Diary

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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.

2019-04-17 Patents Bad

Via @dredmorbius:

“It is a well known fact that modern trade combinations tend strongly toward constancy of process and products, and by their very nature are opposed to new processes and new products originated by independent inventors, and hence tend to restrain competition in the development and sale of patents and patent rights; and consequently tend to discourage independent inventive thought.”

– Vaughan, F. L., Economics of our Patent System, (New York, 1925), quoting the Investor’s Guild on page 63 of Technological trends and national policy, including the social implications of new inventions. June, 1937 by United States. National Resources Committee. Science Committee; Ogburn, William Fielding, 1886-1959

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2019-04-16 Referrer Tracking

From an email I recently wrote to somebody regarding blogs:

The blogs have a problem with communication: even if we do link to other blogs, we sometimes simply assume that they read our blog, or worse, we assume that they probly don’t want to read our blog, and so we don’t let them know about our link, or we don’t know how to contact them, and so on. I have no solution to this.

I guess we should all sign up to Google Alerts. I used to do this many years ago, trying to find people that linked to my site, but it’s tricky since every forum post and every comment I left elsewhere was a false positive. Also Google is tracking me and my interests.

Later I switched to referrer tracking. This simply looks at the referrer headings browsers provide when following links (a privacy problem, if you ask me), but this solution is weird, too. If you look at my referrers you’ll see some important links like Recommended Reading from the Questing Blog (thanks!) but for the newer pages, all the links just go back to sites that have my blog on their blog roll (thanks!). But what does it mean? Somebody (or some bot?) saw the link on the blog roll and followed it. That’s cool. Thanks! But it also no longer means that people wrote a blog post and linked to my blog.

A few weeks ago I thought that pingback was the answer. But the few times I tried to leave a pingback myself it didn’t work. I’m assuming that’s because people are moderating their comments (good for them!) and somehow that disables pingbacks. It makes sense, too. Pingbacks (and referrer tracking) allow other people to place link to their sites on your blog. That’s not a power you’d like to grant easily! Anyway, the upshot is that it doesn’t work even if the sites support pingback in theory (like all the Wordpress sites).

It gets worse: all the Blogspot sites don’t support pingback in the first place. If you look at the RPG Planet, you’ll see that it lists 260 blogs and 151 of them are Blogspot sites. More than half the sites don’t support pingback.

As I said, I have no solution.

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Comments on 2019-04-16 Referrer Tracking

It looks to me like the solution is a social, rather than technical, one. And by that I mean this very comment.

Happy Easter and keep it up!

– Enzo 2019-04-17 06:12 UTC


Oh, I guess you were talking about inter-blog communication, not whether anybody reads your blog. Oh well, Happy Easter anyway 😁

– Enzo 2019-04-17 06:15 UTC


Happy Easter to you, too! As far as the communication problem goes, I’m talking about exactly this: the technical solutions (that don’t work) to a social problem (we don’t know when others are interacting with us elsewhere, whether it be reading, referencing, recommending, criticizing or commenting), which might be caused by the strange affordances of the medium (blogs not encouraging us to comment elsewhere, not even an “I like” button, or if there is one, we wouldn’t know who clicked it).

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-17 07:01 UTC


Looking at my referrers just now, I seem to be on the blog rolls of two blogs I haven’t heard of:

Interesting! So perhaps the system still works in a way. I least I can discover that.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-17 07:05 UTC

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2019-04-15 Rotating projects

Today I added a picture from a previous post to the About page for Face Generator, plus a copy of what it might look if you used the electronic process (in my example, using Procreate on the tablet).

As I was updating the documentation I started wondering... I have so many projects that I’m working on every now and then, with episodes of activity followed by years of silence, it’s amazing I get anything done, and that I’m not burning out. Why is that? I think two elements are key:

  1. The projects are not very popular so unlike the big endeavours we see online, I have slack. I don’t mind the issues not getting worked on, I don’t mind the services being down, and nobody is giving me any shit about it because I only have a small number of users and most people are nice, anyway.
  2. I have no problems giving projects away. I have written a lot of Emacs code over the years. Simple packages, one here, one there, not a lot in comparison to some very prolific writers, but enough for some of them to get lost. When people do come back to me with issues about software I no longer use, I’m open about it. “I’m sorry, I no longer use it. I will apply your fix, if you have one, or I can try and help you understand the problem and then you can fix it, or ideally you’d take over and I’ll be happy to point people your way. Please do!”

Sometimes I get mail regarding one of the projects I no longer maintain, and I sigh with relief as I know, somebody else is going take care of that. 🙂

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2019-04-15 Placenames

I realized that my settlements in Hex Describe have no names. Perhaps it’s a good thing? If the village is run by a guy called Marcel, should it be Marcelsby, Marcelden, or perhaps based on the forest or river name? Longton? Shadowsby? I don’t know whether I want to go that route. I think I don’t. But how else to name things? Perhaps simply waiting for the players to name things works just as well. “Remember Marcel the smith’s homestead?” Good enough!

Image 1

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Comments on 2019-04-15 Placenames

A reply on Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, Temporary Place Names.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-16 21:41 UTC

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2019-04-14 What I'm listening to

Not much has changed, I think:

  • 99% Invisible is about design, architecture and the like
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is about history, with very rare episodes, but each episode is about 4h long
  • Daydreaming about Dragons is the only RPG podcast I listen to on a regular basis
  • History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
  • History of the Crusades
  • In Our Time is about History, Science and Philosophy
  • Revolutions (he did the History of Rome before that and I listened to it all)
  • The British History Podcast
  • The China History Podcast
  • The Dungeon Master’s Handbook Podcast (sadly discontinued)
  • The History of Byzantium (picked up where the History of Rome left off)
  • Thinking Allowed is about sociology
  • What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law is about politics

Podcasts I’ve fallen helplessly behind include:

  • The Ancient World
  • The History of WWII Podcast (the ads in the middle of the show started to annoy me and then I sort of stopped listening even though I really liked it)

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Comments on 2019-04-14 What I'm listening to

I asked on Lasagne Social and subscribed to few new podcasts:

Based on suggestions by Paolo Greco I added Roguelike Radio and Futility Closet.

Based on suggestions by David Perry I added Blogs on Tape (which I had forgotten), Fear of a Black Dragon (although the idea of reviews does not excite me; but who knows, perhaps it’s just a framing device?), Misdirected Mark Productions and Hobbs & Friends (not so keen on Interviews, but actually I think I don’t know what I want so I need to let go and just dive into new things), Monster Man (having written my own monster manual I appreciate the format, certainly), +1 Forward (somehow I’m more interested because it’s Powered by the Apocalypse), Behold Her (the experience of women in gaming).

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-14 21:20 UTC

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2019-04-14 Episode 23

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

Links:

  • 2008-09-01 Encounters brings back memories of my D&D 3.5 campaign; back then I said that my players are often astonished when the fight is not tough. I had players laughing “where are the REAL enemies!?”
  • 2010-02-01 Random Encounters in a Mid Level Sandbox is still about my D&D 3.5 campaign but already my wilderness rules are in place: “One hex per day, with a 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter; during the night there is another 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter.” Camping in the wilderness is dangerous.
  • 2012-06-20 Hexcrawl Procedure is simply “one hex traveled per day”.
  • 2012-08-15 Unbalanced Encounters Are Fun is where I claim that “unbalanced encounters and a high variance in treasure found result in a more addictive game.”
  • Hazard System, by Necropraxis. “The six-sided Hazard Die deploys threats, manages resources, keeps time, and tracks light.”
  • 2017-01-23 Random Encounters puts it all into perspective: “Yeah, wandering monsters are rare. But they do happen once or twice a session.”
  • Structuring Encounter Tables, by Papers & Pencils. “First off, all my encounter tables are 2d6 tables. … 2 is always a dragon, because we need more dragons. … Likewise, 12 is always wizards.”
  • 2017-06-09 The Purpose of a Map talks about the reasons for using a map instead of a graph of connected locales (a point crawl)
  • Halberds and Helmets: my homebrew rule set with links to the PDF files

Wilderness

Encounters

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Comments on 2019-04-14 Episode 23

OK, going forward I think I’m going to use the following three effects, in order, with their default settings:

  1. Click Removal
  2. Compressor
  3. Truncate Silence

The first one removes some of the lip smacking, I hope.

The second one makes sure that the volume is more or less the same over the entire episode.

The last one is new. It reduces all pauses down to 0.5s (that’s the default but I’m thinking about going down to 0.3s). That is, pauses aren’t eliminated, and they aren’t replaced with absolute silence. Instead, some part of the pause is cut from the middle of it. It reduced my editing considerably!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-14 11:23 UTC

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2019-04-13 One Page Dungeon Contest

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

The date keeps coming closer but I have a hard time focusing on writing an actual dungeon. I guess my Greyheim campaign and the seven levels of the The Castle the Mad Marchmage we explored have satisfied my dungeon curiosity. I’m no longer inspired by them. Last year, I submitted the The Pagoda of Pazuzu which is the kind of location I’d write up these days.

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2019-04-13 Murderhobo Poetry

I don’t know what came over me but when Mamading Ceesay said «Almost inspired to write a ditty called “Murderhobo’s Paradise”.» on Lasagne Social, I wanted to see some poetry fit for murderhobos and other D&D misfits!

How about this, inspired by the Late Bronze Age collapse?

I came looking for the pharao’s son
Looking to see if the deal was still on
But the coward’s a cheat
He can’t take the heat
So I eloped with the dangerous liaison!

Burn the palace down!
Down! Down! Down!
Burn the palace down!

I was looking for a merchant of silk
The fat man or any of his rich ilk
Wanted to sell da loot
Spend gold and have a hoot
But I only found a boy fit to drink milk!

Burn the palace down!
Down! Down! Down!
Burn the palace down!

Fuck those rich bastards and clowns
I’m gonna rob their tombs and take every ounce
Vecnas hand and eye
Take it or try it and die
I’m driven by the only thing that counts!

Burn the palace down!
Down! Down! Down!
Burn the palace down!

Burn the palace down!
Down! Down! Down!
Burn the palace down!

☠ ☠ ☠

Please write something up and post it for all to see. We need more shanties for the pirates in our games, for the sea people’s of our master’s nightmares!

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2019-04-13 Gundabad Games

I’d like to recommend this new blog, Gundabad Games. From their latest blog post, Of Bronze, Burning Palaces, and “Certain Kinds of People” - More Musings on Archaeology for RPGs: «First, I briefly describe the peculiarly connected-but-limited world of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) Near East, then discuss that world’s collapse into anarchy at the dawn of the Iron Age. After that I roll up my sleeves and identify some game-able principles for campaign concepts inspired by that setting… As archaeologist Cyprian Broodbank argues in a deliciously memorable and ambivalent statement, we should abandon “the rhetoric of catastrophe, and instead [think] of burning palaces as problem-solving and enabling moments for certain kinds of people.”»

Beautiful!

Also, take a long look at that image of Ramesses II storming the Hittite fortress of Dapur, as seen on the Wikipedia page for Ramses II, for example.

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2019-04-12 Matt Strom

Oh wow, I was just pointed to Matt Strom’s blog, Ice and Ruin. Not only does it have a cool name, but Matt is also super enthusiastic about Hex Describe. I had forgotten all about it until Whidou reminded me of it on Lasagne Social.

Wow!

I totally need to add his Hex Describe Bible to Hex Describe itself. Apparently lots of And even if you don’t want to use all of his tables, just scrolling through the list I’ve seen various things I’d love to take for my own: lists of books, inn names, that sort of thing.

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Comments on 2019-04-12 Matt Strom

Done! Random maps. Heh, rule exploration also works.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-12 20:38 UTC


Also added more magic plants because ktrey donated his Plants and Herbs generator. Cool stuff!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-12 20:39 UTC


Added temples of law and temples of chaos to the maps, and to the descriptions.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-13 22:32 UTC


Looks like he will have to be incited to joining the planet!!

😉

– At PresGas at freeradical dot zone 2019-04-14 19:42 UTC


Hah! I just went on an extended trip through all the GLOG blogs listed by Anne, leaving comments on one of their posts (usually the first one of their blog), asking for permission to add them. I have done my share for today! 😴

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-14 20:31 UTC

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