Yesterday evening I started to play Star of Olindor by Expeditious Retreat Press. It’s free this month only from YourGamesNow. It takes place in a nondescript city. I decided to move it to Bard’s Gate by Necromancer Games because I know that Claudia likes to pour over maps and explore the various pubs and powers that be. First she copied the pregen stats on to a character sheet and renamed the rogue to Flax, and we talked about the various new skills and feats (she’s been playing a sorceress until now). Then we unfolded the map and picked a building for her guild (the pregen is a level eight rogue, so I said that she must be very close to taking over the guild herself as I’m a strong believer in “name levels” . Well, I guess I just wish my players liked building strongholds, establishing guilds or temples.
But back to the game. The city is locked down because of some sort of plague. We had some roleplay at a pub, and finally father Arden shows up and the contract is negotiated. We had to stop when Flax left the temple grounds because it was nearly 4:00 in the morning.
I unsubscribed from some interesting political blogs I’m not reading. Maybe you want to pick them up? I’d feel better if somebody else kept reading them.
With the built-in delay to the OGL for D&D 4th ed. and the USD 5000 price tag on the license to publish close to Wizards of the Coast they are trying to make sure that only big names participate at the beginning, hoping that big budget = big names = better quality. Interesting times!
You must have seen it online if you’re a regular reader of any D&D related forum: D&D 4th Edition System Reference Document and OGL Designer’s Kit. Here, WotC, have some pagerank!
I’m sure if you look at the forums you’ll see them going bonkers all over the place. I looked at the OpenDesign thread To 4E or not to 4E? and I expect EN World to have more info as well. Check it out: WotC announces plans for 4e SRD and OGL.
Ok, since this post only points out the obvious, it must qualify as most useless post of 2008 for the time being. Maybe I’ll add some thoughts of my own tomorrow.
During my working life I’ve come across Open BC as it was called in the past. They’ve since renamed themselves to Xing. I rarely check it because I only have my account password at home but I get my weekly notifications at work. Today I found two job offers in my inbox. Two recruiters looking for a project manager in Zürich, possibly offering a part time job. ← conflicted!
What to do?
I think I’m too lazy and complacent. This is my 10th year at my first and only job. It’s a nice 60% job. Not too exciting, not too boring.
At least the Xing network is about real money and real jobs.
Strange. I’ve been added as a contact by a person on Flickr that is also a member of what looks like an amateur porn group. Now I feel uncomfortable.
I think the only group I’m a member of that sometimes has sexual overtones is Girls of Japan. Too bad some of the comments and notes left on pictures in that group are tasteless.
(How to find out: Visit a Flickr member’s profile and look at their public groups at the bottom.)
I guess I don’t need a reference book because I am comfortable with using specifications and other reference material online.
ShamusYoung has me intrigued: Eschalon Book I: First Impressions. I’m downloading the Eschalon Book I Demo. Windows, Mac, and Linux. Turn based old-school roleplaying game. Ultima cited as one of the inspirations.
Update: Played with it for an hour, but I don’t think I’d spend tons of time with it. I might as well start playing Oblivion or Ultima IV again. One major drawback was that things seemed to slow down to a crawl in the first little town. And moving around didn’t feel to quick either. That probably means I can’t recommend it. My old iBook is too weak for this game.
A while ago Google changed the user interface for your contacts. I’ve defined a group for every one of my D&D campaigns. The new user interface looks fancier and is less useful than the old one. Slowly Gmail is being bogged down by cruft: There’s menus hidden on buttons, actions triggered by clicking on links, and these can be above, below, or to the left of the main pane. It’s confusing.
Strange, the Mac Mini will no longer sleep. When I put it to sleep it will wake up immediately. I faintly remember having seen this before. Was it SlimServer or Apache running in the background? Shutting them both down doesn’t fix the problem, so it must be something else. Grrr.
I’ve been thinking about some of the things I might houserule in future games.
One of the things that come to mind: Hit points are per encounter resources: At the end of the encounter you take a minute or two to catch your breath and you're back at full hit-points.
My players rarely walk into a fight without healing back to full hit points. I personally find a wand of cure light wounds to be super boring, and yet that’s the most reasonable option.
If characters nearly died during a fight (below zero hitpoints), then I’d love it if they roleplayed being stunned, exhausted, fatigued, or whatever for the day. They just had a near death experience! Enforcing this via rules might make it less fun, though.
I’m no longer that interested in fixing skills.
All the buffing is getting on my nerves as a DM. I hate it when a player rolls some dice and then starts mumbling “so that’s plus eight, and protection from evil +1, and bull’s strength +2, and how could I forget bless +1 – yes, I hit!!” As a player I find keeping track of the numbers doesn’t have to be a problem. I start the session with a big empty sheet of paper with my current damage total my current attack bonus. As soon as the situation changes, I recompute the numbers and replace the old ones. When it is my turn I roll my dice and I know that the current bonus is +5/+5 (+8 ranged -2 for distance, -2 for rapid shot, and +1 for bless). I don’t have to repeat this calculation every single time I roll a die.
I think as a DM I should just punish players for wasting our time, harr harr.
Late night posting. Not good. 😊
Often I log on to my various instant messaging networks (→ Contact) and some dummy Yahoo account will send me spam. Something like the following:
The party decides to ride to Pembrose, spend the night, ride to the ruined keep, and investigate the spot marked “L. K. 3 keys” on their map. When they reach the underground lake, they are suddenly surrounded by a party of drow males and some Crushed Skull orcs. Belflin and the drow try to intimidate each other, and Belflin wins his check! What the party doesn’t know is that the drow and orcs are themselves in a stand off. So the party wriggles itself out of the situation and continues. The next day the orcs try to sneak up to the party as they camp having followed them home to their lair. But Belflin hears them, and they manage to ambush the orcs. Karamutenga slaughters many an orc tonight. Too bad Silas can’t wear his impressive full plate at night. His celestial dogs do distract the orcs and the resulting fight is fast an furious.
Some shadows are also encountered later that day and destroyed by the power of Muir that Silas invokes. Corian also manages to lure a Xorn away by using Fly and dropping gold coins…
When the party arrives at last, they find an anti-magic effect protecting a huge two-winged door and three hexagonal holes. Three key holes! They set up camp and decide to return.
At night they are attacked by a phase spider that manages to poison Belflin. He makes a saving throw for the first bite, but fails his save for the second bite. -8 to Con. Silas casts Bear’s Endurance, and the party manages to slay the creature. The cleric tries to heal Belflin, but rolls badly. The phase spider has been dead for a few rounds, and Beflin fails another save. -7 to Con. And Silas is out of spells. No scrolls and potions to keep Belflin alive… He writes his last wishes on a parchment, says goodbye to Dog the tame weasel, and thinks of the homeland… Time passes, and he hears the song of birds and a breeze heavy with the perfume of flowers. Arcadia awaits! …
The party is lucky to avoid encounters on the way out and ends up at the Church of the Ever-Shinig Sun in Bostwick. Belflin has to be raised from the dead by Jeffar. The diamond they had to buy from Angus Carl in Twain cost them nearly all their party treasure and they had to sell Belflin’s dwarven +1 composit longbow Str +3… But sell it they did and Belflin returned from the dead.
Everybody was relaxing, they wanted to know about XP, and so we stopped the game an hour early, calculated XP, rolled for hit-points, talked about the next steps to take, and looked at new spells.
Instead of using an initiative board we used index cards that we just put in the right order. That takes less space at the table which is good.
I hate to think that I wasted precious time yesterday cooking up drow stats. Today I rediscovered that the book has NPC stats in the back of the book. I love NPC stats with class levels in source books.
Vault of Larin Karr by W.D.B. Kenower – totally recommended! There’s tons of random encounters in the Underdark because you’re supposed to roll for an encounter every six hours and you can only cover 6 to 12 miles a day down there. And as the forest is huge with about 40 miles between villages, getting around underground is tedious and dangerous. You really need to know where you’re going or you’ll end up lost and most probably dead. I like the result. My players are cautious about the Underdark. It did not register immediately and running around in circles down there probably wasn’t as much fun. (→ 2007-12-02 To the light) I’ll have to ask my players about this.
I really loved how we played all the fights without battlemaps today! Yay.
Level 6: 17250 ⇒ 4312 per person
This is something inspired by reading comments on Star Wars Saga edition and 4th ed. D&D.
Changing all your saves into something like AC would be cool. So, if your fireball is DC 17 (+4 Int, +3 level), and the victim rolls 1d20 + Reflex +4, turn it around: Attacker rolls 1d20 + 7 vs. Reflex 14. Instead of the defender having to roll a 13 or higher, the attacker has to roll a 7 or higher. Same effect, more consistent rules.
If you’re confused, consider every static value as somebody using Take 10. The DMG has a section about defense rolls. If you want to add them, you can. Instead of having AC 17, roll 1d20 +7 armor and Dex bonus. So the DC of 10 + something by the attacker can be reinterpreted as a 1d20 + something. And a the save of 1d20 + something by the defender can be reinterpreted as a Take 10 + something. All we’re doing is making sure that attackers keep rolling dice.
Ok, I broke down. I ordered Castle Whiterock by Goodman Games. “And I got five skulls to add to my count of PC deaths, which always makes a killer DM’s heart warm.”  Third session, nine characters killed…
I ordered Castle Whiterock from the Goodman Games online store, so the entire deal is costing me about USD 120. When I tried looking for it on Amazon, I did not find it except for second hand dealers. Some second hand dealers had clearly misidentified the product – it sold for less than USD 30 and when I checked the ISBN it turned out to belong to another book. I wonder how the sellers would have talked themselves out of it.
I ordered it from somebody at two thirds the price and then got an email saying that it was no longer in stock. I ghess that’s how they talk themselves out of it.
So I started looking at buying it new, and it seemed like the highest saving I could have managed was about USD 5. Then I remembered what happened about half a year ago (→ 2007-07-10 Goodman Games). They had sent me stuff with postage worth about USD 50 and only asked for USD 5. I think they deserve more business for that mistake.
On related news: I’m not sure what to do about OpenDesign. I was no patron of the Arabian adventures, and I think I’ll skip the Blood of the Gorgon adventure . USD 25 for a PDF product still seems to be too expensive. I already feel stupid for paying USD 10 or more for other PDF products. As my stack of material grows (not surprisingly with Pathfinder and Game Mastery module subscribtions), I feel like I really have to cut down on things. Thus, no more USD 25 for a PDF only adventure. I don’t get too much out of the forums supporting the development process. That alone is not worth a lot to me.
I might end up buying more Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games, skip 4E, and play all the 3E stuff until 5th ed. comes along.
There’s a nice house rules on dying by Andy Collins. I might use them for the next campaign because we’ve had some discussions about regaining lost levels. We ruled that we would reroll hit dice and that we could pick a different class on levelling up etc. But unfortunately that requires you to keep track of hit and skill points per level. That sucks. Some of the players do it, but it seems such a waste of time.
I always thought that playing a game while sitting alone at the table would never work. But SonsOfKryos episode #54 eroded my conviction. It might be an opportunity to play a different system like Burning Wheel or Fudge or whatever.
Stuff to keep in mind:
In den letzten Tagen habe ich drei Mal Tiroler Cake gemacht. Einen Teil des gestrigen Kuchens habe ich Claudia für’s Büro mitgegeben.
Many years ago, when we discovered that there was a shop in the far away city of Zürich that sold Dungeons & Dragons material, we also saw lots of strategy games in the far corners of the shop. How weird!
The years passed and Marcel bought Squad Leader. Many years ago I’ve played the first two scenarios, I think. Today we played through the first scenario again. I think the rules are a bit too complicated, and I’m a bit afraid that while I get used to the rules we used today, the new rules for the next scenario will be just as complicated. We’ll see. I’m fascinated by the second world war and tactical combat, so it might go either way. I’m looking forward to the next session.
I’d be interested in similar games with simpler mechanics. Increase the coolness without increasing the complexity.
I really want a BurningWheel game! I recently mentioned how impressed I was with a two player Skype game . Today I was looking for reviews of BurningEmpires – a science fiction game based on a comic I’ve never heard of and I stumbled over yet another Burning Wheel game report that I loved to read.  And it’s a one on one game on top of it all!
I’m interested in learning about non-combat oriented games, one-on-one games, and using other media (and I’ve already tried text-only in a MUSH and I’ve seen play by post, ie. forums).
Anyway, I put Monster Burner and Burning Empires into my shopping cart, but then I started looking for copies of the books in second hand stores, investigating the websites, and checking out the comics – and eventually I wasted so much time that I reconsidered and abandoned the shopping cart. I should get a game of Burning Wheel started before actually buying any supplements.
Oh, I already bought one. The Blossoms Are Falling. Oh well.
Reading the chapter on beliefs, instincs, and traits again, I see how it can work. The hard part is getting my head around the fact that this game is so far away from the various D&D variants out there.
The cool thing is how you rise in power:
As I said, it’s very alien to me. But I can see how the system encourages you to pick beliefs that draw you into conflict, because the the system rewards you for it.
October 2007 I sent USD 40 to EN World to buy myself a community supporter account. But nothing has happened. I’ve sent several Emails, and no reaction. What am I supposed to do? Or am I not looking in the right place?
Habe ich mal vor zwei Jahren geschrieben :
|6 Eigelb||Alles mischen und gut rühren|
|6 Eiweiss||Steif schlagen und darunter heben|
|noch mehr Butter (40g)||In der Pfanne schmelzen, Teig hinein leeren und bei nicht zu hoher Temperatur backen|
|2EL Rosinen (50g)||Nach kurzer Zeit über den Teig streuen (so können sie nicht mehr auf den Boden sinken)|
Nach 5-10 Minuten kontrollieren ob der Teig unten etwas braun geworden ist. Dann wenden, wenn es geht. Geht aber meistens nicht, weil oben noch alles flüssig ist. Kein Problem, einfach eine Sauerei veranstalten. Mit zwei Gabeln zerpflücken. Vorsicht, wer eine Teflonpfanne verwendet sollte Holzgabeln (evt. Salatbesteck?) verwenden.
|Apfelmus||Eine Minute weiter backen bis alles trocken ist und dann mit Puderzucker (aka. »Staubzucker«) bestreut servieren|
|Als Beilage servieren|
Falls die Pfanne zu klein ist evt. in zwei Portionen zubereiten.
Apfelkompott selber machen ist sehr leicht. Hier für zwei Personen: 4 Äpfel schälen, halbieren, 1 Zimtstange oder 1-3 Stück Zimtrinde, 6-8 Gewürznelken, 3-6 Kardamomkapseln, 2-4 EL Zucker und etwas Wasser in einen kleinen Topf, ein paar Minuten kochen bis die Äpfel weich sind, servieren. Falls gewünscht kann man die Äpfel auch zerstossen oder die Gewürze vor dem Servieren entfernen. Das ist mir aber meistens zu mühsam.
Alternativ als Auflauf im Ofen backen (ca. 40min), aber da habe ich schlechte Erinnerungen an meine Kindheit, deswegen habe ich bisher immer nur mit der Pfanne gearbeitet.
Tomorrow we’ll be continuing our Shackled City campaign. I’ve tried my Tiroler Cake twice and it was awesome. It is now 1:33 in the morning and I’ve decided to bake a third one for my D&D buddies. They deserve it.
I really need to learn the English cookbook jargon. In German there are very specific phrases to use for the various steps. If you can fix the recipe, please do.
|125g (½ cup) butter at room temperature||At room temperature it’ll be easy to mix with the egg yolks!|
|4 egg yolks||We need the egg whites, don’t throw them away.|
|a dash of salt||Beat until light yellow and foamy.|
|200g (⅔ cup) sugar|
|120g (1 cup) flour|
|200g (1-⅔ cup) ground hazelnuts||Add to the yolks and butter.|
|50g (⅓ cup) whole hazelnuts||Coarsely grind them yourself. Texture is important so don’t overdo it.|
|½ pack of baking powder||If you don’t buy it in packs of around 16g, just use a teaspoon of baking powder. The cake is not supposed to be fluffy! Mix with the dough. This is when you use your hands to really get into it…|
|150g (5 ounces) good dark chocolate||I like Crémant by Cailler; “cocoa solids: 46% minimum”; buy cheap chocolate and you deserve a cheap cake. Break it into little pieces and add to the dough.|
|4 egg whites||Beat until “stiff but not dry” and carefully fold into the dough you already have. This looks tricky, but it’s easy.|
|Pour into a baking pan that you greased with some butter. Don’t forget that it will rise, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to fill the pan.|
The entire thing should have taken you half an hour, including doing the dishes.
Bake at the bottom of your oven, 180°C, for anything between 30 and 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. In my oven it’s around half an hour.
-rw-r----- 1 root admin 2K Jan 21 19:01 windowserver.log -rw-r----- 1 root admin 5G Jan 21 18:45 windowserver_last.log
Wow!! 5G of log files??
Most of it looked like this:
Jan 21 18:45:48  (ipc/rcv) invalid name: CGXRunOneServerPass: mach_msg (gServiceSet) failed (last RPC: LaunchAppRequestWithAuditInfo) Jan 21 18:45:48  (ipc/rcv) invalid name: CGXRunOneServerPass: mach_msg (gServiceSet) failed (last RPC: LaunchAppRequestWithAuditInfo) Jan 21 18:45:48  (ipc/rcv) invalid name: CGXRunOneServerPass: mach_msg (gServiceSet) failed (last RPC: LaunchAppRequestWithAuditInfo)
Whatever that means… I had to use sudo rm /var/log/windowserver*.log in order to free some space on my drive…
Hm… Stuff I’ve seen:
What the hell is this about? Whenever I try to use buddy icons for myself or others I run into this problem when I use Pidgin. “The file ‘blabla’ is too large for XMPP. Please try a smaller image.” What’s the definition of “small”? And why is everybody else using “large” images? What am I doing wrong? Grrrr.
The broken Xbox 360 (“red ring of death”) arrived yesterday! Cool.
I reconnected the box, fixed my wireless settings, went online, and saw that I had received seven messages. Two of those were people in my friends list that had also gotten the “red ring of death”.
I’m in the process of organizing a new passport. Birth certificate, proof of citizenship, residence confirmation, pictures, old passport, marriage certificate, name change certificate – and all I get for this is a new EU passport with a crappy chip that has been disparaged all over by the international community when Dutch researchers cracked it. Too bad I’ve been too lazy to follow BruceSchneier’s advice back in 2006: Renew Your Passport Now!
My father used to call it Papierkrieg – the Paper War.
That’s how I feel.
Yesterday I played a bit of Oblivion again after a long time. It was ok. I re-learnt that my character is truly an archer assassin. It doesn’t pay to get into melee. Just take that glacier bow and shoot the arrows with +15 frost damage and × 3 multiplier because I’m sneaking. Too bad my vampire is not strong enough to actually carry lots of loot. I’m always at the limit. That’s very annoying.
All in all, however, it was not as cool as playing a multi-player game online.
Divination magic led the party to Twain. They were trying to figure out who was setting fire to the barns. There, they discovered that elves are setting fire to the barn! They captured them, talked to them, and the one called Corleon agreed to lead the party to their camp in the forest of Nin. On the way, unfortunately, the party was attacked by two Cockatrice, and one of them turned Corleon to stone! Needless to say, negotiations were difficult. At least the elves agreed to a ten day truce. The party has ten days to find the statue.
Pretty creepy to find that cockatrice can turn you to stone in this remote area where nobody knows how to cast /Stone to Flesh/… And remember that somebody told the party that there are two gorgons living in the Gaskar hills…
As for the keys, they discovered that Winifred Baum’s wife is wearing one of the keys! A present from her cheating husband…
The party also met the Minx brothers Borden & Garsen. It turns out that they found Winifred Baum’s pendant with some Crushed Skull orcs and had sold it to Tinker in Pembrose (for 500 gp), who then sold it to Regis Baum for 2000 gp… (Ok, he also had to pay Angus Carl to get it done.)
I think the characters are frustrated because both Lord Kyle and Elenkar seem to be incompetent.
Level 7: 5250 ⇒ 1312 per person Level 6: 6300 ⇒ 1575 per person
Yesterday four of us were walking towards Bottega Berta along Sihlfeldstrasse (two lanes with tons of traffic). I noticed a black & white cat under the parked cars that seemed to shy away from people like us. As we approach, the cat leaps onto the road, cars come, a crunching sound, the car drives on, the cat tries to get up but obviously a lot of stuff is broken. The cat tries again, stronger now. And then the cat tries to jump. Does a sommersault. Starts flopping back and forth, leaping up to a foot into the air, like a puppet being yanked around by a crazy puppeteer. It’s a silent death dance we’re seeing. Marco stops the cars. At last the death throes have an end. The electric ghost is gone. The cat is dead. Marco takes the dead body and deposits it on the other side of the road.
The entire thing was so bizzarre I didn’t know what to think. Was the cat dead and the brain was just just sending a few last intoxicated signals? Why was there no sound? How long until the owner’s discovered that their cat had died? How long had the cat been in that family? Did the family have children? Would they be searching the neighbourhood? How easy it is to die. How frail everybody is. Imagine a child being caught by a car. How mercilessly the metal hammers roar down the road, their cold gaze catching all obstacles and marking them for certain death.
By the time I recovered it was all over.
My Mac Mini will no longer sleep. If I send it to sleep, it will wake up again after a second. Why is that, and how can I stop it?
For a while I thought it was because I had enabled Personal Web Sharing (aka. Apache 1.3). Then I thought it was because of the SlimServer software running on it. But disabling either of these services and rebooting did not help, and I’m tired of searching for the virtual needle in the crappy haystack.
I recently saw this question on #sql and it reminded me of the two or three “SQL riddles” we sent around at the company many years ago:
There is a table called GOALS with the columns PLAYER, GOALS, and GROUP. Write a single SELECT statement that prints the top scorer in every group.
PLAYER GOALS GROUP ---------- ---------- ---------- 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 3 1 2 2 1 2 2 3
PLAYER GOALS GROUP ---------- ---------- ---------- 2 5 1 2 2 3
An answer was posted on #sql, but I really want to figure this out myself, because I know I solved this stuff before. 😊
But if you google for “time breakdown of modern webdesign” you’ll find other copies of the image. One of them was marked ‘© 2006 Alain “IE users must DIE” Foreman poisonedminds.com’. Some more Googling and looking at URLs of dead links, I finally found what I think is the source image: The Church of Poisoned Minds 2006-06-21!
Note the offensive copyright line that got stripped eventually.
I take pride in doing a tiny piece of research every now and then.
What: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
When: January 30, 2008 – a Wednesday.
First proposed in September 2007. Classic reading, a bit closer to home both in space and time than Genji (Uli). I think we should allow a bit more time for this than the usual 4 weeks (Karina).
Supporters: Alex, Uli, Karina, Arantza, Ros.