Recent fan posses

lead-adventure_game-postRecently I noticed a few hits coming from Lead Adventure Forum, specifically a thread about cowboys vs dinosaurs where my game was mentioned. I always like free exposure for my game. The cool picture to the right (with some of the nicest buildings I’ve seen) unfortunately used a different ruleset, but is still in the right genre.

Simultaneously some fans created almost ten posses on The Saloon. So I’m gonna go with my gut and say these items are related. If the fans wants to speak up and comment here I’m more than happy to hear from them – see if they played any Dinosaur Cowboys games, and how their posses worked out. :)

EDIT: I was way off, the forum post and posses were unrelated. See the user comment below for details of a cool battle report and setup!

Anyway I thought I’d highlight a few of the posses (much like I did with Doom Eagle’s creations), since I see a lot of interesting and fun elements, and you may not check The Saloon as regularly as I do.

  • The Bloody Rustlers – Some real cowboys in this posse. The Leader is armed with a Rope Lasso and Harmonica, which is an interesting combo, especially since they also have the Wrangler trait. Nice to see a unique approach to combat beyond “pistol and good RTN”. I also like the hardcore member who has a Stick of Dynamite and a focus on Punching. I can only imagine them running forward, throwing the grenade, and following up with some savage melee. Anytime the Boxer trait is used I consider that a win.
  • Exodus – Posse built around the massive $1,000 Titan dinosaur, but also having a powerful leader with a Grenade Launcher and the Strong Rider trait. A brutal combination to be mounted on such a beast. I like the remaining member being a support type character with a Flagstaff.
  • Jungle Gentry – I really like the name of this posse, and the split of 2 Neotechnoists and 1 Savage. Especially because the Savage is a “by the books” doctor statistically (Triage and a pair of IRPs), except I like to imagine him themed as a rustic shaman hired by a pair of foppish nobles.
  • Dem Bois – Cool gang with lots of elements I like. First of all a minor doctor character with Triage and a Large IRP. Second an Energy Sword…enough said (love that weapon). And of course the Big Game Hunter with a Bronto Gun. Even the name “Myrtle the Turtle” for the Armored dinosaur (who hilariously has Sprint for a nasty surprise). I could see myself playing a posse like this.
  • Professional Funyuns – A bigger posse with some solid members. Nice to see the Broken Bottle and Serrated Knife being used…both of which seem like pretty brutal/vicious weapons. Another good Boxer trait usage. And a member with dual 100kW Six-Shooters, perfect for the “Dual Wield” Variant Rule. I’d be interested to know if the intent was to pile on the Ducky dinosaur to move into melee, or slog forward (as the Speeds are a bit low) and try to survive on healing and high Hitpoints.

The Saloon posse designer now has full Campaign support!

This post will cover Saloon updates as well as Windy River Campaign updates, specifically what happened during the End of Encounter process from the Big Raid at Little Hyran Mine.

The Saloon Supports Campaigns
First of all I’m very pleased to announce I’ve added extensive Campaign specific support to The Saloon online posse designer. The program has been great so far, specifically the PDF export feature I use heavily in all my games. But it was also somewhat lacking for ONGOING posses, instead of just initial creation. Well this latest update remedies this problem and means I can track everything from used medical devices to Wounds and Injuries.

New-Campaign-CheckboxThe entry to this magical land of campaign tracking goodness is the new “Campaign” mode checkbox, pictured to the right. This checkbox value will be persisted when you use the “Save to URL” function. There is also a warning beside the checkbox telling you the Campaign mode is for advanced users. So advanced in fact that if this is your first visit to The Saloon this checkbox won’t even be displayed!

Once the Campaign mode is checked there are a few fundamental changes to how your posse is managed:

  • Recruiting a new Member costs $250 (although the recruitment cost isn’t tracked per member, so you’ll have to toggle the Campaign checkbox if you want to remove them at a normal price)
  • “Use” Medical Devices by clicking the little pill icon (Pill-Use) to the left of the Medical Device in the Inventory section of each posse member.
  • Sell any viable piece of equipment (price must be greater than or equal to $10, as per the rules) by clicking the “dollar sign” (Sell-Icon) to the left of the item. You can also sell your Dinosaur (again as per the rules) instead of flat out removing them. Tooltips have been updated to reflect what each button icon does.
  • Manage Wounds/Injuries! Select the entity you want to manage and click the “Wounds/Injuries” button to open a new panel below the posse list. From here you can choose a Wound/Injury from the full list and apply it to that entity, or Heal it when the time comes. All Wounds/Injuries are properly persisted when you use “Save to URL”.
  • Wounds/Injuries are noted by bolding the HP field in the posse list, which can then be moused over to see the full list of what is affecting the entity.
  • If the “Apply to PDF?” checkbox is selected any Wounds/Injuries will be noted at the top of the “Current HP” field in the PDF, and directly modify stats if possible (so a “Busted Leg” with -1 Speed would indeed reduce the character’s Speed on the PDF roster).

So as I said, lots of really handy functionality! I think the majority of players (anyone out theeere?) tend to play one-off games and not a Campaign. But the functionality is very useful for me and the Drylands Expedition. Speaking of which…

End of Encounter Process for Drylands Expedition
Sarah-Love-UnpaintedI finally got around to sitting down and figuring out Wounds/Injuries and what to do with my leftover IP and ND from last game. The Drylands Expedition is at 179 IP, $2,000, and 5 Traits, and I need to spend some of that!
After much deliberation I decided it’s time to recruit a new Member! So exciting. Also a little sad because my roster is now full :( I don’t have a ton of IP to really bring them up to snuff with the rest of the posse, so they will start a bit wet behind the ears, but that’s okay because it’s realistic and fun to try to keep them alive.
So let’s all take a moment and welcome “Sarah Love”, a Duster cowgirl with a brace of pistols and a sunny disposition. She is a wandering caravan guard that happened to stumble across Hyran Mine soon after the attack. Having heard of the Night Daggers, seen the effect of their Toxic Guns (poor Amp!), and generally finished her current caravan job, she joined the Drylands Expedition in their quest for revenge (and an antidote).
As I said she’s a Duster, and the model I have for her is pictured to the right. Currently she’s unpainted, but I have her based and undercoated, so hopefully I can remedy that problem this weekend. I won’t get a chance to play Dinosaur Cowboys before then anyway, so the next time you see her she could be all done.
The model is great with a very dynamic “over the shoulder” pose. She has a ton of cool looking pistols belted onto her hip, 4 in total. So I figured I’d run with that idea in regards to her equipment. I gave her TWO Handcannons ($240 total). That means she’s actually better equipped than Quidel, so guess who will get an upgrade in the future? Anyway after Campaign recruitment of $250 that left me with exactly 0 ND, so no armor to start.
For statistics I didn’t have a ton of IP, like I said, but I did manage +1 Defense and +1 Speed (she’s also faster than Quidel!). Unfortunately no Ranged Target Number improvements so her shooting might be lackluster to start. But with the “Dual Wield” variant rule she’ll get 3A-6D on those awesome Handcannons. Know what would make them even more potent? The Rapid Fire Trait which gives +2 Range Attacks once per encounter. 5A-6D…swoon!
I actually had enough IP left to boost Amparo’s Hitpoints from 9 to 10, which will also help reduce his chance to take a Bravery Test. And that means my entire Posse has double digit Hitpoints (finally)!

I also did the unfun process of seeing how my numerous Out of Action characters did. As you might remember everyone but Dwaal was Taken Out of Action last game, haha. However I HUGELY lucked out on rolls with only Quidel suffering an Injury! The rest passed their 8+ Wound Test roll.
Quidel rolled a 2-4, which gave him a temporary “Broken Knee” which means he cannot Hustle! At 3 Speed…ouch. Sort of ironic (and vaguely karmic) though since his Trait is “Knee Shot”.
I can’t complain too much though considering everyone but the dinosaur was taken out.

So in summary:
– Hired Duster “Sarah Love” for $250
— Two Handcannons ($240)
— +1 Defense, +1 Speed
— “Rapid Fire” Trait
– +1 HP for Amparo
– “Broken Knee” Injury for Quidel

End result: 1/179 IP, 0/2000 ND, 5/5 Traits
PDF: Drylands Expedition Roster (Day 6)
Saloon Link: Drylands Expedition Online (Day 6)

Like I said I probably won’t get a game until this weekend, but I do have the Night Daggers Antidote Defense posse (PDF) all setup and ready to go!

Release of Rulebook v1.9 with massive changes

Big-ChangesWell the last release was a little over nine months ago, how crazy is that? You’ll notice with this release I jumped a bunch of version numbers. The reason for that is because of all the massive changes. I know I had said the core rules were solidified at the v1.0 release, and in a sense they still are, but yeah, v1.9 and forward will be different than prior releases.
What I’m planning to do is release v1.9, let it simmer for a bit, and then release the “final” version as v2.0. This is because I might have missed typos or other errors just due to the sheer size of the changes.

First of all, here is the brand new Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.9.

Anyway, I keep talking about big changes, so let’s hear them (ordered biggest change to smallest)!

Version 1.9 Rules Changes
– Renamed the statline, which is now: DEF, RTN, CTN, BTN, SPD, HP. That would be Defense (Armor Rating), Range Target Number (Ranged Miss Chance), Close Target Number (Melee Miss Chance), Bravery Targer Number (Bravery/Gutless), Speed (Movement), Panic Speed (Panic Movement). The reason for this was to apply a consistent naming to the lower-is-better stats (RTN, CTN, BTN). Also Defense makes more sense in terms of dinosaurs and lightly armored cowboys. Speed also sounds better since then the Maneuever Phase can become Movement Phase instead. Also Defense is written as +X, and Speed as X” instead of both being flat X. The use of these statistics doesn’t change much, it’s more just a redone naming and reorder of the stat line. To get an idea of what the new statline looks like see this example posse roster.
– In the same vein of renaming for theme, Run was changed to Hustle
– Split Speed on the Posse Roster (similar to Hitpoints) to easily see what the Hustle distance would be
– Dinosaurs now ignore Difficult Terrain, due to their massive size. This also makes moving a big dinosaur toy MUCH easier on a cramped table.
– Dinosaur balancing: King DIS 9 to 8, King A-D 1-9 to 1-8, Raptor A-D 1-6 to 1-5, Fin HP to 17, Terror A-D 1-7 to 1-6, Terror MV 5 to 6, Plated HP 23 to 22, Runner HP 10 to 11, Thickskull A-D 5-1 to 4-2, Horned MV 6 to 5, Horned A-D 4-3 to 6-1, Ripper HP 12 to 13, Longneck HP 37 to 35, Titan HP 32 to 30
– Added 10 Deployments to spice up games beyond “line up on opposing sides”
– Added 11 Objectives to help move away from plain “kill everything” matches
– Added 40 Features to provide some extra variety to games, such as Duststorms, Volcanos, Traps, Weapon Emplacements, etc.
– Added a Forced March rule to allow posses to travel longer per day at the cost of Initiative
– Added an underdog table for unbalanced battles in a campaign
– Added rules for Overland Difficult Terrain
– Added after encounter Wound and Injury rules for an ongoing campaign
– Updated Variant Rules to have 19 solid options, instead of old brainstorm info
– Renamed Surprise Hit to Shot in the Back (for flavor)
– Added a Custom Game Sheet that helps track Variant Rules and Features in a game
– Added a game component and game example image to the Game Overview
– Buffed Lassos so they are a little more viable. Now they base the attacks-damage off the dinosaur being ridden. This basically gives a mounted dinosaur a slight ranged attack
– Added a new image based on an old Pony Express ad
– Improved Dinosaur page by making it landscape and adding silhouettes to give an idea of each dinosaur
– Minor change to Minimum Range to be 0-X instead of 1-X to clarify that it can’t be used in melee
– Lowered Voluntary Weakness for Bravery to make it less profitable. Now it goes 2, 2, 3, 4 to stop getting 14 IP from dropping Bravery by two
– Made a note about maximum Traits (which is 13 at 400 IP)
– Reworded Neotechnoist wealth refund to be clearer
– Embed fonts in exported PDF, very important for Dingosaurus font (used in Dinosaur list for silhouettes)
– Cut the PDF size down to ~2.5mb (even with all the new images) by changing from Lossless image export to 100% quality
– Added an example completed posse roster to help players understand how they should look
– Added a note that dinosaurs block Line of Sight
– Added a D12 Random Direction table (demonstrating using the faces of a clock)
– Cleaned up item lists to use alternative colored rows and some green garnish
– Add a note that only a single Panic token can be added at once, regardless of double or triple damage
– Added Dice Tables for D4, D8, D10 in case players only have D12s
– Removed the Crossfire rule and diagram. It was never used, was overly clunky and complex, and didn’t add much
– Added Hatchet as an alternative to Hammer
– Trait “Runner” was renamed to “Racer” to avoid confusion with the dinosaur
– Ten grammar and typo edits from user Grusome99 on Boardgamegeek, many thanks

Peaceful-BeachLike I said, a TON of changes. I maybe should have done an intermediate release, now that I realize how far out of date the old v1.3 was compared to the current.

Version 1.9 Saloon Changes
As usual I updated The Saloon to match the current version. This was a lot of work because of all the PDF export work that needed to be done. Otherwise there were a few minor changes:

– Changed NeodollarFormatter to cut off the decimal places
– Changed fonts and also embedded them in the PDF. This roughly doubled the file size (~185kb to ~350kb) but will ensure the PDFs display properly on all operating systems regardless of what fonts they have available

Next Up
For now I’m going to take a break, play some Dinosaur Cowboys, and make sure v1.9 is solid and there aren’t any unconverted stats or other typos. I have a 4-player game lined up tomorrow so that will be fun. With luck v2.0 will be out in the next month or two.

Linux commands to combine PDFs

I haven’t talked about much computer stuff on this blog, but today I found two useful commands on Linux for combining separate PDFs into a single file. The reason I wanted this is I’m going to try to get some additional outside playtesters and I figured the easier I can make the setup process the better. So I wanted to make half a dozen “starter” Posses and combine them into a single “playtesters package” file.

A very handy utility for PDFs, and a very simple command. This worked perfectly for merging a bunch of exported posse rosters from The Saloon into a single file.

pdftk filename1.pdf filename2.pdf cat output combined.pdf

The above command would combine “filename1.pdf” and “filename2.pdf” into combined.pdf.

This approach actually left some artifacts in the posse rosters, so I ended up not using it. Still worth knowing about:

gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=combined.pdf -dBATCH filename1.pdf filename2.pdf

The above command would combine “filename1.pdf” and “filename2.pdf” into combined.pdf.

I exported every single saved posse currently on The Saloon, which ended up being 19 posses. Then using PDFTK I combined them into a single file that you can check out here. This would be perfect for making a printed folder of available posse choices, and is much easier compared to having a bunch of separate files.

Check out 19 sample posses (PDF) combined from separate files.

Pretty neat eh?

Some Freebooter Miniatures

Steampunk-ish Miniatures
I found two really cool Steampunk style figures from a German company called Freebooter Miniatures. There is Doc Taranto who I think is great as a kind of mad scientist Neotechnoist. And then Dixie Dynamite who is a bit unrealistic but still makes a fun swashbuckler style cowboy. Definitely not the usual fair, and a bit more stylized in general, but still pretty cool! Click for the full size.

What I Have Been Up To
Anyway the blog has been silent for the past few weeks, and will continue to be that way until October. I’m busy travelling at the moment so I haven’t been back to the kitchen table for some wargaming or painting. Which is too bad since I wouldn’t mind trying out my new cowboy figures and getting back to rolling some dice.
Otherwise I did a minor fix to The Saloon around remotely loading invalid posses. Previously if you tried to load a posse that came up invalid (such as having less than 0 Improvement Points remaining) the app would just error out and not load the posse. However this became a problem when trying to load some posses created with older versions of the Dinosaur Cowboys rules. For example The Herd Mothers, a neat posse idea, but they have -6 IP under the v1.3 rules.
So the fix is to instead display a popup (should be cross browser compatible, but maybe not) which warns the user that the posse they tried to load is invalid. But then it still loads it. This is great for at least seeing the posse, or maybe trying to change it to be valid against the latest rules.

Rulebook v1.3 Released!

Well here we are again for another point release, in this case v1.3! It feels close on the heels of v1.2 but that’s because I haven’t been posting as much, since it’s actually been two months since a release.
Get the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.3 here.

Version 1.3 Rules Changes
The main reason for this new version was to get the Neotechnoist allegiance fixed (as mentioned), and also to fix a Saloon bug around Dusters. There are some other changes so check out the list:

– Added $10 Neotechnoist Wealth Refund on first weapon purchase as a bonus of the Allegiance, to balance with the other three. Also moved the version number up to 1.3 from 1.2
– Removed a lot of items from the table of contents to streamline its size. Might have gone too far though.
– Clarified Snap Attack to ensure it’s obvious that a melee weapon needs to be equipped to make a Snap Attack
– Minor reword around Facing to better clarify that if the attacker isn’t facing their target at the start of their Action Phase, they’d have to spend their Maneuver Phase to turn
– Reordered the combat modifiers table (also on the QRS) to be more readable and easier to follow a process, instead of a hodgepodge of modifiers.
– Another slight touchup of the Charge wording
– More minor editing, especially around the later sections that don’t get as much reading. Discipline, Variant Rules, etc.
– Made the close combat / melee combat writing consistent
– Minor change to remove a note about cauterizing

Version 1.3 Saloon Changes
As with every release The Saloon was updated to use the latest rules, and also had a few bugfixes of its own:

– Factored in the Neotechnoist Wealth Refund for their first weapon purchase, and also remembered it for remote url loading
– Added a Save to Text option that will export the Posse in a consistent plain text format, useful for battle reports or posting directly to forums.
– Fixed three main bugs. First of all a Leader decreasing their BRV from 7 to 6 rewards no IP, as compared to the previous of +6. Also now a Duster costs 10 IP to change from MV 3 to 4, instead of the previous incorrect 5 IP. Finally a remote loaded posse will have their stat flags mirrored so that flags like hasIncreasedArmor will still apply, which stops an AR 1 character from increasing their AR to 2
– Changed the recent posse list to have a scheduled executor that will check the posses.txt file for changes and re-load the recent list in memory. This is necessary in case I want to make changes manually to the file (like deleting a junk posse someone created) but don’t want to have to restart the app. Also we now write the posses.txt file on every new addition, instead of just on shutdown
– Cleaned up the validation of a posse to ensure a name and author are always present both when saving and when loading, and the general logic has been compressed into a single method

Next Up
I still have the general idea of writing a basic campaign for players to try out some linked, story driven battles. I’ll also keep on keepin’ on with my battle reports and post those when I can. As usual more minor editing and fixes are always in my mind. I wouldn’t mind getting someone to update the rulebook formatting to be more professional instead of a plain black-and-white document.

Rulebook v1.2 Released!

Well after some more tweaking, balances, and editing I am releasing Dinosaur Cowboys v1.2. Hooray!
Get the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.2 here.

Version 1.2 Rules Changes
In terms of changes here are the highlights, straight from the Subversion commit log. The biggest change was around the stats of the dinosaurs, plus the two new classes (Terror and Fin), plus some new weapons.
– Increase Wrangler trait damage to +2 per stage for Lasso
– Renamed Aimed Shot to Placed Shot and made Aimed Shot now hit at -1 RMC
– Switched the Advancing a Posse and Statistic Improvement Cost pages
– Changed mx HP from 50 to 40
– Reduced Needler weapon cost from 400 to 250
– Added Spine Blade (Motor Blade equivalent)
– Added Skinning Knife as an alternative for Machete, and renamed Knife to Hunting Knife
– Reduced Armored HP from 22 to 20, and Plated from 24 to 23. Going to stop poking at them now
– Changed the Panic MV header to PMV in the dinosaur list to better match how the roster sheet and other abbreviations are used.
– A bunch of dinosaur changes. First of all King was moved to a new class, and the old version was renamed Terror. A new Fin dinosaur was added. A bunch of stats were modified as well, mainly HP and MV adjustments to balance everyone.
– Renamed the Game Master (GM) to the Sheriff to add a bit more flavor
– Added an Aimed Shot variant rule, made a note of recommended variant rules, re-added the brainstorming variant rules.
– Added a new rule for multiplayer games where each entity gets +2 HP per player beyond 2, to increase survivability against more enemies.
– Also added a combined image of the common weapons to the Weapon Description section.
– Cleaned up the table of contents to remove some superflous items
– Clarified some of the combat modifiers since there was a description for Crossfire but not Cover or Elevation
– Renamed the Movement Phase to Maneuver Phase, since the Action Phase isn’t called the RMC Phase, so the Movement/Maneuver Phase shouldn’t be named after a stat too. The downside is it’s tougher to spell.
– Cleaned up Charge wording
– Cleaned up Activating an Entity and the Uneven Activation example since they were written a long time ago
– In the Falling Damage example removed the specific 4 inch distance of the knockback, since it’s confusing when we just want to focus on the 3 inch fall

Version 1.2 Saloon Changes
Also The Saloon received a bunch of bugfixes which I’m really happy with, plus of course all the v1.2 changes were ported into it.
– Added an asterick after a weapon name if it has a special ability. Also added the Spine Blade (Motor Blade equivalent)
– Fixed a really annoying bug around Bonus RMC trait, where it would miscalculate the IP cost
– Fixed a silly mistake where the wrong ‘I’ was being cut because I did indexOf instead of lastIndexOf, so something like ‘Inspiring Shot I’ would cut the first ‘I’ instead of the proper stage ‘I’
– Glaring remote url load error where the 4th member would be ignored (used < instead of <= in the loop)
– Changed the PDF export so excess weapons (over 2) are listed in the inventory instead of being lost to the ether
– Lots of changes around Traits. Previously some of the non-stat Passive traits weren't being applied, such as Clear Sight which modifies ranges of weapons. This actually ended up being a bit of a hassle because we needed to clone the Weapon object, manage string based range brackets, etc.
– Improved some title text for weapons and the allegiance/breed
– Ensured we have an author in the field
– Put version number in intro message

Next Step
As before I don’t have any drastic plans for the rulebook. Maybe some tweaking and formatting and editing here and there, but as I promised with v1.0 the core mechanics will stay the same. I’ve been thinking of adding some items that have more of an in-game effect, like a Bugle or Trumpet that let’s a non-character use the Yeehaw! ability. Maybe various types of alcohol that can be used like drugs in other games to provide bonuses for a turn.
One goal I do have is to make a standalone campaign module for Dinosaur Cowboys, complete with Hexographer maps, scenarios for each location, general plot twists, etc. That might be more of a pipe dream than a goal, but I could see it being fun and adding a lot of value to the game.

Saloon remote URL example

Some more great news from the busy world of The Saloon posse designer. I now have PDF export working 100%, complete with properly transparent HP values, Allegiance/Breed being “circled” to represent selected, and even nice touches like putting the version number in the bottom right corner. Check out an example PDF exported from the app. Pretty slick eh?

Of course you might be saying “But trucking around a PDF is annoying for forums and email”. Which is true. To that end I’ve setup what I call “URL loading”. This means you can pass in a specially crafted URL bursting with parameters like leader name, dinosaur type, etc. and The Saloon will read these and load a corresponding Posse. So for example for the Drylands United Cattle Company from the PDF above you could visit:
Looks a little messy eh? Normally you’d link it like “Hey guys check out my new posse!” and that looks mighty fine.

To access this feature for your own Posse just click “Save to URL” and copy the link that is generated and then paste it to your hearts content on forums, blogs, email, etc.

Another neat feature is the Load Recent Posses link that displays the 5 most recently saved Posses from ANYONE. That means you could go into the app right now and create a Posse and a user on the other side of the world could easily load that Posse. I like this feature as it helps make the app feel a bit more “alive” and is more of a community friendly element. Like I said it’s just the most recent 5, but if I get enough interest I might bump the number up to 20 or something.
Currently the list is cleared upon shutdown of the server, but I might look into persisting it into a text file or light database.

So yeah, pretty much all done now! All I need to do is provide the source code somewhere (probably as a WAR file that can be deployed but that also has the Java files in it). I like to this for webapps because who knows what will happen to me in the future, and it’d be great if the only copy of the source code wasn’t just sitting on my hard drive.

I figure I’ll start advertising the app and getting some feedback and more testing from actual users sometime next week. I’m super happy with how it all turned out and how quickly it came together, and I think it makes building a posse infinitely easier and funner to experiment and test different approaches.

(Also my apologies if The Saloon is a little slow; I’m hosting it off my wireless media center on a basic home internet package, so don’t expect unstoppable performance :) )

The Saloon PDF export 99% done

I’ve kind of stalled out on Nanowrimo after a disastrous week 3, for which I fully blame my business trip. I haven’t hit my stride since coming back, but maybe I will before the month is out.
The good news is I’ve made lots of great progress on The Saloon, my posse building web application. Currently the remaining TODO items look like this:

Major Saloon TODOs

  • Strip PDF filename of special characters (for example comma doesn’t work well)
  • Need to denote Allegiance and Breed somehow in PDF
  • Need to have transparent HP values (maybe write text instead of using a field?)
  • Split status bar into a different div so just it can be updated via ajax
  • Add URL generation so an entire Posse can be passed via external link

Minor Saloon TODOs

  • Regenerate serialVersionUIDs once classes are completed
  • Add titles to the various elements on the page, like Weapons and Armor, etc.
  • Clean up via internationalization / override the error messages

So basically the main areas left are three touchups to PDF export. Otherwise the PDFs come out looking AWESOME! I have the leader, all members, and the dinosaur exporting properly. To give you an idea of how these PDFs look feel free to download Hope’s Warden posse as PDF. You might remember them from an earlier post. But yeah it’s pretty neat being able to translate a paper copy into a PDF with very little effort (it took about 5 minutes to enter the data through The Saloon).

Lots of improvements and bug fixes are now in the app, so it’s worth checking out again. I’m going to wrap up PDF export soon-ish, and then put up some info on various forums so I can get some feedback and views on the application.

Anyways to give you an idea of some of the recent changes here is a log of my SVN commits:

- Added PDF output for Dinosaurs, including their own unique stat images and additional fields
- Added missing extra column for dino that was created for humans for their refresh button
- Added a method for regenerating a new random name upon user request
- Read the first and last name data from a ZIP file instead, which saved a few KB in terms of the WAR size
- Added random name generation for Leaders and Members. The name data is pulled from the US Census data.
- Added a method for restarting the session. Some minor work around the PDF so that we don't allow a save until the posse is valid, and warn the user of what's missing otherwise.
- Some minor tweaks to the layout of the ODT file. It might need to be ported back to the rulesets/cowboys/ folder after each change?
- A bunch of work around the Save to PDF functionality. Now Leader and all Members export properly. Still need dinosaur and Allegiance and a few other tweaks.
- Fixed some bugs, mainly around the opening/closing/toggling of Traits and the Store. There were a lot of ugly flags being flipped around in there.
- Progress on f:ajax optimizations. Big savings once I realized I can do :f:pl (for example) to render the entity list from a composite component. Now the app won't sent upwards of 120kb just to do something basic like increase MV while the Store is opened. Still some bugs around opening/closing of the store and traits in any non-standard use case
- Changed wording from status to statusbar
- Removed Rope Lasso since it's included for free
- Added a bunch of status messages to the various elements of the app, which will display in the status bar along the top. Also made an option to hide the status bar and revert to the previous behaviour of putting messages in the first table's footer
- Added introductory text to explain DC. This will only display on their first visit, after that a cookie is created and if that cookie is present the intro text won't be displayed. Also made a rad status bar overlay along the top (colors undecided) for displaying error messages and info and general stats of the posse. This helps when scrolling down into the store lists.
- Added sorting to every table, plus some cool cascading sorts so that clicking Name will apply to all subtables, for example. Styled the sort headers as well.

If I had to sum up the big changes I’d say: tables are now sortable, new intro text for the app, terrific looking status bar that floats as you scroll, lots of optimizations with JSF’s f:ajax to reduce bandwidth per click, new random name generation for leaders and members, and obviously PDF export for everyone.

As before feel free to check out the app at

Public Beta of “The Saloon”

Well that came together a lot faster than I expected! I still have some bug fixing to do and I need to finish the PDF export function (right now it’s an old roster and just handles the Leader). But I did get The Saloon posse building app hosted so that you, eager reader, can view it and start easily building your very own posses. So go wild:

The Saloon beta

I’m interested in hearing of any bugs or issues you run into. I have a bit of a TODO list on the go but public exposure always helps identify unexpected issues (especially browser related). As I mentioned this is built with JSF 2.0, so you’ll need a semi-recent browser that can handle Javascript to be able to work with the app.
I’m going to get the PDF export going (hopefully by the end of next week, but who knows!) and then I’ll put the word out on various forums and hopefully drum up some interest and testing.

Progress on “The Saloon” Posse Building App

Remember how I started on that fillable PDF posse roster a while back? I did some initial coding a while back, but now (between bouts of Nanowrimo) I sat down and worked on it some more. Right now it’s in a rudimentary unstyled state with a couple of missing pieces of functionality, but in general it works pretty well at creating a posse, modifying their stats, applying traits, and buying items. I’ll need to update the PDF to use v1.0 (especially the new dinosaur statline) and finish with the exporting of that, but yeah, getting close. Eventually I’ll host the application and link to it from here. It’s written with Java and JSF. No timeline on when that will be since I’m kind of just working on this when I have an hour or two.
Anyways some screenshots to give you an idea of how it functions. Like I said this will be styled with CSS eventually, for now I cared more about getting the underlying logic going.

Fillable Posse Roster PDF form

Although I haven’t had a ton of time for additional playtests, I have gotten to work at making the Posse Roster a fillable PDF form. This will be handy for those with small, cramped writing, or for people who are used to creating their sheets that way.
But what it’s REALLY useful for is the possibility of programmatically filling the form. Ideally I’d like to write an application (probably a web app) that allows you to build a Posse and then export to PDF. Thanks to the Java version of iText this is hugely possible and not even that challenging. I did some testing along these lines and already have the Leader filling in properly. Now I just need to build the rest of the sheet and slap an interface on that lets you modify statistics, purchase equipment, etc. This would be a great asset for Dinosaur Cowboys as you could quickly and easily build different Posses and jump into a game in no time.
The application will be called “The Saloon”, and I’m going to try to sit down and put some serious work into it asap. I want to get a couple more playtests in, but the current rules are definitely approaching a finalized state.

Anyways to give you an idea of what the sheet looks like, here is a screenshot of the autopopulated form from my preliminary version of The Saloon:

Not much else to say really. I was away all weekend so I got less Dinosaur Cowboys than I would have liked. And unfortunately all the forum posts I did trying to generate interest and get some comments didn’t actually result in much feedback. I guess people don’t have a ton of time to sit down and read rules and playtest. Hopefully I hear back from some of the forum folks soon.