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E. Gary Gygax passed away in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #15
I started with a home-brew game I made up, inspired by one session of the much more elaborate home-brew game of a much older family friend. We had no polyhedral dice, so we had pots of poker chips numbered with markers. This was not ideal because my brother, who was my only player, learned to palm the high score chips.

We graduated to the first 'Basic Set', which came out years before the Basic/Expert/Master line was introduced. It was supposed to be an all-in-one-box teaser to get people into Advanced D&D, which was beginning to come out in hardcover books. It used stripped-down rules, but weirdly. All weapons did d6 damage, but you were told that small weapons might strike twice per round, so that a pair of thumbtacks was twice as good as a claymore. It came with a really crappy set of polyhedral dice, that weren't quite symmetrical, were barely legible, and actually eroded visibly with use. I had the edition that was put out before TSR produced its 'modules', so it came with a bunch of random graphs and encounter tables for making instant dungeon adventures.

We graduated to AD&D as quickly as possible. My Monster Manual was second edition (not to be confused with AD&D Second Edition), but I had first edition Players' Handbook and DMG. There was a brief weird phase where the AD&D DM's Guide wasn't out yet, so that we had characters and monsters up to archmage and demon lord, but only the thin and lousy Basic Set rules for how to run a game. The Dungeon Master's Guide was in many ways a horribly written rulebook, but it was a profound revelation. That was when I really began to get the idea that one was seriously trying to simulate an entire world.

I wish now that I had bought the 'collector's edition' rules that were available in a boxed set in those days: the original set of three small paper-bound volumes written by Gygax and Arneson, that were the very first Dungeons and Dragons, on which Advanced D&D was supposed to be improving. From what I know about them, those original rules were pretty bad in many ways. But for history's sake, and for a quaint but somehow authentic flavor that I think I'd really enjoy now, I wish I had them.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
E. Gary Gygax passed away in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #5
Gygax eventually went off on a weird ego trip, ranting in Dragon magazine about how his status as the 'inventor of the game' gave him some kind of absolute power over every customer's hobby. I expect this was why he was ousted from TSR shortly afterwards. And frankly he wasn't such a great gamemaster. His modules were overpacked with loot, and some of his creations were amazingly lame. (A half-toad theocrat known as 'the hopping prophet' sticks in my mind yet.) The best version of his rule system had a lot of awkward flaws in comparison with modern rule-sets: arbitrary features that just made the game less fun.

But he did invent the role playing game. His D&D co-author Dave Arneson had a precursor of the basic idea that characters gain power through experience, but Arneson's proto-RPG had exactly two levels. It wasn't really levelling as we know it, but something more like acquiring veteran status the ways units do in Civilization. Gygax invented the long road from 1st level to Nth, and with it the deep hierarchy of weak to über monsters, treasures, items, and areas, and all the baroque complexity without which no decent RPG can hold its head high.

In a rural library I once found an old book about how to play wargames with tabletop miniatures, which is where Gygax and Arneson started from. It was like Warhammer, but simpler, and usually historical in theme. Six sided dice, and some simple combat, morale and movement rules. It was really just about having something to do with your lead miniature Roman legions after you had painted them nicely. If I remember Gygax's accounts rightly, other people in this gaming community had already gotten interested in miniature games that represented fantasy adventures of small teams of heroes; but the rules were very simple, and there was no progression. Arneson took the first little step, but Gygax made it click.

E. Gary Gygax didn't just invent Dungeons & Dragons. He invented levelling. Saying that today sounds almost like saying that someone invented sex. It's such a basic feature in so many people's recreation, it seems like a fact of nature. But he started it.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
A! in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #22
Humph, that buddy's wearing the Government Tartan. Of course it's just a cloth pattern, and anyone can wear whatever they want. But wearing that particular tartan is a bit like sticking a Marine Corps badge on your baseball cap.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Quick Question in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #50
If the children don't behave, the Alec will get them!

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Simulated Reality in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #34
A real life exercise a bit like that was The Floating Admiral, which was a project of Dorothy L. Sayers. She corralled a dozen or so mystery writers, from Agatha Christie on down, and got them all to write one chapter in a novel, but in sequence. Each author would get to read all the preceding chapters, then write their own contribution, and hand them all on to the next in line. Each author was supposed to 1) figure out from the preceding chapters what was going on, then 2) add a few more clues and developments to move the story as they understood it along.

It's an interesting experiment to read, but a lousy book, because (as they all later confessed) none of the authors was able to get the slightest idea what the preceding authors had had in mind.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Simulated Reality in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #29
It makes you wonder whether guys like Peter Wimsey were at all safe to know. Maybe these amateur detectives are somehow behind it all, perhaps unconsciously. Descendants of some Zeus-like tryst by Death.

This reminds me for some reason of Fritz Leiber's Death, who in the world of Nehwon is responsible (to the otherwise unmentioned 'Lords of Necessity') for ensuring each hour's quota of expirations. Deaths are assigned by profession: so many farmers, so many heroes, so many kings are slated to off-shuffle in each batch. Death has to decide exactly who in each class gets the ick on each occasion, and exactly how. With heroes, in particular, he tries to be artistic. He permits himself any amount of weirdness, but only goes personally ex machina as a last resort. It is casually mentioned that Death himself is mortal.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Quick Question in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #46
No one said there was no flinging. I said there was less. I'm kind of the designated optimist around here.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
What is better Shapers or Rebels? in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #105
Welcome to the boards.

People here prefer it if you use the EDIT button to add more stuff to your last post, rather than make several posts in a row. It just makes it easier to read and to keep track of who is saying what. When you visit the boards a lot, it becomes quite instinctive to expect a new person when you start reading a new message. So then if someone double posts, a lot of people get a little jab of annoyance.

A lot of little jabs amounts to a sizable offense, so double posting is frowned on a lot harder than you might think. This is a common policy on message boards, not just a peculiarity of this board. If you want to be a thorough geek, you'll need to know this kind of thing.

[ Saturday, March 01, 2008 12:03: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
AAAAAAAH!!! in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #91
It's true that what you're technically obliged to do for a Ph.D. sounds rather slight. Write maybe one or two hundred pages worth of thesis, over the course of about five years. That's maybe ten term papers in length, for an average of 2 term papers per year. It's maybe a hundred problem sets in math or physics, working out to one every two or three weeks. Doesn't sound bad.

Heh. The problem is that a doctoral thesis has to be original research. You cannot just blather randomly for those pages and then stick letters in front of your name. You cannot even just read fifty books by other people and re-write their statements and arguments in your own words.

As an undergrad, some lecturer or textbook author tells you something and you know you're supposed to believe it, even though if you were thinking as critically as you would over a ten buck bar bet, you'd have a dozen hard questions right away.
Then in graduate school suddenly you're out of the classroom and back in the bar, and that's not as nice as it sounds. Everything's crap until you figure out exactly why it's not. So a grad student who thinks they don't have much to do is either very lucky, very clever, or pretty clueless.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
AAAAAAAH!!! in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #87
And on it goes. Graduate students laugh sadly at how much easier undergrads have it, post-docs shake their heads at how much free time grad students have, and professors remember wistfully their carefree days as post-docs.

Part of the trouble is self-created, of course. As you move up the scale you acquire new tasks, for which it takes time to develop the necessary skills; but you keep your old skills, which enabled you to do your old tasks well. If you like doing things well, and dislike doing them badly, there's a strong temptation to hang on to old tasks, even when you might be able to delegate them away now. That way you still get to be good at some of your tasks.

The way to have less work is obviously to accept perpetual incompetence. (Calling it 'beginner mind', like the Zen masters, might make this sound better.) When the new tasks come, at which you're no good yet, hand off the old tasks you were good at to new people — who will be no good at them.

Of course, if everyone did this, all tasks would be handled incompetently. So this is not ideal, either. But I think it's true that most people who feel overburdened with work are probably partly to blame, because for psychological reasons they are doing more than they really have to of the work they are best at.

Even if you have no-one else to hand tasks off to, you can probably still just choose to do less of a lot things that you have already mastered. If you learned to do references and footnotes well in high school essays, you may be spending more time adding footnotes to your college essays than is really efficient.

One cause of overwork is overindulgence in competence.

[ Friday, February 29, 2008 03:07: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Can I stash stuff anywhere? in Avernum 4
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #4
PCs generally steal anything they see, immediately, as soon as they can do it unobserved. They will break any door or container to do so. Nobody else in the entire universe, not even the most black-hearted verminous villain, will pick up a pile of rubies that has been abandoned on the ground.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Simulated Reality in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #23
Kinsey could get into Unix and solve some cybercrimes: .is_for_hidden, ?is_for_wild, *is_for_completion, that sort of thing.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Simulated Reality in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #20
There are so many gruesome murder mystery series out now, that today it occurred to me that someone should write a mystery in which some kind of maniac is killing off all the mystery writers. He takes out author after author, in hideous ways inspired by their own books. But the police finally begin to track him down, and it all builds up towards a climactic capture scene at the Library of Congress. Then you turn over the last page, and it just says, 'Ha! Got another one!'

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
AAAAAAAH!!! in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #82
In the Kingdom of Loathing, meat is currency. KoL appears to have begun as a satire on MMORPGs, but it has nevertheless become a large and addictive MMORPG in its own right — to such a degree that whether this constitutes failure of the satire, or brilliant success, would now seem to be moot.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Quick Question in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #11
Tullegolar is quite right, but on the other hand, it's usually only the younger and/or newer members of the community who make a point of telling members newer still to leave their sanity at the door. Group-defining rituals are usually like that: they repel outsiders because they declare who is inside, and vice versa. Our rituals are few and harmless, and if they do make complete newcomers feel out of place, they also make relative newcomers feel at home — and that's a good thing. So it's a trade-off, but I think the balance we're striking is decent enough.

Stubbornness is certainly a survival trait, though. And I'm not sure annoyingness is exactly the good thing, but Tullegolar is onto something here too. Although a certain tendency to resist the community culture does effectively raise the barrier between insider and outsider, once again this cuts both ways. It makes you spend longer as an outsider, but if you persist until you cross the barrier, you are suddenly lodged very firmly as an insider.

We're just another primate clan, here. All the usual hooting, maybe a bit less dungflinging.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Simulated Reality in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #11
This question is great if you've never thought much about it before, but boring if you have, because it doesn't actually take all that long to reach dead ends in all directions. The process of reaching all those dead ends is very instructive, though. So perhaps people who are bored with the question could just leave this thread alone, and not spoil the fun for people who aren't bored yet.

For people who may be only a bit bored, I find a more down-to-earth exercise holds my interest better. Pick any random simple object, like an apple or a pencil or your fingernail or whatever. Stare at it for a while, and try to determine what you really know about it, and how you know whatever you know.

What is the object, is it real, what was it in the past, what will it be in the future, what is it made of, what is it part of? Consider whatever questions you think you can answer. You can play around, too, with what standard of confidence you demand for something to count as an answer. Is there anything about which you can be utterly certain? How much are uncertain answers worth?

To me, the issues that come up in this kind of exercise are the only issues that are really interesting in big-picture cosmological debates. But you have the added advantage of everything being focused on an everyday object that is really there. Probably.

Maybe it's just me, but I generally don't find myself thinking much about atomic structure or the neurobiology of vision, but about where all the little nicks and scratches on my pen came from, how its pieces fit together, how it was manufactured. That sort of thing. But I think the very fact that I can get distracted (if that's what it is) in this way is a huge and vital feature of reality, which is usually given far less than its due in the big, broad brush discussions about Reality with a capital R.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
What have you been reading recently? in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #38
The title does refer to a somewhat peculiar form of immortality, but that isn't really what the story is about.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
G5 wishlist. in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #310
The difference with the stunning battle discipline is that it actually works. The wands and batons and crystals just add a couple of points of 'stun', which all the respectable enemies shrug off easily; but a successful hit with a Stunning Blow takes away the target's next turn completely.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
What have you been reading recently? in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #33
Ouroboros is indeed great. I re-read it every few years. Eddison's other novels aren't as good; similar in style, but where Ouroboros is a rollicking yarn with a few spooky ideas for fun, the others are trying too hard to represent some obscure theme about dark-light symmetry or something, and too many characters are lifeless.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
AAAAAAAH!!! in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #49
Good heavens. I had no idea that colleges were stooping this low. Sending out e-mails to prospective students is probably perfectly reasonable, even good; but can't they manage not to sound exactly like all the other spam? A little dignity, maybe, for a place that's supposed to be offering a higher education?

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
G5 wishlist. in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #306
It's a very cool animation, and it might well be worthwhile to further expand the Geneforge arsenal of missile weapons. For instance, the battle discipline mechanics of Avernum 5 are too good not to be ported, in some form, to Geneforge 5. But taking them straight over as battle disciplines that you acquire with increased combat skills might not be the best way. Geneforge lacks bows and pole arms, so the skill point system might be too hard to balance properly.

And it's just not the Geneforge way, to have special abilities come by natural training, when they could come by mutant magic instead. So an Adrenaline Pod or Fury Pod, that could not be used too often, would make more sense than the disciplines. But the disciplines that weaken or stun opponents, these might work nicely as specially shaped thorns or grenades.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Cant open a door in geneforge 4. Quessa Uss. in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #1
There are several doors in Quessa-Uss that cannot be opened. They are there to give the impression that Quessa-Uss is a huge complex, of which you are only seeing a small portion.

Interestingly, the Quessa-Uss script mentions a captive Gazer, but there is no way to find it in the game. Perhaps it is what lurks behind that unopenable door.

From z69quessadlg.txt:

quote:
begintalknode 31; // gazer
state = -1;
nextstate = -1;
condition = char_ok(32) && get_attitude(32) < 10 && (gf(69,23) == 0 || gf(69,23) == 5);
question = "special";
text1 = "The drakons have imprisoned a gazer here. Probably a rogue or a damaged creation. When you get close to it, it struggles to escape. The magical field holding it in place wavers and fades.";
text2 = "It screeches, _We! We! We are free! The eyes will see their revenge!_";
code =
set_attitude(32,11);
clean_off_particles(32);
bless_char(32,2);
force_char_status(32,1,16);
break;



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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Evolving creationl. in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #10
You can't do that. The 'evolve creation' feature in the game is simply boosting the creation stats by spending their skill points and your essence. That's it. You can't turn a fyora into a cryoa, or anything like that.

You can always just absorb your fyora and put the regained essence towards creation of a cryoa, then tell yourself you just upgraded the original fyora. Avert your eyes from the screen during the moments when the fyora is disappearing and the cryoa appearing. Then rename the cryoa to have the same name.

Seriously, the boosting abilities feature seems to have been included just to make the option of keeping creations throughout the game a bit more feasible. Judging from some reviews and postings I have seen about the games, quite a few players get emotionally attached to their first little pets, and never absorb them or let them die. By evolving them you can end up with a fyora that fights like a drayk by the end of the game, for roughly the cost of a drayk. It still looks like a fyora, that's all. It can even be an effective strategy. I once beat G1 with a pack of highly evolved Terror Vlishes, who were quite able to defeat Drayks and Glaahks. Then Terror Vlishes got nerfed in subsequent games, and it was all about getting to Gazers.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Satellite Shootdown in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #16
The dialect of managese, in which 'impact' is a verb, isn't really English. It's some sort of creole between English and idiocy.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
The Graveyard Thread in General
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #18
For convoluted ontological status, it's hard to beat the piece of delicious cake.

[ Wednesday, February 20, 2008 23:47: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00

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