Monthly Archives: January 2016

Tomb of Horrors…Bad?…Maybe

John Wick is a game designer of some reputation, he tends to write games I am not terribly interested, but he is successful. So when I heard about this blog post, I decided to find out what was going on.

Tomb of Horrors (ToH) is in fact not a terribly good module, however it is also not the worst adventure ever written. To say it is the worst adventure ever written is to say it has no value at all, either to the game or its players and I just don’t think that is the case. Even Wick himself in the article admits he learned how to modify written modules to make them more fun while running ToH, this alone means it not only has value to the larger gaming culture, but it had value to him personally.

The fact is, ToH has stood the test of time, it has been reprinted many times and rewritten for more modern versions of the game. There are many many modules published by TSR that have never seen the light of day again after their initial run, not mention all the d20 trash that came out in the early 2000’s or all the vomit inducing crap White Wolf put out in the 90’s.

I have played ToH probably half a dozen times, half of those resulted in total party kills (TPK). One of those times was an experiment to see if a party of 1st level characters could survive the Tomb if the players had free access to the module during play. The answer to that question is, yes they can. There is one thing I clearly remember about playing all of those games. At no point was I ever punched in the face nor did I punch anyone else over it. In fact, I seem to remember every one had fun, even in the cases of TPKs. I have also heard many gamers describe their experiences playing the module and never has there been a tale of dissatisfaction but rather tales of clever adventurers and spectacular deaths.

Edit: John Wicks site is down, I changed the link to the story on ENWorld.

Things I am working on

So this weekend I have been working on my test bed. As you can see, it has grown in complexity a bit.

Picture is no longer available


What you are seeing here a relatively inexpensive development platform for building “The Internet of Things” objects. At the heart of it is of course a Banana Pi, which at the moment is wired up to do some funky things with LED lights. It is also used to program the Arduino Uno to the right. The Arduino is also wired up to blink some LEDs. In the lower right, you will see the ESP8266 module wired to the Arduino as well. The Arduino is essentially a programmable I/O board, you can mount a variety of things on it, LEDs, sensors, servos etc, and then program them to do things. The ESP 8266 is a Serial to WiFi bridge that allows the Arduino to send and receive data over your wireless network. In this case, I am able to turn LED’s off and on from anywhere in the house using anything with a web browser.

At this juncture this probably seems simplistic. Eventually however, I should be able to connect an Arduino, along with an ESP8266 to my thermostat, and it will report the temperature in the house and allow me to raise or lower it. Since I run my own webserver, I can do this while I am not at home, though I will add some security to the page facing the Internet. I could also mount a motion sensor, which could detect if my front door were opened or and lets face it, it is way more likely I will set it up to send out a tweet when one of my cats poops.

Is Linux ready for the desktop ?

The short answer is NO! if that does not particularly satisfy you, then go read this, if you have not already done so, go ahead, I will wait.

Man, that is one long ass article. I have to admit, I agree with a a lot of it, Linux video drivers really do suck and audio is not much better. 15 years ago I probably would have went on a 45 minute rant about how this guy is wrong and even though Linux is not perfect, Windows is worse. I am past that now, Windows has finally gotten to the point where it is good enough, Windows 7, 8 and 10 are fundamentally solid operating systems and besides, Windows has nothing to do with the quality of Linux.

First, let me say, Linux is not now, nor will it ever be “Ready for the Desktop” as we understand it today. I have excepted this fact and so should everyone else. Second, it does not really matter, nor has it ever mattered. Linux is not at its core a Desktop operating system, Linux is a development platform. Linux is used to build things, Desktop computers are just one of the things it is used to build. It does not happen to make a particularly good Desktop, and so what.

Linux has been used to build a lot of useful things, Servers, Phones, Tablets, DVRs, Cars. Windows is a good Desktop operating system, but it is a very poor development platform. This is why Windows Phones have not done particularly well and you don’t see much in the way of Windows driven anything, besides desktops. It is true, Windows Servers make up roughly a third of servers on the internet, but that is true of Linux as well and when you start talking about big iron mainframes, that is 98% Linux. In fact, I would say the world runs on Linux and it has for a very long time. Pretty much no one living in a first world country** can go a full day without coming in contact with a Linux driven device.

So, no Linux is not ready for the Desktop, but so what, it is extremely useful for many other things. A friend of mine Chad, has said many times, pick the proper tool for the job. If your primary use for a Desktop is playing AAA games, Linux is not the system for you. If you have been using Windows for longer than 20 minutes and have no particular need or drive to learn Linux, then don’t bother. If on the other hand you are interested in doing something new or you got a Raspberry Pi for Christmas and you are looking to build something, then by all means grab a Ubuntu ISO and knock yourself out. I recommend starting with a virtual machine rather than blowing away your hard drive and living to regret it.

** Living in lower Alabama, Moosebreath Montana or NoWhere Alaska does not constitute living in a first world country.

GURPS Combat Maps

Picture is no longer available

Here is a screenshot of my map I made for next weeks game. The scale makes it a bit difficult make out details, unfortunately Google Maps does not let me zoom to the scale I would like. Anyone who grew up with me in Billings Montana should recognize this spot. This is the apartment building I grew up in. I always thought that building was a fucking fortress and all you had to do was add steel shutters to the doors and windows, this place would be a perfect place to ride out the apocalypse. The setting for my GURPS Cyberpunk game is my home town, this location seemed to be a good place for the PC’s to hole up

Picture is no longer available


Here is a zoom in of the action, we loose focus on the map itself, but gives you a better idea of what is happening.

Cyberpunk GURPS

Whe we are about to play a new game, I like to roll up a character for the game myself before hand just to double check myself and make sure I am not being unreasonable. Last night we Started our GURPS Cyberpunk campaign. This is the character I came up with a couple of weeks ago. As you can see he is pretty much just a wad of skills built on top of a decent set of attributes. No advantages or Perks. I concentrated his skills in Computers and electronics, but his background is that of a special ops agent, so he needs to be able to hold his own in a fight and do some investigative legwork.

Name: Johnny Rico
Race: Human

Attributes [200]

ST 12 [20], DX 14 [80], IQ 14 [80], HT 12 [20]

HP 12, Will 14, Per 14, FP 12

Basic Lift 29
Damage 1d-1/1d+2

Basic Speed 6.5
Basic Move 6
Ground Move 6
Water Move 1

Social Background

TL: 9 [0]

Disadvantages [-50]

Code of Honor (Professional) [-5]
Enemy (US Government) (12 or less) [-20]
Reputation (Blew the Belieze Job) (-1) (All the time; Almost everyone) [-5]
Status (Dregs of Society) (-1) [-5]
Wealth (Poor) [-15]

Skills [50]

Brawling DX/E – DX+0 14 [1]
Computer Hacking/TL9 IQ/VH – IQ-2 12 [2]
Computer Operation/TL9 IQ/E – IQ+1 15 [2]
Computer Programming/TL9 IQ/H – IQ-1 13 [2]
Cryptography/TL9 IQ/H – IQ-1 13 [2]
Driving/TL9 (Automobile) DX/A – DX+0 14 [2]
Electronics Operation/TL9 (Electronic Warfare) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Electronics Operation/TL9 (Security) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Electronics Operation/TL9 (Surveillance) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Electronics Repair/TL9 (Computers) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Electronics Repair/TL9 (Electronic Warfare) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Electronics Repair/TL9 (Security) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Electronics Repair/TL9 (Surveillance) IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Engineer/TL9 (Electronics) IQ/H – IQ-1 13 [2]
Expert Skill (Computer Security) IQ/H – IQ-1 13 [2]
Fast-Talk IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Guns/TL9 (Pistol) DX/E – DX+1 15 [2]
Guns/TL9 (Rifle) DX/E – DX+1 15 [2]
Hobby Skill (SciFi Fandom) IQ/E – IQ+1 15 [2]
Investigator! IQ/WC – IQ-3 11 [3]
Knife DX/E – DX+1 15 [2]
Lockpicking/TL9 IQ/A – IQ+0 14 [2]
Mathematics/TL9 (Applied) IQ/H – IQ-1 13 [2]
Swimming HT/E – HT+1 13 [2]
Urban Survival Per/A – Per+0 14 [2]

Stats [200] Ads [0] Disads [-50] Quirks [0] Skills [50] = Total [200]

Gargoyle II: In the beginning


I have been messing around with my new Banana Pi, I actually got two of them. One has been mounted on my test bench, it is where I do all of my development work. The other one I am leaving freestanding, as it is going to be the center of Gargoyle II. I have mounted a 3.5 inch LCD on it, with a resolution of 320×240, which does not leave much in the way of room to do anything with.

Picture is no longer available


It is hard to see on the above picture, but my solution is to write a small shell program which will fit on the screen nicely and allow me to do some basic functions with the press of a button. I should probably name it something else, since there is already a DevilsPie program.

Picture is no longer available


The basic idea behind this setup is giving me the ability to take pictures or record video while I am walking around. Ideally, I’d would like to be able to integrate this into a costume and go wandering around Comic Con snapping pictures and taking short videos. I will have a camera mounted on my shoulder, a string of LED’s and a small wireless keyboard. I am also setting it up with a web server, so the pictures and such can be accessed easily by pointing a web browser at the device.

Picture is no longer available



Edit – Here is a picture of my test bench


Picture is no longer available