Game Mastering Skills and Heuristics

These are Game Mastering Skills and Heuristics used in playing Table-Top Role-playing games.  



Newbie Gamers

They may want to budget how much time and effort they will spend in this. In this Case I will format this that way Heading 1 will be the Key overview concepts that is still practicable and all the sub-headings are sub-concepts that are variations of the overview heading.

        These skills and heuristics can become Intuitive approaches, Conditioned responses, good habits, and reliability executed successfully, and a way to measurable where the gamer is and choose what to work on.

Core Skill.

Examples are Pacing, Active Listening, Yes And/But etc… These key skills help in running games. A core skill is found in most gamers (if not all), and people may practice it intuitively or actively work on these skills.  


Examples are All the Bias Exploiting Framing Effects. These are non-core skills, they take a practice to be able to do well.


These are very minor skills, simple tests or rules of thumb that may be easily mastered and aid in the game.

Planning Process

What is the most straightforward way to plan a game?

  1. Propose a Game and Theme to GM or Players. (1-2 min spiel)
  1. Documenting the Expectations (10-20 mins)
  2. What to document? (see Goals and Constraints, Active Listening)
  3. How much to document? (see Documentation, Chunking)
  1. Feedback to clarify expectations. (2-20 mins per player)
  1. How to give Feedback (see Consensus Building)
  2. How long and what expectations to nail down?
  1. Develop Setting and Characters.
  1. Develop Outline (See Pacing and Narrative Structure)
  2. How much to prepare? (see Chunking)
  3. Prepare Challenges (see Setting Challenges).


See Chunking.

See Pacing



Taking Notes


  1. Efficient in capturing Ideas. The ability to capture the idea effectively in as few words as possible. (See Active Listening, Comprehension, Goals and Constraints,)
  2. Accessible. Easily access the information. Getting the information in a timely way, as well as capturing the information timely. See Chunking, Organization)

Goals and Constraints

Skill. Setting out the goals and constraints is a method planning which allows one to be able to do very complex tasks. This works by having a list of Goals and Constraints and continuously referencing back to these every time one fully engages their concentration at the task at hand. It creates a feedback loop to be able to measure any clear progress and goals.

        Every time an issue, concern, a road block happens the person simply goes back to the Goals and Constraints and adds it to either goals or constraints.

        The level of skill is how quickly one can formulate Goals and Constraints, update them, and proceed back to the task at hand. As well as how clearly and effectively these can be worded, so that others can act on these same Goals and Constraints.  

        Actionablility is a combination of the Next Action method in Getting Things Done by David Allen applied broadly. It draws from the best practices in of writing Requirements and Charters. Its kind a supported by  "Judgement Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases" (1982) by Khaneman and Tversky which in relation to this says that human suck at judgment and evaluations. Actionable statements instead of giving a large number of criteria to judge before acting shortcuts this human failing and gets things going faster. There is an assumption that people will adjust their actions and improve on the actionable statement with more specific details.

As I imagine instead of giving a criterion (that occupy working memory slots) by which the listener has to juggle and process, giving the listener an action and the ability to adjust to reality is far better.



These are actions or scope of work. A test that something is a goal is that can it be done. Can it be a measure of having accomplished one’s objective. An improved test is setting out a budget or deadline.  


These are limitations, options avoided, weaknesses to be avoided when possible, or actions not to take. Unlike goals this list gets very long as every hurdle or challenge tends to become a constraint. Most new information and challenges are constraints. When a challenge or hurdle is identified it is filed away in a constraint to be better worded.  

Player Goals and Constraints

Heuristic. This is the Goals and Constraints used by Players and the GM to set up reward and penalties. Establishing such, typically based on character story, disadvantages and advantages, allows the GM the measure by which to reward or penalize how the Players incorporate their stories.

        This can be between GM and Players, or the GM can make it Players rewarding Players by giving them XP or CP or character points that they can only reward to others.

        I’ve found this very helpful and effective in my games.


Skill. This is the skill of asking the 5 Why’s (5Ys), and the 5 Wahs (which are who, what, where, when, which, and how). The skill allows the person to quickly analyse an event, action, cause and effect quickly and discover deeper root causes. This skill is also used in creating fictional details with consistency.




Skill. This is a skill of achieving a level of concentration that allows one to get real complex and valuable work done. In relation to TRPGS, some Gamers get their kicks in the preparation of a game using Deepwork.



Setting Challenges

Skill. Setting Challenges is the skill and process of creating opportunities and threats in a game in relation to the characters and players.

        The skill comes also in writing and designing these challenges that engages the players effectively, where the gm takes little time processing the Player’s and Character’s desires and setting up the threats and opportunities that engages them.

Use Analysis to generate details and relationships for Challenges.

        Some game systems do not tackle Setting Challenges specifically and methodically as Dungeon world, where they call them Fronts.


Character Options

Skill. Consider the Character’s Options. What are the Character and World Mechanics of an RPG System, and how to present these options as simply, clearly, and effectively as possible.

        Some game systems do not tackle Character Options with as much focus as Dungeon World.


Niche Protection

Heuristic. This is the heuristic to be able to let Player’s Character shine in an aspect of play, which doesnt overlap too much with other Players. This heuristic exists to balance the spotlight and attention given to a particular character relative to others.



Heuristics. The degree of interaction the PCs have in the game’s world. This can be measured by who get affected in degrees of relationship: the PC’s friends and family, their neighbors and peers, their community or social group, their country.

        A Test is who are those affected by the actions of the PC’s. At what level will the consequences of the Pc’s actions reverberate. You can imagine it as a ripple effect of the PC’s actions.

Some games are only the PCs and the dungeon, no other thing gets affected. Some Warfare games have Nations and States are affected.  

Source Kenneth Hite in GURPS Horror


Heuristics. What the PCs can influence or affect.

        You can imagine this as the Sphere of effect the PCs generate.

        While Scale is the extent of the Ripple, Scope is the Size of the Pebble or Splash.

Source Kenneth Hite in GURPS Horror


Heuristics. The degree by which the PCs negatively affected by the consequences of their Actions.

        Visually this is the bounce of the ripple effect towards the direction of the PCs.

        Use Austerity instead of “Realistic” when referring to the degree by which PCs can get away with breaches of social order or laws. A high Austerity game has the consequences matching the real world, A very high Austerity game (more consequences that what we believe is normal) is for games of Paranoia and Intrigue.  


Kenneth Hite in GURPS Horror


Genre, Style,

Heuristic.This is convention of ideas that the game follows.

        When we say Fantasy we imagine Lord of the Rings and all the many memetics that are related to it, either drawing from it or it drew from. When we say Cthuluh Horror we have the same association.

Narrative Structure


Skill. These are formulas for stories and games. The skill is an intuitive mastery over the various narrative structures that exist and being able to blend, deviate, and pivot expertly in planning the structure of the story. In a given Format or Structure a stage of Pacing will have a certain number of Goals and Constraints, typically following a particular theme. These formats will be laid out in a Pacing Process.








The Cozy




Running Games




Hook Creation

Hook is Conflict, Uncertainty, unresolved,

A set of expectations.

Stack exchange 


Heuristic. Interpreting the players declarations and actions, especially when they show initiative and collaborate, in the best light. Typically this means assuming the player has factored obvious details, exceptions, and other specifications their character would reasonably not overlook.

        This is the Opposite of Strawman, where the flaws of what is said and done is exaggerated and made worse. If the other person always had to qualify their statements, it would add a lot of detail but it may ruin the pacing and the flow of the game running.

        Sometimes the details can be part of the engagement, challenge, opportunity, and risk of a Scene. Working with details will be covered in a future topic. Particularly Collaborated Detail.

Game-Master Options

Core Skill. These is the knowledge and awareness of the Options and Tools a GM has to push the story and the game forward and engage the Players.

        So far only Dungeon world has gone and codified and refined (and designed) the activities of Game Masters.


Key GM Options

  1. Focus On (TOWS)
  1. Escalate
  2. Reframe
  1. Foreshadowing
  2. Inquire

Focus on

Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Strengths (TOWS)

Heuristic.Game Masters develop the world of the Characters through Threats, then Opportunities, then by their weaknesses, and then finally by their Strength. This is the process by which the Game Master builds the world and then presents and relates them to the PCs.

        This is the Opposite of how Character’s View the Game’s Reality: through their Strengths, then by their Weakness (Constraints), by what Opportunities to be had, and then finally the Threats (and the Risks).

Threats and Opportunity


Telegraph, Grim Portents, GM option



GM option



GM option

Heuristic. Escalate a Confict.

GM option

Escalate Dangerously


Focus on Costs





Divide and Conquer

Devils Advocate

Immediate Effect

Potential Effect

Future Effect


Keep it Simple Stupid,

Heuristics. Applicable to game design and game preparation.

Chunking means keeping options, modifiers, and factors in 2-4 items. In GMing this means presenting only 2-4 leads, NPCs, modifiers applicable to the scene, limit the steps of causes in any analysis (don’t go full 5Ys), allowing the player to find the answer in just a few questions (5Ws), courses of actions, factors, clues, etc… to the players.

In Game Design this means keeping the options, steps,  to 2-4 items. This means using broader categories or definitions, so that they can chunk into 2-4 items. Within these 2-4 items there can be more nuances and options.


See Bounded Rationality

System Overview

Heuristic. These are the skills involved in learning to play and run TRPGs. This typically involves all the  mechanics a TRPG system may be needed to play. Use this approach to budget how one spends their time.  

Simply read up an overview of the Core Mechanic, Character Creation, key Conflict Mechanics (like Combat, Social, Intrigue,Warfare, Economic etc…) and World Mechanics. Plan from list of mechanics how to spend your time learning the systems concepts.Communicate to the players their own expent and expectations of learning such. Example is budgeting 5-10 mins scanning the table of contents, chapter heading and introductions.

        Measuring how long it takes to learn a core’ systems requisite mechanics and being able to start playing is a measure of a system’s degree of complexity. I recommend saying: “it will get me an hour of reading and studying” or asking “what is the minimum amount of understanding do I need to play this game”. Also consider “What is the minimum amount of understanding do I need to enjoy this system?”. This is a more constructive approach to comparing systems and being able to communicate one’s challenges.

Entities and Organizations


One Spotlight per Player

Heuristic. This is a Policy but can be a heuristic/rule of thumb for the GM to measure his engagement with his players. In the course of the game Track the spotlight or highlighted scenes per player. This helps to track if the GM has given  the Players a balanced amount of attention.  

Yes &/But

Core Skill. Adapt most feedback to Yes and or Yes but. This tests the Improvisation and collaboration Skill.

A well known technique in Improvisation discussed at length in Happy Jacks and other more Narrative Driven Gming Styles.

Active Listening

Core Skill. Using the techniques in Active Listening in GMing, to optimize communication in the game. Active listening is made up of a lot of  Disciplining the GM's Listening Skills.


Core Skill. The skill of thinking up and bring up interesting topics to the other party, and maintaining a chain of interesting topics. In the beat or rythmm of conversation the gamer can do the folllowing:


Skill. Misunderstanding happens a lot, there are many biases that work to make our listening selective and poor. It doesn't help that we take communication for granted and can be poor in communication as well.

In my experience relistening to past games (via Google Hangouts record hangout function) I’ve been able to have a close to objective observation of how often I miscommunicate and misunderstand

Listening Comprehension can be measured in Ideas per minute or words per minute. The gamer can test his listening comprehension by simply being able to take notes and capture the ideas as the person discusses them. Comprehension skill becomes more apparent when the person speaking is giving less than a minute for you to write notes. After the activity check how usable are the notes.


Effective Communication Skill by Dalton Kehoe, Ph.D. York University

New Information Test

Heuristic. Test for New Information is simply a habit of checking for new information. Its a way to check if the discussion or activity is distracting from the key matter at hand. Its asks:

Player conveys something new about the character and a test of how well the GM listens. This New Information Test has to be made per Act, and maybe per scene (if it's a small detail).


Skill. The ability to guess, feel, or know the emotion of another person  or a group of people in a circumstance.

Same as Comprehension but this works with Ideas. The best way to test one’s empathy is simply trying to predict the emotion of someone in that situation.


Consensus Decision Making

Skill. The skill of getting the group's consensus in a particular course of action. GM uses this skill to move the story forward, especially when he seeks players buy in.

In its simplest form is keeping a player checklist to make sure we go through all of them every ACT or Scene.
        This skill means knowing how to get honest feedback, align goals, create real dialogue among players, and bring about consensus. Players can roleplay friction and conflict but the everyone must be able to maintain consensus of what is fun and what lines cannot be crossed, or the permission to try adjusting boundaries of taste.

This skill is can be measured by how much of the players feel like they have a strong influence on the game. Similar to Collbaorative World Building but this focuses more on the Games progress instead of the World building.


Session, Act, Scene, and Player Scenes

Collaborative World Building

Skill. This is the skill of being flexible enough to work in world building details the players or the GM makes into play. This can be in character background, motives, or improvisations of facts during play.

        This makes the setting and the world more collaborative and open. It helps in sandbox style settings where players and GM just make a world up on a fly.

There is a level of skill to this because some settings is hard to work in new material, like established or historical settings. The level of skill becomes apparent by the ability of the GM or the player to work in their own details seamlessly and to the approval of everyone.  





Case Study Method

Heuristic. This is a style of play that focuses on Problem Solving. The Case Study method is a method of learning where students role-play being the entrepreneur or businesses and making decisions based on their resources, market conditions, goals, and constraints. The Game Running method that follows this learning method heavily focuses in problem solving. Like Horror, the players must want this level of immersion and challenge. Case study method can be very frustrating because it is more austere (see Austerity) when it comes failure rates and difficulty.  


Skill. This is the skill of running a Horror games. This skill means the GM knows how to maintain the atmosphere, the player buy in, and the pacing needed to run a horror game.

Players must actively want to maintain the atmosphere of fear and tension. This means the GM should be the last one, (and a sign of his level of skill) to break character and atmosphere.

The GM must know:


Kenneth Hite’s GURPS Horror.

Building Tension - Extra Credits.


Skill. The skill of running mysteries is a GM skill that focus on information management, communication, and presentation.

The GM skill in myster


Lisa J. Steele GURPS Mysteries

Narrative Combat 

Skill. Simpler combat that is easier to run, grants more agency, and more enjoyment.

Narrative Combat Guide reference sheet - i will make my own version of this ( i have a different set of guidelines, I seem to achieve the same results in a bit of a different way).  

Workstream: Task Grouping

At first the GM masters this, but Players learn this for their Staff, Entourage, Factions or Organizations and Armies

Intuitive metrics

Using Heartbeats, Breaths, Paces, Object-Lengths (Men-Abreast, Horse-Lengths, etc...), the time it takes to perform an action, sing a song,  Intuitive Metrics instead of hard metrics because in Airsoft I realized I think in those terms when the perception of time gets wonky

Test of Agency

Heuristic. How to tell if a scene creates conflict, enhances the role-playing experience, and allows the story to move along?

Defines Character Conflict

Does the Scene bring into focus Internal Conflict of the Character? Does it surface something that illuminates the character Background, Personal history, or Motives?

Character’s Sacrifice

Does the character have to sacrifice something valuable: make a priority clearly more significant than another? Give something up? Does he have to Push down a priority or something important to the PC into a lesser importance?

Peak End Effect.

This bias means you have to leave in a High Note! So work on your ending the game strategies because biases like the Peak End Effect diminish the awesomeness over time the “Experiencing self” had vs the “How the Memory of the Game was Shelved”.

Use Repetition and Post Game Narrative Bias to polish the memory.

This means a Short Game can be awesome if you have a good strategy in packaging the memory very well.

Duration Neglect.

Ending a session badly ruins the experience more than a bad game. But this is also a positive thing because this is the BIAS that helps the GM manage expectations and pleasures of a memorable and awesome game. It is also the bias that helps players get over Agency Robbing experiences.

Planning Fallacy 

A terribly hard bias to overcome because of availability and narrative bias. Expending mental effort to Plan sets up an expectation and bias. It is a useful bias in a  “cinematic” game where plans of how things will go down will mostly go as predicted.

In a more challenging Game the GM will reward a clever and well thought of plan with some of the expectations being met, but in such a game the GM has to improvise a lot of new information and the plan’s variables falling out or stretching the Player’s plan’s flexibility. The game provides incentives for planning, as well as flexibility to be able to improvise where the plan meets its limits.

Overcome with

Outside View or Another Perspective.

Drilling down


Strategies that Overcome Narrative Bias

Risk Aversion

This Bias is typically used by the GM as a way to Framing effect to influence the players and characters. Framing the issue as a risk of Loss and playing down (or not mentioning) what they stand to gain.

The opposite can be used on players: framing something dangerous as a Gain and playing down the risk.  

Narrative Bias

Narrative bias is another Influence Trick the GM may use to misdirect players. Framing an event, an item, a person in the form of a Story helps distract from making a Bayesian or more Rational judgement call.

This bias is compounded by making the story weave into the narrative of the player’s own character narrative. This means weaving into the Character’s narrative the decision, event, item, place, action, or objective.

Self Model (Agency)

Characters have a mental model of their personality. This is the attributes of one’s beliefs, principles, priorities, value judgements, etc… Whenever the character violates, explores further, further defines, and adjusts his Self Model this weakens or strengthens the model.

In Game systems this means the character can draw some mental resolve from their Self Model - giving resistance or motivates the character to influence or course of action.
In some Game Systems like the classic D&D alignment system, L5R, and in certain ways of playing GURPS this can be static. In World of Darkness this is flexible - but it adheres to a particular perspective of Humanism or the alternate Behavioral templates of other beings.

In an Anygame system mechanic approach this is basically the set of beliefs, principles, priorities, etc… the Character has adopted that is subject to change: strengthening, confusing, weakening, etc… through experience. It just grants a behavioral guide for the Player and GM for the character - violating the belief and principles (through failure, influence, realization, or awareness) weakens the character’s Self Model. While small wins, some failures, relationships, and experience may strengthen the Self Model.

A strong Self Model grants Agency as an asset for the character allowing him to have the resolve to develop and pursue long range goals and very difficult undertaking.

Course of Action

Heuristic. This heuristic means always stating the objective, intent, constraints, of an action. This can be simply being more specific, visual, or detailed in the action. Having more details to work with helps immerse in the game, and gives both players and gms something to work with.

Sometimes the objective is left unsaid but

Breaking down action by Strategy/Intention/Goal > Action > Means (what is the next action or first step; and then what next). A structure to help GMs and Players complete the Idea.


        “I attack”


        “I attack his right leg as it moves past the cover of his shield when he swings.”


More will be covered after reading Getting thing Done

Informative Actions

Skill. Not just to simply ask GM questions but to Frame it as Information Gathering Activities or Courses of Actions. The purpose is to make each Question as an Action to keep the story going.




Player to GM “What are the rumours or Does the sage know this?” 


Player to GM “I go around town making small talk with the miners in the pub. I ask the sage a series of questions about his most pressing issues.” 

Frame in Opportunities


Do not merely frame in Actions but the opportunities. This means stating a course of action with an objective that is an opportunity or goals. This skill means being more specific with a clear objective to create a circumstance or opportunity.

The tendency is that both GM and Players can communicate a course of action lack clear goals and expectations.


        “I ask questions around town about any rumours or leads”

        “I scout ahead of the party looking for danger or threats”

        “I scrounge”


        “I ask questions around town looking for any news or activity about north, mention of the count’s activities or his associates, or the pressing distractions of the town. I try to get people talking”

        “I scout ahead of the party looking for


Core Skill. the 3 stages of Pacing: Set up, Initial Conflict, Climax-Consequences. Mastering it and seeing the Pacing in everything.

See Dungeone Worlds Fronts. How to set up challenges and manage them.


Pacing How Games keeps things Exciting by Extra Credit

How Horror uses Tension Cycles by Extra Credit

Back to Basics: Pacing and Tension, Pacing Tool

Be suspicious of Stories by Typer Cowen

Scale of Pacing

It can be scaled in activities that fit a Scene or a Group of Scenes that have a key underlying theme or purpose like an Act.


Heuristic. The practice of breaking down a story into Scenes helps the GM and the Players figure out their Goals and Constraints without taxing their working memory.

        The GM who learns to use scenes can plan for the scenes that need to happen (with the help of analysis) to move the story to its next goal or objective.

        He can also make sure he gives the players all an opportunity to have the spotlight, flesh out their character, immerse the player, and create an engaging experience for the players.

        Scenes can take 1-2 minutes to set up when skilled, being not so skilled it would take a few more back and forths with the player interacting with the scenes set up for about 5 minutes before the player is immersed.


The practice of organizing a group of Scenes into an Act help the GM follow the Goals and Constraints he set out for the scenes within the act and his acts follow the goals and constraints he set out in his Session.

Pacing: Set-up

Pacing begins with the set up. Priming the Audience with a set of expectations or a particular emotion. You know the set up has kicked in when Characters act or spend time (and/or resources) on the target expectation or emotion.


Telegraphing is giving the players a chance to see what is coming with subtle hints, by implicating, leading statements, symbolic foreshadowing,  etc… A basic technique of Telegraphing is extending or exaggerating the Set up time or ritual or habit/mannerism or Tell (the GM’s tell) when he’s about to do something.

Leading Statement

This is a trick where one places a claim, proposes a fact or assumption, accuses, or defines someone before any real first hand experience or validation can be made by the audience or listener. It tries to trick memory with the Availability Bias.


This trick can be used for Telegraphing.

“Poisoning the Well” or Adhominem


Foreshadowing is a form of Telegraphing. It comes in many forms:

Foreshadowing: Symbolism

One form it does with symbolism having the Players/Characters experience or witness an Event or Action or story that has many parallels with what

Foreshadowing By Implication

By Implication is a technique by which the speaker (the GM) uses words that:

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Say a prediction vaguely and often enough and the listener is primed to see it or believe it as soon as something that vaguely matches the criteria comes around.

Initial Course of Action

Buy-In is best determined when the Players or anyone already has a course of action. Even if the course of action is to wait and see.

Predictive Initiative

Pacing: Conflict and New Information

List of Initial Conflict in Pacing.

Information Mismatch,


There should have been a significant Change in mindset and expectations from the Set up and Initial Conflict. There should have been some or a significant surprise.


Juggle just right, 2-3 Issues at a time 

Emotional Buy in.

Pacing: Changes, Climax and Consequences

Character Development.

A Climax or Ending always gives you an Answer to a Question you didn’t ask:

Ex. Then you form a Question about the Character. The Character Prioritizes XYZ and that's why he sacrificed ABC to get XYZ.

When you signal the Game’s End: You ask the question that is answered by the events and the character’s actions.  


Techniques in Foreshadowing / Telegraphing - Framing anything into a Problem or a Future Problem.

How to make a good cliffhanger?

Information Management

These are the set of Skills and Techniques that deal with managing Information in running a problem solving game or a mystery.  

Tackled GURPS Mysteries

7 Element Limit

This basically means keeping key Characters and Leads to a limit of 7 Elements during the Planning stage of the entire story.

The GM may need to test the number of bounds/degrees one Element is related with Another by usinig the Analysis (RCA) technique. Asking how many Ws and Ys they need to ask before a relationship can be established between each element. See Analysis

See Juggling 2-3 Items  

GURPS mysteries emphasizes the 7 Element Limit.

Juggling 2-3 Items/Issues

Prepare notes so that the GM or Players only Juggle 2 to 3 items in any time. This means the 7 Elements that were prepared ahead of time are organized in a way that they can be Picked up and Deferred/Set Aside.

See Chunking


Framing is stating a fact in a way that leads the person to act on it differently based on the way it is communicated. Common techniques are: using a fact to play on Bias.



Give a value, example. the prices in the game book, people will base their value on any reference that is available. This technique is use to confuse the measurement and assessment of the other person (typically the players).


Setting the price of sold goods at 50% its market price, the players may sell their salvage or scavenged goods at that value but will feel it as a loss if they get paid less or in kind.

Risk Aversion

Game Planning Policies and Principles

Policies and Principles can be worked into a process by giving a logical order by which a policy can be checked or tested. It can be refine that a few Policies are in effect and checked in a step, thus having less process steps than polices.

Process and Steps

A process can arise from the natural order in flow activities. To meet some constraints and goals certain steps and activities happen before others and thus a process arises.

Mysteries policies

Collecting Policies (a constraint) from various books like Gumshoe, GURPS Mysteries, Call of Cthulhu.

Van Dines’ Twenty Rules for writing detective stories

  1. For trpg:
    Reader has equal opportunity as the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly described.

Horror policies


Life Event tables

Life events system is a table goal is a system by which to generate Life Events for Character Creation and Down Time.

Week Hours Character Points

This is a character creation method where the Player maps out a typical week of a character. This is also a personal operations technique, where one understand where their time goes.

How much time goes into:

  1. Sleep
  2. Grooming
  3. Exercise
  4. Studies
  5. Work
  6. Eating
  7. Family/Relationships

Analysis (or Root Cause Analysis)

Ask the 5Ws and the 5Ys. This is a detail generating technique that can be used to create relationships between elements or to further detail elements of a character or story.

The 5Ws.

  1. WHo
  2. What
  3. Where
  4. When
  5. What happened (How)

The 5ys is asking Why regarding each aspect of the event or issue occurred and asking Why again for that cause. Repeating the process until we get 5 levels of why deep into the cause.

The Visualization is the Fishbone or the Ishikawa Diagram

TCO of 5Ws and 5Ys are typically 10-15 minutes per issue. Writing down and thinking about it. Then there is the Added Cost of Validating and Ideating the next course of action (See Ideate and Validate)

Immersive Fantasy


in-depth study of the Narrative use of Zones for Place and even Time.

Defer Distractions

Nerdjacking happens and the GM and Players need to learn to Defer Distractions. Conversation of Mutual Interests - the simple skill of controlling a geeks tendency to Nerdjack and work towards a fairer amount of spotlight and listening. Channeling the nerdjacking healthily.

Minor Problem Technique.

The GM lets players solv minor problems without a Roll. Its an exercise of GM’s thinking to always think of minor problems and ask how the Players/Characters allocate their resources.

This sets up a sense of scarcity:

by showing how allocation affects the circumstance.

By giving the GM the means to complicate the problem as Players only realize a more challenging problem when their simpler techniques are exhausted.  

Adding minor problems to a Situation to “Scale it” up or down. Minor problems create additional scopes and complexities.

Complex Agency.

How to slowly acclimate players to Complex set of consequence and challenges.


A set of skills to run such but for Mass Combat.

See Chunking


The most often used factor in warfare is superiority. This means having more resources and advantages than the other side. Its most often used when forces engage and


100 archers shooting 10 spearmen or 500 spearmen

20 calvarymen skirmish 10 swordsmen or 50 spearmen

500 pikemen against 100 halberdiers or 1000 skirmishers

Warfare Scenes

The warfare narration moves through the scenes of the Party’s Side, and the Party’s scenes.

PC’s Side

What is visible of the opposing force side

PC’s scene

Opposing force’s reaction to PC’s actions or circumstance.

Warfare Metrics

Fighting Man




Shots of a Scene


Morale fighting spirit

A problem solving tool is a Gming Technique.

This simple thesis claim means that any problem solving technique can be used in gaming or framing a challenge to players or setting a scene. This allows for the exercise and accumulation of techniques and skills to be mastered

Fluid Logistics. Imagining logistics as a liquid that settles on geography that ebbs and flows with the weather and seasons, migration patterns, trade, events, and infrastructure.
When population density is thick, water is deep; thin its shallow. It mixes with different liquids, and the foam and the currents make different patterns.

The Backdrop of Beliefs. This is coloring or framing the narratives in the beliefs of the time and character. An example is how Utrhed of the Saxon Series by Bernard Cornwell sees the world and frames it. He describes everything with the visual backdrop of his Norse Beliefs.

Scoping. An exercise of Visualization, creativity, and critical thinking - scoping is about listing the limitations, conditions, goals, and expectations. Teaching and exercising scoping practices and enhances critical problem solving skills - They go through details faster, more thoroughly, and efficiently. They flesh out the problem and the circumstance - creating greater immersion and displays their level of understanding to better match and coordinate details.

Player Action Templates. A set of templates of how players can very efficiently communicate the scope of their actions as well as make sure they are adding characterization when they have the spotlight. There is a tendency to convey incomplete information and forgetting some details that help escalate the pacing.

Player Initiative Mechanic. The one who has Initiative not just declares first but has the Last Call. The one with initiative be given a bonus to follow through but he is the first to declare and thus everyone may counter his action. But he gets a bonus to the roll, a bonus he may opt out of to make the Last Call, where he can change his mind.

The winner, the one with the highest margin of success, of the round gains the initiative.

Initiative is always with one person or side.

Complex Tasks. These are tasks far exceeding any human working memory. Typically man-day tasks an all those greater tasks time and complexity take. Examples are tasks are running and operating a business or job rolls in gurps. These tasks are capped at a 60% success rate  (see when 99% certainty is 40% wrong and small business and start up failure base rates). These are really against the odds rolls or subject to the market or situations bonus. The influence of the PC can be as much as -40% to +10% over a 50:50 odds. That circumstance has so much influence someone can do all wrong and still get it all right. Where someone who may have industry knowledge and skill of 99% can only influence outcomes of up to 10%.

Measuring Compleity


Something a character can do


A group of characters and

Competing Agency

Characters in Conflict

Multi-Agency Conflict

Systems or Social Organizations

Competing Systems or Competing Social Orgs


Ex. Markets, Economics, Politics

This level is situational and not much agency can be exerted.

No Rules Arguments while in Play. How to deal with arguments quickly or set them aside more constructively.

Does the Rule Interfere with Agency?

Was it something the Player signed up for?

No arguments rule by  Peter V. Dell'Orto

No Rules Arguments in play by Collin

Index Card Heuristic. The Index Card System is my metric for Game Concepts and Rules Mechanics. If I can fit the description in a Handwritten Index Card - that's good design. This is to pursue more Portable Gaming, for running games in Cafes, Parks, and places of work.

Each Idea is a Card. The more complicated the idea, it must be broken down to concepts that would fit into the cards. Think of each card as Bits of Information.

Physically and Mentally you can only Juggle as many Physical Index Cards. Its to train a sense of limited capacity that allows a person to better work with limited resources.  

Character Elements. A way to measure character elements and how the character develops. As stories elaborate and develop the character he adds to his cards.

Character Sheet is as complicated by the number of Cards it takes to track Ideas

Identity and Self.

Appearance, Height, Weight, Ethnicity, Dress, Gender, Gender preference, habits of expression, etc…





Relationships related to his psychology.  

Stats and Ability. Core stats and Abilitie

Core Stats and even some of the core mechanics.

Key System Notes. For newbies it would be core mechanics. For veteran players it would be a list of key game concepts that will be most often used. Ideally the GM or the Game system can use this.

Example in GURPS.

Passive Skills rule of 14

Rule of 16 success

Role of 20 for abilities.





Who is this character by his history.

His Stuff in the past. By stuff - unresolved things.

Cultural aspects.


Relationships relative to Background


The Key Role of this Character in relation to the party.

Relationships related to his Role.

Goals and Motives. Current Circumstance.




Relationships related to Goals and Motives.

Equipment and Assets.

His stuff and possessions.

3-5 Act Sessions Formula

Acts and Pacing. Pacing is a guide for Acts.

Pacing Review:

Build up/Set up

Rising Conflict

Climax and resolution.


How to break Acts into Scenes.

An end-to-end process of progressing from scene to scene. The process has the following:

Checking for Player Buy-in

Checking if everyone is getting their spotlight. Not that everyone needs to have a spotlight for every scene, but always check if a player gets enough spotlight for every Act.
        In an Act where a Player was not getting enough Spotlight - check if he is going to get more in the Next Act or you can extend for another Scene before the next act that focuses on that Player.

3 Act Session is great for 3-4 hour session

Act 1 Problem Introduced and Buy-in,

Act 2 Leg-work and Challenging Tasks

Act 3 Big Fight or Conflict

5 Act can be worked into a 5-6 hour session

Act 1 Problem Introduced and Buy-in,

Act 2 Leg-work and Challenging Tasks

Act 3 Big Fight or Conflict

Act 4 Change of Paradigm

Act 5 Big Fight or Conflict. The change of paradigm would give them a big handicap or the problem or opponent is even bigger.

Ending - See Peak End rule 

Sun-Tzu Art of War as a Mnemonic

Using Ankidroid get all the factuals and elements of the Art of War into a Flash card system for mastery.

Hypothesis: that all the elements of Android

Campbell's Hero's Journey.

Measuring Game materials by how much knowledge is expected to understand such concepts and use such tools easily.

Newbie GM. The material is that on hand. If the material on hand is enough for a Newbie GM.

Levels of Expertise - how many pages worth of books would be needed to run a fairly serious level. Naming the books that would compose this “level” of expertise and rating it by Pages.

Example. GURPS cabal can be run with Basic Set. But GURPS Veteran GMs are expected to draw from 1,200 pages of material: here are the following - vs Dungeon Fantasy which is Basic Set and

Scaling TIME is a technique i'm familiar with with a very basic understanding. Basically my working Thesis is that: Important actions may take seconds or fractions of a second but everything else leading to that action takes more time and that's the Rising Tension or 2nd part of Pacing. Scaling time is manipulating the Rising Tension or Conflict to scale the amount of time that occurred to be more-or-less similar to everyone else so that All actions of all PCs (Players) happen near simultaneously. It is in the Build up and Conflict that extends or dilates sense of time.

Exploits Narrative Bias

Peak End Rule

Duration Negect

Concept Skill level used for this technique list.

Familiarity. I can intuitively grasp it but poorly describe it.

Basic Understanding. I can describe it but its not really a good description. It’s a Testable Description (see Positivism)

Good Understanding. I can describe it well, but its not yet mastered in a way that I can do it without having to think about it. Its possible to use it in other skills but it takes a lot of  work and ideating.

Petty Mastery. I can do it without thinking, it doesn't eat up a lot of working memory so I can apply it to what I’m doing without much thought or process.

High Mastery. I can apply it to other skills and concepts. It becomes my scaffolding for another concept that is similar or applicable.

 the RPG Design patterns CC book by Whitson John Kirk III. Use this to talk about TRPG mechanics and design. Since its system agnostic it can help better modify game systems to meet certain design goals.

Ex More narrative

Resolve in a Certain way

 super memo's 20 rules of formulating knowledge

Write in Ideas that can be broken down into simple notes.

Easy for someone to learn any of my techniques so they can see for themselves and tell me anything wrong with it.

If anyone can learn my skills and correct me then I can learn more from it.

Rule of 80%. Some situations cannot have a success greater than 80%. In GURPS this is 13. The rule makes it that control over a situation is up to 80% (prieto principle). This is applied after the Situational Conditions and Applicable only to Complex multi-agency rolls.

Passive Abilities. Making some abilities passive.

Useful Base Rates

Bystander Effect: 70% fail to come to peoples aid an analogue for good will in the community and risk aversity of people in general.

Business Failure rates: 3 years fail at 70-80% an analogy

Major Administrative Projects can only be portioned up to 2-3 year goals. (searching for reference of this). Any suitably

 Overconfidence Bias. 40% of the time, Professionals 99% certain, are wrong. This translates to the 80-60% rule. This rule is that Success is Capped to 80 or 60 for complex situations.

Real Economic Growth (by real its after inflation). As examples of Complex Situational Modifiers. Analogous to REG is seasons like Spring, Autumn etc… where making something grow would be really hard or easy.

Getting Things Done.

Next Action Framing of all Tasks and Projects. Rapidly creating a sequence of Next Actions. Being able to think in the scarce resource of time.

GMs mastering GTD can quickly see the obstacles and trade offs of every action.

Hardmode: 60-80% rule.

Complex situations that are directly under the control of the PCs have a maximum of 80% success rate. Examples are medical diagnosis, some magical challenges, and

Complex fields (like medicine, economics, finance, environment… see complexity theory) and organizations where the character may only contribute so much have a Cap of 60% success.

This rule does not factor Circumstance modifiers which adjust these factors. Operating a biz in a boom economy (real growth in GDP of 2% to 6%) has a much better chance than someone in a recension or difficult economy. See  

Low Success Rates from the Business Failure rates

Some flawed assumptions that can work in a game.

If business failure rates are measures of real skill over time (since its controled for economic conditions) then we can use it as the success rates of most people who think they are competent. So a competent person has a success rate of 20-30% but even if they think they have mastered it only have a success cap of 60-80% on complex affairs like predicitng other people, groups, or running organizations, medicine etc..
     So this is where rapid ideation, flexibility, mastering framing, and all those problem solving tricks come into play. When you have 20-30% success on average and at best only 60-80% then we try to make as many opportunities as possible.

Complexity Theory. (see the TGC lecture)

A useful tool for GMs to describe and determine “complex” situations.

These are multi-agency and adaptive organisms.

It’s useful in dealing and accepting of uncertainty (and creating coping or mental strategies for uncertainty)

My Notes in Zones. 

Scale. How big or small or grand the scope of the Zone is. As well as organizing sub-zones.

Features. What are the notable features or aspects of a zone.

The most common Zones featurs (based on the Art of War):









Land Forms Knowledge set.

Deepwork . An argument for 3-4 hour game prep sessions, to make each game prep an exercise of deliberate practice.

Deliberate Practice. Setting up more elements of game prep as deliberate practice.

Setting up Shorter Feedback Loops. In games, and gaming life, we try to set up shorter feedback loops.

5S - 5 S methodology approach to game prep, running games, and improvement. Decluttering, Distraction-Removal, Emphasis in core skills and tools, etc…  

Lean Manufacturing. The lean appraoch to self improvement is process based improvement. The emphasis of having a process in place which we follow, but spend ⅛ of our time continuously improving the process. We resist some of the improvistation so that we can see the flaws of the process. In TRPGs improvisation is a key skill and improving on improvisation is trying to capture our methodology and improve on it.

Old Hangout Notes 4-10-2015

Abbreviated Injury Scale


Moderate (1-2% prob. death)

Serious (8-10% prob. death)

Severe (5-50% prob. death)

Critical (5-50% prob. death)

Maximum (100% prob. death)

Injury Severity Score

Player Defined Skills System.

Players define their skills,

They have points to further develop and define the scope of the skill.

Skills tend to limit what can be done in a Workload, and greater levels of skill allow the character to perform multiple workloads a day in a sustianed pace or multiple workloads a week.

Managing workloads is a seperate skills, particularly management operations and leaves the technical domain.

Skills are best benchmarked at what can get done in a Workload.

Workload Limits to Activities.

All activities are limited to the block of time in a workload which is 4-6 hours.

Tasks more complicated that take many workloads to finish run an uncertainty that cannot be really modeled with a very higher overview of time. You can only go for an abstraction of time to a weekly scale.

Workload Definition (4-6 hours)

Partial Workload (1-3 hours)

Minor Task (Under 1 hour; 10-60 mins)

Very Minor task (2-10 minutes)

See Taylorism for more benchmarks.

Productive Work.

The ability to resist or identify: Bikeshedding, Yakshaving, or Busywork.

The ability to identify real progress in solving a fundamental problem.

The confidence to maintain doing the key work when busy work threatens to disrupt and interrupt everything.

The ability to balance busywork and real work.

Push Pull Systems (see operatins encyclopdeia)

 Morale Victories. These are small wins that improve the morale of the participants or players. It helps in drawing out tension and conflict.

Differentiation of Moral and Morale

Tension techniques.

Threats to the character or what the charcter cares about.

Uncertainty and Ambiguity of solution, sources of threats, and the next action.

Complicating Threats or Overloading working memory

Some game mechanics are designed to make the tracking of factors or conditions easy.

Leaving Open Loops / Preventing Closure.

Small morale defeats

Tension can lead to frustration if its exceeds the sense of agency and capacity of the player.

Small Morale Victories

Closing open loops (Closure) of some issues

Pareto Principle in Penalties and Bonuses.

Count the biggest penalty or bonus, increase the modifier by 1 for every significant condition or factor.  

World Building as a Skill.


Population Density

Medieval demographics made easy 

30 to 120 per sq mi

 11 to 45 per sq km

Growth Rate

Absolute Growth Rate of 0.1% yearly

Family Size (see Medeival household)

Mortality Rate

⅓ children died before 5

20% maternal mortality rate for child bearing.

Life expectancy

Mid 40s.


Daily Life of People


Client and Patron


Organizations and Entities



Social Status, Groups, and Hierchy



Using Households

Households US

Knowledge of Goods and Commodities

Key Economic Entities

Food Production.

How much land produces how much food? Typically cereals.

How much man days to Prepare and Harvest?

What are the seasons and cycles of productions?

What was their supplementary food source from?

Books that help in this is: GURPS low Tech Companion 3, Building Low Tech Landscapes (GURPS), and Harn Manor.  

Gives a sense of averages, values of land, and the primary concern of everyone: where their next meal is going to come from.


Seasons, Climate and Weather


Assets and Gear.

The Other Greeks by Victor

Farmers could afford a helmet, spear, shield, greaves, and shortsword at the cost of 100 drachma p242. A slave as essential part of the load out.

Agricultural Slave is 100 drachma

Skilled Slaves 150-200 drachma

Laborer per day is 1 drachma* but skilled mercenaries are 1 drachma a day as well.

Plato idealized a fine of 500 drachma for fleeing in the face of battle.

Hoplite panoply 30 to 75-150 drachma

Hoplites are required 2000 drachma asset evaluation

50 drachmas per plethron or 0.21 acre

2000 drachma would be 40 plethra of land or about 8 acres. In most medeival landscapes 30-60 acres per homestead is ideal. Factors like field rotation must be factored (see Hide).

Because of crop rotation of 50/50,

Less ½ because the resat is stored for seed

Barley 800kg per ha (gurps low tech companion 3)

25.8 medminos

Barley 4 ha = 3.2/ tons, or 103 medimnos.

Lentils (legumes) 318kg per ha

4 ha of lentils = 1.272

1.16 cal per gram of lentils 737 man day meals of lentils of 1.272tons

2.8 cal per 1g of barley bread.

200 talents = 1.2million drachma. 6000 drachma a talent.

Campaigns costing 12M drachma

30,000 drachma per day for a campaign of 5,000 combatants and their servants.


52 liters dry volume (up to 71 liters in sparta)

Tritiaos ⅓, Hekteus ⅙ , Choinix ⅛

40kg of wheat or 31kg of barley

173,600 calories or 87 day meals.

8 Medimnos (248kg of barley) enough for a man.

25 Medimnos for a household 2 adults and 3 children.

32-40 if we add the slaves or agricultural workers.

Taxes of 500 medinoi a year (15.5 tons of barley)

200 for an agricultural worker (6.2 tons of barley)

*Gurps low tech companions 3 sites 700lbs of barley per acre. That maks 20 acres of land.

A plethoron takes a day to work but its one 5th an acre. *  That makes 100 man days to work this amount of food.  It would be then better to assume most farms having beasts of burden to help with the work: ox, mules, or donkeys. 40-60 days would be the upper limit of harvesting or working a field.

Note greek soil is not so good as other lands in comparison by most historians.

The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire

Remount logistics

Steppe Cavalry marching rate (assuming up to 7 remounts) 50-80km a day. Assumes 8-10 hours of travel

Arrianus, Flavius, Tactical Handbook and Expedition Against the Alans (Ares 2003)

Minimum Compositioni needed to deal with a highly mobile all cavalry force. IIRC you need to have as much as 20% the cavalry of the opposing all cavalry side. And double their numbers in footmen. So fighting a 300 man cavalry would require 60 cavalry and 600 footmen.

Open Field Article

Barley 800kg per hectar of land.

One Acre is 1 man day with an Ox-team. Assume Acre or Man days differ with tools.

Man with tools

Men with tools

Men with Plow Animal 0.3

Man with an Ox x0.5

Man with an Ox pair or Plow Horse. x1

Calorie Density for Food

i find it funny how i learned the calorie value of a cereal vs a vegetable: typically a cooked cereal is 3.5 kcal per gram (making a cereal into bread or porridge dilutes the calorie density), vs veggies of about 0.1 kcal per gram. A difference of 35x cal. I guess that would mean a person needs to eat 500-600g of cereal to hit a active persons diet of 2000-2500 (sedentary can work with just 1600) while to gain its equivalent in veggies would mean 17kg (30lbs) of vegies .

It makes me imagine characters who have no access to calorie dense food eating edible roughage constantly every hour.


60 acres = 24ha

16 ha cultivated, 8 ha fallow

How to model a community as a basic economic unit, like a family?

land productivity should be so much that it can withstand lean periods. the numbers are more complicated lolz.

Failure rate of farms @ 25% by the first year,

Early Bronze Age (2500-1500BCE) 40%

Late Bronze Age (1500-500BCE) 35%

Early Iron Age (500 BCE - 500CE) 30%

Late Iron Age (500CE-1000CE) 25%

Pre-industrial Age (10C - 15C CE)

Calculating Deviation:

Ex. 25% farms fail, driving the average to X

X*(100%-Percent Failing)


850kg per ha of millet

25% fail, so 850*.75

637.5kg median out put of the failing 25%.

The succeeding output has a X*(100+Fail Percent).


125%= 1.25%

1.25*850kg per ha = 1064.5kg per ha

Milet farming

Millet along with Sorgum are not covered in GURPS low tech. This gets complicated since the Straw of Millet is important fodder. Raw Millet is 3.5cal per gram vs Raw Barley at 3.7cal. As bread Millet its 1.16cal per gram vs Barley as 2.8cal per gram.
_Average millet yields are difficult to estimate, as figures are so rare. The Warring States politician Li Kui referred to 1.5 shi/mu as an average yield for setaria, which in modern terms is roughly equivalent to 6-700 kg/ha, a rather low figure. According to Buck, millet yields in early 20th century China varied between 400 and 1,200 kg/ha while Wagner gives figures of 800 to 1,000 kg/ha of grain, plus 1,300 to 1,600 kg/ha of straw (48). The straw was very important as it was reckoned highly nutritious fodder. Modern improved varieties are said to yield as much as 5,000 kg/ha in experimental conditions

2d6 Distribution

On a Roll on and below.

2        2.78        

3        8.33        

4        16.67        

5        27.78        

6        41.67        

7        58.33        

8        72.22        

9        83.33        

10        91.67        

11        97.22        

12        100.00

3 Factors in a Die Roll

The Actor

The Circumstance

The Resources/Medium.

Maximum 3 Factors in a die roll. All other details can be ignored or bundled into one of the 3.  

Agricultural Notes

Land Output

Carrying capacity

Types of Output an cultivation

Economic Entity. This would need its own gdoc refernce sheet as this developes.

Time it consumes. Character Overhead.

Difficulty to Manage. Distraction penalty




Process and Fiscal reserves are measured with Con

Output and Power is measured in Strength

Flexibility to move around resources and people Dexterity. Shifting the commodities and adapting to the market forces.

Intelligence - documentation, processes, and legalistic capabilities. Business intelligence about the industry as well.

Wisdom - institutional capacity and flexibility in dealing with internal conflcits.

Charisma - Network and influence

Wisdom and Con are the key abilities that can kill an economic entity when reduced to 0.

Modeling Economic Entities with Limited “Keys” The Dictator’s Handbook

Political Survival

So as above’s economic entity but having a finite number of keys to track.

The high cost of alternate keys

Competing keys

Zero-sum advantage of having certain keys

Losing Valuable Keys

Keys occupy Resource and Scope of any goal.

By resources its Time and Scarce Material or Manpower Upkeep.

Scope is requiring an additional goal for success.

Project Managment Rules

Murphy’s Law: If it can go wrong, it will.

• Second Law of Thermodynamics (Law of Entropy): All systems tend toward their highest state of disorder. (Murphy’s Law is an application of this law.)

• Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. (Parkinson’s exact wording was “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”) This is only one of many laws found in his book (Parkinson 1958).

• The Pi Rule: Poorly managed projects take pi (π ≈ 3.1416.) times longer than originally planned. People tend to think that the path is across the diameter of the circle, when it is in fact the entire circumference.

• The optimistic time estimate law: Projects rarely do what was promised and are rarely completed on time, within budget, or with the same staff that started them. Corollary a: It is highly unlikely that your project will be the first exception. Corollary b: A carelessly planned project will take π ≈ 3.1416 times longer to complete than expected, and a carefully planned project will take only e ≈ 2.7183 times as long. Corollary c: When the project is going well, something will go wrong. Corollary d: When things cannot get any worse, they will. Corollary e: When things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.

• The last 10 percent law: Projects progress rapidly until they are 90 percent complete. The last 10 percent takes about 50 percent of the time.

• Brooke’s Law: Adding people to a late project generally makes it later.

• The project employment law: A project requiring more than 18 months tends to lose its identity as a project and becomes a permanent part of the organization. Corollary: If the project objectives are allowed to change freely, the team might unintentionally turn the project into guaranteed long-term employment.

• The project charter law: A project without a clearly written charter will experience scope creep and will help stakeholders discover their organization’s worst political problems.

• The project correction law: The effort required to correct a project that is off course increases every day it is allowed to continue off course.

• The matrix organization law: Matrix organizations tend to be dysfunctional. All employees really have only one boss and that is the person who makes their next salary decision. (However, matrix organizations are essential in the modern firm, particularly for project management.)

• The project leader law: A great way to sabotage an important project is to assign whoever is completely available as the project leader.

• The technical leadership law: The greater the project’s scope and organizational complexity, the less likely a technician is needed to manage it. Corollary: Get the best project manager who can be found. A good project manager will find the right technical people for the project.

• The belief in the system law: If the user does not believe in the system, a parallel informal system will be developed, and neither will work very well.

• The post-project review law: Organizations that do not have a disciplined post-project review process are doomed to repeat their mistakes over and over again.

Occasion to Roll. What are the tests for the occasion to roll.

Is there a significant setback if the roll fails.

What if: Opportunistic vs Pro-Active

Significant Actions are Work the character can do. The work may open up opportunities.  

The more work the character does the more opportunities that come around.

Designed in a way to make players think in generating opportunities proactively.

Significant Actions are in Worload (work that can be done in 1-3 hours for partial, or 4-6 hour for full; Or a Complex for a Week).

The cost factor (multipler to themargin of failure) is much smaller. Typically x1.5 or x2.  

Minor Actions are Opportunities the characters have to redirect or influence events in their favor.

There are always unplanned opportunities, but they tend to always have an big cost factor.

Make the cost factor greater (meaninig success at a cost has a very big multiplier; this is also risky so these are usally challenging because of their timing). Ix Squared or X2 to X4.

Ancient warfare Pikemen and heavy Infantry

Pikemen or the Macedonian phalanx are basically a great way to use less skilled Infantry.

The other uses is for skirmishers.

Heavy Infantry are better than Pikemen. Probably 2x it's value but 3 to 5 times the cost raise and upkeep.

In mass combat unit If Strength is the offensive capability, Dex is the flexibility and defensive capability. Pikemen have as much offensive capability than heavy Infantry at such a disadvantage in flexibility . They are vulnerable to ranged attacks and flanking maneuvers (when another unit out maneuvers them to flank).

Their low cost and high offense is really useful when manpower is high.

In Cavalry Dex is the number of remounts. The more remounts the more flexibility and options.

Philip the great pioneered the small baggage train. 1 servant per 10men. Comparing it to Maurian reforms.

Ground (the art of war). These are terrain conditions. Theys may be mixed and matched.  

Broken ground. Cannot hold cohesive formation.

Entangling ground

Open ground. Room to maneuver and be flanked and out maneuvered. The ability to maneuver.

Accessible Ground

Narrow ground. When taken by one group, their flanks are covered.

High Ground. Incline.

Steep Ground.

Impassable Ground. Its

Cornered Ground..

Disposition. These are Troop Condition. In The Art of War. These are


Committed. Like heartened but out of some intense emotion. Typically fear or having their options closed.

Committed can lead to shaken or risks being shaken. But can lead to desperation.

Inciting wrath makes a Unit Committed. Typically this means giving no quarter. This causes the other unit to be desperate.

Heartened. This unit is confident and in control of itself.

Confused. Flat Footed. Unable to react or very difficult to act.

Divided. A kind of confused disposition wher the unit is its own enemy and threat.

Half the Force Value after all other factors.

Shaken. A weakened morale state.

Facile Ground.

Light Ground.

Shaken happens when performing morale-testing feats and fails.

Failure can leave a unit shaken.

When shaken, half the Strength of the unit.

Broken. Thi

Half the Force Value (after all other factors).

Can be made into Desperate.

Can be rallied to be shaken.


The unit has no choice and goes all out. It will now perform maneuvers and actions that are dangerous and risky.

Cornered units

Opponents that give no quarter.



The Commander determines the “posture” and positions of his assets, how his resources are deployed, and eployed.  

Van Guard

Rear Guard

Flank Guard (Cardinal or Ordinal Values)

Reserve (can be detailed by various reserve positions)

Baggage Camp

Command Camp

Who are the commanders and where they are employed.

We go into details like What the combat groups:


Number of Men

Strength (this is determined by their training and equipment)


Corp (Con)

Key Mechanics. Damage or Mechanics.

Ranged attacks is Strength that weakens as it is employed.

The Endurance of the Cavalry tracked by Dex.  A diminishing stat as it is employed.

Key Assumptions. All things being equal.

In open terrain Heavy Infantry Taxi vs Pikemen Taxi has 2 vs 1 odds to succeed.

In Narrow Ground its 50/50

In open terrain Foot Bowmen (80lbs draw) vs Heavy infantry have 50/50 to succeed

In broken terrain archers have 2 : 1 in their favor.  

In open terrain Light Cavalry vs Heavy infantry is 3:2

In Broken terrain

In open terrain Heavy Cavalry vs Heavy infantry is 3:2 in Heavy Cavalry’s favor.

They have better odds if the Heavy Cavalry has more odds

Heavy infantry in broken ground or narrow ground have the advantage against heavy cavalry.

Each unit has a Strength based on the training and equipment. Default is 5 (regular).  

-3 to -1 For untrained

+0 for Light Infantry

+1 for Medium Infantry

+2 for Heavy infantry

+2 for pikemen deployment, at the cost of dexterity -4.

+1 per level of experience.

First compare numbers or strength depend on the conditions.

Armor Calculator
How to measure a dress shirt

14ga 3/8" mail is 1280 rings per sq ft

1.3= rings per sq cm

338 rings is 0.42lbs

0.56g per ring

716.8g per 1000cm or 1 sq ft

14 ga 5/16 1992 rings per sq ft

1.9 rings per sq cm

406 rings is 0.37 lbs

0.413g per ring

822.696g for 1000 sq cm or 1 sq ft

US Medium / Asia XL

Sleeve 65cm, Perimter 40cm = 2,600 sq cm

Chest 104cm, length 71cm = 7,384sq cm

9984 sq cm =

Mail, 12,979 ringsImage result for mens dress size chart sleeve

648 man hours


Fine Mail, 19,968 rings

1664 man hours


How many lamellar plates do I need

2”x3.375” lamellar

10 plate rows 12”

Each row adds 3”

1.22” x 2.345” lamellar

15 plates for 12”


4.5” x 1.5” area = 6.75 sq in = 43.55 sq cm

33 plates = 11.7” x 11.7” 136.89 sq in= 881.87 sq cm

 On Horsemanship. If a player wants to get immersive and GMs want to give realistic bio-mechanic limitations to horse performance.

Needs to be detailed with Biometics.

Other books



People Land and Politics

Jongman (2003, 112–6). He assumes that one person consumed 100 litres of wine, 20 litres of oil, and 200 kilograms of wheat per year, and that one hectare of land produced 2000 litres of wine, 440 litres of oil, or 400 kilograms of wheat: cf. Jongman (1988, 81 note 1 and 132–5). Of course, production was subject to regional and even local variations and was different for each specie s of grape or olive, of which there were many kinds. Consumption varied according to social class, age, sex, and occupation. Cato Agr. 11.1 estimates the result of fi ve harvests at 800 cullei (416,000 litres) for an estate of 100 iugera; this would suggest a production of 832 litres per iugerum per year, or 3,328 litres per hectare. This may, however, be an exceptionally good harvest, and average yields may well have been lower. Cato Agr. 56–7 informs us on the amount of grain and wine given to slaves, who received at least 420 litres of grain (4 or 4.5 modii per month, depending on the season) and 160 litres of wine per year. Of course, children and women ate less, so the average consumption was much less than the fi gures given by Cato. Cf. Erdkamp (1998, 29–30); Morley (1996, 146–7); Purcell (1985, 13); Rathbone (1981, 12–3).

The population of Rome was about a million people. The diet of these residents was based on wheat, olive oil, and wine, supplemented by dry legumes and other locally grown produce. Ancient historians have inferred the average consumption of Roman residents from “subsistence levels” in less-developed countries today. A generous estimate is that each person consumed on average around 300 kg of wheat, for a total Roman consumption of approximately 300 million kilograms a year (Garnsey 1998, 239–45).

300kg /365 0.83kg per day  o

Early Agricultural Produce

Early Cattle was only 200-400kg

Moriceau (1999: 47); Kautsky (1899: 38); Kron (2002, 63). Roman cattle, which generally reached withers heights of 135 cm, would therefore weigh approximately 400kg: Kron (2002). In 1806, German cattle weighed on average 204 kg, reaching Greco-Roman or modern Dutch or English live weights only towards the end of the nineteenth century. French oxen and steers averaged only 225 kg in 1862, rising to 262 kg, still smaller than Roman cattle, by 1892. See Kautsky (1899, 38). Even in England at the turn of the twentieth century the average weight for all English cattle was still only 300 kg: see Collins (2000, 310 table 3.3).

See Kron (2008, 183–5). Roman chickens were raised and fattened in large numbers in highly productive battery farms and were as large as many modern breeds, generally weighing from 1.5 to 2 kg compared to the 1 kg or so common with earlier breeds.

Relative time narration.

Christian Cameron in Long War and God of War

Bernard Cornwell in The Last Kingdom

Each scene has a flow of time reference. He would use actions we would have an intuitive sense of reference. This is great for scaling what is the scope and scale actions and

To follow more observations

Effort and Performance Level Mechanics

Both Endurance Riders and Athletes use Beats per Minute relative to resting heart rate to measure Effort level to examine their Performance Level.

For Athletes they measure their work out average BPM vs their performance: the Reps, Sets, KM/Miles, aka WORK metrics. Pace describes the performance level

Same goes for Horses. In AERC they have a certain pace for the horse relative to its BPM. A horses resting heart rate is ~25 and they allow for up to at 65 bpm effort level after a 10 minutes rest.

Character generation:

Roll Stats in one throw. 6d6 for 6 stats.

Roll Background

Roll Education

Skill or Mental Models as Brain apps

The thing about Load Bearing Gear, Logistics, and any Mental Model is that its kinda a skill when it comes to TRPGs. By skill I mean: One has understood it to a point that they can recall a lot of key details about the matter without much load to their working memory Or ones conjures the Mental Model (imagine it as an app that starts running in your brain) that will deal with: Travel Mechanics, Trade mechanics, Personality mechanics, etc.... working with the example of load baring gear: the more you tackle and handle load bearing gear the more intimate and ingrained the knowledge becomes. Almost without much effort you realize and constrain your options and actions based on the Opportunities and Constraints of the Load Bearing Gear (or what every Mental Model you've conjured).
Which provokes a kind of discussion about TRPG running/playing games skills (which Id like to further discuss in a Gdoc):

Hypothesis/Claim: Some games or styles of play are harder and more complicated because they require some Skill or Mental Models to run smoothly (or run with a Good User Experience).

Are these Barriers to certain Games? Is it why people hate these kinds of game, are theyre just experiencing the Skill Learning Curve to a certain game, are they experiencing the ambiguity of uncertainty from not really mastering the skill (or having no one to feedback to help them improve)?

An example of mental model: The Constraints and Goals/Opportunity Model.

An Inspiration from Work and in Games (can't tell anymore) is Goals and Constraints Mnemonic.  So basically in any project of so much complexity that our working memory needs anchors and tests to know if we are headed the right direction there are Goals and Constraints by which we can check our progress. There is a Skill involved in crafting Goals and Constraints as well as conditioning so that when Our attention and focus realized an amount of time or work has passed we go back and check on these navigation guides. This becomes a skill when the person can always rattle out all the Constraints and Goals at any point of time: they have a working memory slot to be able to hold the constraints and goals to be able to use it periodically.

I learned this in TRPGs and further developed it in work. Basically I realized that when I role-play I adopt the Goals and COnstraints of my Character. These are in the form of the characters SWOT, his personal history and psychology. You do RPGs enough that we get into character quite easily and quickly - but to take it further is to use this technique in Navigating Projects of complexity that we can only take small bites or bits of the Project at a time and process them with our working memory.

Details Slots.  

In Fate Details can be brought to the forefront with Fate points. Either the GM or the player can act on a detail.

Draft. Detail slots work by bringing a Finite amount of details in the forefront. There is a limited number of Detail slots and each slot has a significant weight in the game mechanically. When the detail gets more influence a detail has to reduce influence.

Games Information Management Process

Source: GURPS mysteries

Source: GURPS horror

Skills are:

How to organize information.

How the GM can organize information

How to manage Uncertainty

Miscommunication in a Mystery

How facts can be misinterpreted or can have other interpretations.

How the Players can organize information.

How to play to Players and PC’s SWOT

How much information to Prepare

How to (the GM) create or generate information out of leads.

How to adopt the Plot or Story to the Players. .

How to set up scenes, and how information flows.

Entity Resources.

A lot of the actions and activities of NPCs, organizes,

Gold and Silver.

        Silver is around 20usd per ounce

        Gold is about 1250usd per ounce.

        1:70 of gold to silver value.

        Typically coins are 4.5g (7.75 or 8 in one once or 31 grams)

                See Drachma

                See Solidus

        72 in a roman pound is 324g or 100 in a pound.

        Mina (unit) is 1-1.25lbs

        Talent (Unit)  is 26kg (57lbs)

        Stone (Unit) 14kg

        Li (unit) 500m

        Stadion Stadia (Unit) 185m

        Medimnos (Unit) 51.84L

        Modius (Unit) 8.73L