Candles

Here's the right side of my desk with some movies, a candle, my armchair, and a world map.
Here’s the right side of my desk with some movies, a candle, my armchair, and a world map.

I’ve been reading this book lately that suggests lighting candles to focus.

I read several books at a time. I hop between each book as I go. I once read a book over three years because I kept hopping between it and dozens of others.

Right now I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Cartoon History of the Universe Part 3 by Larry Gonick, and The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian.

The last book is the most interesting of them. It’s an ancient history of Alexander the Great written around 100AD, 400 years after Alexander died.

Anabasis is the Greek word for a journey with an element of conquest/violence. The best translation I’ve come up with is incursion for this specific usage. Alexander invades Persia and continues further and further east until his troops mutiny and he is forced to retreat from India.

Anyways, those candle things. I got a few to try them out.

Can’t say it helped me focus very much. The Happiness Project recommended scented candles, and the one I’m using has only a very faint scent.

I’m not used to scented candles. My family AND my inlaws don’t use them due to allergies. The scent just makes us sneeze.

It’s a nice idea though. I think I’ll try it again sometime.

I’ll need more matches though. I’ve only got two tiny match books. With electric stoves, I’ve never light anything in my apartment until the candle thing.

If you’re interested in The Happiness Project the author, Gretchen Rubin, has a blog of her own by the same name. Check it out at www.gretchenrubin.com

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 2

This maps shows the vast trade area influenced by the Merfolk in Gurutama.
This maps shows the vast trade area influenced by the Merfolk in Gurutama.

An Overview of Gurutama Part 1

The Merfolk inhabit the seas, islands, and coasts of the flat world, Gurutama. At the edge of the world the sea runs off, so the Merfolk stay in the central seas where no such threat worries them.

The Merfolk have two basic sub races within them, true Merfolk and landwalkers.

True Merfolk dwell within the sea and leave their saline environment for extended periods of time. True Merfolk speak two languages, one for the water and one for above it.

Landwalkers are a race of Merfolk that can breath air just as well as water. They seen publicly far more often than True Merfolk, leading many people to think that there is only one race of Merfolk.

Landwalkers serve as the intermediates between True Merfolk and other races. Without them it is unlikely that the Merfolk would have the significant impact on the world that they do.

The Merfolk leadership was never described in our game of Dawn of Worlds, so that remains to be written. However, we did create an active and present patron god of the Merfolk, Drolfo.

Many of the tools and skills that the Merfolk have are attributed to Drolfo. He built the Great Canal. He tamed the animals of the sea for the Merfolk. He gave them ships. He modified the True Merfolk to make the Landwalkers. Or so the stories say.

Other fantasy worlds would make these stories fact, but we prefer an open interpretation. Whoever decides to DM with those myths as plotpoints may choose which way they go. Still, the stories remain and our characters can debate about which version is true and which version is false.

Along with the Avians, the Merfolk were one of the first races to develop a civilization. The two civilizations soon came into contact and conflict.

The Avians attempted to win the conflict by building a large nest on the Lower Maw. The nest is marked on the upper left of the Lower Maw as Nanatok.

The Merfolk prayed to Drolfo and Selcatnet, the giant octopus, tore apart the nest, causing the Avians to flee.

The Merfolk used their superior knowledge of hydraulics to flood the eastern half of Rontu-Aru, creating the swamp it is today.

The Avians are a jungle people and they could not adapt to the swamps fast enough to fight back against the Merfolk.

The Merfolk won the day and the Avians have essentially be a slave race ever since. If a slave is encountered in Gurutama there is a significant chance that the slave is an Avian with clipped wings.

Recently, a resurgence of religious zealotry entered the Avian jungle. More and more crusaders for the Avian god, Izquitl, joined the fight against the Merfolk.

The Avians retook the Fluren Peninsula from the Merfolk and rechristened Tortuga as Hubru-Peche.

From Hubru-Peche, the Avians flew across the Neck to the Halusho Forest in the Lower Maw.

The Merfolk retook Tortuga, but the Avians have become a force in the world once more.

That’s about all we got on the Avians from the Dawn of Worlds game, but there’s lots more to come about the Merfolk in the Maw!

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 3

An Overview of Gurutama Part 1

The map I made of Gurutama using Campaign Cartographer.
The map I made of Gurutama using Campaign Cartographer.

Starting off the posts on Gurutama will contain information my D&D group has already written.

After we’ve covered that background information I plan to post more indepth descriptions of places or cultural aspects. Religion, art, holidays, monuments, military, civil administration, all these things were touched on but not explicitly described in our Dawn of Worlds game. I’ll do what I can to get those ideas fleshed out here.

So first up, what are these continents we’re looking at on the map? There are four continents on Gurutama, Glacierstone, Hearthland, Rontu-Aru, and the Maw.

The Maw is split up into four sub continents, the Upper Maw, the Eastern Maw, the Lower Maw, and the central islands (islands aren’t really a continent, but inner oceans are still defined by tectonic plates).

Rontu-Aru, the southern continent, is inhabited mostly by bird people called Avians.

Avian culture is loosely based off of Aztec, Mayan, and Inca cultures. Avians build ziggurats like the Aztecs and Mayans did. They live high in the mountains like the Inca did. They sacrifice intelligent beings like the Aztecs and Mayans did. I avoided the term human sacrifice, because in there are more races than humans in our fantasy world.

The Avians came into contact with the Merfolk early in our world’s history. The Merfolk are fish people that live around the islands in the central sea of the Maw.

This map shows the Avian continent of Rontu-Aru and the central islands of the Merfolk.
This map shows the Avian continent of Rontu-Aru and the central islands of the Merfolk.

The Merfolk wished to make trade easier with the southern sea, The Neck. They prayed to their god, Drolfo, to open up a quick path to the Neck.

Drolfo summoned a giant octopus named Selcatnet which dug a trench through the mountain range on the northern edge of the Lower Maw. This trench became the Great Canal that separates the Lower Maw from the Eastern Maw.

The Merfolk came down to Rontu-Aru and set up trading outposts with the Avians.

The Avians were resistant to the outsiders. Eventually a prophet rose up and formed an army to attack the Merfolk.

War raged for many years and eventually the Merfolk won. The fish people enslaved the bird people. Now intelligent beings are exported along with goods from the jungles and marshes of Rontu-Aru.

The Merfolk are in an excellent position for trade at the physical center of Gurutama. They trade with all the civilized races of our world, humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and the Rana. Rana are frog people that live in the Eastern Maw.

There’s more to get into, but that feels like enough for one blog post. That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 2

How I Played Dawn of Worlds

The map I made of Gurutama using Campaign Cartographer.
The map I made of Gurutama using Campaign Cartographer.

Dawn of Worlds can take awhile to play and time is valuable.

My friends are spread out all over the state. We get together in person very rarely and when we do, we want that time to be well spent.

While Dawn of Worlds is fun, it isn’t the most fun we can be having when we are together physically. We played Dawn of Worlds over the internet instead.

We set up an email thread for each of the three ages as we played. I am the usual DM and organizer for our group so I managed the email thread and game while we played.

I rolled the dice to decide how many points each person got and to decide the order in which we’d influence our growing world.

I also created a map which was updated to match the events of each turn.

I created the map using a cool program specifically designed for creating fantasy maps called Campaign Cartographer.

We played slowly over a couple months and by the end we had several thousand years of history for our world.

I’ve told you a little about the world and I plan to tell more in future posts.

Just a short post for tonight though! That’s all!

-Mister Ed

Dawn of Worlds

The cover on the 12 page PDF of the rules for Dawn of Worlds
The cover on the twelve page PDF of the rules for Dawn of Worlds.

Dawn of Worlds is an interesting game my friends and I have played a few times. The rules can be found at the website of Legends, the creator, if you’re interested.

Most games have a set goal to win the game. Having all the money in Monopoly, having the highest score in Scrabble, getting all your pawns home in Sorry, etc.

Dawn of Worlds is… different.

The game was designed not to be competitive or even really to be fun. The goal of the game is to create a fantasy world as a setting for a novel or a roleplaying campaign world.

My friends and I used this to create the world for our next campaign.

How does the game work? It’s really simply actually.

Each turn you get 2d6 points to spend on the world. There are ways to get bonus points as well.

The points are used to add things to the world or to influence already existing entities in the world. I can use my points to add a mountain range. On my next turn I could also use my points to infest the mountain range with dragons.

Everyone else is using their points to create or change things in the world as well.

The game has three ages. Different actions cost different amounts during the different ages.

The first age makes creating terrain features cheap and makes other actions expensive. You’re supposed to be building the physical world at this point.

The second age makes creating races and cities cheap. You build up a civilization during this age.

The third age makes changing races and cities cheap. The game encourages conflict between the players at this point.

The third age is probably the most interesting due to the conflict between parts, but this conflict is different than other games.

In Scrabble I fight with my opponent for the triple word score bonuses at the edge of the board.

In Dawn of Worlds, the conflicts aren’t really about having my civilization “win.” I just want a more interesting story for the game.

I found myself most often in conflict with one of my buddies whose internet name is Throgg. He developed a civilization of humans while I developed dwarves.

Throughout the whole game the humans and the dwarves fought. In the end neither side won the war, it was still ongoing when we ended the game.

Why would we end the game with the conflict unresolved?

Because that was the point! Now when we play D&D within the world there are issues threatening the peace and security of the world. Issues that our characters can attempt to solve, avoid, or survive.

Will our characters try to end the conflict between the dwarves and humans? Will they try to repel the undead scourge coming out of the north? Will they journey into the southern jungles looking for the first civilizations of the bird people?

We could eventually do all these things over a series of different campaigns. But Dawn of Worlds allowed us to create a world together with a history that we all know and had some impact on.

Gurutama is the name of the world we created. I think we’ll enjoy playing in Gurutama much more than in any other campaign world because it’ll no longer be a world where only the DM has the full picture. Now everyone will have some input.

I plan on posting more about Gurutama for awhile. The basics of the world were fleshed out in our playing of Dawn of Worlds, but there are many specifics to still fill in. I’m going to use this blog as a tool for writing down those specifics and getting input from the general public as well if there is any input to give.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Acceptance Wall

Normally I’d post something about D&D on Monday, but this week I’ll be showing off something that came in the mail recently.

My first graduate school acceptance letter.
My first graduate school acceptance letter.

I got into graduate school! Hurray! Validation!

This year I only applied to local schools as my wife is in the first year of a two year program for her teaching credential.

I applied to two programs at the college I got my undergraduate degree from and a third program at a nearby CSU (Sac State).

I’ve been rejected from one of the programs and have yet to hear back from the other one, but Sac State has accepted me! Woohoo!

Assuming the other program doesn’t accept me, I will be driving to the capital every day to learn and research science stuff.

The professor I’ve been placed with studies salmonella. I haven’t read up a lot on it, but what I saw on the papers she’s published was interesting.

Salmonella typically hurt your body in many ways one of which is by attacking your macrophage cells. Macrophages are the part of your immune system that eats bacterial invaders.

The salmonella bacteria don’t like being eaten by macrophages though. They protect themselves by putting poisons into your macrophages.

The professor has helped discover how this process works and she is attempting to harness the power of salmonella for good, not evil!

You see, if salmonella are so good at invading macrophages and killing them, they can also be used to invade macrophages and help them.

We can modify salmonella to make it deliver medicine to macrophages. This could do a number of things.

It could protect against auto-immune diseases like HIV. It could also super charge the immune system to assist the fight against other bacterial infections. These two things are some of the most sought after effects in medicine right now.

HIV is a huge problem throughout the developing world, so the interest in that is obvious.

The second effect, of boosting the immune system is even more amazing in my opinion.

Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, STIs, and many others are currently treated with antibiotics. But bacteria can evolve and become immune to these antibiotics.

Researchers can come up with new antibiotics, but in a few years the disease will have evolved immunity to it again.

But what if you treated the disease just by making the immune system better? The bacteria can still evolve past this, but it takes much longer to do that than to develop antibiotic resistance. Possibly long enough that the disease can be eradicated entirely? That would be astounding.

While my original goal was to get entrance into a PhD program, working on making people immune to disease doesn’t sound that bad either. I think I’ll be quite happy at Sac State.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 3

https://i0.wp.com/ddragon.leagueoflegends.com/cdn/img/champion/splash/Nocturne_0.jpg

League of Legends Map Part 2

In this post I use the word champion a lot. A champion is the character a player uses within League of Legends. There are over a hundred champions to choose from. The picture above is of one of my favorite champions, Nocturne.

How do people actually play on the map for League of Legends? Why have I described all these turrets and minions and monsters?

The reason is the one of the in game currencies, gold.

League of Legends has three in game currencies, Influence Points (IP), Riot Points (RP), and gold.

IP and RP aren’t used when actually playing the game. They can get you new champions to play with or new looks for those champions. They also get you minor bonuses in game called runes.

Gold is used for purchases while actually playing the video game. Gold starts at 475 at the beginning of every game, enough for one small item.

For a bit of perspective, short games often end with each player having 6,000-9,000 gold. An average length game ends with each player having 12,000-15,000 gold. A long game ends with 15,000-20,000 gold for each player.

Gold buys items. These items can do tons of different things.

They all provide a few basic statistics, making your champion stronger in particular areas. Attack damage makes your attacks stronger, ability power makes your abilities stronger, armor and magic resist prevent a bit of damage to your champion. Health lets your champion take more damage over all. Speed makes your champion faster. You get the idea.

The big items also provide a few special bonuses. One of them lets your champion freeze in place for one second and ignore all damage during that period. Another gives extra strength to all the other players on your team. Another makes your attacks hit three enemies instead of just one. There are dozens of other cool little bonuses.

But how do you get more gold to buy items? There are four basic ways, killing things, having items that give gold, destroying towers or other large objectives, and just waiting (everyone gets a certain amount of gold per second no matter what).

First, killing things. If your champion gets the last hit to kill a minion, monster, or opposing champion, then your champion gets a certain amount of gold.

The amount of gold from kills is decided by how hard it is to kill the target. Champions give the most, followed by the big monsters at each monster camp. After that are minions, with the small monsters at each monster camp being last.

There are a few items that give you more gold just by having them. The ways they give you gold vary. Some give it when you are close to someone else who kills a minion, some give you more for each thing you kill, etc.

Destroying towers or other large objectives is the point of the whole game. Taking down one of those gives a bunch of gold to the whole team. Often the team of five people will gather up to take down a specific tower or objective.

What are the other objectives? Remember the Baron Nashor and Dragon I mentioned in a previous post? Those are the other objectives.

Baron Nashor and the Dragon are two large monsters that sit in their camps adjacent to the River. They are effectively as big as a turret and can deal nearly as much damage as one. Because of this the whole team or close to the whole team is usually required to take them down as minions will not be taking the laser shots like they do at towers.

Killing Baron Nashor or the Dragon gives the whole team a buttload of gold. Baron Nashor has the additional benefit of giving a buff to your whole team, increasing all of their statistics. This buff lasts for four minutes.

The Baron respawns after seven minutes while the Dragon respawns after six minutes.

A lot of the gameplay of League of Legends requires teamwork. I’ll describe how a team is chosen in another post.

If reading this has gotten you interested in League of Legends you can click this link to download the game for free. Doing so also gives me a little boost in game, so we’re both winners! League of Legends Signup Link

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Meta