Friday 30 September 2016

Just Enough Prep

As a creative person, I like preparing a campaign for a Role-Playing Game. Characters, backgrounds for those characters, motivations and histories behind those backgrounds, maps that detail those histories... I'd happily spend all the time I do not have building those details.

There's only so much time in the day, though.

As a game master who wants to run this campaign one day (and as someone who wants to stay sane), I found it helpful to draw up a Just Enough Prep target list. My intent is that once I had completed everything on this list, I'd be in a position to at least start the campaign.

The campaign is not a static story. It responds to the decisions and actions of the Player Characters. So, a secondary goal here is to have enough prep to be ready for the curve balls that the PCs throw. There's no conceivable way to prepare for every possible PC action.

What made the Preparation List

Some items on the list I found hard to quantify at first. I decided to prepare for these items by creating one or two items per player. I have six players in my gaming group.

  1. A name for the campaign
    • The campaign is called "County Playground: The Grand Grind"
  2. A guide for the campaign setting should be ready for the players
    • Concise details on the campaign, to help the players generate PCs.
    • I have this ready. My ebook is titled A PC Guide to County Playground:The Grand Grind
    • It's on sale now at iBooks
  3. A wiki with ten items per player
    • The players need something to work with.
    • I actually have two wikis: a public one for the players and a private one for Gamemaster Eyes Only. The public one is copied to the County Playground Grand Grind Mediawiki site.
  4. A logo for the campaign
    • The logo ties together all the above items. I put the logo on the ebook PC Guide and the Mediawiki.
  5. A tool to push updates from my player vimwiki local on my computer to the Mediawiki installation accessible on the Internet.
  6. One blog post per player
    • Part of the job of the blog is to keep track of what works. I'm not planning to have to redo something in two years. If I have to, nice to have a record of what I did initially. Ideally, through the comments, someone might suggest a better way of doing things.
  7. A conflict web for the major NPCs
    • For this I found three large pieces of paper, 11 by 17 inches. I mapped out which NPCs are the masters and which are the servants, who is in love and who hates each other. Each NPC gets at least one relationship; some have several.
    • The idea here is that if the PCs suddenly go somewhere I have not thought of and encounter the NPC in a setting I have not expected, I'll at least have a starting point of what will motivate that NPC in that situation.
  8. Sketches for the first several encounters
    • Two encounters per player
    • Rough out what the encounter requires: NPCs and monster names, from the characters, maps, key turning points in the campaign as a whole that the encounter will set up.
    • Some of these are more sketchy than others.

What did not make the Preparation List

  1. Stats for every Non-Player Character (NPC)
    • The NPC Codex has my back here. There are also NPC stats in the Gamemastery Guide. Besides, why spend an hour giving detail to a NPC that the PCs are going to interact with for only two minutes and/or kill off? The ones that stick around will be fleshed out with stats.
  2. Monster stat blocks
    • Exceptions will be lovingly created by hand. I have several books with monster stat blocks already; I can reference those in my notes.

Thursday 29 September 2016

scripted update from vimwiki to mediawiki

For my upcoming Pathfinder campaign, I have a vimwiki installation with content I want to give to my players, and that vimwiki is configured to use mediawiki syntax.

I also have a mediawiki installation facing the Internet.

I wanted a tool to copy my content from the vimwiki on my laptop to the mediawiki server. I found this blog post tying together mediawiki and the python mwclient module as a start.

I extended the idea behind that blog post and wrote a script, which is up at Github, that covers what I need.

Running that script copies each page from vimwiki to a defined mediawiki server.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Mediawiki setup

I have two vimwiki directories, one private and one public. I want to share the public one with the players in my campaign.

In the past I've run a Mediawiki site. I'll do that again. Mediawiki is mature software. I'm trusting that enough other people (including those who run Wikipedia) are running and testing Mediawiki that any security holes will be discovered and found pretty quickly. Hopefully.

I captured a record of the setup steps for my campaign mediawiki site.

Summary of mediawiki setup steps

  1. Subscribe to the mediawiki-announce mailing list and stay up to date.
  2. Create a development environment
  3. Apply all the security stuff.
  4. Put in the mod_rewrite stuff and use short URLs.
  5. Add a logo.
  6. Set up email.
  7. Disable anonymous page view.


Subscribe to the mediawiki-announce mailing list and stay up to date

Announcements of updated versions plug security holes. This is just good sense. Best practices for running your own site involve keep it clean and secure.

Create a development environment

I used XAMPP to test everything locally, first. Once it passed in the development environment I put the same feature out on the Internet.

Apply all the security stuff

Running a mediawiki site means having the best security settings for the host, the apache server running on the host, the PHP installation executing the mediawiki content and the mediawiki site.

My intent is to follow best practices for the security settings.

Put in the mod_rewrite stuff and use short URLs

It's personal preference, but I prefer the URL to say webserver/wiki/Main_Page in place of webserver/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.

Mediawiki provides guidelines on using short URLs

A consistent logo ties together content.

  • create logo
  • upload logo
  • edit LocalSettings.php to reference logo

Mediawiki provides guidelines on using logo

Set up email

Other people will be editing and adding content on the wiki (ideally). They'll have questions and concerns. Configure the mediawiki site to contact you with those questions and concerns, and to email help to your contributors.

Disable anonymous page view

This is personal preference more than anything else. Mediawiki comes with a search function, so it's not like I need Google to index the entire site.

Several pages still need to be whitelisted for anonymous access, including "Main Page", "Special:Userlogin" and "Help:Contents"