Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Tek - August 2019 Stats.

August 2019 Downloads via DriveThruRPG:
AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 5
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 13
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 41
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 9
Swashbucklers Character Class - 54

Webstats:
Blogger Pageviews - 5,638
Google Analytics Pageviews - 1,006
Google Analytics Sessions - 649
Pageviews per Session - 1.55

Amazon Stats:
Seller Central - 1 sale
Amazon Affiliates - 0 clicks, 0 fees, 0 bounties
Audible: 0

I feel great about the Google Analytics numbers despite being less than a fifth of the Blogger numbers. In looking at what I did this month vs. other months, I believe that I have some insight into why the Blogger stats are so high.

I suspect that if something is a clickable element, say an ad or a picture, and someone views a page that contains those things, it will count both the post plus those elements. So one post with an ad and a picture counts as 3 page views.

My behavior this month has radically changed. First, I pulled in posts from 3 other blogs and made them live. There were 70 blog posts this month, an average of 2.25 per day. That is atypical for me and cannot be sustained. Also, I made myself post an image for every post. And finally, I added several new ads to the site. You can see the DriveThruRPG and Amazon ads down the right column, plus the Sponsor Ads tab for Audible and Amazon Prime. (If you can't see them, you have an ad blocker turned on, which is fine.) 5,593 pageviews as measured by Blogger in this context makes sense. Analytics is also filtering a lot of garbage out, such as spam views.

So, what do I think I know? I think I can sustain a viewership of 500 sessions and 1.5 pageviews per session, so I think I can hit 750 pagesviews per month. So that is next month's goal.

I am now reviewing Amazon ad data. It might not be worth having any ads outside of DriveThruRPG.

UPDATE: On September 1st, I caught some data which might be enlightening. Analytics told me I had 30 pageviews across 9 different landing pages. Blogger said I had 60 views on ten different posts.

In looking at each post visited, I get the following numbers;
10 posts,
15 images,
38 ads or banners.

That's 63. Too many.

BUT when comparing landing pages to post views, I see that one post was in yesterday's data set according to Analytics. So, 63-4 is 59. But wait. There is one post that is a duplicate of an ad that appears on the right-hand side. +1 for 60!

I am now satisfied that blogger is counting every loadable element as a "pageview", while Analytics is counting the code where it appears, which is the post level. It doesn't add up entirely, but I am sure this is correct.

UPDATE Jan. 12, 2020. I've decided to at some images of my Google Analytics to this post.

August 2019

September 2019

Second Session Update - Who Knew What and When?

This session needs some picking apart because the players did the unexpected.

Again.

About a month ago, the Emperor's Council decided they needed to gain intelligence on the southern City of Tabletop. Tabletop should be a backwater town on the sea, but has evolved into a small yet vibrant cosmopolitan city which rivals the Capital itself. While intensely loyal to the Empire, the citizens of Tabletop like doing things their own way.

For example, they have their own unofficial legion, the 888th. It isn't a full sized legion, nor was it commissioned by the Empire. For logistical reasons, it numbers at exactly 888 men and women, human or otherwise. Eight hundred troops are about all the city can muster from it's 4-5000 residents.

Alarmingly, for the Empire at least, the town mustered it's legion and attacked several raiding forces brigands while defending against an Elven, Half-Orc and Dwarven incursion from the west. This unofficial legion, who does not swear fealty to the Emperor destroyed a series of brigand raids while cowing a significant Eastern force. Rag-tag auxiliary force, this is not. How did they muster so many people so fast?

It is disquieting to the Capital and the Emperor. More information is needed.

Two weeks ago, the call for spies went out. The Emperor's Council managed to block out all foreign spies and infiltrators from this very important work. The player's party was interviewed, hired and filled in on details of the operation.

Queue the reconcotion. The players were supposed to board a ship and proceed south. Instead they boarded wagons and set off east, before turning south. The players may go due south or hug the coast. Who knows?

This major hiccup made me rethink the scenario being played out. Time becomes important. The raiders and the Eastern forces of Elves, Dwarves and Half-Orcs are two different groups with no real connection other than stressing the Empire. Right now, the raiders are the more dangerous force, having had their attacks in the south blunted by the 888th Legion. That has pushed the raiders northwards, to the Capital.

The raiders had spies in the Capital and were planning on killing the party at sea. That didn't happen, so that force diverted to pillage small settlements on the coast. On the day before the party left the Capital, the raiders hit a settlement just outside of the Capital's control, north of the major city of Nace. They managed to capture or kill half the thorpe's population of 34.

At this moment, the raiders have a party of six heading south by land to check the status of Nace. Actually what happened was two raiders got drunk and are sitting in the thorpe while the other four rode south.

At the start of this session, the party encountered a pair of wild horses. They avoided the party, but then started following them. Clearly, these are domestic strays, not wild horses. Just outside the the thorpe, the party encountered a 3rd horse, saddled. This one they "captured". They can see the thorpe and are aware of the total lack of activity. Ambush time.


The players brought their wagons to the house outside the northern wall. Jaime, Jim, Megen and Gurwinder circled around to the south on horseback then abandoned the horses at the L shaped building. Rona, Melvin and Matilda, hid behind the north wall.

Comically drunken raiders.
Stephano and Trinculo from
The Tempest are the inspiration.
The raiders aren't too smart. As the party was sweeping the L shaped store house and barn, the two of them wandered out the villa with all kinds of food to greet their friends. The party captured them immediately. The raiders were expecting their patrol back at sunset, which comes and goes uneventfully. Everyone holds up in the barn, the wagons and animals inside waiting for the patrol.

The patrol arrives and death ensues. The patrol went back to the villa, where they left their drunken friends. The party decided to sneak up on them and ambush them with missile fire.

Instead, Matilda waltz up, party dress and all to start a sword fight. Let me mention that Matilda is a swashbuckler and her main skill is non-lethal combat with a pointy weapon. She can perform 3 non-lethal attacks per round, doing 1-2 points of damage each (weapon type doesn't matter). She can only do lethal damage on a 20, which allows her to disarm a person. If the other person doesn't flee or surrender, she can do a run through attack for double damage. She has more opportunities to score a 20 per round but never increases her number of attacks due to leveling. Alternatively, she can make one lethal full strength attack per round, but must roll on the thief or cleric attack table. 

She downs one of the raiders because no one takes her seriously. The other three DO take that seriously and draw swords.

The rest of the party swooped in and the 6 to 3 battle was over quickly. Before anyone can stop them, Rona and Gurwinder killed off the four raiders. The hungover raiders traded information with Rona to avoid joining their friends. They know some villagers escaped and suggest lighting a bonfire. Megen and Matilda correctly surmised that a bonfire is a signal for the ship to come back. They light the bonfire anyway and Megen, Melvin and Matilda take off for the coast 2 miles to the east. I have decided that these two drunks are named Stephano and Trinculo. They are tied up in the storehouse, awaiting justice.

Once the characters reach the coast, Megen dresses up as one of the raiders and they wait for the ship. When it arrived, it signaled with a lantern. Melvin cast his light spell. Matilda marches Megen in front of the light. Silhouetted, she pushes Megen to the ground and goes through the motion of cutting her throat. The lamp on the ship goes out and it put out to sea.

The rest of the session was spent counting up loot, as the villagers filed back into the thorpe.

The characters increase their haul. They have 6 bastard swords, 6 short bows, 6 suits of chain armor, a ton of iron rations and 60 more arrows. They really are playing Oregon Trail, they have an inventory sheet for each wagon. They also managed to do some horse swapping with the villagers and end up with a new pony for Melvin while the villagers accepted 6 daggers and the 9 horses for their losses.

Some details that the party missed. The lord of the villa would be pleased with 9 horses, except he's dead. No one searched the villa. Who killed him? No one knows, yet. Also, 9 horses is great, but there were only 6 raiders. Where did the other three come from? And no one looked at the odd saddle on the third, extra horse.

Next time, I'll upload the raider's characters sheets plus sheets for Felix, Felice and Jim, who are verging on becoming player characters. Normally, I would have players handle NPCs in combat, but they specifically excluded them, on account of the loss of the chef and laborer in the last session. I want to say my players are good, but they are more pragmatic than nice.

Friday, August 30, 2019

#RPGaDay2019 - Familiar/Obscure - Tonight's Recap

I have the good ol' pregame jitters tonight as I get ready for another D&D session. Feels familiar.

Let's recap what is happening. In the last recap, the players nearly wiped but recovered nicely. On the map below, they are at the blue crossed swords. They intend to run down the coastline to that small settlement. 


The party moves at 2 hexes a day, perhaps a bit faster on a road. You can review the party's state here.

Now for the obscure part of the post.

Last time I posted 5 numbers: 28, 53, 58, 52, and 10. They are from a particular random encounter table and 28 is Wild Horses. The first thing the party will encounter is two horses running by, followed by a third with a saddle and bridle.

This is where tonight's story starts. Check back tomorrow to see how it goes.
 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

RPGaDay2019 - Ancient - Classical Hack

My dad's obsession with Ancients, the Romans in particular, set me on a path to play RPGs.  


Lately, he has been on to bigger and better stuff. From his Facebook page



Or his webpage, Classical Hack.com


My dad has a passion, and he passed that on to not just me but many people. I love that. Check out all of his titles, produced by my mom at LMW Works


RPGaDay2019 - Space - SF-0

I wanted to switch things up an ran a Star Frontiers campaign, starting with SF-0. My players broke the scenario horribly, but it was fun as hell. They managed to get their hands on every survival pack in the shuttle by capturing pirates using a stunner. Then they liquidated them on the surface of the planet.

They were the kings of ambush tactics.  





RPGaDay2019 - Share - The Music

My friend Mark would create a mix tape for each campaign and hand them out. They were themed to the scenarios and what he planned. He would quietly play one for our sessions.

I lost every one of those tapes, but damn did they leave a memory. Good thing, too. I don't own a cassette player.

One of my favorite songs from all of those tapes was Biko.



He shared more than he knew. This song still raises goosebumps every time I hear it.


#RPGaDay2019 - Engage - "Engage!"

From '87 to '94, all of our games, D&D or otherwise, started with the word: "Engage!" We would gather at a friends house and do all of our housekeeping while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

More often than not the episode ended with Picard saying "Engage!" and the end credits rolled. We complied.



RPGaDay2019 - Unique - Red Spot

Every campaign is unique. A friend based his campaign on the Chronicles of Naria and no one noticed, we were all bemused by a serious, somber Father Christmas needing help. 

Another DM determined that all red Will-o-Wisps were good and helpful creatures. They became ubiquitous in his campaign and even had their own sound effects. After a while, we all noticed that they were the Red Spots from the 7-Up ads.





#RPGaDay2019: First - Jaime the Fearsome

The first character I ever had was Jaime. He had a sword, chaimail armor and few other items from the Red Box set equipment list. He made it to 2nd level before AD&D happened, and he went away.

I have a character named Jaime in every D&D campaign I run, either as a PC or an NPC. The stats for the current, 2019 Jaime are below. You can download the entire sheet here.














This current iteration was intended to be a woman, but for whatever reason the player interpreted the "gown" on the character sheet as a "dressing gown", like Author Dent.


Sketching in Ink

Sometimes, I like to go right to ink. All of these sketches were just thrown down on the paper with little regard to outcome. I love the scratchy feel of pen on paper. Usually, I draw pencil outlines, but not with theses. It helps build control, comfort, confidence and skill. 

A few of the weapons towards the end have pencil marks, to show the comparison. The symbol of Sol Invictus was penciled quickly and those flaws showed right up in ink. 










Sketching

Sketching with plain old pencils is a fun activity and builds certain skills.







Inklings

I like working in black and white, with a fine marker. Sometimes it works for me and other times, it doesn't. Most of the time, I lay down fine pencil lines to control the ink and erase later. The two Stave Churches on this page were direct to ink while the rest were inked over pencil.













Mash-up of a Master

I really love van Gogh. I did a couple of mashups of his work for an oil painting class.