Monday, November 28, 2011

The Burzynski Clinic

So the blogosphere has been awash with reports of the Buurzynski clinic which has been getting money out of desperate people for about as long as I've been alive. Really can you get any worse then giveing false hope to the parents of terminally ill children?

Fore more check out Pharyngula: or just google it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dice Rolling Mechanic

One thing I don't really like in Dice rolling is the potential open ended roll, such as the Exploding dice used in Mini Six. So I've developed my own alternative. Rather then rolling an unknown number of extra times, why not just count sixes and assume that on a succesfull roll, more sixs means a higher degree of sucess.

To stop things getting out of hand I'm placing a limit of 6 dice on my players. If anyone has more than that additional dice get converted to +3s. Futher 5 sixes and six sixes are so rare that I'm not bothering with them. Which leaves me with four possible degrees of success. Here's how it works in an attack roll (I'm using static defences by the way):

0 or 1 six
A normal succesfull attack

2 sixes
If the target is using a sheild its ignored for purposes of soak

3 sixes
The hit was really lucky, and armour is ignored entierly.

4 sixes
A Critical hit, Target is treated as having a Soak total of 0.

Note that this scheme places natural limits on this in terms of unskilled characters, if you don't have 4 dice to roll, then your character has no chance of getting a Critical hit. While at the top of your game (rolling 6 dice) you will manage this slightly less then 1% of the time.

On the other side of the coin if all your dice are 1's then you have botched. And any time you only roll 1 dice that will happen 16% of the time. So make sure to spread your skill points around a little.

As futher encouragement to use skills I'm toying with the idea of setting seperate dice pool limits on attributes and skills, inorder to counter the Mary Sue effect of the unskilled but high attribute character who is good at everything. It all depands how cinamatic you want your compain. For gritty realism, and lots of fumbles you could rule that unskilled attempts only get 1d, though I think 2d (and a fumble rate of 2.7%) might make for a less frustrating play expirence.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And one of the Campers was eaten by a Bear!

Actually a lot of them where and that was with two handed swords to boot. The campers not the bear. What I actually did is simulate the combat mechanic from the Mini Six ruleset. The combat setup takes a fairly standard starting character (Might 3D Weapon Skill +2D) and pitts them against the Bear as stated in the rule book.
On average the Bear (who hit first) would make a tasty meal of our camper 71% of the time within 5 combat rounds. And most of the remainders 27% ending with both of our combatants unconcious. Our camper escaped only 2% of the time.

Granted it is a pure slugfest that I'm simulating here, with no attempts to escape or do anthing other than hit the opponent. And Really the average of 5 rounds should give the player plenty of time to do something inteligent.

Giving our camper some armour helped a lot. Giving them an average of 29 rrounds to try an escape and an 18% chance of winning outright. The Bears odds of getting lunch also dropped to 56%.

With evently matched oponents there is a significant first strike advantage. The fighter who starts winning 46% of the time. The Second striker wins 24% of the time and there is a draw the remaing 30% of the time. Combat howerver takes a more respectable 7 rounds on average. Adding Armour seems to even this off and add a couple of rounds to the combat.

And finally Our fully equiped hero against a lowly guard with lower quality equpment, he will manage to win out 71% of the time, and only stands a 1% chance of actually looseing. Which is as it should be.

So all in all I'm happy with the calibration of the system. Though I find the high freqnecy of mutual unconciousness a little suprising.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yet another Futurist Project

Personally I'd love to see a high speed train network in Australia. It dosn't look likely at the moment but if It does happen I bet that the trains will not look like this.

This really has to be one Ugly, and wowfully inpractical designs I have ever seen for an inter city train. First of all why all the curved window frames, it doesn't look that good, all it will do is increast the cost of manufacture and wastage beause all the windows have to be custom cut into funny shapes.

But my biggest gripe is there proposed seating where 1/4 of the seats have no backrest and more then half of them don't face the direction of travel. And really on A trip of several hours I expect to be able to sit facing forwards. (Due to a propensity to motion sickness the alternative is not an option). But then again suppose that in the real world economic factors will nix that idea quite effectively. Seriously what operator is going to put that crap in when they could put twice as many regular seats in the same space?

In any case building the train is not the economic hurdle. Building the track is the economic and engineering challenge. Find a way to do that faster and cheaper then conventional steel track and then you'll have something noteworthy. And the real challenge in a country where the hottest summer days every year are sufficient to cause track buckling. Really solve the hard challange first and leave the interior design for later.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Yet again when I want to comment on the Sydney Morning Herald, comments are disabled. Newsflash, childrens stories are repleat with sterotypes we don't like. In this case the article is talking about smurfs.

But really this is par the course. What about Thomas the Tank Engine. His world is World is every inch the communist dictatorship. In this case with the Engines doing the bidding of The Fat Controler. A character who cannot be questioned and is always like, how very big brother of him.

Then again what about the messages in Kunfu Panda. A movie which in clasic Greek tr tradition rewards thouse who follow the dictates of Fate and punishes thouse who chalanges. Really look at it from the point of view of the supposid Villan of the piece. Here we have an orphan pushed ruthlessly by a bad guardian towards one particular goal. Is it a wonder then that he becomes enraged when the one thing he has been taught all his life to strive for is denied him. And then to add insult to injury after years of discipline and training he is beaten by a fat panda, who really earned nothing.

When it comes down to it I liked smurfs when I was a kid, I didn't mind my Kids reading Thomas stories, and I enjoyed watching the Fat Panda bungle his way to success. All of them have undercurrents and messages I don't agree with, but then again I really didn't bother to analyse them to this level at the time.

I may be guilty of this in the case of Avatar, but that's completely different, that movie was completely over hyped and hence deserved to be over analysed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bishops move

So the Catholic Bishops of NSW are opposed to the greens.

Not surprisingly I can't agree with any of their points:
  • No you don't deserve special exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. they are their because we as a society hold that it is wrong to discriminate period.
  • Yes your indoctrination centers schools are getting more than their fair share of public money. And yes the government should spend more on public education.
  • Drug use. Yes it should be treated as a health issue. I have to admit to being a little more hesitant here, but on balance treating the addiction should be preferred to punishing the addict. I'm not sure about what should be done with those who refuse treatment.
  • So when legislation enshrines moral codes you don't agree with (IE anti discrimination laws) you cry religious freedom. But when it enshrines your values, that's perfectly OK. What about the religious freedom of people who don't agree with your definition of marriage? The hypocrisy is rather striking on this one.
  • Again the church is OK with their beliefs being enshrined in legislation. Yes their are both good and bad reasons for abortion, and it is not an as black and white area as the church would like to claim. What about cases where the fetus is know to have little if any chance of survival, what about rape victims? Personally I would like as few unnecessary abortions taking place as possible, but they should never be seen as a crime. As to the personal views of Doctors and Nurses? On balance I thin duty of care trumps your personal religious views, especially in the Public health care system.
  • Euthanasia. In all honestly I don't know where I stand on this one. It is difficult.
On balance the Bishops letter is a stated position of a special interest group trying to look after their own interests, and perpetuated their prejudices being enshrined in law. What they fear is that in the end the Majority of Australians do not actually agree with them , even if they profess to be members of the Catholic faith.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why does his opinion Matter?

So cardinal Pell, is speaking out against human caused global warming. In all honesty his opinion here matters far less then it does in his normal field of preaching morality.

And as usual the Sydney Morning Herald has chosen to not allow comments on this story. Probably for fear that the "good" cardinal would be well and truly roasted in them.

For what my opinion on the subject matters, Which is very little, I have been a skeptic for a very long time. However I think that the position of climate change skeptic is getting more an more tenuous and unscientific with every passing day. And the reality that there is hard scientific evidence for climate change is now well and truly beyond reasonable doubt.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

D&D Essentials In review

So I've read through both Players Books and the Dungeon Masters book. On the whole I like how 4th Edition (and Essentials in particular) works and how it plays. I've run several encounters with my Boys and a friend of theirs (aged 6 - 8) and they all enjoyed it immensely. Heck in the last game they actually started working together instead of just attacking things at random, and my 6 year old actually had his Cleric character use healing word on his brother's character without being prompted to do so. Up next is another encounter and then a Skill Challenge, which should be interesting.

That said I have a few comments on the book themselves. First up, obvious cut and paste jobs are not what I expect in a book I pay money for. The Dungeon Masters book has at least one of these where it refers to the monster section later in this book. This is obviously pasted from one of the Fast Play Rules books (which indeed had a monster section), while the Dungeon Masters book does not.

Now a Word about the Rules Compendium. I have seen a lot of good reviews about this book, but I really can't echo them. Having just bought the rest of the essentials line I now have 90% of what is in this book, and really I'm not going to pay again just to get a page each on Mounted Combat, Aquatic Combat and Disease.

What I would have like to change about Essentials

  1. Dump the Slayer build to make room for other stuff.
  2. Dump the Scout build, to make room for other stuff.

Now that we have some extra space in the Hero books add the following:

  1. Add a Paragon path to each race.
  2. Make the class paragon paths work based on Power Source. so that Fighter and Rouge can pick each others (and you end up with a slayer paragon path). Ditto for Cleric and Paladin, Wizard and Warlock, Ranger and Druid.
  3. Put in Skill based utility powers
  4. Each book should have 2 rather then one Epic Destines, one geared to Lawful Good and the other towards Unaligned characters.
  5. if we still have room left add some more feats.

Assuming you get both books this would end up with a subset that has 2 builds for each role. Each character now has a choice of three paragon paths (one based on race and two on class power source) And 4 epic destines. And with skill based utility powers has a range of options to choose from.

House Rule
As somewhat of an old school player the idea of magic items that have no mystery about them rubbed me the wrong way. So my house rule here is that Arcane checks are required to work this out. The DC being based on the Items level. Say Easy to work out that it is definitely enchanted, Moderate to work out the basic bonus penalty. And Hard to work out each additional power the item has.

The biggest advantage of this is that it allows me to bring back the idea of cursed items. Which is really part of the fun, even if it just requires an application of a remove curse ritual now and then.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons

Well, it looks like Wizards of the Coast have lost me as much of a customer, just as they where about to win me back.

  1. I like the Essentials book format. Which now appears to be canned for all future releases. so that's an end to that then. The digest size is lighter, and frankly more convent.
  2. I like the idea of downloading 1 or 2 PDFs per month for the articles. but that is finished now. So I'll probably get a D&D Insider membership long enough to get what already exists and then forget about it.
  3. I might get future Monster's vault products, providing they come with tokens. But I would hope that they come with digest sized soft cover books.

Its depressing really. As a casual gamer I embraced what they released for casual gamers. The hard core faction poo pooed the idea to the point that it won't be continued. I'm disappointed by this, but I guess if I'm in the minority then so be it. I;'m sure with a bit of online digging I can invent the bits that are missing, such as the Autumn and Winter varients for Essentials Druids.