Work related posts have been moved.

9 November, 2010

My work and computing related posts are now at

If you have come here from a work-related perspective (computing, semweb, bioinformatics, math). Perhaps you could go there right now and not read the gory personal stuff here.

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Treasure Generator

21 July, 2014

Been a while since I posted anything on wordpress.

A while ago, I used to play in the Die With Honour campaign, which runs at various cons as well as having some home games. 3.5 DnD, with the “Complete” series of splatbooks permitted. Great fun, except for one thing: they were using the Magic Item Compendium treasure generator to dole out loot, and it just took forever.

So I implemented it in JavaScript – a single, stand-alone HTML page that generated loot with a click. You can run it in an iPad, you can run it in an iPhone , if you must. You can save the page and use it without an internet connection. You can see it at GitHub. If you are up against a CR 6 monster, two CR 4 sidekicks, and four CR 1 mooks, just click those buttons. Job done. It speeds play up quite a bit.

“But”, you cry, “What about Pathfinder”? Fear not, the Ultimate Equipment Treasure Generator is here! Same deal. Frankly, I don’t much like their method of doing it, and the generated treasure seems a bit low-value. It all adds up, but it’s still kinda meh. Nevertheless, if you ever looked at those tables in the back of UE and thought “you know, there ought to be an automatic spreadsheet or something for this”, well now you have one.

Go nuts.


New PFS Character

15 June, 2014

Well, I have played Azureban a couple of times and meh. Happily, I can redo the whole character and keep the sheets.

New character is Father Ezekiel Wood. Human cleric of Saranrae. He’s old (not using the ageing rules, because PFS doesn’t allow them). He’s a little deaf. He’s a little blind. He’s faking it and is actually pretty sharp.

“What’s that, sonny? Speak up! Orcs, you say?” I’m looking forward to calling VC Sheila Hiedmarch “girlie”.

A minmaxed healbot – Str and Dex of 8 (roleplaying his age). Traits give him an extra channel per day, and Perception as a class skill. Wis/Cha of 17/16, Con 14 because I simply cannot imagine any circumstance when a character with less Con than that would be viable. Int 12. Selective Channel and Alignment Channel (Evil). At this level, alignment channel is pointless, but I’d like to set the theme.

I’ve given him lamellar leather and a dagger, because a Scimitar would put him over the light load limit. But I fully expect him to have to be carried like baggage so he can perform his healing duties.

“What? Climb up that rope? You must be mad! Do I look like I galivant about climbing ropes at my age?”

Fun times.


Pheno ’14

10 June, 2014

Massive weekend at Pheno. Zack Jackson is level 9, and I have decided to slow-play him. He’s such a good character and so good for PFS, I’ll be sad they day I finally level him up to 12 and can’t play him anymore.

For those of you with Hero Lab, his POR file is on dropbox. I have not put his consumables into Hero Lab. He has a Handy Haversack filled with all kinds of crap – scrolls for all those spells that you don’t want to learn, but are invaluable in the right circumstances, a few potions, all kinds of alchemical consumables. Still haven’t actually used the alchemical cement, but give it time.

The procedure is simple. If we have an adventure, and at any point I go “crap, I really need a scroll or potion of X”, I buy one. When the adventure is over, I restock as a matter of priority. And if I use all my potions of X, then I restock and buy one more than I had previously.

Zack Jackson does no damage. His weapon is a small rapier, which does 1d4-1. His only offensive spells are Confusion, Cacophanous Call, Glitterdust, Charm Person, and Grease. It doesn’t matter. Damage is what dudes with swords are for. Instead, he is a skill money and social dude. “Vagabond Child” trait gives him Disable Device, which is the only thing that an Archaeologist is really missing.

SPOILERS FOLLOW!

These are just some random snippets of memory:

Day 1 session 1 – The Waking Rune

Holy crap! We are up against the runelord of Sloth! tl;dr: we disabled all nine runes, but the bbeg escaped.

The encounter with the devil was bad, bad news. Fighters do not handle Int drain – we had one guy dropped to comatose and needing a full Restoration.

The puzzle was built to have something for every character to do: one of the runes could be defeated with a Disable Device, a couple of them could simply be bashed. But most of it needed various kinds of magic to defeat. Three of the runes could be broken with “negative energy, or 2 points of ability damage from disease or poison”. We were at a loss for a moment, but since we had a summoner in the party, I/Zack suggested that he just summon some spiders. After a bit of general hilarity, that’s exactly what we did. The DM made some rulings on the spot, but a Summoner gets a lot of spiders. Eventually, they made the check.

And finally, big fight. We were playing down, so the runelord summoned three huge Anklyosaurs – enough to threaten the entire chamber. But “big & dumb” is what Cacophanous Call is made for. Little halfling who does 1d4-1 with a rapier took one of those bastards out of the fight.

Stuff happened, fights were fought. Can I just say that Cloudkill is an absolute mofo? God damn! We ran out of the room. Mind you – it didn’t do his anklyosaurs any good, either. He started teleporting about the complex. ZJ used scroll of Locate Object on his Rod of Very Fun to track him, but at the end we just ran out of time and the DM called it.

So sad. We failed. But: no-one died. And Zack hit level 9.

Shadows of the Everwar

Bruce ran all four sessions of Shadows of the Everwar, which is a big commitment and a lot of work.

Day 1, Session 2 – The Prisoner of Skull Hill

Here is how big the weekend was. I forget. I am just drawing a blank about this mod. No – wait! There was a fort on a hill. That’s right! A chelaxian spypost, and our man inside had gone quiet. Turns out, the whole place had been done over by an army of orcs. Zack got a chance to be diplomatic with the head orc:

“What you here for? (Grrr!)”
“Oh scary one, we had heard that the hated humans of tribe Cheliax had been defeated by an army of mighty warriors, and we came to see if it was true!”

Fun times! Dude had nothing much to say, but we searched the place in peace. Found our dude (dead, sadly), and found the entrance to the underground cavey bit. There was fight, which Zack sat out. Then there was “loot the nests of the cave/fly/bat things”. Zack used his new rogue/ninja trick “Wall Climber” to good effect.

Finally another sinkhole, and a damn giant bloody plant that ate people. ZJ has Liberating Command, and popped about five of those bastards just getting people out of the plant, one round after the next. Earned his pay in that encounter doing nothing but that (oh, and a Haste, but he was late getting to that point).

We recovered a wand and a ring. And a corpse, which we jammed into my backpack.

Day 2, Session 1 – The Watcher of the Ages

Another ruin. Fight some Barghests – I think Zack sat that one out, too. Then cellar, and a big Xorn. A little diplomacy, a little 100gp gem, and the Xorn was good enough to dig us a tunnel down to the sealed-up well. (There were clues for those who choose to fight the Xorn that they need to dig).

Down to some salt cave. Morlocks. Fight.

Then this weird shit – a big silvery dome of artifact-level magic energy. Bones of various creatures. After some dicking about, Zack and Dude go through the dome, taking some damage. (oh – part of the dicking about involved Zack drinking a vial of purple worm poison, which he had failed to identify).

Weird-ass nonhuman dude inside. Some story which I will not go into, even though I know that no-one who has read this far will be playing the module. Ok, fuck it – he was a roper, ok? Put there by the aboleth to watch webcams. TL;DR: a bit more diplomacy and he is happy to let us take the staff, ring, and corpse.

Day 2, Session 2 – Terror at Whisledown

ZACK JACKSON, VAMPIRE SLAYER! FUCK YEAH!

A town of gnomes with terror stalking the square at night. By “town”, I mean “hamlet”. Two vampire spawn, and a morgh. Shit – where there’s vampire spawn …

We tracked the skiff they had arrived on to a dude. Dude was a recluse. Not happy to talk to visitors. Spellsong to conceal casting, then Charm Person. Dude now perfectly happy to talk. Seems he is a smuggler, keeps the contraband on an island in the lake, had to leg it recently because of all the damn vampire spawn.

Out to the island in the middle of the lake. I have a damn phobia of water travel, and it was borne out by the optional encounter. Bloody giant, swimming, constrictor snakes. Did I mention that ZJ is a halfling? Into the drink. Happily, Mr Big’n’violent was packing a Touch of the Sea potion and basically took care of them. Next time, ZJ is climbing the mast and staying there.

Onto the island. Down the well. Underground chamber. Corpse and ring, but no sword. Fight some more vampire spawn, and archer gets dominated. Cacophanous Call takes him down for long enough to tie him up. We are one character down, and proceed onwards.

A vampire. Honest-to-god, full vampire. With a very nice falchion. Fight fight fight, Greater Invis. Shit. ZJ prepares to cast glitterdust “next time he reveals his location”. Scorching Ray from the dude, and he is glitterdusted. Before he can go gaseous, the fighters step up and murder his ass.

The gas goes into a crack in the wall. I ask the DM “could a tiny creature squeeze in?” and he’s “yeah, sure”. ZJ pops a potion of Reduce Person, then goes into the secret chamber. From inside, calls out in helium voice “A stake! A stake! For the love of god, a stake! Chop up a torch, break the head off an arrow, anything!”

Vampire is staked by a size T reduced halfling. Then the dwarf spends a few hours chopping his way into the chamber with an adamantine mace, finally beheading and fully killing the vampire.

Captured townsfolk are v. happy, and we head back to Sothis. ZJ is level 9.

Day 3, Session 1 – The Faithless Dead

Back at Sothis. It’s the final day of Pheno, and we have three players and a pregen cleric. Pregen cleric has several of her spell picks replaced by something more sensible.

Big funeral for the three corpses. Yay!

Pathfinder lodge is attacked! Boo!

We run in, deal with some cultists who seem to think that we are helping out BBEG perform bad ritual with the three rings we found. We rescue the VC from being burned, but don’t rescue the Important Documents. Oops.

VC tells us to go talk to the sphinx over at the necropolis. We wait for dawn.

Sphinx asks some riddles, but we are good. Legend Lore is cast. The three chickybabes informa us that BBEG is a bad guy, and they would please like to possess us. ZJ is instantly, 100% in favour of the notion. Other guys cautiously agree. We get useful buffs for the big fight.

Down to tomb. Traps, secret doors. We have rangers, ZJ, and more than enough perception. Mummies pour out of sarcophagi, but ZJ has initiative and runs the fuck out of there without taking an AAO. Sheer luck. Fighter begins fighting. Fails one will save vs fear and is paralysed, but ZJ has Remove Fear. The cleric was also packing Remove Paralysis (because I had redone her spell picks), but DM rules that the paralysis was caused by the fear so the Remove Fear was enough.

Onto the final fight. It was mainly fighters FTSU. Bad guys shrugged off the Confusion, so ZJ’s only contribution was to Vanish the cleric so she could go in and healbot. Kyra is a very fine healer: 30hp with a cure crit. Oh – and the Haste, of course. Fighters just love the Haste.

Dude gets properly killed. We fail to ID the priest of badness doing the reanimation, so having failed 2 of 3 sub missions we lose one PP.

But, everyone is alive, and mission accomplished.

Then I went home and crashed – it has been a long weekend. Yay Pheno! Yay PFS!

And again – a very big thankyou to Bruce. (Oh, I owe him fifteen bucks. Must remember it.)


New PFS character

25 May, 2014

Ok! I have my new PFS character: Azureban Wikileak! Tiefling inquisitor. Charisma 5, but with class features that mean that he uses Wis instead of Cha for social stuff. Str and Wis 16. He’ll be front line with some buffs.

Working for Asmodeus, fighting the good fight. It’s Year of The Demon, and the Blood War is being fought up at the Worldwound. Realistically, I won’t be able to level him up fast enough to fight high levels this year, but I can play the YoTD modules later.


Arena fight!

20 May, 2014

One of the things which I think we all recognise and appreciate is how much work Andrew puts into the game. He does story for all of the characters. We each have two characters, which is a lot, and yet he’s given Rapha my hobgoblin more work than I have.

Tonight we started off with a bit of story, a bit of a cutscene, but then Andrew dropped us into an arena fight. And it was just great. Three waves of enemies. First, we fought team B. Then, Durian the size L dwarf/goliath champion decided that we were worthy and crashed the party. We dropped him in one round :) . Then OMG! Zombies! Shit just got real.

It was great to have a long combat. Most of our fights have been a few rounds then win or run away, and they have mainly been there to drive plot. Not that that’s a bad thing – nothing duller than a “here are some monsters, fight them” campaign. But goddamn it – you build these characters, you want to try them out! It was cool to do that, and everyone got a feel for what their own characters and all the other characters could do.

And this is not to say there was no plot. Alix’s warlock and Durian are due a rematch, for starters.

For me, Blackfen is a bad guy, which really I personally can’t play forever. He’s definitely an alter-ego. Blackfen is a bit of an a-hole, so new people who have only played with me as Blackfen can’t help but see me in those terms. Him becoming a revenant gives me scope to edit his personality a bit, but he’ll still be pretty dark. Playing my other dude – who has a couple of heals and buffs – it was good to take a break. Support caster (“controller”, in 4th ed parlance) is where I am most comfortable.

And I continued my usual “screw up the DM’s encounter” modus operandi. Everyone was already beaten up when the zombies came out. Rapha had one heal, which he dropped into – Durian! “Durian! Durian! Wake up! Zombies!” Andrew is like “Didn’t think of that…”, but handled it with aplomb, as always. Durian took care of the minions, but Andrew made us do the BBEG.

We are all looking forward to meeting Handsome Hank, whatever his incarnation in this campaign. God, he’s a dick.


Budget 2014

16 May, 2014

Only a couple of thoughts on the budget.

First, if the coalition were serious about the debt, they wouldn’t be buying billion-dollar aircraft that don’t work. I mean – Who TF do we expect to be shooting? The real reason for the purchase is that military hardware is how the USA extracts tribute from its subject nations.

The USA is an empire, after all, and every empire takes tribute. That’s kinda how they work. The money for the needless planes goes to the defense companies, and they provide employment to the commons and bribes (Sorry! Campaign contributions) to the politicians.

Second, the cruelty of the new dole system: six months on, six months off. If you have no money, you cannot get a job. You don’t have a phone/mailing address, can’t get to interviews, can’t dress for them, can’t get to work for those crucial two weeks before your first pay. Participating in straight society has a barrier to entry. It’s low, but it’s there.

Much like their seven-dollar co-pay, the coalition just does not understand that some people regularly have no money at all.

So what will people do?

Well – many people will beg for money during those six months off. Live off charity organised and unorganised. Expect even more beggars in Civic (Yes, peoples: what they are doing is properly called “begging”. Why should we be comfortable using that word when we are talking about Calcutta, but flinch to admit that that’s what it is here in Canberra? Too Dickensian for you?)

Other people will pair up, form little groups, and share their dole communally. Families, most obviously. The best way to survive this regime is to be a pot-smoking bogan in a family with six adult kids, all on the dole. Another option might be a tiny religious sect.

Thing is: one of the main things you must do to become a productive member of society is to get yourself away from certain people. This budget makes that impossible, because the people you most need to get away from are people who you will most likely be depending on in six months time when your dole stops.

Look, I understand why Australia was sick and tired of the Rudd/Gillard soap opera. It’s heads down and weather the next three years. Lots of people won’t. The Greens did not do a good job of distancing themselves from Labour, so it might be time for another minor party along the lines of the Australian Democrats.

Pingback to Mssr Ian Hall.

Level 7

16 May, 2014

Well, Zack Jackson has hit level 7.

I suppose I should do a new 1st-level character. For PFS, I wonder if an Urban Ranger or an Inquisitor might be the go? Problem is, I’m really happy with Zack.

Yesterday evening we had a strightforward cleric, a paladin, a ranger with a 2-handed sword, and an archaeologist. So: a full cleric and three backup healers; two hitters – tank and striker; detect evil and detect magic at will; all the knowledge; and a trap disarmer. It was a really, really good party and we had no trouble whatever. Only thing we were light on was arcane and AoE.

The final fight, Zack took down the BBEG with a “Cacophanous Call – six rounds of nauseated, and the cleric disposed of the zombies. Game over. The two hitters destroyed the evil MacGuffin by whacking it. Job done. Barely a scratch on anyone.

For level 7, I am putting a rank in Perform (Oratory), which is occasionally a thing, and rounding out the rest of his skills. I’ll leave just one point in the knowledges, except for K(Local) which is his day job.

Feat – Extra Rogue Talent (trapfinding).

Spells – Vanish (level 1, five rounds of invisibility), and the two best buffs in the game: Haste and Displacement.

He has 14.5kgp, and 29 fame, so 11,750 gp limit on any single item. Headband of charisma is the obvious pick for a bard, but it’s one extra 1st level spell and a +1 to some skills and spell DC. Unlike a plain bard, he doesn’t use Versatile Performance so it’s not going to help enough to make it a good pick.

Definitely time for a mithril chain shirt, to reduce that armour check penalty to zero. A +1 shirt and a +1 buckler is a cheap way to get AC. I could go shield, but he often needs to switch weapons (whip/rapier).

Adding “dueling” to the whip is an extra 6k. Cool, but not cool enough. Rod of lesser extend would be worthwhile, think. Wand of Sound Burst – maybe a bit too pricey. Handy Haversack: can I trade in the bag of holding? Slippers of Spider Climbing – need a price check. I should check out Ioun stones for the wayfinder. Ring of ffall, perhaps.

Dude last night had a stunning bit of cheese – gloves of reconnaissance. Only 2k. I’m tempted.

And there are several 3rd level spells that might be worth purchasing a scroll. You can spend a lot of money that way. Clairvoyance, Daylight, Communal Delay Poison, Elemental Speech, Mass Feather Step, Gaseous Form, Invisibility Sphere, Jester’s Jaunt, Mad Monkeys, Remove Curse, Scrying, See Invisibility, Speak With Animals, Tiny Hut, Tongues (communal) – that’s 5k right there for just one of each.

Perhaps one of the main things that will get ZJ killed is drowning. Swim is not a class skill, and it’s strength based. Can’t put enough skill points into it to address it that way, so I need items. There’s an ‘air crystal’ in one of the books. Hey! A cracked irridescent spindle is only 500gp!

Other thing that will get him killed is his lousy Fort and Will saves. He’s going to start spending time Vanished, buffing, and healing. Oh – need another wand of CLW, at least. It doesn’t cut it in combat anymore. I have chronicle sheets for a cure mod wand with fewer charges.

OMG! Sunstone is 350gp! Faerie Fire and a chance of stunning! An Origami Swarm is also a handy thing to have. Nightdrops are 250gp – although ZJ has Dancing Lights and darkness isn’t usually a problem.

Money, money, money.


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