Note: This is an archival edition of Chatter, covering July 27, 2000 (the beginning) through April 12, 2001 (when it got too big and had to be split in half). The whole thing has since been broken up into individual dates for convenience. If you'd like to read chatter from after 12/10/01 or access entries by date, click here. Please note that new entries were added at the top, so if you want to read them in chronological order you should read from the bottom up. But it would really be a lot easier to go to the main Chatter index and click on the dates. Trust me.
Let's skip the preliminaries and get right to it. I've started this Chatter section because I've noticed that the rest of my site can sometimes be cluttered with lots of text. Looks kind of lousy, to tell the truth. While I can't promise to keep the rest of the site absolutely clean of excess verbiage, I'm hoping that this will serve as a convenient clustering place for the, um, chatter that would otherwise get spread throughout the site. Will it work? Will anyone read this? Time (and my hits) will tell. As I write new material I'll place it up here, at the top, pushing older material down. Depending on the size of this thing, I'll eventually archive older stuff as it gets unwieldy.
SURPRISE! It got unwieldy. Or at least, too big for Microsoft's sucky FrontPage Express to handle. So this is the old chatter. If you want to see the newest Chatter, go here. But hey, if you haven't read this already it's new to you!
THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2001
...for a scenario. And since I don't know when I'll ever get to run it, much less write it up properly, I might as well note the salient points here. Maybe somebody can do something with it.
Entry point: While travelling the PCs meet an unpleasant group - sort of "anti-PCs", although this wouldn't be immediately obvious. They later encounter a young man, a prince who is travelling incognito for kicks. The prince is being harassed by ruffians or stalked by a wild animal. Presumably, they save him.
As a reward, the prince invites the group to dinner at his father's house - which is a castle, and his father is the King. The King obviously disapproves of his son's habit of travelling alone and in disguise.
A few days later, the King quietly summons the PCs to a private audience. He tells them that he wants to throw a scare into the Prince, to convince him not to be careless with his life. He wants the PCs to kidnap the Prince and convince him that they are going to convey him to the King's enemies. Perhaps if he learns that there are real dangers in the world he will become more responsible.
Alternate entry point (the individual PCs need not know each other in this case): Each PC is hired by a steward of the King to form a gang to capture and scare the Prince, as above.
If the PCs refuse: The King hires the anti-PCs, who (surprise!) really do kidnap the Prince. The PCs are recruited to rescue him quietly - if the King's enemies hear about this, they would take advantage of the situation. The Prince's life might be put into even greater danger.
Not sure what the next step would be...if the party are the faux kidnapers, the anti-PCs would discover the situation and try to kidnap the Prince from the party. If the party is trying to rescue the Prince, perhaps it would turn out that he was actually working with the anti-PCs, in order to get a ransom. Lots of possibilities...
TUESDAY, APRIL10, 2001
Whew. If you hadn't noticed, the site has been dark - completely gone, vanished - for the last ten days. Even email couldn't reach me; it bounced, with an "unable to find domain" response. But now we're back. Here's what happened:
Short story: my domain expired because the registrar failed to contact me. There were problems renewing.
Long story: On March 29th, 2000, I picked up the
maranci.net domain for free as part of a free giveaway by
RegisterFree.com. The RQ site already existed, of course, but it
was on TIAC; and I didn't want to pay those incompentent clowns
ruin host my new domain. So I shopped around,
and eventually settled on Your-Site.com as the best deal I could
I've been very happy with Your-Site; the price is very reasonable, the service is reliable, and they're extremely responsive. The few times I've called them I haven't had to spend ONE MINUTE on hold! For a former TIAC customer, this was a profound shock.
But things can never go smoothly for me. On Friday March 29 2001, I checked in on the RQ site and it was dark. I checked my email and that was dead, too. www.maranci.net was gone, as if it had never existed.
I didn't panic, not quite, but I was obviously pretty concerned. I've put a lot of work into Pete's RQ & RPG over the past five years, after all. And so have quite a few other people. What's more, I've put a lot of effort into making this one of the most-read RuneQuest sites online. Hell, getting listed by Yahoo alone was a huge ordeal! They dropped the site four or five times in the early years. And we're listed in the top ten of most search engines when you look for RuneQuest. With the site down, how long would it be before they decided we were gone and de-listed us?
Not to mention that it sucked not getting email!
Anyway, I called Your-Site. They were helpful, as always. Since I hadn't registered my domain with them, they couldn't renew it; in fact, it wasn't even their responsibility. RegisterFree were the ones who'd fallen down. They'd failed to notify me of the domain expiration. This despite the fact that except for my email address, all of my contact information was correct and up-to-date! But they hadn't bothered to send a paper bill, nor to call. They just pulled the plug.
Once I renewed my site through RegisterFree I would be able to transfer the renewal rights to Your-Site, though. So I logged onto the RegisterFree site and got a scary message: they were experiencing technical difficulties, and portions of the site were no longer working. I tried to use an online web form to renew my site, but it was broken. The only alternative was to send them an email; I did that on the evening of March 30th, but didn't get an answer for days. I also faxed the same email in on the same day. There was no phone number at RegisterFree for me to call!
I started freaking out, and also started investigating. A WHOIS search of maranci.net revealed that a company called NameEngine was involved in my registration somehow; I checked the RegisterFree site, and found that NameEngine was associated with them in some way. So I went to the NameEngine site and started reading very carefully. Their address was exactly the same as RegisterFree, although the fax number was different. But most important, there was a phone number.
I suspected that NameEngine and RegisterFree were basically the same company, so I called that number...and got voicemail. Then on Tuesday April 3rd I got an email back from RegisterFree; they were going to renew my domain, but they needed a credit card number. I was desperate, so I emailed it back to them. And waited. And waited.
By Thursday I was quite concerned. My site and email had been down for six days! I sent an email and then called the NameEngine number again. A guy there told me that my site had been renewed and would probably take a day or two to propagate through the servers (or something). Were things looking up?
They were not. On Monday April 10th I got an email saying that they hadn't received my credit card number. This despite the fact that I'd been TOLD the site had already been renewed! And it wasn't, because the site was still dead. I sent my credit card info again, but I was seriously upset. It had now been ten days since the domain had been up.
So I went berserk. I called NameEngine at 9AM, and reached a woman. She told me that the domain would be renewed within the next couple of hours, and she'd call me back when it was. By noon I still hadn't heard anything, so I called her back. She said something about technical troubles, but said they were working on it. She'd call me when the renewal went through.
I called her again at 3:30PM, before I left. The site still wasn't up. They were resellers, and the server was having trouble. She couldn't say how long it would be before it would be up; she hoped it would be soon. I told her I'd call back in a day or two if the domain didn't go up.
And this morning I checked, and it was back up. Whew!
Why do all the weird things happen to me? I've been having a TERRIBLE time posting to the RuneQuest-Rules List for more than a month. I receive the Digest with no problem, but when I try to post to it, I get bounce messages; something about being unable to reach the server. This was happening weeks before my domain went down, so I don't think that that was the problem. Anyway, since the RQ-Rules list is one of the best places for announcements of updates to this site I am feeling pretty frustrated!
Getting married the Saturday after next. I'm nervous, but not as nervous as I would have expected to be, if that makes any sense. I'll be away for a couple of weeks or so on my honeymoon...if anyone wants to surprise me by posting to the Chaos Project while I'm gone, I'd be very glad!
I hope to get one or two more updates in before then, although of course I'm insanely busy. Still, I'll try and respond if anyone writes to me...
Random thought: I'm reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings out loud to Teri (soon to be Teri Maranci!). I don't want her first experience of Middle-Earth to be the new movie, whether it's good or not! When I first saw a promo on TV for it (I think it's coming out around Christmas?), I turned to Teri and practically shouted "I have GOT to read that to you before you see the movie!". I'm not the most assertive partner, and it was her turn to read me something, but nonetheless she acquiesced immediately. I'm still not sure why.
Anyway, I'm half-way through the second chapter of The Hobbit. Here's hoping my voice (and her temper) hold up through the whole series! ->Peter
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2001
Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this. Nobody's ever written to me about it, and since there've been long stretches where I haven't written anything, it could well be that this is one part of the site that simply doesn't get read. Which is okay...but it feels a little odd. It's a lonely sort of personal journal, badly organized and pretty irrelevant to almost anything - or anyone - else.
Which may mean that this is a good place to hide stuff that I don't want to be widely read. Okay, yes, I realize that 1,000+ people a month doesn't qualify as "wide" in most senses (although maybe it does for RQ sites), but this might be a good place to put stuff as kind of a reward for people who slog through the whole site. Sometimes I come across material which for one reason or another is somehow questionable. For example, there's an absolutely hysterical (and unbelievably sick) one-shot comic strip called The Story of Beef. It's impossible to find on the web; at one point I found a site that claimed to have it, but the graphic was missing. Maybe the author or publisher ordered it to be taken offline, although the publisher is out of business and I haven't been able to find the author on the web. Anyway, I have a copy of the comic book that it appeared in, somewhere deep in storage. Once I get around to digging it up, I'll be strongly tempted to scan it and put it up here with no publicity; just a little extra prize for people who are interested.
Which is leading me to my next point. Several years ago there was an online project called The Dysfunctional Family Circus. The concept was simple, yet brilliant: old copies of the treacley comic strip Family Circus were put up on a web site with their captions removed. Visitors to the site suggested their own captions. The editor (later a team of editors) sorted the captions into categories according to their estimation of their quality (I have to admit that I really got a laugh out of some of the "stupid" category captions). After a while, the strip and captions were "closed", and no more captions were accepted. The final version listed the "good" captions only, usually about 20 - 40 for each comic.
It was the internet; the captions ranged from gross to offensive to unbelievably filthy. But the vast majority of them were also incredibly funny. The site became more and more popular, with hundreds of archived DFC strips. Would you care to guess what happened next?
That's right! Bill Keane (the author/artist of the Family Circus), and the lawyers of the Cowles syndicate (that carried his strips) objected to the site. It was too offensive, too dirty, too gross. And so it disappeared. Even the archives were gone. I'd tried to capture the site with some site-snagging freeware before it was taken down, but the software didn't work. I'd printed out some of the 500 cartoons & captions, but missed most of them.
Anyway, I was wandering through the web recently and found something amazing: a different web site had a text index for the Dysfunctional Family Circus - and not only a listing, but the actual comics and captions themselves! I don't know how long they'll stay up, but here's hoping that the lawyers are asleep at the switch for once. In the meantime, if you have a strong stomach for really sick and twisted humor, I'd strongly recommend The Dysfunctional Family Circus Archives.
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2001
She'll never see this, of course, since we can't get her to use the computer, but I wanted to say it anyway.
As you'll have noticed if you've been keeping up with the site lately, I've been busy. The RQ Quiz had a mistake in it, but I fixed it; ironically, I'd originally had the correct answer but lost my nerve when a friend told me that I was wrong. Almost all my RQ stuff is deep in storage, so I had no way to double-check. It's fixed now, though.
I've made a "Quizzes & Polls" linkpage, and four new polls are available there. Damned if I know what I'll do with the data, but it will be interesting information to see.
I've been getting more ideas for Chaos Project entries, but haven't had a chance to enter them yet. Wish that some of the old regulars would come back and put some entries in, though. Magic items are the hardest for me; my standard for my own magic items is possibly too high. I had an idea for a sword that preferentially strikes at injured hit locations, but I'm not really satisfied with it yet. It doesn't quite make sense.
I'm still using FrontPage Express for a lot of my HTML editing, combined with heavy use of WordPad to edit HTML directly; I'm actually getting better at writing raw HTML, which is good (I guess). Lately I've started using a pretty neat webbot tool in FrontPage to automatically update my "Revised" dates. Convenient.
I've also used an old graphics program to re-create all the runic icons for the navigation bar; they're better-looking 3D now. Although the flaming Fire/Sky rune may still need work. When I get the chance I'll do some more research in graphic techniques.
Hits on the site continue to be high; a good bit higher than with the old TIAC site (and the TIAC SUCKS site has been getting more hits too, although only a fraction of the number that the RQ site does). But I've been wondering lately if I should join the Glow Ring. It might increase hits, but there's a problem: The GR is more focused on Glorantha and HeroWars (which I still haven't tried), and my site is for RuneQuest far more than it is for Glorantha. And I don't support HeroWars at all - except insofar as I support all fun fantasy roleplaying (and since I've never seen nor heard of a HeroWars campaign in this area, I can't say if HW is fun or not). Certainly a lot of the Gloranthan scholars act like king-sized jerks, and I can't see how gaming with that sort of person would be any fun...
Anyway, what do you think? Should I suck it up and join the ring, or continue to go it alone and risk slowly losing all relevance to the gaming world? Of course, there's another option:
I could start making a set of links for RuneQuest-specific sites, or even a sort of RQ-only version of the Glow Ring. But there are two problems with that:
Anyway, I've got to run!
MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2001
A belated "Happy New Year" to one and all!
After a longish lapse, I'm back on the move. Actually, it was shorter than most of the previous dry spells I've been through. What brought me out of it was the collapse in web advertising revenue. Apparently advertisers are no longer interested in banner advertising, you see, which has caused something of a crash in online business - which was crashing anyway, of course. But you probably know all that.
Anyway, I've been using a free service called "MyComputer.com" to provide my site guestbook. Three additional specialized guestbooks formed the core of The Chaos Project. Plus I used a free counter from the same source. The services weren't perfect - MyComputer.com has an annoying tendency to crash - but they worked well enough.
But a few weeks ago MyComputer.com wrote to tell me that the free Site Mechanics service was being discontinued, and that I'd have to start paying for it as of April 1st. I didn't really care about that; I'd looked at SiteMechanics once, out of curiousity, and it stayed activated because I was lazy and didn't care. Little did I know that the other shoe was about to drop...
It dropped when they wrote a few days later to tell me that they were discontinuing the free guestbook services as well. They invited me to send them money by April 1st or lose my books - which would be a disaster. Not only would the guestbook be lost, but The Chaos Project had hundreds of entries, all of them irreplaceable. But still, how could I be comfortable paying for a service that was still offered for free elsewhere?
While I dithered about what to do, the final insult landed in my IN box: MyComputer was discontinuing their free counter service, as well. Again, I was told to pay up or get out. I decided that they could bite me.
So the rush was on. Not only did I have to find a free replacement service, but I had to capture ALL of the entries in all four old guestbooks and find a way to make them still available online.
Finding a free replacement service was something I wanted to be careful about. There were dozens (hell, hundreds) of free services available, but almost all of them included banner ads - and if they depended on banner ads for funding, there was a good chance that they'd go under within weeks or months anyway. This transfer was going to be a lot of work, and I didn't want to have to do it again and again.
Fortunately I was able to find Alxnet.com, which not only offered a better-looking set of free guestbooks, but didn't even use banner ads! Working quickly I set up a new guestbook and Chaos Project, and cut the links to the MyComputer books. The new books were pretty easy to format; I'm getting better and better at working with HTML (I've been working on an intranet site for work, which has been fun and educational).
And now I had to archive the old material. I'd captured all of the HTML from the MyComputer books, but setting up archives was going to be a bit difficult; their original format was a bit funky, since all of the text was squeezed into a fairly narrow column on the right. I wanted to create archives that would be much easier to read, print, and use. Among other things, that meant I'd have to number every entry, so that a GM could use the lists as tables and roll on them. Also, I had to keep every contributor's name and email address associated with their contributions - people have posted some great stuff to the site, and credit is the least I can give them.
Then I opened up FrontPage Express (and old WYSISYG HTML editor) and set up the archives as tables - but with columns for the actual text that were much wider in proportion to the name/address fields. I then started on a several-day marathon of copying each name and email address from WordPad, switching to FrontPage, pasting the text in the appropriate place, switching back to WordPad, copying the text for that entry, switching back and pasting, ad infinitum.
The problem was that my system started to crash more and more often as the files got bigger and bigger. Entering the row numbers was particularly hard; I'd enter five numbers, then look up and notice that none of them were showing on the screen. After five or ten seconds they'd either show up or the system would crash. The whole thing became ridiculous.
Finally I gave up trying to do any editing in FrontPage Express; the tables were wigging out, changing width wildly every time I entered a single character (if I wrote a five letter word, the width would change back and forth five times - s l o w l y .
So after I pasted everything I saved each file, then went into WordPad and edited the numbering into the HTML by hand. It worked pretty well, I think, but you can check for yourself in the archives.
Here's the funny thing (941 words without a punchline? I must be sick!): somewhere along the way while I was doing all of this donkey-work, I discovered that I was no longer burned out. I was having fun again. And I still am. Yahoo!
Which is why I just put up the RuneQuest Quiz last night. Speaking of which, please feel free to send your own suggestions for quiz questions to me. I have another 20 questions in the wings (I thought that the maximum limit was 30 questions, not 10), but I'd like to rotate quizes fairly often.
By the way, has anyone else noticed that broken banner ad links seem to be causing a lot of sites to become broken too? It almost seems as if the sites have been set up so that they can't work if the banners don't work. As an opponent of commercialism on the web from way back, I'm mildly pleased by all this. And of course I'm happy that banners have been completely eliminated from my own site, even by proxy.
I did make one small investment in the site recently; I spent $29 on upgrading my FTP software to RFTP Pro, the commercial version of the freeware package I've been using for a long time. The one drawback of the freeware version is that you can't sort files one your host by type when you want to grab a set of all your files, and the transfer mode either screws up all of your graphics or all of your HTML. I'd found a lame way around that - download everything twice into seperate folders, once using text mode and once with binary mode, and then sorting and copying all the appropriate files of a type into (and over) the other folder - but it was a pain. Imagine my disappointment when I found that even the professional version of the software didn't allow sorting by type! But then to my amazement I discovered a "Smart Transfer" setting. With that turned on, the software used the correct transfer mode for each type of file every time! Cool.
So much to tell...where to begin? Well, on April 21st Teri and I will be getting married. It's going to be rather a large affair; we've been planning it for a year now. I think we'll both be relieved when it's over. :)
But we still have to figure out where to go for our honeymoon. We were planning to go to New Orlean's French Quarter for a week, but we've had to change our plans because...we're expecting!! Yup, with any luck in October we're going to have a really Big Day, knock on wood. I'm still a little in shock. I'll do my best to raise him or her as a gamer and science-fiction fan, of course. :)
Anything else has to sound like an anticlimax after that, of course, so I'll leave it at that.
As I mentioned, I plan to put up new quizzes regularly - or if not regularly, at least once in a while. I'm also thinking of adding a free poll (Alxnet provides those as well), although I'm still thinking about what questions to ask. For example: Ducks: 1) Love 'Em, 2) Leave 'Em, or 3) Eat 'Em? :)
But there would be serious questions too, and I'd mostly try to avoid Glorantha. If anyone has any suggestions for poll questions, do drop me a line.
Other stuff...well, I'm starting to wonder if I should start an online game. Someone recently wrote asking me about one, and since haven't been able to get much gaming in (I'm so far from everybody now), maybe I should try supplementing my game-deficit with something like WebRPG. Anyone interested?
There was something else, but I forget what it was. Oh well. More later, and this time it won't be anywhere NEAR as long before I write again...I hope.
Until then! ->Peter
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 30, 2000
It has been a while! I've been busy. Need I say that the election has occupied a lot of my time? As of this writing things don't look good for Al Gore, but the issue isn't settled yet. The situation is a strange one for me; I truly believe that if Bush gets the Presidency, he will have succeeded in subverting the American electoral system. His Presidency will be completely illegitimate, yet the GOP and the media will no doubt laud him to the skies. I will not "unite" behind this drug-dealing drunken little lying spoiled rich-boy thief, and in my book he and his gang of thugs should be charged with treason, convicted, and given a Texas-style sentence.
I've written a few anonymous pieces, but it's not enough. If this little bastard wins, I need to find a way to make a difference...to bring him and the GOP some of the pain that they've caused this country for the last eight years and more. What will that involve? I don't know, yet.
On other fronts, I've backed off the idea of adding stuff to the Chaos Project on a daily basis. It's just too hard, and I'm afraid that I'm running out of ideas. Unfortunately everyone else seems to have stopped adding material too, which is a pity. I need to get my act together and start pushing out material again, I suppose, but the truth is I've been really tired lately - it might be the change of seasons - and it's hard to get anything done.
Oh well. Perhaps it's just the dark before dawn. Time will tell.
By the way, I've added a bit to my bio section - specifically to my Favorites lists. Perhaps that section isn't well arranged? Probably not. Anyone got any suggestions?
SUNDAY OCTOBER 22, 2000
Or is it four? I can't recall. Anyway, only a few days after my last full site update I've done it again. I didn't change the background/text layout, but the layout of the main page is completely different, and I've created a new menu bar table that's at the bottom of almost every page (except for the online game pages, basically). I also added sections (Links, Bio, Site History) and updated content on some pages.
Boy, am I tired. And I'm wondering how this is going to look on different machines. How's it look on yours? Drop me a line and let me know?
I posted this cranky review of Issaries' Hero Wars Gloranthan RPG in March, but I think it sort of could use a repost. But let me note here that there are some pretty nice people working on and playing with Hero Wars (there are also some total assholes, some members of the Gloranthan Elite), and I don't want to stop anyone from buying or playing HW; this is just my cranky opinion.
I just read the first three chapters (all that is available) of Chaosium's new Gloranthan roleplaying game, Hero Wars, on their web site.
Can't say I'm impressed, which is a pitythey're my favorite game company.
CRANKY REVIEW OF HERO WARS
Okay, let's check our new glossary:
GM = Narrator
PC = Hero
NPC = Narrator Characters
Scenario = Episode
Campaign = Series
Hero Points = Experience Points. WaitaminnitEXPERIENCE POINTS?!?
"Excuse me, Narrator, will the Narrator Character in this episode of this series receive Hero Points for killing my Hero?"
Doesn't sound quite right...
A d20 system. Oh boy. Now *that's a leap forward...
Character creationa hundred-word essay? Congratulationsyou just lost the interest of 95% of the potential market. They don't even want to *see* the words "100-word description"much less one with five bulleted mandatory elements. I mean it's a nice idea, kudos all round, but even as an optional rule this one should be hidden way, way deep in the back of the book. Instead it's the first option listed.
And the paragraph on proper grammar makes me wonder if the author is actually an operative for WOTC. Or is this aimed at the 40+ crowd? I thought we were too busy having babies and supporting families to play RPGs. And all our disposable cash goes to disposable diapers. This *can't* be intended for anyone under the age of 30.
Keywords"a quick description of the character's role in society". Like Fighter. Magic-User. Thief. Wow. Can I have a duel-keyword half-elf Fighter/Magic-User?
Skills: Let me see if I have this straight. Numbers represent skill levels but the Mastery rune modifies this somehow? The Master rune indicates a mastered skill, but apparently this can still be any number, rather than 20. A guessis this the equivalent of "Hero Skills", which have never been detailed as such in a Chaosium publication? How does a Mastered skill of 4 compare to a non-Mastered skill of 15?
Later: It's explained in Chapter 2. A Mastery 1 skill = a skill of 21. You can get multiple masteries, so (for example) 8w3 equals a skill of 68. But not percentage. This is a reverse-notation base-twenty system, if I may dare to get mathematical (not my strongest point). Somehow, I don't think this system will ever need to worry about being called "intuitive".
Looks like unlike RuneQuest, in Hero Wars characters have limited skill setsnot all will possess all abilities, unless there's an unstated base chance for success for non-keyword skills. One step closer to a class system...
"Keyword". Kind of rolls off the tongue, don't it?
"When choosing abilities, you can use any words or phrases you want to describe them. It doesn't matter whether the ability is described with an adjective, noun, or verb; use whatever sounds good to you." This won't be confusing. Trust The Computer.
Personality Traits"there will be occasions when the narrator will ask you to roll a personality trait directly". That's why it's called roleplayingdie rolls, so you don't have to!
Relationship Ability Rating"Loyalty", "Hatred", etc. WhoopsI didn't realize I was reviewing Pendragon 2000. Thanks, Mr. Game Designerthanks for saving me from the danger of actually ROLEPLAYING my relationships.
Dependants"Dependents never raise their abilities; they are always meant to be frail". You no longer need worry about those annoying NPCs, pardon me, "Narrator Characters"they're not really equal to you any more. And how is this different from AD&D? Beats me. Remember how annoying Spiderman's Aunt May always was? Didn't you wish that some supervillain would crush her like an overripe wrinkly irritating grape?
Hero Points = Experience Points. Now that's cutting-edge game design! What's nextArmor Classes? Excuse me, I meant "Armor Keywords"?
Flaws - AKA GURPS Disadvantages, but they don't give you any character building points. Despite this, you must pay points to eliminate them. They are also entirely voluntary. It would be nice to think that players will take Flaws nonetheless just for the pleasure of roleplaying. It would also be nice to believe that the majority of roleplayers are selfless and totally dedicated to the principle of artistic integrity before winning. Unfortunately if this is *not* the case then the system punishes good roleplayers while rewarding powergamers. Doesn't make sense. If you trust players to create charactersexcuse me, "heroes"with flaws for the sake of dramatic roleplaying, why suddenly treat them with suspicion when it comes to getting rid of flaws?
If you don't write in a reference to a new element acquired by your character the GM may remove it by fiat. Somewhat reminiscent of Amber Diceless, but without all the freedom. Likewise, you must spend experience points to retain wealth gained after an adventure, else the GM removes it by fiat. Talking about jumping between extremesGMs have a huge amount of power in this system!
There are something called AP (obviously not Armor Points), which can be "bid", and have a "normal lending mechanism". Ah, the synopsis tells us. These are "Action Points", which "are equal to his target number plus 20 APs per mastery plus modifiers". Waitaminnit. "Target Number"?
FRIDAY OCTOBER 13, 2000
I'm looking out the window next to me, and the shadows of big honey bees are crawling across the blinds at the top of the window. There's a hive inside the top of my window frame, on the outside fortunately. The landlord says he'll get rid of it when it gets cold enough to keep the bees from stinging. Fall has been coming quickly here; we've already had a few frosts. I guess the bees won't be around much longer. It's funny, but I think I'll miss them.
Today's a funny day; a fall day, if you know what I mean. I feel like I miss a lot of things.
What's the weather like where you are?
It may not show, but I recently updated almost every single page on the site. All traces of my prior host (the exerable TIAC) have been removed: all email addresses have been updated, and all URLs are now correct. That includes ZIPped text files, PDFs, and bundled files within PDFs. I also did a bit of proofreading and revising here and there, particularly in the Imbue rules section where I embellished on the use of multi-part items and Divine magic.
The project took about five or six hours of work over two days, which is really not bad for 100+ files and about five years of online history. Oddly enough, the tool that was most useful was Wordpad, a Windows accessory. In fact, that program has been so useful that I've put it on all of my desktops.
I used to use Windows Notepad to do my HTML editing, but Microsoft seems to have royally screwed up Notepad; it takes HUGE amounts of memory (which is insane for such a basic accessory), and crashes the system often. God, there are so many times I wish I could get my hands around Bill Gates' pencil-neck for just five minutes! Just kidding of course, but that reminds me of something funny:
The parking lot where I work is next to train tracks, which are separated from the lot by a tall wire fence. At one point in the fence there's a set of locked gates, and on the gates there's a sign:
Fortunately some local genius made a small modification:
...but I admit that Wordpad's quite useful.
If anyone is wondering, although I ocassionally use an editor like Frontpage Express or Word to do something tricky (like tables, for example), I prefer to work with raw HTML.
As I mentioned in the guestbook, I've set myself a target of adding one new magic item and 900+ characters each of found items and chaos features to the Chaos Project. That's a bit tough, sometimes; it's hard coming up with new ideas after a while. But my long drive to and from work helps (it's about an hour and a half each way, depending on traffic). When I'm sickened by what I hear on the radio I turn it off and think of things to add to the site. I often end up trying to hold seven or eight ideas in my head at once, which can be pretty awful; I use mnemonics to try and keep everything in my head, but sometimes the ideas won't stop and I have to try and jot ideas in my notepad. That's bit nervewracking on the highway at 55 miles per hour (ahem), and since I don't take my eyes off the road the result looks like the scrawl of a three-year old. Even though my normal handwriting is more like the scrawl of a six-year-old, it can be pretty hard even for me to read my notes.
I should probably look into getting one of those little solid-state microphones, the kind that are in the shape of a pen.
I must say, though, that the Imbue magic item creation rules have actually helped me to come up with new itemsI'm not sure why.
Speaking of the Project, it's getting pretty big. There are well over 100 chaos features and found items apiece, and I think we're at about 40 magic items. I'm starting to wonder about archiving.
Perhaps I should take, say, the oldest 100 each of CFs and FIs and put them into a more concise HTML format? I'd include all contact info for everyone who has contributed so far, of course. And if anyone wants to expand or revise their items, of course I'd be glad to oblige.
But maybe I'm worrying for no reason. How convenient is the current set-up? What do you think? I don't want to put in a lot of work for no benefit in readability. My time's pretty limited, unfortunately.
One of the projects that is still outstanding is a serious revision of the main page for the sitenot the Maranci.net page, but the RQ page. I know that it's in serious need of improvement; the links need to be put "above the fold" (as web designers say), on the first screen rather than the second. And instead of all that text, I should have large and cool-looking graphics for different areas. It's probably time for me to get rid of the menu bar, and replace it with a small frame giving quick links to all the different areas. And I guess I should find a background that works betterbut I'm not sure what.
It really sucks, because I'm not an artist. I have a bunch of black & white lineart - over a million images on CD-ROMbut it's not what I need. Sigh...
Something weird happened recently. As I mentioned earlier, when I moved from TIAC to Your-Site I went from being in the top ten of most search engines for RQ to nowhere or way, way down. But I spent some time re-listing my site, and asking for URL updates from other sites and engines. Slowly I started to climb back up the lists, and my hits started going up as well. But suddenly, sometime in the last several weeks, my new URL disappeared off many search engines and the old one reappeared! On a lot of engines I'm not listed at all, and of course they never respond to email. It's a real mystery.
I think it bothers me more because there's so much more material on the site now, and it's being updated so often. I'll bet there are damn few roleplaying sites that have new content added daily, much less RuneQuest ones. But unless they already know where it is, people just can't hear about or find the site. Frustrating.
I've considered re-naming the site and adding support for other systems as well (although of course I'd never abandon RQ). I don't know.
Man, those bees are really buzzing.
SEPTEMBER 08, 2000
My new adventure (the one that I've already run, and am in the process of writing up), is no longer called A Breath of Evil; instead it is called Fear The Night, which is a much more appropriate title. I was blocked for a while, but the writing is starting to flow.
I have notes available for the next adventure I'm going to run, which is provisionally titled A Breath of Evil (until I come up with yet another more appropriate name). I can't post them since that would spoil the adventure for my players, but if anyone would like a copy of the notes I'd be glad to send them out via email. I honestly think that this one will be the largest and most complex single adventure I've ever created, and probably the most gripping and horrific.
Several people over the past few years have asked me if I know where to find copies of the old RQ2 books. It isn't easy to find a copy of RQ2 these days, but there are a few places to try. Crazy Egor's is a mail-order source for used games; they don't have the RQ2 book in stock, but they do have a lot of stuff and their stock changes often.
Other places to look are the various used book web sites. Again, none of them actually has the book right nowbut their databases churn frequently, and you can put in a standing order which will tag the book as soon as it becomes available. I have never been *unable* to get any book (no matter how rare) through these services, although sometimes it has taken a couple of months of watching the sites.
Bibliofind is now owned by Amazon, which is unfortunate since Amazon has driven so many small used book stores out of business; it's ironic that the remaining stores must use Amazon as a gateway. By the way, if you ever order a used book through Amazon directly, they use Bibliofind to find it and charge you much more than you'd pay directly.
The American Book Exchange currently lists FIVE rare RQ2 supplements on their site, but not the source book.
I should make it clear that both BiblioFind and ABE are databases which show the stock of many hundreds (if not thousands) of used book stores around the world. When you choose to buy a book you buy it directly from the bookstore that has it, not from some giant centralized company.
Finally, perhaps your best chance of finding the RQ2 book is at a RuneQuest Con (which I suppose are called GloranthaCons these daysI wouldn't know. Back at the first one the books were going for upward of $80 at auction, but they *were* available. Now that the oh-so-wonderful Hero Wars is out, perhaps all the former RQers are eager to dump their inferior old books for some quick cash (there, does that sound sarcastic and bitter enough, Mr. DeMille?). :-)
One last word: if you can POSSIBLY find it, get the RuneQuest 2 *hardcover* editionthe one with the red cover! I have one, and I can tell you that it wears like iron. The company that produced that book (some Canadian publisher, as I recall) did a splendid job. It's much more durable than any AD&D book, for example.
Whups, told a lieI just thought of another place to try. I've seen several gamers who've auctioned off their stuff when they've given up gaming. It's not necessarily easy to find them, but it's probably worth keeping an eye on Ebay, as well as the RuneQuest-Rules Digest.
Hope this helps!
AUGUST 27, 2000
I was away, but now I'm back. Still haven't had a chance to think much about a major redesignis the site really that bad? What needs the most fixing? I probably should go and look at other RQ sites and see what's popularand also what I like best, of course.
There hasn't been much free time lately, but I have given some thought to the write-up for my most recent scenario (provisionally titled "A Breath of Evil"). I'd like to give it as thorough a presentation as "To Kill A Monster". The problem: unlike TKAM, I can't just download a couple of village maps from Irony Games and draw a few modifications on them. The new adventure requires a very specific set of features, and there's no way I can get around creating at least one and probably three completely original maps.
Unfortunately I just can't draw. Really. And I don't really know anyone who could draw for mewell, I do know a couple of artists but one is basically an impressionist (can you imagine that, an impressionistic campagn map? Hmm, could be an interesting plot hook...), and the other one I don't know that well.
I tried using a simple painting program to make a basic regional map; drew a simple triangle as a mountain, and then copied and pasted it over and over. Ditto for trees. It soon became clear that the result would be very lame. I started looking for other options.
The Warcraft 2 map editor suggested itself almost immediately. It makes very pretty-looking trees, mountains, farms, etc. On the down side, it is not very flexible, it wouldn't allow me to make black & white maps, and it wouldn't allow me to easily create a view of the whole map at once in a useful format. After a couple of tries to make a decent map, I decided to look elsewhere.
A web search quickly turned up a mapping program spcifically designed for roleplayers. Called Campaign Cartographer, it apparently had a lot of features. Unfortunately it was also reportedly hard to use, and on top of that cost 70 pounds UKabout $126, if I remember.
I am not spending over $100 on a fantasy mapping program. Period.
But while wandering around in rec.games.frp.misc I saw a mention of a program called AutoREALMwhich supposedly did almost everything that Campaign Cartographer did, but was easier to use, could export to common graphic formats and (best of all) was FREE!
Well, when I found the AutoREALM site there was a glitchI couldn't download. But after a quick email to the author he fixed it, and although I still haven't had a chance to do more than play with the program I have to say that it's GREAT!
Oh yeahI almost forgot. Here's the URL: Andy Gryc Software - AutoREALM. Download it now, and THANKS, ANDY! This is the sort of thing that keeps the net fun.
My fiancee Teri doesn't agree with me on this, but personally I'm glad that Rich wonhe deserved it. Am I the only one who noticed that the whole thing was a lot like a roleplaying game? Particularly a live-action SIL-type game?
AUGUST 12, 2000
As you may have noticed, the new guest book has been implemented. So far, it looks pretty goodthere's actually been discussion of RQ rules, and I've enjoyed it. So in a fit of weirdness I created The Chaos Project, using three additional guest books. Each covers a separate topic: Chaos Features, Magic Items, and Found Items. I'm hoping that a modest percentage of the hundreds of monthly visitors to this site will contribute the odd ideaif they do, before long the Chaos Project will consist of three large, odd and interesting lists.
AUGUST 7, 2000
As I think I mentioned, I recently moved. One of the many good things about that move was that I'm now on a cable modem hookupthe speed is great, although now I want a faster processor. :-) Anyway, the den is now set up with my whole computer system, and for the first time I've added my VCR into the mix. I need to experiment with it a bit, but I can already pipe a clear signal through to my monitor; it should be no problem to produce AVI files.
Which means that I should be able to convert some of the videos I've made into downloadable form. Ideally I'd like to convert them into MPEGs, which I understand gives the highest resolution for the least space; I have 50 megabytes of space on my host, and at the moment I'm using less than 2.5 megs, but there's no reason to be wasteful. I'm going to look around to see what's the best way to convert AVIs to MPEGs, but if anyone has any suggestions in the meantime please let me know!
By the way, the first video I put up will probably be the video version of The Gamemaster's Hall of Shame, which can be read in text form at the new Interregnum web site. It has what may be the goofiest hairstyle seen in the Greater Boston area for several years. Incidentally, I'm hoping to tighten it up a little (the video, that is, not my hairmy hair's long gone), if I can find a good freeware video editor.
Ideas have been pouring into my head for the new Gloranthan scenario, and I've written a fairly long email to an old friend putting a lot of the details down (I've found that that's the best way to get the first rush of ideas out and down in solid form). But the last scenario still needs to be written up and posted. I've received one email telling me that the extended writeup format I used for "To Kill A Monster" was useful; it's just so damn much work to do it that way! More feedback, please? I guess I don't dare ask if anyone wants to work up the details from my admittedly sketchy notesmost of the material is in my head, I'm afraid.
I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and try to work it up in some detail soon.
As some may have noticed, my guestbook didn't survive the end of my stay with TIAC (The World's Worst ISP (tm)). I have a lame "Mailto:" link there now, but perhaps I should consider switching to something more complete. Would a full guest book be usefulsome sort of bulletin-board-like page where viewers can post their RQ ideas? The only problem is that I'd probably have to use some commercial-based free guestbook service, probably the one that I use for my counterand I'm fiercely opposed to commercialism on the web. Which is why you see no banners on my sitewell, that and also because my hits are so low that any advertiser would laugh themselves into the grave at the thought of advertising here. :-)
Would it be worth it? Click on the lame mailto link and let me know!
I'm thinking of breaking precedent and putting up a link page here. For this area, it would be a RuneQuest-only linkpage; that is, it would be for sites which expressly support RQ either in addition to or instead of Hero Wars. Hell, maybe there should be a Rune Ring. I suspect that the Glow Ring will soon be almost exclusively devoted to HW and Glorantha.
It would also be fun to put up links to some of the more fun and funny places I've found on the net, but that wouldn't fit in to a RQ page. And that sort of thing can get old real fast, come to think of it. Most of that stuff gets promoted a lot anyway, and what have they done for me?
This is getting a bit close to stream of consciousness; yep, it's pretty late. And yes, I really do think this way. Comes from reading too many books. :-)
Someone wrote to me recently to let me know that he was able to download and use the Acrobat form version of the RQIII character sheet, but that he couldn't save the data he'd put into it; he had to re-enter the data each time, and print it out. My bad, I suspect. I'd tested the sheet on my work and home systems, and had been able to save different versions of the sheet; but both machines have the full Adobe Acrobat software installed. In other words, I wasn't able to test the sheet with the free reader program only. I'd assumed that Adobe would let the reader program edit and save the form areas, but apparently they haven't done that yetodd, it seems quite a natural and necessary feature.
Has anyone else tried saving that sheet?
Yahoo! Hits are going up again! And Yahoo has updated my URL. :-)
JULY 31, 2000
With the release of the new Gloranthan RPG Hero Wars (which, in my opinion, sucksI published a cranky review of it on the RQ-Rules Digest, as well as on Usenet, and received my share of flames), I find myself no longer part of the Gloranthan roleplaying community. Greg Stafford's near-constant changing of major and minor elements of the world (it's no longer a fun game world; in fact, it's starting to seem like a schizo's delusional reality construct), along with the arrogant and incredibly irritating attitude of the new Gloranthan scholarship "elite", makes Glorantha seem more like a bizarre cult than a fun roleplaying setting.
That's sad, since originally Glorantha was a great game world, and a great way to show players that roleplaying could involve more than hack n' slash. For years I've basically tried to ignore the ever-increasing annoyance factor of Glorantha, but the way things have been lately my inclination is to finally give up altogether on a world that has had every last ounce of fun and humor and enjoyment sucked out of it.
Given my feelings about Glorantha at the moment, it's all the more ironic that I was recently hit with a scenario idea that's a natural for that worldand would be very difficult to fit anywhere else. It's one of those ideas that suddenly springs into my head, and keeps revealing new layers of plot and characterization the more I think about it. Since I'm hoping to run it for the Saturday group sometime, I'll have to hold off describing it herebut I can say that it is somewhat reminiscent of film noir, and (not surprisingly) rather dark. It involves a secret mission deep in Lunar territory, treachery, politics, and a philosophical question that shakes the roots of Gloranthan morality.
If anyone who's not part of the Saturday group (and doesn't plan to join) wants more details, drop me a line...
JULY 27, 2000
Should I introduce myself? I don't really know how many readers already know me, so why not:
Peter Maranci. A man barely alive. Wait a minute...let's try that again.
Peter Maranci. Just under six feet, a bit under 300 pounds (I'm working on it), a bit under 40 years old. Former contributor to the now-deceased roleplaying APA "The Wild Hunt", and founder of the still-running RPG APA "Interregnum", which was TWH's successor. I published IR for several years until I burned out and passed the reins over to Kiralee McCauley, who's doing a fine job. I wrote a zine for the latest Interregnum, by the waymy first zine in about two years.
I'm a regular guest of the Arisia convention, where I usually do a bunch of roleplaying panels and sometimes run a RuneQuest scenario. It's a great con; lots of fun.
I've been playing RuneQuest for more years than I care to reckon, and my stuff has been published in several print and online roleplaying journals; nothing for money, though. A Dunsanian short story that I wrote was accepted for paid publication years ago by The Unspeakable Oath, but I think that they disappeared or something. Certainly I've never received an issue nor a check. :-)
Someday I'd really like to have a few stories professionally published, but unfortunately I'd have to write them first. I've written a few stories, but for the last ten years or so it seems that every time I start I get a huge case of writer's block. Or else I find my story wandering off in the complete wrong direction, beaching itself and dying on the shoals of irrelevancy...in the meantime I keep a journal of ideas, and when I get the time I'm going to try to force myself to sit down and write at least 300 words per dayeven if they're just "All work and no play makes Peter a dull boy". :-)
If I were to express myself in game terms (a silly thing to do), I'm guessing I'd be:
STR: 14. A bit over average.
CON: 12. I rarely get sick, and my blood pressure and cholesterol are very good, but my stamina is only so-so.
SIZ: 18. By RQ standards, I'm tall and (at least right now) fat. Or stocky. By modern American standards, I might only be size 16 or sostill big. I work out at the club when I can, but need to do more.
INT: 18. Ahem. I'm going strictly by test scores here. The chance of rolling an 18 on 3D6 is one in 216, and my LSATS and such put me in the top .03%. Lord knows I haven't done much with whatever intelligence I have, though. :-(
POW: 09. I'm not the luckiest guy in the world, and I'm surprisingly good at sneaking around (given my size).
DEX: 08. CRASH! Oops. Maybe I'm not that good at sneaking. :-)
APP: 11. I'm not the one to judge this. Ask my fiancee (although she's not unbiased, either, come to think of it).
Looking back, it was probably a mistake to do this... :-\
First off, hits are WAY down since I changed my domain. For those who are wondering what happened, here's the story:
I'd been with my old provider, TIAC (The Internet Access Company) for something like six or seven yearsway before the Internet was popular. My exposure to the net actually goes back to 1987, and I'd been doing bulletin boards since about that time.
Over the years, TIAC got worse and worse. I won't even try to describe how bad it was. Then in 1999 it got taken over by the PSInet mega-corporation, and what had formerly been an awful regional company became an abysmal international monster-company. I finally cut my losses, leaving a TIAC SUCKS! parody page in place on my old TIAC site. I'd heard that they never bothered to take down old sites. I also left an auto-forward for my shell email address, and a web forward from my old RuneQuest page.
Unfortunately someone on TIAC apparently was on the ball, because within a week my site was locked outthat is, no one could access it, but I know that it wasn't deleted. Someone at TIAC was still looking at my TIAC SUCKS page, because the third-party counter I'd installed was still incrementing new hits.
I re-posted the TIAC SUCKS! web page on my new site, of course. If you're interested, you might first want to take a look at the official TIAC siteI worked hard to parody them. Unfortunately one element of my site can only be viewed with Internet Explorer (yuck).
In the meantime, I found that I was sort of screwed. My RuneQuest page is one of the older ones still around, and by virtue of that is listed in the top ten of almost every search engine; for some, it's number one. Unfortunately there's no easy way to update the hundred of search engines and links that are on the web, and my hits crashed from about 60 per day to about five per daya very painful experience! I'm trying to search out old links and listings and have them updated one-by-one, but it's an incredibly slow and irritating proceedure.
Actually, any suggestions would be great. Along with my hits, the volume of email has crashed. It's kind of lonely here in Internet Nowhereland...
Speaking of hits and such, if you were to go to the RPGnet Gaming Industry Directory and give my site a good rating, I'd be deeply appreciative!
I worked up and ran a new scenario for the Saturday group recently; since I've become rather sick of Glorantha, I set it in a sort of Dunsanian version of the Call of Cthulhu Dreamlands. It went well, although next time I'll use a modified version of the RQ system rather than CoC. There are some great advantages to the Dreamlands as a setting; when the action starts to bog down, I can skip everything ahead to the next point of interest. Why? BECAUSE IT'S A DREAM! I said that a lot during the run. :-)
I'd like to post the scenario on the site, but it's not yet written up. The truth is that creating the scenario is the easy part; it's putting it into a decent format that take 97% of the time. You wouldn't believe how much work I put into To Kill A Monster, for example. And I still don't know if anyone found all that extra pre-formatted stuff useful.
The core of the scenario is this: the players are travelling on a lonely road, one on which the villages are several days travel away from each other. At night when they are camped about half-a-day's ride from the next village (and three days from the previous one), the night is split by a horrible cry. A hurtling figure tears through the campsite, pursued by a large and dark flying form. They disappear into the woods on the far side of camp, and after a few moments there is another horrible cry. If the party looks at the sky they see a dark misshapen form flying away against the vault of the stars.
If they search the area, they find a a hideously mutilated corpse; eyes gouged out, and face frozen in an expression of unspeakable horror (although it's hard to read expression on a face that has no eyes). The deceased was a burly man, in his late thirties, with a tunic & trousers covered by a singed leather apron. He has no shoes and no other possessions.
When they arrive at the village the party finds the population in terror. Something, some things, have been stalking the village, and at night no one is safe. The party is effectively trapped in the village, because being anywhere within miles at night means a horrible death.
What is stalking the village? Who was that man? All these and more will be revealed when I write up A Breath of Evil. :-)
I'll be away for a few days, but I plan to keep adding to this page and the whole site often.
[email protected] Copyright 2000 by Peter Maranci. Revised: December 14, 2001. version 2.31