Monday, 20 April 2009

Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.

Things I'd like more knowledge of and/or skill in, so that I could generally Game Better:
  • The probabilities of getting each score on each of the major dice and the common combinations;
  • Geography in general - particularly how climate, ecology etc. combine in biomes;
  • How to draw properly;
  • How to make nice looking tactical maps;
  • Mythologies of the world;
  • Fantasy, scifi and horror literature;
  • Linguistics;
  • Medieval history and economics;
  • Space.


  1. Anything in particular you wanted to know about medieval history and economics? Might make a good blog post.

  2. "Fantasy, scifi and horror literature"

    wasn't it James Gunn who said you have to read at least 100 sf novels before you understand the genre? i recommend the various "Years Best" collections, both old and new, as providing a fine point d'entrée.

  3. There's a few there I can't sensibly offer suggestions on, but drawing is a journey I'm currently on myself.

    The best pointers I've picked up are
    1) Sketch is dominant shapes, angles, proportions and such. Keep refining these until they look like you want. Don't be afraid to let the medium you're using, and the shapes you already have on the page, guide you.
    2) Keep drawing. 90+% of 'talent' is just practice.

    Most of the rest is just general knowledge. The best thing to do is steep yourself in the local library.

  4. The probabilities are easy, as long as they only involve addition or multiplication of known distributions. Additions are particularly easy and can be done with pen, paper and some tables.

    7th sea-style roll and keep systems are nasty, though.

  5. Why do you think the first one is needed?

    I'm learning how to draw too. It's a fun journey! Trust me, you don't have to be a pro - after you see enough of my Tucker cartoons, you'll agree! :D

  6. Right about now I wish I knew more about about the relative heights of demihumans vs. dry, flammable desert shrubbery.

  7. Well, don't know about much of what you want, but as far as the Medieval History, I'd recommend the Internet Midieval Sourcebook. You can find it here.
    As far as world mythology, don't know if it is still in print, but I found the "LaRousse Encyclopedia of Mythology" good.

  8. If you're serious about probabilities etc, I can help with that. Remind me next time I'm over at yours.

  9. trollsmyth: It might. Maybe you should do a whole series. Hint hint.

    Jerry: It's not that I haven't read a lot in those genres (it's all I read, pretty much, fiction-wise) but just that there's always more - and I just haven't read enough of the giants. For instance, I've never picked up an Arthur C. Clarke novel.

    I actually own a few of those Year's Best (though annoyingly fantasy and horror is always in a different volume to the scifi) though haven't read one for a while.

    Chris: That line about 90% of talent being practice is true, I think - but the 10% inborn something makes all the difference.

    thanuir: Easy if you're good at maths maybe. It was easily my worst subject in school and I haven't studied it at all since I was 16.

    Chgowiz: Usually when I'm designing monsters, traps or what-have-you I go on instinct and experience, but I'd like to apply some science to the process when working out how many hit dice to give, how much damage an attack causes, etc.

    Zak: All will be revealed shortly on that front, I feel.

    Underminer: That's a fantastic resource. Thanks!

    Zero_zero_one: Have to put that PhD of yours to some use, eh?

  10. noisms;
    I have a nice and fairly graphical method of calculating simple probability distributions by hand; simple means that dice can be added (or subtracted) from each other, the distributions can be multiplied by constants and one can add or substract constants from them. (So, distributions like 3d6 + 2 are easy to explicitly write down, for example.)

    I am somewhat busy right now, but will try to write a tutorial once I have more time.

    My intention was not to say that "it is easy, just do it", but rather "it is easy, so you can learn it".

  11. Christian at Spielwise has three relevant articles when it comes to probabilities; you can find them here:'s a few posts one needs to scroll through, though.)

  12. thanuir: Very good of you! Looking forward to the tutorial if you get the time.