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2008-02-02 Keep It Short

In a game I want to keep things short. This post has grown out of a number of posts on the topic. [1]

Descriptions
From my personal experience, I don’t like DMs who spend a lot of time on descriptions. We are not published authors. Our prose will never be good enough. I’m sitting at the table to do, not to “read.” When the DM spends more than a few sentences on the amazing sights, and there’s nothing we can do about it, then… “Let’s move!”
Introductions
I don’t like players who introduce their characters talking about the color of their cloak and the exact boots their wear. This is not Creative Writing class. I try to say it all in one or two sentences. Here are two examples:
Thorhall: My character has a helmet on, a longspear in his hand, a warhammer dangling from his belt, a dagger in his boot, a huge backpack with a longsword and a shield strapped to it, pouches, dangling stuff, maps, and various pieces of armor. What a mess!
Rhysalis Eina: She wears a chainshirt and carries a polearm. Her tan face is stern and her brown hair is tied into a tight bun.
Scenes
Eliminate pseudo-choice. Avoid situations where there is one correct solution and the players have to guess it. Assume that players make sane choices and move on. Example: There’s a village, or a door, or whatever, how do you want to approach it? There’s not enough information to make a rational choice. Just skip ahead until something important comes up. Once something dangerous happens, it’s time to sync mental images. This can be difficult. You think all characters are in the room, most players feel they would have never entered the small room. It’s better to ask a question instead: “Ok, so who’s in the room after a minute?”

Make every single word count. Focus on “What do you do?” instead of “And this is what you see…”

Similar advice:

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Comments on 2008-02-02 Keep It Short

Agree entirely. Play like it’s an action movie. If necessary, follow the Philip Marlowe rule of “if you run out of ideas, have a guy come in with a gun.” - only use orcs, gnolls, demons or whatever.

I wrote a lot about how to describe a room by “Walking it” in Roombuilding 101 on Save Or Die.

GreyWulf 2008-02-02 13:05 UTC

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2008-02-03 Stealing From The Dragon

The game starts with the party returning to Crus and talking to him regarding that Stone to Flesh spell for one of the elves, Corleon. Crus will order one from Reme, and in two weeks he’ll transcribe the spell and cast it for the elves. The party decides that the elves should pay for it: 1650 gp for the scroll and another 660 for the casting. (The party would have gotten the spell cast for free, being Crus’ eternal friends because of the Larin Karr books they gave him.)

Then the party returns to the elven encampment in the forest of Nin to tell Elenkar the good news, and to talk her into using a Locate Object near Greylock’s cave and near the green dragon’s cave in order to find the missing elven statue. The party thinks that these two are the two likely candidates: 1. greedy, 2. powerful, and 3. attuned to nature.

The party was warned about Greylock from the Minx brothers, Crus concurred, and Flax & Corian manage to trick farmer Tommy Bartlen into admitting that he could arrange for a meeting with Greylock, as Greylock is the guy to turn to if you need a dirty job done.

Anyway; Elenkar agrees and comes along with four snipers. The statue is located in the dragon’s cave, and Corian uses Invisibility, Fly, and Detect Magic to get himself and Belflin into the dragon’s cave (after they camped for two nights at the foot of the hill waiting for the dragon to leave again). The heist is a success, no traps are triggered, greed does not trick them into exploring the rest of the cave, and so the situation with the elves is finally resolved. Lord Kyle pays them the 2000 gp reward and that was that.

Then the party decides to venture underground again, looking for the Crushed Skull orcs. They defeat Vordek the ghost easily, they kill the infamous cloaker and take his stuff (over 3000 gp), but then their good luck has come to an end.

As they prepare their camp, an earthquake shakes the passage. The party takes cover in an alcove, and a land-shark breaks through the tunnel wall: A bullette! Corian manages to shout out a warning to his friends and Flax tries to hide behind a stone column. The bulette hesitates to attack the elves in the party and goes after Flax. Tremmorsense! Within seconds, Flax is dead, and the rest of the party only barely manages to slay the beast.

AC 22, 94 hp, and bite +16 (2d8+8) and 2 claws +10 (2d6+4). Ouch!

And with my green dice, I managed to deal 24 points of damage on a bite attack twice, too. My players felt crushed. Corian’s cohort is dead. All the newfound treasure goes into for the poor girl’s resurrection. Jeffar in Bostwick is not happy to find the party is still crawling through the Underdark. And yet she also realizes that the orcs might still be a danger to her valley and so she reluctantly casts Raise Dead. Yay!

The game session ended on a grim note!

Am I turning into a Killer DM after all? That’s three dead in recent games: Belflin, Kubo (both played by Marco), and now Flax (Corian’s cohort played by Claudia). I feel evil. :( I hope that the Crushed Skull orcs are either easy to outwit either using social skills or using clever tactics.

Cohort XP are good for XP hungry players, but somewhat weird.

Poor Auroleva: An elf multiclassing as a Druid/Cleric. Will the 10% XP penalty impact her a lot? Somebody must have analyzed the math behind those tables… My gut feeling says that it amounts to a one-level penalty as lower levels get more than 110% XP, so all it means is that she catches up slower than other people once she falls behind. In the example below the level 6 characters are getting 125% XP compared to level 7 characters

XP

Challenges overcome:

  • steal the statue from the dragon CR 7 flat for Corian, Belflin and Flax only
  • Vordek again CR 6
  • Cloaker CR 5
  • Bulette CR 7
Level 7
1516 per person
Level 7 dragon
1050 per person
Level 6
1900 per person
Level 6 dragon
1350 per person

Thus:

Corian
26469 + 1516 + 1050 = 29035 (Sor-7 + ?)
Silas
1312 = 23824 (Cle-7)
Auroleva
22261 + 1516 = 23777 (Drd-3/Clr-3 + ?)
Karamutenga
23382 (Brb-7)
Belflin
19575 + 1900 + 1350 = 22825 (Rng-6 + ?)
Flax
10937 + (1516+1050)*5/7 = 12769 ⇒ 8000 (Rog-4)

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Comments on 2008-02-03 Stealing From The Dragon

Good write-up, again, Alex. I like the name Corleon for an elf. Reminds me of the Godfather movies, so now I’ve got the image of an elven mafioso in my head.

Bulettes are tough and easily under-estimated critters that can do a surprising amount of damage in a very short space of time, especially with the Leap attack. Anything that can do 4 attacks per round isn’t to be sniffed at. Good monsters, Bulettes. Fun to GM too, I find.

I don’t think you qualify as a Killer DM just yet. PCs are still standing :)

GreyWulf 2008-02-03 23:15 UTC


Yeah, two of the three aforementioned deaths occurred because of luck of the dice. Only Kubo San was really set up to die by the DM.

But it goes to show the difference that luck can make to a game. Alex isn’t critting us much, but he rolls consistently over 10, and twice last session rolled max damage on 2d8. I on the other hand aren’t rolling many ones either, but I’m consistently rolling under 10. <:)

I wrote a song about an evil DM once. Wasn’t half bad either. Perhaps I should bring my guitar along sometime and tell you just how I feel. :)

– Marco 2008-02-04 07:22 UTC


Yes, please, Marco: sing us a song! :D

zeno 2008-02-04 08:16 UTC


Marcel reminds me…

danger Myung (Level 4) – his body got burned by his comrades for fear of zombies
danger Aurin (Level 9) – resurrected by Muzitani Tsutomu, high priest of the Fudo oracle
danger Takeo (Level 9) – resurrected by Katsuko, priestess of Fudo, but he left the party anway
danger Azzam (Level 8) – adventure rebooted…
danger Belflin (Level 6) – resurrected by Jeffar, priestess of Freya
danger Kubo (Level 11) – resurrected by the demon lord Pazuzu
danger Flax (Level 5) – resurrected by Jeffar, priestess of Freya

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-04 11:39 UTC


hehe…

…resurrected by Muzitani Tsutomu, high priest of Fudo
…resurrected by Katsuko, priestess of Fudo
…resurrected by Jeffar, priestess of Freya
...resurrected by Pazuzu, Demon Lord

Kubo San rocks.

– Marco 2008-02-04 12:16 UTC


…and I hope, this makes you dance even better tonight.

zeno 2008-02-04 14:04 UTC


A bulette? It seams to me that this monster is crossing our way more often lately. I’m whishing though Krel could have slashed his greatsword into the beast. Two hits might have been enough :-)

– Mircea 2008-02-12 14:32 UTC

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2008-02-05 File Permissions

So, both Claudia and I have merged our iTunes libraries. Now we seem to have permission problems. How best to set it up? sudo chmod -R 777 /Users/Shared/iTunes seems a bit weird! How do I use niutil and nireport to create a new group called music, add claudia and alex to it, and then sudo chgrp -R music /Users/Shared/iTunes and sudo chmod -R g+s /Users/Shared/iTunes – assuming this is the right way to do it?

Gah, this sux.

To fix the situation right now:

sudo chgrp -R alex /Users/Shared/iTunes
sudo chmod -R 777 /Users/Shared/iTunes
sudo find /Users/Shared/iTunes -type f -exec chmod 644 '{}' ';' 
sudo find /Users/Shared/iTunes -type d -exec chmod g+s '{}' ';' 

Existing directories will end up using drwxrwsrwx. Newly created directories will end up belonging to the group alex and with drwxr-xr-x. Newly created files will belong to the group alex and have -rw-r--r--.

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2008-02-05 Question Asker Oddmuse Extension Defeated Twice

My wiki is protected by the Oddmuse:QuestionAsker Extension. On 2008-02-02 it was defeated twice and today it was defeated again 2008-02-05. So, what is the problem? Several possibilities:

  1. the spammer discovered the correct answer (or keeps giving random answers that are correct often enough)
  2. the spammer discovered the secret parameter that bypasses the question (which is how Oddmuse currently makes sure that you only get asked a single question as long as you keep using the same browser on the same machine)
  3. the spammer is a human that actually reads and understands the question

We’ll investigate this step by step. First, I’ll change the question and the answer required.

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2008-02-10 Creepy Cruise

Gawker has The Cruise Indoctrination Video Scientology Tried To Suppress.

It’s a creepy monologue.

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Comments on 2008-02-10 Creepy Cruise

I watched it last night. It’s still ringing in my ears.

Roughly paraphrased from what I can remember: “I’d like to think it was a better world. I’d like to be able to go on holiday and just play. But I can’t! I can’t. I can’t because… because I know. I know.”

Cruise never said what he knew that was preventing him going on holiday and thinking it was a better world. The fact that he didn’t say what he knew irks me more than not knowing what he knows. Why? Because I think he didn’t actually know anything. Pow, right there!

Yes, Tom. I know too. I KNOW!

– Marco 2008-02-11 07:40 UTC


I remember thinking: Either you’re in it our you’re not. We’re trying to help. We know. Ergo everybody else is not in, is not trying to help, does not know. And: You just – do it! And I remember thinking that this manichaean paranoia doesn’t have room for conflicting goals, or goals with different priorities, no place for trade-offs or compromise. You just do it.

There’s also Tom Cat Unmasked from icanhascheezburger.com for comic relief.

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-11 08:28 UTC

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2008-02-12 Google Calendar

Does anybody use Google calendar or a similar public calendar extensively? I know Marco does… Are you afraid that bad guys (burglars for example) will take advantage of the info available on your calendar? Does RMS kill a kitten every time you use the Google calendar?

I wonder whether I should create a public RPG calendar for Zürich. Is calendar spam common?

Do you use a separate calendar for every item that is can potentially be shared, eg. one calendar for the book club, one calendar for campaign A, one calendar for campaign B? It somehow seems to make sense to my pendantic inner bureaucrat.

I started a little setup like that and shared the ShackledCity campaign calendars with two other players with Google accounts, and I created a BookClub calendar that I shared with three other book club members. We’ll see how it turns out.

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Comments on 2008-02-12 Google Calendar

I don’t have any particular concerns about making my life public. I don’t have my own apartment or anything really worth stealing. If people really want to know know the details of my insignificant little life, they’re welcome to them.

Of course, it’s possible to make your calendar public and make certain events private (invisible), or just appear ‘busy’ to the outside world.

For me, Google Calendar is a godsend. I move around a lot and have a fairly busy schedule (more than can fit in my little head), so being able to see what I’m doing tonight is great.

– Marco 2008-02-13 10:00 UTC


Yeah, I’m starting to reach a level where my simple mobile phone calendar is starting to fall behind. Perhaps I can sync my Google calendars with Apple’s iCal, and then sync that with my mobile phone and get the best of both worlds.

Then again, maybe I’ll just waste hours fiddling with stuff. Hm…

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-13 11:01 UTC

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2008-02-14 More Roleplay

Who would have thought that it is possible to change a life within a year! November 2006 I started with roleplaying games. And now I must be averaging two or three games a week.

This Friday I’ll be playing a swashbuckler in a Forgotten Realms campaign.

Coming Wednesday I’ll start a Burning Wheel campaign via Skype with two other players. I was inspired by the SonsOfKryos podcast about using Burning Wheel and Skype. The hateful orc thread on RPG.net finally convinced me that I had to give BurningWheel a try.

Update – things to remember:

  • Mute the microphone when not speaking.
  • Establish a way of getting in touch via Instant Messaging if Skype fails (see Contact for myself)
  • Set up a wiki for us to use. [1] [2]

I don’t think we need a shared battlemap. [3] [4]

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Comments on 2008-02-14 More Roleplay

I would have thought there’s only so much roleplaying that one man can take, but it seems not to be true.

You so kerazy.

– Marco 2008-02-15 07:25 UTC


There’s a thread on EN World called How Long Can You DM?. I still remember that 10h Gallery of Evil (→ 2007-12-24 Gallery of Evil) session. Some highlights from the EN World thread:

Thanks to Cialis I can DM all night long… – Shadeydm [1]

We did take a brief break after about 16 hours to grab some food from the K-Mart at the end of the road, but we were so into the game that the players insisted on going to the shop in marching order and remaining in-character throughout. Bizarre. – Mark Hope [2]

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-16 14:20 UTC

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2008-02-17 The Roper

The party prepares to leave Bostwick. Flax has returned from the land of the dead. Jeffar berates the party for their foolishness. Belflin tells her – again! – how the orcs and trolls of the Underdark have to be kept under control lest this valley be overrun by monsters.

It’s August 23 and a full moon rides the night sky. Flax is back and visibly shaken. Corian spends many hours talking to her.

The party rides back to Pembrose and on to the old keep. The reconstruction is far from finished. They leave the horses with the workers and take the dark read past the dungeon cells, through the torture chamber, the secret room with the goblin heads in jars, into Vordek’s graveyard. And they realize that there must be a reason Vordek the ghost keeps coming back. All he ever says is “Don’t touch my bones!”

By now he is no longer a match for the party. Silas turns him, and the two elves stick some arrows from their magic bows into him. Silas prepares a consecration of the graveyard and blesses the dead. The party assumes that Vordek was the torturer down here and that these graves are the graves of his victims. Giving them proper burial rites and releasing them from the Material Plan will put Vordek to rest. And so it is.

The party makes its way to the Crushed Orc encampment, where Karamutenga approaches the guards, jumps them out shadows and intimidates them. “On your knees!” he snarls. They obey. The rest of the party approaches slowly. As a discussion starts up, the orcs recover their wits, jump up and run away. With two swift strokes Karamutenga cleaves them into pieces.

The sound of slaughter has alarmed more orcs. A gong is rung, but the four additional guards are quickly slain. As the party enters the big cave, Karamutenga throws down a dead guard and makes another Intimidate check! Kersux doesn’t give the signal. The orcs are uncertain. Karamutenga stares them all down and challenges the leader to single combat. This they understand! They mutter their approval and Kersux accepts. Slowly Karamutenga descends into the cave and faces the orc leader. Karamutenga the female half-orc wears a chain shirt and wields a greatsword. Kersux the male orc wears a beautiful half-place and a very nice greatsword with pearls inlaid into its handle. The orcs form a circle around the combatants.

With a roar they jump each other and after two mighty blows Karamutenga buries her blade in Kersux’ throat. Silence descends. Finally the second in command calls his comrades back. “Kersux is dead! There is no point in staying here anymore. Those who wish for a better life than this dog shit follow me!” Most of the orcs follow him until Karamutenga barks at the remaining orcs: “What are you staring at? Begone!” They break and run.

Apparently the drow wizard Phren cast Fly and Invisibility on himself as soon as Kersux died. He did not have to time take his crystal decanter and wine glasses with him – just his gems and his spellbook. Still, the party finds a small statue of Orcus that must have belonged to Quarant, the orc ambassador at the ruined keep talking to Thugler. Then again, the party never learnt that much because they entered the keep via a backdoor, surprising Thugler and Quarant, slaying Quarant in the surprise round and Thugler not much later. The party also finds another gem encrusted statue of Orcus, a platinum spider pendant, more gems, and gold. Payback time!

The party follows the orcs and manages to talk to Phren. But nobody seems to know about the two other keys. Apparently the orc party that found them (and Kersux among them) must have sold them away. The only other interesting parties Phren knows down here are the ogres and the fire giant and his temple of Belphegor to the east.

The party decides to return to the surface, ride to the ruined village north of Twain, and take the secret passage into the Underdark, saving them a long trip underground.

They also take the opportunity to slay the remaining giant stag beetle, turn the two wraiths in the catacomb and take the mummy’s golden star pendant. They also stumble into an assassine vine as they explore the village. This was a tough fight because I ruled that the party was spread all over the ruins, searching. So in the surprise round I rolled a d10 to determine in which building everybody was. They managed to save Belflin just in time.

As they burn the vine down, they discovered that it had grown out of or into a cellar, and in that cellar Flax discovered a passage in the Underdark.

They descended the stairs and reached a cave. They cautiously moved into the cave. Belflin made the Spot check and realized that one of the stalagmites must have moved (the roper has +18 to hide down here!). Belflin decides to lead the party around it. I ask how much distance he wants to put between himself and the stalagmite. He answers: “Fourty feet.” Uhhh… the roper strands have 50 ft. reach… And so Initiative is rolled and the fighting begins. Just a single strand attacks in the surprise round. The elves have actions readied and shoot some arrows. Then the first round begins. Belflin doesn’t want to move back, opting for a full attack. On the roper’s turn, he manages to attack all six party members, latching on to them and draining 2d8 strength from all that don’t make their DC 18 Fortitude save. Everybody is dragged closer to the roper. Flax faints, Auroleva is reduced to Strength 3. On the second round more people faint. Everybody is dragged closer. Karamutenga and Belflin charge the roper, but with AC 24 this is a tough bugger. Corian tries his trusted Magic Missiles but Spell Resistance 30 is way out there. I saw my first TPK coming. The party had already befriended the Minx brothers, so I decided that they must have followed the party. They start shooting arrows. But two fifth level rangers are no big help when time is essential and the party is facing a roper. I decide that a Coup de Grace is not possible for the roper because that would mean no longer concentrating on the one victim still resisting his weaking effect: Karamutenga! And at last, with two mighty swings of her newfound greatsword, she shatters the roper.

The party spends a week recovering from the fight. On the first night, Karamutenga and the Minx brothers bring the party back to the surface and build a little shelter. As soon as they feel better, the Minx brothers escort the party to the Hog’s Head inn in Twain. The Ettin slayers, nearly slain Underground! The inn is busy with curious miners and farmers wanting to hear the story. The Minx brothers take their leave.

And so do we. Off to a new Pizza joint! :)

A roper. Way over their head!!

XP

Challenges overcome:

  • solve Vordek’s problem CR 7 flat (no XP for turning and destroying Vordek again)
  • getting rid of 20 orcs 25 × CR 1
  • getting info from Phren CR 6
  • giant stag beetle CR 4
  • wraiths 2 × CR 5
  • roper CR 12
  • Kersux CR 7 (for Karamutenga only)

I hope awarding the Kersux XP to Karamutenga only is not unfair…

Level 7
5095 per person
Level 8
3920 per person

Thus:

Corian
29035 + 3920 = 32955 (Sor-8)
Karamutenga
23382 + 5095 + 2100 = 30577 (Brb-7 + ?)
Silas
23824 + 5095 = 28919 (Cle-7 + ?)
Auroleva
23777 + 5095 = 28872 (Drd-4/Clr-3 + ?)
Belflin
22825 + 5095 = 27920 (Rng-7)
Flax
8000 + 3920*4/8 = 9960 (Rog-4)

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Comments on 2008-02-17 The Roper

I think that Kara handled Kersux on her own, was the only one really in danger, so she should get the XP from that. Ropers are really nasty. Not moving out of range was certainly a tactical error on my part, one that vexed me greatly as I succumbed to its strength draining effect. Belflin didn’t want to appear to be running away, leaving Auroleva at the non-mercy of the roper.

I like how you’re integrating words like Bugger into your daily speech. I ha stoltz auf dir, kleine Padewan. :)

– Marco 2008-02-18 10:07 UTC


“3rd Edition Rules, 1st Edition Feel.” I guess this is what Necromancer Games is talking about. What is a CR 12 creature with no real plot value doing sitting in an adventure for 4th-9th level characters?

You basically need (1) summoned creatures and/or no SR spells, like Melf's acid arrow, (2) good archers, and/or (3) a kick butt Spot check not to get hosed by one of these creatures. It also helps if you have a pathological fear of stalactites and stalagmites, basically assuming every single one is a piercer or a roper :)

– Adrian 2008-02-20 14:53 UTC


Hahaha. I think I’m having more fun if I need to gamble on whether a particular fight is too tough. I don’t like it players have no way of making that choice (Hide +18) and no way of getting out of such a fight.

I’m just glad they all survived it.

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-20 16:06 UTC

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2008-02-21 Experimental Might

So Monte’s book is out with twenty spell levels (no more confusion?), more spells from various sources, some fixed spells, minor powers for spell casters, quicker hitpoint recovery. [1]

I’m curious, but we still have so much 3.5 core gaming to do…

On that note, I found Merric’s post on Understanding the Megadungeon quite interesting. The core idea is that monster vs. PC balance is in the hands of the players.

Given the problematic encounters in my CityOfBrass game where players just have to accept what I throw at them, a megadungeon would offer an alternative. Players get to pick the risk they want to take by choosing where they go.

And hopefully you don’t put the roper right at the entrance. ;)

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Comments on 2008-02-21 Experimental Might

So I kinda already bought the BOXM :) So I’ll either bring along my laptop or the PDF on a memory stick if you want to take a look.

I think the 20 spell level idea is brilliant.

– Adrian 2008-02-21 10:03 UTC


Your Arcana Evolved one-shot got me interested in the changes made to the magic system. And apparently there are some changes I endorse: Getting rid of those spells that players cast every single time, wasting time and not adding to the fun at the table – Bless, Prayer, Haste, Protection from Evil, various ability buffing spells replaced by a single one, and less save or die spells. I like it! I’ll read through the BOXM spells and will consider using those for my next campaign. :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-25 09:56 UTC


I am finally reading the actual spells in BOXM, and he has made some large changes. Very few save-or-die effects (except for things with built-in HD or hp limits, like Circle of Death or Power Word Kill), Haste gives you a bonus to AC and jump and an extra move action, Protection from Evil grants no bonuses to AC or saves, Raise the Dead can only be cast by a level 19 cleric, just to name a few.

I disagree with a few decisions – Implosion doesn’t seem much better than Harm or Destruction, but is considerably higher level, things of this or that nature – but it seems like a step in the right direction if you want to stick to the basic framework of 3.5E spells.

– Adrian 2008-02-25 13:02 UTC


Protection from Evil also prevents touches and natural weapon attacks as long as you don’t attack your evil opponents. I like it!

Why are all the ability boosting spells like Bull’s Strength 1d4+1 instead of +4? Then again, they last for an hour per level. After a while certain key players will just have them always on. I’m fine with that, as it will use up an appropriate spell slot. And you can cast them twice to get the better of two rolls. I’m not sure how playtested this is. It appears that upon reaching level ten or eleven, my players use a lot less stat boosting spells. I wonder why? Has a standard action become too expensive? Do they have magic items granting them a bonus that does not stack? I’ll have to take a look.

No Prayer and Bless! Cool. I like that. I like the disciplines. These offer ways of specializing spell casters in ways that improve the game. But there’s a drawback: If you use Divine Inspiration, this is an interesting Bless. And it’s just a complicated. Taking it again at 4th level and making it permanent is the real improvement.

I also like how Divine Presence can heal others, but they need to spend an action doing it. That grants clerics some much needed smiting actions. No Divine Power makes sure that clerics are not just the better fighters. I hope I haven’t missed a spell that reinstates that power.

I’m unsure regarding fighter power. Every class gets a feat at every level, so the fighter bonus feats are not as valuable anymore. I’d have to try it to see whether I wanted fighters to get a bonus feat every single level. It might make them more impressive…

And no Attacks of Opportunity when getting up in order to weaken trip attacks somewhat. As I have a trip master in my group, I know how necessary this is!

This book is the first collection of house rules that I might consider for a new campaign. I like it.

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-26 18:53 UTC


The 1d4+1 stat-boosting spells for 1 hr/lvl was the way 3.0 worked. They made the change in 3.5E to a static bonus and a shorter duration. The problem with the 1d4+1 versions is that, because they are 1 hr/lvl, if a spellcaster has it, he is burning spell slots because the party wants this long-term buff.

Yeah, usually after a certain level, the PCs have +4 stat boosters. And a standard action in combat is highly, highly valuable – actions really are the currency of the game.

The fighter is stuffed by these rules, frankly, since now a barbarian can get lots of the juiciest feats, except Weapon Specialization – but who cares, because I can rage and get +2/+3/+4 to attack and damage, depending on my level. And I move faster and have more hit points. I think this points to the need for using the Tome of Battle classes, or something along those lines, to replace the current fighter. Just giving more bonus feats won’t work IMO – they need to be very, very potent, and difficult to access without being a fighter and expending a lot of feats. PHB2 started going in this direction, but if a standard character has 20 feats at 20th level, even those feats are not hard to get for any class.

– Adrian 2008-02-27 08:06 UTC


> It appears that upon reaching level ten or eleven, 
> my players use a lot less stat boosting spells. I wonder why? 

Regarding the monday group: Most player already have a +2 ability item (on their most favorite ability), so the +4 granted from the spell isn’t worth using a standard action anymore.

– Sektat 2008-02-28 11:53 UTC


Good point. Once you have +2 ability score items, and you can cast something like Prayer, which is better than a +2 increase to a single ability, and affects allies and enemies in a large area to boot, you are going to cast that single spell, rather than spending multiple spells (and actions) on Bull's Strength, Bear's Endurance, and the like.

– Adrian 2008-02-28 15:13 UTC


The following are just a reminder to myself:

AlexSchroeder 2008-03-04 09:50 UTC

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2008-02-21 Flickr

Every now and then, I just look at http://flickr.com/photos/ and follow a link or two. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

The world is beautiful and weird.

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2008-02-25 Dark Alleys

Yesterday Claudia walked from Bullingerplatz to Hardplatz. It was dark. Nothing but parked cars and empty windows. A man following her, walking faster, and faster, and finally shouting at the top of his lungs: “Stop! Hands up!” and when Claudia did not react, he started calling her all sorts of insults. Claudia crossed the road, walked on, stopped, never looking him in the eyes, and finally he kicked the pavement, insulted her some more, and walked on.

Just because there are less idiots clearly visible doesn’t mean that the roads are safe.

In Memoriam Langstrasse.

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Yowch. That’s scary. Well done to Claudia for keeping going and not giving the idiot the satisfaction of reacting to him.

I guess there are idiots everywhere, eh?

greywulf 2008-02-25 11:08 UTC


That’s true greywulf. But what is the best way (if there is one) of dealing dealing with these types of situations ? If the guy (it is always a guy, isn’t it) is drunk, ignoring him would probably be best, but if he’s sober and is just poorly socialised, should you kick him in the nuts or ignore him ?

AlokSingh 2008-02-25 11:36 UTC


As Claudia works in the psychology and psychiatry service of the justice dept. here in Zürich, she knows of enough stories were such people were armed or trained or strong enough to seriously hurt or kill their victims. Getting away must be the first priority.

I’m relieved nothing happened and suggested reporting the incident to the police. Not because I thought that it would help arresting that person, but it would help the police to set priorities.

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-25 11:47 UTC


I’d love to kick him in the nuts if I were physically superior. But I guess it’s better to play the underdog because if he has a personality disorder or something similar to it then so be it. He feels superior by excercising power, but at least I’m safe.

Claudia 2008-02-25 23:13 UTC


Kick him in the nuts? tut tut… Kubo San is very disappointed.

Rule #15: Never go anywhere without your naginata.

– Marco 2008-02-26 11:57 UTC


Scary story indeed… I wonder why that kind of things never happend to me. Well, sure it’s a question of size too, but even as a kid I never got into something like this. Or did I just forgot? Bucharest is for sure not a city to be quoted ‘save’. As for the psychology background, I am sure that this is by far the best method to get save out of it. Claudia, do trainings exist for Kindergarden / primary school?

– Mircea 2008-02-29 16:05 UTC


Mircea, if you knew how different the world can be for a women, you’d stop wondering… I still find it hard to believe how much harassment a woman needs to endure, and how used some of them are to a treatment that could not end but in a brutal brawl if it happened to a man. Men following her into the toilet, groping, blocking the pavement so that she has to step onto the road or squeeze between somebody and the wall, verbal abuse, threats of violence including death threats, the list is long and every year a few more incidents get added to the list.

It’s a sad world out there, and people like you and me just never see it. Because we are men, because we look able enough, or because we were born under a lucky star.

I thank God every day that I was born a man. (We also get to have lots of fun because we are so simple minded. It’s awesome.)

AlexSchroeder 2008-03-01 00:15 UTC


Life seams suddenly so much easier, looking through your eyes! :-) I agree, the simple minded part MUST have something true!

– Mircea 2008-03-01 16:11 UTC

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2008-02-26 Table Delays

My gaming table is going to be delayed again. Not because Reseda are late. Not at all. It is I who cannot be there to receive the table. Due to circumstances at work I had to reschedule the delivery once again. It’s embarassing. And I really want my table.

I’m going to hold my breath now for a while and sulk.

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First step is the gaming table. Next step is this…

Tabletop Projection

– Adrian 2008-02-26 16:40 UTC


Nooooo!

I think I made my Will save… Too much gear and too much computers. :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-02-26 17:30 UTC


The mounting of the projector on the ceiling does have an interesting medieval look though :)

PierreGaston 2008-02-27 08:47 UTC

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2008-02-29 Kerberos Woes

I’m trying to use HCoop. They use the Andrew File System (AFS). This requires Kerberos. From a user perspective, it complicates things, because we’re not really getting rid of Unix logins, we’re just adding another layer.

From my local machine (Pyrobombus), I ssh to the remote machine (Mire), and provide my password. Everything works. I can’t make this passwordless by creating the appropriate files in ~/.ssh on Mire because of Kerberos.

I can try to get a single ticket (requiring my password), and then not use passwords for a while. For that to work, I run kinit alex@HCOOP.NET and then I use ssh to connect to Mire.

Except that this still won’t work. I will get a permission denied error as I log in because ~/.bash_profile cannot be read. I need to run aklog manually to “fix” this.

Apparently I also need the folling ~/.ssh/config file on my local machine, pyrobombus:

Host mire.hcoop.net
  GSSAPIAuthentication yes
  GSSAPIDelegateCredentials yes
  User alex

I’m not happy.

Update: I wrote the maintenance script I want to run on a regular basis. Now I need to digest the manual pages on running unattended commands. See 2008-03-22 Kerberos Again.

For the time being, I much prefer EggplantFarms in terms of setup. Then again, EP’s uptime has not been so cool.

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Hi, Alex. Really many thanks, I just installed oddmuse wiki. Actually I know little about technology, but I found your instructions clear and helpful.

I want to have a private wiki, to better organize my documents, and I am happy to find it can also be a private diary with the blog module. Just some minor points, when I use the ‘wiki’ way to add new pages, they will not be found in the blog calendar. And the blog calendar cannot be displayed correctly in IE7, it is fine with firefox. Compared to what I have got from oddmuse, these are really not that important. I really want to say a million thanks to you!

I appreciate the idea of seperating modules from the main code. And, I am very happy to note you have multi lingual in your mind from the very beginning. I am Chinse, and I use simplified Chinese a lot.

Thank you very much, Alex!

– Sarah 2008-03-01 18:19 UTC


BTW, how could I change the time setting? For I am now in HK, and it is 8 hours earlier. Thank you!

– Sarah 2008-03-01 18:20 UTC


Hi Sarah. I’m glad you find the instructions useful. I always worry that they might be too confusing.

The blog calendar depends on the pagename starting with a date like “2008-02-28…” – if you just create a page X, then Oddmuse will not know to what day it belongs. If you want a page to appear at a certain date in your calendar, you just need to name it appropriately. I guess you could always create a page called 2008-02-28_X which does nothing but #REDIRECT [[X]] – then you get the best of both worlds.

As for the display problem with IE 7 I really cannot help you because I don’t have it anywhere. I assume that the problem is the CSS. You would need to find somebody who can help you with CSS woes. You might want to contact Radomir Dopieralski (he’s listed on Oddmuse:Consultants) – he has turned out to be an excellent source of CSS expertise.

If you don’t want to use UTC, and you live in the same timezone as your server, then you might want to use the Oddmuse:Localtime Extension.

AlexSchroeder 2008-03-02 15:56 UTC


Many thanks, Alex! It’s really very kind of you! =)

Wish you all the best with your life and work!

– Sarah 2008-03-03 16:48 UTC

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2008-02 Book Club

What: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

When: February 27, 20:00 @ Starbucks. Note the time! One hour later than usual.

Wikipedia: Haruki Murakami.

First proposed in September 2007. Same author as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle that we’ve read some time ago, and that I enjoyed a lot (Uli).

Supporters: Nanda, Uli, Chrissie, Karina, Ros.

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