Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Rule for Shields from Descending Armor Class, Applied to Ascending Armor Class

I've been playing 'D&D 'ever since I was a young boy and found my dad's Dungeon Master's Guide on his bookshelf (the original, by Gygax).  I was still too young to understand a lot of it (Gygax opens with a discussion of uniform vs binomial probability distributions...), but I spent hours of days flipping through the pages, looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions of a fantastic world.  It inspired me to make my own games about exploring through planned dungeons with friends and having them use ability scores to get through.

By the time I was old enough to try to really figure out the rules, version 3.0 was out, which made a lot of changes.  One of the biggest was replacing the original Descending AC and THAC0 system with the slightly more intuitive Ascending AC system.  This system always just made sense to me, whereas DAC and THAC0 always seemed weird and complicated.  I never understood how DAC worked, and never really saw a good explanation of it, and so just never used it.  It was only recently, when getting into old school tabletop RPGs, that I decided to look up an explanation of how DAC and THAC0 used to work.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

test

test for commenting

Update: I think I figured it out.  Comments should work better now.

From my phone I can comment.  From my computer, I'm only able to  comment if I use a separate page for  comments.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Baker and the Beast

I have an idea for a movie.  It's a moving tale of passion and vocation.  I've pitched it to my wife and a few friends, and all agree, it's pretty brilliant.

Since it infringes on all kinds of Disney copyright, and since the premise is kind of ridiculous, it will never actually be made into a movie.  So I figured I'd just pitch it here.

The genesis.

So, I hate pop music.

I am very susceptible to having songs stuck on my head.  And I absolutely hate it. For this reason, I despise pop music with the burning fury of a thousand suns.  I will not enter stores playing pop music, because then I'll have these obnoxious jingles stuck in my head for months.  Solid months.

So I developed a coping mechanism.  When a song gets stuck in my head, I gradually deform the lyrics to make the song stupider and stupider, until it more accurately reflects the worthless string of noises it so truly is.

It's kind of childish, but it makes me feel better.  If I have to be infected with these memetic viruses from every store corner and coffee shop, at least I can mock the virus.  I'd mock the flu too, if I could.

Back to the movie idea.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast a few months ago when it came out.  They repeat the animated Disney version with the classic soundtrack, but in live action and with some slight tweaks to the story.  They seem to have attempted to answer some of the fan speculation questions that Cracked reposts every four months, like why the enchantress cursed all the servants for what the prince did, and they added a lyric here or there, but mostly the same story and same songs from my childhood.

One of the songs from the film got stuck in my head.  The opening song, "Bonjour," where Belle is walking through the village openly dsparaging the simple townsfolke as "provencial" for having to actually work for a living to support their families, instead of getting to read books all day and refuse to do chores.

The song isn't really as dumb or obnoxious as pop music, but it was in my head, nonstop for weeks.  And when I have an earworm eating my brain I start getting a tad resentful.  So I started changing the words to the song.

But by changing those words, I changed more than just the intro song.  I actually changed the direction of the entire plot, which lead to a completely different movie.  A movie called:

The Baker and the Beast

Monday, September 18, 2017

Replies not working

I just want to apologize to people who have commented and I haven't replied.  For some reason, Blogger is eating my reply comments, so that after I hit "submit" the reply doesn't get saved to the server.

A similar problem also happens to people trying to comment on older posts with lots of comments.  I can't complain about Blogger, it being free and all, but I will need to look into my server situation and perhaps go with a different hosting platform.

UPDATE: I think the problem is my computer's browser (safari).  I tried updating all of my computer's software, but it still doesn't work very well with Blogger.  I have tried responding to some comments three or four times now, and this is really frustrating.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I am a monotheist about Zeus

Growing up in the time I did, I have had plenty of chances to hear atheists -- on talk shows, PBS documentaries, classrooms, debates, YouTube videos, internet forums -- present their arguments, and I've heard almost all of them by now.  There are especially some arguments that get brought up rather frequently, and then keep getting repeated for years later.

There's one in particular I want to address, the "One God Further" argument.  I believe the argument originates with Richard Dawkins, but I have certainly heard Christopher Hitchens and others make similar arguments on stage.  This argument is that we are all atheists about most of the gods anyone has ever claimed to believe in.  I'm an atheist about Zeus, Hercules, Mithras, Minerva or any of these other figures.  Dawkins simply goes one god further than I do.

And so, to clarify this issue once and for all, let me just resolutely state that I am not an atheist about Zeus.

I'm really not.

I am a monotheist about Zeus.

My issue with Zeus isn't that he's clearly ridiculous and there's no evidence for him.  I mean, yeah, Zeus is pretty ridiculous and there's no evidence for him.  But that isn't really my objection to Zeus worship.

My objection to Zeus worship is that Zeus isn't the kind of thing that should be rightly called a god, or the kind of thing that should be worshipped.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Easier way to replicate funky dice for DCC RPG using regular d6s

I recently came across the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and have been pretty hooked by the game since then.  The game introduces a lot of very interesting new mechanics into an over-troped hobby, most notably the magic system, the level-0 funnel, the Warrior's Might Deeds, and the dice chain, all of which bring back some of the spice of adventure and originality.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Learning Fortran is a waste of your time

Suppose you are an advanced student of physics, and you're just beginning your first research experience with a new professor.  You're excited about the opportunities this means for your future, fascinated by the implications of the research, and anxious to please.  Your professor tells you you need to run a computer simulation, and this is also exciting; you've never used a computer as a computer before -- usually just as an internet browser.  To get you started, he points you to a reference text with some sample code, or sends you one he has on his hard drive somewhere.

This code will be written in Fortran.  They all are.  All legacy codes are Fortran.

So what is Fortran?  Fortran is a high-level programming language designed back in the 50's.  Here "high-level" means that it is not assembly language, and the programmer does not directly interact with machine elements like bits, bytes, or memory addresses, though Fortran is much "lower-level" than most modern languages like Java or Python, meaning it is only just a step or two above machine code.  The name "Fortran" is short for "Formula Translation," as the language was intended to more directly translate a mathematical formula into computer code; Fortran allowed, for instance, an entire mathematical expression to be written out as a single line of code, as opposed to assembly, which would require multiple lines of register swapping and simple operations to acheive the same result.

You'll get the sample code and look at it, and it will be completely incomprehensible.  They all are.  All Fortran codes are incomprehensible.

Why is this?  There are a lot of things that contribute to the issue.