Random? Numbers (was:RE: Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Require ments for MM(wasComplexities of MMOG Servers)))

Brian Hook brianhook at pyrogon.com
Fri Jan 24 13:05:49 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Wed, 22 Jan 2003 18:23:36 -0000, Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com

> This is completely tangential to your original point, but has
> anyone considered making a 'fun' random number generator. As a
> first cut, it might involve the following :

> - Prevent long streaks of critical failures.
> - Encourage streaks of critical success every so often (perhaps
> when their hp are low etc.) e.g. 3 critical hits landing in a row
> always feels good.

The above aren't properties of a random number generator, they are
properties of the mechanics.  If you want to prevent long streaks of
critical failures, then adjust the mechanics to reflect this.

If you want to encourage streaks of critical success, then once
again, adjust the mechanics to reflect this (in fact, several
computer and pnp RPGs will give you bonuses on attack while heavily
injured or they have a Luck attribute, etc.).

> - Most of the time get results vaguely in the middle of the range.

This is not what you'd want -- you want the mechanics function to
control this distribution.

If you want a linear distribution over some range, then you can
simply have:

  f(x) = random()

But if you want outputs to cluster around a region you would reflect
this by building the distribution you want from the random()
function and then normalize appropriately.

A trivial example is if you wanted a distribution similar to the
standard 3d6, write a function that generates 3d6 and then biases
and normalizes into a range you like.

You'll still still have a well defined output range, but at the same
time you'll get the clustering centered around a mid point that you

There are more exotic ways of doing this, for example ShadowRun and
StoryTeller dice pool mechanics.  In fact, the dice mechanic I'm
using right now is a modified form of the L5R roll multiple, keep
subset system because it beautifully and elegantly captures the
relationship between attribute and skill (at least, for me).

Anyway, having a reasonable PRNG is pretty much core to any
mechanics system that has an element of luck in it.  Modifications
to the mechanics are where you want to add flavor.


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