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2015-03-04 GM’s Day

“March 4th for GM’s day” or “March forth for GM’s day” – yes indeed, today is GM’s Day. Of course, every time we run a game it’s Player’s Day. Hah! But March 4th is GM’s day and as I was about to start running the game, Sam and Miae said that they had prepard a rap song for GM’s day! And then they launched into a rap in German, Celtic and Korean, about the person placing all the monsters, the person being so mean to players, Chorus: Who!? – the person that took our stabbing pencils and gave use a gold sword instead, Chorus: Who!? – it was hilarious.

Thank you! :-D

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2015-03-02 RPG Blogs

So, with blog rolls decreasing in importance and a lot of the RPG talk having moved to Google+, what are the blogs people recommend?

Here are my favorites, in no particular order:

You’re welcome to the .ch top level domain Blogspot feels like adding because I live in Switzerland. No idea what this is used for.

Anyway. So many of my old favorites have fallen silent! I basically went through my blog subscription list, looking for names I recognized and checking whether the latest post was less than 100 days old.

Other Suggetions from Goole+


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2015-03-01 GPG makes me want to cry

I’m currently reading Creating the perfect GPG keypair and it makes me want to cry. Keeping them master key on an encrypted USB stick. Where will I keep it? How will I make sure I won’t loose it over the next five years? Keeping a revocation certificate—somewhere else! How will I make sure I won’t loose that?

Perhaps it’s easier no to rely on all that. I’m sure there’s a different set of requirements out there that would fit me. A set of requirements that doesn’t require me to do all that. A set of requirements for ordinary people.

Consider this: If you’re my friend, how do you know that I’m the person I claim to be? We keep in contact. We exchange messages every now and then. Thus, if my keys expire every now and then, shouldn’t that work just the same? I will have to rebuild my web of trust, but to be honest, I don’t have a web of trust. If you want to make sure that I’m the person you think I am, you will have to verify this by other channels. Compare fingerprints on the phone, using a different channel.

Update: A few hours later, they key seems to have made it.

alex@Megabombus:~$ gpg --search-key kensanata
gpg: suche nach "kensanata" auf hkp-Server keys.gnupg.net
(1)	Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
	Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.com>
	  8192 bit RSA key ACECFEAE, erzeugt: 2015-03-01
(2)	Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
	Alex Schroeder <alex@emacswiki.org>
	Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.org>
	Alex Schroeder <alex.schroeder@openlaw.ch>
	  1024 bit DSA key 89D0FBCC, erzeugt: 2006-06-26 (widerrufen)
(3)	Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
	Alex Schroeder <alex@emacswiki.org>
	Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.com>
	  1024 bit DSA key 353AEFEF, erzeugt: 2002-07-10 (widerrufen)
(4)	Alex Schroeder (Kensanata) <alex@gnu.org>
	  1024 bit DSA key 23AAC850, erzeugt: 2001-04-12
Keys 1-4 of 4 for "kensanata".  Eingabe von Nummern, Nächste (N) oder Abbrechen (Q) > q

You want #1. :)

Note how I lost access to #4. No way to revoke it. Forgot to set an expiry date. The sound of bleating goats!

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Comments on 2015-03-01 GPG makes me want to cry

Moxie Marlinspike just did a similar blog post about this.

I find GPG pretty painful to use in general, although the integration with Emacs is exceptional. I store a lot of .gpg files around and it’s very nice to have those automatically decrypted with emacs.

I like what Keybase.io is doing. I don’t store my private key with them but nowadays, I “trust” people online by their various social media accounts and I think keybase is leveraging that better than the web-of-trust.

Josh 2015-03-01 18:24 UTC

Alex Schroeder
So, what I did was revoke my old key, and then I opened my ~/.authinfo.gpg file which is encrypted to my home key and to my work key. My revoked, old key, of course. No problem, provided the passphrase, decoded it. Made a change, tried to save. Ah, but gpg no longer wants to use the revoked, old key. I understand. But how to tell Emacs to use the new key? What a mess. Messing around with epa-list-keys and studying the keys available. Setting epa-file-encrypt-to. Trying it a few more times. Setting epa-file-select-keys to a different value, trying it a few more times. Seeing the a list of keys and not recognizing one of the keys. Finding the revoked key in the list. All in all it was totally not straight forward. In hindsight, I could explain the behavior. But when it happened, I was confused. Gah!

Thanks for the link to the Moxie Marlinspike blog post. He makes a good point! :)

And thank you for the Keybase.io link. I didn’t know about it and it sounds like the sort of web of trust replacement I’m thinking of!

– Alex Schroeder 2015-03-01 22:38 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Here’s an interesting post about using git and gpg to maintain a secure developing environment. Security is definitely hard. A Git Horror Story: Repository Integrity With Signed Commits by Mike Gerwitz.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-03-02 07:23 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Here’s an article talking about the problem of usability and that even when fighting the Apartheid, people were careless. The Usability of Anti-Apartheid Encryption.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-03-03 13:31 UTC

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2015-02-26 Gridmapper Library

Gridmapper can now save maps to and load maps from the Gridmapper Campaign Wiki. Perhaps we could start building a library of dungeon maps! :)

My current project is “The Sewer Prison”.

And since I didn’t find any new bugs and since I didn’t need to implement any new features, I decided to call it a day and tag it version 1.0! Not bad, from nothing on Feb 9 to release 1.0 on March 1.

Gridmapper makes me happy.

If you have questions about the code, extensions, features, whatever. Let me know! Plus me into a conversation on Google+, or send me an email (see Contact).


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2015-02-24 Gridmapper To Do

I think we’re getting closer to a version 1.0!

Thinks I’m still interested in implementing:

  • rubble, trees (that should be easy)
  • water (tricky? have a water tile? a blue tile? a blue tint over an existing tile? what about statues that rise above the water level?)
  • Google Hangout app? (not sure how much effort I want to invest in something that will disappear sooner or later – I don’t have much faith in Google keeping infrastructure around)
  • Campaign Wiki Save? ✓
  • Campaign Wiki Load? ✓ (I will investigate scrolling and multiple columns when we that many submissions!)

The new help element no longer shows up in IE 11. :( I spent so much time getting moving from a pure SVG help to a mixed SVG/XHTML help that I don’t really feel like fixing this. This is frustrating. This also means that Text Import and Text Export won’t work. This relies on a XHTML textarea the user can edit. This also means that arbitrary labels (using " or l) won’t work. This relies on a XHTML text input field the user can edit.


Comments on 2015-02-24 Gridmapper To Do

Alex Schroeder
I am reminded of my lousy Google Wave bot experience. Following the Google Hangouts App developer Getting Started document. Uploading the XML to a public server. Registering my project. Enabling the Hangouts API, entering the URL for my project, clicking the Save button, clicking the “Enter a hangout in developer sandbox” link, and… “404. That’s an error. The requested URL was not found on this server. That’s all we know.”

Thanks. I think this will not be a Google Hangouts App. I’m already frustrated and I didn’t even get their Simple App to work.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-24 21:30 UTC

Alex Schroeder
As I’m turning to creating a dungeon, I’m wondering about “no floor” – how to indicate that this corridor is in fact a bridge? There currently is no tile for “empty”.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-24 21:52 UTC

Alex Schroeder
As I’m working on my dungeon, I’m noticing the following:

  • I need a fireplace: ▛▜ ?
  • I need a shelf: ◲◱ ?
  • I was able to express “void” by walling off a section—I guess that’s good enough?
  • drawing using Shift + Arrows was sometimes weird and Shift Down in particular selected the help screen, which is silly.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-24 22:38 UTC

Alex Schroeder
I was too lazy to add a decent form for saving so now I’m just reusing the text area for dungeon name, username and summary when saving to the Gridmapper Wiki. The link above, for example, now lives on as The Sewer Prison.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-25 10:49 UTC

Alex Schroeder
I think I want more stuff for walls, too: open archways, windows, arrow slits.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-25 16:41 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Implemented loading from the wiki.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-26 07:44 UTC

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2015-02-24 Gridmapper Maps

Contributions I’ve seen:

Gridmapper is a neat little classic-style dungeon mapping utility: It outputs to SVG, which is a vector format supported by many programs, including Blender, a 3D graphic program. I thought it would be simple to import one into the other, and for someone more experienced with SVG and Blender, it probably would’ve been easy. For me, it was messy, but I’m still happy with the results.”

→ http://imgur.com/a/c1Z1s

“And I didn’t see any maps created with Gridmapper yet (expect for the test maps). So here is one of mine: The Aquarium.”

→ http://goo.gl/wX7ycC

“Takie rzeczy wychodzą na szybko.” (Google translate: “These things go on a fast.”)

→ http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2zg7xva&s=8

Please leave links to your contributions in the comments. :)


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2015-02-20 Gridmapper Variant Madness

A difficult decision! Many people had reported using Chrome on Windows and not getting the $ keypress. Sam’s patch finally fixed that. Now I’ve had reports of somebody using Chrome on GNU/Linux and not getting the $ keypress. What a mess!

So: Is it possible to get rid of $? Yes it is. But replace it with what? s for secret doors? What about s for stairs? The solution is to use variants. Place a door and cycle through the variants using v and you’ll get a secret door, a concealed door, a double door (a gate). Same thing for stairs: cycle through the variants using v and you’ll go from a 2×1 stair to a very short 1×1 stair, to a cramped 1×1 spiral staircase, to a large 2×2 spiral staircase, to a broad 2×2 stair fit for an opera house.

It’s a trade off. Any map symbol you are using multiple times on your map are better on dedicated keys. Are traps, pilars and statues valuable enough to have separate keys?

There is one additional problem I have. Such changes also break existing links. To give you an example, the sequence $$ would place a secret door and rotate it to the north wall. That needs to be replaced by ddv. Yikes!

  1. replace every $ by a d and append v
  2. replace every c by a d and append vv
  3. replace every g by a d and append vvv

I still feel that we’re early enough in Gridmapper’s development to make such changes, but still, it feels unfair to those who have maps with many secret or concealed doors, or gates.

Also, the help screen looks terrible, now.

In fact, I made further incompatible changes to parsing the link’s query string. The trap, pillar and statue no longer advance the position. Thus, if you’re suffering from that problem, you need to append a space (%20) to every t, p, and b in your query string.

  1. replace every t by a t%20
  2. replace every p by a p%20
  3. replace every b by a b%20

Why! Why!?

Well, I wrote a section in the README with instructions on how to extend Gridmapper and add variants for existing tiles! The example I gave was for how to add a well as a variant of a statue.

That’s pretty cool, I think.

An update on my todo list:

  • a text area for copy and paste of level data ✓
  • tablet support ✓ (somewhat!)
  • furniture? (shelves, tables, chairs, chests) ✓
  • rubble?
  • fountains or wells? perhaps just donut shaped things ✓
  • make sure you can place traps on top of stairs? (does this look good?)
  • quarter circle, perhaps in 1x1, 2x2 and 3x3 variants to create towers (as variants of diagonals) ✓
  • better labels (press a key to show text field) ✓

I decided to drop the PNG export. This would have required canvg to implement, it would have been tricky, people can already take screeshots, and I’m not sure how useful this would have been. It would never have been good enough to link to, for example. Without running some Javascript, this would never have worked.

If you’re curious about the code and would like to read blog posts about aspects of it, feel free to ask. I might write something up.


Comments on 2015-02-20 Gridmapper Variant Madness

Alex Schroeder
Example for quarter circles

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-21 12:27 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Trap variants: open pit, trap door in the ceiling, the floor, and a secret trap door. Redrawn from Moldvay’s B58.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-21 12:51 UTC

I love this thing! And every time I come back here, some great advance is done. I think the variants are a great improvement and it opens space for additional stuff. Thanks a lot again!

To bring my old maps, which I had just as links, back to live, I wrote a simple sed script:


Save these lines to “gridmapper_convert.sed”, the part behind the ? from the URL in “link.txt” and run: sed -f gridmapper_convert.sed link.txt

– Sam 2015-02-22 16:17 UTC

Alex Schroeder
I added altars, dais and a round dais. :)

Next up: curtains!

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-22 17:45 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Done. I really should use this tool to write a dungeon instead of improving the tool further!

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-22 18:21 UTC

How to add a layer above layer one?

This worked: Use “Text Export”, Copy the export to a new gridmapper, add “(0,0)fz” to the very beginning, hit “Text Import”.

And I didn’t see any maps created whit Gridmapper yet (expect for the test ones). So here is one of mine: The Aquarium

– Sam 2015-02-22 17:59 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Yeah, I would also use Text Export and Text Import. Was a simple “z” at the beginning not enough? I think that should have done the job.

And I love the Aquarium map!

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-22 18:35 UTC

Alex Schroeder
An interesting discussion on reddit.

Some ideas:

  1. Better mouse support: left-click on an icon on the right to pick an item and left-click on the map to place it. No dragging, no need to pick it again from a menu if you want to place something multiple times.
  2. Better text labels: no scaling, no word wrap, best for one liners and a small number of words (“orcs”). Would that be enough? The alternative would be to link the numberic labels we already have to wiki pages. Since I run Campaign Wiki, it would be trivial. Put the name of your wiki somewhere, and all the numbers will automatically link to it.
  3. Above ground features? Trees and mushrooms are the only ones I can think of. Maybe windows, arrow slits, archways.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-23 06:53 UTC

Alex Schroeder
I’ve noticed another Chrome problem. Assume the following script to draw a round 4x4 room: nvv nnvv[-1,1]nnnnvv nnnvv. Paste it into the text area and hit Ctrl Enter. One Chrome, this looks messed up. On Firefox, you get a nice round 4x4 room.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-23 09:15 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Added chest, bed, table. We’re getting to a size where I feel like we should increase the tile size!

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-23 10:30 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Added better labels.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-23 22:04 UTC


> Was a simple “z” at the beginning not enough?

It got messy and the first layer didn’t work any more, but wen I try now whit a small map, it works…

– Sam 2015-02-25 12:11 UTC

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2015-02-20 Gridmapper Scripting

OK, I wasn’t happy with the link export. It’ll work for a while, but I want it to work for a MEGADUNGEON. There are limits imposed on the length of URLs – the browser imposes some, the webserver imposes some, it’s a mess.

In comes Text Export and Text Import – also known as executing Gridmapper code, scripting style!

So, you start working on your megadungeon. Then you click the Text Export link and the text area beneath it fill up with your Gridmapper code. Save it in a text file. The next day you want to work on it some more. Paste the code into the same textarea and hit Ctrl Enter. Of you go!

Try it:

 f f fff f   f   fff f
 f f f   f   f   f f f
 fff ff  f   f   f f f
 f f f   f   f   f f
 f f fff fff fff fff b


I wrote some more about scripting Gridmapper in the README file.

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2015-02-16 Gridmapper To Do

With the extra layer – “the map below” – finally implemented, it’s time to look for other Gridmapper challenges. This little project makes me so happy. It looks cool, changes are fast to make. I love those early phases of projects that are going well. :)

So, here’s some stuff that I still want to do:

  • rewrite the internal data structure ✓
  • labels or at least numbers – I’m thinking typing a number key will start or append to a label in that square, backspace will shorten the existing label, I’m thinking of adding a little white background circle to those numbers to make it more readable ✓
  • export as PNG (will require canvg?) (also not sure how useful this will be)
  • furniture? (shelves, tables, chairs, chests)
  • rubble?
  • make sure you can place traps on top of stairs? (does this look good?)
  • investigate key issue involving $ and ? – Chrome/Windows only ✓ (resurfaced)
  • make it run on IE 11 ✓ (but no download of the data URI?)
  • multiple levels? A rolodex like interface where you can move up or down, a large level indicator somewhere, the ability to select an area and move it in any of the six directions (x, y, z). ✓
  • use v for variants: 1x1 stairs, 2x1 stairs, 2x2 stairs, as well as 1x1 and 2x2 spiral staircase? ✓
  • quarter circle, perhaps in 1x1, 2x2 and 3x3 variants to create towers ✓
  • fountains or wells? perhaps just donut shaped things ✓
  • tablet support ✓
  • a text area for copy and paste of level data ✓
  • making gates a variant of doors ✓
  • allow the rotation of variants; currently you can press s v to get a stair variant, but if you then press s again, you’re back at the standard stair ✓
  • stop using $ and c for secret and conceiled doors; instead, use door variants for these two ✓


Comments on 2015-02-16 Gridmapper To Do

What do you think about the option to hold the f-key and create multiple tiles by navigating with the arrow keys instead of pressing arrow-f-arrow-f-arrow-f a.s.o? I would find that useful.

– Stefan 2015-02-16 20:04 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Did you try Shift Arrows?

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-16 20:30 UTC

This is getting excitingly better!

– Enzo 2015-02-19 08:20 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Thanks! :)

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-19 09:01 UTC

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2015-02-15 Upgrading a Local Gridmapper

How to upgrade a local copy of Gridmapper containing a dungeon of yours?

The following procedure should work:

  1. click on Prepare Link and click on the Link this creates – save it somewhere
  2. this URL should now contain a little script to recreate the current state (see example below)
  3. now replace the file with a new copy of Gridmapper
  4. reload the URL you saved – this should recreate the current state

Example of such a URL: file:///Users/alex/Source/gridmapper/gridmapper.svg?%0A%20w.dfwwfwwfw%0A%20wftfw.wfwwfww.dddfw%0A%20wfffwnnnn%20nn%20wfwwfwwfw%0A%20ww%20ww%20w.dfffwfn%20nnn%20w%0A%20%20%20ww%20ww%20ww%20wfnnnn%20fd%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20ww%20ww%20ww

Everything after the questionmark is a script:

  1. %0A encodes Enter (moves one down)
  2. %20 encodes Space (moves one right)
  3. w is wall (to the left)
  4. . is a micro-pause
  5. d is a door (at the top, because there’s already a wall to the left)
  6. f is floor
  7. etc.

You can take this URL fragment and recreate your map elsewhere, too! To take the example above: https://campaignwiki.org/gridmapper.svg?%0A%20w.dfwwfwwfw%0A%20wftfw.wfwwfww.dddfw%0A%20wfffwnnnn%20nn%20wfwwfwwfw%0A%20ww%20ww%20w.dfffwfn%20nnn%20w%0A%20%20%20ww%20ww%20ww%20wfnnnn%20fd%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20ww%20ww%20ww

See for yourself.

If you use Gridmapper on a public server, you can prepare those links and share them with your friends. Automatic map sharing without storing anything on the server. The link contains all the info.


Comments on 2015-02-15 Upgrading a Local Gridmapper

Alex Schroeder
A lot more documentation got written.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-15 23:47 UTC

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