Reading Story Games, for the Technologically Challenged

Paul T.'s picture

I've been missing the Story Games material - so often, it's incredibly helpful to find advice there on beloved story games of yore.

It's not obvious for someone not supremely technologically savvy to access them, but it IS possible.

Here's the easiest way I know. I'll share it here for posterity:

1. First, determine the number of the thread.

If you have a link saved or bookmarked, it's the number embedded in the URL. If not, look at this list:

(With thanks to Billy, for putting this list together! Absolutely invaluable.)

Here's an example:

From a URL or bookmark -

The number here is "20134".

From Billy's archive of thread titles -

7442. Jason_Morningstar - Tell Me About Tunnels and Trolls (2008-08-26)

The number here is "7442".

2. Second, copy and paste the following line into your browser, replacing the "XXXX" with the thread's number.*/*

(Be sure to include the "*" at the end of the line! That's not a typo.)

For example, if your thread number is 7442, then paste this into your browser:*/*

Paul T.'s picture

Thanks, Rickard!

This is a lovely gift to the community. There's so much good material there.

If there was a way, someday, to make it easily searchable as well, we'd have all we need.

Incredible work! I'm deeply grateful.

Rickard's picture

If there was a way, someday, to make it easily searchable as well, we'd have all we need.

I don't think it's possible with the current solution (hosting on Github), but if someone uploaded everything on a site and submitted it to Google to index the files (instead of waiting for their bots to find them), it would be possible to google the site. That would be the easiest solution without having host a database or write a free text search program on a server (which would be easy enough).

I did an update so it's possible to direct link to specific posts, and also to traverse to the previous/next threads by using the (new) number input at the bottom of the screen.

Paul T.'s picture

I am really enjoying the linked archive you have set up.

However, there is a very strange feature here:

When I navigate to the landing page, it always loads the last thread I have been looking at. It's very frustrating, and makes it almost unusable (since returning to the landing page just loads the last-viewed thread again).

Any idea what's going on there? I'm a Chrome user.

Rickard's picture

I've been doing some updates. Got some of the links to actually link to other threads, and you can click on the date under the user name to actually get a direct link to that post. Also, the list on the landing page have gotten a touch up.

Probably something that went wrong in those updates. I'm mostly on Firefox, sometimes checking in with Chrome now and then.

Try again, and the problem persists, reload without cache (SHIFT+F5, CMD+SHIFT+R, CTRL+SHIFT+R).

Paul T.'s picture

Very helpful.

Of course, as these things go... now that I'm trying to use it again, the problem is nowhere to be seen. But, if it appears again, I will let you know!

Rickard's picture

Well, that's because I did an update removing the behavior that the page loads the last page you visited. :) I thought it was useful, but I guess it became one of these "UX designer overthinks the design". :)

Just hoping I can reveal a big thing soon. Waiting for Google, but I don't know if it will work.

DeReel's picture

I lacked the working links. It's a brilliant feature.
I am supposing you made a script that hacks the url to re-direct it. So is this all an interface to read the archived pages ? And if so, can you tell me where I can repay you for all the work time you saved me?

Rickard's picture

Yeah, it's an interface based on Jeff Schecter's archive of Story Games. I just fetch the correct post, and—while I at it—I parse the file to see if there are any links that I can redirect. I can't fix links that point directly to a message - I would need to build a script that builds an enormous database for that to work.

I also use basic CSS to hide some elements. So it's the same file as the archive, just displayed differently.


It took me about 1-2 hours to get it all to working, and I suppose I put around 8 hours of work in it now. It's mostly learning more about the "hosting site" Github and its functionalities, which is a fun learning experience. :)

I've come to a point where I can optimize, so I did an update where I could cut off 1Mb of the file size (from 3 to 2), the internal (working) links are optimized, the page demands less RAM while scripting execution time is down to a minimum at page load (from ~140 ms to 6 ms).

... and last, but not least, you can open all links on the landing page in new tabs!

Billy's picture

I happened to be googling something Story-Games related and noticed Jeph's archive coming up. So I tried another search, and sure enough, it looks like the Google indexing worked!

Search brings up story-games archive

Paul T.'s picture

Is there any way to get results from that archive more easily/reliably? (Since a search with less particular terms than "vast agharta" isn't likely to find hits from that archive.)

Some kind of Google search trick?

Billy's picture

Trying some more, I think I spoke too soon... It looks like it's only working for the small number of pages that we have linked to here!

DeReel's picture

@Paul_T It's really not heavy and many free softwares can search it.

@Webtech If I unpacked all the files on a site for Google to index them, would I still be within James Stuart's will for the forums ? Also, I think there would be a IntProp infringement, right ?

DeReel's picture

... Then we're good :
James_Stuart's expressed concern was about not having a Story Games site running. Archives were discussed and James Stuart remained "actively silent" on the topic, neither approving, nor disapproving, which is neither good nor bad for legitimacy. I think he wanted to leave a grey zone to be able to block an "unreasonable use" of the archives, while not interfering with a "reasonable" archiving action. Or maybe you have another interpretation ?

At worst, he disapproved, and we think the data is too valuable to lose. And the question defaults to legality. If so
... Then we're good ;
Fair use holds, as we have clearly demonstrated a "scholarly" approach to the documents, there's no paywall to access the data, etc.

Billy's picture

It was in this thread, post on July 28th:

1) I support only long-term archiving of this content.
2) It's not okay to stand up a new forum with this content.
3) I feel uncertain but not 100% opposed to non-interactive websites hosting this content, but am dubious of ones that don't feel geared towards long-term archiving/durability.

It feels like [the Internet Archive] satisfies very thoroughly the "nothing will disappear into the ether".
I feel like adding [a github repo with the html] to this satisfies the "slightly more accessible, but also reasonably durable".

The topic of making the threads searchable by Google wasn't discussed in that thread, though I can't see why it would be undesirable, as long as the site that is referenced is aimed at long-term archiving...

Rickard's picture

Doesn't seem like a success to try to send a sitemap to Google. Have filed a ticket for it. It's just probably something stupid that I missed.

So far 1600 pages (out of ~22k) have been indexed automatically by Google, so I added a search function to the page. It's limited (by Google) to 50 searches per day, but it's better then nothing.

Paul T.'s picture


You are making a small group of extremely weird internet people incredibly happy with your continuous efforts! I can't thank you enough.