Monday, April 29, 2013

Indie Metal Monday - Ocean Towers

Rockin' out to Ocean Towers, writing up dungeons. It's been a good day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Playtest Recap

On Tuesday (04/16/13) four adventurers were sent to Hot Springs Island on an expedition by the Martel Company. Their objective was to confirm or deny the rumor that four 50' tall statues made of gold could be found on the island.

This is their story.

  • Threadgill - Fifth level human FIGHTER
  • Rodelle - Fifth level half-giant/half-dwarven CLERIC of Challokbroth ancient elemental god of balance
  • Dueggo Bronzesights - Fifth level dwarven RANGER
  • Viril Wanderbrambles - Fifth level halfling WIZARD
The Martel Company sent the party to the island via gnomish airship ( PURPLE LINE on map ). On approach to the island it was attacked by a golden feathered roc and begins free-falling. Gnomes begin to abandon airship via parachute, leaving party with 'chutes but no instructions. Party manages to work parachutes but land ( not so delicately ) in an area away from gnomes on the jungle covered southern slopes of a volcano.

Party assesses area. A large waterfall nearby becomes a giant cloud of steam instead of a lake or river beneath the falls. Two blue-green snakes appear to have been killed in a ritualistic manner near the falls. Party discovers ( without injury ) that the rocks where the waterfall touches down are super heated from below. Speculate magma.

Party heads north towards possible airship crash site. Comes across a 10'x10' tunnel that appears to have been carved into the volcano. Party enters. Discovers trip wire. Wizard marks ground beneath tripwire with an arcane mark so it can be more easily avoided if a hasty retreat is required. Tunnel opens into cavern. Dark. Uncomfortably warm. Smells bad. Party hears raspy breathing from the ceiling. Discovers a morbidly obease salamander clinging to ceiling above them. Salamander ( apparently frightened ) wants to know what they're doing here. Warrior uses jerky from his "never-ending bag of jerky" ( 5lbs per day ) to make the salamander feel more at ease. Party inquires about statues, reveal they were traveling with gnomes. Salamander calls himself "Fatty". Tells party he knows where statues are and will tell them their location if they provide him with beer, or gnomes to eat ( halfling wizard seems uncomfortable ). Party agrees, and takes Fatty with them to the crash site.

The crash site is not far from the cave. Fatty moves faster than party expects ( on all fours ). No gnomes to be found at crash site, but 3 barrels of Gnomish Pale Ale ( The G.P.A. ) survived the fall. Fatty drinks two, and begs for more jerky. Tells party to head north east around the volcano. When asked how far it is to the statues Fatty replies "From here *wheeze wheeze*, it's about *wheeze* three pounds." Further inquiry reveals that Fatty gauges all distance between places by the amount of weight he would lose were he to travel there.

Party follows Fatty's directions, and arrives at a plaza of polished black obsidian flagstones and four, 50' tall gold statues of a male efreet in different garb, just before sunset. Obsidian pedestals holding statues are engraved with the following "Svarku the warrior", "Svarku the poet", "Svarku the savior", "Svarku the wizard". Cleric attempts to climb the poet statue to steal its apparently magical quill. When he touches the statue, it appears to animate and ask "What are you doing bro?". Cleric is taken aback, removes his hand, and learns that none of the other members of the party saw the statue move, or heard it speak. Each member of the party then decides to touch a statue, and each sees the statue they touch move, and hears it speak. The voice identifies itself as "Svarku" and, though he does not threaten, he laughingly insults the dress, taste, style, and fitness levels of all party members, except the fighter. Svarku invites Threadgill to visit him in the volcano where he can get even better weapons and armor and become "even more swole and aesthetic". Svarku tells wizard he will teach him more powerful spells, but is more insulting about his diminutive ( "manlet" ) stature. Cleric decides to perform an augury and see if going to the volcano to see Svarku is a good idea.

The cleric's god, Challokbroth, ( perhaps because other "heathen" party members were referring to him as "chalk breath" and "chicken broth" ) indicates that going to the volcano may give them a way off the island, but it may also lead to their death. Ranger questions cleric's faith due to the vague answer. Party decides to head to the volcano, but do not make it, and camp instead. As they make camp, they encounter another adventurer who calls himself "Bryan" and claims to have been sent by the Martel Company too. He was not sent to seek the statues, rather, Martel Co. sent him to find a legendary "kujibird" as their feathers are said to be made of actual gold. The party made a watch rotation ( not fully trusting Bryan or the jungles ). The fighter fell asleep during his watch (3rd), but luckily, no attack came in the night.

In the morning, Bryan claimed to have a boat, and the party decided to go with Bryan and hunt the kujibird with the promise of a way off the island, instead of visiting Svarku. After traveling for a while, the party arrived in a part of the jungle where jets of flame would occasionally shoot up from the ground. They thought they were about to be attacked by a pack of 4 imps wielding large butterfly knives, but realized before they attacked that the imps were mortally wounded. The party asked one of the dying imps what had happened, and the imp decided to reveal that he and his friends were loyal to Svarku and reply that his group had been attacked by the Night Axe ogres. The party then bluffed and said they had been sent by Svarku to find this group, and help them fight the Night Axe too, and it was lucky they'd shown up. They cleric tried to heal them, but only managed to heal two. The two imps that lived called themselves "Combustarinos". One was named Paul, and the other Vick. Talk turned to the kujibird, but it was unclear if the combustarinos would help find one, even though the party claimed Svarku wanted one and that having one would ensure victory over the Night Axe 'cause of the bird's magical feathers.

The party traveled east and came across a spring. Three ogres, apparently meditating, surrounded a shackled human. When the human caught a glimpse of the party, he began to struggle against his bonds and make noise causing one of the ogres to hit him and say "Be still vile agent of Svarku!". Then there was a battle. An earth elemental was summoned by the cleric. A rope connected the shackled human to an ogre. The ogre got his forarm cut off, and the shackled human used the arm on a rope as a weapon until he could recover his gear. The ogres wielded obsidian axes with supreme accuracy and brutality. Bryan warned the party that both the ogres and combustarinos would likely call friends to assist in the battle, and that every time he'd seen these groups fight things would escalate to obscene levels. Six more combustarinos showed up shortly there after, and the party used that opportunity to flee east.

After several hours of traveling, the party reached a beach, then followed it 'till Bryan's ship could be seen in the far distance at which point they swam to it and got the hell off of Hot Springs Island.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Indie Metal Monday - Interrupted by Electro Swing

Indie Metal Mondays have fallen off for a couple of reasons:

  1. Finding quality metal-obscura on bandcamp takes time, and I've been having to spend it on other things. =(
  2. I've been crushing on electro-swing.

So if you're in the mood for something different, check out the Carlson Two. They're aus Berlin and ausgezeichnet. Give 'em a listen.

The Carlson Two

Sunday, April 14, 2013

[prose] - Harp's Tale

Harp is a man of average height, with brown hair, a white scar along the right side of his jaw, and the watery blue eyes of a drunk. He appears reasonably strong, but carries an inch or two of fat over his musculature. Indio claims that Harp is on everyone's shit list due to his drinking, and is only tolerated because of his skill with a sword. His answers to my questions were terse, and he rarely met my eyes during our talk.

Lieutenant Barvus had kept Harp's sword arm close to his side for much of their time in the ruins, but it didn't seem to do him much good in the end, as the first attack on the marine's group was an attack of personality coming from within the party itself. Barvus, being recently promoted and somewhat disliked by the marines, chose a Sergeant Varik to act as his squad leader and second. Varik was popular among the troops, and possessed a commanding personality that Barvus apparently thought he could control. Upon reaching the ruins proper, Barvus ordered the troop to move through the ruins and up to an imposing structure of white stone on the high ground several miles from the beach. Varik countered the order, claiming to have spotted the ruins of a marketplace off to the north, and began leading a small group of the men to go after the booty that would doubtlessly be found there. Instead of contesting this usurpation of authority, Barvus reportedly revoked his original command of sticking together and surveying the ruins, and split the group even further. Varik, Indio and five other marines headed to the marketplace, and Barvus, Harp, Harvard, Unger and a young marine named Jessup, continued northeast along the steaming, terrace covered road. After a ways Barvus spotted golden filigree in the ruins of a mansion and called for himself, Harp and Jessup to investigate, ordering Harvard and Unger to continue up the road. When I asked Harp why Barvus had sent Harvard and Unger away, his answer was a curt, "How should I know?".

Indio offered more possible insight into this split when I asked about it during his interview. "Ahh, that's easy! Jesse's fresh so he's assed out of the cut, and good ole Harp's only a cunt hair away from the deep so Lieutenant Swingin' Dick gets all the swag if'i'n he keeps Harvard and Unger away. Shit call though. Shoulda been laced up proper down that stretch, but new boss is too focused on a handy and can't run the race."

What follows is a copy of Zilbee's transcription of my meeting with Harp where he talks about the curiosities of the ruins and mansion. His responses, while terse, were filled with information and I would hate to unintentionally omit any information subtleties.

Matthias: "What happened once Harvard and Unger were gone?"
Harp: "Barvus had us help him pry some long pieces of gold off the front entryway of the compound."

M: "He didn't have you investigate it?"
H: "Not 'till the gold was in his pack. Then we went through the gate and started looking."

M: "Looking for what?"
H: "I dunno. More gold I s'pose."

M: "You weren't told what you were looking for?"
H: "No. I'm not there for looking. Jus' have to do it sometimes."

M: "What are you there for?"
H: "Fighting."

M: "Should we skip to that?"
H: "You're the one asking these questions."

M: "What did you see in the mansion grounds? Please be as detailed as you can."
H: "I was in first. The courtyard was overgrown but some of the brick walk leading to the house was still visible. The house was nice looking, or was once nice looking. Shitty now though. Barvus was behind me most of the time and he told me to go into the mansion and look around, so I did."

M: "What did you see when you looked around?"
H: "Most of the inside of the house was covered in some orange crystal. Like a layer of ice, right?"

M: "Were there any statues on the grounds or symbols on the doors?"
H: "Yeah. There was the top half of a statue sittin' in a raised flower bed. I don't know why. It was covered in orange too. No signs on the door."

M: "Orange crystal?"
H: "No, and they're not crystals. It's like ice I said. Like in the morning when there is dew on the grass and it's frozen. This orange wasn't like that. It was all wet. Like goo."

M: "What was inside?"
H: "It was a big house. Furniture and stuff. The entry was very large and there was a small statue of a skinny kid, or maybe an elf. It whistled as I walked past and a door opened to one of them rooms where rich people drink with their drinkin' coats on. Paintings of naked elves everywhere. Some, mid fuckin'. Others dressed all funny. Most everything in that place was coated in orange."

M: "Orange goo? Or orange solid?"
H: "Orange solid."

M: "What happened next?"
H: "I stole a statue of a fat naked dame touchin' herself."

M: "What?"
H: "This."

At this point, Harp pulled a small platinum statue of a nude, pregnant, elf from his pack. The reclining figure's back is arched, belly thrust up and legs splayed. Her face conveys ecstasy and one hand cups a breast while the other is pressed to her genitals.

H: "As I snagged the statue I heard Barvus calling for help. I stowed it in my pack and ran outside. There was a large lizardman with green scales and dark, bubbly tattoos fighting Barvus and Jesse."

M: "What did you do?"
H: "I killed it."

M: "Was it hard?"
H: "Not for me."

M: "I hear you're a talented warrior. Where did you learn to fight?"
H: "Been in a couple of armies. Just paid attention when people talked about how to fight. Always been good at it."

M: "Good at what?"
H: "Killing."

M: "How do you feel about that?"
H: "I've seen the crew you sail with. You keep with killers. How do you feel about that?"

M: "What happened next?"
H: "Two more lizards blocked the exit to the compound. Barvus told me to break through, so I did. I bowled into them, and when we all came up from the mess I saw Barvus and Jess runnin' up the street which was fine by me."

M: "Why?"
H: "I caught Harvard out of the corner of my eye. He's a better sword arm than both of them. Unger ain't half bad either."

M: "You like Harvard? He seems a little regimental for your tastes."
H: "I've only got tastes for good ale 'n bad whores. I don't like Harvard, but he's a good soldier. Would'a probably been runnin' our company if Barvus hadn't'a been shipped in on a family ticket. Harvard's a good sword hand."

M: " What happened once Unger got to you?"
H: "Killed the two lizards. Unger got a spear in the gut though. Wound like that may take hours to kill you, but it will. I went to get others while Harvard helped Unger."

M: "You volunteered to do that?"
H: " No. Harvard told me to help Unger while he went for the others, but I told him no. I'm no good at lying."

M: "Lying?"
H: "Yeah. Lying. If I gotta wrap someone up 'n tell him he's gonna be alright when I know he won't, he'll know he's dead. Unger's the type that'll think bearable pain ain't killable pain, and Harvard's the type that can keep him ignorant. I ain't."

M: "Then what happened?"
H: "Got a little lost looking for Barvus. When I found him, he was bleedin' from the head, and Jesse was trying to bandage it. Barvus yelled at me that everyone was dead, even Harvard and Unger. Then we ran from some lizardmen."

M: "Why didn't you tell him Harvard and Unger were alive?"
H: "Martel pays me to follow orders, not contradict 'em."

Harp, Barvus and Jesse ran northwest through the ruins, skirting the ruined marketplace which now billowed the clouds of black smoke we'd seen from the ships and headed towards the city walls. They seemed to have evaded the lizards that had given them chase, and were able to pass through a crumbled section of wall and flee into the jungle. The group hacked its way through the jungle, heading northwest and aiming for the coast so they could backtrack to the skiffs once night fell. After traveling for four hours, Barvus sent Harp up a tree to get a lay of the land."

M: "What did you see?"
H: "The coast wasn't far off, with the beach runnin' northeast and southwest so I knew we'd gone the right way. That's when the attack happened."

M: "Attack?"
H: "Yeah. We hadn't lost those lizards after all. While I was monkeyed up that tree one ran a spear through Jesse while he was pissin', but it killed him so quick that I didn't hear it."

M: "How did you realize there was an attack then?"
H: "Barvus started screamin' and tried to take on the two scale jobs."

M: "Seems he didn't win?"
H: "Heh. No. Tripped on a tail and took an obsidian spear through the neck."

M: "But how'd you kill them?"
H: "Sword to the jaw. Spear to the face."

M: "You used one of their spears?"
H: "Yes."

M: "Are you sure these were the same lizardmen that chased you in the ruins?"
H: "No. But they had the same type of black, bubbly tattoos."

M: "Tattoos? How can you tattoo scales?"
H: "Well, they didn't have 'em anymore when they was dead. Looked like they'd pulled out their scales in those black patches."

M: "And you keep saying the tattoos were bubbling? We've seen a few lizardmen so far while sailing around these islands, both with blue scales and green, but none with tattoos. Let alone bubbling tattoos."
H: "Guess these are different then."

M: "What do you mean, bubbling?"
H: "I dunno. It's like… It's like they bubble off their bodies but never get any lighter, right?"

M: "I see. And you say they vanished when they died?"
H: "The tattoos? Yeah. Gone."

Pulling detail out of Harp continued to be a painful process and his information about these lizardmen continued to leave me wanting. I found myself wishing I could have witnessed the combat directly and not been forced to rely on this second hand account as I had begun to realize I was already applying a great deal of my own bias to his report. When the other marines had praised Harp's skill with the sword, I had assumed he fought in a manner similar to Captain Rand. Jeremy rarely uses anything but his sword, a dagger, or his "mitts", as Stonejaw calls them. Hearing that Harp was just as lethal with an obsidian tipped spear scooped off the battlefield as he was with his own sword made me wonder what other nuances I might have missed in his retelling of events.

In an attempt to squeeze more detail out of Harp I had been steadily plying him with ale, but instead of making him more verbose, the alcohol began slurring his speech to such an extent that both Zilbee's quill and myself began to have a hard time keeping up. After the battle, Harp headed towards the beach he'd seen earlier. He reached it round about sunset and based on his descriptions, seems to have discovered a large lagoon. The barrier island is covered in mangrove trees, and the two spits of land reaching out two it reminded him of the mandibles on a crab's mouth when he viewed it from above. Once traveling alone, Harp had taken to climbing trees more frequently to keep his bearings and watch for possible attacks. He spent the night up in a tree just off the beach of black sand and drifted off to sleep as the sun began to set.

M: "The lagoon at sunset must have been a beautiful sight."
H: "Yeah. The way the sun hit those low waves made the black sand look like it was covered in orange diamonds. I'm gonna remember that sight for a long time."

Harp left the lagoon several hours before dawn, following the coastline south to the ruins and the skiffs where he ran into the other survivors.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Thomas Cole - Desolation

From stardust to beauty to rubble, and back to stardust once more.

More Word Clouds

Awesome people on the internet created a script that makes parsing out text for word clouds even easier. I have been very excited today.

To celebrate I turned the parsers on Robert E. Howard's "Tower of the Elephant" and Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space".

I really need to learn me some python.

Common english words have been removed from both the Howard and Lovecraft stories, as have the names of people and places (since repetition makes them quite heavy). As usual, I'm always kind of amazed to see just how quickly the "feel" of the work clumps up and rises to the top when subjected to this sort of treatment.

Robert E. Howard - Tower of the Elephant

H.P. Lovecraft - Colour Out of Space
Flavor and feel. All over the place. Look at how pulpy the words are in the Conan story. I love all the body parts in Howard's story, and I really love how the word "seemed" is so damn big in Lovecraft's.

So much potential with doing things like this.

Monday, April 8, 2013

[prose] - An Introduction to Hot Springs Island

Day 15 - Aboard the Siren's Edge
Our search for a suitable location at which to found this new port continues. After the incident on the Webbed Isle, and Vance's death on the Island of Blooms, Captain Rand has ordered all crew to remain aboard the Siren's Edge and Siren's Folly until scouting parties from the Martel Company return with an initial report. Scuttlebutt is beginning to turn sour, and the pranks the crew normally direct towards the Martel Company representatives that remain with the ships are escalating into almost open hostility. The crew is clearly not handling the death of Vance well, and while I understand Captain Rand's desire to not risk his crew unnecessarily, our men are itching to get off these ships and explore the islands that will be their new home, even if they have proven rather inhospitable so far.

This island, and the one further south, are two of the largest in the Swordfish Island's chain, and the Martel Company told us they had the most promising looking deep water ports. Now we just have to wait and see if any of the inhabitants want to drink our innards or use our teeth as currency here too. That said, if the marines keep returning to the ships with reports of "no suitable locations" and packs full of treasure, I'm not sure how long Jeremy can keep the crew in check, captain or not.

This island does appear quite beautiful from the safety of the ship. Twin volcanoes, heavily cloaked in jungle, rise nearly 3000 feet above black sand beaches, and I have spotted numerous signs of hydrothermal activity. The ruins of an ancient city tumble off the lower slopes of the smaller volcano and into the sea, and appear to contain the remains of elven pleasure palaces, and a large wall in the same style as those found on the Island of Blooms. A large structure of white stone gleams from the volcano's slope above the rest of this city, but I have not been able to discern its true purpose from this distance. Curiously, these ruins seem to lack the broad avenues and colonnades seen on the Island of Blooms and Ruined Isle. In their place are what appear to be giant sized stairs resembling white, woodland fungi. Hopefully the beauty here does not prove deceptive too. I look forward to the marine's report.

Day 16 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (morning)
Sunny with winds south by southwest. Mood among the crew remains sour. Twelve Martel company marines, led by the recently promoted Lieutenant Barvus, dropped skiffs at dawn and headed to the ruins. Representative Amberlin continues to express her conviction that this would be an excellent location for the new port town, but my analysis of the crumbling wall and ruins leads me to believe that much of this city rests beneath the waves and would make these waters quite treacherous. Opinions aside, for now, we wait.

Day 16 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (midday)
Smoke has been spotted in the ruins. Speculation rampant. Orders are to remain anchored off the coast for 48 hours for any survivors to return before heading to the southern island.

Day 17 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (morning)
Calm and overcast. Heavy clouds rolled in during the night but the tropical heat has not abated. As the day heats up, this humidity may steam us like lobsters in a pot beneath this lid of clouds, and the crew's heated enough as it is. Representative Amberlin was fished out of the sea in the pre-dawn hours this morning after reportedly tripping over a pile of poorly stowed rope while walking the deck. Captain Rand has requested Stonejaw investigate the incident. A change in weather or mood can't come soon enough.

Day 18 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (pre-dawn hours)
Overcast. Light breeze, south by southeast. We are now sailing towards the island to the south, and my hand feels as if it will drop off at any moment as I have been stuck in Captain Rand's quarters writing almost non-stop since about midday when the four survivors returned. I know that I can trust Zilbee's quill of transcription to accurately record conversations as they happen, but old habits die hard in old men, and writing down what I hear as I hear it helps it stick in the memory as well as on the page. Over the coming days I will compare my notes to Zilbee's auto-notes and compile the three accounts we heard into a sensible order, but for now, a recap.

This island, which I now call Hot Springs, has proven to be unsuitable for our port town. As I surmised, much of the coastal ruin (confirmed to be elven) continues into the sea, making the waters treacherous for large, ocean-going vessels. The broad ways and avenues I'd thought missing from the ruins are still there, but overgrown by terraces of white rock formed by overflowing pools of hot water the marines swear to be as blue as sapphires. These white terraces, resembling woodland fungal growths, demonstrated that the hydrothermal activity on this island is even more robust that initially suspected, and the marines reported seeing many smaller hot springs, mud pits, and small steaming geysers as they fled through the jungles and away from the ruins.

Hot Springs Island seems just as hostile as the other islands we have come across, and Lieutenant Barvus' poor choices in the ruins (splitting the company and focusing on loot) led to his death, and the death of most of his troops to a lizardman ambush. Of the twelve marines that went into the ruins, only four returned to the ships, and one (Unger) sustained a belly wound that may have placed him within the reach of Death's bony hand. The marine Harp fled northwest from the ruins and spent last night in a tree on the shores of what he calls Crab Mouth Lagoon. The marine Harvard carried the wounded Unger southeast and camped in a glade of ancient pine trees filled with swarms of exceptionally friendly bees and the marine Indio braved a night in the ruins themselves.

Ivan Aivazovsky - Current Art Crush

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900)

Ship on Stormy Seas

The way this guy was able to capture sunlight shining through water is stupidly amazing. It seems like he just kept painting the same type of thing over and over again. Since I haven't read anything about him at all, I'm having a good time letting my idealistic side, and my cynical side battle it out on a field of ignorance.

Did Ivan keep painting the same type of thing, (with some variations) because he was trying to perfectly capture the essence of something ellusive and true? Or was he just rockin' out what sold and was easy?

Regardless of the reason though, his stuff is busy playing mixologist on my soul right now.

Hexenbracken vs Kraal - A Quick Data Analysis

Fully realizing I missed the point of the Phantom Tollbooth, I've got to admit that I've always liked Dictionopolis much more than Digitopolis. Lists of words are consistently able to get my mind running towards ideas, while lists of numbers get me running away from them. Because of this, I  dabble a bit with data visualization to aggregate word lists out of large chunks of text, just to see what shows up, so I hit +Zak Smith's wonderfully orchestrated (and wonderfully fun) Hexenbracken and Kraal with some data viz sticks and turned all 1144 hex details into two pictures.

The Hexenbrachen
The Kraal
So... what the fuck is going on in these pictures? In short, the more frequently a word occurs in the hex descriptions of the Hexenbracken and the Kraal, the larger the word appears in the word cloud. In Hexenbracken, the word "WATER" appears in 51 unique hexes. In the Kraal the word "ICE" appears in 79 unique hexes.

Because word clouds only show the number of times a word appears in the text, you don't ever want to use the data if its too raw. In the Kraal's raw data, for example, the word ice appears ~107 times across 79 hexes. When trying to understand the themes of the map as a whole, the number of hexes containing the word ice is more "valuable" than the total number of times the word ice appears in the whole document. To account for this, the data you're seeing in the word clouds above has been cleaned a number of times (detailed below).

Additionally, a blacklist of common English words (he, she, it, they, large, small, etc) was applied to the data. The blacklist contains 309 words, and has got to be handled carefully. For example, in Hexenbracken I blacklisted the word giant (since it tended to refer to size), but left it in the Kraal (since it was referring to creatures). 

On the one hand, I find these word clouds to be great for inspiration, and on the other I think they do an excellent way of quickly identifying the overarching themes, feeling, and flavor found in each hexmap. Why pay to have someone write up a blurb about your product when you can just aggregate out all the commonalities in the work and see if your themes are evocative enough to engage the audience on their own?

Tools Used:

Process Used (pretty sloppy I know, but it works and if anyone wants to laugh and show me a better way to do this, I'd <3 you a long time):
  1. Acquire RAW DATA (Hexenbracken) (The Kraal) ensuring each description is on it's own line
  2. Toss it into Notepad++
  3. Find/Replace all the symbols in the text with spaces
  4. Import the data into Excel and remove the duplicate words from each hex description. This way if "giant" was used multiple times in a single hex it would only be counted a single time. Plural and other forms remained (e.g., "giant" and "giants") but likewise were only counted once.
  5. Throw it into the WordCloud Generator to remind myself I was making progress, and work on the blacklist (Discovered I needed to blacklist the words "hex", "hexes" and "their" which weren't on the "common english words list" I was using).
  6. Use Notepad++ to find/replace all the common english words with spaces (I really need to figure out how to script this part). This was done because uses its own blacklist for common words and, not knowing what it is, I needed to remove the words manually because wordle didn't blacklist as much as was needed)
  7. Throw it into wordle and tweak the font/layout/colors
Thanks to +Zak Smith for organizing this dog and pony show and  +Random Wizard+Ramanan Sivaranjan for packaging up all the data so beautifully!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The First Public Playtest (A Brief Recap)

I'm calling our first public playtest of Hot Springs Island a pretty rockin' success. The new Dragon's Lair location here in Austin is amazing, and they had a great turnout for their first Austin Indie Creator night.

Two groups managed to explore parts of Hot Springs Island that evening. The first, sought the elusive kujibird, rumored to be extinct, but also rumored to have feathers of gold. The second sought a renegade mage, survived a shipwreck, and lost a beloved pet... falcotronix (may he never be forgotten).

You can check out some pictures below, and if you're in the Austin area and interested in playing in a game or two, sound off in the comments or hit up swordfishislands on the old gmail. For those of you on G+ that may be wondering what this is all about, we're still working on some digital solutions but we'd like to get things tested out via hangout as well.

The end is getting closer, and while the updates here on the blog may become even more sporadic, they won't be stopping completely.

Stay metal.

The table
The content creators
Group 1 - Hunting the kujibird
Group 2