random table successes and failures

October 24, 2011

A couple months ago, I produced a set of fourteen tables for generating random encounters in the Great Plain of my “Ethos” 4E D&D campaign. I’ve used them for the past few games, and I think they were a huge success from my perspective. I’m taking the approach that the tables tell me what the party encounters, and I figure out why before the encounter begins.

Read More

non-ASCII characters in Rubric!

October 24, 2011

Only what… seven years after its first release, I’ve finally added tolerable support for “funny character” to Rubric. It wasn’t all that hard – it had the usual problems. I knew what I should’ve done to begin with, but then I had to figure out all the stupid things I had done before that, and had to undo them.

Read More

first impressions of ActiveState Stackato

August 25, 2011

When Heroku started to become popular, I thought it was pretty neat, but not neat enough to get me to change my primary development language. A year or two ago, a friend asked if I was interested in helping develop “Heroku for Perl.” I said I didn’t see much value in it for myself. I knew how to deploy applications “the hard way,” so investing in making it easier didn’t win me much. This year, a few PaaS providers supporting Perl have shown up, and I didn’t pay them any attention until someone told me that ActiveState’s Stackato cloud system was having a contest and that I should consider entering it.

Read More

too many healing surges!

August 24, 2011

I think my 4E party members have too many healing surges. I don’t think is peculiar to them. I just think it’s how 4E works. For example, Orc the Orc, a 6th level Weaponmaster, has 15 healing surges per day. A healing surge is worth about 25% of his total HP (which is 64) so he can take about 314 HP of damage before being dead, assuming he can always spend his healing surges by spending his second and third wind, by healing powers or potions, by exiting combat, or whatever other means.

Read More

promoting little gifts

August 23, 2011

It’s pretty common, on IRC, for someone to say, “Thanks a lot, I owe you a beer.” I say it a lot, too, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually bought someone the promised beer. I don’t feel too bad about that: I’m not sure anyone has bought me such a beer, either. Sometimes, “I owe you one” just means “I appreciate your help.”

Read More

flavor text considered harmful

August 22, 2011

I really don’t like the “flavor text” used in 4E D&D power descriptions. It is far too often just flavor, with no subtance. It isn’t clear what the power really means. It’s just a sentence or two trying to remind you that this abstract tactical maneuver is supposed to be related to your class’s theme, and not just a set of mechanics. This goes back to the Alexandrian’s excellent Dissociated Mechanics post from 2008.

Read More

the PAUSE micro-hackathon

August 14, 2011

When a generous Perl programmer decides to share his fantastic new library with the world, he probably uploads it to CPAN – that’s where most of the shared Perl libraries are found. In fact, though, he’s not uploading it to CPAN, but to PAUSE, the Perl Authors Upload Server. (The “E” is acronymically silent.)

Read More