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2008-07-02 My Paladin

What can I say? Apparently July 4 is Let Me Tell You About My Paladin day. And let me tell you, last time I played my paladin died! [1]

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Comments on 2008-07-02 My Paladin

What was his name?

– Sektat 2008-07-02 11:12 UTC


Rhysalis Eina – she was the most diplomatic character I ever saw. Apparently she was raised from the dead in absentia so I’ll get to play her again…

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-02 11:39 UTC


I played a one for a one-shot adventure. He was called Aladdin the Paladin - I played him completely as an Arabian honourable rogue :)

Died in the second encounter. Bless.

GreyWulf 2008-07-02 12:36 UTC

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2008-07-02 Perverts

As I was about to show Claudia something on the computer, I realized that I had been hearing a woman crying from the window. I got up, moved into another room, opened the window, leaned out. It was a mix of crying, shouting, and panting from the next door building. I was paralyzed. What to do? There were two or three apartments where this could be coming from. Pervert sex? Pornography? Rape?

What to do?

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Comments on 2008-07-02 Perverts

I’m not really sure what one should do in a situation like this.

I had a situation where a the concern of a passer by was nice though. My wife was once stuck in a room at my house due to a faulty lock and she screamed out the window. A passer by noticed and notified the security of the apartment where I lived. I had arrived home by then and was able to force the lock but the act of notifying the security of the building would have been of great help if I hadn’t reached home.

I don’t know how the situation is there in .ch and how to navigate the line between being a responsible neighbour and a nosy one but I don’t think ignoring it is the right thing to do.

NoufalIbrahim 2008-07-02 12:17 UTC


Or it could just have been the TV. It’s hard to tell nowadays.

I guess that one of those situations where the best solution is to take notes. Jot the time, registration plates and details of any cars and keep an eye out for anyone leaving quickly. If it continues, call the police. Better safe than sorry, eh?

GreyWulf 2008-07-02 12:33 UTC

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2008-07-03 Good Bye PDF Economy, Hello PDF Piracy

When D&D third edition appeared, Wizards of the Coast provided a big chunk of the game material under the so-called Open Gaming License (OGL). This was a perpetual, unrevokable license that allowed people to create derived works. Essentially, Ryan Dancy was inspired by Free Software at the time and thought that this would help Wizards of the Coast to sell more core rulebooks. Let other people create adventures. [1]

At the same time, a second license was available to publishers: The d20 System Trademark License. [2] If publishers wanted to put the d20 logo on their product, they needed to get that license. That license was more restrictive than the OGL, and it could be terminated. In fact, when D&D fourth edition was announced, the d20 System Trademark License was revoked.

And now we’re getting to the main point of this post. Here is what Scott Rouse has said on the topic:

The license ends in June 2008 so publishers will stop using it at that point. There will be a sell off period through the end of 2008 for publishers with stock in their warehouses. Product that is sold and sitting in a store or distributor is considered sold and fine. There will be no recall of product sitting in the channel.
The major downside is for publishers who have so much stock they can’t move it in six months. For those who that is the case I suspect they have larger problems.
PDF sellers will be asked to update their products within that six month time and remove the logo. [3]

Unfortunately it appears that without the d20 System Trademark License you not only need to remove the logo but some other stuff as well – such as named references to the core books. This is a major hassle for small publishers that don’t expect a lot of sales on these products. Here’s what Matthew Sprange of Mongoose had to say on the topic:

We produced a great deal of OGC under D20. Most of these books are now out of print, with just PDF copies available - by the end of the year these will disappear too, as it is not realistic for us to remove D20 licensing off every product we produced over the years. Just too many!
However, it seems a shame to have all this material simply disappear, so. . .
If there is any interest, we would be prepared to make the vast majority of our D20-based content available freely. In the past, there has been talk about an OGC Wiki of sorts, and I think we can kick such a project off in a sizeable way.
If a volunteer (or volunteers - you might have to be some sort of maniac to go through all this material solo!) were to come forward and create a suitable web site, we would happily supply electronic versions of our D20 lines for translation of OGC to such a web site. We would be very free with the material permissable, allowing you to effectively cut and paste large chunks of ‘fluff’ text alongside the OGC. [4]

It’s a neat idea. Unfortunately it remains a lot of work.

Some people thought that PDFs were here to stay, never go out of print, always be there for the last grognard to purchase. Except that with the d20 System Trademark License we’re now faced with a situation where this is no longer true. Essentially worthless PDFs have to be pulled from the infinte electronic bookshelves – no LongTail for you, mister! – because of the termination of this license.

Unlike books that are out of print, these PDF documents will not end up on AbeBooks and the Amazon Marketplace. There will be no legal second hand market because of legal issues. Even though I don’t remember any verbiage to that effect, if PDF documents are treated like software, there is no resale possible because you never “buy” software (you buy the medium it is printed on and the books), you “license” the software. And the license doesn’t allow you to make copies, to give it to anybody else, etc.

So, are PDF documents like physical books and can be resold?

If not, then massive “privateering” using peer to peer networks is going to be the only way to get these books. I want to be a privateer! [5]

All of this is very strange. As JanneJalkanen said in a different context: “Copyright is badly broken, out of touch with reality, and needs to be fixed.” [6]

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Comments on 2008-07-03 Good Bye PDF Economy, Hello PDF Piracy

What a crazy world we live in, eh?

I reckon that a lot of publishers, regardless of size, will just remove the d20 logo and continue to sell their most popular PDF titles anyhow. Such a silly stricture hardly makes any sense - it’s just a bunch o’pixels and an image that’s easily available via Google Image search anyhow. It’s making a rule just because they can, not because it makes any sense.

As you say, copyright is broken.

GreyWulf 2008-07-03 19:27 UTC


Some of the extensions to copyright law in the US have made it broken along with related court decisions, but really traditional copyright law is pretty radical. It just needs a lot of people – writers, readers and publishers – who need to defend its core principles and fight the introduction of technical restrictions on works with new fangled software.

An entire industry is brewing in acedemia called PDF security[1]. Where “security” is a just cover for restricting PDF documents, rather than real security issues like verification and authenticity. It’s all a real shame, really.

AaronHawley 2008-07-04 19:24 UTC

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2008-07-03 No Absolutes

Sean K Reynolds joins Paizo and on the welcoming thread [1] I founf a link to two pages written by Reynolds [2] [3] where he argues that some immunities should instead be resistances (eg. a fire giant is not immune to fire but it gets fire resistance 60 in order to still take damage when the god of fire swallows him whole, paladins get +10 vs. fear effects in order to still fear “a great wyrm red dragon”), and that some skills should be open to all (untrained Disable Device adds +10 to the DC, untrained Spellcraft just adds +5 to the DC, untrained Use Magic Device is no problem).

I sort of like it.

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Comments on 2008-07-03 No Absolutes

I would add something to that.

A natural 20 should, rather than be an automatic hit, grant a +10 (ie. counted as a natural 30). A natural 1 should, rather than an automatic miss, grant -10 (or a natural -9, or -10 for simplicity).

I mean, should a commoner really be able to stab a gargantuan red dragon 5% of the time?

– Marco 2008-07-03 14:57 UTC


I thought the same. I think it’s a historical issue.

– Sektat 2008-07-03 22:16 UTC


In a quaint way, though, I still like it.

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-04 06:25 UTC


Re: making 20 = 30, 1 = -10:

1. A PC with no ranks in a skill has a 5% chance of performing or surmounting DC ~30 (depending on ability score modifiers, armor, etc) challenge.

2. A PC rolling a 20 on Strength check gets a 30 instead, and suddenly all sorts of things can be broken, opened, etc.

3. It doesn’t really affect saving throws much – with this math, a 20 is still more or less an autosave, and a 1 is still more or less an autofail. However, there are the cases where a monster or PC might be effectively immune to a spell/effect, because a -10 + save modifier > save DC. Great wyrm dragons, major demons/devils, and ridiculous HD creatures like the tarrasque come to mind. Not sure if this is bad or good – should you be able to kill a 2,000 year old red dragon because it rolls a 1 on its Fort save vs. your finger of death?

4. Some monsters and optimized PCs will never miss on an attack roll (for PCs, on their first iterative attack). I guess the math is already such that, for these situations, missing only occurs 5% of the time, but it offends my sensibilities that there could be no chance of failure in certain situations in combat. Failure should always be an option.

5. OTOH, PCs might actually be able to escape grapples from Huge+ creatures. That would be a nice change, IMO.

Perhaps these situations arise infrequently enough that they wouldn’t alter the game in a meaningful way. But there is something dramatic about a natural 20 = success, a natural 1 = failure.

– Adrian 2008-07-04 07:54 UTC


Good thoughts.

> A PC rolling a 20 on Strength check gets a 30 instead

Since strength (ability) and skill checks don’t have a “20 is a success” rule, we wouldn’t apply the 20 ⇒ 30 rule to those checks. Only saves and attack rolls.

– Sektat 2008-07-04 08:08 UTC


I’m still not convinced I want to change this. As it stands, rolling a 20 or a 1 are emotional moments where the table whoops and hollers. If we change that to include a little ± 10 calculation, we’re reducing the emotional moment. We might as well not have the ± 10 in the first place if we really care about eliminating extreme results.

But if we wanted to increase the emotional uproar at the table instead, we should get rid of crit confirmation! :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-04 14:49 UTC


> rolling a 20 or a 1 are emotional moments 

Hmm, thats true. I want to keep that!

– Sektat 2008-07-04 16:39 UTC

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2008-07-04 Gimp Layer Effects

On the Mac Mini I had a Gimp without layer effects. I often need these to add outer glow to text layers when making slide shows for Claudia.

There’s Layer Effects for GIMP 2.4 (also in the Gimp Plugin Registry) – yay! :)

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2008-07-04 MP3 Tags

Weird. I just installed id3tool and it tells me “No ID3 Tag” but I think there should be… Perhaps something crappy such as version 1 and version 2 tags? /me groans…

id3v2 uses id3lib to do its job. That’s the one I’m going to try next. Then again, apparently id3lib already comes with two good-enough command line tools: id3info and id3tag.

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2008-07-08 Calendar Crush

What do you call the feeling of having to coordinate game dates for five D&D campaigns, extended hiking weekends, Aikido trainings, cinema friends, Battle Lore friends, Soulcalibur III friends, BookClub meetings, and trying to find days to relax?

  1. A life well lived
  2. A life crapified by todo lists and obligations
  3. Overextending yourself
  4. Immersing yourself
  5. You need a drink
  6. Carpe diem
  7. Crape diem
  8. Crappy DM
  9. All of the above!

Racing at full speed towards old age and not knowing what I’m doing, that’s what I’m doing!

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Comments on 2008-07-08 Calendar Crush

I’m just saying… I just added an entry for a Battle Lore game in September. And I have cinema dates until the end of the year.

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-08 15:31 UTC


and soulcalibur IV comes out end of july….

– Sektat 2008-07-08 20:09 UTC


HELL YEAH!!! :D

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-09 08:38 UTC


1, 4 and 5. Definitely :)

GreyWulf 2008-07-10 11:39 UTC

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2008-07-08 Transition

The vault has been robbed! :D :D

And I’m moving the pages over to the Campaign Wiki site: In Memory Of Jeffar.

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2008-07-09 Spieletreff Zentralstrasse

Heute Abend war ich mit Nick und Claudia am Spieletreff in Wiedikon. Dort war ich ja vor etwa zwei Jahren schon einmal (2006-12-14 Brettspiele und Postspiele). Das ganze findet jeden Mittwoch (52× pro Jahr) an der Zentralstrasse 34 statt (Quartierverein Kreis 3). Für CHF 5 kann man Kaffee trinken, Kekse essen, und spielen. Auch diesmal waren Rolf, Beat (vom Rien Ne Vas Plus, der früher zu seeligen AD&D 2nd ed Zeiten im Jackpot und später im Nordliechtli gearbeitet hat), und verschiedene andere Personen dort, und wir haben erst eine Runde St. Petersburg und eine Runde Zug um Zug gespielt.

Ich muss mir eine Liste von Leuten zusammenstellen, die alle gerne Brettspiele spielen, und dann kann ich mit einem Schlag alle daran erinnern, dass Brettspielabend ist.

Oder ist das Spam? Ich werde natürlich nicht jeden Mittwoch spielen können…

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Comments on 2008-07-09 Spieletreff Zentralstrasse

Kannst mich in deine Liste eintragen… 😊

– Moni 2008-07-15 17:36 UTC

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2008-07-09 Torture Enabled Boarding Pass

@ChuckSmith writes: “Whoa! DHS considers shock bracelets for airline travelers. This is REALLY going too far! http://is.gd/OWB” – and indeed, it seems hilarious.

“This bracelet would:

  • take the place of an airline boarding pass
  • contain personal information about the traveler
  • be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
  • shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes” [1]

My resolve to never travel to the states has been bolstered, once again.

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Not very related but nonetheless about the US and torture.

A journalist who I don’t have otherwise much respect for - Christopher Hitchens subjected himself to waterboarding and wrote an article about his experiences along with a video. A little unsettling but good for people who like to classify ‘methods’ like this as ‘rough interrogation’.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens200808

NoufalIbrahim 2008-07-09 16:04 UTC

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2008-07-10 GSL Challenge

Interesting times. Mark Plemmons announces “4E-compatible Kingdoms of Kalamar setting released” and adds “we’re not using the GSL.” [1] It took me a while to understand what that means. Trask, The Last Tyromancer mentions “Kenzerco’s president is a copyright lawyer in the real world. This could get interesting.” [2] I agree. He also links to a blog post by Robertson Games [3] where Stuart Robertson explains how this works: Nominative use “by which a person may use the trademark of another as a reference to describe the other product, or to compare it to their own.”

All they need to watch out for is copyright violations, obviously. But they’re sidestepping the trademark licensing issue. According to Stuart Robertson, they use “for use with Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons®” on the cover. Unlike Paizo which keeps on using “compatible with the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game” – but then again Paizo is using the OGL in order to republish material from the SRD, and the OGL says: “You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark.” In other words, by using the OGL they’ve traded off the right to say “Dungeons & Dragons” on their covers.

As Mark Plemmons says: “No one has to use the GSL. Using the GSL gives you the right to use some exclusive logos and such, but also comes with some restrictions […]” [4]

Interesting times, indeed! :)

Related: 2008-07-03 Good Bye PDF Economy, Hello PDF Piracy, where I argue that the termination clause in the d20 trademark license is causing a lot of unnecessary grief.

Via Trask, The Last Tyromancer [5], Jukka Särkijärvi [6] and RPG Pundit [7].

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2008-07-10 I suck as a DJ

Recently we had a little wedding party (pictures to come), and I decided to bring my own music. Just to be on the safe side, I also organized some playlists from friends – some funky stuff that is easy to dance to. We assembled playlists – relaxing music, stomping music, rocky music, oriental music, latin music… and as soon as I had to pick some non-latin music for people to dance, it all broke down. My eclectic mix didn’t catch on, I improvised and played some Shakira, people came up and made some wishes, we looked at the huge database of stuff, the mix got weirder with The Pogues, Natacha Atlas, White Stripes, and Nirvana chasing each other. Weirdness ensued. There was some dancing, but in the end all the playlist preparations were for naught. I think I’ll just keep playing Marco’s and Miguel’s tracks for a while just to discover some new music. :)

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I don’t think it was that bad. It was actually quite funny! But of course very hard to find a music pattern which suits to all the people present (if possible anyways). I liked the evening a lot!

– 2ni 2008-07-11 07:23 UTC


Hehe, your MTV pop collection was quite useful. Too bad the meta data is missing the artist names. I’m sure it should be possible to determine these heuristically using some online database somewhere… Hm…

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-11 08:32 UTC


I left pretty early on (around 1am or so), but even so I didn’t hear anything from my playlist that evening… It must have taken a few hours before you got desperate enough to open the ‘Marco’ mp3 folder. shudder

Marco 2008-07-11 14:02 UTC


Heh, we didn’t really have that much time, after all. We all left around 3am – but basically as soon as we stopped playing Latin music, people came wishing for all sorts of stuff and it was out of control. Sorry none of your tracks showed up!

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-11 14:56 UTC


Gah… Latin music!

shakes fist at heavens indicating vehemence at God of Latin music

– Marco 2008-07-17 22:15 UTC

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2008-07-12 Aliev Bleh Orkestar

Trying this embed stuff… Got this little piece of video with my mobile phone, an old Nokia 6230i (I think – they don’t even have the model on the phones anymore!) and cropped it using iMovie because VLC won’t let me edit it. And first time video upload to Flickr.

We saw the Aliev Bleh Orkestar, today. Awesome gipsy music.

They played at the Bäckeranlage in the afternoon and at the Schützenareal near Escher-Wyss Platz later tonight (which is where we saw them).

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2008-07-14 Identi.ca Bot and Adium

Goal: Send a message to update@identi.ca via my GTalk account, which posts it to http://identi.ca/kensanata. At the same time, Adium should refresh my status from Identi.ca. In order to do that, I tell Adium to run a little AppleScript whenever I send a message to update@identi.ca which in turn runs a little Perl script [1], which fetches my RSS feed from Identi.ca and extracts the latest status and uses it.

Thus, we need three pieces:

  1. A Perl script to extract the current status from http://identi.ca/kensanata/rss
  2. An AppleScript to run the Perl script and set the Adium status
  3. Configure Adium to run the AppleScript whenever I send a message to update@identi.ca

Perl Script

I call it identica and have it stored in my ~/bin folder. Make sure this directory is in your PATH and that it is executable (chmod +x identica). Test it by running identica --nick kensanata and you should get my current status.

Note the dependencies. You might have to install those Perl modules. Sorry about that.

#!/usr/bin/perl
use XML::RSS;
use LWP::UserAgent;
use Getopt::Long;

my $verbose = undef;

sub get_feed {
  my $url = shift;
  my $ua = LWP::UserAgent->new;
  my $response = $ua->get($url);
  print $response->code, ' ', $response->message, "\n" if $verbose;
  return $response->content if $response->is_success;
  die $response->code, ' ', $response->message, "\n";
}

sub get_status {
  my $url = shift;
  my $rss = new XML::RSS;
  my $string = get_feed($url);
  print $string if $verbose;
  $rss->parse($string);
  return $rss->{items}->[0]->{title};
}

sub main {
  my $nick = '';
  GetOptions('nick=s' => \$nick,
	     'verbose' => \$verbose);
  my $url = "http://identi.ca/$nick/rss";
  warn "No nick specified.\n" unless $nick;
  binmode STDOUT, ':utf8'; # I assume?
  my $status = get_status($url) . "\n";
  $status =~ s/^$nick: //;
  print $status;
}

main();

AppleScript

Open the Script Editor and create the following script, replacing “kensanata” with your own nick. Make sure you call up the library list using ⇧⌘L and add Adium.

I called the script “Identica to Adium” and also saved it as a script in my ~/bin folder.

Unfortunately, if you are using Mac OS 10.3 you are stuck with Adium 1.0.

Adium 1.0 for Mac OS 10.3

set myStatus to do shell script "~/bin/identica --nick kensanata"
tell application "Adium"
	set my status message to myStatus
end tell

Adium 1.2 for Mac OS 10.4

set myStatus to do shell script "~/bin/identica --nick kensanata"
tell application "Adium"
	tell application "Adium" to go online with message myStatus
end tell

Configure Adium

In your list of contacts, edit the info for update@identi.ca, switch to the events tab, and find the entry that says “message sent” or something similar (my own Adium says “Nachricht gesendet”). Edit it and specify that you want to run an AppleScript and pick the “Identica to Adium” we just created.

Test

Send the message “Testing…” to update@identi.ca. After a second your Adium status should change accordingly.

Hurray! :)

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2008-07-16 Hiking Plans

I’m planning to go hiking again: Five days – Moorlandschaftspfad Entlebuch near Lucerne with Claudia, Moni, and Marco. Today I got the map.

This hike is supposed to take us to some of the last remaining moors in Switzerland as well as one of the rare remaining riparian forests.

The weather is not yet guaranteed to be nice. There’s a certain amount of faith involved. ;)

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Comments on 2008-07-16 Hiking Plans

You can divide people into two groups: Those who have faith, and those who have raincoats.

I am of the latter variety. :)

– Marco 2008-07-16 18:09 UTC


I don’t like to be divided… so, I’ve faith AND a raincoat! ;)

– Moni 2008-07-17 09:40 UTC


Starting this weekend? I’ll go to Jura/Wallis with my bicycle. So the weather will be good!

– 2ni 2008-07-17 13:54 UTC


You certainly have faith! :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-17 14:27 UTC


Nimm ein Seil mit, falls du jemanden aus dem Sumpf ziehen musst

– Helmut (Vater) 2008-07-17 19:15 UTC

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2008-07-18 Packing

I’ll be offline for five days. Unresolved problems:

  1. Packing. Will handle this in a minute.
  2. Getting enough sleep.
  3. Making sure none of our plants die. I have no idea.

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2008-07-18 Twitter No More

I’m so happy with Identi.ca as a micro-blogging solution that I’ll probably stop updating my Twitter account @kensanata. Identi.ca is better because of two things:

  1. Franklin Street Statement – “network services that are Free Software and which share Free Data as a good starting-point for ensuring users’ freedom”
  2. working IM → service gateway and back ;)

→ @kensanata points to my Identi.ca account!

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2008-07-24 Geschönte Bilder

2ni hat auf Flickr ein High Dynamic Range (HDR) Bild gestellt. [1]

Daraufhin habe ich gefragt:

“Wie sieht das Bild nun im Vergleich mit deiner Erinnerung aus? Ich mach mir immer etwas Sorgen, wenn ich Bilder nachbearbeite (und mache es deswegen sehr selten) – wenn die Bilder immer geschönt sind, und wir uns anhand der Bilder an die Vergangenheit erinnern wollen, werden wir mit den Farben und Schatten der Gegenwart immer unglücklicher. Es wird dann nicht nur heissen, dass man sich nur noch an die schönen Dinge erinnert, sonder man wird sogar noch Bilder haben von einer schönen Vergangenheit, die es nie gegeben hat.”

Das beschäftigt mich wirklich. Vielleicht ändert sich ja unser Verhältnis zur Fotografie. Man wächst ja irgendwie im Glauben auf, dass Fotos die “Wahrheit” unverfälscht und echt festhalten. Je mehr man mit Trickfotografie und Bildbearbeitung zu tun hat – und mit der digitalen Fotografie ist ja schon fast jeder damit in Kontakt gekommen – desto mehr verschwindet dieser Glaube an das Bild.

Kann ich nur empfehlen: You Suck at Photoshop #2: Covering Your Mistakes. Auf YouTube gibt es eine ganze Serie davon.

Irgendwann einmal muss ich Susan Sontags essay On Photography lesen.

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Comments on 2008-07-24 Geschönte Bilder

Ich verändere Bilder eigentlich nicht. Erstens ist mir das zu mühsam und zweitens find ichs eben auch schade, wenns nicht mehr so ist, wies ursprünglich war. Ausnahme bestätigt die Regel ;-) HDR’s faszinieren mich irgendwie. Aber der Vorteil dabei ist, dass man sieht, dass es nicht “natürlich” ist und deshalb seh ichs mehr als eine Art Kunst, die nicht der Realität entspricht. Bei den anderen Bildern gilt bei mir “no change”, allerhöchstens leichte Belichtung- oder Weissabgleichkorrektur. BTW: Firefox scheint die Farben von Bildern im Web abzuschwächen, hab ich vor allem auf Flickr bemerkt, als meine Fotos plötzlich blass aussahen. Da hab ich sie nochmals runtergeladen, da war alles ok. Es gibt ein Plugin, dass dies beheben soll, funktioniert aber nicht wirklich gut.

– 2ni 2008-07-24 08:19 UTC


Könnte auch sein, dass Preview.app ein Farb Profil verwendet, dass Firefox nicht verwendet. Deswegen können Bilder auch je nach Betriebsystem unterschiedlich aussehen. Genaue Details weiss ich aber nicht… :(

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-24 09:52 UTC


Das ist ein sehr interessantes Thema, das Du hier andiskutierst… Bilder sind meiner Erfahrung nach halt auch starke Emotionenträger und/oder -auslöser. Dementsprechend kommt es halt auf die eigenen Präferenzen, Motivationen und Erwartungen betreffend der Bildaufnahme und Wiedergabe an. Ich fotografiere meistens aus Freude am Schönen und aus Spass an der Gestaltung und ich bearbeite meine Bilder eigentlich fast immer hinterher (im Moment auch weniger als früher, da sich meine Präferenzen geändert haben) - weshalb ich nicht den Anspruch stelle, dass meine Bilder 100% authentisch die reale, vergangene Situation darstellen müssen. Und im Übrigen sollte man sich bewusst sein, dass dies so wie so nicht möglich ist! Nur wenn man schon eine bestimmte Blende, Belichtungszeit oder Farbwiedergabe etc. an der Kamera einstellt, beinflusst man das Resultat enorm in seiner Wirkung! Und gerade das fasziniert mich an der Fotografie, dass ich durch technische Einstellungen eine bestimmte Wirkung erzielen kann - ausser man arbeitet in der Programmautomatik, die meistens durchschnittliche Einstellungen wählt, was dann aber auch zu durchschnittlichen Bildern führt - und dies ist nicht als negative Kritik, sondern reine Feststellung gemeint. Betreffend Farboptimierung am Bildschirm: das ist meiner Erfahrung nach enorm schwer und kommt auf vielfältige Faktoren an! Grundsätzlich sollte man seine Bilder nicht nach dem optischen Eindruck am Bildschirm beurteilen, da die wenigsten Monitore auch wirklich für Bildbearbeitung eingerichtet sind. Erst wenn man die Farbtemperatur auf “neutral” eingestellt (und noch viele andere Details beachtet hat) wird eine Beurteilung einigermassen vernüftig ausfallen (und dementsprechend auch die Nachbearbeitung…). Stellt man die Bilder dann aufs Netz, können sie von anderen Betrachtern wieder ganz anders wahrgenommen werden, da eben jeder andere, z.T. suboptimale Bildschirmeinstellungen hat…

– Moni 2008-07-28 08:42 UTC

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2008-07-24 Prestige Classes

Contemplating Auroleva’s Cleric of Freya/Druid multiclassing in my VaultOfLarinKarr game, I started looking at the option of designing a prestige class that would get rid of this suboptimal combo. Take a look at my Valkyrie of Freya and help me design something that will work for Auroleva. She’s currently a Drd-4/Clr-5 and has a +1 longsword (with the potential of turning into a +3 longsword) that will grant a divination answer once a week (from CrucibleOfFreya). I think that turning her into a melee fighter might work because it will be difficult to ever make up for the lost spell levels. In a way the end product is supposed to be a flavorful paladin with the low-level spells front-loaded via multiclassing and the prestige class focussed on melee.

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Comments on 2008-07-24 Prestige Classes

Looks nice. What about existing prestige classes? There should be some nice ones out there.

– Sektat 2008-07-24 19:57 UTC


Do you have a suggestion? I haven’t skimmed the books…

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-24 22:39 UTC


Just a little correction: Auroleva is currently *Druid lvl 5 / Cleric lvl 4* I want to find a bit time to study the prestige class better and give you a adequate feed back. But so far I really like it (unless my skills are extremely lousy and I don’t meet the prerequisites).

– Moni 2008-07-28 08:26 UTC

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2008-07-28 First Lulu Order

I bought my first print products on Lulu.

Fight On! Issue #1 Spring 2008$6.00
Fight On! Issue #2 Summer 2008$7.50
Shipping and Handling $10.06
Total $23.56

I’ve been reading Grognardia – and old school D&D blog by James Maliszewski. Fight On! appears to be an old school gaming magazine. I don’t see myself switching my game groups to old school gaming anytime soon, but it was fun for a one shot.

If this works out, I might consider getting KoboldQuarterly via Lulu… Hm. Sometimes I feel these things are expensive. But then again, I stopped going to the movies lately. Here in Zürich an evening at the movies costs me around CHF 20 (still about USD 20 these days). Considering this alternative, buying some magazines from Lulu might not be so bad.

I just wonder why Amazon only asks for EUR 3 when it comes to shipping and handling.

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2008-07-30 Old School

The following started as a post on the M20 site: M20 can be old school. Check out Editions of Dungeons & Dragons and Robert Fisher’s overview if the following is too confusing.

I’ve been reading Grognardia which is all about old school gaming. He mentions OD&D a lot. It occurs to me that we can just replace OD&D with M20 and skip all the nostalgia (because I certainly didn’t play D&D in the seventies).

It’s a philosophy of game design and game play that emphasizes loose rules, the sovereign authority of the referee, and player skill over notions of “balance,” “story,” or “fun.”

Once we accept that, then the following essay is probably of interest: Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matthew Finch talks about the difference between running a very old edition of D&D and more recent editions. I think the essay is just as interesting for M20 players.

It seems to me that the step from M20 to even older rules doesn’t really add any benefits:

  • Different dependencies on stats – M20 has dependencies that don’t rely on tables, which makes for better rules.
  • More saving throws. I guess I prefer the three 3E era saves (Fortitude, Reflex, Will).
  • d6 for everything. I sort of like this. :)
  • XP tables.

I also found a thread in The Grognard’s Tavern about electronic copies of OD&D. The replies linked to a compilation of the Original D&D rules by Bruce Mohler.

Mohler writes in the introduction:

This web page is only concerned with the Original D&D Rules as contained in the 3 volume set, Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, and The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, plus the Greyhawk supplement. At the present time, it does not include material from the Blackmoor book or later supplements. It also eliminates references (and dependencies where possible) to the prior work, Chainmail.
Little material from the 3rd book (“The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures”) was included because so much of the emphasis was on random dungeons and the emphasis in my campaigns is more on story-telling.

The thread also had a link to something called The Gray Book edited by Steven J. Ege.

Ege writes in the introduction:

I started out by trying to compile all the rules presented in the Dungeons & Dragons® rules and supplements into one cohesive whole. Based on Bruce Mohler’s prior work, I aimed to present this book as if it were the book that Eric Holmes had written all along, before severe editing pared down the rules to the 48 pages that exist today. The largest difference between Bruce’s work, this work, and the original rules is the absence of both the rather poor Greg Bell art, and references/dependencies to Chainmail®. A major goal was to complete what Bruce had started, but as work progressed, the book was steadily becoming less a “Dungeons & Dragons compilation” and more of an “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Light”.
The original material has been edited for readability and reorganized into a cohesive whole. However, this work is more of a cosmopolitan whole than the original rules, in that things from virtually every edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules make an appearance here. The presence of this very book hearkens back to the recent past, when people used the words written in the books as guidelines, and not hard and fast rules.

Interesting. I guess that projects like OSRIC (an OGL product based on AD&D 1st edition) and Labyrinth Lord (an OGL product based on the Mentzer version of the D&D rules) remain the rules to use if you want some retro gaming. Some time ago I used the Labyrinth Lord rules for 2008-04-20 Palace of the Silver Princess.

But if I want to play something along the lines of Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matthew Finch I think I’ll stick to M20. Simple, rational rules – I don’t need weird lookup tables and crazy details for old school gaming.

Microlite 74 (M74) tries to “recreate the style and feel of that very first (’0e’) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974”. If I were to use it, however, I’d scrap the part about light weapons and two-handed fighting.

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Comments on 2008-07-30 Old School

I found the thread where the M74 author announced its release. He writes: “It’s been a long time since I published anything RPG-wise and I can’t wait to hear feedback. So far, I’ve heard very little – but it’s generally positive. If i do a second edition, I may need to include an equipment list – or at least some of the old school items like 10 foot poles that seem to have been dropped from later editions.” [1]

When I tried to post some feedback, I got a database error. That’s why I’m posting my text here so that it doesn’t get lost. :)

I wrote:

Yeah, a little equipment list would be nice.

I have several PDFs of retro clones or summaries at home, but I don’t really know how D&D played in 74. For example: Should clerics be allowed to wear heavy armor? Conversely, does the limitation on not using edged weapons make sense at all? (Perhaps it only makes sense with respect to a tradition of having powerful magical swords and no such maces.) If we keep the name magic-users, should we also keep the name fighting-men? Shouldn’t creatures and player characters die at 0 hp instead of -STR? Should old school mechanics use no stat bonus for melee attacks? Perhaps get rid of them for ranged and magic attacks as well. You need magic attack bonus for ranged and melee touch attacks. Do the old rules have that? Just use saving throws always. Do we need two weapon fighting and light weapons in the rules? Maybe add a note that clerics don’t get any new spells at level 12.

Nitpicks: I’m not sure whether one capitalizes the word after a semicolon; I think one usually doesn’t. (Noticed that in the list of special abilities for races.) Because I’m anal about such things, I’d fix the capitalization of MIND vs. Mind in the text and change all instances of “Mind bonus” to “MIND bonus”.

I love your designer’s notes!

I like the new racial abilities.

I like the lack of extra attacks.

I love the rule on getting XP for money spent in “frivolous ways”!

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-31 23:25 UTC

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2008-07 Book Club

What: Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith. The book on Amazon UK.

When: Wednesday July 30, 19:30 @ Hotel Glockenhof courtyard

Wikipedia: Ali Smith.

Valpuri runs another book club in Zürich. She’s planning to show up at our July meeting.

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