Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years Elthos!

Just in time for New Years, I have met my personal goal of getting Elthos RPG up and running on the new production server, and polished up for the Closed Beta. I think she looks much nicer today. An artist friend of mine took a peak and made a few simple suggestions that made the site much more elegant to look at. That's great. And the Web Application is working nicely, too.

And so, here's a general call to the RPG Community: I'm looking for a few good testers to join the Elthos RPG website, kick around on the Elthos "One Die System" Web Application, and report back their findings. The Web Application has two basic functions which can be read about here:
Elthos ODS Web Application

A call for Beta Testers

I would like to open up a few slots for Beta Testers. No more than 4 at this time, sorry. You should be willing to take a look at the site, download the Elthos ODS Rules Book (PDF, 30 pages), build out a bit of your world, roll some characters and arrange then in adventure groups, create a campaign or two, an adventure or four, and print out the various character sheets, and adventure materials for a game.

The Elthos ODS Web Application is for Gamesmasters who want a medium to light weight RPG with computer support that helps them run and maintain their Worlds.

If you would like to become a Beta Tester please email me at
vbwyrde @

with this information:

First Name
Last Name
The Name of your World
A brief description of your World

I will then create a proto-World for you to build out for yourself and your players, and send you your user name and password for the system. In the meantime you can take a look at the site here:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Place-Names And Naming NPCs

Here's something I try to do with the Place-Names in Elthos. I try to give names some meaning. Not over the top heavy handed meaning, but I like names that mean something. So if I'm looking for a name of a forested village on the side of a mountain where there is a nearby stream I'll do a little research and see if I can come up with a name that the locals who created the town might have thought of.

I'll use a website like Krysstal. It provides a whole bunch of name meanings categorized in a variety of ways, such as Place-Names, Surnames and explains a bit about where names come from. It's a pretty good resource.

So my forest town name is "Combederry", which means an oak wood and deep valley.

I like these sorts of names over what I might just randomly come up with because it gives my world a greater sense of being a little bit more real that a mere wisp of my imagination. Though of course, that's what it is, really. :)

Any additional resources for this sort of thing would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Elthos

Well, here we are at Christmas and just in time for Santa I managed to switch my web host to a (hopefully) better service over at Webhost4life, and get everything up and running without more than an afternoon's worth of hiccups. Not bad!

Phase II begins!

The Closed Beta, by invitation only, test of the Elthos ODS Web Application! You can read more about it here: Elthos ODS Web Application.

Needless to say, it's all very exciting, isn't it? My first actual real world implementation of Elthos out there in the real world... after all these years. Well, anyway, enough blubbering. I will now set about creating some test worlds for my friends and peers so that they can go kick the tires and see what works and what doesn't work for them. I am expecting that there will be a great diversity of opinions about ye old Elthos, both from a rules perspective, and as a web application. Some people will surely despise it with all the fury of ten thousand suns, decrying it as the worst thing to happen since ... who knows when! But then others I suspect will find it quite useful for themselves and their friends, and be happy and content to have a handy tool to help them GM. But most, of course, will neither love nor hate it, but will wander off with nary a glance at my Great Labor. Which is just as well. It is one of my zen principals not to be overly attached to the results of my labors, but instead to simply focus on the labor at hand. Whether it be loved or hated matters not. Only that I worked at is with great diligence, and that I myself am satisfied that it is most certainly useful... for me.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Programming Elthos

I've been working (and working and working, etc) on programming my rules system, Elthos "One Die System". As a professional programmer/analyst by trade you would think that I'd be way ahead of the game. And you'd be right. Merging work and hobby for me has been a real plus. It does have it's downsides, but from a project perspective its great. I learn at work, and I learn at home, and these two sides support and help each other. That's a plus for sure.

And so things are coming along with Elthos RPG. There's just quite a lot to do to get a game system online. And all of that work is being done by yours truly. Slowly, it feels, but in fact, at a steady and not really all that terribly slow pace.

Most of the Phase I programming is finished at this point. Now, since I modified the system, including the database structure, while testing the system on various test Worlds, I'm working on cleaning up the data. That's a bit of a chore. But not terrible. Just tedious. It's also giving me valuable insight into how I will need to manage the system during updates once the web application goes live. Again, not terrible, just a bit tedious.

I'm hoping to release the Beta Test by New Years.

Ok, back to work. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Failure To Communicate - Web Host Death

Some web host companies, it would seem, are better than others. The one I selected for seemed a tad bit flaky but I was willing to go with it. They're tech support seemed slow, but responsive. When I had a questions, the turn around time was a day or two. Sometimes faster, but not that often. Ok, seemed like a small time operation, and I've got nothing against supporting small businesses trying to make it.

But then, one day, I go to and the site is down. Just gone with a page that pointed to the hosting company. Okaaay... I let that go for a day, and then another. Fortunately, of course, I'm still in development and no one is actually on the site or using it. I was planning to open it up for a closed beta test this week, but I'm still working out some final polishing and data cleansing. But it's no fun to go to your site and see the web host company address for three days. So I send an email. No response until the next day, and then they ask which site, I tell them and the conversation goes dead there. Hmmmmmm... okaaay.

So I go to the web host site and try to log-on to the control panel and it keeps bringing up the user name and password dialog screen. Okaaay. So no access. I call. I get tech support. Fine, I tell him what's going on and he says "oh well yeah, your credit card failed four times in a row so your site's been disabled."

Um... did these guys never hear of a concept called "Email the Customer if there is billing problem"? So he then says he can take my credit card information. But I had already given it to then, and so I wanted to validate what they had on record. He says, "I can't review that with you, but I can update your credit card information."

Um... so he can TAKE my credit card info, but he can't *review* it? Um... why exactly would that be? That's odd. Ok, so I say,

"Can you put me through to billing please?"


Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep.

Then the line goes dead. They hung up on me. Um... weird. Maybe a glitch. Ok. I call back. The guy in tech support (who is very hard to hear because he sounds like he's standing 20 feet from the phone), listens to what happened, and then says

"Oh well I don't know if they're back there", and repeats his prior statements about taking the credit card info.

At this point I'm like, this is NOT a tightly run ship. I'm thinking when I go live with the site, I don't want stuff like this to happen, and this guy is not giving my the warm and fuzzies about his company at all. So I say,

"Hmmm... I'm not sure that's such a great idea."

To which he says,

"Ok well thanks for calling", and hangs up.

Huh? Wow. So these guys are like not very interested in keeping their customers at all, are they. It's like he just didn't care.

So I send an email over to the sales department which says this:

I have had an account with EDT hosting for about a year. I went to my site and found that it was disabled. I never got any emails from EDT indicating why this happened. When I called I was told that the credit card information I had given could be updated, but not reviewed by the support staff. I asked to be connected to billing so that I could validate the credit card information in your records. The phone beeped about 10 times and then hung up. I called back and the person in support (455-7108) said, "oh well I'm not sure anyone is back there." and repeated his earlier statement that he can update, but not review the credit card information.

I find the service level with EDT to be somewhat lacking.

1) why was I not notified by email that my account was due to be disabled after the first, second, third or fourth credit card issue?

2) why would the support personnel not be able to review the information pertinent to my account, and then send me to billing, only to have the phone hang up because he's "not sure if anyone is back there"?

This is a rather unprofessional operation, I gather. I understand if you guys are a small shop, and I have no problem with that, and don't mind supporting small businesses. That's not the issue. But not getting a warning email when one could easily have been sent is a bit below par, don't you think? Fortunately, I'm not actually running my site yet, as it is development, but had I been I would have found the inconvenience unacceptable.

I thought you should know. Thank you.

A few hours later, I go back to the site to see if maybe by some outside chance they made a change. Why not? And now, no longer entirely weirdly given the trend so far, I find that I no longer get a web page that points to the hosting site, as I did before. Instead I get dialog box that asks for a user name and password, NT Authentication. Woah? Wuh now? Gosh, I suppose he just eliminated the site maybe?

Anyway, it is all too strange and really highly unprofessional, so I decided to go with a different hosting company at a comparable price. This time I looked up the company in google and found that by and large people are saying good things about it. Great. I'll try it.

And these are the kinds of little things that happen as I try to get my Elthos RPG Web Application online. Fun.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Almost Finished

Just a quick update on the Elthos project progress... very close now. Soon I will put the next version online and ask people to try it out, kick the tires, and provide feedback in a closed beta. Just finalizing the magic spells and miracles in the default world and matching those to the rules book pdf. After that, to be honest, I'm pretty ready to go. The other thing I want to do is revamp the look and feel of the site somewhat. And make sure I go over all the text on the site. Some of it was a bit rushed, and could use the usual grammer/spell checks and such. But overall, I think the system, the application, the rules book, and the site look pretty good. Excited. :)