Saturday, October 24, 2020

Infravision and Mapping

I lied, the nomad post is still in the works (it's like 80% done but I need to recheck my math and I had to reinstall my OS because I realized my kernel hadn't been updated since October 2018 and it's been an exciting two years for kernel exploits; I haven't copied my sourcebooks back over yet because my cat spilled water on the wallwart for my external hard drive enclosure.  It's been a fun week) but I had a quick thought while taking the trash out.

ACKS goes hard on removing infravision from PC races, because it leads to the party getting split into the infra-haves and the infra-have-nots.  I observed something like this once when I ran OSRIC - the assassins with infravision went out ahead and had all the adventure while the rest of the party hung back and occasionally came running to the rescue.  It wasn't great.  So I tend to agree with this move on ACKS' part.

I've been thinking about trying to run some OSE, which gives dwarves and elves 60' infravision.  I've been considering removing it from them but then I'd have to compensate them or rejigger their XP progression and it would get annoying.

Another issue I've run into while contemplating this is that I like having players maintain their own map of the dungeon (particularly - having one or more players each maintain their own maps representing items in the world that are being maintained by a character with two hands free), and that's annoying to do with VTTs.

Holding both of these in my head, they got to seeming sort of related.  Maybe mapping is one of the secret balance-points for infravision.  Maybe the rule "It is not possible to read in the dark with infravision, because fine detail cannot be perceived", the detail that it's heat vision instead of just light amplification, is important, because it means that if you have scouts with infravision out ahead of the party, they can't be mapping.  If you have a full-infravision party, they still need a light source to map.  So then you either need to have amazing spatial memory, or infravision becomes a fallback for when the light has been extinguished.

It's still not perfect; you could still get into a situation where you have the room-clearing commando group of dwarves and elves and then the baggage train of mapping humans and hobbits.  But it's a thought I hadn't had or heard explicitly before.  Maybe part of the cause when I ran into this problem in OSRIC is that I didn't know what I was doing and didn't make the party make their own map (also didn't throw random encounters at the back half of the party).

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