I’m back in the office, after enjoying three months of the good life.
I have over 4000 mails in my inbox, most of them spam.
Somehow my account has been wiped: ThunderBird no longer remembered me. Trying to adapt myself to the IT vision of my office, I decided to try and organize my mail using… Tadadadada :star: :star: ** Outlook!! :star: :star:
fishbone: :fishbone: :fishbone: :fishbone: :danger: :danger: :danger: :warning: :warning:
This is going to be fun.
Publication would probably require a title, labels, and a compass rose.
Take a look at the other submissions.
Update: Unfortunately, my map is doing very badly in the poll. Why are they using a survey to determine the winner? I think that’s how you get average results, not outstanding stuff. Even if you were not going to vote for my map ;) – I think another noteworthy map that is helium3’s map:
And yet, that map currently has only 4/155 votes. Too bad.
For my own game, I’d probably use the black and white map:
I was at the V-Con in Villingen this weekend. I arrived Saturday around 17:00 and stayed until Sunday 17:00. It’s interesting to note that most Germans play Das Schwarze Auge (DSA), aka. Wikipedia:The Dark Eye.
No Dungeons & Dragons… Strange to think that many German-speaking players have no idea who Monte Cook is, who have never heard of Eberron, Greyhawk, and the Forgotten Realms.
I took along the German translation of the M20 rules, empty character sheets, equipment list, and two adventures.
Update: I played in a group of Das Schwarze Auge as a level 1 adventurer, played a class-less, level-less homebrew, and ran an M20 session using Slave Raiders Of Rockwall by Bert the Ogre.
Here’s how the session went, from the EN World thread:
There were about 20 adventurers present in the hall where the baron announced the prize, and the baron’s hunter offered a little map showing the are north of the Rinau river with of the four farms and two lodges burnt. While travelling, getting lost, fighting woodland creatures, and trying to storm the castle, the other adventurers offered a convenient means of getting help & healing.
My three level 1 players (two fighters and a mage) finally found the help of another party of four including a cleric, but even with their help, fighting stick-men in the forest, dire rats, and small monstrous spiders proved to be too much. When the goblins finally fought back, throwing javelins from the walls and with a sortie on wolf-back, the party managed to shoot down a wolf rider, fight back the others, bandage the fallen goblin, and retreat back into the forest. When threatened, the goblin mentioned the drow hiding beneath the castle, and access to a large city underground.
At this point, my party had been hit too hard, and felt their doom approaching in large strides. They returned to the baron, told him what they knew, handed over the goblin, got a reward of 50gp for their pains, and gave up.
I think the straw that broke their back was the goblin cook evading all attacks and striking them with his pan while calling for help…
Here’s what I wrote on the EN World M20 thread regarding the M20 rules:
Some people wanted to play Das Schwarze Auge exclusively and gave M20 a pass. Other’s liked the idea of a homebrew. One of the D&D properties that is part of M20 made little sense to some of the players: Weak mages at low levels. Tied to that, loosing hit-points for spell casting was not well received. Even the one player who knew D&D in and out felt somehow constrained by it, always wondering whether spending those hit-points was actually worth it. This same player also wondered about warriors and claimed that magic users wearing armor and fighting would be much better off. (But he played a fighter anyway.) I remained unconvinced and continue to believe that the system works well.
The simple character creation was well received. Combat and skill checks were well received.
We had no fighter with multiple attacks or STR ≥ 17 with a two-handed weapon, so there was no discussion of lower-level fighters being overpowered.
As a DM, I think the party was too weak without any healing powers, and fighting against rats (even dire rats) and having to retreat was frustrating for players. Similarly, the party lost its bearing in the alluvial forest and I wanted to take the opportunity to have them meet stick men, angry stone-throwing trees and finally the wicker king. If played well, I thought those woodland creatures might make good allies against the goblins. But the players did not want to move to the west when the stick men tried to prevent them from moving north towards the heart of the forest. Instead, they pulled out torches and fought them with fire. Even when they later found the friendly party of four to help them out, they didn’t think of finding more friends, and were thus unable to make significant progress.
Unfortunately, the low-key end of the game was entirely my fault and had nothing to do with the rules used.
Things to remember:
In an attempt to share bookmarks between home and work, I’ve installed the del.icio.us add-on for Firefox. I’m not yet sure I like it. How will I use the “named bookmarks” now? (Where I type “leo stupendous” into the address bar and Firefox automatically looks up the word using LEO?
Anyway, here’s what I have installed:
I recently read a letter to the editor in a German magazine somewhere saying something along the lines of the following (sorry, can’t find the real quote anymore):
When the last ego-shooter has been banned, when the last porn site has been taken down, and when the last youth has been locked out of all social networking sites, parents will realize that they’ll still have to raise their kids by themselves.
I was reminded of that while reading Tim Lee’s “Project Online Safety” and Other New Internet Safety Initiatives.
I’m currently reading Byzantium: The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich. Interesting read, and makes me want to go back to Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.
The weird thing is, however, that my Penguin History edition is missing pages 97 to 272! What on earth… ?
For severe defects such as missing pages or improper binding, please return the book to the store where you purchased it and they will replace the copy. 
Argh! I must have ordered this books months ago from Amazon Germany. This sucks.
Makes me want to steal an online version… ;)
Update: Actually I just discovered that the pages 97 to 144 were replaced by an extra copy of pages 273 to 320. I’m still missing some pages, however.
Today I wanted to rip the audio tracks of yet another DVD for Claudia for her portable MP3 player. This used to work quite well (2007-01-19 Extract MP3 and Metadata from DVD). I’m not sure what happened in the mean time, but MPlayer refused to play
dvd://1 and friends.
I tried playing the DVD with VLC, and that worked. In the “Open Volume” dialog I noticed that VLC was playing from
/dev/rdisk1. So I tried the following:
mplayer dvd:1 -dvd-device /dev/rdisk1
And this is what I got:
… MPlayer was compiled without libdvdread support.
sudo port install mplayer +dvdread
… checking for dvdcss/dvdcss.h… no configure: error: You need libdvdcss (dvdcss.h)
Going back even further:
sudo port install libdvdcss
That worked! Redoing what I was doing:
sudo port install mplayer +dvdread
Error: Target com.apple.build returned: shell command "cd "/opt/local/var/db/dports/build/_opt_local_var_db_dports_sources_rsync.rsync.darwinports.org_dpupdate_dports_multimedia_MPlayer/work/MPlayer-1.0rc1" && LD=cc make all" returned error 2
Command output: symbol _fmodl used from dynamic library /usr/lib/libstdc++.6.dylib(single module) not from earlier dynamic library /usr/lib/libSystem.B.dylib(ld64.o)
This was on my iBook with OSX 10.3.
Out of curiosity, I checked the Mini with OSX 10.4. There, everything worked.
I really need to remove the software from the iBook so that it no longer confuses me.
As I keep reading the EN World website, I think I’ll have to start keeping a list of adventures I might want to buy. If I don’t, I’ll end up buying tons now and never playing any! So that’s what I’ll do: Keep an AdventureWishlist.
A few days ago an Oddmuse user from Canada asked whether I’d be willing to do some work for hire, or if I knew somebody who did. A few days before that, a Swiss friend asked a similar question. I declined the offers and offered to pass along some contact info of developers I knew from IRC or real life.
I guess developers interested in making some money should create a page on oddmuse.org so that users can find them.
The same user from Canada then asked for the donation button. I said that there was none and told him that if he wanted to show his appreciation, he should donate some money to charity instead and let me know about it.
This is basically along the lines of what I said for Emacs Wiki:
If you like the site and want to contribute something, contribute either time or money: Write content, fix typos, clean up pages by removing old discussions, merging and splitting pages, and linking up and down the page hierarchy. If you do not have time, you can always donate money. Show your support by saying on your homepage on this wiki how much you donated to charity because of the Emacs Wiki. That would be awesome. 
This user then proceeded to donate $150 to UNICEF because of Oddmuse… Awesome.
It might be more appropriate than asking me… After all, the kind of conversation you’d hear on
My portable MP3 player, the iAUDIO G3, sometimes has problems with certain files: It will crash when it encounters them. This includes all the files from the podcast “12 Byzantine Emperors” – I assume they are too large.
Yesterday I decided to visit the product’s homepage, and indeed, there is a firmware upgrade available.
And it requires Windows.
Other operating systems, beware. No GNU/Linux or Mac OS X versions available.
I had to do the firmware upgrade at work. How lousy.
When creating non-player characters in my games, I often feel hassled by all the rules. Even if I pick very simple rules like the M20 rules, magic users remain tricky. What spells to pick? I’ll have to take a look at PCGen:
PCGen is a character generator for role-playing games. It currently is aimed at supporting as many RPGs as is humanly possible. The project’s current focus is on OGL games (OGL is Wizards of the Coast’s Open Gaming License). PCGen runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Unix/Linux using Java 1.4/1.5. 
I freely admit that the Java part is not enouraging. ;)
Update: It turns out that PC Gen is not what I want. It knows the rules, and it prints a nice character sheet, but it doesn’t generate the NPCs for me.
Hm. What to do. Try and reimplement something like it in Emacs? Perhaps it would make more sense to reimplement something like it on the web (using Perl). Hm…
(In a recent EN World thread , I offered some advice for running an “organic” campaign – a campaign where players can go in any direction, finding adventure wherever they go. Here’s what I wrote.)
Some ideas for this kind of organic campaign: You need to present foes that come from other places (a hook), are looking for a certain item (another hook), are too strong for the party so they need to look for an ally (another hook), villains that manage to escape and return to fight another day (makes them feel at home), a safe place to return to and defend (home sweet home), etc.
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.
Some examples from my current campaign to illustrate these ideas:
The important part is that I haven’t prepared anything about this valley, yet. But I’ve planted powerful cues that adventure is to be had there, and should the party turn there, I’ll start working on it. For now I’ve spend time detailing the bandit castle, adding turtle demons (kappa), a long lost magic weapon by a powerful demonhunter, an evil cleric helping the bandits, trying to ursup the position as band leader and founding an evil cult. (Haven’t decided on his masters, yet.)
And so on. Plant hooks, and don’t be afraid to reuse people and places. Don’t work too far ahead.
(And, as I found out later, this is old advice: “Never force yourself to create more than you must.” – Dungeoncraft, from Dragon Magazine 256, by Ray Winninger )
I just realized that all three are based on novels by Shuuhei Fujisawa, according to the IMDB. 
Update: 2007-06-12 Hidden Blade.
Weird. GIMPshop is the Gimp with a Photoshop interface. “Its primary purpose is to make users of Photoshop feel comfortable using GIMP.” Since I have never used Photoshop, I don’t think I have a use for it, but I like the idea that makes this possible.
Let’s hope the copyright lawyers don’t go crazy.
I’m still reading Byzantium: The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich. It gets better and better. I love this book. Anybody interested in ancient history should read this. Less detailed (and less laborious for a poor English as a second language reader like me) than the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.
As I said previously, however, my copy of the “Penguin History” book has missing pages. Better order it from a local bookshop and check before you buy it, instead of ordering it online.
It’s fascinating to think how the Byzantines could rise in revolt and come close to civil war because of such intriguing questions as to whether Christ’s nature was both divine and human (Wikipedia:Orthodoxy), just human (Wikipedia:Nestorianism), just divine (Wikipedia:Monophysitism), or whether he was actually created by God (Wikipedia:Arianism)… Yay for bloodshed in the name of religious fervor!
No matter whose side you’re own, however, Wikipedia is teh bestest!
It may not be perfect. It sure beats trying to find other easily accessible texts to link to.
We saw Hoodwinked (2005) on DVD and had a good time. Actually, the first part of the movie was hilarious, and the second part was ok. I liked the not-perfect animation style. Very nice touch.
Some days ago we saw Die Brücke von Remagen (1968). It was ok entertainment. I liked how both sides of the war were portrayed as essentially rational, unlike these days, where most people on the “other” side seem to be some crazy-ass monster-guys.
I’m forwarding all my mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to my Gmail account. I realized I didn’t want to start Thunderbird anymore. Having to sift through a dozen spam mails just to find the occasional mail I cared about turned me off. I ended up reading those mails about once a week. No good.
Last weekend I wanted to gather some experience using the D&D 3.5 rules (my current campaign is still using the very simple M20 rules). More and more, my players start asking questions – why a rogue gets to do extra damage in this or that situation, how much cover they should be getting, why they cannot transfer some of their to-hit bonus to their damage roll, and they start noticing the simplicity of the skill system.
And since I wanted to provide a gentle roleplaying introduction to Claudia, I offered to run the free The Wizard's Amulet by Necromancer Games. The rules worked fine, and we ended after the first combat. It was funny to see how she didn’t quite want to hurt the baby Leucrotta. After the game I decided that I shall try to have more talking and less combat the next time we try this.
I really need to find a lot more players!
(When I showed her my Fudge dice, and rolled a +4 on my first try, she had to try as well, but failed a dozen times. Her face was fun to watch. Hehehe…)