Monday, November 21, 2022

New magic Items for D&D

A couple of weeks ago I ran "Don't say Vecna" for my player. When I was reading through the adventure in preparation for the game, I could not help but notice the keys to access the portal to Vecna's lair were the hand and eye of one of the inhabitants of the tower. Of course these were not magic items and the persons name was not Kevin, but I thought it would be hilarious if these items were watered down versions of the real thing. This is what I came up with;

The Eye of Kevin

  • You have Darkvision for 120 feet, if you already have Darkvision, the Eye doubles the distance of your Darkvision.
  • Any spell requiring an attack roll you make deals an extra 2d8 cold damage on a hit.

The Hand of Kevin

  • Your Strength score becomes 16, unless it is already 16 or higher, then you receive a +2 to your Strength score up to a maximum of 20.
  • Any melee weapon attack made with a weapon held by it, deals an extra 2d8 cold damage on a hit.

Both the Hand and Eye of Kevin

  • You gain proficiency in Intimidation, if you already have Intimidation, you gain Expertise in Intimidation.
  •  If you start your turn with at least 1 hit point, you may roll 1 Hit Die to regain hit points.
  The Hand and Eye of Kevin requires separate attunment. Attunment takes place upon touching the item and causes 2d6 psychic damage and 2d6 necrotic damage. The items integrate themselves into the characters body and retain the look of the item, which will disturb most people unless effort is made to cover them up with an eye patch, glove or illusion. The character can remove attunment at any time, in which case they once again take 2d6 psychic damage and 2d6 necrotic damage, but otherwise return to the state they were in prior to attunement.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Review: They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears by Johannes Anyuru

They Will Drown in Their Mothers' TearsThey Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears by Johannes Anyuru
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was a rough read. It might be an artifact of the translation process, but transition between scenes was nothing less than horrifying. It felt like at times the author would move from one scene to another halfway through a paragraph. I get the author was telling two different stories, and they were attempting to give the reader a sense of confusion about the reality being created, however it did not work for me at all, it ended up feeling like bad writing compounded by bad translation work.

It did not help that this book was depressing and not just slightly depressing, the kind of depressing that makes you loose your will to live. The first of the two main characters Annika/Nour, is supposed to be a time traveler sent back in time to prevent a terrorist attack, she is supposed to be a sympathetic character. The problem is, she comes off as a terrorist who had a last minute change of heart and is now trying to get off on an insanity plea. I found her story to be completely unbelievable and about as compelling as your average Bruce Willis movie. I was not even slightly convinced she was a time traveler.

The second main character, an unnamed writer she asks to come visit her at the asylum she is locked up in. He gets caught up in her story and ends up visiting her several times. This casts a shadow over his own life and his relationship with his wife and daughter. No journalist outside of Info Wars would touch this story, let alone actually entertaining a person like Annika/Nour, who is either batshit crazy or a con artist.

Bad writing, bad story, bad characters. I highly recommend avoiding this one.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Setting up a Mastodon Server

I spent the better part of today setting up a Mastodon Server. For those who don't know what Mastodon is, it is a Twitter replacement. Getting an account on Mastodon is not quit as intuitive as Twitter, the hardest part being finding a server. Over the last week, I have been considering this move because of the Elon Musk/Twitter train wreck currently going on. I am not a huge Twitter user, but I know a few people who are and I was thinking they might need a place to land eventually and once you have a server it is very easy to sign in and start using.

For the last year or so, I have been getting into self hosting. I have my own ESXi server for virtual machines, I also have a machine dedicated to hosting Docker containers and I have gotten pretty good at building internet facing services. I am not going to go into any details about what I did to get everything running, there are plenty of good documents on the internet to help you do this, all I am going to do is provide an overview for those who are interested and think they might want to do this themselves.

My instance of Mastodon is hosted on a virtual machine on my ESXi server. I looked into doing it on Docker, which is my preference, but Docker seemed to make the process harder rather than easier. Besides that, backing up VM's is much easier than backing up Docker containers. I gave the VM 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of hard drive space and 4 CPU cores. I suspect that will be more than enough to handle a small user base, assuming I decide to keep it going. Looking at the monitoring tools I use, the install is taking up about 5 GB of storage, it is using 1.25 GB of memory and CPU usage is staying comfortably under 10%. Please keep in mind this is with basically 1 user, ME! I am certain if I had say 10 regular users, this would change.

I really only ended up with 2 major issues. The first was I had trouble getting HTTPS working properly, solving this issue was mostly about getting all the tricky little settings between the VM, my proxy server and Cloudflare talking properly, honestly I have no idea what I did that finally made it work. The second big issue I have is email verification does not work. I tried to follow the instructions for getting smtp working, but no matter what I did, it failed to send out emails correctly. Fortunately I can manually confirm users and since I do not really plan to have more than a handful of accounts, if any at all, this will not be a problem. All the other issues I had were with things like out dated documentation and variations with Linux commands, nothing that was not easily solved with a few minutes of thought.

I really have no intention at this point of actually allowing others to use this beyond myself and the wife. I doubt the twitter thing is going to result in Twitters implosion and in a couple of weeks it will all be over. I am going to leave it up and running for a while though just in case. Besides, who knows, I might actually decide I like Mastodon and use the server as my own beautiful virtual world.