Tags: theory



 Solipsism is the philosophical idea that nothing beyond oneself can be said with any certainty to exist. If you're going to be THAT suspicious then even that fact should not be considered certain, by any means it seems to me. I reject it for a couple of reasons.

1. It's a useless dead-end of thought.
2. I consider there to be sufficient evidence for an external universe by which to proceed.

I am a skeptic and I have some sympathy for the ideas behind solipsism but I consider it to be sophomoric navel gazing and not to be an interesting or useful proposition. Couple that with point 2 above and I reject it.

Stingy whingey

Tabletop gamers seem to be a curious breed when it comes to selling by unconventional means. You can sell gamers something directly and by and large we're ahead of the curve technology wise, especially when it comes to the adoption of electronic publishing, try something a little more unconventional though and things break down.
  • Donationware doesn't seem to work, you release something for free and ask for donations or hook up a 'donate' button and pretty much nobody ever does. They'll happily take what you offer, but you'll be lucky to see even a single return, even on thousands and thousands of 'sales'.
  • Shareware doesn't seem to be a model that can work particularly well, but the closest example is probably the practice of offering preview/quickstart sets cheap or free to get people's attention. I can't say that's made a noticable difference in the couple of cases I've done anything along those lines but White Wolf did it a bit more and for several games, so you'd have to ask them if it really worked.
  • Freemium model seems to be one that could work, giving away the base game for free and then charging for extensions, but in gaming you only really NEED the main book and can make up the rest yourself. In MMORPGs etc it works because you need the item/expansion to keep playing and to be competetive. I'd be interested to see how Eclipse Phase is doing.
  • Subscription ideas were something I bandied around a few years back but nobody really took seriously. DDI appears to be working, sort of, though I only think I know one gamer who actually has one. Dungeonaday seems to be rattling on but is the potential subscription base big enough to support one site along these lines or any more? I'm not sure that it does.
  • Hostageware does seem to work, to an extent, there's been a few releases put out on that basis and I met my target in terms of social media dissemination. It might be worth trying on a monetary basis some time, but I think you really need to be a 'name' in order to get enough enthusiasm for your product.
We need to innovate, find new and effective ways of supporting gaming 'auteurs' and small companies and the other way around finding ways to provide useful services to gamers and effective ways of providing value for money, but unless we can overcome some of these payment difficulties and people's seeming conservatism when it comes to alternative finance models, we're kinda stuck.

The problem with War of the Worlds movies...

I still haven't seen the British one set in the proper time period that came out the same time as the Spielgerg effort and I only just saw the Spielberg one, due to the presence of Tom-I hate his guts-Cruise. But it was on, and it fortuitously lines up with other things going on at the moment, so I watched it.

To me, while it retained more elements of the book than the 50's version, it was more akin, in spirit, to the 50's version than anything else. Despite the lead character being a civilian passing through hell to try and get away, rather than a scientist in the know on the front lines.

I think the problem between the book and the films is that the film versions of the martians are pretty much completely undefeatable until the germs take them down. While Tom Cruise had his non-suicide, suicide bombing moment there is no moment in these films akin to the artillery duel in the book or the glorious, but hopeless, battle of the Thunderchild.

The film versions are hopeless, from beginning to end, the book (and the muscial) give you a roller coaster ride of dashed hopes and heroism, bows and arrows against the lightning, humanity being crushed, but being defiant (and being BRITISH dash it all).

The films also lack the epilogue (and spielberg's ending made me snort as it resembled Mars Attacks)), the sense of picking up the pieces and carrying on.

I think it's less effective a story the way the films do it. You have to have your Thunderchild moment, you have to have your human defiance. I would have put a suicide bombing in the film, I would have put American soldiers, or civlians, or Tom Cruise's kid in the film, taking a satchel charge, getting in the tripod's legs and detonating. That's what would have defeated the tripods in that film, desperation and willing to make a sacrifice against an overwhelmingly technologically superior enemy. But then hey, then maybe people might have thought for a minute and resonated with real world events... and we can't have that.
just me

Ability Performance

Another thought lately...

Mostly, when we do things, we perform only within a fairly narrow band of ability. Slightly under our skill level, equal to our expectations, or slightly better than we expect. Exceptional luck either way is rare.

I've been wondering how to reflect this in a game, d4-d4 does this pretty well and I recommend it as a pick-up system for your odd little ideas but it doesn't quite work for me in some ways in regard to this question.

What about coin tossing?

The scale would need to be compressed, probably a 1-5 scale, to make it work but if the protaganist and the challenge each tossed a coin that either increased their level by one (heads) or decreased it by one (tails) that would give you the right range.

Dirk is an Average (3) Warrior, fighting an Average (3) opponent.
He flips and scores Heads raising his ability to 4.
The opponents flips and scores tails, taking his ability down to 2.
Dirk defeats his opponent.

Complications would be hung off that to increase the granularity of the system and to describe specific instances and special cases, but that would be about right.

Over The Edge or HeroQuest style trait descriptions would probably suit best.
just me

Back and Forth

One thing that RPGs don't replicate very well is the 'clash of blades' or the back and forth of a good cinematic kung-fu fight, or a TV gunfight for that matter.

In all the above you see a back and forth, a flurry of parrying, holds, entanglements or flying bullets smashing into everything before, finally, someone gets the advantage and there's a hit or it's all over.

I've been trying to think of ways to replicate this for a while now. Cloak of Steel has it with the marginal failure/success mechanic in it and other times while tinkering with ideas I've tried to replicate it but it just doesn't quite mesh right for some reason.

One way it might work would be in allowing people to 'carry over' their accumulated successes in a dicepool game.

For example (Xpress)...

Kung Fu Master Hung Lo is facing off against a demonic opponent armed with a giant club. He knows the Dim Mak Poison Hand Touch of Death but it is a difficult maneuvre to pull off, especially against such a gigantic opponent.

Turn 1 - Hung Lo has initiative being smaller and faster and describes his action as a flurry of blows designed to distract and enrage the demon.

Hung Lo has a Dex of 4 and Kung Fu/Internal/Dim Mak 4, he rolls 4 dice with a target of 3-6 getting 3 successes total.
Demon has a Dex of 2 and Melee/Club 3 he rolls 2 dice with a target of 3-6 and gets 1 success total.

Hung Lo decides not to apply the remaining 2 successes to damage, but keeps them back to aid his attack.

The Demon counterattacks and scores 3 successes.
Hung Lo describes his counter as leaping atop the club as it smashes down and running up it, he scores 4 successes and adds that 1 extra to his pool for a total of 3 dice stored up.

Turn 2
Hung Lo launches the Dim Mak Poison Hand Touch of Death with his saved up dice as a bonus.
Because of his specialisations and the extra dice he is now rolling 8 dice and only needing 2-6. He scores a massive 11 successes.
The Demon feebly attempts to counter and gets 1 success, reducing Hung Lo's successes to 10.
Hung Lo elects to use this as his strike and with 10 successes equal to double the demon's consitution doubled the Dim Mak takes effect. The demon will not die instantly, but within the day from a blockage to its chi flow.

Hung Lo backflips back and says something smug.

Of course, fights need not be as straightforward as this, two equally matched kung fu masters may play 'tug of war' over a dicepool with the one with the advantage spending from their pool to reduce attacks from their opposite to nothing.

EG: Hung Lo is fighting his courtesan nemesis Wang Suk, he currently has the advantage and has saved up a pool of three dice he intends to use in a devastating attack on her when the dice betray him. Suddenly she has hit him despite his defences with at attack of 3 successes. He spends his pool to negate her attack with a desperate block and, again, they're back on an even keel...