Saturday, April 30, 2016

Expand, Keep it Free, Request

For those who may be considering pledging to my patreon, today is the last day if the reader wants to see any publisher maps or trade content before June 1st.  As promised to those whom I've contacted, the main content on the prices table has been created: more or less, with a few exceptions of things that may occur to me in future, I've made a complete transfer from my old document regarding the material costs for things.  In terms of the trade system, this means the price of the thing that something is made out of: not the price of a gold necklace, but the price of the gold used to make said necklace.  This has taken me a couple of months.

Going forward, there is only left to calculate the prices of the goods themselves.  Unfortunately, I have some 950 goods to add . . . but so it goes.  I estimate that there are something like 2,000 calculations on the materials tab.  It isn't that I like to go big with these things.  I'm trying to account for every object that anyone could ever want to buy: not only the things I've invented but all the things that I imaginably might invent one day, most often on request from someone in my game.  This is a monumental task, particularly when one considers that I'm not limited to real objects - there is room in the system to calculate everything imaginary, as well.

Yesterday I was told by Chris, a well-meaning fan that I should expand the wiki, keep it free and accessible to all and allow patrons to request content.  Good advice.  For those who might be wondering, I have no plans to make the wiki into a pay site.  I think the greatest mistake that I see every artist around me making is the desire to turn everything into cash.  I know that of late I've been pushing hard across the board - circumstances have been forcing my hand.  However, I rush to point out that I haven't diminished any of the content that I have always supplied for free.

Admittedly, this blog has suffered from a number of time-oriented obstructions.  I talk too much about money, I talk too much about the jumpstarter and patreon, when I do get around to writing about D&D it is all opinion and without rule systems . . . it isn't the bygone days when I was writing tons of opinion and proposing rule systems that sometimes made it onto the blog.  When I compare to other blogs, however, which seem to be full of opinions and chatter about books written by other people, game cons and deconstructing endless disconnected info details because it is 'interesting' - but lacking in any gaming adaptations - I feel I'm not doing too bad.  Yes, I know, it's another disappointment when Alexis bitches about his life and does not advance something really practical like eight posts on how to start a campaign or get characters all moving in the same direction, but please have faith: tomorrow, I may get my crap together and post some of that.

Straight up, there's nothing a blogger likes more than a reader (and patron!) requests content.  Content is the hardest thing to come up with on a blog.  I write a surprising number of posts based on someone poking me in the ribs: told to watch something on youtube, asked if I really mean Shakespeare, challenged on my wisdom, pushed into detailing something about a system I'm writing and so on.  This blog is, for those who haven't caught on yet, wholly interactive.  If I'm not writing enough about things the reader cares about, the reader has only his or herself to blame.  Between the book and the pricing table, along with trying to make my way in the dumbfuck world, I'm pretty distracted here - requesting content is the very best way to get me on a page we can both consider.

I am going to keep thinking of things that people would think are worth paying for.  I'm sure more than a few people wondered why I didn't announce upon losing my job that I was going to start charging for D&D games.  Fact is, this would be a very bad time for that and it isn't something that should be rushed into.  It's a big step and it requires consideration, planning and commitment, something I can't do as long as I'm invested in the Fifth Man (book I'm writing - have you heard?).  I don't want to do anything half-baked, ever.  I'll launch that and anything else I can think of when its ready - and in the meantime, I'll be thinking over services that are worth launching.

Rest assured, however, that none of those things are going to be services I'm providing for free - like the podcast or the wiki.  If anything, when I have the time and the wherewithal, those are things I'm going to keep expanding, hopefully forever.  I know I can get the hang of this podcast thing if I can just do it enough to get a proper feel for it.  I'm not happy with any of the content so far: it seems scattered and too casual to me - yet I know instinctively that is part of its appeal.  I don't know yet what a 'right' podcast will sound like . . . but I didnt' know what a right blogpost would sound like 8 years ago or what a right campaign session would sound like in 1980.  We learn these things from experience.


Maxwell Joslyn said...

I've got a request: please answer some questions about the difference between market and non-market towns in your system.

I recall from earlier versions of the trade system that towns without a market reference have their resources assigned to the nearest market-having town. Am I right on that?

I especially desire details about the following: what's the gameplay difference between market and non-market towns? Can the players actually not buy anything at all in non-markets? If they can buy some things, how do you determine what they can buy? Is it related to infrastructure?

LTW said...

Are all of the followers that are awarded to your player characters leveled? Since I have read of your world's social hierarchy and I know that all npc's relevant to your PC's level up, I am wondering if you can describe how you treat unleveled NPC's that gain experience. Do they also increase in status as well? If so do they get an ability score bump?

Alexis Smolensk said...

At the moment I have no fixed rules for non-levels increasing to level status that I want to include in the wiki at this time. As a stop-gap, the games I've been running have been using a loose rule that 500 x.p. is needed to for a non-combat trained non-level to achieve combat trained status. Combat training affects Morale of non-players in combat. I've then been saying that 1000 x.p. is needed for a combat trained non-level to achieve level status. We've had people progress up both levels in the games I've been running.

However, I hope to someday improve on these rules, as they are far too simple and don't take into account "training," which I hope to make a fighter sage ability (if I am EVER able to come back to my sage tables . . . sigh).

Obviously, this seems complicated, since I have no better word than "non-level" to describe persons who not of level in my world. I do not want to use "zero level" as the implications of that are too many and sends the wrong message. I have gotten rid of the zero-level idea, preferring instead to think of EVERYONE having a hit die and levels being additional hit points on top of that hit die. Therefore, a non-level is a 1 HD creature, not a "zero-HD" creature.

I don't actually "award" followers. I do award henchmen. I make the distinction on my wiki. Followers are obtained through gaming and agreements between players and strangers, when I perceive that NPCs have the same general motives as the party and they are treated fairly and decently. This fair treatment is affects morale, which if it gets very bad will mean the NPCs will fail to participate in player activities. As such, followers are not necessarily of any level.

The post you linked, LTW, refers to a system I abandoned in large part some years ago, particularly with regards to players. I am still conscious that it may provide some value in the future, but it's clumsy just now and needs an epiphany. Do look at the followers link on the wiki and at both henchmen and hirelings.

LTW said...

Thank you for your response and consideration. I have read the followers, hirelings, and henchmen pages closely. It shows that you have put an extensive amount of thought into these systems.

I really like your status chart. I've been using it to create NPC's and their stats. There isn't much guidance in my purchased rulebook for non-leveled characters.

Ah, OK so any PC can gain a follower, as long as they are reasonable and fair to someone who wishes to stick around for coin an accomplish shared interests and goals. I thought you used homebrew and AD&D rules like the 9th level fighter 10th level ranger are awarded followers.

My player wants to create a holy army. I haven't made it "that far" in a campaign yet, so I've put a lot of thought into how to make this come about. I was considering incorporating an awarded follower system that was tied to levels. It did seem too complicated and a bit limiting.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Hah, LTW. Yes, you caught me there. I made an error.

You're quite correct, I do "award" followers for players who have reached name level. I had completely forgotten, since I've never looked at this as an award but rather the fixed rules of the game. But you're absolutely right. It is an award.

The followers gained upon name level do follow the same characteristics as the followers page on the wiki - but on the whole, they don't tend to have any lives BUT the service of the name-level character (npc or not) - so the chance doesn't exist that they'll get bored and wander off to adventure, whereas someone the party meets and befriends might. So in a way, these followers are half-way between "follower" and "henchman."

Hm. Maybe they need another designation? Minion? Cohort? Partisan? Perhaps it should be different for each class, so that thieves would have toadies, clerics would have proselytes/votaries and fighters would have ranks. Needs thought.

So, holy army. Totally doable. I still use the principles established in the original Dungeon Masters' Guide for this.