RSS feeds like the one on the site here are probably one of the more useful tools for websites – they provide streams of articles and information, and are usually automatically updated when you publish an article. WordPress provides one straight out of the box and also filters it down by category if needed. For example, if I only want to publish and RSS feed for the RPG category I would use http://themandragora.com/category/rpgs/feed/ rather than http://themandragora.com/feed/. It is pretty basic, but it works!
These category feeds make it quite useful for displaying specific information. For example, the ORC website uses a number of feeds: one outputs events from the calendar, another tracks recent changes in the wiki. Both are provided by different Joomla modules or applications, but they provide a similar output.
I’ve put together some brief suggestions below for tools you might like to use with RSS feeds and RPG blogs.
- An on-line service called TwitterFeed allows the parsing of RSS feeds to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (although I hardly use the last). It’s quite useful in that its very simple to setup and automatically add articles or events from an RSS feed to appear in your twitter and Facebook streams/time-lines. Unfortunately, Google+ does not allow any third-party access of its API right now, so I’m afraid its still a manual link you’d need to do in your stream.
- WP to Twitter is a useful WordPress plug-in allowing you to choose any or all posts to output to a Twitter account. You can also use it to hash tag your posts, so if you tag a WordPress post with “RPG”, WP to Twitter tags it with #RPG.
- Wordbooker allows your WP articles to be automatically published to your Facebook time-line/wall. There’s a lot of options that you can use with this, and if you have a Facebook fan or group page, you can also choose to publish to these as well.
If you’re blogging about RPGs, there’s a number of blog networks you can use that cater specifically for RPGs, notably the ones below. Note that you will need to blogging about RPGs regularly and your content should reflect that, plus you’ll need to provide an RSS feed so that they can publish your articles. They are also worth a visit as an RPGer, as they’re a lot easier to search than combing the internet for materials or information.
The RPGBA is “a collection of Pencil and Paper Role Playing Game related websites that opt-in to be aggregated. Members benefit from having a relationship to each other and by having a unified place for people to look for RPG material. The RPGBA does not include the entire source material but rather includes the first 100 words and links back to the original source. In this way members get traffic to their respective sites while still getting the benefit of belonging to the Alliance.”
The RPG Bloggers Network provides a similar service but is slightly more basic (being older). Note that you will need to “make sure you’ve been posting regularly for at least three months. I know this seems like a pain, especially if you are just starting out. But we need to see that you are a regular updater before we consider accepting your blog.”
If you’re planning to blog about RPGs, you might also find it useful to make sure that your site is using a proper Meta Description for each of your posts or pages. Bear in mind that RPG is a very common search term on the ‘net so make sure you are as descriptive as possible! At the very list, tag your post with the proper RPG system, rules-set, or setting. It can be difficult to find stuff to write about at first but once you get into the flow of it, then it becomes far easier.
My view from the Bridge – Bill Heron
It’s been quite a year for me. I’ve blogged far more about RPGs in the last year than anything else. Consequently I’ve trimmed a lot of the dead wood from my blog to make it easier to read, as well as making the site easier to find in both search engines and within the site itself. Hopefully related posts will now show up for some of the blog entries and pages – I’ve removed the BlogGlue plugin I was using as it didn’t really add anything to help find related posts (back to using the revamped YARPP – Yet Another Related Posts Plugin). I’m also intending to use the new featured image of WordPress more often as well as making the site a little easier to read.
I’ve already covered events at the Open Roleplaying Community (ORC Edinburgh) within a previous post, but there’s a few things I’ve not mentioned within as they were more of a personal nature.
As I posted, THE SECRET FIRE RPG (then known as Legend & Labyrinths) was playtested by ORC in May. As a result of this, I helped write much of the flavour text (flavour text being the descriptive text used to describe monsters and magic spells/prayers, etc.) for the game as well as participating as a game developer. I’m also hoping to begin work soon upon the Demons part of the first supplement: FRAGMENT I: THE WAY OF TREE, SHADOW & FLAME, and will likely end up doing some more of the flavour text for THE SECRET FIRE. It feels very weird seeing “Bill Heron” in the credits of a published book!
CLICHÉ: THE ROLEPLAYING GAME OF PREDICTABLE HORROR is another RPG we playtested at ORC, from an Edinburgh RPG design studio, Drunken Badger Games. I’m hoping to hear more from them in the future, as the game I ran at ORC was quite good fun – CLICHÉ lends itself well to having a few friends around for some beers without being too hard on the old brain cells!
I also managed to get my CTHULHUTECH: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS game off the ground at ORC, running on a fortnightly basis, with a decent group of players. I’m also preparing a blog article on how to run a CTHULHUTECH game and campaign - stay tuned!
My Ashes of Freedom D&D game reached the end of its story arc. I’m quite happy with the way it ended, with a doomsday device beginning a countdown and an epic battle in the Hammerfall Pass caverns resolving a number of the story arcs. There’s a definite possibility I’ll be returning to it later in the year, as the setting was popular and we had a great time playing it and running it in my case. The chariot race will go down in legend!
In the personal kudos stakes, my The Art of Winging It article also gained a mention in an article on the Wizards of the Coast website! It’s only a brief mention with a link to the page but it still feels good to see things like this happen!
And finally, work began upon my big project the MANDRAGORA: ASHES OF FREEDOM RPG. I’m trying this as an experiment in self-publishing and will likely be blogging about this a lot in the coming year or so, and hurling some ideas around out there.
So it looks like 2011 was a pretty good year for me RPG-wise. As well as the above I also had the chance to play in a lot more RPGs, including the Dresden Files RPG, 40k Deathwatch, Rogue Trader, and even some Call of Cthulhu and D&D!
I’ve been a busy guy over the last fortnight, both at work and at home. Work has been mad, but I’ve found some time to complete the following at long last.
Secret Fire Games – website
I’ve built a new website for Secret Fire Games, using WordPress and also phpBB3 for the forum. I created the theme with Artisteer. I’m hoping that this will help highlight the Secret Fire RPG, and Secret Fire Games as a “micropress”. Like microbreweries, a micropress is to my thinking, to paraphrase the microbrewery definition from Wikipedia, something that “produces a limited amount [of product], and is associated by consumers with innovation and uniqueness,” which is pretty much how I’d describe what we did with The Secret Fire RPG. I’d love to hear peoples reactions to the game (and the site!).
I don’t consider TSF to be a fantasy heartbreaker – mentioned here - despite it having its roots in OD&D (Original D&D) and other FRPGs. What I’m finding interesting is just how polarised reactions can be to a game like The Secret Fire. Some old school gamers love it, some hate it – new gamers love it, some hate it too; but its the level of polarisation that interests me: it gets a very strong reaction often with no middle ground. I’m glad that the name was changed from Legends & Labyrinths and became non-OGL: it instantly become its own game as a result rather than sounding like yet another d20 system fantasy heartbreaker. Some online reviews have even said it outweirds LotFP (Lamentations of the Flame Princess): I consider that a job well done.
ORC website update
Again on the web front: I’ve updated the ORC website, but I’ve still to make the move to the next version of Joomla (1.7). I’m worried what happen with the Kunena forum and some of the modules when I do. I upgraded the Community Builder and UddeIM PM software though. I got rid of the Gallery and Mobile version as the latter knackered the site logins and the the Gallery was hugely out of date (and not really seeing much use), so that’s two less things to upgrade.
Ashes of Freedom D&D3.5 Campaign
Again at ORC, my Ashes of Freedom game concluded on Saturday, with a certain amount of sturm und drang: pitched battles featuring undead and Mandragora, Red Mandragora flying the PCs off a cliff, a Red Dragon taking on a Lich, plot revelations galore, and Demogorgon nearly fully manifesting on the Prime Material plane. And a doomsday device beginning to count down…
I’m a little sad that its over, but the game has had a good innings and there’s a lot of material I’m very happy with. It may be that I return to Volkrania again some day as a setting, but for now it is at peace. I think that no matter how you feel about D&D, if you have a good campaign vibe like that, who cares? I’ve left it open to begin another chapter at some point – always a good idea to leave ‘em wanting more.
Our GrimDark 40k RPG gaming group are reaching the end of their sessions of the Deathwatch game. I’m not used to being in a position of command, but as Squad Leader Sammeal, I’m not doing too bad: patching wounds and leading a bunch of Adeptus Astartes (40k Space Marines) against a Genestealer threat is quite rewarding. I’ve never really thought of myself as having leadership skills – I’m always hero #2 in an RPG – but this has given me a chance to shine for once in a leadership role (or at least glow dully).
So that’s the end of what I’ve been up to.
As it stands, I’m kinda amazed that I have free time to do anything else these days. However, I’m taking September off: ORC can manage without me for a month, and I’m not running/playing anything (yet); we have multiple venues; plenty of folk running games, and the website is updated as much as I can (see above). The Secret Fire RPG is out and the website has been updated. I’ve still got some tweaking to do with the theme – for different screen sizes (a right damn pain, let me tell you), but that’s a minor issue. I’ve not yet begun proper work on my part of the first TSF supplement: Fragment 1: Way of Tree, Sword, and Flame, but I’ve a lot of ideas that I’ll put down later, not to mention an adventure for TSF.
LSD and I are away to the Caribbean, Antigua to be precise, for a week and we’ll be going off-grid. No mobile, email, ‘net, nothing. I’m loading my Kindle as I fully intend to relax: I’m not going running around the island. The accommodation is all-inclusive, and I intend to avail myself of this!
The Dresden Files RPG
The Wednesday night sessions I play will switch to a fortnightly one. I’ve only recently got into the Dresden Files and love the whole idea – especially a certain scene in Dead Beat which is just… so… mind-blowingly… cool. Anyway, I’m looking forward to playing the RPG!
Arunstoun & Cthulhutech
I’m finally going to get this Call of Cthulhu setting created. With Cthulhu Brittanica: Shadows over Scotland out, I definitely need to run at least one game of Call of Cthulhu in that setting. Even if Shadows over Scotland is set in the 1920s, I may use the events to foreshadow another episode of Through the Looking Glass, my Cthulhutech setting (part of Dark Edinburgh).
Against the Odds
I’m still weighing up this setting for use with The Secret Fire RPG. There’ll need to be some changes to it, but I’m glad to report that at least one of the players from the original 4e game is using some of the events in the game to spur the plot for his own novella.
The Secret Fire
Well, I’ll contributing to Fragment 1: The Way of Tree, Sword, and Flame.
So that’s what I have been, and will be, up to!