Diary

Welcome! :-)

This is both a wiki (a website editable by all) and a blog (an online diary about the stuff Alex Schroeder reads and does). If you’re a friend or relative, you might be interested in reading Life instead of this page. If you’ve come here from an RPG blog, you might want to head over to RPG. There are other similar categories to be found on the SiteMap.

Für Rollenspieler gibt es ebenfalls eine eigene RSP Kategorie.

2019-03-20 Jeff and Dungeons and Possums

Jeff’s Gameblog is one of the blogs I’ve read from beginning to end, I think. So much good stuff. But today I read a blog post on Dungeons & Possums that puts it into words and context like I never could. On the blog, on Jeff, on gaming, on life, setbacks, recovery, family, the importance of being happy and making others happy. What a joy to read!

(This is one of the short blog posts I want to do from time to time to link to other blogs. Like I said on Keep the blogosphere alive! we need link to other bloggers every now and then to do just that. I usually post little quotes and links on Mastodon but I’m trying to get better at this and post the good stuff on this blog, too.)

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Comments on 2019-03-20 Jeff and Dungeons and Possums

I’m glad you’re doing this. It’s surprising to me that a lot of the OSR is pouring into the chattiest and most ephemeral social media: discord & twitter.

Michael Julius 2019-03-20 21:50 UTC


Totally! Or sealed away into yet another silo like MeWe.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-20 22:10 UTC

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2019-03-20 Episode 22

Podcast Creating settlements, starting with a few non-player characters, rumours about adventures to be had nearby, the importance of merchants.

Links:

  • The podcast episodes about starting a sandbox campaign by Michael “Chicago Wiz”: Part 1, Part 2
  • 2013-10-23 Settlements in Sandboxes: “I treat settlements … as safe places and thus as not very interesting with the exception of one, two or three important non-player characters.”
  • 2007-02-14 DM Advice – Organic Campaigns: “Basically I think it is very important that you don’t waste your energy early in the game. Have two or three small things ready that you can spontaneously place anywhere when the party goes in unexpected directions. Reuse people and places. Hometowns, returning villains, old ruins reoccupied, that kind of stuff.”
  • Microlite Campaign: “Evolve the world as the game progresses. Plan ahead, but only as far as the next few steps – then stop.”
  • Halberds and Helmets: my homebrew rule set with links to the PDF files

Settlements

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2019-03-19 Metal Armour

A discussion with @lskh and @Provinto has me come back to the question of movement rate, encumbrance, and armour.

Basically, the question is: what effect does armour have besides armour class?

Or perhaps the more important question you need to answer first is this: how is movement rate going to affect the game? Can a character that is not faster than an opponent never flee? Can an opponent that’s faster never be caught? Notice that in B/X and Labyrinth Lord, movement speed does not factor into the chase rules. Even if you’re slower, you can hide behind bushes, dive for cover, over throw carts, and so on. In those rules, the trade-off is different: splitting up into smaller groups results in better chances of finding or avoiding opponents, but if a follow-up fight ensues, there’s fewer people on your side. As for my own chase rule: I ended up scrapping it since I never used it at the table. These days I tend to think that I don’t care about movement rate.

In my game, metal armour comes up in a small number of situations:

  1. you cannot sneak
  2. you cannot climb
  3. you cannot swim

Being unable to swim means you’re drowning. This is particularly harsh in my game because it means you must save vs. death or die, every single round.

That still leaves the question of chain mail. I just explain that chain mail is what stingy bosses buy for their troops (mercenaries, guards, soldiers), or poor characters on the first session. Characters should wear leather if pirates or thieves – or they should wear plate.

I also use the old price of 60gp for plate armour instead of hundreds of gold pieces. My argument is that this will buy you the worst armour that still satisfies the requirements. It’s the post-apocalyptic version of plate armour: chain mail with some plates attached, rusty, dented, ugly as hell. And if you want a fancy full plate armour like the ones worn by kings that you can still see in a museum, well then we’re talking about magical armour, or impressive armour that has an effect on the troups you lead, and at that point you might as well be paying thousands of gold pieces for it. It’s famous armour.

60gp gets you murder clown plate armour.

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Comments on 2019-03-19 Metal Armour

I am definitely going to use the phrase “murder clown plate armour” the next time I play D&D 🙂

– Adrian 2019-03-19 14:43 UTC


😀

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-19 20:57 UTC


I have been toying for a while with the idea of armour as damage reduction. Basically, damage is rolled on a table (a bit like in rolemaster) based on location and type of damage. Armour substracts differently against different damage and the result is the hp loss, and if over certain threshold, means a wound.

Now, my idea is that one rolls to hit over (say) 10, then rolls for damage if one hits. The table has all the info, and if the location was not specified, it is determined by where the die landed.

Ideally, this means characters risk death from combat at higher levels, and hp are just a measure of fatigue. One dies from wounds, but 0 hp means the character is helpless.

– Enzo 2019-03-20 12:55 UTC


Interesting. I’ve played Das Schwarze Auge as a teenager (The Dark Eye), and there you had a defense roll (a d20 roll based on skill instead of a static target number), a damage roll, and damage reduction based on armor. My impression was that everything just took a lot longer. But your example has a static defense that’s easy to hit, right? Perhaps that simplifies things.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-20 14:43 UTC


Yeah, I haven’t tested it but I had in mind that you roll over 10 unless the opponent is actively doing something to avoid the blow.

– Enzo 2019-03-20 15:41 UTC


If you’re interested, take a look at the combat chapter of The All-Seeing Eye, a retro clone.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-20 16:58 UTC


It looks way more complicated than I was aiming for. Reminds me of my early rpg years (I cut my teeth with MERP).

– Enzo 2019-03-21 08:06 UTC


MERP! Good times. I bought MERP, and then Rolemaster with the companions up to IV, but when I finally got my players to check it out, they fought some orcs and got butchered and that was that. Back to AD&D! 😅

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-21 08:50 UTC

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2019-03-18 One Page Dungeon Contest

“Submit your entries for the 2019 One Page Dungeon Contest between now and May 1st.” – Dungeon Contest

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2019-03-18 Carcosa

I want to like Carcosa and I sort of wish I could run a campaign there. But perhaps that’s simply my imagination on fire and fueled by reading too many of those old Planet Algol session reports. Check out the sidebar section “ALGOL ADVENTURES”. Planet Algol was the best.

Anyway, have you ran Carcosa or played in it? What did you think?

James Maliszewski reviewed the revised edition back in 2012 and had reviewed it in four parts back in 2018 (1 2 3 4).

The reason my thoughts are returning to Carcosa is that I stumbled upon a review on How Heavy This Axe, Running Carcosa, where Dominic laments some shortcomings of the book. He says he’s not sure he liked it. He had to work hard to make it work. Yeah, I think I can see that. I also ended up both disappointed in the sparseness of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and happy to be able to fill it with my own stuff, the map the few words provided to me working as scaffolding, something to inspire me, but not something ready to use by itself. As such, it barely “enabled” the campaign but didn’t really help reduce prep time.

Anyway, I still want to run a campaign in a setting where I can put Space Age Sorcery to use.

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Comments on 2019-03-18 Carcosa

I ran it for about a year or so. If you scroll back through the Carcosa tag on my blog you can see all my old posts about doing so. I am a big fan of the whole setting, warts and all.

Ramanan 2019-03-18 20:04 UTC


Hah, right! I think I’ve read your entire blog (with the exception of the Warhammer posts, perhaps) and now it comes back to me. Gotta go back and reread! When I read Carcosa and Canon I just nodded along as I read the Geoffrey McKinney quotes.

One day I will return to reading forums. Like the Carcosa forum.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-18 20:21 UTC


Heh, how strange. Just now Dungeons and Possums reviews Carcosa. Where does the sudden theme come from?

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-18 22:16 UTC


I remember reading Carcosa back when it came out. At the time, I was playing 4e but somehow I stumbled across it and it intrigued me enough to pick up the PDF.

I put a fair amount of work into prepping a campaign that never ended up happening.

Anyhow, all that to say I’m happy to see that people are still thinking and talking about it.

Matt L 2019-03-19 01:18 UTC


Did you change your mind, or did your players not want to play in Carcosa? Or was the cancellation due to other reasons?

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-19 06:15 UTC


I moved to another city before getting the campaign rolling. I’d still love to do a Carcosa game at some point.

Matt L 2019-03-19 13:08 UTC

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2019-03-17 Mastodon Bots

I have written a small number of bots for Mastodon in Python but only today did I learn that somebody has written an entire framework for Python based bot writing. „Ananas allows you to write simple (or complicated!) mastodon bots without having to rewrite config file loading, interval-based posting, scheduled posting, auto-replying, and so on.“ #Mastodon #Bot

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2019-03-17 I borked my system

I was unhappy about my Perl installation. I was getting a warning regarding XS. Some of the libraries I had installed were compiled for a different version of Perl. Sure, I had installed Perl modules using cpan and cpanm. Apparently I had received a new Perl via an upgrade of PureOS. Sadly, I didn’t know how to quickly find all the modules which included XS and reinstall and recompile them.

Here’s a start:

find $(perl -e 'print join " ", @INC') -name XS.so

But then again... Perhaps it would make more sense to use perlbrew. It’s what I use on my server. Just ignore the system Perl!

But it also involves a lot of downloading and installing of Perl modules... That’s not cool. So perhaps I should continue using the system Perl and just try and replace all the packages I had installed with system packages? Let the package manager handle it?

Sadly, I immediately ran into the missing package Mastodon::Client. And once you try to install it, it pulls in all the dependencies. Some of them I might have installed using the system package manager, but cpanm doesn’t know about that.

So back to perlbrew, right? And I can delete all the system Perl modules...

Get the list:

apt list --installed "*-perl" | grep -v automatic | sed 's/\/.*//'

And run the command:

sudo apt remove libcaptcha-recaptcha-perl libcapture-tiny-perl \
libcrypt-random-seed-perl libcrypt-rijndael-perl libdatetime-perl \
libdatetime-timezone-perl libhtml-template-perl libhttp-date-perl \
libhttp-server-simple-perl libjson-perl liblist-allutils-perl \
liblocale-gettext-perl libmce-perl libmldbm-perl libmodern-perl-perl \ libmojolicious-perl libnet-server-perl libnet-whois-parser-perl \
libpod-strip-perl librpc-xml-perl libtext-charwidth-perl libtext-iconv-perl \
 libtext-markdown-perl libtext-wrapi18n-perl libtime-parsedate-perl \
libxml-atom-perl libxml-libxml-perl

Whatever, right? Enter! Enter!

But wait... what’s this? This is all wrong!

Removing gnome-shell-extensions (3.30.1-1) ...
Removing gdm3 (3.30.2-1pureos1) ...
Removing gnome-getting-started-docs (3.30.0-1) ...
Removing gnome-user-docs (3.30.2-1) ...
Removing yelp (3.31.90-1) ...
Removing inkscape (0.92.4-2) ...
Removing libgtkspell0:amd64 (2.0.16-1.2) ...
Removing aspell-de (20161207-7) ...
Removing aspell-en (2018.04.16-0-1) ...
Removing aspell (0.60.7~20110707-6) ...
Removing blends-tasks (0.7.2) ...
Removing chrome-gnome-shell (10.1-5) ...
Removing pureos-standard (0.9.4) ...
Removing pureos-minimal (0.9.4) ...
Removing console-setup (1.188) ...
Removing console-setup-linux (1.188) ...
Removing debconf-i18n (1.5.71) ...
Removing devscripts (2.19.3) ...
Removing dhelp (0.6.25) ...
Removing docbook2x (0.8.8-17) ...
Removing enchant (1.6.0-11.1+b1) ...
Removing evince (3.30.2-3) ...
Removing gnome-todo (3.28.1-2) ...
Removing gnome-contacts (3.30.2-1) ...
Removing libfolks-eds25:amd64 (0.11.4-1+b2) ...
Removing gedit (3.30.2-2) ...
Removing gnome-sushi (3.30.0-2) ...
Removing gir1.2-evince-3.0:amd64 (3.30.2-3) ...
Removing gnome-maps (3.30.3-1) ...
Removing gir1.2-webkit2-4.0:amd64 (2.22.6-1) ...
Removing gnome-calendar (3.30.1-2) ...
Removing gnome-control-center (1:3.30.3-1) ...
Removing gnome-initial-setup (3.30.0-1pureos2) ...
Removing gnome-online-accounts (3.30.1-2) ...
Removing gnome-session (3.30.1-2pureos1) ...
Removing gnome-software (3.28.0-1pureos1) ...
Removing gnulib (20140202+stable-3.1) ...
Removing xorg (1:7.7+19) ...
Removing xserver-xorg (1:7.7+19) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-all (1:7.7+19) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-vmware (1:13.3.0-2) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-vesa (1:2.4.0-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-input-all (1:7.7+19) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-input-libinput (0.28.2-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-qxl (0.1.5-2+b1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-nouveau (1:1.0.16-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-input-wacom (0.34.99.1-1) ...
Removing libaudio-scrobbler-perl (0.01-2.3) ...
Removing libcaptcha-recaptcha-perl (0.98+ds-1) ...
Removing perlbrew (0.86-1) ...
Removing lintian (2.9.1) ...
Removing libcapture-tiny-perl (0.48-1) ...
Removing libcrypt-random-seed-perl (0.03-1) ...
Removing libcrypt-rijndael-perl (1.13-1+b5) ...
Removing librpc-xml-perl (0.80-2) ...
Removing libdatetime-format-iso8601-perl (0.08-2) ...
Removing libdatetime-format-builder-perl (0.8100-2) ...
Removing libdatetime-format-strptime-perl (1.7600-1) ...
Removing libxml-atom-perl (0.42-2) ...
Removing libdatetime-perl:amd64 (2:1.50-1+b1) ...
Removing libdatetime-timezone-perl (1:2.23-1+2018i) ...
Removing libevview3-3:amd64 (3.30.2-3) ...
Removing libxml-xpath-perl (1.44-1) ...
Removing libnet-dbus-perl (1.1.0-5+b1) ...
Removing libxml-twig-perl (1:3.50-1) ...
Removing libxmlrpc-lite-perl (0.717-1) ...
Removing libsoap-lite-perl (1.27-1) ...
Removing libgitlab-api-v4-perl (0.16-1) ...
Removing libgoa-backend-1.0-1:amd64 (3.30.1-2) ...
Removing libgspell-1-1:amd64 (1.6.1-2) ...
Removing libhtml-form-perl (6.03-1) ...
Removing libhtml-template-perl (2.97-1) ...
Removing libhttp-daemon-perl (6.01-3) ...
Removing libhttp-server-simple-perl (0.52-1) ...
Removing libjson-perl (4.02000-1) ...
Removing liblist-allutils-perl (0.15-1) ...
^[Removing libparse-debianchangelog-perl (1.2.0-13) ...
Removing libmce-perl (1.838-1) ...
Removing libmldbm-perl (2.05-2) ...
^[Removing libmodern-perl-perl (1.20180901-1) ...
Removing libmojo-server-fastcgi-perl (0.50-1) ...
Removing libmojolicious-perl (8.12+dfsg-1) ...
Removing libnet-server-perl (2.009-1) ...
Removing libnet-whois-parser-perl (0.08-1) ...
Removing libpod-strip-perl (1.02-2) ...
Removing libtext-wrapi18n-perl (0.06-7.1) ...
Removing libtext-charwidth-perl (0.04-7.1+b1) ...
Removing libtext-markdown-perl (1.000031-2) ...
Removing libtime-parsedate-perl (2015.103-3) ...
Removing texinfo (6.5.0.dfsg.1-4+b1) ...
Removing libxml-simple-perl (2.25-1) ...
Removing libxml-libxslt-perl (1.96-1+b1) ...
Removing libxml-sax-expat-perl (0.51-1) ...
Removing libyelp0:amd64 (3.31.90-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu (18.1.99+git20190207-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-ati (1:18.1.99+git20190207-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-fbdev (1:0.5.0-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-intel (2:2.99.917+git20180925-2) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-video-radeon (1:18.1.99+git20190207-1) ...
Removing xserver-xorg-core (2:1.20.3-1) ...
Removing keyboard-configuration (1.188) ...
Removing libxml-parser-perl (2.44-4) ...
Removing libxml-libxml-perl (2.0134+dfsg-1) ...
Removing libwww-perl (6.36-1) ...
Removing libfile-listing-perl (6.04-1) ...
Removing libhttp-cookies-perl (6.04-1) ...
Removing libhttp-negotiate-perl (6.01-1) ...
Removing libhttp-message-perl (6.18-1) ...
Removing libhttp-date-perl (6.02-1) ...
Removing tasksel-data (3.50) ...
Removing liblwp-protocol-https-perl (6.07-2) ...
Removing tasksel (3.50) ...
Removing liblocale-gettext-perl (1.07-3+b4) ...
Removing mutter (3.30.2-6) ...
Removing zenity (3.30.0-2) ...
Removing libwebkit2gtk-4.0-37:amd64 (2.22.6-1) ...
Removing libenchant1c2a:amd64 (1.6.0-11.1+b1) ...
Removing hunspell-en-us (1:2018.04.16-1) ...
Removing dictionaries-common (1.28.1) ...
Removing 'diversion of /usr/share/dict/words to /usr/share/dict/words.pre-dictionaries-common by dictionaries-common'
Removing evolution-data-server (3.30.5-1) ...
Removing libedataserverui-1.2-2:amd64 (3.30.5-1) ...
Removing libtext-iconv-perl (1.7-5+b7) ...
Removing gnome-shell (3.30.2-3) ...

Nooooooo! It took so long to abort the operation, now it’s all borked, surely.

OK, how to I recover from this?

apt install evince inkscape gnome pureos-standard perlbrew aspell-de

I hope? Wish me luck!

Fist, switch to a stable Perl using perlbrew and get the modules installed. At this point I’m just trying to finish the task I set out to do, hours ago.

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Comments on 2019-03-17 I borked my system

And I think I’m back! Restarted the system and no problem. Emacs works. Browser works. Phew! 😅

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-17 21:53 UTC


Oops!

For what it’s worth, I prefer to package any missing libraries as .deb packages myself and install them. dh-make-perl --cpan MODULE makes this easy, usually.

(If you need much newer versions of modules, especially “low level” ones, it might not be feasible to go this way, though.)

Adam 2019-03-17 22:11 UTC


Oh, interesting! Thank you for the suggestion.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-18 06:10 UTC

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2019-03-17 Copyright 13

@Masek wrote a long post on the upcoming upload filter legislation for the European Union, Copyright 13.

In his announcement on Mastodon, he said:

We are approaching the endgame and this is not the MCU. Within a few weeks one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen will be passed by the EU parliament.

So I will kick off a small series of short articles about what we’re fighting for and against, why we are fighting it and who are our opponents.

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2019-03-16 Our Generation

Our generation is the one that was incapable of voting the greens into parliament. I hope the next one fares better.

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2019-03-15 Episode 21

Podcast Running Dungeons, when to roll for random encounters, how much XP to give for monsters, how to restock dungeons

Links:

  • The Tao of XP: “First, and most importantly, 100xp per hit die is brain dead easy. I can do all the math in my head for parties of 6 characters or less and with a jot or two on some paper I can handle more.”
  • 2017-03-04 Monster List: “While writing the book I’ve started to wonder whether I should just move away from the tricky calculation of monster XP back to the very old 100XP/HD. Sure, suddenly we’re back to gaining levels by killing 20 orcs. But is that such a problem? I don’t think so. Determining what counts as a special ability and what does not is boring.”
  • 2017-01-23 Random Encounters: “If your players are pressed for time and after two or three hours they need to leave, and thus the dungeon exploration ends, then additional random encounters don’t do much, I think. They sometimes surprise the referee and add some color, that is all. That’s how I run it. I just roll the dice when I’m bored as a minor tax on players taking too long to make decisions or listening and checking for traps all the time.”
  • 2013-08-21 One Roll Dungeon Stocking: “When I stocked my dungeon yesterday, I used the Moldvay Dungeon Stocking procedure. To be honest, my wife used it. The two tables are somewhat confusing.”
  • 2019-02-22 Magic Items: “The one hundred magic items of Old Eilif of Trazadan.” A list of generated magic items from Hex Describe.
  • 2014-04-30 Independent Existence of Imaginary Worlds: “For me, the most important aspect of using treasure tables is that there is no choice involved. Just roll. It’s like discovering the world by rolling on the table, it’s about being surprised even if you’re the referee of the game, it helps me suspend disbelief. The mechanics make sure that I’m not thinking of it as a figment of my imagination. It feels like a real thing.”
  • One Page Dungeon Contest Archive: an archive I maintain of all the entries submitted to the One Page Dungeon Contest.
  • Halberds and Helmets: my homebrew rule set with links to the PDF files

Dungeons

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Comments on 2019-03-15 Episode 21

I was looking for blog posts about dungeon stocking...

  • Random dungeon stocking on The City of Iron, where Gavin Norman talks about the “Specials” result. He suspects that it comes up a lot, which it does, but then he discovers that he likes writing something up.
  • Random Dungeon Stocking on Delta’s D&D Hotspot, where Delta writes about the method he uses, and then compares that with the instructions in various editions of D&D. He doesn’t like Moldvay’s procedure all that much because the Special result means more work for the person stocking the dungeon.
  • B/X D&D vs. Labyrinth Lord dungeon stocking on Yore, where Martin Ralya compares the B/X and Labyrinth Lord stocking tables.
  • Stocking a Dungeon on Save vs. Total Party Kill, where Ramanan Sivaranjan does what many programmers do, I guess. “I have a little program that spits out what should be in each room using the rules from the Moldvay basic book.”
  • Excel and Random Dungeon Stocking on Dreams in the Lich House, where John Arendt tells you how to do this using Excel.
  • Stocking the Dungeon on Paul’s Gameblog, where Paul quotes from OD&D and notes: “the expectation is that you place the important stuff first, and then use the random charts to fill in the rest.”

And there is more out there. Ramanan’s post has links to bunch of other posts talking about making dungeons with links to many more articles.

I guess this goes to show that I really like to think of dungeons as very simple environments. I don’t spend too much time on making them!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-15 12:19 UTC


These episodes are just awesome. Short but packed with experience and wisdom. Keep them coming! 🙂

– Björn Buckwalter 2019-03-16 14:34 UTC


Thanks! 😅

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-16 21:48 UTC

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