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2009-02-02 Practically No Background

I’ve mentioned before that I like to prepare very little. That’s why I think character backgrounds are overestimated. Writing many pages of character background at home is the same thing as pouring over the rules at home. The beauty of D&D is that both storytellers and powergamers get to play minigame at home, all by themselves.

Sure, as a dungeon master I get to play a similar minigame – worldbuilding!

But I’ve come to the conclusion that the really important thing is playing at the table. That’s where the game happens. All important things should happen at the table. If people write session reports and post lots of information on a Campaign Wiki, that’s cool. In a way, other players reading these texts are also engaging in a sort of minigame that they’re playing by themselves.

The important thing to realize is that all these minigames should be optional in order to appeal to casual gamers. Casual gamers are also engaging in minigames between sessions – they are reading books, practicing martial arts, dancing, and many other things.

The important things happen at the table.

Participating at the table is the only mandatory thing in my games. I have powergamers, storytellers, casual gamers, kick ass gamers – and they’re all playing at the table. It took me a while to recognize the between session activities as perfectly valid minigames. That’s why I try not to punish powergamers for their Rules Mastery, and that’s why I read the background stories players submit – and that’s why, as a player, I don’t expect all the players to read my background stories, and that’s why I don’t expect the dungeon master to incorporate a lot of my backstory into the game. I recognize that these are all just minigames people play between sessions.

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Comments on 2009-02-02 Practically No Background

I will have to bookmark this for future references!

– Sektat 2009-02-06 09:37 UTC

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2009-02-04 Kobold Quarterly

I got my printed issues #6, #7, and #8 of Kobold Quarterly today! Yay, all issues resolved ⇒ Alex happy.

With that, I get to ask myself whether I want to renew or not. Should I read some more Kobold Quarterly? It’s moving towards 4E, and I don’t want to go there. But are Fight On and my Paizo subscriptions good enough a replacement? I’ll have to study the three issues carefully. I hardly spend time reading PDF files, so I haven’t really looked at them until now.

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Comments on 2009-02-04 Kobold Quarterly

I must say, the magazines have been lying around the house, and I have yet to pick them up. Somehow the excitement is just lacking. I don’t really think that it’s a question of editions. Maybe it’s because I feel that it isn’t “modules for the game master” enough for me.

That reminds me of a cool quote I just saw regarding D&D 3E:

I honestly think that the more dynamic the combat gets in terms of options for the players, terrain, facing, environmental conditions, spells, maneuvers and abilities, the worse it becomes in terms of arithmetic as the bonuses and penalties come and go and fewer things can be pre-calculated. I don’t really see much of a way to improve that without stripping player options; stacking mods on a roll of a d20 is pretty much the essence of the system. [1]

That’s why I like Labyrinth Lord – and why my players seem not to like it.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-12 15:29 UTC

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2009-02-04 Licht, Nahrung, und Waffenknechte

Nachdem ich auf dem Web las warum es im Kerker immer hell ist (ab D&D 4), und warum Waffenknechte und Gefolgsleute cool sind, habe ich beschlossen, dass ich sowas gerne in meinen Spielen fördern möchte.

Eine Möglichkeit wäre, die D&D Regeln zum Thema Gewicht etc. durchzusetzen. Das führt aber immer zu Diskussionen über die Anzahl Köcher oder Speere, die einer mitschleppen kann. Ich habe eine Weile lang versucht, mit “das sieht doch einfach bescheuert aus, denk’ dir was anderes aus” zu antworten, aber so richtig zufrieden macht mich das nicht.

Für meine M20 Hard Core Regeln habe ich eine simple Limite der Anzahl Gegenstände vorgeschlagen: Sechs Gegenstände (neben Rüstung, Schild und Waffen) griffbereit, sechs Gegenstände im Rucksack, und gewisse Gruppierungen (man zählt Köcher statt Pfeile, beispielsweise).

Vielleicht sollte ich diese Regel mal auch an meinen regulären D&D Abenden einführen: Sechs Dinge zur Hand, sechs Dinge im Gepäck, und den Rest müssen Waffenknechte und Gefolgsleute tragen. Waffenknechte halten sich aus den Kämpfen raus, kriegen keine XP, verlangen keinen Anteil an der Beute, passen auf die Pferde am Höhleneingang auf, tragen die Fackeln, das viele Geld, zeichnen die Karten, und so weiter.

Wir wär’s recht.

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Comments on 2009-02-04 Licht, Nahrung, und Waffenknechte

Mit dem Excel von Marco sind die D&D Gewichtslimiten kein Problem. Ich mach es schon lange so.

– Marcel 2009-02-04 10:21 UTC


Und dich stört es nicht, wenn jemand fünf Köcher auf den Rücken schnallt oder diverse Stangenwaffen im Gepäck führt und dann trotzdem mit Schild und Schwert kämpft?

Vielleicht könnte ich es mir besser vorstellen, wenn man vor dem Kampf einfach alles auf den Boden wirft. Der einzige Unterschied zum heutigen Spiel wäre dann, dass man bei einem Rückzug alles verliert, was nicht am Gürtel hängt oder in der Hand getragen wird. Das gabe wenigstens interessante Komplikationen für’s Spiel.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-04 11:50 UTC


Ich benutze schon länger solche Regeln. Ich meine, so etwas zum ersten Mal in einem Soloabenteuer gesehen zu haben (wo es keine Berücksichtigung der Größen der Gegenstände gab - ein Talisman, ein Schwert, ein Käse - alles gleich groß/unhandlich/schwer).

In Dragon Warriors habe ich die 10-Items-Regel zum ersten Mal in einem RPG gesehen.

In meinem eigenen Fantasy-Heartbreaker verwende ich den Stärkewert (max 12) als Tragfähigkeit.

Dirk 2009-02-04 14:03 UTC


That’s why items like handy haversacks and bags of holding exist… :)

– Marco 2009-02-04 15:51 UTC


Yeah. But this belongs into the same category as the Magic Item Compendium Problem:

Instead of fixing the rules that nobody likes, there’s an “exception system” at work that negates the rules one by one using magic items.

I don’t like it. The “movie” in my head just looks cooler without a bag of holding.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-04 16:04 UTC


Heho, coole Idee.

Greifenklaue 2009-02-04 22:31 UTC


I think that’s where the movie in your head begins to clash with the realities of adventuring. You want to have a character which looks like the portrait you found/drew/imagined, but which still has the capabilities and resources to deal with whatever will come up. You can’t hide all those weapons, ropes, battering rams and ten-foot-poles in your sleeves, so what do you do? Well, you can…

  1. Leave it behind. Set an item limit. Take what you value most, and leave the rest. Good for method actors who are about looking right, bad for power gamers who want want want.
  2. Hire a mule or porter. Your character is visually unburdened, however is now dependent on a support crew. This can entail technical difficulties.
  3. Use magic. Bend reality a little. Secret Chest, Bag of Holding, Handy Haversack, Floating Disk… Put the ‘Kick-Ass’ back into the ‘Cool Character’.

I choose #3. :)

– Marco 2009-02-05 12:21 UTC


Get out of my head! sardonic

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-05 17:40 UTC

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2009-02-04 Spieleclub Zürich

Hat heute wieder Spass gemacht. Mittwoch ist ja mein “Joker” Tag – entweder spielen ich in Peters Grenzmarken Kampagne, oder ich spiele Battle Lore mit Marcel, oder ich arbeite bis spät in die Nacht (auch das ist leider möglich) – oder ich gehe an den Spielabend im Quartiertreff Zentralstrasse, der von Beat Liechti organisiert wird. Heute haben wir Comuni gespielt. Die Spielregeln waren kompliziert und nicht schnell zu begreifen, aber nach der zweiten Runde hat es dann doch Spass gemacht und Claudia hat gewonnen. ;)

Mit Beat habe ich dann abgemacht, dass ich einen Website für die Spielabende in Zürich einrichte. Natürlich werde ich einen Wiki verwenden – und zwar Oddmuse.

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2009-02-05 rsync for backup

I’m thinking of moving the iBook laptop to Ubuntu 8.04. Before spending more time on that, however, I decided to make a backup of the entire 60G laptop disk. Easy, I thought. I was already using rsync to backup my home directory from the laptop. But I’ve been waiting for about two hours now, and rsync is still busy:

receiving file list ... 
 11622300 files...

Damn. I abandoned the rsync via the wireless network, restarted the iBook in firewire mode and attached it as an external harddisk to the desktop computer controlling the backup device. Then I once again used rsync because I wanted to avoid copying my home directory again. Let’s see how this works.

Well, that certainly did take a long time. Specially since I managed to overwrite the backup with some other data, first, negating all possible positive effects of using rsync in the first place. groan

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Comments on 2009-02-05 rsync for backup

I just downloaded ubuntu-9.10-desktop-powerpc.iso – it’s 705 MB and doesn’t fit on the empty CDs I have. Hahaha. :D

And the OpenBSD/macppc 4.6 installation instructions are as weird as the installation instructions for GNU/Linux back in the nineties.

AlexSchroeder 2009-11-08 23:45 UTC

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2009-02-06 Weapon Specialities

Reading Basic D&D: Choose Your Weapon, Dwimmermount Campaign House Rules, Philotomy's OD&D Musings on Multiple Attacks, Weapon vs. what?, Shields Shall be Splintered! and the various features each weapon in the D&D 3.5 weapon list, I cannot shake the feeling that it would be cool to produce a small list of weapons and fighting styles, giving each of them a kind of special feature.

However…

  • I don’t want to complicate things
  • I don’t want there to be a particular weapon that is “best”
  • I want it to reflect somewhat why particular weapons were used
  • I want it to force players to make trade-offs
  • I want potential benefits to be so small such that no player of a fighter feels compelled to carry around more than three or four weapons

Instead of starting with a list of weapons, perhaps it would be better to start at the end and ask: How many weapons should the list have? How many features will I therefore need to differentiate between them all?

Time passes, and other people start writing about this topic. Proposal: Weapons vs. AC and Request for Assistance.

Here are the things I would love to see:

  • Swords are good for cutting down unarmed opponents
  • Maces, hammers, and picks are good for smashing knights in armor
  • Shields shall be splintered (see link at the beginning!)
  • Flails ignore shields
  • Polearms are good for unhorsing knights using the hook, cutting down people using the axe blade, and hammering knights in armor, but bad in close combat
  • Knives and short swords are good in close combat
  • Flanking ignores shields
  • Charging and setting weapons against a charge inflicts more damage; the longer weapon strikes first
  • It’s easier to aim a crossbow at something compared with a longbow.
  • The longbow’s range is higher.
  • Shortbows can be used on a horse.
  • Bows and crossbows are armor-piercing.

Things I’ll ignore:

  • Halberds can be used to trip, but I hate tripping and other combat maneuvers. I’ll just ignore that and treat halberds like polearms.
  • Heavy two handed weapons inflict lots of damage against unarmed opponents, and I don’t want to make them slower. Not being able to use a shield is punishment enough. This also takes care of the overrated two-handed sword.

And then I suddenly go whaaaaaaa… This is too damn complicated. It’ll result in a minigame where people start optimizing weapons against armor, it’ll introduce discussions of what was developed in reaction what, the exact time period equivalent we’re playing in, and I don’t want to go there.

But I cannot resist… How about this? The effective bonus would mean “ignores part of the protective value of the armor”. The “Chains” column is for all sorts of flails. We’re ignoring tripping, disarming, and all sorts of other combat maneuvers. Those should be resolved by common sense instead of rules.

Weapon vs. Armor Type Slashing Piercing Bludgeoning Chains
Unarmed (AC 9)0000
Leather (AC 7)+1000
Chain (AC 5)0+100
Plate (AC 3)00+10
Shield (AC -1)000+1

What about Monsters, you say? Easy. Anything wearing armor is resolved as indicated above. Most things having a “natural” armor shall be considered wearing leather armor. This makes swords a good choice against all sorts of monsters, which is a nice touch.

What remains to be handled:

  • Two handed or two weapon fighting deals more damage but prevents the use of a shield.
  • Shields may be splintered.
  • Some weapons can be used for a charge (lance), or set against a charge (longspears). In this case attacks are not resolved according to initiative but before all others according to weapon length.

That would be as far as I would take it, I think.

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Comments on 2009-02-06 Weapon Specialities

I recommend the very interesting discussion in the comments of Proposal: Weapons vs. AC. Matthew James Stanham has a point, and I convinces me to not introduce such a complication into my games.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-15 21:50 UTC


Another cool idea is to let the weapon specify initiative. I feel daggers should be faster, and that torches doing 1d6+1d4 damage makes them the most terrifying weapon, etc. But I like the idea. Playing with Initiative.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-16 08:08 UTC


Speaking of initiative, check out my continuous initiative house rules which are based around the idea that in the same time frame as one mighty swing of a two handed sword, a skilled knifesman can jab a number of times.

The Recursion King 2009-02-16 13:51 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Two years later, Stuart picks up the discussion again. And he arrives at a similar simplified table on Google+.

Then again, I think the topic has been thoroughly explored in House Rules: Weapons, Armor, Combat aka. The Rule of the Assayers’ Guild by Roger the GS.

As for my own games, I ended up not using any of it. In my Labyrinth Lord games, weapons do 1d6 damage and that’s it.

AlexSchroeder 2011-09-30 07:06 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Also worth considering: Weapon Mastery as explained by Greywulf.

AlexSchroeder 2012-08-07 20:50 UTC

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2009-02-07 Empire of the Petal Throne

Based Retrospective: Empire of the Petal Throne and An Ancient Scourge by James Maliszewski and Sand Castle What? by Dave Bowman I decided to give Tékumel another look. Apparently you can buy a reprint of the original rules from http://tekumel.com/tita/ept.html – email sent. :)

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2009-02-08 IETF and Patents

Based on an email I received just now, I was suddenly inspired to write the following:

To whom it may concern,

I’ve heard from the Free Software Foundation that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is trying to propose a standard encumbered by a patent claimed by RedPhone Security. I heard that RedPhone has given a license to anyone who implements the protocol, but they still threaten to sue anyone that uses it.

Patents are a tricky issue for Free Software. As a developer of Free Software, I urge you to reconsider the proposal and push for a standard unencumbered by patents. Patents will lead to problems, as you must know based on the discussion around RFC 2026 section 10 leading to RFC 3668 and your position that “The IESG will not make any explicit determination that the assurance of reasonable and non-discriminatory terms or any other terms for the use of an Implementing Technology has been fulfilled in practice.” To avoid them now is to save others from all the legal risks involved.

It is unfortunate that the patent situation in the USA has lead to this. But knowing that software patent problems cannot be resolved right here and right now, avoiding them and building truly open standards is the only promising option.

Regards from Switzerland
Alex Schröder

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Comments on 2009-02-08 IETF and Patents

Today I got an email saying “Thank you for being part of a crowd of hundreds of people who have mailbombed the mailboxes of thousands of IETF ‘members’ (since we don’t have any formal membership, just an email list). As a result, we all have such positive feeling about the FSF.”

Hm.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-11 23:04 UTC


Gives me such a positive feeling about the IETF…

RadomirDopieralski 2009-02-11 23:32 UTC

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2009-02-12 Mud and Mush Flashback

Wow, I’m having a flashback as a friend at work reminded me of how we used to waste time online in the old days: LochNess MUD and Elendor MUSH. Both still have Telnet links on their homepages. Those were the days.

What is thy name? ... troll, giant, dwarf, human, fairy or elf? ... Are thou male, female or other: ...

Must. Resist.

You are in the antechamber of the local Lal temple.

Oh no!

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Comments on 2009-02-12 Mud and Mush Flashback

Wow…that’s so long ago that at first I really did read the headline as Mud and Mush, and it took more than a moment to recontextualize it to MUD and MUSH…

Joshua 2009-02-12 15:20 UTC


ooohhh, the good old days! I still have a wizard character on IgorMUD, but I lost the password… and I don’t have time for this anyway. Highly addictive stuff!

Matthias 2009-02-12 16:43 UTC

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2009-02-15 I Play

Diese Kategorie abonnieren This is a collection of pages with pictures of my RPG friends.

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2009-02-17 Isotype Clipart For Maps

The article Mapping with Isotype over on the Making Maps: DIY Cartography blog provided a link to the Gern Arntz Web Archive.

Gerd Arntz designed around 4000 signs, which symbolized key data from industry, demographics, politics and economy, for the visual language Isotype. [1]

It looks cool & retro. :)

This is the same blog that gives us excellent sources for old map making:

If you love some map inspiration for your D&D lifestyle, you should subscribe to their feed. :)

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2009-02-17 Rollenspielläden in Zürich

Auf dem Atrópía Blog fand ich einen Auruf an Rollenspielhändler. Ich befürchte allerdings, dass die Rollenspielläden in Zürich nicht ganz so online “affin” sind, und habe mal die nötige Info selber zusammengesucht.

Analph
Strassburgstr. 10
CH-8004 Zürich
Tel.: ++41 44 241 96 95
Öffnungszeiten: Mo-Mi, Fr 10:00-18:30 Uhr, Do 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-16:30
In der Nähe der Haltestelle Stauffacher

Rien Ne Va Plus
Oberdorfstrasse 34
CH-8001 Zürich
Tel: ++41 44 261 1161
In der Nähe der Haltestelle Helmhaus

Rien Ne Va Plus hat keinen Web Auftritt und deswegen müsste ich da persönlich anrufen, um die Öffnungszeiten herauszufinden. Aber ich hasse es, zu telefonieren! :)

Gibt’s noch andere Läden, von denen ich nichts weiss?

Update: Oliware hat zugemacht.

Wichtig und gut fand ich noch folgenden Hinweis:

Da es sich bei Astrópía um ein richtiges Ladenlokal handelt, werden übrigens keine E-Mail-Adressen und URLs veröffentlicht. Es geht ausdrücklich darum, den Kunden den Weg in gemütliche, freakige, lebendige, abenteuerliche Läden wie im Film zu weisen. [1]

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Comments on 2009-02-17 Rollenspielläden in Zürich

Wie sind die Läden denn so?

Harald Wagener 2009-02-17 20:35 UTC


  • Analph ist vor allem ein Comicladen
  • Oliware habe ich noch nie besucht, aber der Webauftritt ist klar auf Miniaturen ausgerichtet
  • Rien ne va plus ist vor allem ein Brettspieladen

Beim Beat Liechti vom Rien Ne Va Plus habe ich halt mit 15 meine ersten AD&D Bücher gekauft… :)

Im Analph habe ich früher die französischen Übersetzungen für Mangas gefunden.

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-17 20:43 UTC


Rien ne va plus ist ein Besuch wert wegen der Brettspiele, und auch die Rollenspielauswahl ist noch ganz ordentlich, wenn auch heruntergefahren. Analph hat wenig Rollenspiele, dafür sehr viele Comics. Oliware gehört mehr in die Kategorie heruntergekommener Cat Piss Store, hat manchmal aber noch uraltes AD&D und sonstiges Zeugs, das Du sonst nirgends kriegst.

– Peter 2009-02-18 21:24 UTC

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2009-02-18 Rat Bastard

“Sometimes we don’t agree with the dm’s decision, we don’t argue, just call him a rat bastard and move on with the game.” – JRRNeiklot [1]

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2009-02-19 The Broken Sword

Instead of reading the books for the English BookClub, I’ve been reading the series Malazan Book of the Fallen for a while now. I decided to take a break and read one of the pulp books I’ve been quietly collecting recently. Inspired by the review in the Grognardia Pulp Fantasy Gallery I picked The Broken Sword, where a human changeling raised in elven courts battles trolls and giants at the side of elven hunters, his human love, and faery gods. I’m approaching the end, and I really like it up to now.

Recommended. ok

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2009-02-20 Exsila vs. Bookmooch

I’ve accumulated lots of points on BookMooch – more than 180 points at the moment. But I’m having two problems:

  1. Sending books to the states is expensive.
  2. They never seem to have the books I’m looking for.

There’s a local exchange site here in Switzerland called Exsila. The problem there is that I have to assign a price to my books. While adding the book to your inventory, the site suggests to use the retail price (?), but I’m sure nobody wants to pay that much. This was easy for BookMooch: Every book is two points; sending outside your country is an extra point.

So what happened is that I entered a dozen books and looked at my listing. Ten of my books were listed as “best price” but two samples revealed that I was also the only one with the book in question. The two books were I was not “best price” seemed to be going for 10% or 20% of the price the system had suggested to me. Damn. Go back and edit those prices? Hope to score? Compare with Amazon?

Gaaaah!

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2009-02-22 I Play

Preparing sessions Ready for the game My largest session DM James pondering his options

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Comments on 2009-02-22 I Play

Nett!

Greifenklaue 2009-02-22 22:22 UTC


Ist das bei dir zu Hause, während eines Rollenspieles?

– der Vater 2009-02-22 23:04 UTC


Ja, das ist unser Stubentisch. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-23 09:24 UTC


Du hast es hübsch.

Karsten 2009-02-23 13:12 UTC


Danke!

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-23 13:53 UTC


Wie ich auf dem Weltenschieber-Blog geschrieben habe: Man sieht 1. einen Tisch, an dem ich das nächste Spiel vorbereite, 2. einen Tisch, wo ich mein Zeugs schon hingelegt habe, bevor die anderen Spieler kommen, 3. meine Sonntagsrunde (Alder King), und 4. die Sonntagsrunde von James (Golden Lanterns).

Mehr Bilder von Leuten in ihren Spielräumen gibt es übrigens auch auf der Flickr Gruppe Gaming Spaces. Da find ich eben noch zwei ältere Bilder von unserer Gruppe in der alten Wohnung. Das war die Kurobano and the Dragons Gruppe.

Es ist eng Kein Platz

AlexSchroeder 2009-02-23 14:04 UTC


Das sieht ja alles sehr ernst und konzentriert aus. Aber hin und wieder wird auch gelacht, wie ich auf einem Bild sehe und das finde ich gut so.

– der Vater 2009-02-25 22:01 UTC

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