Do Random Story Generators Work?

In a nutshell...

NO.

It really isn't possible to create a random story generator because there are too many moving parts to create such a thing and then have the plot and characters make sense.

I was contacted a few years ago by an idealistic young man who apparently thought it was possible to create a random story generator which would spew out stories based upon filling in a few blanks in a form.

He was forgetting that such a form would need to be capable of mixing and matching various descriptions of characters, of surroundings, and of any action sequences. It needed to be capable of using symbolism, foreshadowing, writing unique and compelling dialogue, etc.

So when I said "spew" out earlier what I really meant was vomit, because that is what it would be like to read such stories. It would be literary vomit.

Unreadable trash.

A complete waste of time.

Writing is too much of an art form to have an algorithm or a form that can simply be filled out and then the story is spewed out. It requires the human touch to create something artistic worth reading.

Even the most sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence) currently available is only capable of writing basic sentences, and even then when you converse with such AIs you can often trip them up and spot grammar and sentence problems with how they talk.

For example below is a brief conversation with Cleverbot. As you can tell Cleverbot managed to tell a very short story (too short to even be considered to be flash fiction)... But the story doesn't really make sense. He ended with "he took everyone." Huh?


But this is what you would expect to see from a robotic AI that is trying to make a story. There will be something wrong with it, even if the story is very short. Expecting an AI to make up a novel... Well, that just isn't going to work at all. Novels are too complicated.

A person could spend 50 years of their life trying to create a Random Story Generator with an AI that creates stories that makes sense, but they would never succeed.

It is like the Voight Kampff test scene in the film "Bladerunner". Eventually the AI will trip up and make a mistake, a mistake that a human would never make. A mistake that reveals the AI doesn't really understand how to tell a story and is just following its programming.

 

Advantage Vs Disadvantage in 5E: Part Deux!

Before reading this you should read my previous post at:

Advantage vs Disadvantage in 5th Edition Dungeon and Dragons

Ahem...

And to continue that previous post let us first look at the following Probability Charts for Advantage and Disadvantage. As you can see having Advantage multiples your chances of rolling a Natural 20 from 1 in 20 to... 39 in 400. So it is a 9.75% chance of getting a critical hit.

Advantage Roll of 2d20

Disadvantage Roll of 2d20

However that same benefit is inverted for Disadvantage. That chances of rolling a Natural 1 are now 9.75%.

Having Advantage or Disadvantage on a roll basically equates to having a plus or minus 6.333 on the roll. It is a sizable mathematical bonus for improving a person's odds.

Also when you consider when compared to stat bonuses, in which you need a +2 to a Stat just to get a +1 to hit, that means you need +12 to a stat just to get a +6 to hit. Obviously getting a +12 to a single stat just doesn't happen either. Within the rules and not using any magical items it would be very difficult to get +12 to a stat.

What it makes you realize is that any feats in 5th Edition that give you more Advantages (or "Super Advantage" in the case of the "Lucky" feat being used to counteract Disadvantage rolls) are worth far more than having higher stats.

Likewise any feat that negates Disadvantage is also very useful.

Take the Sharpshooter Feat for example... It allows an archer to shoot at opponents (or objects) from vast distances away - even with 90% cover, with no Disadvantage. But there is a flaw in the rules that says if a target is prone that they get Disadvantage, even if the target is prone a mere 10 feet away.


However if the PC takes both the Sharpshooter and the Lucky feats then it solves this problem. Any time they encounter a prone target they can use a Luck point to give themselves Super-Advantage.

At which point prone targets are basically like shootings ducks in a barrel. The Natural 20 chance rises to a 14.3% chance of getting a Critical Hit too.

Why are Critical Hit Chances only 9.7% and 14.3% on Advantage and Super Advantage?

The problem is that there is a chance you roll two Natural 20s during the roll. (Or 2 or 3 in the case of Super Advantage.)

You would think the base chance should be 10% and 15%, but that isn't actually the case when it comes to probability math. The chance of getting two or more 20s at once means there is actually slightly less than 10% and 15%.

It is the reason why in the above charts that there are only thirty-nine 20s and thirty-nine 1s in each of the respective charts.

The Lucky Feat Times Two!

You may have noticed that the Lucky feat can be taken multiple times. In theory character could take it many times, making it the only feat they ever take. Being able to turn every Disadvantage roll into a Super Advantage roll would be a huge benefit, far outweighing the benefits of higher stats.

However depending upon how much combat is actually happening during each game session it might not be necessary to take the feat more than twice. Other feats might actually make more sense in such scenarios so that a character is more flexible and able to do other things.

Eg. If I was running an archer character I would be very tempted to take Lucky twice and then the Sharpshooter feat.

Depending upon my needs at higher levels it might make sense to either take Lucky again, or to take other feats instead. Really depends upon what my goals are for the character.

If my goal was to make a Legolas (almost always hits) kind of character then certain feats or abilities that improve his archery skills, chances to hit, increases damage/etc would make sense. Including perhaps taking a level in Rogue to get extra damage etc.

A Case In Point...

Back in 2017 I was playing a human ranger during a number of Adventurers League games. At the time I took Sharpshooter and several other options, and I eventually ceased playing that character and going to AL games because my wife and I welcomed the birth of my son. I took a break from playing afterwards. But if I had continued playing I was planning to take Lucky to offset the times when I got Disadvantage to my attack rolls... And because I was running out of feats to potentially take that made sense for the character.

Due to the range of choices, spells and magical items my human ranger (with a splash of rogue) had gained over time he had the ability to sneak during a move action and roll a Stealth check with Advantage and a large number of bonuses. A certain spell allowed him to roll Stealth checks in plain sight, which meant he go into sneak mode every round when he moved, and could basically attack with Advantage every round.

Furthermore because he was in sneak mode so often it meant that enemies had to first see him before they could potentially attack him, and in order to see him they needed super high rolls because he was walking around with massive bonuses to his stealth rolls. So he was practically invisible 90% of the time.

Those abilities PLUS the Lucky feat... Wow. He would have been unstoppable.

He could potentially shoot, immediately sneak after shooting (effectively becoming invisible) and then wait until the next round to repeat those actions. All while having Advantage against any opponents who cannot see him.

Combo Abilities, Feats and Super Advantage!

Imagine using an action or an ability that unfortunately gives you Disadvantage, but then you use a Luck point to give the character Super Advantage.

DMs might even be avoiding giving a PC Disadvantage because they know that whenever they do so the PC just spends a Luck point and gets Super Advantage. They could just try to give disadvantages as often as possible so the PC runs out of Luck points constantly, but that would get boring quickly.

Plus if you're playing a module you can't really do that. Eg. AL games for example.

Consequently a player in AL games could just use the Lucky feat and various other combos to give themselves Super Advantage on a regular basis and there isn't much a DM can do about it except sit back and enjoy the show.

For the DMs...

Giving your monsters Advantage in various ways makes a lot of sense. Any reasonably intelligent creatures will often want to use ambushes, attack from higher ground, using 90% cover, fog or smoke or steam, and other options which will either give themselves Advantage and their enemies Disadvantage.

The good news is that most players don't actually see the usefulness of the Lucky feat and thus don't take it that often. This is shortsighted on their part because being able to turn Disadvantages into Super Advantages is a very useful ability.

As a DM myself I am very liberal with how often I give out Advantage and Disadvantage. Just being horseback or higher ground is enough for a PC or NPC to get Advantage in my opinion.

Likewise trying to shoot a fast moving target on a horseback is grounds for Disadvantage. Or if the enemy is on higher ground.

This works out largely to benefit of the players because they quickly realize how they can gain Advantage more often by making use of my liberal use of Advantage/Disadvantage.

DMing Alternative: A House Rule

One thing I have seen other DMs do is to go back to the older system you see in 2nd and 3rd editions of D&D, by applying pluses and negatives to rolls instead of just rolling multiple d20s.

Both systems have their pros and cons. Having a +/- 2 or 4 or 8 to a roll is certainly more predictable but also flexible than rolling 2d20 which is effectively like having a +/- 6.333 to the roll.

Not allowing Advantage/Disadvantage and replacing it with pluses and minuses is certainly an old school way of doing things. (Also makes sense if you only have one d20 die in the first place.)

There are other ways to make 5th Edition D&D feel more like an old school game too, but that is a topic for another day.


When is Season Two of the Witcher Coming?

 Coming

AUGUST 17TH 2021


That is the official release date of season 2 of The Witcher.

So if you've been waiting patiently (or impatiently) now at least you know how long you have to wait.

Sooner would have been nice, but with the Coronavirus going on everything has been delayed significantly.

Also if you haven't read the books yet... I definitely recommend reading the Witcher book series.





Publishing a fantasy book? Make sure you get a professional fantasy book editor.

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