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With Friends Like These...

Thought Eater - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 13:38


Gygax's The Village of Hommlet is widely regarded as one of the greatest intro adventures for D&D and for good reason. It is the template for thousands of adventures that followed, with its manageable "home base", down-the-road dungeon, and campaign-starter plot. One of the great things that doesn't get mentioned a lot is how it introduces several NPCs that are there just to befriend, then betray the players. This kind of diabolical double-crossing is highly effective when not overused, and can give campaigns a real cinematic quality, with a-ha moments and unexpected reveals. Here are a couple of other ways I have used friends and former allies against the PCs.

RISE OF THE MEATSHIELDS

It is not surprising that the 1e DMG spends so much time discussing the morale and treatment of henchmen and hirelings. After all, the term "meatshield" isn't exactly loving, and it reveals a long history of shoddy treatment.  How much abuse are they supposed to take? How many of their friends do they need to see die before they have mutiny on their minds? A well timed revolt can prove a disastrous reminder to the PCs that their actions have consequences. Henchmen can hold grudges just as easy as the villains of a campaign. This won't be appropriate for some tables, but if you have a group of players that flippantly churn through henchmen like butter, it could be a fun twist. They know the patterns and weaknesses of the PCs, and as the song says they "work hard for the money so you better treat [them] right". Their family members may also have revenge on their minds for lost loved ones; this can even allow for long-term plotting against PCs over years of game time.

I KNEW I RECOGNIZED THAT GUY

Undead are the gift that keeps on giving, especially when they kill PCs. PCs killed by undead will often rise again as undead themselves. Some very memorable encounters have happened in my games over the years when the party encounters a fallen comrade. This doesn't have to be driven solely as a combat challenge; you can play up the drama of seeing an old friend literally falling apart, or depending on the tone of your campaign, it could even be milked for comedy. Never let a dead PC go to waste.



Have you ever done anything similar in your games?


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells

Doomslakers! - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 13:06
On my brief visit to Gateway Games in Cincinnati, I spied a copy of +Diogo Nogueira's Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells so I snatched it up. I had already picked up the PDF, but I had not really dived into the game. I didn't know much about it other than Diogo does wicked art.

A captive in the passenger seat on the drive home, I just started reading and was immediately impressed (while sunlight lasted, anyway). Spoiler alert: this is the best sword & sorcery RPG I have yet encountered. And I haven't even played it.

This is a digest sized 48 page RPG packed with great art and extremely focused, clear writing. I am a fan of games that can deliver their message in as few words as possible, like a good poet delivering the goods. Where I feel that some games do this a bit poorly is that they give you sparse text without enough visuals. The visuals are important, to me, to provide context. SS&SS gives you clear, simple writing plus a healthy heaping helping of art. The art, combined with the words, paints a picture of a world of heroic fantasy in the Conan and Lankhmar vein. Yummie.

Much like Lamentations of the Flame Princess' Rules and Magic book, this book dives right into the meat without any hesitation. We get 2 pages that explain fully how the game works, then we're into chargen with each of the three classes getting 1 page (with art). And that's all we need.

The game is OSR-friendly, but not a clone. Its attribute list includes 4 instead of the classic 6. Physique, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower are all you need in this game. It is a roll-under system that owes a lot of it's mechanics to The Black Hack. It has a clever set of rules for armor and shields wherein the damage die of the attacker is reduced based on your armor. The shield becomes an active tool rather than passive defense. Weapons are divided into size categories that determine their damage die. The encumbrance system is simply that you can carry as many items as you have Physique, which is a method I personally use so I'm happy to see it here.

The magic system is a Willpower test with a difficulty equal to the spell's power. There are 50 spells described in a few pages, and of course you can make up as many more as you like.

I am enchanted by this game. I grokked it immediately and devoured the book in one sitting, which is not something I usually do. Now, I am not necessarily a huge fan of actually using The Black Hack's system to create content or run games. This is NOT a ding against that game, nor this one. It's just that my personal play preference isn't aligned with roll-under as the primary mechanic. Like all RPG and OSR nerds, I'm stupidly picky and pedantic at times. But this game kicks too much ass for me not to use it at some point.

There's a lot more awesome to it, but you can go pick it up for yourself and see. Great game. Great presentation. Get it.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/198163/Sharp-Swords--Sinister-Spells?src=hottest_filtered

(NOTE: Although I'm a fan of games that deliver the goods in few words, I would not argue that this is the "best" way. I would argue instead that each game deserves the verbiage that best serves the game and sometimes that means more text rather than less.)


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: Star Frontiers

Doomslakers! - Sun, 09/09/2018 - 13:04
Hey, who doesn't love pseudopods and needler pistols? I know I do.

Picture a young JV, c. 1985. This 14 year old (soon to be 15) with big glasses and no romantic prospects has been holed up in his room with the classic 1983 D&D red box for months, generating campaigns without any players. He makes his way to Sophia's Bookstore at some point because he knows they have a rack of RPGs. There he witnesses many amazing things, including a Frank Frazetta art book that blows open his ideas about fantasy and this purple box set called Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn. The cover is rad. Tubular. Totally awesome. It has a crashed ship. It has aliens. It has a pretty redhead.

James likey.

Somehow James manages to get this incredible treasure in his hands and takes it home. At my advanced age I'm unable to remember how this came about. It was at least a year before I got my first paying job and my family was poor. But my mom was (is) stellar so she did most likely witness my memorization and found the funds to drop $10 on it.

Now witness young JV in his room, in his gawdy looking 70s swiveling chair, opening this shining, glistening, purple box with utter reverence and complete magical charm all over his youthful face. Ah, the sorcery of discovery. Especially discovery of the vastness and coolness of Pan-Galactic space.

The game comes with two rulebooks, a big double sided grid map, a bunch of cool counters, d10 (two of 'em?), and an adventure module called Crash on Vulturnus.

The first rulebook is the 16 page Basic Game Rules in which we learn, well, the basics. It's like a short and sweet intro. I fully confess right here and right now I never actually read this one. I skimmed it, looked at the art, and went straight for the next book.

The 64 page Expanded Game Rules is where it's at. Here you get the full version of the game you just bought, not some condensed version for babies.

So this game is basically Buck Rogers and Star Trek mashed up. But it's got a spirit of its own. I have heard people compare it to Star Wars, but I reject that comparison. There is not anything remotely spiritual or mystical or prophetic here. This is a wild west game of lasers and credits. Sure, Han Solo would be right at home in Pan-Galactic space. But there's no room here for the Jedi order or ghosts. Hey, don't let that get you down, though. They DO have electric swords.

In this game you play the role of a mercenary, mechanic, scientist, spy, medic, pilot, or whatever kind of gig you choose to specialize in. It's a skill based game, so there are no classes. You choose between four races: human, yazirian (monkeys with glider wings), dralasites (amoeba people), and vrusk (bugs). As new PCs, your adventures will most likely involve working for the Pan-Galactic Corporation in some capacity or another.

It's a percentile system. All actions are resolved by rolling d100 and trying to get under a target (usually an attribute score modified by a skill or something like that). You get to use all kinds of cool toys ranging from the aforementioned electric sword to the vibroknife to the laser rifle to the gyrojet rifle. You can program robots, bypass security, and blow shit up with Tornadium D-19 (kaboomite). Oh, and if you get shot at with a laser pistol hopefully you will be wearing your albedo suit.

The weird thing about Alpha Dawn is that it has precious little to say about space ships. There are no rules in this box for flying them, for example. That fact lent this game a tremendously terrestrial vibe for a space game. I played this with cousins and school friends and most of our adventures involved running around the giant grid map of Port Loren, blasting holes in the city trying to capture escaped villains or battle sathar invasions. Space travel was always hand waved.

Of course this game is followed up by the second box set, Knight Hawks, which was ALL about the space travel and space combat. I didn't own Knight Hawks and I never got to play with it, so I have no nostalgic attachment to it. Back in 2012 I ran a couple games of Star Frontiers for some local friends, one of whom was a HUGE fan of the game and owned 100% of all it. My friend James Koti, may he rest in peace, was a giant Star Frontiers nerd and wanted to use all the shiny books. But I was just running a game for nostalgia and I only wanted to use Alpha Dawn. It was fun, but I suspect he really wanted to run with it much longer and much farther. In hindsight, now that James is gone, I really wish I had ran harder and longer with the game.

I ran it again for my Monday night pals, who I lovingly call the Doomslakers. That was a year or more ago. I ran the module Mission to Alcazzar, which I heavily modified. In our game, we spent at least 3 sessions on board the Nightrunner dealing with some very dangerous mining bugs, which were the central threat of the adventure as I ran it. The module is basically a very terrestrial hex crawl and has little in it to suggest space. Our adventure ended with a naked mad scientist riding an armored mining bug trying to kill the party. There was a lot of hand grenade action going on and of course all the robots in the CDC compound were set to kill.

A good time was had by all.

I love this game, and it's 90% because of nostalgia. I believe the system is good, but has rough bits I don't love as much. The way skills are figured is a bit wonky, I think. But hey, it all works. In the end I think my mom could not have spent 10 credits on a better product.

You can get this classic once again at RPGnow or DrivethruRPG:

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/226710/Star-Frontiers-Alpha-Dawn


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Doomslakers! - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 13:03
I scored a copy of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book a few years ago.

This is a good game. It's deliciously good. I know from listening to +James Raggi in an interview that he created the game merely as a tool or a means to an end. He wanted to publish awesome, evil looking RPG books and he just felt like having a rule set of his own to link them to would be best. And he was right about that.

I have to talk about this game as both a game and a book.

The book is about 166 pages in A5 format. It's a hardback. It has color illustrations and black and white illustrations, all of which are quite good and evocative of the sort of post-medieval horror that LotFP game books shoot for.

This is a beautiful, evil, lovely book. The cover by Cynthia Sheppard is pitch perfect. The binding is incredibly good and the whole god damn thing just feels right in the hand. I'm a guy who prefers full size books, mostly due to a combination of nostalgia and due to my 47 year old eyesight. But this is perfect. The layout by Mattias Wilkström really delivers the goods. When you open the cover, you get blood red endpapers on which are printed in white text a list of equipment and costs (in silver). The red papers at the back of the book print various useful tables, such as saving throws. Very nice.

Raggi does not waste words. There is no introduction, no forward, and indeed no comment whatsoever about what you are getting ready to read. After the table of contents, you are instructed on how to roll ability scores. And you're off to the races.

Like most OSR core games, this one has no explicit setting. The setting is merely implied. It is fantasy. It is D&D. It is also post-Medieval, and there is a section of the book where a few pages describe early firearms to help set that tone.

The system is core OSR. It has ascending AC, five categories of saves, XP tables, hit dice, and so forth. Unlike most clones or quasi-clones, this one has a skill system. It is a very simple one. You have nine skills, including bushcraft and stealth. Everyone has a 1 in 6 chance of success. Some characters, such as the Specialist (thief), can allocate points to improve their skills.

There are some clever bits to this game that I love, including the Specialist. But also, I love that really only Fighters get better at fighting. Everyone else doesn't. So go suck an egg, Cleric. Famously, this game creates the only first level Magic-User spell I know of that requires 9 pages to describe: Summon. What a great spell. It feels like a super compressed summary of Raggi's famous Random Esoteric Creature Generator. I bet having this spell makes games... weirder.

All in all, the core book delivers a tightly packed and concise RPG system you can use to run any D&D module or other OSR style adventure in a sharp little package. Although I find Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells to be preferable for sword & sorcery gaming (at least by impression, I haven't played it yet), LotFP is hands down a winner for S&S gaming as well.

Get it. And then get some of those delicious adventure books/sandboxes to go with it, such as +Zak Sabbath's A Red and Pleasant Land (another lovely damn book).


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: B/X Essentials

Doomslakers! - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 15:12
+Gavin Norman has given us a lot of awesome stuff over the years. I know I've used Theorems & Thaumaturgy in past campaigns to great effect.

Now we get B/X Essentials. And the name on the tin is what you get. This is the classic B/X game in all its wonder, re-organized into a set of comprehensive volumes. And man do they hit the mark.

These books are gems. The layout is superb. The font choice is dead on the money for pinging that B/X nostalgia. The tables are perfectly presented. All the rules of the classic game are teased out and written in concise packets for maximum clarity and usefulness. The art is deliciously perfect.

All of that and the books are dished out in deliberate modules... that is, you can use one, two, three, or all of them as you choose. Want a B/X campaign that is all neanderthal? Just use the core rules and monster books and add your neanderthal stuff. Want 1e spells? Just ignore the spellbook and use the rest. It's a brilliant move to publish these in volumes instead of a single volume, despite the utility of a single volume RPG. There is utility in modules.

Lovely, reverent modules.

Nicely done, Gavin. And I tip my hat to +Andrew Walter, +Sean Poppe, +Luka Rejec, +Michael Clarke, +Alex Mayo, and all the other artists who brought wonderful visuals to this project.

Now the quandary is set in my mind... do I make stuff with an eye toward Labyrinth Lord... or B/X Essentials? Oh what a terrible decision to make! Pity me. I guess I'll do both.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/220726/B-X-Essentials-Core-Rules?src=hottest_filtered


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: BEAN! the d2 RPG

Doomslakers! - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:10
BEAN!

I stumbled across this gem back in 2011 or 2012. I can't remember exactly. But thank the dark gods J. Freels decided to create such a fabaceaen masterpiece.

This game has it all. Swords, spells, monsters, and BEANS. This is basically all the fun of D&D with far simpler rules and you're playing the role of a talking bean. So there.

You take some beans. You mark one side of each with a "+" or something to represent a hit. You toss your beans. The other guy tosses beans. Whoever gets the most hits wins that contest. The difference between the beans is your damage or whatever.

It's GREAT. And I have stolen that basic mechanic for my own stuff many times. In fact, that mechanic was the core of the Rabbits & Rangers game before I went with Labyrinth Lord as the engine.

So anyway... Bean is a core fantasy RPG without a setting. Like D&D, there's an implied setting... a mix of elements common to bean worlds. You might flight a b'nork or get a magic sword from a b'nelf.

The game is supported by an array of adventures and a setting book describing the World of Bean, a Guide to Terrafavus! Hell... there's even a Beans in Space book. You CANNOT GO WRONG HERE.

Five beans.

http://jeffwerx.com/BEANpage.htm

http://www.rpgnow.com/product/89574/BEAN-The-D2-RPG-Second-Edition?manufacturers_id=2927


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: Barrowmaze

Doomslakers! - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 15:08
I picked up +Greg Gillespie's Barrowmaze Complete a couple of years ago. I was instantly hooked. I ran a short campaign as soon as I could. It included a luchador and a necromancer and ended with a 50% TPK (in the town of Ironguard Motte, not the actual Barrowmaze). Very satisfying.

Barrowmaze is a megadungeon, which means it is mainly a big fat huge collection of rooms designed to kill you. But it's more. It's a sketched out, robust setting that actually works. It gives you all the essential information you need in order to get a game going very quickly. It doesn't include a lot of flair and additional information about the setting that isn't immediately useful. It's quite lean in that sense... but not spartan. It's got some style.

What I love about this book is how easy it is to use. If you are going to run a short adventure for a one night gig you can just flip through the various barrow mounds and find one with a few rooms. Then just concoct a reason for the PCs to be there. They are hired by a wizard to go to the mounds and uncover a specific tomb. Start the game right there at the tomb. Bob's your uncle. The fact that the mounds are not all connected to the bigger maze means you can do in and out adventures, exploring the mounds as quickly or slowly as you like. Eventually, the PCs will find the maze and you can sink your teeth into that monster for the long haul.

(The third time I used Barrowmaze the PCs managed to navigate directly to the primary maze entrance on the first session. I wanted them to poke around in some mounds first... but that's not what happened...)

This is written for Labyrinth Lord and feels exactly like a first edition boxed campaign with a strong Fiend Folio vibe. The art is incredibly good. The cover is by the legendary Erol Otus! And check out this list of interior illustrators: Zhu Bajie, Alexander Cook, Ndege Diamond, Cory Hamel, Trevor Hammond, Jim Holloway, John Larrey, Scott LeMien, Peter Pagano, Stefan Poag, Tim Truman, Jason Sholtis, Stephen Thompson, and Tara Williamson.

The writing is tight and lean, allowing you to run the maze or the mounds on-the-fly without actually reading too much of it in advance.

This book costs a lot of dough. If you don't know Barrowmaze, you might see the price tag and say "nope". I totally understand. But the book is well worth the investment.

Oh, and if you like undead this will be like Disneyland for you. If you don't like undead and don't want to pay that much for a PDF or print book, maybe not so much.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/139762/Barrowmaze-Complete


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: The Rad Hack

Doomslakers! - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 03:07
The Rad-Hack is a Black Hack hack by +Karl Stjernberg, whose killer maps are killer. Like most hacks, this hack is short, sweet, and straight to the point. You get pretty much the entire game system on one page and by the second page you're into character classes. Classes include human (wearing a bunny mask, lol), mutants, robots, and psionics.

It's a cool little 36 page book packed with flavor and badassery. I wanna be a mutated monkey with acid spit!

So the reason I wanted to call out this game is because Karl's work is just dripping with attitude. His style reminds me of many alternative comics icons such as Charles Burns (a little bit) and of the many counter culture or car culture/tattoo culture artists who draw wild shit all the time. I likey.

Favorite Rub: The Rad World map.

https://www.rpgnow.com/product/187874/The-RadHack


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rub It Review: Quack Keep

Doomslakers! - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 15:02
Quack Keep

The legendary Jennell Jaquays along with Darcy Perry deliver the goods with this 56 page adventure setting. Ducks are PCs. 'Nuff said.

The book is quite lovely with full color on the inside. The art by Jaquays and Perry is deliciously evocative (check out pages 5, 16, and 18 in particular). There are lots of NPCs with which to interact, such as Bigus Duckus, Coduck the Barbarian, Daisy Ladyhawke, and The Grey Moulter.

The entire region of Reedy Bend seems to live in fear of the duck-like dragon Daffyd Platypyros, a horrifying monster to be sure.

This book is FULL of playful language and puns. When I was writing Rabbits & Rangers I was dipping my toes into the "funny animal" genre. But truly Quack Keep dives in head first and I absolutely adore it for that reason. In fact, the first thing I realized upon flipping through it was that this book, being system agnostic, is PERFECT for use with Rabbits & Rangers! And I have it on my bucket list to run a little Reedy Bend campaign for R&R.

There's a lot more to this than I have touched upon. There are maps, lots of encounters and magic items, story hooks, and all kinds of fun and funny gems about roleplaying the Fowl Folk.

Get it.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/247210/Quack-Keep


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

BLACK PUDDING HEAVY HELPING VOL. ONE

Doomslakers! - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 14:54
Glorptastic! It is Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One, collecting the first four issues of Black Pudding into a single nasty mess arranged by category.

Get it now or face the oozes.




Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dweb: Building Cooperation and Trust into the Web with IPFS

Mozilla Hacks - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 14:43

In this series we are covering projects that explore what is possible when the web becomes decentralized or distributed. These projects aren’t affiliated with Mozilla, and some of them rewrite the rules of how we think about a web browser. What they have in common: These projects are open source, and open for participation, and share Mozilla’s mission to keep the web open and accessible for all.

Some projects start small, aiming for incremental improvements. Others start with a grand vision, leapfrogging today’s problems by architecting an idealized world. The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is definitely the latter – attempting to replace HTTP entirely, with a network layer that has scale, trust, and anti-DDOS measures all built into the protocol. It’s our pleasure to have an introduction to IPFS today from Kyle Drake, the founder of Neocities and Marcin Rataj, the creator of IPFS Companion, both on the IPFS team at Protocol Labs -Dietrich Ayala

IPFS – The InterPlanetary File System

We’re a team of people all over the world working on IPFS, an implementation of the distributed web that seeks to replace HTTP with a new protocol that is powered by individuals on the internet. The goal of IPFS is to “re-decentralize” the web by replacing the location-oriented HTTP with a content-oriented protocol that does not require trust of third parties. This allows for websites and web apps to be “served” by any computer on the internet with IPFS support, without requiring servers to be run by the original content creator. IPFS and the distributed web unmoor information from physical location and singular distribution, ultimately creating a more affordable, equal, available, faster, and less censorable web.

IPFS aims for a “distributed” or “logically decentralized” design. IPFS consists of a network of nodes, which help each other find data using a content hash via a Distributed Hash Table (DHT). The result is that all nodes help find and serve web sites, and even if the original provider of the site goes down, you can still load it as long as one other computer in the network has a copy of it. The web becomes empowered by individuals, rather than depending on the large organizations that can afford to build large content delivery networks and serve a lot of traffic.

The IPFS stack is an abstraction built on top of IPLD and libp2p:

Hello World

We have a reference implementation in Go (go-ipfs) and a constantly improving one in Javascript (js-ipfs). There is also a long list of API clients for other languages.

Thanks to the JS implementation, using IPFS in web development is extremely easy. The following code snippet…

  • Starts an IPFS node
  • Adds some data to IPFS
  • Obtains the Content IDentifier (CID) for it
  • Reads that data back from IPFS using the CID

<script src="https://unpkg.com/ipfs/dist/index.min.js"></script> Open Console (Ctrl+Shift+K) <script> const ipfs = new Ipfs() const data = 'Hello from IPFS, <YOUR NAME HERE>!' // Once the ipfs node is ready ipfs.once('ready', async () => { console.log('IPFS node is ready! Current version: ' + (await ipfs.id()).agentVersion) // convert your data to a Buffer and add it to IPFS console.log('Data to be published: ' + data) const files = await ipfs.files.add(ipfs.types.Buffer.from(data)) // 'hash', known as CID, is a string uniquely addressing the data // and can be used to get it again. 'files' is an array because // 'add' supports multiple additions, but we only added one entry const cid = files[0].hash console.log('Published under CID: ' + cid) // read data back from IPFS: CID is the only identifier you need! const dataFromIpfs = await ipfs.files.cat(cid) console.log('Read back from IPFS: ' + String(dataFromIpfs)) // Compatibility layer: HTTP gateway console.log('Bonus: open at one of public HTTP gateways: https://ipfs.io/ipfs/' + cid) }) </script>

That’s it!

Before diving deeper, let’s answer key questions:

Who else can access it?

Everyone with the CID can access it. Sensitive files should be encrypted before publishing.

How long will this content exist? Under what circumstances will it go away? How does one remove it?

The permanence of content-addressed data in IPFS is intrinsically bound to the active participation of peers interested in providing it to others. It is impossible to remove data from other peers but if no peer is keeping it alive, it will be “forgotten” by the swarm.

The public HTTP gateway will keep the data available for a few hours — if you want to ensure long term availability make sure to pin important data at nodes you control. Try IPFS Cluster: a stand-alone application and a CLI client to allocate, replicate and track pins across a cluster of IPFS daemons.

Developer Quick Start

You can experiment with js-ipfs to make simple browser apps. If you want to run an IPFS server you can install go-ipfs, or run a cluster, as we mentioned above.

There is a growing list of examples, and make sure to see the bi-directional file exchange demo built with js-ipfs.

You can add IPFS to the browser by installing the IPFS Companion extension for Firefox.

Learn More

Learn about IPFS concepts by visiting our documentation website at https://docs.ipfs.io.

Readers can participate by improving documentation, visiting https://ipfs.io, developing distributed web apps and sites with IPFS, and exploring and contributing to our git repos and various things built by the community.

A great place to ask questions is our friendly community forum: https://discuss.ipfs.io.
We also have an IRC channel, #ipfs on Freenode (or #freenode_#ipfs:matrix.org on Matrix). Join us!

The post Dweb: Building Cooperation and Trust into the Web with IPFS appeared first on Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Black Pudding #5

Doomslakers! - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 18:13
Gelatinized madness! Black Pudding #5 is alive and out in the world. Get it now, get dice, play games.

In this issue:

2 adventures
2 spellbooks
8 montsers
3 character classes
23 hirelings
a character sheet
random tables
part 1 of a multi part adventure setting



Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dweb: Building a Resilient Web with WebTorrent

Mozilla Hacks - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 14:49

In this series we are covering projects that explore what is possible when the web becomes decentralized or distributed. These projects aren’t affiliated with Mozilla, and some of them rewrite the rules of how we think about a web browser. What they have in common: These projects are open source, and open for participation, and share Mozilla’s mission to keep the web open and accessible for all.

The web is healthy when the financial cost of self-expression isn’t a barrier. In this installment of the Dweb series we’ll learn about WebTorrent – an implementation of the BitTorrent protocol that runs in web browsers. This approach to serving files means that websites can scale with as many users as are simultaneously viewing the website – removing the cost of running centralized servers at data centers. The post is written by Feross Aboukhadijeh, the creator of WebTorrent, co-founder of PeerCDN and a prolific NPM module author… 225 modules at last count! –Dietrich Ayala

What is WebTorrent?

WebTorrent is the first torrent client that works in the browser. It’s written completely in JavaScript – the language of the web – and uses WebRTC for true peer-to-peer transport. No browser plugin, extension, or installation is required.

Using open web standards, WebTorrent connects website users together to form a distributed, decentralized browser-to-browser network for efficient file transfer. The more people use a WebTorrent-powered website, the faster and more resilient it becomes.

Architecture

The WebTorrent protocol works just like BitTorrent protocol, except it uses WebRTC instead of TCP or uTP as the transport protocol.

In order to support WebRTC’s connection model, we made a few changes to the tracker protocol. Therefore, a browser-based WebTorrent client or “web peer” can only connect to other clients that support WebTorrent/WebRTC.

Once peers are connected, the wire protocol used to communicate is exactly the same as in normal BitTorrent. This should make it easy for existing popular torrent clients like Transmission, and uTorrent to add support for WebTorrent. Vuze already has support for WebTorrent!

Getting Started

It only takes a few lines of code to download a torrent in the browser!

To start using WebTorrent, simply include the webtorrent.min.js script on your page. You can download the script from the WebTorrent website or link to the CDN copy.

<script src="webtorrent.min.js"></script>

This provides a WebTorrent function on the window object. There is also an
npm package available.

var client = new WebTorrent() // Sintel, a free, Creative Commons movie var torrentId = 'magnet:...' // Real torrent ids are much longer. var torrent = client.add(torrentId) torrent.on('ready', () => { // Torrents can contain many files. Let's use the .mp4 file var file = torrent.files.find(file => file.name.endsWith('.mp4')) // Display the file by adding it to the DOM. // Supports video, audio, image files, and more! file.appendTo('body') })

That’s it! Now you’ll see the torrent streaming into a <video width="300" height="150"> tag in the webpage!

Learn more

You can learn more at webtorrent.io, or by asking a question in #webtorrent on Freenode IRC or on Gitter. We’re looking for more people who can answer questions and help people with issues on the GitHub issue tracker. If you’re a friendly, helpful person and want an excuse to dig deeper into the torrent protocol or WebRTC, then this is your chance!

 

 

The post Dweb: Building a Resilient Web with WebTorrent appeared first on Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Review: The Blasphemous Roster

Thought Eater - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 12:18
So today I am reviewing The Blasphemous Roster by Michael Raston with Ben L and Trent B. The layout is by Luke Gearing.



So, Raston's home game is set in and around a sprawling, aged, and corrupt city called Infinigrad. The city is filled with competing Guilds that hire "Guild Dogs" to do their bidding. What this book does is give you tons of random tables to create the Guilds and generate missions for PCs to attempt for them.

The first thing that jumps out when looking at this is the layout. The layout feels like the DIY punk and skate zines of my previous life, with tons of public domain images presented collage-style throughout. It feels very much at home within the current OSR zine scene.



The table content is varied and interesting. The tone itself is on the weird and dark side, with a hint of gonzo. The adventure generator is particularly strong, offering tables for the target of the job, what the Guilds want done with it, the location of said target, the danger to be found there, and finally the reward. Let's try one.

Let's see what that Guild of maniacs wants this time. Hmmm...they want us to find this mad scientist sort of dude. Apparently he needs to be "revived or resuscitated", so who knows what the hell happened to him. We are given a lead about some sleazy flooded bathhouse. Ah, perhaps he drowned? This all sounds dangerous, even for us, but the Guild is promising us a tamed monster for our troubles. We're in!

Man, I sure do enjoy rolling on random tables.

I would recommend this to folks that are into OSR zines and random tables. You know who you are. There is enough content here to generate a lot of gaming material. I think I will enjoy this most in the printed format, as that will allow for easy flipping from table to table, and seems to me more suitable given the zine feel of the product. I can't say as to whether the layout will be for everyone, but I like it. Another thing that was cool about reading through this was getting to peek into someone else's campaign. The setting is very gameable, and the Guild device, while not wholly original, provides an endless stream of adventures for PCs. I would be interested in seeing other Infinigrad supplements that reveal more about the setting.

Check The Blasphemous Roster out in pdf HERE and in print HERE!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ninja Character Class

Doomslakers! - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 12:34
For Black Pudding #5, it's a ninja class. I wanted them to be fast and stealthy, not combat machines. They are assassins with a particular shtick.

Like all classes in Black Pudding, this one assumes old school rules such as Labyrinth Lord will be used. The classes that appeared in the OSR Playbook in issue #4 are self-contained to those rules, they are not meant to be used with Labyrinth Lord. I might not have been clear about that up front but I kinda figured the context would be enough. Clever readers of BP are smart people, so I don't do much hand holding.

Also, this zine is all about whatever in the actual fuck I want to do at that moment. So that's why some pages are all hand written, other pages are all font-based, and other pages are a mix. It really is driven by the Muses and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Smoke bomb! I'm gone.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Boatmen

Doomslakers! - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 12:30
The boatmen fiddle with the oar on choppy waters. They skitter and crank at one another. It's not really a language so much as a necessity. They are going somewhere and they aren't really good at it.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dweb: Social Feeds with Secure Scuttlebutt

Mozilla Hacks - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 16:01

In the series introduction, we highlighted the importance of putting people in control their social interactions online, instead of allowing for-profit companies be the arbiters of hate speech or harassment. Our first installment in the Dweb series introduces Secure Scuttlebutt, which envisions a world where users are in full control of their communities online.

In the weeks ahead we will cover a variety of projects that represent explorations of the decentralized/distributed space. These projects aren’t affiliated with Mozilla, and some of them rewrite the rules of how we think about a web browser. What they have in common: These projects are open source, and open for participation, and share Mozilla’s mission to keep the web open and accessible for all.

This post is written by André Staltz, who has written extensively on the fate of the web in the face of mass digital migration to corporate social networks, and is a core contributor to the Scuttlebutt project. –Dietrich Ayala

Getting started with Scuttlebutt

Scuttlebutt is a free and open source social network with unique offline-first and peer-to-peer properties. As a JavaScript open source programmer, I discovered Scuttlebutt two years ago as a promising foundation for a new “social web” that provides an alternative to proprietary platforms. The social metaphor of mainstream platforms is now a more popular way of creating and consuming content than the Web is. Instead of attempting to adapt existing Web technologies for the mobile social era, Scuttlebutt allows us to start from scratch the construction of a new ecosystem.

A local database, shared with friends

The central idea of the Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB) protocol is simple: your social account is just a cryptographic keypair (your identity) plus a log of messages (your feed) stored in a local database. So far, this has no relation to the Internet, it is just a local database where your posts are stored in an append-only sequence, and allows you to write status updates like you would with a personal diary. SSB becomes a social network when those local feeds are shared among computers through the internet or through local networks. The protocol supports peer-to-peer replication of feeds, so that you can have local (and full) copies of your friends’ feeds, and update them whenever you are online. One implementation of SSB, Scuttlebot, uses Node.js and allows UI applications to interact with the local database and the network stack.

Using Scuttlebot

While SSB is being implemented in multiple languages (Go, Rust, C), its main implementation at the moment is the npm package scuttlebot and Electron desktop apps that use Scuttlebot. To build your own UI application from scratch, you can setup Scuttlebot plus a localhost HTTP server to render the UI in your browser.

Run the following npm command to add Scuttlebot to your Node.js project:

npm install --save scuttlebot

You can use Scuttlebot locally using the command line interface, to post messages, view messages, connect with friends. First, start the server:

$(npm bin)/sbot server

In another terminal you can use the server to publish a message in your local feed:

$(npm bin)/sbot publish --type post --text "Hello world"

You can also consume invite codes to connect with friends and replicate their feeds. Invite codes are generated by pub servers
owned by friends in the community, which act as mirrors of feeds in the community. Using an invite code means the server will allow you to connect to it and will mirror your data too.

$(npm bin)/sbot invite.accept $INSERT_INVITE_CODE_HERE

To create a simple web app to render your local feed, you can start the scuttlebot server in a Node.js script (with dependencies ssb-config and pull-stream), and serve the feed through an HTTP server:

// server.js const fs = require('fs'); const http = require('http'); const pull = require('pull-stream'); const sbot = require('scuttlebot/index').call(null, require('ssb-config')); http .createServer((request, response) => { if (request.url.endsWith('/feed')) { pull( sbot.createFeedStream({live: false, limit: 100}), pull.collect((err, messages) => { response.end(JSON.stringify(messages)); }), ); } else { response.end(fs.readFileSync('./index.html')); } }) .listen(9000);

Start the server with node server.js, and upon opening localhost:9000 in your browser, it should serve the index.html:

<html> <body> <script> fetch('/feed') .then(res => res.json()) .then(messages => { document.body.innerHTML = ` <h1>Feed</h1> <ul>${messages .filter(msg => msg.value.content.type === 'post') .map(msg => `<li>${msg.value.author} said: ${msg.value.content.text}</li>` ) }</ul> `; }); </script> </body> </html> Learn more

SSB applications can accomplish more than social messaging. Secure Scuttlebutt is being used for Git collaboration, chess games, and managing online gatherings.

You build your own applications on top of SSB by creating or using plug-ins for specialized APIs or different ways of querying the database. See secret-stack for details on how to build custom plugins. See flumedb for details on how to create custom indexes in the database. Also there are many useful repositories in our GitHub org.

To learn about the protocol that all of the implementations use, see the protocol guide, which explains the cryptographic primitives used, and data formats agreed on.

Finally, don’t miss the frontpage Scuttlebutt.nz, which explains the design decisions and principles we value. We highlight the important role that humans have in internet communities, which should not be delegated to computers.

The post Dweb: Social Feeds with Secure Scuttlebutt appeared first on Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Introducing the Dweb

Mozilla Hacks - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 14:00
Introducing the Dweb

The web is the most successful programming platform in history, resulting in the largest open and accessible collection of human knowledge ever created. So yeah, it’s pretty great. But there are a set of common problems that the web is not able to address.

Have you ever…

  • Had a website or app you love get updated to a new version, and you wished to go back to the old version?
  • Tried to share a file between your phone and laptop or tv or other device while not connected to the internet? And without using a cloud service?
  • Gone to a website or service that you depend on, only to find it’s been shut down? Whether it got bought and enveloped by some internet giant, or has gone out of business, or whatever, it was critical for you and now it’s gone.

Additionally, the web is facing critical internet health issues, seemingly intractable due to the centralization of power in the hands of a few large companies who have economic interests in not solving these problems:

  • Hate speech, harassment and other attacks on social networks
  • Repeated attacks on Net Neutrality by governments and corporations
  • Mass human communications compromised and manipulated for profit or political gain
  • Censorship and whole internet shutdowns by governments

These are some of the problems and use-cases addressed by a new wave of projects, products and platforms building on or with web technologies but with a twist: They’re using decentralized or distributed network architectures instead of the centralized networks we use now, in order to let the users control their online experience without intermediaries, whether government or corporate. This new structural approach gives rise to the idea of a ‘decentralized web’, often conveniently shortened to ‘dweb’.

You can read a number of perspectives on centralization, and why it’s an important issue for us to tackle, in Mozilla’s Internet Health Report, released earlier this year.

What’s the “D” in Dweb?!

The “d” in “dweb” usually stands for either decentralized or distributed.
What is the difference between distributed vs decentralized architectures? Here’s a visual illustration:


(Image credit: Openclipart.org, your best source for technical clip art with animals)

In centralized systems, one entity has control over the participation of all other entities. In decentralized systems, power over participation is divided between more than one entity. In distributed systems, no one entity has control over the participation of any other entity.

Examples of centralization on the web today are the domain name system (DNS), servers run by a single company, and social networks designed for controlled communication.

A few examples of decentralized or distributed projects that became household names are Napster, BitTorrent and Bitcoin.

Some of these new dweb projects are decentralizing identity and social networking. Some are building distributed services in or on top of the existing centralized web, and others are distributed application protocols or platforms that run the web stack (HTML, JavaScript and CSS) on something other than HTTP. Also, there are blockchain-based platforms that run anything as long as it can be compiled into WebAssembly.

Here We Go

Mozilla’s mission is to put users in control of their experiences online. While some of these projects and technologies turn the familiar on its head (no servers! no DNS! no HTTP(S)!), it’s important for us to explore their potential for empowerment.

This is the first post in a series. We’ll introduce projects that cover social communication, online identity, file sharing, new economic models, as well as high-level application platforms. All of this work is either decentralized or distributed, minimizing or entirely removing centralized control.

You’ll meet the people behind these projects, and learn about their values and goals, the technical architectures used, and see basic code examples of using the project or platform.

So leave your assumptions at the door, and get ready to learn what a web more fully in users’ control could look like.

Note: This post is the introduction. The following posts in the series are listed below.

The post Introducing the Dweb appeared first on Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Praying for Our Daily Bread… Abandoning Tomorrow’s Worries

The Idol Babbler - Fri, 07/27/2018 - 20:31

“How great the value which this truth teaches us to attach to each single day! We are so easily led to look at life as a great whole, and to neglect the little to-day, to forget that the single days do indeed make up the whole, and that the value of each single day depends on its influence on the whole. One day lost is a link broken in the chain, which it often takes more than another day to mend. One day lost influences the next, and makes its keeping more difficult. Yea, one day lost may be the loss of what months or years of careful labour had secured. The experience of many a believer could confirm this.”Andrew Murray

A good friend of mine posted this quote on social media. I can relate, because there are days where my goal is to just get through it… rather than slowing down to take in the moments that God has given me.

Praying for Our Daily Bread

This goes along with something which has impacted my prayer life recently… realizing that my prayers (as taught by Christ Himself) ought to focus on today, and not necessarily tomorrow or the next day, but today. Not that it is wrong for me to pray about tomorrow, but maybe it is more proper for me to pray for TODAY, how I am to deal with what I might see on the horizon. The thing is, the horizon may or may not ever come. Therefore, I ought to instead focus on asking the Lord to be with me this day. After all, Jesus did not teach His disciples to pray for tomorrow’s bread, but today’s…

Matthew 6:11 (HCSB)
Give us today our daily bread.

A few verses later, Jesus made this point about putting too much emphasis upon tomorrow, rather than today…

Matthew 6:33-34 (HCSB)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The half-brother of Jesus would later also touch upon this concept when he wrote to the 12 tribes in the dispersion regarding their materialistic mindset…

James 4:13-15 (HCSB)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Abandoning Tomorrow’s Worries

It is so tempting to get caught up in what tomorrow might bring.

As James wrote, we must realize that our lives are “like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” It is why Jesus encouraged that our prayers be rooted in today, instead of tomorrow.

May we (Christians) learn to pray about the moment we are in, abandoning the worry we create when we lose sight of the peace that Christ has provided us….

Philippians 4:4-7 (HCSB)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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Categories: Churchie Feeds

Gravity Guard in blazing color

Doomslakers! - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 01:41
Here's a color version of the gravity guard, a monster from Black Pudding #1.

I've been messing around a lot more with color lately. I'm a cartoonist by nature and I tend to think in terms of black ink lines. But I'm no stranger to color. I just  haven't explored it to the same degree. I'd like to explore it a lot more.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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