The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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chilled's comment on 2012-06-03 08:21 AM
5/5 - Quality!

Allow me to quote Murometz:

-"Besides a headache (in a good way, I mean) for PCs, this also serves as a great canvas for PC/NPC interaction, aka, role-playing"

You couldn't have said it any better. A problem many gamers have lies in their unwillingness or inability to work together to solve a problem, this forces them to pool their wits, and interact with the other PCs/NPCs.

Well done OmegaDraco!
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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axlerowes's comment on 2012-06-02 03:33 AM
I actually used a dinner party logic problem in game......6 years ago...damn...

anyway one player really loved it, two players didn't mind it, one player thought it was like homework. I love writing it and I have enjoyed Draco's write ups.
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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dark_dragon's comment on 2012-06-03 06:04 AM

I like it, and forganthus's suggestion with battle optimisation is a great idea. I've had to solve these kind of problems before, and analyse the outcomes. It's interesting to note that if you carry out this exercise with nations prior to the breakout of the second world war, the lowest conflict states are almost identical to the Axis/Allies split (except for one country, IIRC.) It turns out this a remarkably complex problem (Combinatorial Optimization) and is NP-complete. It's an excellent problem to push onto your gamers! As a general rule, NP-complete and NP-Hard problems make for quite good games. Have a read of Ralph Koster's GDC 2009 talk for more.

The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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Ted's comment on 2012-06-01 02:06 PM
Omega, one quick note:
InfesTED-Jerk is now just Ted. ;)
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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Ted's comment on 2012-06-01 02:22 PM
I definitely think you guys will be seeing this utilized by myself in a game if/when I do something in the medieval setting.

Great job Omega.
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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Ted's comment on 2012-11-05 01:45 AM
It's 1:45 AM and I am considering trying to pull this off for Kingmakers tomorrow... but it will probably have to wait for later in the campaign when more NPCs are known to the players.

Should be fun.
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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Kassy's comment on 2012-06-02 11:44 AM
Pretty much what Muro said.

Job well done.

4.5/5
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sverigesson's comment on 2012-06-01 11:59 AM
As an economist (we love optimization!), I think this is great, and I am tempted to give this a try. However, the pdf is a little confusing. In particular, the legend doesn't correspond to the labelling in the chart, and some of the colors change (such as = being sometimes dark green, light green or blue, and switching from + labelled with colors to +1 or +2 in different parts). And what's the difference between black and red names? Also, from a cursory read of the list of Stuff Dinner Party Guests, I feel like you left out some of the other special conditions, like that the Pembertons must be seated next to each other, and that the King wants Clay next to one of his female relatives. Also, how do you score these extra conditions, like the queen wanting the prince away from women, or the matriarch wanting to be in seats 7 or lower? Just some questions that might help you clean up the presentation, but otherwise, the idea of putting this into an adventure is awesome!
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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sverigesson's comment on 2012-06-01 05:41 PM
I'm just detail oriented, that's all. But I was glad to help. I may even take a try at this myself! Seems like it could be fun. And now there's a score to beat! Obsession... to beat others... rising!
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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sverigesson's comment on 2012-06-01 05:59 PM
You know, I'm probably going to keep finding these:

The queen doesn't want her(I'm sure this is already covered by her massive amounts of X's) or the King to sit next to beautiful women.

I assume that the King must be in chair 1, and the queen must be next to him?

Perhaps married women shouldn't want the twins next to their husbands?

That's all I have for now, after a slightly more thorough read through. Hope it helps!
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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sverigesson's comment on 2012-06-01 06:29 PM
Haha, alright, so basically the king can handle his wife's wrath, eh? I like it. And yeah, that would be a funny twist; let the players think they can put the king somewhere else to maximize his effect, but have him always steal seat number 1. I love it!
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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Forganthus's comment on 2012-06-01 01:42 AM
I guess it depends on the group. It's a cool idea, but to me it looks like homework. It's a complicated optimization problem. Then again, I don't like sudoku, either.

Also, an extra guest could show up. Or a different guest from what was expected, and the players could have a short time limit (1 min IRL) to seat them.

Also also, I'm imagining a combat version of this. Count Hobron's hunting lodge is under attack, and you have to place the guests in front of various windows or chokepoints. ("Knight Commander Gren is incomparable at killing goblins, but he's terrified of harpies. They remind him too much of his wife.")
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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Dossta's comment on 2012-06-05 05:26 PM
Just brainstorming a scenarios where this might come up:

The party has infiltrated a nobleman's keep as servants, but were immediately pressed into service by the head cook (who took them for hired help from his lord's liege). They are set to work coming up with a seating arrangement. The cook loathes idle hands and will do everything in his power to keep them occupied during the feast, making it difficult for the party to achieve the objective for which they came to the keep in the first place. On the other hand, the seating arrangements may provide them with an unexpected opportunity to either create a distraction (through a scene) or to spy on the nobility attending.

I also like the idea of having them put in this position of trust, and then have others try to get info about the seating arrangements from the party ahead of an assassination attempt.

Not your usual scenario. It could be a breath of fresh air, if done well and made to fit the current adventure.
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-01 09:34 AM
Terrified of harpies because they remind him of his wife is golden!! :)

It is exactly that! I complicated optimization problem. The benefit of it is that you can introduce all of the important royalty in your campaign in an elegant way, and you give the players a good chance to make friends with them.

The homework part of it (designing guests and writing up the score chart) takes a few hours, but you can make it take only a few minutes if you want to stick with 8 or 10 guests instead of the massive 24.

I really like the idea of an extra guest showing up! That would so complicate plans and terrify the seating arrangers.

As far as a combat version goes, great idea! I approve! I could see you positioning defenders inside the local tavern after a necromancer invaded the city. You have a four very intoxicated city guards who have armor, but aren't likely to be very coordinated in a fight. You have a small group of adventures composed of a wizard, a rogue, a fighter, and an archer. You have the barkeeper who carries a battleaxe for such an occasion. You have six villagers who can't fight, but they can be directed to barricade windows and doors using the chairs and tables. Lastly, you have five members of the local hunter's guild who know how to use a bow, but aren't combatants. The tavern consists of the main hall, the kitchen, and the storage room. All three rooms are connected by doors. Stairs under the kitchen lead to a wine cellar. The main hall two entry doors to the street and a back door to the storage room opens into an alley. Lastly, the main hall has 2 large windows, and the storage room has 2 windows. You must position the defenders to defend against zombie swarms (which can pour in through windows or doors), skeletal warriors (which only come in through doors and are immune to arrows), and hideous flesh monsters (which can only come in through doors and can break down barricades). The ultimate goal for now is to stockpile enough food from the storage room into the wine cellar, and then barricade the wine cellar door. The hunter's guild members hate the city guards, the city guards have a warrant for the rogue adventurer, the wizard just came out of a heated debate with the barkeeper about his brew, the archer and the hunter's guild have a deep seeded loathing towards each other, and the villagers are afraid to be near the adventuring warrior due to some scary rumors.

With this scenario, you could easily define the defensive positions, define how well people work together, and determine how well the entire fight plays out based on the defensive positions selected.
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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-01 11:25 AM
1. King Alfric the 3rd (+1)
3. Lady Pemberton (+1)
5. Lord Pemberton (0)
7. Ambassador Sara Pemberton (0)
9. Comtessa Beatrix Beaufort (+2)
11. Widow McIntrye (+1)
13. Honest John (0)
15. Lady Catherine of Wesshire (0)
17. Valefor Wordenweyn (0)
19. Lady Adalia (+1)
21. Count Hobran, the Reaver (0)
23. Prince Briar (0)
24. The Fool (0)
22. Knight-Commander Gren (0)
20. Senias, the Mystic (0)
18. Lady Adara (+2)
16. Erasmus Clay (0)
14. Priest Lenard (0)
12. Old Man Henderson (0)
10. Duke Frothington (+1)
8. Ambassador Finkvskyl (0)
6. Silk (0)
4. Matriarch Follovya (+1)
2. Queen Yura (0)

Total dinner satisfaction: +10.
Guests enraged with my seating: 0 (these guests would have been likely to seek retribution against me)
Guests Insulted by my seating: 0 (these guests would have been likely to seek punishment for me)
Guests annoyed with my seating: 0 (these guests would have been likely to treat me with disdain)
Guests indifferent with my seating: 16
Guests pleased with my seating: 6 (these guests are likely to reward me personally)
Guests ecstatic with my seating: 2 (including Lady Adara and Comtessa. These guests are likely to give me a substantial reward)
The Seating of the Stuffy Dinner Party Guests
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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-01 12:25 PM

Thank you for pointing those things out. I improved PDF to better clarify things.

The color coding is only used to summarize the combined scores of two guests if seated together. For example, the color of two corresponding cells will be dark green if the combined score is 0 (this could be a +1 and a -1, OR a = and a =). I gave a few more examples of this in the PDF.

The black and red names were my mistakes. I was color coding the names after I had finalized my seating arrangement for that guest. I corrected this in the PDF.

The special conditions are on the far right side of the score chart. These should each impose a penalty if not followed. The penalty should be whatever you deem appropriate: annoyance (-1), insulting (-2), or unacceptable (-3 and causing a scene). I did seat all the guests according to their special requirements, but I had to update the PDF because I had left some out of the score chart.

Thanks for the help sverigesson. It's much appreciated.

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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-01 02:24 PM
Thanks for the correction, Ted. I updated the sub.
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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-01 06:10 PM
The queen has a negative reaction when seated next to any beautiful women. Because the king and queen sort of have opposing requests about the king sitting next to women, I opted to only listen to the king.

Also, I like the idea that the King will ignore wherever you ask him to sit; he will just walk to the head of the table and seat himself.
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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-05 11:23 AM
Ahhh, good old combinatorial optimization. But in reality, this specific logic problem is more complex because you can have specific goals such as making specific guests happy (or intentionally ruining the day of a specific guest while making sure everyone else enjoys themselves). While the overall score is certainly a combination optimization problem, the actual results and benefits of the seating arrangement give you a choice of outcomes that can supersede the benefits of optimizing the score. In other words, you might want to make sure Count Hobran is happy regardless of who it insults because doing so will ensure that you can marry his daughter. So who cares if the king dislikes you for planning a poor seating arrangement.
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OmegaDraco's comment on 2012-06-05 09:45 PM
Seating guests to optimize an assassination attempt. This is good stuff! I particularly like the idea that some of the guests could be spies. Proper placement of the spies could gather valuable information.
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Inspired by Ria Hawk's winged mushroom picture:

The winged mushrooms (Lerreta Meia) are a species of giant insect indigenous to the leafy areas of Udnalor, Kingdom of the Gnomes. Outwardly they appear much the same as ordinary giant mushrooms, and they graze in the bulbous fungal glades. However, this is merely an elaborate camouflage: the insect beneath is a fungivore and prone to fly off when it encounters another creature. Sometimes gnome farmers mistake them for crop mushrooms. They're in for a surprise when they do.

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