Iolta and Thrain

Rilmorn, as I conceived of the world, has three times the surface area of Earth, so it always seemed logical that there would be continents that were yet unaccounted.  I had hinted about another continent.  Robert Hegewood, a friend from college worked up an invader’s history for that unnamed continent.  I had long wanted an area that was deeply Celtic in tone. It appeared as Iolta and Thrain.

In early to mid 2013, a fellow member of Old School Gamers asked what people thought about the module Shadows of Evil.  I own it, Evil Ruins, and Throne of Evil; all works by Stephen Bourne.  I told the OSGers that I liked the book and planned on using it, Throne of Evil, C4: To Find a King, and C5: The Bane of Llywelyn as the basis for a new campaign.  Rhonda Hanyes Koti expressed an interest in the final product, so I told her that I would send her a link when I was done.

Around this time, Chris Perkins, in his DnD Online column: The Dungeon Master Experience, posted a link to his new campaign.  It had a flavor that I liked and the map was wonderful.  I stole it; flipped the map, renamed it, and called it mine.  (Yes, I contacted Mr. Perkins and told him about my conscription of his work.)  The rest of the information may be mined at a later date. (Updated link 2014.08.12)

I named the continents Iolta and Thrain and labeled the large island between them Avalian.  The name Iolta (pronounced  ee ole TUH) was taken from the legal acronym IOLTA (pronounced eye ole TUH) meaning Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts.  Thrain is an old name for Wales.  Avalian is at alternate spelling of Avalon.

Now, that I had a continent, I needed a more detailed map of the campaign area.  I took the overland maps of the four modules I had mentioned plus Evil Ruins, Elven Banner, and N2: The Forest Oracle and began mashing them together in GIMP.   I had to fiddle with the scale on occasion, but for the most part it was a simple cut and paste.  I prettied up later and here is the link I sent Rhonda.

Now, that I had my maps, I needed a background for my game.  So, I took all my source material and my limited knowledge of Celtic myth and history and wrote out a History of Iolta and Thrian.  This document is way too long and covers too much to give to most Players, so I will have to chop things down to a minimum and focus the background for any Players in this campaign.  This is far more background than I ever build into most campaigns before they begin.  There is a great chance that the Players will never learn or have need of most of it.

That just left me with putting together a Gazetteer.  I had plenty of places taken from my many maps and so I filled out the information.  This was in many ways the most fun.  I got to lift histories and etymologies from  multiple sources and to editorialize about some locations.  It was really neat.

I’ve added some stuff, since I posted it on Live Journal and I’ve altered a good deal more.  It is a good example of planning too much before a game begins.  There is more information here than I ever had at the beginning of a campaign.  I’ve got multiple plots.  I’ve got loads of NPCs.  History is overwhelming.  I have huge numbers of sites for plot hooks.  It is overwhelming, but if I get to run this campaign, it will give me a Great Cauldron from which to pull ideas and plans.

When I wrote this yesterday, I failed to talk about what changes I have made in this setting since I posted it and what source materials that I am looking to use in this setting.  None of my games are ever created in a vacuum.  I am grateful for my sources and look forward to taking the original material and blending it to fit Rilmorin.  Every time, I read something or watch a movie or video or even listen to music, I can find something that leads me into new ideas for my game.  Since I posted the original Iolta and Thrain stuff back in June of 2013, I have done the following

  • Decided that the founders of The Dwarf Crown were survivors of a Aegol a dwarf kingdom from another world.  This comes from the book Kingdom of the Dwarves.
  • Decided to use a combination of profiles from Deities and Demigods, Dragon Issue 65, Legends and Lore, and Celtic Age to fill out the ranks of the Tuatha De Danu
  • Got out my Ironclaw books and decided to change the walls at the edges of Inverness and Warfield to the Wall of Calabria.  These walls, ancient and mountainous in scope, once marked the boundaries of Calabria.  Calabria, as a kingdom is long vanished, but its Great Houses with their animal standards and totems remain.
  • Added the city of Triskellian from Rinaldi: Supplement for Ironclaw to the map.  It was the capital of Calbria.
  • Changed a line in the descriptor of the Dwarves of the Dwarf Crown to read:  “Insular and slightly xenophobic, the Dwarves of the Dwarf Crown only deal with outsiders at specific trade moots and as members of small, but highly sought after mercenary bands.”  This change came about because my wife wished to play a dwarf in this campaign.

 I’ve done a lot of development on both continents, but where is the action to take place?  It should take place in Pellham (the most detailed area of the map) and Montforte (since one of plots comes from that area and is the location of a premade adventure site).  I may send the PCs into Inverness, since it is the location of the infamous Ghost Tower of Inverness.  Finally, the PCs may end up on Thrain.  The premade adventure that starts in Montforte ends on Thrian.  Anything else will be the work of the Players and their interests.

I’ve been gathering an Iolta and Thrain collection on LibraryThingPlease feel free to check it out (in the upper left corner of the screen, you will see a drop down menu under the name LibraryThing, go to Iolta and Thrain).

Game On!

The Shadowfell Road

What became the Shadowfell Road campaign or the Tasque Elzeny campaign started as the Scions of Ravenloft campaign.  I had planned it as a story arc campaign with the PCs as residents of the Village of Barovia.  The PCs are all descendants of the heroes that slew Strahd von Zarovich and claimed his castle as their home base.  I used the original 1E modules Castle Ravenloft and Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill and the 3E book Expedition to Castle Ravenloft as the basis for my setting.  I blended the maps and placed the Village of Barovia on the northwest corner of Moytonia.  I lifted places and names from Domains of Dread and A guide to Transylvania to create my own little fantasy version of Eastern Europe.  The PCs were going to explore the world and ultimately learn why their ancestors (grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original heroes) fled their ancestral home.

The PCs saved the River Witch from a pack of wolves.  They cleansed her house of the ghost of her apprentice.  They retrieved an item lost in ruins of Clearmoon Tower and had a run in with a wolfwere that would plague the Party for several levels.  They explored a crypt that lead to the Necroverse.  They saved Baba Zelena (grandmother of one of the PCs ).  All was going well, but the Players grew restless and decided they wanted to be Sanderzani.

The background for Elzeny (my wife’s PC) included the fact that she had been a member of a Sanderzani Tasque (a traveling family group), but she left the Tasque when it came through Barovia, because her destiny lay there.  Well, Christina and my other players became more interested in the idea of being Sanderzani and hitting the road, than the Ravenloft story arc. So, they designed a varda (the Sanderzani version of a Gypsy Vardo) and headed to the next nearest village.

I created the gypsy-styled Sanderzani back in college under 1E rules.  Other than a few reoccurring NPCs, not much came of the Sanderzani until 3E.  I ran a Sanderzani campaign in the late 2000s and had to expound upon the nature of the Rilmorn Gypsies.  I had players that wanted to play different races and since I had just completed an elf-only campaign, I really didn’t want to limit the Players’ choices again.  Thus the Sanderzani became the People of the True Name.

To be a Sanderzan, one had to be “Born to Tasque.”  One had to have three adults within the Tasque willing to share his or her True Name with the Seeker.  Any adult of any race could become a Sanderzan, if they could find three people willing to perform the Ritual of the True Name (an idea I took from Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed) with him or her.  This worked great until 4E.

For 4E, we used the online Character Builder to level and advance the PCs.  The Character Builder doesn’t have the Sanderzani and their soul kin rituals.  The Builder, however, did have the Vistani and the Vistani Heritage feats.  Those feats were tied to blood, not to naming rituals.  So, I had to make a decision about what to do.  I decided that there was a Sanderzani Tasque called Tasque Vistani.  Unlike other Tasqes, Tasque Vistani was a Tasque of Blood, not a Tasque of Word.  Thus the Vistani entered into the mythology and history of Rilmorn.

About the time Tasque Elzeny (each Tasque is named for its first captain) hit the road, I got a copy of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting.  In the back of the book is a section on a road that weaves through the Shadowfell and connects Thay to Evernight (the shadow reflection of Neverwinter) and many places in-between.  I decided to use the Shadowfell Road and link The House on Gryphon Hill to my version of Evernight/Neverwinter.  I got the idea that if Tasque Elzeny could gain the deed to a place and had a member of the Tasque living there, then that place would become a stop on the Shadowfell Road.  Tasque Elzeny could expand the Shadowfell Road as they explored the world.

Since that day, Tasque Elzeny has spent their time extending and defending the Shadowfell Road.  The Players could not care less about Castle Ravenloft.  I find plot hooks at a drop of a hat, now.  They’ve crossed dwarf lords in Dwarmarrik.  They’ve fought vampires in the Garden of Graves.  They’ve parleyed with efreeti in the City of Brass.  They have befriended a lich and created an intelligent zombie to act as guardian of a mausoleum.  They have crafted a dream drug and sell it through their connections to E3 Trading.  It is no longer a true Ravenloft style campaign, but it is a lot of fun.

Game On!

Designing My Next Campaign

From the year 2000 AD through 2013 AD, I attempted to develop story arcs for my campaigns.  I was never happy with them.  I seemed to either fail to foreshadow events well enough for my Players or I rushed to the climax of story.  A couple of times the PCs had gone so far off on their own plot lines that I felt forced to shoehorn the arc into the game, so that I could fulfill the ground work which I had setup at the beginning of the game.  They were not bad games, they just were not great games.

I run my best games and have my best campaigns, when I set up a culture or detail an area, then drop plot hooks into the setting.  I design no more than I absolutely need, as Ray Winniger advised (see First Rule, third paragraph).  I design the first adventure with the presumption that the Players will go along with it, since they’ve got no other options at this time.  Ideally, the Players will create their PCs before the first game, so I have an idea of what hooks to drop.  If they don’t create them early, I do my best to improvise hooks for the first game.  Vague ideas for villains become defined, during the first games, and I set up their goals and plans.  Future games will drop plot hooks about these villains and actions into the campaign.  I like to have three or four plots boiling at one time that way, that way the action of the world is not dependent upon the PCs.  If the Players are forced to choose between two different plot hooks, then one in which they don’t get involved moves forward without interference.  A living world has changes and it grows.  As the setting grows and changes, I get to add new plots and villains and the PCs always have new choices and new challenges.

I was going to describe the origins of my “Shadowfell Road” campaign and write out some ideas I have for other campaigns, but I don’t feel there is enough room to give more than one a fair shake.  So, my next several posts may be about campaign ideas.  As I complete each one, I will add a link here to the appropriate post.

Shadowfell Road or Tasque Elzeny Campaign

Iolta and Thrain Campaign

Davion campaign


Until next time, Game on!

DM’s Rant: A Response

This post is a direct response to my friend Matt’s request that I comment on his post DM’s Rant. I originally was going to post in his comment section, but my train of thought derailed and I was spilling verbage onto his site. I removed the debris and started over. Here’s the result after the cleanup effort.

First things First, Matt, I agree with your premise that the Game Master should not be bound to the book. The Game Master should of course use the rule to run a fair and honest campaign, but there are so many more things to a good game than adherence to the rules.

Now, onto the part of my post where I point out (not always with the best of tact, but with the best of intentions) the errors I see in your self-admitted passionate rant.

To begin, Matt you appear to be contradicting yourself in the middle of your argument. In your fourth paragraph you hold forth with this:

I’m reading this thing and I’m scratching my head, thinking, why is this guy awarding XP based solely on how much treasure the players find or how much of a body count they rack up? Because the book told him to? Is this the kind of gamer we have now? Slaves to the Almighty Rule Book? In the seminal guide to D&D, the 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, Mr. Gygax says over and over again, “All of this is optional. Do what you want.” He says it in many different ways, usually with some much prettier language – some would say overly obscure, and I tend to agree in most places, but this is clear as blue skies.
All. Of. This. Is. Optional. Do. What. You. Want. When it says “all”, it means all

Then in your seventeenth paragraph you say:

This notion that this rule and that rule doesn’t work and this and that doesn’t fit is so much lazy bullshit.

If I have taken this out of context, please forgive me and correct me, I think you are off on this. If everything is optional, then any rules one finds cumbersome or annoying can be tossed as needed or desired. I believe that anything that doesn’t work for your personal Table should be dropped. If a rule is too cumbersome, trim it down or cut it out. I did this with weapon speed, wandering monsters, one minute combat rounds, etc. Also, Gary Gygax may have changed his mind later in life, but early in TSR’s run, he held a play my way or you are not playing D&D attitude. I’ve quoted part of an essay from Dragon 63, here, which makes this very clear. Also, I went back and reread the preface to the First Edition Dungeon Masters Guide and Mr. Gygax seems to be very intense on uniformity of rules across the board. If you are not playing with the rules as written, then your game will collapse or be so esoteric that no one outside of your limited community will want to play it. I feel that he was a rules guy and he would expect the GMs and the Players to use the Rules at their Table.

Now, let’s get to the meat of your rant, Matt. You are frustrated by GMs who can’t go Outside the Box of Rules. I’m with you on this. You focus on the idea of how Experience Points (XP) are awarded in your rant. Here is my take on it.

Every game has rules. Be they, pretend games from our childhood: “House” or “Cowboys and Indians” or complex games from our board games heyday: “Axis and Allies” or “Diplomacy,” games have rules. We are taught to play by the rules. When we don’t play by the rules, we are called cheaters.

1E D&D told us that the rules said Experience comes from Killing Monsters, Collecting Gold, and Having Magic Items. So, we played that way. Gygax even used a jeweled man as a lure to get PCs into a dungeon, because of all the XP that automaton offered. The progression tables in 1E expected PCs to get gold and count it toward their XP advancement. There was no XP for overcoming traps or parleying with NPCs. 1E was a game about Slaying and Looting; a dragon was the best target for any group of PCs…It offered Monster XP, Gold XP, and Magic Item XP. Players looked at every encounter as a potential combat.

By the time 3E hit the scene, we had Call of Cthulhu, Vampire, and other games focused on story and player options beyond the standard D&D formula. While the rules for awarding XP changed to shift away from Gold XP and Magic Item XP, not everyone wanted to let go of the way they learned to play years before. It is similar to growing up playing Original Rock/Paper/Scissors and learning that in 2nd Ed. R/P/S Rock beats Paper, Paper beats Scissors, and Scissors beats Rock. It is in the rules and it is perfectly legal, but it is not what you grew up with and it flies in the face of what you believe is core to YOUR game. This, I believe, is what is at the heart of the Edition Wars and nearly every Grognard Complaint.

Matt, it appears that you want a game wherein the PCs are rewarded for experiences that they have. Thus to you XPs mean “real experience;” RPGs are not really about the “real” (The Games Librarian has a good post on this), they are about the “simulation of the real.” The rule set of a game really doesn’t define the laws of that particular universe. The rule set gives Players and GMs the tools to simulate those laws.

Jason Holmgren (Designer of Ironclaw) told me that rule sets determine the style of play for a game. I think he’s right. In 1E, the rules lead to a game with wild, unexplained magic and every encounter was expected to turn into a combat encounter. In 3E, magic was a regulated, understandable force with crafting classes taught at the Co-Op. Gone were the days, when Players had to take the Great Weapons of Power from their fallen foes; they could now craft the uber-weapon they wanted from their “Experience” and components bought at the local mage shop. The style of play had changed and some liked the change and others did not, but they played the game anyway. This is not to say that people didn’t Play Outside the Rule Box. Rule sets determine the style of play, but they can’t chain players or GMs to that style.

Monte Cook (my Go-To Guy when it comes to game design) has written about simulation in role playing game design and about how rule set can affect game play. I think both of these posts reflect on the topic of your rant and offer better explanations than I can devise. It is the application of these two ideas that I believe embodies your rant.

Matt, we agree on the most important piece of your rant. This a game and it should be fun. Thanks for asking my opinion.

Game On!

Mea Culpa (or What do I Want in my Game)

On 4 April 2014, I post an entry about why I felt Dice Fudging was bad. It started a heated and acrimonious debate. I feel bad that my post was the sulfur and bat guano that started this fireball. Since that blog post went up the following things have happened:

All of this has led me to reexamine my game and how I run it. I asked myself several questions. Have I ever fudged dice? YES. Did fudging dice ever improve a particular encounter? YES. Did fudging Dice ever worsen an encounter? YES. Was there ever a time that I wished I had fudged dice? YES   Did my players ever know that I fudged dice? PROBABLY. Did my Players ever suspect that I fudged dive? YES. Did that knowledge or suspicion have an effect on my game? YES. Was the effect positive or negative? NEGATIVE.

I lost the trust of my players. They couldn’t never be certain that a lucky series of rolls was just a lucky series of rolls and not a grudge attack? Did Hil get randomly shot at by the drow sniper or was I still mad at him, because he got a wild hair and murdered an NPC on which I had worked too hard. Did the ettin really miss hitting James or did I fudge on his behalf because he is my best friend? Did I randomly roll on the 1E DMG magic items tables and get a +5 Holy Avenger for Christina or did I give it to her because she is my wife? They may have believed that it actually happened the way I said it rolled, but there was always a shadow of doubt.

I am not perfect. I try very hard to be completely fair to my Players, but life gets in the way. Some days, I get mad at a Player. Some days, I feel bad about hurting a particular Player. Some days, I want the background on which I worked so hard to shine. Not always; not even most of the time; but SOMETIMES, I fall down. My Players are smart, educated, empathetic people and they SUSPECT that I fall. Do your Players SUSPECT you of fudging your die rolls? If they do, you may not have their trust in the game. They play your game because they have fun, but they may not believe that you are fair.

Having admitted that I fudge dice and not always for the right reason, I now ask myself, “Gregory, why did you roll the die in the first place? What was the purpose of that die roll that I now want to fudge?”

I am not a slave to my dice nor to the Rules As Written (RAW). I discarded the rolling for Wandering Monsters back in First Edition (1E) AD&D, just as I discarded weapon speed and the one minute combat round. I choose when or if to roll a die to get a randomly determined result. I choose what table to roll against. I choose what monsters the PCs encounter.

What if, when I roll the die, it comes up an undesirable result? Why roll the die, if I am not going to use the result? Am I trying to give the illusion of fairness? Am I trying to shift the blame of my choices to Random Chance? Am I just trying to give my Players the facade of free will; pretending that I am not railroading them along the path of my desire to fulfill the Story Arc that have, so cleverly, devised? The answer to the question of why I rolled the die is this: I rolled the die to place a random element into the game, so that my Players and I could react to the result and create the next element in our shared Story.

I was trying to expound upon 3 reasons why I felt that fudging dice led to a less awesome game. If fudging dice improves the awesome in your game, then fudge. Do whatever makes your game better. I will.

Game On!

Blogs of Valor (or People With Whom I Agree)

Yesterday, I posted about Why One Should Not Fudge Dice in their Games.  That post has introduced me to two new bloggers Matt Harris and The Games Librarian.  They, both, have recently posted about DMs in the 21st century and Setting the World before Breaking it.  Both of these posts describe things that good Game Masters should think about in running their games.

Once again, I am going to direct you all to Monte Cook.  He boils down my entire post from yesterday into a single paragraph (the sixth one) in a larger post.

There is no single style of gaming, nor should there be.  I do not agree with everything in this post, but it covers the topic well.  Just as in the days of 1E, when people took sides on the Hack and Slash, Monty Haul, or Thinking Man’s Dungeon, people are still dividing themselves into camps and shouting, “My way is better!”  After D&D came out, Runequest, Arduin, and Rolemaster all followed.  Proponents of all those games touted their superiority to dumb, old D&D.  2E followed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and grognards (me among them) came out against changes in “their” game.  3E, 4E, and DnD Next have all brought forces into the Edition Wars.  It’s time to live and let live, gamers.  Enjoy what you enjoy and let others do the same.  We do not have to do what others do, nor do they have to do what we do.  (Lord have mercy, I sound like I’m discussing Gay Marriage)  I do not have to be wrong for you to be right.

Blogs of Valor are really Sunshine Awards.  (2014.06.14)

Sorry, if I soap boxed; Game On!

Peanut Butter Fudge (or Let the Dice Fall Where They May)

I’m writing this post to get a few things out in the open.  1.  D&D is a game, not a novel.  2. If you are the Game Master and you feel that you need to fudge the die rolls to beat your Players, then you are playing the Game wrong.  3.  If you are making ANY of your game up on the spot, for any reason, fudging your dice rolls is just unfair.

Monte Cook posted a great article about Numenera and how dice work in that setting.  Reading it led me to write this tangential post.  Please check it out.

First things first, of the multiple reasons and excuses to fudge dice rolls in a game, wanting to tell a Story with character development and overarching plot lines is the least egregious.  A GM that is proud of his or her campaign and wants to share the breadth and depth of the world with his or her players wants to tell a good story.  That Game Master wants everything to according to a script.  Fudging dice does not make the Game a Good Story.  Fudging Dice makes the Game a Poor Game.

Not to dismiss White Wolf and the Storyteller System, but if you running a Game, then you are not telling a Story.  The Players are not telling a Story.  Story is what happens in the space between the GM and the Players.  The GM reveals the setting or stage, if you will, and the Players strut about upon it.  The Story is what happens as the Players strut about and run up against the setting.  NPCs, Big Bosses, the Environment are setting.  Players send their PCs into the setting to tear things down, to change the view, to build new structures out of the existing pieces , or to hit their heads on the  Setting.  If you want certain things to happen in your game setting and you want the PCs to do it, you are not running a Game.  You are trying to write a short story, a novel, or an epic and are using the PCs as the protagonists and it is not fair to your Players.

Telling a Story takes the danger out of the Game.  If you are running a Lord of the Rings, a Wheel of Time, or a Game of Thrones and the PCs are needed to fulfill some destined role at the apex of the story arc, then any combat, trap, or natural disaster is just fluff.  There is no danger, no chance of failure, until the final Big Boss and, even then, it may be a joke, if you want a Glorious Ending for the Party.  Roll the dice, let every combat make a difference.  Have your villains and your set pieces and know that the Players may go the path you hope they will trod or they may make a mockery of your well laid plans.  If the paladin, whom you wanted to slay the Lich-King and restore the kingdom, gets killed by a lucky roll of a goblin bandit, DEAL WITH IT.  It is a game and there is chance, in any combat, that the PCs will come out the losers.  If you fudge the dice in their favor, then the defeat of the Tarrasque, the death of the Lich-King, and the overthrow of the Arch Devil are ultimately meaningless.  The Players will never know for certain, if they truly won day through good luck and planning or if you threw the Game for the Story.

Secondly…This one is just sad.  You’re the Game Master.  You can always “win.”  You know all the secrets and plots of the campaign.  You can create NPCs with more power, more magic items, and more numbers than the PCs.  If you need to fudge the dice to kill off PCs or even to just challenge them, then you are thinking on the wrong scale.  You do not have to fudge the dice to best the players.

This point is doubly troubling to me.  It presupposes that there is a conflict between the Players and the Game Master.  This is a false assumption.  The GM certainly runs the challenges and plays the agents opposing the PCs, but he or she is not out to defeat the Players.  The GM is there to provide the setting, to offer plot lines, to fold what the PCs do into the over all working of the campaign.  There is no win or lose clause between the Players and the Game Master in D&D or any other Role Playing Game.  This is not football or chess.  If everyone at the table has fun, then it is a win.  If one person has fun and everyone else is miserable, then it is a loss.  Even Total Party Kills can be fun, if the Game is played fairly and for enjoyment.  A good GM makes Awesome happen for the Players.  Here is a good example of that in DMing with Charisma.  The play is the thing.

Lastly for this post, this point is, mostly, for me.  As I said before, I create much of my game on-the-fly.  It seems to me that if I’m making things up and fudging my dice, my Players don’t have a fair stake in the game.  If I decide to suddenly drop a vile dragon into a game and then regret it because it is too powerful or too weak to oppose the PCs, I might be tempted to fudge the dice.   Others may say, “So what?  As long as, the Players have fun what is the difference?”  If I do that, then I take away the Players’ power in the game.  I’m no different than the Storyteller in my first point.  If the Players decide to explore a series of caves that I have not filled in yet and I decide that goblins own the caves, it is not fair for me to fudge the dice, when the PCs start wiping the floor with goblin guts.  If I do that, then I am acting like the GM in point #2.  If I have to or want to make it up on the spot, then I’ve got to let the dice be the arbitrators of the outcome; otherwise the PCs are no more or less than puppets on strings.  The Players never have a chance to shine.  There is no challenge.  Players have the right for the GM to treat them fairly.  The GM has to be honest in all things.  It is all too easy to for GMs to overpower the Players in the game.  Keeping the dice honest gives the GM the power to drop challenges, too great and too small,l in the PCs path on a whim and let the Players decide what to do with that challenge.  It lets everyone at the table have fun.

Until next time, Game On!

Here’s a follow up post, I wrote on this subject.

Red Ragged Fiend has a good post on this topic (2018.08.20)