Browsing articles tagged with " Ramblings of Mark"

Labyrinth Lord: Hoard / Treasure Generator

Mar 23, 2011
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Need a quick treasure dump for a creature within the Labyrinth Lord system? The treasure generator is pretty simple. Know what hoard level of treasure it contains, select and click. Presto! No need to lookup a bunch of charts or have the books at hand. If you are a LL purist, I’ve done you wrong by including the magic items from the Advanced Edition Companion. If you cannot deal with my impertinence, feel free to write your own or just roll the dice.

I’m going to call this a beta release. No matter how many times I compare the table to the code, I’m certain I’ve made more than one mistake. Code is never bug free. My code probably contains more bugbears per line than the average. If you see issues, let me know. I’m also happy with the output format. I honestly don’t have any idea how it would work best for most people.

Don’t have a copy of the game? Get over to Goblinoid Games for a copy of Labyrinth Lord. When you love the product, and you will, vote with your wallet and purchase a copy of the game.

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Scrap-bin Pouches

Mar 21, 2011
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“When in doubt, toss it out.” I should adopt that as my cleaning strategy but it won’t work. When I come across stuff I think about tossing, I start wondering how it could be used. As I was cleaning off my workbench from my prior leather projects, I found a bin of a bunch of small pieces of suede and garment leather. I had a plan for them once upon a time. I was almost ready to toss them but decided there had to be some use for the bits and pieces. My level of leather craft can be described as marginals. When things work out, I’m generally amazed.

So what do you do with scrap leather? I went with pouches and bags. Most of the scraps were quite small which limited the scope of the endeavour. A wonderful side effect is if you screw up and it doesn’t work, it was scrap to begin with. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
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Midnight Maps: Decaying Crypt

Mar 15, 2011
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From the tomes of projects headed nowhere, a crypt falling in ruins. Long abandoned. While I had a pretty good idea what I was going to do with the locale, life keeps pointing me toward other things. Perhaps someone else can flesh it out further.

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Characterization: Ignore the System and the Group

Mar 14, 2011

Defining who a character is has absolutely nothing do do with system mechanics or other members of a group. If you believe it does, stop reading now. Agree to disagree and move on.

The top two characterization killers are trying to fit a concept to a system and trying to balance a new character to help a group. Forget both and formulate the idea as a personality, a history, and as an actual living, breathing person with a desire for a future. If your game master completely ignores character history, extract yourself and find a different game.

A character is complex by nature. Individuals have goals, desires, and historic events that influence who she is. Before you even begin to roll dice, apply point pools or consider skills, you should have a good basis or creating the persona. Step back look at the concept in your mind. What happened in the past? What drives the character today? Where does she want to be? Who in her past were influential? Were those people role models or adversaries? How about her family or upbringing? How did family influence what the person is today?

No game system can comprehensively cover those questions. Few even try. The few that do consolidate it into a random table to determine a couple of aspects. All far short of allowing a player to actually create the individual they want to play. Players must want to make an effort to create unique, complete characters. If they do not, by all means, whip out the scissors, apply some stats, and cut out the stick figure. Afterwards, hope a personality evolves. Chances are it will not.

Start a character by writing down elements that define him. Family. Education. Historic events. Goals. If you get stuck, resources like the The Ten-Minute Background can help. Or if you want to peruse options of personalities, Ash’s Guide to RPG Personality & Background is useful. Both are useful just to look at it and balance against the idea lingering in your head. Fiction writers hit the same block when creating characters. It’s not abnormal. Searching for fiction characterization will result in thousands of other sites to get you over the hump.

Thinking in a vacuum doesn’t always work. Sometimes you need inspiration from others in the room. Gamers have great imaginations and are very useful for defining people. Keep it completely system neutral when you ask for help. “I want to play X but am stuck on why he’s motivated to do so.” Tweak the game master as well. Ask how your concept can fit into the campaign he has in mind. Explaining your history and thoughts will inspire her to tweak his campaign to fit. Creatively, they want people to enjoy what they present so tweaking just happens unconsciously. If he’s stuck on defining the stats, keep the concept for another game. Keep plugging at the concept until you are happy with the persona you have defined.

At that point, give the game master the complete characterization. Lay it out verbally, defining exactly what you want to play. Then ask, “Can you help me stat this character within the system so it matches my concept? ” Doing so forces them to buy in to the decisions you have made. If the system doesn’t fit, push to get a house rule to allow you the benefits (and repercussions) you have presented. Most game masters will be ecstatic you took the time to define someone they can engage and entertain.

While the rest of the group is deciding if they are a mage, fighter, solo, netrunner or some other blank archetype, you will be prepared to be what you created. And then let the fun begin.

Zealots: Edition Wars are essentially Religious Intolerance

Mar 10, 2011

The hard line extremists in any debate get air time. Most of us just shrug it off as the media playing up a story which is not a story. Still, as a community, role players are prone to the same level of antipathy and zealotry. Far too many people espouse the benefits of one edition over the next. Much like one religion explains how their particular interpretation is the only true form. The feedback cycle explodes with people claiming they are more correct than the previous author.

Let me ask a simple question. How does something you read affect your gaming? Just because he disagreed with your edition choice, does it matter? He’s probably a Catholic and your a Muslim. Are you going to flame him for that? We all have preferred game systems. Individual style is not to be disparaged. It should be encouraged. How we interpret and play a system comes down to one simple truth: It’s a game. Games are meant to be fun.

The discourse over how we play should also be encouraged because everyone has an opinion. Going on a tirade and making absolute claims on how people should approach gaming is not useful. In three decades, I can point to no single individual who stuck by an interpretation over the entire course of time. Gaming styles shift based on parties, people, and products. In my perspective, the people are the most critical factor.

When people draw a hard line in the sand, the discussion deteriorates into zealotry. Tolkien had one ring. Look at the antagonism resulting within his characters. The Koran and the Bible have the same fundamental teachings. Yet people keep twisting and interpreting them to be significantly different. Both speak to compassion and interacting with others as you would like to be treated.

The time has passed for antagonism. It was gone when Basic crossed into 1E. Then 1E into 2E. Then 3E into 4E. Why are we arguing about how someone choose to play the game? How exactly does it impact our life? The game isn’t going to shift us back into a feudal society or religious intolerance. We’ve merely picked a framework we enjoy. It’s that simple.

Nothing can be gained from absolute declarations. If and when we shift to that stance, we are doing little more than belittling the people we disagree with. How is that useful? Do you get some rush from trying to overwhelm him or her? Do you just want to be right?

There is no right. Nor is there a wrong. It is a game. Try to have a level headed discourse about how we get more fun from it. I’ve failed on several occasions but I aim to do better.

Compendium of Modern Jobs

Mar 7, 2011
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I’ve been neck deep in data for a few weeks. Processing, converting, formatting to fit the needs of the pointy haired boss guy. Not a drop of it related to gaming. I’ve built a dozen software tools to import, export, convert and publish the data. So why not find a strange data source for RPG inspiration? I came across one data set over at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS publishes a lot of data. Most of it arcane and strange. If you toss out the excess information, something useful for role playing lies underneath.

Ever wondered what the guy walking down the street did as a career? Or got asked what some random NPC that meant nothing to a campaign did for a living? Wondered what some fellow did before he was trapped in his current, mind numbing job? All reasonable questions in a modern or post-modern/apocalypse games. Generally, any answer works but occasionally you want something specific. Maybe as a hook. Perhaps just to not tread down a well worn path yet again. Maybe you just need a little inspiration for a few key NPC’s who will be part of a larger plot but are struggling for a little history.

Jobs. Occupations. The BLS data covers it well. Go figure. With minimal formatting and zero data correction, I give you the Compendium of Modern Occupations. Covering 24 occupation categories and over six thousand individual job titles, the compendium should get ideas flowing on jobs and careers.

At first, I was going to convert the data into a random generator. Occasionally, its nice just to have a huge, voluminous list to page through until something hits you. The random generator can come later. Perhaps tomorrow.

Drop me a comment if you find it of use. I might be motivated to edit the data if you do.

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Need a modern identity?

Feb 25, 2011
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My initial reaction to was dismay. My gut told me it was completely insane. In reality it was just a bunch of a random information, done well. FNG doesn’t just produce a modern name based of the available US data. They produce entire personalities off a statistical bunch of data and have worked hard on expanding it.

Anyone covering 22 countries including the newest, Poland, is working pretty hard. Not to mention they are using actual addresses in those countries. That’s not a trivial random table. It took work. If you are freaked out like I was at the start, its all public information. A SSN? The US government provides a validation service. Phone numbers? Many claim to do reverse phone number lookup but simply searching for them works fine. Many people, like sheep, put them on Facebook. Facebook has a an excellent privacy track record and has no interest in your data.

Beyond the addresses, most of its randomly generated. Freaky but it just follows a well known pattern. I’m not sure when I’ll need a tracking number for an identity but who knows. The first GM that makes me quote the tracking number might get buried in a landfill. I’m just saying. I’ll leave his head out of the ground.

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