SWN Sector Generator: a gaming utility for use with the Stars Without Number RPG by Sine Nomine Publishing
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SWN Sector Generator

Written for use with the Stars Without Number role-playing game by Sine Nomine Publishing.

Will This Be Updated For The Upcoming Revised Edition of Stars Without Number?
Short answer: yes! I am working on the revised edition now. I have created a branch called revised_edition_working_branch and this is where I will be merging changes and doing testing. If you would like to help - please reach out I will need to update tables and dice rolling rules and may need to add some new tables as well. I could use help both with code changes and with reviews.

This is the source code for a random galactic sector generator that is hosted on OpenShift. You can play around with it at http://swn.emichron.com/, or fork this repo and host it somewhere else.

The rules for generating this sector are entirely based on the Stars Without Number role-playing game. I created this generator because I loved the game, and really appreciated the insane level of detail that the author put into his tables for rolling up a random galactic sector. I also realized that the rules were so detailed, that it might take a GM quite a while to put their galaxy together.

Getting Your Head Around This Code

For years I promised myself I would clean this up, or rewrite this in a hip new language. But the problem is that a few of the libraries that I'm using have no analogs in other languages. So, let me just lay out the facts:

  1. This tool was written in Perl, using many CPAN libraries.
  2. This tool is at some risk of "bit rot", since the first lines of it were written in 2010.

Still want to know how it works? I salute you. Stiff upper lip and all that. Let's get to it.

The Front End

The index.html file contains the entire user interface and most of the front-end logic, save for the bundled jQuery library files. The JavaScript code included in this files handles the nifty UI elements, and also defines three functions that make AJAX (ooh, how Web 2.0!) calls back to the web server.

This function is called when the page loads, and it asks the server for a random seed.

This function hands the random seed back to the server and receives all of the details of a random galactic sector. Then it renders all of the data for display in the UI.

Save Sector button
An anonymous function bound to this button click collects the current state of the sector as shown in the UI and passes it back to the server for processing. The server turns this data into two versions of a TiddlyWiki file, compresses the files into a .zip, and hands them back to the browser for download.

The Back End

So far, you're thinking "hey, this reasonably sane JSON-speaking API gives me a good feeling about the back end code." Whelp, here's where you may get panicky.

Remember CGI?
The CGI directory in this repo is not a cruel hoax. In order to get this ship sailing, you will need to configure your web server with CGI support.

Really simple script; calls SWNUtil::tokenize_seed on a random number to provide a seed value. This is the back end of getRandSeed above.

This is the main processer. It can both emit and accept a big JSON object that represents an entire galactic sector. It is called by getSector and the anonymous Save Sector function.

This CGI handles a (2011) limitation of Internet Explorer, which couldn't handle data:// URLs.

Now Containerized!

This app runs great on OpenShift v2, and the latest updates make it run just as well in a container suitable for OpenShift v3.

If you just want to run your own copy of the published application, install docker and run:

docker run -d -P nhripps/swn

That will fire up an instance of this app, listening for web requests on port 8080.

If you want to hack your own modified version and build it into a container, read on.


Note that there is no Dockerfile in the repo. A previous iteration of this code did include a Dockerfile, but the container generated by that Dockerfile ran as the root user. We can avoid that by using Source to Image to generate our container.

In order to make everything work well, and to prefer RPM-packaged Perl modules over CPAN-sourced modules, I created a custom s2i builder image:

The net result is that if you want to hack on this source code and then build and deploy your own containerized version, you can install Source-to-Image and then run this command in your repo directory:

s2i build . nhripps/perl-520-centos7-swn <your_username>/<your_app_name>

Happy hacking!

Legal Notes

  • Check out the LICENSE file for information on how this app is licensed.

  • Before making this tool publicly available, I contacted the game author and agreed to limit the tool's functionality to those rules described in the free version of Stars Without Number. Take care to avoid changing this tool in any way that may infringe the copyrights of Sine Nomine Publishing or any other RPG publishers.