The Gamemaster’s Hoard

Back in the dark ages, when there were actually *ominous voice* gamers who had no computers(!), Wintertree sold a product called the Gamemaster’s Hoard. It was a couple of dozen pages of TableMaster printouts — a hundred gems, I think, two miles of caverns, and so on. It was a surprisingly good seller.

I doubt if there’s much of a market for that today. Even my mother has a computer. But since people are waiting for the new TableMaster, I wanted to give them something to use in the meantime.

Hence, the Gamemaster’s Hoard blog posts. Every day I’ll post a big batch of something generated by TableMaster that you can use in a game. I’ll spread it around among different genres from the four Table Packs and any new things I’ve come up with. Remember that these are all output from TableMaster tables, so some of the combinations may not make sense. There may be evidence of bugs in there too; TMII is nowhere close to debugged yet. But at least it will give people who are waiting for TableMaster something they can use while they’re waiting, and people who haven’t backed the Kickstarter yet (go do it!) a good idea of the kind of things TableMaster can do.

Tweet, tweet!

Wintertree Redux is now on Twitter, just in time for Game-O-Rama in Atlanta this weekend.  Major content will of course still go on this blog, but the Twitter will be handy for quickie updates.

So what IS TableMaster anyhow?

I’ve lived so close to TableMaster for so long — its earliest incarnation dates to the 1980s, and a Sinclair QL — that it’s easy for me to forget that not everyone actually knows what it is I’m going on about.

The way I usually explain it: any random generation table in a game is actually a program meant to execute on a system of humans and dice; TableMaster makes it possible to set it up to run on a computer instead. And moreover, you can go far beyond anything that a game would provide, because the computer can do in seconds what it would take you an hour of dice-rolling and note-taking to produce.

Since this whole description is obviously going to be rather useful, I’ve moved it over to a page (you can find it here) so that people won’t have to search through all the posts to find it.

So it’s a blog….

15 years ago, when I shut down Wintertree and totally gafiated, I didn’t think anyone would ever be interested in TableMaster again. I was surprised a few months ago to find out that people have been looking for it, or some replacement for it, ever since. Wow. I never knew. I thought nobody would care when operating systems left it behind (my 64-bit Win7 looks at 16-bit TM/Win and pops up an error message that amounts to “Really? You’re kidding, right?”) and even gaming itself moved on; CCGs seemed to be the future. Wow, was I ever wrong!

But old-school gaming is back and going strong. More people have computers at hand during their games than ever. And there are still people who want TableMaster.

So, I’m hard at work on a new version of TableMaster. I have most of the GUI put together already, and I’m hooking up its features. That’s the easy part, of course, but I need it to be able to work on the development of the table engine itself. I’m doing a complete code rewrite from scratch. Aside from the fact that some of my old code is buggy, and some of it is just plain embarrassing, there are better ways to do things now, and I’m a better programmer. Besides, the original was basically an MS-DOS program kind of faking it. That was so 1993! And don’t worry, I won’t be doing that thing with the clipboard anymore.

I’ve set up this blog so I have an easy way to talk about development, get any feedback that y’all might want to provide, chat with people, etc. Pretty much the kind of thing I used to do at conventions or on CompuServe back in the day. There will probably be a whole flood of posts for the first couple of days as I release a backlog of commentary, then it will settle down and I’ll post when I hit some significant milestone, or have something to say.

I do, however, have a question for anyone who’s reading this: Should I put in lookup tables? They never did work quite right, and I never used them — I’m not sure if anyone did. They were a mess to code and not much better to use, so frankly, if they’re not going to break any tables, I’m going to leave them out. So … did you ever write a table that used .lookup?

Please answer the above question in the comments for any other post (the next one would be good), because I’m using this post as a spamtrap — all comments in reply to this post will be deleted. I say again, ALL REPLIES TO THIS POST WILL BE DELETED because it is serving as a spamtrap, to make it easier to keep that crud out of the real discussion.


(note: I have no idea why the date for this is coming up as February 3, since I didn’t even register this domain name until March!)