Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Dividing the Population

I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to split up populations. There are many possibilities: race, class, faction, alignment, level, profession (distinctly different from faction), and so on.

In D&D 3.x these appear to be handled pretty inconsistently.

Analysis

Before delving too deeply into solutions, let’s think a bit about what has come before.

Demographics in D&D 3.x

Racial demographics are handled by determining the degree of racial mix in the community.  Taken from the D&D 3e Dungeon Master’s Guide (I think the 3.5 DMG is slightly different, but it’s upstairs).

Isolated Mixed Integrated
96% human 79% human 37% human
2% halfling 9% halfling 20% halfling
1% elf 5% elf 18% elf
1% other races 3% dwarf 10% dwarf
2% gnome 7% gnome
1% half-elf 5% half-elf
1% half-orc 3% half-orc

Of course, there are allowances for communities of other races.  An ‘elven city’ wouldn’t be populated mostly by humans (oh, but it might!  See below), so ‘elves’ move to the top entry by integration, humans are put in second place, then everything else settles down.

On the other hand, classes are determined by first finding the highest level character for each class, the calculating a ‘tree’ of lower-level characters of that class until you get to first level.  Then you take whatever’s left of the community and divide that up by NPC class (91% commoners, 5% warriors, 3% experts, 0.5% aristocrats and 0.5% adepts), all first level.

There aren’t particular guidelines for determining faction or profession, and alignment is kind of iffy as well, having a single table for ‘power centre’ alignment but not much else.

This really isn’t to my taste.  Too many pieces to remember, tables that are inconsistent, and I have decided in my advancing age that I no longer much care about single-digit percentage differences in application.

In analysis I might care, and you’ll see some fractional percentages soon, but in actual application I don’t want to bother.

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Yay! OSR Stuff from Lulu

NOD 1 Cover

NOD 1 Cover

Lulu loves me!

… or at least is willing to make out with my credit card from time to time.

I just got a package in the mail today containing:

… I could have sworn I also ordered Adventures on Gothic Earth hardcover, but I don’t see it in my order history.  I’ll probably include it in my next NOD order.

I’ve also got Blood & Treasure – Treasure Keeper’s Tome coming.  It’s already shipped.

So I guess I’d better get reading.  I’ll be in my bunk.

Link of Fame: Batman of Shanghai

Well, isn’t this interesting?

A heavily-stylized Batman animation, set in 1930s Shanghai.

I’d certainly give this show a chance.

Link of Fame: Fistful of Rupees

I… don’t think I can do justice to this in my description.

If Hyrule were set in the Wild West, it may well look like this.

Part 1: “The Wisdom”

Part 2: “The Power”

Part 3: “The Courage”

Kickstarter: Kaidan Campaign Setting (PFRPG)

A few weeks ago I mentioned the Kaidan Campaign Setting (for Pathfinder) in my Links of the Week.

This is a setting based on Japanese myth.  Not the friendly happy kind that gave us Totoro, but the kind that would have people locking their doors and following ritual to stay alive.

A few excerpts from a recent project update:

More like Ravenloft than any other setting, Kaidan is a spiritual trap. You can arrive into the setting via ship at sea and no other means,but if you die in the setting, your spirit can never leave, but be forever bound to an endless, cursed reincarnation cycle.

In exploring the concept of Buddhism, there is the Great Wheel of Life, 6 Buddhist hells where those who’ve failed to achieve enlightenment are doomed to travel. In Kaidan, this is the cursed reincarnation cycle which houses the 4 social castes, the yokai caste and Jigoku(the true hell).

I’ve skipped some of the mechanical element described.  This is where it gets more interesting:

The mundane part of Kaidan can best be defined as a military dictatorship and police state, under an undead Shogun, in the name of an eternal child emperor (also undead). Founded on a divine curse uttered centuries ago upon the suicide of entire imperial house, all the nobility, provincial daimyo, ministers of the imperial court and the senior members of the office of the Shogunate, including the Shogun himself, are undead. They are eternally bound to the “heaven”noble caste, and none may enter upon reincarnation. They exist to maintain the status quo, as required by the ancient curse, and not mad necromancers of the normal sort.

This does not bode well… and the haunts are unusually troublesome, compared to baseline D&D and Pathfinder:

Undead, ghosts and haunts are prevalent in Kaidan, perhaps more so than any other supernatural encounter. No matter the CR, each is an individual with a thorough background and agenda that become clues and plothooks, more than simple encounters. Haunts and ghosts are always connected, sometimes with an associated curse, and often no easy means of laying to rest. Laying a ghost or haunt to rest becomes typical in the setting, as the ramifications for not doing so can be dire.

Ghosts are not simply incorporeal undead that can age or wither you if you don’t smash them with magic, they require more specific means to deal with permanently.

The project plan calls for The Gamemaster’s Guide to Kaidan first ($4000 goal met), expanded to 200 pages ($7000, not yet).  The third-tier goal is the Complete Player’s Guide to Kaidan (at $12,250).  What I really want is the next one, the Kaidan Bestiary, which will be created at $14,050 and expanded as the project is backed further.

The project closes in three weeks, so there’s still lots of time to back it (I think Steve picked a crazy-long project time and it lost momentum), so I’ll try giving it a bit of a boost.

I want that bestiary.

Kaidan Campaign Setting (PFRPG)

Kaidan Campaign Setting (PFRPG)

Kickstarter: Monster Tokens by Devin Night

I was really excited by the Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter.

To be honest, I still am excited by it.

I backed it for a while.  Then I added up just how much I’ve backed and found I had over $500 backing for projects closing in the next month.  I dropped it (and one or two more) because that’s just crazy.

This is especially true since I don’t truly have a use for them any time soon.  I haven’t been part of a table game in quite a while, and even then we usually found d4s to be eminently serviceable monsters (especially since they trivially have ‘status markings’ built into them — 1 is unhurt, 2 is hurt, 3 is ‘suffering condition’, 4 is dead).

However, I do play in a couple of Hangout games and want to start my own — preferably soon, but more honestly “after some other things are done”.  We use Tabletop Forge.

Monster Tokens by Devin Night makes for a much cheaper and remarkably more serviceable and useful alternative to the Reaper Miniatures.  It starts off with overhead tokens for 150 different monsters (list shown below), then adds more as stretch goals are met.  The first one is at $8,000 and the project is currently a little over $7,700.

Monster Tokens by Devin Night

Monster Tokens by Devin Night

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DCC Funnel Development

Erik Tenkar runs the Adventurer Conqueror King or Die! campaign most Saturday nights.  The session reports I’ve been posting for the last couple months are shameless pandering to his ego (in exchange for a 10% increase in XP… I’m not proud).

We recently acquired henchmen who accompany us into the dangerous places.  We gained them after they went through a DCC-style ‘funnel’, where three of us each ran four zero-level characters (mine were cleverly named ‘K1′, ‘K2′, ‘K3′ — now ‘Kathryn the bard’ — and K4) through an adventure with what would normally be somewhat disastrous effect (only seven survived, and the cow).  In the process we explored, gathered some loot, and actually got a bit of a feel for the characters.

… didn’t get too attached, mind you.  Our first fatality was at the front door when one of them went ‘shinies!’ and tried to pry the presumably precious stones off the door.  I suppose they were precious, he certainly paid for his actions.

The various characters were generated using the Purple Sorcerer Character Generator: roll 3d6 straight down, d4 hit points, randomly choose an occupation, done.  This tool generates a single page containing four 0-level DCC characters (go ahead, give it a try!).  We each ended up running through several times until we got sets that had at least one character each we hoped would survive.

I’d forgotten how brutal 3d6 straight could be.

Today I read a Dungeon World adventure (prepared for a convention, sorry I don’t have the link handy) that made me think a bit, and reminded me of the 0-level character rules found in the AD&D first edition Greyhawk Adventures book.  I’ll look it up when I get home, but for now I’ll work from memory.

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Theme Park vs. Sandbox MMOs

Cool, Ryan Dancey’s still around.

Here, he gives a talk highlighting the difference between ‘Theme Park’ and ‘Sandbox’ MMOs, namely that in a sandbox it is possible to change the world… and that makes a big, big difference.

I found it very illuminating, especially the realization that if you give them the tools, the players will build the world.

Link of Fame: Browsing Historical Maps

This link is thanks to Jonathan Roberts at Fantastic Maps.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection shows historical maps overlaid on Google Earth the locations they map.  You can even reduce their opacity (via slider) so you can compare them, one on top of the other.

Given today’s satellite and other remote sensing technology, we have pretty high expectations of maps today.  It startles me a little just how accurate and precise they were able to get centuries ago, long before the technology we have today.

Ireland 1890 Overlaid on Google Earth

Kickstarter: Reaper Miniatures Bones Update

Oh god, Reaper Miniatures and Kickstarter, why do you do this to me?

Look what $100 gets you now!

… if the image is missing, it’s because Reaper added more and changed the image, and the old one died.  Go to the Kickstarter project to see the current set and I’ll update this when I find out…

Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures

This is well under a dollar per figure. Sure, they’re (almost) all plastic, but they’re well-made plastic. Another $72 for a decent range of paint (64 colors) and $25 for a foam-lined figure case… even for $200 this is a hell of a deal.

The project closes August 25… I just have to make it through another eight days… and four hours, and about fifteen minutes.

Project currently funded $690,341/$30,000… they appear to be gaining speed here.