Friday, May 29, 2020

Thank You for Making The Hex Pack My Most Popular Product!

Wow! I can believe all the interest in this Hex Pack. 



I like hex paper, but it's kind of a pain in the butt. A full page of hexes boggles the eyes and really isn't a full page unless you mess with the hex size. You need to go smaller than a page to get a manageable workspace. I jumped into Worldographer and knocked something together:

Hexes... like so. 
As I was doing this, I hopped over to Steamtunnel's The Hydra's Grotto to read up on 6 mile hexes. It really is the best size for hexes. Don't trust me, click that link to see all the mathy wonders that can be done with a 6 mile hex.

As I was working, I eliminated all of the stuff that bothers me. Text on the page, hex numbers, etc. I ended up doing 9 different styles: red, grey and black lines then dotted, dashed, solid lines. Once I was done, I threw them in a template. Since I was working from the ground up, I made a set of templates for 8.5 by 11 and A4.


A little consumer copy later, and I had my next DrivethruRPG document. This thing is PWYW, with a suggested price of $0.99. It's available via the Creative Commons 4.0, share and share alike with attribution for private and commercial use.

I honestly didn't know what to do with the price. For home use, there are 9 zillion websites you can download templates from for free. The main difference on this product is, there is a booklet for 8.5x11 and A4 pages, plus a file with just the hex in JPG and PNG at 1400x1299 pixels. Ninety-nine cents is probably too much for home use, but far too little for commercial use.

I don't know... I'm just hanging it here for all of you. I'm going back to my game now.

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ads of Six - Dunromin University Press

I like doing these posts of ads, which is unfortunate for my readers. Lol. 

Today's Ad of Six are from Dunromin University Press on DriveThruRPG. These modules, gazetters and guides are great. If I get a chance to play D&D after quarantine, I'm gonna run a few of these. 

As a general rule, I think I'll be placing these Ads of Six in the left column from now on and save a post. 
SM03 Cityguide to the City of Karan
SM03 Cityguide to the City of Karan
SM03 Cityguide to the City of Karan


SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Drunromin and the Land of the Young
SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young
SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young

SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard
SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard
SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard



SM06 The Warren

SM06 The Warren
SM06 The Warren


SM04 Gazeteer of the Land of the Young
SM04 Gazeteer of the Land of the Young
SM04 Gazeteer of the Land of the Young

SM01 A Players' Guide to Dunromin
SM01 A Players' Guide to Dunromin
SM01 A Players' Guide to Dunromin

Monday, May 25, 2020

Products by These Old Games - The Ad Post

I've finally hit six products DriveThruRPG. Yesterday, I launched The Hex Pack and already have dozens of downloads. I think that's the strongest launch ever. I'm on the front page too, under Newest Free and PWYW heading. It's silly, but feels good.

 

You can find all of my products on DriveThruRPG under PWYW. Check them out.


Swashbuckler Character
Class for D&D and AD&D


Swashbucklers for D&D and AD&D
Zero to Hero:
Uncommon Heroes

Zero to Hero
Zero to Hero
Character Sheet
for AD&D

Character Sheet
Character Sheet for AD&D



Kobold’s Folly
Mini Setting

Kobold’s Folly
Kobold’s Folly
Compass Rose
Inn Mini Setting

Compass Rose Inn
Compass Rose Inn
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 7

I'm really amazed that I have a 7th post. I've been busy lately.

Anyway, here is the curved and flat wall beams in place. This is kind of testament to the miracle of Tacky Glue. I didn't need to tape, support or pin anything in place.

Great product!

You'll notice that almost nothing is square or even. That's fine. A scale model can be perfect, but I can't help but notice the effort is almost not worth it as people won't touch or hold a "perfectionist model". Also, the run down nature of this build gives the end product a little charm. Besides, if it does break...

Once the roof is complete, you'll hardly notice all the crooked bits anyway. I've been having this debate over whether or not I should place the five cross beams that a real byre house would have. I'm not going to do it as leaving the out makes constructing the roof easier. Funny that models work like that, because these beams would be necessary to complete a real house. Divergent tech for divergent models.

Anyway, I'll throw up a link to Tacky Glue at the end of this post, because it's a wonderful product.
People have asked me about what kind of stryfoam I use. Any kind of styrofoam will do, but I happened to have some sheets of insulation and used those for the base. They were 3/4 of an inch thick and three of them layered together was a good "rise" for the base. The last time I saw this stuff in the store, it was being marketed as a replacement for an acoustical tile, 8 4 by 2 sheets for $10. They'd fill a hole where a tile went, but I can't image they would hold up or work correctly.

Anyway, you don't have to waste good money on a piece of stryofoam. Any salvaged thing will do. The styrofoam floor of this byre house came from the packaging for a TV. Styrofoam isn't easily recyclable, so don't buy it if you have to. Below are some images of things I've made out of salvaged stuff. If you can make stuff from something that isn't often recycles, all the better.




As promised, here is the sales link. Every click and purchase supports this site with remuneration.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

And another thing... 6 Mile Hex pack.

Edit 5-29-2020 - Wow! The response to this tiny pack of Hex Paper has been outstanding! Thank you so much. 


I am hooked on Gemstone IV, a MUD. Yeah, I know it's 2020 but damn am I addicted. Anyway, being a MUD, you have to make your own maps. Other people have happily charted all the lands but I find that most fonts and images are far too small for me to read without my glasses. Ah, the joys of being a gamer for X decades.

I make my own maps which are much larger than normal so I can read them without my glasses. Here is an example, all maps print on a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper:

Standard Marshkeep Map My Map, Part 1 My Map, Part 2


As I do these things, sometimes I notice that the person that created the area was working on grid paper. The other day, I noticed someone must have used hex paper, because the small size and the arrangement of rooms. Hex paper can produce tighter maps as opposed to grids.

I like hex paper, but it's kind of a pain in the butt. A full page of hexes boggles the eyes and really isn't a full page unless you mess with the hex size. You need to go smaller than a page to get a manageable workspace. I jumped into Worldographer and knocked something together:

Hexes... like so. 
As I was doing this, I hopped over to Steamtunnel's The Hydra's Grotto to read up on 6 mile hexes. It really is the best size for hexes. Don't trust me, click that link to see all the mathy wonders that can be done with a 6 mile hex.

As I was working, I eliminated all of the stuff that bothers me. Text on the page, hex numbers, etc. I ended up doing 9 different styles: red, grey and black lines then dotted, dashed, solid lines. Once I was done, I threw them in a template. Since I was working from the ground up, I made a set of templates for 8.5 by 11 and A4.


A little consumer copy later, and I had my next DrivethruRPG document. This thing is PWYW, with a suggested price of $0.99. It's available via the Creative Commons 4.0, share and share alike with attribution for private and commercial use.

I honestly didn't know what to do with the price. For home use, there are 9 zillion websites you can download templates from for free. The main difference on this product is, there is a booklet for 8.5x11 and A4 pages, plus a file with just the hex in JPG and PNG at 1400x1299 pixels. Ninety-nine cents is probably too much for home use, but far too little for commercial use.

I don't know... I'm just hanging it here for all of you. I'm going back to my game now.

Enjoy!

Here is a link to go play GSIV. It's free to play or you can purchase a subscription.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Rare Find! Giac My

Title: Giac My: The Game of Tactical Combat in Vietnam
Author: F. MacCrae, B. Lutz, and M. Ratner
Illustrator: F. MacCrae, and R Foerster
Rule Set: Unique
Year: 1978
Pages: 48
Number of Players: 2+
Rating: Not Yet Read.

Today, someone asked me to look at my comicbooks for an old ad. I couldn't find it, but I did find this: Giac My.

Excuse my thumb. This little treasure is from way back in 1978 and is clearly a mix of handwritten, hand drawn images and a typewriter. I have no idea how I came by it. It was stuck in the center pages of X-Factor Annual 1.

I can't wait to read this one. Required equipment are a way of generating numbers between 1 and 20, several 6 side dice, a tape measure, figures or paper counters. That's old school.



On the back page, there is an ad for other games by FanTac for Space Marines, Orbit War, Space Assault and Space Force.


Friday, May 22, 2020

Never do I ever... Roll for Random Encounters at Night

There you have it. Page 47 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, Encounters. My copy is stained with the blood of a thousand characters. But hardly any of the blood came from a nighttime encounter. And certainly not a random nighttime encounter.

Back in the day... and when I say "day", I mean from time immemorial to present day... people hunker down at night. Night is not fun unless you are up to something that can only happen at night. Typically, to have a good time at night, you need a plan, not "random". A dinner party, a star watching party, New Year's Eve and so on. Many people would be hard pressed to name a "random nighttime event" that went well for them. 

The same goes for RPG's. Don't waste time on a nighttime encounter roll. It makes the players nervous and edgy, which is sometimes fun. But not once a day, every day. Night time IS fearful, but the playing field is level when everyone fears. Not much moves at night. (Vampires are a story for another time).  

Many epic things happen in the light of the moon. You can't trust your dice to tell you what that is. You make it so. And make it good. 

One of my favorite stories about night adventures isn't even mine. It's the story of the Seventh Galbiana. This was a legion that declared for Otho against Vitellius for the Purple. Otho was coming north to head off Vitellius who was racing south for Rome. Both armies turned to meet, Vitellius' forces facing west and Otho's to the east. They met at dusk at Bedriacum and the Second Battle of Bedriacum was on. It was one of the rare cases where the Romans fought through the night. The Seventh's eagle fell to the enemy in the dead of night, but was saved by one centurion who sacrificed himself for honor. The fighting was chaotic, ferocious and exhausting. 

As the Sun rose, there was a collision of happenstance. The Seventh was on the left hand of the field, facing to the west. They were under command of Antonius, who served in the Legio III Gallica in Syria. When dawn broke, the men of the Seventh Galbiana followed Antonius' lead turned their backs to the enemy and gave a mighty cheer to something in the east. The Vitellian forces, the whole army, not just the ones facing the Seventh collapsed and retreated believing that Otho's reinforcements were taking the field. 

Nothing could be further from the true. All the Seventh was doing was emulating Antonius' Syria habit of saluting the Sun.  

Such thing are random, but not the sort of random that dice generate. If you want your players to enjoy their game, give them something to think about, not something the dice tell you.

If you like such stories, you can read more about this the book 69 A.D. by Gwyn Morgan.

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 6

I wish I had made more progress on this, but the nice weather allowed me to get outside and do some
yard work. Anyway, in the last post, I wrote about making one wall curved and one wall flat. Today, I'll show some progress. It was a lot more intensive than it looks.

Bamboo is not wood.
To make the curved wall, I needed to bend some wood. What they would have done in real life is made a bunch of short posts to create the space. The curve was an illusion of the thatched roof coming down from a point. If I did that, I would need a half dozen posts. I want no more than 4.

The center upright posts are actually made of bamboo chopsticks, so I tried heating up a piece of bamboo and bending it. Bamboo is not wood, so this didn't work out. Even though I made a dozen or so cuts in the piece, it snapped when I bent it but only in the places where I cut.

I tried again with a piece of balsa wood. This too didn't work for a variety of reasons. I got the exact same result. The issue is, balsa is kiln dried and lacks the moisture content needed to bend.

Anyway, what I got will work, since neither piece broke completely through and through. If it did, I would have gone back outside to get a small fresh stick and try again. Which I might anyway, but not for this build.

Bamboo cracks, not bends. 
Dried balsa wood also cracks.
Now, bending wood requires wood, moisture and a temperature of at least 200 degrees F. Wood is a poor conductor, so you might be able to hold it but don't. You will not be able to hold it long enough to work with it. I took a ball jar lid and rammed the wood inside. I left it to dry over night.

The results were not too bad, so I'm going to work with these. While they are cracked, I can cover this up with the roof and walls.

Now let me warn* you about this technique to bend wood. You need wood with moisture content and some way to manipulate the product without touching it. A steamer is helpful, as are heat proof gloves. I would not trust heat proof gloves against a steamer. Don't hold the wood if you use this method. I simply dropped the wood in a boiling pot of water. If this was a larger piece, thick gloves would be necessary in case the wood breaks in your hands.

Here is how the end product looks. Both are usable, but the bamboo feels like it would break if put under any more pressure. I might use the bamboo for another model as it looks cool.


If you are following along at home and want to try your hand, here are some suggested products from Amazon.com which could help you start your own byre house. Purchasing via these Amazon links supports this site with remuneration.

Foam Cutter Sandpaper Tacky Glue Balsa Wood Styrofoam Blocks

*I don't generally do things that would require a warning or caution, but I managed to remove a chunk of skin doing this and might have burn my palms. This is more a commentary on having diabetic neuropathy as opposed to doing something dangerous. I'm not sure how it happened. Neuropathy is a demon because not only can you have numbness, you can have tingling or pain so you are convinced that sensations aren't important or aren't real. I might have burned myself, or scrapped skin off on the counter top or ball jar lid. I'm not sure which. Just be careful.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 5

Groovy.
Center Beam
Today, things get a little more interesting. I made a small base out of styrofoam and glued it to a sheet paper. I can now use my foam cutter to make holes for the beams to set in.

To assist with the mount of the top beams, I cut a groove down the center of the wooden wall posts. This recess isn't perfectly shaped to the beam but it does provide space for the glue to rest in.

Now it's decision time. Generally, people would have cut down trees then stripped the limbs and bark to get a round post. Do I want to cut these posts into round parts instead of square?

No, not really.

In scale these wall posts are 18" thick while the center posts and beams are less than a foot. That isn't too crazy. Working with my first concept of "found materials", perhaps the abandoned tower used 18" square beams and the current homeowner recycled them. They probably couldn't lift an 18 foot section or the massive 40 beam, so they had to cut down new trees, which explains the two different materials in use.

Having dry fitted everything, I started gluing. For now, I have glued the 5 center posts, the top beam and 12 of wall posts. I didn't glue the end posts because I am not sure where I am going with this. I have two options for a byre house. The end walls can be squared off or curved.

Returning to a bit of realism, a curved wall is harder to construct but is load bearing both up and down and side to side. A flat wall is only load bearing in the vertical. A good push can knock it down.

Both styles are fairly common for a variety of reasons. Strength vs. easy of use. Byre houses can last hundreds of years if properly maintained. Squared off end walls allow the homeowner to easily remove a whole wall without compromising the entire structure. Why would this be a useful feature? The floors were often made of ash and lime over a woven stick construction over a low basement. These floors need to be maintained and replaced, so access down the entire length of the house is a great feature.


It turns out that some historical examples of these types of houses have the rounded wall in the west. It was often constructed out of logs with the gaps covered over with mud. Since animals were brought in the home for security and warmth, it would make sense to have this stronger, yet airier rounded structure face into the wind. The smell... well. I don't know how they got used to that.

On the opposite side of the house was the family space, it broken up from the animal's space by a wall or a hallway. Since I am not showing the interior in this model, it doesn't matter much. There will be a door in the center of the long walls on both sides.

The eastern, squared off wall can have a couple of finishing pieces. Either it can simply be a flat wall, or have a porch-like structure under the roof, which cuts into the family space but has a door. More modern structures might have a fireplace and chimney which closes off most of the eastern end. I will probably make it as simple as possible.

That's it for today. If you are following along at home and want to try your hand, here are some suggested products from Amazon.com which could help you start your own byre house. Purchasing via these Amazon links supports this site with remuneration.

Foam Cutter Sandpaper Tacky Glue Balsa Wood Styrofoam Blocks

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 4

This is the cutting and sanding post. A byre house is not like a modern house. It has posts down the center line, which is different than what we do today. It also highlights a fact that I have been ignoring.

My planned dimensions were 18 feet tall (3 inches in scale), 45 feet long (7.5 inches in scale) and 20 feet wide (3.33 inches in scale). This is a house that has been used since the late iron age. They didn't have rulers, they didn't go to the lumber mill to pick up supplies. That makes problems.

First, the supply issue. I want to use up materials I have on hand with as little cutting and sanding as possible. Ok, that fixes the second issue of supplies. Second, since I'm only using found materials, I can just throw my dimensions away.

Cool. That's easy and it gives a little historical realism flavor to this build, even though it's a fantasy model.

Here is the center line of this build. There are 5 posts holding a center beam.


Now, I need to create two of the four side walls. This is where a byre house is interesting. The longest walls run parallel to the center beam. I could make two different mistakes here. I could say "5 center posts=5 posts for each of the walls". Except a byre isn't built like that. The second mistake I could make is "5 center posts leave six spaces... so I need 6 posts on the outer wall". That's also wrong. The correct answer is 8 posts per wall. These posts would be located between each center line post and have one at the corner of each run of the wall. 6+2=8 per long wall for a total of 16.

10! WTF?
8 posts, with a
2 post gap in the middle
So I cut my 16 posts from basal wood and the ends came out ragged. He's how I fix this.

I put down a piece of tape and stick my neatest end against the tape edge. I do this 10 times. WTF? You need 8 posts per wall and a total of 16, why 10?

Well, I pull two out. Those posts are square, so I can now fold the whole thing in half. That gives me 2 rows of four, so we are back to eight posts. I trimmed up the tape and used the cuttings to secure the middle of this rectangular block.


This gives me a convenient shape to hold on to while sanding. It's a nice rectangular block.


I'll repeat this for the other wall and get standing. Just an fyi - I'll sand these two blocks side by side, so they will be the same. If I did them one at a time, they would just end up two different lengths. I wouldn't know anything about that mistake.... 

I'll be back with the end walls soon. 


Why The Tek on These Old Games?

Every month, I publish my stats on the blog and "download numbers*" from DriveThru RPG. Why?

When I started this, I did everything willy-nilly without much evaluation of what I was doing. Back in July of last year, I wondered how much money I was making. I got a number $314.

Ok.

How? No idea. It isn't terribly important how much or how without a record of how much time I put in on this. I started taking in an interest in my stats, which allowed me to appreciate how people were using my website and coming into contact with my 5 products on DriveThruRPG.

Back in August of 2018, I broke some ribs. I started selling books while all hopped up on pain pills and a lack of sleep. I got into this with zero consideration AND just in time for my main vehicle for contact with consumers to close (Rest in Peace, G+!).

Now that I doing research before taking action, I know a bit and would like to share with anyone who thinking about creating a blog or a product line.

Here is a little information about how I promote my stuff. I primarily use MeWe, and make efforts to promote on both Dice.Camp and Mastodon. I am also found on Old School RPG Planet. I have a presence on Facebook, but it is small.

Today, I had a chance to talk to Jon Salway, vb Wyrde and Wayne's Books on MeWe.com about Facebook stats. We all have Facebook pages, which don't seem to be working as we wish. (Those FB links are Wayne's Books, vb Wyrde, and These Old Games)

We were all noticing how much FB wanted us to pay money for contacts, and what contacts and interactions were small. I ran some stats and found out some data. First, FB was telling me that I had zero likes in the past 28 days, 6 pageviews, 11 people reached and 9 engagements, whatever any of those things are. Added together, it's "26 things".



My Google Analytics was telling me a different story. In the same 28 days, I had 74 sessions from Facebook. Hmm. 


Which is right? Google doesn't have a horse in the game when it comes to Facebook as a traffic source. If they did, they'd under report. So, "26 Things" happened on Facebook, but I got 74 people coming to my page from FB. That works out to 2.84 visits per "26 Things" on Facebook. I can also see that these "things from Facebook" were rather active. Most them dropped out, but many of them when on to click other stuff on my site. That's engagement. And it's engagement from people that Facebook told me didn't engage.

I suspect that someone finds my page on FB, clicks a link to my website, but after reading they don't go back to Facebook and comment or click like. That sounds about right.

So, it probably isn't in my best interest to ever pay to boost a post.

Another point about Facebook. You have three ways of having a presence. I have a page which people can follow. It holds content that is not shared with my friends and family. It isn't very effective. Second, you can create an account which is only about your business, you effectively don't have a personal account for friends and family. Everything you do is for business not for friends and family. This is effective, and at a guess I think Dyson Logos uses this method. I could be wrong, I am guessing based his activity and comments. Devon Rue took a different path. She has an account which seems to mix all of her business contacts with friends and family. Dyson and Devon's methods are super effective where as my is horrible.

Dyson recently posted that he discovered that if made a post with a link, FB depreciated it. That's annoying, they want him to pay for interaction. He discovered that if he made a post without a link and added the link to the comments of that post, more people saw it. Interesting and annoying.

Anyway, this is getting long and I am almost out of knowledge to drop. I hope this helps.

*"Download numbers" are not sales. My sales are poor. 14 times as many people download for free vs. pay for a product at any price, including a penny.