January 18th, 2002


GURPS Geekery

Our last session of Kevin's GURPS game was fairly uninteresting for me. We spent most of the time in petty bickering about what to do.

But we got treasure. Whee! Apparently, this was one of the best hauls this party has ever gotten.

And in the treasure, we found a fairly nifty magical sword--shatterproof, extra damage, and loyal--i.e., it returns to its owner's hand when it's dropped or thrown. Other people have their own magic stuff, so this might go to Meat (my big barbarian character) or to Merith, the junior NPC along with us.

Unfortunately, Meat doesn't have much experience with a sword. He's far better with an axe or club. So we let Merith have the neat sword.

But I've been reconsidering that somewhat... it's true that Meat is poor at using a sword up close, but due to some of the wackinesses with GURPS's skill system, he has a better chance of throwing the sword than anyone else does.

And there's something decidedly kewl about the idea of throwing a sword in combat.

(But I need to figure out whether the loyal sword would interfere with close combat...)

D&D and more RPG thoughts

I felt very proud about Wednesday's D&D session.

In most of the session, the players were hanging out in a bar talking with people. I felt that I did a much better job than I usually do of playing the different NPCs as different people, with their own motivations and personalities. This is something that has been hard for me, so it was nice to do a better job.

I also felt that I did a decent job on the "show, don't tell" principle--the players all figured out that the woman in the crimson cape was a rogue without my having to tell them.

And then the action started with a nice fight. The PCs went through the giant cockroaches like a hot knife through warm butter, but I was kind of expecting that they might. The pleasant surprise I had planned of Kevin discovering that his character could Great Cleave instead of just Cleaving worked out as I had planned. It was a fairly fun session, IMHO.


I've been participating in a lot of LJ conversations about RPGs recently and enjoying it.

One question that's been crossing my mind: under reasonably modern ethics, under what conditions is it appropriate to loot for treasure? That's a tradition I'd like to provide in my classic D&D game, but I'm not sure how to provide that for my players, who seem willing to play the Good in their alignment.

Suppose we accept that our opponents are "people", even if they might be evil people. I think being evil can justify killing in war--does it justify taking their goods afterwards?


Another thought: the RPGs that I know all give at least as much detail to combat as to any sort of social interaction. Usually, it's much more detail. Combat may well involve one or more die rolls per blow attempted; social interaction may involve a single die roll for a whole conversation.

But since I don't have nearly as much of a clue as I would like about social interaction, I wish there were RPGs that gave more attention and detail to social interaction.

Here's a specific idea along these lines that I think would be nifty:
Imagine a game with an NPC with an almost unfathomably alien mindset, so alien that it's very difficult for the GM to emulate that mindset.
So a conversation with the NPC gets modeled by a Hidden Markov Model, such that the GM can use some secret charts and die rolls to keep track of the alien NPC's state in the conversation.
Through the course of the conversation, both the players and the GM end up with a better understanding of how the alien's mind works.
Wouldn't that have a chance of being very nifty if it was done well?


We converted an O(n^2) algorithm to an O(n log n) algorithm.

Doing so sped up this program from 67 minutes to 3 minutes 18 seconds.

We all did a little happy dance.