Of Monsters and Rust

Myself and my friends have been playing a Pathfinder campaign as a distraction from all the Covid stuff for the last year. To give our regular DM a break and a chance to play himself, I’ve been running some side adventures at appropriate times in the main campaign.

To try and have something different from the undead heavy I went hunting for something with some classic dungeon creatures – namely Mimics and Rust Monsters. I couldn’t find an existing adventure that fit my needs and reading other people’s adventures gave me the itch to try my hand at my own.

Given it’s been a long time since I wrote anything like this (probably 25+ years!), it’s possibly a little uneven on the challenge rating of the encounters but most should be adjustable up and down with the addition/removal of a similar creature. We did this with a group of six 5th level characters.

The maps were created using Inkarnate. There are links at the bottom to a zip containing versions usable in Roll20 as well as to editable versions on Inkarnate.

All feedback on it is welcome and I’d love to hear from anyone that actually runs it.


An Intellect devourer has set up a lab in an abandoned crystal mine to try and create a Rust Dragon to help defeat his rival who has gone down the road of clockworks to build an army.

To this end, he has trapped four Rust Monsters and is force feeding three of them metals and channelling energy from them into the fourth to force a transformation into a Rust Dragon. The fourth is in a metal chrysalis and is near maturation. This is only the latest in a line of failed experiments but each attempt is bringing him closer to success.

To feed the Rust Monsters, he has tasked a band of low grade mercenaries to raid ore caravans. As the experiments have increased in pace, so has the need for ore and thus an increase in raids.

The local authorities (be it a lord, mayor or a group of annoyed mine owners) are sick of the raids so hire the party to put an end to them.

In parallel, his rival has caught wind of the plan and sent a squad of his Clockwork Soldiers to put a stop to the experiment. They slaughtered the bandits and made their way to 2.7 The Hatchery and did some damage to the chrysalis but were stopped from destroying it.

The party will coincidentally arrive at the camp within hours of this happening.

In general, there is little treasure until the end – anything with significant amounts of metal tends to end up in the hatchery and non-metallic magic items made their way to the intellect devourer’s horde.


Bandits have been raiding caravans over the last few months. After the last raid, we caught a break and one of our rangers was able to track them back to their base of operations at the head of an abandoned mine. He was unfortunately spotted and wounded while escaping. Deal with them however you want and you’ll be rewarded with XYZ.

  • Can the ranger come
    • No, injured and recovering.
  • What’s the make up of the bandits?
    • About 10, humans, nothing notable about them. Standard looking gear.
  • What have they been targeting?
    • Tending to go for ore shipments from the local mines.

1. The Camp

As the party approaches the camp, the party sees evidence of a recent skirmish. On entering the camp, they see the bodies of slaughtered bandits.

Past the barricades, the bandit camp sits in a hollow surrounded on 3 sides by cliffs. To the north of the camp is a filthy pool with steam slowing rolling off it. To the east is a cluster of tents around a smoking fire pit.

If the party tries to find clues (e.g through tracking), they notice that the foot prints of the attackers are deeper than you’d expect.

1.1 The pool

Steam continuously rolls of the pool. the water is choked with scum and algae. The edges are discoloured and rotten. A stream flows from the cliff. A broken gate is in front of the outlet.

This is the runoff from area 2.3 Drain. The party can successfully navigate the drain with a DC 15 Survival check.

If the party investigate the pool, they must pass a DC 15 perception check to spot the gelatinous orbs.

CR 6 – 4 orbs, 2,400XP

CR 7 – 5 orbs, 3,000 XP

1.2 The tents

There’s not much of value in the tents – some spare clothes and equipment belonging to the bandits.

1.3 The bodies

One of the bandits is barely clinging on to life. The party can stabilise them enough for some quick questions but he’s too far gone to save (healing potions/spells will barely prolong his life). The party can ask him a few questions before he passes away.

What the party can learn:

  • 5 or 6 attackers – large armoured humanoids – too big to be human but too small to be ogres
  • Relentless and brutal – killed everyone that went against them
  • Armed with great clubs, mauls and obsidian swords
  • Weapons seemed to bounce off them
  • Likely after the boss’ “special project” (will die after revealing this)

2 The Mine

The tunnels are between 10 and 15 ft wide and high. There are crystals in the walls that glow faintly meaning the complex is dimly lit so the party doesn’t necessarily need their own light sources (see Vision and Light). The mine track looks well maintained.

2.1 Store room

This area is stocked high with miscellaneous goods – all obviously taken from the raided trade caravans.

If a party member makes a DC 20 perception check they notice that there are unusually few metallic objects in the store room.

2.2 Cave-in

The tunnel suddenly ends in a cave-in, covering the rail tracks and completely blocking the way forward.

A successful DC 13 Knowledge (Dungeoneering) or Knowledge: (Engineering) check will tell the players that this cave-in was deliberate and that it would take hours to clear.

If the party tries to clear the rubble, the Damaged Clockwork Solider from 2.4 Collapsed Bridge will attack them from behind.

2.3 Drain

A cave-in blocks the entrance to the small cave. Tracks run from other the rubble and end at a wall. At the top of the wall, a platform and crane are visible. A waste pipe dribbles slime and water into a small stream that flows from under the cliff and into a small pool.

The drain connects to the outlet that feeds 1.1 Pool.

If the party didn’t encounter the the Gelatinous Orbs at 1.1 Pool, they are lurking in the stream, waiting to pounce.

If the party didn’t encounter the Clockwork Soldiers in 2.10 The Lab, they are here ransacking the room. They are armed with +1 Obsidian Halberds but are otherwise normal Clockwork Soldiers.

2.4 Collapsed Bridge

The ruins of a bridge are clearly evident in the water it once spanned. An armoured body lies sprawled on an island in the middle of the pool.

It takes a DC 17 Acrobatics check to jump across the water and land on the island.

A badly battered armoured figure lies facedown on the ground. Oil rather than blood leaks from the cracks in the armour. One of the arms has been torn off and shards of obsidian from a broken halberd surround the other.

A successful DC 17 perception check and the players will see that the solider is still active. It is at ~50% health and will use the element of surprise to try and get the drop on the player examining them. They only have a single punch attack.

CR 5, 50% health, 1,800Xp

CR 6, 75% health, 2,400XP

The soldier is wearing a Gauntlet of Rust.

If the players search for the missing arm, it is at the bottom of the pool and can be retrieved with a DC 13 Swim check but there’s only the one gauntlet .

2.5 The Fungus Cave

As you enter the tunnel, there is a faint sparkle in the air. The further you go down the heavier the air gets with spores. Five huge mushrooms loom over a windlass. A chain runs from the windlass into the cavern wall.

A trio of Violet Fungus and pair of Shriekers guard the windlass and will attack anyone who approach.

CR 7, 3,200XP

On examining with windlass, the party finds it damaged. If they can repair it, winding it lifts the stone gate in 2.6 The Stone Gate and rotates the turntable. They can repair with a DC 15 Disable Device check. Using supplies from 2.1 Store Room gives a +2 bonus to the repair efforts.

Using area effect spells used to kill the fungus would further damage the mechanism making it more difficult to repair.

2.6 The Stone Gate

The rail ends in a large turntable with the rail rotated 90 degrees. A large stone blocks the way forward. A chain runs from the top of the stone into the ceiling. Crushed beneath the door is another armoured figure. Oil is smeared across the turntable – it obviously rotated after the clockwork solider was trapped.

The windlass in 2.5 The Fungus Cave will lift the door and rotate the turntable.

2.7 The Hatchery

The cavern is lit by three crystal pillars that rise out of the floor. Suspended between them is a giant, metallic chrysalis. You can see something squirming in it and small tears are visible in the shell.

Around the pillars are drifts of metallic looking powder with partially rusted items scattered on top. As the pillars pulse, the remaining items visibly decay.

What appear to be shadows dancing in the interior of the pillars resolve themselves into large, lobster like creatures with long feathery antenna and a clubbed tail. They’re obviously in agony and look like they are screaming in pain every time the pillars pulse.

On the far side of the cavern there is a wooden ladder leading up to an overhang.

The cavern ceiling is between 50 and 60ft high and covered in stalactites. The cavern floor is clear between the entrance and around the pillars. Moving through the stalagmites counts as difficult terrain.

The pillars pulse every 30 seconds (5 rounds). If a player is within 5ft of an intact pillar when it pulses, each metallic item they are wearing/wielding (be reasonable here – don’t roll on each coin!) they must make a save as per the Rust ability of a Rust Monster:

Rust (Su)

rust monster‘s antennae are a primary touch attack that causes any metal object they touch to swiftly rust and corrode. The object touched takes half its maximum hp in damage and gains the broken condition—a second hit destroys the item. A rust monster never provokes attacks of opportunity by attempting to strike a weapon with its antennae. Against creatures made of metal, a rust monster‘s antennae deal 3d6+5 points of damage. An attended object, any magic object, or a metal creature can attempt a DC 15 Reflex save to negate this effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.

The Hatchery is protected by a Cloaker and a trio of Darkmantles. The Cloaker has cultivated a colony of Piercers (12 CR 1/4, 3 CR1 and 1 CR2) that lurk in the ceiling.

Trapped in the crystal pillars are Rust Monsters which will be released when the chrysalis cracks open. The chrysalis contains a fourth Rust Monster that is being force grown into a Rust Dragon. However, this transformation has been a failure and the creature that emerges will die rapidly in a short, agonising frenzy. The party will arrive just before the creature will attempt to break free. Any interference with the chrysalis will only speed this process up.

If the party investigate the three armoured bodies, they will see that their armour is severely dented with large holes that wouldn’t be normal weapons damage. While they are lingering over the bodies, the Piecers start to gather to drop. If the party is suspicious, a DC 20 Perception or DC 16 Dungeoneering check will let them spot the Piecers before they drop.

After the Piecers have dropped, the Cloaker and Darkmantles will take advantage of the confusion and attack. The Darkmantles will cast darkness on themselves and try and keep the Cloaker in the intersection of the radius so it is in complete darkness and as a secondary priority try to keep the party in darkness.

As the party finishes fighting the Cloaker and his cronies, the chrysalis reaches maturation.

The chrysalis splits open as the creature contained within struggles to free itself. It is badly deformed – it is like a cross between a dragon and insect with large feathered feelers sprouting from the head. Tumours run up and down its body and some organs have grown on the outside. It lets out a roar before collapsing onto the ground and pulling the pillars down with it. With its final pained breath, it spews a torrent of vile reddish-brown liquid.

Any players in a 30ft cone need to make a DC 15 Reflex save. If the fail, they then need to save for their worn/wielded items as if hit by the Rust attack described above.

The broken pillars will no longer pulse when broken, but the Rust Monsters contained within are released and will attack the nearest creatures in a fit of pain-driven rage.

There are three +1 Obsidian Halberds lying beside the remains of the Clockwork Soldiers.

The ladder on the far side of the cavern leads to a trapdoor barred with Arcane Lock.

Overall this is a CR 10 encounter but is mitigated by the fact that there are three distinct phases. The party should barely be able to get their breath back between them and pressure should be maintained through out.

  • Piecers: CR 7, 3,000 XP
  • Cloaker and Darkmantles: CR 6, 2,800 XP
  • Rust Monsters: CR 6, 2,400 XP

2.8 The Observatory

A large desk sits in front of a crystal window overlooking a cavern It is flanked by an orrery and a complex alchemical device. The walls are lined with bookshelves and a single large chest sits against the north wall.

The chest, orrery and alchemical device are in fact mimics and will attack if they or the desk are searched. The mimics can be detected with a successful DC 30 perception check.

CR 7, 3,600XP

Searching the room turn up documents on the life cycles of Rust Monsters, theories on hybridisation of creature through magic, giantism and fast growth through the use of crystals.

2.9 The Fluid Tanks

Large glass tanks line the walls of this wide corridor. They are filled to the brim with a green viscous liquid. The north tanks are filled with dissected remains while the southern tanks have various sized brains bobbing in them.

A pressure pad (marked by the red square) will trigger a trap. A DC 20 perception check will discover the trap and it can be disarmed with a DC 25 Disable Device. If the trap is triggered the doors at either end of the room swing shut and lock. The tanks start draining and the fluids spill into the room. Each round a player is in the room, they must make a DC (13 + number of rounds in the room) Fortitude save or they are overcome by the fumes from the chemicals. If they fail, they are overcome as if affected by a Sleep spell.

The doors take a DC 30 Strength check to break open.

2.10 The Lab

Beneath the broken grate is a Gelatinous Cube that was used to dispose of waste. The Gelatinous Orbs have budded off from this and escaped via the drain. It’s well fed and happy to stay in there.

If the party didn’t encounter the Clockwork Soldiers in 2.3 Drain, they are here ransacking the room. They are armed with +1 Obsidian Halberds but are otherwise normal Clockwork Soldiers. If the party tripped the trap in 2.9 The Fluid Tanks, the Soldiers are prepared to engage the party.

CR 8, 4,800XP

2.11 The Apartment

This set of rooms is a well appointed apartment

A man dressed in wizard robes is slumped in one of the chairs slowly eating what appears to be a brain. He looks up and a vexed look crosses his face. “What now? Is there no end to this nonsense?” He stands up and there are wounds visible that should have someone struggling to stay alive, never mind stand.

The man is in fact possessed by the Intellect Devourer who was running the experiments in creating the Rust Dragon.

Once the host body takes 20 points of damage, the host will drop to its knees and the following happens:

“Well that’s not ideal”. The man drops to his knees. His mouth opens unnaturally wide and a large glistening brain on four spindly legs that end in claws crawls out.

When the Devourer reaches ~20 HP, it will attempt to flee through the secret door and trigger the rolling boulder trap to stop the party from following.

CR 8, 4,800XP

On searching the apartment, the following treasure is found in the chests:

2.12 Escape Route

As the Devourer escapes down the tunnel, they flip a lever and a boulder trap is activated. The boulder will block the entrance allowing the Devourer to escape. If the party manages to unblock the corridor, the stairs lead to a concealed exit in the forest above the mine entrance.


As the party is leaving the mine, they are buffeted by gust of wind caused by the wings of a Clockwork Dragon landing in the camp. On his back is a ostentatious dressed figure. One of their arms is bare and is obviously mechanical.

“Well I suppose my tin soldiers don’t always work out. You’ve done their job for me so it’d be churlish of me to just kill you now. You will, of course, hand over any research or biological . Any trinkets you found are immaterial – maybe they’ll help you along your way.”

If the party looks like they are going to resist, a host of Clockwork Soldiers reveal themselves from the trees on the cliffs. It should be quickly apparent it would not end well for the party if they do not comply.


Zip containing maps (has both gird and non-grid versions)

Camp map on Inkarnate

Mine map on Inkarnate

Your Deposit Calculator Is Ready

This morning, it was announced that buy to lets and owner-occupiers would have to have 30% and 20% deposit respectively and first time buyers would only need 10% for the first €220,000.

Given my penchant for calculators and the fact that I’ve a Property Price Register site, the above tweet came as no surprise and I really should have knocked something together myself as soon as I saw the news.

So without further ado, here’s a quick and dirty calculator to work out how much of a deposit you need under the new rules:

House price: €

Are you a first time buyer
Are you a buy-to-let buyer
Are you a owner-occupier

Luckily, this won’t effect me for another few years as I managed to finally close on my apartment last week but there are plenty of folks for which the possibly of a 20% deposit was a nightmare scenario.

Broadsheet: Year 4

Monday was the 4th birthday of Broadsheet and as is tradition, I bring you some stats from the last year. As usual, these all come from Google Analytics and cover from 29th of July 2013 to 28th of July 2014.

The Headline Figures

  • New users up 3% to 24% of visitors
  • Users up 6.5% to 3.2m from 3m
  • Pagviews down 14.5% from 32.5m to 27.8m
  • Screenviews stand at 20.5m

So why the drop in pageviews?

It looks like the mobile apps are cannibalising the desktop site.

This is in part due to the an Android app finally getting released, but also because of the ongoing trend across the web of the growth in traffic from mobile apps.

I don’t have a full year of stats for the 2012/2013 to compare mobile usage with but with a bit of hand wavying estimations based on the 5 months of data I do have, there’s about a 25% increase in screenviews. If I combined the 20.5m screenviews (which are setup to be the equivalent of a pageview on the desktop site) between the iOS and Android apps to the desktop, you get about 12% growth year on year.

Outside of the apps while the traffic from mobile has increased by 5% to 16% of the total pageviews to 3.3m. Tablet usage just increased 1% to 793K.

iOS powered devices still deliver 2 pageviews to every 1 from an Android device.

Samsung dominates the top 50 devices used with 23 models (although some are variants on the same handset). Sony has 6, HTC weighs in with 5, Apple and Nokia have 4 each and Google just 2.

What Are You Reading?

As has always been the case, about half of all pageviews are the front page of the site. The top posts more represent what people have commented on or shared, since the stories are published in full when you’re looking at the home page.

11,464 post were published over the course of the last year. The top five by pageviews were:

Interestingly, three of the stories (‘The Mask Is Off And People Know’, Who Is He? and Dear RTÉ) were only published in the last week, while What Your Electric Guitar Says About You is nearly two years old. These are both perfect examples of the two ways posts become huge. The recent stories are (obviously) very current and immediate. People are sharing and commenting one them as they’re igniting people’s passions. The guitar post, on the other hand, is one that has enduring interest and every so often gets spread around forums and gets shared on Facebook again and again.

The fact that four of the top five posts are rather serious content (a trend that extends to the top 25 posts of the year) is a possible indication of a more serious tone on the site or that people are more inclined to share the more serious material.

What Are You Riled Up About?

There’s been 192,170 comments from 10,117 commenters. Of these, 21 commenters have posted over 1,000 comments each and responsible for 45,688 between them.

The five most commented posts were:

Where Did You Hear About us?

62% of the referral traffic comes from Facebook alone. They have firmly placed themselves as the distribution channel of choice for many people. Each change they make to how posts appear in news feeds has a massive and very visible impact. The last few changes have been massively detrimental to site like Broadsheet that can’t afford to pay Facebook to reach people who’ve already ‘liked’ the Broadsheet feed.

Twitter takes up 23% of the remaining referral traffic, which is less than the traffic coming from just the Facebook Mobile site.

Everything after the big two provide only tiny scraps of traffic.

The top five search terms (with the usual variations on broadsheet.ie removed) that brought people to the site were:

  • teletubbies
  • justin timberlake phoenix park
  • vikings
  • forbiddem fruit 2012 pictures
  • judge nolan

I’m at a loss to explain the teletubbies one.  After three years appearing in the top five, ‘niamh horan’ has slipped down to sixth. I almost feel like it’s an end of an era.

The Window You Look At The Internet Through

Chrome is the absolute king, with 44.5% (up 6%) of all pages viewed on it. this gain was mainly at the expense of both Internet Explorer (dropped 3% to 14.5%) and Firefox (down 4% to 17%). Safari stayed relatively stable at 14% (a 0.5% drop).

The other browser that gained share was the Safari in-app browser (i.e. if you view Broadsheet from with an app like Facebook or Tweetbot etc.) which is up 2% to 5%.

IE 6 and 7 are near extinction, with less than 1/2% of pagesviews from them. IE 8 though is still the most used of those browsers, although it is declining in favour of IE 10 and 11.

When it comes to whats powering the machines people are using, Windows still holds 50% (albeit that’s down 9%). iOS has overtaken OS X for second place with 21% (up 9%) compared to 15.5% (down 5%) followed by Android which has doubled to 10%. The rest is made up of a smattering of Linux, Chrome OS, Symbian Os and Windows Phone.

Mobile Apps

  • 5,325 (for a total of 29,901) on iOS
  • 4,555 (for a total of 6,819) on Android
  • 1,829 (for a total of 3,200) on Windows Phone

OS wise, only about 6% of installs are on a version of Android under 4.0, which is great news for me as I can aim the app to be 4.0+ plus in the next iteration. The downloads for it are a little disappointing but on the flip side, the app isn’t great and does next a bit of love and attention.

On iOS, less than 4% of active users in the last month had some version of iOS 6 on their device. Again, this is great new for me as it means I can drop support for 6 with minimal impact.

Where Are You Based These Days?

Unsurprisingly, there’s no change here. Visitors predominately come from Ireland (74%) followed by the UK (10%), US (4%), Germany (1%), Australia (1%) and then everyone else makes up the other 10%.

Anything Else?

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about, ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can dig out.


Broadsheet Yearly Stats 3: We’re getting a bit old in the tooth now.
A Broadsheet New Year
Broadsheet – Entering the Terrible Twos
A year in the Broadsheet

The Three Tun Tavern

There’s been a lot of interest in the office to see what the inside of the The Three Tun Tavern was actually like since they started renovating it a few months ago. Since today was the official opening, 10 of us headed down for lunch out of sheer nosiness.

Inside it seemed brighter and airier than the previous incarnation, Tonic. The bar has been moved from the center of the building to along the back wall, opening it up a lot more space. Some of the internal walls have been removed as well so there’s more overlooking the central area. The over all impression though wasn’t of a brand new pub, rather one relatively recently renovated but lived in.

There were an awful lot of staff on but it’s not clear if that’s just because it was opening day or will be the norm.  They were certainly needed today as there were a constant stream of customers coming in, as well as a few curious people just having a nose around.

Chicken & Ribs Combo

Sirloin of Rump Steak

Food wise, the menu is rather extensive albeit standard pub grub fare. They’ve various food ‘clubs’ on during the week with themed specials.

Being lazy and since it was their Tuesday Steak Club, I (and most of the rest of the guys) ended up having a rump steak and chips for €9.95 (it’s normally €12.95). A few more chips wouldn’t have gone astray and the steak was a tiny bit overcooked for rare but the meat was flavourful. Considering the price (which included a soft drink) it was good value.

It was opening day though, so there was the inevitable hiccup with one of the meals which left one of the guys waiting 30 minutes for his veggie burger. It’s probably a little unfair to judge them on this though since it was opening day.

Overall the consensus was that the food was fine and filling but nothing spectacular. It’s another lunchtime option for Blackrock, but you wouldn’t be going out of your way to eat there.


I will be back at least once more though as they’ve a good selection of craft beers on tap that I’d like to try (and retry Hobgoblin to see if my college days impression of it being vile is true).

Okay so it’s a Wetherspoon’s pub but to be honest, it’s not particularly different to many pubs already operating here. It’s probably going to do a decent lunchtime trade from the off but I wouldn’t like to make predictions about the evening.

Broadsheet Yearly Stats 3: We’re getting a bit old in the tooth now.

So here we are again, another year, another gathering of stats from Broadsheet.ie. If I’m lucky, it’ll be in the Sunday Times again.

The Headline Figures

  • 4.9% increase in visits to 13.8 million
  • 5% drop in unique visitors to 2.9 million
  • 6.5% increase in pageviews to 30.1 million

So why the drop in unique users? We didn’t have another smash hit like the Meanwhile, At Smithfield Horse Fair. It provided a huge surge in once off visitors that we didn’t manage to replicate this year.

We’ve also not the had the massive growth of the previous couple of years, but that is somewhat expected. With the tiny team we have and a zero marketing budget, we’ve done extraordinarily well. Now we need to expand out from the core audience we’ve built.

Where Are You Based These Days?

There’s been no big change in where out visitors are from – Irish visitors account for 74% (up 2%), UK at 10% (no change), US 4.8% (down 0.3%), Germany 1.2% (up 0.13%) and Australia 1.12% (down 0.07%).

What Are You Reading?

Unlike previous years, the laughs are low on the top three stories so I’ll proceed without comment on those.

Instead I’m mention two of the more enduring pieces we ran from 2012 – Daisy: The Cutest Kitten In The World and the already mentioned Meanwhile, At Smithfield Horse Fair. Both of these pull in more once off visitors than most other posts from 2013.

How They’re Finding Us

Apart from the usual crowd that put in some form of ‘Broadsheet’, the top six search terms of 2013 were:

  • electric picnic 2013
  • property tax calculator
  • mikey clancy
  • tayto chocolate
  • niamh horan
  • bus porn

I’ve gone with six entries here rather than my usual five as, well, how could I resist exposing a term like “bus porn”? Niamh Horan continues to be popular for whatever reason.

The Window You Look At The Internet Through

Chrome continues to be the dominant browser choice with 39% (up 6%) of users viewing the site with it. Firefox stays in second place with 17.6% (down 4%), Safari takes third with 15.9% (down 0.1%) taking Internet Explorer’s place which now has 14.9% (down 2.9%).

iOS still accounts for 2/3rds of the mobile browser traffic to the site and Android taking most of the rest. The big winner though is Windows Phone from which pageviews exploded by 648% (for a total of 2.4% of the mobile traffic).


This year saw the release of an updated iOS app as well as new Android and Windows Phone apps.

There were 8,522 downloads on iOS (for about 30K total), 4,654 on Android and 2,310 on Windows Phone. From that, there’s between 2,500 and 3,000 active users a day producing 2.5 million sessions and 15 million screen views between them. It very much seems like people dip in and out of the apps a few times a day.

Anything Else?

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about, ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can dig out.


A Broadsheet New Year
Broadsheet – Entering the Terrible Twos
A year in the Broadsheet

6 Tools In 5 Minutes, Or: How Not To Be A Caveman Developer

These are the slides from my talk at the XCake Xmas session.

Download from the Mac App Store.

Download from the Mac App Store.

Download from the Mac App Store.

Code Runner:
Download from the Mac App Store.


Tokens for Mac:

Getting your app reviewed on Broadsheet

After every post for Broadsheet’s App of the Day, there are a few emails about other apps to review. This is a guide for people who don’t have PR departments and are wondering what’s needed to get their app reviewed. I do look at every review request that comes in so don’t worry about it not being seen.

Submitting an App

All app submissions should be sent to broadsheet@broadsheet.ie. I’ll get them from there.

Your App

Tell me about it. What does it do? Why is it great? Who’s the audience? What devices/OS does it support? How much is it?

Include a link to it on the relevant app stores! Don’t make me search it out.

I have a selection of devices test on (iPhone 4s/5/5s, Samsung S3, Nexus 4) and I do test every app before review so if your app doesn’t work on one of these I’m afraid you’re out of luck.


If there’s particular screenshots that really show off your app, send them with your mail. If you don’t, I’ll first look at what you have on the app stores and possibly pick out something myself that captures my fancy.

The screenshots should have a max width of 400px (if they’re bigger we’ll resize them down ourselves).


A video of your app is a great way explaining how your app works. The stand out in previous reviews is Soundwave.

Redemption Codes

If you’re submitting a paid app, a nice thing to do for the readers is to provided a few free versions. For iOS apps, I recommend Tokens to manage this.

Usually any codes put up are gone within minutes of the posts. On the downside, I’ve found the conversion rate for an unsuccessful redemption to a paying customer is practically nil.

Let me stress that this is completely optional and I don’t use any meant for the readers myself.

Canvassing Will Disqualify

As is always said at the bottom of the reviews, no favours, cuddles, or pints are given (or expected) for a review. If your app doesn’t make it, we probably just feel it doesn’t suit the content of the site.

Be Warned

The Broadsheet collective can be somewhat harsh. ParkYa got a bit of a savaging when they looked for beta testers but there’s usually a few nice people in the mix.

Slides From The Broadsheet Talk For Refresh Dublin

These are the slides from my talk in the Science Gallery for Refresh Dublin. All the links mentioned in the slides are below.

Top of the Posts

The top 5 posts (in reverse order):

What Got People Going?

The top 5 most commented posts (in reverse order):

The Apps

iPhone code: https://github.com/kmonaghan/KMWordPress
Android code: https://github.com/kmonaghan/Broadsheet.ie-Android

2013/7/30 Clarification on App Download numbers

The numbers shown are for the last 12 months (like the rest of the stats) not the total downloads. The iPhone app has around 27K total downloads which is why the user numbers are higher than the total downloads shown.

A Broadsheet New Year

It’s that time of year where you look back and see how things went.  So without further ado, here’s how Broadsheet.ie did in the last year.

The Big Numbers

Year-on-year there has been:

  • 110% increase in visits to just under 12.5 million
  • 95% increase in unique visitors to a smidgin over 3 million
  • 127% increase in pageviews to 29.1 million

Where Are Your People From?

The lion’s share of visits (72%) were from Ireland as you’d expect.  After that it drops off very quickly with the UK (10%), USA (5%), Australia (1%) and Germany (1%) rounding out the top 5.

Within Ireland, Dublin accounts for 57% of traffic and Cork 3% so we can be excused for a slight bias towards the capital.

Mucky Minds All Round

It will come as no surprise that the top three posts of the year were all mucky and not safe for work (even possibly life).

How They’re Finding Us

Apart from the usual crowd that put in some form of ‘Broadsheet’ as the search term, the top five search terms just re-enforces the idea that the readers have dirty minds with Rosanna Davison appearing twice.

  • rosanna davison
  • niamh horan
  • rosanna davison playboy
  • katie taylor
  • mario balotelli

Mario appears there because whenever he does something mad on the pitch or the news, people find the ‘Mario Balotelli: What A Legend‘ post.

The Window You Look At The Internet Through

Chrome dominates with 33% of users (up 7%), with the increase taking a chunk out of Firefox (21%) and Internet Explorer (17%).

Microsoft is slowly losing the OS battle with it slipping 4% to 61% of traffic while OS X (20%) and Linux (1.1%) both changed by under .5% each

About 16% of traffic comes from mobile devices and iOS is the big winner there accounting for 11%.

Have an Appy New Year

The much neglected iPhone App had 9,249 downloads last year.  For something that was thrown together over a couple of days Christmas two years ago, it does okay for itself.

An update is in the works at the moment which has some interesting things in it.

That’s all for now – there’ll be the usual Broadsheet birthday post later in July with more stat porn.


Broadsheet – Entering the Terrible Twos
A year in the Broadsheet


There have been several tragic deaths in the last few months that have been attributed to “cyberbullying”, the most recent involving Shane McEntee.

Since then TDs have been complaining that people have been venting their anger over the recent budget cuts via social media and fear a larger campaign next year due the inevitable abortion debate.

Now rather than figuring out why people are angry or using the existing channels on the various services to report abuse, the calls for regulation has begun.

Daragh O’Brien has written an excellent post (spurred on by a tweet about a report on Six One news) on why this is typical knee-jerk nonsense from people who want to seen doing something but haven’t actually thought it through.

He breaks down why such calls for regulation is a bad idea into three broad reasons. To start with is a philosophical question:

Bad Idea Reason #1 – What is Identity?

Requiring people to post comments, write blogs, or tweet under their own identity creates a clear and public link between the public persona and the private individual. The supporters of any such proposal will argue that this is a deterrent to people making harsh or abusive comments. However, in a fair society that respects fundamental rights, it is important to think through who else might be impacted by a “real names” policy.

In Ireland, people who would be affected by a “real names” policy in social comment would include:

  • Public servants who cannot comment publicly on government policy but may be affected by it
  • Survivors of abuse
  • People with mental health concerns or problems
  • Whistleblowers
  • Celebrities.

A real names policy would require that every time Bono tweets or blogs about Ireland, Irishness, or Irish Government policies he would have to do it under the name Paul David Hewson.

Add to that the massive technical headache that real names cause software developers leads us on to the next problem:

Bad Idea Reason #2 – How will it work exactly?

If verifiable identities are required for comment, then how exactly would a small personal blog that is used to exercise my mental muscles outside of my work persona (domestic use) be expected to handle the overhead of verifying the identity of commenters in a verifiable way.

Would I be expected to get people to register with the blog and provide evidence of ID? Would I be able to get a grant to help implement secure processes to obtain and process copies of passports and drivers’ licenses? Or will the State just require that I shut up… shop? Would the State indemnify me if this blog was compromised and data held on it about the identity of others was stolen?

It’s always easy to make a wild statement about something being built (like a real names database), but when someone with a bit of technical know how comes along it falls like a house of cards.  Concerns about the data being stolen are often ignored until it actually happens, as it did with South Korea’s “real name” database.

Finally, we have issue of laws hanging around beyond their sell by date

Bad Idea Reason #3 – The logical principle must be technology neutral

Blogging, tweeting, social media… these are all technologies for self-expression and social interaction that barely existed five years ago and where unheard in the mainstream of a decade ago. Therefore any regulation that requires identification of commenters must be framed in such a way as to anticipate new technologies or new applications of existing technology or risk near instant obsolescence. Therefore the regulation would need to be technology neutral. Which means that, in order to avoid it being discriminatory and to ensure it has the fullest possible effect, it would need to be applicable to other forms of technology.

Laws continue to exist until they are actively repealed (as evidenced by the recent highlighting of Section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861).  Our TDs are not technical gurus (as they are displaying in spades here) and would not be expected to have enough vision to see what’s coming next year never mind 5 or 10 years down the line.  If there was to be regulation it would need to be worded very carefully or it becomes a barrier to newer, innocent developments.

That’s all well and good, but the wails of “THINK OF THE CHILDREN” could possibly drown it all out. Daragh gives a chilling example from a talk by security researcher Mikko H. Hypponen that we can draw direct parallels with:

In the 1980s in the communist Eastern Germany, if you owned a typewriter, you had to register it with the government. You had to register a sample sheet of text out of the typewriter. And this was done so the government could track where text was coming from. If they found a paper which had the wrong kind of thought, they could track down who created that thought. And we in the West couldn’t understand how anybody could do this, how much this would restrict freedom of speech. We would never do that in our own countries.

If a direct line can be drawn from something the Stasi would do to a law that is being discussed, you’re doing something badly wrong.

The Stasi are long gone and it might be dismissed as fear mongering and not comparing like to like.  International best practice would be to compare potential laws with those existing in other countries.  South Korea’s law (brought in for similar reasons) has been struck down by their constitutional court as it was prior censorship and “violated citizens’ privacy, was technically difficult to enforce and was ineffective at stopping online criticism”.  On the other hand, China has just introduced their version to crack down on dissent online about corruption in the government.  In Germany, the right to have an anonymous account in enshrined in law (German Telemedia Act) and a German data commissioner is taking Facebook to task over its real name policy which forbids pseudonyms.

So what to do about bullying online?  Well, Daragh points out lawmakers don’t have to do much as there’s already laws such as the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 (for instance section 10 covers harassment) that can be used.  The laws may need a small bit of tweaking to bring them fully up-to-date but that is preferable to a raft of new, badly thought out legislation.

Broadsheet has its own problems with anonymous posters but we would fight to the death for your right to be able to post anonymously (but break the law you’ll be hung out to dry).

But really, this is all beautifully summed up in a tweet:


Calling The Tweet Police

2012: the year the political and media classes turned on internet users (via @tjmcintyre)

Oireachtas committee to examine social media role

No need for legislation to curb harassment from social media trolls

RTE probe after ‘deplorable’ tweet attack on senator

Legislation is not the answer to abuse on social media