All posts by Stargazer

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

Post/page ratings and iPhone support

This morning I installed two plugins that will make reading this blog even more enjoyable!

  • WP-PostRatings
    You’ve probably already noticed the small star icons below the post titles. You can now rate posts from zero to five stars. I hope I will be able to implement a “highest rated post” widget soon. Stay tuned and please rate my posts.
  • WPtouch
    WPtouch is a plugin that applies a special theme to the blog, when viewed by an iPhone or iPod touch. This greatly decreases load times when accessing the blog. You can still comment on articles and view all the content but WPtouch is not compatible with the ratings plugin, so you can’t rate posts from your iPhone. But there’s a link that allows you to switch to the “Normal View” showing the standard theme again.
If you encounter any problems with these plugins, please contact me via the contact form on the “About” page or use the comments below.
UPDATE: The “Highest Rated” widget is now working, showing the 5 highest rated posts.

Is D&D Insider worth up to 8$ per month?

Recently WotC’s Randy Buehler has revealed the plans for the future of DDI. In the near future we’ll no longer get Dungeon and Dragon for free, but we’ll have to pay to be able to access Dungeon, Dragon and the Bonus tools. A one-month-subscription will set you back around 8$ but the monthly price will be reduced to around 5$ if you subscribe for a whole year.
If we were talking about the printed Dragon and Dungeon from earlier (better?) times, I would subscribe at once, no questions asked. But since we are talking about digital magazines, I am more than skeptical. I don’t have any hope that Wizards is going to surprise us with a completely revamped and better website for DDI. And the current D&D website is not only looking outdated but it’s usability is subpar also. A digital magazine isn’t a bad thing in itself, but when you take Wizards’ history of failures in the digital domain into account, the future of Dungeon and Dragon looks grim indeed.
The other features you’ll get for your subscription is the D&D Compendium  and the so-called Bonus tools. The latter are minor tools that they should have given us for free. They are nothing I would want to pay money for. The D&D Compendium could be interesting, especially if you plan your adventures on the PC. But like the rest of the D&D website, the Compendium is badly designed and lacks usability. By the way, while I was writing these lines, the Compendium didn’t work but I got the following message:

Server Application Unavailable

The web application you are attempting to access on this web server is currently unavailable. Please hit the “Refresh” button in your web browser to retry your request.

When DDI was first announced I was thrilled, but after the delay of the Character Visualizer, Character- and Dungeon Builder and the D&D Gaming Table and the utter failure of Gleemax, I fear that DDI was a good idea on paper only. Although Randy Buehler is teasing us with Dragon and Dungeon exclusives I am sure that I can resist the temptation. And so will a lot of D&D fans all over the world. To answer my own question: No, DDI is not worth up to 8 bucks per month as long as Wizards doesn’t show us that they can really pull this off.

Elementary, dear Watson!

I love RPG and I love murder mysteries. When I am not blogging, gaming or drinking coffee, I am probably listening to a Sherlock Holmes audiobook or watch the latest CSI episode.
I always wanted to have a great murder mystery adventure perhaps as part of another campaign or as a whole campaign. I still remember the good old times, when I was still in high school, when I discovered the roleplaying game “Private Eye” on a friends’ bookshelf. As far as I can remember we never actually played it, but I found the idea to play a private investigator in a roleplaying game written for murder mysteries and the like intriguing.
When I run or play Call of Cthulhu we normally have a lot of opportunities for criminalistic activities. We hunt for clues, talk to suspects, do research in libraries, so it’s the closest thing I have experienced to a detective roleplaying game.
When d20 Modern came out a few years ago I made some plans for a campaign with psychic investigators like in the Agents of PSI minisetting that never came out of the planning stage. My main problem always was, how do I create a compelling murder mystery without working everything out to the miniscule details and without resorting to a lot of Search and Research tests? And how do you handle psychic abilities in a murder mystery? I haven’t found an answer to these questions yet, so I ask my readers to share their thoughts.