in changes within the dungeon which would be reflected in the current state.

An interesting concept but adventurers are the ultimate disruptive force. Why not enable game masters to enter events such as the death of creatures, stealing of loot, disabling of traps. The changes would then cause a reaction throughout the dungeon. The propagation would then be available to others or the same GM to utilize.

The base map would be unlikely to change. Everything else would need to be available as a download in PDF form. Likely in small chunks such as a couple of levels. Coding it would be damn fun. I’m dubious as to the usefulness. Probably best left as a half-cocked idea than a major effort with no consumers.

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By Request: 1E AD&D Character Attributes

Jan 4, 2013
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Greetings! I want to thank you for your online AD&D generators. I particularly like the one that spits out a whole pdf of treasure results, that’s a great idea! I have a request if you’re looking for a project: a pdf generator for AD&D ability scores, Method IV (i.e. roll 12 complete sets of 3d6 in order, and choose one). That would rock. – Alex

Well Alex, you get part of the request. MethodIV is now available as a utility along with the 3 other methods. I have not made it direct to PDF yet. Still, you can use the PrintPDF button at the bottom of the results to create a PDF like all of my generators.

Hopefully that serves your immediate needs.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Woop!

Jan 1, 2013
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I didn’t make 1.3 million page views. Around Christmas, I thought I would. Here’s the raw truth via screenshot from Google Analytics. This random generation stuff sure is popular.


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2012 DriveThru/RPGNow Sales Report

Jan 1, 2013
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The first products of Mithril & Mages were launched in April 2012. Over the last 8 months, a total of 779 products were delivered across the various OneBookShelf websites. Of those, 612 were freebies — 375 copies of zero cost products plus 237 promotional copies of for-profit works. The bulk of the promotional copies were delivered as part of the Indie+2 promotional bundle. Eliminating all the free deliveries, 167 products were sold for net-revenue of $73.10.

Overall Sales Information
Product Sales Freebies Gross Sales Net Revenue
Namespace: Medieval Forenames 187 117 $46.38 $30.15
Namespace: Medieval Surnames 62 3 33.52 21.79
Namespace: Wild West Names 155 117 32.55 21.16
Treasure Book on Demand (LL) 375 375 0.00 0.00
779 612 $112.45 $73.10

Many publishers also use the page view / sale metric provided by as indicators of how their products are doing. All of the Mithril & Mages products are red — indicating the conversion rate is low. This meets expectations given the low amount of effort and expenditure on marketing, layout and cover design. Additionally, raw name lists are a very small market.

Page Views / Sale
Product Page Views Sales/Visit
Namespace: Medieval Forenames 6985 99.8
Namespace: Medieval Surnames 4717 81.3
Namespace: Wild West Names 4583 120.6

The product sales are spent on other RPG products. In fact, I spent more on games than I earned from sales. I do not expect that to change in 2013.

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Dyson’s Delves — Limited Print Volume

Dec 27, 2012
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DysonsDelves-CroppedTwas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

I was stretched out on the couch, down with the Christmas Crud.
Somewhere amid my nap, there was a knock and thud.

The dear USPS lady brought me a wish direct from Lulu — Dyson’s Delves in hard copy. The book, nay tome, is a collection of Dyson Logo’s maps in both stocked and un-stocked variants. Now, I’ve seen many of his works previously so was expecting exactly what I received. With one exception. For the non-populated maps, he’s left notes pages to fill in the details. He really expects people to jot notes in a work with a broad red Limited Edition on the lower right corner.

His commentary (and I misquote) ranges from Use the hell out of it. to WRITE IN THE BOOK! Write in it! Write. In. The. Book. You know you want to. I shall not…yet.

What I will do is conspire with the artiste and that Tenkar fellow to host a contest next year. It will feature cool maps but the other details are still top secret. I could tell you but Grumpy Dwarf would have to silence you. And me. Cannot risk it.

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BareBones 1000 Descriptors

Dec 6, 2012
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People asked. It was already shared on Google Docs but here’s a PDF variant for consumption. Many entries are near duplicates but that works for my purposes.

Download (PDF, 65KB)

Making it pretty has been handed off to someone else.


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Smart != Creative

Dec 4, 2012
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Smarts rarely make you creative. Creative people don’t lack smarts. When the two coincide, the results are pretty amazing.

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