Character Aging in First Edition AD&D #ADnD #DnD #RPG #biology

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I’m going to take you down the same rabbit hole my mind entered while gradually waking up one recent morning. Most (if not all) gamers have encountered those online quizzes that tell you what D&D class you are in real life. I’ve always been of the mindset that I’m probably best characterized as a monk. I’ve trained a lot in the martial arts, starting when I was 14 (almost four decades ago), and every online alignment test has pegged me as lawful good or lawful neutral (very heavy on law). All of that checks out, which is unsurprising considering I’m answering the questions about myself (which means my biases must creep in). I feel like I might be a bad monk because I wouldn’t consider my Wisdom score my maximum, but that’s my skill set. Of course, you have to suspend some disbelief here either way. We’re translating classes into a real world that doesn’t enjoy the effects of magic.

But even considering that translation, what concerned me the most is that, while my knowledge of that hobby continues to improve, my body can’t keep up. I’m old, and that’s no small matter. Everything is always injured. Usually, it’s just a strain or something like that, but at times I’ve had to take weeks off to recover, even having had my first surgery ever at age 51 a couple years ago.

Aging in 1e

All of that got me thinking about how much I like the aging rules from page 13 of the 1e DMG, but not the aging rules from page 12. On the one hand, I like the idea that characters’ ability scores change as they age. It’s yet another tool that promotes immersion in the game world, and anyone who’s read this blog knows how much I prefer that play style. On the other hand, I don’t like that age is determined randomly. These two positions create a tension. Players can game the system, setting, for example, a cleric as age, mature, to boost Strength and Wisdom by 1 with no downside. In fact, other than a magic user or illusionist who’d likely go with middle aged, what character wouldn’t benefit from that?

If the DM has draconian character creation guidelines (e.g., 3d6 assigned in order, or even slightly better ones), the characters are sometimes going to have some terrible scores, and if the scores can’t be assigned out of order, perhaps scores that prohibit playing the class the player wants to play. In such a situation, gaming the system may make an unplayable character playable, so it’s not a bad thing after all. However, in my game world, the characters will roll 4d6 dropping the lowest, and assigning in whatever order they want, so the danger of overpowered characters is greater.

Because I don’t want their ages rolled randomly, I’ll probably require that the scores as rolled stay as they are, but perhaps create my own schedule of ability score changes due to aging. I’ve noticed that imbalance in minor things like this often go unnoticed by game designers, resulting in design elements with either a benefit or a drawback, but not both (c.f., the 4e Invoker’s own powers always harming itself without any extra harm delivered to its target). No matter what I do, I’ll keep this 1e DMG rule on page 13: “The only ability which may exceed 18 due to age effects (unless age restricts this) is wisdom.”

A few days after writing this post, MerricB tweeted something relevant:

Which I’m only now publishing. I’m way ahead of schedule.

I don’t have any problem with optimism, but this is a game system, so gains in Wisdom should be accompanied by losses elsewhere, even if they make just as little sense as a rule.

Who says I don’t have an 18 Constitution?

If you’ve had a different experience from what I suggest here, please share your thoughts.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)


Monster Taxonomy #DnD #RPG #biology

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Okay, I know. I went to Vegas, and you don’t care. Fine. Back to 1e AD&D.

My friend and I are developing a game system. It’s unlikely it’ll ever see the commercial light of day, but it constantly keeps me thinking about what I like and dislike about game design. I had an idea that’s apparently not novel (I’ve never even read Shadowrun, let alone played it), and it was brought up a couple of weeks ago on Facebook: Monster taxonomy.

See the source image

Obviously, I think it’s a fun idea. Despite someone complaining that the mere discussion of monster taxonomy was stifling creativity and story, the only use for developing taxonomy is creative in nature, producing a story element with no real mechanical effect. All taxonomy would do (at least as I envision it) is tell the player how closely related two species are. Are elves homo sapiens dryadalis (a subspecies of human), or are they something like dryadalis sapiens (in an entirely different genus from humans)? This would depend on your origin story for each species. Matching the nomenclature with the origin story can be clever and fun, but as a story element, players and GMs that disagree could completely ignore it.

And that was today’s lesson on how to take something nerdy and make it even nerdier.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)


Vegas, 2021, Part 2 of 3: The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay #Vegas #travel

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Introduction

Every year without a new pandemic, I go to Las Vegas for blackjack. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not really a problem for me. I usually don’t even drink when I’m there. This year was a little different, but still not worth hiding anything. These posts are an assortment of photos and videos from the Vegas Strip. Most of the videos are from an aquarium I visited. The images are pretty big, so if you blow them up, you should still get good resolution.

I always stay and gamble at MGM properties. My credit card doesn’t get me gas credits or airline miles; it gets me gambling comps, so everything but tips are paid for because I paid my car insurance bill, got gas, or bought food at the grocery store. The comps really add up, so I use that card for everything I possibly can. I started the trip with $1,327 in available comps ($200 added just for reserving the room, so you can get those), and that was before I sat down at a blackjack table to gamble.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

Shark Reef

Normally, I don’t do much more than eat, sleep, and gamble, but I added this stop to my itinerary on Wednesday. Here are a bunch of pictures and videos presented in the order I took them (to the best of my recollection). There’s a small bit of commentary, but these are mostly just for your viewing pleasure.

Gator? Caiman? I didn’t read the placard.

This next one freaked me out. Mostly, he kept his eyes closed but occasionally opened them. I caught him with eyes opened. Seemed annoyed.

Komodo Dragon

This one was just weird looking. I thought it looked prehistoric, so it was worth a photo.

Next up is the touch pool. You’re permitted to reach into the water (maybe 1-1/2 feet deep) and, using only your index finger, lightly stroke the rays or horseshoe crabs. These were clearly juveniles based on size.

This guy was gooey.

At this point, I realized I should be taking videos rather than taking pictures.

Why haven’t these turtles been eaten?

What the hell is the evolutionary basis for developing a saw-like appendage?

What the hell is the evolutionary basis for developing a hammer-like snout?

Tomorrow, the entire post will be dedicated to a single locale: The Millennium Fandom.

I love Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


My Fellow Middle Child #psychology #BirthOrder #MiddleChild

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Note: Despite the use of the hashtag, I know nothing about psychology, other than I have deep-rooted issues. But this is a fun blog!

Earlier this week, I was really busy at work. Actually, nowadays it’d be easier to just tell you when I’m not busy. Anyhoo, my coworker, Clarissa comes in to dump more work on me, and it comes up that I’m going to have to skip lunch. She offers to heat up my soup for me. Instantly, I’m suspicious. As the archetype of a middle child, I’m thinking, “What is she up to? No one ever does anything for me. Or themselves. I always have to do other people’s work for them too. If I don’t do something, it doesn’t get done, and disaster follows. Certainly, no one makes me lunch.”

NO FREE LUNCH FOR YOU !!!! - Soup Nazi from Seinfeld | Make a Meme
For some reason, WordPress won’t let me shrink this image. Or center text underneath an image.

Now, when I say, “I’m thinking,” I mean, “I say right to her face.” Because that’s what I do. I’m a straightforward, middle child. I have a filter; I just refuse to use it. Well, it turns out that she’s a middle child as well, which is why she instantly assumed it was her responsibility to make my lunch.

So, Clarissa took care of me, and then I informed her that I’d be thanking one of our coworkers — some oldest child — for doing such a great job with my soup. Those assholes always get credit for our work.

No sense in giving her credit. Change is scary, so I want to keep things familiar for her.

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MeWe Isn’t Perfect #MeWe

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As a follow up to my posts on how MeWe exposes out our hypocrisy, my first and second Facebook suspensions, and most recently my announcement that I’m not giving up on it, I demonstrate that MeWe isn’t immune to at least on of the more annoying aspects of social media. Meet my new friend, Doriane.

Four days later, it continued.

I almost called ” Doriane ” out right then and there, but I wanted to have some fun. I’m going to keep playing with “Doriane” as long as I can. If necessary, I’ll be proactive and reengage myself with one of my own selfies. In the mean time, I’ll have fun with one of her friends.

I’m still not giving up on MeWe.

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Why Explore Space? @tweetsauce #math #space #biology

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Vsauce had once again popped into my stream, but this time I’m not sharing this video for its primary theme. I point you to the end; specifically the 17:41 mark.

To summarize, as neanderthals grew in numbers, they moved outward but always stopped when they reached a significant geographical barrier, such as an ocean, sea, or mountain range. Homo sapiens seems to have seen such barriers as challenges, so we pushed forward.

My favorite quote is often attributed to the founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, but he got it from Calvin Coolidge. It’s relevant here and #1 on this list.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

So, what’s the point? Many have asked why space travel is worth the expense in such trying economic times. Most scientist give a terrible answer, reducing our need to explore to a mere psychological curiosity. Here’s the better answer: It’s because our persistence and need to explore is our best means of survival. An easy way to think about this is that our population and individual gluttony continue to grow, but our planet’s space and resources don’t. The barrier we face in dealing with this problem is far more imposing than any ocean, and focusing on our gluttony (as so many do) will only delay the inevitable. Evolution always requires that we are in a constant state of pushing forward, and that means addressing colonization of space sooner rather than later. Press on!

Don’t be a neanderthal.

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Follow VSauce @tweetsauce

My “Toonified” Image Is Worse Than Yours @kesseljunkie @Pixar #Pixar #toonify

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Toonify has an app that let’s you covert a photo of yourself into something resembling yourself as a Pixar character. Everyone is complaining about their toonified image, so I decided to give it a try. Here’s the starting point:

How beautiful.

Well, this is what I got. Don’t let children look at it.

What am I? A hobbit on Venus? My cousin, Kessel Junkie, with microcephaly? At least now I have my hair back.

Okay, I know what your thinking. Between the glasses and the background, I broke the conversion algorithm. So, I tried this one.

Stable background, no glasses. What could go wrong? Look away while you still have the chance.

I’m considering a lawsuit.

Okay, how about this one?

Here we have a white background and white shirt, and at a better resolution without that screwed up eyeball touchup. Third time’s the charm, right?

There and back again.

Now I’m a hobbit in a meat locker or some such shit. Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Maybe I need to take a photo of me in a pretty bad place so that I’m bound to improve. I mean, artificial intelligence may be subject to reverse psychology just like we are. Here’s one when I weighed over 300 pounds.

What could be worse than this?
Well, this, for one.

Seriously? It may have well just linked me to Pearl from Blade.

Dammit! I shall not be denied. Maybe I can intimidate the algorithm.

That’s one bad motherfucker.
Or so I thought.

This guy looks like he couldn’t beat up Napoleon Dynamite. I’m going to give this another shot.

This is going to be cruel.

This defies explanation, but that’s never stopped me from trying. This looks like the skin of a baby turned into a doll. They could write a horror movie out of this one.

Here’s one from Christmas, 1990.

Like Pinocchio, that doll became a real boy and then grew up. If anyone makes a horror movie about this character, I’ll sue for the rights.

Does this count?

I think it’s safe to say that none of your pictures are really that bad, and I couldn’t get one good picture from any of my photos, so I . . . win, I guess?

If yours is worse, you’re going to have to prove it. Until then, quit your bitching.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Kessel Junkie @kesseljunkie

Is Social Media Evil? @Tinder @Yelp @LinkedIn @netflix @Twitter @Facebook @instagram #MeWe #Tinder #Yelp #LinkedIn #netflix #Twitter #Facebook #Instagram

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As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I ask, “Is social media evil?”

No, of course not. We’re all just a bunch of dumb apes trying to blame something else for our own shortcomings, but I thought this graphic was funny.

I notice that MeWe isn’t on the list.

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Follow Tinder @Tinder
Follow Yelp @Yelp
Follow LinkedIn @LinkedIn
Follow Netflix @netflix
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I’m Not Giving Up on MeWe @Twitter @Facebook #MeWe #Twitter #Facebook

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I’ve written a few times about MeWe. I pointed out that our instinctive dislike of MeWe‘s exposed out our hypocrisy with respect to privacy concerns. I talked about how my first and second Facebook suspensions were driving me towards MeWe despite my instinctive dislike. I then took a thinly veiled stab at Facebook. So here I am trying to find a replacement for Facebook, but it’s been tough. Last weekend, I posted the following to Facebook:

I’m really trying with #MeWe, but it’s just not going anywhere.

After navigating my way through some commentary that were mere diversions, I reached a conclusion as to why I’m having so much trouble with MeWe. Sure, the privacy protections make MeWe unwieldy, but that’s because it isn’t meant to be used the way we use Facebook. With Facebook, it’s all about “friendships.” I hate that they use that term. We’re not necessarily friends. “Connections” would be more accurate, but less marketable. Obviously, the latter is Facebook‘s concern, but I digress. To use Facebook as intended, you should have as many connections as possible. MeWe‘s technology isn’t conducive to that, but I get the impression it isn’t meant to be.

I think the idea behind MeWe isn’t about making numerous direct connections. Instead, the idea is for you to join groups that cater to your interests, and interact with people within those groups. That is, you’re not supposed to just post a random thought on your timeline and expect to receive reactive comments from your connections list, nor are you supposed to see the random thoughts of your connections hitting your timeline and giving you an impulse to rant. Instead, you’re expected to do these things within the groups you’ve joined, thus reducing the noise on the site, and avoiding the need to connect directly with other accounts in a way that could compromise your privacy.

And MeWe is great with groups. I’m a member of many music-oriented groups, and despite song lyrics often addressing sociopolitical issues, I’ve never once seen a sociopolitical debate in those groups. We can discuss the lyrics of, for example, Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones, which are about the civil unrest of the 60s, in particular the Vietnam War, race riots, and Charles Manson. As long as we discuss the Stones’ opinions and don’t inject (or at least don’t emphasize) our own opinions on analogous modern subjects, there’s no true mixing of politics and music in a way that spoils the group. If you want to share your opinions on modern issues, there are plenty of political groups available that are designed specifically for that. Go there. You may even see many of the same people there. Problem solved. Everyone’s happy.

Because otherwise you’ll have regrets.

In contrast, I’m a member of a Far Side group on Facebook. I’ve never once seen a post that didn’t devolve into a sociopolitical debate. I’m not exaggerating. Every single Far Side post is a debate between Republicans and Democrats, vegetarians and meat-eaters, etc. It’s maddening, and it’s typical of Facebook. Perhaps when MeWe gets more popular, it’ll devolve into that as well, but for now, these groups really work well.

So why am I still having trouble with it? Simple: I’m not used to it, and Facebook keeps my brain from adjusting. On Twitter, I have over 40 accounts. No shit. Over 40. I do that to reduce the noise. GSLLC is for gaming, music, and other assorted nerdity, MMADork is for sports, PropertyAtty is for law, and RobertEBodine (seldom used) is for politics. (The other accounts are anonymous satire accounts or related to a gaming project I’m working on.) I’ll never cross those streams on purpose because I’m doing my part to keep the noise down. Nevertheless, even Twitter has the same effect on my brains because none of you follow the same practice. My GSLLC stream is loaded with politics I don’t want to discuss (or even read) there, and filters are only so good at keeping those topics out. As a result, Twitter also keeps my brain from adjusting. Transitioning to MeWe successfully is going to take a lot of work. For me, that’s worth it — I’m very concerned with the antitrust implications of the Facebook/Twitter oligopoly — but I don’t know that it’ll ever be worth it for you (until you’re severely censored).

Plus, there are the small things. For example, I’ve turned off automatic notifications of chat messages, but I still get the audible ding whenever someone posts a group chat message. In other words, I can’t turn it off. More importantly, MeWe is missing distribution lists. Google+ introduced me to them because they had them from the start. Facebook eventually followed suit, but not before I had well over 1,000 Facebook connections. It took a lot of work to place all of you onto list. One of these days, MeWe will wise up and introduce them, and that’s going to create a lot of work for me. Finally, I’ll mention that MeWe avoids ads. Hooray! Right? Well, not really. In order to maintain the site and make a profit, some features require payment. We hate ads, but we’re used to not having to pay directly for social media, so most of us won’t pay for those features. Again, it’s our hypocrisy. We’re not bad people, but we’re continually making our own bed with this, and I hope enough people are paying for MeWe Premium ($5/month) that the site stays afloat.

I’m not giving up. I’m going to make this work eventually.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc