List of All Updates

Gathered in one place, all updates made to pages for Take on Rules. There are four components of each update:

  1. Date
  2. Page Title
  3. Link to Page
  4. Content of the Update

update: I switched the Updates page from TABLE html element to a series of DETAILS html elements.


Why I Chose Emacs as My New Text Editor

Modus Themes

The Modus Themes by Protesilaos Stavrou have become my go to themes.

It’s been a bit of a circuitous path to get to this point, but it’s been worth it. Protesilaos is developing the Modus themes with the following guiding principle:

Accessible themes for GNU Emacs , conforming with the highest accessibility standard for colour contrast between background and foreground values (WCAG AAA).

In past editors, I’ve often used a dark theme. I made a Vibrant Ink Ruby Atom theme that works with Hugo . This also involved a few tweaks to a language-markdown plugin for Atom. In my current office setup, I often need a light theme. In my current setup, a dark theme often truns my glossy monitor into a mirror. But sometimes, I want a dark theme. And I don’t want the shift between dark and light to highlight the code via a different scheme.

Enter the Modus Themes:

  • modus operandi for light
  • modus vivendi for dark

I’ve grown quite fond of the color palette. I also appreciate the work Protesilaos is doing on visually conforming to WCAG . I’m going to look at leveraging that work to refresh the color palette of my website. But that’s an adventure for another day.

Switching from Inoreader to Newsboat for RSS Reader

In , I switch my everyday text editor Emacs . In , I began exploring Elfeed, an Emacs plugin. In doing most of my work in Emacs, I find it convenient to have an RSS feed right in the text editor. Newsboat remains a solid RSS reader, its just I’ve found something closer to my toolkit.

List of All Updates

I switched the Updates page from TABLE html element to a series of DETAILS html elements.

Why I Chose Emacs as My New Text Editor


I forgot to mention YASnippets. Back in the day, I wrote a few snippets in Textmate, ported them to Sublime, and reworked them in Atom. With YASnippets, I've found an easy to use snippet manager.

The documentation is easy to follow. I wrote up a handful of snippets to help with blogging. The following snippet provides guidance for making a custom Hugo Shortcode:

{{< update date="`(format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d")`"
  mode="${2:$$(yas-choose-value '(
{{< /update >}}

This snippet builds the parameters for my update shorcode. It sets today's date and provides a list of valid modes for the shortcode.

Adding a “Stars without Number” Dataset for gm-notepad

A blog reader reached out to me asking about parsing the SWN ePub . I pointed them to the code I wrote to generate the data set. They need to secure their own ePub; Which is available as part of the paid version of Stars without Number.

Let’s Read “Stars without Number” – Scenes, Saves, and Skill Checks

Improved accessibility of Table 90: Probabilities for NPC vs. PC by following advice from Hey, It’s Still OK to Use Tables.

To Father Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame

Father Jenkins released a video issuing an apology. I receive and acknowledge his apology. I now reflect on my expectations.

I have sought to disentangle my disdain Father Jenkins's behavior from the entire Rose Garden Event, and the brazen and naked power grab by the Replubican (GOP) party in ramming through a nomination.

Setting the nomination aside (for the moment), I am reflecting on Father Jenkins's latest statement and apology. I accept the apology and expect Father Jenkins to be a model in health protocols.

I’m also reflecting on the role of forgiveness and accountability. I know I falter, but rarely on a national stage, nor as a leader of an institution that has issued such clear and direct reminders. I see this as a time for forgiveness, reconciliation, and accountability.

As I see it Father Jenkins must receive forgiveness. President Jenkins may warrant censure or a vote of no confidence, but that is not for me to decide. However, those two realities must be held in tension.

I appreciate the timeline of the apology. I do not expect any person to live their lives on a 24-hour news cycle. Instead, I hope to see others take the time and space to reflect on their actions and form their apology. We all deserve that time and space. Which is not to conflate that with the person's position. The Office of the President of Notre Dame may well have required a more rapid response. The Office of the President of Notre Dame operates within the 24-hour news cycle.

Let's Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook - Space Combat”

Over on Reddit, someone pointed out in the “High Guard: Space Combat Primer” article in Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society Volume 5. This article provides some tactical advice and synthesis of Space Combat rules from the Traveller: Core Rulebook, High Guard, and Pirates of Drinax.
You don’t need all of these to play, but the synthesis in its rephrasing helps clarify the rules. It also includes page references.

Let's Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook - Space Combat”

With the correct Hull Points (e.g. 40 instead of 100), it looks like a hasty Jump early in a conflict is still viable, but the likelihood of a critical hit appears higher. The odds of sustaining damage in excess 10% of a ship’s starting Hull Points looks probable; At least for that 100 tonnage example ship.

Let's Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook - Space Combat”

A reader pointed out that this is incorrect. In the core rulebook, there are no instructions on how to calculate hull points. Nor do the example ships list their Hull points. It appears the default formula is hull points are 40% of the ships displaced tonnage. Which changes some of my thoughts.


I added a section on the available access keys for my site.

Burning Wheel Lifepaths Inspired by Warhammer Fantasy

One of the joys of owning the ecosystem of your blog is that you can mold it to your liking. I build the tables on this page via a Hugo shortcode. The shortcode parses a YAML file to generate the HTML of the page.

Were I to get curious and empassioned about this, I might write something to generate the JSON version of these tables. Or of all tables the tables that I render on this site.

To Father Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame


During self-quarantine this week, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, learned that a colleague with whom he has been in regular contact tested positive for COVID-19. Fr Jenkins was tested and found to be positive for COVID-19 too.

To Father Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame

The Notre Dame Observer, a student publication, ran an editorial and reported on a petition from the students calling for Father Jenkins to resign.

I know many of you have read about the White House ceremony I recently attended. I write to express my regret for certain choices I made that day and for failing to lead as I should have.…

I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask.

In messages sent over the last few weeks, Father Jenkins apologized for the inconvenience of changing the Spring 2021 schedule. Yet Father Jenkins offered no apology in the September 28, 2020 message.

I expect more from a leader. To state specifically what action they regret. And given the violation of their own litany of health protocols, to offer an apology.

Let's Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook”

Traveller exclusively uses six-sided dice. Its notation is 1D or 2D for 1d6 or 2d6 respectively. Throughout this series, I will likely shift between 1D or 1d6.

To Father Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame

I have since learned that Professor G. Marcus Cole, Dean of the Notre Dame Law School was the person sitting to the right of Father Jenkins. Professor Cole wore his mask. And sent him the following thank you email:

It seems like a small thing, but I want to thank you for wearing a mask during the ceremony at the White House. It is uplifting to see demonstrable leadership in modeling the health protocols of the university.

Once More, a "Stars without Number" Campaign

In preparation for the session, I added a list of the trade goods that they’re effectively smuggling into Efesos.

Let's Read “The End of Policing” by Alex S Vitale - Chapter 3 (Part 2)

Also, read Against Cop Shit · Jeffrey Moro. Moro looks to remove “any pedagogical technique or technology that presumes an adversarial relationship between students and teachers.” Education should set you free, which cannot be done with adversarial methodology.

List of All Abbreviations

I am deprecating this page. I feel that the glossary better defines and explains the abbreviations.

Upcoming Dungeons and Dragons Game

After this evenings session, we updated our characters to 5th level. Those changes are inline. I also added checkboxes to allow for my to track my character during the session.

The Court Procedure from Lavender Hack

Years ago, I wrote about Transitions in Table Top RPG. And Lavender Hack’s court procedure provides guidance to transition into a social encounter.

“Five Torches Deep” by Sigil Stone Publishing

With the Wandering Gamist’s second part of an unspecified number of posts.

Thornburg by J.B. Mannon and Jeremiah Shepersky

I removed a broken link and reworked the markup to include a element.

Upcoming Dungeons and Dragons Game

I spent a bit more time thinking, and chose to go with the Circle of the Land: Mountain archetype. This felt a bit more correct for the character. I also found that Goodberry and Beast Sense are not listed on

My Present Gaming Group

And to really get a sense of Matt as a player, take a look at (when Matt played the doppelganger that killed his original character)[/2019/10/13/it-finally-happened-a-doppelganger-infiltrated-the-party/]

“Five Torches Deep” by Sigil Stone Publishing

And another reivew of Five Torches Deep at Wandering Gamist.

Contact Me

I implemented Webmentions, an open-standard for one site to notify another site of linking. If you write a post in reply to one of my posts. Send me a Webmention or an email.

You can learn more about the standard at

Adding Webmention Features

Thank you Alex Schroeder for working through Webmentions with me.

Adding Webmention Features

I ran an audit of TakeOnRules at It’s a few screens testing to see if things work. They do!

The Resolution System of Soft Horizon

I forgot to post a link to the Soft Horizon SRD

At the Intersection of Work, Play, and Learning

Since posting this, I briefly blogged at I have stopped doing that, and am moving more of my blogging onto Take on Rules.

At the Intersection of Work, Play, and Learning

I have added ALT-tags to the two cluster images. If I were to re-run the scripts for the second cluster, I would choose Knights, Dragons, and Magic.

Software to Migrate Data from Square to Shopify

I have added the ability to transfer customers from Square to Shopify. At present, this does not include transaction history. That is on my eventual to-do list.


Adding content about the changelog and updates.

Switching from Inoreader to Newsboat for RSS Reader

Two weeks into using Newsboat, and I’m loving it. Because of the text-based RSS reader, I discovered that my site’s RSS feeds were publishing items that had relative URLs . Which could’ve resulted in broken URLs for RSS subscribers. From a habit stand-point, I’m checking my RSS feeds twice a day: once during breakfast and once in the evening.

Reflecting on Migrating from Wordpress

I have removed a page’s related index.json, the JSON+LD remains imbedded in the HTML source.


Switching Atom RSS feed from /feed.xml to index.xml and JSON feed from /feed.json to /index.json. This addressed an issue in Hugo’s ExecuteAsTemplate, which did not render absolute URLs.

My Blogging Engine

I have long since switched from Jekyll to Hugo. Read more about that switchin in Why Hugo when I’m a Rubyist

Farewell to Google Analytics

At Code4Lib 2020 I learned about Matomo.


Adding callout to Atom RSS feed and JSON feed

Books I Read (or Started to Read) in 2019

Reading through various quotes that I wrote down, I unearthed another book that I had abandoned: “Packing My Library” by Alberto Manguel.

Books I Read (or Started to Read) in 2019

Looking through piles of books, I forgot to include “The Book of Taliesin.” I picked this up from Fanfare Books in Stratford Ontario. It is one of several books that I forgot to record reading in my journal.

Books I Read (or Started to Read) in 2019

I read these books in 2019 not 2018 as the original title stated.

Farewell to Google Analytics

Julia Evan’s provides another useful blog post “How tracking pixels work” to understand how pervasive things get.

Farewell to Google Analytics

I received an email (thank you dear reader) drawing my attention to a few services that might help disentangle me from Google: Disroot, Framasoft, and Posativ. All for future consideration.


On , as an experiment, I tweaked my blog. First, I stopped using custom fonts. Instead, I’m using three long-standing fonts: Times, Courier, and Arial; I wanted to use Helvetica, but encountered an odd rendering issue beyond my skills. Second, I opted to inline the CSS files; Instead of referencing them as a link. Inlining the CSS added 14KB to each page. Both of these changes reduced the number of HTTP requests speeds up performance and improves the stability of the page.

Playstorming a Burning Wheel Fight using Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben stat blocks

Minor update to remove strikethrough in table captions. These didn’t look nice in the aria-labels.

Blades in the Dark by John Harper

Updating to include references to more Forged in the Dark games: Scum and Villainy and Band of Blades. Both of these games leverage the “Forged in the Dark” framework which powers “Blades in the Dark.”

“Five Torches Deep” by Sigil Stone Publishing

You can find another review Five Torches Deep at Cannibal Halfling Gaming.

5th Edition House Rules: Modified Injury and Recovery

I consider the rules on Dropping to 0 Hit Points, Knocking a Creature Out, Resting, and Conditions deprecated as they are less elegant than the refined procedures. The Magical Healing and Hit Dice as well as Lay on Hands are still relevant.

5th Edition House Rules: Modified Injury and Recovery - Take 2

Based on feedback on Reddit, I made a few updates and clarificatoins. First, I removed the death save language. Second, I removed the exact requirements of getting healing in short-rest (though those will likely continue). Third, I added some reference on time for each type of rest. And fourth, I introduced an alternate exhaustion table.

Precognitive Prep - A Divination Spell for 5th Edition

Based on Reddit feedback, I’m rethinking the above spell as a feat (see below).

My Blogging Engine

Switched URL of to

In Response to “I'm Bowing Out” - Hack & Slash

Switched URL of to

Keeping the RSS Fires Burning

Switched URL of to

5th Edition House Rules: Modified Injury and Recovery

I wrote a modification to these rules, refining the procedures.

“Five Torches Deep” by Sigil Stone Publishing

You can find another review at Mythlands of Erce.

“Five Torches Deep” by Sigil Stone Publishing

Upon reflection, and feedback on reddit, the post is missing a “review.” My overall impression of the game is that for me to use it, I’d need to write up some clarifications, and look to some modifications (namely about character identity). I would consider this to be a top candidate for packing in a hiking backpack where weight matters; It’s compact and I wouldn’t hesitate to run nor play it. (I’d say the same for Whitehack).

Misspent Youth by Robert Bohl

You can get an updated version of Misspent Youth at DriveThruRPG.

Playstorming a Burning Wheel Fight using Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben stat blocks

Based on Reddit conversation, I adjusted the positional advantage language. Instead of giving successes to the one with positional advantage, they effectively subtract successes from the one with positional disadvantage.

Playstorming a Burning Wheel Fight using Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben stat blocks

Playstorming is a misnomer. This is a solo playthrough.

Playstorming a Burning Wheel Fight using Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben stat blocks

For those looking for other Fight like playthroughs, I do have an old session report that eschewed fight for declared actions and speed tests.

Playstorming a Burning Wheel Fight using Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben stat blocks

And thank you Burning Luke for pointing out that I had mispelled Duchy as Ducky.

Burning Warforged - A New Stock and Lifepaths for Burning Wheel

What follows is incomplete, penciled in, and all around untested. I posted to /r/burningwheel and we’ve had some discussion.

Burning Wheel Lifepaths Inspired by Warhammer Fantasy

I did some reworking of the underlying processing for tables. An astute reader may notice that I have added an indicator to the source of the classes. Under the hood, I have loaded the Burning Wheel Gold lifepaths and Burning Wheel Codex lifepaths. Those, however, are for my personal use. I will not make them public. If you are interested, consider exploring the Charred Character Burner App.

Assassin Lifepaths for Burning Wheel

I did some refactoring of the lifepath code, and brought this post inline with that change. As I look at the lifepaths, they achieve a goal of creating an adversary for a Dungeons and Dragons game. They do not, however, provide a nuanced path nor insight into the person that becomes the Grandfather of Assassins.

Once More Into the “Tomb of Annihilation”

I forgot to mention that they also teamed up with a dao and briefly with a gray slaad.

Welcome to My New Take on Rules

I have switched to using Hugo for my blogging engine. While not proficient in Go, I appreciate the almost one-hundred fold speed increase in my website build times.

Welcome to My New Take on Rules

I have also started using the DataTables jQuery plugin for my Metadata pages. The tables will work just fine without javascript. With javascript you get some lovely search and sort behavior.

Exposing More Metadata for Take on Rules

I went ahead and added the redirects for each table. Following the pattern: /tables/:table_number, you can now link to that directly.

Preparing a Short-Term “Stars without Number” Campaign

I ran a few sessions in a new campaign.

Playstorming a “Stars without Number” Space Combat

I have added a second in the series. By the rules, to get a +3 skill bonus, your character must be at least 6th level. The crew of the Waukeen are skilled and competent.

Irv the Mole

I sent a response to Judd for episode 21 of Daydreaming about Dragons. You can hear Judd’s response to my email in Reply Show Sierra.

Situation Mining: It Begins in Graywall

I learned about “Backdrop Graywall” by Keith Baker in Dragon Magazine #368; I suppose I have more reading to do. In any campaign, I do not consider any written material canon until we bring it to the table.

Index of Allowed Classes, Races, Cultures, and Backgrounds

I posted a follow-up The How and the Why of Indices of Game Crunch.

“Ode to a Nightengale” by John Keats

Reading the poem again, I feel the pull of words that rest at the boundaries life and death: aches, numbness, drowsy, pains, hemlock, dull, drains, sunk, shadows, leave, unseen, viewless, dull, night, glooms, embalmed, darkness, fading, flies, eves, darkling, death, quiet, pain, soul, vain, requiem, death, sad, sick, tears, perilous, forlorn, toll, fades, buried, dream, fled.

Dreams of Adventure: Classes

Originally, this had an additional tag but upon reading Luka Rejec’s A Bad Turn of Words: Fantasy Heartbreaker, I’m expunging that tag. Thank you Luka for writing your piece. Your voice in the RPG seen is valued, and I’m glad to support your RPG efforts. Way more than academically veiled “bad-wrong-fun” essays.

Marching through the Sandbox

Aaron Griffin pointed me to his What is a Sandbox? post from 2018-11-09. I concur with his tl;dr—a sandbox is a game where play is driven by characters with strong goals, as opposed to a game driven by an overarching story.

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

“Follow Me and Die” is hosting Medieval Demographics Made Easy

V is for Versions

Seven years later, and we are 4 years into 5E . A few months after the 5E launch I wrote about the then 400 pound guerilla waking up. Today, Dungeons & Dragons 5E is wildly popular, driven by access to a tremendous well of content: actual play podcasts,, blogs, Twitch streams, etc. In D&D’s abdication during 4th Edition, a well spring of creativity emerged. With 5E, we witnessed a return of Wizards of the Coast using the lingua franca of the gaming industry; the framework of 3E , updated and also released under the Open Game License.

Playstorming Embarkation Tweaks in Adventures in Middle-earth

I posted this to Reddit, and there have been some great comments.

World of Dungeons by John Harper

World of Dungeons is now available for legal download at

Divorce - A Personal Experience

A few weeks ago I had coffee with my now 18 year old daughter. For the past 3 or 4 years she’s been living with her mom. During our coffee, we talked through a lot of things. Deep revelations and dreams. At one point she said something like “I don’t have these kind of conversations with mom.” Immediately, my heart swelled. I had a real and deep connection with my daughter; the one who had chose to live with her mom full-time. My eyes welled with tears.

Burning Sanctuary - Session 1

I think I should’ve made a linked test. First Inconspicuous, then Circles. Failure for Inconspicuous would mean that you are escorted Brother Michael, and the Circles would then inform his disposition.

Burning Sanctuary - Session 1

Having listened to the Sunday Skyper’s Burning Beards podcast, I see that they track beliefs in a forum. I think in the future, I’d track BITs using a shared Google Doc. Giving direct access to everyone. I also think it is important each and everytime to review beliefs and craft them at the start of the session to get a sense of where people want to go.

Features of Burning Wheel That I Enjoy(ed?)

As I’ve run more 5E, I’m less excited about the Helping mechanic; In part because I’ve found success without help to favor the players. Adding help further exacerbates this. I find myself interested in adding complications, but the pass/fail mindset of D&D weighs against this.

Life During a Wartime - Random Village Generator

I need to dig up the expanded table I have for this. The 3d6 results are boring. I’d rather have d8+d12 range.

Burning Sanctuary - Session 1

In future first sessions, I would encourage everyone to write a belief that points to the player character to their left.

Divorce - A Personal Experience

My oldest daugher is gearing up for college; looking towards Spanish and ASL . My youngest daughter has been active in marching band. She decided the winter of 8th grade to learn French Horn and Mellophone. Two years later, she was lead of her section in the 200+ person marching band.

Divorce - A Personal Experience

I wish even this were true. I see them perhaps an hour every other week.

Divorce - A Personal Experience

My son graduates from college this year. It sounds like he’ll spend a year working, then look to voluntary service and perhaps grad school. He went from a student that failed to turn in homework, to one that took Organic Chemistry II as an elective, and earned the second highest grade.

Divorce - A Personal Experience

She’s a successful small business owner, growing the Soapy Gnome into a treasured business of downtown Goshen Indiana.

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

I also found “The Borderlands” as a host of Medieval Demographics Made Easy

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

“Damn Elf Press” is hosting Medieval Demographics Made Easy

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

S John Ross sent me v1.10, I’ve updated the file.

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

I also found “Gaming Ballistic” as a host of Medieval Demographics Made Easy

Let’s Read “Stars without Number” - Starships

I wrote a post Playstorming a “Stars without Number” Space Combat - Take 2. I built on the previous playstorm, but instead chose for the PC ’s spaceship to return fire.

Irv the Mole

Irv’s player passed away three years ago, and I would love to have back the contents of that note tube. Just for one more reading with my old high school gaming group.

Let’s Read “Stars without Number” - Starships

I wrote a post Playstorming a “Stars without Number” Space Combat. On that page you can see the Space Combat in action.