April 9, 2010

Supers Inc and a 10 year old

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:40 am

I ran an intro at a neighborhood store the other night and had a range of folks at the table. Amongst them were a 40ish engineer, a 20 something comic fan, a 16 old store attendant and a 10 year old girl. I ran a pretty standard Supers Inc game where they had to do a high profile rescue of a Senator’s son. He was 20 and they were terrorists holding him for the release of a list of prisoners. The team did not know it at the time but their corporate sponsors were broke and were sending them to their deaths to recover the insurance money.

Engineer spent most of the time trying to convince me that my physics were wrong. Comic boy moaned about how this was not silver age and I had it all wrong. Store attendant would rather have been getting a root canal. But this little ten year old girl played it to the friggin hilt. She was playing a 10 year old much the same as here but with intangibility. She barely could grasp the system but it did not bother her, she would do stuff like “I want to go through that car and break the engine” and I would tell her what to roll and she would ask what she needed and get really excited about the outcome.

I want to stress, this is not about “getting Supers Inc” but about getting the game. She was having fun. I think there are just some gamers that don’t get that anymore. I cannot for the life of me understand why you would continue to play if you had lost that joie de vivre that games should give you. This is not work, it should be entertainment.

So, next time you are feeling down about your game, sit down with niece, nephew, son, friends kid, who ever of the appropriate age and get your game on. You may be surprised just how much they get, how much fun they have and how refreshing it is to just play.

April 6, 2010

Skills for AI

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:49 am

Skills for AI have been handled in two ways in Iridium. First, there was essentially spending XP in learning new skills. This was meant to mimic neural learning nets. Second, there were S.C.I.M. slots. There are basically computer programs as they could be swapped out. The basic bays could be upgraded to and added on to increase the total skills. Ranks in the skills would cost more credits but take the same slots. So, you could have Unarmed Combat a 1 or at rank 5 and it would skill only take 1 S.C.I.M. slot but would cost the difference between say, 1 KC and 25 KC.

I can see the argument for the first way but really favor the second. Thoughts?

April 1, 2010

Creating Races in Iridium

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 2:57 pm

This is taken from an article on the site. I will be updating it for Iridium V2 but surprisingly it probably will not change much.

The following is for people who might wish to create their own races for any of our settings. The process is very simple and can be accomplished in about half an hour.

Racial Concept
The first step is to form a mental concept of the new race. For example, a new, inoffensive race is needed to populate a newly discovered planet in a Nebuleon (Sci-Fi) campaign. Knowledge of the planet (a temperate water and swamp world) and what is needed for the campaign (primitive natives that can help or hinder the player characters, depending on how the first meeting goes) should help develop a racial concept. With that goal in mind, the following concept for the new race, called the Rihdahn, can be created.

The Rihdahn are amphibious and live on the many riverbanks of their word. They use tools but are not very dexterous. They stand between 1.4 and 1.8 m and weigh about 50-60 kg. The have rubbery skin like a dolphin but have a large number of tentacles for their base and an upper body with three primary tentacle stalks that they use as hands. Their heads are compact and they have no neck and shoulders to speak of. Their face is a mash of six eyes placed around their head and a central mouth filled with teeth. The Rihdahn appearance can be misleading, allowing one to believe they are ferocious hunters when they actually prefer a form of fresh water vegetation.

The Rihdahn are willing servants and love the chance to travel. They were first discovered by a RFW survey team and have since worked well in water environments as scouts. Unfortunately, they have little aptitude with technology and have had little success in the greater sense of the Nebuleos.
Racial Modifiers

Racial modifiers should reflect the nature of the race to be defined. Minor modifiers of plus one or two should reflect natural aptitudes, such as an increased agility for multi-legged creatures. Larger modifiers of plus three or more should be restricted to truly super-natural attributes beyond the ability of humans to attain. On rare occasions, a guaranteed above 20 stat may be appropriate, such as the appearance of elves in our fantasy setting. It is not necessary to have stat pluses and minuses balance out, but any obvious stat advantages need to be compensated with a social or physical restriction (race is discriminated against, or lacks a corporeal body, etc).

The Rihdahn have the following adjustments:
-5 +4 -1 +2 -2
+2 -4 +0
Spiritual LUC PIE WIL
+0 +2 +2

Remember, not every attribute needs a modifier.

Racial Abilities
Racial abilities are innate things like natural armor, spell casting capabilities, or flight. Abilities like night sight and extraordinary sense of smell can be defined in terms of percentage beyond normal sense or their chance to use it. For instance, extraordinary sense of sell of 40% means the race has a 40% chance of smelling a scent not normally available to humans. A race with 40% night sight would be able to see 40% as well in the dark as they would in daylight. Alternatively, the GM could make the character check on percentiles making them roll under the 40%.

The Rihdahn have a thin layer of blubber that gives them a small amount of protective armor. This equates to 10 points in all areas. They are also amphibious and can hold their breath under water for 20 minutes.

Racial weaknesses should also be included here. The Rihdahn dehydrate quickly and do not handle heat well. This translates into a CON check for every day they are away from water. If they fail, they will collapse and be unable to even walk. They will need to be immersed in water for one hour for every day of dryness.
Racial Skills

Racial skills are those skills that a race shares coming from a similar culture. In other words, elves from the woods might use and make bows but elves from the desert would more likely be able to find water. The number of racial skills depends on the general likelihood that all in the race would be exposed to learning it. Alternatively, it can be an indicator of cultural diversity within the race.
The Rihdahn are excellent swimmers and trackers. They also know a great deal about plants.

They receive the following skills:

* Two Tracking Skills
* Three Swimming Skills
* One Herbology Skill

And that’s an example of creating a new race for Nebuleon. This example was more detailed than necessary. A faster creation method merely requires an outline of Racial Modifiers, Abilities and Skills.

Here is a printable version of the Rihdahn
. Have fun creating races!

April Fools

Filed under: General — Tags: — bilbo @ 8:24 am

I really hate practical jokes. It just is not my thing. I mean, if you do, that’s great but I just find the whole thing annoying. I have never found how humiliating or belittling your customers was a good practice. That said, a joke product is fine (heck, one could argue that SA! is all about that) but that is not what I am talking about. It is more misinformation by a company and on a personal level.

Short version, you will not see HinterWelt or me celebrating April Fools. 😉

March 30, 2010

Stars in Neb SE

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:09 pm

So, out of the planet generate arises the question of stars that the planets would be orbiting. On one side, we have the “Be as scientifically accurate as possible”. On the other we have my preferred method of operation “Whatever is cool and fits”. Either way, I suppose there should be some sort of chart. So…

O Blue stars
B Blue-white stars
A White stars
F Yellow-white stars
G Yellow stars (like the Sun)
K Yellow-orange stars
M Red stars

Single Primary
Variable (this is assumed Intrinsic i.e. the star swells and shrinks over time varying output).

Size is often related to color so I am not sure having a second chart works here. Perhaps a notation on the color chart?

Anything else?

Thanks guys. I will hopefully be writing up all the ideas here shortly.

March 25, 2010

I really dig this music station

Filed under: General — Tags: — bilbo @ 2:41 pm

Yeah, I try to avoid posting non-hinterwelt things here but this is really pertinent. Music is important to my game experience and I really dig this station.

Warning: the music will play when you go to the site.


March 22, 2010

Aspects as applied to Ships in Neb SE

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:31 pm

I have been giving some thought to Aspects as they could be applied to ships in Nebuleon SE. A few things I think would be useful:
1. Ships should still be divided up into 10 areas that are the systems of the ship. So, you might have
1 – Main Computer
2 – Propulsion
3 – Life Support
and so on…

2a. Aspects are specific characteristics of the ship. So, you might have “Over protective” for the AI in the computer.


2b. Aspects are the abstract characteristics of the ship. So, one example could be “Battered but never falls apart”.


2c. Aspects are game mechanics applied to the ship. For example, “Built for Atmospheric Speed” receives a +20 to any piloting in the atmosphere.

I can see advantages to any of those. What to you think?

March 18, 2010

Nebuleon SE: Planet Gen – The summing up

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:28 am

So, putting together the comments from previous threads let’s try to sum up.

1. Price index seems to be good as is.

2. Basic Civilization – Add History, reworked some charts.
1 None
2 Hierarchy
3 Republic
4 Despotism
5 Theocracy
6 Parliamentary
7 Totalitarian
8 Plutocracy
9 Kleptocracy
0 Corporatism
11 Timocracy (Property owners rule)
12 Tribalism

1 Basic Trade
2 Market (Capitalism)
3 Planned (Command Economies)
4 Mixed (Part Capitalism, but regulated)

1-2 World Governemnt
3-8 Many (tens of different governing bodies)
9-10 Great Many (hundreds or thousands) of governments

1. Peaceful
2. Peaceful
3. Peaceful
4. Moderate
5. Moderate
6. Moderate
7. Moderate
8. Warlike
9. Warlike
10. Warlike

1. Cultured
2. Expansionist
3. Expansionist
4. Extroverted
5. Extroverted
6. Introverted
7. Introverted
8. Isolationist
9. Isolationist
10. Xenophobic

1. Introspective
2. Pacifist
3. Shallow
4. Changeable
5. Proud
6. Traditional
7. Rigid
8. Impressionable
9. Shallow
10. Neophilic

1. Civil War
2. Plague
3. Famine
4. Technologic Breakthrough (i.e. recent advance in TL)
5. Victim of Invasion
6. Invasion Repulsed
7. Independence from a planetary invader
8. Mounted an invasion
9. Economic Collapse
10. World War
11. Religious War
Note: This has been edited
3. Environment – Not much changed here but I am not pleased with it. Not sure why. Maybe not enough options or some such. I will think on it more.
1 Artificial habitat
2 Asteroid
3 Moon
4 Rocky planet
5 Gas planet

1 Artificial G
2 Light G
3 Moderate G
4 Heavy G
5 Super Heavy G

1 Dry
2 Arid
3 Watered
4 Wet
5 Aqueous

1 Lifeless
2 Scarce
3 Abundant
4 Thriving
5 Riotous

Note: Old table
1 Artificial habitat
2 Asteroid
3 Moon
4 Mercury sized
5 Mars Sized
6 Earth Sized
7 Neptune Sized
8 Jupiter Sized

1 Hazardous, protective gear needed
2 Hazardous, breathing mask needed only
3 Thin Atmosphere, breathable
4 Standard Atmosphere, breathable
5 Thick Atmosphere, breathable
6 Exotic Atmosphere

Note: the following has been edited
4. Tech Level – This the only way I can address tech level in a manner I can stand. So, here is my idea, I am MORE than happy to modify it.

We have several areas that can have independent ratings. The base though, is the following:
Physical Science (Physics, Chemistry, Geology)
Biological Science (Biology, Medicine, Psychiatry)
Social Science (Archaeology, Racial Studies, Social Engineering, Language, Law)
Applied Science (Engineering, Communications, space craft)

The tech level is chosen then modifers for the above areas applied. The mods are:
— Very Low
– Low
+ High
++ Very High
This effectively adds to the TL of the area the mod applies to. So, for instance, you have a TL5 + Applied, – Social, means that the civilization has a general TL of 5, an Applied Science TL of 6 and a Social Science TL of 4. All mods should sum to 0.

Start with a base Tech Level.
0 None
1 primitive
2 basic applied results
3 basic knowledge
4 basic applied knowledge
5 Moderate
6 moderate applied knowledge
7 Moderate theoretical
8 Advanced
9 Advanced theoretical
10 Advanced theoretical and applied

I could see an 11 and 12 where you have Hyper Advanced and Hyper Advanced Theoretical and Applied. The above range is open with an effective bottom of 0. Now, the tags of Theoretical means they understand but cannot do, Applied means they are able to apply the theoretical and no tags means they are limited to observed results (I put this plant on Bob and he died, o.k. that is bad).

Alt TL:
Instead of a range like the above, we say 0 is the Nebuleon norm level. From this, Neb civilizations actively involved with space travel can range from -5 to +5. Below -5 and they just do not possess the understanding to be more than cargo. More the 5 and they are most likely not directly in contact with the rest of the Nebuleos.

The range would be broken up with primitive orbital craft at -5 and advanced FTL at 5. Wormhole travel would be beyond 5. Non-space travel would be below -5.

The same problem for me pops up. What do the gradations mean? What values do we assign. Grrr.

So, thoughts?

March 15, 2010

20 Minutes of Fun in 4 hours of Play

Filed under: Games — Tags: , — bilbo @ 11:18 pm

At the Who’s Yer Con in Indianapolis, I played in a demo by Mike Noorman from the MU Skulls. In the group was a guy who made this statement crystallize and understandable to me. I had seen the elements for years before this but not put it together until that night. This guy was a “Serious” gamer. I have encountered this type before but never connected it to Dancey’s “20 minute” remark. He probably only had about 20 minutes of fun. Now, ask him and it would be a litany of reasons including but not limited to the system, the group not taking the game seriously, the guy who was drinking beer or having the designer sitting in. What it really happened was a mix of game styles, on a fundamental and incompatible level.

You see, he was there to play a game, a certain kind of game, and no other would matter. This could have been defined by system or setting or attitude of the group (are the laughing and cracking jokes about the A-Team or immersing themselves in their character roles) but in the end, it was like he was sitting at the table alone. That is not fun for anyone.

So how do we fix it? I mean, I have seen this problem many a time. I have seen the guy who just takes it all a bit too seriously or more to the point, more seriously than those around him. This can work if it is not too big a delta…or it can make for a guy who is terse, “a dick” or even gets up and leaves early. Unfortunately, the only thing I can thing of is to ask the guy to leave. This is not very practical in a demo game and can be hard to determine in time to make any difference. Unfortunately, by the very definition, it is almost impossible to set up the level of “serious” play that will satisfy the “serious” gamer and not alienate the rest of the group. There may be no solution to this one except for the “serious” gamer to find a group that engages in the same style of play but in the interim, a fair number of games may be destroyed by a bored player.

Who’s Yer Con

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 11:05 pm

I went to Indianapolis and it was a pretty good time. Mostly, I went to see Mike Noorman from the MU Skulls who has done a great job Demoing Shades of Earth. He ran an adventure called Thor’s Hammer. We were a group of Department 12 operative recruited by from the British military and some Americans. We were parachuted into Germany where we were set to meet Annette and Anna, spies already in place. They were to help us find Thor’s hammer and keep it from the Germans who hoped to harness it for a weapon in the upcoming war. Hijincks ensue and I end up stabbing an SS soldier int eh face and draining him of all his spirit points while the rest of the team take care of finding the magic belt, gauntlet and book that will allow us to open a gate in the ancient Oak that is the source of all this trouble. It is hoped that the Hammer is hidden inside the Oak but it turn out to be a gate to another world where there is a blue oak with blue pseudo-humans guarding it. We also find some German soldier who went in before us and we enter the fry with me throwing grenades with abandon and the others reading the book to get the hammer. In the end, the thing nearly kills the engineer but we drive off the bad guys and leave the strange land.

All in all, a good demo and a fun time. The criticisms I have, upon reflection, are ones Mike has mentioned himself. This was a combination of two adventures. I think it suffered a bit from the compression and his knowledge of the uncompressed version. I think it would have worked best to go through the tree and ended up in the past (part of the adventure had us finding German weapons from 1200 years ago and the tree obviously acted as a portal), tracking a band of rogue Germans (or even a group of German soldier who joined with the local tribe) to recover the hammer. The problem being you would need to compress the leading a bit in order to get it all in a 4 hour slot.

Overall though, it stressed something I have always believed. There are people who run games like I do. That is to say, in an almost system-less manner. He could have run that game with any system and made it work. The fundamentals were there. Mike is a great GM and I am very lucky to have him demoing my games. I cannot tell him how much I appreciate that (although I sure tried).

Here is a picture.
Mike and MU Skulls

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