Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Teratic Tome Takeaways

Teratic Tome Cover

Teratic Tome Cover

I’m not normally one for alliterative titles, but it fit here.

Often when I absorb media — read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, and so on — I find or look for things I can take away from it. Whether it’s ideas for role playing games or ways to improve my programming ability, new techniques or traps to avoid, I like to incorporate new things into what I know and do.

A major component of my day job is to prepare technical documentation. I’m not formally a technical writer, I’m a software developer, but I do a lot of technical writing. This lends itself to a certain mindset — informationally-dense, but generally focusing on factual information rather than narrative elements. There isn’t often a story to be told in a database dictionary, operations manual, or functional specification.

Teratic Tome demonstrated to me that I am horribly underusing monsters. I do not mean that I’m not using enough of them. I mean I am not taking full advantage of them.

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Review: Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler

I don’t do a lot of reviews. I should probably do more, actually, I certainly read enough RPG material.

Short form: holy balls is this an impressive book. If you like old school and you like freakishly scary and horrifying monsters, BUY THIS BOOK!

A few weeks ago Rafael Chandler posted a picture to Google+ of the cover of his soon-to-be-finished book.

Teratic Tome Cover

Teratic Tome Cover

That is badass. (The description of the creature later is even more so, and I’ll come to that later.)

Actually, let’s look at the actual image he posted.

Teratic Tome Full Cover

Teratic Tome Full Cover, 50% scale so it fits the page, click to enlarge

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Dungeons of Carcassonne: What It Might Look Like

I was reviewing my site stats today and saw an inbound link to my Dungeons of Carcassonne post from last year. I’d almost forgotten about it (and the followup post)

This happy reminder caused me to consider reposting the link to Google+, and while I looked for an image of a Carcassonne tile to add to that post I stumbled on an article by Peter Norvig about building a ‘nice layout of cities‘, that led to the map below.

Peter Norvig's Carcassonne 'Urban Challenge' result

Peter Norvig’s Carcassonne ‘Urban Challenge’ result

I think it unlikely a Carcassonne dungeon map would be quite this tidy in practice, unless an effort is made to make it so.

That might be worth doing, actually, even if it does require more planning up front and cooperation. I’ll have to think about it.

Anyway, it looks like this could be workable. I think I might make a few changes to my original plan, though.

  • Where a road leads directly into a city, you have an open doorway.
  • Where a road passes adjacent to a city wall (as with the top second from the left in the top row — the road and wall must be on the same tile, I think), there is a door.
  • Where walls of adjacent cities touch, you have a door or a doorway (or a secret door)… some kind of connector.
  • Cities with fields between them (such as the cheesy-twos in the second row) are not connected (or may be connected with a secret passage?)
  • I have no idea what to do with the cloisters.

This planned layout looks like a pretty feasible dungeon, actually. All cities can be reached, there are decisions to make in navigating (branching paths) with few linear connections. Only in a couple of places must you pass through one city to get to another, and there are places you can shortcut the hallway by cutting through a room, and conversely avoid a room by sticking to the hallway.

I’ll have to a graph of this, I think, but it looks like this actually might be a decent dungeon map. I find this very cool.

However, as good as this looks as a dungeon map, I think the cooperative construction and attempt at a ‘nice’ layout might detract from it as a gaming structure. I think I’d prefer to keep the random draws and construction (with rewards for completing cities). Perhaps I would break out the Big Box and bring out all the tiles.

That could take a while, but the thought of a Carcassone-constructed megadungeon tickles me.

D&D Meta-Spells

Many spells in D&D 3.x and Pathfinder differ only in small ways from each other, to the point they are defined in terms of one of them.

For instance, Pathfinder has four cure wounds spells, one for each level from first to fourth. Plus a mass version of each. And they can be reversed to inflict wounds as well. I make this sixteen spells that only fix or cause (reversed for undead targets) hit point damage. Heal actually does other stuff too, so I’ll count that as a different spell.

Why have so many spells? Why not have a single spell that can have different effects when cast at different spell levels?

Cure Wounds Meta-Spell

Cure wounds lends itself to this form of simplification very well because there are many forms that really vary only in the amount of damage fixed and, with the mass versions, how many creatures are affected.

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Link of Fame: Live Action Toy Story

I like the Toy Story series.

However, I obviously don’t like it the way the folks that did this like it. 80 minutes of Toy Story played through with the actual toys.

Pathfinder is, uh, Kinda Big

As mentioned in my last post, I’m gathering research material for Echelon. I’d been planning to mine Pathfinder for material, and since I had a couple weeks off just now I figured it would be a good time. I had no real idea how much there is out there. I hit the Pathfinder Reference Document(not the d20PFSRD, the one provided by Paizo) and a few third-party supplements, or series of supplements — some are individually kind of small documents, but as a series add up to a fair bit. According to MS Word, the various aggregation files contain:

Type Subtype

Pages

Words

Character Traits

23

8,222

Class Alchemist

72

18,008

Class Barbarian

51

16,333

Class Bard

57

20,813

Class Cavalier

36

13,493

Class Cleric

94

34,054

Class Druid

86

30,263

Class Fighter

47

13,534

Class Gunslinger

34

12,113

Class Inquistor

59

19,727

Class Magus

32

12,390

Class Monk

94

38,682

Class Ninja

12

4,610

Class NPC Classes

8

1,473

Class Oracle

84

38,361

Class Paladin

65

25,550

Class Prestige Classes

76

29,035

Class Ranger

42

15,596

Class Rogue

63

19,041

Class Samurai

21

7,983

Class Sorcerer

65

26,931

Class Summoner

51

19,938

Class Witch

36

14,643

Class Wizard

52

22,134

Equipment

72

29,096

Feats

69

114,675

License

14

5,752

Magic Items

201

91,656

Races

85

38,927

Spells 1001 Spells

465

182,183

Spells

593

226,130

Total  

2,779

1,151,346

This includes classes, archetypes (in the applicable class files), and class-specific things like domains, inquisitions, vows, oaths, rage powers, and so on. The page counts are a little dodgy because I am pretty liberal with whitespace; if two archetypes take only half a page each, they’ll each get a whole page (feats and spells aren’t so liberal… though it would make it easier to count them, I’ve got about 1400 and about 2400 of them respectively). However, more telling is that I’ve got somewhat over a million words. Even if 3% of that number is a line for each game entity identifying where I found it (“Source: Pathfinder Reference Document/Advanced Race Guide”), which it wouldn’t be, and 10% of that is simply numbers, which it probably wouldn’t be, this is still slightly more than a million words of game entities. That’s a lot to collect, organize, and consistently format. And I haven’t even started on monsters yet.