Athena Toolset 1.0.2

Update on the program package from two weeks ago for OED rules assessment of character levels, demographics, treasure and XP, monster strength, NPC generators, etc., etc.: In place of the list of separate tool downloads, I've replaced it with a master program and a single ZIP file to make downloading and getting started easier.

If you get the ZIP at the linked page below, extract it, and on the command line type java -jar Athena.jar. Append the name of the tool you want to run (Arena, Marshal, MonsterMetrics, or NPCGenerator), as well as any desired arguments (run with -? to see the available options). That probably looks a lot nicer as a single package download. Also I added a link to the JavaDoc pages for the whole package. Good luck!


Vancian Magic is Mathematics

Handwritten math in binder
I saw someone on Twitter this week claiming that seeing Vancian magic as mathematics was a mistaken reader interpretation (and claimed that something very different was the case). I knew it was, rather, explicitly described as math, but it took me a few minutes to find the quote. In case I need that again in the future, here it is (page 12 of my copy of Dying Earth):
In this fashion did Turjan enter his apprenticeship to Pandelume. Day and far into the opalescent Embelyon night he worked under Pandelume's unseen tutelage. He learned the secret of renewed youth, many spells of the ancients, and a strange abstract lore that Pandelume termed "Mathematics."

"Within this instrument," said Pandelume, "resides the Universe. Passive in itself and not of sorcery, it elucidates every problem, each phase of existence, all the secrets of time and space. Your spells and runes are built upon its power and codified according to a great underlying mosaic of magic. The design of this mosaic we cannot surmise; our knowledge is didactic, empirical, arbitrary. Phandaal glimpsed the pattern and so was able to formulate many of the spells which bear his name. I have endeavored through the ages to break the clouded glass, but so far my research has failed. He who discovers the pattern will know all of sorcery and be a man powerful beyond comprehension."

So Turjan applied himself to the study and learned many of the simpler routines.

"I find herein a wonderful beauty," he told Pandelume. "This is no science, this is art, where equations fall away to elements like resolving chords, and where always prevails a symmetry either explicit or multiplex, but always of a crystalline serenity."


New OED Software Tools

One of my trademark gestures with OED games is to rely on a number of software and statistical tools to make sure that the systems we use are as robust, dependable, and playable at the table (or virtual table) as possible. For some time I've released the source code to those tools on Github. More than once I've received a comment that someone would like to use them, but as a non-coder they're not set up to do development & compilation from source files.

Here's a step in that direction; I've made pre-compiled Java executable JAR files and released them on a new add-ons page at OEDGames.com. So you can just grab one of those programs and the data files and run them immediately.

Caveat: For efficiency purposes they're still command-line tools with no graphical interface. So you'll still need to be comfortable with opening a command line and typing something like java -jar Arena-1.0.1.jar on your system, plus any command-line arguments to control the process; run with the -? to see the options available with each tool.

In particular, the new thing I've added in the lat week is the capacity for the NPCGenerator tool to output a batch of fully-formed PDF character sheets in the OED style. Run this like java -jar NPCGenerator.1.0.1.jar -p to get PDF output files (among other option switches). Beyond that, the Marshal program to batch-create large groups of man-types, with leaders fully developed over their entire simulated adventuring career, is also likey useful to DMs of any classic-D&D style games.

If anyone wants to take that code and create GUI wrappers around them for less-technical users, please go ahead, as the code is all released under the GPL on our Github page (ChgoWiz, I'm looking at you, among others). Hope that helps some folks!


Book of War 2nd Edition Draft Rules

Saturday night Isabelle & I streamed our first episode of wargaming from our house with the Book of War 2nd Edition rules, via the Wandering DMs channel. It was really a blast! I was so jazzed afterward that I almost watched the whole thing over again twice. :-) It's pretty neat to get to share what our normal back-and-forth chemistry is with other people.

Peter Conrad had the bright idea on YouTube to post the brief Player Aid Card that we were using in this episode, so here it is below. This is pretty tentative (I guess it always feels that way), and I was still tweaking and balancing prices in the afternoon running up to our playtest. Part of the goal for the 2nd Edition is to massage some rules in ways that make the basic game play a bit truer to historical reality, as we understand it. What I've been finding is that this accidentally makes some rules actually simpler. Of course, the core of the system meshes directly with classic D&D as it always did, and you can pretty much immediately convert stock D&D monsters into a Book of War game as we always have (pricing, of course, being the hard part... more CPU cycles to come on that).