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Neural Networks of Carcosa

Something I did for fun over the weekend:

Found a workbook for easily creating a text-generating neural network: https://minimaxir.com/2018/05/text-neural-networks/Took a plaintext dump of the hex contents from LotFP's Carcosa.Massaged the text to make it a little better for neural network processing (make everything lowercase, remove punctuation, remove numbers, etc.)Trained the neural network against the text (ran 50 epochs worth of character-level training)Took the resulting model and generated some sample text using the workbook's default settings of "1 very unexpected token, 1 unexpected token, 2 expected tokens, repeat" to ensure the model doesn't try to exactly replicate the original text.;tldrI tried to create an AI that can auto-generated Carcosa-like hex descriptions. The results are... kind of weird. The neural network was being trained letter-by-letter rather than word-by-word, so there's no guarantee it won't invent its own, gibberish words. B…

"Into the Odd" is "Left 4 Dead"

There was a discussion today on the Into the Odd Discord about how to describe "generic" Critical Damage and recovery. What do you tell players happened to their characters when they fail a STR save? What exactly do their allies do to get them back on their feet?

My response was that I describe it in a very "Left 4 Dead -like" manner. "Generic" Critical Damage knocks you to the ground like in L4D. Later on, your friends pick you up, slap you awake, give you some water and quick bandaging. Not too worried about detail or realism in my descriptions.



My mind immediately went further down this path. The design of Into the Odd really is like Left 4 Dead in a lot of ways.
Critical DamageInto the Odd: Knocked out of action, will bleed out in an hour if not assisted by someone.
Left 4 Dead: Knocked to the ground and largely out of the action. Will eventually die if not assisted by someone.
Recovery from Critical DamageInto the Odd: Somebody picks you up after combat, …

Use Critical Damage to make your critters memorable

Earlier today, I answered a similar, Into the Odd related question asked on both G+ and /r/osr. The question was, basically, how to go about converting old school, B/X style creatures to ItO. My answer echoed earlier advice I'd heard from Chris McDowall -- don't sweat the numbers. Make your creatures interesting in other ways.
This got me thinking about one of the things I really like in ItO that I don't exploit enough -- unique consequences for Critical Damage. Usually, Critical Damage (a failed save after taking damage to your Strength) knocks you unconscious until your allies can assist you. However, some of the example creatures in ItO have special consequences if you take Critical Damage against them. One creature might swallow you whole. Another might crawl down your throat and lay eggs.
This is a really powerful way to make a creature memorable. And requires little thinking over math, mechanics, or balance. The player has already failed their Saving Throw. Now the que…

A Simple Resource Management System - without commentary

A simple resource management system for Into the OddInventoryEach character has 8 slots to carry items.All items are either normal or Bulky (per Electric Bastionland).Normal items take 1 slot.Bulky items take 2 slots.Note, there is no "X quantity of this item fits in 1 slot". e.g. If you have 4 vials of poison, it takes 4 slots to carry them.
EncumbrancePer my magic rules, carrying 1 or more Bulky items makes spell casting risky.

Per Electric Bastionland, carrying 2 or more Bulky items puts you at risk of becoming Deprived from fatigue. (In EB, Deprived means you can no longer regain HP during Short Rests.)
TreasureA single treasure is treated as a single, indivisible item.Most treasures are Bulky.Some treasures are Unwieldy -- they cannot be carried in your inventory. You must come up with a plan, equipment, personnel, etc. to transport them.WealthAside from treasures, all other monies -- small amount of coins you loot from bodies, value of treasures after they've been sol…

A Simple Resource Management System for Into the Odd

Rules without the commentary available here.

My mind is still on resource management systems. 

Into the Odd (ItO) doesn't have one and, to be honest, doesn't need one. Plenty of tension to be found via description rather than tracking individual rations. ItO is lightweight, fast, and runs great if you simply assume that, as written, the expedition always has food, water, light, camping & climbing equipment. 

So why bother with managing resources? 
Character customizationLike with Ben Milton's new Knave (http://questingblog.com/knave/), I like the idea of a character's role being determined by what kind of equipment they are carrying. Want to be a "fighter" in a classless system like ItO? Carry large, powerful weapons and wear armor. Want to be a "magic user"? Carry lots of Arcana (or spellbooks). A "specialist" (to use the LotFP term)? Carry lots of tools, poison vials, flashbangs, etc.

But customization like this works best if there is a l…

Dragon Warrior and How I Discovered Into the Odd

Continuation from Part 1

So I already talked about my quest to run dungeons for my players that feel as tense to them as Dragon Warrior's dungeons did to me. I talked about trying a game, Torchbearer, that had systems built around emphasizing the things I thought that tension was about: the importance of light, limited resources, dwindling life. And about how I eventually found more of my mental energy going to managing those systems than to my campaign.

Let's take a detour back to Dragon Warrior / Dragon Quest.


More specifically, let's look at combat in Dragon Warrior. It's pretty basic. Only 4 actions to choose from: FIGHT, RUN, SPELL, ITEM. Seemingly worlds apart from the "free to try anything, and your referee will come up with a ruling" land of OSR and other tabletop RPGs. Even by comparison to other JRPGs, it looks like a limited and kind of boring list of choices. Compare it to, say, Final Fantasy 5, with its huge system of jobs, skills, summons, differ…