Monthly Archives: August 2017

Eclipse day 2017

I bought myself 3 pair of Amazon eclipse glasses and I used one as a camera filter. Most of the pictures were pretty unusable, but I did get 2 decent shots.

Review: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set

Product Summery:
Name: Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Author: Sean Punch
Line: GURPS
Cost: $50/$35 for PDF
Pages: 474 (Spread across multiple books)
Webpage: http://www.sjgames.com/dungeonfantasy/

When the Kickstarter for this product was announced I was pretty excited. GURPS is one of two games I truly love, the other being HackMaster (also known as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition). DFRPG came about as a reaction to the Old School Renaissance in gaming. the OSR was a movement of gamers who felt the old ways were the best ways, they wanted to bring back the simple games of their youth where kicking down doors, killing monsters and collecting treasure was a way of life. DFRPG sought to simplify GURPS so it could be used for this genre. DFRPG was a big hit for Steve Jackson games, the line was PDF only, but since it required GURPS Character book, it helped to sell many of those. The Kickstarter campaign was an effort to bring DFRPG to the print world as a starter set not just for DFRPG but for GURPS in general. The boxed set is not due for at least another month, but this week in celebration of GenCon 50, they released the PDF’s to the Kickstarter backers and I have now had a chance to look at the game.

There is a lot of new art here, which is good, Steve Jackson games is notorious for reusing art. Thankfully they went with a two column format rather than the three column they used in GURPS Characters and Campaigns, this is much easier to read. They also used an orange colored font to highlight options and such, which I think added clarity and readability to the document. The game is well written and I think easy to understand.

I have always liked the GURPS game mechanic, at least in theory I like it. All resolution die rolls are done by rolling three six sided dice, trying to roll under your target number, whether that is an attribute or a skill level. This puts all resolutions rolls on a nice bell curve instead of a flat 1 in 20 type roll. I also like the customization options available for building characters, players can literally build anything they have points for. Of course the problem with that is too many options and a scaling problem. Like all point based systems it is very easy to fall into one of two traps, either your points are spread too thin and the character is really not very good at anything in particular or the character is spectacularly skilled in one or two areas and utterly incompetent at anything else. There also tended to be a lot of character overlap in skills and characters stepping on each other niches.

DFRPG solves this problem by reducing options down to a manageable level and takes a step further by using character templates. The templates emulate the character classes of Dungeon & Dragons, Fighter, Thief, Cleric, and Magic User. Once you have chosen your template there are customization options. This speeds up character creation, makes sure everyone has a niche to follow, while still providing for character development beyond the character niche as the game progresses. The author of DFRPG did a good job of distilling GURPS down to a good workable set of rules, slightly more complicated than GURPS Lite, but no where near and complex as the full system.

DFRPG does not as of yet have a true setting beyond the dungeon crawl trope. This is not really a problem as I think it lends itself well to sandbox games or even adapting something like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms. The game really does have an old school feel to it. Personally when I get around to running this next year, I will be using the Castle Defiant sandbox I wrote about several months ago, although if I were going to run a lengthy campaign, I would have to develop and alternate reality Yrth where Clerical magic is a thing and pagan gods roamed the world. Frankly I am not even sure setting is even necessary for this type of game, just start everyone in a tavern and move on from there.

Overall, I am very happy with this product. I will be even happier when I have the box set in my hands. If you are looking for an easy introduction to GURPS or you are an old school gamer looking for something that feels like it was written in 1985 but plays like a modern game, this is the product for you. On the other hand if you are looking for a new GURPS source book with detailed background information or a generic game where you can dump cyborgs into King Arthur’s Court, you are going to be very disappointed.

Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 4
Game Mechanic: 4
Setting: 3
Overall: 3.66666666667

What buttons does this press?

Answer, ALL OF THEM!

Dungeon Fantasy is coming

Last year Steve Jackson Games ran a Kickstarter to fund the production of Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Dungeon Fantasy is basically old school murder hobo style gaming done in GURPS. I went in as a $250 backer so I basically got everything that did not require me to go to GenCon to get. While the actual printed stuff is still a couple of months off, they did release the PDF version today to those who backed the Kickstarter, although I expect in a couple of weeks they will put the PDF’s up for sale to the general population.

Release the PDF’s a head of the printed product was a good call. This gets the product out there and into the hands of players and GMs. In the next few days, we will likely start seeing reviews popping up and forum discussions on Enworld and RPGnet. With a bit of clever marketing, this could easily be turned into momentum for the game by the time it hits the shelves. The set includes a couple of adventures, so I will likely run this as some filler games this fall. I am kind of excited about this, because it reminds me a lot of the early days of GURPS.

I Love RAID 5

Last week one of the hard drives in PezWitch’s computer failed. For those who don’t know, she has 5 drives in her system, one small solid state drive for the operating system, one 1 TB solid state for her games and three 2 TB spindle drives which are configured in a RAID 5, this is where she keeps her data, pictures videos, writing, whatever. Fortunately the drive that failed was in the RAID 5. The RAID 5 worked flawlessly, doing exactly what it was supposed to do. When I installed the new drive the RAID controller detected it and asked if I wanted to add the drive and rebuild the array. It was literally as easy as replacing a failed hard drive, only no data was lost and I did not have to reinstall Windows.

I am really sad today

I would not say that I am depressed, but I am very sad. Perhaps I have finally reached that age where I think the world is going to hell in a hand basket and if everyone would just listen to me, everything would be alright.

GenCon 50 is next week

I so want to go to GenCon this year. I would love to get out of town and put my life behind me for one grand weekend of killing dragons and scrapping clean a dungeon for every last copper piece. Instead of wondering why nazi’s are marching in the streets, I want to be chucking dice with like minded strangers, going to panels and listening to artists and creators talk about their games, and wandering through the exhibit hall looking for old and beloved games or perhaps, new and interesting games. Instead of wondering why I am $200 short on budget this month, I want to play a pickup game Call of Cthulhu in someones hotel room until 4:30 AM in the morning, then rush to McDonalds for coffee and breakfast taco, to make it just in time to an early morning game of Mutants and Masterminds. Oh and Red Sonja cosplay, I want to go to GenCon because I like Red Sonja cosplay.

Encryption 101

Not many people know this, but I am a published author. By published author I mean, I have been paid for my writing. I have been published in 2600 magazine, Dragon magazine, Linux Gazette and a little known magazine called DOS Resource Guide. I have never received more than $50 payment and in the case of DOS Resource Guide, they folded before I received any payment at all.

It is really kind of sad too, because that one is probably the article I was most proud of. I wrote a qbasic encryption program that I felt was kind of clever in its implementation. Of course it would never withstand the attention of the NSA, but as I said in the article, it would keep your little sister from reading your files. Most of the qbasic encryption programs of the time simply used the password provided to seed the built in pseudo random number generator and then used the XOR function along with these pseudo random numbers to encrypt the file. I took this a step further and used this process to generate a 128 character string which I then used via my own algorithm to fill an array the size of the original file with a pad, which was then used to encrypt the file. Again, this was not military grade encryption, but I think for a first try it was a novel idea.

This lead to another project which I actually did with a friend. He decided the best way to encrypt a file was to use another file as a key. His idea was to XOR the bits in the file you wanted to encrypt with the bits in the key file. The way we built the program was it required three things to decrypt the file, a user name, a password and the key file. I used more or less the same process I used in the first program, only instead of using my own number to encrypt the file, I would use my numbers to determine the location of the bit to be XOR’d within the key file. As close as I could tell at the time, as long as you never used the same key file twice, it would be basically impossible to crack the encryption. This of course was naive thinking back in 1994, today I suspect this could be broken in a weekend using a $400 laptop.

I wish I still had this code, unfortunately it has suffered digital death as many of my early projects have. I even went looking for a copy of the DOS Resource Guide where my original program was published, but unfortunately I have not been able to find more than a few issues here and there. I guess an old short lived magazine from the early 90’s covering an obsolete operating system holds little interest for anyone these days.

Oculus Rift and Linux

So there is some very tentative support for the Oculus Rift in Linux. Basically at this point, I am looking to just get my desktop extended to the Rift, to me this is a the most basic first step. I am not there yet, but I am close. Here is the step by step instructions for getting started. When I run one of the demos, like Simple or Test.py, it does light up my Rift and I do get an extension of my desktop, the problem is the displays are switched and I have not figured out how to change that yet.

sudo apt-get install -y build-essential libusb-1.0-0-dev libudev-dev autotools-dev autoconf automake libtool libudev-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libfox-1.6-dev libogre-1.9-dev libois-dev libtinyxml-dev cmake libogre-1.9-dev libois-dev libtinyxml-dev git cython sdl2-dev libglew-dev

mkdir src
cd src

git clone git://github.com/signal11/hidapi.git
cd hidapi
./bootstrap
./configure
make
sudo make install

cd ..
git clone https://github.com/OpenHMD/OpenHMD.git
cd OpenHMD
./autogen.sh
./configure –enable-openglexample
make
sudo make install

sudo -i

echo ‘SUBSYSTEM==”usb”, ATTR{idVendor}==”2833″, MODE=”0666″, GROUP=”plugdev”‘ > /etc/udev/rules.d/83-hmd.rules

echo ‘SUBSYSTEM==”usb”, ATTR{idVendor}==”0bb4″, MODE=”0666″, GROUP=”plugdev”‘ >> /etc/udev/rules.d/83-hmd.rules

echo ‘SUBSYSTEM==”usb”, ATTR{idVendor}==”28de”, MODE=”0666″, GROUP=”plugdev”‘ >> /etc/udev/rules.d/83-hmd.rules

udevadm control –reload-rules

exit

#### Unplug your Rift from the machine at this time and plug it back in.

cd ..
git clone https://github.com/OpenHMD/OpenHMDDemo.git
OpenHMDDemo
cmake .
make
./OpenHMDDemo

cd ..
git clone https://github.com/lubosz/python-rift.git
cd python-rift
sudo ln /usr/local/include/openhmd/openhmd.h /usr/include/openhmd.h
sudo ./setup.py install
./test.py

cd

That is it, at this point you should be able to run the demos. The next time you start Steam, it is going to detect the Rift and install SteamVR, which does not work, but it does cause some errors, so to fix that run this command;

sudo apt install libxtst6:i386 libxrandr2:i386 libglib2.0-0:i386 libgtk2.0-0:i386 libpulse0:i386 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0:i386