Monthly Archives: August 2011

Game AI – Stealing

Another post just to put up something I wrote down a while back. This one is about how to handle stolen property using semi-emergent tools. It would take a decent amount of processing power, but these days we’ve got the hardware for it.


Each person has a internal list of everything they own and keeps track of where they put them last. They can reconize their own property and whether or not it is missing. If this happens it is marked as stolen. If stolen they have a chance to reconize it when they see it again. Modified by the item’s percieved value and the time since it was discovered stolen. The higher the value of the item the better chance a person will have to reconize it. The longer since the crime happened the chance of reconition goes down. Also a much smaller chance to mistake a similar item.

The second part is sharing this information. When something is stolen the person goes to the nearest town guard and transfers the reconition of the item to the guard. Then the guard spreads that bit of information to all the other town guards. They now all have a chance to reconize that stolen item if they see it. Based on their perceived value of the item and the time since they were first told about it.

The chance of reconition is a piece of information that can be passed to others from anyone who has it. Guards will always share the information with other guards as long as they have it. Each person that the holder of that information passes close by someone else and talks to them. The chance they will pass along the information is roughly equal to the chance of reconition (perceived value / time passed) with the victim most likely telling people more often. Then each of those people have a chance to tell others, and so on. Each one having a new percieved value while time passes constantly. But that bit of information doesn’t pass without a person to carry it. Plus if it wasn’t valuable it won’t get passed between people very much. Even if a worthless item was highly valued by the orginal victim and he tells everyone he meets, it won’t be told to anyone else by those people.

Examples: A worthless family heirloom gets stolen. The information to reconize it will travel to the guards and probably to the victim’s friends who he meets alot, but probably not further then that. While the priceless soild-gold hammer of the city temple will spread to everyone in the city and most likely beyond via travelling merchants.

This method also allows someone to steal an item and travel to a shop on the other side of the city to sell it. If you can outrun the gossip you won’t have any trouble selling stolen merchandise.

A limited factor would be required to stop people from carrying around useless old data about stolen items for the entire game. A good way to do it is people forget about stolen items based on the percieved value. Then time passed should be based on time since they found out about it. Because someone will be more alert for something they were told was stolen, but if it was worthless they won’t be alert for it for very long. Yet they will be alert once again if told about the item again. So the result is an item will be talked about less and less as time passes, especially if worthless. As time passes the chance of telling someone else goes down and people will keep forgetting about it after a time.

All bluff and other skills to fake out someone who would give you trouble over a stolen item would work by modifying the target’s chance of recognition.

Various classes, jobs, etc. would also modify reconition and telling others. Guards would nearly always be told, but rarely tell others. News (or whatever) people would almost always tell, be told about stolen items but only have a normal chance of reconizing the item if they see it. You could even have objects be told and tell about things. Like scrolls or public notices, but only if the stolen item’s value was high enough.

To simulate a crime spree have the various bits of reconition data enhance each other. Each bit of recognition is increased by a small percentage for every other bit of recognition data a person has. Which would make guards very good at reconizing things since they would have lots of that type of data. In a busy city anyway, in a quiet town with little or no crime the guards would only be a little better then a average person. Note this effect gives them a good ability to detect stolen items without ever coding a specific skill.

Another way is have someone go through and check your items (that they can see) again if a stolen item is stolen. If you have a lot of stolen property you are more likely to get found out, in more then one way. Each time a person discovers you have something stolen they check all the other items they can see. If a second stolen item is found, a third check happens. And so on until a check doesn’t reconize any stolen property.

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Video Game


Death Frost Moon

A place of death and horror. Rumors are everywhere about it. All anyone knows for certain is that a death cult has been found there time and time again, coming back years, decades, or even centuries after the last time they were exterminated. The last great purge of it was during the  peak of the last human empire and nobody has gone to check it out since.

Seers and prophets have been getting visions and dreams of the place. They claim that dark forces are gathering there once more and that if not stopped the evil there will be unleashed once more. Pretty much everyone dismisses this as the ranting of crazy people. Nobody in their right mind would go anywhere near that moon. Even the insane Githyanki stay far away from the patch of thin phlogiston that surrounds that crystal sphere.

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Spelljammer


Tower of the Forgotten Princess

Nobody knows who built this tower, or how long ago. It is found on a otherwise normal uninhabited planet in a fairly isolated crystal sphere. The legends speak of a beautiful princess kept in magical sleep, and the entire wealth of her kingdom protected by powerful magic. Waiting for the one worth hero to come wake her and claim the treasure to found a new kingdom.

Many have braved the tower, but nobody has been pure or honorable enough to deserve either the princess or the wealth. So the tower continues to wait for the right hero to appear.

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Spelljammer


Dragon’s Delve

This is a collection of crystal spheres that can trace their history back to the Grand Draconian Kingdom. When the kingdom fell some of the remaining navy managed to gather up many survivors and headed to a series of outposts in a barely inhabited part of the kingdom and basically isolated themselves from the end of the war with the Tieflings. Because of this the settlements managed to survive and formed a small pocket kingdom that has endured through the centuries.

Because of the beginning of their history and several catastrophes since the people of Dragon’s Delve are very isolationist. Visitors are allowed only in a single outpost in each of the crystal spheres and any attempt to land on any planet or get near any of the mining outposts is met with instant violence. In spite of this many traders and merchants continue visiting them because even Elven work is only second-best to the metalwork the master Draconian smiths produce. Not to mention the finest metals and gems can be found from the Draconian mines.

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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Spelljammer



The settlement that most adventurers in this part of space call home is named Spire. Located on a small moon of a planet about mid-way in the lineup. It gets it’s food from a trade agreement with a planet closer to the sun, once a year when the two planets are closest they send ships over to make the trade for that year of food from the farmers on a planet closer to the sun. The sphere’s heavy asteroid belt is between the two planets. The food caravan often hires guards for the trip through the monster infested asteroid belt.

Spire is a trading town that has been in this crystal sphere for as long as people can remember. It was not always in the same place, but the confluence of several stable currents in the Phlogiston that lead to and from the sphere means there has always been a healthy trading town of some kind here. The town is often burned down in time of war and built up in time of empires. These days it is just a small trading town that remembers better days, and that those better days will come again eventually. Several of the most influential of families have existed in the town for hundreds of years and take great pride in enduring through the hard times.

The town is overseen by a coalition of the five major families. The four merchant families and the shipbuilders. There isn’t an official mayor as most of the time there is plenty of opportunity to get a consensus of all the important people’s thoughts on any decision to be made.

There are a handful of military ships that patrol the sphere. Most of them assigned to caravan duties, protecting the ships coming and going. There is normally a ship around the inhabited planet to protect them as per the agreement for food shipments. It only leaves to escort the cargo ship that comes to pick up the food when the planet is closest.

There are several inns in the town, more then is really needed for a town this big but given the amount of trade that passes through the sphere you never know when a half-dozen ship crews might need places to sleep. The biggest one is called Reflection and is a three story building that has the finest in accommodations. Most important travelers and wandering visitors tend to stay at Reflection when there is enough room. It certainly is the best place to pick up gossip when new ships are docked. The common room of the inn serves as the main tavern and drinking place of the town as well, though there are several other of those as well.

The primary source of arcane knowledge and training is a wizard tower that actually predates the current town. It was built centuries ago before during the rise of the last great human empire by a powerful wizard. He used the solitude of his tower to study the deepest mysteries of arcane magic. He also taught a few students from time to time and eventually disappeared. The tower was maintained and occupied by his students who studied the writings he left and taught others. Even with the location in the same system as a prosperous trading nexus, it was still far enough away that it didn’t have many visitors. So there were only a half-dozen or so wizards living there when the unhuman war broke out. The combination of the wizards and the arcane defenses of the tower itself powerful enough that the humanoids didn’t bother them after the first attack on the tower.

When the last trading town in the system was attacked and burned to the ground in the final stages of the way the survivors fled to the wizard tower for protection. It was during this flight that the major battle in the sphere occurred. Reflection’s Edge, the flagship of the local fleet, and the rest of the warships fought a running battle to protect the refugee ships, mostly the merchant cargo ships packed with people, as they fled to safety. Reflection’s Edge was destroyed, as were most of the other warships, but the refugees made it to land and get shelter around the base of the wizards tower. They managed to destroy enough of the enemy ships that the horde of humanoids couldn’t risk attacking the defenses of the wizards tower. Given the situation it was decided to found the new town around the wizards tower itself for the added protection it could provide in times of emergency.

The wizards of the tower keep to themselves for the most part. They sometimes provide magical instruction for students that show talent for the arcane and access to their library for steep fees. They can also be convinced to add their powers to protect the town in times of crisis, but since they need to be told about dangers most of the time they aren’t counted on for quick reactions to attacks. Unless the tower itself is attacked of course.

Spire’s moon is strange because it has no air naturally. It was picked by the wizards to keep people away, but they set up a air pocket for the survivors who founded the town and never got around to removing it.

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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Spelljammer