Outsiders Versus Insiders

I’ve been playing with a new campaign lately that’s different than anything I’ve ever run before. The difference is something worthy of some new terminology. While I understand the term “outsiders” has a specific meaning in Dungeons and Dragons, I want to use it to describe a specific brand of PC party. In a campaign where the party members are “outsiders,” they come into a new place where events are afoot that they choose to get involved in. An outsider campaign involves assorted characters who come from somewhere else and, upon seeing the status quo in their new locale, decide to take action to change things. This may involve an “insider” NPC dissatisfied with the status quo approaching the outsiders to request their help. Because the outsiders have little incentive not to shake things up in the setting, it is easy to incentivize them enough to get involved. Most campaigns I can think of take this form. It is convenient because the PCs can be anyone with any background, lending freedom to character creation, and it makes hooking players into the campaign simpler.

“Insiders,” on the other hand, live every day in the locale where the events of the campaign are taking place. Most NPCs are insiders, but I am hoping to make an interesting and unique campaign by making the PCs insiders. In this case, the PCs have a strong incentive structure in place, most likely to let things be and maintain the status quo. The hook, however, is even easier. The campaign simply begins with an event that changes the status quo in such a way that the PCs can’t resist getting involved. In my case, the players are going to be part of a gnomish noble family in a metropolis where all is not well. Suspicion on the part of the emperor is leading to political arrests on a daily basis and the campaign will begin with the imperial police knocking on the players’ door. I’m running it as a one shot (at a surprise birthday party) and this approach helps because I can make the characters ahead of time, the players can have all of their connections in the city already established, and they can have a base of operations or two in the area.

Have you ever played or run a campaign for insider characters? Can you think of any more pros and cons to this approach? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted in Progress | Leave a comment

Enchantment-Lesser Whisper Plate

Helbren adjusted the shoulder plate of his shining armor as he stepped into a side corridor. It would be a few minutes before he was missed and, walking briskly, he quickly made his way toward the gate room. He tensed a little as he passed behind a guard, but his magic served its purpose. The guard didn’t turn.

He drew his sword and it’s ring was absent. He couldn’t even hear himself breathing, but as he quickened his pace he could hear the scraping of his armor and the dull thud of his steps. Soon he was running, but he heard only the jangle of his chain shirt as if he were walking. He rushed into the gate room and the guards there looked up absently at the new comer before realizing he was a foe. He struck one down before the others could reach for weapons and very soon he had cut down the rest, their dampened cries not reaching far beyond the room.

He readjusted his shoulder plate and sounds of the soldiers in the marshalling yard suddenly sounded in his ears. He whistled the signal to his companions outside the wall and began to open the gate.

If you don’t know the Mind Weave enchanting rules, this resource will help you keep up: Enchanter’s Almanack.

I’ve got a player in an upcoming play test campaign playing an assassin. He wants as much armor as he can get, but doesn’t want to sacrifice speed or stealth to get it. He’s settled on splint mail, but it got me thinking about an enchantment for a stealthy man in full armor, suitable for a sneaking paladin.

Lesser Whisper Plate

Continue reading

Posted in Design, Enchantment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progress Update-New Circumstances

Well, we’ve finally moved into our house and that means some changes to my lifestyle. It also means I was busy all week and too exhausted from hauling our stuff to be much use yesterday, so I’ve fallen further behind my schedule.

As to changes to my coding regiment: I expect to be able to put in as much time as I did in the months before the moving effort, but I hope the time will be more efficiently used now that I have a kitchen table where I can code rather than on the couch. I expect this to improve my focus, keep the toddler off the keyboard, and increase my typing speed. As I’m mostly recovered now, I expect to be able to make some quick progress. I should have queuing outlined by the end of the week and I’ll at least be close to multiplayer movement. I’m working on a simple maze for a 4 player race to test it. Keep an eye out for that.

Posted in Progress | Leave a comment

What is Queuing?

Over the last month or so I’ve made some mention of what I call “queuing.” It’s the method I intend to use to make multiplayer actions simultaneous (outside of combat) without them being at all real time. Part of my goal for Mind Weave, one of the upsides of a virtual table top versus an in person table top, is for the players to be able to move independently of each other and without the others necessarily being aware when they wander off or do something stupid. At a table top, everyone can shout “No!” when someone’s about to make a misstep that is reasonable for them to make. The party often spends several minutes deliberating about which way to go. In real life, you rarely consult all of you companions before doing something, even when you’re working together. I want communication to be necessary for cooperation, which means people should be able to act on their own without anyone having a chance to stop them.

To that end, I want to players to act simultaneously. However, I do not want to make your reaction time to factor in to how quickly you can move, like in computer RPGs. This means making it simultaneous, but not real time. This is where queuing comes in.

The concept is that when a player wants to take an action, like walk North 20 paces, search a section of wall for secret doors, or cast a life detection spell, it gets added to their personal queue of actions. The Master controls how the queue advances, but the default I imagine is for the queue to advance automatically at a set rate of in game seconds to real life seconds as long as all characters have actions queued. Once the most shallow queue is exhausted, the game effectively pauses until that player adds more to his queue. Of course, a player who has no actions they want to take can define a wait period, whether 30 seconds, until someone leaves their sight, until someone comes into their sight, or until someone comes or leaves within 20 feet of them, and so forth. If anything comes up, a player can of course delete items from their queue or insert them.

While in the ideal situation, players maintain their queues enough for the game to move smoothly, the Master also has control over how long the game will wait for a player to add queue items before advancing, setting them to wait for a while. This could be as little as a minute to prevent distracted players, or as long as several days for play by post.

I hope the system will work smoothly while still achieving its purposes. We will see.

Posted in Coding, Design | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monster Monday-Yellow Dragon


The storm was rolling in fast. The wind had been out of the east ahead of it for 6 hours without a break, and growing stronger and stronger. The odd bit was that the storm had moved out to sea the day before and had turned around suddenly in the morning. It had lightninged itself out on the first pass, and they’d had a piece of work putting the fires out.

Now it was coming back, the adventurers knew something was afoot. They jumped aboard their flying ship and went out to meet the storm. They hoped this would be a problem more profitable and to their skills than putting out fires.

Mind Weave Dragons are greedy and weak-willed. They are however very powerful, growing only mightier with age until they plateau at around 20,000 years old and between 1,600 and 2,000 feet long. Colored dragons are aggressive with lots of offensive power. Metallic dragons are passive and with defensive abilities.

The general dragon post describes Mind Weave dragons in general, including how to interpret dragon characteristics defined below.

Yellow Dragon (Lightning Dragon)

Continue reading

Posted in Dragons, Monsters | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progress Updates-Maps Maps Maps

I’ve been putting off posting because there was going to be a lot to do and I wasn’t sure how to handle it without doing a video. Now I have enough to justify a video, but I don’t have the time, energy, or mood to make one. I do feel bad about the long silence, though, so I’m going ahead and posting all of my Master page progress. I already showed off the player character context map, but I’ve added changing character stats beneath it when you change the selected player complete with abilities and inventory:Character

Notice the scroll bars. I had to do some major refactoring on the scroll bars, which are going to need to be redone on all of the pages, but the new ones are very easy to use and the code will be a lot cleaner. Speaking of, the reason I redid the scroll bars was because the overview map needed both vertical and horizontal scrolling and the old way didn’t handle it. Check out the overview page where maps can be changed, player characters are shown, and transitions are marked:BigMap

This means you can see a player moving around the Confusion Land map and know where things connect:ComplexMap

DamnedMapIn the process of testing all of this, I found a major bug thanks to this little map. Because of how I coded the transitions, when transitions facing the same way are this near each other it causes major problems. It’s not hard to fix, just tedious. This brings me to another major refactoring job that should simplify my code. In the process of the refactoring, I’m going to work things so I can make the context map show what the player does and does not see.

Things are going very well and I expect that in the next week or so I’ll be able to get player-master syncing working. I hope in the next two weeks to make a video of multiple players running a race through a complex map I’m working on. It’s about all I’ll be able to do since the only thing players can do now is move and cast spells, but I still think it’ll be a blast!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Progress Update-Player Context Map and More Avatars

I let myself get a little carried away with the new mapping system for the Master overview map and it’s going to take a more work than expected, but in the meantime, I got the player context map working:PlayerPageMaybe 10 more lines of code to get the monster context map working since I set up the function to be easily reused. Only problem is, I haven’t built the database stuff for monsters yet, but I’ll do some thinking and probably do that this week.

Also, I’ve got several more avatars, which I’m going to include as unceremoniously as possible. I need to add an avatar number to the character database and find a place to add the ability to choose your avatar.

avatar4 AvatarC4avatar5 AvatarC5avatar6 AvatarC6avatar7 AvatarC7

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Progress Updates-New Avatars

Well, I’ve written a lot of psuedocode for the new map style for the Master page. I’ll be writing some of it in real code this evening and during the week. In the mean time, I’ve drawn several new avatars. For player avatars I’ve done a Halfling Thief, a Gnome Mage, an Elven Archer, a Human Brawler, a Dwarven Fighter, and for monsters I’ve got an Orc, a Zombie, and a Kobold:AvatarsOnly


avatar2-1avatar3-1They require quite a bit of clean up, and I’ve only cleaned up the halfling and the gnome. They’re looking pretty good and look good on the map as well. Within the next few weeks I hope to get to a point where I can run multiple players in the same map and AvatarC2-1AvatarC3-1then I’ll need more than one avatar. With just a little more work, my playtesters will have plenty of avatars to choose from. Exciting times.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progress Update-Gear Shift

Well, I finished coding up all of the lateral transitions (nonsensical and otherwise) and have been debating how to demonstrate them. It can be hard to tell what a player is doing when you’re just watching, so a movie didn’t seem like it would do it justice. Instead, I decided to make it possible for you to wander my test map: Confusion Land. It has all 16 possible lateral transition types. I’ll add a vertical transition when I’ve coded that. To move, just use WASD with Q and E to pivot. If you run into any bugs, please be so good as to report them in the comments below.

With the transition mostly behind me, I’m moving on to the Master page, where I decided last night I would display the map in a third new way that won’t allow me to reuse hardly any code from the map maker or the player page. It’ll be a little more work, but I think I can get it done. So far I just have the background laid out for the first three tabs and you can switch tabs by clicking on them, so that’s cool:MasterLayout

The mapping for this should be relatively simple to code up. Then it’s time to link the master and player pages with my simultaneous, non-realtime queuing system. That’s going to be a major step and require a lot of play testing to make sure it doesn’t muck up play too much. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before multiplayer videos are a thing.

Also, in preparation for multiplayer videos, I’m starting to draw to new avatars. So far I’ve got a halfling thief and half a gnome mage. I just hope they look as good as the fighter avatar.

Posted in Progress | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progress Update-Resurgence

Well, I was feeling pretty burned out the last time I updated, and I took a short break to recover from the joys of programming. I’ve come back to it with a vengeance. The transitions are coming along nicely. I’ve got transitions working for visibility and passability going across a transition from a South face to a north face, observe: this transition is a South face to a North face.Transition2Here’s a player standing at the edge of the transition. See how you can see through it?Transition1Then I step through it into the next section. It loads well, and as quickly as any step would, but as you can see, I don’t have the visibility or passability working for the way back.Transition3I’ll be done with that soon now that I have the format down. I’ll have sense making transitions working in the next couple days and the weird ones not long after that. I’ll make a video soon.

Posted in Progress | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment