Links of the Week: March 26, 2012

A fair amount of material this week.  Not so many blog posts linked, but I’ve spent more time writing this week (Links of the Week and other material)… and I’m reaching the point again where I want to invest more in writing than in reading.

… I’m still finding lots of good reading and thinking material though, so again it’s a bit of a quandary.

Hall of Fame Additions

Bat in the Attic: How to make a Fantasy Sandbox

Rob Conley at Bat in the Attic wrote… rather a lot, really, on construction of a fantasy sandbox.  Much of the material can be applied to general campaign construction, though.

The first page, the introduction with the ‘summary’ list of 34 steps, can be read at How to make a Fantasy Sandbox.

The follow up material consists of 18 more posts that expand on 26 of the 34 steps mentioned above (I understand Real Life caught up to him).

It looks like Step 24 — Pick the 4 or 6 most important population locales and draw a quarter page sketch map of the settlement — takes a lot of explanation.

This will take some time for me to absorb.  The material I have seen so far is remarkably detailed.

I look forward to it.

This has been filed under Setting Design as Bat in the Attic: How to make a Fantasy Sandbox.


I think Charlie at Intwischa was right when he talked about Kickstarter.  It’s a great site as far as what it does, but it’s a right pain to try to find new and exciting projects.  Thanks for the tip of the hat, Charlie.

I get most of my Kickstarter links from other people.  Word of mouth is usually considered one of the most effective means of advertisement, but in Kickstarter’s case it’s about the only way to find out about new, cool stuff.

Illustrating Legend

I mentioned this project a while ago.  They were fully funded then, they’re now about 215% funded (8,176/3500 when I looked).

I like Rule of Cool, and it looks like they’re adding products and rewards as new targets are met.

The project closes April 1.

Poker Chips Designed for Board Gamers

Another project that I wish I could afford to back.

Very durable, attractive, easily stackable ceramic tokens marked with a number of different values (1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500) and in different styles (wood, clay/brick, stone, copper, silver, gold, emerald, sapphire, black diamond, ruby).  They look like a wonderful (and expensive!  The lowest cost you can get per chip is almost 90 cents… if you get over 1000).

The way we play probably the only set that would be practical in the long run would be the Hardcore Gamer — at $275 + $20 shipping and handling (sometimes — not most of the time, but times like this — it can suck living in Canada).  The Roll Your Own is close (at $160 + $15 S&H) but I play enough games with enough different token needs that it might not work out.

As much as I like the idea, at those prices I can get a few more board games or RPG books, or a slew of PDFs.

Project closes April 1 and is well-funded (12,993/7,500 when I looked).

Science & Technology

Rocket Plunge to Deep End of the Planet

I don’t watch a lot of movies, but I do recognize the name James Cameron.  I didn’t know he was into deep-sea — and I mean deep sea — diving.  He’s planning a trip almost seven miles down into the Challenger Deep, the deepest known hole on the planet and located in the Mariana Trench.

I’ll be honest, I really don’t think I could do this.  I’ll be greatly interested in seeing how this turns out, especially since he’s using a new type of submersible craft he’s had designed.

I’m confident in it, though, he’s already taken it on a test dive to more than five miles down.

Addendum (March 25, 2:oo PM PDT): Apparently he’s already left, and at 2:00 PM Pacific time he was around 25,000 feet down.  For reference, the peak of Mount Everest is just over 29,000 feet elevation.

Addendum (3:00 PM): just touched down at the bottom.  Two other humans have been there, in 1960, and as I recall they had to try to look out through a very small window.

Addendum (7:45 PM): I just read that he made it back to the surface safely.

Blog Posts

Daily Encounter

ObsidianCrane provides a list of pictures and ideas for epic inspiration.  The ideas and imagery alone are worth a look, and there are also links to the artists’ galleries.

I’ve hoisted this to the Hall of Fame under “Sources of Inspiration“.  I’m going to have to go back and look this over in greater depth when I have time to really appreciate it.

Dreams in the Lich House

Beedo asks how many people use weapon specialization in D&D.  I wrote a response with my answer (short form: don’t really like it as presented), and another showing a form of weapon specialization I like.

Gaming Ronin

Ronin78 presents Clerics in Dragon AGE RPG… another system I have been trying to find time to get back to.

He then follows up with several specialization for the cleric, including the Monk and the Paladin.

Of Dice and Men

whiskeytangofoxtrot is working on some ideas for the Dwarves of Delraith that look very interesting to me.  I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes with these.

Papers and Pencils

LS shows how to develop Hex Crawling Encounter tables.  The reasoning behind the approach is sound and the steps fairly straightforward.  This looks like a good introductory work on the topic.

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

Michael talks about reskinning spells to better fit the nature of the caster, including a few examples of what healing might look like.  It’s an idea I first saw in Dragon Magazine (issue 200 as I recall) and I’ve always liked this idea.

The Grumpy Celt

It’s silly, but the idea of The Birthday Shoggoth amuses me.

Lately the birthday shoggoths have been presenting intended targets with cake in an effort to smooth the process. This has met with mixed results.

Indeed, I imagine it might.

The Land of Nod

Matt describes a Ptolomaic cosmology that looks pretty cool.  I like the idea that most of the normally-infinite planes are quite constrained in size, and they each look rather more interesting than the core rules presentation.

The Secret DM

David expands on the living statues from B/X and presents the Hate Machine.

The Might be Gazebos

Chuck presents A Quick & Dirty Method for Generating a Continent.

Using 5d12 rolled multiple times you can derive continent shape, terrain, cities (and ruins), and conspicuous features.

I may give this a try.  I don’t often need entire continents (continents are easy), but this looks like it could be scaled down to handle smaller landmasses… and I think I even see a way it could be adapted for use in generating individual nations.

I think I’ll definitely give this a try.


Portal’s ‘Still Alive’ Played by Fiber Laser

I’ve never found time to play any of the Portal games, but I am a fan of Jonathan Coulton and I know I’ve got some friends who are likely to have great happiness in their pants watching this.

Give me a laser like this and a 3d printer and you might never see me again.


This is described as “an animated short set in a post-apocalyptic universe”.

I want more.  I want to know the background, and I want to know what happens next.

War of the Arrows

Thanks to Tim at I’d Rather By Killing Monsters…

It has my attention.  I’ll be looking for it when it comes out in a couple months, I think.

World of Workcraft

Looks like Papers and Paychecks got an upgrade.


    • I’d be delighted to be included in the Weekly Assembly. I like watching my traffic climb.

      And thanks for pointing out the busted link. I didn’t notice the protocol (the ‘http://’ part of the address) was missing.

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