Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dwarven Numeracy


So, I'm working on a language for the dwarves in my campaign setting. One of the most important things to my dwarves is the dimension, quantity, or value of a thing. They are architects, engineers, and merchants. As such, having a highly efficient numeric system seemed key to their culture.

I created a synthetic structure which allows a numeric value to be encoded in a series of phonemes. In essence, each number has a name, and that name is a phonetic code representing its value.

To test it out, I made a program which would output every value from 1 to 1 million in dwarven. The result is the largest PDF file on my computer. Take a look if you like; only the first few pages should be good enough to get the idea. The first page explains the encoding. I checked for duplicates too, there are none. Every number has its own name.

Here's the PDF.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Classic Traveller Module Guide


The following is a practical guide to the original Traveller product line, intended for use by those who would like to run the original game. For anyone who is wondering why one would rather play the original game from the 70s rather than the latest edition by Mongoose publishing, (which is an excellent game, to be fair) the answer is content. The original edition ran for much longer than the later editions, and so had much more material released for it. While it is possible to update content to new editions, this is a tremendous amount of work, and since there's very little new content in any given newer edition, it is much easier to actually downgrade those bells and whistles to be original-edition compatible instead. The following covers all of the main officially published materials that I can get my hands on and explains their relevance to the game and who/how/when to use them.

Now, this all only matters if you care about using published material. If you're the kind of DM who just strips the system from the game and then makes all their own content and setting whole-cloth, then by all means stick to Mongoose Traveller, it absolutely has the better system. It is important to note though, that most editions of Traveller are actually pretty similar, (except for T20) the major difference being in how well-executed the rule books are. The original edition books are just as much of a mess as the OD&D books, making it an overwhelming and impenetrably complex game for beginners to learn or play, it has a steep learning curb, and an unfriendly user experience. In other words: It's for grognards.

The Books

Understanding Traveller: A marketing pamphlet disguised as an information guide packaged with the original books. Encourages players to buy additional modules and expansions. Neither necessary or useful.

B00: Garbage. Its basically just an RPGs101 intro to gaming. It contains absolutely no game information whatsoever. Not necessary, as the rules were cleaned up and improved, as well as being collected and streamlined in a single work, The Traveller Book.

B01: Mandatory. This is the corebook. Not necessary in its own right, as the rules were cleaned up and improved, as well as being collected and streamlined in a single work, The Traveller Book.

B02: Mandatory. Without this, the DM must make up all starship information, and players cannot participate in starship operation or ownership. Not necessary in its own right, as the rules were cleaned up and improved, as well as being collected and streamlined in a single work, The Traveller Book.

B03: Mandatory. Without this, the DM has no material to work with when building campaigns, adventures, or encounters. Not necessary in its own right, as the rules were cleaned up and improved, as well as being collected and streamlined in a single work, The Traveller Book.

Starter Edition: Combines 00 and 01 into a chargen book, and combines 02 and 03 into a play rules book, and delivers the two in a boxed set. Illustrated. Does not include the 04-07 chargen expansion.

The Traveller Book: Combines the starter edition boxed set into a single book. New illustrations. Does not include the 04-07 chargen expansion.

B04: Preferred, but only in combination with B05, 06, & 07. Together, they represent a chargen expansion for military personas.

B05: Part of the 04, 05, 06, 07 chargen expansion.

B06: Part of the 04, 05, 06, 07 chargen expansion.

B07: Part of the 04, 05, 06, 07 chargen expansion.

B08: A nice bonus, but totally unnecessary. Allows the creation of robotic personas, but is most useful in creating NPCs. Nice to play with, but totally an extra.

S01: DM utility. Heap of playable pregens.

S02: DM utility. Expansion to B03. Provides encounter charts.

S03: Spinward Marches campaign setting.

S04: Preferred. Chargen expansion for the other category. Should be used in tandem with the 04-07 chargen expansion.

S05: Crap. Its an expansion for a specific adventure that was published as a standalone supplement to try and encourage sales for that adventure.

S06: DM utility. Provides a heap of pregen questgivers.

S07: DM utility. Pregen starships.

S08: Campaign setting expansion for S03.

S09: DM utility. Pregen starships.

S10: Solomani Rim Campaign Setting.

S11: Campaign setting expansion for S03.

S12: Utility. Premade charsheets.

S13: DM utility. Pergen mercenary type characters.

Striker: Miniatures combat rules expansion.

Snapshot: Close quarters grid combat rules expansion.

Beltstrike Belter's Handbook: A rules expansion that came with the Beltstrike adventure module. It contains rule systems for mining in asteroid belts.

AM1-9: All chargen expansions applying alien races to the chargen system.

Book Groupings

B00-03: Corebook. Interchangeable with Starter Set and Traveller Book. Traveller Book is preferred.

Striker + Snapshot + Beltstrike: Rules expansion

B04-07 + S04: Career Path Expansion

B08 + AM01-09: Race Expansion

S01, S02, S06, S07, S09, S12, S13: DM Resources

S03, S08, S10, S11 + Spinward Marches Campaign + AM01-09: Campaign Setting and AP kit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

2d6 Based Core Mechanic Resolution System

This is going to be another one of those really geeky articles where I gush about numbers. The following is a disassembly of a basic D&D-style core mechanic based on a range of 2d6. This was developed as a foundation for my attempt at simplifying the mechanics of Traveller into something consistent and simple.

Gameplay revolves around a standard roll-over-DC core mechanic using 2d6 as the randomizer. Ability scores are determined by a 2d6 roll. Ability scores are also roll modifiers, there are no secondary statistics. On a check, the maximum result is 24. If you would roll greater than 24, you instead roll 24. The minimum result on a roll is 0. If you would roll less than 0, you instead roll 0.
The following chart shows all viable DCs for this game system. To use a DC outside of this range is a waste of time, as it is impossible to roll outside of this range. The DCs are categorized into named groups, called benchmarks, named by apparent objective difficulty. This chart can be used to quickly improvise DCs. Keep in mind that guaranteed DCs do not need to be rolled by anyone, as they are automatic successes for anyone with a score between 2 and 12, which is all PCs. Likewise, DC 25 is literally impossible, as the roll cap limits roll results to 24 regardless of combined modifiers. While apparently intuitive, this chart can be deceiving. Not all characters can hit every DC. A trivial DC for a character with a score of 2 is a guaranteed DC for a character with a score of 12. Rather, these benchmarks are spread out across the full possible range of PC scores. Thus, a PC with a score of 2 cannot roll higher than DC 14, and a PC with a score of 12 cannot roll lower than a DC of 14. 14 is the median DC, meaning it is the only DC within the range of all possible PCs. DCs below 14 include more PCs as guaranteed passes, and DCs above 14 exclude more PCs as guaranteed fails.

DC Ranges & Benchmarks
1
Guaranteed
2
3
4
5
Trivial
6
7
8
Easy
9
10
11
Moderate
12
13
14
Hard
15
16
17
Very Hard
18
19
20
Improbable
21
22
23
Nigh-Impossible
24
25
Impossible

This table presents a much more thorough account of the probabilities underlying any given possible challenge the DM may present. The highlighted score column is the most likely score. The highlighted DC is the range overlap for all possible scores. This table is much more useful for tailoring challenges to a specific character.

In addition, the probability that a character may have a score is given in the individual score column headers. This can be used to plan challenges in the absence of any specific character. When you select a DC, add together the score header probabilities for all cells marked in red or blue for that row. Depending if the rows are blue or red, this will give you the proportion of PCs who will auto-pass or auto-fail the chosen DC, respectively. For example, for a DC of 11, scores of 12, 11, 10, and 9 will auto-pass. The proportion of characters with a score in that range is (3+6+8+11) 28%. That means 28% of characters would auto-pass the proposed challenge. If that seems to high or too low a proportion of the human population, simply change the DC.

Check Probability Percentage by DC vs Score

Scores
1
(0%)
2
(3%)
3
(6%)
4
(8%)
5
(11%)
6
(14%)
7
(17%)
8
(14%)
9
(11%)
10
(8%)
11
(6%)
12
(3%)
Difficulty Classes
1
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
2
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
3
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
4
95
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
5
92
95
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
6
83
92
95
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
7
72
83
92
95
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
8
58
72
83
92
95
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
9
42
58
72
83
92
95
100
100
100
100
100
100
10
28
42
58
72
83
92
95
100
100
100
100
100
11
17
28
42
58
72
83
92
95
100
100
100
100
12
8
17
28
42
58
72
83
92
95
100
100
100
13
3
8
17
28
42
58
72
83
92
95
100
100
14
0
3
8
17
28
42
58
72
83
92
95
100
15
0
0
3
8
17
28
42
58
72
83
92
95
16
0
0
0
3
8
17
28
42
58
72
83
92
17
0
0
0
0
3
8
17
28
42
58
72
83
18
0
0
0
0
0
3
8
17
28
42
58
72
19
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
8
17
28
42
58
20
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
8
17
28
42
21
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
8
17
28
22
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
8
17
23
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
8
24
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
25
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Using both the benchmarks and probability table together will yield the best results. Considering DCs in terms of what portions of people are likely to experience no difficulty, automatically fail, or have varying results, is much more useful than considering how much “effort” a single character might be circumstantially exerting at a single attempt on a task.