After dealing with years of terrible decaying devices, I built a brand new shiny computer. Naturally, it must go bad.
Things had deteriorated to the point of crashing whenever a certain (very low) RAM allocation was reached. I grabbed a copy of memtest, and it stopped/crashed partway through a test. OK, definitely a memory issue.
Step two: get clever. I popped one of the RAM sticks out, and ran memtest again. Everything looks clean. Now I have a working computer. Do I leave well enough alone?
Step three: get too clever. I know I have a problem that’s fixed by pulling one RAM stick out of one slot. But! Maybe the RAM stick is bad, but also maybe the mobo slot is bad. Naturally I must do more experiments.
Out goes the good RAM, in goes the suspect stick into its slot. Now the computer doesn’t boot. Aha, I have learned something. Back in goes the good stick, but the computer still doesn’t boot.
So that’s just how things have been going for me.
It took three weeks, but I finally landed my first pull request. Here’s roughly how that works:
With a working computer, it’s time to figure out what I should actually do.
By day, I’m a mild-mannered (sometimes) C# dev. .NET Core is new and shiny, but I’m already playing with ASP.NET Core and MVC to build a web service, so there’s less to learn if I go a similar route on my own time.
However, the Rust programming language is something that has caught my eye, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to play with it. That’s why I’m looking for a Rust project to contribute to.
I’ve shed some digital ink on what’s turned into two different ideas for games — one that’s fairly well developed but has no name, and another that’s got at least a project name (Echoes — ooooh) but is still fairly raw. This is what we do when we have a hobby — we create, and share, and so expand the collective amount of crap jammed into the back of humanity’s closet.
My other “hobby”, which has been entirely a profession to this point, is computer programming. At work (and I’ve mentioned this before), it’s a mostly-.NET shop, but there are other technologies that have caught my eye and though I don’t have a lot of time right now, it’s good to try keeping up with the world. I expect to have lots of free time later this year (the first kid got me through a lot of Skyrim; maybe I can do something more useful while the second one naps), so it’s time for me to start examining a potential second hobby: contributing to open source software.
Where to begin?
Magic in Echoes is meant to be strange and dangerous. I want to recapture a bit more of the spirit of Vancian magic – each spell is a strange entity, seared into the mind and unleashed into the world, not just a dusty formula dutifully memorized each morning in triplicate.
These are my first cut at basic moves around the arcane and the divine. Like the fighting move before, these are only the basics – anyone can be caught in a frantic scrabble with a monster, or accidentally (or intentionally) read a spell, or beg the gods to intervene. Class playbooks would have improved modes of action – fighters taking the fight to monsters, wizards preparing spells, clerics channeling divine miracles – but everyone can fall back on some dangerous basics.
I’ve gone back and forth on whether a high-mortality game of repeating character instances needs the rigorous dispassion of the ideal old school referee, or the player action focus of PbtA moves. I think the case can be made made either way, but this time I’m interested in playing with the move structure. So here are some basic moves for a game that tries very hard to kill characters.
It crept through the land slowly, like a cancer, eating away what it could before anyone noticed. Barrows with an extra room, then caves that went deeper, into caverns no one knew was there. By the time the first… things… crept out in the darkness and began taking, it was too late.
The local princelings sent soldiers, at first, but they quickly learned to stay out of the Delves. Now hastily constructed keeps dot a new borderland, and good folk flee, those who can, anyway.
But some folk have found themselves called by a quiet voice, and by unknown arrangement find themselves standing with total strangers at the mouth of something possibly worse than hell. Sword, or wand, or holy symbol, or lock picks in hand, they stride in, boldly, to certain death, each man and woman of them.
And the next night, when the moon hides its face, rather than look upon the creeping doom of the world, they find themselves meeting old comrades, changed somewhat, and they step cautiously in, knowing that their first death awaits them again, and wondering what will be their second.
I occasionally wonder how D&D would run using Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, either played “straight” or as Chuubo-verse kids engaging in some kind of bizarre “field trip”. Should a dungeon be pastoral or road of trials? Which is more techno, spelljamming or Sigil? Is spending treasure in the downtime between adventures an Obsessive action, or a Ritual?
On the topic of other online discussions of D&D-centric theory, this was an interesting breakdown of styles or flavors of D&D, partially correlated to editions, that have come up over the years. Like all broad categorizations, there’s sure to be some over-generalization, and lots of fun things in the interstices. There’s undoubtedly some interesting examinations of the causes and effects between emerging and evolving styles of playing D&D, and changes to editions, though I’ll leave that to people who actually know something.
The internet has a long history of attempting to generate theories that encompass various aspects of role playing games. Since I never engaged in great depth with many, I won’t do them the injustice of a hack job recap. Recently, however, I encountered one that left me interested in engaging with it in the context of my own efforts. I’ll try to summarize, and maybe expand, on it a bit below, and then perform the embarrassing act of public thinking about what I have done, or need to do, to achieve my own aims. Read more