Page Collection for ^2008-12

2008-12-02 Rise of the Runelords

We started our second M20 Hard Core playtest (2008-09-22 Some Paizo GameMastery using M20 HC coming up) – Crucible of Chaos by Wolfgang Baur for level 8 characters. After the session we started talking about our future plans. By now I’ve come to realize that my Monday group prefers D&D 3.5 to M20 and its variants (2008-10-14 Cannot Please Them All). We discussed switching our M20 characters to D&D 3.5 characters to finish the module, or starting over with D&D 3.5 first level characters and a new adventure path – Rise of the Runelords.

And we decided to start Rise of the Runelords next week.

I mentioned my reservations regarding tactical play – I prefer No Battlemap, I prefer no rules lookup (even though I do it myself sometimes, shame on me), I prefer less rules in general. We talked about the problem of character optimization making non-optimizing players feel out of place, we talked about books beyond the three core books (and decided to allow feats on a case-by-case basis and the Duskblade. We decided against races such as the half aasimar. I also mentioned my frustration with buffing, multiple attacks, and similar fun killers at higher levels. We decided to play the adventure path up to level nine and then see whether we want to continue or not.

James also offered to run a different campaign every other Monday. That’s good news; he also runs our Shackled City campaign.

I shall spend some time reading volume #1 of the adventure path. I’m not sure whether I should invest time in reading other DM’s campaign journals or dedicated forums. I tend to loose a lot of time and I’m not sure the info helps improve my game appropriately. Most people – me included – tend to write too much diluting the helpful info.

Which is why I should stop here. :)

Tags: RSS M20 Hard Core

Comments on 2008-12-02 Rise of the Runelords

Sounds like a plan :)

greywulf 2008-12-02 01:16 UTC

If buffing is a problem an no fun, is a possible solution just to omit all buffing spells?

– Chris 2008-12-02 09:48 UTC

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2008-12-03 Viele Spieler Ohne Ende

Vor einiger Zeit (2008-09-21 Kampagne mit einem dutzend Spieler) hatte ich mal von einem D&D Spiel hier Zürich berichtet, welches ähnlich wie die West Marches mit jeder Menge Spieler in wechselnder Zusammensetzung läuft. Die Grenzmarken laufen immer noch!

Wie man sieht haben wir einen zweiten Spielleiter gefunden, so dass Peter auch als Spieler fungiert. Auch hat sich gezeigt, dass einige Spieler deutlich weniger oft spielen als andere. Dies führte schon zu diversen Diskussionen auf der Webseite, als sich für einen Abend zuviele Spieler angemeldet hatten, aber mir scheint, dass bis jetzt immer noch alle glücklich sind. :)

Name#SessionsPeter (DM)12Raphael (DM)1Michel (Farcor/Lorcan)8Raphael (Harddal)8Marcel (Milvi)7Päde (Pardos)7Stefan (Lin)6Harald (Ayairdon)6Martin (Rindall/Nwython)5Marco (Kirland)5Alex (Gar)4Ludwig (Iggy)1Peter (Yeorwan)1

Ich kann ein solches System nur empfehlen. Ich habe nicht den Eindruck, dass es sich nur um kleine, langweilige Dungeonmetzeleien handelt. Schnittszenen vermitteln immer wieder mal das Gefühl, dass sich im Hintergrund etwas zusammenbraut, Feinde hat man sich gemacht, die uns auch schon aufgelauert haben, und so weiter.

Die Gefahren, welche ich das letzte Mal aufzählte, wurden also in den letzten Monaten erfolgreich umgangen. ✌

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2008-12-03 iPhone Booting

At work we got an iPhone as a Christmas present. Things I noticed:

  1. Apple expects us to get the phone including a SIM card; it took me a while to figure out how to move my SIM card over.
  2. It takes a long time to boot.
  3. When the phone is switched off, phone calls are not redirected to my mailbox, apparently. Instead, I get a message saying that I’m “currently unreachable”. Grrrr.
  4. It’s tricky to write text on the iPhone. I wonder if it will measure up to my Nokia 6300.
  5. Without the anti-spam rules of my local Outlook installation at work reading my work mail is a chore. There’s so much spam it’s unbelievable.
  6. Google mail just works.
  7. The phone has 16G of RAM. Not enough for either music or photo collection. What should I use it for?

More to follow, I’m sure.

Today I also realized that the user interface to audiobooks on the iPod is worse than for music tracks. I’m experimenting with the metadata to figure out what the bare minimum is such that tracks play in the right order. Apparently I cannot rely on track name or artists. That leads to the braindead repeating of artist and book name within the track


Comments on 2008-12-03 iPhone Booting

I was chatting with Noufal just now:

Right now I’m enjoying it as an extremely portable multiprotocol chat client, mail reader, and web browser including well defined user interfaces for some services like bloglines, gmail, google earth, Swiss public transport, Swiss phone book, etc. It also features a crappy keyboard and is super locked down. :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-04 15:23 UTC

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2008-12-04 VoIP calls on your iPhone

What should I use?

At the moment I’m torn trying fring based on a recommendation I got. And I’m starting to feel the lack of Free Software.


Comments on 2008-12-04 VoIP calls on your iPhone

I also installed Nimbuzz and noticed far more connection problems. I understand network problems. In terms of user interface, I don’t like there to be message boxes that I have to click away for all the errors. Just flag the connections that don’t work. I also noticed a little usability bug when providing my Skype contact info. This I could not do at my desktop and I hate to do on the iPhone because I dislike the keyboard. When I try to save the info, I get an error telling me that the server is down. Again, this can happen. But I can’t save what I typed until the server is back up, apparently. Grrr. I think I’ll be sticking to fring for the moment.

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-05 15:43 UTC

Then again, I noticed that fring will connect me to AIM, show Claudia as disconnected, show her that I am connected (!), allowing her to send me messages which get lost (!!). Upon a whim I tried to send her a message even though she was disconnected and that worked. This is weird.

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-06 14:07 UTC

I am currently using fring on my Nokia E71.

It has some glitches, e.g., it’s impossible to type special characters such as ! $ % # because the keyboard mapping for the E71 seems to be buggy from time to time.

Besides that, it works better than any other IM client I’ve tried on a mobile phone before. It even allows me to call my Skype contacts as long as I am on an EDGE/3G connection (GRPS would be too laggy for VoIP).

Of course, fring wants to make money. So they recently started showing ads inside the client/conversation. Hm. I’m missing a Pidgin port for Symbian…

Jean Pierre 2008-12-07 11:26 UTC

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2008-12-05 Old School Lulu Goodness

Yesterday I got some stuff from Lulu:

I submitted some stuff for Fight On #4, so I’m keen on Fight On doing well. It’s a monster of a fanzine if you think about it. They got an extra license to use Judges Guild material for this issue only which explains why they crammed so much stuff into this issue, I think.

As to the question of whether I would like to play Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord with Original Edition Character Options: I think at the moment I prefer the second option because I’ve been playing a bit of Labyrinth Lord already. I’m just more familiar with it right now.

I’m not sure I really want to play Mutant Future. I must have been confused when I added it to my shopping basket. :-/ Perhaps I can play a one-shot one of these days.


Comments on 2008-12-05 Old School Lulu Goodness

Hey hey! as someone who is planning on publishing via Lulu…. what are your impressions of the service? Did you buy the above materials in PRINT or via PDF? A second opinion would be good to know.

jonathan 2008-12-05 19:21 UTC

I am positively surprised when it comes to Lulu. I bought all the material in print. In addition to the things I’ve listed, I’ve bought the two previous issues of Fight On from Lulu [1] – and I’ve been very happy with the material I received. There were no strange delays, no lost orders, no damaged goods, no thin paper, no ink blots. Shipping is a bit cheaper if I buy 2nd hand books from Amazon Marketplace (and free if I buy new books from Amazon), but right now that’s the only drawback. I hear that this is very frustrating in Australia, though. [2]

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-06 00:58 UTC

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2008-12-06 Gmail Aggravation

What really annoys me is how Gmail handles contacts, and groups in particular.

  1. Twice I’ve had a group where I couldn’t remove a contact. I had to delete the group and recreate it without the contact in question.
  2. I’ve had a group where one contact expanded to a name with no email address ("Foo Bar" <>)
  3. Possibly related, I found that the same person had two entries, once email address being, the other being Foo.Bar@quux. I deleted the second one, edited the first one and got an error about no two contacts having the same email address
  4. This didn’t solve the empty email address problem. I then removed said person from the group, added it again picking the home address, tried composing a new mail to the group and found that this person finally had an email address – but not the private address I had chosen when I added the person to the group.
  5. There is no simple way to merge contacts.
  6. There is no simple way to keep Gmail contacts in sync with a remote system such as my Mac OS 10.4 Address Book (apparently the next release comes with an option to keep the two in sync, and apparently the ABGmerge app is no longer supported; reading the text file that comes with it I wasn’t sure I really wanted to try it).
  7. On the iPhone I get an interface that does not allow me to edit groups.

Anyway. Contacts. It’s a mess.


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2008-12-07 Amazon Currency Converter

Are the exchange rates used by Amazon Currency Converter good or bad? I usually pay with my credit card and I pay an extra 1.3% commission for Euro payments in addition to an exchange rate determined by the credit card company (I assume). But how can I do a simple comparison? Right now I could either surf the net for an hour (which probably wastes more time than all future savings are worth…) trying to find the exchange rates my credit card company would use today if I would in fact pay today. Or I could just decide to support Amazon instead of my credit card company. Or I could make two Euro purchases on the same day and discover the truth a few weeks later… Hmm…

Time passes.

Right now Amazon says it is using

1 USD = 1.607047778 CHF

That’s weird, since the bill is listing Euros. :) says

1.00 EUR = 1.55336 CHF

Looking for “Devisenverkaufskurs” on the websites of the two banks I use:

1 EUR = 1,53315 CHF (Tagesmittelkurs) [1] 1 EUR = 1.5532 CHF (Devisenkurs, Verkauf, less than 50k CHF) [2]

So, my Swiss bank is in fact offering the best exchange rate!

But the credit card company is asking for a 1.5% commission. Does that compensate?

(1.6070-1.5532)/1.5532 = .03463

I guess Amazon is asking for the equivalent of a 3.5% commission.


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Comments on 2008-12-07 Amazon Currency Converter

Ok, must remember this:

Artikel: 	        EUR 23,27
Verpackung & Versand 	EUR 0,00
Gesamtsumme ohne MwSt.: EUR 23,27
MwSt.: 	                EUR 0,00
Gesamtbestellwert:      EUR 23,27
Rechnungssumme:         CHF 35,79

I’m ordering in EUR anyway and want to compare. :)

(The same book at Analph costs CHF 43,70.)

AlexSchroeder 2009-01-21 11:32 UTC

Well, it turns out that I was charged CHF 35.15 + a commission of 1.25% / 0.45 = CHF 35.60 for the EUR 23.27. That’s very close to what Amazon would have charged. I guess the Swiss banks are not overcharging. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-01-30 23:38 UTC

Don’t know which card type you’re using. If you’re using any kind of Visa card, you have the exchange rates here:

Select “My card is in: Swiss francs (CHF)”, “Convert to: Euro (EUR)” and “Enter bank fee: 1.25”. This should give you the exchange rate used for a Visa card with the same bank surcharge. If you’re using Mastercard or some other kind of card, there is probably an exchange rate available somewhere else.

Note that if you select Amazon’s currency converter, the exchange rate is determined instantly when you buy the items, but if you use your card company’s currency converter, the exchange rate is typically determined a couple of days after Amazon has sent the item. The currency exchange rates may change during these few days.

My experience is that it is almost always more expensive to let a shop convert the currency for you, than letting your card company converting it.

– Anonymous 2009-09-02 20:46 UTC

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2008-12-09 The 3rd era lives

3rd era Cool! Green Ronin announced that they’ll continue publishing some D&D 3E material using their new “3rd Era” logo. This is an excellent move. A few weeks back I predicted that the d20 trademark license issue would aggravate people that want to purchase legal PDF copies or printed books (2008-07-03 Good Bye PDF Economy, Hello PDF Piracy).

Thus: “we’re going to start offering these books on Lulu, so folks who want print copies can get them. For titles that have been long out of print (like Book of Fiends), this gives us an easy way to make print copies available again.” [1]

I like.

I also like how Paizo will be publishing Monte Cook’s Book of Experimental Might hardcover.


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2008-12-11 Flogging Molly

I’ve been listening to Flogging Molly on my iPod these last few days. Irish punk rock in the tradition of The Pogues.

I hesitate to call it “Celtic” punk rock because it somehow sounds as archaic and inappropriate as “Teutonic”. Brrr!

Do people still consider themselves to be “Celts”?


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2008-12-15 Kurz

Viel Blog Artikel könnten deutlich kürzer sein.

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2008-12-15 Pornography

People get worked up about pornography – the pictures, the corruption of our youth, the disgusting aspects of it, etc. What I hate, however, is that here in Switzerland a newspaper kiosk will have computer magazines and gaming magazines somewhere on knee level, and just above it, on eye level, naked women, quickies, anal offerings, and other interesting details. Whenever I want to buy my beloved gaming magazine, I have to stare at porn.

I should add a picture.

It reminds me of my Spam folders. Reading the subject lines is already an insult.


Comments on 2008-12-15 Pornography

Admit it, you posted this only to have a ‘Porn’ tag! :)

RadomirDopieralski 2008-12-15 20:03 UTC

Hahaha! :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-15 22:33 UTC

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2008-12-16 How to Host a Dungeon

Today I stumbled over How to Host a Dungeon. It is labeled as a “game” but effectively it’s a random dungeon creation table collection. It’s not like the random dungeon creation tables in the various dungeon master guides which will tell you about particular rooms. Instead, you’ll be developping the side-view of your dungeon.

Here is a step-by-step account of one reader “playing the game” with very nice screenshots. The author also has some pictures on Flickr.

Based on these pictures, I downloaded and printed the “free limited content version without pictures or formatting and fewer civilizations and villains.” [1]

This sounds intriguing. :)

I’m hoping to take the dungeon moments before the game ends and use it in real play for inspiration while mapping. I wonder if there is a license granting users the right to do whatever they please with resulting dungeons. After all these dungeons seem to be “derived works” to me…


Comments on 2008-12-16 How to Host a Dungeon

I’m very interested in these too. When I’ll get time to do a playtest though, gawd only knows :D

greywulf 2008-12-16 16:38 UTC

Yesterday I printed out the free copy of the rules and rolled some dice for a few minutes. It didn’t look too promising. I think you can’t just scrible some stuff onto a piece of paper. Getting little chits and pens in different colors, and taking your time when drawing natural caves as the dice told me to – all of this is important to having a good time.

Maybe I’ll look at some of the examples online again.

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-17 11:29 UTC

Hi Alex, I’m glad you found How to Host a Dungeon. You post on Story Games as Kensanata, right? I think we may have talked there at some point, though I can’t remember the specifics. I definitely recommend using some markers of some sort. I use Go stones usually, but coins or glass beads work too. Some people also do it on their PC using Photoshop or a similar program (there’s a template for this on the BGG page for the game [1]).

tonydowler 2009-01-18 01:04 UTC

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2008-12-16 In der Schweiz

Ich schau mich um im Web und finde eine riesige Liste von Cons für England, Schottland und Irland. Mit dabei sind auch zwei Cons für Deutschland (Essen und Stahleck). Nur hier in der Schweiz scheint nichts zu laufen – oder mir fehlt da der Durchblick. Über zwei Ecken habe ich schon vom OerliCon gehört. Und vor Jahren hatte ich mal etwas von den Chipheads gehört; die haben auch eine interessant aussehende Link-Liste. Erstaunlich, wieviel mehr Leute Live Rollenspiel zu betreiben scheinen.

Bei mir melden sich auf alle Fälle immer wieder mal Leute auf der Suche nach einer Spielgruppe. Und wo ich auch hinschaue ist alles voll, voll, voll. Wenn es so ein Verzeichnis von aktiven Spielgruppen in Zürich gäbe, wäre das vielleicht brauchbarer. Das Problem bei Spielerzentrale scheint zu sein, dass ein Grossteil der Accounts nicht mehr aktiv ist – ein neuer Spieler hat mir auf alle Fälle gesagt, dass ich der Einzige gewesen sei, der sich auf sein Mail hin gemeldet hätte.

Und auf NearbyGamers haben sich nur ich und Haarald (“Eliterollenspieler”!?✊) eingetragen…

Falls also jemand aus Zürich & Umgebung mitliest und auf Facebook ist: Rollenspiel Zürich.

Warum gibt es eigentlich im Analph und im Rien Ne Va Plus keine organisierten Spielabende? Lohnt sich das finanziell nicht? Wenn man genug Leute wäre könnte man sich vielleicht einmal pro Monat im Zentrum Karl der Grosse treffen und etwas spielen? Beat, Rolf und andere treffen sich sowieso jeden Mittwoch Abend ab 19:30 im Quartierzentrum an der Zentralstrasse 34. Dort könnte man natürlich auch regelmässig spielen und so vielleicht auch andere Leute zum Spielen animieren?

Ich sollte den Jungs vom Spieltreff mal eine Webseite basteln. :)


Comments on 2008-12-16 In der Schweiz

Das mit dem Eliterollenspieler ist falsch. Eigentlich sollte es Edelrollenspieler heißen (siehe Wobei das ja auch nicht mehr stimmt.

Haarald 2008-12-16 13:57 UTC

Ach, und: Ich hab über die Spielerzentrale eine ganz passable Gruppe aufgetan – alles Expatriates. Allerdings hab ich grad nicht genug Zeit, mit denen weiterzuspielen… insgesamt kommt mir der Rollenspiel"markt” in Zürich unstrukturierter, aber auch lebendiger vor als in der Weltmetropole Hamburg.

Haarald 2008-12-16 13:59 UTC

Hm, das tönt ja schon viel positiver. Vielleicht liegt das Problem der Spielerzentrale eher darin, dass es keine Rückmeldung bezüglich der Aktivität all dieser Personen gibt.

Bei Facebook und Foren kann man ja durch einen schnellen Blick auf die letzten Aktivitätsdaten und Beiträge sich schnell ein Bild über den Stand einer Gemeinschaft machen. Bei Spielerzentrale war das früher auf alle Fälle schwierig. Und wie sollte das auch gehen, da man bei der Spielerzentrale sich “nur” anmelden kann. Und bei der Secret Guild of Adventurers sieht es einfach nach sehr wenig Aktivität aus, oder ich finde einfach den richtigen Ort nicht. Beim Rien Ne Va Plus in der Oberdorfstrasse gibt es ein Buch, wo man sich eintragen kann. Das ist natürlich auch nicht besonders cool, denn bin ich mal dort, kann ich mit dem Buch keine Emails schreiben; ich müsste sozusagen jede Woche vorbeischauen und die Leute anschreiben, die sich neu eintragen. Das werden nicht viele machen. Mal schauen ob sich mit Facebook etwas ändert.

Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt!

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-16 23:22 UTC

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2008-12-16 Lulu Wishilisti

Hm, I ordered all the stuff I wanted… Time to start a new wishlist.

  • XP1: The Spider-God's Bride and Other Tales of Sword and Sorcery – “Enter the City of Stone and slay the high priest of Jul-Juggah! Plunder the ancient gold of Namthu! Seek the fabled jewel of Khadim Bey, but beware the nameless horrors of the Al-Khazi desert! Fight the dread adepts of the ape-god, or succumb to the pleasures of the Moon-Juice of Yaatana! Or perhaps you will perish by the curses of Ur-Kharra, the long-dead sorcerer-king of Elder Kuth?” / “This is another one of those 3E books which were basically finished and submitted to Necromancer Games at the worst possible time, right before the 4E limbo started. “ [1]
  • Fight On! #4 – I liked #1 to #3 and apparently stuff I submitted will be published in #4!
  • Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox Version – although I’m pretty sure nobody will ever want to play it with me. :/
  • Knockspell #1 – somehow I feel like I must choose between Knockspell and Fight On. That sucks. Stupid copyright issues (Knockspell uses the OGL, if I remember correctly, and Fight On does not).

I guess I would buy the Slumbering Tsar by Greg Vaughn if it ever got published. [2] Self-publish, man – like Morten Braten (a.k.a. Thulsa) does for XP1.

That reminds me. Nicolas Logue’s Razor Coast [3] is late. Very late. “Razor Coast ships in January 2009.” … “February/March” [4]


Comments on 2008-12-16 Lulu Wishilisti

You could also publish something in the german language fanzine Abenteuerpunkt, no need to do it all in english!

Haarald 2008-12-16 22:12 UTC

Sehe ich dich morgen Abend? Ich würd’ mir gerne mal ein Exemplar anschauen!

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-16 23:15 UTC

Check out RPGNOW. Necromancer released the pdfs for Slumbering Tsar 1, Eamonvale Incursion, and Demonheart in pdf at the end of September 09. Slumbering Tsar is $21.99 US. I don’t know when a POD version will be available, but you can at least look at part 1 if you are so inclined. Over on the Necromancergames boards, Bill Webb mentioned that if the pdf of Tsar does well, they may do parts 2 and 3. Tsar is designed to be sandboxy though, part 1 covers the lands around the fallen temple city to Orcus, part 2 and part 3 were going to cover the city itself and the caverns underneath. Check out the Necro board on Paizo if you want to get in touch with Greg Vaughan the author, he does monitor the Slumbering Tsar thread, even if he doesnt respond to every message.

TheBax 2009-10-06 23:31 UTC

Whoa!!! OK at last indeed!

Thanks for the pointer → 2009-10-07 Necromancer Games Reanimated!

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-07 00:00 UTC

More news on the Slumbering Tsar front. Check out this thread on the Necromancergames messageboards: Bill, Clark, and Greg (Bill Webb and Clark Peterson—owners of Necromancergames and Greg Vaughan, author of Slumbering Tsar) are looking at a patronage model for releasing all of ST for the Pathfinder Rpg. It looks like it will be 15 chapters of about 30,000 words each chapter. Each chapter will be $10. The first chapter is likely to be heavily discounted and some type of discount will be worked out for individuals who purchased the ST1 pdf (since ST1 will be rereleased first). A hardbound book with all three parts included will be sent to those individuals who purchase all 15 chapters (no additional cost for the book, we’ll have to see about shipping). If you don’t play Pathfinder and are interested in a 3.5 version of ST, post in the thread regarding 3.5 statblock data for parts 2 and 3 (Slumbering Tsar has already been written for 3.5, Greg will be converting it to the Pathfinder RPG for the patronage project).

TheBax 2010-04-17 20:58 UTC

Wow, I’m surprised to see this baby moving forward after all! I had already given up on it. And apparently Razor Coast is still alive. [1] It feels like the zombie adventures are rising. :)

$150 is expensive. I’ll still buy it if I get fifteen PDF parts, a printed book of about 500 pages, and free shipping to Switzerland. That’s more expensive than what I’m paying for a Pathfinder Adventure Path but I’m willing to pay because I really, really liked Vault of Larin Karr.

Thank’s for the link, TheBax!

AlexSchroeder 2010-04-17 22:00 UTC

And rise they do. Slumbering Tsar is a go. See this page in the ST thread and look towards the bottom. Shipping for the hardback is free worldwide for those who purchase all 14 (not 15) parts worldwide. Contact necromancergames at with your RPG Now order number and order date for a discount on parts 2 and 3. Vaughan may post the 3.5 data after the project is done, and there is a free 3.5 to Pathfinder conversion pdf at

TheBax 2010-04-21 14:58 UTC

The Frog God Games site is now live. Head on over to and you’ll find links to blurbs on each one of the 14 chapters of Slumbering Tsar. Subscriptions and the first part of the series will be available on 5/15/2010. Btw, thanks for your work on the One Page Dungeon Contest Alex, here’s hoping you return to assist the 2011 contest.

TheBax 2010-05-05 04:24 UTC

Thanks for the heads up. Added it to 2010-04-21 Slumbering Tsar Awakens.

And thanks for the kind words regarding the One Page Dungeon Contest. :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-05-05 10:46 UTC

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2008-12-17 No Rest For The Wicked

Gah, once again I feel like there’s just not enough time for everyting.

  • I want to do some English → German translating for Labyrinth Lord [1]
  • I want to extract some OGC from the Quintessential Gnome I got assigned for the Grand OGL Wiki
  • I want to fix some Oddmuse bugs (see Oddmuse:Plans)
  • I want to roll some dice to create a dungeon [2]
  • I want to prepare my upcoming D&D games on Sunday [3] and Monday [4]
  • I want to play something – anything! – on my Xbox 360 (Is Fable II out? I am so out of touch.)
  • I need to work on a Christmas present for Claudia (fat chance to finish in time)

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2008-12-19 More Than I Can Chew

Gah, Goodman Games stuff at 50% off until the end of the year, or the PDFs at $2 each? Then again, I already have more material than I will ever play, apparently, since I haven’t cancelled my Pathfinder Adventure Path and Modules subscriptions (nor have I cancelled the late – the very late – Razor Coast, no cancelled Kobold Quarterly, nor Fight On… What to do!?

And the Wilderlands of High Fantasy related products by AGP keep getting good reviews. And my Alder King game is set in the Wilderlands! And I’m liking the setting so much I might as well stick to it for a long time to come.

And then Points of Light also also got a great review, and I bought it – and I have yet to run one of the scenarios in it.

Claudia & D&D
Click through to see some notes on Flickr


Comments on 2008-12-19 More Than I Can Chew

I sort of agree, but I couldn’t pass up getting a few of them anyway. I guessing, I can always use them when I need something to play but don’t want to use an AP nor make something up myself.

bonemaster 2008-12-19 01:35 UTC

I remembered an incident a year back (2007-07-10 Goodman Games) where I assume they lost quite some money on paying postage to Switzerland. Looking at some old recommendation threads on EN World and looking at my existing collection I decided that I just could not resist. Plus Ebay shipping to Switzerland is the sucks, too. And local shops don’t seem to carry third party products.


Item total:$135.36Shipping and handling:$40.00Total:$175.36


AlexSchroeder 2008-12-19 11:03 UTC

) gell, du hast nichts zu tun?! das foto auf flickr ist cool. :)

– zeno 2008-12-19 13:38 UTC

Ich warte immer noch auf deinen Terminvorschlag, damit ich deinen Kindern die Regeln von Labyrinth Lord beibringen kann.

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-19 15:58 UTC

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2008-12-21 Building Emacs on Mac OS 10.4

My Mac Mini runs Mac OS 10.4.11.

  1. get latest sources from CVS
  2. ./configure --with-ns
  3. make
  4. make install
  5. copy nextstep/ to your Applications directory
  6. ☆ ☆ ☆ Profit!!! ☆ ☆ ☆ ✌


I had to call the Preferences dialog and switch Alt/Opt to None as well as Command to Meta. That’s what I’m used to from the good ol’ CarbonEmacsPackage, and I see no other setup that will allow me to type Alt-3 to get #, Alt-5 to get [, Alt-6 to get ], Alt-7 to get |, Alt-8 to get {, and Alt-9 to get }. At least those seem to be the ones I need the most often.

If you run rcirc you will have to port your configuration over to the new format. :(

rcirc-startup-channels-alist is replaced by rcirc-server-alist.


(setq rcirc-startup-channels-alist
      '(("freenode" "#emacs" "#rcirc" "#wiki" "#oddmuse" "#epfarms"


(setq rcirc-server-alist
      '(("" :channels ("#rcirc" "#wiki" "#oddmuse" "#epfarms"
	 "#emacs" "#hcoop"))))

If you’re using rcircColoredNicks you will also have to upgrade to the version for Emacs 23.

My current Emacs version also has some bugs regarding color-gray-p and face-foreground. That’s why you’ll need the following in your .emacs:

(setq rcirc-colors
      (let (candidates)
        (dolist (item color-name-rgb-alist)
	  (destructuring-bind (color r g b) item
	    (let ((d (sqrt (+ (* (/ r 512) (/ r 512))
			      (* (/ g 512) (/ g 512))
			      (* (/ b 512) (/ b 512))))))
	      (if (and (not (= r g))
		       (not (= r b)); grey
		       (> d 10)
		       (< d 150))
		(setq candidates (cons color candidates))))))


Comments on 2008-12-21 Building Emacs on Mac OS 10.4

In my build from CVS, i get following error on startup (after loading of all my packages) - “Wrong type argument: wholenump, -1”

Alex Ott 2008-12-22 09:56 UTC

Strange; I did not have that problem (and I’m not updating right now).

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-22 23:36 UTC

When I tried to rebuild it just now, it was complaining about a missing aclocal-1.14 and I was confused. Reading INSTALL.REPO I figured I would need to run ./ again and so it was.

These days:

  1. git pull
  2. ./
  3. ./configure --with-ns
  4. make
  5. make install
  6. copy nextstep/ to your Applications directory

The alternative to building from source:

  1. brew tap railwaycat/emacsmacport
  2. brew install emacs-mac

– Alex Schroeder 2016-01-22 23:11 UTC

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2008-12-22 My Sandbox Game

In the spirit of “write more about actual games instead about gaming in general” let me post two items.

First, I like how my sandbox game is progressing. The map is being explored. The game takes place in Dangerous Forest (the Lenap map of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy). Inspired by the four hexes that are described in the boxed set, I populated every hex with a lair of some sort. The players mid-term campaign goal is to drive the humans out of the forest. Now they’re trying to figure out who is who in order to identify some potential allies.

Starting Map Current

The second item on the list concerns XP. I’m trying a system with not a lot of XP for combat. Basically I’m using the level progression table suggested in the box (2000 for level 2, 6000 for level 3). Any sort of “progress” gives about party level × points, and each point is 300 XP, ie. right now with the party on second level, light combat is worth about 600 XP, a dangerous fight is worth 1200 XP, discovering a new lair and talking to the creatures living there is worth around 600 XP, etc.

Thus, the XP summary of my last game:

Talking to the swamp hag (2) and facing her crocodiles (2), fight against three giant wasps (4), talking to villagers in Forest Bight Fortress (2), talking to villagers in Boghra Little (2), getting beaten up by Ram “The Dog”, a troll (1), talking to Bernost (2), getting a job as bounty hunters for Purdell (2).

The second level characters of our five person party thus got 17 × 300 / 5 = 1020 XP each.

If you’re below average party level, you get 50% more; if you’re above average party level, you get 50% less. The first level characters therefore got 1530 XP each.

I find that much easier to calculate, and much easier to assign. I just go through everything that happened and think to myself: “Do I want to reward this?” If yes, I will assign points. “Was it ok?” If yes, I will assign party level points. If it was tough, I might assign up to twice as much.

Average character wealth be damned. I’ll just eyeball encounter levels, too, as I don’t plan to hand out as many magic items as the wealth guidelines suggest.


Comments on 2008-12-22 My Sandbox Game

Thanks for posting this stuff! I’m really interested in the details you’re providing for the mechanics of your “sandbox”. It fits perfectly with the homebrew simplified d20 ruleset I’ve adopted for my play group. Letting them loose in the “sandbox” is my ultimate goal, and anything that makes the bookkeeping end of DMing easier is something I’m interested in testing. I’ve been DMing since 1979, and I’ve found I no longer have the patience for a lot of rules or calculations. My play group seems to trust my judgment and fairness (at least they keep showing up for sessions, so I assume this is so).

– anarkeith 2008-12-23 04:43 UTC

The current map for my Alder King game has grown considerably: download PDF. My players write on the map, and every now and then I incorporate the stuff back into the source material.

AlexSchroeder 2010-03-15 18:55 UTC

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2008-12-23 The Magic Is Gone

I’ve looked at the Magic Item Compendium for D&D 3.5 and was not fascinated. When I saw some other posts on the subject (Where Has All the Magic Gone, The Disenchantment of the World) I realized what I didn’t like about it.

The game has many rules. Some of them can put players at a disadvantage: Falling prone, difficult terrain, that kind of thing. What I’m seeing a lot is specific items that negate these rules. Wearing the right kind of shoes people will always fall on their feet, or they can move at normal speed through difficult terrain. I can’t even picture it!

Similarly, the number of healing spells per day is limited. Clerics would love to use some of the other cool spells they have at their disposal. Thus is a new magic item born that promises lots of free daily healing.

Instead of fixing the rules that nobody likes, there’s an “exception system” at work that negates the rules one by one using magic items.

That’s not very enchanting, is it?


Comments on 2008-12-23 The Magic Is Gone

I look at that matter completely different. I love the MIC because it helps the non-casters do things only the casters can do.

  • boots of falling ⇒ featherfall
  • boots of yyy ⇒ expetitious retreat
  • crystal of lifekeeping ⇒ deathward

And why do people like to advance in level? Because you get better and you are not afraid of a kobold anymore. The MIC does the same thing. Getting rid of the restrictions you have at level 1 is, for some people, an important part of the game. Not everybody is a 100% storyteller.

– Sektat 2008-12-23 07:22 UTC

> Instead of fixing the rules that nobody likes, there’s 
> an “exception system” 

Thats really not the point here. If you have a restriction in your character and play for 5 month, and then suddenly you are free from that restriction thx to such an item, then you are “having fun”. If you didn’t have the restriction from the beginning, then you never have that sensation, then you have, ahem, M20 :-)

– Sektat 2008-12-23 08:08 UTC

Hurray! :D :D

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-23 10:37 UTC

But more to the point: I’d rather have a magic item with strange effects, or at least magic items that have spell-like effects, instead of simply providing exceptions to the rules of the game.

Winged boots, boots of feather falling, seven mile boots – these are sort of ok, because I can at least picture how they would work. But how would boots work, that will always let you land on your feet, or boots that allow you to ignore difficult terrain? These boots not only lack any narrative elements, they also lack visualization. They are nothing but a piece of rule. They move the game in the direction of chess.

AlexSchroeder 2008-12-23 10:44 UTC

I think I stand on both sides of the fence a bit (fortunately it’s a low fence). The MIC contains a LOT of really useful items which are, in my opinion, comparatively cheap considering how useful they are. (The healing belt, for example. 700gp?) These items can ‘patch’ over the holes in a character, regardless how flawed he or she is. (Take Kubo San, for example with his bracers of greatreach, vest of defense, belt of healing, 3rd eye freedom, mindarmor, etc. etc…)

The problem I see with the MIC is that it leaves the doors wide open for power gaming, which creates a power imbalance with players who aren’t power gamers. You have to spend considerable time studying the MIC to know what is useful. Of course, the power gamers can ‘help’ the non-power gamers, but this changes the whole dynamic of the game. The DM begins to lose control of the group since they slaughter anything level equivalent. The DMG warns DMs of losing control of their groups…

It’s a bit of a right turn, but what I quite like are ‘flexible’ magic systems. Take changeling for example (bear with me here). You have various schools of magic, and you have various spheres of things you can use them on. If you want to harden a door from being broken, you need a certain level of ‘primal’ magic, and a certain level of ‘prop’. If you want to make yourself run faster, you need ‘wayfarer’ magic and ‘actor’. (The names aren’t accurate, but it’s irrelivant.) The idea is that the schools and targets are loosely defined, and the DM drops categorises the usage on the fly.

I wonder whether it would be possible to define something similar for, say, movement in DnD. Rather than items which give you a specific bonus, wouldn’t it be cool to have items which give vague bonuses. “Boots of the Wilderness” which let you walk unrestricted in any natural terrain. “Gloves of gripping” which help you hold onto things. “Rope of Swinging” which works like a portable Tarzan vine. I think, Alex, the answer to your problem could lie in creating magic items but leaving the descriptions vague. Could that be an idea?

– Marco 2008-12-23 11:04 UTC

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2008-12-29 Bombing Palestine

danger: :groan: ☠ :groan: ☠ :groan: ☠

I’m particularly amused by the language. The Swiss news report it as “bombing Hamas infrastructure” and I think to myself that the Hamas is an elected government and that the infrastructure includes police stations and the like. And I ask myself whether they prefer no police at all. And then I get a headache. That does not improve when I see a face on TV saying that Israel is counting on the “solidarity of the international community”. I am reminded of Newspeak.

Unfortunately both sides seem to be interested in perpetual war. I wonder if anybody ever thinks: “Hm, I think I’ll bomb these guys and see whether this will bring us peace and prosperity.”


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2008-12 Book Club

What: Where I'm calling from by Raymond Carver

Wikipedia: Raymond Carver.

When: December 16, 19:30 @ Glockenhof

Sauro says: “The book it’s “only” a collection of short novels. Every story tells about one simple, normal, usual, non extraordinary moment. Could be a guy that go fishing, a man that discovered how fat is his wife, a couple of men in a barber shop, some junkers met together on a dinner, and so on. Nothing special, all the characters do the normal thing that it was supposed every normal guy would do. But. Yes, there’s a “BUT” in all of these stories: they’re real, sometimes I would say too real. Reading them you could touch the characters, sniff their smells, hear the voices. And all the feelings that are described are so detailed, so deep, so (i have to repeat myself) REAL, that you also could feel them. But you feel them cause you know them previously. Yes, Craver wrote exactly what happened in a particular ordinary situation, and sometimes this hurts, cause we don’t want to recognize that we could act and think in that way, but we know it. Carver tell us all these sort of blinks that could happened in everyone life, but after all is it not true that life it’s only made of short bright moments linked together by an undefined cloud? I don’t want to make an hazardous comparison but I could say that Carver was the Dostojevski of the ‘80. And finally, fortunately they are very short stories… too deep, too intense the writing for a novel of 100 pages or more! Ok, I admit that this could not be the funniest book in your life, but I suggest anyway to take a look on it!”

From an Amazon reviewer:

The is the first I have read of Raymond Carver’s and I picked it up to read on holiday as I thought short stories would be better to dip in and out of plus, I have only ever heard good things about Carver and had always meant to get round to reading some of his work. This is a collection of his short stories, previously published in seperate collections. He says in the introduction, written shortly before he died, that these stories are put together in the order that he felt suited. He also says in the intro that he “loves the swift leap of a good story, the ecitement that often commences int he first sentence, the sense of beauty and mystery found in the best of them…that the story can be written and read in one sitting” - that really summed up for me how important short stories can be and also why I am dismayed how they are overlooked by alot of the reading public. From this quote I was sure that I was in for a treat.

Supporters: Sauro, Alex, Nanda, Chrissie, Uli.

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