Monthly Archives: January 2015

GURPS Crash Pack


man2manA couple of days ago someone tweeted a picture of their RolePlayer newsletter collection from the early days of GURPS. I commented that I had a complete collection of all thirty issues laying around here somewhere. While I was looking I came across my old copies of Man To Man, Orcslayer and Harkwood. Man to Man, was the proto-GURPS, it was a stripped down version of the 1st edition rules, very basic character generation and combat. Sort of a GURPS Lite of its time. Close on the heels of Man to Man, Steve Jackson Games (SJG) published Orcslayer, which was mostly a series of combat encounters loosely connected by a story line about a group of young squires rescuing people kidnapped by orcs. Much later, after the full GURPS rules were released, SJG released Harkwood a sequel of sorts to Orcslayer. I ran this this mini campaign back in 2011 (WOW, was it really that long ago?), updating it to GURPS 4th Edition. The adventures hold up fairly well and the games were fun and as i said at the time, reminded me why GURPS was my game of choice for several years. This also largely why I am torn between running Dungeons & Dragons 5E and GURPS after we finish our current campaign late this year or early next.

Odd and ends about role playing games

Starting with Dungeons & Dragons 5E: There are two things I really like about this system. First is the “Bounded Accuracy” design philosophy. The idea behind this philosophy is first the maximum attribute level of a player character is 20, giving him a +5 modifier. Second, the maximum Proficiency Bonus a character can receive is +6. This means the most bonus any character can get without the help of magic or technology is +11. WotC took this a step further and capped magic item bonus’s at +3 for artifact level magic items. In game terms this means there is a soft limit of +11 and a hard limit of around +15. This is a far cry from 3E/4E, where +20 bonus’s were not terribly hard to come by. This makes for a flatter growth curve over a longer period of time.

The second thing I like is WotC replaced situation modifiers with the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. The heart of this mechanic is, if you have the advantage, when you roll, instead of rolling 1d20, you roll 2d20 and take the better roll, if you are at the disadvantage, you roll 2d20 taking the worst result and Advantage/Disadvantage do not stack, so no matter how many advantages you have, you still only get one roll with 2d20. This simplifies things like a thief trying to pick an expensive lock made by a master or taking cover when NPC’s are firing at you with missile weapons.

These two ideas, I think, simplify the game and helps remove the “Kewl Powerz” factor from the game, which I see as a good thing in terms of play-ability and fun.

Moving along to the “MVP” award: For the last 12 years I have used a system of giving experience points that is divorced from what actually occurs in game. I pretty much give out a set amount of points based on level and how long I want it to take for characters to level again. In order to encourage good play I have two ways to get bonus experience points, the Most Valued Player award, voted on by the players and the GM award, both will get the receiving character a 25% bonus, so character that gets both can receive a 50% bonus for that game. The idea behind this system is everyone pretty much goes up in level at the same rate, however, consistently good players will level faster. It also encourages players to cooperate, minimize conflict and having fun.

The reason this comes up, is I was thinking about revising the system recently. I was thinking about eliminating one or the other, while increasing the bonus of the one remaining. I was thinking about a conversation I have with a player who is now long gone out of the game. He argued against the MVP award. He felt it was just a popularity contest and the same couple of people always seemed to get the award. I thought about it for a while, but the player left the game and no one else was complaining about it, so I dropped it. in the next year or two we are going to be switching games from HackMaster to something else, like D&D 5E or GURPS and so I am looking at other changes that need to be made in how the game is run.

Oddly, I have been keeping track of the amount of experience points I give out and who gets these MVP and GM awards, I have several years worth of data. When I consolidated this I found out two things. First, the MVP award has been given out fairly evenly over the years. Yes, some people tend to get it more often than others, but when you look at it statistically, no one is outside of a standard deviation. The second thing I found out, is the GM award, the award I give out has not followed that pattern. I in fact favor specific people when giving the award, if anything, the MVP award is the fairer of the two awards. I think if I were going to eliminate one or the other, I would eliminate the GM award, not the MVP award.

Finally, where we have been, there and back again: It is no secret that I have a nostalgic love for old role playing games. Fairly regularly I rummage through my collection and re-read things. Last time it was Tunnels & Trolls and Monsters! Monsters!. This time it has been The Fantasy Trip, as with T&T, we played this one a little bit, mostly in the form of Wizards and Melee two small combat games which TFT was built upon. However, beyond that we did not do much with it, even though looking back it really had a lot of the characteristics we were looking for in an RPG at the time. TFT was written by Steve Jackson, who later wrote GURPS, again looking at the game, it is easy to see how TFT was a beta for GURPS. I think next weekend I will play through one of the solitaire adventures I have for this game, specifically Master of the Amulets. I do not expect to be WOW’ed by it, but who knows, hopes are high, expectations are low.

My Yearly Security Ritual

Every year during January I revoke my old pgp keys and generate new ones. I have been doing this for at least 10 years. So if you have downloaded my public key from last year, it has expired and I have revoked it. Please download my new public key.

Last night I spent a couple of hours in Google hangout with Chad and Wade. I think this sums it up very nicely.

Dumb things I did today

So today I spent a couple of hours messing around with my BeagleBone Black. The purpose of this exercise was to relearn some old electronic skills (circuit design) and teach myself something about how the BeagleBone Black can be programmed. The goal was pretty simple, wire a BeagleBone Black to three LEDs and a light sensor. With full light, the Green LED is lit, if the sensor is shaded the Yellow comes on and if the light is turned off, the Red LED lights. Anyone who is actually interested in the wiring and python code involved, let me know and I will provide you with a more detailed  information, otherwise I am simply going to leave at a short demo.

The End is Near

It is New Years and I have somewhat mixed feelings about 2014. On the one hand I got the opportunity to stand up a completely new team at work, which was challenging and fun. On the other hand I was robbed and PezWitch never quite recovered from the experience emotionally. So I suppose 2014 is what it is and its time to put it behind me and move on.

Happy New Year everyone.