A monster on the verge of eating an adventurer.


This is a little bit of an experiment. This post is what some might call micro blogging. If you’re reading this in an RSS reader it’ll look the same, but on my website this post is displayed a little bit differently. It should look a bit demure next to a bigger grown-up blog post. 20 years ago a lot of blogging felt short and casual. Nowadays it feels like people feel the need to say a lot, and find friction in the format. People move their casual messages to sites like Twitter or Facebook. But the ephemera you post online should belong to you as well. With the death of G+ I saw so much great stuff just vanish. So many messages from friends, interesting discussions, etc. Some of it lives in an export on my hard drive. A lot of it’s likely gone forever. I should blog more, but blogging doesn’t need to be long essays and deep discussions. Sometime it can just be sharing for the sake of sharing. Someone takes a small idea you have and turns it into something wonderful.

Who is free on Tuesday?

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on June 17, 2013

Tagged: 4e meta

As a follow-up to my previous post of getting back into D&D, I thought I would look back at the logistics of playing D&D as an adult. When you’re young you have all the time in the world and no real responsibilities. As adults my friends and I had a much smaller window of time to waste on D&D. Whether my friends and I used that sliver of time as wisely as we could have remains to be seen, but we certainly had a lot of fun.

Getting six adults together to play D&D proved more than a little difficult. Initially we were playing about twice a month. That pace slowed down after half a year of gaming, presumably after some of the novelty wore off. Eventually we started playing once every month or so. The time between games slowly crept up and up till the campaign came to a halt, about a year ago. Our D&D campaign ran from about November 2009 through to August 2012. During that time there were a couple of longer breaks due to weddings and babies.

We used Doodle almost exclusively to schedule games. People would fill out when they were free for the coming month or two and we’d try and find a few days that worked each month. Doodle is fantastic. I don’t think we’d have played anywhere near he number of games we played without it. If you are still trading emails like a chump to organize any event you are doing it wrong.

Meeting up in person got trickier when Dave and Sarah moved out to suburbs. (Dave and I both don’t drive, for starters.) We switched to playing online via video chats almost exclusively for the last few sessions we ran, meeting up occasionally when someone had access to a car and we could car pool. We used Roll20 as a virtual table-top, which works quite well for 4th Edition D&D. Playing D&D online is a pretty good substitute for meeting up in person.

We also used Google Wave (seriously) to takes notes about what had happened during a session in case someone couldn’t make it out, and just so we could keep track of things as the game progressed. It actually worked fairly well for that purpose. If it wasn’t insanely slow and confusing Wave might have fared better. We switched to using Google Docs once Wave shut down. Google+ also has lots of cool services that lend themselves to running a campaign: hangouts, communities, and events being the most notable. I am going to assume there are a bunch of D&D nerds at Google working on tools to help them play D&D using their computers.

The inability of my friends and I to settle on a regular time to meet up and play is what ultimately led to our campaign coming to an end. The amount of effort it would take to schedule a game eventually proved too great. I’ve probably played more sessions of the Vaults of Pahvelorn game I play online over the last year than my friends and I managed to play over three years. Having a consistent schedule for the games has meant we rarely miss a session.

I think a big part of the fun we had playing D&D was probably just getting together to eat greasy take-out food. Our DM Dave lived next to one of the best fish and chips shops in the city for a good chunk of the time we were playing together. That was both fantastic and dangerous.

Playing D&D is always a good excuse to meet up.


Save vs. Total Party Kill: Year One

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on June 03, 2013

Tagged: meta

I was off in England when this blog had its one year anniversary. The first post on this site was May 29th of last year. My original goal was to have a space I could talk about D&D that wouldn’t bore the people who read my other website, A Funkaoshi Production. I have tried to avoid forcing myself to write on a regular schedule. D&D has become a much bigger hobby in my life recently, so it’s still often been the case I have something nerdy to discuss over here.

A lot of the more interesting things on this site weren’t actually produced by me, really. The biggest hits to this site are now people looking for the Hexenbracken, the Kraal and the Colossal Wastes of Zhaar. Those community hex crawl projects were a lot of fun to work on.

I suppose my bigger contribution to the online gaming community is actually my random character generator. It’s probably one of the most used side projects I’ve worked on. I’m hoping to do more interesting things with it this year. The other two tools I wrote this year, Random Carcosa and The LotFP Summon Spell, are probably much more niche, though I am quite happy with both.

This last year actually went quite fast. I’ve got to play much more D&D than I thought I would. Hopefully that keeps up this year.


Am I Playing a Role-Playing Game?

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on October 30, 2012

Tagged: osr meta

There has been some discussion online about what constitutes a role-playing game.

When you are playing a game that you suspect might be a role playing game, ask yourself these questions:

If you answered yes to both these questions, congratulations, you are probably playing a role playing game. Now go have some fun!

I have heard it remarked that Dungeons and Dragons’s isn’t a role playing game, it’s a war game. Now, clearly we can see this isn’t the case–unless you are a halfing wizard or some such thing–so the next question to ask is: how do I know if I am playing a war game? If you find yourself wondering if you are playing a war game, ask yourself these questions:

If you answered yes to both these questions, congratulations, you are playing a war game. Now go flank some units!


My D&D Bookshelf

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on July 16, 2012

Tagged: blogs meta books

I’ve added a new page to this site, listing the D&D books I currently own.1 I like seeing what books (and PDFs) other people own, as it’s a good source for finding new books that might be worth reading. That page will also be a good place to link back to reviews i’ve written about the books I’ve bought. For someone who doesn’t actually play that much D&D, I own a lot of books on the subject. I suppose this page also exists to shame myself into not buying more D&D books.

  1. I shamelessly stole this idea from Untimately, which I recently mentioned on this blog