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2010-10-01 Einsteigersystem für Pathfinder

Über Dirk Remmeckes Blog Beiträge Pathfinder Intro Set und Pathfinder Intro Set – aber richtig bin ich da in die Diskussion hineingeschlittert und habe meinen Vorschlag auch schon auf dem Paizo Board gepostet. Kurz gesagt empfehle ich ein Einsteigersystem ohne Skills, ohne Feats, ohne Combat Maneuvers, usw.

Grundsätzlich sehe ich zwei Möglichkeiten: Ein System, welches sich auf die ersten paar Stufen beschränkt (und evt. die Wahlmöglichkeiten bezüglich Skills und Feats einschränkt), oder ein System, welches man auf beliebiger Stufe spielen kann, dem aber gewisse Subsysteme fehlen.

Das bewährte BECMI System mit einem Einsteigersystem von Stufen 1-3 finde ich nicht cool, weil der Spieler nach einer gewissen Zeit gezwungen ist, das volle System zu kaufen. Früher hat man die nächste Schachtel gekauft, ohne dass die erste Schachtel an Gültigkeit verloren hat. Das wäre bei Pathfinder aber nicht gegeben. Das Einsteigersystem wäre eine Totgeburt, weil man es nach kurzer Zeit nicht mehr braucht. Es hat ein implizites Ablaufdatum. Mich hat aber immer fasziniert, dass ein Rollenspiel kein Ende haben muss.

Ich denke, das Einsteigerset sollte für Kinder zwischen 10 und 14 gemacht sein. Vielleicht habe ich ja zu wenig Kontakt mit Kindern, aber mir scheint eine Strategie, die darauf beruht, dass die Kinder sich nach zehn Spielabenden die Core Rules kaufen und sich dort einlesen eine Chimäre zu sein. Ich hatte ja mit 15 schon grosse Mühe, den Dungeon Master Guide von Gary Gygax zu verdauen, spielte alle Kämpfe ohne die letzten Finessen der Regeln – und nun soll Bull Rush, Grapple, Trip, Disarm, Sunder, Attack of Opportunity, Skills und Feats alle noch drauf gepackt werden? Das kann nicht funktionieren. Und wenn die Transition auf die Core Rules nicht funktioniert, dann funktioniert ein Einsteigersystem mit Stufenbeschränkung auch nicht, da bin ich überzeugt.

Die Regelflut ist für Neulinge in meinen Runden ein bedeutendes Hindernis. Wohin können sie laufen? Warum gibt es Attacks of Opportunities? Warum können sie nicht alle Zauber auf ihrer Liste zaubern? Welches Feat sollen sie wählen? Hier fehlt ein System, das einfach zu spielen ist – nicht ein System, welches sich auf die tiefen Stufen beschränkt.

Ich selber habe mir als Kind DSA 1 mit Mühe und Not alleine beibringen können. Das war einfach, und hatte keine Stufenbeschränkungen, keine Skills, keine Feats. Das müsste meiner Meinung nach den Ausgangspunkt bilden. Ich schliesse halt von mir auf andere, klar. Meiner Meinung nach müsste man mal all die Spieler fragen, die sich als Kinder das Spiel alleine beigebracht haben. Die wären auf alle Fälle mein Zielpublikum, wenn ich entscheiden könnte.

Die Neulinge, welche ich ins System eingeführt habe, sind alle über dreissig gewesen und wollten erst mal mitspielen, bevor sie entscheiden, ob sie auch längerfristig dabei sein wollen. Für all diese Leute waren Skills und Feats und Class Abilities und die Auswahl der Zaubersprüche eine langweilige Tortur.

Manch einer wird einwenden, dass die Charaktere meines Einsteigersystems nicht “vollwertige” Charaktere sind. Nein! Wer will, kann sich die Core Rules kaufen, und Skills einführen. Und ein paar Wochen später die Feats. Und dann mehr Sprüche. Kein Problem! Der Charakter ist nicht “ungültig” sondern einfach noch nicht ganz fertig. Später kann der problemlos aufgerüstet werden.

Dann bleibt noch ein etwas überraschender Punkt: Zwei von fünf Personen, welche ich in der letzten Jahren ins Spiel eingeführt hatten, wollten eine Fee spielen. Zaubern, fliegen – vielleicht auch unschuldig und kaum angreifbar. Es wäre cool, wenn das Einsteigersystem zu den üblichen Verdächtigen auch noch so ein Volk hinzufügen würde. :)

Kurz:

  1. Beschränkungen auf gewisse Stufen berauben dem Spiel die Faszination des Endlosen.
  2. Beschränkungen auf gewisse Stufen führen dazu, dass sich Kinder innert Kürze mit dem fetten Regelbuch herumschlagen müssen.
  3. Beschränkungen auf gewisse Stufen führen zu einer Totgeburt, denn das Spiel kommt mit eingebautem Ablaufdatum.
  4. Komplizierte Regeln verhindern, dass sich Kinder das Spiel selber beibringen.
  5. Komplizierte Regeln schrecken auch erwachsene Neulinge ab.
  6. Charaktere nach einfachen Regeln gebaut lassen sich problemlos aufrüsten.
  7. Feen – seltsam aber wahr.

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Comments on 2010-10-01 Einsteigersystem für Pathfinder

Cool. Ich hatte weder den Paizo-Thread noch deinen Beitrag darin gelesen, als ich meinen “aber richtig”-Post schrieb, weil ich mich noch nicht von den dort vorhandenen Meinungen beeinflussen lassen wollte.

Dein Vorschlag eines parallelen Pathfinder-Swords-&-Wizardry klingt faszinierend. Da muss ich länger drüber nachdenken…!

Mondbuchstaben 2010-10-01 16:25 UTC


Ich habe meine neuen Argumente, welche ich nur auf Deutsch niedergeschrieben hatte, nun auch auf Englisch in ein weiteres Paizo Posting gepackt. Mal schauen, was Paizo aus all diesem Feedback macht.

Lesenswert: Justin Alexanders Kommentar zu den D&D Essentials – den bitteren Tonfall habe ich einfach ignoriert. Seine Bedenken kann man nicht einfach beiseite schieben.

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-01 17:22 UTC

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2010-10-01 iPad Keyboard

Jetzt habe ich sowohl ein Keyboard Dock (mit Gewicht zum iPad reinstecken) als auch ein Bluetooth Keyboard (klein und flach zum mitnehmen) für mein iPad gekauft und stelle zuhause fest, das eine davon ist Deutsch, das andere ist Schweizerdeutsch. Und iPad unterstützt nur das Deutsche Layout. Bisher habe ich nichts davon gemerkt, weil ich mich schnell umgewöhne. Jetzt wo mein Bluetooth Keyboard aber das falsche Layout hat, fällt es mir auf. Soll ich mich ärgern? :€

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Comments on 2010-10-01 iPad Keyboard

Wait, so you got a keyboard for your iPad? Are you going to get a mouse, too? Soon you’ll have a laptop with inferior hardware :)

And they have Swiss German keyboards?!?

– Adrian 2010-10-01 20:32 UTC


German and Swiss German keyboards
Small differences
Most annoying examples:
German Swiss German
ß
´ ^
^§
§ *
*!
!+
+¨
£
#$
$ç
Ö é
Ü è
Ä à

And so on… I just remembered that I ranted on a related subject before: Swiss and German Keyboard on the iBook.

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-01 23:14 UTC


Ja unbedingt ärgern, iPad auf den Boden werfen, drauf stampfen, das Bügeleisen draufschmeissen und dann aus dem Fenster werfen.

2ni 2010-10-03 08:01 UTC

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2010-10-03 Fate Notes Compared

I just listened to 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction episode 55 with Ryan Macklin and Brian Isikoff talking about the GM side of the EndGame Iron GM competition. What I really liked about this show was hearing two GMs comparing notes on two similar FATE games. Choices to implement, timed aspects, character creation, what they did to get players talking, how they handled having no time to prep at all, how they handled the themes they were given which they did not like, and many things besides. It was real, hands-on, useful information, with context, commentary. Simply inspirational and awesome.

Does anybody know of similar hands-on GM oriented episodes? There are a lot of broad, theoretical advice shows. But this episode was about the nitty-gritty details of running a game delivered in a conversational style. I’d like to listen to one or two similar shows.

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Comments on 2010-10-03 Fate Notes Compared

Glad you found the episode useful and enjoyable - as always, thanks for listening!

Brian 2010-10-03 20:09 UTC

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2010-10-03 iPad Safari Fail

Here’s something else that really aggravates me when it comes to the iPad. I love to surf the web with it. In fact, I used the iPhone a lot to read blog updates via Google Reader. I loved doing this sitting in the sun on the balcony, lying on my bed before falling asleep, sitting in the bus commuting. I love reading blogs and wikis on the iPhone. On the tiny iPhone screen! I decided that I loved it so much, in fact, that I’d buy myself an iPad to do it. And I loved it, too! I just enjoyed a long summer break and rarely powered up the laptop. The iPad was always there. Always on. I didn’t read many books. I just devoured blogs, websites, wikis.

And here’s the rub: I like to comment on blogs and wikis. In fact I bought two keyboards for the iPad because each has a different set of drawbacks. One thing I was unable to work around, however, is this: When you start writing a blog comment or editing a wiki page, you inevitably get into a situation where you need to look something up online. You need to open another browser window, find a link, copy a text passage, verify a fact. And when you return to your blog comment or wiki page, Safari will sometimes reload the page, loosing what you wrote.

It just happened again, causing me to write this rant.

This is incredibly annoying. I hate it. I HATE it! tentacle evil danger

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Comments on 2010-10-03 iPad Safari Fail

You just need to buy another ipad ;)

RadomirDopieralski 2010-10-04 14:19 UTC


Haha! I’m sure this is something that needs to be added to the operating system by Apple. And since it’s all about the walled garden, here, I cannot add it myself.

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-04 16:52 UTC

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2010-10-04 Stripping CSS Style Information using XSLT

I run a blog aggregation using Planet Venus, the Old School RPG Planet. My result page has a sidebar floating off to the right. Some of the articles included come with style information including “clear: right”, “clear: left” and “clear: both” – which will then interact with my sidebar. I can transform the articles using XSLT.

Here’s an example:

  <!-- Feedburner detritus -->
  <xsl:template match="xhtml:div[@class='feedflare']"/>

So now I would like to remove style attributes that contain the string “clear:” as a first step. Here are some examples:

  <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">…</div>
  <a href="…" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;">…</a>
  <a href="…" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">…</a>

I managed to solve the first problem using the following rule:

  <!-- CSS clear -->
  <xsl:template match="xhtml:div[@class='separator']">
    <xsl:apply-templates/>
  </xsl:template>

But what about the second and third? I’m a bit confused regarding the writing of XSLT templates. It seems to work. It’ll drop all attributes except for the href attribute. Maybe that’s overkill, but the few examples I saw used nothing else.

  <xsl:template match="xhtml:a[contains(@style, 'clear:')]">
    <a>
      <xsl:attribute name="href">
	<xsl:value-of select="@href"/>
      </xsl:attribute>
      <xsl:apply-templates/>
    </a>
  </xsl:template>

Any ideas on how to improve this? I’d love to copy the style attribute and just replace “clear ?: ?[a-z]+;?” with the empty string or something like that.

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Comments on 2010-10-04 Stripping CSS Style Information using XSLT

I’ll try to come up with a working example perhaps this evening, but for this sort of thing, you usually want to start with the XSL Identity transform, and then special case what you want. In particular, you probably want to remove clear: from all inline style attributes everywhere, no? In which case, build a template that matches on “@style”. You’ll then want to emit a cleansed attribute with <xsl:attribute>. You can either do it the easy way with an extension function (written in, e.g., java, if you’re using xalan-j) or do it the ‘hard’ way with a recursive loop using substring and index.

What xslt processor are you using?

– Brian 2010-10-05 17:46 UTC


I’ll have to check. Planet Venus is written in Python, so I’m assuming the XSLT C library with Python wrapper. [1] And you’re right, eventually I want to remove all clear styles, wherever they may be. I need to check whether that allows me to call custom code somewhere… Otherwise I think I’m stuck with using loops, substrings, etc.

Thanks for the IRC conversation pointing me at the example on the XSLT page [2]:

13:55 bpalmer`
kensanata: you register it as an extension function.
13:55 bpalmer`
kensanata: basically, you associate a given namespace to call an external library.
13:56 bpalmer`
kensanata: from that page, they do it as libxslt.registerExtModuleFunction("foo", "http://example.com/foo", f)
13:57 bpalmer`
then assume fooNS is bound to that namespace http://example.com/foo ; you can do <xsl:value-of select="fooNS:foo(.)" />
13:57 bpalmer`
I guess to be self-contained: <xsl:value-of xmlns:fooNS="http://example.com/foo" select="fooNS:foo(.)" />
14:01 bpalmer`
kensanata: otherwise, though, you can do it using standard xsl things: <xsl:variable name="clauses" select="tokenize(@style, ';');" /><xsl:variable name="stripped-clauses"><xsl:for-each select="$clauses"><xsl:if test="not starts-with(., 'clear:')><xsl:value-of select="." /></xsl:if></xsl:for-each></xsl:variable>
14:02 bpalmer`
(untested)

And I learn a new word: prolix. :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-06 07:51 UTC


Hm… I think that the XSLT implementation falls back on xsltproc which in turn does not support 2.0 features. I looked at XSLT 2 and Delimited Lists, wrote a little local example, and got the error: xsl:version: only 1.0 features are supported sucks – and when I change the version to 1.0, I get xmlXPathCompOpEval: function tokenize not found sucks :( The article mentioning XSLT 2 features was written in 2003. Something’s not right.

Using libxml 20706, libxslt 10126 and libexslt 815
xsltproc was compiled against libxml 20706, libxslt 10126 and libexslt 815
libxslt 10126 was compiled against libxml 20706
libexslt 815 was compiled against libxml 20706

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-06 23:07 UTC


I think I’m happy enough with things as they are and will look into this again if and only if I see more borkage on my planet.

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-09 23:07 UTC

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2010-10-13 No More Book Club

Sigh. I did not like doing this. I have decided to leave the BookClub I’ve been a part of for so long. I took it over from Geetha years ago. The books picked were a challenge to my own reading habits. I like to read Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the occasional non-fiction book, mostly history. But as the months went by, I read less and less books, and the less books I read the more odious it seemed to be reading a book I didn’t want to read in the first place. I bought several books for the book club and ended up not reading them.

I’m still reading a lot – but it’s mostly Old School RPG blogs. I’m subscribed to 287 blogs via Google Reader!

And in the mean time, I still find the occasional recommendation online – intriguing books, interesting subjects, and there’s my Planet Stories subscription to consider.

And so I sent out a mail to the people who’ve been part of the book club for the longest time, and told that I was quitting. Now I’m sad. :'(

Here’s to readers everywhere, whatever the medium, whatever the interest: Enjoy! :)

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Comments on 2010-10-13 No More Book Club

Les droits du lecteur d’après Pennac ( http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comme_un_roman ):

  • Le droit de ne pas lire.
  • Le droit de sauter des pages.
  • Le droit de ne pas finir un livre.
  • Le droit de relire.
  • Le droit de lire n’importe quoi.
  • Le droit au bovarysme (maladie textuellement transmissible)
  • Le droit de lire n’importe où.
  • Le droit de grappiller.
  • Le droit de lire à haute voix.
  • Le droit de nous taire.

PierreGaston 2010-10-14 15:12 UTC


Hahaha awesome! :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-14 16:31 UTC

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2010-10-15 Web Standards Dream Bubble

I maintain the Old School RPG Planet. The list of feeds it manages is saved on a wiki page. I wanted to write a little script that will allow me to quickly add feeds to that list. And I did! There’s now a way to submit new feeds to the feed instead of editing the wiki page.

The problem? The thing tries to parse web pages, trying to discover feed addresses. And that works well for sites that validate. But the two first Blogspot sites I tried each had over two hundred errors! Once the markup is borked, parsing doesn’t work, and thus feed discovery doesn’t work.

Now, if I need to work around broken markup, I start wondering why tried to standardize HTML… What a glorious waste of time! In the end, we just treat it as tag soup anyway. >{

If you’re still interested in the source code, no problem. Lately all my CGI-scripts are able to spew forth their source code.

Unfortunately it is not complete, yet. It doesn’t update the wiki page. I didn’t bother once I realized that the entire parsing idea was not going to work. :'(

Update: Wohoo, replaced HTML and XML parsing with regular expression matching, wrote what I needed, and finished the script! [1] :)

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Comments on 2010-10-15 Web Standards Dream Bubble

Standardizing HTML is an excellent idea, and it works pretty well now. What doesn’t work is the attempt at only describing th behavior of a subset of possible markup, called for some reason “valid HTML”, and completely ignored all the other possibilities that humans can produce and expect to work somehow. Fortunately, the HTML5 standard finally standardized the error handling, so you can be finally sure that no matter how inventive the author of the document, the information that you get from parsing it is the same for all the standard-conforming parsers you use.

Throwing errors at human-generated content is kind of a silly approach, especially when the human who created it is long gone and unable to correct the errors. It seems much easier to just assume that every input must mean something, even if you are risking that it’s not quite the same thing that the author had in mind. To be honest I am really surprised that Perl, which follows this philosophy itself somewhat, doesn’t have a forgiving HTML parser that you could use.

RadomirDopieralski 2010-10-16 19:00 UTC


Well, I need to check. Right now I am using a Perl module that uses libxml2 in the background. I did that because of XPath support. Perhaps switching to a SAX parser will help…

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-16 19:28 UTC


Wow, falling back to regular expressions and it actually seems to work! :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-16 22:59 UTC


The awesome answer on Stack Exchange notwithstanding:

You can't parse [X]HTML with regex. Because HTML can't be parsed by regex. Regex is not a tool that can be used to correctly parse HTML. As I have answered in HTML-and-regex questions here so many times before, the use of regex will not allow you to consume HTML. Regular expressions are a tool that is insufficiently sophisticated to understand the constructs employed by HTML. HTML is not a regular language and hence cannot be parsed by regular expressions. Regex queries are not equipped to break down HTML into its meaningful parts. so many times but it is not getting to me. Even enhanced irregular regular expressions as used by Perl are not up to the task of parsing HTML. You will never make me crack. HTML is a language of sufficient complexity that it cannot be parsed by regular expressions. Even Jon Skeet cannot parse HTML using regular expressions. Every time you attempt to parse HTML with regular expressions, the unholy child weeps the blood of virgins, and Russian hackers pwn your webapp. Parsing HTML with regex summons tainted souls into the realm of the living. HTML and regex go together like love, marriage, and ritual infanticide. The <center> cannot hold it is too late. The force of regex and HTML together in the same conceptual space will destroy your mind like so much watery putty. If you parse HTML with regex you are giving in to Them and their blasphemous ways which doom us all to inhuman toil for the One whose Name cannot be expressed in the Basic Multilingual Plane, he comes. HTML-plus-regexp will liquify the n​erves of the sentient whilst you observe, your psyche withering in the onslaught of horror. Rege̿̔̉x-based HTML parsers are the cancer that is killing StackOverflow it is too late it is too late we cannot be saved the trangession of a chi͡ld ensures regex will consume all living tissue (except for HTML which it cannot, as previously prophesied) dear lord help us how can anyone survive this scourge using regex to parse HTML has doomed humanity to an eternity of dread torture and security holes using regex as a tool to process HTML establishes a breach between this world and the dread realm of c͒ͪo͛ͫrrupt entities (like SGML entities, but more corrupt) a mere glimpse of the world of reg​ex parsers for HTML will ins​tantly transport a programmer's consciousness into a world of ceaseless screaming, he comes, the pestilent slithy regex-infection wil​l devour your HT​ML parser, application and existence for all time like Visual Basic only worse he comes he comes do not fi​ght he com̡e̶s, ̕h̵i​s un̨ho͞ly radiańcé destro҉ying all enli̍̈́̂̈́ghtenment, HTML tags lea͠ki̧n͘g fr̶ǫm ̡yo​͟ur eye͢s̸ ̛l̕ik͏e liq​uid pain, the song of re̸gular exp​ression parsing will exti​nguish the voices of mor​tal man from the sp​here I can see it can you see ̲͚̖͔̙î̩́t̲͎̩̱͔́̋̀ it is beautiful t​he final snuffing of the lie​s of Man ALL IS LOŚ͖̩͇̗̪̏̈́T ALL I​S LOST the pon̷y he comes he c̶̮omes he comes the ich​or permeates all MY FACE MY FACE ᵒh god no NO NOO̼O​O NΘ stop the an​*̶͑̾̾​̅ͫ͏̙̤g͇̫͛͆̾ͫ̑͆l͖͉̗̩̳̟̍ͫͥͨe̠̅s ͎a̧͈͖r̽̾̈́͒͑e n​ot rè̑ͧ̌aͨl̘̝̙̃ͤ͂̾̆ ZA̡͊͠͝LGΌ ISͮ̂҉̯͈͕̹̘̱ TO͇̹̺ͅƝ̴ȳ̳ TH̘Ë͖́̉ ͠P̯͍̭O̚​N̐Y̡ H̸̡̪̯ͨ͊̽̅̾̎Ȩ̬̩̾͛ͪ̈́̀́͘ ̶̧̨̱̹̭̯ͧ̾ͬC̷̙̲̝͖ͭ̏ͥͮ͟Oͮ͏̮̪̝͍M̲̖͊̒ͪͩͬ̚̚͜Ȇ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝S̨̥̫͎̭ͯ̿̔̀ͅ – 3891 votes for not being able to parse HTML or XHTML with regex

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-19 11:01 UTC

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2010-10-16 Old School RPG Planet

I maintain the Old School RPG Planet, a list of over 200 old school RPG blogs. The distinguishing feature my blog list has compared to the others listed below is that anybody can submit a new blog to the list.

(This works because the configuration file is in fact saved on a wiki page, and anybody can edit that wiki page. All I did was write web front end to make this easy.)

The other old school RPG blog lists I know of:

Are there others?

Update: If you bookmark the following URL, you can submit “the current blog” to the Old School RPG Planet. I’ve started using it a lot. :)

javascript:location='http://campaignwiki.org/submit?url='+encodeURIComponent(window.location.href)

Update: Found another one:

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Comments on 2010-10-16 Old School RPG Planet


Kristian
Thanks for the shout out to the Savage Bloggers Network!

Kristian 2010-10-17 14:10 UTC



Stuart
Thought I should mention that Strange Magic is now my “Old School” RPG blog in addition to being a list of other blogs. 😊

Stuart 2010-10-21 13:05 UTC

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2010-10-18 The Cure

Greatest Hits Recently I heard some The Cure tracks in a nearby bar, that were slightly different from how I remembered them. The waiter wasn’t too helpful, misunderstanding my question twice until I was confused myself. Back at the table I used Shazam to identify the tracks. This worked much better. 😊 It turns out that these were acoustic versions of the songs I knew, and they were on the album The Greatest Hits.

Great, I thought! I looked at my favorite local online CD shop and saw that the album cost over CHF 40.– (with the dollar and the Swiss franc being about 1:1), whereas it cost USD 17 on iTunes. I bought it on iTunes!

But when I started listening, I realized that I wanted the limited edition with bonus disc. Damn you! Now I am unhappy and wasted USD 17. 😟

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Comments on 2010-10-18 The Cure

Sorry to hear you got iScrewed.

AaronHawley 2010-10-18 12:48 UTC


und bei mir wäre es for free gewesen. :)

– zeno 2010-10-28 08:25 UTC


Das erinnert mich daran, dass ich mir mal ein paar Beatles CDs ausleihen muss…

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-28 08:56 UTC

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2010-10-19 Pakistani Bundle

DWB Pakistan Flood Relief bundle… What would you like to have a closer look at? Here’s what caught my eye:

  • Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road – the author’s blog is on the Old School RPG Planet, which is why I recognized the name of the game. I’d like to take a look and would hope to see something like the Zorceror of Zo with flying apes and all that. I recently read a big chunk of the Wizard of Oz and it was an interesting experience, but it didn’t exactly make me want to play in the setting.
  • Don't Rest Your Head – I heard about this on some indie game focused podcast or other, but I don’t remember much except that it seemed to be well liked. I’d play it in our biweekly Monday game where we try as many systems as possible, trying each for a session or two.
  • Icons – I think that generally speaking we don’t get as much exposure to super powered comics here in Europe. When I grew up I knew there was Superman because of the movies, I knew there was Batman because I had seen a comic or two, and somehow I had learnt about Spiderman. And I had a Spiderman T-Shirt and matching underwear. But other than that, I knew nothing. I didn’t buy the comics, and didn’t know anybody else who did. But I like FATE so I’d be interested in taking a look.
  • Starblazer Adventures – another FATE system. We played Spirit of the Century in our biweekly Monday game and we loved it. We didn’t like the page count of the book, however. Way too many pages spent on skills and stunts, headings all looked very similar, we found it hard to navigate. When my regular (Mongoose) Traveller game was about to fold, we decided to switch over to Diaspora, the Traveller-inspired incarnation of the FATE rules. It seemed streamlined, elegant, simple, and well-organized. A friend also had the Starblazer hardcover. We looked at the pictures. It looked awesome. I also looked at the page count. It looked terrifying. It seemed to be the antithesis of Diaspora. I’d like to take a look at it as part of the bundle, though.
  • The Cursed Chateau – an old school D&D adventure by James Maliszewski. I’m not sold on the weird castle concept for D&D, but I might give it a try if I like what I see. I’m curious.
  • The Sanctuary Ruin – apparently another old school D&D adventure. I love placing short adventures all over the landscape of my Alder King campaign. I’m interested.
  • Time & Temp: Paperless Office Edition – I heard a great review or two of this indie game on some podcast or other. It seemed like a cool idea and another system for our biweekly Monday system-lovers night.

Update: I bought the bundle and started looking at Stargazer Adventures looking for inspiration for my Diaspora game. :)

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Comments on 2010-10-19 Pakistani Bundle

I have ICONS, and I can say it is a great little system. It is similar to FATE, I think, but with some differences. If you haven’t played Marvel Superheroes, however, you won’t get the same nostalgia kick that I got.

It could easily be used as a template for all sorts of other games, too. But I guess the same can be said of FATE.

– Adrian 2010-10-19 00:50 UTC


I will run DRYH for you.

– Harald 2010-10-19 09:08 UTC


Cool! :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-19 09:13 UTC


Thanks for mentioning my game, Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. My blog (at fdouglaswall.blogspot.com) is not one of the blogs listed on Old School RPG Planet, though Greyhawk Grognard and RPG Blog II are listed and both have given me positive mentions. Feel free to add my blog to the site. It’s not really an old school game, but I think it’s something that old school gamers might enjoy.

F. Douglas Wall 2010-10-30 03:29 UTC


Done! I must have seen so many references to the blog on other blogrolls that I was convinced it had been added already. :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-30 08:23 UTC

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2010-10-24 Planning For The Next Campaign

A friend recently asked about recommended books on warfare. I recommended a book and and then I started thinking about the handful of books I’d like recommend in addition to that first one, all of them freely available online:

  • Anabasis by Xenophon – ten thousand Greek heavy infantry joining a campaign of a Persian prince against his brother. They win the final battle but their prince dies and within a short time their former allies desert them and the Greeks find themselves deep in Persian territory, cut off from home, their retreat back along the way they came made impossible by the thorough pillaging by the passing army. With no cavalry and no archers they make their way north and home by a circuitous route through foreign territory.
  • History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides – Sparta vs. Athens, Greek city states at war, in all its glory and misery, Machiavellian dealings in the Melian dialogue, the catastrophic Sicilian Expedition – there are classics aplenty in this book. Thucydides is considered to be the first (Western?) historian. That alone makes the introduction worth reading.
  • Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian – how can you not admire the drive behind Alexander’s conquest. Apparently he was one of the founders of a primarily military-based focus on history (according to Wikipedia). Ascended to the throne twenty years old, started the war two years later, reached India when he was thirty, and died three years later. When I was younger I sometimes wondered what Alexander the Great would be doing while I was wasting my life. But these days I look back at my thirty seven years of life, and think of Alexander the Great, who died when he was thirty three. I made my save!
  • Commentarii de Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar – political dealings, battles, intrigues, winter camps, summer campaigns, backstabbing and everything else involved in Roman warfare. It’s political propaganda sent home, but it grabs your attention even if you know it.

Read a bit on Wikipedia if you like, but I recommend you get a printed copy from some second hand book seller and read one of these books as soon as possible. They’re tiny by todays standards of science fiction and fantasy trilogies and decalogies.

Enjoy!

The actual reason why I started writing this blog post was a different one, however. On the one hand, I was thinking of Explaining d6 Damage on JB’s B/X Blackrazor blog, and on the other hand I was thinking of my new campaign… :)

Regarding d6 damage: I decided that my next campaign would be using d6 for damage. Yes, some weapons look more impressive than others, but they’re all good for killing people. I don’t want to get into the arm’s race, the fighting styles, the armor improvements. All of this certainly played a role on the battlefields of history, but if my game is going to ignore the advances of infantry tactics, I might as well ignore all the other details and assume that “different weapons inflict harm in different ways…” (JB).

So why the step back from variable weapon damage that I’ve used for all of my role-playing life? In the last years I’ve been reading the old school blogs and realized what exactly I didn’t like about D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG. I’m still playing the games, but I decided that my next campaign will be different. I’ve mellowed a bit in the last year, and decided upon the following compromise:

The real reason for returning to the old school of D&D is my increased dislike of reliance on the rules:

  • creating characters takes a long time; it’s effectively a mini-game that I don’t enjoy; it’s time not spent playing the game at the table
  • when faced with a problem, players instinctively turn to the rules: some skill, feat, spell or rule must solve the problem; and they are often right because of the sheer volume of it all

I hope that having less rules will solve my problem. Switching to a d6 for all weapons just pushes the game further in the direction I want to take. It might lead to other problems, of course. I think it was my friend Marco who said that I’ll end up with more arguing at the table if there are less rules. We’ll see. All I know is that I have to change something.

Looking at my blog I see that I’ve already made these attempts at convincing myself two years ago. Maybe the onset of winter does that to me. Damn it! This time I really mean it. I do. I do. Once the Campaign:HagfishTavern Rise of the Runelords campaign ends, I’ll switch gears.

Anyway, now I need to think of a way of tying all these topics together for this blog post…

What I did is this: I started writing up some pages for my next campaign (in German) on a new Campaign Wiki, Campaign:FünfWinde Fünf Winde (referring to the Sea of Five Winds region – my Alder King game is situated in the Lenap region), added some explanations regarding the old school style I’m aiming for, house rules, starting village (Oathcomb near Longbottle).

I read up on Mitra and Set and decided to move this conflict into the foreground. My current Alder King uses a lot of inspiration from the Babylonian mythos (Marduk, Nergal, Ishtar), and I think I want to move the imagery of my world in general away from European medieval knights and wizards to a more Babylonian, Assyrian, or Greek background. Which is where the books on warfare in the ancient world tie in! The part that isn’t influenced by Sword & Sorcery literature will be influenced by Greek and Persian culture, I think.

Thinking of house rules, I started wondering about d6 damage and found JB’s blog post to be a nice intro to the topic. And I ended up thinking about the effects of Strength on melee combat.

  • if you’re strong, you gain more XP as a fighter, ie. you’ll have a slight advantage over your peers
  • if you’re strong, you gain a bonus to hit, ie. you’ll have another slight advantage over your peers
  • if you’re strong, you gain a bonus to damage, ie. you’ll have yet another slight advantage over your peers

I think that’s good enough. In D&D 3.5 there are no XP bonuses, but there are a dozen feats to push your numbers up, allowing players to power game and apply their skills to making better characters, moving the arena away from the table into their studying of books and rules. I feel that in order to prevent that, I need to limit rules-relevant options for players during character creation. There shall be options, but they’ll emerge from the game itself:

  • magic items and artifacts to find (the classic way of adding options)
  • spells to find (because you need somebody to teach them to you – more positive NPC interactions)
  • races and classes to unlock (by finding them – more party rewards for exploration)
  • special abilities to acquire (by joining certain institutions – rewards for joining factions and cults)

Planning for the next campaign while you’re still playing the old campaign is messing me up as a referee. I need a separation of concerns, somehow. My current plan has been to try and not talk about it until I had pretty much decided on the basics. We’ll see how that goes.

Ok, enough rambling. What happened to my preference for short blog postings!?

P.S.: I added Google Friend Connect to my RPG page a while ago. I didn’t want to add it to every single page because I fear that this will slow everything down. Then again, I hardly ever mind when I visit other blogs. Perhaps obsession over bandwidth and load times just goes to show that I lived through the early years of the web. :)

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Comments on 2010-10-24 Planning For The Next Campaign

Thanks for the recommendations Alex. Anabasis Alexandri looks like just what I need.

NoufalIbrahim 2010-10-24 15:24 UTC


Although, I can’t find a copy of the book online. Is it available freely? Openlibrary.org doesn’t seem to list it.

NoufalIbrahim 2010-10-24 15:26 UTC


Hm, I was sure that I had seen it before, but you are right, a quick googling does not uncover anything but the Greek original! :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-24 18:10 UTC


Is this not the one? http://websfor.org/alexander/arrian/book1a.asp

NoufalIbrahim 2010-10-25 06:43 UTC


That’s the one. :) I myself have the translation by P. A. Brunt in the Loeb Classical Library…

AlexSchroeder 2010-10-25 17:01 UTC

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2010-10-31 No Ubuntu Upgrade For Now

I wanted to upgrade my Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10, but failed trying to do the obvious stuff.

Using Update Manager, I got the following error message:

W:Failed to fetch http://ports.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-ports/dists/maverick/Release Unable to find expected entry partner/binary-powerpc/Packages in Meta-index file (malformed Release file?)

I asked on #ubuntu and got the reply that maybe it was probably “corruption in the server” and would go away eventually. Impatient as I am, I found a way to download the 10.10 desktop powerpc image. What I forgot is my earlier experience with disk images: They don’t fit on regular CDs! The image I got was 709 MB which requires “overburn” when burning, ie. CDs that can take 90 or 100 minutes of audio. We just have ordinary cheapo CDs that take 700 MB or 80 minutes of audio.

Now, I did a wicked upgrade before when I upgraded to Ubuntu 10: manually fiddling with the sources list!! Aaaargh! 8-) X-| >-{ danger attention

Should I try it again? Should I? Should I?

I found some instructions on how to mount the image I downloaded! [1]

sudo mount -o loop ~/Desktop/ubuntu-10.10-alternate-i386.iso /media/cdrom

But… That doesn’t help! If I want run the suggested gksu "sh /media/cdrom/cdromupgrade" I find that no cdromupgrade file exists in my image. If I mount the image and run upgrade-software, it doesn’t recognize it. If I try to “add a CD”, it wants a real CD and not a loopback image.

Pausing… thinking… reading… Damnation – I have downloaded the desktop image instead of the alternate image!!

Downloading the 10.10 alternative powerpc image… Yikes! This is taking a long time. The powerpc images aren’t available from the mirrors I looked at.

[…] Installing from the mounted disk…

[…] While I wait… installing Rakudo Star 2010.10

[…] While I wait… installing Bitlbee 3.0 – I have not been maintaining this laptop for quite a while!

[…] While I wait… I discover that I have a 38°C fever. :'(

Done!! Everything seems to work. :) ok

Actually… software updates would give me errors, so I edited /etc/apt/sources.list and uncommented all the lines except for these:

deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu maverick main restricted
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu maverick-updates main restricted
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu maverick universe
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu maverick-updates universe
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu maverick multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu maverick-updates multiverse
deb http://ports.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-ports/ maverick main universe multiverse restricted

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