Thursday, January 4, 2024

Correcting the Finch Primer

I believe the Finch Primer to be, charitably, a reactionary overcorrection towards corporate D&D.

The following four points are intended to replace those made by the Primer.

1. Prep > Rules > Rulings

The Primer mistakenly attempts to claim that rulings are preferable to rules, which is not true. Any worthwhile ruling becomes a game rule. What corporate D&D has done is attempt to present a holistic system that must not be deviated from, and whose rules must be adhered to even if they do not make sense or where game situations would clearly take precedence. The game rules are treated as giving rise to the physics of the game world. Instead, in old school play the game world exists first and the rules act as an overlay.

The Primer further implies that all game problems are solved diegetically in old school play, which is absolutely false. Rules provide a common ground for players to understand complex situations such as combat, and allow common game situations such as lockpicking to be resolved consistently. Diegetic solutions are possible, and often desirable, but these are special precisely because they are exceptional.

2. Player Skill > Character Sheet

The Primer mistakenly suggests that player skill does not include effective use of character abilities. This is simply false. However, it is true that corporate D&D is badly designed, insofar as it includes abilities on the character sheet which inform players what they should think and how they should act, favoring a style of roleplaying that is in direct contradiction to successful play.

Moreover, modern systems often include a huge array of character building options which are poorly balanced, and in fact impossible to balance. The result is a dysfunctional game that cannot be played as a game, leaving players with little recourse except to engage in play-acting rather than earnest gaming. Because this is not the case in old school play, the point the Primer makes is irrelevant and incoherent.

3. Superheroic Play

In old school play, character progress to superheroic stature by gaining levels and acquiring magical treasures. In modern corporate D&D, in order to guarantee a certain consistency of play, the powers previously afforded by magic items have been baked into character levels.

The Primer mistakenly reacts to this guaranteed suite of powers by insisting the characters never obtain such abilities. This is incorrect. Characters should reach higher levels and should obtain fantastic magic items. So-called "Mudcore" permanent level 1 play is unenjoyable and to be shunned.

4. Fair Play

The Primer falsely claims that game balance does not matter. This is only true insofar as game situations might be entirely impossible to overcome via combat, and retreating in the face of excess danger is expected. This often called "Combat-as-War" in old school play, as opposed to "Combat-as-Sport" in new school play.

Nonetheless a certain fairness is expected. The game is still a game, with players facing challenges that they might reasonably find a way to overcome or move past. The game is exactly in the form of a tournament in which the players face off against the content which the referee has prepared. Misapplication of game rules may in fact break the game, and in such cases adjustments can be made to correct the course of play in the interests of fairness.

Monday, August 7, 2023

How to Hide Blocked Discord Messages

Are you annoyed by a steady stream of blocked message indicators?

First, be sure to exit Discord. We will be modifying the client.

Second, navigate to the Discord files on your computer at a location like the one below.

C:\Users\Jay\AppData\Local\Discord\app-1.0.9020\modules\discord_krisp-1\discord_krisp
Your USERNAME and DISCORD VERSION likely differ. The file you are looking for is index.js.

Third, we will add the code shown below in green to index.js.

const KrispModule = require('./discord_krisp.node');

console.info('Initializing krisp module');
KrispModule._initialize();

KrispModule.getNcModels = function () {
  return new Promise((resolve) => {
    KrispModule._getNcModels((models) => resolve(models));
  });
};

KrispModule.getVadModels = function () {
  return new Promise((resolve) => {
    KrispModule._getVadModels((models) => resolve(models));
  });
};

module.exports = KrispModule;

const sheet = window.document.styleSheets[0];
const style = `[class^='groupStart']:has([class^='blockedSystemMessage']) { overflow: hidden; height: 0; margin: 0; }`;
sheet.insertRule(style, sheet.cssRules.length);

Finally, do note these changes may need to be re-applied after an update to Discord.



Addendum: If you rely on the web version of Discord, try the Stylus extension for chromium-based browsers. In this latter case you would simply add the style as follows:

@-moz-document domain("discord.com") {
    [class^='groupStart']:has([class^='blockedSystemMessage']) { overflow: hidden; height: 0; margin: 0; }
}

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Tools for Adventure Gaming

Whether Judge or a player, the following tools should prove useful for fantasy adventure gaming.

Brave web browser

Brave is similar to Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, now with built-in security and privacy. Works with all Chrome plugins as the core engine is Chromium. Feels like using the internet back in better days.

Notepad++

Notepad++ example usage

The simplicity of the classic Notepad application, now supporting multiple open files through tabs, automatic backup and recovery, improved search, and much more for advanced users.

Paint.net

All the basic features of Adobe Photoshop offered for free.

SumatraPDF

Sumatra example usage

The best PDF reader by an extraordinary margin, being many times faster than Adobe along every metric. Open an unlimited number of PDFs instantly and scroll anywhere in the document instantly.

Discord

Discord is a type of IRC program used through a web browser or Desktop app. Consider joining the general purpose Pedantic Gaming discord for adventure game discussion, or the Ransack Games discord.

Google docs & Google Sheets

Each offers equivalent functionality to Microsoft Word and Excel, now free and in the cloud. Easily share or collaborate with others. For anything you want to create & share be sure to click the 'Share' button in the upper right to set a desired access level. Typically, you want to share with 'anyone with the link' can view.

StackEdit.io

StackEdit example usage

An online note-taking application that uses Markdown language. Otherwise, similar to Microsoft OneNote or Scrivener. Be sure to use the Workspace setting to automatically sync your files using Dropbox or Google Drive, allowing you to access and edit from any web browser on any computer.

Dropbox

An online solution to automatically synchronize files across multiple devices, such as a phone, tablet, and computer. Supports up to 2 GB of files and up to 3 devices in free mode.

AnyDice

AnyDice example usage

Simulates many types of dice rolls, providing graphs and charts of expected probabilities.

donjon

donjon example usage

Huge variety of tools for generating treasure, maps, or more for a variety of game systems including AD&D.

Randomly Distribute Numbers

Divide a number into a set of randomized parts, for example to spread 50,000gp across 100 rooms.

Power Thesaurus

Power Thesaurus example usage

The only thesaurus you will ever need.

Fantasy Name Generators

Fantasy Name Generator example usage

Name generation website with a huge number of generators.

Dungeon Scrawl

Dungeon Scrawl example usage

Free tool for creating dungeon or hex maps. I do not recommend using the newer version just yet. I have recorded a How to Use Dungeon Scrawl V1 video on YouTube, with apologies for the poor quality.

Owlbear Rodeo

Owlbear example usage

Free virtual tabletop with fog of war. Doesn't support Hexes, unfortunately.

Rollem Rocks

Rollem Rocks example usage

Discord bot for rolling dice. Greatly preferred in lieu of the never-fixed, incorrect Avrae.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Simplified XP Model

You are a in a party of total characters.
You play a session every
XP per level, you find % of it.
You clear rooms per session.

Results

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Ransack by Justin Todd

Good day.

From the rulebook:

Ransack is a fantasy adventure game to be played at a table with friends & family, requiring one participant to act as Judge & at least one other participant to act as a Player. Players control their characters, making decisions for & describing how that character acts, while the Judge presents the game world, interprets the rules, and controls all non-player characters.
Judges must challenge player wits & wiles without being their enemy, offering a world where characters may prove to be heroes.

Find the latest Ransack Playtest Rules or use the link in the right side bar.

There is also a Discord widget leading to the Ransack Discord where I discuss the rules & run games.

Ransack is my primary focus for the foreseeable future. The plan is to spend 2.5 years to complete a primary draft of the rules which will be split across 2 books totalling at least 300 pages. The 1st book is the primary rules for playing and running the game, which players may read at their discretion. The 2nd book will contain tools for the Judge, such as treasure, monsters, and methods for generating dungeons and wilderness areas. This 2nd book is not yet publicly available. The target date for completion of the primary drafts is June 2024.