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Games Entertainment

Calling All Dungeon Masters 300

Well, this is not really in Slashdot's main focus, but heck, it's a rare nerd who hasn't at least dabbled in D&D. Wizards of the Coast is looking to build a new campaign world, along the lines of Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms, and they're offering cash prizes. Their document (.doc file; Abiword reads it; try here if that link doesn't work) sums up the contest. Comments in this thread suggest they're looking for medieval fantasy settings. Show some writing flair and creative ability and take home enough cash to buy literally dozens of lead figurines AND a few new D30's... Update: 06/07 20:38 GMT by M : WOTC has the contest on their site now.
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Calling All Dungeon Masters

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  • Wizards of the Coast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by funkhauser ( 537592 ) <zmmay2@@@uky...edu> on Friday June 07, 2002 @06:08AM (#3658504) Homepage Journal
    WotC seems to have a refreshingly player-centric attitude lately. From a player-designed D&D campaign setting to player-designed cards and player input on the next edition of Magic: the Gathering [magicthegathering.com], it really is good to see a gaming company actually realize that players like to get involved in the games they play. Kudos to them.

    • The only thing I don't like about all this is the fact that it all becomes property of them. I've been working on a world off and on for about 8 years now (Hey, college got in the way) and this sounds pretty cool.

    • by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnoldNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:32AM (#3658758) Homepage Journal
      WotC seems to have a refreshingly player-centric attitude lately. From a player-designed D&D campaign setting to player-designed cards and player input on the next edition of Magic: the Gathering [magicthegathering.com],

      IF WE'RE DOING ALL THE WORK, WHAT THE HELL DO WE NEED THEM FOR?!?!grin
      • We need them for the same reasons that most open source projects need standards organizations, graphic artists, and maintainers. Think of WotC as a roleplaying CVS repository.
  • Wizards (Score:2, Funny)

    by grokBoy ( 582119 )
    "All one page submissions that meet the requirements will be reviewed blindly by a panel of Wizards experts."

    Will they be casting a sight spell at some point, or relying on braille, I wonder ...

  • SlashWorld (Score:5, Funny)

    by David E. Smith ( 4570 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @06:19AM (#3658530)
    In which many valiant warriors battle an army of trolls.

    Obviously it'll need to be expanded a little bit, but I think it can be turned into a setting easily enough.

    • Yes, and if you had a *cluster* of heroes who fight trolls that would be .....
    • It would need a whole new alignment system. You would hear things like "I'm more 'Insightfull' than 'Flamebait'".

      And how bout races?

      • Anonymous Coward
      • Script Kitty
      • Admin
      • Uber Hacker
      • Cowboy Neil
      • CowboyNeal isn't a new race, really; probably just a powerful NPC (vague, mysterious, versatile... sorta like Elminster, actually).

        I'm actually starting to take this seriously. That's a bad sign...
        • Anonymous Coward - Red
        • Script Kitty (or Kiddie) - Black
        • Admin - Blue
        • Uber Hacker - White
        • Cowboy Neil (or Neal; possibly also Moderator or Editor) - Green
        What more alignment do you need for M:tG?
      • Nah, not the characters, instead the artifacts and weapons should take on those post-mod qualities... SlashWorld would be a medieval battleground in a Net setting... I call dibs on the +3 poison dagger of flamebait!

        So would CowboyNeal, CmdrTaco, JonKatz and others be flavorful NPCs, or whole character classes? Hmm....

  • by codemonkey_uk ( 105775 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @06:20AM (#3658532) Homepage
    Well, shit, isn't the timing magnificent. I've been playing an AD&D game run by some friends of mine, and there have been some problems with consistency, which got me thinking about automatic generation of realistic worlds for use as settings for rollplaying games.

    I think there is a lot that can be done. Fractal terrain generation is a well understood area. Developing on that you can use social evolution heuristics to determine the locations of settlements, and teh development of towns, and cities. You can use historical demographic data to determine what might be found at each settlement. From there its only a short step to generating a population for those settlements.

    Which is about where I started thinking about writing some code. Last weekend I actually put some of my ideas into action. Its far from complete, but this serverside script [notagoth.org] demonstrates the beginnings of what can be done. There are problems with execution time - PHP isn't my usual language, and the 30 second limit is preventing it from working with populations larger than 750, but you can see where I'm going with it - generation of random populations, assignment of possitions within the community based on ability, and the code is in place for the generation of familiys with inherited genetic traits. Of course, the source code is available (via a link at the bottom of the page), so you can run with the idea if you can't wait for me to develop it further.

    Once all these details are handled computationally, the designer can focus on the most important aspect of the game world - the plot!

    • Yes, you could generate detailed demographics using some computer programs, but why bother? None of the players or their characters will have access to census data, nor will they be particularly interested in them.

      Really interesting RPG settings, such as Glorantha [glorantha.com] and Tékumel [tekumel.com] shine because of the quality and depth of the ideas, not the complexity of the numbers. Take some advice from John Hughes [iprimus.com.au]:

      Glorantha has a wonderful mix of three elements: an all-pervasive mythic structure, an elaborate and lovingly (co-) created history and culture, and a wacky sense of fun. Try to keep all three. Though vary the mix.
      • Yes, I agree that it's the "quality and depth of the ideas, not the complexity of the numbers" that matters, but you have to admit blatant inconsistencies in the game world distract from the experience by breaking the suspension of disbelief. Using automated tools for the generation of the inconsequential details not only improves consistency, but takes a huge load of the designers hands, allowing him or her to focus on the bigger picture.
        • Sayeth the poster:

          but you have to admit blatant inconsistencies in the game world distract from the experience

          I strongly disagree. Indeed, the opposite is true. The Roman Empire was:

          • A pinnacle of civilisation, bringing benefits such as coinage, roads, drainage and literacy to Europe.
          • A nasty, fascist regime that enslaved most of Europe for centuries, grinding down its peasants with 60% taxation for the benefit of a tiny elite.

          Would simultaneous existence of such views in a game world distract from the expereince or enhance it? Such inconsistencies makes things more interesting, right? How about a fantasy world in which even basic facts such as whether the world is round or flat are merely matters of opinion? Better?

          You want to produce something that appears 'realsitic'. Seen any films? They usually look realistic, but wait! The camera angles and distances are choosen just so. If you could walk about the set you would see that the walls are just flats, and the actress had to be sewn into her costume. To produce 'realism' by generating the statstics of a village is completely useless and wrong footed: you could do better faking it by just describing the things immediately apparent to the players. Nobody will ever know, because none of them have a 'god's eye view'.

          • Hmmm, I'm not sure I agree that your example is actually an inconsistency. Isn't it just a conflict of view points? Something that would be handled by the way the DM played the NPCs?

            I am in no way advocating total computer generation, and the elimination of designers, and I doubt you seriously think that a DM is actually better off meticulously designing every detail of every village in advance.

            Ad-lib is an important skill for a DM, but surly you can't think having lots of internally consistent* material at hand is a bad thing?

            *Note that "internal consistency" (that the game world does not contradict itself) is what important, not "realism" - something that perhaps I failed to make clear.
      • I personally like the idea of a computer-generated backdrop. This stuff is too complex, and it is a pain to make it all consistent. It can stop players from noticing things like "Why is there a blacksmith making armour and weapons in this inland farming community when there is no access to any major waterways and the nearest oar body is a week away."

        Of course the blacksmith is only really there because the DM was under pressure to pull a town out of his hat when the players took a wrong turn. So who is this blacksmith? why is he in the town? who is the nearest blacksmith, did he study under him?, is he a competitor? What do they do? How old is the blacksmith? does he have children? who is is wife? What's his wife's name? Is there anyone studying under the blacksmith?

        Whoops, it turns out the players went next door, to the cobbler. Quick! flesh out that shop.

        What other shops are in town?

        It is trivial to write plots onto a backdrop, it is very tedious to do everything ad-hoc.

        Admittedly there are some storytellers who can walk through this stuff with nothing but pure charisma, but they also have a tendency to lead player actions and bend rules when players step out of line.

        I would rather run games where a blacksmith making armour in a remote inland farming community would stick out so sorely that he could only be part of some plot... rather than being part of some empty game where the blacksmith is only there to answer the question "how many gold pieces for this?"... ugh.

        I'm skeptical that a computer generator can do a good job of this stuff. It is tough. The demographics are also shifted by magic, and you want magic to be included in the demographics.

        I guess it doesn't really matter, AD&D has been screwed up since they started making all those stupid player supplements in the second edition. Game balance was thrown out the window and my games degenerated into arguments as to why particular spells and 'kits' could not be allowed.

        • I guess it doesn't really matter, AD&D has been screwed up since they started making all those stupid player supplements in the second edition. Game balance was thrown out the window and my games degenerated into arguments as to why particular spells and 'kits' could not be allowed.

          Look at 3rd edition. Most of the fluff and bad choices from 2e are gone.

          And you can even see the entire ruleset online, using a GPL-inspired copyleft license.

          www.wizards.com/d20
        • The 'Players Options' were a giant Kludge, and the knew it. That's why the new optional class guides are much better... everything in them is actually OPTIONAL, and is not much better or worse than the normal abilities. Nor does using those rules break the normal rules.

          There are a few minor unbalancing things in the optional rules... I recall one of the added exotic weapons in Swords and Fist was abnormally more powerful than any of the core exotic weapons. However, as a DM you can balance that by allowing them to buy the fancy exotic weapon... just never make a magical sword from one. Eventually they will become powerful enough to craft their own magical sword out of one, but by then the extra damage it does will be negligable compared to their character power.

          In short (too late!) yes, Player Options in 2nd edition sucked. They do not in 3rd edition.
      • None of the players or their characters will have access to census data, nor will they be particularly interested in them.

        Exactly! Why should the DM have to worry about a bunch of boring details that none of the players care about? That's what computer are for.
    • Hmm.. there's a lot to be said for consistency... and a lot to be said for a generator as you've described it. BUT... I won't let a computer near my game (except for storing data after the fact, and thought)... there is something amazingly skewiff about computer-generated randomness... or maybe there is something skewiff with our perception of randomness, that I don't like what the computer generates. And of course, the essence of a good game lies in the ideas. The generation of data - well, you could go to the Bureau of Statistics for that - but it won't lead to a good game of D&D. "The White Pages - yes... lots of interesting characters, shame about the plot."
      • Two issues (Score:3, Insightful)

        There are really two issues at hand in what you say. The first, the quality of results, is one that can be tackled computationally.

        You say that "is something amazingly skewiff about computer-generated randomness", but I would argue that it is because of the low quality and inherent simplicity of most character generators. There is more to it than just random number generation. You have to make things a bit more sophisticated than that, which is what I am trying to do with the scripts.

        The other issue you mention, is the plot, if you read my other comments you will see that that is not something I would want to handle with tools. The tool is supposed to take the pressure to do all the inconsequential details out of the hands of the designer in order to free him up to do the real work.

        You are right that a NPC generator tool is not a good idea for you main plot line characters, but for the inconsequential shop keeper, baker, or blacksmith, and for the "random" villages you find along your way, it keeps things varied, interesting, consistent and believable.
    • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @07:15AM (#3658626)
      Personally I think these games are all about people and imagination, and could do without computer involvement of any sort, but that's just my view.

      If you are having execution times of over 30 seconds for a PHP script, then it is likely you are doing something wrong. If your a newbie, try asking questions on phpdeveloper.com.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:01AM (#3658694) Homepage

      This is a superb start, many congratulations.

      Some positive criticism:

      • You'll want to make it clear that the default profession is farmer, and that these people make up the vast bulk of the population. Indeed, they are so vital to everything else that "farmer" is too broad a term. I know it seems dull, but it might be useful to know if a region produces a lot of arable crops, pigs, sheep, cattle, fish or fruit.
      • I'm a little sceptical of a chart that is apparently based on 12th-14th centuries, but has doctors separate from barbers (barber-surgeons were around right up to the 19th century), and misses out midwives altogether.
      • Guardsmen/watchmen and lawyer/advocates are more of a 15th century than a 12th century phenomenon. For that matter, tailors are practically unknown in pre-14th century Europe except in the very largest cities. This seems to represent the very largest mediaeval Europe, cities, and seem (to me) more like 15th or 16th, which is admittedly the favourite period of most fantasy worlds (whether they realise it or not).
      • You missed undertakers, bone and antler workers, potters, glassblowers, boatmakers, shipwrights, reed cutters, market traders (as opposed to specialist mercers, wholesale importers and travelling merchants), miners of various sorts, and minters (where do you think all those gold pieces come from?). You also forgot the seedy and distasteful side of mediaeval city life: dung collectors, trash scavengers, whores, pimps, burglars, cutpurses, muggers and bandits.
      • The ages need to come down a lot. The age of majority for men crept up from the 9th to 14th centuries, but we really need to stop thinking of it as 18 or 21 and more like 13 or 14. "Men" as young as 11 were called up to serve in the Æthelredian fyrd, and like it or not, that's still common in some third world countries today.
      • Mediaeval population centres tended to specialise, so instead of having a representative selection of trades, you'd have a town (or region) that specialises in making (e.g.) pottery, glass, or even a particular colour of cloth (with all the necessary supporting trades), and that exports its wares over a large area. Besides being realistic, this avoids an identikit feel to towns, and gives convenient plot hooks: how would adventurers respond to the blockade of the town that produces most high quality sword blades?
      • It would be useful to have degrees of specialisation. Bear in mind that the trades on this list represent those found in the very largest mediaeval towns and cities. In smaller towns, you wouldn't necessarily have a separate glovemaker and a pursemaker, but you might have a general "small leather goods" maker.
      • The idea of trades breaks down altogether in smaller communities, where most necessary skills for day-to-day life can be found replicated inside each household. So in any given household, you'd find someone who can make shoes, clothes and hats, but perhaps not particularly well, and you'd also find a competent butcher, weaver and woodworker. It's important to note that the vast bulk of the population live on the land, and so any group doing a lot of travelling are going to spend most of their time interacting with farmers or local thegns or knights rather than city types, so don't just skim over the small communities. Perhaps you could have degrees of competency, so that a large town might have a good tailor, while a small village might have a single individual who is both an adequate tailor and a poor cobbler?

      Other enhancements that I can think of would be a "retail price index" based on the supply and demand of goods. For example, a town with a lot of armourers would pay well for iron, and swords would be (relatively) cheap. Wool will be cheap in an area with a lot of sheep farmers, and meat would be expensive in an industrial centre. Prices also vary sharply depending on the season: the value of a cart is more or less constant, but the value of a horse to pull it is much lower just before winter (when you have to feed it) than in spring (when you can make use of it).

      Keep at it; this has the potential to become an extremely useful tool. Incidentally, how about trying it in Java?

      • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:04PM (#3660020)
        Guardsmen/watchmen and lawyer/advocates are more of a 15th century than a 12th century phenomenon.

        ??? Ah! You must study English history. Because all those Troubadors and Trouveres writing albas mentioning watchmen ("gaitas") in the 12th/13th centuries would sure surprized to hear they don't exist.

        In the 12th/14th century what you have is in towns (any area thickly settled enough) small numbers of people who stay up all night to watch the town for attack or, more importantly, fire. They carry trumpets and sound an "alls well" periodically all night. This is not the standing garrison familiar to D&D players, but they are the NPCs most likely to notice your 3rd level thief plying his trade in the wee hours; they won't try to apprehend them himself, but rather raise the entire town (won't that be a nice surprize. :)

        (English dude: "Gaita" eventually became "Wait" across the Channel, and by the 15th century the duty had evolved to being a mostly musical job. But even through the 17th cen, the Waites of English cities carried badges ("cognizances").)

        As far a laywers and doctors go, you forgot the idea of the university town. By the end of the 13th century Europe was pocked with not only university towns (Paris, Salerno, Oxford, e.g.) it was swarming with roudy students. Town/gown riots go back that far. Defitely a flavor of specialization you want to allow for.

      • Hey CodeMonkey -- isn't it amazing how much effort people will put into commenting on somebody else's work as opposed to doing some themselves?

        Nice job!
        Psst -- add wizards.
      • Incidentally, how about trying it in Java?

        A campaign world set in medieval Java? That's a fascinating idea, but perhaps too foreign - I doubt it would have the mass appeal of the default Western European setting.

        Yes, yes, I know you were talking about a programming language! I couldn't resist myself.

        Danny.

    • by Xouba ( 456926 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:10AM (#3658708) Homepage
      >Fractal terrain generation is a well understood area.

      Yes. Karma-whoring, here I come :-)

      The best land generator I've found is Torben Mongensen's "planet.c". You can find it here [www.diku.dk]. It's not GPL, but you can see the source and learn of it, at least :-) The results are quite good, though there's a few limitations: it doesn't do erosion and rivers, for example, which is something that could be very, very important if you want to use a map for a RPG setting. Rivers are the places where many cities are built, and crossing of rivers are always fertile lands. Well, anyway it's the only gripe I have about this program. For the rest, I like it very much :-) It can do a lot of different projections, and magnification, so you can really see the world from every point of view.

      There's other nice terrain generator here [circuitpsyche.com]. This does erosion and rivers, and the source is also available. It's for Windows, though the creator says that should compile well in Linux or related. I haven't tried yet O:-) The problem is that, besides not being "readily available" for Linux, I don't like the maps generated by it too much. And it doesn't plenty of projections, as Mogensen's program does (or, to be precise, I think it doesn't; I'm not a expert with this program). It runs fine under Wine, btw ;-)

      Another fine tool: TerraGen [planetside.co.uk]. Shareware, but free for personal use. Great. The results of this program are awesome. I'm sure that it's easy to use the output of Mogensen's program to renderize it (some small part, I mean) with TerraGen, but I haven't tried a lot and consequently I don't know how :-/ This runs somewhat well under Wine, too.

      The program that looks great for all this, anyway, is MojoWorld [pandromeda.com]. And not forgetting, of course, all of ProFantasy Products [profantasy.com]. But these cost quite a few bucks, so I don't have and can't speak about them O:-)

      Fractal terrain generation is something I'm quite interested, though only from the user point of view. I don't know how to even program something to output a simple Mandelbrot fractal O:-) If you know something more about all this, don't make me check for every /. post: mail me at ask4it (at) gpul.org :-)

    • If you're interested in the generation of manorial-sized settlements for RPG's, I highly recommend Columbia Games' "HarnManor" [columbiagames.com] rules. Very authentic and well-researched.
    • If you need some inspiration for your Town Generator script, take a look at this one [aarg.net].
      • Damn, I wish I those generators were around ages ago when I was DMing AD&D (First Edition) campaigns! I remember writing a suite of DM applications for the Apple //e, "The Dungeon Master's Familiar." It had some random generator stuff that was not very useful, but the jewel was my Combat Manager. It would display a scoreboard of how everyone in the combat was doing, and do rolls and table lookups for you.
    • Neat. :-)

      The source link isn't working. ("The requested URL /rpg/\php\source.php was not found on this server.") Fix that and we'll take a look at the speed problem. (Don't increase the execution time limit like everyone's saying; let's make it faster instead.)

    • which got me thinking about automatic generation of realistic worlds for use as settings for rollplaying games.

      You should check out Captain Barcode's War Room [geocities.com] the best collection of computer world generating links anywhere.
  • $100,000.. cold hard US greenbacks for the winner. One time "consulting" fee. Of course, if you are good enough, I am sure you could parlay this into the Book, Movie, and merchandise.

    In the immortal words of Dude, Where's My Car":

    SWEET!!!!
    • Of course, if you are good enough, I am sure you could parlay this into the Book, Movie, and merchandise.

      No, THEY can parlay it into the Book, Movie, etc, etc. All submissions become their property. If they're offering 100k, you can bet they're the ones hoping to grow in into a cash crop.

    • $100,000... for the winner

      Think of how many issues of Knights of the Dinner Table this would buy :)
  • "similar to your existing settings, particularly Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance" ... kind of bland.

    wonderful idea, but I don't see why it needs such restriction (any submission from me will disregard that suggestion).

    I'm a fan of fantasy and I can see why Wizards is saying that, but there are already tons of settings like Forgotten Realms (Mystara, Greyhawk, Birthright, and Lanhkmar(sp?) to name a few official 2nd ed ones).

    I certainly hope that gerneric medeival fantasy isn't D&D's new niche (they did sell off Ravenloft, but they did wonders with Rogukan (OA) and here's for hoping Dark Sun is out soon).

    oh, man you should (will?) all see my current campaign world (~7 years in development); it's Birthright meets Dark Sun meets pseudo-Ancient Egypt (literally)...
    • I'm going to submit my Steam/Clockwork based fantasy medieval setting. "Wizards" are distinguished by the amount of gadgets they carry. Players essentially start (As wizards) with a bag of parts and some basic tools to create their "spells" with. It's very fun. The fighter and rogue classes also rely heavily on objects created by the wizards for them. I doubt I will win, or even be a finalist or whatever, but what the hell...

      Kintanon
  • I can't stand 'fantasy' BS. I've never played or seen a D+D or WarHammer game. I've haven't seen Star Wars, I've haven't seen LOTR, etc etc. So I must be rare :-D I do quite like Star Trek though.

    However, I do understand the language of hot babes, so I might see Episode II for Natalie Portman's hot bod.
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @07:04AM (#3658606) Homepage
    seems someone at WoTC is in some deep doodoo...

    Hasbro Fires Exec, Claiming Embezzlement [thestreet.com]
  • Legalese (Score:5, Funny)

    by 4thAce ( 456825 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @07:08AM (#3658612) Homepage
    After reading the lawyerese on that form, I just like saying:

    "Do not breach a contract with Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to litigation."
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spunk ( 83964 )
    this is not really in Slashdot's main focus

    If this isn't News for Nerds, then nothing is!
  • Hate to be nit-picky, but they stopped making Lead Figurines a while ago. The figurines that are made now are a Pewter-alloy that does not contain lead. Apparently this is a safety thing:

    • Number 1 son buys a lead orc.
    • Number 2 son chews funny looking man.
    • Number 2 son gets drain bamaged.

    • Actually, it was New York that passed a state law banning lead in figurines. This was back around '95. There was never any proof that the lead in the figures ever harmed anybody, but the law required the entire miniature industry to comply if they sold minis in NY.

      So we got an inferior alloy that makes converting harder. It took a year or two before quality castings returned, but believe me, the changeover was an excuse to raise prices that never went back down after the initial investment went was recouped.
  • it will be interestnig to see what comes of this, since the main draw for me of the Forgotten Realms as a player setting was that it has a huuuuge backstory, each town and character has a history, everything is present and it all felt cohesive.

    dragonlance didnt have that 'cohesiveness' that the Realms had with history, geography, and politics, etc.

    So I'm eager to see what people come up with, and truth be told, I'm expecting very very little!

    we need a Feng Shui crpg, something with depth, using the fallout2 engine, multithreaded quests and hong kong action....

    • Back in the day, circa 1983-89, I used the Conan universe, Hyborea, as the basis for a long lasting campaign.

      Geographically, Hyborea was Earth, prior to continental drift. The maps were basically the "Pancea" continent we all saw back in the days of "Earth Science."

      Having been completely addicted to Robert E. Howard's Conan novels, they provided a rich, deep backstory, and a broad range of diversity. Howard never relied too heavily on Monsters, either, which I liked. I always thought the wandering monster aspect of D&D was somewhat ridiculous. Instead, the missions tended to be against the Snake Cult, set in Stygia (Directly mimicking Egypt and it's mythology), led by a powerful Wizard, or Pictish Warlords (Mimicking various tribes throughout Afica), or any number of other human historical groups throughout the ages.

      This kind of backdrop provides near limitless possibility.

      I'm sure that licensing issues would render it useless to WotC's goals here, but for any of you that are still into the RPG scene, and rolling your own campaigns, Hyborea makes for excellent source material.

  • Cool, at what level do I get to roll a D30 for my attack rolls?
    • Cool, at what level do I get to roll a D30 for my attack rolls?

      I haven't kept up on all the latest AD&D rule changes (its been several years since I last campaigned), but IIRC D30s weren't used by AD&D at all. They are used by other RPG games, however, so I picked several up a while back. They came in handy for rolling things like "how many minutes (between 2 and 60) you'll be stuck in this sticky mass, rolling 1D6 damage for each minute." :-) Besides, for dice geeks like myself they just look cool ... though I still want to get that D100 I saw a long time ago.
      • Oh, the D100 is basically a golf ball! The idea "looks" good on paper, but in execution the d100 sucks. too big, too many faces, takes far to long to come to rest. I MUCH prefer 2d10.

        (okay, here's where I bring it back ontopic)
        Besides, a good DM can make do with a d6, and either a d10 or a d20. everything else can be improvised from the above. Don't lose the spirit of the game and push the story; the DM already knows what he wants his players to do and most "tests" have only two options: you did it, or you didn't. They can come up with some number for you to beat and you either do or don't. Oh sure, you can make the combat last a bunch of rounds, but you either roll well a lot, or you don't.

        As long as there's a set up ("Call the guards! The princess is missing! A reward for anyone who finds her!"), a decently long discovery phase ("where was the butler on the night of the attack? What is the theives guild up to? And who broke into the palace's treasure room but stole only a daggar?"), an enemy revealed ("THE BISHOP!"), and/or a betrayal, a fight and then some form of denoument (look it up), that sounds like a fun night to me!

        Or you could just play illuminati and end the night fighting with your friends in a paranoid rage.

        Cuthulu, anyone?
  • by sckeener ( 137243 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:06AM (#3658704)
    www.gamingreport.com and www.enworld.org posted the following rumor. It's not offical, at present, but there has not confirmation or denial from WotC as to the truth of it all.

    Well, Wizards of the Coast seems to of take some interesting turns as of late. We have received several tips from readers and have now received several confirmations about some stunning changes at Wizards of the Coast. Here is the break down of all the tips from reliable, anonymous sources.

    Recently there was in an internal investigation at Wizards of the Coast which allegedly unearthed a massive fraud operation within the employees. This resulted in the firing of several high level executives. It is alleged that Sr. VP of Production Tom Federline had setup a funneling operation to pipe money out of Wizards' production department and into his own personal accounts. In addition, to the revelation concerning Mr. Federline, the Renton, Washington police department is reportedly filing, or filed, a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Mr. Federline. The investigation apparently did not uncover any misdealing concerning Vince Caluori, however, in an internal company memo Vince announced his departure. Apparently, Vince' is being replaced by a Hasbro representative from the main office and Loren Greenwood, former VP of Sales, is now taking on the duties of COO. The new CEO is based in Rhode Island so what that means for WotC's Washington State future is uncertain. We were passed Vince's internal farewell letter by a tipster. This email is posted below in its entirety.

    From: Vince Caluori
    Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 12:39 PM
    Subject:

    Dear friends and co-workers,

    A little over five years ago I agreed to come to work for one year to help get WOTC over the challenge of acquiring and assimilating TSR. With mixed emotions I am announcing that the "year" is up! It has been a wonderful time for me and I hope for all of you. We have accomplished more then any of us could have ever expected and I leave at the end of this month a healthy and vibrant company. We are the best at what we do and no one can ask for more then that! I cannot express how proud I am of our company and each of you.

    I could never leave you if we did not have excellent management ready to take over and lead our company forward to even better times. Chuck Huebner will become our CEO focusing on our relationships with other parts of the corporation and strategic leadership. I have worked closely with Chuck over the past several months, and I know he has the drive and dedication to help build this business.

    Loren Greenwood will become EVP and Chief Operating Officer concentrating on the day to day operations of the company. I'm confident that his experience and knowledge of our business will keep us focused on our objectives and on an upward path as you go forward.

    This a great pair of managers with complementary skills and the ability and desire required to move us to another level of performance. They deserve your congratulations and need your help. Don't let them down!

    During this month we will be transitioning to these new roles and I will move away from day to day decision making but I will give both of them my support and will remain available on an on-going basis for advice and consultation to ensure an effective transition. I hope to have a chance to see each of you during this time but if I don't you know you can always find me enjoying the benefits of being a retired employee in the gym, at the go-kart track or at our great golf tournament.

    Best to all of you and thanks for being my co-workers.........It has been great!

    Vince

    We are currently attempting to get an official word from WotC's press department but have only received no comment or no answer. We will continue to attempt to get an official word.

    We have also heard of a few other changes that may very well bode the end of WotC in its current state. There are allegedly deals in the works to move the WotC retail stores to new owners as part of a separate deal. The details are a sketchy as the details of the deal are still being worked out. Apparently this change is going to happen within the next few months if not sooner.

    We have received information on other changes in process. However, until we receive confirmation from other sources we will not post these. We will keep you informed as we are able.


    • And here is the update:

      We did terminate Tom Fenderling WotC senior vice president and severed our relationship with a quality assurance consultant Gene Maddox. We have filed law suits against both of these individuals alleging improper purchasing practices and the falsifying of expense reports. since this case is currently in litigation we cannot comment any further.
      The retirement of current CEO Vince Caluori is in no way connected to said lawsuits.

      • > We did terminate Tom Fenderling WotC senior vice president and severed our relationship with a quality assurance consultant Gene Maddox. We have filed law suits against both of these individuals alleging improper purchasing practices and the falsifying of expense reports.

        New AD&D thief subclass for purposes of WOTC game submission:

        Fraudster! Gain one experience point per dollar successfully l33ch3d from shareholders in the form of embezzled funds, falsified expense reports, improper derivatives trades, or just plain lousy accounting."

        experience : Rank
        0-100 : Office Supply Cabinet Raider
        100 - 999 : Expense Account Padder
        1000 - 9999 : Spammer
        [ ... ]
        ? - ? : WOTC executive (1)
        [ ... ] 100,000,000 - 999,999,999 : Rogue trader [cnn.com]
        zzzzzzzzzzzzz - zzzzzzzzzzzz : Rogue trader of the Order of Leeson (2)
        over zzzzzzzzzzzzz : Arthur Andersen!

        (1) - To Be Determined

        (2) - a Rogue Trader of the Order of Leeson must both inflict a loss of over $1B and the collapse of a major financial institution. The Order is named after Nick Leeson, who broke his employer, Barings Bank, with $1.3B derivatives loss.

        (3) - Title chosen by the reigning champion. Former winners have included Bre-X ($4B scam re: nonexistent gold mine supported by faked ore samples) and current leader Enron [yahoo.com] at over $60B (740M shares outstanding at $83 at the peak) in vaporized market cap.

        The title is currently in contention, with executives from Tyco (TYC) [yahoo.com] making yet another strong showing this morning by racking up almost 9 billion experience points as TYC trades down to $10.12 (-$4.48) on further allegations that alleged personal [yahoo.com] improper accounting may have also affected the company [thestreet.com]. While TYC had appeared to be coming back from its lows in recent weeks, these revelations have taken Koslowski's score from ~60B experience points to 80B experience points, and he currently stands at 90B.

        (And before you go off in a huff and claim that capitalism has somehow failed - despite these egregious examples, the market's full of thousands of good companies out there run by good people out to make an honest buck by providing a service or good for money.

        And more importantly, all of these scandals combined still barely make a dent against the multi-trillion dollar pyramid scam called "social security". The people who purchased ENE or TYC did so of their own free will. The same cannot be said for the unlucky "participants" in the Social Security game.)

  • What a good way to get free source material. "Submit your "contest entry", which becomes our property and we MIGHT give you the chance to win some money". Damn I need to think of such things.
  • Good to go! (Score:2, Informative)

    The Wizards link is here [wizards.com]. Why didn't the submitter link to the original?

    Very cool. I'm in the midst of documenting a campaign for 3rd edition -- I guess I'll submit the intro :-)

    Thanks for the link! News for nerds indeed :-)
  • Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilNight ( 11001 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:27AM (#3658751)
    Am I going mad, or did I read "Well, this is not really in Slashdot's main focus" in the topic blurb?

    First of all, if Slashdot HAS a focus (main or otherwise) I'd just love to see someone take a stab at describing what it is.

    Second, geeks are gamers. Period. There's just no way in hell that those involved in computers and IT technology, especially those born sooner than 1970, haven't been exposed to gaming in some way. Maybe they didn't game, but some of their friends did. Heck, lots of folks cut their programming teeth on quick little apps to make RPGs easier to play.

    As for the contest... well shit, doesn't sound too bad. They're basically allowing some very smart and creative individual a shot at making it into the gaming industry. Sure, they're saving a ton of development costs. Sure, they'll use a lot more of the stuff they get than just the finalists. Just remember that nobody's holding a gun to your head forcing you to give them your ideas.

    Wizards has always cared more for their playerbase than the majority of the gaming companies out there. TSR treated folks like dirt, chasing all over the internet shutting down anything even remotely related to their products. Wizards releases a 3rd generation dice system free uner a license that isn't too dissimilar in spirit from the GPL, and allows the fan work to flourish. Small wonder they resurrected dungeons and dragons after TSR ran it into the ground.

    TSR never should have dumped Gygax...
    • by Hamshrew ( 20248 )

      TSR isn't wholly to blame for their treatment of D&D. A lot of the developers wanted things changed, but from my understanding, one of the big guys(actually, it was a female), like the CEO or something, hated gamers. What she was doing with the company is anyone's guess, but it's no surprise that things started going badly for them.

      • one of the big guys(actually, it was a female), like the CEO or something, hated gamers

        I'm intrigued. Do you have any linkage?
        • An excellent writeup of the origin of RPGs and the whole TSR saga was in an issue of Computer Games a few months back. It doesn't appear to be online, unfortunately. Basically, TSR was taken over by a woman who was going to "show how a REAL business is run", she also believed that gamers were "socially inferior" and was responsible for things like the Rocky & Bullwinkle Party Game. If you can, find that article. As a RPG gamer since about 1978 I learned a lot I didn't know.
    • Re:Wha? (Score:4, Funny)

      by grytpype ( 53367 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:53PM (#3660300) Homepage
      >First of all, if Slashdot HAS a focus (main or otherwise) I'd just love to see someone take a stab at describing what it is.

      It might be easier to define what Slashdot is NOT focused on:

      1. Sports.
      2. Clothes (wearable computers excepted).
      3. Grooming and dating tips.

      Basically, Slashdot is the complement of GQ.
    • Sure, they'll use a lot more of the stuff they get than just the finalists.

      No they won't. Not legally anyway. They only ask for the rights to the work of the three finalists. I really don't think they have enough incentive to do it illegally.

      Sure, they're saving a ton of development costs.

      Actually, they're not. They are spending considerably more than would be normal. Just the twenty thousand is estimated at somewhere between five and ten times industry rates for something that size, and that's not even counting the additional hundred thousand for the winner.
    • Wizards releases a 3rd generation dice system free uner a license that isn't too dissimilar in spirit from the GPL, and allows the fan work to flourish. Small wonder they resurrected dungeons and dragons after TSR ran it into the ground.

      That so?

      Try asking Wizards' legal departement what their stance is on you making a Free (as in GPL) suite of uitilities for Dungeon Masters.

      Basically, try mentioning anything trademarked by WotC in your source or documentation, and they'll sic the lawyers on you faster than you can say 'cease and desist'.

      Of course you could say that your suite of utilities was for the d20 system. Tough luck. Everything that sets Dungeons&Dragons apart from generic d20 is trademarked.

      Oh, and WotC retains the exclusive publishing right to any D&D related software. Your suite of utilities will be pulled faster than you can say 'DMCA' if they send a nice letter to your ISP, and they will. Of course, whatever software they publish will be Windows-only, but what do they care about Linux users? We're all pirates anyway, aren't we?

      The only viable project I know of has a sourceforge homepage full of disclaimers to the above effect.

      Yeah, really nice company. Please don't compare the d20 license with the GPL. It's not about Freedom, it's about free marketing and free R&D for WotC.


      Mart (who gave up in the design stage because of this)
  • by Bodrius ( 191265 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:37AM (#3658779) Homepage
    ... promoting fish fillets for all Dragon Masters.

    I guess that's what happens after two days with no sleep and watching that Triumph video a couple times too many.
  • Makes you wonder (Score:4, Informative)

    by Prof.Nimnul ( 583515 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @08:46AM (#3658812) Homepage
    As others have pointed out, the cynical side of me wonders if this is just WOTC looking for a cheap way to develop a new game, rather than having to hire someone on full time. After all, ever since Hasbro slashed WOTC budget, they have to start finding new (and cheaper) ways of doing things.

    But I honestly doubt this is the case, for several reasons:

    --WOTC, as I mentioned, has had their budget cut tremendously. The odds that they could hire on more people on a full-time basis isn't too likely. The consultant-based contest approach might be the best way to still get decent products developed.

    --I hate to break this to any aspiring game designers, but these positions are not six-figure incomes. One of my friends works for what remains of West End Games, and even when the company was doing well (i.e. before the went bankrupt), she was only making around 30K a year or so. The prize money really seems comparable to what an actual salary would be. Where WOTC saves is that they don't have to provide benefits, insurance, etc., that they would with a salaried employee.

    --WOTC has recieved some pretty hefty bashing over the years, particularly for their handling of GenCon. Their customer base of Magic players has lost a lot of its power, and the remaining gaming communtiy, in general, just doesn't trust WTOC enough to buy their products. If they don't want to crash and burn like TSR did, they have to win those customers back -- this is probably a good way to go about it. Putting the power in the hands of the players will at least give them some better P.R.

    Overall, I think it's an interesting idea. What I find most amusing is that this is similar to an actual project, in that the deadline is only a couple weeks away. I'd better get started on my submission.

    Matt

  • I'll admit that I haven't been paying attention to the gaming industry in quite a few years, but the last time I checked, the RPG/Gaming industry was going downhill because the giant lizard with the head of a Pokemon named WoTC (and then Hasbro) was eating up all the gaming companies in sight.

    It wasn't too long ago that WoTC was considered that other Monopoly from Washington State. And after Hasbro bought Avalon-Hill, it seemed like if you wanted to play any interesting new board games, you had to learn German.

    What happened to make WoTC one of the good guys? Seriously, I'm lacking on the history of the last few years and would like an update... It must be more than just a silly contest that's causing /.ers to like this company...

    • They bought D&D and made it a functional system. That makes them pretty cool in my book. I never had a problem with WoTC, though, aside from thinking some of their rules revisions for Magic were kind of stupid.

  • You can't beat Gary Gygax's random dungeon algorithms from the back of the original Dungeon Masters' Guide.
    • Right on! My group sometimes busts out the old-school DMG for a few rounds of what we call Dogma. You roll 3d6 6 times, those are your stats. Decide on class. Roll for hit points. Roll for money. Buy some gear. Bang, you're in the game. No backstory, no bullshit, just pop, there you are.

      The GM uses the random encounters and dungeons in the back of the DMG. If you make it to third level, you get an alignment and a name (you even get to pick your own name!). If you die, you just immediately roll 3d6 6 times, etc, until you pop back into the game again.

      The DM's role is to abide by the decisions of the almighty Gygaxian algorithms, and to discourage players from actual role-playing until they've 'earned it' at third level. In practice, Dogma is fast-paced and not entirely unlike a game of fantasy Quake. In the right hands, it can be very, very funny... well, funny if you're a dork, anyway!
  • You can write a D&D universe where adventurers cope with slaying dragons in a post-9/11, post columbine, post-getting-your-ass-kicked-daily-in-high-school world.

  • A "Munchkin" quote? How much did Steve jackson pay you for that one?.. 8-)
  • by rtos ( 179649 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @10:24AM (#3659340) Homepage
    I can't believe that the from the you-must-face-the-gazebo-alone dept. bit hasn't drawn more comments and explanations. It's really pretty funny in that special D&D geek way. For your pleasure and information, here's the scoop from the rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ [enteract.com]. Blockquoth the FAQ:
    E15: What is the Gazebo story? And what's the Head of Vecna?

    Both of these are gaming stories that have been told and retold so many times that they have taken on the air of urban legends--where the original DM is a "friend of my sister-in-law's uncle's second cousin" and if you track that path down, it turns out to be just that, a story. However, in both of these cases, the original tellers are known, the original versions are archived on the web, and both stories really happened!

    The Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo, by Richard Aronson, is about a player who didn't know that a gazebo is a hutlike building typically found in parks, and had his character attack one. The story was originally written in 1986, and various versions of it can be found all over the web. One such place is the rec.humor.funny webpage [netfunny.com]; another, with some background into how the story spread, can be found at DreadGazebo.com [dreadgazebo.com].

    Whereas the tale of Eric and the Gazebo is about how lack of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, The Head of Vecna, by Mark Steuer, is more of a morality tale about how greed can make you stupid. Most *D&D players have heard about the Hand and Eye of Vecna, powerful artifacts which require the owner to cut off his own hand or eye in order to gain the powers. In this case, the characters found what they thought was the Head of Vecna, and ended up with several headless--and thus very dead--characters. The full story can be found at on the web at Stan Berry's webpage [hiwaay.net].

    There you go. Classic D&D humor no self respecting geek should be without. :)
    • It's actually even worse than that. There's a card game called Munchkin [sjgames.com] that plays on typical D&D antics (one of the cards is "Whine at the GM - go up one level"), and one of the monsters you can fight is the dreaded Gazebo, which includes the notation: "No one can help you. You must face the Gazebo alone."
  • The idea that D&D is off topic for slashdot is ridiculous.

    When you look at the popularity of rpg's in the computerati versus the general population, it's clear that there is more than coincidence at work.

    It's interesting too when you consider that E Gary Gygax was an insurance adjuster. It's all about the numbers. Gamers and open-source computer geeks are both romantic math amateurs.
  • by Embedded Geek ( 532893 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:16PM (#3660089) Homepage
    I've written a couple of things for Dragon [thehaws.org] in the past. While developing a gaming product is quite different, I like that the staff was very professional (with the exception of a single member of the editorial staff who shall remain nameless), they paid on acceptance, and the checks never bounced -- all of which are questionable when dealing with other F/SF magazines. They paid out about $400 for a 8K word article (which took about 40K of rewrites to do - about $1/hour). I also like that Dave Gross [wizards.com] is very quick turning around EMAILed article queries - perhaps a week or two is the longest I ever waited. That's greased lighting in the publishing biz, my friends.

    One thing to remember, though, is that unlike conventional publishers, game houses like WoTC buy all rights forever. That means you loose all control. It's not that big a deal (heck, you're being paid) but it sometimes irks me that I can't post my stuff at my site.

    If you're interested it pitching something to Dragon, read the submission guidelines [wizards.com] and come up with a half dozen ideas. Then EMAIL Dave [mailto] with the ideas. You might go through twenty or thirty ideas before coming up with a winner, but once he sees something he likes you can get down to scribbling.

    Good luck!

  • They should support GreyHawk. It is the Most detailed campaign setting they (TSR) ever had.
    It had the Highest quality maps, best Dungeons, great 'non-dungeon' plots. Granted they were seldom followed, but they where there.

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