Shroedinger’s City/NPC Generator

I want a Dungeons & Dragons city/NPC generator based on quantum mechanics. or, more precisely, based on the philosophy behind Schroedinger’s Cat. Lately, I’ve been working with using computers to help run pen and paper D&D games. The computer can handle the boring, tedious stuff, leaving the humans to the creative aspects, role playing, and player interaction. So now I want a generator that can generate huge, complex worlds, without taking up significant resources. For this, I look to the ideas behind Schroedinger’s Cat.

Schroedinger’s Cat says: consider a closed box with a live cat inside, and a mechanism that has a 50% chance of killing the cat. After the mechanism fires, and either kills the cat or not, and before the box is opened, is the cat alive or dead? By quantum theory, the cat is neither alive nor dead, but instead is a matrix of possibilities. When the box is opened and inspected, the probabilities resolve, and the cat is either killed or not, retroactively. This is actually a perversion of Erwin Schroedinger’s theory. He advanced the idea as a silly corollary of the Copenhagen interpretation. But we’re making our own universe, so we can apply this rule to the internal workings of the system.

We would start with probability definitions of how to create a random city full of random NPCs. Then we would ask the app to create a top level item, say a city. The system would only note that the top level item exists, but would not create the contents yet. When we ask for specific attributes of the system, say the city’s name, the program would generate that. Or if we asked for the contents, such as how many NPCs there are in the city, the program would generate that. This process would continue down through successive levels. For example, a specific NPCs strength or gear would not be generated until requested.

The cool thing about this is that we could create truly huge worlds, with minimal resource use. We could create a city of a million people without large amounts of memory or disk space use. Only when we ask for specific people would we create them. At first, those people would exist only as general descriptions, such as “human fighter 6”, until we asked for specifics. This fits into how we see the world. We know there’s billions of people in the world, but we only interact with thousands. And we only know some of them in detail. Similarly with a game. If the players are in a city of a million, they’re only going to interact with hundreds, or less. And many of those are vague: “there’s a shady looking man sitting at a table alone.” But he doesn’t even have a name until you go over and talk to him.

Schoedinger’s Cat gives us the concept of a world where nothing exists until we observe it.  Using this to generate d20 cities and NPCs allows us to create enormous D&D cities, while only providing details to the level requested.  This matches how we see our world, and would be a great aid in coming up with rich, complex worlds on the fly.

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