Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Mutual Collaboration Society

Over the past couple of months I've been working on establishing the concept of a Mutual Collaboration Society for the Mythos Machine.  The goal of the Mutual Collaboration Society is for members to give one another free and unhindered use of one another's RPG materials for both their own gaming purposes, and also for any derivative works they would like to use them for. It is a share and share alike system.

So Gamemasters through the Mythos Machine can contributes to the central pool of creative materials by making their creations in the Mythos Machine "Public". The Things that people can make "Public" in the system are all are:  Weapons, Armors, Equipment, Races, Classes, Mystic Powers, Skills, Heritages, Money Exchange Rate systems, Cultures, Places, Campaigns and Adventures (the last two are not implemented yet, but will be soon if all goes as planned).  All "Public" Things will show up as Shared items in the World Things Trading Post in the Mythos Machine.  Gamemasters can peruse the lists of Things and import the ones they like into their own Worlds, and then modify them as they wish (ie - the originals remain intact and unchanged in the original GM's World).

Members of the Mythos Machine community can mutually draw from these items for their own games by importing a copy of them to their own Worlds, and / or for creating non-commercial or commercial derivative works as they wish. This allows people to legally share RPG materials with each other, and do what they wish with them.  And once something is made "Public" then the author grants a license for others to use it.  It is kind of like Creative Commons for RPG content.

So in the Mythos Machine, anything the GM creates, including their entire World, can be set as either "Public" or "Private".  When "Private" the Gamemaster retains full copyright ownership, and no one on the system can see it except the Players in their World, if the GM has granted permission for the Players to see those items.

Thus a World can have a mix of "Public" and "Private" Things.  Here are the rules for Public and Private ownership according to the Terms of Service for the site:

If the Gamemaster (GM) creates a "Private" World (which it is by default), then whether or not the GM makes things within it Public or Private:

1. No one but the GM can see their World.

2. No player can join the World for generating characters because the World itself is "Private" (usually while under construction).

3. Nothing from "Private" Worlds will show up in the World Things Trading Post as Shared Things.

4. The "Private" World is eligible to be loaded into the Packaged Worlds system (when available) and be sold at a price set by the GM via the Mythos Machine.

5. The GM retains full copyright ownership of their World and can do with it whatever they wish (commercial or non-commercial) - which is to say they could publish the world in any medium outside of the Mythos Machine if they wish to, or convert it into any format or medium they wish.  No one else has any license (or ability) to use those things other than the GM for any purpose.

If the GM makes their World "Public", but keeps everything in it "Private" (all individual Things (weapons, armors, places, classes, etc) that they may create) then:

1. The other members of the site can select the GM and view the World's Description and House Rules and Genre selections.

2. Players can join the World and Generate Characters in it.

3. Nothing from the World will show up in the World Things Trading Post as Shared Things (since all the Things are "Private" even though the World itself is "Public").

4. The World is no longer eligible to be loaded into the Packaged Worlds system from that point forward.

5. The Things that are "Private" are owned by the GM, and no one else can see them except the Players who may interact with some or all of them during the Character Generation process if the GM allows the Players permission to access any or all of those Things.

If the GM makes their World "Public", and make any Things in it "Public" then:

1. "Public" Things from the World will show up in the World Things Trading Post as Shared Things and;

2. The Things that are "Public" are owned by the GM, but a license is granted to everyone on the system to be able to Import (ie copy) those Things into their Worlds, and use them for derivative works for commercial or non-commercial purposes, in the Mythos Machine or outside of it. 

Of course we already have such a system in Creative Commons licensing. But what we don't have is a platform on which this concept is embodied so that people can easily find and share their work with each other, and easily and quickly incorporate those things into their Worlds. Not at least in the way the Mythos Machine does it.

So why do all of this?  For those who want to create RPG content, the world is rife with great ideas floating around the web.  But a lot of times you can't use that content because of legal complications.  This system is designed to allow RPG content creators to share ideas more easily, and to use them for whatever they can think of.  So you have an idea for a great Campaign that is based on a fantastic Mythos Machine based RPG you played in last night?  No problem.  You're free to create that.  You want to make a book out of it?  No problem.  You want to beautify the book and sell it on DriveThruRPG?  Again, no problem.  Everyone is free to use the materials they find shared on the Mythos Machine for whatever downstream projects they want.  And so can you.

The act of Sharing on the Mythos Machine is as simple as making something "Public".

What do you think of this concept?  I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.  Would you find this useful to you as a creator?  Would you be willing to share your creative content with others on this basis?  Would you like to have a central repository of Things that you can draw on for your own games, or ancillary works?

I'm hoping people will find this concept useful and compelling.  What do you think?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Some Thoughts on Narrative vs Tactical Combat

I wrote this as a comment in relation to this post, but thought it enough of an interesting point that I might post it also to ye'old Elthos RPG Blog, so here you have it...

The problem with Theater of the Mind is that it's fine so long as people feel like they are not unfairly disadvantaged by not being able to execute actual tactics, which may increase their chances of survival if they're good at it. So once a TotM game starts to feel to the players like the battle is going against them, at least in my experience, the Players then tend to want to resort to tactical maps. So long as they're winning, though, they don't care. The problem of course is that a lot of times they would have had to have looked carefully at the tactical situation before the battle started, and by the time they are switching over to Tactical Mode after the fact often as not it's too late - the mistakes are already made.

The key to tactical maps, and the reason people like to use them, is that they make the battle very clear to everyone, so no one can say after "that couldn't happen" or "you didn't explain that they enemy could xyz", etc. It's a fairness measure. The problem, of course, with tactical maps is that they break immersion by forcing everyone to think in terms of stats and numbers, distances and damage. Once that happens then the narrative aspect of the game gets curtailed.

So... trade offs.

I like to take a mixed approach. I may show the tactical map at the beginning of the battle to get them oriented, and then put pieces on it and move them around in a general sense until things get complicated, and then resort back to the tactical map. This is an imperfect solution prone to problems of deciding when to do TotM and when to go Tactical, but it is manageable. At least for me with my players. Sometimes, though, we go full tactical, and other times full narrative. It depends on what the mood in the room is.