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!

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?

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.