Page Collection for ^2013-03

2013-03-01 Old School Red Hand of Doom

I’m going to run [RedHandOfDoom Red Hand of Doom] for Zeno and the kids. Their Labyrinth Lord characters got upgraded to 20’000 XP. That makes the three elves are level four, the dwarf and the cleric are level five.

I used the standard monsters from the Labyrinth Lord book:

  • 12 hobgoblins → standard
  • 2 hell hounds (+1 summoned) → standard
  • 1 “Doom Hand Cleric” → HD 3, AC 6, ML 9, 1d6, invisibility, cure light wounds, hold person, summon hell hound scroll, two potions of healing
  • 1 “Hobgoblin Bladebearer” → HD 4+1, AC 6, ML 10, 1d6

A lot of groaning was heard when the monster line up grew in every round. One hell hound breathing fire, eight hobgoblin archers targeting the only enemy not in melee: an elf wearing leather armor… it was tough!

I left the treasure unchanged but noted that 4d6 hobgoblins come with treasure type XIX, which I randomly determined to be 6000 cp, 7000 sp, 3000 gp, 6 gems (1170 gp) and a jewel (1500 gp). I'll add this treasure to Vraath keep.

  • 2 warg riders → standard goblins on standard warg wolves
  • 4 hobgoblins → standard
  • 1 minotaur → standard
  • 1 manticore → standard
  • 1 bug bear sorcerer 6 → magic user HD 6, AC 9, ML 6, 1d6, 2 × lightning bolt, detect thoughts, blindness, charm person, shield, wand of magic missile, two potions of healing, two elixirs of truth, scroll of mount

The party killed the warg riders and set fire to the stables. Then they managed to alert everybody using phantasmal force trying to lure the minotaur away but he decided to alert the manticore instead. This is when they decided to fall back. Luckily, they had approached under a silence spell, so no problem running away. And will the wargs killed, there is probably not going to be a hot pursuit.

The treasure type III for goblins underground means that 7 ep get added to the treasure. Another treasure type XIX for the manticore and type XX for the minotaur -> a total of 3000 sp extra. No extra – treasure – for the magic user except for his spell book.

I think this will be going well!

Edit note: I marked the info I ended up not taking into account as deleted.


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2013-03-01 Text Mapper Progress

I’m a big fan of the Forgotten Depths. I wanted to use its map as the goal for my Text Mapper. As the mapper now allows the inclusion of other files, I’ve saved my library of colors and icons as default.txt and I’ve saved the map as forgotten-depths.txt. That’s why all you need to do now is include the map:

Forgotten Depths SVG

If you see white hexes, then I haven’t added any definitions for them, yet.


Comments on 2013-03-01 Text Mapper Progress

Wow, this looks great! I think I’ll need to re-map parts of the Mystara campaign … I may have some time on Sunday.

– Harald 2013-03-01 10:56 UTC

Too bad creating new icons takes so damn long. Also, two line labels would be nice. And big, diagonal labels to label areas. “Mirkwood” or something like it. Nice coastlines, roads, rivers…

Regarding roads and rivers: I’m discovering that Bézier curves need a bit more effort since simply doing a quadratic curveto (’T’ in the SVG spec) the hex midpoints isn’t working very well. I will need to rediscover my trigonometry basics!

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-01 12:00 UTC

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2013-03-04 Text Mapper With Lines

SVG Mapper now knows how to draw lines. These lines try to flow from hex to hex…

Example input:

2114 hill
2115 hill
2213 forest
2214 forest "Delan"
2215 hill
2314 forest
2315 forest
2414 hill "Forest Bight Fortress"
2415 forest
2515 forest "Boghra Little"

2214-2615 river
river path attributes fill-opacity="0" stroke="black" stroke-width="5"



Dangerous Forest

I think that I’m not quite understanding how the viewBox is supposed to work. But anyway: these lines can be used for roads, rivers, borders, cliffs, and the like. If they’re very straight, they don’t look too good. There’s no random waviness. One feature I definitely have to add is providing more intermediary points such that the user can guide rivers around the hills or to allow rivers to merge.


Comments on 2013-03-04 Text Mapper With Lines

Craig Peters
Hello there. My first time posting. Really hoping you respond. I have been playing with textmapper, learning about SVG, and trying to take it farther on my own. Things would be going much better if I was a computer programmer instead of a chemist. The Viewbox thing has been annoying for me as I have used your website to make ever more complex maps. If I could figure out how to run it locally I would, a big plus would be adding my own content to defaults.txt.

In the above image I THINK you are trying to assign the upper left and lower right corners as it shows here viewBox=“2990 2028 3910 2784”> But what you should be doing is assigning the upper left corner and then the width and height viewBox=“2990 2028 920 756”>. There is still something going on with my bigger maps but they are fully on screen when manually edited this way.

On a related note, in the default attributes are fill=”#ffffff” stroke=“black” stroke-width=“3” That fill attribute causes all the hexes to be blank unless I set the fill-opacity=0.0 with manual editing. I think it should be fill=“none”.

Yeah I really need to get this to work locally, so many possibilities.

– Craig Peters 2014-02-15 02:50 UTC

Wow, this is great! Regarding a local installation. What sort of computer do you have? All you really need is Apache and Perl. If you have a Mac, these come already installed. If you have a GNU/Linux system, you just need to install Apache. If you use Windows, there’s always WAMP.

If you can’t get Apache installed but you have Perl, then you can also run the command from the command-line. It’s somewhat awkward, but if that’s how you’d prefer to use it, usability can always be improved. :)

Here’s what I did. First I created a file in /tmp/map.txt containing the following

0308 jungle "Affeninsel"

Then I ran the command as follows:

perl map=include+file:///tmp/map.txt | tail -n +5 > map.svg

The map just needs to get an escaped URL – replace spaces with + and you should be good to go if all you do is use a simple include statement. The next problem is that you need to provide a local file URL. Instead of starting the URL with http:// you start it with file:// and then you add the file name. The script output contains some HTTP headers which you need to get rid of. I used the tail program, but you could just as well save the output and remove those extra lines manually:

perl map=include+file:///tmp/map.txt > map.svg

If those file URLs are giving your problems, try using your browser to “open” these files and copy the URL from the address bar.

If you’re mostly interested in providing a different default library, then all you need to do is find a site that will allow you to host text files. Perhaps a Gist on GitHub would work for you?

Example Gist:

Viewed as a raw text file (the link will be shown when viewing your Gist):

Or, if you decide to work locally as seen above, then your libraries can also use file URLs. :)

As for your two bug reports: Both confirmed, fixed, and installed. Thank you very much! The viewBox issue bugged me in the past until I decided that I was no longer going to waste time looking at it. I must have gotten confused because I was computing the two corners, and then width and height, and then ignoring them and using the two corners instead.

And finally, please share your maps! :)

AlexSchroeder 2014-02-15 09:56 UTC

Craig Peters
Wow, that was fast. Thank you so much. I will try the offline thing once I load Apache and have some free hours. In the meantime here is the first of soon to be 5 maps to be used in a kingmaker D&D campaign. You have said elsewhere on this site that entering text to make a map may not be worth the trouble. I agree, but it is good for editing once you have had a look at the final map. Thats why I’m use excel to input one letter keycodes (like your oldschool mapper) that then make the HTTP using concatenate. in black and white in color

I’ll need to attend to ocean/sea/rivers in black and white and must not set hatched hexes to white, but its a good start. Wish me luck.

– Craig Peters 2014-02-17 04:47 UTC

Good luck! I like the black & white map. It has a certain lightness to it.

AlexSchroeder 2014-02-17 06:15 UTC

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2013-03-08 Talaric

From time to time I want to write about player characters that I remember well. Recently DM Harald ran a few sessions using Moldvay’s Basic D&D and the Karameikos setting that came with it. We all rolled up characters and Jörg rolled up an elf with Charisma 3. He likes to play elves and that in itself is a recurring joke in our group. This time, however, it was payback time! This was an asshole. Arrogant. Disinterested. Unwilling to fight. Unwilling to come along. Jörg managed to stay on the thin red line separating character aggravation from player aggravation.

When we decided to go vampire hunting in Krakatos, the elf joined us against his own recommendation. We were, after all, just first level characters. After the first session, the elf had been charmed by the vampire and had joined his master as living blood snack.

The next session we managed to free him. Two or three sessions later, however, we were exploring Koriszegi Keep and had good reason to believe another vampire was present. Again, the arrogant elf tried to dissuade us. Again, we ignored him. As we were fighting ghouls climbing out of a hole in the ground, the battle turned against us. My cleric had been paralysed in the first round because he had once again used his cursed holy symbol instead of his real holy symbol. The arrogant elf received a mortal wound. (We’re using the Death and Dismemberment table.) He decides to grapple the ghould standing over my cleric’s body and fling himself and the ghoul down into the hole! Thank you, asshole.

We win the fight, descend into the hole, can’t find the elf’s body, continue into the next room, and see the body lying there, vampire mist covering the floor of the foul cave. Another character, a small lady thief, gets to work and saws off the elf’s head in order to prevent him from rising as a vampire minion at midnight. My cleric, no longer paralysed, is contacted by the vampire. L E A V E . H I M . T O . M E ! the disembodied voice says. I say to the small woman, “leave him be!” But she insists on cutting off the head. And she does. But now the vampire materializes, drains her into oblivion. We scream. The vampire crushes my gnome henchman’s skull. We cry. The vampire turns around. We run.

And all of that because of an elf that we didn’t like.


Comments on 2013-03-08 Talaric

Thanks! This really means a lot to me.

Harald 2013-03-08 09:34 UTC

You are welcome. :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-08 10:47 UTC

This is tragedy at its best. Reading your summary I felt a rush of compassion for this poor, well-meaning creature Talaric, so misunderstood - fundamentally flawed by his strange ways and extraordinary appearance. An outcast, trying to help people who hated him for no good reason.

Luckily then I remembered it was just this asshole elf.

– Johannes 2013-03-08 16:52 UTC

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2013-03-11 Regelwälzer

Auf Google+ hat Stefan Ohrmann vor kurzem eine Diskussion über den zunehmenden Umfang der Regelbücher angerissen. Passt irgendwie auch zum Thema Aufbau von Regelwerken.

Ich selber meinte hierzu, dass ich schon verschiedentlich bei Freunden Bücher und PDF Dateien angeboten bekommen habe, die so dick waren, dass ich schon von Anfang an weiss, dass ich diese Werke nie lesen werde.

Geht So Geht Nicht
Diaspora (270 Seiten)Starblazer (632 Seiten)
Labyrinth Lord (136 Seiten)Dungeon Crawl Classic (470 Seiten)

Ich vermute folgende Ursachen für den steigenden Umfang der Bücher:

  • Selbstpublikation haben oft ein Lektorat, welches nicht auf Kürze besteht.
  • In den meisten Rezensionen wird beanstandet, wenn ein kurzes Produkt trotzdem viel kostet. Die Kürze wird nicht als Produkt einer Leistung geschätzt. Leider muss ich zugeben, dass ich auf einer emotionalen Ebene davon sicherlich auch betroffen bin. Es “fühlt” sich einfach nicht an, wie wenn es den Preis wert wäre.
  • Auftragsautoren werden nach Worten bezahlt. So besteht kein Interesse daran, sich kürzer zu fassen. Ich vermute, dieser Effekt ist nicht besonders stark, denn oft wird so ein Auftrag die gewünschte Anzahl Worte nennen. Aber wer weiss, vielleicht entsteht entlang einer Wertschöpfungskette, welche mit der Länge der Texte Geld verdient, bei jedem kleinen Schritt ein kleiner Druck hin zu längeren Texten.

Was mich übrigens überhaupt nicht stört:

  • Mehr Bildmaterial.
  • Mehr typografischer Weissraum.
  • Grössere Schrift.

Es geht mir wirklich mehr um den Leseaufwand, den ich nicht mehr zu leisten gewillt bin. Wenn ich viel lesen will, lese ich lieber ein Buch. Regelbuch, Hintergrundmaterial, Abenteuer – das mag für viele so gut wie Unterhaltungsliteratur sein. Nicht für mich.

Ausgezeichnete Diskussion auf dem Forum.

Tags: RSS

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2013-03-14 Google Reader Alternative

Google Reader is being axed. I used it every day.

Evan Prodromou says on Google+
Why, it’s almost as if it would be in your best interest to run network services under your own control instead of using quote-unquote free ones run by someone whose priorities are not aligned with yours.

I might consider it. Years ago, I used rss2email by Aaron Swartz. The irony is that I’ll be reading my blog posts—in Gmail! X(

There are other alternatives. Here’s a crowdsourced list. I see that The Old Reader, for example. “It’s just like the old Google reader, only better.” Here’s a warning sign, however: “We’re in beta right now […]” Will it cost money eventually? How much? I’m not opposed to paying a little money. After all, I want the service to have a future.

Me on Twitter
I read a rant once saying: “Please, services on the Internet, take my money! I want you to have a decent business plan!”

So, run a network service under my own control, or pay somebody else…

As for running something under my own control, I must confess that I’m still averse to running PHP and MySQL on a server of mine. Somehow I keep thinking of the combination as insecure. I downloaded Tiny Tiny RSS and looked at it (also on GitHub).

There is also something about RSS that makes me cringe: If every blog reader installs a feed aggregator that checks its feeds every ten minutes, this won’t scale. A few central aggregators that poll feeds and serve their user interface when requested by users seems like a better solution from a technical point of view.

On my portable devices I’m using the Reeder app. Like many others, it depends on Google Reader. We’ll see what its creator will switch to.

Tags: RSS

Comments on 2013-03-14 Google Reader Alternative

I’m looking at both The Old Reader and !NetVibes as alternatives. Like many people, I stopped using Google Reader itself to read my Google feeds long ago - on my Desktop I use Nextgen Reader for Windows 8 and I use Flipboard on my Android phone. Killing Google Reader effectively kills those apps dead unless they switch to an alternative API provider, and quick. I am guessing that !NetVibes will pick up a lot of the slack and reach out to the Google Reader ecosystem.

greywulf 2013-03-14 10:48 UTC

Hm, there’s definitely a difference between API providers and actual user interface providers.

; Jorgen Schäfer on Google+: I generally take pretty badly to getting a “HERE BUY OUR STUFF” shoved into my face. Netvibes does that in a most annoying fashion. So much actually that I didn’t even try it. I’m not interested in constantly getting told that I totally should buy a product, and the screenshots were not really exciting, either. Also, dark background? Seriously?

I wonder… I must say that The Old Reader has a certain nostalgia going for it, haha.

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-14 11:20 UTC

Josh Tolle
This means I will either convert over to gwene (and consume through a news reader) or I’ll write something for myself. I’m leaning toward writing something.

– Josh Tolle 2013-03-14 12:47 UTC

Wow, gwene looks interesting. It appeals to my Emacs and Gnus sensibilities. :) Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite solve the “reading from multiple devices” problem. I’d also have to find an iOS app that uses NNTP.

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-14 12:58 UTC

For an online reader I’ve been pretty happy with

aaditya 2013-03-16 06:37 UTC

Hm, TT RSS apparently has an iPhone and iPad app that allows offline reading. [time passes] Actually, now that I’m looking for it, I can’t find it. I guess it’s vapor ware.

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-16 16:02 UTC

I must admit that reading Three Months to Scale NewsBlur made me feel very sympathetic. I also like that it’s free software. Good call, @aadis. Also, “60,000 new users (from 50,000 users originally).” 8-D

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-18 08:47 UTC

Ellen Paul
Lovers of information now seem to have a tough time with the recent announcement of the closing down of Google reader. However, fans of Google reader can now switch to something new alternatives to Google Reader. I came to across here,, with list of some alternatives of it, but still can’t decide that with whom should I go for best result. Now, here its a brief description about some other alternatives, so now its not a very much difficult task for me. Thanks for helping out on above topic.

– Ellen Paul 2013-03-22 06:17 UTC

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2013-03-24 Hellebarden und Helme

Bin immer noch am Schrauben an meinen Hausregeln. Ich wollte ein einfaches Dokument für neue Spieler, die bei meiner Kampagne anfangen wollen. Deswegen wollte ich eine kurze Labyrinth Lord Variante für die ersten fünf Stufen. Angefangen hatte alles auf dem Campaign:Hellebarden und Helme Wiki. Als ich aber den ersten Spieler gesehen habe, der sich alles ausgedruckt hatte, war mir das nicht recht. Das sah ja furchtbar aus! Weil ich zudem vor wenigen Monaten meine FATE Variante Der Geist Mesopotamiens mit LaTeX gesetzt hatte, wollte ich das gleiche für Hellebarden und Helme.

Da ich schon einen Charaktergenerator für Hellebarden und Helme habe, entschied ich, das Regelwerk mit !LaTeX zu setzen und das gleiche github Projekt zu verwenden.

Aktuelle Version (PDF)…


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2013-03-26 Quick Sketch

Doodling during a meeting…


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2013-03-27 One Page Dungeon Contest

Yes, the Spring Equinox has come and gone and now it’s time the run the 1PDC again! :D vee <3 8-D star star star

One Page Dungeon Contest 2013!

Dates: Submission deadline is April 30, 0:00 GMT (Tuesday evening). If you live West of Greenwich, you will have to send in your submission a few hours before the end of the month! Winners will be announced June 1.

Help spread the word!

Prizes & Sponsors: Do you have prizes to donate? Let me know →!

Submissions: Here’s how to submit your entry.

  • Create a One Page Dungeon.
  • Submitting a dungeon to the contest releases it under the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license with credit to the contest participant.
  • The submission must have a name, an author, and a link to the license (
  • The judges and readers play a variety of systems. Don’t waste valuable space with a lot of system-specific stats.
  • A link to extra material on your blog such as wandering monsters, random events, adventure background, introduction, descriptions of tricks or traps are welcome for readers but will not be considered part of your submission.
  • One entry per participant. Participants may revise/replace their entries up until the end of contest, with the last revision counting as their official entry.
  • If your font size is too small to read, you will most probably not win.
  • Many people will print your submission as a black and white document. Adding colors is no problem as long as the black and white printed copy is still good enough.
  • Help us keep file size in check. A single page should not take more than an image with 3000x2000 pixels (1-2MB is cool, 5MB still works, 10MB is too much).
  • Submission must be mailed in PDF format to Alex Schroeder → Usually we can help you convert your Open Office and Microsoft Word documents to PDF.
  • If you have a blog article talking about your submission, send us the link. We’d love to link to it from the One Page Dungeon Contest page.

Process: Here’s how we’ll determine the winners.

  • Every judge nominates their favorite entries and proposes a category for each.
  • We try to make sure that every judge has at least three of their nominations in the final list. The idea is to not only reflect popular opinion but to also capture some of the more eclectic entries out there. We’ll make sure that every judge is well represented with three entries each.
  • Based on the categories proposed in the first step, we try to assign a category to each entry on the list.
  • Judges gets to check whether their favorites are still on the list.
  • We fix omissions and rename categories until we’re happy.
  • We publish our list of winners!
  • We will ask each winner for three items they’d prefer to win and any items they prefer not to win. Then we try to do a best match, giving precedence to those winners that got more nominations in the first step.
  • All the entries and a special PDF with all the winners will be available for download at no cost.


Comments on 2013-03-27 One Page Dungeon Contest

Troy Costisick

Looking forward to the contest this year! I’ve got a blog entry plugging your contest and talking about dungeon design in general. Your contest rules asked for blog links, so here’s mine if you’d like to add it to the contest page:

Can’t wait to see what everyone produces this year!



Troy_Costisick 2013-03-29 14:03 UTC

Thanks for the link! :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-03-30 12:09 UTC

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2013-03-31 Never Ending Story

Stop the Hollyweb! No DRM in HTML5


Comments on 2013-03-31 Never Ending Story

Lucky at least one of the biggest web browsers is open source!

– Anonymous 2013-04-02 07:13 UTC

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2013-03 Book Club

What: Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

When: 20 March, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

For a change, how about some travel literature? One of the best ones from Theroux in my opinion…

Paul Theroux sets off for Cape Town from Cairo – the hard way.

Travelling across bush and desert, down rivers and across lakes, and through country after country, Theroux visits some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and some of the most dangerous. It is a journey of discovery and of rediscovery – of the unknown and the unexpected, but also of people and places he knew as a young and optimistic teacher forty years before.

Safari in Swahili simply means “journey”, and this is the ultimate safari. It is Theroux in his element – a trip where chance encounter is everything, where departure and arrival times are an irrelevance, and where contentment can be found balancing on the top of a truck in the middle of nowhere.

(description credit: amazon)

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