Links of the Week on Hiatus

I’ve been doing Links of the Week for about a year now (just over eleven months in fact; first in the category was September 1, 2011).

They started as a way for me to keep track of nifty things I found and to share them.  Eventually they became one of the bigger draws to this blog.

At this point, though, making sure they’re there every Monday morning has become a task in and of itself, and I have only been hitting every other week or so for the last couple of months because I haven’t had time to do much reading, let alone collating and curating.

Links of the Week is going on hiatus for a while indefinitely (let’s be honest).  I’ll still aim to share nifty stuff I find (such as Kickstarters I find cool, or posts from other blogs that I want to bring attention to), but I do not plan to collect them into weekly batches. Instead of collecting a bunch of links and providing a sentence or two about each, I want to examine them in more detail, discuss them in detail, and so on.

By removing these deadlines I had put on myself, I hope to free up time to work on my projects.  I still have the RPG blog aggregator I want to get live, I want to get Echelon to a usable state, I have several series of posts here that have stalled that I want to wrap up…

Links of the Week have been fun, they’ve caused me to spend a lot of time reading hundreds of interesting and useful blog posts, but it’s something I need to set aside for a while.

Who knows?  When winter rolls around and I get some of these projects finished to my satisfaction, Links of the Week may return.

Links of the Week: August 6, 2012

A Hall of Fame entry, a few blog posts, a few Kickstarters, some exciting medical science, and a commercial for something very shiny I couldn’t make proper use of even if I could afford it.

Hall of Fame

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: Random Wizard’s Tower Generator

Jack Shear has perhaps the longest blog title and hostname in all of OSR. He also has lots of really good ideas for the Weird. Today I learned of his Random Wizard’s Tower Generator, and I like it. A set of tables to generate general information about wizard’s towers, plus a few supplementary tables to round things out.

  • Tower Name (in case you don’t already have one)
    • Wizard Name (again, in case you don’t already have one)
  • Theme (what the wizard is really into)
  • Foreboding Aspect (what keeps the locals away)
  • Aesthetic (overall style)
  • How Many Levels
  • Types of Levels (starts with private chambers and library, and a d20 table to flesh out the rest)
  • Primary Protection (what keeps him from being disturbed… more)
  • Secondary Protection (roll again, but they are weaker or fewer)
  • Associated Tables
    • Don’t Touch That Because…
    • You Knocked That Over And…
    • Odd Room Features
    • Abortive Experiments
    • What’s in the Wizard’s Dustbin

I love random tables that can give me direction, or jerk me out of a rut.  Let’s see what this one gives.

d12 twice, d20 once: The Cyclopean Tower of Zerio

d12: Really into Things Man Was Not Meant To Know

d10: Skeletons wander the area near the tower

d10: Overall aesthetic is rustic and charming [really?  I thought about overruling, but let’s go with it]

d4+1: (doesn’t sound really powerful to me): 4 levels

  • Private Chambers
  • Wizard’s Library
  • Alchemical Library
  • Wunderkammer – medical oddities, natural history specimens

Primary Protection: Magical Traps

Secondary Protection: Hauntings (see What Type of Haunting is Afoot Table on page 74 [of Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Compendium — also available for purchase in hardcover or softcover, see James’ site for details).

I can work with this.  It gives me a good start and I can branch out to other sources and random references as I want. Added to the Hall of Fame under Setting Elements.

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Links of the Week: July 30, 2012 Delayed

Yet again, no Links of the Week post.

Between Drive-Thru RPG’s Christmas in July sale (which set me back a fair bit of time… and money) and a particularly stupid move on my part setting back one of my projects (Ijust now got back to where I was the other day… more or less) I haven’t spent a lot of time doing much else.

Still, I now know more about WordPress than I really, really wanted to, and gaining knowledge is good.  Unless it’s related to Cthulhu Mythos.  Or PHP.

It’s hard to tell them apart sometimes.

Links of the Week: July 23, 2012

Very light week this week.  One addition to the Hall of Fame and a few videos.  I really haven’t had time to read blogs this week.

The new aggregator has been open for a couple days now (if you have me circled on google+ you may have seen the link) for a preview, though it’s not quite ready for prime time.  I’m working on that this weekend and will hopefully have more to show shortly.

Hall of Fame

Between are the Doors: Random Adventure Generator by OFTHEHILLPEOPLE

Feeling pressed for adventure ideas?  Fictivite passes on a Random Adventure Generator by OFTHEHILLPEOPLE.  This is an 8-page PDF with a d12 table on each one, providing ways to pick

  • Quest Contact, the person or source of information regarding the adventure;
  • The Adventure, the nature or goal of the adventure;
  • The Location, the primary setting of the adventure;
  • The Macguffin, the item (if any) that is the focus of the adventure;
  • The Innocents, characters or creatures related to the adventure, neither protagonist or antagonist but likely sympathetic;
  • The Antagonists, the primary opposition in the adventure;
  • The Twists and Complications, because if it was straightforward it would hardly be an adventure;
  • The Dramatic Conflict, what isbad about successfully completing the adventure.

The entries in the tables are generally fairly abstract.  For instance, The Location contains:

  1. Bandit Territory
  2. Mansion or Estate
  3. Swamp/Flooded Area
  4. Island
  5. A Fortress
  6. Scalding Desert
  7. An Overgrown Forest
  8. Urban
  9. Mountains/Caves
  10. Jail/Detention Camp
  11. Ocean
  12. Underground

with a brief description of what it means and some of the things to keep in mind while designing the adventure.

This can provide a bare skeleton with lots of room to hang detail from.  Looking the tables over, I think it could do a lot to prod my thinking into paths other than I would likely come up with on my own.  Combine it with some of the other random generators (such as the lot at Seventh Sanctum) for names and some other elements, and you have tools to help do a lot of the high-level design work.

Obviously you don’t need to roll on all tables, and you might want to roll more than once on a table to complicate things.  Perhaps the adventure spans several Locations, or a Location consists of multiple elements (a Fortress in a Desert, a Mansion in the Swamp, a Prison Island).  There might be multiple Antagonists — whether they cooperate with each other or not, they certainly don’t want the protagonists to succeed.

Added to the Hall of Fame under Sources of Inspiration.

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Links of the Week: July 12, 2012

I postponed the last two Links of the Week posts because I have been busy working on another project and really have had time to do much blog post reading.  When I go blog reading I do it in blocks of time measuring in hours.  I have not had the time in large enough blocks recently to do that.

However, I have come to realize that Google+ is full of awesome stuff.  The links below have been mostly (almost entirely, actually) drawn from links thrown to me by people in my circles over the last two or three weeks.

Because I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, the list of links is getting stupidly big.  Not only do I have a lot of links, I want to say (or show) so much about them.  I’m deviating even farther from my normal routine and posting this Thursday night, because if I wait until Monday it’ll just be worse.

There will probably be no Links of the Week on Monday, but I hope to have another announcement.

Hall of Fame

22 Rules of Storytelling, According to Pixar

22 rules for storytelling, according to Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats.

When I design a scenario, I’m not trying to plot a story.  However, the resolution of the scenario should result in a story.

Many of the rules here can be applied to good result.  For instance.

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

When designing a scenario I don’t necessarily know where it’s going to end.  I try to weave my scenarios together to some extent, so sometimes my players just ‘pass through’ a scenario.  However, there are elements of scenarios that can be considered important enough to be treated much as ‘endings’, and a really good thing about them is that if the party fails, that still resolves the scenario and they got to experience ‘the best part’.  Make it big, and make it exciting.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

Well… I’ll note the first thing that comes to mind, but I don’t get attached to it because I’m reasonably certain something will come up soon that will be better.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

As above, not all apply directly as written, but even when they don’t you can decide to not follow them.

Added to the Hall of Fame under Writing Guidelines and Tools.

Creative Commons Licensed Cartography

I would like to thank Alex Schroeder for mentioning Paratime Design in a thread on Google+.

Alex’s link was to some Creative Commons Licensed Cartography.  This page has links to galleries with dozens of maps in various styles and subjects.

I had never heard of them before, but I’ll be taking a closer look sometime soon.

Paratime Design Logo

Paratime Design Logo

Added to the Hall of Fame under Cartography and Maps.

Charles Ryan: The Medieval Kingdom

Charles Ryan wrote a very approachable piece on the population and structure of the Medieval Kingdom, for some assumed value of ‘medieval kingdom’ that seems to be common among gamers.  He describes population density, settlement density and distribution, and feudal structure.

Including mentioning that “feudal structure” is a bit of a mess and nowhere near as simple as many people seem to think.  I remember talking about this with Joseph Browning at GenCon 2003 (Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe had just come out) and it was somewhat enlightening.

Did you know that it would be entirely possible for the King of England to be required to provide troops to fight himself?

See, if Henry has land (probably managed by a seneschal) in France while he rules in England, and France declares war on England, then when Louis sends out the call for troops it will bubble down until Henry’s seneschal gathers the men required by the feudal agreement and sends them to Louis, who puts them in a boat to England to try to defeat Henry.

Thus le baron Henri could be required to provide troops to fight King Henry of England.  Who needs subtle machinations and cunning plans to confuse things?

There is more information on the subject available elsewhere for the morbidly curious, but this post is a straightforward and approachable treatment that will probably be sufficient for verisimilitude for most people.

Added to the Hall of Fame under Setting Design.

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