August 9, 2019

History XVII: Cradle of Civilizations

I have been working mostly on updates to the code. Now it runs a little smoother.

To this point, I've been randomly placing cities across the map. Because each race has a highly preferred climate, this usually means that, e.g., elven cities will all end up in roughly the same place. But occasionally there will be a city placed far across the map, on the other side of the world.

I'm not, for the moment, interested in creating a grand mythology. They're cool, and maybe I'll work on some lore at some point, but for now it's irrelevant. However, I do wonder if a single-origin point for each race wouldn't give even more verisimilitude.

The first settlement (for each race) will be randomly placed. Each subsequent city must then be a specific distance from an existing settlement. This can model expansion from a single-origin point.

If the initial city is not in an optimally desirable location, then migration should naturally occur up towards those optimal locations.

Seems good-ish so far. I think the city generation ought to be a bit higher to account for the additional constraints.With this model, none of the races would have met another "civilized" race yet after 1200 years.

Whether that's likely or not is up to the discretion of the reader.

Stranger Railroads


Yes, yes, I know that Stranger Things is responsible for "helping revive" mainstream interest in D&D.

Who cares?

The people making money off of D&D, of course. The hobby is not significantly enriched by this.

In fact, it's hurt.

This is the same effect that brought us the vapidity of 5th edition, reinforced by high budget dramatic productions which pretend to play D&D.

Stranger Things S3 is no different. Its heavy-handed lip service sends the message that this way to "play" is not only acceptable, but desirable.

All season long, Will wants to play D&D with his friends, who are increasingly mired with girl-problems. When he finally gets his board and story set up, he is able to force them to sit at the table. Conveniently hidden from accountability behind his screen, he railroads their characters through his plot with the subtlety of John Henry's hammer.

In the Stranger Things game philosophy, the players must dance to the DM's tune. There is no opportunity for the players to make choices. Only false choices can be presented, otherwise the "game" (of course, it's not really a game) is ruined.

Fed up, Mike makes a choice. And it's a good one! To save the village (why do they care) and become heroes (which, of course, is the only possible outcome of this so-called game), they must defeat the zombies. Mike decides that the best option is to ignite the room they are in, killing the party but also the zombies and living on forever as heroes.

Of course, in the grand scheme of the season, this is a signpost to the climatic scene. But more importantly, it's a deviation from the Supreme Overload Will's script. "You can't do that!" he whines. Why not? It's the only meaningful choice the players have made!

Without these meaningful choices, the game is not a game. It's just a series of guesses to see which way the DM wants the party to go; and never fear, you can't guess wrong. Sure, you have "agency" as long as you select from the following pre-approved list of actions.

Don't worry, you can't make the wrong choice, because all roads lead to the same point.

Which leads me to ask, what's the point?