Saturday, January 20, 2024

Saturday Q&A (jan 20)

ViP writes,

Please allow me to bring this article to your attention:  The Value of Things in the Middle Ages
by Laurent Feller

"How to assess a value to things when money is lacking?  Historian Laurent Feller shows that during the Middle Ages ..."

Answer: The realities the article addresses is one of the reasons why my game world takes place in the 17th century, and not between the 8th and the 11th. The Streetvendor's Guide addresses the issue at several points, for example briefly describing the absence of inns before the 13th century (and how travellers found shelter). Overall, I've chosen a time period between 1100 and 1650 to write on, with dates scattered through the guide so that persons wishing to base their world upon Earth in, say, 1450, would have some idea of what things would be available at that time and what wouldn't.

As far as pricing things, since the Guide stresses a world that's post European Fairs, and undertakes to provide much information about China and South Asia (where coinage has existed since before the Han Dynasty and well back into the age of Siddhartha), it's impossible for me to use historical sources. So I don't. It's always good to remember that the guide is for a game, and not as a means of getting myself academic recognition. I don't need to be right or even especially accurate. I need to be detailed, give realistic descriptions that are as close to true as possible (so they'll hold up under further research by the reader) and have a price list that "holds together" and appears to make rational sense. It's of considerable relief to me that while I can't know the truth of many historical things, no one else does either. It means that while I can't be "right" much of the time, so long as I've done my research, I can't be "wrong" either.

Mason writes,

I somehow stumbled across your blog and ruleset, and I think it is quite interesting. I happen to gm my own game, and I use a system that resonates with much of your design philosophy, without being tethered to the shackles of AD&D.

A game run in seconds, without rounds, based around an average ability score of of 11. A game that doesn't hold your hand. It's known as hackmaster, and it is the best fantasy system I've played in all my years. It's lethal, spiky, granular, exciting, but most of all - fair to careful and smart players. I hope you check it out sometime.

Answer: I looked at Hackmaster about 20 years ago, not long after it was launched. I was a big fan of Knights of the Dinner Table in the 90s, published by Kenzer and Company who created Hackmaster. Not a bad system, certainly workable. Unfortunately, I'd hoped to find some mechanic at the time that I could have lifted and adapted to my own campaign, but didn't find one. I think any system can potentially be homebrewed into a good, solid approach to fantasy role-playing. I'd begun my game system back in 1980, so by the time Hackmaster came along, I was 22 years into reworking a system that I'd committed to. Mostly, I don't look for games like it, because what I want is a new set of rules for something no other system has attempted. That's not usually the case.

Thanks for your interest. Keep in touch and please feel free to any questions you'd like.

OhioHedgehog writes,

Assume a mixed party, some with and some without infravision, and light sources fail. How do you handle who can see what?

Answer: I changed the rules with infravision so that natural light doesn't conflict with infrared light. In other words, an elf's infravision doesn't work like a mechanical device. It functions the way we might expect something that's evolved through 128,000 generations, the approximate number that have passed since the time of Lucy, 3.2 million years ago. Therefore, for a human, if the lights go out, it's just like it would be for you and I. For the elves, halflings, half-orcs, etc., it's like the lights went out 60 feet away, but everything within 60 feet looks perfectly normal. It's like experiencing "inverted vision," an example of the brain's neuroplasticity. The elf's eyes, which have evolved to accept both normal light and infravision, simply "flip" when one is given precedence over the other, in a manner that's not-detectable to the seer; he or she doesn't know for certain, say in twilight, which kind of vision they're using at a given time. The shift from normal vision to infravision is seamless.

OhioHedgehog: If Able and Baker are humans with "normal" vision and Chaz and Duncan are elves .... how do you handle describing what they see when the first two can only see their hand in front of their face but the other two can see 60 feet?

Answer: I describe what the elves see. It's easy enough, in exploratory mode, to assume the elves are describing what they can see to the humans; and there's the element of denying actions to the humans if they can't see, and have to be led by the hand.


Thank you for your contributions.

If readers would like to reply to the above, or wish to ask a question or submit observations like those above, please submit  to my email,  If you could, please give the region where you're located (state, province, department, county, whatever) as it humanises your comment.

Feel free to address material on the authentic wiki, my books or any subject related to dungeons & dragons.  I encourage you to initiate subject material of your own, and to address your comment to others writing in this space.  

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