steam trek

Star Trek meets “Steampunk”:


If I knew more about 19th century Science Fiction I could use this as a campaign seed… :-)

posted at 10:19 am on Saturday, June 09, 2007 in Gaming, Humour, Links | Comments Off on steam trek

Title Links Plugin

I was asked for my title links plugin (See “wordpress filter”:, so here it is:


Updated with a brute-force fix for a conflict with the “pretty quotes” functionality in Textile:


This plugin will create links between WordPress posts whenever the title of the target post appears in the text of another.

You can specify alternate link keywords for a post by creating a Custom Field named ‘link_names’, containing a set of alternate phrases surrounded by square brackets. e.g. if the ‘link_names’ field for the post titled “Lady Danielle de Barbarac” contains

[Lady Danielle] [Danielle]

Than any occurence of the either phrase in another wordpress post will create a link to the Lady Danielle article.

You can see this plugin in action on “The Queen’s Guard”: and “Five Rivers”: game log sites.

posted at 10:08 am on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 in Gaming, Personal, Programming | Comments (2)
  1. Kody says:

    What I want to do on my blog, is every few hours take the oldest post and move it to the
    front of the queue, all automatically. Anyone know if there is a plugin that can do this or
    a simple way to set up another plugin to do this (use my own feed perhaps)?

  2. […] It’s published: Title Links Plugin) 87 words posted at 9:37 am on Saturday, June 10, 2006 in Personal, Site News, Programming […]




They gradually get harder. This may eat up your day. Enjoy!

(via “Catspaw”:

*Update:* I’m stuck going from 25 to 26.

posted at 10:04 pm on Friday, July 14, 2006 in Gaming, Links | Comments Off on puzzle

new campaign

“The Queen’s Guard”:

Not much there yet, but knowing Rob, there will be real soon now…

posted at 4:35 pm on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 in Gaming, Site News | Comments Off on new campaign

dungeons and dragons is 30!

It’s the “30th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons”: today. In honour of the date, we’re having a session over at Gerry’s house. The other hard core gamers were strongly typecast during their days at “watsfic”:, and so the party ended up needing a mage (and a cleric) to complete the set. So I volunteered to be the mage. Oops…

It occured to me after we’d created a character that I’ve never actually played a D&D magic user before. We’ve always replaced the D&D magic system with Spell Law. It never made sense to me that you had to “memorize” spells to cast them (and if you wanted to cast them more than once, you had to “memorize” them more than once!. The most recent D20 explanation at least makes _some_ logical sense, although it still doesn’t mesh with my personal opinions on magic.

I started reading science fiction and fantasy in the early 1980s; a teacher handed me “A Fall of Moondust” by Arthur C. Clarke and I was hooked :-). I quickly formed my own mental model of magic, and it aligns fairly well with the Rolemaster magic system (then “Spell Law”:, part of xLaw). You either know a spell or you don’t, and with practice you get better (and faster) at casting it. As you use magic you get tired, and as you get tired you start to make mistakes. You _can_ cast spells gagged and restrained, its just _really_ hard. And so on…

Spell Law made a lot more sense to me then (and still does :-), which is probably why I’m currently in two “Rolemaster”: campaigns, playing mages in both. So it should be interesting to play D&D magic for a change…

Happy Anniversary!

Update: I had a lot of fun. We consumed vast quantities of pop and Doritos, told way too many puns, and it only took us two hours to get out of the inn! We even made it two rooms farther into the dungeon than the party Gerry ran the evening before…

On the other hand, I still dislike D&D mages, especially at low level; they’re wimps!

posted at 12:57 am on Sunday, October 17, 2004 in Gaming | Comments (3)
  1. Greg Wilson says:

    I played my first game of D&D in Grade 9, when a supply teacher at the high school showed it to some of us. His name was Mister Scales, and wherever he is, I’d like to thank him for all the hours I’ve spent fleeing monsters, being crushed by falling rocks, and having my soul sucked out of my body by dread gleaners (don’t ask). Sure, today’s systems make more sense… but so what? Remember how it felt to be 12 years old and swinging a *really* big ax?

  2. wjr says:

    I’ve been playing a D&D sorceror in a campaign, and they’re a lot of fun. None of the stupid memorising stuff – you have a list of spells that you know, and if you haven’t used up your quota for the day you can cast any of them you feel like. You can also cast them a lot more often than wizards (classic-style mages) can. The downside is that they’re ALL you can cast, and your list isn’t very long. Still, I end up doing a substantial fraction of the damage dealt out by the party, in my role as lightning-bolt artillery.

    This campaign is also much higher-level (average is 14th right now) – I agree that being a first-level mage sucks. “OK, I’ve cast my Magic Missile. Now I go and hide in a corner for the rest of the day and protect my wimpy 4HP body”.

  3. Harald says:

    Yup; I like the sorceror concept (My character is actually multi-class wizard/sorceror; we found that to be the optimal solution to providing magical support in a one-shot adventure).

    That’s the main difference in Spell Law that I like. Casting is based on “power points”, similar to a sorceror’s quota; again, no memorising stuff. You still have a limited list of spells that you know, but it’s larger, especially at first level. Casting takes longer, but that seems to balance out in most combat and you get faster with experience.

    I’ll have to try a higher level Sorceror sometime, though!

More Stuff That Every Gamer Needs

Just in case you ever wanted to know, “The Straight Dope”: brings us:

When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?

bq. How long the power supply would last in the most critical zombie situation depends on two key factors %u2013 first, how long a given power plant can operate without human intervention, and second, how long before enough power plants fail to bring down the entire transmission grid. I’ll ignore the side issues of whether the zombies would want to try to run the power plant themselves, or if they would be a union or non-union shop.

(If you’re lazy, the answer appears to be that:

bq. within 4-6 hours there would be scattered blackouts and brownouts in numerous areas, within 12 hours much of the system would be unstable, and within 24 hours most portions of the United States and Canada, aside from a rare island of service in a rural area near a hydroelectric source, would be without power. Some installations served by wind farms and solar might continue, but they would be very small. By the end of a week, I’d be surprised if more than a few abandoned sites were still supplying power.

posted at 8:33 pm on Sunday, June 13, 2004 in Gaming, Links, Odd | Comments (1)
  1. David Brake says:

    My favourite part: “…cease power delivery altogether to areas of highest zombie density. After all, it’s not like the zombies need light to read or electricity to play Everquest…”

    (I dunno about that – mightn’t Everquest be the reason they became zombies in the first place?)

The Nighttime Animals Save the World

lumpley games: the Nighttime Animals Save the World

This looks like a fun, simple game to introduce kids to both role playing and strategy. Like all of the best methods, it is teaching, thoroughly disguised as play :)

We’ll have to try it sometime!

posted at 7:46 pm on Sunday, June 13, 2004 in Gaming | Comments Off on The Nighttime Animals Save the World

White Wolf vs. Sony: more details

The “official”: “complaint”: is available on the Internet (what a surprise :-). Warining: it contains movie spoilers. “Bryant writes”:

bq. There’s an extensive list of similarities between Underworld and various White Wolf titles. I have no doubt the similarities exist, but I think they’re on the same level as the similarities between L.A. Story and When Sally Met Harry. “Hey, the protagonists fell in love! And they live in major American cities!”


bq. There are more specific correspondences, but nothing that doesn’t exist in prior art. White Wolf just doesn’t have the copyright on “tall and lithe” vampire assassins. Even female ones with “a dusky, classical tone to her skin and black hair.”

After reading the complaint, I’m not so sure. Many of the claims _are_ ridiculous (“In The World of Darkness, wood does not kill vampires. In _Underworld_, the werewolves do not use wood to kill vampires, nor mention it as an option”. That’s stretching correspondences a bit…)

On the other hand, some of the complaints are about very specific events or parts of mythology shared between The World of Darkness and _Underworld_. Some of them I’ve seen before, but I haven’t seen them all together in two places like this. I guess a jury is going to have to decide whether this crosses the line between free expression of ideas (which cannot be copyright) and plagiarism of specific expression of those ideas. I don’t envy them…

The most interesting one for me is the impending release of two derived video games: “Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines” and “Underworld: Bloodlines”, both using Valve Software engines (although different ones). This isn’t the first time a gothic punk vampire movie has been released; could the video game issue be driving the lawsuit?

(via “Population: One”:

posted at 8:53 am on Sunday, September 07, 2003 in Gaming | Comments (2)
  1. TTWW says:

    WW sues Sony? Of course.

    It’s like this:

    There isn’t a big budget flick that comes out that doesn’t draw some parasite to it claiming original authorship. There are attornies who specialize in this sort of thing. The cases are almost universally settled by the studios because it’s easier to just throw a little money at an asshole than to actually have to go to the trouble of dealing with him.

    WW knows this. They might win, valid case or not, simply because Sony doesn’t want to bother.

    WW also knows the value of publicity. There’s a reason they actually issued a press release about the suit. In basic terms, why is it essential that the press get hold of the story? Certainly not from a legal standpoint. Publicity. Say it again, with the iron tang of drool in your mouth: publicity. People who might never have heard of WW otherwise will because of this.

    More importantly, WW also wins by associating their games with the movie, whether they win the case or settle or not. People who see the movie and want to play a RPG that gives them the same feel are being told, in bright press release letters, “OUR GAMES ARE LIKE THIS!” If the movie is a hit, and people associate it, rightly or wrongly, with their games, they be mucho happies.

    The timing of the case indicates they wanted the news to hit just as the flick came out, thereby seeking synergy that’ll further the association.

    The case itself looks spurious. If I were on the defensive team, I’d make part of the case on the fact that nearly everything WW has done is in some way derivative (note I did say nearly). They’ve generally taken the raw matter of other people’s tropes and mixed them into a complex, interesting, fun brew. Any gamer with some sense of cultural history and the ability to do research could mine tons of derivation out of WW’s games, much of it starker and more blatant than that they’re accusing Sony of.

    WW doesn’t generally have a care about other people’s IP either. I can think of several instances where the company has used nearly identical pastiche art of other people’s previous work, whether it be the Corax in RAGE who looks pretty much 101% like the Crow, or, worse, the Arcadia or Rage card (can’t recall which, think it was Rage) that used Klempt’s “Kiss,” known from college dorm walls all over the land, attributed to some lazy ass artist who ripped off Klempt and got a check from WW. There’s a pic in the first edition of Mage of a guy in a hotel room, floating at the ceiling with his head breaking through it like it’s the surface of water and he’s submerged. This was nearly a stroke by stroke rip off of a painting (a cool painting) that was used both on a Scorpions album cover and on a Mongo mystery novel by George Chesbro. There’s been a lot of this stuff over the years, and I actually talked to Rich Thomas, the art boss at WW, about this very thing once. He’s not a stupid man, he knows art, and he knows when they use something like this. His whole attitude was that he really didn’t give a shit.

    And how about song quotes? Sure, you can quote a bit of text from a fictional work within the boundaries of fair use, but songs are diferent. If you use a bit of published song in your published work, you are supposed to seek clearance from and pay a fee to the entity owning the rights to that song. Take a look in the front of Cujo by Steve King some time: there’s a huge list of song clearances for the quotes used in that book, and not only are the rights holders acknowledged, they were paid.

    WW just puts quotes in and that’s that. They’re lucky they haven’t been kicked in the nuts by ASCAP.

    If they settle or win, WW gets a boost to their profits (just like those parasites suing in Hollywood) and maybe even gets a nod in the revised credits of the film, bringing us back to association. If they lose, they still managed to get some publicity and associate what may be a hit movie with their games.

    I don’t think they’re worried about losing. I think they figure Sony will settle, and they’re probably right.

  2. There are 17 counts of copyright infringement on the docket, and while a few of the examples are stretched a bit, it’s obvious that White Wolf’s original material has been infringed upon in more than a coincidental fashion. Upon seeing the (non-spoiling) trailers I wondered if White Wolf had been involved in the writing. If just seeing the trailer can make me think that, it leads me to belive that White Wolf (who’s been on the bad end of a copyright suit themselves — i.e., AEon/Trinity) isn’t just barking up a tree.

    And while Vampire is based largely on historic refernce, they’ve COPYRIGHTED IT. Just like AOL Time/Warner owns the copyright to “Happy Birthday To You”. Making money off it and not expecting them to sue isn’t a wise decision.

White Wolf sues Underworld

“White Wolf is suing Sony Pictures”:, claiming that “Underworld”: infringes on their intellectual property.

I haven’t read Nancy A. Collins’ story; I stopped reading her books when White Wolf started publishing them, although I’m pretty sure that’s just a coincidence. However, it’ll be hard to prove that the story isn’t just Romeo and Juliet retold in a vampires & werewolves mythos.

I suspect that this is going to end up like the current SCO vs. Linux suit. Specifically: the movie and white wolf’s products are both based on the same (public) mythology. After all, ideas cannot be protected by copyright (although many people would like it otherwise); only the specific expression of the idea.

On the one hand, I think they’re going to have a hard time proving their case. On the other hand, since White Wolf fans are also the most likely fans of this movie, Sony might settle the case to avoid a fan boycott of the movie…

On the gripping hand, I will go see it because of “Kate Beckinsale”:

(via “Population: One”:

posted at 12:45 pm on Saturday, September 06, 2003 in Gaming | Comments (2)
  1. Brandon Blackmoor says:

    I am no fan of Sony, but I hope they drag White Wolf through court so long that they (WW) declare bankruptcy. I am so damned sick of people claiming to own ideas — particularly when they are obvious, well-worn ideas that have been the basis of stories for generations or even centuries. I am just so damned sick of it, and frankly WW should know better. Between this type of nonsense and the subversion of the legal system by RIAA and their ilk, it just makes me want to weep.

  2. Timothy says:

    Gripping hand….hnpf hnpf hnpf….

A good weekend

This was a good weekend.

Saturday was GeoffCon, part of a weekend of gaming celebrating Geoff’s 30th birthday. (His actual birthday was back in March, but he decided he wanted the actual party later in the year).

Geoff (and Rob) played both “Titan CE”: and “Nippon Rails”: at the same time; I was only in the Nippon Rails game. I won, I think partly because they weren’t paying as much attention with two games going simultaneously. It also helped that I lucked out on all of my cards…

The Nippon Rails crowd then tried “Unexploded Cow”:, but we were all too brain-dead to appreciate its strategy, so switched to the mindless Uno Boomo. The guys downstairs apparently had a fabulous time with “U.S. Patent #1”:, so I’ll have to find an excuse to play it sometime. As always, there were several games of “Settlers of Catan”: and its variants throughout the day.

Every once in a while I miss being able to play games until 3AM every night; then I shake my head in disbelief :)

Sunday was a nice relaxing day. Breakfast in bed (well, ok, I had to go _back_ to bed for it), an eye test, a bunch of shopping (including my kids buying me a bicycle), and a nice quiet dinner.

I didn’t get any housework done, though…

posted at 10:22 am on Monday, June 16, 2003 in Gaming, Personal | Comments Off on A good weekend

WISH 44: Picking Games

Perverse Access Memory: WISH 44: Picking Games

I’ve been reading PAM (and its predecessor) Since about WISH 27. This week’s question prompted me to finally answer one. At some point I’ll go back and fill in other interesting ones.

bq. How do you choose games to join or to run? What factors influence you: timing, people, system, genre, etc.? Do you weigh different factors for different kinds of games, e.g., online vs. tabletop vs. LARP? Is it a group decision or a decision you make on your own?

The overwhelming factor in my life is time, althought this manifests in several ways.

I’ve been gaming for about 17 years now. I’ve only played in a few ongoing games, because I can barely find the time for one campaign at a time; I’m forced to be selective. They’ve always been tabletop games; I’d love to try a PBeM game sometime, but I haven’t found one I think I’d like enough to commit regular (weekly or better) time to. LARP isn’t for me; I’m a technician, not an actor.

My current Rolemaster campaign has been running for 5 years, and the 2300AD campaign before that was longer. I like long running campaigns. If I’m going to commit the time to develop a character and explore a world, I want it to be a going concern, not a simple dungeon crawl or two (those are fun, but I prefer single day, tournament style for those). It takes a long time for me to develop and then flesh out a character, and I do that best inside a campaign, interacting with the world and my fellow characters.

I like games that meet regularly, but not too often. Both of my campaigns tried meeting weekly, but ended up with longer monthly sessions instead. My fellow gamers (and our spouses) are willing to commit _one_ day per month to gaming, and schedule other things around Game Day. With a weekly meeting, we’d always have someone away, making continuity difficult.

I don’t have a strong preference for any particular system. I’ve played AD&D, Champions, Traveller, 2300, GuRPS, and now Rolemaster. There are two exceptions though; I like the magic system in Rolemaster much better than in any other system I’ve tried, and I love the simple task resolution system in MegaTraveller and 2300AD.

What this really means is that I’ll play whatever game system (and genre/setting) that the GM wants to play. That’s how I got into all of the games listed above; the GM wanted to run a particular game, and asked for players…

I’ve played several genres, but I like classic low-tech, fantasy realms with magic the best. When I play SF or superheros, I tend to play myself in a spacesuit (or in a cape) In fantasy worlds I can dtop into a character more easily.

People are the second most important factor for me. I strongly prefer gaming with people I know, and preferably people I know well. That limits my options, even though about half of the Gang are roleplayers. There are just too many opportunities for strife and discord in gaming environments; getting to know a new group of people is risky given my time restrictions.

In short, roleplaying done right is a large time commitment, and as I don’t have a lot of free time, I’m forced to be selective. A good GM and a good bunch of players (usually my friends) are the biggest consideration for me. After that, whatever the GM wants to run is fine by me!

posted at 4:02 pm on Friday, April 25, 2003 in Gaming, WISH | Comments (3)
  1. Arref says:

    Sounds like you are a “classic mature gamer”. Your point about “willing to commit one day per month to gaming” is one I neglected to talk about.

    Good show.

  2. Arref says:

    really like your clean blog design

  3. RJ says:

    Harald in a spacesuit & cape.

    The mind boggles.

My D&D statistics

Str: 7
Int: 11
Wis: 14
Dex: 13
Con: 8
Chr: 13

Go “try the quiz”: for yourself. Via “PAM”:

posted at 11:16 am on Monday, February 24, 2003 in Gaming | Comments (1)
  1. Reid Ellis says:

    I would re-roll if I were you. Not even one 18?

Elves and Pirates

Imagine a world where elves weren’t a vanishing race whose glories were well behind them. Imagine that the lands of men are growing stronger. Since a battle between fleets would be suicide, mankind must resort to piracy…

Quick halfling sailors climb through the riggings of human and elvish ships alike, cutting the seas in great sailing ships armed with dwarven cannon. It’s rumored that some gnomish inventors are fast at work at an engine powered by steam that could revolutionize sea travel. Muskets sound and steel clashes in the final years before the long-promised upheaval, the war of mastery between man and elf, finally begins.

The Elvish Main Sounds like a fabulous environment to play in; I can’t wait to hear more :-)

posted at 10:30 am on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 in Gaming | Comments (1)
  1. Ruby says:

    Hey there Harald!!

    I found your blog and was surprised and pleased to do so. Two children now…and I remember when Michaela and yourself were expecting your first baby. Time flies. Just thought I would pop in and wish you and your family the best.

    Take care.


According to Greg Costikyan, Snood is the 9th most played game in the world.

Which begs the question, why doesn’t it get the level of awe and respect assigned to th Big Games?

Interesting read. via /.

posted at 4:32 pm on Tuesday, January 14, 2003 in Gaming | Comments Off on Snood