Showing posts with label Gemstone IV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gemstone IV. Show all posts

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Gaming the Game - Stolen Ideas

Duskruin is current Gemstone IV paid adventure

When I want to play an RPG style game but don't have players, I usually log into Gemstone IV. I've been playing it for decades. It's sort of build on Rolemaster, but went through a process to unlink itself from Iron Crown Enterprise's IP. That isn't terribly important to this post, but what is important is the ideas I've stolen from Gemstone IV and by extension, probably Rolemaster. 

One of the things I never liked about AD&D and D&D is the selection of monsters used to challenge the players. It works on the supposition of monsters are a unique challenge to the players. While that starts off being true, there comes a practical point where one or many lower level monsters are not a credible threat to the players. 

D&D 3.x fixes this with challenge ratings. It works pretty well, with the exception of creatures with special powers. They don't seem to have the appropriate CR assigned to them. 

Gemstone IV has a different method of ranking for creatures. Being a MMO, your character can literally walk up an incredibly high level creature and get turned to dust. That works for an MMO where you have the concept of "extra lives" but it doesn't really work on the tabletop. 

For more evenly matched creatures against the player, there is a sliding scale. A first level character against a 1st level creature is worth 100 experience. A second level character against a 1st level creature is only going to give the PC 90 experience. By 11th level, it's kind of pointless to fight 1st level kobolds and as a consequence, they don't give any experience any more. 

I like that. It creates a coherent world. At 10th level and beyond, fighting kobolds shouldn't be the point for AD&D and D&D characters. They are so past that. Kobolds don't stop existing, they merely cease being something the player should fear. While you can ramp up the numbers and abilities of kobolds, they still aren't intellectually challenging. A zillion of them merely represents a zillion chances to roll the dice. That stops being a story real quick. 

I tend to use the formula 10 equal level encounters should equal one level. A party of 4 characters fighting 40 equal level monsters should be one level of experience for each player character. What this does is enable me, the DM the ability to pace the party. Do I want 40 monsters all at once or 10 groups of four? Probably someplace in between. 

This builds a coherent world in my mind. On day one, a nasty encounter with a kobold patrol is fine. Six sessions into the campaign, sure, my players encounter that patrol of kobolds but they are super leary of mixing it up with the players. 10 sessions later and the party may be hiring them as man-at-arms, porters, etc. The kobolds didn't disappear, their role changed because they aren't a challenge. 

I kind of like that concept and generally use it over mathematical gyrations provided in the DMG. 

As a consequence, it does break the model of gold for experience, but I never liked that anyway. Fighters don't go to fighter school to level up. As they gain experience, they gain followers who make them explore the concept of their trade as they teach others. 

Having a simple rule of thumb allows me to plan more fully. Not just what sort of monsters the players will defeat, but also what sort of resources they players will encounter. If the party plows into a patrol of monsters, chases them home and has the tribe bribe them not to attack the village, that's a win. It is total defeat for the monsters, perhaps dozens of them because they offered surrender or capituation. 

This allows me to control what resources end up in the player's hands beyond having them scoop up piles of treasure and hoping for a random roll. I know what is on the table and can use the interactions between the party and the challengers to guide the party. Gold is gold, but this method leapfrogs the concept of magic swords and other nice prizes. A tribe of kobolds might offer up a nice +1 two handed sword to escape the party's wrath because it's a six foot long weapon for 4 foot tall creatures. It's not valuable to a kobold. Plus the kobolds can hint at it's power so as not to waste the party's time trying to identify every item that comes to them. 

It's a nice feature because it establishes a history of what happened. In the above example, the kobold tribe doesn't have to be obliterated to represent victory over 40 kobolds. They can come to an agreement with the party that in exchange for the sword and a promise not to raid the town anymore, they can live in (a fragile) peace. The party know they are there and can sometimes draw resources from them. A safe place to sleep, a good gossip starter or perhaps something else. 

Stolen ideas are good. Why don't you join me in the world of Gemstone IV by clicking the link below. GSIV has a nice F2P model that will give you a taste of an expansive world of magic. 





Thursday, January 14, 2021

From the Archive- June 13, 2012 - Gemstone IV Review

Here is a throwback post originally hosted on my MYGSIV and UNPWND.com websites. The game still goes strong in 2021. 


Gemstone IV is a persistent MMORPG, running since 1988. The player base is measured in the thousands with hundreds of player logged in at anytime. Gemstones IV is unusual, it is text-based. All locations, actions and events are described via the game window. Commands are input in a style similar to the old Infocom Games such as Zork or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Would-be-heroes have a choice of races and professions; Humans to Giantmen, Rogues to Wizards. Many of the classes are standard fare for fantasy games but others are wholly unique to GSIV. The classes are Warriors, Rogues, Clerics, Wizards, Empaths, Rangers, Sorcerers, Bards and Paladin. The most unique class is Empaths; they are healers who transfer wounds from an injured person to themselves. Then they heal themselves.
Races are more diverse than most games: Elves (dark, sylan, half), humans, giantmen, dwarves, aelotoi, Erithian, gnomes (burgahl and forest), halfling and half-krolvians. Each has its own favor and cultural background. In some cases there are obvious advantages to a race: Giantmen and drawves are sturdy and can carry more items, dark elves are immune to sickness, aelotoi have insect wings, halflings have better stealth and speed than average. All races are playable for all professions which is a nice switch and I will come back to that later.
The world of Gemstone IV has somewhat more depth than the typical hack and slash adventure. Characters can actually interact and change their environment. Wizards can create permanent magic items, weapons and armor and can recharge many of them. Sorcerers can recharge scrolls, make items and summon demons or animate dead creatures to do their bidding. Bards can play music or use musically based spells to generate sonic weapons and armor. They can also read the history of items or discover the purpose and abilities of weapons. Warriors can manufacture sheaths, repair weapons and armor. Clerics can raise the dead. Rogues can pick locks, remove them and install the locks on other pieces of equipment. Rangers can give temporary bonuses to armor and make magic wands and rods. Empaths heal. Paladins can bond with weapons for enhanced combat skills and raise dead like cleric.
In addition to the class skills above, all characters can forage for herbs, run messages, forge weapons, cobble, create arrows and bolts, and fish. Most class skills or secondary skills generate experience points. In fact, the game assumes that a character will complete between first three to five levels without combat at all.
All of these features create an environment of cooperation among characters. This is not you typical backstabbing player-vs.-player game. While you can kill other players, there is a justice system and social norms in place to keep this to a minimum.
There is the usual aspect of hunt together for treasure and better weapons and armor, but within the system it is possible for a player to hunt alone using nothing but the equipment their character was given at generation. No particular “player class vs race build” is needed to gain an advantage. Game balance is very well thought out.
I have spent years playing this game and the community and constant updates keep me coming back for more.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Episode 002 - I Chose Poorly and De Ut Des

This episode has a format change base on feedback I've received. I have a new sponsor, Anchor.FM and the format now supports the concept of sponsors. I also have some new music so let's all give thanks to Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com for the following tracks:

Evening Fall (Piano) and
Starry
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

In this episode, I reminisce about 4 games: D&D, Star Frontiers, Gemstone IV and Traveller.  I cover 35+ years of gaming experiences in one podcast. Part of the reason I have been offline for so long was a mash up of getting my lesson plans online for students, my classes at Buffalo State suddenly switching to an online format and the associate PITA from taking finals online.

I hope this format works better than Episode 001 and 000's. It was a pain to record, mostly owing to my new Podcat, Shinobu. She's cute even as she climbs the cables.

Now on to the episode!






Friday, May 19, 2017

Gemstone IV and The Wizard

This week, I will be reviewing the Simutronics Wizard for Mac and PC. The Wizard is the client for most Simutronics' games, I will be focusing on Gemstone IV, but this could apply to any game supported by the Wizard.

My goals are:
Install Wizard on Mac OS 9.
Install Wizard on Chromebook.
Install Wizard on Windows.
Getting the most out of a Mac OS 9 install using other software.

Bonus points if I cover:
Telnetting into the game.
Cover Stormfront for Windows and/or Linux.
Cover other MUD software for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, OS X and Chromebook.

Tall order...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Certain Vibe – Dyson’s Delves, Tsoran and Gemstone IV

I’ve been a gamer since I could read. Perhaps, thanks to my dad, before I could read.
Some of my favorite games have something in common, a certain vibe. My favorite D&D modules are some of the earliest: Keep on the Borderlands,Ghost Tower of Inverness, Isle of Dread, and the adventure that appeared in Butterfield, Parker and Honigmann’s What is Dungeons and Dragons book.
All of them have the same vibe; an organic construction, a hint of what is to come and a basic hook that could be implemented at anytime. There is the name place which is foreboding and yet interesting. A diagram like structure of events. A collection of “show, don’t tell” sample characters to inform the DM of what is expected from the players. And nothing else.
It was all so simple:
“Do X and maybe Y will happen.
“Can’t really say for sure, your players have free rein.
“Make it work.”
I loved the way these old modules assumed that you and your players had something to bring to the table. There were events, maps, and charts documented, but you needed people to make the whole thing work.
That is awesome.
Recently, I returned to Gemstone IV, a MUD that thrives on the idea that players make the story. Being entirely text based, everything is very rich in descriptions and only rarely does art make it’s way into this world. There are many talented artists at Simutronics; but again, living by their player base, the players also a very creative bunch. Strangely, one of the most prolific “artists” was a player going by the handle Tsoran. He spent his time creating maps of the Lands of Elanthia. He may not consider himself to be an artist, but his maps ARE the image of the Lands. It is what I picture when I think of the game.
A number of years ago, Tsoran stepped away from the game and left the work of mapping the Lands to others. There would be no more updates to his maps. I have always been enviously of his detailed maps and wanted to make my own. Sadly, they never compared and I did not share too many.
Until I stumbled on Dyson Logo and his tutorials. Using his methods, I quickly cranked out a map that I loved. One that did not surpass Tsoran’s source materials, but stood along side. I was extremely please with myself.
Soon, I found myself digging through Dyson’s maps and blog postsfor more artwork to emulate so that I could improve my works. I found that he has a series of books called Dyson Delves. I ordered the first one and found myself back in The Keep on the Borderlands.
Dyson’s books capture that certain vibe. Unscripted but beautifully detailed. Just thumbing through the first book gave me the same feeling I had when reading those classic modules.
Go give Dyson a try. His work is available at RPGNow in electronic form or from Lulu in book form.