Tag Archives: obsidianportal


API Update: mage-hand, a Ruby wrapper for the API, plus an offer for developers

Let's Connect!Progress on the API is moving so much faster than I originally anticipated. I’ve been working on it night and day, trying to get to a point where clients can actually do something useful with it. But, I’m not the only one who’s been busy!

mage-hand, Rubygem for the API

Ruby hacker shammond42 (@shammond42 on Twitter) has already created a Rubygem wrapper for the API, making it much simpler to interface with from your Ruby or Rails application. For any other Ruby hackers out there, take a look at mage-hand and make sure to follow it on github. Or, if you’re not a Ruby hacker but prefer PHP, .NET, or something else, you might like the next part:


The Items tab – Keep an eye on it

Items tabAs many of you have no doubt noticed, we have introduced an Items tab on each campaign. This has been a long requested item, and I thought I’d explain why it’s taken so long, and where it’s going.

When I originally architected Obsidian Portal, I imagined that people would be storing and sharing characters, items, spells, locations, and all kinds of RPG-related data. I tried to create the ultimate generic data model that would hold all these things, and characters and items were the first implementations of that.

After using it for a while, I’ve come to realize that characters and items are fundamentally different in how they are used and even if they are used. For example, characters are a core component of every RPG. Items are a component of some, but not others. There are many systems that specifically try to avoid the “We loot the bodies” mentality that pervades D&D. Having played some of these games now, I can see why an Items list isn’t exactly necessary, like a characters tab is.

On the flip side, for games where looting is a central aspect, a raw list of items isn’t much help. Instead, you need something more like a spreadsheet, where you can easily track the items along with their quantity, perhaps the assessed value, plus a bag for currency. In many ways, it needs to resemble a computer RPG inventory screen much more than a raw list of items.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the time right now to give the Items tab the attention it needs, so we have to put it out as-is. We wanted to modify the top navigation to remove the Items and Characters links (which are pretty useless now that we have search), and that would have pretty much orphaned Items forever. So, that’s where we are today.

But! We’ve got plans for the Items tab to make it closer to what it needs to be. As I said, imagine an inventory screen or basic spreadsheet and you’ve got a pretty good idea. We’re not sure when we’ll get a chance to work on it, but it’s on our list.


Creating an API – First Steps

Let's Connect!Over our lifetime, we’ve gotten a handful of requests for an API. In every case, our answer was, “We really want to do this, but just don’t have the time right now.” Well, we’re tired of that answer, and have decided to make some time. We’re super-excited about the idea of third-party developers making cool integrations with Obsidian Portal, and we can’t wait to see what cool stuff you all come up with.

Getting Started

Obsidian Portal is a fairly complex system now, with lots of heterogeneous data. Users, campaigns, wiki pages, adventure log posts, characters, items, maps, images, and surely some other stuff I’m forgetting. It would take forever to build API hooks for all of that data, so we’re going to take some baby steps first. The first phase will (probably) be read-only that exposes a fraction of our data for consumption by third party apps. This is where we need your help: What do you want?

There’s no point in us making an API unless some of you are writing apps to consume our data. We’ve got a few people we’re already talking to, but we want to include as much feedback as possible. If you’re interested, please let us know what you’re thinking.

Basically, I need answers to the following questions:

  1. What are you planning to do?
  2. What data do you need from Obsidian Portal?

If you have ideas, come to the forum and discuss it in the API thread.

Keep it serious

Before anyone starts throwing out ideas and requests, I’d like to make it clear that we plan to focus on actual developers and actual applications. I don’t want to get dragged into theoretical “It’d be cool if…” brainstorming. There are a lot of possibilities here, and I want the initial push to be in the direction of something concrete, even if it’s not earth-shattering.


Our motto is “Under promise, Over deliver” and I intend to hold to that here. I’m not going to give a definitive timeline, and instead say that hopefully we will have something stable by the end of 2010, or early 2011.


Q-Workshop Contest – Your Most Important Roll

Q-WorkshopDo you remember the most important dice roll you’ve ever made? Well we want to see it! For this contest, we want a visual recreation of the most important dice roll you’ve ever made. It could be a drawing, a photo, a mosaic… anything that falls within the spirit of the contest! Be creative! Surprise us!

The Prizes

  • 1st prize will get the highly sought after Q-Workshop Dice cup, a box of their newest set of dice, and an extra set of Q-Workshop promotional dice!
  • 2nd prize will get a box of their newest set of dice, and a set of Q-Workshop promotional dice!
  • 3rd place will get a box set of dice, and a set of Q-Workshop promotional dice!
  • 4th & 5th place will each get a set of promotional dice from Q-Workshop!

The Rules

This contest is open to EVERYONE WORLD WIDE! Email your entries to Contests@ObsidianPortal.com with the subject My most important dice roll. The contest ends on October 25 at 11:59 pm (PST). We will choose the five winners from the submissions and announce the winners by Friday, October 29th. We make no claims of ownership to the copyright of any images or text submitted to us for this contest. With us, you always own your own content!


New Feature: Quick Previews

I’ll be the first to admit that our Textile input isn’t exactly the easiest thing to use. Getting linebreaks to work and text to look right can be a real chore. Trust me, we’re working on it.

However, a good interim fix is to reduce the turnaround time between writing the text and viewing it. To that end we’ve added a quick-preview feature for wiki pages and adventure log posts. There’s really not much to explain. Just click the preview button below a textarea and you can see the magic.

Quick Preview

Give it a shot, and I think you’ll find that it makes formatting your posts much easier. Edit a little, preview, edit some more, preview, rinse and repeat.


Player can’t make it – Cancel or Frantic Reschedule?

What day do we play?This happens to me over and over: At the last minute, a player (or the GM, myself even) announces they can’t make the scheduled time for the game. However, they’re free on X or Y night that week, so can we reschedule? Frantic emailing and forum posting occurs, lots of negotiating, and we usually end up getting nowhere, just messing up everyone’s plans for the rest of the week. Maybe 1/5 of these frantic exchanges results in a successful reschedule. We’re all just too busy to juggle everything like that.

To combat the craziness, I’ve tried instituting a No Rescheduling policy, but then I love playing so much that I break my own rule, hoping against hope that everyone will change to accomodate me. This usually has the exact same scramble-to-no-avail outcome.

Is ours the only group where this happens? How do you handle it? Is there any solution? Is there anything we could add to Obsidian Portal that would help facilitate (and make less crazy) these discussions? As always, I’m not promising anything, but I have a little extra time to think tonight, as our game has been canceled at the last minute. :(

The Question!

Many people seem to be missing the question I’m asking here. Maybe I’m not clear. I’m not asking how many you need to play the game, or what your policy is on attendance. Here’s what I’m driving at:

If a player can’t make it, but suggests a reschedule to another night of the week, what do you do?

In my case, it always becomes a mess and usually results in nothing getting accomplished. Do you have a better way? I’d love to hear it!

Update: Cool Tool

A Twitterer recommended that I check out WhenIsGood, and it looks very close to what I need. Maybe we can steal this idea for Obsidian Portal at some point.

About Us
Obsidian Portal is the award winning Online Campaign Management System for tabletop role-playing games. It’s free to use, it can be accessed from any web browser and it's built from the ground up for gamers by gamers.

We host a huge community of tabletop RPG players who are all looking to get the most out of their tabletop gaming experience. You play your campaign and we help you manage it. It’s that simple.
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