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Old 05-10-2012, 07:35 AM   #1
ShirraWhitefur
 
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Default City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

Greetings folks!

After some nudging from friends, I find myself dusting off my 'Fantasy Realms' rules work, wherein I very slowly, and very poorly attempt to work on a city building / realm management / wargaming attachment for an RPG, in the vein of TSR's Birthright, Eden Studio's Fields of Blood, AEG's "War", and various other supplements mostly for D&D related things. Something that is, effectively, a merging of an overcomplicated strategy board game, a war game, and an RPG.

Now right at the moment, I'm only hunting a single main opinion though, and that's to do with dice and probabilities.

I adore GURPS, and any time I get a choice in what to play or run.. it's Gurps, period. However, for some things, I feel the narrow (but tidy and efficient) bell curved 3d6 setup just isn't the right fit. And in this case, a realm based task resolution system, wherein players can 'bid' bonuses or minuses for and against each other's rolls seems to need something wider in size, especially if there's to be situational modifiers and bonuses from land or buildings or the like involved.
I'm wondering if people would take exception to using percentile / d100 setups for dealing with those. Not for battle, not for any normal skill resolution, and certainly not for any part where the PC's direct actions (skills) will be involved, leaving all the normal GURPS / RPG aspects untouched.

An explanation of what might all be involved.. Say your trying to get a mage's guild (or whatnot) built up in an area where you and another lord have influence. You might have a bonus for the land/area being high in mana, perhaps another for an architect's guild for building work. Then you and the other lord can spend your Influence Points to increase or decrease the roll, in a bit of a bidding war, till someone runs out of points, or is unwilling to spend more of them. Then the roll.
With a 3d6 setup, even five points in any direction tends to be a massive change in probability. Whereas with a percentile system, you can get away with +5's from land and guild, and a 20 point shift from bidding, and not have made an extreme difference, but a still a noticeable one.

I ask, because I've seen enough 'Why don't we remake gurps with (X) dice setup' shot down in flames (and rightly so), but sometimes fairly viciously. While this is just a case of something to "interface" with gurps, I'd like to put something together that others might at least consider using if the end version of it isn't totally junk.

Anywho, that's pretty much the only bit on the table. The only other solution I can see to increasing the range (and letting more modifiers get involved) would be more D6's, extending the bell curve and not making people of the Gurps-only persuasion go hunting computer dice-rollers.. but it kinda seems awkward. Alternative suggestions are welcome on this!

And on a side note.. Will this project ever see the light of day? Don't know. I've been very, very slowly poking it for the last few years, and it's still sitting mostly in 'jumbled thematic notes without math' stage. So please, don't expect anything useful here, at least not for a long while! :)

- Shirra
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:53 AM   #2
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

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Originally Posted by ShirraWhitefur View Post
And on a side note.. Will this project ever see the light of day? Don't know. I've been very, very slowly poking it for the last few years, and it's still sitting mostly in 'jumbled thematic notes without math' stage. So please, don't expect anything useful here, at least not for a long while! :)
I don't see any good reason to switch from 3d6 to 1d100. I dislike GURPS' roll mechanic because edge probabilities can never be lower than 0.5%, without rerolls, but 1d100 is worse than that, and is anyway not curved which is also bad.

So I think you should stick with 3d6. If necessary, introduce fractional modifiers, so that modifier points are each equal to +/- 1/3 or 1/4, so that 3 or 4 such modifier points total up to one full +/-1 mod.

Also, I'd be very interested in seeing your system. It's similar to projects that I and some other forum users have tried to create, although recently I've become more inclined to switch to a "Facility" model where the characters simply own or otherwise control largely static-function facilities, all of which are presumed to own or otherwise be supported by an adequate acreage of farming villages. So much less simulation going on then, and no real (objective) opportunity for player characters to try to improve farmland output. Instead the focus is on that which the farmland supports, e.g. mines or shipyards, or scribes or craftsmen's workshops, and what the characters (player or otherwise) do with that.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:00 AM   #3
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

I'm not sure much rolling outside the typical 'Administration to improve output by 5% per MoS' (or whatever) is really needed.

What troubles I have with city/base/realm management is primarily finding what is the realistic/optimal ratio of various professions. As in, just how much of the population should work in education at a given TL? How much in industry? Etc. (I'm assuming some level of self-sufficiency, like a remote space colony, a nomad fleet or an isolated city-state; high-trade location ratios can be handwaved easier.)
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:02 AM   #4
ShirraWhitefur
 
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

I hadn't thought of doing fractional modifiers. That's got a definite merit to it!

As to seeing it.. yeah. Eventually. ^_^ I'm still tinkering, still cleaning up and clarifying, making more notes.. Eventually though, I'll turn it out for others to help with.
One of the reasons I'm interested in this isn't even for the players direct use though. It's for the world and the people who can't come to game. The thought of having over a dozen people sending in around a monthly turn, making the world -do things- in a large way. Fresh, regular news from afar. Shifting borders, new adventures made merely by people playing out turns.. Yeah, that definitely gets my interest.

Though a nice, buildable facility / castle setup isn't a bad bit either! Mmm.. Fractional modifiers. Definitely an option to consider.

- Shirra
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

My first idea for your problem:

Use repeated rolls, which are justified by and represent the multitude of tasks to be performed. Then players can spend +3 here and +5 there.

Then successes and failures also have a direct interpretations in the world ("The architecture roll failed. The new guild building is about to collapse."), but failures don't immediately doom the entire project, just the budget. ("Burn it down and try again.")

If there is a competing faction trying to perform the same, this could be kind of like a regular contest (instead of a quick contest). This requires spending enough resources to avoid failure on every roll to not fall behind the other party.

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Old 05-10-2012, 08:08 AM   #6
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

I'm fine-tuning some similar rules for my fantasy campaign, and the approach I'm looking at for modifiers is to base them on either the RoF table or the Speed/Range table progression. In that way, having one or two extras of something would be a help, but a lot of redundancy ends up becoming just that--redundancy. Unfortunately, since I develop house-rules as they come up in game, these rules/guidelines are still fetal and probably will remain so until the players start administering more than a dozen or so NPCs at a time.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:59 AM   #7
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

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Originally Posted by ShirraWhitefur View Post
I hadn't thought of doing fractional modifiers. That's got a definite merit to it!
Don't us all sorts of arbitrary fractions. That's a mistake! Decide that each point equals either 1/3, or 1/4, or 1/5 of a full modifier. Then total up all points and divide by 3, 4 or 5 to find the actual modifier.

Say I bid 3 points towards increasing the number of Scribe-Hours output by my Monastery. I've made a deal with you, earlier, that you'll contribute 2 points to it, so that we get the full 5 points necessary for a +1 modifier, but you turn out to be a vicious bastard and instead you bid 1 point against my bid, so that the point total is not 5 but only 2, and now I have both the trouble of scrounging up the remaining 3 points I need (presumably bid-but-unused points deterioate after some years, so I'm in a bit of a hurry), and at the same time I need to get revenge on you, teach you a lesson. And maybe I'm also curious enough to want to know why you backstabbed me. Depends a bit on what disads are written on my character sheet...



Initially I used fractional Roll Difficulty Modifiers for Sagatafl, to be used only in special sitautions, such as the (not yet written - but I'll steal from GURPS) Mass Combat rules, where each 3 Edges total up to a +/-1 RD modifier. Later I decided that I also wanted to use Edges for Caper Planning (a bit like Planning in GURPS Action in some ways, although very different in others) and after some thinking I found that it might be better to have the first -1 RD bonus cost 2 Edges, the next cost 6 Edges, the next again 20 Edges (or something like that), and so forth, simply due to principles of player psychology. And then use the same mechanic in Mass Combat.

But you don't need that, I think. With GURPS' roll mechanic, just decide that each "Edge" equals 1/4 of a modifier, and be done with it. Or 1/3, or 1/5, if that turns out to work better. But I think 1/4 could work very well.

It's still not entirely clear to me how your bidding concept works, though. Which is why my above example is slightly unclear.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
I'm not sure much rolling outside the typical 'Administration to improve output by 5% per MoS' (or whatever) is really needed.

What troubles I have with city/base/realm management is primarily finding what is the realistic/optimal ratio of various professions. As in, just how much of the population should work in education at a given TL? How much in industry? Etc. (I'm assuming some level of self-sufficiency, like a remote space colony, a nomad fleet or an isolated city-state; high-trade location ratios can be handwaved easier.)
My concern, as usual, is a desire to want to avoid the black box/magic market thing, where all you need to make something happen is to spend money. That breaks down real fast, as soon as you scale up to the city or county level. It might work for a single town or or a barony, but anything larger than that and you simply cannot magically cause people to appear who have the skills you desire, e.g. scribes or missionaries, or even soliders. In large quantities, I mean. Or cause large amounts of food to appear.

For any low-TL campaign, the basis for the economy has to be food, not coinage. It's food you spend, to cause people to work, to cause people to learn (e.g. learn skils), to cause goods to be moved (hint: ox carts aren't fuelled by grass).

That's mitigated somewhat in highly market-based societies such as the Roman Empire, where you can to some extent throw coins at whatever stuff you want to make happen, but that's very different from medieval Europe.

My Facilities solution assumes all Facilities are surrounded by food-producing villages that feed them, and then each Facility purchased as a social advantage (I suppose the best fit in GURPS is some kind of modified Patron advantage), and does something, such as provide logistics (measurd in tonne-kilometers per time unit), or produce a certain kind of goods at a certain quality rating. Towns and Cities instead provide monetary income and also produce goods (goods are not optional), so that e.g. each time you purchase lordship over a City, during character creation, you must choose which 10 goods it supplies you with (the City makes a lot of each good, but it sells most of it; you just get a small fraction of the production, as the lord's due) and if you want to convert those goods to $$$$, you have to find a willing buyer.

I have thought about allowing Hungry Facilities, which are much cheaper, but don't come pre-packaged with an intrinsic food supply, so that the lord of one or more Hungry Facilities must make sure they are always supplied with the necessary food, either by getting it from other players (who own Food-Outputting Facilities), or purchasing it from the Market (difficult for large quantities of food, in most worlds), or stealing it in raids (there are a lot of Energy Units in a herd of cattle), or by also owning Food-Producing Facilities himself.

I just don't think I can give balanced costs for both Hungry and Self-Feeding Facilities, so I'll probably have to dump the Self-Feeding ones, making all Facilities, except those that are there to produce food, be Hungry ones.

Another thing... a lot of food sources might be something other than farmland. Fishermen's villages near excellent fishing waters, e.g. Or flocks of cattle positioned on good (or not-so-good) grassland. I'm re-reading the 3rd novel in Gillian Bradshaw's Arthurian trilogy, and there's a lot of cattle being moved back and forth, to feed hungry Romano-Keltic warriors. The nature of a food source can, at least occasionally, have serious gameplay consequences.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:22 AM   #9
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

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Originally Posted by Dunadin777 View Post
I'm fine-tuning some similar rules for my fantasy campaign, and the approach I'm looking at for modifiers is to base them on either the RoF table or the Speed/Range table progression. In that way, having one or two extras of something would be a help, but a lot of redundancy ends up becoming just that--redundancy. Unfortunately, since I develop house-rules as they come up in game, these rules/guidelines are still fetal and probably will remain so until the players start administering more than a dozen or so NPCs at a time.
I'm not sure that always makes sense, but I can at least envision one fairly typical case (fairly typical if on ignores the D&D paradigm completely), which is constructing buildings.

Obviously there has to be some wiggle room, in terms of how many construction workers you can have working on it, but realistically there has to be a minimum number, below which progress slows down disproportionately, and likewise a high treshold number, beyond which adding more workers doesn't really accomplish much in terms of completion speed.

Just to throw a fairly arbitrary rule-of-thumb on the table, I'd guess that any variation by a factor of 4 from the default number of workers, for a project of a given size (keep, cathedral, schoolhouse), should affect completion time proportionally, but anything more than x4 or anything less than 1/4, should be mechancally discouraged.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:31 AM   #10
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Default Re: City Building and Realm Management vs Dice Probability Ranges

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I'm not sure that always makes sense, but I can at least envision one fairly typical case (fairly typical if on ignores the D&D paradigm completely), which is constructing buildings.
That's a good example. One that I was thinking of that seems fairly intuitive for the Speed/Range progression is the benefit of institutions such as universities. Having one in a region is a huge benefit, and two would definitely merit a bonus to related rolls, but as they increase in number the benefit should also taper off to something trivial.
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