Friday, November 24, 2017

Fractal Logic

This image was rendered for a class on Writing. The red text reads: 

Language holds the logic of 
Why a raven is like a writing desk
Like a piano with 81 keys
Recursion saves the signal
From the lapse of memories


To read the smaller text, I suggest looking at the Google Drawing.

Within each box, is the same text with errors injected. Sometimes on purpose, other times by accident. The first error was that the whole thing was broken down by syllables. However, this is not an accurate rendition of the syllables as the software used was designed for singing, which is wildly different than the more technical definition of a syllable.

Lan-guage holds the log-ic of
Why a ra-ven is like a writ-ing desk
Like a pi-a-no with 81 keys
Re-cur-sion saves the sig-nal
From the lapse of mem-o-ries

I also put in typos and misspellings by going as fast as I could when typing. It was painful not to go back and correct it. I did allow myself to go back and delete incorrect letters, but not actually change them. I mean for this to look frustrating. 

The grid-like fractal pattern was generated on graph paper by the following method: 

Draw a line along one edge of a box on the graph paper.
Toss a coin, heads turn left, tails turn right. 
Repeat.
A lot.

To speed this process, I alternated between cupping a dime in my drawing hand and allowing it move as I drew lines and grabbing a bunch of pennies out of a cup and lining them up dozens at at time. When I reached the boundary of the paper, I would move over into the next blank space with little care as to how it was positioned. 

It was a slow process. Additionally, when I took the pattern to digital, I made more errors. That was something the graph paper was mean to prevent. Oops. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Writing History - Wilhelm Albrecht Oeltzen - The Lost Astronomer

Wilhelm Albrecht Oeltzen was German astronomer and author of several books. He is known for the processing of a part of Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander's Zones from 1849-1852 in Bonn Germany. Often these are labeled "A. Oe." or "AOe" in catalogs. This was a two step process, I am uncertain if the abbreviations differentiate the two projects. In 1875, he disappeared. I have been unable to find any reference to what he was doing at that time.

Since the 1870s are an interesting time period, it would be no surprise that the man simply passed away of natural causes, far from home.

Notes compiled:

  • Born on Oct 2nd, 1824.
  • Studied at University of Göttingen in 1846.
  • First Assistant at Vienna Observatory 1849-1859, before moving to The Paris Observatory.
  • The Oeltzen's catalogue of Argelander's Southern Zones. 1857-58.
  • The Oeltzen's catalogue of Argelander's Northern Zones. 1851-52.
  • Schwerd's Beobachtungen von Circumpolarsternen in mittleren Positionen published in 1856, with Friedrich Magnus Schwerd.
  • Disappeared in 1875.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Temple of Light - Maps

This temple complex is the work of an ancient people. The first map is of a traditional family abode. In the past, the tribe dug horizontal homes, as a means of collecting flint. 


As the people transitioned to a bronze age culture, they began construction of the Temple of Light. The structure is a gleaming white, the effect was achieved with a decorative coating quartz and flint. 


The Temple was a beacon of solidarity for the people, but it also proved to be a beacon for raiders. The pirates devastated the village proper, taking valuables and prisoners. The raiders returned seasonally to plunder the people. For a time, the villagers disbursed to escape the onslaught.
One day, several young children entered the Temple and discovered a pair of holes in the central hall leading to a deep natural cavern. When the chief was informed, he ordered a return to the old ways of digging pit homes under the Temple.


In a few months, the tribe had relocated under the Temple. By concealing the upper openings with floor tiles, the villagers were able to extract revenge when they breached the Temple. The surviving pirates completed the turnabout with tales of a diamond encrusted temple protected by spirits of the earth.

Epilogue:

The children discovered the leader of instability in the rock. Future generations will tell the story of a fortress of diamond beneath the crystal blue waters of a cenote. The stone age villagers speak in hushed tones about the mighty Sea Mage sunk the fortress in anger for the king's refusal tribute payments. Adventurers may find tablets of stone that tell of the powerful shaman who levitated the entirety of the Temple to allow her people time to escape the collapse into the waters below.

This series of maps are based on a mix of real world places and cultures, Grime's Graves, Ancestral Puebloans and people of Teotihuacan in particular.

5 Minute Map - Southern Temple

This is a rough map of a temple dedicated to a creature of the deep. 


5 Minute Maps - Keep of Glass

This is a quick, 5 minute map of a strange series of buildings collectively known as The Keep of Glass. The buildings are made of white marble and glass. The interiors are completely bare. Bring an artifact known as the Black Arrow, allows the characters to teleport without error to a distant location.








Saturday, July 29, 2017

3.5 House Rules - Arrows

I don't like tracking arrows. Treasure Hunters HQ has posted on this very issue. Treasure Hunters HQ has a whole collection of posts to make your game more interesting and flow better than ever before. Everything from shields to magical unguents. Go ahead and follow them, the HQ is full of good ideas.

Ah... back to the point. Arrows. Tracking arrows on character sheets simply burns holes in the sheet. It is annoying and subject to abuse. Many years ago, I realized that player's will cheat on ammo more than any other thing. Why? Because, it is annoying. To avoid it, I tended to have the players encounter lots of arrows, either because the enemy had them, they were working from a fortification, or they had a natural pause to collect up their used arrows. Some players will want to roll a number to see if the arrow broke, but that is as exciting as my other pet peeve, save vs. drowning.

After a while, I decided to impose a rule that if a player rolled a 1 with ranged weapons, they fumbled the quiver and dropped all of their arrows on the ground. Picking one up, pulling one from a target or returning an arrow shot at the player takes time, a single action. If the character doesn't take any other action, they can refill a quiver in a single round. It seemed reasonable, since the standard has been changed from a quantity to have something or don't have something.

My primary issue with running out of arrows as a DM is, the rules don't take "out of ammo" into account. It is assumed the characters have a functional method of attack, and a certain quality of weapons. But if the requisite ammo is missing, they have neither. Suddenly striping the characters of missile weapons isn't really accounted for in the rules. While a good DM will give players and characters time to reprovision, the DM really can't account for 4 character's missile counts on the fly.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Minor Fix in GSIV

I have had this glaesine orb for years. For the longest time, it didn't work.

LOOK:
The orb is shaped of pure midnight blue glaes, crafted into a perfect orb.  It hangs from a delicate silver chain affixed with a tiny moon-shaped mithril pin.

Tiny shimmering crystals hover inside the orb, pulsating slightly with the light of the stars.  Currently they form the shape of the
constellation of The Unicorn.

Barely visible on the glaesine surface of the orb, some words have been etched in minute script around its circumference.

405:
You gesture at a shimmering glaesine orb.

The orb vibrates gently.  A brief vision of a glittering implosion in a darkened void fills your mind.  Brightly glowing spheres are flung outward from the center of the implosion, hurtling through the
darkness as they yet bring illumination to the void.

READ:
Minute but elegant script is barely visible as it encircles your glaesine orb...

"Frae Naira vers Deiam, Jae esais bevre Tua ae te Draekeche."
"From Dusk til Dawn, I stand between thee and the darkness."
                                      - from the journals of
                                        Linsandrych Illistim
                                        circa -49,080
EXHALE:
A faint foggy mist forms over the surface of the orb then slowly fades away.

TILT:
You tilt your glaesine orb side to side, making the light play off it.

PET: 
You thumb the glaesine orb in your hand.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chromebook + Linux + Simutronics Wizard

Using the Simutronics Wizard is preferable to the default web client. On a Chromebook, you must install some form of linux to install the Wizard and then install Wine and WineTricks.

Installing Linux on a Chromebook is easy. How to Geek has a great install guide for linux and crouton. This guide has a couple of options, I suggest xfce as a solid OS for your Chromebook. I mention this because I am using Ubuntu and Unity, which is less optimal. This instructions will work for many types of linux, so use whatever your heart desires.

Once you have linux install go ahead and use chrosh to open it up. Your commands are: "shell" and "sudo startunity", if you have Ubuntu Unity or "sudo startxfce4" for xfce. If you have another flavor, your sudo start command will be different.

If you are using Ubuntu, sometimes the Software Center is broken when first launched. Update it by typing into the terminal: "sudo apt-get update software-center". Once this step is complete, open it and install WineTricks. This will install a basic Internet Explorer. You can reach that directory by going to: home/chrome/.wine/dosdevices/program files (x86)/ or simply searching for iexplore.exe.

For some reason, the iexplorer.exe will not download the file, but keep it open in the background for later. Open your linux web browser and go to www.play.net/software/.


Next download the Game Entry Client. This will get a program called sg32inst.exe.

Back up in the browser and do the same for the Game Launcher. This file is called InchInst.exe.

Once you have these files, open sg32inst.exe and InchInst.exe. They should open directly from your browser and run in Wine. You will end up with the Simutronics Game Entry tool in Program Files under the C:\ drive. Open it and log in.
 Next, select a game.
 Select a character AND choose your client. Your options are Stormfront or Wizard. I picked the Wizard. It will download it for you and install it into your Program Files (x86). The same for Stormfront.
 Hit play and you are in. For whatever reason, there is no sound.
Enjoy!

(If you have any problems, let me know in the comments and I will try to work it out.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Inspiration for Writing: History of Rome by Mike Duncan

Oh, how I miss classes. This summer, I have been inspired by Mike Duncan's History of Rome podcast. The original show ran from 2007 to 2012. How did I miss that?

In any event, Mr. Duncan's excellent show has been very inspirational for me. I've been listening to two shows a day, once while writing and once before bed. I can't wait to catch up and start listening to his new podcast, Revolutions.

You can also check out Mr. Duncan's great book, The Storm before the Storm on Amazon.com.

Add your inspirational podcasts down in the comments. Lord knows, I don't want to miss any more great shows.

The link below is paid ad and will take you to Amazon.com.




Ads provided by Amazon help fund this site by remuneration for clicks and purchases.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Gemstone IV and The Wizard

This week, I will be reviewing the Simutronics Wizard for Mac and PC. The Wizard is the client for most Simutronics' games, I will be focusing on Gemstone IV, but this could apply to any game supported by the Wizard.

My goals are:
Install Wizard on Mac OS 9.
Install Wizard on Chromebook.
Install Wizard on Windows.
Getting the most out of a Mac OS 9 install using other software.

Bonus points if I cover:
Telnetting into the game.
Cover Stormfront for Windows and/or Linux.
Cover other MUD software for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, OS X and Chromebook.

Tall order...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Research for Pio

Pio is a novel set in Italy before Mussolini's rise to power. It has sat on the back burner for a while and there it will remain until I do some more research.

To that end, I am reading How Fascism Ruled Women. While it is set at some point after this novel's timeline, the effects of fascism were already becoming a powerful force on society. Reading the end point is kind of backwards, but helpful.

I order a physical copy from Amazon, which was a little pricey but worth it.

What I have found is that I need to back up in time to really capture what and why things were happening in Italy between the World Wars.

I love research!

The link below is paid ad and will take you to Amazon.com.




Ads provided by Amazon help fund this site by remuneration for clicks and purchases.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Space Marines (Continued)

I found a few Space Marines weeks ago. I keep finding just enough parts to build a couple more. These three are mostly painted. I thought I would try a little red highlight on the figures to switch it up.

(Obvious, I have never played Warhammer 40K.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Amarillo Design Bureau Freighters, Kitbashed

Starfleet Battles is an intensely detailed and competitive game. For the longest time, how ADB designed ships was a secret. A few years ago, the team took a shot at rules to modify ships. The rules were written, but then abandoned by the authors. The general problem was Starfleet Battles ships have a power curve, meaning the ships should have limitations and abilities based on speed. It is easy to modify a ship to reduce or eliminate a limitation.

The nice thing about ADB is they have a rich history of two-way player support. They post rules for players to try before launching a product. Very often those products are loaded with player created content.

ADB correctly assessed that modification was not good for the product line, but then posted it for player's home campaigns. Personally, I like to use it for freighters. Freighters have a long life and well, they are often used ships with odd histories. They also don't fight very well, so modifying one doesn't unbalance things too much.

The freighter above has an extra sensor box, hence the large antenna. As a backstory, the ship was modified by Starfleet and then they realized the hull itself caused sensor performance problems. That and the antenna took up cargo space defeating the purpose of the ship in two different ways. It also causes a strange shimmy when accelerating and a terribly annoying whistle in the comms.


This ship is modded to have two extra hull boxes. In game terms, the extra boxes gives the ship more survivable without really giving it any real combat edge.

The backstory behind this modification is grandma and granddad promised to give a grandson their ship to carry on the family freight business. The problem was, the family business wasn't very profitable, so granddad and grandma built a retirement module on the ship before signing over the title. Worse, grandma and granddad don't talk much any more, so everything is rather awkward.

The S3 rules for Starfleet Battles are very comprehensive and nice for the friendly game but really very terrible for a fair game. However, if you kitbash ships, they are a handy reference of what is technically possible via the rules.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Amarillo Design Bureau's Starfleet Battles Freighters #MiniatureMonday

(Updated based on the ADB Facebook page. Go ahead and like them.)

Amarillo Design Bureau does several series of ships for Starfleet Battles, 2400 and 2500 series. The major difference between the two series is scale, however general ships like these freighters are the same size between these two series. Backward compatible if you like. :)

Once or twice a year ADB packages up all of the ships with defects or flaws that makes them generally unsalable and sells them by the pound.

I didn't mean to post about the scrapyard ships, but why not? Its a cool and cheap way to get into kitbashing and SFB.

These two ships were painted with Vallejo paints. The white piece holding the ship is a piece of soapstone with an arc cut into it to cradle the ships for painting.



In my next post, I will show a couple of freighters that I modified. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quit and win while you are ahead

Ah, Fixit.com, you saved the day once again. Our PlayStation 4 was overheating and the warranty was long gone, so into the case I went with a Fixit.com manual.

But Fixit.com can be dangerous. Sometimes, a little foresight can save you a lot of headaches.

Item one, my fan was not making any notes.
Item two, I have a can of air that didn't make a bit of different from outside the case.
Item three, I wasn't sure it was the fan.
Item four, I didn't have a replacement fan.


After dealing with the annoying security screws, I was fed up. I was looking at a 23 step guide and wondering what I would do if it wasn't dust. The image above was the point where I was about to give up. And then I noticed the solution right in front of my face. 

This is step five from Fixit.com. I can see the fan. If my can of air was going to work, this is the point where I needed to try. I could disassembled the whole thing to take the fan out, but I had been wrestling with screws and dust dobermans already. Time to quit. 

One blast of air filled the room with dust. I was on to something. While I was doing this, I sent the kids over to clean up our PlayStation 4's cage. Vacuuming, dusting, putting all those discs away would help our little PS4 in the long run. I didn't even reassemble it, once the area was clean, I plugged it in and tried it. And it worked. After 20 minutes, I was convinced I had the problem beat. 

I had the kids dust off the TV and collect up cable while I put the PS4 back together. And we are all happy again. 

Fixit.com is wonderful, the handman's go to textbook. However, just because it can be done doesn't mean you should actually do everything. Sometimes, a little forethought is needed to use what tools you have correctly and responsibly. 

Yet again, thank you Fixit.com for your wonderful guides. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Opening Post For Pretender to the Power

Wayback in 2011, I created my first blog. I was unsure what to do with it, and by the time I let it go, it had been through many transitions. It was for art, music, games, travel and writing themes. By the middle of 2015, I let the whole thing go and Pretender to the Power became an Italian Shoe Outlet site.

That was disheartening to see my old site taken over by an outside company. And for shoes no less. The cost of repurchasing the site was out of the question. This year, I noticed the shoe company was gone and was able to repurchase the site at a very much reduced price of less than $20.00.

Having realized that this name and site meant so much to me, I decided to give it another go. I am now the happy owner of 4 websites. Each one has a different theme.

PretendertothePower.com (Writing) (defunct)
Unpwnd.com (Art and Technology) (defunct)
Theseoldgames.com (Gaming)
and WondersOfNY.com (Travel) (also defunct)

This site is my virtual notebook, containing items I write for fun and possible profit. I'm a long way from profit.

The title comes from a novel I wrote as a child. It is horrible, so don't expect Pretender to the Power to appear here. Working titles are:

Pio - a fantastic, historical novel set in pre-World War II Italy.
Redact for Redemption - a futuristic fantasy novel.
Accretion Disc - a science-fiction based game.

Monday, February 13, 2017

New Paints, New Figures



A few weeks ago, I began paint figures for the first time in perhaps 7 to 10 years. My first problem was that I was out of practice. The second problem was my paints, a wonderful set of Windsor & Newton Designer Acrylics. The were wonderful before every other container dried out. Obvious, keeping paints in the basement, then the garage is not a great storage method. It is only natural that they dry out.

In looking for a new set of paints, I checked out some of my favorite painters and modelers. There is a lot of variety and style for modelers, but one name kept coming up: Vajello paints



The set pictured to the right is the Medieval pallet. The 16 colors are great for a variety of styles and models, not just the Middle Ages. Each bottle is 17 ml, a little more than 1/2 an ounce. The bottles all have a dropper style cap which is handy for mixing.

I have tried them out on a variety of subjects, from robots to animals and like them a lot. However, each of these tests were on previously painted figures that needed repairs.

In the next post, I will be working on three unpainted figures. Right now, I have them based on 1 inch wooden nickles and they are primed in flesh tone.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A not so #miniaturemonday post - Figures with Flair - January 18th, 2017

I missed #miniaturemonday, but I do have some figures to show off. Please excuse the blur as I haven't had time to get out the nice camera.

First, two D&D figures.

This rogue is one of my favorites. He is based off of Jubal in the Thieves World series of books. He has a bit of grey hair and a multi-colored outfit. He holds a dark colored staff.

I wish I could remember the manufacturer of this figure. This figure is pretty old, and the base shows signs of age. I will likely rebase this figure and give him a new coat of gloss coat.

I especially liked doing the mismatched green and red. for his sleeves. It's a hint of flair for an otherwise normal rogue.

From about the same time period, I have a simple bard with lute. He was my character in several AD&D adventures.

When my friends and I played AD&D, we rotated turns as DM and had a shared world. It was rather interesting as your "main" would become an NPC. One of our rules was to have NPC acquire wealth and experience, but never any magical items.

As a result of this rule, we had many game breaking characters and magic items. The main issue was not power creep as you would expect, but a combination of unique magic items and the courtesy of returning favors. The end result was a bunch of characters with very non-standard gear in large amounts as six DM's doling out goodies was a little too much.

The last item is a cool "unseen" mecha from Battletech. As you can see, he has taken a lot of damage. Before painting this figure, I took a Dremel to the nose and wing. I then washed a propane torch over the entire figure to give it a bubbled and softened look, as if it had walked through fire.

The figure rippled a little too much under the torch, but I still liked the effect.

I would imagine that the pilot was lucky to be alive as the cockpit was very nearly holed. I like figures with character that hint at a little background and story.








Monday, January 9, 2017

#MechaMonday January 9th, 2017 - Adeptus Titanicus

In the process of cleaning out my basement, I have come across some wonderful old figures. Back in the 1980s I recall spending many weekends playing Adeptus Titanicus. As near as I can tell, this game came out in 1988.

All that I have left of the set is the rule book sans cover and 8 Titans, only 2 of which are painted. I believe the set came with 8-12. I'd love to get my hands on more.

Lately, I have painting Space Marines. When I finish those I hope to move onto these Titans. So many toys, so little time.





#MiniatureMonday January Jan 9th, 2017

The Mark 6 "Corvus Armour" Space Marines or Beakies are back. I found a few more and painted them up. For the second set, I went with black and yellow, with silver trim. 



As you might guess, I have never played Warhammer and the paint guide I had went missing over a decade or two ago.



What I like about the Warhammer figures is you can go completely nuts with them. They have some serious heft and all kinds of surfaces waiting for paint. I have not gloss coated the Marine I did last week, as there is so much more detail I can add. That I can use a proper camera next time.


My Green Marines are sitting out ready to be painted. I got so excited finding the other parts and figures that I set them aside for the future.

I dont' know what I'll do once I run out of Marines to paint.