GaryCon V

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16 Mar 2013 08:53:20
Category: Gaming Conventions


Went to GaryCon 5 this weekend for some fun and gaming. I attended GaryCon 2 a couple years back. It was a much smaller con then with only three rooms and almost no vendors. This year the convention took up 8+ rooms in the basement and 1st floor of the hotel, pretty much over running it. There were several vendors including TollLord Games, Faster Monkey, Blackblade Publishing, and Noble Knight Games. Here's a few of the highlights for me:

  • Played Quondam Fount with Frank Mentzer
  • Played Savage Worlds For First Time
  • Played Castles and Crusades for The First Time
  • Played a Round of Star Frontiers.
  • Jim Ward and Rob Kuntz signed my 1st printing Deities and Demigods.
  • Steve Chenault signed my C&C Player's Handbook
  • Saw some gaming friends I haven't seen in awhile

Best part was experiencing it all with my daughter.

Oh yeah, I died in the Tower of Gygax.

Game on!

Mini Six At Character Sheet

Released a Mini Six Character Sheet at

Hey everyone, just released a Mini Six character sheet at Character Sheet. Some fans of the game and users of Character Sheet had requested that I create one for them, so I did. I hope other fans of the game will find it useful too. Cheers!

Here's my Mini Six character

Tips and Tricks For Learning The Dvorak Keyboard Layout

I learned to type with an alternative keyboard layout, here's some tips.

In 2012 QWERTY and I parted ways.

I had chronic pain in my hands, wrists and forearms from spending all day typing. I had braces on my right wrist every other week and the pain in my forearms and wrists were waking me up at night.

So I decided, after fiddling with sitting correctly and posture, to adopt a new keyboard layout that had less movement and reaching. I chose Dvorak because it's the only one I knew of at the time and was supported on Windows/Mac/Linux with nothing to install. As a developer and sometimes sysadmin, I knew I would need to type on other people's keyboard. So, knowing that I could just turn the alternate layout on without installing anything was comforting.

If you are considering Dvorak, here's some tips to ease your transition:

  1. Find a Tutor Program Find a good program that you can practice with. I'm on unix/linux, so I installed dvorak7min and did my practice in the terminal. Be willing to practice up to an hour a day.
  2. Go Cold Turkey Don't try to have to different touch typing skill sets. Use one or the other, don't use both. I practiced about one week till I had a conscious memorization of the key positions before switching. Then I just dropped QWERTY.
  3. Tell Your Employer Tell your employer that you are going to be slow for a couple weeks because you are learning an alternate keyboard layout. Tell him you need to do this because of concern about pain in your wrists.
  4. Take Some Vacation Plan some vacation from work around the time begin learning Dvorak. Use sometime on the vacation to practice even more.
  5. Don't Buy a New Keyboard or Move Keys It's touch typing, you don't need to look to find keys. Your muscles will remember the key positions. Plus, others may need to use your computer and they may not be able to type. I also discovered on Mac's and PC's the login is still QWERTY. You may need the labels in QWERTY format to hunt and peck your login creds. I do.

I'm glad I learned Dvorak. I sleep at night now with no pain in my wrists and in my forearms waking me up. Also I don't worry that my career will end early or that I'll miss work having surgery on my hands. Once you learn Dvorak you'll learn how much needless twisting and dancing QWERTY requires of your hands.

There are a couple of things about Dvorak I don't like. It's right hand heavy and there is a lot of reaching with your pinkey on the right hand. Especially as a developer reaching for the "=" and "?" symbol is uncomfortable at times. The Copy, Cut, Paste, shortcuts take two hands.

There is an alternative to Dvorak that has even less movement it's called Colemak. The left-right hand typing is more balanced and the C/V/X keys are in the same position as QWERTY. It's not native on Windows but it may be a better choice for you.

Headlong Flight

New Rush song from Clock Work Angels

When Your Gaming Life Stalls?

What to do when you gaming life stalls?
Haven't been gaming much of late. I can't find a group to meet my schedule. So what to do? Programming of course! I'm currently working on Character Sheet again, so keep your eye out for changes. What do you do when gaming stalls?

Buck Rogers Vampire Episode

Came across this today. Still laughing. Sides hurt. Tears ... Ahhahahahaha. So scary!!!

Came across this today. Still laughing. Sides hurt. Tears ... Ahhahahahaha. So Scary.

Buck Rogers Vampire Character

Love PHP

If you love PHP, show your support by posting a link to the logo In this manner: index.php?=PHPE9568F34-D428-11d2-A769-00AA001ACF42


If you love PHP, show your support by posting a link to the logo In this manner: index.php?=PHPE9568F34-D428-11d2-A769-00AA001ACF42 Or link like this:

Same ol' slop

And now for the blatantly truthful response to the 5th edition from a grumpy ol' gamer.

We ain't had nothing to eat but maggity bread for three stinking days!

The 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons is on it's way. Hooray?

Do we really need yet another edition? When I started looking into playing D&D again I found more than enough of what I was looking for in the retro clones and in the community called the "OSR". I found hobbyists in the mold of Gygax and Arneson who were interested in playing the games as much as making them. OSR writers understand the game because they have spent thousands of hours playing them. You can't pay writers to have that passion, you can't hire marketers to research that, you can't hire beta testers to give you that kind of feedback, and you certainly can't do that while aggressively planning the next 3 to 5 years of product line so Hasbro's top execs will buy into it. They can slap the "brand" on what ever they want, but the game will always be this:
Rules Cyclopedia
or this:
or even like this:

Try It Free For 60 Days No Obligation

Don't get too excited about the open play test of the 5th edition. Why? Because the parameters are prearranged and they don't plan on making sweeping changes based on the play tests. An open play test is about showing you they "care" so you'll buy their knock off of a classic.

"See Now You Can Trust Me, I'm A Nice Guy"

Not taking the bait on their limited edition release material, they're just prepping you psychologically to buy product. It's classic sales technique to get the shopper to say "yes".

Why Life Matters

I know, I know this has nothing to do with gaming or coding ...

About 3 months ago my brother-in-law, Sam, invited me to be a part of a project that has long been a dream of his. I accepted my role as the chief and only web developer on the project. This week we launched the website, UpLiftOthers, Wednesday night. The principle feature of the website is a presentation that Sam and his friend Justin worked on for a very long time. It's called Why Life Matters. The presentation is a beautiful expression of Faith and Hope. Be sure to sign the guestbook. The Gift Shop is under construction but will be available soon. Take a few minutes and read Sam's story.

Enjoy and Pass It On!

Is Your Game Random Enough?

Go ahead grin, I know you have your "favorite" dice.

If you've been gaming long enough I bet you have a lucky d20, the d20 you roll when you need a hit? I bet if you are a DM you have a die you don't use against your players.

In this hobby we spend a lot of time thinking about probability, but if your dice are a little hot or a little cold you're probably not getting the probability you think you are. I found this video from the Game Science people that explains how dice are made.

Tom Moldvay's View of "The Rules"

The rules Tom Moldvay style

While the material in this booklet is referred to as rules, that is not really correct. Anything in this booklet (and other D&D booklets) should be thought of as changeable — anything, that is, that the Dungeon Master or referee thinks should be changed. This is not to say that everything in this booklet should be discarded! All of this has been carefully thought out and play tested. However, if, after playing the rules as written for a while, you or your referee (the Dungeon Master) think that something should be changed, first think bout how the changes will affect the game and then go ahead. The purpose of these "rules" is to provide guidelines that enable you to play and have fun, don't feel absolutely bound to them.

— Tom Moldvay, Dungeons and Dragons Basic Rule Book 1981 Page B3

Along Time Ago In PHP

You probably have some snippet of code that you worked with a long time ago that reminds you of how far you have come and how far PHP has come ... Here's mine.

You probably have some snippet of code that you worked with a long time ago that reminds you of how far you have come and how far PHP has come ... Here's mine. Anyone know where this came from?

	'FORUM_ID' => $forum_id,
    'FORUM_NAME' => $forum_name,
    'TOPIC_ID' => $topic_id,
    'TOPIC_TITLE' => $topic_title,
	'PAGINATION' => $pagination,
	'PAGE_NUMBER' => sprintf($lang['Page_of'], ( floor( $start / 
intval($board_config['posts_per_page']) ) + 1 ), 
ceil( $total_replies / 
intval($board_config['posts_per_page']) )),

	'POST_IMG' => $post_img,
	'REPLY_IMG' => $reply_img,

	'L_AUTHOR' => $lang['Author'],
	'L_MESSAGE' => $lang['Message'],
	'L_POSTED' => $lang['Posted'],
	'L_POST_SUBJECT' => $lang['Post_subject'],
	'L_VIEW_NEXT_TOPIC' => $lang['View_next_topic'],
	'L_VIEW_PREVIOUS_TOPIC' => $lang['View_previous_topic'],
	'L_POST_NEW_TOPIC' => $post_alt,
	'L_POST_REPLY_TOPIC' => $reply_alt,
	'L_BACK_TO_TOP' => $lang['Back_to_top'],
	'L_DISPLAY_POSTS' => $lang['Display_posts'],
	'L_LOCK_TOPIC' => $lang['Lock_topic'],
	'L_UNLOCK_TOPIC' => $lang['Unlock_topic'],
	'L_MOVE_TOPIC' => $lang['Move_topic'],
	'L_SPLIT_TOPIC' => $lang['Split_topic'],
	'L_DELETE_TOPIC' => $lang['Delete_topic'],
	'L_GOTO_PAGE' => $lang['Goto_page'],

	'S_SELECT_POST_DAYS' => $select_post_days,
	'S_SELECT_POST_ORDER' => $select_post_order,
	'S_POST_DAYS_ACTION' => append_sid("viewtopic.$phpEx?" 
. '=' 
. $topic_id . "&start=$start"),
	'S_AUTH_LIST' => $s_auth_can,
	'S_TOPIC_ADMIN' => $topic_mod,
	'S_WATCH_TOPIC' => $s_watching_topic,
	'S_WATCH_TOPIC_IMG' => $s_watching_topic_img,

	'U_VIEW_TOPIC' => append_sid("viewtopic.$phpEx?" . POST_TOPIC_URL . "=$topic_id&
	'U_VIEW_FORUM' => $view_forum_url,
	'U_VIEW_OLDER_TOPIC' => $view_prev_topic_url,
	'U_VIEW_NEWER_TOPIC' => $view_next_topic_url,
	'U_POST_NEW_TOPIC' => $new_topic_url,
	'U_POST_REPLY_TOPIC' => $reply_topic_url)

Modular Module

What is a module, and what makes a good one?

What is a module? According to the dictionary it is:

a separable component, frequently one that is interchangeable with others, for assembly into units of differing size, complexity, or function.

In RPG's we know it as those 30 page saddle stitched books with maps. After that it gets a little loose, you have everything that from the truly modular to the truly rigid and over planned.

I'm thinking of putting together an adventure(s) that truly emulate the idea of a template or a module something that can truly be dropped into any campaign. Instead of long back stories or histories it would have suggested plot hooks. Instead of railroad scenarios it would have complete NPC details and motives. I'm thinking of a totally different kind of book that extends the concept of a "module" defined by early classics like "Keep On The Borderlands" and "In Search of The Unknown", but structured in a complete different manner.

The Brownie

The brownie is a curious creature, a half-halfing. Very odd indeed.

The brownie is a curious creature -- a half-halfing, very odd indeed. I've always thought the original in the Monster Manual a very strange drawing. Certain aspects of this drawing were borrowed from it.

The Brownie

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

The Dwarf

Snow white and the 7 dorks, I mean dwarves.

Snow white and the 7 dorks, I mean dwaves. This one was semi-inspired by a drawing from the AD&D players handbook. Can you guess which one? Anyway Cheers!

The Dwarf

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

Gaming Paradigm Shift

If you're like me you were brought up on a mix of table top and computer/console rpg games.

If you're like me you were brought up on a mix of table top and computer/console rpg games. In the later game the computer presents few options to the players in terms of story possibilities. Whether WOW or DDO or what have you, players are always begging for new content. Game content is expensive and slow to make. And for most games you either finish the quest or don't with few alternate endings -- usually one to be precise. But game designers are sly. They have tricked players into believing that having a near limitless number of feats, powers, skills, attributes, spells, classes, races, effects, trades, secondary skills, professions, proficiences, honor points, treasure, magic items, attack bonuses, and save methods will keep the players distracted long enough that they won't recognize that the story sucks!

When this paradigm spills over to the table top referee's are not only expected to come up with the story plot but make the multitude of player options work inside of it. Really? Please people, not much fun here and an agonizing amount of work for the referee! Computers do this way better than people. If you like this style of game play, take my advice stay home and play WOW and wait for Diablo 3.

If you want to try something new, try this paradigm on: it's the job of the referee to create a setting for the players to explore and the job of the players to create the story.

Players can create truly amazing stories. Players shouldn't be required nor should they come up with their characters personality before hand. Rest assured, characters will evolve by the interplay of dice and player interaction. It's a frustrating limitation of computer games that the story must of necessity be contrived and enforced -- computer games can only account for a few routes but people can account for limitless possibilities. So roll some dice, enjoy random character generation, enjoy taking a risk and losing a character, pull a gag on another player character. After a few session you'll be having fun and the character you are playing will take on a life of its own.

The Green Dragon

Here's my second piece, a green dragon.

Here's my second piece, a green dragon. As with previous pieces it's free to use. I always thought the dragons in the original Monster Manual were a bit under done. Still I wish the newer gaming materials were done with the charm and simplicity of black ink.

Green Dragon

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The Hill Giant

Old school art is hard to come by, but here's one you can use in your publications.

Old school art is hard to come by and if you are planning on publishing in the realm of the OGL you'll probably face the problem of finding art for your module, campaign, or game book. I hope to produce some art that you can use in your publications. Here is the first of many pieces of art inspired by original art found in early TSR publications. The download link will allow you to download a high resolution image. I only ask if you use my art to please make an attribution. See the license below.

Hill Giant

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

What PHP Needs

Today on Twitter there was a long discussion about what php needs. Here are my thoughts.
There was a Twitter discussion today about what #phpneeds. I've been thinking about it. What is PHP good at? What makes it unique? It got popular because of low entry, ease of access, and speed in turning around an app. Lately it's been focused on becoming more object oriented. But that's not what made the language explode, it was access and speed. So back in the day they added magic quotes, and super globals and session management some of these experiments failed others stayed around. But how about getting back to these roots. How about an internal form object to bind GPC, variables to form elements. How about an internal ORM on top of PDO? How about an internal Mail object? We're trying after all to build web apps right? So much of framework code tries to solve these problems. How bout we solve the problems internal and get back to writing web apps?

Developing PHP On A Mac Part 2

Part two of setting up your development environment on a mac.

Because I said I would, here's the details of what I consider the perfect development environment on a Mac. I'm not going to try to give you every detail. All I can say is that it beats the hell out of Mammp/Yammp/Lammpp/ZCS. The one thing that might be daunting is how to get ubuntu up and running. If I get enough comments I might post an appliance to download.

Go Get VirtualBox. Before you download it start your download of Ubuntu. Here's where we separate the developers from the code monkeys. If you don't know what to do with Linux, consider stopping here. If you downloaded the Ubuntu Server, not the desktop edition, and during installation you pick LAMP you'll find setup easier. Make sure you install the ssh-server package so you can access your vm from your mac term.

Next go get MacFuse. Install it and the sshfs binary. The directions are there to for mounting your vm file system when you are ready too. There is also Mac Fusion that can help you mount your file system.

In VirtualBox open the settings for your vm. Click on network. Enable network connection 2 and then bind it to "localhost" only in the dropdown.

So start up Ubuntu when its up type ifconfig in the terminal. The IP address to the virtual box will show up under eth1. Open your Mac term and ssh on to the VirtualMachine. That's the gist of it. Good luck setting up your dev environment.