Monthly Archives: December 2007

Session with David Barry

We had a jam session last night, with David Barry standing in for Eric on drums:

4 and 5 are pretty cool, the rest are listenable but nothing spectacular. Part of that could be blamed on the recording, which popped and clicked, and removing the pops and clicks left little “holes” which messes up the rhythm by a few milliseconds, which is apparently enough to notice.

Inane Patterns

I was just screwing around in ghci, playing with the pattern:

> sum [1..1000]
> sum [1..100]
> sum [1..10]
> sum [1..1]

And it was unfortunate to see the pattern “break” at [1..1]. The pattern being, sum [1..10^n] = 5 followed by (n-1) zeros followed by 5 followed by (n-1) zeros.

But check this out:

 5050 = (5 * 10^1) * 10^2 + (5 * 10^1)
 55   = (5 * 10^0) * 10^1 + (5 * 10^0)

Continuing the pattern…

 (5 * 10^-1) * 10^0 + (5 * 10^-1) = 0.5 * 1 + 0.5 = 1

So 1 is 5 followed by -1 zeros (itself zero digits, 1 for the 5 and -1 for the zeros, which is why we multiply by 10^0), followed by 5 followed by -1 zeros, and the pattern didn’t break. Woah…

Yeah, not mathematically deep, just kinda funny.

Revolution Revised

We playtested Revolution at GameDev tonight. Despite the very vague rules, and the GMs mostly making it up as we go along, the playtest went pretty well and showed the game definitely had potential.

After the playtest, I rewrote the rules incorporating a lot of the stuff we settled on (and some new stuff).

It was amazing how little people broke away from the “standard game”, just focusing on pure resource gathering and weapon production. Eric was the best at drawing outside the box: he formed a new religion (using some deceptive persuasion skills he learned through a Red Light District) and non-violently converted two farm lands into his control (the second after a “no military invasion of farms allowed” law was passed). Rob did a pretty good job too, though he went home before he really had a chance to use it. Ben made a massively good deal with the government early on, essentially protecting him from any invasion. I don’t think he won though.

One thing I noticed was how hard it was for the government to maintain unity. After the first two turns, the revolutionaries’ interests conflicted, and no laws were introduced without being vetoed. That kept the lawmaking game at a standstill, unfortunately. My revision addresses that by not giving anybody any goals until after the first round, and a proposed rule which allows the people to award the government points for treating them well (see discussion page on rewrite for a precise description). I’m not sure how well either of those would work.

According to Jude’s description of his experience, the game captured one of the dynamics I was going for very well: the trade-off between human values and economics. You have to make decisions which are unpopular, or even which hurt the well-being of the people in general, in order to grow the nation’s economy. Stalin, for example, made that trade fully focusing on the economy and none on the people :-/.

But it looked like everyone was having a good time modulo the complaining about us “making it up as we go along” (which we were… which is why we’re impartial game masters). Having two game masters was a good idea, though with more structure (as in my rewrite) it might suffice to have one… maybe. Another would be nice to give rule clarifications, since they cannot be avoided. But people were acting like they were treated fairly despite the open-ended rules.

I’m excited to play this again. Or play it at all. Or observe it as a GM again. I just want to see where it goes.


Here is a design sketch (or maybe even a complete design) for a live role playing game which vaguely resembles Werewolf and Diplomacy.

I call it Revolution, because the game begins just after a culture has a violent uprising. There’s a game master, and all the non-game-master players represent people in this culture. The game revolves around victory points; play to 10 or something (maybe 4 would be more realistic).

The game master resides in a private lair for most of the game. One of the only hard rules of the game is that you may not eavesdrop on the game master’s conversations with players. At the beginning of the game, each player meets with the game master to recieve his role and his first goal. A goal is just something which must happen in the game world, and when it does, the player who owned that goal recieves a victory point (and a new goal). For instance, “accumulate $1,000,000″, or “kill Hagan”. Your goal is hidden information.

If your goal can never be satisfied, such as when your character dies (or for some other reason), you lose a victory point and recieve a new goal. If you die, you basically respawn as another character entirely, with a new role too. It’s a role playing game, so if your previous character posessed some knowledge when he died, you should do your best to forget that knowledge ;-).

The idea of a role and the whole concept of the gameplay of this game are intertwined. A role essentially defines your character. You could be a successful businessman in some industry, a mob boss, a peasant (not that fun a role to play perhaps, so it might be left out), a police officer, etc. Roles are chosen by the game master to make an interesting game. Gameplay progresses in rounds; during each round people exchange in free conversation and trade, and come to the game master whenever they want to do something nontrivial in the world. What you’re allowed to do depends on your role: if you’re a successful businessman, you can come to the game master and ask for a bunch of money. If you’re a mob boss, you can steal things (or rather have your imaginary cronies do it) and murder people and whatnot. If you have accomplished a goal, you tell the game master, and he gives you a point and a new goal.

At the end of each round, which ends when the game master feels like it (maybe timed), everybody gathers in a public place and the game master announces notable things that have happened during the round, and then announces the score (or keeps track of it on a board). Then the next round begins.

There is one special role which gets assigned to three(ish) people: revolutionary. These are the people who were at the right place at the right time for the revolution and decide to start the provisional government. Over the next few rounds, they meet and decide on laws and policies, and announce them at the end of each round. They are also in charge of enforcing those laws, which they can do using imaginary entities (such as a police force) through the game master.

People can meet the game master in groups to do something like an uprising (which would essentially assign three new revolutionaries). But they all have to decide to enter as a group, which means they need some organization. And the government is allowed to observe said organization and try to thwart it. Etc. etc.

In summary it is a very loosely defined game which is very much up to the game master to make interesting. That’s the epitome of a role-playing game though, isn’t it?