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The material on this site is owned by Samuel Penn, and any queries should be directed there. Most of the material on this site is licensed under CC-BY-SA. You can view my profile on Google+.

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Roleplaying and Wargaming

Glendale is an old website about gaming written by Samuel Penn. It may contain other things as well, but it's mostly related to gaming in some way. By gaming, I mean the tabletop variety - roleplaying games, wargames and sometimes boardgames. I play computer games, but I don't talk about them much (unless I'm writing them). Since some of the content here dates back to 1996 (when the address was on my bifrost domain at Demon), it can vary greatly in style.

Most of the content on here is entirely original. Some of it is based on material published by other people - e.g., game content for published RPGs or Wargames.

Campaigns Roleplaying Wargaming

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Pathfinder Tabletop

For the running the fifth chapter of Rise of the Runelords, I've turned to a mix of tabletop and virtual environments to manage things. Though I have all maps, monsters and NPCs managed within Roll20, as far as the players are concerned everything is running on the real table. Maps are done using cardboard tiles from Role 4 Initiative, with (mostly plastic) figures for the PCs and monsters. Where everyone is is determined by the tabletop map, and this is considered the single source of truth. Anything I have in Roll20 is merely for my own benefit (and keeping track of things that the PCs can't see yet).

Roll20 is managed from my Chromebook (used in preference to my laptop, since it can happily last all day without needing to be plugged in), which is also connected to the TV via HDMI cable (I did start off using Chromecast for screen mirroring over a wireless connection, but that turned out to be unreliable).

The only feature that is run from Roll20 from the player's point of view is initiative, which is displayed up on the TV. Players also get to see the output from my API scripts, which will report when a creature is down to two thirds or one third hitpoints, so they have some idea of how badly injured creatures are.

All my dice rolling is controlled from Roll20, which saves me time as GM. However, players roll using real dice on the real tabletop (though occasionally they'll ask me to make a roll for them, when they need to roll buckets of dice for a large spell or sneak attack for example). This helps keep to the 'real' feel of playing a tabletop game.

Most monsters/NPCs I have the right models for (an exercise that turned out more trouble and expensive than I expected, so I will probably drop this for future adventures), so I don't need to display pictures of things to the players, but when I do I can do that via the TV. Due to the layout of the room, the TV is behind a couple of the players, so it's not ideal and I try to avoid putting things up for display on there whenever possible.

Actual handouts are still done on printed bits of paper, so that players having something to hold and read.

None of the players are actually part of the Roll20 game itself, so apart from a few statistics (Perception, Sense Motive and Initiative) I have very limited PC information digitally. Most players prefer to use NPC Gen anyway. We could potentially try using Roll20 for video if a player couldn't make it, but we haven't had to do that yet.

We're most of the way through Sins of the Saviors now, and it's running reasonably smoothly. I would prefer to be able to draw out more maps up front in preparation for each game, but the last part of the adventure is difficult to predict where players are going next, and I don't have enough map tiles to be able to draw out all the maps (especially since some are pretty huge) at once.

2018/07/23 14:46 · sam

Asteroids

As part of fleshing out basic planet types for WorldGen, I've been working on generating maps for five different types of asteroids. For the most part they share the same basic framework - a texture map, plus a deformation map which gives them their shape. All the bugs where the texture didn't link directly at the edges have been fixed, so they actually look like solid objects.

Most of the time has been spent with the colours. Silicaceous (top right) and Carbonaceous (middle) were the simplest, with relatively consistent textures across the surface. Gelidaceous asteroids (bottom right) are comprised of rock and ice, so have a mix of textures. Metallic asteroids (bottom left) have a high degree of metals.

The final type, Vulcanian (top left, and actually called Vulcanoidal in the original Planetary Classification List, but I've renamed them to give them a different name to the class they belong to) are special in that they're found close to their star, so can be incredibly hot. There're several versions of these, depending on how hot they are - what is shown is a middling Vulcanian type which is hot enough to glow red.

Some have a few extra options to give individual asteroids a bit of uniqueness, and I'll add to these as time goes on. For now though, there's probably enough detail to move on to providing extra detail to larger worlds.

2018/06/24 20:25 · sam

Planetary Cloud Cover

A Cytherean World

The next step of progress is the ability to add cloud layers to worlds. Each world can have any number of cloud layers, which are displayed on the globe view for the planet. This is most useful for worlds which have very dense cloud cover, such as the Cytherean world shown here. This is a Venus-like world, that is shrouded in thick hot clouds.

Each cloud layer can be a different colour and have different levels of transparency. In the case of Cytherean worlds, the thickness of the clouds is determined by the atmospheric pressure, which in turn is determined by the surface temperature.

Cytherean world with surface made visible

Thick clouds means that it is difficult to see the surface on the 3D view, so the globe view has also been updated so that the user can control the orientation of the world using the mouse. Doing this also makes the clouds transparent, so that the actual surface of the planet can be viewed.

Other updates include a brief description for the whole system, which will give a brief description of the stars and planets, and note any system wide phenomena (such as heavy solar flare activity). The top of the system page also shows a count of the different types of worlds, and the star port type.

2018/06/03 12:35 · sam

Carbonaceous Asteroids

I've had some time to work on my WorldGen application, and have the first basic implementation for moons. Unusually, they've been implemented within asteroid belts, which don't technically have moons but the backend framework for moons (which are really just planets associated with another planet) fit what I wanted to do.

So asteroid belts can now have individual named 'planetoids' within them (of a size comparable to Vesta or Ceres), as well as the undefined (generated from a random seed every time they are needed) smaller asteroids. The solar system map displays their current position within the belt, orbiting along with everything else.

I've now also have a way to generate a 3D map for such an asteroid, using a distortion texture which is applied to a simple sphere. This gives an irregular natural looking shape, though it can't produce anything as irregular as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using this technique.

There's also a modifier that smooths out larger asteroids, so Ceres sized asteroids will tend to be far more spherical than smaller ones.

The textual descriptions of such worlds needs some work (to be honest, there's not a lot that can be said about a small barren rock, so coming up with enough unique random text to make them interesting is hard), and there's still lots of bugs in how moons get displayed on the web page, but there is progress.

I've also possibly decided on nomenclature for belts, giving them capital letters to denote their position. The first (innermost) belt in the system will be A, the second B etc. Named planetoids within the belt will be labelled from innermost to outermost, starting at 'a' and going onwards. This matches the naming for moons, but they have a roman numeral (for the planet) followed by a letter (e.g. our Moon would be “Sol IIIa”), which is clearer. So I might still change things.

2018/05/20 11:42 · sam

Catacombs of Wrath

Several years ago I started our first Pathfinder campaign using the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, and so far I've been running one or two chapters a year. We've just started on chapter five - Sins of the Saviors, with characters up to twelfth level.

Each chapter has been played slightly differently, as my understanding of the Pathfinder rules have changed over the years. For the previous chapter I switched to using Roll20 for managing things on the GM's side, with players still using pen and paper (well, PCGen in some instances) character sheets and real dice.

For this chapter I'm doing much the same, though the use of my API scripts from my purely Roll20 Magnimar campaign are streamlining some of the combat. I've also switched to almost entirely using miniatures. Previously we used a mix of Pathfinder Pawns and other things. This time I made the effort to make sure I have a figure for almost all of the creatures in the adventure. Painting them all took longer than expected, so I may not do that next time around.

Having miniatures on the board does look good though, along with the dry-erase dungeon tiles for mapping. Though I can throw a digital map up on the TV, I prefer to use this mostly for record keeping for me, and have the actual positions of everyone on the real table.

2018/05/08 22:08 · sam
index.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/16 15:20 by sam