Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Bucket List

Yesterday in the comments section of To The Answering Herd I posted a link to an old post describing the combat system I use.  Upon reading that post last night, I found several errors ... not that they were errors at the time I wrote the post (well, one), but rather they were errors because I've slightly changed things.  What's more, I tried to write that old post without visual aids.  I'm sorry about that.  The upshot is that I've realized I have to write the whole thing out in detail for the wiki - with pictures.  That's a long haul, but I will try to produce some of it every week until the whole system is written.

Bringing back the discussion about X.P., and now recognizing combat needs to be revisited to, I know there must be other things I've written on this blog that probably did not hit their mark.  I'd like to encourage the gentle reader to feel comfortable about bringing up anything that really needs me to have another go at it.  The task ahead of me, to rework portions of this blog into a less casual format for the other venue, has to be managed piecemeal.  I'd like to address those things which people might feel are more important, rather than stumbling around in the dark.  I don't promise an immediate appearance on the wiki ... but I'll write about it here and about issues blocking system improvement or posting.

It is a lot easier to write a blog than a rules set.  Through Greg Christopher's Statecraft I came across a rather juvenile post about why meaningful criticism is a failure on the internet.  Ryan Macklin, the author of the second link, stumbles around in a cloud of disconnected, weakly transitional grammar while making an fairly cliched argument nostagically defending the importance of free thinking.  It isn't that I don't agree ... I wrote something in the same ballpark a few days ago.  It's only that I find it difficult to take something written about the importance of critiques seriously when it barely reaches the status of English.  But I can guess why ... Ryan was obviously angry when he wrote it.  On looking at stuff in my past that I have written when I've been angry, I wince.  People are probably unaware, but there are old posts on this blog that have "gone missing," surreptiously deleted for the betterment of all, I assure you.

Writing a blog is fun, relaxing, emotionally releasing and - for the most part - a writing style in which I can feel far less invested.  A grammatical error here or there is nothing.  Not like writing rules, or any document where comprehension can hinge both ways upon a single word.  Worse, for me, if it's non-fiction, I usually find myself drifting into a state of somnambulance: "A is equal to B except in the circumstance of C, where C is a manifestation of the conditions arising from D and E, where F does not apply, except in cases where G or H are relevant.  If it happens that A is not equal to B, then the rule of I must apply, particularly where it is influenced by J, K or L, especially where M modifies the value of A in applications where N is present."  And so on.

I could never have been a lawyer.

I am much better with writing non-fiction where I am teaching about a particular thing, where I can elucidate through the use of metaphor - my favorite tactic in explaining most of the things I do on this blog.  But when it comes to describing a thing in terms of its non-emotional limitations, I am honestly ready to throw the whole thing out as not worth the bother.

That is why, in more than 20 years of using my combat system, I've never really sat down to write out every detail.  Bits and pieces, yes - such as the Armor Effects on Movement table or the Combat Actions table found on the Wiki.  But not the quibbling details of the whole niggling system.

Still, there's pressure now, through the Wiki, to get it done.  In fact, there was pressure before ... it's been mounting up every since I first started a D&D blog a little less than three years ago.  The recognition that as I pass my mid-forties (17 months past mid-point as of yesterday), I know that one day I'm going to die.

Wow, downer, huh?  Not that we all don't think about that from time to time.  For me, I feel strongly enough about this game that, well ... let me explain it this way:

For most people, if they were to find they had 18 months to live, they would be struggling with what things they'd want to see, and what details they'd want to take care of: their 'bucket list.'  My personal bucket list would mostly include finishing the four books I have yet to finish (three of which have not been started, but are outlined in my head), and dumping as much of my D&D material on the web as would be possible in the time I had left.

So why wait?  I don't have 18 months, but I do have a mere forty or fifty years, which seems like not remotely enough.  It might be, if I didn't have a new damned idea every other week, and always something I want to develop.  What I need is a good priorities list.  The initial interactive system is just about done (I will start gametesting in 11 days).  The guts of the trade system are, for the present, to remain hidden until the day comes that I can figure out how to make money off it (needs a computer programmer).  Anything else, as far as I've thought about it to right now, is potentially public domain.  There's the combat system, a lot more work on the biology tables, the character background programming table, more mapping, more rewriting of spells ... those being the things I can think of off the top of my head.  There's a lot of things I don't even have a system for - like treasure.  I've seen this recent incarnation of a pdf online and - for my purposes at least - it is total shit.

So, any ideas?  Anything I have written on this blog I'm prepared to write about again, if it is clear up the various issues.  All I need is a starting place.


Ryan Macklin said...

"But I can guess why ... Ryan was obviously angry when he wrote it."

I wasn't, but that's (and your comments about it being juvenile, and all the other rather cute, inflammatory bits) an interesting reaction. A reminder that we don't own our message.

Thanks for the comment!

- Ryan

The Jovial Priest said...

Well I for one will be happy to read whatever you put into your bucket.
Your combat hex based movement rules were very impressive. Shame I just laid out US $40 for a square based laminated gaming mat.

Alexis said...

I don't know why it couldn't be adapted to a square-based combat map, Jovial. If the squares were 5' in diameter, it would still be one hex per move. If the hexes were 10' in diameter, you could increase the time scale. I've increased mine to 12 seconds from 6, and it substantially does not change the system. 10' squares could mean anything from a 20 to 30 second round (or the standard 1-minute from OD&D).