D&D prep

Wednesday is Ethics day, and I took my regular Year 6 class again this morning. We discussed various scenarios where people had to choose between friends or relatives and other people who were more deserving by some measure. It was interesting that in each case there were kids willing to argue in favour of either decision. Also there were some circumstances where they clearly favoured the family/friend while in another scenario with different circumstances they favoured the non-family/non-friend.

One scenario was a girl whose parents buy her a new soccer ball because hers is old and worn out. Her friend’s ball is also old and worn out, but the friend’s parents don’t have as much money, so can’t afford to get her a new ball. The question was, should the wealthier child’s parents buy her friend a ball as well? Most of the class said no, the parents had no obligation to their child’s friend.

Another scenario was a boy out sailing in a custom built two-person boat. Near shore, two people call out to him to take them for a sail: one younger boy who is a sailing club member who helped build the boat, but is not allowed to sail it alone, and the sailor’s friend, who is older but not a club member and didn’t help build the boat. In this case, most of the class said the sailor should take the younger boy, because he helped build the boat. (I get these scenarios in the teacher curriculum – I don’t make them up.)

The other thing I did today was visit Andrew Shellshear, who is hosting Friday night’s D&D extravaganza. I’m doing some stuff with projections for ambience, and we tested out his projector and figured out where to point it. He’s constantly designing board games these days, and showed me his work in progress on a new version of a game he’s been working on for a few months. Our group has been playtesting it and it’s pretty good! Hopefully I’ll be able to point you all at a Kickstarter or something in the future.

This afternoon my wife and I took Scully for a walk at a nearby park. I did some more prep for D&D on Friday, and that was the day. Tomorrow morning I hit the photography set for new comics!

Unforeseen events

Today I planned to photograph a batch of new Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’ve written over the past few days. But first thing this morning I had to visit the dentist for a routine hygiene/clean thingy. Alas, it turned out that I had a cracked tooth, which needed filling…

I ended up spending over two hours there, and left with a numb face. Arriving home a lot later than I thought and not feeling the best, I decided to give the photography a miss and leave it until Thursday. Instead I did some more prep for Friday night’s D&D game, and a bit of coding on a secret new random text generator, which promises to be a lot of fun.

Oh, and on the way home from the dentist, I got swooped by a magpie! It’s still the middle of winter, but it’s so warm and spring-like already that the magpies are apparently nesting already. It hit me full in the back of the shoulder and head as it dive-bombed me. I was rather shocked as I haven’t really been attacked by a magpie for several years – I’m usually pretty cautious when I know they’re nesting, but it never would have occurred to me that they’d be laying eggs so early in the year.

It really has been an amazingly warm winter here. There are still trees with autumn and even pre-autumn green foliage that hasn’t dropped, while other trees are sprouting new spring foliage already. And the magnolias are in full bloom:

Comic writing…

I knuckled down and wrote a big batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips today. I’ll photograph them tomorrow morning and then assemble them over the next few days. Might show off a preview photo or two tomorrow. But the main question I had today was a matter of pirate grammar: Which of these is most correct?

  • the cook ne’er been captured
  • the cook ne’er bein’ captured
  • the cook ne’er be bein’ captured
  • the cook ne’er been bein’ captured

Speaking of comics, I’ve had some new submissions for Lightning Made of Owls after a big period of no new strips coming in. A new one was published last Friday, and another today.

Then I did some stuff with character sheets from my players for Friday evening’s upcoming D&D game. I’m letting them generate 5th level characters to start the game with, and so granting them some magic items. They have some limited choice, but I’m deciding the final items. I’m trying to pick things that would fit their characters and which will be useful and fun in play.

The other main thing I did today was house painting. We had some work done a while back to repair some minor cracks in the walls and gaps along ceiling joints and stuff, and rather than pay the repairers to paint, I decided to just do the painting myself. I’ve been slowly doing it in bursts, as there’s a lot of undercoating and then top coats to apply to all the various surfaces. The cool thing is I get to use the drybrushing technique I learnt for painting miniature gaming figures to blend the touch-up paint colour with the original paint. The touch-up paint is almost the same colour as the original paint, but it’s just possible to discern a difference if you look carefully. But much harder with a drybrushed transition between them. Gaming skills in real life, yeah!

Winter Sunday

Spent time with the wife and Scully today. We did a 5 km walk around the neighbourhood, passing two dog parks along the way where Scully got to run around and chase a tennis ball. We stopped at a bakery for morning tea, and then walked home via the marina down in the bay.

At the marina

Work-wise, I wrote some scripts for new Irregular Webcomic! strips, tidied up tonight’s new Darths & Droids strip for publication, and worked a bit on the mezzacotta random generators. Andrew Coker, whose original idea led to these random generators, did a lot of coding work today, developing a new generator to produce random art description plaques, like you see in art galleries, that give the title, artist, and a description of the work. It’s not quite ready to show off yet, but if you look at the Github project you can see the code as we commit and push it.

Here are some preview samples of the sort of artwork titles we can generate:

  • Portrait of the artist’s sister-in-law
  • Composition of pentagons and squiggles
  • Self-portrait as Agamemnon
  • The perfection of love in the toe of someone laughing
  • Allegory on the vision of Satyr

Sunny Saturday

It’s Saturday evening here and it’s been another beautiful warm winter’s day. I know there’s currently a record-breaking heatwave in Europe. It should be winter here at this time of year, but I swear it’s almost as if autumn never really ended, while spring has already begun. There are a lot of deciduous trees with old leaves still on them, while at the same time a lot of trees are flowering for spring already. There are magnolias, cherry blossoms, rhododendrons, camellias, and some others that I don’t know the names of flowering all over the neighbourhood. Oh, the golden wattle is also flowering, but then that always flowers in winter:

Wattle flowering

Today I took Scully to the vet for her first annual booster vaccination. She’s 16 months old now, and the vet says she’s looking fit and healthy.

I was planning to write a bunch of Irregular Webcomic! strips today, as I want to photograph and make a new batch in the upcoming week, but I never got around to it, doing other little things and household chores that chopped up the day. I’ll have another go tomorrow.

But what I did complete today was uploading photos for another day of my travel diary from my trip to Portugal back in May. I posted the diary entry over on my personal blog, where I post such things.

New movies!

Bit of a hodge-podge day today. Made a dentist appointment, dropped off some dry cleaning, did some grocery shopping…

Oh, I worked some more on the D&D adventure I mentioned yesterday. It’s not complete, but it’s now in a state where I can share it with interested people to get some comments, and see if they want to try playtesting it with their own D&D groups. I’ve uploaded it to my Secret Patron Page, which Patreon patrons have access to. (If you’d like to see work in progress like this, please consider sponsoring me on Patreon!)

And I did a bit more coding work on the mezzacotta random generators, exposing the board game description generator (work in progress), and the version 2.0 incarnation of mezzacotta Cinématique (that link is version 1), the random movie generator. And it has a shiny new high-res logo (click on the image or here to go to the new version 2.0):

Cinématique v 2.0 logo

And finally I did a thing I’ve been meaning to do for some time. I contacted the after school child care centre near the school where I teach Ethics classes, and volunteered to supervise kids one afternoon a week. Specifically on Wednesdays, during the weekly chess/games club. I’m offering to supervise a group of 4-6 children and Dungeon Master a game of Dungeons & Dragons for them! I don’t know if they will take up my offer, but at least I’ve made the move. One thing I have going for me is that I have a few years of experience working with primary school students, as well as being accredited by the State Government to work in a child supervision role. So hopefully it’ll work out! I’ll keep you updated.

Adventure creation

Today was a designated writing day, specifically for a Dungeons & Dragons adventure that I’m planning to run with my friends on Friday week. We’re starting a new campaign and this is going to be the introductory adventure to a game set in the world of Ravnica.

Ravnica is a world first developed for Magic: the Gathering, being the setting for a trio of card sets released back in 2005. At the time we were heavily into playing Magic, and we played a lot of draft tournaments with this block. I really enjoyed the setting and the world building that went into it. At the time, I said I really wanted to run a D&D campaign set in Ravnica.

Wind forward 14 years, and the time has finally come. Wizards of the Coast have even released an official D&D sourcebook based on Ravnica, so I don’t have to do as much work as I would have years ago. Anyway, the date has been set for 8 days hence, and I am most of the way through writing the adventure. I spent time today adding details and scenes and game mechanics notes. It’s not quite finished but I’m confident I have plenty of material for the first session.

Once this adventure is complete, I plan to publish it, probably on DM’s Guild. I’ve always enjoyed writing RPG material, and have several publications for the GURPS roleplaying game. My plan for the near future is to write more material, mostly for D&D but possibly also some generic stuff, and publish either on DM’s Guild or RPGNow. Stay tuned for when my adventures and other source material becomes available!

Ethics day

This week is the first week of the third school term of the year, and on Wednesdays I volunteer to teach a class on Ethics to Year 6 children at a local school. This is part of the New South Wales Primary Ethics program, a volunteer program to offer classes in ethics during the weekly lesson time set aside for religious education, as an alternative for parents who don’t want their kids to attend religion classes. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now.

Today we started a new topic: Moral Responsibility. The first lesson involved a couple of stories providing contrasting choices: helping storm victims who live near you, versus tsunami victims in another, poorer country; and providing mining and forestry jobs, resources, and money for schools and hospitals, versus leaving wilderness areas untouched for future generations. We read the scenarios and then discuss them. The kids were pretty evenly split on helping local disaster victims versus foreign ones, but they were mostly in favour of preserving wilderness, even at the expense of jobs and infrastructure for people in the present. It’s always interesting listening to kids’ perspectives on these topics.

I walked to the school and back home, a trek of 8 kilometres according to my fitness tracking app. So that took up most of the morning. This afternoon I took it a bit easy, hacking a little bit on the mezzacotta random generators code.

On the walk home, I found a patch of nasturtiums in the warm winter sunlight. They looked cool from above, but even cooler from below:

Under the nasturtiums

And we’re live!

Hi everyone! I’ve been thinking for quite a while about making a new portal page for people interested in following my creative work and other stuff. Yesterday I decided to knuckle down and make it, and I previewed it early to my Patreon patrons to get some feedback while I was fiddling with the graphic design.

(Techy details: I had to dig pretty deep into WordPress custom CSS to get the design working how I wanted, removing a lot of excessive negative space in the sidebar. And then it turned out I’d stupidly installed the code into a sub-subdirectory rather than a subdirectory of my web root, so I spent another couple of hours moving directories, editing config files, and trawling through the WordPress database to edit all mentions of the sub-subdirectory. And then hack the .htaccess file to change the default landing page for the web domain. Thankfully it all seems to be working, but it’s possible there’ll be a glitch somewhere.)

TL;DR: It took more work than I’d expected, but we’re up and running!

The other thing I did today was write a new Proof that the Earth is a Globe: #21. Zodiacal light. I started about 9am and worked on that to about 2pm, so that was most of the day. But I’m pleased with this one. How often do you get to cite Brian May’s Ph.D. thesis in a piece of scientific writing?

Then I took Scully (my dog) out for a bit of walk, and spent the rest of the afternoon getting this new home page up and running. Here’s a photo of Scully (taken a couple of days ago):

Scully on a bushwalk

Isn’t she cute?