Boy, grad school starts, and suddenly free time vanishes. I've been getting back into this recently. I had about a month where it really felt like I did almost nothing but work, then I had this eye of the hurricane kind of week where the planets aligned and I didn't have anything to do. I actually spent a Sunday sitting around bored, thinking to myself, "Okay, I used to have hobbies, what were they?" It's gotten me back into this.
I've rethought my back-story. It's a bit complicated. I wrote the whole thing up in detail and it was just over 3 pages. Basically, there is a fight over who becomes the next king after the old king dies. Balthazar basically wins by being the worst of any of the princes. However, because he is so terrible, there is an uprising. During the uprising (in part because of a failed assassination), Balthazar becomes paranoid of traitors, and creates a series of forced labor prison islands to lock up political prisoners, and anyone he suspects isn't 100% loyal. Eventually, he locks up all of the wizards in the kingdom, and forces them to study magic and produce things he can use to battle uprising. As time goes by, the wizards teach the other prisoners how to use magic, and everyone revolts, and takes back the island. Rather than try to reclaim the island, Balthazar basically curses it (long story, will probably explain later). All hell breaks loose, and basically former prison gangs reform in a fight for survival, all waiting until they can escape the island (when it becomes winter, the seas will freeze, until then it would be too cold and dangerous to swim).
I've gone back to computer simulations. A new thing I'm doing is testing what happens if characters have multiple abilities, using genetic algorithms. It's kind of surprising, abilities that didn't seem too strong before really come out when you can link it with another ability. It leaves me with that old question: how similar do abilities need to be, before that can be within an acceptable level of closeness? There are some real issues, for example, take regeneration. This ability allows characters to heal some number of hit points every turn, whether or not they are in combat. The question then becomes: should it usually lose to someone with a greatweapon (since that is a combat-only ability)? How much of an advantage should a person with a greatweapon have? Is there a way to account for this?
Also, it's kind of funny: these computer algorithms take quite a long time to program, and then it really feels like you can get most of what you want to know by running them once or twice. It feels, I don't know, almost anti-climactic. You write your programs under the idea of, "Gee, let's see, what can I do so that one simulation will give me all the information I need," and then when you finally run it, you're left with this feeling of, "This took me a couple hours to program. I should really run it more than just once." Funny how life works.
“Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.” – Thomas Jefferson