For half of this week, we had a “firebreak”: a few days to work on stuff which is usually low priority and so left to fester. I switched off our prototype apps—which haven’t been in use for over a month—and also updated some documentation and deleted some dead code. We’re continuing the firebreak next week: I plan to run a session for other GOV.UK developers to try to debug some accounts-related problems I’ll set up, and add documentation where it’s needed.

We then rolled our “single-page notifications” feature out to a few of the Coronavirus pages. Eventually it’ll be on most pages.

Then I got pulled into some work to split up our massive postgres RDS instance and upgrade to postgres 13, which involved running a Terraform mobbing session. I don’t write much Terraform, and the docs assume you know all the AWS terminology, but we got something done at least. Next week I’ll finish that off, and hopefully we can start to move data around.


This week I read:

  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson, the first of the Malazan Book of the Fallen

    Yes, I have started to re-read Malazan. I’m not sure if I’ll continue through the full series, but I’ve at least returned to this first book. Gardens of the Moon was written a decade before the other books, and there are definitely some inconsistencies I noticed: some timescales seem different, some terminology is different, and one minor character is a different gender.

    This got me thinking, as Malazan was originally the setting of Erikson’s RPG campaign. I’d imagined this really grand thing, and wondered how two men could come up with such an incredibly deep game. But, returning to the book, it’s pretty clear that things got refined as the series was being written. The actual Malazan campaign was probably a much more humble, and approachable, thing.


Ars Magica

I’m still figuring out how to run Ars Magica. To start with I focussed on having short problems which could be resolved in a single session, so that we could still get through at least one “season” per session.

But in last week’s session, this week’s session, and next week’s session, I’m doing something more traditional. Last week I introduced a problem and an opportunity. This week they finished dealing with the problem, and started to pursue the opportunity. Next session they’ll still be dealing with it, as they didn’t finish it this week. So that’ll be three sessions, at least, played in close-to-real-time, like a more conventional RPG.

I guess a strength of Ars Magica is that it does support long-term play well, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of potential adventuring time if one session spans months or years, whereas another covers just a few days.


This week, a player left the group. Things in their life changed, and they wouldn’t be able to make the game for the foreseeable future. So they’ve dropped out for now.

It’s sad when scheduling can’t work out, but we’ve had a good run: their first session was on the 12th of April, 2020, in Golden Sky Stories.