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2009-03-05 Small Group Real Paper Publishing Subscriptions

What do you call these fanzines and magazines published by individuals or a small number of people on a regular basis where most of the or all of the income is generated via subscriptions? Zachary had the same feeling a while ago. I guess this blog documents my efforts in trying to understand the big picture of the RPG magazine and fanzine business and hobby.

It’s also difficult to figure out what a “real paper” publication is. Something that is already printed, or easily printable on my black and white printer (that usually means less than 20 pages).

I have my eyes on the following:

  • Fight On – old school with no special license (and faux D&D stats), with one person (or two?) running the thing but many guest writers, four issues out
  • Knockspell – old school with OGL, with one person running the thing but many guest writers, one issue out
  • Kobold Quarterly – D&D 3.5 and 4.0 (not sure whether I should extend my subscription), with one person running the thing but many guest writers, eight issues out
  • Stonehell – old school dungeon being published piecemeal by a single person, two pages per issue, eight issues out; this is PDF only but easily printed

I guess Monte Cook’s Dungeonaday will fit in here eventually. It’s going to be a subscription based D&D 3.5 old school dungeon being published piecemeal. It was his post that got me thinking about small group & individual publishing again (via Monte Cook takes on D&D Insider).

Similar products:

  • Were Dragon – various systems, a small group of people, only one issue out; as it appears to be full-color, I find it tricky to print
  • Phoenix Lore – apparently D&D 3.5, by a big group of people, two issues out – both of them seem to be free (PDF) and I really liked what I saw (the one-on-one article in issue #1); as it is full-color, I find it tricky to print
  • Dragon Roots – D&D 3.5 and 4.0, one person running the thing but many guest writers, two issues out
  • Iridia Zine – various systems, a true one man show with very low page count, nearly a hundred issues out – available for free; this is PDF only but easily printed

Similar:

  • Level Up – D&D 4.0, company product and therefore not really in the same league, no issues out yet
  • Pathfinder started as an alternative to Dungeon and Dragon (PDF only), but all company products, albeit with many issues out

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Comments on 2009-03-05 Small Group Real Paper Publishing Subscriptions

Nice list! I would also add Polymancer to the list. Their site was hacked, so I linked to the Wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymancer_magazine

There’s also Knights of the Dinner Table, which has regular gaming content. Jim Raggi’s working on something called Green Devil Face, but that isn’t out yet.

I am encouraged to see more along the lines of subscription and periodical efforts. It’s a model I really enjoy, and one that can stretch a gaming budget a bit further.

Zachary 2009-03-05 12:43 UTC


I was reading through my old issues of Kobold Quarterly just now and thought that I really should be renewing my subscription.

But:

Print + PDF Subscription $27.99
Zone Rates (Shipping to CH (1 x 3.00lb(s)))$32.00
Total$59.99

Uhm… I don’t think so! USD 15 per issue does seem a bit expensive. :(

This hurts.

As publication costs drop, as publication is within the reach of all of us, as globalization tears down the barriers between countries, as information and trade brings us all closer together, one thing looms higher and higher: Shipping costs.

What a bummer.

The problem is this: I find that I didn’t really look at the PDF files, but I’ve leafed through the printed magazines. If I print myself, I will have to look at the PDF, first. And I haven’t done that, really. Chances are this will not work.

Let’s assume I’d think $8 was a fair price. Assume $3 for shipping was fair. They’d be overcharging me 36%. I’m gnashing my teeth… The note “1 x 3.00lb(s)” makes me think that if I bought all issues together, I’d still pay the same amount for shipping. I’d love to buy all four issues in a year, or add them by and by to my Lulu orders when I buy issues of Fight On and other stuff. But I fear that printed issues will be sold out eventually.

Gah!

I’ll go back and read the issues I have, for them moment. Let me see whether they are worth $15 each.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-07 23:48 UTC

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2009-03-06 Big Names Like Cook and Baur

Yesterday I listed some magazine like efforts. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. We’re seeing a continuum from regular print magazines being sent out (Pathfinder Adventure Path, for example – which includes a PDF if you are a subscriber), to pure PDF products that do the printed product (Dungeon and Dragon by Wizards of the Coast, for example).

You might want to try and print these yourself, but at least here in Switzerland print shops are very expensive. I got a quote from the printshop accross the street last year, for example. I said I had a PDF with 207 pages, I wanted it spiral bound, with front and back cover laminated. Here’s what it would have cost:

Item CHF USD
205 black & white A4 pages 56.4048.92
Plastic spiral 7.806.77
2 pages laminated A413.2011.45
2 cardboard pieces for front and back 2.201.91

That’s why I don’t print locally.

Beyond the question of the blurring lines between print and PDF, and beyond the question of magazine or fanzine, I’m interested in people stepping forward as individuals, as personal global microbrands.

Of course Wolfgang Baur doesn’t write Kobold Quarterly all by himself. Not anymore. But his Open Design stuff goes down that road. Most of the projects were penned by him (with feedback from his patrons).

One of the Open Design projects was written by Nicolas Logue, another big name before he moved to Europe and disappeared from the roleplaying scene as far as I can tell – he used to write some very interesting Game Mastery material. His Sinister Adventures site has been hacked repeatedly, his Razor Coast is vaporware. Here’s to hoping it will see the light of day eventually!

Monte Cook and his wife did Malhavoc Press, published things like Ptolus, BoXM, lots of other stuff I have not looked at ;) and now he’s working on Dungeon-A-Day. Clearly, he’s leveraging his name. Of all the people involved in the D&D 3E core books, he seems to have been the most successful.

The only other person I remember being involved in the old core books and trying to publish under his own name is Sean K Reynolds with Sean K Reynolds Games. He is currently involved with Paizo and I’m assuming that he himself is no longer publishing.

So.

Wolfgang Baur. Open Design.

Monte Cook. A Dungeon A Day.

Big names.

It will be interesting. Notice how all these efforts are using different business models – monthly subscriptions, patronage, various degrees of collaboration, etc. I’m still working on my big picture. So many dimensions to choose from. Clearly, I cannot buy into everything. Do want a fanzine where I can publish as well (Fight On! #4), do I want a glossy magazine, do I mind 4E material, do I want daily updates in times of InformationOverload, does it have to be printed? I haven’t decided yet.

Did I miss any efforts? Does Chris Pramas creating Green Ronin count? I felt that his own name was not the main reason people would buy Green Ronin products.

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Comments on 2009-03-06 Big Names Like Cook and Baur

Wolfgang Baur. Open Design. Basic Membership is $29.95 per adventure.

Monte Cook. A Dungeon A Day. Charter members pay $7 a month.

I’m assuming that the result will not be very cost effective if customers will look at the adventure-words-per-buck they’re getting. That’s why both offer insights, discussion, forums, both take suggestions and ideas from their customers – both will be running interactive projects.

And that’s already very different from previous commercial efforts. Interesting times!

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-06 16:48 UTC

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2009-03-06 Free, Community Based Megadungeon

I’m a bit surprised at the enthusiasm some people show when they are thinking about a gratis, community based megadungeon proposed as an alternative to Dungeon-A-Day. It’s weird, because there was nobody stopping anybody from doing it.

Amityville Mike has been posting Stonehell piece by piece. Fight On has been publishing Calithena’s community effort The Darkness Beneath. Joseph Bloch has been publishing his Castle of the Mad Archmage. Tim Hartin has been publishing his unkeyed dungeon maps on Dragonfoot.

All of this was going on way before Monte Cook decided to try and earn some money with it. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t try. He is probably not going to be stealing from anybody, after all. I think the reason why the efforts I listed above are not community based megadungeon efforts is that the job isn’t easy. There needs to be guidance, organization, efforts need to be made. If Cook manages to produce something slick, something cool, more power to him.

Ignoring the argument that we’ll be doing a gratis, community based megadungeon because Monte Cook is going to ask for money for a moment, I must say that I like the idea. I like Free Software, I like free licenses, I like to give readers the freedom to read my work, use it, change it, and redistribute it. Free Culture, ooh yeh! ok :D

Yes, Free Culture is a great book. Everybody should read it. And you can get it for free, too, if you can bear reading it on a screen. I was not. ;)

Back to the issue at hand, however.

I see people offering to do maps, write stuff, and so on. I also see people donating web space and web design services. That’s cool. Apparantly Cook’s announcement is galvanizing the community. And who doesn’t like the administration of electric shocks every now and then? sardonic

Being the practical kind of guy, I prefer small incremental steps. In software engineering we call that rough consensus and running code. If I were in charge, I’d use my own Campaign Wiki site and use a wiki name like GarySentUs as suggested by Matthew Slepin.

I’ve done it before, for my own take on the two page dungeon levels. You can start small – a map or two. There’s a low barrier to entry. There is no call for submissions, no sending in, no waiting, no secret editing – on a wiki, you add your idea, you edit a typo, save the page, and BLAM! instant publishing!! :)

It’s great.

I’d propose the Campaign Wiki site because I know it. I wrote the software. I run the site. I use for all my campaigns. If you take a look at the list of all wikis hosted, you’ll see that some of them are pretty big!

And one last benefit: There is no lock-in. It’s trivial to download all the wiki pages.

Why Wiki Works

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Comments on 2009-03-06 Free, Community Based Megadungeon

I like the wiki idea, but… as an actually old old-schooler, I find the low-contrast brown on brown of the site hideous to look at. I suppose I could override it with Stylish, but that seems like a step too far. Is there any quick way for users or admins to reskin the site?

Joshua 2009-03-06 20:45 UTC


Sure. You can write your own CSS. I’ll add some instructions to the Advanced page.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-06 21:35 UTC

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2009-03-07 Astrópía

Astrópía (2007) hat Claudia und mir gefallen. Das Tussi beim Schminken, der selbstverliebte Blonde, das Bild des Paares im Hintergrund, das Gespräch im Kaffeehaus, der stürzende DJ, der erste Gefangene im Gefängnis, die Trekkies im Laden, die Schulterklopferei, die Regelfragen, das LARP Schnippsel aus der Vergangenheit (Brüller!), ihre Reaktion auf die direkte Rede… Wir haben viel gelacht. Wo der Film nicht super zündet, ist er immer noch nett gemacht und für uns gerade ideal nach auswärts Essen und zwei Stunden Wellness/Sauna.

Empfohlen.

Und das Booklet enthält ein Mini Rollenspielt mit super Einführung, und die DVD soll anscheinend Einführspielregeln für Das Schwarze Auge, Call of Cthulhu, und Shadowrun drauf haben. Geniale idee! Danke Dirk Remmecke.

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2009-03-07 Character Backgrounds

I sometimes label myself as a “practical player” on forums. I’m not even sure this a correct translation of what I have in mind. One aspect of that is the lack of background for many of my characters. I was inspired by the discussion between Jim of LotFP and Rob Conley on background.

You do have a choice of either front loading the process by making it a part of character creation or back loading it through play. – Rob Conley

I am in the camp of those who like “back loading” it. I am fond of saying that what we’re playing right now is going to be the backstory of our future characters.

What I usually do is picture my character, and some sort of personality element. Supersticious, simple minded, happy-go-lucky, fearful of a human’s short lifespan – anything will do. As we play the first two or three sessions, I’ll be on the lookout for other elements to add. My goal is to get a list of maybe seven items. Thus, I started out as an ugly dwarven wizard with Charisma 6. I picked “disgusting” and started poking in my nose, miming that spells like Grease involved sucking the head of my toad familiar, pointing out that I never changed my cloak that had soacked up so much sweat and dirt that it would keep standing if I sat down slowly. When the monk saved my life on the second or third sortie, I offered him my cloak of resistance and added “loyal and thankful” to my charactersheet. When the fighters in the party didn’t like the disgusting dwarf but the other halfling wizard befriended me (we’re playing a West Marches-style game), I added “considers fighters to be cannon-fodder” to my character sheet. That’s how I build my personality as we play.

Sometimes, however, I play with dungeon masters who seem to enjoy long background stories. DM James handed in five pages of backstory when he joined my Rise of the Runelords campaign. Thus, when I created my background for Rhysalis Eina or the background for Orland I read the campaign material available and added some connections – cities I had been to, friends and tutors I had, societies I belonged to. All with an eye to adventure: Potential kidnapping victims, causes for revenge, agents of betrayal, friend to help out, to organize rescue parties, to resurrect me if necessary, to ask for information. Once I have some text online, I will add to it after a few levels, or after a resurrection and similar traumatic events.

As you can see, I like back loading my story, but I’m not opposed to front loading my story if I think the DM will like it.

These days I try to remember and ask my players the following:

  1. two sentences on their background
  2. the name of an ally that would rescue them or act as a replacement character should they disappear
  3. a reason for knowing and adventuring with at least one other character in the party

And when my fellow players look at me quizzically as I write down a word or two after a scene I explain that I was adding personality elements to my character and writing it down so I would not forget.

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Comments on 2009-03-07 Character Backgrounds

That’s awesome. I know of this as the distinction between “Development at Start” and “Development in Play”. A recent thought of mine was, that Development at Start is one of the motivators to ‘dumb down’ lower-level games based on D&D like games, because playing hard and fast would mean a GM disregards a players’ creative ‘input’.

Harald Wagener 2009-03-09 14:47 UTC


Amityville Mike also prefers not to fronload his characters in What’s Your Story.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-18 13:16 UTC

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2009-03-07 Wallpaper

On my laptop I use a black desktop background and the following image, centered:

RTFM in China

I don’t remember where I found it. It must have been quite some time ago.

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Comments on 2009-03-07 Wallpaper

I believe that little piece of genius originated from somethingaweful. I was looking to buy a t-shirt with that on it. Maybe I still will.

– Marco 2009-03-08 09:40 UTC

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2009-03-08 Test Driven Development

00:14 kensanata
I really need to fix that rollback within namespaces issue.
00:15 kensanata
Let’s write a test, first.
00:33 kensanata
Ok. Got a first problem.
00:34 kensanata
Hah. First fix.
00:34 kensanata
Writing test: 18 minutes. Fixing bug: 1 minute.
00:34 kensanata
Gaaaah.
00:43 kensanata
Ok, the real problem has a test, and a fix. Checking in.
00:45 kensanata
Done. Rolling out to one of my wikis…
00:46 kensanata
Damn it! Hubris! Failure!
00:47 CapnDan
beats kensanata with the hubris stick
00:49 kensanata
Mea culpa! Mea culpa!
00:50 kensanata
How strange. The production system doesn’t seem to use the latest revision of the code. I must check my Makefile.
00:51 kensanata
cd wiki/modules; make
00:51 kensanata
cd: 1: can’t cd to wiki/modules
00:51 kensanata
Hehehehe
00:52 kensanata
Haaaaaaah! It worked after all! :D

Welcome to the Oddmuse Channel. ok

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Comments on 2009-03-08 Test Driven Development

shell scripting has some many pitfalls…

PierreGaston 2009-03-10 09:41 UTC


Good point.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-10 09:47 UTC

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2009-03-10 Seventeen Years

I started going out with my SweetHeart seventeen years ago. <3 <3 <3

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Comments on 2009-03-10 Seventeen Years

Congratulations to you both :D

(For a 17th anniversary a watch is a traditional gift, apparently……..)

greywulf 2009-03-10 18:02 UTC


Heh. I don’t think I want to spend money on a watch – I used to not wear a watch for at least ten years and then I got a new watch from Claudia’s father. He is a typical Swiss in this regard. Must. Have. Watches! :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-11 10:21 UTC


Congratulations!!

BTW, what event do you date the 17 years from ? First time you met ? First date ? First kiss ?

AlokSingh 2009-03-19 10:40 UTC


Thanks.

The date we remember is the date we decided we were in fact going out together. We were sitting in a coffee shop early in the morning, skipping school, and it took me about an hour to work up my courage to confess my love for her.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-19 11:15 UTC

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2009-03-11 German Labyrinth Lord

German Labyrinth Lord delivered to Moritz Mehlem's door Yay! 200 copies of the german translation of Labyrinth Lord have been delivered to the project manager who will be taking them to RPC 2009, a roleplaying convention in Germany at the beginning of April.

Notice the unholy pink glow of the little book.

Also, note my Gimp-fu. :)

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2009-03-12 I Play

Game Night On Sunday I played in our Shackled City campaign, on Monday I ran Rise of the Runelords, on Tuesday I played in Grenzmarken, on Wednesday I played in Echoes of Heaven, and coming Sunday I’ll run some kids through a Labyrinth Lord game.

This is a picture of our Echoes of Heaven game at Floriano’s place. Note the improvised table using a board. And notice the “healthy” snacks I brought: dates and candied pineapple. If you want to talk about the kinds of snacks you bring to the table, check out Snacks at the Game Table. :)

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2009-03-12 Noch mehr Spieler

Hm, Claudia sagt mir, dass noch zwei Kolleginnen an Rollenspiel interessiert wären. Das wäre doch genial. Die eine tanzt in einer Mittelaltertanzgruppe, die andere geht auch an Mittelalterspiele. Nur ich und Claudia waren noch nie an einem LARP. Aber mit Mythodea wird sich das wohl noch dieses Jahr ändern.

Ich weiss gar nicht, wann ich noch ein paar Spielrunden reinquetschen kann. An drei von vier Sonntagen wird gespielt (Shackled City 1 × pro Monat und Alder King 2 × pro Monat), jeden Montag wird gespielt (abwechslungsweise Rise of the Runelords und City of the Spider Queen), und unregelmässig aber vielleicht im Schnitt je einmal pro Monat wird Echoes of Heaven, Grenzmarken und Die Reise nach Rhûn gespielt. Alle Spiele bis auf das letzte verwenden D&D 3.5; Die Reise nach Rhûn verwendet Rolemaster.

Das sind im Schnitt zehn Abende pro Monat, mindestens aber sieben.

Zudem würde ich gerne das Solospiel mit meiner Frau sowie das Spiel mit meinem Patenkind und ihren Geschwistern (beide Labyrinth Lord) regelmässiger spielen.

Am ehesten könnte ich mir noch vorstellen, weitere Spieler in mein Erlkönig Spiel (Alder King) zu integrieren. Das hatte ich mir ja eigentlich als eine Art von Grenzmarken oder West Marches vorgestellt mit fünfzehn bis zwanzig Spielern vorgestellt. Nur scheint mir, dass meine aktuellen Spieler schon grossen Spass haben und eigentlich nicht verzichten wollen. Also müsste ich vielleicht noch mehr Spieltermine ausschreiben und dafür vielleicht eines der anderen Spiele aufgeben. Aber welches?

Am Montag finden im Moment und für die voraussehbare Zukunft eher die gut strukturierten Spiele à la Adventure Path von Paizo statt.

Im Geschäft nennen wir das “positive Probleme.” :D

Irgendwie denke ich auch, dass die reine Menge ja der Wahnsinn ist. An Samstagen auch noch spielen!? Das kann ja wohl nicht wahr sein. warning warning

Vorerst habe ich mir mal vorgenommen, mehr Fotos von unseren Spielabenden zu machen. Das hat zwar nichts mit meinem positiven Problem zu tun, ist aber auch schön, hehe. :)

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Comments on 2009-03-12 Noch mehr Spieler

Das sind verdaaaaaaaamt viele Spielrunden, die du da hast. ;-)

Dominik 2009-03-13 08:20 UTC


Du bist ja süchtig! Schon mal mit jemandem darüber gesprochen? 😊

– zeno 2009-03-13 08:55 UTC


Hab ich schonmal erwähnt, dass Zürich im Vergleich zu Hamburg ein Rollenspiel-Mekka ist?

Harald Wagener 2009-03-13 09:59 UTC


So lange Du Spass dabei hast, nicht lieber etwas anderes tun würdest und nicht einfach aus einem Gefühl der Verpflichtung noch mehr Spielrunden anbietest, wieso nicht?

Mir persönlich reicht ein Mal spielen pro Woche vollauf, bzw. ist fast schon zu viel auf Dauer. Zumindest als DM. Als Spieler, wo man quasi einfach an den Tisch sitzen kann, würde ich vielleicht auch häufiger spielen. Vielleicht.

Das Problem bei Grenzmarken & Co. ist ja tatsächlich, dass wir noch mehr Spieler aufnehmen könnten, die etablierten aber so motiviert sind, dass sich noch mehr Terminkonflikte ergäben. Ich denke daher, dass sich mehr Spieler nur mit mehr “regulären” DM bewerkstelligen liessen.

– Peter 2009-03-15 07:47 UTC

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2009-03-13 Cookie Panic

I checked in some code, ran my automated tests, felt good, installed on the production system (EmacsWiki), and was about to leave when I noticed that the new Oddmuse would delete the cookie content. PANIC!!

I hope I fixed it, though.

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2009-03-13 Zoom

Here’s what I use to “zoom” text in an Emacs window:

(global-set-key (kbd "M-+") 'text-scale-adjust)
(global-set-key (kbd "M--") 'text-scale-adjust)
(global-set-key (kbd "M-0") 'text-scale-adjust)

Apparently this is part of Emacs 23.

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Comments on 2009-03-13 Zoom

The blog entry started out by asking for an Emacs zoom library. I decided to replace what I had with one of the answers from the comments below. For reference, my original quick and dirty solution has been copied here:

;; zoom
(defconst default-font-size (face-attribute 'default :height) "Default font size.")
(defconst current-font-size (face-attribute 'default :height) "Current font size.")

(global-set-key (kbd "M-+")
		(lambda ()
		  (interactive)
		  (setq current-font-size (truncate (* 1.2 current-font-size)))
		  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height current-font-size)))

(global-set-key (kbd "M--")
		(lambda ()
		  (interactive)
		  (setq current-font-size (truncate (* 0.8 current-font-size)))
		  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height current-font-size)))

(global-set-key (kbd "M-0")
		(lambda ()
		  (interactive)
		  (setq current-font-size default-font-size)
		  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height current-font-size)))

I found that using (set-face-attribute ‘default nil :height 1.1) resultet in an error on my Emacs from CVS. I’m building a new one as I type to try and verify this still bombs. Unfortunately Emacs will reduce the frame size as the frame starts to exceed your screen size, and forget about the old value, so that the frame will end up much smaller if you do a sequence of zoom ins followed by a sequence of zoom outs.

– Alex


M-x text-scale-increase, and text-scale-decrease. These are the functions called from the appearance menu (Shift+left click).

Damien Cassou 2009-03-13 11:49 UTC


Hehe that’s what I get for disabling the menus! Thanks.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-13 12:00 UTC


C-x C-+, C-x C– and C-x C-0 would be default bindings in 23 for increase, decrease, default (all bound to `text-scale-adjust’)

– Anonymous 2009-03-13 14:02 UTC


This is awesome. Thanks!

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-13 14:09 UTC


How handy!

I almost always only use the click-menus by accident, so didn’t recall any such thing. Much prefer your bindings, Alex.

OtherMichael 2009-03-13 20:39 UTC

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2009-03-14 Animated Images

I used to install the Firefox add-on Adblock Plus and block all those blinking and moving images. There was enough motion on my screen to give me motion sickness or cause an epileptic seizure! The animated graphics annoyed me a lot, anyway.

But now I remembered to look for an alternative: Visit about:config and set image.animation_mode to once.

It doesn’t help against Flash, though. For those animations that continue to annoy me, Adblocker is still but a click away.

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2009-03-15 Bergkönig, Teil 2

Die Kinder spielen mit Heute war mein Patenkind, zwei Geschwister, und ihr Vater hier um die Festung des Bergkönigs von Moritz Mehlem (Bave Halfling Publishing) fertig zu spielen.

Witzig war für die Kinder die Kommunikation mit dem Monster im Kompost, und für den Vater die Entdeckung und Entschärfung der Grubenfalle – und deren Einsatz gegen den “Riesen”. Der Bergkönig ist entkommen, und hat dabei der Zauberin, die alleine die zwei Küchenkobolde verfolgt hatte, einen Todesstoss versetzt. Zum Glück hatte ich mir vor kurzem die Death and Dismemberment Tabelle von J. Brian Murphy abgeschrieben. Hat super geklappt: Der Bergkönig schlägt zu und bricht der armen Kleo ein paar Rippen. Sie muss sich nun vier Monate auskurieren.

(Habe ich eigentlich schon gesagt, wie nervig ich es finde, wenn man die richtigen Namen der Personen online nicht so einfach zu finden sind?)

Ich muss sowieso mal ein paar weitere Dinge auf meinen Labyrinth Lord Schirm tun. Dinge, die ich immer wieder brauche.

Tätigkeit 1d6Bemerkung
An Türen lauschen 1Nicht Menschen: 1-2; eigene Tabelle für Diebe
Türen aufbrechen 1-2Stärkebonus beachten
Überraschung 1-2Ausser man kündet sich durch Lärm oder Licht an
Geheimtüren finden 1Elfen: 1-2
Fallen entdecken 1Zwerge: 1-2
Fallen auslösen 1-2

Im Moment leidet die Gruppe etwas unter dem Problem, dass sie keinen Kleriker dabei haben. Lustig fand ich, dass die Gruppe weitermachte, obwohl der Kämpfer nur noch die Hälfte der Lebensenergie hatte und der Dieb trotz Heiltrank auf 2 Punkten dem Tode nahe war. Das eine Argument war, dass sonst Verstärkung kommen könnte, und das andere Argument war, dass der Bergkönig entkommen könnte und alle Schätze mitnehmen könnte.

Nun muss ich mich an das lästige EP verteilen machen. Mal schauen, wie mühsam dies ist, wenn man sich genau an die Regeln hält:

Monster TW EP
4 Orks 140
2 Ork Leutnants 120
Oger 4+1140
Grottenschratt 3+165
2 Küchenkobolde <110
Bergkönig 3+165
Letzter Spielabend
Monster TW EP
10 Kobold <150
5 Goblins <125
5 Orks 150
2 Morlocks 120
Troglodyten 220+9
Schätze
Total (in Gold)7055
Erfahrungspunkte
Total 7569
pro Person 1892

Das ging ja noch. :)

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Comments on 2009-03-15 Bergkönig, Teil 2

Ich bewundere deine Ausdauer bei den Rollenspielen und amüsiere mich immer, wenn ich davon lese, obwohl ich nichts verstehe und mich auch nicht aufraffen kann, etwas mehr darüber zu lesen und lernen.

– der Vater 2009-03-15 18:21 UTC


Wir freuen uns auf Samstag!

– zeno 2009-03-19 19:21 UTC

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2009-03-16 DB File woe

@foo = (1, 2);
$h{"_bar"} = \@foo;
$ref = $h{"_bar"};
print "Ok: ", join(', ', @$ref), "\n";

require DB_File;
tie %h, "DB_File", "test.db";
@foo = (1, 2);
$h{"_bar"} = \@foo;
$ref = $h{"_bar"};
print "Bork: ", join(', ', @$ref), "\n";

The result:

Ok: 1, 2
Bork: 

What I expect:

Ok: 1, 2
Bork: 1, 2

What am I not getting right?

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Comments on 2009-03-16 DB File woe

@foo = (1, 2);
$h{"_bar"} = \@foo;
$ref = $h{"_bar"};
print "Ok: ", join(', ', @$ref), "\n";

use Storable qw( freeze thaw );

require DB_File;
tie %h, "DB_File", "test.db";
@foo = (1, 2);
$h{"_bar"} = freeze(\@foo);
$ref = thaw($h{"_bar"});
print "Bork: ", join(', ', @$ref), "\n";

– dave 2009-03-19 02:05 UTC


When I went to bed later that day, I thought that this might be the problem, but it was late, and I did not have time too look at the code ever since. I didn’t know about Storable. This looks exactly like what I’m looking for. Thanks!

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-19 07:22 UTC

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2009-03-16 Sending Mail

I was about to report an Emacs bug, and instead of trying to copy stuff from my mail buffer to Gmail, I decided to get mail sending from Emacs to work. I started looking at the manual that comes with Emacs and noticed that I will need the gnutls program to get authentication to work. While trying to build it, I learnt that it required libcrypt. While trying to build that, I learnt that it required libgpg-error.

Right now I find that I’m getting a compilation error in the gnutls-2.6.4 code. I finished building and installing libgcrypt-1.4.4 and libgpg-error-1.7.

Compilation fails here:

cipher-libgcrypt.c: In function `wrap_gcry_cipher_init':
cipher-libgcrypt.c:84: error: `GCRY_CIPHER_CAMELLIA128' undeclared
(first use in this function)
cipher-libgcrypt.c:84: error: (Each undeclared identifier is reported only once
cipher-libgcrypt.c:84: error: for each function it appears in.)
cipher-libgcrypt.c:90: error: `GCRY_CIPHER_CAMELLIA256' undeclared
(first use in this function)

When I try configure --disable-camellia, I’m getting a different error:

mac-libgcrypt.c: In function `wrap_gcry_hash_init':
mac-libgcrypt.c:123: error: `GCRY_MD_SHA224' undeclared (first use in
this function)
mac-libgcrypt.c:123: error: (Each undeclared identifier is reported only once
mac-libgcrypt.c:123: error: for each function it appears in.)

The reason was simple: I needed the latest libgcrypt, but I also had an old library installed in /opt/local which I had to uninstall, first.

Anyway, after a lot of compiling, I finally have a gnutls-cli and I’m ready to test SendingMail using SmtpAuth from Emacs.

I tried the following config:

(setq send-mail-function 'smtpmail-send-it
      smtpmail-smtp-server "smtp.gmail.com"
      smtpmail-smtp-service 587
      smtpmail-starttls-credentials
      `((,smtpmail-smtp-server
	 , smtpmail-smtp-service
	   nil nil))
      smtpmail-auth-credentials "~/.netrc")

It wouldn’t work at first, but restarting Emacs did help, so I guess some of these variables need to be set before libraries are loaded.

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Comments on 2009-03-16 Sending Mail

There’s actually also this:

http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/EmacsBugs

Josef 2009-03-19 06:52 UTC

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2009-03-18 Bad Luck Nice DM

DM James is a nice guy. He really wants us to pick all the prestige classes and weird feats from all the books, he wants us to succeed. But my character would rather die heroically than live through the mercy of the DM. Thus, against my will, DM James instituted the rule that ones and twos will be rerolled when it comes to hit points. He did that when he saw my paladin rolling a one for two consecutive levels. Recently we gained another level and I rolled that d10.

I rolled a one.

James laughed and ordered me to reroll.

I rolled a one.

“Wow, the gods really want you to have that one!” We laughed. “Go on, roll again!”

I rolled a one.

We laughed and laughed, and James grabs the d10, “Gimme that die, you don’t know how to roll!”

He rolls a four. Everybody is happy.

I say: “Well, the curse has been broken!” And I roll the d10, just for fun.

I rolled a one.

We laughed until the tears were streaming down our faces.

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Comments on 2009-03-18 Bad Luck Nice DM

I had a player roll four ones in a row on a d20 tonight. We were playing Spycraft. It costs the game master one of his action dice to ‘activate’ a player’s failure. The first time I spent a die and activated it. The second time I spent a die and activated it. The third time I decided to save my remaining die and just let it go. The fourth time… I just laughed at his misfortune.

Samuel Van Der Wall 2009-03-18 13:16 UTC


I was a pretty soft DM. When playing the older versions of D&D, I always had my players “roll to beat”. In other words, they could keep rolling as long as the number they rolled was higher than the previous one. However, once a lower number was rolled, they had to stick with the highest one they had rolled? Sounds confusing, but it worked well. You might roll a “1”, then a “6”, and then a “3”. You’d get the “6”.

Dead Orcs 2009-03-18 20:42 UTC


That’s a nice rule! I like gambling. ;)

– zeno 2009-03-19 19:20 UTC


I’ve recently come to appreciate a different house rule: Everytime you go up a level, you reroll all your dice. If you beat your previous hit-point total, you get to keep it. That’s a nice middle-ground between taking averages and rolling for every level.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-19 19:37 UTC

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2009-03-19 Die Ursprünge

Ich hatte schon früher – zu Usenet Zeiten – vom Kriegsspiel gehört. Und letztes Jahr machte die Geschichte vom Braunstein Spiel die Runde. Heute hat nun Zachary Houghton einen Artikel aus den Archiven der New York Times gefunden, in dem ein weiterer Vorläufer diskutiert wird: The Game of Strategos (Dezember 1879). Eine Suche im Archiv bringt auch zwei Artikel zum Kriegsspiel zum Vorschein: The German Game of War und kritischer, Kriegsspiel.; How to Fight a Pitched Battle Within the Reach of Any One (beide Januar 1872).

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2009-03-19 Hayfever, Again

The last week has brought hayfever back! Bummer.

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2009-03-19 The Spider-God's Bride

Two days ago I got a big package from Lulu. Amongst other things it contained a 200 page softcover full of sword and sorcery adventures: XP1: The Spider-God's Bride and Other Tales of Sword and Sorcery for 3rd edition. When I added it to my wishlist I noted:

“Enter the City of Stone and slay the high priest of Jul-Juggah! Plunder the ancient gold of Namthu! Seek the fabled jewel of Khadim Bey, but beware the nameless horrors of the Al-Khazi desert! Fight the dread adepts of the ape-god, or succumb to the pleasures of the Moon-Juice of Yaatana! Or perhaps you will perish by the curses of Ur-Kharra, the long-dead sorcerer-king of Elder Kuth?” / “This is another one of those 3E books which were basically finished and submitted to Necromancer Games at the worst possible time, right before the 4E limbo started.” – from the announcement on the Necromancer Board Thread

It exudes a self-made old-school vibe because it is self-published, has good looking public domain art, and because the maps look as hand-drawn as the maps in Fight On, Stonehell, Dismal Depths, or the Pit of Tortured Souls. You can download the maps from the XP1 page and have a look yourself.

I’m looking forward to reading this.

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Comments on 2009-03-19 The Spider-God's Bride

I have looekd at the free sample. This looks like the type of thing I could buy if only it hadn’t been written with 3rd edition stats.

Edsan 2009-03-21 13:36 UTC

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2009-03-21 Playing and Doodling

Link to image on Flickr Once again, Zeno and his three kids came over to play. We played through the first half of Dolm River by Moritz Mehlem. The game essentially consists of 6 location encounters and a list of 20 random encounters. On average you should run into 5-6 of these, so that you will get a different story if you play it again.

Our table was sent off, met the merfolk fishermen but didn’t buy any fish, paid the giant toll, was attacked by a giant fish (whale), had to repair the ship, found some gold, got attacked by frog men (and lost a party member – I rolled another “broken bones” on the Death and Dismemberment table) – as well as the captain and two crew members. The crew decides to elect a new captain and thus Lionheart takes over command as a new player character while the other poor bum is being cared for by the mayor’s daughter.

When the party met the pirates, the wizard finally used his 2nd level Phantasmal Force spell and summoned an eight armed demon image to scare off the second boat (and get two attacks using the wizard’s attack and damage rolls). Eventually the enemy captain was vanquished, his men thrown over board, and we called it a day.

If you look at the picture, you’ll see that all three kids were doodling and drawing like maniacs during the game. That was fun to see.

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2009-03-24 Fight On Sales Contest

How weird is that: Apparently Lulu is holding some sort of author sales contest and Fight On is number two in the list. That’s why people are now encouraging others to buy print copies from Lulu in order to make it to number one.

Lulu.com is offering cash prizes and additional exposure to the authors who publish the top 3 most purchased books on Lulu throughout the month of March. To enter the sales contest, simply register here using the email address associated with your Lulu account and get started promoting your book. Registration is free and all entries must be received no later than March 31, 2009 to be eligible. [1]

I guess not many authors registered for this contest. I can’t believe that Fight On is so popular.

Unless, of course, it’s my awesome contribution in issue #4… ;)

Update:

We dropped issue 1 to $7 and issue 3 to $10 to help boost sales for the contest. These prices will go back up after March 31, but every little bit helps. [2]

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Comments on 2009-03-24 Fight On Sales Contest

As the end of March approaches, the insisting implorations to buy more hardcopies is getting on my nerves. Yes, winning a prize would be cool, but it’s still only a game. I don’t need to convince anybody that they should try old school D&D. I just want a good magazine to read about the game I love to play. All this talk of extra editions and hardcovers just to make another sale makes me uncomfortable.

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-28 22:10 UTC

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2009-03-24 Überleben ist überbewertet

Die Grenzen der Taktik Selber finde ich die Frage ob man kämpfen will, und wie lange man kämpfen will, und welche Rückzugspläne man hat, spannender sind, als die genauen Boni, Trefferpunkte, und Manöver. Erstere Elemente scheinen mir eher ins Gebiet der Strategie und letztere Elemente scheinen mir eher ins Gebiet der Taktik zu gehören.

Wer sich dann also über die Überlebenschancen und die Härte der Spielleiter beklagt, scheint mir schon aktzeptiert zu haben, dass die Kämpfe zu kämpfen und zu gewinnen sind – dh. ich vermute eine Bevorzugung der taktischen Elemente.

Weil ich eben diese nicht so spannend finde, hält sich mein Mitleid eben auch in Grenzen.

Schlimm finde ich es erst, wenn ich als Spieler nichts erreichen kann, ausser ich lasse mich in Kämpfe verwickeln, die ich nicht gewinnen kann, wenn ich mich nicht auf eine ganz gewisse Spielweise einlasse, die mir nicht liegt: Min-maxing, Aufrüsterei, Ausknobeln taktischer Kombinationen, und so weiter.

Charakteroptimierung um der Optimierung willen ist zwar ein legitimes Minispiel, aber mir macht es keinen Spass.

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2009-03-26 I have never played a SciFi RPG

When I see the big Traveller Map available online, or example sectors such as James Mishler’s Hardscrabble Sector, I want to play a science fiction roleplaying game that reminds me of Elite.

Yeah, I’ve written about this before → 2008-10-29 Science Fiction. I just can’t get it out of my system.

I have some science fiction roleplaying games like Paranoia, Star Wars Saga Edition, Burning Empires, and Dark Space. But I think Traveller would be the best.

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Comments on 2009-03-26 I have never played a SciFi RPG

Würde ich gerne spielen. Erinnerst du dich noch: Einmal haben wir in eurer Schärenmoos WG gespielt, mit Petrachek als DM.

– zeno 2009-03-27 07:52 UTC


Hehe, ich glaube wir haben damals Mutant Chronicles gespielt! Tatsächlich – ich habe also doch ein Science Fiction Rollenspiel gespielt. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-03-27 08:46 UTC


Crazy to me that you have never played a SciFi RPG. I haven’t played Traveller in a long time, but I remember it to be a fairly realistic SciFi game. A lot of what happens in that game gives it the feel of just being our universe, but in the future. As for Star Wars, I guess that depends on how much you like the setting. I personally think the current edition of the game is fairly broken. I much prefer the old D6 version of the game, but I also don’t like going backwards in editions. Hence, why the game is shelved for me.

Samuel Van Der Wall 2009-04-27 17:46 UTC


I guess I’m hoping it’ll be something like Elite-the-RPG. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-04-27 21:56 UTC

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2009-03-30 Invisible Mode using rcirc

This piece of code will make you invisible on the servers you connect to using rcirc.

On networks such as Undernet, porn bots will send you messages once you appear on the global who list. The invisible mode will limit this to the users on the same channels as you. To set yourself invisible, you issue a command like the following:

    /mode kensanata +i

The following advice will do this for all servers you connect to:

(defadvice my-invisible-preference (after rcirc-connect activate)
  "When connecting to a server, set the user mode to +i (invisible)."
  (let ((process ad-return-value)
	(nick (or nick rcirc-default-nick)))
    (rcirc-send-string process (concat "MODE " nick " +i"))))

Too bad rcirc doesn’t offer a regular hook to do this. Or should I define a handler for one of the messages 001-005?

Tags: rcircInvisible

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2009-03 Book Club

What: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

When: March 18 @ Asian Restaurant Lady Teoh

Wikipedia: Three Cups of Tea

Homepage: http://www.threecupsoftea.com/

‘Here we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything - even die’
  • Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram mountains, Pakistan.
In 1993, after a terrifying and disastrous attempt to climb K2, a mountaineer called Greg Mortenson drifted, cold and dehydrated, into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram Mountains. Moved by the inhabitants’ kindness, he promised to return and build a school. “Three Cups of Tea” is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools - especially for girls - in remote villages across the forbidding and breathtaking landscape of Pakistan and Afghanistan, just as the Taliban rose to power. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit. – (source?)

Supporters: Jill, Deb, Alex, Valpuri, Robert, Chrissie

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CBS seems to have started some controversy about the book - see the NY Times’ report here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/technology/27playstation.html

– Uli 2011-04-27 12:42 UTC

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Define external redirect: SendingMail rcirc SmtpAuth rcircInvisible SciFi PierreGaston