Character stable

If there is a one-shot or a possibility to visit a game where I can play one of these characters, I am interested. A pity to leave a character unplayed. Starts from the ones who have been gathering dust the longest.

  • Fridswid, a young witch who knows that using her powers is evil. Travelled in Äulmera with a circus, but was not originally from there.
  • Gotfried, a very unfortunate pickpocket who was caught and pressed into service.
  • Senja, a leather-clad mercenaress who would rather not kill. In the service of a mad baron of Fortune’s pass.
  • athes, a cruel pseudo-mongol mounted archer. From Barren lands in Greyhawk, but travelled to Yggsburg.
  • Ælfstan, a near-heretical monk who lives in poverty. Travelled in Ellheim, in Rajamaat.
  • Shahu, a human mechant (or maybe a yuan-ti sorcerer) working for the glory of his trade company (or maybe nest). Currently active in Scorching wastes, in Mernua.

In D&D, all of them are or would be converted into first level characters. In Burning wheel, they would tend to have 2-5 lifepaths and skills capped at B4 or B5. But converting characters is good fun and leads to interesting outcomes.

A nice exercise is to figure out which are D&D and which are Burning wheel characters; ”D&D” interpreted broadly.

Character stable

Havaintoja perinteisistä roolipeleistä

Perinteinen roolipeli tarkoittaa tässä kirjoituksessa peliä, jossa säännöt pääosin mallintavat kuvitteellista todellisuutta, sen sijaan että niiden avulla jaettaisiin kerrontaoikeuksia tai siirreltäisiin mekaniikkatason pylpyröitä ympäriinsä.

Abstraktiotaso

Pelien säännöt kuvaavat tasoa tietyllä abstraktiotasolla. Tyypillinen taistelusäännöstö jakaa ajan joidenkin sekuntien pätkiin ja kertoo miten pahasti kukin saa vastustajaansa vahingoitettua siinä ajassa. Entä jos hahmo on sotilaana massataistelussa? Sekunneiksi pätkimällä hommaa ei saa ratkottua mitenkään; sen sijaan kannattaa nostaa abstraktiotasoa. Ehkäpä sotilastaitoheitto siitä, että kuinka hyvin hahmolla menee; hyvällä tuloksella hänen ryhmänsä saa mahdollisuuden tai ainakin säilyy vahingoittumattomana, huonolla joutuu pulaan. Tai sitten hahmoon voi kohdistaa tietyn määrän hyökkäyksiä tai antaa tietyn määrän vahinkoa liian matalalla tuloksella. Vastaavasti jos hahmo haluaa ampua vihulaista jalkaan, ettei tämä pakene, mutta yrittää tehdä sen tappamatta, voi olla syytä muuttaa abstraktiotasoa tarkemmaksi.

Abstraktiotasoon kiinteästi liittyvä käsite on sääntöjen kattavuus ja rajatapaukset. D&D 5 jättää lähes kaikki rajatapaukset käsittelemättä. Kaikki liikkuvat maastossa samalla nopeudella. Entä jos joltakulta on jalka katki? Varmasti liikkuisi hitaampaa, mutta säännöt jättävät kaiken tällaisen käsittelemättä. Kuinka pitkään hahmo voi taistella väsymättä? Kuinka rasittavaa on loitsia nollannen tason loitsuja ja voiko sitä jatkaa vuorokauden putkeen ilman ongelmaa? D&D 5 käsittelee taistelussa hyödyllisiä asioita ainoastaan taistelumittakaavassa, eli hyvin harvoin kymmentä kierrosta (yksi minuutti) kestäviä, yleensä lyhempiä. Tätä pitempiä asioita ratkaistessa ei kannata olettaa taistelukeskeisten sääntöjen toimivan kovin hyvin.

Yleinen ohjenuora lienee: Pohdi millä abstraktiotasolla ja missä raameissa jokin sääntö toimii. Jos siirrytään kauemmas, mieti tarkasti, vieläkö sääntö palvelee, vai pitäisikö sitä soveltaa eriävällä tavalla. Kenties kannattaa mieluummin improvisoida kokonaan uusi ratkaisutapa?

Pelikirjoittamista, ei suunnittelua

Todellisuus on monimutkaista ja suttuista. Monet roolipelit sisältävät jonkinlaisen odotetun pelitavan, tai kenties useita. Sitä toivoisi roolipelien keskittävän sääntönsä siihen osaan todellisuutta, joka kyseisessä pelissä on oleellista, ja lähestyvän sitä näkökulmasta, joka on pelin kannalta tarkoituksenmukainen.

Joskus ylläoleva ei onnistu ja joskus taas peliporukalle eri asiat ovat olennaisia kuin pelikirjoittajalle olivat.  Perinteisten pelien sääntösisältö koostunee pääosin perinteen vaatimista osista ja lisäksi materiaalista, joita kirjoittajat tai suunnittelijat ovat sattuneet tarvitsemaan riittävän paljon joko pelatessaan peliä tai sen edeltäjiä tai pohtiessaan seikkailuita ja lisämateriaalia peliin.

Ennen kaikkea suurin osa yksityiskohtaisista säännöistä on täysin poistettavissa ja korvattavissa ja myös uutta sisältöä voi kirjoittaa melko vapaasti. Tyypillinen perinteinen peli ei mene erityisen pahasti rikki tästä. Joskus sivuvaikutuksia aiheutuu, mutta ne voi sitten korjata. Peliä kirjoitetaan pala kerrallaan, välillä katsoen että minne sitä on tultu.

Julkaistu peli, jonka sääntöjärjestelmä sisältää yhtään raskautta, saattaa hyvinkin olla tämänkaltaisen prosessin tuotos. Sitä ei kannata ajatella valmiina hiottuna tuotteena, vaan prosessin hetkellisenä tilana. Prosessia voi ja kannattaa jatkaa. Samoin peliä kannattaa aluksi yksinkertaistaa. Varsinainen peli on pelitapa yhdistettynä perussääntörankaan; ylimääräiset himmelit ovat edellämainittujen sovelluksia muualle. Sovella itsekin, mutta opettele ensin pelin peruslogiikka käyttämällä sitä riittävästi.

Jotkut pelit sen sijaan ovat hiottuja kokonaisuuksia, joissa osat toimivat yhteen tietyllä, pitkälle mietityllä tavalla. Näissä on tyypillisesti sääntöjä voimavarojen liikuttelulle paikasta toiseen tai tarkkoja raamitettavia kohtauksia. Yleensä nämä pelit eivät ole luonteeltaan simulatiivisiä. Tämä artikkeli ei päde näihin peleihin. Myös hahmonluonti voi joissakin peleissä olla hienosäädetty alipeli, joka saattaa mennä rikki. Kannattaa miettiä, onko se pelin ydinsisältöä vai sivuvaikutus, ja meneekö se yhtään pahemmin rikki kuin se jo valmiiksi on.

Havaintoja perinteisistä roolipeleistä

Pathfinder ja taisteluliikkeet kaikille

Oletuksena Pathfinderissa hahmot tekevät pääosin vahinkoa. Jos lähitaistelevan hahmon rakentaa jonkin taisteluliikkeen (combat maneuver) ympärille, voi hän käyttää sitä tehokkaasti. Muuten niiden käyttäminen antaa vastustajalle vapaita hyökkäysmahdollisuuksia.

Mitä tapahtuisi, jos kaikki hahmot voisivat käyttää kaikkia taisteluliikkeitä ilman, että antaisi tilaisuutta vapaaseen hyökkäykseen? Tähän voisi laittaa rajoituksen, että hahmolla täytyisi olla esimerkiksi +1 perushyökkäyspätevyyttä (base attack bonus) tai olla ensimmäisen tason munkki, jos haluaa, että homma on rajoitettu vain taistelemiseen koulutetuille.

Mitä sitten tapahtuisi?

En ole kokeillut. Arvailuksi menee.

Ehkäpä lähitaisteluhahmot olisivat kiinnostavampia, koska heillä olisi enemmän vaihtoehtoja. Yksi kaveri epäilee, että magus-tyyliset loitsijataistelisivat hyötyisivät muutoksesta runsaasti, koska niillä on liian vähän valtteja (feat) valittavaksi; sotureilla taas usein liian paljon. Puhtaat loitsijat tuskin juurikaan hyötyisivät.

Tavallisestihan D&D-tyylisissä peleissä vastustajan osumapisteiden hivuttaminen nollaan on perusratkaisu tilanteeseen kuin tilanteeseen. Toivoisin, että tämän säännön kanssa oletusratkaisu siirtyisi enemmän vastustajan heikkouden hyödyntämiseen ja kestopisteiden kautta menevät tavallinen taistelu jäisi enemmän taustalta löytyväksi mahdollisuudeksi, jos ei parempaa keksi ja lisäksi toki yksinkertaiseksi tavaksi hoitaa pikkuvihulaisia pois häiritsemästä.

Tai ehkä kaikki vaan kamppailisivat toisiaan jatkuvasti ja vasta sen jälkeen läimisivät lähitaisteluaseilla.

Pathfinder ja taisteluliikkeet kaikille

Restarting a farm, or a small gothic story

If you want to play in this one-shot, let me know and also tell which characters you would like to or are willing to play.

Meta

A game of family drama, maybe culminating in a murder, while others are trying to get a farm up and running. A farm with giant spiders.

  • 2nd August, 12:00 Central European summer time.
  • Estimated playing time is 4 hours.
  • Up to five players, but four would be better and two the minimum.
  • Rules system is Burning wheel. A bunch of pregenerated characters, but also some you can create yourself. Feel free to suggest another custom character.
  • Prior knowledge of the rules system is a benefit, but not a requirement. Rules complexity is adjusted according to player experience.
  • One-shot or maybe two sessions, but I run extended campaigns and plan to run further one-shots in the same game world and maybe even the same village, so further play is possible. Rules systems that have been in use: homebrew OSR, Burning wheel, D&D 5, homebrew, Pathfinder 1.
  • Voice via Discord, other gameplay via Roll20. It has character sheets which handle some of the fiddlyness of advancement and rolling.
  • There might be a threat of violence, or worse, against a child, especially if Mia is in play. This is up to the explicit permission of the players; scenario works fine without, which is the default. But if all the players are fine with this, it might come to be.

The one-shot builds on the following adventure modules by Stuart Marshall on the Dragonsfoot website, as well as on the developments and events in my campaign play and a previous one-shot, of course. People who do not intend to play in my D&D games need not worry about spoilers; Burning wheel works well without secrets.

  • The spider farm: Read this for more information on the farm and the Reyn family. Essentially spoiler-free. In particular, there is a description of the farm and the farm buildings with some of their functionality included.
  • Melford murder: Reading the character descriptions in this blog post or the adventure module will spoil the murder mystery, which has not yet happened in my campaign world, and might or might not happen. Your choice. For this and other Burning wheel games spoilers are not a problem. You are expected to keep player and character knowledge separate. Some of the characters are described in the adventure module.
  • Shrine of the Oracle: Reading the shrine part is safe, but will only provide some peripheral context for this game, so not of much use. Note that of the sibyls only Mishpat is still alive in my campaign. The dungeon part is not relevant for this scenario.

Situation

Near the village of Melford there was a farm, where Ulayah Reyn kept giant spiders and gathered their silk. Some cultists captured him and many of the workers. The rescue attempt failed and Ulayah is presumed dead or worse.

Ulayah’s daughter, Heri Reyn, is trying to restart the farm, but she has her own problems, too. Deborah Snaid, who was almost married to Ulayah, is helping her. They need the spiders back in the pit, workers to run and fix the entire place, plus some protection against possible goblin attacks.

Meanwhile, brother and sister Wyke, who run the local inn, do not have everything okay between them. Lena would like to get her share of the profits of the farm, if possible, and is getting tired of staying in her brother Gerrit’s shadow. They also have a dim-witted and mis-shapen brother, Mipp, that they keep hidden elsewhere, and who has been associating with forces of darkness. Mipp has taken a poor child, Mia, into his protection, unbeknowst of Lena and Gerrit. Mia used to work at the spider farm and has recently discovered that she can speak with spiders.

A dragon’s hoard worth of treasure was just excavated and brought into the town, bringing with it some suddenly rich locals and a few foreigners.

Characters

The characters are divided into key, involved and peripheral. Key characters are excellent player characters. Involved characters are good players characters, too, but not quite as central, so they require a bit more work to make important. Peripheral characters are unlikely to play a large role, but might make an appearance, and a dedicated player might drag one into focus.

There is a simple relationship map available at https://kumu.io/tbrander/mernua

Good player characters are marked blue, green characters might be important, yellow ones are unlikely to matter much, and gray characters are dead. Characters are linked if one of them has a mechanical relationship to the other, one of them has a belief about the other, or if they are family.

Key characters

(reserved) Heri Reyn, 24, is a depressed woman suffering from crippling social anxiety. In her youth she lived with her father, the deceased Ulayah, who protected her from the outside world, maybe even too much. She tries to cope with all this while setting up the farm.

  • This might not be the emotionally easiest character to play.
  • Problem: Crippling social anxiety and no self-esteem.
  • Some skill in literacy and spider farming.
  • Where to find the workers and the capital for the farm?

(reserved) Lena Wyke, 27 years, is an ambitious innkeeper, who co-owns the inn with her brother Gerrit. They have a deformed idiot brother Mipp they keep hidden in a broken farmhouse, but visit every now and then.

Lena is quite bitter about Gerrit getting all the honour and spoils of their inn-keeping, while she does all the work. She has been talking with her friend, Magdalene Colerre the beekeeper, about the matter, and even murder has been discussed. She also wants wealth and power in general, with the newly rich providing fine possibilities.

  • Out to improve her lot in life, maybe at a cost to others, maybe helping others in the process. A potential fiend.
  • Strong social skills, reasonable professional skills.
  • Magdalene is a scary, if unreliable, ally.

(reserved) Mia, 8 years, grew up as a common child of the spider farm community. After its destruction she wandered from farm to farm, helped and begged. One night she seeked shelter in an abandoned farm, found an intact cellar, and climbed down. She stumbled in the darkness, found webs, was swarmed with spiders and bitten.

She awoke up in the farm, with a dreadful, deformed man-like creature tending her. He turned out to be Mipp who lives down there; but nobody is allowed down, and she must stay hidden if others come here. She was sick and delirious for some time, seeing strange visions of deformed, colourful  spiders eating at her, and indeed there were some visitors in the building (she will recognize Gerrit and Lena Wyke when she sees them).

It turned out that Mipp, in spite of the dreadful appearance, evident dumbness and lacking social skills, is very good to Mia. She visits him every now and then. And she can speak to and understand spiders.

  • Wants to help Mipp and Heri.
  • Little in way of skills or abilities due to age, but can speak to spiders.
  • Has a gothic friend of some potential and huge weakness.

Involved characters

Deborah Snaid, 51, is an accomplished seamstress and tailor. She was born and lived much of her life in the city of Heatherleigh, where her daughter Sanya still lives. She considers herself to be better than the locals.

  • Issue: To get over the sadness or not?
  • How to help Heri, as she promised to do?
  • Professional skills, social skills.
  • Sympathic towards Heri.

A former works(wo)man at the spider farm, whom you can create as a new character. Mostly or only peasant and villager lifepaths, nothing magical. Tie the character to others via relationships and BITs.

The spiders at the farm are big. If someone wants to play one, they are also intelligent.

  • You can make the spider by yourself or ask me to do so.
  • Issue: Freedom or imprisonment?

Gerrit Wyke, an inn-keeper, the brother of Lena and Mipp. You can generate the character by yourself or ask me to do so. May get killed.

Mipp Wyke, 25 years, a mentally and physically deformed sibling of Lena and Gerrit. He has walked down some very dark paths, but has now discovered light in Mia.

  • Low stats and very few skills, but some magical powers and treasures.
  • Would be challenging as a player character.

Herluin, a knight, the youngest of his family, who came to Melford seeking a better future. Some dungeoncrawling later he has two and a half thousand gold pieces, and a desire to protect and help the locals.

  • Low stats, at least martial skills.
  • Lots of cash and equipped for war.
  • Not from around here. Knows little and few.
  • Smells magic.

Magdalene Colerre, a beekeeper, and also an arcane monster. Lusts for power and death.

A goblin or a spider from the woods, who would like the spider farm to not operate, but would also like to avoid outright war with the big and scary humans. A character to make for oneself. These goblins are fey-like mischievous trouble-makes but also assassins and maybe sorcerers, rather than of the violent orcish army.

Peripheral characters

Brad Jennings, 43 years, grew up in and near the village of Rashtan, and has done much: trapping and farming before moving back to the village, after which he acted as a barber, before finally becoming a shopkeeper in Melford. He enjoys the genial interaction with customers without all the blood, but keeps his old tools and skills ready for emergencies.

Brad is in love with Deborah and intends to do something about it any day now, when he gathers his courage.

  • Issue: Deborah said no to him. Does he accept this or try harder? Stay honest or try to force the issue by financial or social means?
  • Medicinal skills, observation and rumours, plus a healthy mix of various other stuff.

Marieka, a woman constable (as the village guards are called) who had a tryst with the travelling dragonborn noble Charirastrix, and does not want to believe she is in early pregnancy. Wants Melford to be a safe place; making the goblins angry would not help in that.

  • Mechanically strange due to conversion from modern D&D.
  • Only hostile social skills, but some wilderness and broad, if shallow, combat skills and strange languages.
  • The general representative of the village constabulary.

Felona Vedane, 29 years, a cosmeticist married to Tom Vedane, but who plans seducing Brad Jennings. The current marriage is not a happy one.

Tom Vedane, 31 years, a jeweller married to Felona.

Reiner Vogg, 37 years, a livestock keeper with orcish blood. Attracted to Marieka. Misses his daughter Savula Vogg.

Irene Yar, a local smith with connections, but also more than that.

Warmann, a young local constable with more than a thousand gold pieces in cash. A kind of an overconfident asshole with no perspective. Likes Mia.

A newly rich peasant or villager with more than a thousand gold pieces in cash.

Distant characters

Savula Vogg, 14 years, a new sibyl (priestess) of the Oracle, a minor local deity, not terribly far from Melford.

Mishpat, the elder sibyl of the Oracle, famous for her great beauty.

Sanye Snaid, the daughter of Deborah Snaid at Heatherleigh, and priestess of Mother earth.

Charirastrix, the noble dragonborn sorcerer who has traveled away.

Ulayah Reyn, dead.

Harold the hedge mage in the village of Rashtan occasionally bought spider venom for alchemical use or as an ingredient in magical inks.

Restarting a farm, or a small gothic story

The dragon’s hoard and the terrible mushrooms

Near the village of Melford there are small ruins of an ancient city’s gatehouse, the city having been swallowed by the woods. A group of adventurers killed several goblins there, the goblins having captured local farmers with families, some of whom were saved. Later another group of adventurers ventured in. Only one came back, clearly rattled to the core, mumbling about a dead wyrm’s treasure and terrible mushrooms.

You are the next ones who venture in.

Meta

  • Sunday 21st, starting around midday European time. (Default 13:00 Finnish time, 12:00 Norwegian time, but can be adjusted.)
  • Player-driven, can be over quickly or take a long time. Four hours should be enough.
  • Up to six players.
  • Rules system is flailsnails / generic OSR D&D. Please come with a character you have played in some D&D-like system. We will make use of their level, attributes, hit points and spells, and maybe also other details. You can also ask if you can bring in a character from some other system or make an entirely new character.
  • One-shot, but I run campaigns and one-shots in the same world.
  • Voice via Discord, maybe mapping and such via Roll20.
  • Style of play is challenge-oriented dungeoneering. Meet strange creatures, traps, and other dangers, try to survive, get rich, and get out alive. Your skill as a player is what counts. There will be a focus on meeting things, problem-solving and social interaction, with almost no emphasis on navigation (drawing maps and such), and possibly some combat. But play is player-driven, so nobody can know for sure.

Information

The rumours told by the insane adventurer are represented by the notes of players whose characters have ventured into the ruins. Make what use of them you can.

The dragon’s hoard and the terrible mushrooms

Hemmelige dører bør ikke alltid finnes

Morten Greis Pedersen har en interessant blogg, Stemmen fra ådalen. Han skriver om hemmelige dører.

Fælles for alle hemmelige døre i fiktion er, at de bliver fundet, afsløret eller opdaget. En hemmelig dør er en dør,som afslører sin eksistens. Den hemmelige dør har til formål at blive afsløret og set.

Og så skriver han at det samme stemmer i rollespill. Nå, det er vel mange rollespill som fungerer sånt, men ikke alle av dem.

I OSR spill pleier man å utforske huler. Det er vanlig nok at det finnes hemmelige dører derinn og det er ikke sikkert at spillerne kommer til at finne alle, eller noe, av dem. Og det funker bra. Men disse dørene har forskjellige mål enn det Morten Greis skriver om.

Dørene i OSR er utfordringer; spillerne kan lykkes at finne dem og blir vanligvis belønnet med skatter, snarveg, interessant ting, veg videre, osv. Ellers kan det skje at spillerne ikke finner dem og det er helt fint. På samme måte kan spillerne tape i slåsskamp, dø grunnet ei felle, gå vill i hulen, løpe tomt for kilder av lys, osv. De kan vende tilbake eller lage ny karakterer.

Hvis det spilles i en sandkasseverden, er det ingen problem her. Hvis det bare et kort eventyr, så er det sårlig spillutvikling å ha ei hemmelig dør som slutter eventyret hvis den ikke finnes. I stedet følg Morten Greis si råd eller ha hemmeligheter som er bonusinnehold.

Morten Greis skriver også:

En realistisk placeret hemmelig dør er kedeligt, da den typisk er så snedigt placeret, at den ikke kan findes ved at tænke inden for historiens logik – det er hverken en roterende bogreol eller en roterende kamin – og den er i stedet placeret et vilkårligt sted i en dungeon, hvor den kun bliver fundet ved at spillerne systematisk leder efter hemmelige døre på hver sektion af hulevæggen (og det er dræbende kedeligt spil – eller den bliver fundet på arbitrær brug af GM-styrede evner som Passive Perception i D&D). Lad ikke realismen diktere placeringen, men genren og fortællingen gør det.

Jeg  er også uenig i det (i OSR-konteksten). Hvis en hule er en realistisk en, så har realistiske hemmelige dører.

Det er ikke merkbart kjedelig å lete etter dem. Hvis situasjonen er spennende har karakterne ikke mye tid og spillerne må fortelle akkurat hvor og hvordan karakterer søker. Det er interessant og krever klokhet og risikoer grunnet tidspress.

Hvis det er bedre tid har spillerne vanligvis en god idé om hvor døra kunne gjemme seg og søker derfra. Hvis ikke, de forteller at karakterer leter i disse rommene på denne måten, hvor mange faktisk leter og hvor mange gjør andre ting. Dommeren (spillederen) forteller hvor mye tid det tar og spørger om spillerne er enige og vil fortsatt lete. Så kaster dommeren terninger for vandrende udyr eller andre evenemang og for leting sjøl og forteller hva som skjer. Det tar ikke mye tid og er ikke kjedelig; det er en taktisk eller strategisk valg å bruke tid på sådan en måte.

Hvis hulen er trygg, kan spillerne fortelle at de leter grundig etter skjulte dører og liknende, opptil to uker har passet. Så dommeren forteller at ok, etter fire dager dere finner så og så. Tar ikke mye tid.

Hemmelige dører bør ikke alltid finnes

Pelitila ja matemaattinen ludologia

Artikkelissa https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.03295 kirjoittajat kehittelevät matemaattista teoriaa peleille. Tämä kytkeytyy myös pelitilan käsitteeseen.

Pelitila

Fysiikassa ja dynaamisten järjestelmien tutkimuksessa käytetään tila-avaruuden ja järjestelmän tilan käsitteitä. Järjestelmän käsittää kaiken sen tiedon, joka yhdistettynä luonnonlakeihin, mahdollistaa järjestelmän tulevaisuuden laskemisen (teoriassa). Esimerkiksi yksittäisen painovoiman alla olevan kappaleen tilan määrittää sen sijainti (kolme arvoa) ja nopeus (toisen kolme arvoa); tila-avaruus puolestaan sisältää kaikki mahdolliset tilat, eli lukukuusikot.

Pelin tila, vastaavasti, käsittää kaiken tiedon, joka, kun se yhdistetään pelisääntöihin, mahdollistaa pelin jatkamisen. Shakissa se käsittää nappuloiden sijainnit, tiedon siitä kumman pelaajan vuoro on, tiedon siitä ovatko kuninkaat ja tornit liikkuneet (eli voiko tornittaa), ja mitkä sotilaat ovat liikkuneet pitkän askeleen (koska sotilas voi syödä toisen, joka ohitti sen pitkällä askeleella, jos olisi voinut syödä sen jos se olisi liikkunut vain lyhyen askeleen).

Sekä esimerkkinä ollut fysikaalinen järjestelmä että shakkipeli ovat historiattomia, eli järjestelmän menneisyyttä tai shakkitilanteeseen johtaneita siirtoja ei tarvitse tietää, jotta peliä voisi jatkaa. Todennäköisyysteorian puolella järjestelmää, jonka historiasta ei tarvitse välittää, kutsutaan Markov-prosessiksi. Ne ovat erittäin hyödyllisiä.

Roolipelin pelitila

On epäselvää, missä määrin pelitilan käsitteen voi määritellä roolipelille ja missä määrin se voi olla hyödyllinen. Tässä muutama yritelmä.

Sääntömekaniikka ja siihen vaikuttavat asiat

Pelitila määritellään tässä rekursiivisesti. Ensimmäisessä vaiheessa pelin sääntömekaaninen tilanne kuuluu pelitilaan. Toisessa vaiheessa kaikki sääntömekaniikkaan vaikuttavat seikat kuuluvat myös pelitilaan. (Jos tuli voi satuttaa mekaanisesti, liekehtivä kokko kuuluu pelitilaan. Jos joku hahmo on värisokea, mikä on pelimekaaninen haitta, kaikkien asioiden väri kuuluu pelitilaan.) Tätä prosessia jatketaan äärettömästi, kunnes pelitila ei enää kasva.

Tässä kannattaa huomata, että pelitila on valtava. Lisäksi määritelmä ei ole tyydyttävä; esimerkiksi pelaajien oletetaan toimivan pelitilan ulkopuolelta, aivan samoin kuin shakin pelitila ei ota huomioon sitä että toinen pelaaja on väsynyt ja toinen on suurmestari. Tämän voisi varmaan ottaa mukaan määritelmään rajoittamalla sen fiktioon ja säännöissä täsmennettyihin seikkoihin.

Sääntömekaniikka ja fiktio

Vaihtoehtoisesti pelitilan voi samantien määritellä kattamaan koko fiktion ja sääntömekaniikan. Varjopuolena on pelitilan valtavuuden lisäksi se, että suurin osa fiktiosta on hämärän peitossa, ja määritellään vasta, kun jonkun pelaajan mielenkiinto kohdistuu siihen. Tämä tekee fiktion mukaanottamisen hankalasti määriteltäväksi.

Todet peliä koskevat väittämät

Tässäkin pitää rajoittua fiktioon ja sääntömekaniikkaan, mutta niiden puitteissa, mikäli rajoitumme (olemassaolevilla tai -olevalla) kielillä ilmaistaviin väitteisiin, tämä rajoittaa pelitilan koon numeroituvasti äärelliseksi. Tämä saattaa rajoittaa jonkun filosofin tai matemaatikon mieltä, ja on joka tapauksessa hivenen konkreettisempi kuin aiemmat ehdotukset. Tämä voi myös yhdistää aiempiin; vain mekaaniikan kannalta oleelliset väitteet, tai niiden kannalta oleelliset, jne. (Joukosta saa äärellisen, jos rajoittaan väittämien kielellisen ilmauksen pituuden vaikkapa sellaiseksi, jonka pystyy ihmisiässä ilmaisemaan.)

Roolipelien ja pelitilan ongelmia ja ongelmattomuuksia

Kaiken kaikkiaan pidän pelitilaa hyödyllisenä ajatuksena, vaikka sen tarkka määrittely ei onnistukaan. Sitä tarvitaan erityisesti, jos halutaan selittää kerrontavaltavetoisissa peleissä marinoituneelle roolipelaajalle tai ratakiskottavalle tai täysimproavalle pelinjohtajalle, että kun pelaamme tätä tiettyä perinteistä roolipeliä juuri tällä tietyllä tavalla, niin pelimaailmaa pidetään todellisena ja myös pelinjohtaja tekee niin, eikä voi jyrätä sitä mielipuolisesti halunsa mukaan. Muitakin käyttötarkoituksia ilmennee.

Puuttuva tieto ei ole ongelma. Pasianssissakaan yksikään pelaaja ei tiedä, mikä kortti on missäkin.

Virheet eivät ole ongelma. Jos joku nyt sattuukin muistamaan tai lukemaan jonkun hahmolapulla olevan luvun väärin, ei tämä eroa mitenkään siitä, että fysiikkalaskentaohjelmassa on ohjelmointi- tai lyöntivirhe, tai joku tekee laittoman siirron lautapelissä. Virhe korjataan tai sen kansaa eletään, kun se huomataan.

Pelaajien tulkintamahdollisuudet ovat ongelma. Mitkä tilanteet antavat hahmolle esimerkiksi ”merkittävän edun”, joka antaa heittoihin etua? Jos pelitilaa ei rajoita ainoastaan mekaaniseksi, tämä tarkoittaa, että ei ole selvää, mikä kaikki sinne kuuluu. Kenties koko fiktion ottaminen mukaan on tämän takia selkeintä. Jos taas rajoitutaan pelkkään sääntömekaniikkaan, menetetään roolipelejä lähes määrittävä ominaisuus, eli se, että vapaa kerronta on niissä merkittävässä roolissa.

Matemaattinen ludologia ja itse artikkeli

Artikkelin tavoitteena on pelin perimmäisen säännöstön ilmaiseminen matemaattisesti. Siinä tutkitaan pelkästään vuoro kerrallaan eteniä pelejä, joilla on äärellinen pelitila. Tässä ollaan siis aika kaukana roolipeleistä. Roolipelien suhteen artikkelissa on seuraava viite, josta voisi löytää vihjeitä sellaisten pelin mallintamiseen, joissa sääntöjä voidaan muuttaa lennosta:

P. J. Hammond, “Schumpeterian innovation in modelling decisions, games, and economic behaviour”, History of Economic Ideas15, 179–195 (2007)

Pelin kuvaus jaetaan neljään tasoon, joista artikkeli käsittelee ensimmäistä:

  1. Perimmäinen säännöstö, eli pelin abstrakti säännöstö. Se sisältää pelitilan lisäksi pelaajat (esimerkiksi kaksi pelaaja, yksi ja kaksi, mutta ei näiden mitään ominaisuuksia), pelin alkuasetelman, säännöt eli tavan siirtyä pelitilasta seuraavaan, ja lopetusehdot voittajatietoineen ja pistemäärineen.
  2. Havaittu säännöstö, joka käsittää myös pelaajien tiedot, eli kuka saa mitäkin signaaleja pelitilasta ja missä vaiheessa.
  3. Pelin esitystapa, joka käsittää myös pelinappulat ja laudan, tai roolipelin tapauksessa hahmolomakkeet, nopat ja puhumisen.
  4. Konkreettinen peli, joka on ihan oikea, esimerkiksi fyysinen, tuote tai kenties tietokoneohjelma.

Mikään näistä tasoista ei sisällä minkäänlaista mallia pelaajasta tai tämän taidoista tai tavoitteista.

Artikkelin käyttämä matematisointi käsittää (hieman yksinkertaistaen) listan pelaajista, listan pelitiloista, toiminnoista jotka tarkoittavat siirtymää pelitilasta toiseen ja joita pelaajat eivät suoraan tee, listan päätöksistä joita pelaajat tekevät (ja joiden laillisuus määritellään oman listansa avulla) ja vielä lopuksi seuraamuskuvauksen, joka ottaa sisäänsä pelitilan ja pelaajien päätökset ja mahdollisesti satunnaisuutta käyttäen valitsee jonkin toiminnon. Pelin päättyessä (ei laillisia siirtoja) lopputuloskuvaus kertoo sitten, voittiko joku tai paljonko pisteitä kukin sai tai mikä lopputulos lieneekään kyseisessä pelissä.

Takaisin roolipeleihin

Perimmäinen ongelma pelitilan ja roolipelin välillä säilyy. Muutamia lähestymistapoja ongelman ratkaisemiseksi, joista yhtäkään en ala tässä viemään pidemmälle.

  1. Sääntöpohjaisen lähestymistavan yleistäminen. Tässä otetaan pohjaksi esimerkiksi mainittu artikkeli ja liitetään siihen fiktioon liittyviä mahdollisuuksia leluesimerkeistä alkaen.
  2. Kuka saa sanoa mitä? Forge-teoria otti tämän keskeisimmäksi osaksi itseään, eikä kenties syyttä. Sananvalta käsittelee hyvin kömpelösti ja kautta rantain säännöstöjä, jotka pyrkivät esittämään jotain todellisuutta, samoin kuin monimutkaisia hahmonrakennushärpäkkeitä.
  3. Fiktiivinen todellisuus pohjaksi. Jos rakentaa fiktiolle, kaikkine epämääräisyyksineen ja epätodennäköisyyksineen, tukevan pohjan, voi sen päälle helpohkosti liimata pelin muut osat. Tämä auttaisi vanhan liiton pelaamisen ymmärtämisessä.
Pelitila ja matemaattinen ludologia

Burning wheel skill house rules

I tend to use these when running the game, unless otherwise mentioned.

Swimming

It is a separate skill available to fishermen, sailor, marines, pirates and such. Rooted in speed.

Speak language

I use the rules in Burning wheel revised, more or less: Each language is a specific skill. Characters start with their native language equal to their perception.

Using languages

Language skills are not typically rolled when the character is simply trying to communicate. They might be tested to see if the character can communicate a particularly abstract concept or understand such.

Further, in some situations the character might want to use their greater language competence as an edge in a debate or similar situation. This might call for a versus language test, with the winner gaining a bonus die on the skill test. If the audience has limited language skills, they should also against the obstacle, and anyone going over theirs might instead get a penalty for using too fancy words.

Starting skills

All characters have an extra skill point per lifepath, but with very restricted applicability. These skill points can not increase a skill above the character’s perception. The points can only be used on:

  • Speak language for some language commonly spoken in the region by the members of the lifepath. For some languages in my campaign, see https://ropeblogi.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/languages-of-mernua/
  • A particular location -wise. The location has to be a concrete one (the village of Melford, not villages in general) and one that the character knew to know well during the lifepath. An large city is probably too big for a character to know well enough, but a particular quarter might be fine, or a particular ship, or the palace.
  • A particular person -wise. As above, a concrete, named person, not a general class of people. Some other concrete thing may be fine along the same lines.

Rationale

  1. Almost all human and fantasy non-human cultures are multilingual. This interests me and is not well-supported by Burning wheel.
  2. Having very particular and concrete wises gives the characters a edge at home and ties them to particular places and people. More grounded characters are good.
Burning wheel skill house rules

Widow’s choice

If you want to play in this one-shot, let me know and also tell which characters you would like to or be willing to play.

Meta

A drama game with focus on character choices and relationships.

  • Saturday 23rd or Sunday 24th this month, probably starting around 12:00 Norwegian or 13:00 Finnish time.
  • Estimated playing time is 4 hours.
  • Up to five players, but four would be better and two the absolute minimum.
  • Rules system is Burning wheel. Pregenerated characters, with maybe a possibility to do one by oneself.
  • Prior knowledge of the rules system is a benefit, but not a requirement. The characters are simple and we will be sticking to the core mechanics (hub, spokes) without the extended conflict rules, but maybe some resources or circles.
  • One-shot, but I run extended campaigns and plan to run further one-shots in the same game world and maybe even the same village, so further play is possible. Rules systems that have been in use: homebrew, homebrew OSR, Burning wheel, D&D 5, Pathfinder 1.
  • Voice via Discord, other gameplay via Roll20. It has character sheets which handle some of the fiddliness of advancement and rolling.

The one-shot builds on the following adventure modules by Stuart Marshall on the Dragonsfoot website, as well as on the developments and events in my campaign play, of course.

  • The spider farm: Read this for more information on the farm and the Reyn family. Very minor spoilers in the way of hidden treasures to people who play D&D in my world.
  • Melford murder: Reading the character descriptions in this blog post or the adventure module will spoil the murder mystery, which has not yet happened in my campaign world, and might or might not happen. Your choice. For this and other Burning wheel games spoilers are not a problem. You are expected to keep player and character knowledge separate. Most of the characters are described in the adventure module.
  • Shrine of the Oracle: Reading the shrine part is safe, but will only provide some peripheral context for this game, so not of much use. Note that of the sibyls only Mishpat is still alive in my campaign. The dungeon part contains spoilers concerning the dungeon in question.

Situation

Near the village of Melford there was a farm, where Ulayah Reyn kept giant spiders and gathered their silk. Some cultists captured him and many of the workers. The rescue attempt failed and Ulayah is presumed dead or worse.

Ulayah was about to marry Deborah Snaid, a local milliner, who made fine clothes from the silk. He also left behind an orphan, though already an adult, Heri Reyn. Both of the women were devastated by the occasion.

Some time has passed. Deborah is running out of money, while Heri is miserable. Deborah was about to visit the now-empty spider farm, when she was captured by goblins (that had attacked the farm earlier, but had been repelled). Goblins spoke about the spiders as their gods and that there would be vengeance if the blasphemy were to continue. Deborah was left in a ruin, rescued by mercenaries who killed lots of goblins that lived there; but yet more are supposed to live in the Spider woods.

Will Deborah, or someone else, set up the spider farm again? And what happens to the people whose fates are entangled in the matter? (The possible matter of the goblins will not be resolved in this game.)

Characters

The characters are divided into key, involved and peripheral (and distant). Key characters are excellent player characters. Involved characters are good players characters, too, but not quite as central. Peripheral characters are unlikely to play a large role, but might make an appearance, and a dedicated player might put one into focus. Distant characters are a part of the extended relationship map, but will almost certainly not appear, or at least be important.

There is a simple relationship map available at https://kumu.io/tbrander/mernua

Good player characters are marked blue, green characters might be important, yellow ones are unlikely to matter much, and the gray character is dead. Characters are linked if one of them has a mechanical relationship to the other, one of them has a belief about the other, or if they are family.

Key characters

Deborah Snaid, 51, is an accomplished seamstress and tailor. She was born and lived much of her life in the city of Heatherleigh, where her daughter Sanya still lives. She considers herself to be better than the locals, though the current events have taken priority.

  • Issue: To restart the farm or not? If not, how to make the ends meet?
  • Issue: To get over the sadness or not?
  • Professional skills, social skills.
  • Sympathic towards Heri.
  • Respects Brad Jennings, but does not love him.

(reserved for a player) Heri Reyn, 24, is a depressed woman suffering from crippling social anxiety. In her youth she lived with her father, the deceased Ulayah, who protected her from the outside world, maybe even too much. She lives with Brad Jennings, who puts her down constantly due to lack of respect. If only she could find a way out, but she could use some help in the task.

  • This might not be the emotionally easiest character to play.
  • Problem: Crippling social anxiety.
  • Problem: No self-esteem.
  • Some skill in reading, writing and miscellaneous skills.

Involved characters

(reserved for a player) Brad Jennings, 43 years, grew up in and near the village of Rashtan, and has done much: trapping and farming before moving back to the village, after which he acted as a barber, before finally becoming a shopkeeper in Melford. He enjoys the genial interaction with customers without all the blood, but keeps his old tools and skills ready for emergencies.

Brad appreciates people who work hard. He does not feel Heri Reyn is one of these people, but keeps her in the house due to his former friendship and business relations with Ulayah. He keeps telling to Heri that she is not trying as hard as she should, yet she does not learn, much to the frustration of Brad.

Brad is also in love with Deborah and intends to do something about it any day now, when he gathers his courage.

  • Relationship stuff with Deborah and Heri.
  • Question: Does he conform to the social reality about the relationships, or force others to conform to his? Does he learn of this?
  • Medicinal skills, observation and rumours, plus a healthy mix of various other stuff.

(reserved for a player) Lena Wyke, 27 years, is an ambitious inn-keeper, who co-owns the inn with her brother Gerrit. They have a deformed idiot brother Mipp they keep hidden in a broken farmhouse, but visit every now and then.

Lena is quite bitter about Gerrit getting all the honour and spoils of their inn-keeping, while she does all the work. She has been talking with her friend, Magdalene Colerre the beekeeper, about the matter, and even radical ideas have been aired. In short term she would be satisfied in having more money or power; King’s head inn’s business will go down if Deborah’s fine clothes will stop attracting the rich from Heatherleigh, so she needs to get Deborah back to her senses or to secure independent sources of wealth and influence.

  • Out to improve her lot in life, maybe at a cost to others, maybe helping others in the process. A potential fiend.
  • Strong social skills, reasonable professional skills.
  • Magdalene is a scary, if unreliable, ally.

Mia, 8 years, grew up as a common child of the spider farm community. After its destruction she wandered from farm to farm, helped and begged. One night she seeked shelter in an abandoned farm, found an intact cellar, and climbed down. She stumbled in the darkness, found webs, was swarmed with spiders and bitten.

She awoke up in the farm, with a dreadful, deformed man-like creature tending her. He turned out to be Mipp who lives down there; but nobody is allowed down, and she must stay hidden if others come here. She was sick and delirious for some time, seeing strange visions of deformed, colourful  spiders eating at her, and indeed there were some visitors in the building (she will recognize Gerrit and Lena Wyke when she sees them).

It turned out that Mipp, in spite of the dreadful appearance, evident dumbness and lacking social skills, is very good to Mia. She visited him every now and then. And she could speak to and understand spiders.

  • Wants to help Mipp, Heri and Deborah.
  • Little in way of skills or abilities due to age, but can speak to spiders.
  • Has a gothic friend of significant power and huge weakness.

A former works(wo)man at the spider farm, whom you can create as a new character. Four lifepaths, exponent cap 5, mostly or only peasant and villager lifepaths, nothing magical. Tie the character to others via relationships and BITs. Some other custom character might be fine; ask if you have an idea.

Peripheral characters

Gerrit Wyke, an inn-keeper, the brother of Lena and Mipp.

Mipp Wyke, 25 years, a mentally and physically deformed sibling of Lena and Gerrit. He has walked down some very dark paths, but has now discovered light in Mia.

  • Low stats and very few skills, but some magical powers and treasures.

Marieka, a woman constable (as the village guards are called) who had a tryst with the travelling dragonborn noble Charirastrix, and does not want to believe she is in early pregnancy. Wants Melford to be a safe place; making the goblins angry would not help in that.

  • Mechanically strange due to conversion from modern D&D.
  • Only hostile social skills, but some wilderness and broad, if shallow, combat skills and strange languages.
  • The general representative of the village constabulary.

Felona Vedane, 29 years, a cosmeticist married to Tom Vedane, but who plans seducing Brad Jennings. The current marriage is not a happy one.

Tom Vedane, 31 years, a jeweller married to Felona.

Magdalene Colerre, a beekeeper but not only that. A dark one.

Reiner Vogg, 37 years, a livestock keeper with orcish blood. Attracted to Marieka. Misses his daughter Savula Vogg.

The spiders at the farm are big. They at least used to live in a pit covered with wooden bars.

Irene Yar, a local smith with connections, but also more than that.

Distant characters

Savula Vogg, 14 years, a new sibyl (priestess) of the Oracle, a minor local deity, not terribly far from Melford.

Mishpat, the elder sibyl of the Oracle, famous for her great beauty.

Sanye Snaid, the daughter of Deborah Snaid at Heatherleigh, and priestess of Mother earth.

Charirastrix, the noble dragonborn sorcerer who has traveled away.

  • Player character; use only with permission and would require conversion.

Ulayah Reyn, dead.

Harold the hedge mage in the village of Rashtan occasionally bought spider venom for alchemical use or as an ingredient in magical inks.

Widow’s choice

Resting houserule for D&D 5

By default characters recover essentially everything by resting overnight. I do not like this. First a house rule, then reasons for it.

Medium rest and long rest

Short rest works as usual.

Medium rest means a night’s rest. It has the following effects:

  • Character regains one hit die. Alternatively, one condition or circumstance that typically ends with a long rest ends now.
  • Character recovers one use of a special ability that is usually recovered with a long rest. Alternatively, one item regains such a power. In case of magic, the character regains a spell slot of any level they can cast.
  • The character gains all the benefits of a short rest.

Long rest requires a full day (24 hours) of relaxation. It works otherwise as usual. A relaxing character is typically not armoured or otherwise equipped for war, has a disadvantage on initiative rolls, and is often drunken. praying, studying etc. This is explicitly an invitation for the game master to start a new adventure.

Consequences

We should start with the matter of realism. In D&D world, after a fight and a night’s rest, every warrior is either dead or at full health and fighting spirit. This rule mitigates the effect slightly; they are only at full strength after a longer pause, or otherwise have recovered one hit die only.

With the usual rules, encounters while travelling have no effect at all, unless someone dies or they cause the group to use consumable magic items, or unless there are several encounters per day. I am running a sandbox game where I typically check for travel encounters three times a day, 1/6 chance of each, so having two or more encounters per day does not happen very often.

With the usual rules, there is no reason to take a break from continuous adventuring. This variant rule suggests breaks of a day after a serious adventure. This leads to a slightly more leisurely pace and feels more appropriate. There is also a clearer delineation between adventuring and downtime.

A game is a sequence of interesting choices. Choosing to take a long rest of 24 hours in the wilderness is a risky move, but sometimes worth it, whereas sleeping for a night is a necessity, and there are no choices involved. Such choices about risk management and taking risks are in the core of D&D; hence, the rule feels appropriate.

As all rules (including the procedures for generating hit points and ability scores), I apply this to both player characters and nonplayer characters equally. This adds another tactical choice: to re-enter the dungeon, or to attack the assailants, immediately, after a night’s sleep, or after full recovery on everyone’s part? And if you choose to take it slowly and carefully, you take the risk that the enemy chooses to take more immediate action, in which case you will be caught unprepared. This allows various kinds of deception and stratagems.

As a bonus, this rule allows simulating constant stress and worry – such a character never takes a long rest, they only heal with medium ones, and hence they recover slower. But it is completely viable for a paranoid character to live like this.

Resting houserule for D&D 5