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Hans Messersmith
Just happy to be invited
Just happy to be invited


This is the sort of thing that I hesitate to share, because the rule in MM for coin purses/bags is so elegant, but math wise...I think there may be an issue for consideration. Its not an issue with the dice themselves, its an issue with the splitting/combining rule. (Also, forgive me if someone else has already talked about this I couldn't find a post about it).

Thinking about the probabilities associated with risk dice, we can apply the negative binomial theorem ( to determine the expected number of purchases you can get with a die before it steps down (or in the case of the d4, disappears). The formula for the expected number of purchases BEFORE the step down is

(1-Prob of Step down)/Prob of Step Down

so the expected number of purchases is

(1-prob of step down)/prob of step down + 1

This gives us the following:

d12 - 4 purchases - 13.33 total before exhaustion
d10 - 3.33 purchases - 9.33 total before exhaustion
d8 - 2.66 purchases - 6 total before exhaustion
d6 - 2 purchases - 3.33 total before exhaustion
d4 - 1.33 purchases

(Total before exhaustion is simply the sum of the die plus all lower dice expected purchases).

The rule for coins is that you can split a bag into 2 bags by stepping down the die of both bags. However, if you look at the table, in every case the expected number of purchases you can make with 2 bags of a step lower is more than the expected number of purchases you can make with the original bag. This leads to the seemingly weird situation where you can buy more stuff if you split up your pile of cash into smaller piles, and less if you horde it into a big pile.

In fact, assuming you start with a d12 bag of coins, here are the expected number of purchases you can make if you...

Leave it as a d12 - 13.33 purchases
Split into two d10s - 18.66 purchases
Split into four d8s - 24 purchases
Split into 8 d6s - 26.66 purchases
split into 16 d4s - 21.33 purchases

I could have a major problem in the logic or math above, in which case please call me out on it.

I suspect that maybe the idea is that by combining bags you reduce the encumbrance (if I am following the rule correctly) but reduce purchases, but clever players will be inclined to try to split the bags up immediately before purchase. 8 d6s buys TWICE as much stuff, on average, as a single d12.

I'm not sure if there is any "solution" to this, because as I stated before, the splitting/combining rule is very elegant at the moment, and all the potential changes I can think of make it more complicated in ways that don't seem worth the cost to me. But its worth remembering that, the way the rule is written at the moment there is a strong incentive for the players to combine bags as much as possible while outside of town (to reduce encumbrance) and then to split bags as much as possible while in town on a shopping spree. Maybe force the players to combine up all of their party/personal cash into the highest levels possible prior to the shopping spree? At a minimum, I think GM's should be cautious about allowing splitting of coin bags when there is not a clear in-game reason for the split.

Again, this only applies to coins, because only coins can be freely split and combined. You can't split/combine your beef jerky rations or your armor or your ammo.

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I've mentioned previously I'm planning to run +Luka Rejec 's Ultraviolet Grasslands with Macchiato Monsters. I put some notes together for this, which I have not playtested yet because the game doesn't start until next month. But I thought they might be of some interest, so, here you go. Comments are turned on, so feel free to leave any thoughts on the document you wish.
UVG for MM Notes
UVG for MM Notes

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Worst of the Complete Marvel Reading Order

(NOTE: this covers New Warriors #37-39)

This little three issue arc is the nadir of early '90s "gritty". That is to say, false gritty. That is to say enraging crap. Its the difference between writing bad things happening to characters and writers being cruel to their characters. Fabian Nicieza apparently looked at the examples of Gwen Stacy and Jean Grey and was like "so, to make great comics, you need to have people die". Which misses two very important points: 1) Gerry Conway did it first, and 2) Chris Claremont was 10 times the writer Fabian Nicieza is.

Here is a death for you: Fabian Nicieza, you are dead to me for killing Granny Staples and then making her grandson Rage, a 14 year old boy, a murderer.
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Update on CMRO, now with data! BIG GEEKY POST FOR NO REASON! Read at your own risk.

Last night I went a bit crazy, and replicated some of the analysis I did back around 8000 or so in the Order. You can see those posts here:

First a reminder: CMRO is a "reading" order. It puts things in story sequence, not publication sequence. This means that the publication date of things in the order can jump around a lot. A 12 issue mini-series, that spans a year of publication, will all be adjacent in the Order, for example. Also, comic books are broken down into stories, so an annual, for example, might have from three to five entries in the Order depending on how many stories it had in it.

I'm going to talk about things by place in the Order, and then by title. Scroll down for the title info.

The chart below is the big payoff, I think: Its shown below. Its a moving average of my ratings (in stars) across the Order. The two take home messages from this are: 1) who knew that 1991 and 1992 would have such good stuff? and 2) but 1993 is a total waste of time.

Here are the top five sections of the Order so far:
Around 9700 - This is mostly early 1992 stuff. This is driven mostly by Alan Davis returning to Excalibur with a bang, Chichester and Weeks on Daredevil, and DeMatteis and Buscema on Spectacular Spider-Man. However Operation: Galactic Storm was the first big event that was an unqualified success, and Punisher: War Zone, of all things, by Dixon and Romita Jr., was actually pretty darn good. If you had told me five years ago that the most consistent section of high quality comics would be mostly from 1992, I would have laughed in your face.
Around 8900 - This is mostly early 1991 stuff. Knights of Pendragon V1 was the big driver of this; I LOVED that series. But also, Byrne is turning in great work on Namor and on Iron Man (Armor Wars 2), Peter David continues to do well with Incredible Hulk, and, suprise suprise, Steve Gerber comes up with something genuinely interesting with the Foolkiller limited series. Its a bit of a Watchmen wanabe, no question, but it is actually deep in a way that a lot of Gerber's work isn't. I'm not sure how I feel about it, in the end; I think I hate Steve Gerber's politics, for example. But Foolkiller was a completely unexpected treat.
Around 5300 - This is roughly mid 1983. Moore and Davis on Captain Britain
in UK book "The Daredevils" is a driver here, as is Smith's classic run on Uncanny X-Men with Claremont. The Wolverine Limited Series is in here, as is Byrne's best FF and Alpha Flight. Also Roger Stern seems to be writing everything, and while he is not a genius, he is pretty reliable for a 3.5 star average story.
Around 4000 - This is roughly 1979. This is classic X-Men, including Dark Phoenix, plus also Mary Jo Duffy on Power Man and Iron Fist, Moench and Zeck on Master of Kung Fu, and the excellent Night Raven (John Bolton) shorts in Hulk Comics UK
Around 7300 - This is roughly late 1988. This is driven primarily by the first issues of Excalibur under Claremont and Davis, as well as Gillis doing some great stuff on both the Doctor Strange half of Strange Tales (V2) and then on Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme. Gruenwald is very enjoyable on Captain America and Simonson and Buscema are doing well on Avengers. Also, in here is the best of the Inferno event, which was a mixed bag but averaged roughly 3.5 stars.

Now for the worst periods:
Around 10900 - mostly 1993. So much Marvel Comics Presents. MCP represents at least a third of the total stories in the order for 1993 and 1994, because it a) had four stories per book and b) was published weekly. It is not without some good stuff, but the quality deteriorated rapidly as the title progressed. Also, Sleepwalker and Darkhawk, ugh. Also, the UK title Dark Angel, which is this awful and weird "Mary Sue" thing that has this character you have never heard of chumming around with all the X-Men. There are a lot of interesting ideas in the UK Marvel comics from the 1990s, including Dark Angel, but the execution is awful. (TIDBIT for my Masks game players: the "voodoo doll" of Earth comes from Dark Angel.)
Around 4200 - around 1980. Spider-Woman without Claremont, Howard the Duck in Crazy Magazine, Howard the Duck in his own magazine, Rom, lots of aimless Spider-Man; seriously, they had no idea what to do with Spider-Man in 1980.
Around 3100 - around 1977. LOTS of Captain Britain by Gary Freidrich that is awful. This title has an inordinate impact on this section of the Order because it was published in short weekly installments, so has a lot of entries. But also, Ghost Rider, Human Fly, Rampaging Hulk Magazine, and Nova, all of which are dreadful.
Around 9900 - Marvel Comics Presents, again. Way too much MCP. But also the abomination that is NFL SuperPro, and many of the 1992 Annuals, which had lots of stories, all of them bad.
Around 10332 - again, 1993. Marc Spector: Moon Knight jumps the shark. Guardians of the Galaxy is so very bad. Nick Fury and Agents of SHIELD is almost unreadable. And yes, more MCP.

I did a Bayesian Average Rating again, which essentially rewards books that are consistently good over longer periods relative to short run things.

In the lists, first number is number of stories, 2nd is actual average rating, 3rd is Bayesian average.
Top 20
The Knights of Pendragon (v1) 18 4.555555556 3.416860135
Doctor Strange (v2) 81 3.604938272 3.366549722
Master of Kung Fu 108 3.472222222 3.306540776
Excalibur (v1) 67 3.507462687 3.257621337
Uncanny X-Men (v1) 160 3.3 3.203377944
The Spectacular Spider-Man (v1) 71 3.408450704 3.193870375
The Daredevils 17 4 3.156155839
New Mutants (v1) 100 3.22 3.091744075
Punisher War Zone (v1) 19 3.736842105 3.078391859
The Mighty World of Marvel (v2) 21 3.666666667 3.074876089
Fantastic Four (v1) 382 3.070680628 3.040284222
Silver Surfer (v3) 82 3.109756098 2.984270531
Foolkiller (v1) 10 4 2.980325775
Amazing Spider-Man (v1) 399 2.997493734 2.972406299
Captain Britain (v2) 21 3.428571429 2.962754439
Iron Fist (v1) 15 3.6 2.956964137
Wolverine (v2) 71 3.070422535 2.940155623
Wonder Man (v1) 21 3.333333333 2.917905779
X-Men (v1) 134 2.97761194 2.913315813
Doctor Strange (v1) 14 3.5 2.902620013

In case you have never heard of them, the Daredevils and Might World of Marvel were the UK black and white magazines that published Alan Moore's Captain Britain stuff. The real surprises here are Punisher: War Zone and Foolkiller.

Bottom 20
Saga of Crystar 11 1.090909091 2.084796229
Chamber of Darkness 12 1.166666667 2.082413939
NFL Superpro 12 1.083333333 2.054319648
Spider-Man Annual UK 14 1.214285714 2.051429876
Micronauts (v2) 20 1.45 2.044351464
Marvel Super-Heroes (v2) 60 1.833333333 2.035091773
Tales to Astonish (v1) 120 1.925 2.027392961
US 1 12 1 2.026225357
Howard the Duck (v2) 15 1.2 2.024186822
Transformers UK 16 1.25 2.023575958
Human Fly (v1) 19 1.315789474 1.998438208
Ghost Rider (v2) 81 1.777777778 1.951560288
Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain 17 1.117647059 1.949093408
Crazy Magazine 15 1 1.946455379
Godzilla 24 1.333333333 1.935569683
Tower of Shadows 17 1.058823529 1.924459481
Shogun Warriors 20 1.1 1.883780458
Speedball 18 1 1.87819223
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham 33 1 1.645432829
Marvel Tales (v2) 46 1.152173913 1.625450957

Crazy Magazine is all Howard the Duck stuff, just one or two page strips that barely qualify as Main Order according to the religiously debated doctrines that determine eligibility. Transformers UK is included for roughly the same reason; the character of Death's Head appears in these stories.

Marvel Tales is ALSO mostly Peter Porker, so Peter Porker really holds the bottom two positions on the list. That Spider-Verse story line better rock my world, because I have already paid the price for reading it by suffering through the awful, unfunny, and frequently racist Peter Porker.

The worst title that is unambiguously and undeniably part of Marvel continuity is Speedball. Ah, Steve Ditko, low how the mighty had fallen.

All the data is here:

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Not a five star item, just an update.

I've now read 11,000 stories, as of my lunch break today. Here are my milestones...

1 - April 26, 2013 12:30 Fantastic Four #1 (v1)
1000 - September 21, 2013 8:56 Incredible Hulk #131 (v1)
2000 - June 5, 2014 16:12 Frankenstein #16
3000 - December 9, 2014 8:14 Marvel Team-Up #67 (v1) [A Story]
4000 - July 21, 2015 7:54 Thor #149 (v1) [B Story]
5000 - December 24, 2015 23:20 Incredible Hulk #271 (v1)
6000 - May 2, 2016 16:44 Iron Man #200 (v1)
7000 - September 1, 2016 18:43 Spellbound #3 (v2)
8000 - January 5, 2017 7:55 Avengers West Coast #59
9000 - May 10, 2017 13:41 Excalibur #38 (v1)
10000 - August 9, 2017 9:46 Marvel Comics Presents #110 (v1) [A Story]
11000 - July 23, 2018 12:22 X-Men #22 (v2)

As you can see, the length of time between 10,000 and 11,000 was much longer than any previous gap. The reason for that is 1993/1994 in Marvel sucks. Its awful. Actually, its not that it is awful so much as it is so very rarely good. There were only four five-star stories in all of that 1,000. We are deep into quantity not quality as a defining feature of Marvel's editorial policy. This can be demonstrated by looking at the number of stories per year in the CMRO's "Main 616" order (the one I am reading):

1983 343
1984 359
1985 363
1986 356
1987 328
1988 462
1989 704
1990 734
1991 739
1992 871
1993 1,116
1994 943
1995 653
1996 533
1997 531

Now, at least a third of that spike in 93/94 is down to Marvel Comics Presents, but it is emblematic of the overall problem.

Anyway, I continue to push forward, albeit more slowly than in the past. My research tells me there isn't a whole lot to look forward to until 2001 or so, although the Marvels mini-series is coming up soon, and I've heard that Thunderbolts was one of the few highlights of the late '90s. We'll see.

If you know of any thing I can look forward to between 1994 and 2000, please share it with me.

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Probably a very stupid question, but I need to ask. What does it mean when a weapon has two dice listed for damage? For example, Dane Axe or Flail d8/d8. I can't find this described anywhere, so I'm betting this is some kind of OSR "common knowledge" that I am missing. Or I just have crappy attention to detail.

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Has anyone used Macchiato Monsters with +Luka Rejec 's Ultraviolet Grasslands? Any thoughts on how that might be a good or a bad thing?

At face value, it seems perfect for that campaign/adventure/pointcrawl, because the customization of characters would allow for characters to mesh well with the very weird heavy metal Moebius meets Mad Max qualities of UVG. But I am very new to OSR style games and worry I might be missing an obvious problem or two.

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You may be suffering from Blood Ceremony fatigue, but I am not. Another #perfectalbum from them.
The Eldritch Dark
The Eldritch Dark
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Another #perfectalbum. Yes, I know I have mentioned Blood Ceremony recently. I will continue to do so. This won't be the first of their albums to reach perfect status. I will evangelize for them.
Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony
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I have Hearts of Iron III and have played the heck out of it, so much that I didn't really see the need for Hearts of Iron IV. This mod has changed my mind.
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