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.

2017-04-25 Equipment List

I like my equipment list small. For every item I ask: how is it’s presence or absence going to change the game? The point being that the list should be short and suggestive of the setting. Anything else just costs 1gp and needs no suggesting.

That’s why I like the Moldvay list: the things I remember all have a specific use.

  • mirror vs. medusas and basilisks
  • wolfbane vs. werewolves
  • silver dagger vs. werewolves
  • garlic vs. vampires
  • stakes vs. vampires

Similar ideas:

  • salt vs. ooze and snails
  • goat, for sacrifice
  • bird vs. gas trap
  • marbles or caltrops vs. pursuit
  • thread vs. labyrinth

More such useful items would have to go hand in hand with new monsters, I think. The thought process would be: the monster we care about is goblins. What would “help” against goblins? Do they flee from dogs, unconditionally? What would help against manticores? Do they hate the sound of trumpets? What would help against shadows? Would a room full of candles eliminate all shadows and thus prevent them from emerging?

Arnold started it all by collecting stuff for his equipment list on G+. Comment there, if you have additions. I wrote a post about how I would expand on the equipment list, also on G+. Comment there if you want to talk about the criteria to include or exclude items. Or leave your comment here, on the blog. :)

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2017-04-23 Cut, Copy and Paste

I wanted to add copy & paste to Gridmapper. But how? With access to the clipboard? And what kind of data would I use? I decided to leverage the existing text export and import functionality.

I wanted to use something like the selection on typical graphical user interfaces. Shift and the arrows keys extends the selection. But I have used Shift for other things:

  • Shift and the mouse doesn’t drag the pointer along, which is nice when trying to use the application with just the mouse; I switched that to Alt
  • Shift and the arrow keys draws the floor, which is nice when you’re using just the keyboard; I switched that to Alt as well
  • I allow Escape to get rid of the active selection
  • Do you think Delete and Backspace should delete the selection if it is currently active?
  • Mouse users: hold Shift while moving the mouse.
  • Also, no documentation. How to mention this on the help pane? How to integrate this into the demo?

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2017-04-21 Armor Pieces

A long time ago, I ran an M20 game in fantasy Japan. The weapon rules are available in English. The armor rules are available in German. This blog post is supposed to fix this.

Shields

Shields are hardly ever used. But you can use a tessen to defend yourself for AC +1 if you don’t attack this round.

Medium or Heavy Armour

If you care about how heavily armoured an opponent is, use the following:

Type AC
light armour AC +1 to +2
medium armour AC +3 to +4
heavy armour AC +5 and up

Simple Armor

Ashigaru are common soldiers and militia men. Their armour provides AC +3 and costs 25 gp.

Shinobi are assassins and spies. Their light armour allows them to move silently and hide in shadows. It provides AC +2 and costs 15 gp.

Armour

Warriors use various pieces of armour. Japanese armour consists of various pieces. Having a full set is rare. Armour is usually kept in a wooden box.

Armour AC Price
Dō (chest)+220
Kote (sleeves and gauntlets)+120
Suneate (shin guards)+120
Kusazuri (thigh, requires dō) and haidate (upper legs)+120
Sode (shoulder, requires dō)+120
Nodowa (throat and neck, requires sode)+120
Wakibiki (armpit, requires sode)+120
Kabuto (helmet)+120
Mempo (face mask, requires kabuto)+120

A full set grants AC +10 and costs 180 gp.

Low AC Games

If you prefer low AC games, and you use a Death & Dismemberment table, I have a solution for you.

Armour Effect
Dō (chest)AC +2
Kote (sleeves and gauntlets)arms cannot be cut off
Suneate (shin guards)legs cannot be cut off
Kusazuri (thigh, requires dō) and haidate (upper legs)AC +1
Sode (shoulder, requires dō)AC +1
Nodowa (throat and neck, requires sode)head cannot be cut off
Wakibiki (armpit, requires sode)AC +1
Kabuto (helmet)no fainting
Mempo (face mask, requires kabuto)no loss of eyes or teeth

The best armour now provides just AC +5. Remember: no shields! But you’re still hard to kill because you are now immune to many injuries.

Best case, using the table from Halberds and Helmets:

2d6
2decapitation avoided
3fatal wound 💀
4severed limb avoided
5broken bone
6⅔ of painful losses avoided (nose, eye, ear, teeth)
7–8knock out avoided, just stunned
9stun avoided, just knocked down
10knocked down
11no effect
12adrenaline surge

Discussion on G+.

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2017-04-13 Mastodon API

Testing the API with cURL provides a start.

Get a token for the imaginary app “Oddmuse”:

curl -X POST -d "client_name=Oddmuse&redirect_uris=urn:ietf:wg:oauth:2.0:oob&scopes=read" -Ss https://octodon.social/api/v1/apps

Get back a JSON thing that looks as follows:

{
  "id":1878,
  "redirect_uri":"urn:ietf:wg:oauth:2.0:oob",
  "client_id":"CLIENT_ID_HERE",
  "client_secret":"CLIENT_SECRET_HERE"
}

Use them, with your username and password:

curl -X POST -d "client_id=CLIENT_ID_HERE&client_secret=CLIENT_SECRET_HERE&grant_type=password&username=YOUR_EMAIL&password=YOUR_PASSWORD" -Ss https://octodon.social/oauth/token

Get back a JSON thing containg the auth token:

{
  "access_token":"ACCESS_TOKEN_HERE",
  "token_type":"bearer",
  "scope":"read",
  "created_at":1492100523
}

Now put that access token in a header and request a URL based on the ID you can see in the URL of a status, e.g. for https://octodon.social/web/statuses/504676, based in info in the API documentation.

curl --header "Authorization: Bearer ACCESS_TOKEN_HERE" -sS https://octodon.social/api/v1/statuses/504676/context

You’ll get a lot of JSON, so let’s save it in a file.

curl --header "Authorization: Bearer ACCESS_TOKEN_HERE" -sS https://octodon.social/api/v1/statuses/504676/context > context.json

Get the status itself and save it in a file:

curl --header "Authorization: Bearer ACCESS_TOKEN_HERE" -sS https://octodon.social/api/v1/statuses/504676 > status.json

Get jq. Test it online.

Let’s extract the HTML from the JSON and build a thread.html file.

jq ".ancestors|map(.content)|.[]" < context.json|sed -e 's/^"//' -e 's/"\r$//' -e 's/\\"/"/g' > thread.html
jq ".content" < status.json|sed -e 's/^"//' -e 's/"\r$//' -e 's/\\"/"/g' >> thread.html
jq ".descendants|map(.content)|.[]" < context.json|sed -e 's/^"//' -e 's/"\r$//' -e 's/\\"/"/g' >> thread.html

Turn it into text using w3m:

w3m -T text/html < thread.html | fmt > thread.txt

Result:

@lewisnyman Very much. I'd like to see "channels", on a /defined/ basis,
not / just/ definable by posters. That would let you filter content
by source and/or topic.  That should include a "personal" or "social"
context. And more than on channel might apply to a topic, e.g., "japan"
/and/ "politics", say.

@dredmorbius @lewisnyman ... but how would you handle individual users who
are posting about various topics (e. g. I post about financial economics
as well as other stuff)? Hashtags?

@stefanieschulte @dredmorbius @lewisnyman back on Usenet (for those who
are old enought to remember ;-) you didn&apos;t "follow" individuals,
but topics (aka newsgroups) instead. Which, IMO, was (and is) the better
concept, as I more often are interested in a topic than in all postings
by some individual.

@cynix @lewisnyman @dredmorbius @stefanieschulte Regarding USENET and
groups: remember the discussions regarding new newsgroups? The global
namespace, the kill lists, the trolls? It wasn&apos;t always great. No
need to repeat those mistakes.

@kensanata @stefanieschulte @dredmorbius @lewisnyman of course do I
remember all of Usenet, as I managed one of the largest German sites
during the 90s. And while there where certain problems, I don&apos;t see
where these are solved in todays fragmented infrastructure of social
sites, bulletin boards (yuck) or walled gardens. And I doubt that the
ephemeral "streams of consciousness" here are better either. We need
mix of the best from old and new, not just "new"

@cynix @kensanata @stefanieschulte @lewisnyman I also want to
disintermediate the underlying characteristics and systems of Usenet. Most
especially the technical and social, and not confounding them.

Realising also that Usenet and the early Internet operated within the
walled garden of academia and technology companies. It selected a subset
of a subset of society.

Joseph Wood Krutch, "A bad road is a good filter" is another useful idea.

@lewisnyman @stefanieschulte @kensanata @cynix
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Joseph_Wood_Krutch

@dredmorbius @lewisnyman @stefanieschulte @cynix I guess my main
point is this: an observable bad was trolls on Usenet but also toxic
people in local special interest groups (what Stefanie mentioned). I
see the common thread being namespace competition. There is only one
comp.lang.lisp. There is only one LUG Zürich, and so on. Which is
why federation of servers, name spacing of hashtags, multiplicity of
Communities and Collections on G+.

@kensanata @stefanieschulte @lewisnyman @dredmorbius to make that clear:
I favor the technical infrastructure of Usenet, because here (or even
worse on bulletin boards, which are a rather nasty kind of walled garden)
I have little chance of archiving an interesting thread for later or
offline reading or condensing the information contained.

BTW, I still can connect to e.g. News.Individual.DE for lively and
friendly discussions in various newsgroups.

@cynix @kensanata @stefanieschulte @lewisnyman I suspect you /can/
d/l / archive threads on Mastodon / OSocial, if only by running your
own instance.

There are several console / CLI clients already, a Mastodon / OSocial
front-end based on, say, rtin or mutt, might be feasible, and could
be interesting.

Though that takes technical chops for now. Building that into the Web
clients / chat tools would be a plus.

Especially a "grab thread" feature.

@dredmorbius @cynix @stefanieschulte @lewisnyman A simple bookmarklet
should allow you to download a thread as a document?

@kensanata @cynix @stefanieschulte @lewisnyman Probably. Hrm.

It’s not bad. All it’s missing is the author, I think? With a bit of Perl instead of jq it should be easy to fix this. Here’s how to get the usernames posting the status…

jq ".ancestors|map(.account.username,.content)|.[]" < context.json

Oh well, endless joy! :)

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Bookmarks:

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-15 21:30 UTC


Trying to compile Don on my laptop:

fknsrs.biz/p/don
--> Building server JavaScript bundle
docker: Cannot connect to the Docker daemon at unix:///var/run/docker.sock. Is the docker daemon running?.
See 'docker run --help'.
make: *** [build/entry-server-bundle.js] Error 125

See Docker via Homebrew.

brew install docker docker-machine webpack
brew cask install virtualbox
docker-machine create main
eval $(docker-machine env main)
npm install --save-dev webpack
make

That doesn’t work. I also tried to install webpack using Homebrew, but got the same error:

--> Building server JavaScript bundle
yarn run v0.22.0
$ NODE_ENV=production webpack -p --bail --config webpack.config.server.js 
sh: 1: webpack: not found
error Command failed with exit code 127.
info Visit https://yarnpkg.com/en/docs/cli/run for documentation about this command.
make: *** [build/entry-server-bundle.js] Error 1

And with that, I have decided that the infrastructure required for this project is too complicated for my liking.

– Alex Schroeder 2017-04-17 19:34 UTC

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2017-04-12 Preise für Rollenspielbücher

Weil auf G+ jemand einen Kommentar von mir mit +1 markiert hat, bin ich wieder auf die Diskussion zu den Preisen in Rollenspielmarkt gekommen und wollte meine Kommentare noch auf den Blog retten.

Diejenigen unter euch, die unglücklich mit der aktuellen Situation sind, leiden meiner Meinung nach einfach unter dem Kapitalismus unserer Zeit. Was nützt es jetzt, hier über die fehlende Grösse des Marktes, die unerbitterliche Preisbildung über Angebot und Nachfrage, die Selbstausbeutung, den Zwang zur Arbeit und zum Geldverdienen oder die ungerechte Verteilung von Erfolg in einem globalisierten Markt zu klagen? Das ist eine interessante, politische Diskussion, hat aber mit Rollenspiel im Besonderen nichts zu tun. Den Musikern geht es ja nicht besser. Eine Lotterie, wo ein paar wenige gewinnen, und die anderen an der Armutsgrenze oder Teilzeit oder halt eben als Amateure mitmachen – und genau so wie wir alle klagen. Aber ich für mich überlese all diese Kommentare und Diskussionen gerne, da ich davon ausgehe, dass es fruchtlos ist. Genau wie die Hobbymusiker, Hobbymaler, Hobbytänzer und Hobbyrollenspielschreiber, schreibe ich meine freie Software und verteile diese gratis an jeden, der sie möchte, auch wenn meine Frau es nicht fassen kann, wenn so viel Gratisarbeit hier geleistet wird. Was soll ich sagen? Was nützt es jetzt, über die fehlende Grösse des Marktes, die unerbitterliche Preisbildung über Angebot und Nachfrage, die Selbstausbeutung, den Zwang zur Arbeit und zum Geldverdienen oder die ungerechte Verteilung von Erfolg in einem globalisierten Markt zu klagen? Es wiederholt sich alles. Es ändert sich nichts. Mit dem Kapitalismus muss man sich arrangieren oder eine politische Diskussion führen.

Ich kann halt nur von mir auf andere schliessen. Wenn Kevin Crawford ein PDF macht, welches mir passt, zahle ich $10. Wenn es ein altes D&D PDF gibt, welches ich haben will, zahle ich $5. Wenn Blogger wie Courtney Campell oder Brendan S aber ihre PDFs für $10 verkaufen wollen, denke ich schon, ach was, eigentlich brauche ich das ja nicht wirklich. In den letzten Jahren ist meine Zahlungsbereitschaft ständig gesunken, weil meine Regal voller ungelesenem Material stehen, weil ich nichts mehr gedruckt haben will, und so weiter. Deswegen vermute ich, dass ich schon gar nicht mehr zur Zielgruppe der 70€ Verlage gehöre. Aber was für Schlussfolgerungen kann ich aus dieser Anekdote ziehen? Keine, vermutlich. Es gibt immer einige wenige, welche für ein schönes Buch viel zahlen, es gibt immer viele, welche ein Buch nicht kaufen, weil sie die Preise zu teuer finden, Monte Cook und John Wick können unglaubliche Beträge mobilisieren, andere nicht… Aber diese Leute haben halt auch schon vorher (bei mir) einen sehr viel höheren Bekanntheitsgrad gehabt. Irgendwie habe ich das Gefühl, aus diesen Beobachten könne man genau gleich keine Schlussfolgerungen ziehen, ausser vielleicht: “alles ist möglich” oder vielleicht auch: “das lässt sich alles nicht miteinander vergleichen”. Monte Cook ist da eher wie Michael Jackson: Glück gehabt! Alle anderen: Weiter mit der brotlosen Kunst. Ja, es wäre theoretisch möglich, dass jemand ein Rollenspielbuch auf Deutsch für 70€ herausbringen kann und keiner der Beteiligten sich selber ausbeuten musste. Die Chancen scheinen mir aber klein zu sein. Und hier meine ich eben, dass es sich nicht lohnt, auf die Details zu schauen: Was macht Kevin Crawford im Detail genau richtig? Was für Vorleistungen musste Monte Cook genau erbringen? Denn: Was genau haben alle anderen gemacht? Warum sind so viele alte Hasen in die Videospielindustrie abgewandert? Am Ende bleibt eben nur die Systemkritik. Ein globaler Markt, winner takes all, die Lotterie der ganzen Sache, die Bereitschaft zur Selbstausbeutung, weil es eben auch ein Hobby ist, nicht wie Strassenputzen und Kellnern und all die anderen schlecht bezahlten Jobs, die wenigstens nicht unter das Existenzminimum fallen (hoffe ich). Wenn jemand mir also sagt, 70€ Rollenspiele sind möglich, dann höre ich nur, es ist möglich, die Lotterie zu gewinnen. Wie viele Leute dabei aber auf der Strecke bleiben, weiss niemand. Wir, die normalen Leute, die Hobbyisten, diejenigen, welche dem Traum nachhängen, von einer Arbeit, die wir lieben, zu leben, wir werden nicht gezählt. Der amerikanische Traum, from rags to riches, ist eben nur ein Traum. Eine Lotterie. Da nützt weder Klage noch Aufruf. Um mich zu überzeugen, müsste man ein Argument aufführen, welches für alle anderen Künstler auch gilt – für Musiker, Maler, Tänzer, Schauspieler.

Ich bin immer skeptisch, wenn ich höre, dass irgendwelche Produkte für irgendwelche anderen Produkte den Markt kaputt machen. Gilt das Argument in der Musik auch? All die schlechten Bands machen den Markt für die super guten Bands kaputt? Überschwemmen uns mit Billigsongs? Ersticken die schlechten Bands die Liebhaber der guten Musik? Nein. Die Schwemme der Heartbreakers sind keine Erklärung für die finanzielle Misere, und der Unterschied zwischen Sammlern und Spielern ist auch keine Erklärung für die finanzielle Misere. Fakt ist nur, dass der Markt für Spieler klein ist (da die Sammler nicht dazu gehören), und das erklärt ja schon alles: geringe Umsätze, geringe Löhne.

Das Herumhacken auf den Sammlern bringt gar nichts. Wo betreffen die mich denn? Wenn die Sammler Briefmarken sammeln würden, wäre der Effekt genau gleich. Es gibt Produkte für Sammler, welche mich als Spieler nicht interessieren. Vielleicht entstehen so natürlich Erwartungen bei den Spielern. Wie beispielsweise, dass die Bücher etwa gleich teuer sein könnten. Aber der Blick auf andere Märkte bringt nichts und hat noch nie etwas gebracht. Warum ist Putzen schlecht bezahlt und CEO sein nicht? Da gibt es endlose Diskussionen aber für unsere Diskussion ist nur relevant, dass unsere Wirtschaftsordnung keinen Gerechtigkeitsanspruch hat. Wir haben einen Rechtstaat, keinen Gerechtstaat. Deswegen ist es müssig, die Preise von Videospielen und Rollenspielen zu vergleichen. Selbst wenn die Stunden aller Entwickler messen würde, bliebe die Welt ungerecht. Ausser wir wollen für eine gerechtere Welt kämpfen oder über Grundeinkommen oder Kultursteuer oder den Kommunismus reden.

Fakt ist einzig: das Markt ist so winzig, gemessen an der Zahl der Kunden bin ich ganz mit dir einig, wir haben eine absolute Überproduktion und entsprechend auch tiefe Preise (ausser für die wenigen Gewinner der Lotterie). Und mehr gibt es dazu nicht zu sagen, denke ich. Das Schimpfen lohnt sich nicht. Will man den Hobbymusikern das Musizieren verbieten? Den Hobbyprogrammieren das veröffentlichen ihrer freien Software? Natürlich nicht. Den Rollenspielern will man also das veröffentlichen der Heartbreakers auch nicht verbieten.

Schlechte Qualität? Ist doch kein Problem, du musst ja nicht alles kaufen! Ich will auch nur den besten Wein trinken, und kaufe deswegen selten Wein. Ich will auch nur den besten Tee trinken, und kaufe deswegen selten Tee. Ich will auch nur gute Kinofilme sehen, und gehe deswegen selten ins Kino. Ist doch super? Rezensionen lesen, Schrott nicht konsumieren, dem ständigen Kaufen! Kaufen! Kaufen! einfach etwas Behäbigkeit entgegensetzen. Das machst du natürlich auch, und ich verstehe auch, dass man sich wünscht, dass Lipton Yellow Label oder Twinings Green Tea vom Markt genommen wird, dass man empört unter Freunden über den miserablen Dreck schimpft, der mit riesigen Budgets im Kino landet, und dann lachen wir alle ein wenig, aber so wirklich bringt die Diskussion natürlich nichts. Denn uns ist ja allen klar, wie die Welt funktioniert. Naja, manche träumen vielleicht davon, dass der Rollenspielmarkt anders sei, als es aussieht. Grösser, zum Beispiel. Oder von qualitätsbesessenen Lektoren bevölkert. Aber das ist natürlich nicht so, war nie so, und ist auch sonst nirgends so.

Rezensionen, Aufrufe, Diskussionen über die Qualität im Guten wie im Schlechten, absolut. Der Markt braucht natürlich gut informierte Kunden. Was auch legitim ist: einfach nicht konsumieren. Wenig kaufen. Oder: Bei der Frage nach Haben oder Sein die richtige Entscheidung fällen. Ich bin vor allem Rollenspieler, nicht Rollenspielbesitzer. Ich schreibe wenig Rezensionen, weil ich kaum etwas verwende. Die Lektionen der letzten zehn Jahre habe ich gelernt.

Klar, hoher Preis heisst nicht automatisch hohe Qualität. Aber wir drehen uns auch ein wenig im Kreis, hier. Der Markt ist verdammt klein. Vielleicht gibt es schlicht und einfach kein günstiges, schönes und nützliches Rollenspielbuch für den deutschen Markt. Wenn es das gäbe, würde es sich herumsprechen, da bin ich überzeugt. Deswegen: Es könnte ein solches Buch geben, das 70€ wert wäre. Es könnte ein paar Leute geben, die sich für ihr Buch nicht selber ausgebeutet haben. Aber aus den weiter oben dargelegten Gründen ist es verdammt unwahrscheinlich. Und weder mehr Kunden noch höhere Zahlungsbereitschaft lassen sich herbeireden, genau so wenig wie wir den Dschinn des desktop publishing und des print on demand wieder zurück in seine Lampe kriegen.

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2017-04-10 GPG Key Expiration

Today, I was greeted with the following as I was trying to save an crypted file from Emacs:

Error while encrypting with "gpg2":

gpg: XXX: übersprungen: unbrauchbarer öffentlicher Schlüssel
gpg: [stdin]: encryption failed: unbrauchbarer öffentlicher Schlüssel

What? Confirmation was easy. The key had expired.

$ gpg --list-keys XXX

Superuser to the rescue. Edit the key, change the expiration date, save, verify, and send to key servers.

$ gpg --edit-key XXX
gpg> expire
(follow prompts)
gpg> save
$ gpg --list-keys XXX
$ gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --send-keys

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2017-04-08 Well Meaning Google Plus Spam

I’m a moderator in a handful of G+ Communities. Sometimes I’ll visit one them and see a bright green dot inside the green “MODERATE” button. I click the link and see G+ decided that a bunch of posts looked like spam. Sometimes they look like spam to me, too. The rest of them look like something that seems like on-topic spam if there is such a phrase. People post a few words and a link to their blog post. This is not cool because a few more words would be way cooler. In addition to that, however, when I check their profile I see that these people have posted the same link post to plenty of communities.

What is a moderator to do in this situations? My personal preference would be for people to be more specific. Just post it in one community. Or if you can’t quite decide between RPG, OSR, B/X or any of the others, then perhaps it doesn’t actually belong in a community but it should simply be a public post by yourself. People who are interested will start following you.

As a reader, I think I prefer a Community that has less link posts and that has less repeats I’ve already seen. That’s why, as a moderator, I’ll just delete posts that G+ flagged as spam if they’re the kind of repeated link posts. What do you think?

Also: does this need to be in some sort of “intro” post for each community? Or should I tell people whose flagged posts I’m not going to approve?

As the discussion on G+ showed, people seem to agree that these posts are considered spam and that I should say as much in the introduction to the community.

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2017-04-08 Mastodon

Every now and then I wonder about alternatives to Google+. I hardly go back to Twitter because I don’t know what I want from it. My following strategy has resulted in my feed being full of journalists and politicians, which ended up making it an unpleasant and exhausting experience. There are some friendly nicks I recognise, but really the thing I like about G+ is that I managed to get a feed full of conversation about role-playing games. This is great.

But there are all these weird changes to the user interface. And today I learned about yet another Twitter alternative. Mastodon.

If you want to jump ahead, take a look at the Mastodon User's Guide.

I like the creation story: “Eugen Rochko was annoyed with Twitter. The company had made a series of changes that he thought eroded the value of the service: limiting how big third-party applications could grow, for example, and implementing an algorithm-driven timeline that made Twitter feel uncomfortably similar to Facebook.” – Mastodon.social is an open-source Twitter competitor that’s growing like crazy

There are also some people that like how it is federated, allowing each server to use it’s own rules. Some people like this very much. “In fact, mastodon.social bans Nazis. Not even implicitly, but explicitly.” – Mastodon Is Like Twitter Without Nazis, So Why Are We Not Using It?

Other people don’t like how federation means that user names are not unique. Personally, I like that. I find it incredible how we keep implementing global names. This won’t scale for the next ten thousand years. Eventually, at some point in time, global names don’t make sense. First users get cool names like alexschroeder, everybody else gets awkwardnames like alexschroeder.1; federation helps. But not everybody likes it. See Taking A Ride On Mastodon.

Anyway, I created an account on Octodon, which is one of the servers running the software. I picked it from a list because it had a lot of users, and had an A+ for it’s HTTPS, and it was far up on the list. See Mastodon instances.

Also, the About page says: “Seriously though: It should be similar to mastodon.social. NSFW/any legal porn is allowed, but tag it as NSFW or make it unlisted or less. Trolls are only allowed if they’re quiet; you can shitpost but not harass someone, and my threshold is pretty low. I’m not Twitter, I’ll fuck up nazis and bullies for fun, and get an AI to do it if I get bored. I’m your nice cyberpunk queen and I intend to keep this place decent and safe for everyone.” – Octodon: More. I like her title.

Anyway, giving this a try using the following account:

Politics of Mastodon, I guess? What is GNU Social and is Mastodon Social a Twitter Clone?

Recommended reading: What I wish I knew before joining Mastodon. “Words in toots aren’t searchable yet, but hashtags are.” Users are also searchable, e.g. “@qinaliu@mastodon.social”.

How to find new people to follow: Check your local and federated timelines, click on stuff you like and read the conversations. Follow people that seem interested, and the people they are talking with.

No global timeline, no followbots: To me, federation and “losing” stuff from other instances is what will rescue the local and federated timelines. It’s what will allow us to build different communities. And I have two Mastodon accounts on different instances in order to do precisely that. Conversely, I hate the followbots that “import” users from other instances even though nobody on the local instances subscribed to them.

No global names: Do you really like global names? Imagine a world that used global names for 1000 years. To me, it clearly does not scale. Some sort of context will always be required. I just think that the existence of other people called Alex does not limit us. Email addresses work the same. The appearance of big global namespaces like Gmail, Facebook and Twitter, and maybe AIM and ICQ before them, made all the difference. Suddenly people wanted global names. But IRC doesn’t have global names, mail doesn’t, people in real life don’t. The “problem” is expectation and the solution is expectation management.

For now, my multiple accounts on different instances are separate entities, like different email accounts. The fact that they belong to the same person is a property stored in contact databases of the people I know, or not. Which is as it should be. I might want to have a client that allows me to easily switch identities.

A FAQ of sorts, with interwoven comments, by “Dr. Edward Morbius”.

And some thoughts for the future: Mastodon Systemic Sustainability.

Thoughts about the project’s history: Mourning Mastodon.

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Comments on 2017-04-08 Mastodon

Now that I’ve been on Octodon for a bit, I feel like the local timeline is not at all what I typically care about, so perhaps that means it is time to look for greener pastures elsewhere? And of course there is no way to check a local time line unless you sign up, and once you decide to move, there is no way to delete your account.

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-13 05:34 UTC


Is there a “how to use micro blogging?” I think there isn’t. Or none that I know of. Ideally, you signed up to an instance that is sort of into something you are interested in, and then you look at the local timeline and reply to random people, and follow them if what they say is interesting enough for you to want more. And if that doesn’t bring you joy after a day, then short form blogging like Twitter, Mastodon, or GNU Social just isn’t for you in 2017?

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-13 20:43 UTC


The reason I think about the “right” instance is because i think a local timeline with folks that share a@common interest makes it easier to find new people to follow. That’s harder to do if the local timeline is in a different language, or people who don’t share my interests. And since the locals decide which toots get imported from other instances the federated timeline is similarly affected. Picking the right instance is important.

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-14 20:14 UTC


Preview local and federated timelines of Mastodon instances without signing up, by Kevin Marks.

Now go through the complete list??

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-15 20:10 UTC


Interesting tootstorm by Edward Morbius.

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-17 16:37 UTC


Mastodon, Twitter and publics 2017-04-24 by Kevin Marks.

– AlexSchroeder 2017-04-24 16:14 UTC


If you want to run a game on Mastodon: Have the referee make a new account. Then, if I’m participating in that game, I just start my post by @’ing the referee. Then, unless you also follow the referee, you won’t see it. [1]

Note that the referee account always has to come first!

Hashtags won’t work because some clients like Amaroq don’t support it. On the web, click on the “sliders” button on the top right of the home timeline. Put #rp\b" in the regular expression filter, in the “Advaced” section. Filtering multiple topics, use (weather|dogs|#rp\b|green) The \b means “end of the word”, in order to filter out #rp, while sparing #rpg. [2]

– Alex Schroeder 2017-04-24 20:12 UTC

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2017-04-07 Worldbuilding

I really hate useless history in setting material. That’s information that players will never discover unless it is read to them in a boring monologue. Then again, I just listened to a podcast where somebody says that the warehouses now filled with artists and lofts are there because traditional shipping and warehousing was replaced by containers. I imagined an Orientalist bazaar in the carcass of a fallen civilisation and thought, this is D&D!

But how to create this? I need a handful of layers. Each historic layer is identifiable by architecture, providing early warning signs to players, as well as signalling the kinds of traps and treasures to be found. Over it all a sequence of immigrations from the top to the bottom, letting players interact with contemporary dangers as well as older, established powers. Say, four layers, four immigration waves. Perhaps the orcs did not reach the deepest levels, perhaps there are no astral gates and their Grell invaders at the surface, so we won’t have to think about all combinations, but there will be enough variation nonetheless.

Maybe take a sheet of paper, draw four interlinked circles for the historic layers, and on top of that, another four interlinked circles for the immigrations. Then draw a point crawl on top of that and let all the locations be influenced by the circles they are in – one or two historic layers for architecture, traps, treasure, items, and one or two immigrations for current denizens.

Instant lore and theme for your megadungeon or wilderness?

I guess you could say I want to create an underworld that feels like it might have been the result of How to Host a Dungeon without actually playing the game.

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2017-04-01 Hayfever

Ok, it’s definitely back. The last day or two I started noticing it but now my nose is running again. It started at about the same time that bees and wasps have made an appearance.

That correlates pretty much with birch bloom, sich started on March 28.

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