Tips for the people not going to GenCon

Jul 28, 2011
Mark
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Here are some tips to get you through it without gnashing teeth or resorting to violence.

1) Shower.

Apparently its crucial at a convention. Strangely the general gamer doesn’t bother with it when attending. Like you, I’m curiously confused about that. Don’t most modern humans want to bask in the shower either at the start or the end of the day?

2) Do not be the lead Cow

You may not be distracted by gaming goodness on both the left and the right. Still, pausing in the middle of the road to check out what is happening at the local Hooters or eyeball the tat’s on the biker with art a woman with curious taste in art is not cool. Honestly, just pull over to side of the road and get your gawking on. Some of us will probably rear end you but have the courtesy to move aside so the rest of the idiots can get to work.

3) Keep Dice Handy

There should be a die pouch in ties. At the bare minimum, keep a set in your pocket. When you smash into the car in front of you, keep the option open for rolling for culpability. You don’t see a bearded lady everyday who made a cosplay costume and isn’t at GenCon. Idiot driver.

4) The Rules Lawyer

There is no respite from that guy. He’s at work. He’s at the convention. He’ll be selling slurpees on the Iditarod trail just when you thought you escaped. Worse, he’s going to try to sell you insurance right after you rear-end the guy with a sub zero awareness score. He’ll probably explain how under educated you are regarding his favorite system.

5) His Highness of Hot Air

You cannot escape. His opinions flow like a glacier caught in the middle of global warming. If you try agree, he’ll change flows and argue the other side. While you stand, stupified, his circular arguments will confuse and confound. At some point you will try to escape. He’s heard them all. Fricking anti-charisma. The only hope is an innocent stranger wandering by who hasn’t heard his spiel. You might even work with him. Damn, why didn’t I go to GenCon so I could escape?

6) The Shelter

By now you should have already prepared yourself. RSS filters. Anticon virus projection. It won’t work. Someone you know is going to take a picture of the convention floor carpet. Then send it to you. It’s like the crazy relative sending you jokes. You could work in the Arctic and you’ll still get that picture.

Buckle up. I’ll see you at the bar.


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Masks and Soppets

Jul 26, 2011
Mark
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Like many folks, I was sold on the numerous recommendations for Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs from the fine folk at Gnome Stew. I’ve only spent an hour looking through the PDF. I do not claim to have looked at everything in the volume. It is enormous. The quality of the content is excellent. If you occasionally blank on interesting NPC’s, buy Masks. You’ll be happy. I am. I just wish I could have it in a hard cover instead of PDF. From my minimal reading, I already know I’ll use the content for years to come.

Soppet Love. Okay, I admit to being confused. What the heck is a Soppet? Silly old man, it is a sock puppet. Pair a sock puppet with a brilliant idea and you end up with Argyle & Crew from the brilliant mind of Ben over at Troll in the Corner. I kept hearing about it. Finally, I took a look. The concept is amazing and I’m happy to make it the first Kickstarter project I’ve backed. I will be volunteering to watch my nephew and niece so I can give it a whirl.

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Mead Update: Blackberry Melomel Racked Again

Jul 26, 2011
Mark
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My latest brewing supply order arrived today. I picked up another two 1-gallon jugs, some caps, and an auto-siphon. The blackberry mead fermentation has slowed down and I wanted to do one more racking to eliminate the majority of the sediment. I’ve avoided buying an auto-siphon due to mixed reviews. Mine worked wonderfully even if it was designed for full carboys and not minimal 1 gallon batches of mead.

The blackberry mead tastes okay. Likely needs a lot more ageing. The singular task before I bottle is patience. I also spent a couple extra dollars and bought additional cheap airlocks and drilled stoppers. The happy balloons worked okay but I trust airlocks. Especially since the mead wont hit the bottles until late fall. In the spring, I can have a mead tasting / gaming session.

Cell phone images will have to suffice. The other camera batteries need charged. Again.
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Namespace: Surnames from Medieval and Ancient Times

Jul 24, 2011
Mark
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Volume II: Surnames of the Namespace series introduces over ten thousand surnames from medieval and ancient times. Names were collected from numerous European countries. The results are an eclectic collection I desired for inspiration.

Volume I: Given Names was also updated to correct several small formatting issues overlooked in the initial release. The list of names was not modified.


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Namespace: Given Names from Medieval and Ancient Times

Jul 20, 2011
Mark

Namespace: Given Names from Medieval and Ancient Times

I finally finished putting together the list of names I collected. When it comes to names, I often need inspiration. Others I play with occasionally have similar shortcomings. To fill the need, I set out to collect a few names and toss them together into a document. Browsing a list is often more inspirational. The end result is Namespace.

The PDF contains around 10,000 names. A few of the names are common. Others are famous. Both are surrounded by hundreds of others.

(White on white doesn’t make for the best cover image, but its printer friendly.)


What his name? Uhhh, oh yeah, he’s..

Jul 12, 2011
Mark
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I’ve been tripped up by that question numerous times. Names are not something I spend a lot of time considering other than for player characters and important non-player characters. Most of my players are happy with just knowing it was the bartender at the inn. Others want a name to put to the persona, rightly so. For modern games, names are easy. Fantasy games take a little more thought.

I tend to slack when I should be prepared with that information. To alleviate my name-blanking and prepare to name a few NPC’s downstream, I went on a 3 hour mission to collect some fantasy sounding names. Mostly its comprised of medieval and ancient names from a variety of sources.

I was aiming for about a thousand unique names for both males and females. After a quick unique sort, I ended up with 4450 female names and 6388 male names. Some of them are going to get discarded quickly with actual editing. Many of them are variations of the same name. I don’t mind variable spellings.

I did not bother collecting surnames. They can wait for another data archiving frenzy.

Now I can point my man, Wheels, toward a list of names he can use for inspiration. Maybe I’ll release the edited archive for $0.99.


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Meandering Monsters: Pondering another Book on Demand for Labyrinth Lord

Jul 11, 2011
Mark
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When I originally coded the Labyrinth Lord Monster Generator, I wanted a simple and easy to use utility for generating quick wandering monster stat blocks. In the back of my mind, I keep thinking of expanding it into a book-on-demand supplement similar to the Treasure Book. The heavy lifting is already complete. The monster generator already pulls in the treasure routines. Not to mention, I have a working example for converting data into PDF on the fly.

The lingering issues are matching wandering monster tables and crafting NPC parties, which I touched upon earlier. The issues are achievable. I am not convinced it would be generally useful to others, let alone certain I would personally use it.

The largest obstacle is the latency required to convert the output of the utility into PDF. After spending hours trying to make the treasure book more efficient, I’ve determined it is simply computationally expensive. Like everyone, I hate waiting. Anything chugging away for minutes at a time is going to get skipped, more often than not.

Layout is a challenge within code. It is far easier to use a modern editor than to encode the layout details. Frustration mounted just trying to insert a simple cover page for the treasure book. A book of random critters would be no different. Perhaps I should just hand craft a few books.

I’m leaning toward passing on automation.


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