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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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I'm interested in both role-playing games and copyright. That's why I was very interested in the recent disqualification of the Fate based Mass Effect RPG from the ENnies. I wrote a blog post looking at the disclaimer actually in the game, trademark law, copyright law, fair use, fan art, and I looked at the first ten entries on the artists credits page. It's an interesting question. In my blog post I'm arguing for +Don Mappin.

You can read more about it on the EN World forums:
What This Book Is Not. To be clear, this is not a licensed Mass Effect property. Mass Effect is the property of Bioware, a division of Electronic Arts. This is a work of fiction and done without their permission or involvement. No attempt to challenge their legal authority is intended in the ...
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Sorry one last thing...

Take a look at these two websites. The intent here is pretty clear.

There's a strong argument that someone could potentially misconstrue the RPG as being an official licensed product.
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Alex Schroeder

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I don't like the way our current copyright system works, I don't like how the Fair Use exception is muddy and basically requires you to take unacceptable legal risks, I don't like many things. But for the moment, let me think about the good times I had with the Fate based Mass Effect RPG.
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Alex Schroeder

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Sitting on the balcony with Lord of Madness and Monster Manual V for D&D 3.5 (the mind flayer section), some square paper and a fountain pen. Adventures for the Far Realm, please take my sanity and eat me first!
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Getting eaten first is always preferable!
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Alex Schroeder

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A survey about the "best" RPG books. List five books and tell Brendan why you like them. Perhaps he'll post his findings to his blog. I'd like to see some examples from outside the classic D&D world that usually surrounds me.


Brendan's Blog:
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I provided examples for both. I like the Planescape boxed texts for the prose that doesn't bore me; I like Diaspora for the clarity of its rules; I like Moldvay Basic D&D for its conciseness…
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Alex Schroeder

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There's a half page dungeon of mine in this free PDF by +Gavin Norman. Half a page (A5) is not much, but there you go. I really dig the format – everything on one page. I haven't seen the other entries in the PDF, but I'm hoping they're all excellent. I love consulting the spells in Theorems & Thaumaturgy, I love thinking about vivimancers. They're like necromancers, except like the Shapers in Shismatrix by Bruce Sterling, like Dark Space by Monte Cook, like "we have seen the mind-flayers and they are us!"

Also, and this is more important from my point of view, contributing one page to something is just so much easier than writing an entire thing. I tried writing a big adventure, the Caverns of Slime. It was a lot of work. I'm still using elements in my current game. But it was too ambitious. Too big. Too unwieldy. Too risky. Fight On! #15 was not published. Putting it up on my blog didn't make much of a difference. Limiting myself to single pages and limiting myself to things I actually used in my games improved my happiness immensely. If I'm using it, and if it wasn't too much work, then I can enjoy it even if nobody else does. No risk, no fun, they say. But limiting myself to one page adventures carries no risk and offers all the fun!

Link to Caverns of Slime:

Link to From the Vats:
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Alex Schroeder

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Does your campaign reflect the referee's convictions about the real world? It might be true. I had never considered it until I had read a blog post by +Vb Wyrde.
I just read an interesting blog post called Thoughts on Philosophical GameMastering by Vb Wyrde. He says: “I would argue, […] that whether they know it consciously or or not, every World is an expression of the innermost convictions of it's GameMaster.” He illustrates the point by referring to a ...
Follow Me, And Die!'s profile photoVb Wyrde's profile photoBhorr Thunderhoof's profile photoAlex Schroeder's profile photo
Hehe. My players just don't understand that only death is certain and life is meaningless and that the only real question is whether the characters should commit suicide or continue struggling. Albert Camus for the win! Then again, perhaps they do understand, and one upped me, choosing a life of adventure for their characters with a cheerful grin on their faces, knowing full well that life is short and then you die... !
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Alex Schroeder

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I sometimes get the urge to look at the more than 50 volumes of Paizo Adventure Paths I have and just write them up as One Page Dungeons. Monster mix, map, treasure, NPCs. But then again, why not write up my own stuff, once I'm at it. Which is what I've been doing.
+Ramanan S and +Kiel Chenier were talking about this, and I wanted to add my own example. RPG Publishers still aren't getting the message about presenting adventures in a format that's actually useful at the table. Here's what I had to end up doing for Cragmaw Hideout, just to be able to keep all the pieces in my head. After 40 years or so of published material, you'd think things like crib sheets and quick reference guides would be standard, but most adventures still seem designed to be read as books, not to make a DM's job easier. 
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This speaks to GM process; annotation is a normal and expected part of being a DM/GM. I did the same thing with the original Tegel Manor back in the late 70s. I have a map where I wrote all over it. I also superimposed the rat tunnels over the map to give me a sense of where they led. If you look at the I and J series by the Judges Guild you will see annotations all over the maps. This typically wouldn't be the sort of information you'd find in every published example. It gives you an overview of the various elements. In my view a GM must have read the material and to be able to improvise on it. If you have to scribble all over a book to understand it, that's what you have to do.
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I've been listening to episode #555 of This American Life where a family from American Samoa moves to Whittier, Alaska. The town is dominated by a single 14-stories building. There's a tunnel connecting the building to the school. There is another, abandoned, huge building nearby. That one was damaged by an earthquake. I kept thinking about Kowloon city. And D&D. A dungeon, 14 levels high! :)

This American Life, episode #555

Transcript, if you prefer reading

The all-in-one building

The abandoned building
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Totally fascinating. I did some urban ruins exploration when I lived in Detroit and this one would have been a beauty to crawl.

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Alex Schroeder

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"I am going to show you how to convert a standard stapler into a two part magnetic stapler."
One limitation of a typical office stapler is that it only lets you staple about 3 1/2 into the paper. This isn't enough for a lot of projects. I...
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This is great!!
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Alex Schroeder

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A blog post listing all the great DIY D&D settings I heard about it recent years, whether published as books or as blog posts. A nice list, just in case you weren't familiar with all of them. The discussion of the various settings doesn't go deep, unfortunately. Jeff Russel says that he likes the setting and talks about word count, or distinctiveness, but doesn't actually say what you'll be seeing in the setting. You'll have to look it up yourself.
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+Alex Schroeder Thanks for sharing! You are right that I didn't go very deep on any of them, as I usually struggle with being too wordy! I didn't even realize that I didn't talk about what the settings are like , I think I took for granted that readers would be somewhat familiar with them. Perhaps this deserves a follow up post.
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(This share appears on YouTube thing – ugh!)
I followed a link to a Wired article about +Holly Herndon and her music, and ended up listing to this interview where she talks about the sound of Now. What do cities sound like? What should electric cars sound like? And it goes on from there. How to play music on the laptop, what sounds it plays. Avatars as extensions of ourselves. The rights you have regarding your physical body and the rights you lack regarding your digital "body".
   I always think about the historical perspective. How singing and drumming developed, changed, the necessity of physical implements, the relation of the visual input to the audio – do we see people playing? I remember arguing that synthesizers are better than electric guitars with my step brother in the eighties. I remember being fascinated with drum machines when I discovered The Sisters of Mercy. And trackers on the C64. Electronic music. The deconstruction of pop music.
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I installed the programming language ChucK half way through the video.
Then I checked out the examples directory and started playing some of the files. Amazing!
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Yesterday, the party discovered the beginnings of a mind flayer invasion from the Far Realm, sent by their god-principle Thoon (inspired by the Monster Manual V for D&D 3.5). This all started because a random encounter in the astral sea indicated mind-flayers and the domain game rules I'm trying to test listed a mind flayer invasion at some point in the future. The party decided that this was super dangerous and abandoned all current plot lines, backtracked from those arriving ships, found the gate and plunged into it, to fight the mind flayers at the source. The session ends and now I'm wondering what to do. :)
William Arndt's profile photoBevan Anderson's profile photoAlex Schroeder's profile photoFalk Flak's profile photo
yeah, that's great. In my group exists no such emotional investment. It's all about individual goals 
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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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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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Alex Schroeder's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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