The Alexandrian

Archive for the ‘Site News’ category

Those of you who follow the site closely have noticed that it’s been dead for a little over a month now. What happened?

Well, basically, I was horribly ill for more than a month and there were some pretty serious health problems in my immediate family, too. The final assessment is that I was sick for 36 days straight, culminating in an “immune system collapse” that resulted in 9 days of pneumonia. Although I had a couple of semi-functional days in the middle of things, I basically lost the entire month of December plus a little extra.

A different perspective, and one that may shed some light on just how ludicrously behind on things I am, is that I usually clock 140-160 hours of work each month (including projects here at the Alexandrian). In the month of December, I logged 18 hours.

I’m generally not a big fan of wringing my hands in public about this sort of thing, but one of the things that fell through the cracks as my regular schedule disintegrated was the monthly Hangout for Patreon patrons. And I wanted to take a moment to publicly apologize to them for that. I’m currently brainstorming a way to make that up to members of the Hangout Club, and I’ll let people know more about that as soon as I’ve come up with something suitably awesome.

When can you expect more regular content here at the Alexandrian? Well, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have a slate of new material up before the end of January. However, I’m still very, very far behind on… well, everything. And I’m not going to just crank out some random crap for the sake of posting it. So, basically, there’ll be new stuff here at the Alexandrian as soon as I can product the kind of thoughtful, high quality material y’all have come to expect from the site.

Thanks for your patience! And I hope you’re all doing much better than I have been!

Places to Go, People to Be has translated the Three Clue Rule into French as La Règle des Trois Indices!

I can’t read a word of it, but it does remind me that in French the word for “clue” is the same word as “indication” — i.e., it is something which indicates something else. (I think I first encountered this when reading essays about the Arsène Lupin stories.) That seems like a particularly useful bit of alternative etymology in the particular context of the Three Clue Rule (or Three Indication Rule), since the rule can actually be applied widely beyond the format of a mystery.

(For those curious, the English word “clue” derives from “clew”, which originally referred to a ball of thread: Just as Ariadne’s thread led Theseus to the entrance of the labyrinth, so clues will lead you to the solution of the mystery. The example of the labyrinth, I suppose, just indicates another way in which the provenance of the Three Clue Rule can be extended.)

Site Update – New Indices

October 12th, 2015

The Alexandrian was a little quiescent in September. I’m hoping to rectify that in October.

But although there weren’t a lot of posts in September, I hadn’t completely turned my attention away from the site. I’ve been making slow but somewhat-steady progress on improving the navigational features of the site so that people can find some of the cool stuff that’s nestled around in here. Since the site launched back in 2005, there have been 1,300 posts. (This is actually post 1,301.) That’s a lot of material for new readers to dig through. A few things I’ve been doing to make things easier:

First, from the very beginning of the site I’ve made it a point to have robust and accurate tagging. Unfortunately, most WordPress sites are terrible at doing this and people have generally been conditioned to just ignore tags. But if you’re reading this, now you know that if you’re interested in a particular article here at the Alexandrian, then the tags at the bottom of the posts should reliably deliver you to similar material.

Second, I’ve been slowly working to get a decent Recommended Posts feature working. I spent many more hours on this in September than I wanted, but I’ve at least got the formatting to work so that you can actually see the titles of the articles being linked. (My next goal is to get thumbnails to work so that they’re more visually appealing.)

Third, I’ve been slowly working on getting index pages back up and up to date: Gamemastery 101 and RPG Scenarios have been expanded. There is now a complete index of all my Reviews (over 200 of them!) and Shakespeare Sunday.

It’s been seven months since I launched a Patreon for the Alexandrian. Over the past couple months I’ve slipped on the regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday update schedule I’d been hoping to regularly maintain, but despite that I feel like it’s been a really significant success. I’ve already been able to dwarf the amount of Alexandrian material that I was able to produce in 2014, and we’re only a little over halfway through the year. So I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my patrons for helping to make the nifty stuff I’ve been able to share with all of you over the past half year a reality.

Now that the Patreon has been a reality for several months, I’ve updated the project page to reflect its success and also provide a clearer explanation of the flexibility that individual patrons can have in supporting the Alexandrian. It’s amazing how large an effect people can have when they act collectively. You might feel that something like Node-Based Scenario Design isn’t worth more than $0.05 or $0.10 per post to you. And you might feel like that nickel or that dime wouldn’t make a difference. But if we can get 20 or 30 people who are all willing to give that dime, then it can make a big difference.

So… what’s next for the Patreon? Right now we’re at a point where the Patreon is making it possible for me to push away some of the undesirable freelance projects I was previously working on, which means more time for creating material here at the Alexandrian. If we can push the Patreon up to the next level, then we reach the point where I can start investing significant resources into creating material for the Alexandrian.

THE PATREON

My name is Justin Alexander. I’m a writer of things. I make my digital home over at the Alexandrian, which serves as a repository for my thoughts, my writing, my reviews, and my gaming.

Over the years I’ve written a number of essays about roleplaying games for the Alexandrian which people seem to find nifty. These include stuff like:

As 2014 came to close, however, I realized that due to changes in my professional life the time I had previously committed to creating this kind of niftiness had dwindled away. I had been working on Thinking About Urbancrawls since the beginning of 2013 and I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to finish it while I was scrabbling for freelance work to make ends meet.

So I turned to Patreon and, with the help of my wonderfully generous patrons, I’ve been able spend less time scrabbling and more time bringing the nifty back to the Alexandrian. When I launched the campaign, I said that I’d like to be able to develop material like:

As I write this updated pitch in the summer of 2015, several of these projects have already been completed. My patrons have also made possible The Principles of RPG Villainy, original RPG scenarios like The Last Precept of the Seventh Mask, the completion of the Hexcrawl and Film Banging series, and the Alexandrian Remix of Eternal Lies.

It’s been pretty amazing!

And hopefully it’s just the beginning. With increased patronage, I’ll be able to tackle even more ambitious projects in the future!

THE WAY IT WORKS

The goal is for the Alexandrian to update on a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In general, that means you’ll be supporting 12-13 posts per month. So if you backed for $0.10 per post, you’d be spending $1.20 or $1.30 per month to support the Alexandrian.

The reason I do a per post contribution instead of a monthly contribution is because the Alexandrian doesn’t always update reliably. I don’t want to feel guilty if there’s a month where I can’t produce as much material and I don’t want you to feel ripped off.

If you’d prefer to do a monthly contribution, however, Patreon offers the best of both worlds: Set your contribution level to the amount you want to contribute and then set your maximum monthly contribution to the same amount. As long as I post something each month, you’ll make the monthly contribution you want (and no more).

What you’ll never pay for is all the other content that gets scheduled around the the long-form essays, the in-depth reviews, and the awesome game resources that make up the Monday-Wednesday-Friday content. That includes features like Thoughts of the Day, Check This Out, Shakespeare Sunday, and the RPGNet archive reviews. All of that stuff is just a bonus: You don’t have to pay for it, but you’ll still get to hear me blather on about Star Trek’s Prime Directive or ponder the application of Three Point Plotting to RPG scenario design.

$0.10? $0.25? $1.00?

Patreon for the Alexandrian

… even the smallest of pledges can add up to wondrous things.

Over the past couple weeks you may have noticed that I’ve been going back and finishing a couple of old essay series that had been left incomplete. These are actually a lot more time-consuming to accomplish than you might think because the first thing I have to do is go back and re-read the original essays in order to get back into the flow of the thoughts that were left unfinished. The reason the series ended up unfinished in the first place is because I would get distracted by projects of a higher priority. The reason they stayed unfinished is because it was hard to justify the large chunk of time required just to review the existing material. (In a couple of cases I actually started reviewing the material multiple times, only to once again get distracted more pressing demands.)

The reason they’re getting finished now is because of my Patreon. My patrons allow me to push less interesting projects to the side so that I can devote the time and effort necessary to continue creating material here at the Alexandrian.

As I write this, my Patreon is at $47.50 per post. The reality is a little bit more complicated backstage because a lot of my patrons have set maximum contributions. So by the end of month my posts are actually only earning at little over $20. (Which is totally cool. The fact that people can very precisely control their spending is one of the really great things about Patreon.)

What I’d really like to do is convince enough of you to become my patrons to push my total up above $50 for the month of March. To encourage you to do that, let me share with you a couple of things about the way my Patreon works.

First, the Alexandrian updates on a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In general, that means 12-13 posts per month. So if you backed for $0.10 per post, you’d be spending $1.20 or $1.30 per month to support the Alexandrian. Is the content you find here worth that much to you? (If not, that’s OK.)

Second, the reason I do a per post contribution instead of a monthly contribution is because the Alexandrian hasn’t always updated on reliably. I don’t want to feel guilty if there’s a month where I can’t produce as much material and I don’t want you to feel ripped off. If you’d really prefer to make a monthly contribution, fortunately, Patreon offers the best of both worlds: Set your contribution level to the amount you want to contribute and set your maximum contribution to the same amount. As long as I post something each month, you’ll make the monthly contribution you want to.

Third, what you’re not paying for is all the other content that gets scheduled around that Monday-Wednesday-Friday content. This is the Thought of the Day, Check This Out, Shakespeare Sunday, the RPGNet archive reviews. All that stuff is just “bonus”.

Fourth, if you back $1 or more per post you get Early Access. Which is kinda cool. But what makes it really cool is that you receive the early access updates in the form of a PDF. So if you’ve ever wanted content from the Alexandrian in an easy-to-save / easy-to-print format, this is a super easy way to get it.

For example, a couple days ago I sent all my Early Access patrons a PDF package containing the full, 12-part Hexcrawl series, the DM worksheet, and the two hexcrawl cheat sheets that will be appearing on the site tomorrow.

$0.10? $0.25? $1.00?

Patreon for the Alexandrian

… even the smallest of pledges can add up to wondrous things.

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