Magic 05

Magic 05

Create a D&D Character

Since this is my first time doing this exercise, it was a lengthy process, but I learned a lot. Every game has a system in which you must work and D&D lays out that system in lengthy detail. While the sorcery theme is not generally my bread and butter, I am trying to stomach as much as I can. That said, the process is really fun and a great exercise in creative writing, which I am always wanting to improve (or writing in general). The following is guided from the prompts of Greg Borenstein’s thorough Character Creation post.

Question: How would you characterize the moments in this account in which stats are referenced or dice are rolled? What is happening in these moments? How do they differ from the rest of the account? How do they differ from each other (that is, how are the stats lookups different from the dice rolls)?

Many of the moves in the scene simply progress as deterministic actions, i.e. walking down a hallway or looking around to find items, events we can expect to be easy and not left up to chance. Other actions in the story such as ability to move a stone, are clearly dependent on status of the player, a value that seems variable over time, dependent on fatigue or adrenaline rush, natural ability, and gained strength or experience. Lastly, some actions seem purely up to chance. It seems that the upcoming battle is going to be chaotic and the probability of a win is just that, a probability, so the dice are rolled to see if chance is in our favor today. While it seems like the stats lookup can be combined with the chance aspect of a roll, in this case, the players have earned their ability to perform certain aspects and therefore don’t even need to roll. One could also think of these moments as the probability of failure is so slim that there isn’t an appropriate dice worth rolling.

Character 1 – Guy Barkley

16 strength | 14 wisdom | 12 charisma | 11 constitution | 9 intelligence | 6 dexterity

Guy Barkley, an 8th grade history teacher and Gym (Phys. Ed) teacher is a loyal friend. Guy has always been a reliable person, the one to go to with a great memory. An avid football fan, he remembers all of the great games and even most of the obscure ones too. When not reading history books in his spare time, since history is not just a subject he teaches, but a subject he loves, he can be found in his garage lifting a 50 year old set of lead weights. Strength training is both a skill and a pastime for Guy. While I wouldn’t ask Guy to help me with a ship in a bottle, or even write on the chalk board, he types up all of his notes (pointer fingers, one key at a time), I can always rely on him to carry equipment to practices or help me with big moves. In college, he didn’t appear to be the theatrical type, not a writer or director, but he loved the task of set building and enjoyed the great history of the theater. An elephant never forgets would be a great motto for Guy. 

Character 2 – Brandy Karmic

16 constitution | 14 intelligence | 12 dexterity | 11 charisma | 9 strength | 6 wisdom

Brandy Karmic, a famous sculptor of her time, invented new techniques for sculpting forms in the physical world while designing in a virtual reality. Brandy was a stellar student from Berkeley’s New Media Arts program. Always looking forward and thinking about new ways to incorporate technology into her work, she is gifted with steady hands and more importantly a steady regimented soul. Her routine is to be asleep by 9pm every night and get up before sunrise at 4am. Every morning is started with 30 minutes of meditation before going for a run and then working in her home studio. She handcrafted a set of tools that allow her to sculpt forms not thought possible with traditional tools. Her out of the box thinking stems from her ability to lucid dream with regularity, as her relationship with past arts is quite shallow.


Would these two characters get along?

Both Brandy and Guy are affable people, so I imagine they would enjoy each others company. In fact, Brandy’s creativity would be a wonderful complement to Guy’s lack there of. Brandy might be too regimented to hang out with Guy on a regular basis, but surely they could join forces in the right situation.

Moving forward with Guy Barkley

Class – Warlock

Guy comes from a long line of Warlocks on his mother’s side, but even as a young child, Guy favored his time with his mom. His service as a history teacher is a task in commitment and training, as he cannot simply brute force his way through a lesson. His great memory serves both him and his director well. In his spare time, along with brushing up on history, he practices spells that seem wonderfully silly as his huge hands try to guide a tiny wand. While mixing chemicals from beaker to beaker is not his specialty, as witnessed by broken glass on the floor directly below his chemistry set.  As for his knowledge of spells, he is a one man encyclopedia.

Race – Tiefling

Growing up a Tiefling, Guy, originally Therai “Guy” Barkley, knew of the rich history and struggles his family had sustained as a less accepted culture in society. This history and lack of acceptance only made guy push for more acceptance, teaching history and trying to prevent iterating the past. Guy is more trusting than most Tiefling’s and is easy to befriend, in turn, making a lifetime friend. However, his weightlifting and training come from an early desire to defend himself if need be. While it is tough to imagine Guy harming a fly, it is no stretch of the imagination judging from purely physical traits. As a teenage, Guy sanded down his horns, trying to appear as unthreatening as possible, and perhaps fit in, but as an adult, Guy wants to show that people of all walks of life can live civilly.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly… (those were the groups, right?)

Lawful Good – Desmond Tutu, Madiba (Nelson Mandela)
Neutral Good – Tom Bombadill, Charles & Ray Eames
Chaotic Good – Richard Feynman, Nikola Tesla
Lawful Neutral – Taylor Swift
Neutral – Frodo, Boo Radley
Chaotic Neutral – Kanye West
Lawful Evil – Dick Cheney, Saruman
Neutral Evil – George W
Chaotic Evil – ISIS, Most villains in films I don’t like (they seem unjustified, too difficult to relate to), any sociopath…

Lawful Good

It is clear that Guy’s interest in treating everyone equal and knowing his families past would lead him to live an ethical and moral life. While he may not be in the top left most Good and Lawful, Guy definitely tries to do what is right by him as well as others. As a teacher, it is tough not to be looked at as somewhat altruistic.

Now pick two people from the following list… For each one that you pick, write down what you think their strength, charisma, wisdom, intelligence, dexterity, and constitutions scores are. What’s the closest class to what they do in real life? What race’s traditions or aesthetic matches them? What alignment are they?

Neil Gershenfeld

16 wisdom | 14 constitution | 12 intelligence | 11 charisma | 9 dexterity | 6 strength

Class: Wizard

Race: Human

Tina Fey

16 charisma | 14 intelligence | 12 constitution | 11 wisdom | 9 dexterity | 6 strength

 Class: Rogue (I know it is tough to separate Tina Fey from Sarah Palin)

Race: Elf

Class Notes

Constrained by numbers but not driven by them.
Traditionally roll for traits and then build story on top.
In our process, we built a story and then rolled values to contrast or support our character.

Acting out your character vs. the want to contribute to the group

Fighting vs. Storytelling

Time dilation – rolling takes time, but the fight actually happens in a short amount of time

The Magic Circle – safety for players in reality, makes the characters stronger

Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics
A formal approach to game design
Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek
– a way talking about existing games or creating new ones

Example: Chess
M: low D: high A: low
Mechanics: One sheet of the rules
Dynamic: emergent behavior tightly meshed with the rules
Aesthetics: theme, story, artwork

Ron Edwards
Gamism – competition
Simulation – exploration
Narrativism – role playing, backstory

12th Century Chess Set (oldest chess set in existence)

“Over and over chess was said to have been invented to explain the unexplainable, to make visible the purely abstract” – David Shenk

Chess Variants – Weikmann’s King’s Game, 1664

Johann Hellwig’s War Chess, 1780
Neutral 3rd party moderator

Kriegsspiel, Georg Leopold von Reiswitz, 1812

Little Wars, H.G. Wells, 1913
– sparks the use of figurines instead of abstract objects
Tabletop Wargaming

“War Gaming”
Herman Kahn and Irwin Mann
RAND, July 30, 1957

Prisoners Dilemma – example of game theory (not really about games as we play today)

“Some Observations on Political Gaming”
Herber Goldhamer and Hans Speier
RAND, Social Science Division, 1959

“We too can learn much more about real life games… -Herman Kahn

Gettysburg, Charles Roberts, 1958, Avalon Hill

Midwest Military Simulation Association
“Better dead than red”…
Gary Gygax helped found GenCon

International Federation of Wargamers
Chainmail, Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren, 1971
– the game is a book
– the book assumes you have the tools to enact the game
– rules on how the world works (weather, construction…)

Dave Arneson
– starts from chainmail rules but then adds elements
– Elephant + Lasers to start
Blackmoor, Dave Arneson, 1971
– persistance in the game
– sends this as a mod to chainmail…
and the two, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, get together to create D&D
Dungeons & Dragons, …

A originally played with a sense of realtime
– players whipsered
– only a caller could actually talk to the DM
– the stats were hidden
– didn’t want players to think about numbers and dice, think about story
– publishing of all of the numbers was to overwhelm the players and keep them focussed on the

Of Dice and Men – David M. Ewalt
Playing at the World – Jon Peterson

Gender roles… Of little wars
How can we get out of the numbers