Chad Perrin: SOB

31 October 2009

NaNoWriMo as Campaign Preparation

Filed under: Geek,RPG,Writing — Tags: , , — apotheon @ 07:14

(TL;DR Summary: I’ve decided to use this year’s NaNoWriMo as a means to flesh out a campaign setting.)

This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.

As National Novel Writing Month looms ever nearer, I have been fighting with myself over what to do for the month of November this year. I made the mistake of telling a friend of mine about an idea for a novel a couple of years ago that involves a war on the surface of Mars, and he has been so interested in the idea that for the last two years he has been haranguing me to actually write it for NaNoWriMo. I haven’t been able to really capture the inspiration to do so yet, though, so it’s still sitting on the back burner.

I was thinking long and hard about tackling it this year but, as time runs out before the end of October, I realized that it just wasn’t coming together in my head. I have been hesitant to commit myself to participating directly in NaNoWriMo this year at all, in fact. I think, though, that I have decided I have an idea that I simply cannot allow to lie unexplored, so I’ll take a whack at writing 50,000+ words of a novel in 30 days one more time this year.

Velesh Thumbnail

The thing that finally made up my mind (if my decision turns out to actually be final) is the fact that I’m working on the development of a Pathfinder RPG campaign setting I call the Eastern Kingdoms. It takes place in the northern half of the eastern reaches of the larger of two continents on an in-development map of a campaign world called Velesh. The Eastern Kingdoms is an area dominated by squabbling, humanocentric, petty kingdoms. It is a grim and gritty setting, where magic is rare, and dangerous, and viewed with fear and awe. Arcane magic is in fact condemned as witchcraft, and the closest thing to divine magic there is the power gained by trafficking with daemons — which have their own religions, where they are worshipped as gods.

Rather than turn this SOB entry into a rambling, disorganized description of the Eastern Kingdoms setting, I’ll get to the point:

Eastern Kingdoms Thumbnail

I have something like two thirds of the territory of the Eastern Kingdoms generally divided up between five kingdoms and an area where smaller political divisions have defected from nearby kingdoms to form a loose confederation of mutually distrustful and fractious pockets of semi-order. I have some details of major religious influences, the recent histories of the various political divisions worked out in broad strokes, and the structure and politics (to varying degrees) of the several kingdoms described in my notes. This is all in preparation for a campaign I am planning that will begin with the PCs as members of a notorious mercenary company that profits from the strife and turmoil of perpetual conflict between the Eastern Kingdoms.

Of course, I still have a third of the territory on the Eastern Kingdoms map to fill in, and a fair bit more flavor and detail to impart to the areas I have already begun describing and defining, before I have things settled enough to provide real depth to PCs’ backgrounds. This is where NaNoWriMo comes in, because I plan to start writing a tale set in the Eastern Kingdoms, and use the driving need for 1667+ words per day, as a minimal average over 30 days, to fuel my inspiration as I work on fleshing out the Eastern Kingdoms. With luck, by the time November is over, I will have one of the most richly detailed and flavorful campaign settings I have ever created.

24 October 2009

no return address

Filed under: Geek,RPG — Tags: — apotheon @ 02:11

This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.

Someone recently contacted me via my contact page here, and asked me to drop him a line if I’m interested in further discussion. The topic of the message was the Beguiler class from the D&D 3.5 Player’s Handbook 2.

Unfortunately, he didn’t include an email address in the email address field when he filled in the contact page form. If you’re the person who used the contact page to get in touch with me about Beguilers in the last few days, please contact me again and let me know what email address to use to get in touch. I’d like to be able to discuss the matter further.


20 October 2009

So, I started using Vimperator for real this time. . . .

Filed under: Geek — apotheon @ 03:11

A while back — months, maybe a year or so — I tried installing the Vimperator extension for Firefox. I played around with it for maybe three minutes or so, then decided I should get back to work and turned off the extension rather than slow down my work by trying to learn how to use Vimperator.

The problem is that Vimperator completely changes the way the browser works, making it an entirely keyboard-driven application. Yes, you can still use the mouse if you really want to, but a lot of stuff becomes much more difficult to accomplish (if not nearly impossible) with a mouse instead of the keyboard. As such, the learning curve seems steep at first, and it felt a bit much for me at that exact moment. I figured I’d get back to it later.

I never did get back to it. Time passed. I moved to a new laptop, where it wasn’t even installed in the first place, and had long since basically forgotten about Vimperator. Then, last week, I felt inspired to give it another try.

I’ve started using Vimperator for real this time. To my surprise, it took me all of about five minutes to get comfortable enough with it to use it for my everyday browsing tasks without feeling like I was substantially hampered. By the time I had spent ten minutes with it, while some things still didn’t come as easily for me with Vimperator as without it, other things were easier, so that instead of being more difficult to use effectively than Firefox without the extension it was just a trade-off. By the time I had spent half an hour using it, Vimperator was turning out to give me a slight boost to the efficiency and “naturalness” of the browsing experience for me, in the same way that — once one gets past the initial learning curve hump — vi/Vim enhances one’s productivity when editing text files.

Part of the key to quick familiarization and comfort with Vimperator was, I’m sure, my familiarity and comfort with Vim. Another part is the help page that Vimperator opens the first time the browser is restarted after the Vimperator extension is installed. That help page is just a Web page (actually a handful of Web pages that link to each other) stored on the local system, “installed” there along with Vimperator itself. Don’t worry about closing it and losing track of it; Vimperator allows you to open it up again simply by way of the :help command. Nothing to it.

I’ve added the NumExt extension for Firefox after getting used to Vimperator. It does nothing but add simple text numbers to all open tabs and add some (ignorable) keybindings to allow switching between tabs. The keybindings are incredibly limited, but I don’t much care about that. The reason I wanted numbered tabs was simply to allow me to type 60gt (for instance) to immediately go to tab number 60. Vimperator allows me to do this by default of course, but if I don’t know the numbers of the tabs it makes it somewhat more difficult to magically pluck the number for the desired tab out of thin air. Since I tend to browse with a lot of tabs open (sometimes more than 150; currently 74 of them), this — Vimperator + NumExt — is a very useful combination. I don’t have to count to know that the tab to which I want to switch is six to the left of the current tab before typing 6gT any longer (or, worse, just hit gT over and over again). Instead, I type 60gt and go directly there (for instance, again).

(NOTE: An anonymous commenter below mentioned that a simple configuration option would add numbers to tabs, so I don’t need the NumExt extension. It works well. Setting it within the current Vimperator browsing sessions can be accomplished by using the :set go+=n command, which adds the n option to whatever other options you already have set. To save options to the configuration file, use the :mkv command.)

I got rid of the View Source With extension, which I used to let me open a text area on a Web form in an external editor (Vim in a terminal emulator window, naturally), when I realized that when the cursor is in a Web form text area I can just hit <Ctrl>+<I> to open an instance of a Vim-like editor to edit the contents of the text area, thus making View Source With redundant for me.

When using :open or :tabopen (depending on whether I want to open something in the current tab or a new tab, respectively), it’s probably worth knowing you can use tab completion to get the same effects as using the address bar’s suggestions. Start typing something like :open sob.apo then hit the Tab key, and you should get a bunch of suggestions for how to finish that URL just as you’d get suggestions for how to finish it if typed in the normal Firefox address bar. Cycle through them with the Tab key, just as you would if you were using tab completion at a Unix shell, and hit the Enter key when you’ve selected the correct URL. As long as you aren’t in Insert mode, you can use either the O key or the T key, respectively, to get :open or :tabopen started. Following that, just type in the beginning of the URL you want, and hit <Tab> to get your tab completion.

To copy the URL of the current tab into the clipboard, just type y (again, when not in Insert mode). It’s much easier than having to move my hand to the mouse and highlight the URL in the address bar.

Anyway . . . the point is that, after using it for a a month or so, I think Vimperator is great. Your mileage may vary, I suppose.

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License