Monday, December 17, 2012

Not Dead Yet

It's been quiet here, but never fear, the blog is not dead. In November, having found myself unprepared to take on NaNoWriMo, I decided I needed to focus on a novel project that's been bouncing around in the back of my head. That plus the holidays and a PbP game have been sucking down quite a bit of time. I'll be back in another 65k words or so.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Map - Inkscape

I've been messing around with Inkscape as a mapping tool, and ended up with this as a result this morning. I already have a blank image set up with the grid lines drawn into it, so this didn't take long. I started with the polygon/star tool, and set the rounded and random fields to .100 and .200 respectively. Then I drew a bunch of random polygons, randomly changing the number of corners to values between 3 and 8 as I went. Once I had a bunch of polygons I dragged them around to something that looked good, and drew a few connecting shapes with the freehand line tool to create closed paths. I tweaked the paths using the node tool and simplifying the ones I drew by hand (Path/Simplify).

Once I had something that looked good, I used Path/Union and Path/Difference to turn the collected shapes into a single path. I duplicated the path and applied Path/Outset a few times, giving me an interior path (the caves) and an exterior path (the shading). I applied Filters/Distort/Pixel smear to the caves, and Filters/Scatter/Air spray to the shading. Tweaked down fill alpha a bit and played with colors a little, then exported to png. After a little cropping with Gimp, here it is:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Wilds - They're Off

After some starts and stops, the gang in my play by email game is on the road, headed to the Cold Caves to see what's behind the recent attacks on the surrounding farmsteads and settlements. The tea and cakes were delicious. As usual I'll be using TiddlyWiki to manage the game, and writing two main turns a week. We've found this pace gives everyone a chance to participate, including the folks with heavy work schedules.

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's not Friday, and not Five Minutes, Either

This is a quick map I did using Inkscape and GIMP. It's one I'll be using in my play-by-post Labyrinth Lord game, and represents the player's idea of the place they're going to check out. As noted in the Announcement, there are possibly kobolds here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Announcement

In game announcement that is. I'm about to kick off my Labyrinth Lord play-by mail game, and here's the announcement I sent out to the players:

In the name of Thambar the Prudent, Lord of Hembard Wilds, Defender of Highcliff Keep, Recognized Lord of the Peerage of the Kingdom of Jal, Meisterburger of Auslaug, Hustwood, and Brekkevale, TAKE HEED: The following ANNOUNCEMENT has been announced:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Better Late Than Never

Oops, almost forgot to do a five minute map!
Partially Worked Caverns
Extra-fine roller-ball on  3"x3" PostIt. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Starting Gear

I'm starting up a new play-by-email game, using Labyrinth Lord as a base rule set. The first order of business is setting up new characters, and part of that process is gearing up. Here's the starting gear setup we'll be using:

All characters start with 3d8x10 gold pieces. Each character also begins with a backpack containing two small sacks, a bedroll, a waterskin, flint and steel, a spare cloak, and ten days of trail rations. Roll 1d8 on the following list for additional gear.

1)    8 torches, 50' silk rope
2)    2 oil flasks, lantern
3)    1 scroll case, 5 parchment, ink and quill
4)    1 flask holy water
5)    3 days unpreserved rations, wineskin of good wine
6)    1 grappling hook, 50' hemp rope
7)    1 character-appropriate weapon
8)    Roll twice, re-rolling this result

Pretty basic, with some pretty significant variation in value, but hey, it's going to be a somewhat old-school game, so... appropriate.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The horrific Oowombe are undead creatures, created when corrupt primal energies of foul swamps and marshes reanimate the remains of those trapped and slain by sticky bogs or quicksand.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Daruna - A Brief Update and a Map

The Daruna gang are back in town, and settling out their debts and obligations. After selling off their fat, fat loot, they suddenly find themselves with a lot of money. In fact it's an uncomfortable amount to be lugging around, and in their usual non-subtle way, they've not exactly hidden the fact that they have a lot of money.

So they're buying a house.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - Halloween Sale

The sale is on at The sale includes some cool scare-themed stuff, like Little Fears 10th Anniversary Edition, a spooky bundle from Necromancers of the Northwest, Pelgrane Press's The Book of Unremitting Horror, a bunch of scary bits from Tabletop Adventures, and a mess of Cthulhu related products from Skirmisher Publishing. There's also a pumpkin hunt offering some free goodies.

Check it out!

Vault of Eternal Sleep

The Vault is cut from a single block of a mysterious, deep-blue stone, origin unknown. It is a perfect nine-foot cube, with a single square opening three feet wide cut in the center of one face.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ars Magica - Video Game Kickstarter

This looks intriguing. Ars Magica is one of those games that looked very cool, but I never really had a chance to play. Now it's getting turned into a single-player video game, so maybe soon I can change that.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Island Forge - That Next Step

If you've read any of the previous Island Forge tutorials (like this one or this one), you've probably checked out the results on the Isle of Test. If you've been there, you've probably seen this in the wilderness...
Now What?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dealing with Coins

Over at the RPG Circus, Jeff questioned the value of encumbrance, specifically with regard to coins. It's a worthy question, with no right or wrong answer, but it's worth thinking about in the context of your campaign.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Marionette Glove

This item is a single, gaudy glove, made from a mishmash of red, yellow, and blue silk strips and panels. A dozen or so strands of heavy, black thread hang from the fingertips and palm of the Glove, each about six inches long. The Glove's cuff is decorated with fine embroidery done in black and silver thread, and careful examination will reveal a command word written in ancient script hidden in this stitching.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Island Forge - A Guard Tutorial

This is another tutorial on using Island Forge's Island Builder. This time we're going to create a guardian creature using three actors, the guardian, something to appease it, and the person being guarded. You can see this in game by visiting the Isle of Test, and checking out the Guard Bunny, Sir Robin, and the nearby Pile of Grain. Save the grain for last so you can see the guard functionality.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guild Wars 2 - The Thrill Is Gone

I really want to love this game, but these days it's getting harder and harder. When the game launched at the end of August, I was very excited by the prospect of dynamic events. Instead of dealing with the typical quest-giver model, dynamic events pop up across the map as you travel about, providing opportunities for interaction and combat. What's more, as events succeed or fail based on player action, the world shifts and changes as a result (within certain limits of course).

Therein lies the problem.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Island Forge - FedEx Quest Tutorial

I've been feeling guilty about ignoring Island Forge, especially now that the game's developer has run a successful Kickstarter, and moved to a free to play model. I logged back in this morning, poked around my large-scale island project, and realized I had a lot left to do. That's still work in progress, but I decided I'd do something small and useful too, so here's a quick tutorial on how to create a FedEx style quest.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Homicide - The Truth of the Matter

Gabe Babbett. Our two detectives, Evan Stacy and Jeff Long, were finally sitting across the interrogation-room table from their primary suspect. They know quite a bit about Babbett already; felony record, parole violation, lied on his job application, fingerprints on the murder weapon, witnessed fighting with Marin, ID'd trying to sell the stolen documents. In short, he's screwed.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Island Forge - Now Free to Play

I just received a note from Nyhm, the developer of Island Forge. He's just moved Island Forge to a free to play model, so if you've tried the game out, or didn't because it was fee-based, now's the time to give it a chance!

I wrote a couple of posts about this game a while back. You can read them:

Now I really have no excuse to not finish the island I started...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guild Wars 2 - Karma Food Vendors

The following is a concise listing of known renown heart vendors that sell food items in bulk. It also lists the food items available from crafting master chefs and city karma vendors. This list should provide access to all karma-based items, though it may not list all vendors (yet). Each entry lists the item and its karma cost, then each vendor, their zone, and the nearest waypoint to their location. As always, corrections and additions are welcome. Just leave a comment!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homicide - Remote Control

Last time, we had a pretty good lock on the events surrounding our two murders. We still have some loose ends to tie up though. Let's get to it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gaming Paper - Better than Expected

During my last Daruna game session I finally had the opportunity to use the roll of Gaming Paper I had received as a gift a while back. If you're unfamiliar with the product, it's a one-inch grid printed on coated paper in a 30-inch wide, 12-foot long roll. It has the same feel as a nice-quality wrapping paper.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blade of Reflection

The Blade of Reflection is a long, broad-bladed bastard sword. It is fitted with an unadorned, straight guard of blueish steel and a pommel of the same material. The grip is rough black leather wrapped with copper wire. The blade is fashioned from an unknown material, a substance that appears to be pure, polished silver, but rings like fine crystal when tapped. The Blade's cross-section is a flattened hexagon, and its edges never show any sign of wear or damage. The weapon is about 55 inches from tip to pommel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homicide - The Devil's in the Details

Our prime suspect Gabe Babbett, is looking more and more like our man. When we left he was in custody in Chicago, and his truck had been impounded. We have a witness reporting he was involved in an altercation with our two murder victims near the site of a theft, and testimony indicating he was trying to sell stolen property on his trip to Delaware. We'll flash forward a bit, and allow some forensics work to get done in the background. The two things we're most interested in are the crime scene at the church and Babbett's truck. Specifically we're looking for fingerprints at the former, and blood evidence at the latter.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hidden Guild

Every city has its shady side, thieves, pimps, assassins, smugglers, and drug dealers who provide illegal goods and services to anyone who can pay. The Hidden Guild is the black heart of illicit commerce, providing stability and security to both its members and its customers. The Guild does not operate at the street level. Instead it works behind the scenes through intermediaries and hired agents, selling bulk product and commercial services to those that live on the edge.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Halloween Demons Already

Bogleech breaks the ice with their Top Ten "Dictionnaire Infernal" Demons. As always Bogleech is a great source for random weird stuff, be it the hell of nature's own creations or the site's own bizarre finds and creations, it's always worth a read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Torchlight II - Original Soundtrack

Runic has made the entire Torchlight II soundtrack available as free mp3 download. As usual, Matt Uelmen does a fantastic job with the music. Well worth a download, even if you're not a video-game player. The tunes on this soundtrack could easily work as background/theme music for a tabletop RPG.

Deadly Blows - Critical Hits Tables

Over the years my regular gaming group has oscillated between using and not using critical hits tables. Our original tables dated from the late 70s/early 80s and were type-written copies from The Arduin Grimoire. Later we expanded these tables with new entries, and finally created multiple tables linked to various damage types.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Homicide - Sins Discovered

When we left our investigators, they had just finished up their interrogations of Albert Burns and Rose Marie Orr, the roommates of our murder victim, Scott Marin. Both had alibis for the night of the murder, and our primary suspect, Gabe Babbett, is looking better and better. Evan and Jeff's next move was to head over to Michelle Allen's place of work, a local religious center, and poke into the stolen property that seems to be the core motive for these murders.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Page Dungeons 2012 - Preorder Now

Precis Intermedia now has the complete One Page Dungeon Contest 2012 softcover available for preorder. 208 pages of dungeon crawl goodness for $29.95 sounds like a pretty good deal.

If you're unfamiliar with the One Page Dungeon Contest, it's pretty much what it sounds like, an open contest to create a dungeon on a single sheet of paper. That includes maps, notes, room details, monsters, well, the works. It's been running for several years now, and I regularly mine the various archives for ideas. Check it out!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guild Wars 2 - Food Farms

This is a concise listing of the various cooking material farms in Guild Wars 2. It's currently incomplete, but I'll be adding entries as I find them. Zones are listed in alphabetic order. As always if you have an update or correction, feel free to leave a comment. I've tried to verify all these sites, but when it's 3:00 AM and you're running from trolls... well, you get the idea.
  • Update Sept 29, 2012: Sparkfly Fen, Straits of Devestation
  • Update Sept 27, 2012: Diessa Plateau, Field of Ruin, Brisban Wildlands
  • Updated Sept 23, 2012: Dredgehaunt Cliffs
  • Updated: Sept 21, 2012: Blazeridge Steppes
  • Updated: Sept 17, 2012: Harathi Hinterlands, Metrica Province
  • Updated: Sept 9, 2012: Fireheart Rise, Iron Marches, Mount Maelstrom
And now... on with the listings!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Players Do Cool Things

This past weekend I ran my Daruna game. One of the best parts of this semi-annual event is not the game, it's the people. I've been gaming with some of these guys since the beginning, and since I'm officially old, that's a long time. In fact one of the players in this game is the person I first played D&D with way back in the 70s. He ran a dungeon adventure for my first-level party on the bus during a school field trip to the Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC. We killed a Balrog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Daruna - It's About Time

Well the weekend is over, and the task is done. The party fixed time. Here's how my most recent Daruna game went down...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Guild Wars 2 - That was Fast

I finally pre-purchased this game and installed the client last week. I have friends who are serious Guild Wars fans, so this is likely our Next Big Thing (TM). Today there was a one hour stress test, so I jumped on to check things out. These are *really* quick impressions, because you can't really do much in an hour.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Daruna - Lost in Time

I finally get to run the next session of my Daruna game in a week or so. When we ended the last session, the party had survived a weird cross-time combat involving a flying serpent creature, lion-like golems, magicians engaged in some sort of ritual, and warriors of unknown affiliation. By the time the battle was done, the party had obtained a number of time-stabilizing pendants and a massive golden seal, the result of the magicians's ritual. Unfortunately the entire world had gone nuts outside. Time was broken and none of the party's support crew or gear was to be found.

Here's a look at what's coming...

Note to my players: KEEP OUT. Spoilers ahead!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Diablo 3 - Special Snowflakes and Beyond

This list contains information on all the rare creatures used in the following Diablo 3 achievements:
  • Never Seen That Before
  • Special Snowflakes
  • A Unique Collection

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Homicide - Motives

Last session our detectives had pretty well wrapped up the two murders they were faced with, with all evidence pointing to Gabe Babbett, our parole-violating ex-con. Based on Kevin Woods's interrogation, we think the following is a reasonable scenario:
  • Michelle Allen, our second victim, steals something from her place of employment, a religious organization associated with the college campus.
  • Scott Marin, our first victim, either discovers or was involved in the theft, leading to some sort of confrontation or conflict with Allen.
  • Gabe Babbett, our main suspect, becomes involved, either as a way to fence the item, as protection against Marin, or in some other capacity.
  • Babbett steals the item from Allen, involving Kevin Woods in the theft. Babbett also steals Allen's handgun, the murder weapon.
  • Things go south and Allen, Marin, and Babbett are involved in some sort of confrontation in Allen's car.
  • Babbett shoots them both, then dumps Marin's body in his old apartment and Allen's body in hers.
  • For reasons unknown Babbett gets Woods to steal rental records from the apartment office, perhaps to slow the identification of Marin and his roommates?
  • Babbett takes off for Delaware to arrange the sale of the stolen item and to put some distance between the crime scene and himself, violating his parole in the process.

Minecraft - Daylight!

I've finally gotten around to snapping a day time screen shot of this arch so you can actually see it. Without further ado...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Path of Exile - Beta Weekend Thoughts

Path of Exile is an online action RPG for Windows, being developed by Grinding Gear Games. They recently held an open beta weekend, and since my friends have been playing, I decided to check it out. I didn't have a huge amount of time to play, so this is really a quick look, not a detailed review.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Minecraft - The Arch

A quick screenshot of the next phase of construction. I really need to stop taking night pictures, but usually I snap these after completing a day's work. This is the arch framework and part of a tower build out that's going to be the structure surrounding the giant tower in the center of this build.
Click to embiggen

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ground Rules - Live

Ground Rules is a web-based implementation of the hex map generation tables I've been writing about here. After running the beta version for a while, it's now live on the PBE Games site. Using Ground Rules is straight-forward, and there's a full set of directions on the page. You'll need to provide your own mapping medium, be it hex paper or something like Hexographer.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Minecraft - New Construction

Been a quiet stretch here, but I'm not dead yet. Here's a new screenshot of my mega-tower Minecraft. I had to clip the top off to get everything in view, but that's OK, the top hasn't changed much. I've been focused on clearing around the base and starting the new, smaller towers that are going up around the main spire. Here you go!
I still have quite a bit of clearing to do -- there's also a cave to explore and clear that's been exposed by this excavation. One of the problems with clearing ground like this is... it just isn't all that interesting to post about. This progress has taken a few days of off and on play to accomplish, and I've filled about 4 chests with stacks of dirt from the destroyed hills. Yawn.

Ah well, so goes the mining.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ground Rules - Hex Map Generator Beta

If you read this blog, you've probably seen the articles I've been posting about hex maps. I've just finished off the beta release of Ground Rules, a web-based hex map generator based on the tables I've been talking about. It's a bit rough around the edges, and not fully tested yet (thus the beta designation), but if you're interested, it's available here:

There's a fairly complete set of instructions on the page. The system isn't particularly complex, but it probably won't make sense without at least a quick read of these.

I'd greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who tries out the system. Feedback here as comments, or via the web comment form on the PBE Games site.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hexmap Speed Test I

I decided to run a test using the hexmap tables I've been working on to create a terrain-only map from scratch. Starting with a blank map, I dropped a few predetermined hexes into the grid, then started working. This is the starting map.
 After 20 minutes of random generation, this is what I ended up with.
Not too bad.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Minecraft - Towering Tower

I've been putting work into my mega tower off and on over the last week or so. I now have the bottom level of the top of the spire complete. It's a glass bowl-shaped room, sort of an observation level.

Homicide - Pursuit of Justice

After a bit of clean up last session, it's time to move forward. When we left, we had pretty strong suspicions that Gabe Babbett is our murderer. His prints are on the gun, he knew both victims, and he's apparently on the run. We've issued a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of murder, and alerted the State Police in Delaware and surrounding jurisdictions. Since we can't just run off to Delaware, let's chase some leads here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Diablo 3 - Dye! Dye!

Another concise list of Diablo 3 information. This time it's all about fabulous color! The post covers the dye-based achievements, dye types, and dye vendors. Updated for Reaper of Souls. You can find more Diablo 3 pages here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hexmapped Again

This is another demo map created using the Fudge-dice table system I'm working on. I did this one a bit differently, using an alternate 'rule' for the map processing. If you've read the previous articles in this collection, you know there are several terrain tables that are sorted in numeric order. Each hex you generate is marked up with terrain and a table number. When generating a new hex, you use the lowest numbered table marked in the already generated surrounding hexes. Table I is a random table.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hexmap in Progress III - Complete!

Here's the final result for my latest randomly generated hexmap. Terrain-wise, I'm pretty happy with how this looks for a five-mile per hex map. The ocean terrain is still a bit fjord-like, but as I said before, I'm OK with an emphasis on land as opposed to water.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Homicide - Loose Ends

I'm starting to feel like this game has gotten a bit sloppy, so I'm going to do some bookkeeping and clean up and organize things a bit. There are a bunch of open threads, some of which may be irrelevant or easily closed off, and I want to be sure the main summary page is up to date.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hexmap in Progress - Part II

I've done some additional map generation on this map, after tweaking the tables a bit more. I really need to sit down and rebuild the special sites tables to cover civilized vs. uncivilized lands. I also need to remember to follow my own rules, as I sometimes forget to check for special features in a hex, leaving me with too much blank space.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Island Forge Goes Live

Nyhm, the developer of Island Forge, dropped me a note to announce the game's full launch today. I wrote a couple of articles about the game a while back, and really do need to finish off that island I've been working on!

Anyhow, you can read the full announcement from the developer right here.

Diablo 3 - Worst. Armor. Ever.

Seriously. I get the whole, different looks for different people, but tell me please, who the heck wants to look like this? Unless demons have nightmares about clowns in the closet, this is about the worst design I've seen.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hexmap in Progress

This is another iteration of my hexmap random generator project. I decided to throw this out as a work in progress, so you can see how things have been working out. This map is about a third-done, and I've changed up the process I'm using a bit.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Diablo 3 - Act IV Books and Dungeons

The final chapter in the four part series outlining the books and dungeons required for various campaign achievements in Diablo 3. These entries cover Act 4. As always, the index is a good place to look for other Diablo 3 stuff.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diablo 3 - Calling a Spade a Spade

At least Blizzard is doing their part in the drug war...
And yes, that's supposed to be humor.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Diablo 3 - Boss Affixes

Another in a series of concise game data listings. See the index page for a full listing of related articles.

Today's list covers boss and champion affixes, the modifiers that give boss creatures and champion packs their deadly powers. These are culled from various sources and personal pain. As always if you see something missing or incorrect, leave a note in the comments and I'll correct it.

I use the term "boss" to refer to unique monsters and their minions and champion packs. I try to use champion when talking about affixes that can only apply to champion packs.

Diablo 3 - Act III Books and Dungeons

Another concise listing of the book and dungeon locations, this time for act 3 achievements. You can find more Diablo 3 pages here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homicide - Long Time, No Body

It's been a while since we've checked in on our detectives. I blame Diablo 3. Let's dive back in and get things moving!

When we left, Detectives Stacy and Long had just found Michelle Allen dead in her own apartment; an unexpected twist, since the pair were beginning to suspect she was was Scott Marin's murderer. The fact that she's dead doesn't mean she isn't, but a dead murderer isn't very satisfying. We'll press on.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Minecraft - Work in Progress

Lest you think I've forgotten about my Minecraft let's play build, here's an update. There's not a ton of visible progress, because my giant tower project has been consuming huge piles of blocks. Since I've decided to emphasize glass on the top floors, this means digging sand, then cutting wood, and then melting sand to glass.  Did I mention it was a lot of blocks?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Diablo 3 - Act II - Books and Dungeons

The second in a series of articles outlining the book and dungeon achievements in Diablo 3 act by act. This is, obviously, the Act II listing. You can find more Diablo 3 pages here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Diablo 3 - Act I - Books and Dungeons

Sometimes you just want a concise list instead of a wiki. This is a reasonably complete list of locations for all Diablo 3, Act I books and dungeons that are used for achievements. It does not include the bestiary lore, since that's dependent on killing monsters, not drops. You can find more Diablo 3 pages here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hexmaps Again - Round Three

Another sample hexmap, using the latest revision of the tables I'm working on. As you can probably tell I've added support for placing settlements, ruins and lairs, and a few other features. I've also modified the ocean generation process a bit, so it looks more like ocean instead of fjord-world.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Hexmap and Reality - Answer

Earlier today I posted up a map challenge asking people to ID what they thought a rough hexmap represented. Here's the answer:

The Hexmap and Reality

I've been thinking about hex maps and outdoor adventures quite a bit recently, mostly because I've been working on a random terrain generator that, hopefully, will produce not-terrible maps. I decided to try an experiment, so... Take a look at this map and try to guess what it represents. The scale is 20 miles / square (yes I'm lazy and used stagger squares instead of hexes -- sue me). Terrain is:
  • Pale green - plain
  • Drab green - scrub
  • Light green - light woods
  • Dark green - forest
  • Tan - hills
  • Brown - mountains
  • Light blue - wetland/coast
  • Dark blue - ocean

Click for larger view

I'll post up the answer a bit later.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Random Hex Terrain II

Another map generated by the random generator I mentioned earlier today. This one started in wetlands, and  has a fair amount of ocean. I think it looks fairly solid, no real why is that there spots.
It's getting better. I've been visualizing these maps as 25 to 30 mile hexes, so about 375-400 miles across and 250-300 miles north-south.

Random Terrain Generator

I mentioned in a recent post that I was working on a set of random tables for terrain generation. The tables themselves aren't quite ready for use; at the moment they only exist as an Excel spreadsheet; but I did spend an hour to build a small test map. Once I had the raw map done on graph paper, I used Hexographer to create a legible map.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guild Wars 2 - Scenery in 10,000 screenshots

Guild Wars 2 is an MMO currently in beta testing. One of the beta testers spent about eight hours taking close to 10,000 screenshots showing off the scenery of the game and edited them into a video stream. Worth a look if you want to see what the game looks like.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Paper Grid Things

I've been messing around with some terrain generation tables lately. Mostly aimed at building quasi-random hex maps. They're coming together into something kind of interesting, but they're not quite ready for prime time yet.

In the process of building these, I needed a few sheets of hex paper with over-sized hexes, so I could scribble some notes in each as I went about how I was using the terrain tables. I couldn't find any in my paper stash that was appropriate, so I went back to an old friend, Incompetech graph paper!

If you've never used this site, you should. The owner has a bunch of different options for building custom paper and spits out a PDF sheet according to your specifications. Grids, triangles, hexes, axonometric, polar, spider, brick, and more, plus a bunch of specialty stuff like note pads, musical scores, and storyboards.

It rocks. Bookmark it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Homicide - Search Warrant

When we left our detectives, Evan and Jeff, they'd just gotten a preliminary report from the on-site forensics. I had planned to leave the scene and pursue one of the many leads floating around out there, but now I've decided to push ahead with the last bit of physical evidence here, searching the apartment of one of our suspects, Michelle Allen. We've already done the work to get a warrant for this, so in the interests of speeding the plot, I'm going to declare we've gotten it and are ready to go in, with Mike Lewis, the property manager, providing access.

Minecraft - Jungle Tree Farm


Monday, June 11, 2012

Minecraft - Jungle Trees

How big a room does it take to grow full-sized jungle trees in Minecraft? A pretty big one actually.

This is the partially completed rebuild of the jungle tree farm from the bottom looking up toward the main entrance tunnel. It's big enough that I needed to stretch multiple levels of walkways across it to light the space, and it still probably has a few dark spots I'll need to fix. On the good side, hollowing this out has produced quite a bit of stone for the giant tower I'm building...

A Survival Game - Random Thoughts

Survival games in the RPG world are nothing new. There are plenty of zombie apocalypse based games around, and more than a few D&D games are survival focused. Over the past few years I've toyed with the idea of a more practical survival game without coming to any satisfactory conclusion about how it would work, or even what the game would be about. This post is a bit of a brain dump on the subject.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Minecraft - Minor Problem

I've discovered a problem in my current build. In doing some research on sapling growth I've discovered that jungle trees have half the chance of producing saplings per leaf block as other trees (1 in 40 vs. 1 in 20). This means my mundane jungle tree farm isn't going to produce a viable number of saplings to maintain growth.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Homicide - Where Were We?

Last session our planned scene, checking in with the forensics teams to find out what they'd discovered, was interrupted by a little scuffle when the suspected rental office thief fled the scene. He'd been hiding in the crawl space beneath the offices, and a uniformed officer flushed him out. Let's go back to our main scene and see how things go.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Minecraft - Build the Things!

I've made some progress on my new Minecraft build, I thought I'd share a few tidbits and images showing current progress.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Homicide: Forensics

When we left our detectives, Jeff was checking in with the forensics teams doing their thing at the apartment and the car while Evan was getting the ball rolling on some administrative leads. The net results were:

  • A warrant for Michell Allen's apartment is in the works.
  • Albert Burns has been picked up by the Indiana State Police at a traffic stop.
  • Wanted bulletins are out for Michelle Allen, Gabe Babbett, and Rose Marie Orr as persons of interest in a homicide investigation.
  • Babbett's truck has been flagged as a suspicious vehicle.
  • Records that will confirm Mom and Dad Marin and Mike Lewis's alibis are being pulled.
  • The anonymous call that lead to the body was from a distant pay phone, and the call was recorded. We'll pull that recording too.
  • Jeff reports the forensics teams have both pulled important information.
I've also boosted our Chaos level to 7, since things seem to be sprawling a bit.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Homicide: Probable Cause

This is another turn of my ongoing Mythic GM solo game. I've made a couple changes to how I'm tracking this let's play, mostly to keep the turns focused on action rather than filling them with the game context. I've created a single page I'll be using to track the details of the game from the Mythic perspective. You can find the context right here. Note you can also see the posts in this series, in order, on the index page. I update that about once a week, depending on post frequency. Right enough about administration, on to the game.

Minecraft - The Tower

Just a short one today. I've set up the core of the ground to sky tower I set as a goal for my current let's play Minecraft. Standing atop this thing really gives you a new sense of the phrase 'reach for the sky'.

The Tower

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fire Swarm

One might expect a creature known as a Fire Swarm to be some sort of elemental being of flame and heat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Stats and Such

This is just a reiteration of the method I use for describing items, creatures, and encounter details in a quasi system-free way. I use the Fate RPG ladder of difficulties to describe the attributes, skills, abilities, and features of whatever it is I'm talking about. The Fate ladder looks like this:

Value Descriptor
+6    Legendary
+5    Epic
+4    Superb
+3    Great
+2    Good
+1    Fair
 0    Average
-1    Mediocre
-2    Poor
-3    Terrible
-4    Abysmal

This is the same system as the one I used throughout my posts on my old blog, the RPG Dumping Ground, and it served me well. It's pretty easy to port various things described in this manner to other systems since the ladder provides both a numeric and descriptive reference.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Minecraft - Infrastructure

Digging a lot of holes in the ground, that's what it's been. I've been working on getting Minecraft infrastructure in place to support building operations, and things are proceeding nicely. If you recall I set some rules for building and goals to achieve when I started this build. I've made some progress on this and refined rule three, here are the results.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Homicide: Mommy Knows

The next turn in my ongoing Mythic GM solo game begins as Evan and Jeff wrap up their interview with Mike Lewis, property manager at College Place Apartments (yeah I just made that up, who's going to argue in a solo game?) We were left with two likely courses of action:
  • Find out more about the mystery person in the rental office, who popped up as an altered scene element in the last turn.
  • With Lewis's permission, look around Michelle Allen's apartment, since she is the owner of the actual murder scene (her car).
The current context looks like this (after a few tweaks post-session):

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Minecraft: Build Again!

So it begins, my second Minecraft let's play build. I've done a bit of work on this in the background, and have a few pictures to show off where things are headed:

Minecraft: A New Beginning

I've been figuring out what to do with my next Minecraft project. My last build started pretty solid, but I lost steam before I was really done, and ended up walking away from the project before it was really complete. For the next project, I'm putting together some rules and goals, both to provide an increased challenge, and to give me a bit more focus. I'm also going to go for a more modern build, something I haven't really done before.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Homicide: Fill the Blanks

This is another in the series of ongoing posts of my solo RPG using the Mythic GM Emulator, starring Evan Stacy as a police detective investigating a murder. I've started adding the pages to the site index here. I'll try to update each post in the series with links to previous and next posts as I go.

When we left our investigator, he and his partner had just discovered signs of hasty flight in Michelle Allen's apartment. She owns the car that appears to have been the actual murder scene, so her fleeing seems suspicious at best. Here's the current game context, per Mythic GM rules. Things are getting a little more complex so I've added some notes to help track things. I've also split out our detective's personal characters / threads from the main list so we can keep things moving on the investigation when choosing characters at random. Focus!

Chaos: 6
Evan's Personal Characters
Jeff Long, Evan's partner on the force
Evan's Rabbi on the force
Evan's family
Evan's estranged wife
Evan's professional contact

Jeff's Personal Characters
Jeff's relative in trouble

The victim, an adult male
- Found in a very clean garden apartment
- Dead approximately two days
- The apartment was not the crime scene
The anonymous tipster
The forensics team
The shooter
The rental office staff
Michelle Allen, a person of interest in the murder investigation
- Owner of the damaged SUV found near the crime scene
- Car has blood and a gun in the passenger compartment
- Appears to have been the scene of the actual murder
- Allen's apartment shows signs of a hasty departure

Personal Threads
Jeff has a relative in trouble
Evan is on the road to divorce

Who killed the victim
Rental records for the murder scene are missing
Who owns the murder weapon
Where is Michelle Allen

Sunday, May 27, 2012

That's a Lot of Blogs

I routinely poke through SEO data for this blog and other sites I run. Today I discovered The Dark Dungeons Vaults, run by Jaap de Goede. There are over 1500 blogs linked there, including quite a few non-English sites. Definitely worth a look and a bookmark!

Minecraft: The End

Between the Torchlight 2 beta and Island Forge, I haven't had much time to play Minecraft lately. I went back in to take a look at the build so far, and I've found myself not very inspired to continue for two main reasons. The area I'm in is absolutely riddled with caves, including two huge ravines that criss-cross beneath my build site. Digging has become more a chore than fun, as everywhere I go there are vast empty spaces leading to gravity induced death. The other problem is I decided to change up how / what I was doing about half-way through the process, and it's taking more rebuilding than I anticipated to get something interesting going. At this point I've decided to shutter this build and start on a new project with a little more planning. I thought I'd share a few images from what I ended up with, as it doesn't totally suck.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Homicide: Who is John Doe?

This is part two of a solo play RPG I'm doing using the Mythic GM Emulator. The first part can be found here.

When we left, our main character Evan Stacy and his partner Jeff Long were just leaving the crime scene, but with no statement of intent as to where they were headed next (the next scene). The game context looked like this:

Chaos: 6

  • Jeff Long, Evan's partner on the force
  • Jeff's troubled relative in Indianapolis
  • Evan's Rabbi on the force
  • Evan's family
  • Evan's wife
  • Evan's professional contact
  • The victim, an adult male
  • The anonymous tipster
  • The forensics team
  • The shooter
  • The rental office staff
  • Who killed the victim
  • Jeff has a relative in trouble
  • Evan is on the road to divorce
  • Rental records for the murder scene are missing

You may notice I added three entries, a thread for resolving who actually shot the victim, Jeff's troubled relative, and a character entry for the rental office staff. The first was so obvious I just forgot to write it down. The second I overlooked, and the third wasn't explicitly mentioned, but it was implied by the facts we uncovered last time. I also expanded the forensics team to include all the police at crime scene, Now, on with the show!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Homicide: Life on the Blog

As promised, back to the tabletop for some RPG goodness. I've been toying with the Mythic GM Emulator off and on for several years as a tool for solo play, a mechanic for throwing curve balls at players during play, and as a creative aid for world-building. I've decided to run a solo game here both to demonstrate how Mythic works, and to scratch an itch to play a solo game. This is the setup post.

Torchlight 2 - A Wrap

A final post concerning the Torchlight 2 beta experience. There's nothing new here, just a wrap-up with all the links in the right order for easy reference:

That's it! Now that the beta is over I can fixate on something else, at least for now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Final Impressions: Torchlight 2 Beta

The Torchlight 2 beta winds down today at 4 PM Pacific time. I've been spending too much time playing, so it's probably a good thing it's over. I've already wrote a couple things about the game:

Here are a few more thoughts based on the last couple days of play.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Torchlight 2 - Beta Review

This is a more detailed look at the Torchlight 2 beta experience. I've already posted a brief first impression, but now I've spent more time with the game. I've completed the beta with the Outlander and the Engineer, and have spent some time with both the Berserker and Embermage.

Island Forge: An Update

Nyhm, the developer of Island Forge, was kind enough to give me a heads up on a change to core game he's pushed out today.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Torchlight 2 Beta - First Impression

This game wins. I knew it within the first few minutes, but after a couple hours, I can confirm it. Even though I'm trying to judge Torchlight 2 based on its own merits, it's hard to avoid comparison to Diablo 3, a game I was less than impressed with. Here's why Torchlight 2 is better than Diablo 3:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Island Forge: Island Forging

Island Forge is an indie developed MMO adventure game / editor. I've already written an article focused on initial impressions and the game side of things, this time I'm going to talk more about the editor. After logging in to Island Forge, one of your options is the Islands tab. Through this interface you can create an island of your own and start the editor. The initial editor window looks like this:
Basic editor - click to embiggen

Monday, May 14, 2012

Playing With Island Forge

Island Forge is an indie-developed MMORPG that allows players to travel across player-created islands slaying monsters and pursuing quests and stories. The game is currently in beta test mode and the developer is looking for feedback, so I spent some time this weekend playing. Here are the results.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dice Rollers and Other Things

Nothing like getting up at 2 AM with a fresh pot of coffee to get some productive time at the keyboard. As you may or may not know I have a web site with a bunch of dice rollers, random tables and assorted other RPG-related stuff. Since I used to run a couple of computer moderated strategy games (Eldritch, Monsters!, and Iron Kings), most of the stuff is email-oriented. The last week or so I've been working on a new dice roller that's web-based and backed by a server database. It's now up and running in beta mode right here.

The premise is pretty simple. Create an account, create a dice session, share the session info with whomever you want to allow access, and you're off. And yes, I know, it's a pain to have yet another login, but no login is not an option because of bots and spammers, and I don't have the cycles right now to integrate a global sign-in with Facebook, Google or the like.

I'm eager to hear any and all feedback, either in comments here, using the comment form on the web site, or via whatever social media you happen to see this on. Thanks for reading and (hopefully) checking out the dice roller.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Minecraft - Then and Now

I played Minecraft off and on over the weekend, and fell into my usual trap of poking around on various projects with no specific goal. I tend to get distracted when I play this game, and this leads to me starting too many projects and not finishing them. Sunday I decided to clean up some loose ends.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Random - Creature Generator

I recently added a new set of tables to the random generator. This one produces short descriptions of mundane creatures, predators, herbivores, and such. It's loosely based on the Traveller creature encounters tables, but the results should provide some fodder for the imagination. Here are some sample results. The first two lines in each entry are the generated value, the rest are my notes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Image Inspiration

Just a short note today: this tumblr feed right here is absolutely full of inspirational pictures of underground places, cave entrances, and catacomb-type locales. If you need an idea for a dungeon entrance, underground combat scene, or similar, it's a great place to start.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Belgium - Dig

This is a spring brew from New Belgium, who have become one of my favorite brewers. It's a very crisp pale ale with a very Spring-friendly hop profile. Lots of citrus, a hint of flowery, and a nice sharp and clean finish that leaves just a hint of malt behind. This is a great example of a well-hopped beer that doesn't fall into the OMG MOAR HOPZ trap. Pours clear and coppery with a floral / citrus aroma and a thick, creamy head that sticks around for a while, leaving moderate lacing. All in all a very nice brew, crisp and light enough to drink on warmer spring days, and with a great profile to pair with, say some good BBQ.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Minecraft: Walls

This is a short one. I've been working on a wall design for the perimeter of my base of operations. These are the two best efforts (so far). What do you think? Both these images are huge, so click to enbiggen.
Stone topped

Wood topped

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Minecraft: Dig It

I've been playing a bit of Minecraft off and on over the last couple days, mostly working in and around home base, finishing off the greenhouse (really!), and doing some other construction. I've decided on a pretty organic building strategy. Using the hill as a base and expanding from there. There have been a few changes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Daruna - Alchemy

My Daruna game is a low-magic setting. In the distant past a magical cataclysm corrupted magic, making anything beyond minor spells dangerous to the caster. Despite the threat of permanent corruption, the benefits and advantages granted by even minor spells make such usage an accepted part of society. In addition there are two magic-like spheres on knowledge that are intrinsic to the setting, Alchemy and Artifice. I'm going to talk about Alchemy today, since one of my player's has actually expended character points into learning the skills involved, granting me the opportunity to go down the 'complex system no one but me will ever see' rabbit hole.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Minecraft: Build Mode

  • Greenhouse: Check
  • Wolf named Sarge: Check
  • Giant torch beacon: Check
  • Base blown up by a creeper: Check

Friday, April 13, 2012

Minecraft: Day Five and More

I've spent the last couple days grinding on a new layout for my other web site (the beta site is here if you care), and I'm ready to do some Minecraft. I think the one day per post format is a bit too restrictive, since I find myself pausing play to write or take screenshots fairly often. From now on I think I'll just play a while and write what happens.

Side note: I put up an index page, which I'll try to keep up to date as I write new entries for this series.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Minecraft: Day Three/Four - Greenhouse

After a night of consolidating the junk I picked up on day two, the sun comes up on another beautiful day in Minecraft. Unfortunately I can't see it, there's a hill in the way. Instead I get to listen to burning zombies and skeletons. Time to start work on my greenhouse.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Minecraft: Day Two - Hunger Games

After waiting out the first night in my little hovel, it's time to face day two! During the night I added a little more space to my hole in the wall shelter and put together a few more tools, including a sword and some extra torches. Today I need to find some food. Since I don't have any string, I can't fish or make a bow, and I'm not sure I want to start growing wheat just yet, so I'll probably try and kill some cows, pigs or chickens for meat. We'll see what the day brings (other than a creeper hovering outside the door).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Minecraft: Let's Play - Day One

A new day in Minecraft. It's been several months and a couple patches since I've played any significant amount,  so I thought I'd start a fresh game and share the experience. If you don't know what Minecraft is, I put together a brief starter guide a while back. Enough chatter, let's get digging!

Friday, April 6, 2012

More Character Portraits

Time for a few more portraits from Eve Online's forums stolen borrowed for RPG goodness. As usual they're a mix of good, bad, and indifferent. There's a long standing tradition of What's the avatar above you thinking? threads on the forums, these were all taken from one of those threads.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Are you sure you want to do that?

Apparently I ask this question too much. I was cleaning up an old mailbox from my Moria game and came across one of the email post-session discussions we had. In the context of figuring out why the group sometimes took a long time to decide on a course of action, my use of this phrase came up. One of the players said it pretty much stopped the group in its decision-making tracks. I was pretty surprised by that reaction, and came back with why I used that particular turn of phrase. I usually say it for one of three reasons:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Random Tables - Update

I've been adding more tables to the random stuff generator. I figured it was time for a full listing of what's there. Most of these are pretty complete. The ones in need of the most work are the demonic creatures generator and the modern residences generator. Here's the full listing:

  • Modern Vehicles - Cars, motorcycles, trucks, and various oddball things you might see on the highway. There are generators available for individual vehicle categories or a random selection from all types.
  • Modern Residences - Brief descriptions of houses, apartments, condos, and other homes. Each includes a few notes about the interior, exterior, and / or locale. Useful for on the fly scene setup.
  • Demonic Creatures - Nasty beasts with fangs and fish heads and tentacles and... well you get the picture. Just descriptions for now.
  • Dungeon Doors - Doors, complete with locks and traps.
  • Dungeon Junk - Random bits and pieces of garbage to give some color to that empty room.
  • Dungeon Noises - An assortment of random creaks, groans, and squeaks. What was that?
  • Card Hands - Sets of four five- and seven-card hands dealt from a standard deck of playing cards.

More to come.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Treasure Generator Update

I updated the random treasure generator I've been working on today. It now has at least some data for all entries and is generating a wondrously random range of weird magic stuff. I also rounded out the armor and weapon tables, so entries should be functionally complete.

I also threw together a small collection of other random generators: modern vehicles, fantasy map descriptions, and modern residences (WIP).

Let me know what you think!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Randomness Revisited

A few days ago I wrote about the random treasure generator I was working on. This is just a brief followup to let folks know it's mostly done. Mostly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


A long time ago, I had an Amiga 1000. Being both a gamer and a programmer, I spent some time playing around with various game-related programs. One of them was a text processor that read various table-like files and produced randomized results from them. Time moved on, and the Amiga went the way of the dinosaur and dodo, to be replaced by a PC running Windows and another running FreeBSD. Once again I did a bunch of messing about with table-driven randomizers and ported the old Amiga code over to new OSes and new languages.

The latest incarnation is written in PHP, and I just finished the beta version. The first test page is now up, a random treasure generator for D&D-like fantasy RPGs. If you have a few minutes, please stop by and give it a spin. Feedback welcome of course.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Natural Beauty... OF DEATH

Saw this posted up on G+, figured I would share. Five awesome, deadly sites that you can visit in person, and die.

Time to build a nice set of outdoor scenarios for these.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

IT Public Service Announcement

We've just passed the start of Daylight Saving Time. Usually this is when you see public service announcements about changing batteries in your smoke detectors or, if you live in Indiana, irate letters to the editor complaining about getting up in the dark. Here's another reminder: clean your computer!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tiddlywiki - Stat Blocks

I've been toying around with stat blocks in Tiddlywiki, trying to come up with a better way to lay them out without creating too many tiddly-related headaches with formatting and such. I'm still not sure I've gotten it right, but here are three work in progress versions of the Akinak, primordial minions of Anamika. These are screenshots taken from Firefox, so they're pretty much what I see at the table.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Anamika - The River Guardian

Anamika is the river primordial my players encountered during the last session of our Daruna campaign (so keep out guys). The stat block that follows is for my own class free version of D&D, but adapting it to other flavors is pretty trivial.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daruna - Shalish Area Map

I like maps, but not being any kind of artist, I seldom post them here. Nevertheless, here's a regional map of the Shalish area I did for my Daruna game. This was done pen and ink, then scanned and size adjusted.
Shalish Area - Daruna Campaign
Why yes, that is a HUGE river running southwest to northeast.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Character Portraits

A while back I mentioned Eve Online had a new character creator, one that could be used to build some fairly nice looking, science fiction-ish character portraits for use in RPGs. Later I mentioned you could find characters through the Eve forums. Oddly these minor articles get quite a bit of regular search traffic. Apparently there's some demand for character portraits, so... have a few. I picked a few random portraits out of the forums to give you some idea what's available.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tiddlywiki - Minor Issue

I generally wax positive about Tiddlywiki as a GM tool for campaign notes, but the session I just ran uncovered out a couple flaws with using it. Neither is a deal-breaker, and both have potential solutions.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Magic Item: The Sun Globe

This magical object is a three-inch globe of polished amber, shot through with twisting veins of some deep blue stone. It emits a faint radiance at all times, and once its secret is unlocked it can be commanded to do any of the following:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daruna Session Notes, Part II

The continuation of the session notes from my most recent Daruna game. This is part two of two. Part one can be found right here. At the end of part one the party had just recovered the icon missing from Anamika's shrine and restored it, allowing the ferry across the Chungal River to start running again.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Daruna Session Notes, Part I

This is part one of a (hopefully) two part series covering events at my last Daruna campaign session. I posted up the teaser last week. Things took a few interesting twists, including a couple major distractions from the main rescue mission plot line.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Daruna - Session Teaser

This the is the session teaser I just sent out to my players as a lead in for our upcoming weekend game extravaganza.

Waxing Summer, the 19th day of the Moon of Heaven's Call

It's hot out. Damn hot. In the fields, irrigation work is in full swing, farmers levering skins of water from the Tana and its network of canals onto fields of wheat and barley, plots of beans, and clusters of fig and fruit trees. The temples are beginning their preparation for the midsummer sacrifices, a minor matter for most, but important to the scholars that track the movements of sun, moon and stars.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tiddlywiki - Nifty Trick

I'm a fan of Tiddlywiki for GM notes, something I've mentioned of before. I'm currently doing some work for my next Daruna game, and in the process of creating a couple stat blocks for some standard fighter types, discovered this little trick.

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Author You Should Read

I just finished reading Michael Van Rooy's two novels, An Ordinary Decent Criminal and Your Friendly Neighborhood Criminal. If you like books of the action / crime genre, you owe it to yourself to read these two. I picked up the second book at the library on a whim, started reading, and finished it in a day. Then I went back for the other volume and did the same thing with that. Sadly there aren't any further novels forthcoming, since the author died suddenly in 2011.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Diablo III Beta

I've been playing around in the beta for about a week now. Here are some thoughts in chronological order, oldest first. I culled these reactions from email messages I sent to friends as I was playing. To anyone that's been following other sources, there are probably not many surprises here. Just the viewpoint of a grumpy old video game player.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Split Pea Soup

A quick recipe I threw together this weekend that turned out really well. Split pea soup is usually a love it or hate it kind of thing. I happen to love it. Here you go:

  • 4 strips bacon - diced
  • 2 andouille sausage links - diced
  • 1 medium onion - diced
  • 2 large carrots - diced
  • 1 sweet pepper - diced
  • 2 1/2 - 3 quarts stock
  • 1 lb. dried split peas - cleaned according to package instructions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Cook bacon and andouille sausage in a large stock pot over medium high heat, stirring frequently, for about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Add onion and continue cooking and stirring until they become translucent. Bacon should be cooked but not crispy, andouille should be nicely browned.
  3. Add carrots and sweet pepper and cook about one minute.
  4. Add stock and split peas, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain.
  5. Simmer 30-40 minutes until peas are cooked. That's it!
  • Total time: about 1 hour.
  • Tastes great with a good sharp cheese and fresh bread.
  • Makes about 8 good-sized servings. 
I used half ham stock and half vegetable stock when I made this. My Mom gave me a couple quarts of ham stock she made using the bone from our traditional Christmas country style ham. This is effectively delicious salty liquid bacon, so I used a quart of it with a quart of vegetable stock. I added no salt, but about 3/4 tsp. black pepper.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dice Roller Preview

This is just a quick preview of the main screen in the Android dice roller I'm messing about with, showing roll entry and the history of previously processed rolls. This shot was captured from an Android virtual device running on my development PC.
Dice Roller Preview
I still have some work to do, including implementing some additional error checking (allowing d10s to explode on a roll of 3 or higher is bad, m'kay), adding a clear button to reset the entry field, creating a real set of icons, and getting some translations done for the limited number of text messages in the app. Still, not bad for a couple days work in a programming language I don't actually know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dice Descriptions

I've been spending some time programming over the last few days, delving into Android development as a way to teach myself Java. As my first project I'm building a dice roller. Originally I was going to use the same text descriptions for rolls that I use on my web based dice roller, but after implementing them I decided I could do better. I'm trying to cover as many rolling mechanics as possible, so I thought I would throw out the roll definitions here and see what other folks thought.

Traditional dice: XdY
Roll X dice with Y sides, sum their values. Y can also be F, indicating Fudge dice, or %, shorthand for d100.

Dice pool: XpY
Roll X dice with Y sides, treating each die as an individual result. As with traditional dice, Y can be F or %.

These can be appended to the base descriptors above. N below is a numeric value.

  • +-N - A numeric modifier to the roll. The value is added to or subtracted from the final total for traditional dice, or applied to each die in a dice pool.
  • EN - Exploding dice. Any dice roll greater than or equal to N generates another die roll. In traditional rolls the result is added to the total. In a dice pool it is added to the original exploding die's result.
  • LN - Drop the lowest N rolls. The classic example is D&D character generation using the roll four six-sided and drop the lowest method, which would be written as: 4d6L1.
  • HN - Drop the highest N rolls. Not sure if any game would make use of this. I guess you could make some very lame D&D characters with 4d6H1.
  • SN - Count successes. For traditional dice, a total result greater than or equal to N is a success. For a dice pool each die greater than or equal to N is a success.
  • FN - Count failures.  For traditional dice, a total result less than or equal to N is a failure. For a dice pool each die less than or equal to N is a failure.

Some things I think I'm missing, but I'm not sure if they're useful.

  • Imploding dice - rolls below a certain value generate an additional roll that's subtracted from the first.
  • Savage Worlds - Wild Dice. I don't play Savage Worlds, can someone throw me a clue?
  • Exploding dice that don't continue to explode.

I'm sure there are a bunch of methods I've forgotten or ignored. Anyone know of a concise list of RPG dice mechanics published anywhere?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Well That Was Unfortunate

The long silence here was not by choice. My main computer imploded shortly before the holidays, so I had the joyful experience of shifting all my stuff from my old sort-of-working-but-only-if-you're-lucky system to a new box. Lessons learned:
  • An external hard drive for backups is an excellent investment.
  • Five copies of your music library is probably too many.
  • Keeping your data organized is a good thing.
I took the move as an opportunity to consolidate a bunch of duplicate data and eliminate a bunch of stuff I really don't need.

Gaming related: I was planning on switching from Firefox to Chrome until I discovered using TiddlyWiki with Chrome requires the TiddlySaver Java module. Not sure if that's going to be a pain or not. We'll see.

Now... back to work!