Monday, December 28, 2020

troika background: supergyro

you are meat. instead of stamina and luck, you have meat.

roll d3+3 to determine skill

roll d6+6 to determine meat

you may only increase your meat score by accumulating more meat. a hot dog is 1 meat. a full english breakfast is 3 meat. you may recover 1d6 meat by slaying a foe and appropriating their meat.

your meat score is how many feet tall you are. you cannot have more than 12 meat.

Possessions:

- big knife

- map of a cow like the ones you find in cheeky barbeque restaurants

- food processor

Skills:

+4 spit roasting

+3 sausage making

+1 shape shifting

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Risk Dice vs Deltas

 First, I want to give credit to dieheart's blog post which compares The Black Hack's usage dice to those of Macchiato Monsters. It sparked my interest in fun dice mechanics. :)

As Resource Counters

In Macchiato Monsters Zero, you roll a funny shaped die representing a risk or a resource. If you roll 1-3, you have to decrease the size of the die. This represents a resource being depleted, or a risk becoming more likely. When you roll 1-3 on a d4, the resource is completely used up.

Deltas from Macchiato Micro are a remix of risk dice: instead of keeping track of a certain die size, you only have to use a d6 and keep track of a certain number to roll under. This is the 'delta' number Δ. When you roll d6 < Δ, the resource is depleted (or the risk becomes more likely) and Δ is decreased by 1.

If we were to swap the conditions of the Δ system so that d6 ≥ Δ means depletion, the chances resemble something much closer to the risk die system. This would mean that a Δ2 item has about 1 use at best! Relative to the risk die system, though, the number of uses at each level is generally lower.

By comparing this table with the risk dice, we can see that unlike the risk die system where higher rank means lower chance of depletion, the higher the Δ, the greater chance of depletion! This means that a low-ranking Δ2 item has almost multiple guaranteed uses, and a higher-ranking Δ4 item is still only a 45% improvement over Δ2.

In any case, I think this is a really cool and useful way of handling things and Δ is such a good notation! I can see this being super useful as a replacement for clocks or HP too :) And I prefer it to usage dice if only because I'm prejudiced against all weird 3D solids except for dodecahedrons.

Update: New Delta Mechanic

The latest update has it so that the Δ changes to the number rolled < Δ, not to Δ - 1. This changes how many total uses (i.e. depletion misses) there are at each level, since we're not counting from the next lowest Δ but from the average of what you might roll next.

This results in the number of total uses flattening at Δ3. Keep in mind, though, that at each step the risk of danger increases (if Δ represents a risk and not a resource). So by the nature of that, it doesn't seem to work well for resource management. The table also doesn't accurately represent rolling ≥ Δ as a failure state where the "number of uses" terminates (because the avalanche finally happens, for example). This is a really important distinction between risks and resources: you want to roll high for resources to keep them, and roll low for risks to avoid them. So, it might work well to have Δ := Δ - 1 (subtract 1) for resources, and Δ := d6 < Δ (change to roll lower than current Δ) for risks.

Update 2: The part below is incorrect! I thought that the risk occurs when you roll equal/over delta, but that’s not the case—it only occurs when delta 2 is downstepped. Therefore the graphs above work for risks too!

As Risk Counters (INCORRECT)

Using these mechanics as risk counters result in very different results than using them as resource counters, for the simple reason that what counts as a 'success' on the resource die (rolling to avoid depleting the resource) counts as a 'failure' on the risk die (the disaster strikes).

This is where the delta dice shine: because you're more likely to roll d6 ≥ Δ as Δ → 1, this means that the risk becomes more likely as time goes on. I can't speak to how this mechanic works in Macchiato Monsters with risk dice, but the opposite is true here if it works the same way as in Micro: as the risk die is downgraded, the chance of depletion and risk non-occurrence increases.

Here is the chart for how I am certain Micro ends up, assuming that after each delay Δ := Δ - 1. When you roll the Δ die, there is a (Δ-1)/6 chance that the risk is delayed and Δ decreases, and there is a (7 -Δ)/6 chance that the risk occurs. When the risk is delayed, this means we have one extra turn to breathe before rolling again with worse chances.

At Δ2, the risk will either occur immediately (83%) or it will occur immediately on the next turn (17%) because it has become Δ1. We represent this as 0*.8333 + 1*.1667 = .1667.

At Δ3, the risk will either occur immediately (67%) or it will delay until the next turn where it is 17% likely (33%). This means it will either occur now, or it will occur in 1+.1667 turns. We represent this as 0*.6667 + 1*(1+1.1667) = .389.

At Δ4, the risk will either occur immediately (50%) or it will delay until the next turn where it is 39% likely (50%). This means it will occur in 0*.5 + 1*(1+.389) = .694 turns.

When the number of turns > 1, this means it's more likely that the risk will delay than occur. 

If Micro is analogous to Monsters, this is how Monsters ends up using the same rationale:


We can see here how the lower the risk die, the longer it will take for the risk to actually occur. This is because as the delay % increases, the occurrence % decreases at the same rate.

Let's go back to Micro, using the different rule that when d6 < Δ, Δ := d6 instead of Δ := Δ - 1.


This results in overall more frequent occurrences. Keep in mind that the outcome of replacing Δ with d6 is that it could become Δ1, resulting in an immediate risk occurrence on the next turn. This drastically increases the frequency at which the risk will actually occur.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Colonialism and Fantasy in Sandbox Games

I should clarify something from my recent ramblings on Twitter: farming games (not games about farming but the generic treatment of games about farming) are not necessarily colonialist, but they certainly present a petite bourgeois fantasy, and colonialism up to a certain scale is a petite bourgeois venture.


I think there's a good comparison to be made between this topic and D&D: does D&D necessarily present a colonialist fantasy, or does it speak to a broader petite bourgeois fantasy? The answer lies in the text of the game more than its structure because the aim is to scavenge the frontier, bring order to chaos, get some land, become a lord (or lady, as Gygax would [not] have it).

Gold for XP speaks to this, and not just as a vestige of the original Blackmoor game: the bottomless accumulation of gold is the adventurer's drive for jouissance, their plus-de-jouir. This is approached from an extra-fetishistic angle, i.e. gold is considered innately valuable outside of the circulation of commodities, but that doesn't really matter since the adventuristic theft of gold is simply taken as a metaphor for character advancement.

Anyway colonialism (up to a certain level) is a petite bourgeois project, and that becomes more apparent at the structure of the game with the XP system than the game's narrative component. And we can apply that same thinking to sandbox games in general.

What does a colonialist sandbox look like, aside from D&D? We might think of 4X games like Sid Meier's Civilization or Sid Meier's Colonization. Here the colonialist aspirations of the player are encoded (explicitly or implicitly) in the narrative content, and the narrative either embraces this or attempts to rescue the 'fun' parts from the 'problematic' parts. For example, I think there's a 3D ripoff of RimWorld where part of the premise is that the planet is completely uninhabited and you're only using green technology and so on. The narrative simply just imagines itself at a distance from the unfavorable bits of colonialism. Isn't this precisely the same language used by colonial powers to describe themselves and their project?

But we can distinguish colonialist games which attempt to censor their colonialist content from non-colonialist games which nevertheless share the same basic structure of petite bourgeois fantasy? Consider Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley: the premise of either game is that the protagonist abandons the complexity of modern life to cultivate their grandfather's downtrodden farm and to return to a purer way of living. There is not necessarily a colonialist narrative of law conquering chaos and the land being tamed (although given the history behind the charming image of the Americana family farm, this is not strictly absent). Yet we see the same thing which drove European peasants to travel across the sea, and which drove the dispossessed to travel Westward: a desire to possess one's own means of productions and participate in the circulation of capital on one's own terms.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Monsters

A spectre is haunting society — the spectre of society! - The Joker?

I made a stupid Twitter thread thinking about monsters. Copy/pasted:

given that monsters usually represent social anxieties, i think there’s value in nevertheless representing monsters as supernatural beings rather than physical real creatures which live and breathe

like, i think that’s the point where you get into suspicious territory

OR you represent physical monsters as deflated or pitiful or cute, like something that doesn’t deserve violence or vitriol which you would rather find other solutions for their annoyances instead

I don't necessarily mean anything moralist by it except as a matter of preference and appropriateness. I want to research more about this kind of shift in fantasy/ideology/whatever, where the image of social disorder is projected onto human subjects. Is this true? Does the fantasy of social disorder precede its projection onto people? Does the image of the zombie (modern sense), the vampire, or the lagoon creature precede the fantasy of retribution against non-"fantastical" humans?

Given the nature of fantasy, of course images are easily swapped and replaced and so on. For example, the fantastic object of antisemitism and the figure of the goblin are often interchangeable and mutually informative. This is objet petit a bullshit: it'll be harder to locate the original starting point of the anxiety than it is to see how all these images serve to perpetuate and tantalize the same anxiety-fantasy. Whatever.

Someone replied to my thread:

I think it depends a lot on the social anxiety. 

Even within vampires alone there are antisemitic caricature vampires AND exploitative aristocratic vampires. Not all cultural anxieties are morally equal.

I think there's a lot of value in reminding folks that despite their immense wealth and insidious influences aristocrats are but meat and bone. Heck its not even subtle you have to cut their heads off

Meanwhile for monsters born of bigotry a shape of water type deal seems better

I'm not super interested in the moral validity of fantasies beyond "this makes me uncomfortable" or "this is reprehensible", but this piqued my interest because of how the same fantasy (i.e. the vampire) was said to apply to different social anxieties (antisemitism and [pseudo-]anticapitalism).

There is such a thing as a psychic parallax effect, whereby the same nondescript/arbitrary object can be transubstantiated into different imaginary objects from the vantages of different subjects. I don't think this is that.

There's a phrase called structural antisemitism: since antisemitism is a fantasy which obscures the antagonisms of capitalism by singling out the antagonistic figure of the Jew, there exist fantasies which obscure the same anxiety against other scapegoats (e.g. globalists, lizardpeople, etc) within the very structure of antisemitic fantasy.

Does the vampire in its various dimensions as antisemitic caricature and aristocratic monster really represent different fantasies? I think not. The fantasy of the vampire as wealthy person mythologizes the wealthy person into an excess of human being. It precisely fantasizes that the wealthy person "despite their immense wealth and insidious influences [...] are but meat and bone". The antagonisms of capitalism are captured as an image and projected onto a flesh and blood individual whose head must be cut off by obligation of the fantasy. Like the antagonist of antisemitism, the vampire obscures the spectral/invisible relations which constitute capitalism by endowing a flesh-and-blood monster with the excesses of capitalism.

One vampiric fantasy is morally deficient compared to the other, but they're part of the same set of fantastic objects which stand in for the anxiety of capitalism or whatever. No wonder the vampire can be interchanged between the two: the vampire does not underlie both fantasies, but it's part of the same set of fantastic objects {vampire, lizardman, globalist, jew} ⊆ a which tantalize the fantasy of antisemitism/pseudo-anticapitalism. That's the point of the objet a.

Here's a cool quote by Lacan from his Seminar VII:

In offering the imitation of an object, [works of art] make something different out of that object. Thus they only pretend to imitate. The object is established in a certain relationship to the Thing and is intended to encircle and to render both present and absent.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

d6 derivative rolls (d66, d666, etc)

It's become pretty common to use the d6 to make bigger and bigger tables. Troika! has d6 tables, d26 tables, and d66 tables. d26 and d66 do not refer to rolling a 26-sided die or a 66-sided die, but rolling multiple d6 and interpreting the results as the digits for the result.

In traditional notation, d26 might be translated as d2*10 + d6, and d66 as d6*10 + d6. However, since the placement of each digit does not necessarily matter, it is better to think of d26 as d2 sets of d6 events or d6 sets of d2 events. Therefore the order of the digits in d26 or d66 does not matter either, although usually the digits are usually arranged in ascending order.

Let Σ = {d, 2, 3, 6}. We may also define Σ = {d}⋃{x ∈ Z : 6 \ x > 1}. We also only want integers > 1 because rolling a d1 results in the same event each time.

The regular language of possible d6 derivative rolls L = {w = d(2)*(3)*(6)* : |w| > 1}. We want the length of the string to be greater than 1 because the character "d" by itself does not designate a dice roll.

  • d2 (2 possible outcomes)
  • d3 (3 possible outcomes)
  • d6 (6 possible outcomes)
  • d22 (4 possible outcomes)
  • d23 (6 possible outcomes)
  • d26 (12 possible outcomes)
  • d33 (9 possible outcomes)
  • d36 (18 possible outcomes)
  • d66 (36 possible outcomes)
  • d222 (8 possible outcomes)
  • d223 (12 possible outcomes)
  • d226 (24 possible outcomes)
  • d233 (18 possible outcomes)
  • d236 (36 possible outcomes)
  • d266 (72 possible outcomes)
  • d366 (108 possible outcomes)
  • d666 (216 possible outcomes)
The number of possible outcomes equals the product of each digit in the expression.

Note that some expressions, like d23 and d6, are equivalent. Because the string of possible digits is made up of factors of 6, there's bound to be convoluted expressions that could be simplified into less digits. The main rule I can think is of for each digit 2 and 3, combine these digits into 6.
  • d23 --> d6 (6 possible outcomes)
  • d223 --> d26 (12 possible outcomes)
  • d233 --> d36 (18 possible outcomes)
  • d236 --> d66 (36 possible outcomes)
But I think this rule would make the language non-regular.

6d20 Lottery

Simple rules for lottery card games!

I figure no one has a d49, so we'll have to make do with the next biggest (and widely available) die.

Roll 6d20. Reroll any repeats. The referee will do the same to find the winning number.

If your dice match the referee's dice (order doesn't matter), you win the lottery!

And here's d20 lottery numbers so the referee doesn't have to roll!

  1. 3-5-6-16-17-20
  2. 4-6-8-12-16-18
  3. 4-7-15-17-18-20
  4. 2-3-6-15-17-19
  5. 2-3-6-9-14-15
  6. 6-11-12-14-17-20
  7. 3-6-7-9-10-15
  8. 3-6-8-12-15-16
  9. 1-13-15-16-17-18
  10. 1-7-9-10-14-19
  11. 3-6-9-11-16-19
  12. 1-6-8-14-18-20
  13. 5-6-7-13-15-17
  14. 4-8-13-16-18-19
  15. 5-6-12-15-17-19
  16. 6-8-9-14-18-20
  17. 4-5-7-12-16-20
  18. 2-7-8-9-14-20
  19. 3-10-13-14-15-17
  20. 4-6-7-10-17-18
Each ticket has a 1-in-38,760 chance because each result is a 6-combination from a non-repeating d20.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Dungeons have feelings too!

This is kind of building upon my dynamic reaction roll idea. Instead of a static 1-in-6 chance of a wandering encounter, keep track of Dread.

Dread represents the spirit of the dungeon catching onto the party as they explore. Think of a dungeon less as an ecosystem or stronghold, and more the domain of a territorial spirit who wants to keep intruders out.

You might roll 2d6 for the dungeon's initial Dread, or you might just start at 2.

Increase Dread by 1 each turn, up to 12. Past certain thresholds, the dungeon's presence will become more noticeable and threatening. At 6, the party might hear echoes or hums. At 10, there might be footsteps or chanting. Anything that freaks people out, and even better if it's specific to the environment.

Every three turns, roll 2d6. If you roll below or equal to Dread, a random encounter is triggered. A random encounter is guaranteed to be triggered when Dread equals 12.

When the party rests, roll d6 and reduce Dread by that much. You might also reduce Dread after a random encounter is triggered, since the dungeon has already delegated some of its power to fend off the party.