Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wind Again

The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms may have just solved the weather problem in adventure game hex crawling. I'll be using that one.

For the saltbox, though, the wind is so important I want a specific chart.  I looked in the Cook/Marsh Expert book and simplified the wind table there.
I realize that you might want a little more in terms of variety, but for now I want as simple as possible. This boils it down to 6 types of wind. If you have a magic item that affects the wind you can just roll a d6. I also converted percentile chances in the notes to d6 rolls. that means the probability is higher but not by too much in my mind.


  1. Seems like there are 2 systems here: one for incremental change from some base condition (reaction rolls, which, BTW, I love) and one for setting the base condition? Looks good to me.

    Did I mention the Beaufort Scale to you? Abstracts to 12 levels, actually used by sailors. I can imagine using that plus an incremental change mechanic: every level above your ship's safe sailing wind inflicts a -1 to skill rolls/saves. A roll missed by n (10?) means a mishap and reroll to regain control... Which could be a nice tension-building device: once bits start falling off the ship you have to keep rolling and risking more losses. You can jettison stuff to increase your ship's safe sailing number, but as you lose masts and rudders your penalties go up.

    Maybe cargo/encumbrance acts as a straight penalty to all rolls involving the ship- both managing to move in light winds and staying afloat in heavy ones. Maybe this is already too complicated.

  2. You could do two rolls. I was going to go with Expert's system while in the ocean, so it would just be one roll a day for the wind. (You could get some weather effects implied by those).

    I'd heard of the Beaufort scale, but gotta love you some Wikipedia. Their chart has color codes, wave height, wind speed-- the only thing lacking is a way to make mild weather more frequent, the semi-curve of the 2d6 roll.

    One thing I've realized is that we usually approach these aspects of simulating a world in an isolated way. So, we think about wind and what archetypal features we would want to capture, and for systems that can be measured on a scale we get into the nitty gritty of the scale. I love that stuff.

    What I'm realizing, though, is that these are all little programs that have to run in my brain at the same time when we're playing. This is with 7 people asking me what damage their hirelings do, and them not really understanding what "armor class" means, and random encounter checks and morale and . . .

    When you stop to check a rule book it's like the computer showing the the wait cursor.

    I guess I want something like the old unix programs-- they do one tiny thing, but do it simply and well. And you can stack a lot of them on top of each other because of that.

    That being said, I also realize that as I learn these systems I am able to handle more complexity, more detail, and more mechanics at once. So, what rules are actually in play at my table change as I gain levels in DM.

    Complicated. I'm thinking any rule set should at least be aware of this and offer optional rules, not just as alternates but as increasing levels of complexity. I know some of them do.

  3. This stacking of problems makes perfect sense to me: the core mechanic can be as simple as possible. If things hit a certain complexity - enough that you need a subsystem for them - then you're kind of playing a new game (in this case called "let's not sink!"), and maybe everyone can get involved in that. My favourite response to any difficult situation that arises like this in play is to say "well, what are you going to do about that?" and see what the players think might be reasonable.

    Another method for weighted rolls: roll 1d6 (-1 to get wind force) and reroll and add results if you get a 6. Out at sea Beaufort force 0 to 4 is common and safe (though possibly frustrating). Force 5 is when things start to get interesting, and maybe when I'd start calling for skill rolls. Second die is also 1d6 -1 so double 6 means force 10 (and reroll). Above force 7 you could be in real trouble, 9 and above only happens rarely and only very rarely goes on for more than 24 hrs (though it can). Above 10 you should already be ashore if possible.

  4. I'll have to give this a closer read tomorrow. I'm glad, for entirely selfish reasons, that you're sticking to 2d6: Because there's a number of daily rolls in my set-up, I've tried to configure them all to use the same dice. 2d6 weather, 2d6 wind, 2d6 random encounter, 2d6 events-at-sea, 2d6 disease subtable, 2d6 salvage subtable, etc. I need to be able to churn through them quickly!

  5. I'm glad you liked the weather reaction roll idea! Definitely, you need a little more information when on the high seas; I'd probably use wind levels similar or the same as yours, but go with the reaction roll to determine when it steps up or dies down, so that changes in wind strength are more gradual. I also keep the ship movement information separate, on this diagram based on LBB information (although I'm thinking of redoing it so that sailing mods are on the left and galley mods are on the right.)

    One thing I still have to think about is wind direction. I think the random direction for gales at sea you have listed is a good idea, but closer inland and with other wind strengths, it would be more regular. I seem to remember reading that winds tend to blow inland at night and seaward during the day, or maybe it was vice versa.

  6. I'm not sure how I'll handle it. Maybe the default will be the seasonal Etesian winds, then a reaction roll tells me if the winds change for a bit, then I have to roll wind direction on your chart and intensity on mine? That's a lot of steps. Maybe your reaction roll can give me direction and intensity too.