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Page Collection for ^2007-04

2007-04-03 USA and Iran – Similarities

Während die britischen Gefangenen im Iran sich selbst und ihre Regierung bezichtigen, bekannte sich in Guantanamo der erste “feindliche Kämpfer” für schuldig und erhielt einige bemerkenswerte Auflagen [1]

A strong executive focused on a lunatic, show trials, and a host of invidious legal restraints. The quiet support they all get from the Europeans.

Repugnant.

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Comments on 2007-04-03 USA and Iran – Similarities

Der Telepolis Artikel “die Zeit der Schauprozesse” war sehr informativ.

– helmut.schroeder 2007-04-04 23:19 UTC

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2007-04-05 Original Dungeons and Dragons

In an EN World thread about “Classic D&D” there was a post by Delta regarding his recent purchase of the original D&D rules (1974). There was a a link to his blog where he talks about the rules. Fascinating stuff.

A lot of it reminded me of M20: All hit-die are d6 (all weapons are also d6). But there is more: No rogue! Just fighters, clerics, and magic-users. Races are not separate from classes. Elves must choose to be a fighter or a magic-users for each adventure.

(Scary side-note: I hate it when people drop off the internet. M20 author GreyWulf and his partner stopped blogging.)

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2007-04-05 Riddles

I like categorizing players by asking them to rank combat, interaction, and riddles. Personally, I hate riddles. They break the flow, and to be honest, I don’t get to see many riddles in real life, so riddles protecting things are not very believable.

Some players do enjoy riddles, however. What are good riddles to use?

  • Let them find the riddle before any finding any hints. If there’s a locked door with a riddle behind it, don’t provide a hint outside the locked door. Players will think that the hint indicates that the locked door is the riddle. They’ll waste time trying to understand the hints they believe will enable them to unlock the door.
  • Other riddles should be part of the environment. Fixing something is a good riddle: Players need to remember things they saw, figure out how those could be used to solve the problem, and maybe find something that is easy to find once they know what they are looking for. A dungeon crawl ends in a large dome. There are statues along the walls, some of them covered by scaffolding. Somebody must have been renovating. Where’s the treasure? Let the players discover that the scaffolding around one of the status has been moved. Moving it back to its original position will allow players to reach a hidden service tunnel leading to a new section of the dungeon.
  • The most important rule is to limit word-based riddles to social occasions: Story telling, singing, games of luck, betting, and riddle contests are excellent entertainment. In urban settings, solving a riddle might give you a better price, earn you respect, avoid a fight, or gain you some information – because you have entertained somebody, played a game with somebody. At court, a party member is being accused of having betrayed the location of the Lord’s eldest son to the enemy. The accused manages to defuse the situation. Finally, one of the Lord’s advisers proposes a riddle. If the accused manages to solve the riddle, everybody laughs, an no face is lost. If the accused takes too long, people start whispering, and as the silence stretches there will be a voice or two muttering: “Fool! Stupid oaf probably just failed to kill our Lord’s son due to a slow wit.”
  • Riddles should allow players to make incremental progress. This allows the players to get some feedback: Are they nearly done, or are they going nowhere? Small rewards or signs of progress, some punishment or signs of failure go a long way. It is quite disappointing when you discover you’ve been looking at the wrong drawing this last hour, all for naught.

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2007-04-06 Notes On A Scandal

We went to see Notes on a Scandal (2006). I loved the cold monologue of the diary, and I really liked Cate Blanchett. Much better than her short appearance in The Lord of the Rings as Galadriel. There was something in her eyes that reminded me of somebody…

Recommended.

Recently we also saw two other movies. Two friends had each independently recommended one of them. The first was The Princess Bride (1987), the other was Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). It was unbelievable. Cary Elwes played in both movies. Both of them had a terrible script. When I realised that Men in Tights was going to be as bad as Princess Pride, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to stop.

Not recommended at all.

Perhaps there’s a weird connection to Monthy Python movies. Perhaps you shouldn’t be sober when watching the movie. It was … ugh!

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Comments on 2007-04-06 Notes On A Scandal

Indeed, Men in Tights is no good, and never had a reputation. Mel Brooks has made many great comedies, and even contributed to supporting Terry Gilliam—of Monty Python fame—making the Sci-Fi classic Brazil (1985). But eventually one runs out of ideas as a film maker. Brooks films from Spaceballs (1987) and before (to the 1960s!) are classics.

Princess Bride is a classic from my childhood and of many others my age here in the States. I’ve never heard a bad review of it. But you’re right, it is an entirely naive and simple storyline—which brings us right back to the “childhood” issue.

AaronHawley 2007-04-08 16:39 UTC


I have to second that; I’ve never heard a single bad review of Pricess Bride. My friends all swear by it. I loved it, myself. My parents love it, and they’re not even particularly into fantasy.

But “Men In Tights” – I’ve never heard anybody say particularly good things about it.

“Have Fun Storming the Castle!” has become a catch-phrase in the USA, at least. If you say it, everyone knows what you’re talking about. So has, “After all… If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” I’m pretty sure a few other quotes have come from that movie, out into the mainstream.

I have read that the phrase “Sicilian Reasoning” has made it into some game analysis papers, not sure if it’s true or not; No doubt, due to Princess Bride if it’s there.

Men in Tights has no such honors, that I know of.

LionKimbro 2007-04-14 18:45 UTC

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2007-04-08 Minotaur

So, after weeks of not switching on my consoles, I played an hour of Oblivion today. At the bottom of the caves, I found a minotaur. Deadly beast. Died again and again. It was dark in these caves too. I was unable to beat the monster, and when I finally switch it all off, my heart was racing madly.

I don’t think I like how this game scales enemies. I feel they’re scaling a tiny bit better than I am. Or I am just too dumb to figure out the correct tactic for such a monster.

[time passes…]

Figured it out. With invisibility, I could just snipe the minotaur into oblivion. Walked through a few more caves and ended up in a room with two trolls and a tree-creature that summons wild animals. Splat splat. Argh.

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2007-04-08 Rio

We booked our hotel via yeego.com. Claudia is really into these Internet sites when booking flights and hotels. And it seems to be paying off. My dad says the Mar Ipanema costs about as much as the Residência when he asks at the counter, but on the web we’re paying CHF 975 (Mar Ipanema, online) instead of CHF 1604 (Residência, at the counter). Amazing.

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Comments on 2007-04-08 Rio

And no hidden costs? I’ve often wondered how these people manage to offer such low rates.

NoufalIbrahim 2007-04-08 13:06 UTC


I think what happens is that these resellers work like traditional travel agencies, except they have very little real estate, people, and equipment to pay for, so it’s even cheaper. Travel agencies book big chunks. That’s how they make a profit, essentially allowing the hotel owner to rent out a large part of his rooms at a fixed price, well in advance. He reduces his risk at a price, where as the travel agencies carry the risk and get better rates. To mitigate the risks, they then have to sell to a wide demographic, making them independent of national economy ups and downs, etc.

Anyway, that’s my private little theory. :)

AlexSchroeder 2007-04-08 13:34 UTC

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2007-04-09 Now Playing

One of the best things we did more than two years ago in India was to buy a dozen CDs with Harsha before we left. That’s how I can wake up on Easter Monday, prepare breakfast, and listen to Bombay Jayashri. :)

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2007-04-10 Genji the Brick

The Tale of Genji by Royall Tyler (translator) arrived today. 1120 pages excluding appendix. One notable misfeature of this Penguin Classic “Deluxe” Edition is the absolutely crappy binding. And I mean the real binding – the pages don’t have the same width. Seen from above or below, the book has a distinct saw-like profile:

  +--------------------------------/
  |                                \
  |                                /
  |                                \
  |                                /
  |                                \
  |                                /
  |                                \
  |                                /
  +--------------------------------\

Don’t they have quality control anymore?

Another drawback of shopping for books online. 😟

I also got half a dozen Elfquest comics. 😊

Update: As noted in the comments, apparently the “misfeature” is in fact a feature intended to make the book look older than it is, even though it is a plain paperback using modern typography and modern paper. Bah!

I found a lecture by the translator online on his translation! → Translating The Tale of Genji.

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Comments on 2007-04-10 Genji the Brick

I think this is actually a (pretentious?) technique that some printers use to make the book feel ‘old’. Until the ?20th century books were printed with the signatures (sets of four pages) uncut so the edges were folded together. The first reader would have to cut these open with a paper knife, giving the rough-edge effect. We don’t have to cut pages open any more but now some publishers want to manufacture this effect.

Some discussion on Metafilter: http://ask.metafilter.com/43001/How-do-publishers-make-roughcut-pages.

Claudine 2007-04-11 00:03 UTC


Thanks for the information. How strange to try and reproduce this effect when everything else about the book screams “modern!” – the cover, the art, the typography. They call it “progress” for a reason, haha. Oh well. I guess that’s what they mean when they say: “Each luxury volume features French flaps, rough front, […]” [1] (emphasis mine)

AlexSchroeder 2007-04-11 07:18 UTC


Another story about the old/new true/false etc..paradoxes:

William Gibson in “Pattern Recognition” often refer to a Buzz Rickson MA-1 black jacket that the anti-fashion heroin wears. Buzz Rickson is a japanese company specialized in high-quality reproduction of us-army old gear. But the us-army never had a black version of this jacket, so Buzz Rickson never made such a jacket, as a lot of people were asking for it, they made one.

So now, as a fan rejecting fashion, you can buy a trendy new original reproduction of something old that never existed :

PierreGaston 2007-04-11 08:21 UTC

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2007-04-11 Drow War

I had the Drow War on my AdventureWishlist, and while searching the web for reviews, I noticed that Infinity Games UK sold volume two and three at a considerable discount:

The Drow War I - The Gathering Storm £22.49
The Drow War II - The Dying Light £9.89
The Drow War III - The Darkest Hour £9.89
Postage and Packaging (Royal Mail AirMail)£13.00
Total £55.27
CHF 133

The shop in Germany would have asked for a lot more:

Saga of Drow 1: Coming Storm €34.95
Saga of the Drow 2: Dying Light €35.00
Saga of the Drow3: Shatter Realms €35.00
Postage and Packaging
Total €104.95
CHF 172

I looked around a bit, got my confirmation emails, returned to the British shop, and tried to look at my “Cart” again, and this is what I saw:

The Drow War Book 1 (Campaign)£22.49
The Dying Light - Drow War Volume 2: D20 Campaign £23.49
The Darkest Hour - Saga of the Drow Book 3: d20 Campaign £23.69
Postage and Packaging (Royal Mail AirMail)£13.00
Total £82.67
CHF 199

Wow! What a difference: Up to £82.67 from £55.27! Well, more than £80 is what I would have expected from a shop in the UK. They are usually far more expensive than similar shops in Germany.

The truly astonishing thing is the sudden price change, though. It seems as if my buying of volumes two and three returned their prices to normal. I feel like booking flights via the Internet with small numbers of cheap seats and prices going up as more and more seats are sold…

Do you remember the early days of Amazon? I think they had a system where first-time customers were offered better rates. Maybe this is the same kind of system?

We live in a strange world.

Since these three books are quite heavy, and the value of the package is such that 7.6% sales tax exceeds CHF 5, I will have to pay sales tax when I pick it up at the post office, and pay an additional CHF 10 for this “service” (instead of requiring me to travel to the nearest customs office I guess). I’m therefore assuming that I’ll have to pay an extra CHF 20 when I pick the books up. It’s still cheaper than buying them in Germany.

Perhaps there is no good D&D FLGS in Zürich because they’re all losing to the Internet. (Although many of the D&D books by smaller companies are not available via Amazon.)

Update: There’s a bundle on sale at the publisher’s website. Mongoose sells all three for less:

Drow War Trilogy Bundle Deal $75.00
Delivery $18.00
Total $93.00
CHF 113

Argh! :)

Update: I then sent a mail to IGUK and canceled the order. They accepted the cancellation. (Thank you!)

I feel dirty and greedy. :(

I ordered the Drow War Trilogy Bundle Deal from Mongoose directly.

The Internet is a strange place. The other day somebody reported an Oddmuse bug. I was at work in Switzerland, logged into a server in Germany , made some changes to the code, checked it into CVS (hosted in the US), logged into another server in the US, updated my working copy, and installed it. All of this without getting up.

And now I’m looking for a book in the US, checking for offers in Switzerland, Germany, the UK, and the publisher in the US.

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2007-04-12 Hay Fever

It started April 4 and makes me look like a vampire with blood-shot eyes from 7:00 until around 15:00. Then the situation improves somewhat and look more or less normal again. This morning I read that hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) pollen concentration has a seven-year cycle and this year is one of the years with high hornbeam pollen concentration.

I have the impression that my hay fever has gotten worse in recent years. It could be because I’m older (eg. strains started to take a lot longer to heal once I got to the age of 30). Or it could be pollution. I read that pollen in combination with ozone give allergic persons more trouble.

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Comments on 2007-04-12 Hay Fever

Nur zu deinem trost: ich musste dir schon in portugal als kleines kind antihistaminika (-ca??) geben. Ich bin diejenige, die dir das wohl weitervererbt hat, über meinem papa. Nathalie und ich bekommen im frühjahr dicke quaddeln: fligender pollen ;-) Lösung für uns: super-staubwischen und staubsaugen, d.h. auch da wo man/frau sonst nicht hinschaut. Und einmal fürchterlich sprayen mit so einem “anti-acaros”-spray aus der apotheke (=2 stunden alles zu-lassen, dann viele (!!!) stunden lüften. Parallel tabletten “aerius” (machen nicht müde), nach 4-5 tagen ist es überstanden. Ist nicht jedes frühjahr gleich… :-) Viele bussis, mama

– mum 2007-04-13 18:16 UTC


Heute habe ich in der deutschen Welle gehoert, dass die Leute in den Staedten mehr Allergien haben als die Landbevoelkerung. Als Grund wurde angegeben: auf dem Lande muss das Abwehrsystem im Koerper viele Erreger bekaempfen und ist damit voll beschaeftigt. In der Stadt gibt es nicht soviele Erreger und das Abwehrsystem reagiert (ueberreagiert) schon auf ganz harmlose Erreger, wo es gar nicht eingreifen sollte.

In diesem Jahr soll es aber in Europa besonders schlimm sein. Freue dich auf Brasilien, hier habe wir Spaetherbst wenn du kommst und ich glaube, du wirst keine Prolbeme haben.

– Papa 2007-04-14 01:16 UTC


Wirklich ganz erstaunlich ist, dass ich etwa um sieben Uhr in der Früh mit riesigem Schnupfen aufwache, und bis eins oder zwei am Nachmittag sehr leide, und dann aber ab drei bis spät in die Nacht keine Beschwerden mehr habe.

Und um sieben Uhr in der Früh sind hier alle Fenster und Türen zu! Woher kommen die Pollen? Sind es die Zimmerpflanzen? Oder ist es doch mehr ein psychologisches Problem…

AlexSchroeder 2007-04-15 20:16 UTC


Lass einen Allergietest machen auf der Universitaetsklinik in Zuerich. Dann weisst du auf was du reagierst. Das loest nicht das Problem, aber es kann schon helfen, wenn man den genauen Grund kennt.

– Papa 2007-04-19 01:26 UTC

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2007-04-15 Grosh der Oger

Immer noch 1. Mai

Um zehn Uhr vormittags war die Gruppe wieder in Fairhill und diskutierte mit Shandril, Arlen, und Baran (2007-04-01 Kren), und machte sich kurz darauf wieder auf den Weg.

Nach missglücktem Spot Check verpasste die Gruppe den geheimen Pfad, musste nochmal an den Waldrand zurück, und verlor so einige Zeit, mit der sie gerne am Ort des letzten Kampfes Fallen gebaut hätten. Als sie dort ankamen, war es schon zu spät: Nagrod war mit vier Orks schon zur Stelle und untersuchte die Leichen von Kren und seinen sechs Mitstreitern.

Die Gruppe beschloss, einen Hinterhalt zu wagen: Die Gruppe schlägt sich in die Büsche, und Belflin schiesst auf die Orks und flieht, und lockt sie so in den Hinterhalt. Doch es kommt anders als erwartet: “Wir werden angegriffen!” schreit der erste Ork und haut sich in die Büsche. Die Orks versuchen sich anzuschleichen! Keiner von der Gruppe regt sich und langsam nähern sich die Orks. Belflin trifft überraschend auf Nagrod und einen Ork, verletzt Nagrod, und flieht über die Strasse. Nagrod ist ein Barbar und beginnt zu rasen, und folgt Belflin mitten in die Falle. Es hagelt von allen Seiten Schläge und Nagrod ist im nu besiegt.

Die restlichen Orks landen aber noch ein paar Hiebe, und da jeder Hieb einer Grossaxt 1d12+3 Schaden macht, ist die Wirkung verheerend. Die Gruppe siegt, muss sich aber wieder nach Fairhill zurück ziehen.

Dort ist es mittlerweilen zwei Uhr nachmittags. Der Hexenmeister, der Kleriker, und der Druide brauchen ihre Ruhe. Diejenigen, die nicht zaubern können, hängen in den Gasthäusern rum und hören Fendrins Geschichte, erfahren, dass Shandril auch Neider hat, hören zum ersten Mal von Lannet dem Taugenichts und ihnen kommt ein Gerücht zu Ohren, dass es in den Stoneheart Mountains finstere Tempel geben soll. Der Name Rappan Athuk fällt.

2. Mai

Am nächsten Morgen um sieben Uhr macht sich die Gruppe auf, wiederum mit Lauriel und Hathol als Kampfgefährten. Doch die Orks sind gewarnt. Vor dem Tor warten zwei Wachen auf sie und stossen Warnrufe aus, die von innen beantwortet werden.

Die Wachen sterben in einem Pfeilhagel, und Krel ruft auf Orkisch, dass das Problem gelöst sei. Es scheint, als ob die Wachen dies geschluckt haben, denn Tavik schickt einfach einen seiner Orks aus, die Lage zu überprüfen. In der Zwischenzeit dringt die Gruppe mit den Schlüsseln in den Turm ein, weicht dem grünen Pudding aus, zwei schleichen sich hoch ins erste Stockwerk, und werden von den zwei Wachen am Skorpion entdeckt. Mit ein paar Pfeilen ist das Problem jedoch gelöst.

Krel und Corian stürmen das Dach der Kapelle. Aus der Kapelle kommen weitere Orks. Diese sind zwar bald umzingelt, doch im Hintergrund stellen sich sechs orkische Bogenschützen auf. Nachdem ein paar Orks gefallen sind, erscheint Tavik und macht einen Angst-Spruch. Auroleva und Hathol müssen fliehen und Lauriel ist für eine Runde erschüttert.

Aus einem der Türme kommt ein Oger! Doch Krel und Corian sind vorbereitet und feuern den Skorpion. Leider sitzt der Treffer nicht perfekt… Krel springt vom Kapellendach hinab in Taviks Rücken, um ihn mit Galdar in die Zange zu nehmen. Was er nicht bedenkt: In der nächsten Runde ist der Oger da und knallt ihm seine riesige Keule über den Schädel. Sterbend sackt Krel zu Boden.

“Rückzug! Rückzug!” Es wird allen zu viel. Immer mehr wenden sich zur Flucht. Im letzten Moment wird Lauriel von einem Gelegenheitsangriff einer orkischen Streitaxt erfasst und erschlagen. Die Moral ist auf dem Tiefpunkt angelangt.

In einem verzweifelten Plan versucht Belflin in einer Einzelaktion den sterbenden Freund zu retten. Er versteckt sich hinter dem Glockenturm und wartet. Tavik schickt den Oger Grosh und vier Orks auf zur Verfolgung und drei Orks zurück an die Palisaden. Er selber stellt sich zum letzten Ork auf die Festungsmauern und versucht den dichten Wald mit seinen Blicken zu durchdringen.

Inzwischen lässt sich Belflin unentdeckt neben Krel vom Kapellendach hinuntergleiten und flösst ihm einen Heiltrank ein. Bei neuen Kräften springt Krel auf und zusammen hechten sie rüber zu Lauriel und schleifen sie zwischen sich hin zu einem unbewachten Teil der Palisaden und schlagen sich in den Wald. Tavik befiehlt die Orks zurück an ihre Posten, denn nun sind ihre Reihen schon ziemlich ausgedünnt.

  • Seltsam, dass Marco zwar die richtige Idee hatte – Rückzug! – und dann aber trotzdem zwischen Grosh und Tavik vom Kapellendach gesprungen ist. Schade auch, dass Lauriel bereit war, einen Gelegenheitsangriff in Kauf zu nehmen, obwohl sie nur noch sechs Lebensenergie hatte. In heiklen Situationen sollte man keine Risiken mehr eingehen.
  • Krels Rettung durch Belflin fand ich grosse Klasse. Alleine im Schlosshof zurückzubleiben, um den Freund zu retten – grossartig!
  • Mir ist aufgefallen, dass ich bis jetzt noch nie auf der Tabelle der Zufallsbegegnungen gewürfelt habe. Das sollte ich vielleicht wieder einmal machen.
  • Ich muss mich noch an die “Gather Information” Checks gewöhnen. Das nächste Mal muss ich schauen, dass die Resultate zu einer spannenderen Geschichte führen – so wie mit Vortigern und Samuels Cousin (2007-04-01 Kren).
Erfahrungspunkte
Alle Charaktere haben Stufe 1-3, also kriegen alle gleichviel Punkte. Nagrod (CR 2) + 3 Orks (CR ½) = 1050 XP; zwei Wachen an der Tür, einer über dem Tor, zwei auf dem Kapellendach, drei vor der Kapelle: 8 Orks (CR ½) = 1200 XP. Total 2250 XP / 8 Personen = 281 XP pro Person. Belfins Rettungsaktion gibt weitere individuelle 75 XP. In der nachfolgenden Liste sind die 190 XP vom letzten Mal auch mit aufgeführt.
Auroleva
150 + 190 + 281 = 621
Belflin
549 + 190 + 281 + 75 = 1095 ← steigt eine Stufe!
Corian
589 + 190 + 281 = 1060 ← steigt eine Stufe!
Galdar
439 + 190 + 281 = 910
Krel
514 + 190 + 281 = 985
Phelps
439 + 190 + 281 = 910

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2007-04-15 Useless Knowledge

Found a nugget pointed out on e1f‘s blog [1] – on Jeremy Allison’s blog:

I used to be a Microsoft Windows programmer, as well as a UNIX/POSIX programmer. The knowledge I’ve gained about programming POSIX is still useful, even though I learned a lot of it over twenty years ago. My Windows knowledge is now rather out of date, and getting more so over the years. It isn’t worth my time anymore to keep up with each increasingly baroque change to the Windows environment. Just as an example, over this time the latest “hot” communication paradigm that Microsoft recommended developers use in Windows changed from NetBEUI, to NetDDE, then OLE, followed by OLE2, then COM, DCE/RPC, DCOM, and now currently seems to be Web Services (SOAP and the like). Meanwhile, in the UNIX world the Berkeley socket API was useful in the 1980’s and is still the core of all communications frameworks in the open standards world. All the UNIX RPC, object and Web Service environments are built on that stable base. [2]

Yeah, at work SOAP is all the rage. :/

I don’t know what the right solution is, since obviously we’re earning money, but it just doesn’t feel right. Layers upon layers of “stuff”. At least I have my little free software project to console me: Oddmuse, written in Perl, no less. Haha. :)

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2007-04-20 Bard’s Gate Wiki

I recently bought Bard’s Gate by Necromancer Games, a city supplement. On page 3 it mentioned a “fan site” but it turns out there is no such site. I made some inquiries [1], arranged for the domain, and set up a wiki: Bard’s Gate Wiki.

Now all I need to do is write some content for it. :)

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2007-04-22 Eralion’s Keep

Nachdem die Gruppe vor Grosh und seinem Gefolge geflohen war (2007-04-15 Grosh der Oger), kehrte sie nach Fairhill zurück. Shandril heilte einige der Verletzten, und vor dem Tempel traf die Gruppe auf zwei weitere Abenteurer: Bero den Zwerg und Goskan den Südländer.

Als Baran schliesslich eintraf und sich mit der Gruppe über die Orks und den Oger unterhielt, verwickelt er die beiden Neuankömmlinge ebenfalls in die Diskussion. Bero ist auf der Suche nach etwas Abwechslung und Goskan will sich einen Namen machen. Ideal! :)

In der Zwischenzeit erweckt Shandril die gefallene Lauriel mit Hilfe einer Schriftrolle von den Toten. Baran will Shandril nicht ablenken und führt die Gruppe hinab vom Tempelhügel Richtung Markplatz. Beim Plaudern erfährt die Gruppe, dass Baran seine rechte Hand an einen Sumpftroll im Süden verloren hat, und dass Baran Lauriel vor vielen Jahren einmal vor dem sicheren Tod durch einen Oger gerettet hat. Shandril sei selber vor etwa 90 Jahren in Fairhil angekommen und hat den Tempel der Freya erbaut. Ihr positiver Einfluss hat Fairhill bis jetzt vor dem Niedergang bewahrt. Später wird die Gruppe im Betrunkenen Cockatrice noch erfahren, dass das Nachbarsdorf Crimmor im Gegensatz zu Fairhill immer weiter verfällt. Das Dorf verarmt, die Leute ziehen Weg, und das Unglück nimmt seinen Lauf.

Als Lauriel wieder erwacht, ist sie sehr nachdenklich und schweigsam. Sie braucht viel Ruhe und wird in der nächsten Zeit sicher nicht mehr mitkämpfen.

3. Mai

Am nächsten Tag (dem dritten Tag hier in Fairhill), macht sich die Gruppe erneut auf den Weg. Auf dem Waldweg trifft die Gruppe auf fünf Menschen, die sich an ihnen vorbeidrücken wollen. Misstrauisch verfolgen sie die Menschen und ertappen sie dabei, wie sie versuchen, ihren Freund Jerinor, der ihre Pferde am Waldrand bewacht, zu überfallen. Sie eilen so schnell herbei wie sie nur können, die fünf Wegelagerer fliehen gen Westen zur Furt, die anderen hinterher. Hier zeigt sich, wer die beste Ausdauer hat. Nur Auroleva schafft es, zu den zwei hinteren Banditen aufzuschliessen und liefert sich mit ihnen einen Fernkampf, der es in sich hat. Die Banditen schiessen mit ihrer Armbrust zurück, doch Runde um Runde schickt Auroleva ihnen einen Pfeil nach. Bald fällt der erste Räuber, kurz darauf der Zweite. Die zwei anderen und der Anführer Harold entkommen.

Nun aber auf zum Schloss. Vor dem Schloss erkundet Belflin die Gegend und läuft beinahe zwei Orks in die Arme. Diese verfolgen den “dreckigen kleinen Elf” und laufen so der Gruppe in die Klinge: Nach wenigen Schlägen ist alles vorbei und zwei Orks sind tot.

Die Gruppe erwartet einen Gegenangriff und bereitet einen Hinterhalt vor. Doch nichts regt sich. Belflin schleicht zur Türe im Nordwestturm und versucht, durch das Schlüsselloch zu gucken. Der Ork, der im Obergeschoss Wache hält, wartet, zielt, und lässt eine gläserne Flasche voller grünem Schleim auf Belflin fallen. Es brennt wie die Hölle und Belflin kann nur durch seine schnelle Reaktion verhindern, dass sich der grüne Schleim in seinen Arm frisst. Die Äste, mit denen er den Schleim abgestreift hat, werden von einer grässlichen Säure verzehrt.

Damit erklärt sich auch, was es mit den grünen Flaschen auf sich hat, welche die beiden Orks bei sich hatten.

Noch immer passiert nichts. Der Ork im Obergeschoss hält sich versteckt. Nach einer Weile nähern sich von Westen Schritte. Es ist Grosh der Oger mit vier neuen orkischen Rekruten! Eine kurzer aber heftiger Kampf entbrennt am Waldweg, und nur durch den überlegenen Einsatz von Schusswaffen und den Einsatz von Flaschen mit grünem Schleim kann der Oger gestoppt werden. Trotzdem werden Goskan und Bero vom Oger fast ins Jenseits befördert. Nur der rasche Sieg und die Heilkräfte von Galdar und Auroleva können das Schlimmste verhindern.

Nachdem die Leichen verbrannt wurden, hört Belflin Stimmen auf dem Weg. In halbes Dutzend Gnolle oder mehr! Für heute ist genug – die Gruppe schlägt sich in die Büsche und macht sich auf den Rückweg nach Fairhill. Offensichtlich werden die Gnolle durch die brennenden Ork- und Ogerleichen lange genug abgelenkt, um der Gruppe nicht mehr folgen zu wollen oder zu können.

Ob die Gnolle wohl mit Tavik verbündet sind?

4. Mai

Frisch geheilt und ausgeschlafen macht sich die Gruppe am nächsten Tag schon wieder auf den Weg. Wieder wird an der Türe gespäht, wieder durchsucht Belflin den Dickicht, doch diesmal ist alles totenstill. Es zeigt sich, dass die gesamte Festung leer ist, bis auf den Turm im Nordosten mit den riesigen Spinnen und das Kellergewölbe unter der mit Silber vernagelten und durch ein arkanes Schloss versiegelten Falltüre.

Galdar spürt die Untoten in der Tiefe: Sechs gleich unter ihnen, und noch tiefer noch einen.

Die sechs, so zeigt sich, sind Zombies, aus deren Augenhöhlen die Würmer kriechen. Galdar vertreibt sie, und wie sie sich so gegen die Wand drücken und zu fliehen versuchen, seilen sich die anderen ab und schlagen sie nieder. Es ist ein Kampf gegen die Zeit, doch Glück gehabt. Bevor die Zeit abgelaufen ist, sind die Zombies (wieder) tot.

Nachforschungen fördern ein Labor und einen Schlafraum zu Tage, und im Schlafraum findet man jede Menge Bücher: Ein wertvolles Zauberbuch mit 9 × Stufe 1 und 5 × Stufe 2, ein Buch über die Erschaffung von Zombies, eine Schriftrolle mit Animate Dead, und Eralions Tagebuch.

Als die Gruppe die letzte Falltüre öffnet, zeigt sich ein grosser Sarkophag in der Mitte und sechs kleinere am Rande. Wieder wird lange diskutiert, doch dann fühlt sich Galdar plötzlich schwach. Sehr schwach. Die Gruppe macht sich auf den Rückweg. Immer mehr Gruppenmitglieder werden geschwächt, doch sobald sie draussen sind, und die Falltüre mit den Silbernägeln wieder am Ort ist, hören diese grässlichen Anfälle auf.

Die Gruppe beschliesst die Falltüre geschlossen zu halten und nach Fairhill zurückzukehren.

XP:

  • Zwei Banditen: 2 × CR ½ – 300 XP für Auroleva.
  • Idee zur Verfolgung der Banditen – 25 XP für Goskan.
  • Idee zur Reinigung der Kapelle – 25 XP für Galdar
  • Grosh + 4 Orks: CR 2 + 4 × CR ½ – 1200 XP für alle, 225 XP pro Person
  • Alle Orks in die Flucht geschlagen – 600 XP für alle, 75 XP pro Person
  • 6 Zombies: 6 × CR 2 – 3600 XP für alle, 450 XP pro Person

Total:

Auroleva
621 + 300 + 750 = 1621 ← steigt eine Stufe!
Belflin
1095 + 750 = 1845
Bero
750
Corian
1060 + 750 = 1810
Galdar
910 + 750 + 25 = 1685 ← steigt eine Stufe!
Krel
985 + 750 = 1735 ← steigt eine Stufe!
Goskan
750 + 25 = 775
Phelps
910 + 750 = 1660 ← steigt eine Stufe!

Notes:

  • Both Vortigern and Tavik got away! (Vortigern was probably aided by his familiar Talon.)
  • Maybe the oger should have fled, too? It was down to 10 hp when it launched its final attack.
  • I should have prepared the combat stats for the remaining Orcs, Tavik, and the oger. It worked just fine, but it could have been smoother.
  • I prepared the exact moves of the monstrous spiders, but didn’t find my notes when I needed them. Next time, keep it all where I can see it.
  • I should have prepared detailed combat notes for the monster beneath Eralion’s keep.
  • Adventures to consider: Fendrin’s Manticore, the Gnolls at the waystation, finding the blacksmith’s daughter.
  • Consider using Red Hand of Doom for the mid-levels. Start placing clues and reasons to do it.
  • There must have been a confusion around Auroleva’s alignment that I hadn’t noticed. The player told me the druid was lawful good, the druid had the right stats, and so I gave her a vision of Freya as she touched Shandril’s sword, inviting her to become a cleric. But druids have to be at least partly neutral: “Neutral good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, or neutral evil.” [1]

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2007-04-24 Wiki Spam By Idiots

Well, I’m being hit by spam of the form

gdufty upibhmf fknwvl aixqf gumi pqrjxfb ntscbzoyp
-- [http://www.icxjrg.yamfw.com krwfuq qeysb] 2007-04-24 15:27 UTC

or

egzp supbvqnf qbgtfnyv bmilfzo ewfhl xospqz rtmxfbajo http://www.mvuh.meptrc.com
-- [http://www.google.com mvny vqahjngdu] 2007-04-24 15:28 UTC

How stupid is that?

Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to answer a question when you try to post to this site. 😟

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2007-04-26 D&D and Thieves

The longer I’m thinking about the D&D rules, some thoughts on the original D&D (aka. OD&D – see Delta’s D&D Hotspot for some thoughts on the old rules), the rumored changes to made for the fourth edition (4E), the Star Wars RPG previews discussed on EN World, my exposure to M20, and my player’s reaction to the simplified skill system, and a reading of the skill system alternatives.

Based on the feedback on M20, I guess my players wouldn’t like the very simple variant:

  • Class Skills: 1d20 + character level + modifiers
  • Cross-Class Skills: 1d20 + modifiers

The alternative, where you just pick skills and it is automatically assumed that you’ve maxed them out, might help a bit.

What I’m really trying to figure out is whether we need rogues at all. They are sometimes called “skill monkeys”. If we simplify skills, perhaps we don’t need them anymore, and they can all be fighters again…

Yes, this thought is inspired by a thread on EN World, too. But I can’t find it anymore.

Both games I currently run don’t have rogues in the party.

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Comments on 2007-04-26 D&D and Thieves

No Rogues? Yipe! I don’t know where my game would be without the Rogue class. Remember that it’s not just about all those skill points the Rogue gets (more on those later), remember the other abilities that the Rogue has too; they’re unique to the Rogue, and pretty much essential for a well rounded party whether in a Dungeon, in the wilderness or in an urban setting.

First off, there’s Trapfinding. The Rogue is the only class which can find traps that have a DC of more than 20 (like most magic-based traps). At higher levels, the party would risk setting off every single trap without the expert eyes of a Rogue. You’re left relying on the high Hit Points of a Fighter-type to survive the trap, or a spellcaster using his precious spell slots up with Detect Magic just to see if there’s any high DC traps in the area.

Also, only a Rogue can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps. Without a Rogue, you’re stuck with using Dispel Magic or letting the Fighter soak up the damage from the Fireball trap. Not something he’s going to want to do too frequently.

Even if you’re not throwing traps at your players (why not :)?!), there’s the Rogue’s Sneak Attack to consider. A Rogue can do more damage in a single hit from the shadows than any other class. Consider: A 1st level Rogue’s sneak attack with a rapier does 2d6 damage (+ STR bonus, if any). If it’s a critical hit as well, it’s 4d6 damage - more than any other class at that level except a Barbarian getting a critical while raging with a greataxe. That amount of damage can take out any single foe that a 1st level party is likely to encounter, and there’s no limit to how often it can be used. Spells? Pah!

At higher levels, a Rogue’s sneak attack damage becomes more important than the choice of weapon. I’ve had a 15th level Rogue use a piece of broken glass (damage 1d2) to escape a prison; when you’re doing +7d6 sneak attack damage, anything in your hands is a lethal weapon.

Multi-classing is a great way to add in Rogue coolness to your game too. A Rogue/Monk can do Sneak attack damage with their bare hands (and feet), and select whether to make the attack lethal or non-lethal at will. Picture an unarmed Rogue/Monk silently knocking all of the city guards unconscious before opening the gates for the rest of the party. It’s like a sleep spell with unlimited range.

My group has a love for Rogue/Paladins, especially of the halfling variety. Combine the Rogue’s high Reflex save with the halfling’s +1 on all saves and the Paladin’s Divine Grace ability (add CHA bonus to all saves) and few spells or traps can touch this combo. Then there’s the lethal combination of Sneak attack + Smite Evil to consider. A STR 12 DEX 16 CHA 14 Rogue-3/Paladin-2 with a Shortsword and Weapon Finesse has a +9 to hit doing 3d6+3 damage from a successful Smite Evil’d Sneak attack. A critical would do 4d6+6.

When it comes to character concepts, the Rogue/Paladin could be a reformed street thief, a swashbuckler in the best Musketeer tradition or even a Batman-style dark avenger. I’ve seen them all, and they’ve all been terrific.

Then there’s the skills. A Rogue is at their best when they specialize, choosing to focus on just a fraction of their skill list. That’s down to the character concept more than anything. A scout-type would max out Hide, Climb, Jump, Listen, Spot, Swim and get the Run and Alertness feats. A classic dungeon-based trapfinder would max out Search, Spot, Disable Device, Use Magic Device and Appraise and get the Skill Focus (Search) feat. An urban Rogue’s skills would emphasise Gather Information, KS:Local, Disguise, Bluff and Sense Motive and take the Investigator feat.

A Rogue’s skill selection is as important and personal as a Fighter’s choice of weapon. Just as a Fighter with a glaive would likely be different to one wielding a katana, a Rogue’s skill selection says a lot about them and where they’re fit into the party.

Also, having a Rogue in the party widens your options as a DM, encouraging the party to think tactically. Picture a typical bandit camp that the party want to clear. Without a Rogue, they’re limited to a frontal attack, possibly with wizz-bang spells and ranged attacks from the Ranger. Add a Rogue into the mix and you can post sentries and set traps around the campsite - something which would be lethal if put against a non-Rogue carrying party. And when combat starts, the Rogue can flank whoever the Fighter is battling, giving him a +2 to attack as well as setting himself up for that Sneak attack too.

Oh, and did I mention that Sneak attack + Cleave rocks??

Phew. Get your players to read this, then ask them again whether Rogues are redundant. I hope I’ve changed their minds :)

GreyWulf 2007-04-28 12:59 UTC


It’s good to have you back! :)

I think the reason for my disinterest in rogues is that I don’t like traps as a DM. I used to like traps. Then I realized that traps are either unfair, or simple devices to keep the rogue busy. Similarly, all scouting missions, anything requiring sneaking and hiding, are basically rogue solo-missions. In terms of time spent at the table, anything the rogue does except for sneak attack is no fun for the other players.

One might argue that traps without rogues are no fun for the rest of the party, but I’d argue that adding these traps was a mistake made by the DM, nothing else. To conclude that the party must now include at least one rogue to find and disable the traps is the wrong solution, as it introduces the dreaded downtime for everybody else.

So that’s why I’m asking myself: Do traps and rogues and scouting ahead make the game more fun or not?

Perhaps we should just make all these skills available to non-rogues.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to house-rule rogues away. Nor am I about to revamp the skill system. But the heresy is growing stronger day by day. ;)

AlexSchroeder


Good questions, all :)

I guess it all depends on style of play more than anything else. I like traps - they add another dimension to the game and break the pace in otherwise combat-focused dungeons. I like my players wary when faced with empty corridors (or, even worse, a corridor with a bloodsplat on the ceiling!). I like that they treat a treasure chest like an unexploded bomb. A Rogue is the expert in those situations, and to give their speciailist abilities to everyone just feels…..not D&D. If you wanna act like a Rogue, multi-class and be happy :)

Rogues can end up acting like solo players rather than team-members if you’re not careful, I agree. The trick is to keep everyone busy and involved in the story.

For example, if the Rogue is going to scout around the bandit camp, the rest of the party can stage a distraction from one side. They get combat, she gets lots of Stealth rolls and everyone is happy. In a dungeon, have the Rogue be busy disarming the trap on the door while the rest of the party are beating back a horde of Orcs. Keep the pressure up, and the Rogue’s contribution will be as much a part of the teamwork as anyone else’s.

“Get that door open, NOW! These orcs outnumber us 20 to 1!”

If I’m gaming and one player goes off to do something on their own (be it a Rogue, Mage going shopping or whatever), I always ask the rest of the party what they’re doing in the meantime. If you let ‘em do nothing, they will :) Put them on the spot, and they’ll usually invent something, and it’ll be cool.

I remember one game where Shelya d’Morganstance (one of the Rogue/Paladins) wanted to skip out of their inn to woo the daughter of a local noble. The Fighter/Cleric followed him out of distrust (they thought he was a spy at the time), while the Sorcerer went to visit his sister. Of course, the sister was (unbeknown to any of the players) also the object of affection who Shelya was trying to court. That entire game session turned into a terrific Shakespearean farce completely unrelated to the “real” plotline, and all because I’d asked the other two players what they were planning to do while Shelya slipped outside.

Never underestimate the power of putting players on the spot :)

GreyWulf 2007-04-30 15:34 UTC


Sounds like fun! I’m looking forward to the end of BarrowOfTheForgottenKing. And there’s way to much combat compared to story telling or interaction… I’ve enjoyed a room that required lots of climbing, so I had prepared a map showing not only the rock pillars and the ropes but indicating with a different color the damage you’d take from various heights, and in yet another color the skill checks required to get from one pillar to the next. It was great fun. :)

AlexSchroeder 2007-05-01 22:50 UTC


Over on Grognardia I’m trying to argue that there are no thieves and rogues – they’re just fighters that steal stuff where as James Maliszewski is arguing that Pulp Fantasy D&D would be built on the foundation of three primary character classes: the Fighter, the Thief, and the Magic-User. No clerics, but including a Thief? Noooo! :)

Then again, I’ve gone from skill system simplification, to keeping the old system, to using free-form aspects like in Risus, to abolishing skills altogether (actually I might have been keeping this idea to myself – I’ll have to blog about it one day).

AlexSchroeder 2008-08-05 19:48 UTC

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2007-04-29 Dungeon Magazine Subscription

Some time ago, I subscribed to Dungeon by Paizo – the one that is going to be replaced by Pathfinder soon.

I got issue #145 March 8. Issue #146 is still missing. On their website they say “We estimate overseas shipping times to be approximately 8 weeks from the time we ship the issue for Dragon and Dungeon” – yikes! [1]

It currently says:

  • Issue #147 shipped 04/24/07
  • Issue #148 ships 05/22/07

So, assuming it shipped either on the March 20 or March 27, I can expect it to arrive on May 15 or 22 at the latest. Yuck!

What kind of shipping is this – eight weeks? It sounds as they have a single outbound ship that circles the earth once every eight weeks… Terrible. :)

Back to the move from Dungeon → Pathfinder. What I’m planning to do is to subscribe to Pathfinder, and use my leftover credits to order the remaining issues containing the Savage Tide Adventure Path. I’m missing issues #139 – #143, and the player’s guide.

Update: I decided to send them a mail 2007-05-04, telling them about the missing issue #146. I understand that shipping is slow, but I’d expect all shipments to be similarly slow. Thus, I was expecting the arrival of #146 for the beginning of April… We’ll see what they say.

Update: They replied the same day. :)

Here is what they said:

Thank you for contacting us! Dungeon #146 was shipped to you on March 20th, but the 8 week shipping window still stands. Weather, customs, and the change in postal systems can all slow down a magazine, as well as alter delivery times. While we are definitely happy that #145 arrived so quickly, there has been some foul weather in the US on our East Coast, which could have caused your magazine to be delayed before it went overseas.
Rest assured, if Dungeon #147 (shipped on April 24th) arrives before Dungeon #146 makes its way to you, we will be happy to replace that issue for you.

Here’s to the US postal system. ;)

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2007-04-29 Text Captcha For Emacs Wiki

The WikiModeDiscussion and SiteMapDiscussion pages on EmacsWiki are currently attracting a large amount of vandalism. Some of it is not really spam, since it doesn’t contain any links – just one or two lines saying “Hello! / Just wanted to say hello.”, “Peace people / We love you”, or “Hi! How r u? / nice site!” and so on.

I feel like introducing the Oddmuse:QuestionAsker Extension: Introduce a text captcha that asks stuff like “Give me a number between one and ten.” If you answer correctly, I’ll store the information in a cookie, and you won’t have to answer another question (until you loose the cookie). It seems that other people have had great success using this.

Leave feedback on the Emacs Wiki page @ EmacsWiki:2007-04-29.

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Define external redirect: Goskan PierreGaston NetBEUI NetDDE SiteMapDiscussion e1f BarrowOfTheForgottenKing WikiModeDiscussion