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Squareware: Almost There

Here is the newest interface design for the Fantasy Grounds version of my most recent project - 'Squareware'

What is Squareware?

Squareware is a random generator on sterioids with a facelift.

It's important to point out that Squareware is a supplement and quick-save for DM's with an already considerable imagination and deft talent for telling a story - it provides convenient detail for content that helps to keep the pace of the story going, and provide filler for mostly non-essential, non-volitional parts of the RPG journey.

What can become or be made essential from that generated content is up to the DM - but Squareware exists to quickly fill the gaps between the content of the story: to allow you to let your players go anywhere and do anything because whatever they do, you can instantly provide detail for. The majority of games and their core fundamental principles have not changed since I began using a Commodore 64 in the early 80's, even 30 years on with the latest RPG PC and Console Games the physics of our world bind us to perform specific actions. These actions can be reduced to the most simplest of repetitive actions. We store smaller things inside of larger things. Some things things are worth more than others. We describe things generally - and then get more specific as more detail is requested or required. If someone interacts with something they learn more about it the more they study it.

With this in mind - there is in fact a very limited amount of actions that players perform in any RPG no matter how complex its rules - and squareware takes advantage of this fact to produce content that covers virtually every necessity for a DM: with deepening layers of detail.

From rolling a full quest with every key element done for you for an instant one-shot: To providing detail for a random tavern buildings appearance, then the interior atmosphere and features, its patrons, right down to the menu with food and drink, and pricing - and for taverns of different status from poor to rich. And then applied again for Markets and Dungeons.

Titles and authors for every book your players pick up, contents of varying quality and quantity in any container, room decor and features for any room they enter: you get the idea: and while such supertables exist - Squareware packs them into a visual cockpit that hides all the messy underwiring and makes it dead easy to find what you want when you need it just by looking. Key elements such as generators for times of day, week and a sliderbar to keep track of Time, are a fairly expected addition: some of the unique additions this product offers to a DM includes:

A random Passage of Time generator that can be read as players transition from one area to the next providing a descriptive bridge for colour or to buy you time while you swap maps or build encounters.

Ambience Generators for Wilderness/Road Travel by Day or Night, and again in Towns/Villages/City Districts.

Musical Score and Band descriptions that detail who is playing what with what instrument, what it sounds like, its tempo and even how it makes the players feel.

Event Generators that are sub-divided into Close and Distant in space, and Immediate and Impending in time - so you can keep the action going here, or take it there, now, or later.

Lures, Splits and Rallies are a further sub-division of Events that can be employed to entice the players to go in a specific direction, to come back together or to be split apart as the story requires it. Location Generators give you the Name and Terrain Type. NPC and Villains allow you to quickly make NPCs of varying moral compass. Trap, Treasure and Object Sliders are sub-categorized into Worth - so you can generate content for players without breaking the economic balance - or reward/punish them heavily at your whim on a scale of degree.

Tables for the five senses enable you to conjure up a sound,a smell, a taste, an appearance, or how something feels.

Pre-generated examples have been compiled into new tables where for instance you might have 100 of the randomly generated furnishings in a CARPENTER table. Or 100 detailed wines with bottle description, wine colour, smell, taste, name and label from the VINEYARD and dozens of others. Nicely separated from the red pin that signals a random generator by a green pin that signals a pregenerator.

Then we have the APC AI or Artificial Player Character Artificial Intelligence system or Alpaca for short. This series of rolls tables pre-determines the actions of a DM-owned and operated PC that can stand in and make up the numbers of absent players but which removes the DM bias (real or imagined) from the process by rolling the actions, tactics, comments and behaviours of the APC from tables - leaving the DM's job to creatively carry out how these approaches are performed and described. With random speeech tailored for different situations, tactics for melee, ranged and magical combat, exploration and movement tables, its own mood, vote preference, the ability to complain or simply perform idle habits such as scratching their chin while watching a butterfly - the APC allows any DM to let the show go on by making up the numbers and simulating a PC with a mind of its own. Squareware provides a space to put the portrait to bring up their sheet and room to store various pins according to your design and need.

Description generators for making attacks in the various types of damage are provided as well as descriptors of critical hits and failed misses.

Using the template of an unshared map the DM can operate Squareware like a centralized control panel easily creating all the content they need for whatever situation they find themselves - including running a Biasless PC should the need arise so that the show can always go on. Squareware is not just a content generator - it is a story generator - it has been designed to give random flowing descriptions of things not just spit disjointed words at you. It has almost 200 individual tables with more than 5000+ variables that make up the complex wiring beneath - that is elegantly represented in a professional Graphic User Interface so you can get what you need with one click of a button and not have to scroll through five pages of tables looking for it. Squareware represents a true evolution of the 'Random Generator' concept - combining the powerful story templates and nested table functions of Fantasy Grounds with huge organized lists of data, nouns, adjectives and verbs bridging every concievable RPG Narrative need from portal and magical effect descriptions to separating poor drinks from rich wines - strung together with my written joinery - to narrative devices that pull or push your players where you want them to go - to combining supertables with the new concept of a Bialess 'Alpaca' - and all in one very powerful, virtually limitless, compact, elegant package. It is, one, of the ultimate tools a DM could have for running adventure - A friend when you are tired, a time-saver when you are under pressure, an inventor when you have no time, and a bag of holding when you need to pull a particular rabbit out of a particular hat.

And it is very nearly ready for its beta-test...

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