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This is Dan and Andrew’s Gaming Place.  We will be making posts on Tuesdays.

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Spice Up Your Campaign! Use Moons!

 

P1This post talks about a game mechanic that started as a way of explaining why a campaign world with five very diverse races did not have a war every twenty years. This campaign world is on the back of a simply enormous turtle swimming in the Eternal Ocean, but it is only really a very large island. The five groups were the children of the sea, the children of the wild wood, the people of the wind (horsemen), the citizens of the Dragon Empire, and the forge masters. The obvious reason diverse groups would cooperate is an external threat, but this creates another problem: stability. An external threat bad enough to encourage cooperation will either conquer you or get eradicated. The best historical analog (always look to history) seem to be the viking raiders, but Europe had wars in spite of the vikings. What is a poor referee to do?

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Making Maps Automatically.

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This post is about some AI research connected with fantasy gaming. Andrew and I write our own material, so we don’t have a problem with our players knowing what’s coming in an adventure. A lot of people use pre-built modules though — and this creates a possibility of the players having advance access to the referee’s notes. Wotcha gonna do? One possible answer is to use automatic content generation. The link is to a wiki for automatic generation of games with AI tools run by our colleague Julian Togelius. A compact example of this sort of technique is in a paper I wrote with Cam McGuinness about how to generate an adventure module. The vision is that, instead of buying an adventure module, a player would download one, unique and possibly even customized to their exacting specifications.

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Cliquer II: some mathematics to go with the graph theory game

In the previous post about Cliquer, I gave the rules for the game and an example of how to play, as well as an example of how to count cliques in the graph that is being drawn as you play the game.  In this post I look at some of the mathematics my game theory class and I discovered when I presented the game to the class.  This is one of the best ways to teach mathematics — take something new an interesting and use math to learn about it together.

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Printable Figures for Slimes and Blootches

One element of fantasy gaming that can give the players the collywobbles is the use of the amorphous life-forms called variously slime, ooze, pudding, jelly, or, when I am speaking, blootch. This name comes from an old Pink Panther companion cartoon, the inspector. One of the villains is a two-dimensional art thief with three heads that can morph into modern art in the form of scribbles to hide: Le Blootch. He seemed like the acme of the evolution of these unstructured monsters. While I like having these creatures in my adventures, I frequently find that I lack figures. A fan of cardboard heros I often supplement my figures by generating things that are missing. In this post: blootches!

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A Rationale for Lycanthropy

werewolfA lycanthrope is a character, usually human, that can adopt an animal form. The details vary quite a lot, as does the focal animal. In Fool Moon, a novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the idea of werewolves gets a complete workout. There are five flavors  of were-like being in the story. A bunch of nerd-college students that learn just enough to transform themselves into big, natural wolves who then form a vigilante group. A biker gang that have achieved a mental state where they are, at least socially, a wolf pack with some mystic strength yielding physical prowess and coordination in combat. A group of rogue FBI agents who have magical wolf-skin belts that permit them to transform into extra-jumbo extra-vicious wolves. One super-hero level invulnerable wolf monster who transforms at the full moon and is nearly unkillable and, a female wolf that has figured out how to magically become human. Butcher’s exploration of a world with many types of werewolves opens up the issue of the origin of lycanthropes.

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Generalizing Paranoia’s Mandatory Bonus Duty.

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The Paranoia system is packed with interesting ideas. In this post we review Mandatory Bonus Duty (MBD) and discusses spreading the notion, with appropriate re-skinning, to other games. The core idea is to give your players a job, beyond whacking monsters or making piles out of their dice, that will keep them engaged in the game. Paranoia is a markedly non-cooperative game and so the roles assigned to the players place them, if not into conflict, in the position of being the boss of one another in multiple ways. This is actually an excellent idea and can be used to invigorate other types of games.

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A Rectangle Packing Puzzle

example1The picture at the left shows one way of filling a 4×3 rectangle with dominoes. This post is about a fairly hard puzzle of this sort. You can also think of the smaller rectangles you are using as bricks or even just 2×1 or 1×2 rectangles. This type of puzzle is called a packing puzzle and, in general, it means filling a specified shape with simpler shapes.

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