Monthly Archives: December, 2011

My Favorite D&D

Every time I get drawn into a conversation regarding the relative merits of D&D 4e and D&D 3.x I end up saying much the same thing.  While I do like the consistency of my position, I think it’s time I posted something here I can just point at the next time the question comes up.

TL;DR (for those with no patience — and this is long, about 2700 words worth): I don’t play 4e, I don’t have the books, I don’t expect to ever do so.  But I don’t particularly dislike 4e on a system design level.

I’ll explain below why I have the position I do.


Okay, Important Lesson

When using the feedwordpress plugin, do not point it back at your site so you ‘download your own posts’.  They collide with the original ones and take over the originals… and when you remove the feed it might (and did in my case, because I told it to) stomp on the original post.

Thankfully they were mostly captured somewhere else, but I’ll have to reload them.

Yeah, misfeature followed by stupid user mistake.

Also, figures that I would have an article today that is drawing more traffic than usual… that got nuked shortly after I posted it, before Google Reader picked up on it.

If anyone has the text of my last post, “My Favorite D&D”, I would consider it a kindness if you could send it to me.  That took most of my lunch break to write.

Okay, all fixed.  I left out one post no one seemed interested in, but otherwise it’s good to go.  I rewrote ‘My Favorite D&D’, and I think I like this version better anyway.

Links of the Week: December 26, 2011

Last one for this year, seventeenth time links post in this series (two meta-posts, one announcing the series, one looking for an RSS aggregator to make my life easier — I expect to have more on this in a week or two).

I just realized and remembered, I’m hosting the RPG Blog Carnival next month, with a topic of ‘Fantastic Locations’… and ‘next month’ starts on Sunday.  I’d better get my act together.

Happily, I’ve got a few days off this week, I’ll get things tidied up a bit, blow the dust off some older articles and refresh them to current standards, and we can have ourselves a time.

I’m running a little late this week (about an hour and a half) because I was busy this weekend, but here is my round-up of last week’s links.  Many of the regulars, plus a couple of new blogs that are looking good so far.

Kickstarter Projects

Realm Coins


A nifty little project that looks to be well-funded: $11,611 of a $5,000 goal, so I expect this one will pass.  I think it unlikely that enough people will back out to cause it to fail.

I’ve been resisting this one because as cool as the idea is and how much I would like to have a slew of these coins (I would dearly love to dump a bucket of them in front of my players when they find a treasure), I actually can’t justify the purchase right now.

This campaign closes closes in January 15, 2012.

There is a similar product available at Campaign Coins  ( that run about two or three times the cost per coin.  However, Campaign Coins has designs that are more fantastic, and more designs (more shapes and multiple denominations).


Character Design Requirements

Years ago, a friend online told me of the guidelines she was given in designing her character for a supers campaign.

  1. Have a way to get to the fight.
  2. Have a way to be useful in the fight.
  3. Have a way to survive the fight.

It occurs to me that with only the smallest abstraction this can actually apply to almost any kind of RPG, setting, and scenario.  Change ‘fight’ to ‘action’ and you’re done.

  1. Have a way to get to the action.
  2. Have a way to be useful in the action.
  3. Have a way to stay in the action.


I Don’t Always Test My Code

Thank you very much to Dennis Santana  for bringing this to my attention.  I’m adding a new feature (I hope) to KJD-IMC to help me with my weekly reading and round-up and I screwed up my permalinks.  Once he clued me in that the primaries were broken, I fixed that and it solved the problem entirely.

I should know better, I really should.  ITIL-certified and I give developers grief when they don’t follow good change management processes.

But when I do I do it in production

Implications of Changes to the Hit Point Model

A couple of months ago I posted some thoughts about hit points and healing .

This is playable model, and the martial artists I discussed it with said that while it’s not exactly realistic, it has the shape of something believable.  That is, the relationship between ‘hard to kill’ (or ‘hard to beat down’, more likely in a real fight) and ‘real damage’ is about right, even if the odds of someone taking only ‘minor injuries’ from a sword or shotgun are probably smaller than the model suggests.

(I’ll just mention this is more or less corrected in my view because most ‘real people’ are going to very low level, and even a ‘real’ third-level fighter with twenty or thirty hit points can be taken out of a fight pretty fast if he’s hit with a sword or a shotgun blast.)

It seems a workable model.  It is playable and doesn’t seem to inherently offend the senses.  In fact, I suspect it actually explains things better than most of the explanations I’ve seen to date.  The reason a human fighter has more hit points than a horse and is harder to kill is not that he has more meat and can take more damage, but he better able to avoid real damage in the first place.  The horse is naturally bigger and inherently tougher because of its size, but the human fighter probably knows better how to deal with situations that would lead to injury.  I have seen this idea mentioned in describing hit points a few times, but I think most people overlook or forget it, and it never seems to come out explicitly in play.

However, even though this is likely a workable for handling damage normally, I realized a few more things it might let me do, or do better.


RSS Aggregation Tools

I am looking for an RSS aggregation tool.

I have found in the last few weeks that I read about 250-300 blog posts a week, which then get summarized into my ‘Links of the Week’ posts.  This is a lot of reading, and I end up spending either way too much time in the evenings or way too much time on the weekend on this.

Now, I enjoy reading the material, or I wouldn’t be doing it, but I’m looking for an easier and more convenient way. I also have about two hours a day on the bus where I need something to do.

I’m experimenting now with Google Reader.  I add the blog feeds to my list and synchronize to my tablet in the morning before work.  So far, this seems to work, but I’m not entirely happy with it.

I find I like my ebook reader (Sony PRS-600, FWIW) better, it’s way gentler on my eyes and fits in my coat pocket.  The easiest way I have found is to have calibre run each day and build an EPUB for me.  However, it doesn’t do quite what I want either, the way it’s done.

I think what I want is an RSS aggregator I can run locally or one of my websites that will give me a single output RSS feed that contains the aggregated feeds.  I’m having trouble finding one that works the way I want.

At this point the features I’m looking for include:

  • Easy to set up.
  • Takes an arbitrary number of RSS feeds, retrieves and stores the RSS content for later consumption.
  • Either produces viable EPUB files or republishes the aggregated feeds as a new feed that I can load into calibre.

Does anyone know of a tool that works in the manner described?  Or have a better method of achieving the same goal?

Links of the Week: December 19, 2011

I have got to start staying on top of this again.  Even starting on Saturday, I spent a big whack of my weekend reading blogs.  Some really good stuff, though; part of my problem this week was looking through related pages and the like, it probably increased my reading load by half.

I have a dilemma.  I want to write, and to work on Echelon… but there is so much good material out there that I don’t want to miss anything.

Kickstarter Projects

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea


From the Kickstarter page:

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (AS&SH) is a forthcoming role-playing game by North Wind Adventures . It is played with paper, pencil, dice, and imagination. Participants include one referee and one or more players. The referee prepares and presents the adventure material, and the players create player characters, such as the principal classes of fighter, magician, cleric, and thief; or a subclass, such as barbarian, berserker, cataphract, illusionist, necromancer, pyromancer, druid, shaman, assassin, legerdemainist, scout, and more!

The heroes of an AS&SH game delve dungeons filled with horrifying monsters, lethal traps, and bewildering puzzles; they explore savage wilderness frontiers and hostile borderlands; they probe ancient ruins and investigate cursed tombs; they match steel against sorcery, and sorcery against steel; and they plunder for gold, gems, and magical treasure.

Hyperborea is the default campaign setting for AS&SH. This “flat earth” realm is overlooked by a bloated, dying sun, and hemmed in by the mystical boreas (or “North Wind”).  Hyperborea is in a perpetual state of decay, populated by disharmonious men, hostile monsters, and weird, alien beings.

The setting is inspired by the fantastic literature of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith. Other inspirational authors include Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fritz Leiber, Abraham Merritt, Michael Moorcock, and Jack Vance. AS&SH rules and conventions are inspired by the original 1974 fantasy wargame and miniatures campaign rules as conceived by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Hyperborea is an adaptable campaign setting. It can be used independently or in conjunction with other settings, published or home-brewed; indeed, Hyperborea might be just beyond the North Wind of any campaign setting.

I’ve been waffling about this one, but it closes January 15, a few days after my birthday.  I think maybe I’ll back this one as a birthday present to myself.

The Crown and the Dragon (feature film)


From the Kickstarter page

The Crown and the Dragon is an independently produced feature-length fantasy/adventure in the classic tradition – packed with action, romance, and a giant mythical beast bent on destruction. The film has already been shot, and we’re looking for additional funding to finish post-production, and make our dragon effects more spectacular than ever. Watch our teaser trailer to see actual footage from the film.

The story follows Elenn, an arrogant young noblewoman from the occupied land of Deira – a muddy backwater of the Vitalion Empire cursed by a particularly vicious dragon. Elenn accompanies her aunt on a mission to bring a relic to the secret coronation of the king of their people.  When her aunt is murdered on the road by Vitalion soldiers, Elenn hires a smuggler and criminal, Aedin, to escort her across the dangerous country so she can take her aunt’s place at the coronation.  But when Corvus, a rogue magister of the empire, employs a dark magic (Undead Assassins) to retrieve the ancient relic for his own evil designs, Elenn must find the humility and strength within herself to fulfill her aunt’s calling to free her people, and become a Paladin – the long foretold dragonslayer.

If the description’s not good enough, they’ve made the screenplay available for download, and the trailer below looks well done.  I’m thinking about this one, the Kickstarter closes December 27.


It Must Be Mined!

Well, what else would be the past tense of “it must be mine!”?

Called up the FLGS today to see if they would be able to get a copy of Tome of Adventure Design from Frog God Games, when it was available (since it’s still shown as pre-order at FGG).  The conversation went something like:

“Can you order… okay, hang on.  Is Frog God Games on your vendor list?  They did the Tome of Horrors, the really big one for Pathfinder.”

“Yes, but we just sold our last one.”

“That’s okay, I’m actually looking for Tome of Adventure Design when it com…”

“I’ve got it right here, I’m thinking about buying it myself.”

“No way.  The web site shows it as still ‘pre-order’.”

“Way.  It’s in my hand.”

“Red cover, gold letters, are we talking about the same thing?”

“Yep.  It was on the pick list, I didn’t know what it was so decided to take a look.”

“Can you hold it for me?  I can be there in an hour.”

“Sure.  I’ll just order another one for myself.”

I like this store.  Into the van, over the Malahat, and there it was.

Since I was there anyway, took a look for other things that might interest me.  Ended up with

  • Ultimate Toolbox from Alderac Entertainment Group
  • Swords & Wizardry core rules
  • The Chronicles of Remlar core rule book… which I am utterly unfamiliar with, but a quick browse through it suggested I want to learn more.  This is supported by the web search I just did, the reviews suggest it’s something I’ll want to look at more.  [oh good, since I already bought it!]  Does anyone know anything about this?

And since I was passing by my other FLGS on the way home, I dropped in and checked my pull box.

  • Smallworld Tunnels expansion (promo, so free!).  Not very profound, just provides tokens to make it easier to use Smallworld and Smallworld Underground at the same time.
  • PS238: Saving Alternate Omaha.  I’ve been reading PS238 since it hit the trades (I stopped buying individual comic books decades ago), so a new book from Aaron Williams is always appreciated.

Not bad for an otherwise slow weekend.

Links of the Week: December 12, 2011

Another really big day of reading. I was on a course all week — as soon as I write and pass (though I’m not worried about failing) the exam I’ll be a Certified Penetration Test Engineer. Ethical (that is, legal) hacker.

However, this left me with little time for keeping up on the blogs and other sites I read regularly, so in the last 24 hours I’ve read about 300 posts.

I’m a little tired. This was a really good week for RPG-related and RPG-usable content.

Resources: Photo Porn Sites

No, not that kind, that’s just how they’re labeled.

Reddit has a few of them.

I can’t imagine anyone not being able to find something here that would be of use.

If anyone knows of other such lists or sites, let me know. This stuff can always find a purpose with me.

Kickstarter Projects

Schlock Mercenary The Board Game


I’ve been reading Schlock Mercenary almost since it started (before Schlock was part owner of Tagon’s Toughs), and the board game looks like it might be fun. Howard Tayler seemed to like the demo the development team gave him when they tried (successfully) to bring him on board.

They’ve made their funding goal already, even, with almost a week to go. I’m not backing this one myself; $70 (including shipping) is a little more than I’m accustomed to spending on a board game.

But not everyone, it seems; 11 people have stepped up at the $225 (x4), $475 (x4), and $1000 (x3!) levels. Granted, they’re getting five or ten copies each, but that’s still some impressive backing.

Monster Stand-Ins (Plastic Card Miniatures)


This has the potential to be really handy if it comes together. He’s looking for $10,000, which is moderately big as Kickstarter projects go, but $30 for a set of 150 tokens printed on plastic ‘like they use for credit cards’ doesn’t seem unreasonable. I haven’t backed this one yet, but looking at the list of creatures they plan to include (see below) I could see myself getting a couple of these.

Which monsters will be in the set?

There will be over 150 creatures in the first set. Keep in mind that all “Medium” size creatures (roughly human sized) will be 1″ x 1.75″ on the plastic cards, which makes them roughly equal to the size of a typical gaming miniature. Small creatures (and even smaller creatures) will be 0.75″ x 1″. Large creatures are 1.5″ x 2″ and Huge creatures are 2″ x 3″.

Small (or smaller) Creatures:

  • 4 bats, 4 beetles, 4 rats, 4 spiders, 2 cats, 2 dogs, 2 eagles, 2 lizards, 4 kobolds, 2 pixies, 4 stirges, 1 will o’ wisp

Medium Creatures:

  • Humans/Demi-Humans: 4 humans, 2 dwarves, 2 elves, 2 gnomes, 2 halflings, 2 half-elves, 2 half-orcs
  • Swarms: bat swarm, beetle swarm, rat swarm, spider swarm
  • Animals: black bear, brown bear, grizzly bear, polar bear, cheetah, jaguar, common dog, riding dog, fox, wolf
  • Humaniods: 2 gnolls, 4 goblins, 4 hobgoblins, 4 lizardfolk, 4 orcs, 2 troglodytes
  • Monstrous Humanoids: 2 gargoyles, medusa
  • Undead: 2 ghouls, lich, spectre, 2 mummies, vampire, 2 wights, 4 zombies
  • Outsiders: hellhound, 2 rakshasa, 4 skeletons, 1 xorn
  • Magical Beasts/Aberrations: 2 worgs, 2 rust monsters
  • Lycanthropes: 2 werewolves, werebear, wererat
  • Animals: 3 snakes (spitting cobra, viper, constrictor, venomous), 2 giant spiders (5)

Large Creatures:

  • Animals (including giant/dire): dire bat, dire bear, giant beetle, lion, tiger, 2 horses, giant eagle
  • Humanoids/Monstrous Humanoid: 2 centaur, cyclops, 2 minotaur, 2 ogres, 2 trolls
  • Dragons: black, blue, green, red, white, wyvern
  • Magical Beasts: griffon, 2 owlbears, pegasus, unicorn
  • Outsiders: air elemental, earth elemental, fire elemental, water elemental
  • Other: gelatinous cube

Huge (and larger) Creatures:

  • Frost Giant, Hill Giant, Storm Giant, Hydra, Treant