Monthly Archives: December 2013

NOTE:

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Synanthropes: Big changes, big changes.

I have made a huge, huge, mega-huge update to Synanthropes; I have stripped out and completely replaced the central dice mechanic. Once it was all about collecting a dice pool, now it’s about rolling 2d6 and adding bonuses; for every +1 die in the earlier system, it’s now simply a +1. Other than that, it’s operating on what might be recognized as the Apocalypse World standard, where results of 10 or more accomplish the task, 7-9 accomplishes partially or at some sort of cost, and 6 or less means that not only do you not get what you want, but something bad happens besides.

Admittedly, I’m a LOT less codified than the Apocalypse system, as I have no such things as Moves, but the core remains the same.

Okay, why would I do such a crazy thing? It was not an easy decision! And yet, I am confident that it was the right one.

Why? Well, let’s consider some things.

Probability curves:

I spent some long nights on AnyDice, rolling and rolling and looking at curves, and trying to come up with ways to ensure that success when you didn’t have any bonuses wasn’t nigh-impossible, while success when you stacked the deck in your favor wasn’t as sure thing, and eventually I came up with something that looked perfect:

On a d6, 4 or 5 counts as a success, 6 counts as 2 successes, and 1 is a botch which removes one success from your total. You need a total of 2 or more successes to fully resolve the task, but a single success will let you partially accomplish your task, or accomplish it at a cost.

Oh lord, I didn’t need to playtest that. Just look at it! For criminy’s sake, it’s ridiculous! It’s so far divorced from the world of numbers that I might as well ask folks to buy a damn spinner or other truly esoteric randomizer.

(Note to self: what sort of interesting things can I do with a spinner? Makes it really easy to create an “I succeed IF I’m using an Artifact” or “I succeed IF being helped” option. Interesting and useful… the more bonuses you have, the more slices which count as successes. Interesting… but not for right now. Save that for next Game Chef maybe.)

Anyway, a standard 2d6 makes a familiar probability curve. I lose that “no math needed” thing, which is unfortunate because I really like not having to rely on even basic calculation, but adding 2 dice and a few random +1s isn’t much of a hardship… you can do that on your fingers (and if you run out of fingers, it means you have succeeded, so, that’s a tangible bonus).

Doubles:

Finding Clues is a central part of Synanthropes. It’s something I really want to be unexpected… a random occurrence, indicative of an interesting thing stumbled across. First edition: Clues came when you rolled to find them, which I didn’t much care for. Second edition: if you rolled extra successes, you turned them into clues, which was a little better, but still frustrated and didn’t work so well. Third edition: Any doubles turned into Clues, which was better (in that it meant you could fail your way into finding Clues) but still troublesome (in that the odds of finding Clues were still tied, very closely, into how many dice you were rolling and therefore your likelihood to succeed; I instituted a “one Clue per floor” policy to help mitigate that, but it honestly felt like a little more trouble than it was worth).

Now, it’s still doubles… but it’s doubles on 2d6. Odds of that? 1 in 6. Period. If there are six rolls on a given floor, one of them is guaranteed to dredge up a Clue. (Note: Edward does not understand statistics). Clues are equally likely when you’re flinging around wildly, as when you’re rocking a basically sure thing.

It also means I get a little more freedom to play around with species-specific bonuses and Hoard points… Roaches can roll an extra die, for instance, and count only the two highest, when going into situations when they might get hurt. Raccoons working with technology don’t change the dice they roll, but the “partial success” range is dramatically increased. This gives the different species unique mechanical attributes, which is something I always wanted (but since they’re Hoard-point activated, they’re still minor enough to keep things reasonably balanced.

Initial tests look promising.  Which is important, because the Wheels of Publication are starting to turn.

(They’re self-publishing wheels, to be sure. but they ARE turning all the same.)


The 5 best video games of 2013

The following is a list of video games; indeed, one could make the argument that they are the Five Best Games of 2013.

In fact, I will be making this argument. This is my year-end games list! Now, a note beforehand… my game budget is not large, which means that the games I buy I choose carefully, and most brand-new AAA titles are outside of my grasp. That is to say that the set of games I’ve played that actually came out in 2013 is small, and doesn’t include, say, GTA V or certain other industry notables. Whether that means they would make it onto my top 5 is something we can never know.

Shall we begin?

5: Antichamber

4: SUPERHOT

3: Gunpoint

2: The Stanley Parable

1: Gone Home.

Very good. The decision has been made, and there can be no debate, these are the games of the year.

What’s that? You want more elaboration? Ugh. FINE. Continue reading


This site is in the process of transferring to a new host. It may take a little while; I am but one person and I know very little about in internal mechanisms of this whole Internet thing. If things are flaky, rest assured, they will unflake in time.


This is just to say

I have taken down

the rules

to Synanthropes

that were on the navigation bar

and which

you might have considered

downloading

for your own personal interest.

Forgive me

I have big plans

for a big release

in the near future.

 

Okay, that was a bit silly. BUT I have removed the link to the current iteration of the game. Why? Because I have Plans, dear readers. Long-term Plans. More details will be forthcoming, but the short of it is, next year, if I can get all the logistics sussed out, there will be a Kickstarter. Oh yes.