The Seven-Sided Die

The odds & ends of roleplaying

Entries in the Category “Site talk”

New year, new blog engine

written by d7, on Jan 6, 2012 12:20:00 PM.

The Seven-Sided Die is back for 2012 with a new engine—Zine. It’s a small, flexible engine that doesn’t have the high profile of Wordpress, and so isn’t the constant target of crackers. As a bonus its smaller and saner code base is way easier to hack, and I’ve already customised it slightly. This pleases me. [1]

If there are any issues, comment or drop me an email at the address on the About page.

Doctor Checkmate once wrote, “Buying product after product has always been the methadone to treat the addiction to play.”[2] I find myself that blogging and reading RPG blogs is also a treatment for wanting to play. Which is to say, oh look, I’m running a game right now and so I have, ironically, little urge or time to write blog posts.

I do have a blog post about the interaction of combat monkeys [3] and trying new game systems, but of course the urge to write that has been spent on getting the last few bits of this new blog engine working and moved to the production URL. I also would love to write about my group’s experience playing Diaspora, but my ambitions and my time don’t really see eye-to-eye.

I love/hate how musing out loud in order to get my thoughts in order (aka “blogging”) so often turns out to read like the classic “sorry for not blogging lately” post. At the very least, I’m optimistic that a blogging platform that requires less fucking-around-with will give me a better posts written : time spent on the blog ratio.

So, onward to 2012!

[1]

It also has built-in support for footnoting by using reStructuredText as its text parser. This pleases me immensely. [4]

[2]

Sadly, that blog post seems to have disappeared.

[3]

A term of affection, rest assured.

[4]

Oh gods, the default footnote styling needs to be fixed with fire. Still some fucking-with to be done, clearly…

Breaking radio silence with a basket of links

written by d7, on Sep 13, 2009 11:48:18 PM.

In the recent past I had some great but exhausting roleplaying sessions, acquired a pile of new books upon which I am spending my scant hobby time, had a good vacation, got angry at my web hosting provider, switched providers, discovered the Wordpress worm going around had attempted to hack into the Seven-Sided Die, dealt with a Wordpress upgrade[1. Still dealing with the upgrade, actually.], and then switched my web hosting back after some coding excitement involving a close brush with the dark arts of PHP optimisation and low-memory server environments.

I haven't been blogging much lately, to say the least. All that is done with now though—except for the reading, but at least that will give me fodder for posts in a way the other things don't.

This isn't a real post; it's just an excuse to update and keep the front page somewhat alive. So, here follows some real content that you might find edifying or at the very least diverting.

Random Average talks about Min-Maxing Fun, specifically about how some systems have a "cruise control" setting that guarantees a minimum of fun while also usually limiting the maximum fun potential, while other games are wide open to the heights of gaming nirvana and the pits of That Sucked Goats.

Over at the funereally-named Buried Without Ceremony there is an article, Plugging in Scenes and System, that talks about Mo's socket theory and how it relates to satisfying play and personal (in)compatibility with different game systems.  Socket theory, very briefly, is about how people "plug into" different parts of the system and the overall roleplaying experience in order to get out of the experience what they want. I think my primary socket is aesthetic, which came to me as something of a revelation and something of a "well, duh!" moment. It also partially explains my incompatibility with D&D 4e. I'm not sure what my other sockets are (oddly, I think system might not be one of them), but I am going to be thinking about this more.

On the subject of roleplaying for the aesthetics of it[2. The above Buried Without Ceremony article defined the aesthetic socket as "not necessarily caring if a narrative is created or if character development makes sense, as long as play creates something beautiful / interesting”. This resonated with me so much that it was like opening my eyes for the first time. I also realise now why what I look for in a game tends to be skipped over or not understood by most people I've played with, because that socket is weird.], I came across a delightfully dreamy game called Archipelago[3. It's worth noting that Archipelago is a free download, and only 22 pages.] that is designed to support and complement the aesthetic socket directly. It takes its inspiration from the visually-immersive mixture of the mundane and the fantastic that is characteristic of Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, which is enough to get my attention alone.

Roleplaying Pro's Colin Dowling answers the question, Why verisimilitude? with a great post. What I took away from it was that I might be better off explaining that when I say I want verisimilitude in my roleplaying experiences, what I'm specifically looking for is not "realistic elves—just like in the real world!!", but rather the experience of a piece of fiction (created by us) that has authenticity. I don't enjoy a movie that continuity problems or has major inconsistencies nearly as much as a movie that puts a high priority on internal consistency and then showcases a believable and authentic story. I'm the same way with roleplaying experiences.

One of the recent acquisitions is Greg Stolze's Reign. It's a gorgeous book I got from IPR along with some other things (one of which was a packed in bonus book as a gift! awesome!) in softcover. I'm liking it well enough that I'm considering using it for the Myth Drannor sandbox I'm contemplating instead of Savage Worlds. It has a simplicity to its system while maintaining just that much more depth of ludus than Savage Worlds offers. It has a points-based character creation system that lets you build the character you envision, including characters who wouldn't know and couldn't care less about how to handle themselves in a fight. The resolution system (the One-Roll Engine) is universal across the system while maintaining a satisfying "fitting-ness" for all its applications. That's a really big deal for me, since I find most universal resolution mechanics dry and unappetising for most of the things that get shoe-horned into them. There's more to say about this game, but it won't fit into a links post.

Geek•dō is a strangely compelling place to spend some hobby time. For the uninitiated, it's BoardGameGeek but for roleplaying games. (For the really uninitiated, it's like the love-child of IMDB and Wikipedia for roleplaying games.) I've made a bunch of entries already, which is simultaneously dry, demanding work and excitingly satisfying. It satisfies some deep (and very buried) urge to tidyness to add an entry to the database so that I can fill a hole in my online collection.

Enjoy, and feel free to share your recent favourite discoveries in the comments.

Unexpected downtime

written by d7, on Aug 30, 2009 7:19:32 PM.

My web hosting provider moved my files between backend servers (without warning me), which broke some custom things I had set up to run the Seven-Sided Die. Obviously it's back up now, but OpenID logins will be broken until I can fix what Dreamhost broke.

Update: The warning email went to an email address I forgot to check, so it's not all their fault. Also, OpenID logins should be working again. Let me know if anything isn't working right.

RPG blog reader survey

written by d7, on Aug 11, 2009 7:19:29 PM.

Inkwell Ideas is running a survey of roleplaying blog readers. The aim is to get some idea of what frequent readers of roleplaying blogs like and dislike about the blogs they read. There are questions about content as well as the way the site is set up. I contributed a few questions that I'm curious about, especially ones about what features of blogs people like. There are so many ways to set up a blog that there's no standard, and I find that as a reader I've come to prefer sites that offer me certain features that make participating or following the blog easier. I would be foolish to assume that what I like as a reader is universal, so I'm particularly curious about that part of the survey.

If you're interested in helping the roleplaying bloggerwebs improve a bit (or just like clicking ticky boxes), head over to the roleplaying blog reader survey. It's short—about 25 multiple-choice questions—and the results will be released to everyone in a couple of weeks at Inkwell Ideas. There are already some early results posted for the curious and impatient.

Seven-sided Twitter

written by d7, on Jul 22, 2009 9:17:09 AM.

I'm on Twitter now as @sevensideddie.[1. Someone who's only ever made a handful of tweets two years ago already took @d7. Grr!] There's a widget down in the sidebar here that shows my last few tweets.

I update it and read the people I follow about as often as expected—infrequently and not often enough to read everything, respectively—but it's a diversion that I can spend as little or as much time on as I have. I've discovered that it's another vector for running into good blog posts that doesn't quite overlap with what I discover via feeds and posts mentioned in blogs I read regularly. So far it's a win!

Spinning up the Burning Wheel

written by d7, on Apr 23, 2009 7:22:47 PM.

Wow, a month and a half without a single post. You'd think I was a busy dad or something…

I had been planning to follow up the Edge of Empire campaign of last year with a new, Savage Worlds–based megadungeon crawl in the new year, but those plans evaporated as my gamin'-thinkin' energy and my family's collective time resources were tapped out. Apparently I have little to think about gaming and even less to say about it when I'm not actively GMing or prepping to GM, which is interesting to know.

Which implies, yes, that I'm preparing to run a game again. We've been playing in Fimmtiu's Planescape game (with 2nd edition rules, no less—did I mention I hate *D&D spellcasting?), but one of our three players' schedule just got wacky and will take a while to return to a semblance of reasonable. The current plots in play mean that continuing without her would be awkward, so I've stepped up and offered to run an interim Burning Wheel game.

Coincidentally, Fimmtiu borrowed my BW core books at the end of the last Planescape session, so he'll be reasonably informed when it comes to creating his character. In the meantime, though, I don't have a copy of the rules handy and I'm going off of the bits I can recall, a good (I hope) grasp of the rather unusual first principles of Burning Wheel, and osmotic GMing knowledge gained from reading through some inspiring BW threads and blogs. Which reminds me that I had a particular inspiration for writing this post…

I'm loving the insights that Steven Jarvis wrote about in his 30 Days of Burning Wheel posts. You have to click "next" at the bottom of each post and click past some non-BW posts, but they're the majority so that's not so bad. If by the time I get to the end I don't encounter a summary post that I can add on here, I might just index them all so that they're together somewhere, for my own benefit.

I got nothing to say in particular about the Burning Wheel at the moment, since Steven is doing so well in those old posts. (My initial thoughts upon first reading of the Hub and Spokes are over here, though.) I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of character and world burning this weekend.

Edit: I collected together Steven Jarvis' posts on the Burning Wheel, since his blog's tag search is broken past a certain date. They eventually do peter out, but his thoughts on Beliefs are good reading: