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Encounter Dice AI
Continued Development of a Solo/Wardenless Methodology
This my second newsletter entry detailing the Solo/Wardenless methodology that I am developing for Mothership 1e as part of my upcoming book Advanced Rules. Last week, I outlined how to build Dynamic Tables to stock an area procedurally using a modified crawl procedure and an overloaded encounter die. In further newsletters, I will be discussing how to build maps specifically for this process, how to build player emulation personalities for contractors, and how to put it all together into a complete solo/Wardenless methodology.
Along with creating Dynamic Table you also need to create Dice AI to power your encounters if you are looking to create or convert modules for solo or Wardenless play. The Dice AI to power encounters is very simple and is inspired by the Dice AI table used for the Alpha Gaunt in Tuesday Knight Games module Dead Planet. For each creature, you need to create two tables:
A d10 Behavior Table
A d5 Attack Table
The Behavior Table guides how a creature will behave outside of Combat. Will it approach players, run away from them, follow a more complex pattern? With ten entries you have a lot to work with to translate from the narrative description of an encounter's behaviors. However, quite often, you don't need a full ten entries. If you only need two options, I would suggest using even and odd versus 1-5 and 6-10 because it is easier.
The Attack Table guides how a creature will behave once they are in Combat range. If a creature has multiple attacks with different ranges, they will attack with their longest range attack once they are in range. However, if they can use multiple attacks this attack table determines what attack they will use.
The positioning of behaviors and attacks on these tables is important since you only roll a single d10 and a single d5 during each turn of the procedure (detailed in a future post) to determine the AI behavior of all of the creatures and contractors that are in play. If you put everything in escalating order or place all of the same behaviors in the same numerical bands, it leads to a really boring predictable AI because every single creature will be approaching or attacking with the same general strength of attack in any given turn. If you randomize and alternate how the behaviors and attacks show up in the Dice AI tables, you end up with something very dynamic and unpredictable. Rather than rolling an AI roll for every creature and every Contractor every time, you roll once and randomize the Dice AI tables instead. This small tweak is what makes these Dice AI not become onerous to run, you aren’t making an AI roll for every encounter and encounter for every single turn.
Even if you don’t decide to run a creature using a Dice AI, thinking it through as a Warden or as a module writer gives you a much clearer picture of how to run a creature. I will be including Dice AI like this for any creatures I develop moving forward because the table gives a very concise mechanical definition of what you mean by a narrative description without becoming something too onerous to use. I think of these Dice AI and Dynamic Tables as messages about intent that writers can send to Wardens through their text. Every table interprets and runs a module differently, but these methods make clearer the type of experience intended by the designer even if you decide to steer drastically away from these tables.
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To help make this text make sense, I am also providing an example. This example is for a creature from my WIP module Orgy of the Blood Leeches that has been built using these Dice AI from the ground up. It is my first full-sized module to take a solo or Wardenless approach first rather than adding it as an additional protocol. Advanced Rules is being made to serve as the second book to accompany this module.
C: 40, I: 40, 3(20)
Heavily mutated host that has lost the ability to see beyond rough shapes. Hunts in packs using echolocation. Weak to bright lights and drawn to loud sounds. Bright lights stun a hopper for 1d5 turns. Highly intelligent and will seek to avoid humans unless provoked or hungry. Can merge with other hoppers to make a centipede-like creature. Merged hoppers combine their health and increase Combat by 10 for each additional Hopper; however, every Wound of damage causes a merged Hopper to lose 10 Combat. Can move from Out of Range to Adjacent in a single turn.
Impale - 2 Wounds, Gore, Adjacent
Can leap across a room, knocking someone over, impaling them with their keratin infused legs
Requires a successful Body or Speed Save to avoid
Spit - 2d10 for 1d5 turns unless chemically neutralized with a base, Fire, Long Range
Corrosive spit that melts flesh, highly flammable
Will eat through anything but heavy steel or titanium
If collected in a proper vessel, it is well-suited to making a molotov cocktail.
Claw - 1d10x2, Bleeding, Adjacent
Can use it’s rudimentary claws to slice flesh
d10 - Behavior
1-3 - Attempt to surround the nearest sound
4-6 - Move directly towards the nearest sound
7-8 - Regroup
9 - Attempt Escape
10 - Merge
d5 - Attack
1 - Claw
2 - Spit
3 - Impale
4 - Impale + Claw
5 - Impale + Spit
This is a reminder of our upcoming crowd sale for the boxed version of The Progeny that starts on September 12. It features a simplified version of this Dice AI (three entries in an Attack Table and behaviors so simple they do not require a Behavior Table) system. The Progeny is a proof-of-concept for this methodology and for a portion of Orgy of the Blood Leeches.
RV Games Shop - This is the best place if you want physical copies from us, we are able to keep all of the funds from this (minus overhead).
I’m now on Bluesky. It seems like this is where Twitter folks are going, so I’m trying it out.
Outsourced: The Luko Fin Corp Deception is a Kickstarter Campaign for an upcoming Mothership 1e module by Spicy Tuna RPG. It includes an adventure by Christian Sorrell (MeatCastle Gameware) and solo rules by Alfred Valley. Check it out!
Outer Rim: Uprising is an upcoming Kickstarter Campaign for a bundle of 25 zines, pamphlets, maps, cards, audio tape, and playing facing accessories by a roster of 12 veteran RPG designers. This is put together by Iko of The Lost Bay. This will be one hell of a package.