Lexicon: The Feast of Harmon’s Fall Call for Players

April 18, 2011

So, I’m starting a new lexicon game over at http://feastlexicon.wikidot.com/

See the first link for detailed description if you’re not familiar with the game.
Weekly turns, with the first one starting in one week (April 25), follow-the-phantoms variant (with an additional restriction on the first turn)

The Premise paragraph:
Being an account of the disastrous events of the 49th and final Feast of the Four Nations, in which the leaders of those great nations, representatives of sixteen lesser polities, as well as diverse additional persons of consequence consumed two hundred and twenty five courses over nine days, and during which hope and tranquility were lost.

Please come by and join if you’re interested.


Mystery of Godzina House (One Page Dungeon Contest 2011 Entry)

March 11, 2011

So, another contest is ongoing and for it I have an entry.  The contest is The One Page Dungeon Contest, which is, well, exactly what it says on the tin.


The germ of an idea that began my entry was using time travel to re-use a modest map several times, and then see just how far I could push the ideas of shorthand and compression in this kind of format.  The result is an adventure that would fit right in to most Doctor Who-inspired campaigns, and be usable in just about any game set on Earth in which adding time travel and a touch of mad science wouldn’t strain the genre boundaries too much. It would help for the party to be approximately as averse to initiating violence as your average Doctor Who character, but should work reasonably well even beyond those boundaries.

One of the other Entrants recently put up a post about an entry set in a group of rooms connected by teleporters, and, more generally, about viewing dungeons as directed graphs, which is fairly apropos to this dungeon.  I even happened to draw the directed graph of Godzina House’s temporal maze in the process of designing the thing.  It’s simple and fairly easy to see is inevitable given the constraints: with two entries and two exits at each node and no two-cycles anywhere, it looks like a  Star of David inside a hexagon.  Add in the entry point at 2011 and the exit at 63011 and you’ve got what was on my notes for this.  (There wasn’t enough space to actually put it on the page, and the table format is much more useful for a GM running the thing at any rate.

Here it is: mysteryofgodzina

Game Chef 2010: A Trick of the Light

September 17, 2010

Here is a draft of “A Trick of the Light”, by 2010 Game Chef entry.  It may, in fact, be the final draft.

The introduction:

A Trick of the Light is a roleplaying game for four players. At least one of them is playing the role of a real person who traveled to the ruins at the center of the desert. The others may be real humans, ghosts of people who died along the way, or ancient spirits, good or evil, that have resided in the ruined city for generations. To pass the time as you wait for rescue, you have chosen to tell stories about the journey that led you here. As you tell and listen to these tales, you will slowly gain insights, about yourself and your companions. In the end, if you are real and alive, you will need to make a decision about who can be trusted. If you are a spirit, you will need to lead the living to a decision, good or bad depending on your nature. And if your are a ghost, you will need to name your killer, and hope to serve vengeance or support the innocent.



Mosaic: Distribution Continued

August 3, 2010

So, my first ‘guess’ at a Gamma function seems to have worked out fairly well.  For each epoch, numbering the ‘one to two years ago’ mark as 1 and increasing as we go further back in time (again, on a base-two logrithmic scale), the gamma value is 0.5^(1/epoch).  That gives me a distribution that I think I can live with, so now it’s time to import the distribution code over to the main mapping code and let it inform the numbers and output it’s detailed information as I run.  [A lot of this depends on turning random number generators into pseudorandom number generators, by giving them predictable seeds.]

The problem here is that we have a potential violation of the mediocrity principle in that “about 1 and a half years ago” will look like an extremely significant and unique time.  But I can live with that, and explain it away as part of the cause of this whole cosmological stew in the first place.  (Maybe that’s the time it took between the initial vacuum collapse event and the multiversal realignment or something.)

Mosaic: The Distribution Scheme

July 30, 2010

This is the scheme by which I am distributing timelines:

First, I divide the entireity of history into epochs, using a logrithmic scale.   (Base two).  I cut off everything more recent than 1 year ago (as the differences would be hardly noticable) and everything more distant than about 10 million years ago (For simplicities sake.  I’m presuming these epochs do ‘exist’ in the cosmology, but their gammas are too high to let them matter.)

For each time line, starting with the most distant epoch, walk through the epochs.  Generate a random number (a double between 0 and 1). If that number is less than that epoch’s gamma value, record a ‘0’ for that epoch.  If it’s more, roll again.  If less, record a ‘1’.   If not, roll again, and so on.  For anything that is not a 0, seed a random number generator with  a function that encodes every number recorded so far for the timeline and generate a random year inside the epoch.  That’s when this timeline diverges from timelines with a 0 in this place.

At the end, we should have a list of 25 numbers, most of which are zeroes, so we’ll abbreviate  long strings of them, to get something like “(17Z)” (or “(17Z)1(6Z)”). That’s the prime cell’s timeline designation.  (If I use the designations in-setting, I’ll need to add the extra leading zeroes to reach the beginning of time.)  And I’ll also have a list of dates for the divergences.

The tricky part, of course, is getting the gamma values correct: finding a smooth function that gets me a dramatically interesting set of timelines.

Mosaic: Location Re-Finalized, Distribution thoughts

July 28, 2010

So, I’ve come up with another suitable location for the prime cell.  It’s a bit different that the original one, giving up in return for more of San Francisco and a slive of the  Peninsula, and losing the Golden Gate bridge bisection but getting one on the San Rafael-Richmond bridge.  Still have Travis and Antioch, though so we’re good.

I tried to get a map even further zoomed out, but openstreetmap will only give two decimal places in latitude/longitude at that scale, and I need 3 to make things line up sufficnetly well.  You can really see the ordered-ness of the structure at that level, especially with the colors I’m using now, which are dependent on the position in the8-cell repeating unit. When I get distribution down, I’ll change the colors to something based on what type of cell we’re gettin. At this point, the basic categories are “No Humans”, “Utterly Alien Humans”, “Recognizably Alien Humans (who share the same antiquity as our time line, that is), “Cultually recognizable non-technological timelines”, “Bombed out Wastelands”, “Profoundly Illiberal modern societies”,  and “Close parallels”.  The assumptions that lead to this are:

  • humanity is lucky to have surived the bottleneck roundabout mitochondrial eve’s time, and doesn’t in anything diverging earlier
  • the world’s major religions are apparently not the product of actual divine intervention and so don’t occur in anything diverging earlier than their founding
  • The industrial revolution was profoundly unlikely, and doesn’t happen in timelines that don’t resemble ours around the time that it did, for the most part.
  • Our timeline was surpassingly lucky to have seen nuclear weapons invented during the last throes of a world war.  If they’re invented any other time, their first use is much more widespread and the reaction to them is not that of a world profoundly tired of war, hence the wastelands.
  • The more frequent (which does not mean the same thing as more likely) outcome of the World Wars was a second round of fighting immediately with the soviets, leading to their domination of Europe and a considerably less prosperous and more illiberal America.)

Mosaic: Setbacks

July 26, 2010

So, I went to make some close-up maps of  my chosen location, and it didn’t work .  The things were coming out at the wrong place.  So I went back into the program, sophisticated up the model (including mercator latitudes rather than just going x-longitude, y-latitude, and using latitude-based radiuses so that the Earth had the proper elipsoid shape.)   Still no dice.  Then I determined that somehow my y dimension has been flipped, so I re-flipped it and I get the ability to zoom and pan properly now.  But I’ve lost my perfect cell in the process.  So it’s back to generating maps for a while.    The current criteria for them is : contains Travis AFB, part of San Francisco, bisects at least one bridge, and contains Antioch.  Back to grinding them out, I guess.

Mosaic: Location finalized

July 21, 2010

So I finally hit upon a set of numbers for the rotation of the Earth that gave me something very close to a perfect’prime cell’:

I get almost everything that I wanted.  I get San Francisco itself split, I get the Golden Gate bisected interestingly, I get plenty of productive farmland including the vineyards in Napa.  I only get part of the Presidio, which is not a thing since I was mistaken and that one is actually closed down, but I do get an interesting military presence in the form of Travis Air Force Base.  And, as icing on the cake, I get the thematically significantly-named Antioch, right on the outer border of the cell.

Which means it’s time to finish working out the distrbution, and setting up the neighboring cells.  Being entirely willing to fudge things in the near neighbors, I want a highly divergent but not completely alien city in the rest of San Francisco, in the pink cell to the southwest, and in the yellow one to the west of that will be a small fleet of viking-derived people expecting to find a completely different port, and probably sparcely populated neighbors on the other sides.  But I’ll see how things work out when I do have the distribution in hand.

The Starfish Ambassador (Little Game Chef 2010)

July 12, 2010

So, as I mentioned earlier here, I took part in the Little Game Chef contest over at story-games.com a few weeks ago, and my entry, The Starfish Ambassador, did fairly well, scoring several good reviews from the judges and one of the three “Judge’s Special Mention”s.  So I thought I’d post it here so that it would remain available after the contest directory is taken down.



Mosaic: Location (2)

July 8, 2010

So, continuing to search for a suitable map. Right now my main generation program has six ‘knobs’: an x,y,z displacement, in absolute coordinates, of the Polyhedral Honeycomb, and an alpha,beta,gamma (Euler coordinates) rotation for the planet, but in practice I’m only adjusting the latter one of thes, looking for a cell that suits my needs.  I want:

1) The Presidio to be included, because while I want the small military presence the area provides, I don’t want zero military whatsoever.

2) At least one bridge bisected, preferably but not necessarily the Golden Gate.

3)More than one of the larger cities at least partially present in the cell.

4) At least one largeish city bisected

5) No single municipal government clearly ‘in charge’ based on the geography and demography of the cell, and

6) A decent amount of farmland included
It takes an unfortunately long time to generate each map (10-20 minutes), which means finding something close enough to tweak into what I need is going to take a while.  Next up will be either success and the map, preliminary discussion of the alternate distribution problem’s solutions, or a Little Game Chef update, I think.