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Old 11-08-2018, 08:45 AM   #1
Bruno
 
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Default Questions about random treasure generation

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy has a book dedicated to randomly generating detailed treasures.[1] I loves me some detailed treasure, and I loves me some random tables, but Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables is entangled with a lot of GURPS stuff, including the entire Armor section being incompatible with DFRPG, and various items and enchantments being not-entirely-DFRPG.

As a human using the DF8 tables, the differences are pretty minor and I can integrate them into my game casually, but I'm a programmer, not a human :) I'm writing a webapp to randomly generate DFRPG specific treasures and hordes.

Preface: Name, merchant value, weight, and page references will be provided for each item. The names of special qualities will be listed as well as their CF value or $ cost (e.g. enchantments). The unenchanted cost and weight will be listed separately from the enchanted cost, for use as a Power Item or if the object suffers a magical accident. No other game-rules will be provided (that's what page references are for) - not only would it be infringing on SJG, I'd go mad trying to scrape that much text.

I have some questions about what people feel should be in a DFRPG-dedicated treasure generator.
  • Should the weapons/armor/enchantments only include items from DFRPG-specific books? (my inclination is yes)
  • Should they be restricted to just the DFRPG boxed set? (my inclination is no, but everything will have a page reference so you know where to find it)
  • Should mundane items with no special rules (from GURPS) be included?
  • Should mundane items with no special rules (from real life or made up, not GURPS) be included?
  • Should I include some custom quality modifiers for some things that don't have them (e.g. a flawless emerald, a broken lute, an ugly necklace)?

I feel gems, jewelry, clothing, and other kinds of "art objects" don't need to be in a book to use them, but I will be sticking with DFRPG rules where provided (such as the values for the gems from Exploits and the gem formula). Where there are GURPS rules/values, I'll hew close to those as well if only for simplicity.

[1] It also has books of wondrous items! And other books of shiny things! Shiny shiny shiny. *hovers over her PDFs like a dragon on its horde*
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

Other than content, here's some of the features I have planned, in rough order that I plan to implement them:
  • generate one or multiple items
  • chance of applying special qualities (Fine, Elven) and enchantments
  • specify what categories of item to generate (only weapons; only gems, jewelry, clothing, books, and scrolls)
  • restrict items to an input value range
  • force enchantments or forbid enchantments
  • force special qualities or forbid special qualities
  • input a target total value for a horde ("I want $10,000 worth of stuff")
  • for hordes: include, exclude, or force part of the horde to be randomly chosen coins
  • "What has it got in its pocketses" option - creates small, low value items likely to be found in the pocket of a random humanoid, including some non-treasure items like pretty rocks and notes.

All plans subject to change without notice.
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Should the weapons/armor/enchantments only include items from DFRPG-specific books? (my inclination is yes)
Probably, yes, if only to avoid potential conflicts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Should they be restricted to just the DFRPG boxed set? (my inclination is no, but everything will have a page reference so you know where to find it)
No. Stuff from Dungeon Fantasy Magic Items should definitely be included.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Should mundane items with no special rules (from GURPS) be included?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Should mundane items with no special rules (from real life or made up, not GURPS) be included?
Yes. The philosophy behind DF8 was that typically it wasn't the kind of item which made something treasure, but how fancy it was. A fork isn't treasure; a jewel-studded golden fork is. So, yes: furniture, clothing, household items, all that kind of stuff should be in there, as long as it can be made shiny.

Quote:
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Should I include some custom quality modifiers for some things that don't have them (e.g. a flawless emerald, a broken lute, an ugly necklace)?
I'm very much in favor of piling on as many different adjectives as possible, so yes.
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

Some notes about internals:

I'm writing an ASP.NET web service and a web-page front end. All the treasure generation is done on the server and the results are delivered to the web-page (treasure data is not exposed). Other people can use the web service, the API will be exposed for the nerdy amongst us.

I like to also have a stand-alone offline windows app; that's not particularly hard, "just" more work for me to do and thus I'm not rushing into it. If I can figure out how to cross-compile for a MacOS app (or someone else can), that's awesome but I may not be able to figure that out. This is a longer-term goal, my priority is the web app itself.

I'm interested in making a self-contained offline phone app (but I've never done that, and SJG forbids distribution of unofficial game aids on app stores for very good reasons, so there's a lot of hurdles there). I'd have to talk to SJG about what is and isn't acceptable, and also figure out this whole phone thing. If this went anywhere I'd start by targeting Android because I don't have access to iOS devices. Consider this a tentative idea, not a goal.

Internally, my program is not replicating DF8: Treasure Tables. In part because Treasure Tables is designed for humans using dice and implementing that exactly is a pain in the rump (I have gone down that road before, it stank). The greater reason, however, is that by abandoning that framework and the restriction of d6-based tables, I can use more finely tuned chances for items, and use more complicated logic.

As an example, I'm experimenting with directly tying the chance of an item to its value - cheaper items being more common.
I'm also introducing a chance of being decorated with gems which is based on a combination of the items value and a base chance for the kind of item. A log100 function is involved. I would never ask a human to do that.
If I end up satisfied with my result on the gems, I will probably look at a similar concept for chance to be enchanted. While it's funny to have an enchanted dirty wool sock with a patched-up hole in the toe, I don't think that's a good assumption for a general treasure generator.
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:24 AM   #5
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

Squee! A response from the author himself!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
Probably, yes, if only to avoid potential conflicts.

No. Stuff from Dungeon Fantasy Magic Items should definitely be included.
I'm thinking I want to discuss with SJG, and if they're amenable, I'd add a toggle to optionally add in items from GURPS books they approve of (things from the DF line are obvious places to start as they're cross-promoted to DFRPG players, but I'd love to include things from GURPS Fantasy Tech 2 if they don't mind).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
Yes. The philosophy behind DF8 was that typically it wasn't the kind of item which made something treasure, but how fancy it was. A fork isn't treasure; a jewel-studded golden fork is. So, yes: furniture, clothing, household items, all that kind of stuff should be in there, as long as it can be made shiny.
I'm wondering if I should weight "boring" items to having more shinyness applied to them than otherwise expected. I have to be careful that it doesn't get too Dwarf Fortress in there though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
I'm very much in favor of piling on as many different adjectives as possible, so yes.
A man after my own heart.

Something I'm particularly giggling about is that C# comes with a giant list of colour names. So not only can I have a great big list without any effort, but my web-page can provide a little colour swatch to show what colour something is enameled with :)
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

This sounds like a cool project, Bruno.

So, I have a fantasy here, and it may not be achievable, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. I always want a way to generate treasure, not simply by value (which is really great in itself!), but by theme. The idea is that when I roll up treasure for the Orcs, they don't end up with a vast collection of fine crystalware and perfume, and when I roll up treasure for the Princess's antechamber, she doesn't end up with a Deadly Jagged Mattock of Blood. Or whatever.

The old D&D "Treasure types" used to try to achieve this - it was always fun to go "Ah, finally we get to roll on Treasure Type F!" (Or whatever..). But those letters were not very intuitive.

When I was designing my own (much simpler!) random treasure generator, I considered attempting this, but ended up opting for simplicity (sadly!). But if I were really trying to do a great job, I think I'd have categories, or filters, to help differentiate things here.

Not sure if that is do-able in your timeframe, or if you'd have any interest in doing it! It's certainly a puzzle.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

I think to an extent restricting item generation to specific categories would help with that - the princess should have luxuries, jewelry, gems, clothing, household items, and furniture, while the orcs should have armor, weapons, adventuring gear, and potions. Or whatever.

Specifying a minimum individual item value would help for the princess too, making sure she has nice clothing and household items. A maximum individual item value for the orcs would restrict the tone of their treasure, but largely eliminate enchanted weapons which is probably not what you wanted.

It's not as good as hand-curating the lists but it can go a long way to preventing sillyness.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

That sounds like a sensible middle road. Excited to see the results!
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:44 AM   #9
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
for hordes: include, exclude, or force part of the horde to be randomly chosen coins
Based on my own automated treasure generator implementation, I'd suggest that you have this configurable as a percentage of the total hoard value, but set a sensible minimum. Otherwise, you could spend years waiting for the random generation of an item worth $7.29 or some other absurd small value to finish off a coin-free hoard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Internally, my program is not replicating DF8: Treasure Tables. In part because Treasure Tables is designed for humans using dice and implementing that exactly is a pain in the rump (I have gone down that road before, it stank).
That's what I did. The use of dice was purely for the use of humans. A machine-based implementation shouldn't have to lean on that.

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Something I'm particularly giggling about is that C# comes with a giant list of colour names. So not only can I have a great big list without any effort, but my web-page can provide a little colour swatch to show what colour something is enameled with :)
Ooo, nice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe View Post
So, I have a fantasy here, and it may not be achievable, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. I always want a way to generate treasure, not simply y value (which is really great in itself!), but by theme.
In my own implementation, I did something in this direction by checking/unchecking subcategories, limiting random choices to or excluding them as desired. For example, the armory of a fighting order might consist entirely of arms and armor, while a long-lost dungeon might contain no perishable items (that is, no cloth, no paper, no leather, etc.). This is something which could be implemented broadly with proper use of item attributes, but coming up with proper attributes to reflect specific "treasure type" conditions could be tricky.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: Questions about random treasure generation

I'll be hand-curating lists for the "random pocket stuff" feature, whenever I get around to that. That's a themed treasure list right there.

Depending on what I do to make that work, it might make it easier to add other hand-curated lists. Or not.

It would be stylish to push a button and get treasure that only includes "crude" weapons, bone and antler and copper jewelry decorated with non-precious stone beads, scales, teeth, fangs, and feathers, leather and cloth armor, etc. Or never includes such.
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