Posts Tagged ‘Open Source’

As I’m sure some of you know, I am a Fudge storyteller. I hesitate to say GM because my games are very much interactive stories with very little in the way of the standard table top roleplaying elements. For the campaign that I am running, I maintain a setting known as Nightshade Academy. This is a medieval fantasy based setting with a school for magic and magical creatures. One of the major problems I had been having with this setting was resolving the way werecreatures and shape changing creatures are treated in most table top system with each other and with the way that werecreatures feel like they work in fantasy and mythological stories. As such, I wrote out my way of handling such creatures. Basically, you take a human and write up their base form. Here I am using a human wizard, age 11. My normal character builds give 3 free stat increases, 3 great skills, 8 good skills, 2 gifts and 2 flaws. This character, known as Magen, is a were-jaguar. Magen has only 1 gift and 1 flaw free for the player to choose. The other gift is “Shift – Were form” and the other flaw is “Werecreature”.

Human

  • Stamina – Fair
  • Health – Fair
  • Damage mitigation – Fair
  • Dexterity – Fair
  • Perception – Good
  • Willpower – Good
  • Reasoning – Good
  • Skills
  •       Great
  •             Literacy
  •             Theology/Myths/Rituals
  •             Language – Greek
  •       Good
  •             Legends & Stories
  •             Scholarly Magic
  •             History
  •             Thaumatology
  •             Arcane Lore
  •             Language – Mayan
  •             Language – French
  •             Language – Latin
  •       Gifts
  •             Eidetic Memory
  •             Shift – Were-Jaguar
  •       Flaws
  •             Shy
  •            Werecreature

 When the shift to her jaguar form occurs, she gets 3 more free points to put into her physical attributes and has to take 2 mental attribute reductions. She gets 3 new great skills and 8 new good skills, replacing the skills from her human form. She also gets a new gift to replace her human form gift and her human form flaw is replaced with “Unable to Speak”. This may or may not apply depending on the setting.

Were-Jaguar

  • Stamina – Good
  • Health – Fair
  • Damage mitigation – Good
  • Dexterity – Good
  • Perception – Good
  • Willpower – Mediocre
  • Reasoning – Good
  • Skills
  •         Great
  •             Acrobatics
  •             Athletics
  •             Move Quietly
  •         Good
  •             Weapon – claws
  •              Read Opponent
  •              Tactics
  •              Balance
  •              Climbing
  •              Jumping
  •              Ambush
  •              Stealth
  •         Gifts
  •             Quick Reflexes
  •             Shift – Human
  •          Flaws
  •             Unable to speak
  •             Werecreature

My intention with this way of writing up the character is that the player can make two character sheets and switch between them when the character changes forms. It addresses the fact that a character expending an entire gift for another form should truly have another form and other skills and talents in that form. This can also allow the player to choose what parts of their mind they choose to retain in their animal form. An optional addition, at the discretion of the GM, is that while in the wereform, the player can use all of their Great ranked mental skills from their base form.

This method of creating a were-creature was tested over this past weekend during a pre-genned module calling Sorting which is part of my Nightshade Academy fantasy setting. One of the students newly come into their power is a werewolf. Three different players played the werewolf and they all enjoyed the character, especially since switching forms is essentially free. Out of the three players, 2 had played Fudge before and 1 had not. The only complaint was that the Gifts of a character should be available in both forms. For example, the pre-generated werewolf had Danger Sense in its human form but no in the wolf form. I do agree that this makes more logical sense and for player created characters this should always be an option. But there may be powers such as Mechanical Genius, which wouldn’t make any sense to apply while in an animal form.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little ramble about this new way of doing werecreatures and shifters. In the future, I intend to discuss my new system for characters who don’t know they have powers yet and how to do it.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Screen

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about DMing lately. For those of you who may not know, DMing (dungeon mastering) or GMing (game mastering) is the art of running a table top game like Dungeons and Dragon or Mage: The Ascension or Fudge. This role can also be known as the ST (Story Teller) or EH (Event Holder) depending on the table top or live action system you’re playing in. Its the GM’s responsibility to have the story, to know the NPCs and their reactions and most importantly to know the rules and be able to arbitrate them should a disagreement arise between the players. GMing is an amazing skill that teaches not only story telling and game design principles, but also teaches organization and planning. It can also help with social skills, depending on your player base.

So, you’ve heard how amazing it can be to run a game, or maybe you think you could do it better than your current GM, or maybe there’s a story in your head just itching to get out. Either way, you want to run a game. Where do you begin? The first thing to worry about, even before your system, is your story. If you left this for later, you might decide that you want to run a social intrigue, no combat, no magic game when you already told the players to make 4th ed D&D characters, and that certainly won’t work. Once you’ve decided upon a genre and a rough story idea, you need to decide how you feel about rules. Are you a rules heavy GM or rules light? Do you like having mountains of D6? How about piles of D10? Is the D20 where your heart lies? Or do you prefer to go diceless? Do the dice not matter to you? How about the magic? Is there magic? How about Cthulhu? What about bunnies? Can the players only be human? Based on all these sorts of things you can finally decide upon a system. Wikipedia has a very nice list of available systems here sorted by genre.

Then comes preparing for the game. How well do you know your players? Do they like combat? How about roleplaying? Are your players likely to have crippled their characters under a mountain of flaws or are you looking at a team of min-maxed supermen? Has every skill point been allocated with the utmost care heading towards a specific prestige class or do you have a bardbarian with profession(midwifery)? If you put an NPC infront of your PCs, do they see it as a person or as a walking pile of XPs? This is an important distinction for you as the GM to be able to make. If you hinge your game on the players developing an emotional connection with an NPC that they see as little better than some XPs and equipment that periodically talks to them, then you have a problem. You have to tune your game to your players. For example, I’m running a campaign for a bunch of heavy roleplayers, one of whom despises combat, and the game is largely intrigue and Scooby Doo-esque mystery solving with very few moments of combat, and only really then if the players deem it necessary. If you want to learn to feel the difference in a group of PCs, try writing a one-shot and running it multiple times for different groups. You’ll be able to see the differences. One group might handle the entire adventure in under 24 in-game hours and another group might take game days to do the same thing. One group might solve their problems with violence and reckless fireballs and the other might use their charisma and social skills without ever lifting a weapon. Believe me, I’ve watched it happen. I ran the same one-shot 3 times over the course of a weekend. The first group roleplayed to their hearts content and used their magic very intelligently, and they treated the students (this was at a magical school) like they were students and took complete responsibility for handling everything. The second group was also mostly roleplaying like amazing. There was one player who wasn’t used to heavy roleplay gaming, but he managed. The characters in this group actually managed the entire one-shot without using very much magic. One of them cast no spells and just used social skills and wit to get through the game. The third session was odd. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but there was one player who found almost the entire plot but had the flaw: compulsive liar. The rest of the players never found the plot because they were too deeply embroiled in PVP.

Your challenge, should you accept it, is to make the players care. How you do this depends on your players. Do they like shiny objects? Do they want to save orphans? Do they want to beat up the bad guy? Do they want to ascend? Even if you just have players who want to hit level 20 with lots of shiny items, you know what they are willing to work for. There isn’t a player out there that doesn’t want something. And if there is, I don’t want to find out because it destroys my views of reality. You’re the GM, its your job to make the players have fun (whether they want to or not) and in order for them to have fun, they have to care. I don’t just mean that on their character sheet, their character is motivated, I mean the player wants to see their character’s goals actually get achieved.

Reality. Its that pesky thing we game to escape, right? Wrong. Its that thing that without which a world doesn’t make sense. I don’t mean that your world has to match up with the real world, I mean that within your game world, if magic doesn’t work on Tuesdays, then magic ALWAYS doesn’t work on Tuesdays unless there’s a damn good reason why it did today. And if the players don’t like the way something works, they should be able to change it. Does gravity work differently? Is the sky red? Can the players learn your world’s laws and learn to work within them? Verisimilitude is the word you’re striving for. The sense of reality, of a cohesive world with its own internal laws and consistencies. And just as important as your players being able to understand the world is that the players need to be able to change the world. I don’t mean necessarily on the grand cosmological scale, but if a fledgling wizard tosses a magic missile at a building and leaves a scorch mark and years later when he’s a master and he comes back to that same town, that scorch mark is probably still there. Its those kinds of little things that make a world real. And more than that, if I’m running a rebellion game and I scripted out how the rebellion will work and the players decide to do something I didn’t plan for, I shouldn’t try to shoehorn them back into my little railroaded reality.

So here comes the question that stumps many a fledgling GM. How much free will is too much? Lets say one of your players has a chaotic neutral character, but they’ve been resorting to violence an awful lot and they came really close to killing a defenseless peasant. Are they slipping towards evil? What are you going to do if they slide the entire way? Do you tell someone to make a new character just because they became evil? If the party doesn’t sort it out themselves, its up to you as the GM to make a call. Your players might not want to play with someone who’s evil, for example, but not in-game realize that he’s evil yet. Or one of a hundred million other problems comes up. Is that cleric forsaking their god? Did the paladin knowingly allow evil to live? Its up to you to decide! Can you do it? Its kind of a big deal.

And remember, when all else fails, you are the god of their pathetic little world. Sure, you have the responsibility on your shoulders to ensure that they all have fun, but they have the responsibility to treat you like a human being and not like a perl script. Have the players ordered out and left you to clean up every week for the last 12? Have they gotten food you can’t even eat? Are they talking about other things and slowing down your game? They are insignificant in your cosmos and this is your world. When in doubt: gazebo.

Ok, so maybe not so much on that last part. But remember, that you and your players are in a partnership and you both have to remember that the other is real people. If your game ever hits the point where game conflicts are causing real life conflicts, you should seriously consider putting a halt on your game, at least temporarily. If people are fighting out of game, then no one is having fun. Here’s what I consider the most important thing to remember: Don’t be a dick. Its something one of my professors taught me and to be perfectly honest, it will get you pretty far.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I’ve been quite sick. Well, now its time to talk about my new favorite toy : the Fudge system. I picked up the book for this at PAX East this year. I might have mentioned it.

justfudgeitThe great thing about Fudge is that you don’t really need to follow the rules, know the rules or even care about the rules. My favorite quote from the book was something to the tune of here’s a table you can use, if you like tables, and if you don’t, just make it up. I ran a game of Fudge during Gaming Weekend at school. The campaign has the intentions of continuing, but we haven’t yet due to outside forces. The characters involved are amazing. So, we have the fairly stereotypical bookish wizard with his familiar, an ermine named Vlad. Then we’ve got the energy manipulator who also happens to be a prostitute by night. Then the divine oracle who worships the stars and has something of a temper. And last but certainly not least, the druidic water bender. The characters were all made purely subjectively and the things on their character sheets are just the kinds of things that they think they should be able to do. And let me tell you, they can do some pretty wacky stuff. The quote from the session that has been bandied about the most, I think, is “We do not condone violence in this school! Mind crush!”. It was beautiful. The roleplaying in the session was way more than I tend to see in D&D and I really feel like Fudge helped. Especially since skills and attributes are recorded as “Good” or “Fair” or “Excellent” not as numbers like in other systems.

 

Fudge (role-playing game system)

Image via Wikipedia

I really like the concept of using Fudge dice, which have +, – and blank on the sides. It allows for the game to be much more subjective. I also house ruled out rolls for things that a player’s character should just be able to do. For example, a 7th year wizarding student should be able to cast a mage light without any trouble, so they just can. There’s still the possibility that they will backlash themselves. I use the fatigue table in the Fudge book to handle this effect and it works beautifully.

My players really loved this system and character creation didn’t take nearly as long as I’ve seen it take in other systems. It was largely them deciding what they wanted their character to be and coming up with skills based on that. My players used 2 of the 4-5 different magic systems presented in the book, and I’m considering writing a new one. Its an amazingly adaptable system, as evidenced by the community forums which can be found here. The Fudge system allows, no encourages, people to add their own content and to make custom content for their own settings. Fudge is inherently a rules-light, worldless system that focuses on the story, not the rules. But for people who like the feel of the D6 or the D20 or even diceless, there are rule sets for that. Its completely amazing.

Overall, I love Fudge, my players love Fudge. Fudge is truly the storytelling system I’ve been looking for. I hope that other people who like tabletops but hate rules can check it out and give it a try. I give Fudge a 5 out of 5. It has fulfilled my every hope and dream.

 

Update to Diceroller

Posted: October 11, 2010 in Uncategorized
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While I haven’t yet fixed the diceroller to be more random and less pseudo-random, I have added a flag for rolling in Scion mode. Simply use the –scion flag on the command line to enter that mode. I also fixed a glitch that was returning -1 successes on a roll with more 1’s than successes instead of returning 0.

Version 2 of the dice roller is available at http://users.wpi.edu/~hifo/diceroller_v_2 and there is also a readme file available at http://users.wpi.edu/~hifo/diceroller_readme.txt

Open Source Gaming?

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized
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So, some friends of mine have been discussing the concept of an open source gaming console. I’m starting to do the research into the idea and see if its viable. To begin these are the requirements:

1. It must be open source, wherein anyone can develop for it and develop attachments and software and such

2. It must be a console system, wherein it hooks to a TV or projector and has interchangeable discs or cartridges that contain different games and have controller units attached to it

3. It must be able to connect to the internet to allow for multi-user games, software updates and purchasing of new games

4. It must allow for the user to upgrade the hardware, ie RAM updates or adding additional memory

Those are my main requirements. I’d also be willing to work on a hand-held, but what I really want is the next generation of Wii/Xbox/PS etc. Only…open source. What this would hopefully allow for is a cheap console system that would be easy for developers to develop for and would offer cheap games and various methods of acquiring games for the end user. Neat, huh?

And now for something completely different

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Sorry for not posting anything on Wednesday. I’ve been really busy with homework and stuff. Plus my card that gets me into the game dev lab that has the game I’m working on a review of broke. So, I come bearing something a little different. I come bearing my first piece of open source, gaming supplement. I’m a big fan of the World of Darkness setting White Wolf games. I’m currently playing in a Mage: The Ascension game that one of my friends is running. For that, I ended up spending a little bit of free time working on making a command-line dice rolling program that can handle World of Darkness mode. In the World of Darkness systems, only 10-sided dice are rolled. All rolls are made against a difficulty. If you can beat this difficulty, it counts as a success. On a roll of 10, the die is said to explode, meaning that it counts as a success and you roll it again. A roll of 1 subtracts from the total successes. For example, lets say I’m rolling 4 dice at a difficulty of 6 and I rolled 10 8 4 1. Well, that 10 gets rolled again. This becomes a 6. So, you’ve got 3 successes and a 1. That’s a total of 2 successes. Pretty simple. So I made a program that can roll dice normally or go into World of Darkness mode and calculate success and reroll 10s. So, here you go!

The code in full is available at diceroller and is a bashscript program. Save it as a program called diceroller with no  extension. Here is the proper usage:

diceroller 10 d 10 –wod    (to roll 10 10-sided dice in World of Darkness mode)

diceroller 1 d 20      (to roll 1 20-sided die in normal mode)

Any numbers can be put in as arguments. The ‘d’ is merely there for my own sanity. Feel free to add anything to this program that you would like or to ask for additions if you’d like me to develop them myself. I’m more than happy to continue developing this program if there are things people would like.