How does it work?
I think the name may have given the wrong impression. The ‘D&D’ part of D&D.Sci is mostly the trappings of the genre, not the substance; monsters, wizards and (simulated) dicerolls yes, anything resembling Actual Roleplaying no.
Since you asked . . . from the top, the typical/intended way to Consume my Product is:
Download the dataset provided in the introductory post.
Investigate the scenario and decide the best course of action, using the dataset, the problem description, and a vague sense of what tricks you think the GM will/won’t use.
OPTIONAL: Post about any ambiguities in the problem description or apparent errors in the dataset so the GM can clarify/fix them.
OPTIONAL: Post your findings and/or call your decision in advance (for bragging rights, this is best done in the ~week between the problem and the solution being posted).
OPTIONAL: Update your analysis/answer based on what other people said.
Use your solution in the evaluator the corresponding “Evaluation and Ruleset” post links to; see what happens to your character as a result, and what the odds of that outcome were given your choices.
Read the ruleset: see how well your deductions matched reality, and how close your strategy was to the optimal one.
OPTIONAL: Read the code used to generate the dataset.
OPTIONAL: Post about how well your strategy worked, and what you think you’ve learned from the game.
OPTIONAL: Post about what you think was good/bad about the scenario and what you’d like to see more of in future ones.
OPTIONAL: Make your own scenario. (aphyer has built two so far – both of which are very good – and various other LWers are planning to run games at some point this year)
I’d shied away from RPG style simulated practice because of the difficulty with embodied integration. I find it far too easy to view my character from the outside and solve their situation like a puzzle, rather than experiencing myself as the character who’s actually encountering the confusion and psychological states and trying to navigate them from the inside.
Your Honor, I plead guilty to exactly half of this charge. It’s true that—for example—the player in Voyages of the Gray Swan will not be feeling the terror, desperation and confusion of the character they play, because they aren’t actually having the experience of trying to analyze their way out of being eaten by crabmonsters. As such, they won’t be able to test or develop their making-good-decisions-under-pressure mental musculature: this is a weakness of the genre as it currently exists, and I cop to it.
However, I can tell you from experience that players do get to use their pattern-matching, noticing-confusion, admitting-they’re-wrong, and balancing-priors-against-the-evidence skills, because the scenarios are intentionally weird and messy enough that they have to do those things to reach the best answer. I suppose I’d summarize this by saying I think D&D.Sci players get to practice being rational, but not being not-irrational?
(I once tried to give players a chance to use their not-irrationality skills by writing one of my scenarios as fanfiction of a story with some compelling characters, and inventing a situation where those characters could die, survive, or survive and avoid some of the problems they face in canon, depending on the player’s decisions. This completely failed for reasons documented in the Reflections section of the evaluation post, chief among which is that none of my players had read the story my scenario was fanfiction of. I have various tentative plans for (hopefully!) more effective projects with the same goal.)
What would pressure-testing in the context of rationality look like?Well, honestly, I don’t yet know.I have a few bad examples that don’t strike me as entirely wrong . . .
What would pressure-testing in the context of rationality look like?
Well, honestly, I don’t yet know.
I have a few bad examples that don’t strike me as entirely wrong . . .
At the risk of being accused of flagrant self-promotion, I also have a few bad examples that don’t strike me as entirely wrong. My data science challenges are only tractable to players with the appropriate skillset, and resemble real-life problems the same way mystery novels resemble real-life detective work . . . but if you’re looking for novel ways to test for skill at Inferring The Truth And Then Using It, they’re probably relevant to your interests.
This was extremely good. In particular, I like that you managed to make the challenge tractable to both Analysis and Machine Learning. I also appreciated that you included an explicit Real-world Data Science Moral in the wrap-up; I should try to do that more often.
. . . I feel oddly proud to have continued the tradition of D&D players getting in-universe names wrong.
Thank you for making this.
Nullifying Nightmare, Blaze Boy, Greenery Giant, Tidehollow Tyrant, and . . . yeah, okay, Phoenix Paladin.
(I was on the fence about whether the last spot should go to Paladin or Ranger, but when I saw Measure’s answer I decided to let hipsterism be the deciding factor.)
There seems to be a rock-paper-scissors thing going on here: Earthy fighters have an advantage over Watery fighters, Watery fighters have an advantage over Flamey fighters, and Flamey fighters—kinda, sorta, unreliably—have an advantage over Earthy fighters. (And the Nightmare has an advantage over everyone.)
This is relevant because 3⁄5 of the opposing team is Earthy fighters, including Greenery Giant, who has strength that rivals the Nightmare, and whose presence on a team predicts a ~60% chance of victory.
Teams which are slanted too heavily towards a given element have an extremely low win rate. I can’t tell to what extent this is because losing the rock-paper-scissors game hurts you more than winning it helps, and to what extent balance is inherently valuable, so I’m playing it safe and not building an entire team of firestarters (also, there are only two Flamey fighters with non-terrible win/loss ratios).
I infer from the format of the alternative list that—absent an extremely tricky fakeout—position doesn’t matter: A+B+C+D+E is equivalent to E+D+C+B+A.
Different fighters are used with very different frequencies, but this sampling bias doesn’t seem to affect my analysis much.
Eyeballing the correlation matrix, it looks like teams are thrown together randomly; no pairs that always show up together, etc. This makes things much simpler, since I can be confident that (for example) GG’s apparent power isn’t just because people keep using him alongside NN (or vice versa).
There’s a random element here. Existence proof: A+B+C+S+V vs A+E+I+T+V happened twice with different outcomes. Given this, I’d want to push Cloud Lightning Gaming to have the match be best-of-five, to decrease randomness’ relevance to the outcome.
I appreciate the omission of letters that would let us (accidentally or otherwise) spell out common swearwords.
I made a Sequence for my replayable challenges, but think we should keep the tag. That way people wanting to make posts about D&D.Sci will have something to tag them with.
You may want to include a link to the challenge in this post, so people seeing it on the frontpage know what you’re referring to.
Thank you again for making this; it’s been enlightening to play one of these for a change.
Reflections on my attempt:
It appears my obliviousness to Encounter Frequency concerns didn’t damage my plans as much as I feared. It’s hard to say how much of my better-than-random result was down to good analysis vs careful management of unknowns vs sheer good luck: if damage from Pirates and Harpies weren’t dependent on things that happened earlier in the voyage (an effect to which I was also oblivious), or if the Atlanteans had been in a different position on their route (a journey to which I was also also oblivious) or if the Maelstrom (a phenomenon to which I was also also also oblivious) had happened to be along either of my chosen paths, I might not be looking quite so clever right now.
In retrospect, once I’d found the skeleton key of “the Admirality treat every ship that isn’t a Dhow as interchangeable, so their ability to survive journeys is an unbiased estimator”, I could and should have gotten much more mileage out of it. For example, it could have easily let me infer that nobility mattered and that Scottish-sounding names (conditional on non-nobility) didn’t. I guess the lesson here is “if you run into a perfect regularity while working on a wicked problem, make sure you mine everything you can out of it”.
(. . . well, that and “your mental algorithms have a tendency to overfit”. While some of my inferences and suspicions were confirmed, it’s disquieting how many of them ended up not holding water.)
Reflections on the challenge:
For what it’s worth, I very much appreciated this scenario’s complexity while investigating it. The ability to thrive in a system of arbitrary rules you’ll never fully understand is an important life skill known as ‘living’; I’m glad of the opportunity to practice without risking anything in reality.
Insofar as the level of detail bothered me, it was while reading the ruleset afterwards. I’d hoped – naively – that I’d get to see the hidden simplicities that had emergently created this complexity, but with few exceptions (turns out simon was right about where kraken live) it turned out to be epicycles all the way down. I don’t know how or if it’s possible to get the former benefit without the latter cost.
Some thoughts and insights from my notes that I somehow forgot to write up the first time:
Galleons, Barquentines and Carracks have eerily similar average planned route lengths, suggesting the Admiralty treat these three ship types as interchangeable in their planning.
This is important because it means that [number of sinkings]/[number of trips taken] is an unusually selection-bias-proof estimator of sinkability for everything but Dhow.
This estimator says pretty clearly that Galleons>Barquentines>Carracks.
The Admiralty keeps recklessly sending ships into hexes at risk of reefs, kraken, icebergs and WMF. Since my chosen routes dodge all of these (though I didn’t notice I was icebergproof until other commenters pointed out the seasonality effect), the main questions become how Galleons handle the remaining threats (pretty well), and how frequently they encounter them (. . . whoops!).
I have to plot routes which are unusually long: if Galleons handle marathons worse than sprints, that’s a problem.
Dhows appear to handle a lot of long-tailed encounters (especially WMF) better than Carracks, but I think it’s a statistical trick of the light. When faced with an extreme situation, they die and can’t report how much damage they took; this skews damage/encounter ratings in their favor.
The one place where they genuinely do appear to handle a threat significantly better than Carracks on a by-hitpoint basis is with Merfolk.
The ratios of average recorded damage for Merfolk encounters lead me to believe that Merfolk damage is calculated as a percentage of total hull integrity, and not in terms of hitpoints like (all?) other encounters.
After reading your analysis, I think your strategy has a higher chance of success than mine. On reflection,
I’m still wary of sending any ship that spent <5 weeks in port—that rule’s probably there for a reason—but you’ve convinced me I should have sent the Galleon to L13 and the Barquentine to E8.
This challenge is very interesting; thank you for making it. I don’t think I’ve found all the answers, but I’ve gotten as far as I’m going on my own.
Take The Bloody Diamond to L13, Q6-P6-O6-N6-M7-M8-L8-K9-K10-K11-L12-L13, then (hopefully) back the same way.
(I thought about a detour to avoid whatever’s (not?) going on in L12, but decided it’s probably fine.)
Take The Orange Falcon to E8, Q6-P6-O6-N6-M5-L5-K5-J5-I5-H5-G5-F5-F6-E7-E8, then (hopefully) back the same way.
(I considered alternate routes that punch through F8 and G8 while avoiding icebergs, but decided to gamble that E7 isn’t a Kraken hex.)
Pirates, Storms, Sharks and Harpies seem to be everywhere; no way to avoid these, save making your journey as short as possible. (ditto Dragons, probably, but they’re rare enough that it’s hard to say for sure)
Reefs are in every sea hex adjacent to land, except for some adjacent to the ports.
Icebergs are more common further north.
Merfolk have a territory in the centre of the map, and another in the southwest.
Kraken have very specific hunting grounds, which my routes go to great lengths to avoid.
WMF occurs almost exclusively in hexes adjacent to Q1 and J8. Dragons and/or Wizards on the islands?
Barquentines and Dhows have 20HP; Carracks and Galleons have 30HP. The effects of attacks are denominated in these hitpoints, so it’s worth converting percentages to them.
Dhows and Carracks handle encounters with living enemies (except Sharks, for some reason) much worse than Barquentines and Galleons.
I’m pretty sure that a Galleon is just a 30HP Barquentine, and a Carrack is just a 30HP Dhow.
As a general rule, Galleon>Barquentine>Carrack>Dhow. All apparent evidence to the contrary is because the Admirality know Dhows are terrible and keep giving them easy jobs.
The Admirality really don’t like sending ships out unless they’ve spent at least five weeks docked; they do this so rarely that I don’t have enough data to infer whether the prohibition makes sense.
This scenario is dice-based, as can be seen from the distributions of some of the simpler encounters: icebergs do 1d6 damage, sharks do min(2d4)-1, harpies do 1d6-2 or 1d6-4 depending on ship type.
Merfolk seem to do zero damage exactly half the time. If I had more time I’d investigate what this means.
Pirates never do exactly 1HP damage. I suspect that—when they damage ships at all—their damage is calculated from “roll XdY, pick the two lowest”.
Both ships are heading to Kraken territory; I don’t think this is a coincidence. I suspect their ‘cargo’ is either sacrifices or explosives.
There’s exactly one Carrack that claims to have taken 5% damage, which should be impossible. Did its’ captain lie?
It’s suspicious that L12 is so rarely visited, especially when the Kraken-infested hexes to the south are so popular. My fear that it houses a history-eating monster which causes visiting ships to never have existed is *almost* certainly ill-founded; more likely, it’s just the one hex in the Admirality’s waters that’s not obviously on the way to anywhere.
NOTE: Because reasons, I’ve decided to release the evaluator and answer key next Monday instead of this Friday. I’d apologize for the inconvenience but I’m pretty sure nobody minds.
1. How big a deal is “an immortal demon, wreaking horror and bloodshed upon the world”?
Morgan seems to think that ensuring this doesn’t happen should be your top priority, but he’s biased for obvious reasons. If you feel increasing the probability and/or magnitude of success is worth risking the worst outcome, that’s a valid decision.
2. Can the ritual in someway counteract that? Any specific bonuses, or things that are stronger against demons, or more helpful in a world where one is running loose?
3. How would multiple rituals (separately interact)?
4. An ideas at all around probability of other people doing a ritual like this one? Across the entire world?
Possible but unlikely.
Morgan is the only monk at his temple making use of this particular opportunity.
The effect of channelling two tainted mana types is the same as channelling a tainted mana type alongside a weaker untainted one. For this reason, Morgan will refuse if you advise him to channel (for example) Spite alongside Doom.
The ritual takes the entire ten days to prepare, and the details vary greatly based on which mana types he channels; he’s also the only monk at his temple who can do his kind of meditation, and won’t have time to meditate while laying the groundwork; as such, Morgan can’t make use of any information past day 374 when predicting day 384.
The supernova Morgan mentioned happened partway through the span of time covered by the dataset; however, due to complexities and delays in the relationship between the event and its impact on mana flows, he doesn’t know where or whether its effects would show up in his records.
Also I think I was modeling the precision incorrectly, probably. I took “for example, since they say Earwax has an amplitude of 3.2 kCept, you can be 100% sure the true value is between 3.15 and 3.25 kCept” to mean that every value could be plus or minus 0.05, but I think now it actually meant that values were rounded to the nearest digit shown, so a listed value of 0.28 kCept was not between 0.23 and 0.33, but rather between 0.275 and 0.285?
Yes, that’s exactly what happened. That ambiguity didn’t occur to me; I’ve now edited the original post to clarify so future players won’t have the same issue; mea culpa.
Now it’s all over, I would just like to make sure everyone appreciates the restraint I demonstrated in not using any of the following lines:
“Earwax really shouldn’t have been able to reach you so quickly: it’s a heteropneum, not a heteronyoom.”
“There’s no I in [teem].”
“Good Floornight, sleep Floortight, don’t let the heteropneums Floorbite.”