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Alex Schroeder
Worked at BSI Business System Integration AG
Attended International School Bangkok
Lives in Zürich, Switzerland


Alex Schroeder

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This post is pinned to show at the top of my profile – it is the about me post. I'm on Google+ to talk about role-playing games, most of the time. I'm also interested in history, coding, and a few other things. I use collections to categorize my public posts and almost all of my posts are public. I also keep a blog/wiki: – that's where I post stuff that I expect to keep around for longer. Who knows how long Google+ will last. I don't cross-post a lot. I might often link to a post on my blog when commenting on somebody else's post, but I'll only link to my blog on my own posts when I think there's something worth discussing for a bigger audience. I know, many people have moved their online presence to G+ and don't keep blogs anymore. I guess I still like the idea of running my own site.
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Also, more advice on what to put in posts about actual play, by +Judd Karlman.
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Thank you.
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I feel like adding half the archive of to the Links to Wisdom wiki. Anybody want to help? :)
Blog by +Joseph Manola.
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Glad you've found some stuff you like on the blog, Alex! And thanks for bringing the wiki to my attention - it looks like a very useful resource!
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This article is hilarious because it shows the current copyright discussion in software development circles from the point of view of "normals". People trying to explain an API with a reference to hamburgers. And yet, all the professionals are being judged by laypeople using laws many of us software developers think are inadequate and have been inadequate for many years. There's a guy who mistakes a Google Alert email with having a blog. At this point, one wonders whether this is a farce or a full frontal collision between nerds and the real world. I guess it is hilarious because I'm starting to give less about this world as I grow older, knowing that I have no kids to inherit it. Let the muggles burn it all down.
The problem with Oracle v. Google is that everyone actually affected by the case knows what an API is, but the whole affair is being decided by people who don’t.
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+Mateo Diaz Torres It's about programming. Intellectual Property is a very wide field, there is music, there are movies, paintings, architecture, books, poems, all not even related to software. And here, we have a decision that is very technical, that an API is now under copyright. I guess most IP lawyers don't know what an API is. Until recently, they didn't have to know, it was not protected by copyright.

If I had 30 seconds to say what an API is in terms of copyright, assuming an IP lawyer on the other side (so somebody with a particular knowledge), I would say:

Writing software is writing algorithms using vocabulary and grammar of a programming language. The vocabulary, the "words" so to speak, are the parts of an API, forming a "dictionary". Some programming languages actually call their APIs "dictionaries" consisting of "words", with the implementation being a "definition".

Copyright does not cover words. It only covers composite expressions. That's why copyrighting an API is about as wrong as copyrighting words or jargon.

As a programmer, I don't quite see it that way; it is just one way to approach it. The primary reason is that I don't see software as equivalent expression to a poem or a picture. It is not just expression and art, it is technology. It has to work, it is a product of engineering, and a product of worldwide collaboration to put together the complex systems we have today. That makes the concept of copyright so inadequate for software, and that's the reason, why so many people in these tech companies embrace FOSS (no matter if Sun, Oracle, Google, Apple or IBM, they all do, they all have to). Even when some of them still have their proprietary 10% within their product, like Apple. It's just the shiny surface there which is proprietary. All the things under the hood are FOSS, too.
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When role playing games and history come together and remind us of the nuclear arsenals and bio weapons research still out there. Via +Marc Schnau.
A fascinating 1970s post-apocalyptic survival game, delivered via audiotape + role-playing:
via @BernieDeKoven
Humanus is a "simulation game" (what we call "serious games" nowadays) - it's kind of a reverse escape room.
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There's a Twilight Zone episode called "The Shelter". Youtube likely has it. There are also amateur plays of that episode.
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This what I want my high level D&D to be like. "The magic/technology described in the story draws upon ideas from Buddhism, Taoism, ancient Japanese myth, element of cyberpunk, Yin/Yang mysticism, and particle physics. The story is based on a minor empire within the expansive (25 world) Galactic Empire, known as Great Yamato Empire, located on a minor backwater world. Dealing with gods, end of world scenario and numbers of characters caught up in a universe shattering event.
The Galaxy Empire spans 25 worlds and is connected by magic powered starships. Masamune Shirow has combined many aspects of magic with technology."

Oh yeah!
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Still my favorite. :)

Actually, I don't use any theme. But if I have to use a theme, or if I'm trying to annoy people, Pink Bliss is the one I pick.
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I actually like the monochromatic themes like this one very much. Personally, I always use a green-only or amber-only theme with my Vim.
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As for myself, my session reports are written with the missing players in mind. What do we need to remember when the next session start? Don't add stuff you wouldn't want to read aloud, at the table, with people looking at you. I want it to be stuff we can skim, too. Use bold to indicate names.
I recently started listing to the Happy Jacks RPG Podcast. It took me a bit to get used to the occasional belching. Does it have to be into the microphone? Anyway, one of the guys, Stu, also runs the Douchey DM blog, and there he wrote about using Obsidian Portal to keep his notes.
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How to write session reports for a wider audience.
How to write about your session

Several people mentioned that they’d like to hear my thoughts on how to talk about their game sessions online. I’ve had pretty good luck talking about my game sessions. It’s not easy! So let me warn you about that up front. You’ll fail a lot, but you won’t even know it because folks are generally polite. Think about what your goals are: better conversations, self-improvement, bragging, pluses, social cred, relationship building, therapy. They’re all legit.

Know Your Audience

Who exactly are you talking to when you write up your AP? If you’re keeping notes for yourself (which is a great idea) then you’re the audience; anyone else who happens along and likes what you have to say is gravy. That’s not what I do, and since folks are asking me to tear down my methods let’s just get that out of the way.

My audience is imaginary me, fifteen years ago. I think a lot of trad-rooted players in my life (atoms and bits) are in a similar place. They’re fans of different games than me, but they’re walking a similar path. That’s who I write for. I’m not actually writing for myself but for those players and GMs.

More broadly, I’m writing for roleplayers with an active interest in self-improvement. I bring a hyper-critical eye to my play that probably most people don’t. I speculate that most GMs are satisfied with where they’re at, and most players don’t really think about what they do as a particular craft. And that’s absolutely fine. But for those who want to improve, I’m sharing my war stories. That requires honesty about your fuck-ups. It also requires a level of introspection/navel-gazing that borders on narcissistic. (Borders?)


Welcome to high school! Your first writing assignment goal is to identify your thesis.

What salient points do you want to get across? I usually focus on a specific thing that the session brought to mind: an observation about gaming in general, or about a particular dynamic at your specific table, or something about the human condition – no really! If I’ve got several points I want to hit, the very first thing I’ll do is list them out, just words, then backfill and try to connect the ideas. For example I might think through my last The One Ring session and quickly doodle down:

* Player who wants to beat the system
* What are incentives for winning?
* Incentives other than winning?
* Are Tolkien characters incentivized or are they just following along where the writer points them?
* Is avoiding Shadow an actual incentive? For everyone?

You can probably see the beginnings of one of my posts just from those bullets. Well, that’s how I do it. I start with freeform bullets, start looking for connections, then start filling in. (Yeah, I’ll probably write that post at some point.)


Facts about your game’s storyline are not interesting to anyone but the participants; roleplaying is not a spectator sport. There are some detail-oriented APs out there that are inspiring, but I guarantee they don’t inspire through blow-by-blow recounting. The reader needs to relate to what they’re reading.

This is where you need to stake out your Opinions (capital O, it’s important). Those might be contentious, or they might just be wrong. Whatever, doesn’t matter. You need an editorial viewpoint here: I think playing within a license has this effect on players’ decisions (oh yeah, when I played Doctor Who I saw the same thing!); I think my ongoing games burn out because my players stop doing emotional labor at the table (oh yeah, I haven’t checked in with my players for a while!); I think roll-under sucks the joy out of play (oh yeah, nobody in my group likes that either). I think, I think, I think.

Find the experiences you’ve had you think others can relate to, and talk about that.

But you need to establish context, right? So look at those relatable themes you want to hit and think through the bare minimum you need to talk about that. Don’t be like that funny dude in Ant-Man who can’t explain his caper.

So: use the broad outline of your session as an illustration of your theses, your salient points. Did your last session of Dresden Files make you think about how the session doesn’t really reflect what’s in the books? Talk about that, not the details of the session. The details are boring. Are you finding it really hard to get characters pulled together in Urban Shadows? Use the at-the-table experience, not the in-the-fiction details, to illustrate that point.

Get Woke

This is more related to my personal goals in writing about my gaming, but I think it matters: learn about RPGs. That means playing more than what you’re used to, playing stuff outside your comfort zone, really learning about the scope of gaming. Stretch. If you think you’ll reach a place where your experience will become unrelatable, you’re wrong. Stretch forever.

The reason you want to do this is to increase your relatability (above), therefore expand your audience (also above). If you only know how to talk about a particular sliver of gaming – D&D-style or metaplot-splatbook style or Fate or freeform or whatever – anyone who lies outside your points of reference won’t have anything to hook into. That of course means it’s on you to relate your experiences back out in a variety of ways.

Be Concise

This means not only keeping it short, but keeping it information-dense. For practice, try this:

1) Write your thing the way you want, following my audience, structure and relatability ideas above.

2) Cut it in half, still keeping your audience, structure and relatability in mind.

Believe it or not, this is the method I used on this very piece. For my bigger pieces, I absolutely draft in Word, let it percolate a while, then start cutting, and then post.

Like I said in the intro, it’s not easy work. If you want easy likes/pluses/upvotes, post funny gifs. I also have many decades of professional writing experience (games, feature writing, marketing, etc.), and I don’t want to downplay that. But I’m convinced the vast majority of AP writing out there would be improved by taking into account:

* Audience
* Structure
* Relatability
* Experience
* Concision

Go forth and be awesome.
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Why did I not visit this bookstore when I was in Porto? Why!?
This makes me sad.
The Lello & Irmão bookstore
Porto, Portugal
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Browsing Greek armor pictures in this collection which G+ recommended to me. At last, a collection that appeals to me! 
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Even when it comes to German role-playing games, I prefer the first edition of the game... I'm sad like that. 😏
The kickstarter for "The Dark Eye" is live ... reasons why you should at least watch the video:

❤ 40 years of german rpg tradition
❤ the reason D&D and pathfinder never had a chance in germany
❤ artwork that can go 1on1 with the best in the industry
❤ more details then the forgotten realms?
❤ an established publisher
❤ a unique rule system
❤ "Zuckerbäcker"
The premier German roleplaying game—in continuous publication for more than 30 years—now in a brand new English edition!
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The second edition is also not bad
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Alex's Collections
Emacs, Lisp, Perl, Wiki, D&D
Most of the time I'm using collections to categorize my public posts. I sometimes post to specific communities when the topic warrants it. If you haven't joined the same communities, you can check my profile to see those posts and the communities they went to. They're all public. That's how I hope to find new people: I often check the profiles of new people that comment on my posts.

As for role-playing games: I run two old school campaign using Labyrinth Lord. I'm also in a biweekly indie game group. All in all I've played various Fate variants, including mini campaigns using Diaspora, Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard, as well as various one-shots using Lady Blackbird, Mountain Witch, In A Wicked Age, Western City, Apocalypse World, Isotope and many more.

As for politics and religion, I don't post much. I think these topics are important and that we need to have a conversation about them if we're going to share this world, but I get most of that from newspapers. Thus, I might plus a lot of left-leaning posts, but I hardly ever post any. I do post links to political things I care about on Twitter (also in German), though. I usually uncircle people that post too much about their favorite religion, gun activism, hate speech (islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny) and other things that make me sad, or people that post too much about the food they eat or the drinks they drink…
I live in Switzerland. I write code for a living (Java). I have a 60% job. I try to keep fit using Aikido, 10km running and some callisthenics. I have no faith and no kids.
Bragging rights
In Switzerland, bragging leads to loss of face.
  • International School Bangkok
  • Deutsche Schule Lissabon
  • Universität Zürich
  • Kantonsschule Baden
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Other names
Code monkey
  • BSI Business System Integration AG
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Zürich, Switzerland
Lisboa, Portugal - Bangkok, Thailand - Windhoek, Namibia
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