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Reflections on Drupal in China

Dries Buytaert - 15 September 2014 - 7:14am
Topic: DrupalLocation: China

I just spent the past week in China, and I thought I'd share a few reflections on the state of Drupal in China.

First, let me set the stage. There are 1.35 billion people living in China; that is almost 20 percent of the world's population. Based on current trends, China's economy will overtake the US within the next few years. At that point, the US economy will no longer be the largest economy in the world. China's rapid urbanization is what has led to the country's impressive economic growth over the past couple of decades and it doesn't look like it is going to stop anytime soon. To put that in perspective: China currently produces and uses 60 percent of the world's cement.

In terms of Drupal, the first thing I learned is that "Drupal" sounds like "the pig is running" ("Zhu Pao") in Chinese. Contrary to a pig's rather negative reputation in the West, many Chinese developers find that cute. A pig is a more honorable sign in Chinese astrology and culture. Phew!

In terms of adoption, it feels like the Drupal community in China is about 8 to 10 years behind compared to North America or Europe. That isn't a surprise, as Open Source software is a more recent phenomenon in China than it is in North America or Europe.

Specifically, there are about 5 Drupal companies in Shanghai (population of 21 million people), 3 Drupal companies in Beijing (population of 23 million people) and 5 Drupal companies in Hong Kong (population of 7 million people). The largest Drupal companies in China have about 5 Drupal developers on staff. Four of the 5 Shanghai companies are subsidiaries from European Drupal companies. The exception is Ci&T, which has 40 Drupal developers in China. Ci&T is a global systems integrator with several thousand employees worldwide, so unlike the other companies I met, they are not a pure Drupal play. Another point of reference is that the largest Drupal event in China attracted 200 to 300 attendees.

Given that China has 4 times the population of the US, or 2 times the population of Europe, what are we missing? In talking to different people, it appears the biggest barrier to adoption is language. The problem is that Chinese Drupal documentation is limited; translation efforts exist but are slow. The little documentation that is translated is often outdated and spread out over different websites. Less than 20 percent of the Chinese Drupal developers have an account on Drupal.org, simply because they are not fluent enough in the English language. Most Drupal developers hang out on QQ, an instant messaging tool comparable to Skype or IRC. I saw QQ channels dedicated to Drupal with a couple thousand of Drupal developers.

There is no prominent Chinese content management system; most people appear to be building their websites from scratch. This gap could provide a big opportunity for Drupal. China's urbanization equals growth -- and lots of it. Like the rest of the economy, Drupal and Open Source could be catching up fast, and it might not take long before some of the world's biggest Drupal projects are delivered from China.

Supporting Drupal's global growth is important so I'd love to improve Drupal's translation efforts and make Drupal more inclusive and more diverse. Drupal 8's improved multilingual capabilities should help a lot, but we also have to improve the tools and processes on Drupal.org to help the community maintain multi-lingual documentation. Discussing this with both the Drupal Association and different members of our community, it's clear that we have a lot of good ideas on what we could do but lack both the funding and resources to make it happen faster.

Special thanks to Fan Liu (Delivery Manager @ Ci&T), Jingsheng Wang (CEO @ INsReady Inc.) and Keith Yau. All the Drupal people I met were welcoming, fun and are working hard.

Categories: Drupal

Dries Buytaert: Reflections on Drupal in China

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 7:14am
Topic: DrupalLocation: China

I just spent the past week in China, and I thought I'd share a few reflections on the state of Drupal in China.

First, let me set the stage. There are 1.35 billion people living in China; that is almost 20 percent of the world's population. Based on current trends, China's economy will overtake the US within the next few years. At that point, the US economy will no longer be the largest economy in the world. China's rapid urbanization is what has led to the country's impressive economic growth over the past couple of decades and it doesn't look like it is going to stop anytime soon. To put that in perspective: China currently produces and uses 60 percent of the world's cement.

In terms of Drupal, the first thing I learned is that "Drupal" sounds like "the pig is running" ("Zhu Pao") in Chinese. Contrary to a pig's rather negative reputation in the West, many Chinese developers find that cute. A pig is a more honorable sign in Chinese astrology and culture. Phew!

In terms of adoption, it feels like the Drupal community in China is about 8 to 10 years behind compared to North America or Europe. That isn't a surprise, as Open Source software is a more recent phenomenon in China than it is in North America or Europe.

Specifically, there are about 5 Drupal companies in Shanghai (population of 21 million people), 3 Drupal companies in Beijing (population of 23 million people) and 5 Drupal companies in Hong Kong (population of 7 million people). The largest Drupal companies in China have about 5 Drupal developers on staff. Four of the 5 Shanghai companies are subsidiaries from European Drupal companies. The exception is Ci&T, which has 40 Drupal developers in China. Ci&T is a global systems integrator with several thousand employees worldwide, so unlike the other companies I met, they are not a pure Drupal play. Another point of reference is that the largest Drupal event in China attracted 200 to 300 attendees.

Given that China has 4 times the population of the US, or 2 times the population of Europe, what are we missing? In talking to different people, it appears the biggest barrier to adoption is language. The problem is that Chinese Drupal documentation is limited; translation efforts exist but are slow. The little documentation that is translated is often outdated and spread out over different websites. Less than 20 percent of the Chinese Drupal developers have an account on Drupal.org, simply because they are not fluent enough in the English language. Most Drupal developers hang out on QQ, an instant messaging tool comparable to Skype or IRC. I saw QQ channels dedicated to Drupal with a couple thousand of Drupal developers.

There is no prominent Chinese content management system; most people appear to be building their websites from scratch. This gap could provide a big opportunity for Drupal. China's urbanization equals growth -- and lots of it. Like the rest of the economy, Drupal and Open Source could be catching up fast, and it might not take long before some of the world's biggest Drupal projects are delivered from China.

Supporting Drupal's global growth is important so I'd love to improve Drupal's translation efforts and make Drupal more inclusive and more diverse. Drupal 8's improved multilingual capabilities should help a lot, but we also have to improve the tools and processes on Drupal.org to help the community maintain multi-lingual documentation. Discussing this with both the Drupal Association and different members of our community, it's clear that we have a lot of good ideas on what we could do but lack both the funding and resources to make it happen faster.

Special thanks to Fan Liu (Delivery Manager @ Ci&T), Jingsheng Wang (CEO @ INsReady Inc.) and Keith Yau. All the Drupal people I met were welcoming, fun and are working hard.

Categories: Drupal

DFP Respond

New Drupal Modules - 15 September 2014 - 7:06am

This module provides integration of DFP and Respond.

Respond Discovery is a platform for creating native campaign creatives. These creatives can then be published to DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP).
See How to integrate with DFP

This module has been sponsored by Dennis Publishing.

Categories: Drupal

Acquia: Custom Distributions on Acquia Cloud: Part 1 -- Drush Make

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 6:54am

Every developer has a slightly different approach to building their Drupal sites. I’ve tried just about every approach, and they all have their merits, but my favorite is Drush Make. Before joining Acquia, I didn’t realize Acquia Cloud supported Drush Make, but I was delighted to discover that I was wrong. Assuming I’m not the only person who had missed this fact, I wanted to spend a little time highlighting where this exists and how I’m using it.

Categories: Drupal

Jonathan Brown: Drupal & Bitcoin

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 6:46am

Almost everything we do on the web will work better with autonomous blockchain technologies such as Bitcoin & ethereum because they allow systems to be built with unbreakable rules. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Uber, PayPal or eBay, no executive authority can step in and say the rules don't apply to you.

Of all the blockchain technologies, Bitcoin is currently the most high profile. It is a massive area of growth in the startup eco-system.

Drupal 8 is going to be a fantastic platform for building startups, but we need to make sure that it is also a fantastic platform for blockchain startups.

I've started by creating a Drupal 7 & 8 project called Coin Tools. It provides various components that would be useful for building a Bitcoin web product. Many of the altcoins are very similar to Bitcoin so the project could easily be extended to accommodate them.

I've also created a Blockchain BoF at DrupalCon Amsterdam on the Tuesday at 10:45.

Coin Tools base module

Contains the following field types:

  • Address
  • Amount
  • Transaction
Widgets

Formatters

Coin Tools Daemon
  • facilitates configuration and access to bitcoind service
  • triggers a hook when a Bitcoin transaction is detected
  • provides a full UI for browsing transactions and sending and receiving bitcoin

I am currently working on a full implementation of BIP 70 which provides a much improved payment experience for the customer. Then I will add integration with Payment / Commerce. This means it will be possible to receive payments in Commerce without using a third party payment processor.

Coins Tools Fiat
  • obtains bitcoin exchange rates from BitcoinAverage (which I consider to be the gold standard), falling back to BitPay BBB
  • facilitates rendering of fiat amounts
  • user can select preferred fiat currency
  • current bitcoin value block

If you would like help developing your Bitcoin startup on Drupal, please get in touch.

Categories: Drupal

Gamification: Pervasive User Centric Design - by Andrzej Marczewski

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 September 2014 - 5:51am
At its heart, is gamification Pervasive User Centric Design? Is it the cross over between real and virtual worlds?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Makina Corpus: A Drupal front-end theme with Bootstrap, LESS and Gulp

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 5:45am
More and more articles with these words are appearing right now: here's our approach for a front-end theme complying with Web good practices.
Categories: Drupal

Forum Stats

New Drupal Modules - 15 September 2014 - 5:00am

The module gives you statistic of forum usage.

Categories: Drupal

jsDelivr CDN Libraries

New Drupal Modules - 15 September 2014 - 4:43am

Load libraries from the jsDelivr CDN. jsDelivr is a CDN service that load open source web assets from multiple CDN from over 80 locations.

I created this module because I think it's a great alternative to loading local libraries and jsDelivr has some cool features, like fuzzy version specification and loading multiple libraries in one request. Patches for improvement are welcome.

Categories: Drupal

Can you use another game's trademarked name to describe your own?

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 September 2014 - 4:29am

"When advertising a new game, it can be easier to use the title of those other games in the description. However, when those other game names are trademarks, this could potentially lead to problems." ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Zynga's online gambling COO has left the company

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 September 2014 - 4:12am

Two years after Zynga added Maytal Ginzburg Olsha as its chief operating officer of new markets, the online gambling veteran has left the social games company. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

DrupalCon Amsterdam: DrupalCon for Designers

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 2:54am

Unlike DrupalCon Austin, there is no separate UX track at DrupalCon Amsterdam. Ruben and I had to balance both design and development into one track. It was challenging, but it forced us to be really careful about every decision remade.

We really wanted there to be an overlap between sessions, frontend development and design are closer than ever in the workplace, so we wanted to reflect that in our session line up.

Here are a few sessions we think complement each other really well.

The State of the Frontend

Not sure what to learn or where to start in frontend development? Let David and Brian guide you through the landscape, introducing new tools and techniques.

We've also planned this session as an introduction to the entire track, pointing signposts towards other sessions in that track that can fill in more in-depth knowledge about particular subjects. I would encourage everyone with an interest in frontend development to attend the session if only to better understand which sessions in the frontend track are right for them.

We also have a few session that compliment and feed in to each other. Here are a few sessions we think work really well together.

Because it's about the interactions. (Better UX through prototyping) & Axure Prototyping for Drupal

How do we shift from an old design process to a new one while keeping our clients and team members happy? Roy Scholten, UX co-maintainer for Drupal Core, walks us through why prototyping is a better way to design and how to introduce this into your work life.

Then, in Axure Prototyping for Drupal, Dani Nordin takes us on a deep dive of Axure, a prototyping tool you can use without coding. I've been using it recently on a client project and I've been impressed with the way it introduces some concepts of frontend development without asking you to write code.

The Future of HTML and CSS

As a designer, knowing the limits and capabilities of your medium is important, also it means you can call your developers out when they hit you with “That's not possible” which is fun. If you're interested in seeing where web browsers are heading and finding new tricks to add to your repertoire, Preston's talk on The Future of HTML and CSS should be a treat.

Getting a CLUE at the Command Line

As a designer/front-end dev, I've never had a formal education on the command line, it's always been something I've picked up as I've needed it. It used to scare me. This is me using the command line a few years ago:

I'm so happy Emma Jane is talking on the command line in Getting a CLUE at the Command Line in the same vein as her introduction to Git at DrupalCon Prague last year. The command line is an immensely powerful and productive tool and I'm looking forward to picking up a few tips.

Open Source Design

Something I've struggled with, both in my day job and as the maintainer of Drupal's admin theme is how do we bring successful design together with Open Source. I'm really happy that Jan-C. Borchardt, agreed to speak at DrupalCon and share his knowledge and experience with us. Jan is a big supporter of usability and design in free and open source software, with projects including A guide to Usability in Free Software, OwnCloud, Libre Projects, and the brilliant Terms of Service; Didn't Read.

It's really important for Drupal for us to gain insight from people outside the community and learn from other projects. Thanks again Jan for agreeing to speak! I can't wait!

--
Lewis Nyman (LewisNyman)
DrupalCon Amsterdam Frontend Track Chair

Categories: Drupal

MariqueCalcus: Drush

Planet Drupal - 15 September 2014 - 12:30am

Dru(pal)sh(ell) is an essential tool if you are working with Drupal intensively. If you don't know it yet, Drush is command line shell and scripting interface for Drupal. It helps you to quickly perform various administation and maintenance tasks using only a terminal. If you are not convinced, you should probably install it and give it a try. You won't regret it. It's awesome and will save you headaches, time and again more time. If you are using Drush, you must have been using the command "drush cc all" like a million time. I have. But Drush can do much more.

Read More...
Categories: Drupal

Fuzzy Thinking: King Me!

RPGNet - 15 September 2014 - 12:00am
Wrong fuzzy game!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Field Library

New Drupal Modules - 14 September 2014 - 11:59pm
Overview

Field library allows you to build up a library of pre-configured field-api fields.
You can then add these fields to other fieldable entities in bulk.
This is ideal for modules like Entity Form where several forms may share common fields.

Features

Create your own library of field bundles.
Easily add a bundle of fields to any fieldable entity type.
Edit the fields after adding them.

Requirements

Ctools

Categories: Drupal

Károly Négyesi: Drupal 8 progress from my / MongoDB perspective: update #29

Planet Drupal - 14 September 2014 - 3:47pm

Perhaps the most important development is the final naming of what was field/field instance in Drupal 7: in Drupal 8 these are configuration entities. The machine names are field_storage_config and field_config. There has been several renames but we have settled on these finally (although the field_config rename is not yet in). It does reflect the most important difference between them: field storage contains everything pertaining to the storage of the field. The things that do not change the storage of it go into the instance. However, some confusion might come from already existing Drupal 8 documentation and other materials where field_config was the name for what ended up as field_storage_config.

In other rename news, entity storage/list/form/render "controllers" are now handlers. This probably decreases confusion as controllers are used by the router system to deliver the page content.

Migrate now tracks the whether a migration has been run or not. Previously we were guessing from the id mappings -- but if a source returned zero rows we couldn't really say whether the migration ran or not. Now we could clarify for real what are hard dependencies and what are optional. In the Drupal 6 migration, there are few optional ones which is just as it should be.

There's a Views migration in the works. As expected it's really complicated with lots of moving parts but it's coming along nicely.

Only book storage needs entity field query conversion after the epic comment query conversion issue finally got resolved.

One of the child issues of the last beta blocker removes the special casing for SQL storage -- hurray! Instead of requesting the schema of entity tables during module install (and other places) and then creating the tables there are now events on entity type create, update and delete. This makes it possible to create mongodb indexes cleanly.

Categories: Drupal

d7One: Step by step guide to installing Commerce from scratch

Planet Drupal - 14 September 2014 - 11:50am
The following guide was used in a presentation at DrupalCamp Montreal 2014. The presentation focused on how to install Drupal Commerce from scratch. FIRST FLOOR
  1. https://www.drupal.org/project/commerce
  2. Install required modules
    • drush dl ctools views entity rules addressfield commerce
    • drush en ctools views entity rules addressfield commerce -y
Tags:
Categories: Drupal

Steve Purkiss: Case Study - NickJr. Colour CMS & API - Feedback sought!

Planet Drupal - 14 September 2014 - 11:00am
Sunday, 14th September 2014Case Study - NickJr. Colour CMS & API - Feedback sought!

It's been an embarrassing amount of time since I last blogged or did anything to my site so I've started to create some content, but before I submit it as a case study on Drupal's site I'd love to have some feedback, it's been years since I wrote case studies so a little rusty. Is it of interest? Does it help? Does it answer the right questions? Are there any questions you'd like me to answer?

Brief overview

Viacom’s Nick Jr. is a digital television channel aimed younger children, home to popular shows including Dora the Explorer, Angelina Ballerina, and PAW Patrol. 'Colour' is a section of the Nick Jr. website where, daily, tens of thousands of users interact with predefined line-art drawings using paint brushes and stickers. They can then, if they wish to, send pictures they create to their friends via email. The mostly Flash-based front-end currently connects to a legacy back-end system which is being replaced with Drupal.

Completed Drupal site or project URL

http://www.nickjr.co.uk/create/#!/colour

Why Drupal was chosen

Drupal's core and contributed modules along with customisable web administration interface provided all the functionality required out-of-the-box and is already used widely throughout the organisation.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome) Project Goals

The goal of this project was to provide a bespoke back-end CMS based on Drupal to replace the legacy system, along with introducing new functionality enabling Send to Gallery and Pic of the Week features. The CMS needed to as simple as possible for content managers to use, and the whole system had to be able to cope with the tens of thousands of users using the API on a daily basis.

Deliverables

The site was to be delivered as a Drupal install profile so it can be adapted and re-used – an initial step towards creating internal Nickelodeon-specific distributions of Drupal, further lowering costs and time-to-market for future projects with similar requirements. Purkiss built a similar system a few months prior for Universal Artists uView Augmented Reality App and have extensive experience integrating Drupal with 3rd party services so were ideally placed to deliver this type of Drupal project.

Theme

First we set up the install profile with Shiny, the administration theme which comes with Drupal Commerce Kickstart, to be the main theme to the site. Shiny is a great theme for this kind of system where there's really only one main display the content managers interact with – it's easy on the eye with good typography and spacing.

Legacy Migration

We then re-created what functionality was required from the legacy system using Drupal Services – the calls for saving images, retrieving images for a show, etc. There was a major difference here as the legacy system stored all the data in flat XML files with no user data linked. Drupal is a relational database system so we have user accounts, content types and taxonomies – this proved to be an exercise in both education of the client as to the benefits of hooking into the Drupal API, along with re-architecting of the current content model and workflow.

Features

We used a Features-based approach to development with each of these features, along with the install profile, having their own private Git code repository in the cloud in order for issue tracking and maintenance to be easier.

The features we delivered were as follows:

  • Content Types
    • NickJr Colour Image – stores the user’s image along with a Canvas ID which refers to the line art used, a taxonomy field to link to the associated show, and two flags – one to show if the user has sent the image in to Nickelodeon for consideration to be included in the showcase, and one to denote whether it is in the associated show’s showcase.
  • Fields
    • User Profile Fields – extra profile fields to store the user’s name and age.
  • Rules
    • Redirect after login – redirects to the front page view after logging in.
    • Pic of the Week – Views Bulk Operations Component – one rule to set and one to unset an image as Pic of Week
    • Showcase – one to set and one to unset an image as to be in a Show's Showcase
  • Services
    • NickJr. Colour API – the Services settings for the custom API endpoints.
  • Taxonomy
    • Shows Taxonomy – with Pic of the Week field
  • Variables
    • Always harmonize views filters – Allows views to use both contextual and exposed filters for views
  • Views
    • Front Page – Displays all images, defaults to only show images Sent to Nick
    • Showcase – Displays images in showcase, all if no show_id sent through
    • User Profile – Displays users images on their profile page
Schedule

Project timescale and budget was for an incredibly tight 10 days which we delivered in, however were subsequently hired for a further 7 days to re-factor the API and provide a few final additions to the administration interface.

Out-of-the-box, Drupal Services module provide a standard set of API calls so you can do things like create a user, a node, etc. so all the functionality required was there however required a number of calls to the API to achieve the desired workflow. It was decided to spend extra time creating custom API endpoints which would hide this functionality, reduce the number of API calls required, and make it easier for future users of the API.

The downside to this approach is the technical debt introduced when diverting away from the *.drupal.org infrastructure of support, i.e. core and contributed modules. In this instance the code was simply wrapping existing API calls and the client has access to technical resources so the decision was to take on the technical debt in order to produce a more tailored outcome.

Outcome

We used the extra time to create a RESTful API which abstracted away from Drupal Services out-of-the-box API endpoints along with coding an auto account creation system to link up user data from the front-end without users having to enter their email address, a requirement of Drupal’s user account creation. We documented the API using Drupal’s inbuilt help module and passed the system over to the client, helping them through building the system from the Drush make file.

Summary

The resulting system is a clean, simple-to-use CMS with RESTful API handling thousands of users on a daily basis. Content managers have a separate role with very restricted access so can only do what they need to do on the system.

We really enjoyed delivering this project, however alert anyone thinking of building similar to allow extra time, especially if it is their first Drupal experience - no matter how good specifications are, issues usually arise in one form or another. Also often once people do start using Drupal and see the possibilities available, requirements change and it is good to allow for those to be taken into account.

About Purkiss

Purkiss helps organisations onboard Drupal through consultancy, development, training and support. For more information about Purkiss services please visit http://purkiss.com

Modules/Themes/Distributions

boolean_formatter
cors
eva
features
filter_harmonizer
mimemail
rules
services
shiny
smtp
strongarm
views_bulk_operations
views

Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen
  • boolean_formatter – makes the user interface a little nicer by providing icons for boolean fields such as ticks and crosses
  • CORS – required for connecting to the front-end
  • EVA - we used an Entity Views Attachment to display users pictures on their profiles
  • features - features allows you to export configuration settings to code
  • filter_harmonizer - Views Filter Harmonizer fixes an issue when using multiple filters on views
  • mimemail - used to send images via email
  • rules - as described above, used for redirecting user on login and for custom views bulk operations
  • services - used for the RESTful API
  • shiny - an administration theme we are using for the entire site
  • smtp - for sending email
  • strongarm - for storing variables in features
  • views_bulk_operations - to enable easy workflow, such as adding an image to a showcase
  • views - so we can display the data we want easily
Community contributions

As the API is specific to the client and used mostly existing functionality we had no code to contribute. The only custom code was for automatic account creation and there are existing modules which provide similar functionality which we used the code from but is too specific to this install to re-use externally.

This is however the second time we’ve been asked for this sort of system, and with the growth of mobile apps we are currently working out whether it would be possible to create a distribution which will help get most of the way there - at least have relevant modules and perhaps an example scenario based on the simple image requirements for this project.

tags: case studiesDrupal PlanetPlanet Drupal
Categories: Drupal

mailbox

New Drupal Modules - 13 September 2014 - 11:14pm
Categories: Drupal

Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha

New RPG Product Reviews - 13 September 2014 - 11:15am
Publisher: Mór Games
Rating: 5
This Campaign Guide for the Plight of the Tuatha Adventure Path presents a wealth of information about the setting as well as background to the AP itself, and is well worth getting if you want to run this campaign. Even if you are not, it presents a rich setting ripe for conflict, a place in which adventurers will thrive, the world called Aeliode.

It's all based around the expansionist Avitian Empire. Sometimes they are after rich pickings, but they have been heard to claim that they believe it is their mission, obligation even, to spread the light of civilisation to other lands. And sometimes they just grumble about how wild and untamed the lands beyond their borders are, and want to do something about it.

The first chapter looks at the peoples found here, with four main groups: the Avitians of course, the Ceravossian Republic, an ancient bunch from Tir Ydrail and the Ostmen who live on remote islands in the northern seas. For each there is useful information on favoured professions, how different races fare and the like, background that will be useful to those who come from there or should adventuring take the party into each group's territory. Languages, society, arts, history, physiology - all laid out in concise yet copious detail. There's a lot of variety here, such that an elf, say, from one region, might be quite different from an elf from somewhere else - and yet distinct from a dwarf, gnome of human even from the same region. This creates a feeling of a vibrant community with a rich spread of distinctive groups - much like the real world - which helps to add an air of realism.

Chapter 2: The Gods of Aeliode deals with the deities venerated by all these different peoples. The Ostmen and those in Tir Ydrail each have their own pantheon, whilst the Avitians and Ceravossians both worship two pantheons (the same two, I mean). Then it gets a bit complicated. There are Multi-Planar Religions and the lesser Prime Plane ones. The Multi-Planar gods are more powerful, and tend to pop up in more than one pantheon maybe under different names or worshipped in different ways; the Prime Plane ones are tied to specific locations. And then there are the Natural Religions, which venerate spirits inhabiting the world rather than 'gods'... theologians' heads must hurt! Mechanically, however, clerics gain their spells in the same way as other Pathfinder clerics - this is more deep flavour for those who wish to dig into what is going on behind it all.

Within the Empire, there are gods and saints, and a strong tradition of ancestor worship - not to mention the odd emperor who has proclaimed himself a god as well as specifying which other gods are worthy of worship. This has led to a split between the Orthodox Church and the New Church who both, quite naturally, declare that their belief is the one and only true one. Then there's the True Church, which accepts the emperor as a deity... and has wangled its way into being the state religion. If you enjoy religious conflict or debate, there is plenty of resource material here. Each of the major deities is described in detail, including symbols, beliefs, practices and everything else a regular worshipper or a priest of that deity would be expected to know.

Chapter 3 looks at the Lore of Aeliode. An ancient tale, the Mysteries of Eshu, is recounted. Like many such myths and legends, it is an attempt to explain the world and people's place in it in terms of powers beyond their control. It's quite fascinating, and probably something that any well-educated person will be familiar with.

Chapter 4 is a bit more mechanical, it's a look at Player Options. Things like languages, details of different races, traits (campaign, racial and regional), prestige classes and a few new feats, spells and even a skill - that of interrogation. This covers any kind of questioning from friendly questions and subtle inquires to aggressive questioning under torchlight, or even more aggressive means of questioning (which, I'm glad to say, are left to your imagination. I know what my players would come up with, they can be a nasty lot sometimes!).

Chapter 5 covers Gamemaster Options. You may want to share at least selected bits of the earlier parts of the book with your players, but keep this bit to yourself. It provides all manner of ideas to develop the world further and make it integral to your adventures rather than a backdrop, however fascinating, to adventures that you could run in any campaign world you have to hand. There are some really neat ideas here, well worth studying especially when you are planning your campaign. Many are linked to game mechanics, so giving you a way to administer and adjudicate what is going on as well as spin ever more interesting tales in the shared alternate reality that makes up your game. This includes the War of Words, a way to mix game mechanics with what the characters actually say to make diplomacy and debate something more than mere die rolling yet not leaving it purely down to player eloquence either. There's a whole bunch of well-developed NPCs all ready for use as well.

Finally, Chapter 6 provides some recipes. Described as some of the typical dishes you'd find on Aeliode, these are recipes that you could knock up yourself and eat around the gaming table - perhaps not during the game, but as a social activity before, after or during a break in play. Well, some of them. The one involving the consumption of a whole Ortelan, a bird native to Aeliode, might be a bit hard to arrange, although it's based on a known French recipe in which diners hide under covers to divert the gods' wrath as they consume an entire ortolan bunting, bones and all...

If you are after a rich and well developed world in which to adventure, try this one!
Categories: Game Theory & Design
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