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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I just played through a game with my custom Vizier character (modeled after the Vizier from the Aladdin stories).

I rather like the design. If you haven't seen him, he has an immunity to snakes, and starts the game with a Viper as a companion. His fight chits are particularly weak for his vulnerability of Medium (intentional), and he's not all that quick. He has four type VI chits, and one type IV chit. This means that he can fire off one type VI spell per turn, and rarely has a chance to do type IV spells without another source of purple magic. He is also unable to enchant tiles.

I thought that initially he would be fairly underpowered, but after playing a game, I find that his advantages are rather nice, if a bit weird. I did lose my Viper to a battle with a T Spider early on, but at least I managed to stay alive. With development rules turned on, I knew that by achieving a new advancement level, the Viper would regenerate (this is the only way for companions to regenerate), and so I aimed to survive long enough to achieve the needed VPs. Since I started at level 4, I knew this would take some doing, especially since losing my companion already put me 2 notoriety points in the hole.

I started the game with 2 spells: Transform, and Fiery Blast. Yeah, hopeful thinking. My first major encounter after losing my Viper was with the T Flying Demon. I hid, and thought it might be worth turning it into a frog and then killing it. Alas, I turned the Demon into a Lion, but thankfully I remained hidden, so the Lion didn't attack. Whew!

I snuck out of the clearing, so I could rest my chits, and the Flying Demon returned to the setup card, which cancelled the Transform spell. I'm not sure that's correct according to the rules (might be a bug) but that was good enough for me. I went back to the Shrine where the Demon had been, and looted it for all it was worth. I managed to pick up the Scroll of Alchemy, which was perfect for the Vizier with his type VI proficiency. I stood near the Chapel and read runes until I learned all the spells. Several curses, and Chapel cleansings later, I had them all: Unleash Power, World Fades, Phantasm, and Dissolve Spell. Not too shabby!

I decided at that point to move through the caves nearby, and see if there was much treasure on the other side. In the caves, I got pounced on by a pair of Trolls, but a quick Transform turned me into an Eagle, and I was able to fly away. Cool!

I came across the Small Campfire, and the Woodfolk were waiting for me there. I rested my type IV chit, and made more purple magic before moving into the evening. The Woodfolk decided to battle me, so I quickly turned into an Eagle, and somehow managed to kill the leader, before flying away. Sneaking back, and looting the clearing, I found one L Bow, M Bow, and both small treasures (Alchemists Mixture and some other potion... can't remember now). With the L Bow (couldn't really use the M Bow - not strong enough), I used ambush to slowly kill the remaining Woodsfolk. I finished cleaning up the clearing, and moved into the Cliff tile.

Whoa! The Lost Castle reveals itself, along with the Lair, Hoard, Pool, and Altar, as well as a tub-full of dragons. I wasn't able to do much but fly away as the Eagle , and land in a nearby woods tile, where the Vipers appeared. With the Vizier's immunity, the Vipers simply watched me rest my chits, and allowed me to move back towards the Cliff. At the site of the Woodsfolk slaughter, the Lancers had appeared (FRIENDLY), and the Vizier was finally able to unload some previous loot, and earn enough gold to hire the Lancers, AND achieve a new level (yay, my Viper friend is back!) With an army of Lancers, a Viper, and a well-oiled bow, I thought it was time to make work of the Dragons in the Cliff, and revel in my riches.

Without going into excruciating detail, I can tell you that we cleaned up a lot of dragons, but ultimately, a few crummy rolls left me in the grips of the T Flying Dragon, with not much else to do but die. It sucked, but the game was fun nonetheless. I considered reloading an earlier save, but I'm thinking I should probably quit for the night, and spend some time with the family downstairs. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and may your travels be safe!

Version 0.57 Released

This release fixes most (all?) of the bugs related to custom advantages from the last release, and adds a whole bunch more new advantages. Also fixed a few bugs from the regular game. Not much else to say, except here's what's new:

  • [977] - When playing a local game (non-network), the gold chit placement dialog will allow you to place all the chits at once, and will not cycle through characters unnecessarily.
  • New Custom Advantages
    • Lock picking (open VAULT, CRYPT, or CHEST without keys)
    • Different starting gold amount with an option for setting maximum recorded gold
    • Item Restrictions (i.e., can specify that Suit of Armor cannot be worn)
    • "Plus One" die mods (disadvantage)
    • Start the game with a companion
      • Many monster types (not all)
      • Transform types (Lion, Eagle, Bird, Squirrel, Frog)
      • If you are doing development, you DO get the companion when you achieve the level
      • Companions regenerate when you advance a level (is this too powerful?)

    • Rest counts double advantage (like Dwarf)
    • Walk Woods ability on the 7th day of the week
    • Monster Immunity - generalizes the concept of "Demon Immunity"
      • Demon Immunity is no longer available on the miscellaneous panel
      • You can specify any number of monsters, including those from Pruitt's expansion
      • Immunity means that the monster cannot attack you, cannot be lured, and cannot block you at any time.

    • Natural armor - character has a natural armor like monsters
      • Dampens attack sharpness as if it hit armor
      • If real armor is hit, it does NOT dampen sharpness again (unless you are playing with penetrating armor rules)
      • Once sharpness is dampened by this armor, the full effect of the attack is taken (i.e., you don't simply get a single wound!)

    • Not really an advantage, per se (it doesn't take up a slot), but you can create FLY chits among your regular character chits
      • FLY chits must have at least one effort asterisk to be valid.
      • FLY chits are fatigued when used, much like MAGIC chits - this is true for regular (daytime) movement, as well as combat maneuvering or running away. Yeah, flying is hard.
      • You only fatigue a FLY chit when you "take off", not for every tile moved.
      • If you "take off", land, and "take off" again, you will be fatiguing TWO FLY chits, if you have them.
      • Because of the changes in the FLY code, if you have other options (flying steed, flying carpet, flying spell, etc) you don't need to fatigue your FLY chits.

    • Other special CHIT abilities:
      • BERSERK-like vulnerability adjustments
      • DUCK-like movement chits
      • DUCK-like fight chits
      • You get to give the chit its own "name" here, but MOVE, FIGHT, MAGIC, and FLY are reserved names. Otherwise, anything goes: take care not to make something toooo long. :-)

  • Character Builder
    • New chit INVALID indicator when chits are not... well... valid!
      • MOVE chits with a strength less than your vulnerability are invalid
      • MAGIC or FLY chits without effort asterisks are invalid

    • Added a new export function, so you can save an image of your character card without the picture
    • Added a "Suggest" button to the description field of every advantage type, so you can get a default if you don't feel like writing it yourself.
    • New "Edit Notes..." button allows you to add/edit notes for your character. This is a good place to keep track of character versions, or mention that you made changes to someone else's design.

  • Reworked flying logic
    • if you have multiple flying possibilities, you get to pick which one you want to use
    • if you will drop items by flying, you get a warning now BEFORE it happens

  • Fixed a problem with giving weapons names with more than one word
  • [1119],[1124] - Fixed problems with custom characters using "optional" advantages:
    • Druid Lull (no site chit summoning)
    • Magician's MAGIC chits don't fatigue
    • Wizard's ability to skip SPX phase
    • Druid's immunity to curses

  • [1120],[1114],[1117] - Fixed an issue with MEETING die roll modifications (affected both Knights, and custom characters with the meeting table diemods)
  • [1125] - Custom Characters with more than one extra phase, will behave properly now
  • [1116] - Added the awakened spell count to the search buttons for Read Runes
  • Fixed a problem where some of the temp files were not getting deleted for the character builder
  • [1115] - Support for negligible weight weapons
  • [1123] - Characters that have the ability to start at the GHOSTS will not crash the game anymore
  • [1130] - A problem with custom weapons crashing the game during combat is fixed.
  • [1133] - Fixed a problem with how tweaked-imported characters were appearing in the character chooser
  • [1135] - Cannot inactivate enchanted items during combat anymore
  • [1141] - Fixed some minor annoyances in the character builder tool
  • [1144] - Fixed the log so it is clear that gold bounty is split across all simultaneous attackers
  • [1136] - A recurring problem with the three Map treasures is fixed.
  • [1122] - T chits without effort asterisks are no longer fatigued when opening the VAULT or CRYPT

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Multi-player Games and Custom Characters

Here is something to note, if you ever play a multiplayer game: each character has its own unique checksum, that is constructed from everything about them. If you so much as change the case of a letter in the name, the checksum is different. The only things that don't change the checksum, are the pictures.

When the host starts a new game, all the host's characters are preloaded, and the checksums are cached. Each player that joins is quickly compared against these checksums: if they are missing a character, or even have a modified version of one of the hosts characters (different checksum), they are informed, and then kicked off the server. All they need do at that point, is get a copy of all the hosts characters, and they'll be set to go. This guarantees that everyone is playing with the same starting crowd. Also, this gives the host some control over what characters can be played. The last thing a host wants, is some rogue player playing a demi-god character with all T1 chits, full armor, and a greatsword!!

I suppose I could have built in an automatic transfer mechanism, but I hesistate to do stuff like that without the computer owner's knowledge. It opens the doors for all kinds of problems: where do I put the transferred characters? do I overwrite existing characters? do I delete them when the game ends? etc. Its just as easy for the host to e-mail an archive of the character set they will be using for a particular game to all the players before-hand.

One more thing: though a joining player must have the same character set as the host, there's no problem if they have additional characters in their custom folder. They still can't use the additional characters in the online game, but at least they don't have to delete or move them to play.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Version 0.56.1 Released

Sorry about the double-release. I just HAD to get the card exporter fixed, and the ACME gif exporter I was using was just driving me nuts (I've completely ripped this out, so the Acme license is no longer needed). Now I'm using PNG files internally, and the exporter creates a JPG file. Plus, you can import images from any of these formats: GIF, JPG, PNG. Both GIF and PNG support transparency, so either of those will work fine for your token/weapon icons.

Oh, and thanks to those of you who have already added ideas to the Wiki. Since a couple were so darned easy, I went ahead and added a few new advantages to the miscellaneous tab.

One final point to make: I plan to always keep the rschar files supported, regardless of which version they were created in. If I ever change the format, I WILL make a conversion tool, so you should never have to make them again from scratch. This release is no exception: if you made any characters with v0.56, they will continue to work with v0.56.1. :-)

Here's what's new:

  • New Custom Advantages under Miscellaneous
    • Enhanced Peer ability
    • Remote Spell ability
    • Timeless Jewel-like ability

  • More graphics file types supported: GIF, PNG, JPG
  • Character Card Exporter works (creates a JPG file)

Graphics Revelation

I had a bit of a graphics revelation this morning. I didn't realize that Java has its own built-in support for exporting PNG files (which do support transparency, as it turns out). Since PNG files can be created without first indexing the image, I will be able to lift the restriction on GIF files for all images. I'm thinking about doing a sub-release this weekend (maybe in the next few minutes) that will enable GIF, JPG, and PNG as import graphics, and will get the image exporter working.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Version 0.56 Released

Okay, I think I'm happy enough with the character builder now to do an initial release. Not a lot of new changes to RealmSpeak except for the addition of the custom character builder stuff.

Here's what you need to do to get started:
  1. Download the latest version of RealmSpeak (version 0.56)
  2. Unzip the archive in the usual place (your RealmSpeak folder)
  3. Double-click on the launchCharacterBuilder.bat script (WinXP)
    • Note: Another way to access the character builder, is to launch RealmSpeak the normal way, and then look in the HELP menu for the character builder.

  4. Select a "New Character" from the FILE menu
  5. Edit and save your character to the default "characters" folder.
  6. Launch RealmSpeak, and you are ready to go!
NOTE: Make sure you allow custom characters by turning the option ON in the "Expanding the Realm" tab of the "Host New Game" dialog. If you don't, only the basic 16 will be available.

Editing a character is easy. Ignoring the graphics (I'll talk about that in a moment), you can copy a premade character in about 5 minutes. You might want to start by naming your character. Change the value in the Level 4 character text field (fourth panel down on the right) from "Untitled" to something of your choosing. Edit the other three level names if you like, or leave them as is.

Once you have a name, edit the chits. Simply click on a chit, and a little dialog will pop up to allow you to change the attributes.

Press DONE, and the attributes are applied. Curious to see how you are doing? Click on the "View Card" button anytime to get a rendered version of your character card.

Now you are going to want some special advantages. Typically, a character has two, and these are typically aligned with levels 2 and 4. You don't have to comply with this, but that's how it's usually done. To edit an advantage, press the respective "Edit" button, and an advantage dialog will appear. Initially, the dialog is empty, except for a couple of buttons on the bottom. Press "New" to start working on a new advantage.

A bunch of controls will pop up. Across the top are the details of the advantage, including name, description, and a badge icon (a default badge is provided). The bottom portion of this dialog has the mechanics that will tell RealmSpeak how the advantage works. To the left, you'll see a list of categories:
  • Die Modifiers - These are all the die roll modifications you'll ever want
  • Extra Actions - This allows you to specify ANY of the day actions as an EXTRA action
  • Color Source - This makes your character a color source (I know, this is odd, but there are some designs out there that will require this)
  • Tactics Change - This lets you design a Battle Bracelet/Elusive Cloak-like ability for your character
  • Miscellaneous - This is just about everything else. You'll find all the usual advantages here, plus a few extra.

Now I know what you're thinking: what if I can't find what I need? As you can imagine, without writing a script-engine for RealmSpeak, I can't anticipate everything you might want. The best I can offer is to try and compromise for the time being, and let me know what you are after. I'm thinking a Wiki page might be the way to go for requests of this nature, and I'll try to accomodate reasonable requests in a timely manner.

UPDATE: I just added a new page to the Wiki for this very purpose.

Okay, so back to the builder. You are done with your advantage, press "Done", and it is applied. Go back and press "Clear" if you want to remove an advantage.

Your character starts the game with a weapon? Easy: click on the "Edit" button in the weapon area (one per level), and the weapon dialog appears.

Here you'll see another blank page with a number of buttons across the bottom. Click "Pick" to select a weapon from the standard Magic Realm set - OR - press "New" if you want to make your own. Note: If you decide to make your own, make sure the name is unique, or the builder will force you to use the in-game weapon of the same name (i.e., it wont let you make a different kind of weapon named "Spear") The weapon editor allows you to select the attributes, and even select a new icon. This part is actually quite fun - take a look at the scimitar and shuriken weapons I created for my two custom characters I'm releasing shortly.

UPDATE: I just added a new page for hosting custom characters. You'll find the two I made there, and hopefully I'll be hosting more from other people in the near future.

Finally, modify the other features of your character: relationships (click directly on the table to change), starting locations, vulnerability, armor, gender, etc. When you are content, save your character to the "characters" folder. You'll end up with a single rschar file that you can use to play with immediate, or share with your friends.

Okay, so I promised I would talk about graphics. I made the builder with the idea in mind that you would be able to custom design your own symbol, weapon icon, badge icons, and even card picture for your character. It does this, but there are a couple of things you need to know about before you dive in.

First and foremost, the builder will only read GIF files. I hear some of you sighing already, but this is a restriction only because of the library I'm using to export GIF files. Actually, there's another reason. Java itself can read JPG, GIF, PNG, and a few others, but GIF is the only one that I know for sure can have transparency, and this is very important. Without transparency, the symbols wouldn't lay over the top of the rendered chit the way they do in game. I know that JPG does NOT support transparency (please correct me if I'm wrong here), and though PNG does, I don't have an exporter for it. If anyone wants to give me some advice here, I'm all ears. I would love to allow any type of image file in this builder. It would sure make life easier! :-)

I do have some size recommendations. If you look in the HELP menu of the builder, you'll see what I suggest. Go ahead and experiment outside of those ranges, but I think you'll find that what I suggest works best. The picture you use for your characters has the most leeway, because the builder actually resizes it for you. Of course, you may not WANT it resized, so just keep that in mind when picking your picture.

My last point about graphics, is simply to give you a couple of links to free tools that I use:
  • GIMP - GNU Image Manipulation Program - This little guy will open ANY image format, and will save ANY image format.
  • IrfanView - A graphics viewer as well as converter (useful if you need to convert a JPG to a GIF, and don't want to mess around in GIMP)
  • - A good place to look up symbols that might be useful to use as your token.

Of course, if you already have access to some version of Photoshop, that will work too! :-)

Okay, here's a complete list of what's new in this release:

  • New Custom Character Support
    • Launch the character builder two ways:
      • LaunchCharacterBuilder.bat (provided)
      • Run RealmSpeak, and then look under the HELP menu

    • Design new characters from scratch, with full control over every aspect:
      • Names
      • Chits
      • Starting inventory (you can create your own weapons, or use the standard ones)
      • Relationships
      • Special Advantages (lots of options here)
      • Icons (token graphics, as well as individual badge icons and even weapons!)
      • Picture

    • Import one of the original 16 characters, and modify at will
    • Characters are saved as a single rschar file, which can be transferred easily from machine to machine
    • Simply drop the the character files into a "characters" folder (same level as "images" folder), and the characters are ready to go
    • Online play IS supported (Every player must have the same set of custom characters as the host, or they will not be able to join)
    • Fully formatted character cards can be generated as a gif at a click of a button, so these characters can be used in F2F or PBEM games too!

  • [1081] - Changed the wording on the "Exclude Starting Worth" description
  • Fixed a couple more windows that were getting stuck behind the main frame:
    • Treasure Setup Card View
    • Combat Frame

  • [1103] - Fixed a problem with fetching the Hall of Fame on Linux systems
  • [1109] - Mission reward calculation displayed properly now
  • [1100] - Added clearing number to Treasure Location chits in notebook view
  • [1092] - Ointment of Bite, Oil of Poison, and Penetrating Grease will now all apply to your dagger in the absence of an alerted weapon
  • [1083] - Dark Forest Hidden Paths on discoveries panel, will show the clearing plus the edge direction, so you can tell which is which now.
  • [1088] - Belt of Strength and Unleash Power place nicely together now
  • [1069] - Concurrent mod error fixed.
  • [1082] - Fixed wording of the VP Assignment option
  • Fixed a game hang when a hired leader is killed (rare)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Custom Character Builder Coming Soon!

If you've been watching the bug database, you've probably noticed that I've not been touching too many bugs lately. The reason for this, is that I've been working on a new tool for building new characters for RealmSpeak. The tool will let you customize everything: names, chits, relationships, starting dwellings, armor, etc. It will even let you create a weapon unique to your character (a shuriken for a Ninja, for example). It even has a fairly complex tool for adding special advantages to your character.

When you are done, you save an rschar file, and when version 0.56 of RealmSpeak is released, all you do is drop this file into a folder called "custom", and you are off and running. The character will be available in the chooser, and everything about it (weapon, advantages, etc) will be ready to go! Pretty cool, eh?

Check this out: the builder will even let you choose a picture for your character, and then generate a character card. Here is one I generated for my Dark Elf character:

That's how it comes out - no tweaking in photoshop or anything. The picture that you select is even automatically cropped into the typical oval. Pretty sweet!

Anyway, I should have this thing wrapped up in a week or two, and then you guys can go nuts making characters. I'll probably provide a few of my own on my website, and then add to it when people send me their own.

UPDATE - Here's a couple more, just for fun:

UPDATE 2 - I realized I should probably give you screenshot of the builder, so you can see what it looks like. Here ya go: