Posts that Caught My Attention

Two Dots Daring Me To Connect Them

Note: This post has content disclaimers.

I don’t write enough about things I come across in the blogosphere. Go check out DIY & Dragons’s Advice from the Blogosphere 2020 . Anne created a wonderful index of what gaming posts she found interesting and useful in .

Today, two things crossed my Rich Site Summary (RSS 🔍) feed reader. I now use the Elfeed: Emacs Web Feed Reader. I that my text-based work space includes my RSS feeds. It means that I only read my feeds when I’m at my computer. Which means it’s far easier to remember to take notes or capture posts.

Fellow Hugo-naut

What follows is Bryce Wray’s account of updating their Eleventy Static Site Generator (SSG 🔍) ecosystem. That process and further reflection lead to their return to Hugo (Hugo 🔍).

Since it had been months since I’d updated all the dependencies [of Eleventy], I ran the usual sequence of npm commands to accomplish that, and then ran npm run start so the repo would create a dev-mode version of the site.

Or, at least, I’d hoped it would create that. Can you say, “lots of breaking changes”?

Slowly, it dawned on me that this was what eventually would happen to any of my repos built on Node.js dependencies, even those with which I did work actively. And I began to wonder about how much I wanted to keep fussing with all that.

This hits me in the feels. With my limited time, I’d rather write blog posts or poems or maybe add a new section to my . Or add to the list of .

I also want to minimize the time I spend on dependency management and maintenance. In other words, I can’t even imagine using a SSG that relies on a technology notorious for dependency entropy.

I want my tools to better help me do the things I enjoy; not demand that I burn my time on their sacrificial altar so that I may bask in the résumé building privilege of working with that tool.

I also see a connection to my ; That is consider how your technology choices will be self-disruptive.

I’ve been employed as a software developer for 22 years. I’ve seen a lot of trends and marvel at the accelerating pace of dependency entropy. Eroding dependencies always come at a heavy cost of long-term maintenance. Someone pointed me to Decoding the Innovation Delusion, Nurturing the Maintenance Mindset; it helped contextualize that innovation can come from maintaining something and seeing it in a different way. That’s how I’ve started feeling about my blog; I love maintaining it and using it as a place to work through my thinking.

In other words, if you want to own something, means you need to understand the depreciation schedule of that which you own.

I own my blog; I love my blog. And I want to create the conditions in which its most easy for me to own my blog for now, and (what I hope to be) the decades to come.

Burning Wheel

Some years ago, on my first reading, I fell in love with Burning Wheel Revised. I saw the complex yet accessible inner workings of systems that challenged my assumptions about role-playing games.

Luke Crane’s Burning Wheel, nearly two decades old now (and its final revision edition appeared a decade ago! EDIT: Burning Wheel Gold Revised came out 2019, and made a few small but important changes to Gold, which came out in 2010), is still one of the most important indie games ever created. But as time goes by, its importance has changed. There’s a generation of indie gamers who started in Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA 🔍) and Fate and lyric games, and they have no use for its lessons. But for folks coming from an older, perhaps more conventional roleplaying background, Burning Wheel is still an indispensable bridge to the modern world of game design.

Here’s why Burning Wheel still matters.

Recently, I wrote up two takes on creating a character for a Burning Wheel Gold 🔍 game. First, and then . I spent time describing some of my choices in crafting my character.

Burning Wheel Gold is the system I continue to revisit. I often pull out the two lavish tomes, and read a chapter or two. That would be Burning Wheel Gold and Burning Wheel Codex 🔍.

Why? Because the system architecture of BWG fascinates me. I love the tools of transparency and player agency. Player’s encode, in their character’s Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits (BITs 🔍), how their character is looking to grow and advance.

This transparency equips the Game Master (GM 🔍) (and other players) to challenge the character.

In other words, if you don’t want a fighting and stabbing game, then write your BITs accordingly; avoid instincts related to physical violence; write beliefs that aren’t about conquest but perhaps collaboration.

In one game, our group’s beliefs revolved around delivering our sisters wedding cake. And it worked.

What’s fascinating is Luke Crane and Burning Wheel Headquarters (BWHQ 🔍) have continued to iterate on the fundamental systems that are Burning Wheel. You can see it in Torchbearer 🔍 and Mouse Guard RPG 🔍; Each system different yet with very similar fundamental systems. In fact, Luke Crane’s innovations come through the very process of using and maintaining Burning Wheel.

A Connecting Thread

I’m going to go into a bit of how I see these posts inter-relate; and why they blend together.

Burning Wheel Gold is a complicated game; but according to the author it’s in its final forms. No expected upstream entropy. Though I’m eager for the alluded to Creature Codex.

Hugo is software that has minimal dependencies. It does complicated things, but it’s single file binary let’s you build your site.

Hugo’s compactness speaks to its finite nature; though not its final form. Hugo’s under continual development, and in the years since adopting, I’ve experienced only a couple breaking changes.

Both Hugo and Burning Wheel Gold have a great set of “get started now” tools and documentation, and both also reward investing time in system mastery. I’ve written several Hugo Shortcodes to help improve the site’s general utility and improve it’s consistency.

Anytime I revisit my blog and do some technical maintenance, Hugo keeps it easy (because it doesn’t make you manage it’s upstream dependency graph). Instead you engage with Hugo through it’s tight interface.

When I go back to a Burning Wheel Gold game, the BITs and character logs help re-orient me to the state of the game. Even if I don’t have a session report, I can look at those two artifacts and orient where things are at and launch into a new session. Maybe using some .

This is also one of the reasons I write ; those ledgers help me jump back into the game I love.

I Digress

I also think about Dungeons and Dragons: Fifth Edition 🔍 The once has bulked up and again dominates the public perception of what is an RPG. ; it’s likely that in next couple of years Wizards of the Coast (WotC 🔍) will be releasing what they might once have called 6th Edition.

Yes, I can keep playing 5E but they’re introducing some potential upstream chaos that will certainly disrupt the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D 🔍) experience.

Or they might continue with the continuous refinements in D&D that seek to balance the game, or add new player options.

Bleck

Balancing a social game for the emergent conditions of a game group is a fools errand.

Conclusion

All of this is to say: Reflect on the things you love, the disruptions to which they’re vulnerable, and adjust accordingly. Life is change, don’t needlessly introduce more points of vulnerable to change.

Also, enjoy the process of maintenance. Creating this is fun but nurturing something is more rewarding.