Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Trying Out ChatGPT


Being in higher education, the big issue is emerging is students using AI to write papers, and other nefarious activities that amount to plagiarism and cheating. In our annual pre-fall semester faculty meeting, we had a guest speaker who talked about these things. 

So, I went online and signed up for the free version of ChatGPT, which is the online AI that is source of all these issues. I goofed around with it. For example, I asked the AI to generate a teaching philosophy for a small liberal arts biology professor. You have make sure you word things the right way, which is sort of trial and error. The first time around, it thought I was teaching philosophy of science. The second time around, it produced a short teaching statement that wasn't bad. It was very flowery and somewhat full of it. Any of my colleagues who know me, would know that was not me. BUT, it did hit all the points that one would expect. It would not take too much tweaking for an applicant to use to for a college job posting.

Then I used it for gaming purposes. First, I ask it to generate a small scenario for a modern game. This is what I got:

Sure, here's an example of a small battle scenario for modern wargames using miniatures:


A small Special Forces team has been tasked with destroying an enemy communications outpost deep in enemy territory. The team must navigate through a dense jungle to reach the outpost and destroy it while fending off any enemy forces they encounter.


The battlefield is a 4' x 4' table with a dense jungle terrain in the center. The communications outpost is located in a clearing on the opposite side of the table from the Special Forces team's starting position. The enemy forces consist of a squad of infantry and a light armored vehicle guarding the outpost.

Special Forces team:

1 team leader with a rifle

2 soldiers with assault rifles

1 soldier with a light machine gun

1 soldier with a grenade launcher

Enemy forces:

1 squad leader with a rifle

4 soldiers with assault rifles

1 soldier with a rocket launcher

1 light armored vehicle armed with a machine gun


Special Forces team: Reach the communications outpost and destroy it.

Enemy forces: Defend the communications outpost and eliminate the Special Forces team.


The game begins with the Special Forces team entering the table from their starting position on one edge. The enemy forces are deployed around the communications outpost on the opposite edge. The Special Forces team must navigate through the jungle while avoiding detection by the enemy forces. If they come into contact with the enemy forces, they must fight their way through to reach the outpost.

The Special Forces team has a limited number of actions each turn, which can be used for movement, shooting, or other actions like setting up an ambush or throwing a grenade. The enemy forces will react to the Special Forces team's movements and try to eliminate them. If the Special Forces team reaches the outpost, they must set explosives and defend the location until they detonate.

The game ends when either the Special Forces team successfully destroys the communications outpost or the enemy forces eliminate the Special Forces team.

I then asked it to generate some rules for this game:

Certainly! Here's a simplified set of rules for the miniature wargame scenario I described:


Each miniature can move up to a certain distance (e.g., 6 inches) per turn.

Difficult terrain, like the dense jungle, may require players to roll dice to determine if a miniature successfully moves through it.


Each miniature has a specific range for their weapons (e.g., rifles have a range of 12 inches).

Roll a dice to hit: On a roll of 4, 5, or 6, the shot hits.

Roll for damage: If the shot hits, roll another dice to determine damage (e.g., on a roll of 4, 5, or 6, the target is eliminated).

Special Actions:

Ambush: A miniature can set up an ambush during its turn. If an enemy miniature enters the line of sight within a specific range (e.g., 8 inches), the ambushing miniature can immediately take a shot.


To destroy the communications outpost, a Special Forces miniature must reach it and spend a turn to plant explosives.

After planting explosives, the Special Forces team must defend the outpost for a certain number of turns before the explosives can be detonated.

Roll a dice to determine if the explosives are successfully detonated on the designated turn.


Enemy forces react to the movement and actions of the Special Forces team during the enemy turn.

Roll a dice to determine the effectiveness of enemy reactions.

Victory Conditions:

Special Forces team wins if they successfully destroy the communications outpost.

Enemy forces win if they eliminate all members of the Special Forces team.

Optional Rules:

Cover: Miniatures in cover receive a bonus to their defense rolls.

Morale: Roll a dice when a miniature is attacked or witnesses a comrade being eliminated. On a specific roll, the miniature may become shaken, affecting its actions.

Line of Sight: Miniatures cannot shoot through solid obstacles, and line of sight is blocked by terrain and obstacles.

Remember, these rules are just a starting point, and you can customize and expand upon them to suit your preferences and create a more detailed and complex gaming experience.

Very simple and not particularly original. This makes sense because its taking information out there in the web and coming up with a very basic set of rules based on collating highlights of whatever it found based on the parameters given..

Finally, I asked ChatGPT to generate a set of rules for fantasy wargames. I did not specify if this was at skirmish level or mass armies level:

Absolutely! Here's a basic set of rules for a fantasy-themed miniature wargame:


Each miniature has a movement value (e.g., 6 inches) representing how far it can move during its turn.

Different terrain types may affect movement (e.g., difficult terrain requiring a dice roll to successfully move through).


Roll a dice to hit: On a roll of 4, 5, or 6, the attack hits.

Roll for damage: If the attack hits, roll another dice to determine damage (e.g., on a roll of 4, 5, or 6, the target takes damage).

Melee combat: Miniatures engaged in close combat both roll to hit simultaneously.


Spellcasting miniatures have access to a list of spells with different effects.

Each spell has a casting value that must be rolled equal to or higher on a dice to successfully cast.

Spells can deal damage, buff friendly miniatures, debuff enemies, or have other special effects.

Ranged Attacks:

Miniatures with ranged weapons have a specific range (e.g., bows have a range of 12 inches).

Different ranged weapons may have varying strengths and effects.

Special Abilities:

Different miniatures may have special abilities that affect gameplay (e.g., flying, stealth, regeneration).

These abilities add strategic depth and unique tactics to the game.


Miniatures may have a morale value that affects their ability to withstand certain conditions.

Failing a morale check may cause a miniature to flee or be temporarily incapacitated.


Terrain pieces like forests, hills, and buildings provide cover and may grant bonuses to defense rolls.

Victory Conditions:

Set specific objectives for victory (e.g., control a certain area, defeat the enemy leader).

The game ends when a victory condition is met.

Optional Rules:

Heroes and Leaders: Special miniatures with unique abilities that can influence the battlefield and rally troops.

Summoning: Casters can summon additional creatures to the battlefield.

Area-of-Effect Spells: Spells that affect an area, damaging or hindering all miniatures within it.

Campaign Play: Extend the game into a campaign where armies can gain experience, level up, and acquire new abilities.

Feel free to modify and expand these rules to suit the fantasy theme of your wargame. The goal is to create an engaging and balanced gameplay experience that captures the excitement of fantasy battles.

This one seems even more basic and very vague in details. It is more of an outline or template for what could make a set of rules. It also seems like it starts out with a little more detailed rule mechanics, but then seems to quickly "punt" as we say in the US (American football reference) and give superficial criteria for the various aspects of the rules. It is more of a "here are some suggestions for what a set of rules should have for this genre, now you fill in the blanks." As I said above, I didn't give it that much instructions. It only works with what you ask it to do.

It was an interesting exercise in using AI to produce things related to wargames. I think it does work a little better for scenarios. However, I don't think that at least in the near future, it will replace the creativity and problem solving skills of the human mind.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

15mm Stone Walls

If you have followed past posts, I was spending a lot of time and effort to scratch build stone walls for 1/300 scale. Most of these attempts were less than satisfactory in my view. Having spend a lot of time recently painting up 15mm medieval and fantasy figures, and having made some 15mm structures in the past, I decided I wanted to make a few stone wall pieces at this figure size. 

If you watch any of the tutorials out there on making your own terrain, the number one building material is pink insulation foam. It the modeler's dream material. It can be cut, carved, and embossed. Buy a foam cutter and there is no limit on what you can do.  Unfortunately, pink foam is getting to be rather expensive. If I go to my local home improvement store (called DIY stores in other countries), I would have to buy it in large sheets that cost around $40 and that I don't think will fit in my minivan. In the USA, many of these stores will no longer cut a lot of building material because of potential toxic dusts and work safety concerns. Frankly, I don't really need 4'x8' sheets of the stuff.

What I used for my walls are the foam trays that are used as a sturdy base for packaging food items such as cuts of meat. One of the complaint that I heard about using this material is that it cannot be embossed.  I found that if you use a craft knife or single-edge razor blade, you can shave off a thin layer of the outer surface leaving a squishier surface that can be embossed. There is also different grades of this packing material and some seem to be closer in consistency to the pink insulation foam. The foam I used for my first wall section was more resistant to embossing even when I shaved it. Another foam tray (shown below) was more pliable.  Of course, its the luck of the draw what you end up getting. 

I cut strips of the foam of a more-or-less uniform width. I then embossed the stones with a ballpoint pen. Once embossed on both sides, I then glued them onto thin craft sticks that I bought for another project I'm working on. I rounded off the tops a best as I could using my craft knife and some light sanding. 

In addition to the long, straight sections, I also did some corner sections. I tried to make the ends of the wall sections as flush as I could, but they are not seamless continuations. 

For one of the long sections, I decided to have a gate. I built it out of pieces of styrene plastic. 

Once the glue dried, I sealed the walls with a mixture of Mod Podge, black, and burnt umber craft paint. When that was dried, I went over the stones with repeated dry brushes of gray. The base I painted brown and then flocked.

I was surprised that once I figured out the technique, I could quickly put out a number of walls. I think the whole project took about two nights to complete three long sections and two corner sections, and that was because I wanted to sealant to dry thoroughly. The gate was probably the most time consuming part of the project. Is it a high quality job? No. But it looks fine for the table top.