Friday, November 23, 2018

Overpowered Spells and Obvious Consequences

Meteor Swarm is one of those that has some very obvious societal consequences, even more than teleport or fly spells. Magic users anywhere nearing the ability to cast this spell should immediately become a "priority" to anyone operating an army in the area.

I've never ran a magic user from 0 to 18, nor had anyone in any of my campaigns done so. I was unfamiliar how effective Meteor Swarm was until I played a game with a pre-generated, 21st level magic user. The DM was an old school wargamer. He loved the Chainmail rules and WRG. He intended to start the game with a prison break, but as a twist, let us play out our capture. Our party encountered what could only be described as hoplite phalanx, a seemingly overwhelming force that would easily capture our tiny party.

As the DM described the situation, I read the description for Meteor Swarm. I asked if they were in bow range. The DM advised that they were not. he smugly informed me it didn't matter because magic users use darts, not bows. As they got closer, the party loosed arrows. A few arrows hardly did anything, there were several hundred guys. At 180 yard... yards(!), I cast Meteor Swarm.

Meteor Swarm vs. Phalanx
The DM consulted the Player's Handbook as I rolled damage. He read that description back and forth, over and over again, as I rolled die after die. The zig-zag of range in yard and area of effect in feet confused him, but not me. The AoE is massive for this spell. The rolls didn't matter, there were only a few hundred guys. The DM ruled that anyone hit by the spell was dead. The overlapping pattern of damage made saving throws moot.

What happened next was even more horrifying. I cast it AGAIN! The DM walked away from the table. Even assuming the phalanx scattered to the winds, I was killing survivors by the dozens. The few that ran towards the party were running into a hail of arrows and in the very next round, I would be casting a fireball.

As it stood, the DM decided to allow this insanity to stand. The second, third and forth phalanx captured the party. Funny how they snuck up on us. My character was put to the sword. I played a 5th level thief for the remainder of the session.

If there is a smart lord or lady of the lands, they would be wise to kill any and all magic users before 18th level.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The "Bookshelf" shot

I wanted to do a bookshelf shot, but then realized I needed to reorganize my shelves to look presentable. 

This is the result. The shelf is full from just a few things from DriveThruRPG in binders. No room for my "real" AD&D books or all of the palladium products. I only pulled out one module and the old D&D Basic Sets.  No more room on this shelf. 

As I look over at the old shelf, I see over a dozen modules, a Call of Cthulhu game, BattleTech, Star Frontiers, Interceptor, Traveller, Striker, Starfleet Battles, Car Wars and a few others I can't read.  

More than a new bookshelf, I need to make a pledge to play all of these games again. 


In the image below, you can see my Illustrated World War II Encyclopedia and The New Junior Classics set. These are some of my favorite books for brainstorming gaming ideas.

Well, off to clean up again.

The machine that started it all...

In December of 2010, I started a website called Pretender to the Power. I was recently back to school and thought I had a little free time on my hands. Not so.

Instead of learning how to blog, I spent much of my time with my Asus PC EEE 700 series machine trying to get a handle on Linux.

Today, I found that little machine shoved in a drawer.

I plugged it in and booted up. It worked. It has 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB on a SSD with an actual 8 GB SD card for supplemental storage space runs at 800 mhz and as a 7" screen.

It's a Kindle Fire without the touchscreen. Or a Fire with a keyboard.

Well, not quite. The Fire is on the left. Both had their uses but I find myself using my Chromebook for most tasks. How things change.

I purchased the EEE PC for $138 back in 2009 on NewEgg. It was an open box return. For less than 200 bucks, I figured I could take a chance. It came with two 8 SD cards, a sleeve and the charger. Out of the box, it ran Xandros. Xandros served for a time but I out grew it.

I ended up running Netbook Remix, Ubuntu 10.10. It was simple, clean and invigorated my curiosity about Linux. I never really looked back. My current Chromebook has a copy of Linux hiding in the Crosh.

I recently updated my C710-2487 Chromebook from 4 to 8 Gb and my first thought was to transfer the old ram to the Asus. No dice. Wrong type.


Of course, I found 3 other 512 mb RAM chips lying around, but with a single slot, that is no help.

I am trying to decide if I will keep my old Asus or let it go. Not sure. In the image above, note the large empty space begging for some new gadget to be installed. Oh... the pain of being a nerd.


Monday, November 12, 2018

I Just Can't Stop...

I just can't stop.

While organizing my desk, I happened upon a book by Robert Pearce. It is an incredible set of ship plans for Traveller. Sure, it says "Traveller", but it could be used for any game system. The detail and scope is amazing. It is campaign fuel for sure.

 Why not take a look yourself.

I know I will be pouring over this book for days to come. For some odd reason, it isn't even for sale. It's free.

Damn. A mighty big thanks to you Mr. Pearce, you made my day.

Taking Stock Part 2

Having established myself on MeWe.com and Pluspora.com, I started to clean my desk to get ready for more work. The first thing that stood out were all the books I download and printed from DriveThruRPG. I had purchased a number of ring binders and neatly hole punched them and added them to my shelf.

You can see the problem, I am sure.

What is in each binder? Might as roll 1d100 to see what I get when I grab one. I decided to print labels for them using Google Docs. Well, there is a horizontal but no vertical ruler.

Annoying.

In an effort to fix this, I made a template with an image of a ruler on each axis of the page. I trimmed the image down to read from 1/4 of an inch to 10 1/2 inches. On the other one, I ended at 8 1/4. It roughly takes into account a quarter inch margin all around and a 48 pt font.

It worked nicely and now I know what books I have.

You can download the template on Drive.

Speaking of books on DriveThruRPG, you could download my book: Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. It's pay-what-you-want and compatible with many OSR D&D type games. It contains over 50 commoner character classes, rules for using the commoner class as a professional skill for PCs and many other game ideas.

While you are there, why don't you leave a review. Feedback is always appreciated.



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Stupid Linux Tips - Disable Touchscreen Temporally

I have a touchscreen that needs a good wipe down. Touch screens are annoying when dirty and you only have three options:

1) Wipe it down and hope you don't click something stupid.
2) Turn off the computer.
3) Disable the touchscreen.

I want item three, but there seems to be no Unity control panel for the touchscreen. I couldn't find one so I opened the Swiss army terminal and typed xinput.


Reading down the list is simple enough, id=13 is my touchscreen.

The command is xinput disable 13 or whatever number you need. Turning it back on is just as simple with xinput enable 13.


Obviously, I am not the best Linux user, but I like to share tidbits that make things easier.

Now clean that monitor.

C710-2487 Acer Chromebook Hardware Specs

I had to mess with it, I put myself in developer mode and switched to the dev channel in an effort to get my Wacom Bamboo working with my Chromebook. I just don't have time to test to night, so I will simply make a brief post about this Chromebook.
Hopefully, if I keep notes all will go well. This post is for my sanity.
C710-2487 Specs:
Screen Size11.6 inches
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Max Screen Resolution1366 x 768 pixels
Processor1.1 GHz Celeron 847
RAM4 GB DDR3
Hard Drive320 GB SATA
Graphics CoprocessorIntel HD Graphics
Graphics Card Ram Size128 MB
Wireless Type802.11bgn
Number of USB 2.0 Ports3
Average Battery Life (in hours)4 hours
Brand NameAcer
SeriesC710
Item model numberC710-2487
Hardware PlatformLinux
Operating SystemChrome
Item Weight3 pounds
Item Dimensions L x W x H11.22 x 1.09 x 7.95 inches
ColorIron Gray
Processor BrandIntel
Processor Count2
Computer Memory TypeDDR3 SDRAM
Hard Drive InterfaceSerial ATA
Hard Drive Rotational Speed5400 RPM
Optical Drive TypeNo
Audio-out Ports (#)1
Battery TypeLithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Batteries:1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)

Clamshell iBook Hard Drive Replacement Alternative

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

My aging Blue iBook is suffering from a lack of space. This machine shipped with a 10 GB hard drive way back in 1999. Since I launched theseoldgames.com, the need for installation space has gone up noticeably.

Ifixit.com has wonderfully detailed instructions for repair of a variety of consumer products, including the iBook. They are my "go to" site for most repair projects. However, replacing the iBook drive has 10 sections, 36 steps and no time listed for the upgrade. It is also marked difficult. Since I trust them, I believe that this is within my skill range, but will exceed my patience for the task.

When I upgraded my old computers hard drive the task took all of an hour. This is a much bigger project, one I am not convinced that I ready to start.

I had been using a USB thumb drive as an alternative to upgrading the drive, but having a little dongle sticking out the side of the computer was always a recipe for disaster. What if I broke the one and only USB port?

Well, that is where the SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB drive comes in. It's a tiny USB drive with more than adequate storage. This 32 GB drive was less than $20.00, on Amazon. Now you can get several of them for a little less than $35.00.

The SanDisk Cruzer would not be my first pick because I am clumsy and forgetful. Under normal circumstances, I would lose this thing in less than a day. However, once it is plugged into the iBook, it's sleek, small form is perfect for this machine. As you can see in the next picture, the SanDisk Cruzer doesn't extend past the edge of the case.

Perfect! Drive problem solved, no particular downsides other than loosing the use of the USB. Aside from a floppy drive and Wacom Table, I have nothing that uses that port. To be honest, I won't need to use either one for this laptop.

One caveat when plugging any drive into a OS 9 Mac - Sometimes the Mac will want to initialize the disk into a flavor or form it can use. Most modern machines do not have this problem, so plugging the drive into the Mac first, formatting if needed, then putting information on it using a different machine is the route to go.

In a perfect world I'd upgrade the hard drive, but this solution is so handy compared to the real fix, I'm gonna run with it.

Pros: Cheap and easy.
Cons: Can't boot from USB. Utilizes the only USB port on the machine.




Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Oh... Miniatures for Sale

Over on Classical Hack, I noticed my dad is unloading some of his massive armies.



Some of my favorites are the Macedonians. Check them out.

Taking Stock

Back in January of 2011, I started my first website at PretenderToThePower.com. It was a flat looking html page with the banner above. Nothing to write home about. Later, I moved on to Wordpress and then finally Blogger.com.

Over the years, I added more sites to cover all of my interests. I currently run four websites which I have combined into this site.

99% of my traffic is from G+. It is sad to see it go. I have tried other sites in the past, but many of them shifted focus as they evolved and I did not. Ello is a key example. While billed as a social media website for creators, it does not seem to fit with my model. It is beautiful to look at but doesn't match with my style. I like it, but it isn't home.

Over the past month, I have lost most of my followers on G+ as they depart to more lively parts of the web. At this point, I think I have found a new home at both MeWe.com and Pluspora.com. As of this moment, I have 153 followers on G+, if I can just get the same number on Pluspora and MeWe, I believe I will feel at home.

November is never a good time for me. I have midterms rocking and rolling on me, I have a book to write, work and a family to take care of. I hate this feeling that I am living out of a cardboard box on social media. The box has got to go, so it is my first priority.

Do me a favor: Share my sites, profiles or even the book I wrote.

I will be eternally grateful.

Phil