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Warcraft Resources for D&D 5e

Man, this is one of those projects I just look at and think "Did I really do all of this?" I've definitely got lost in this do...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Adventures in Coding

Well, I've made it through 1/4 of my web development and coding course this year. Two more quarters to go, and then I have an externship at the company who started the program and where my instructors are from for the rest of the year. As usual, time goes by at a breakneck speed no matter what because I'm an adult, but I'll be honest—the hours of the day crawl by agonizingly.

I'm working full-time while going to school, and many days school is boring or we do reviews for the students who are behind, which makes driving 20 minutes at 7:00 in the morning seem like a waste of time. Even worse, though, is my job. For the past couple of months, we've had next to no work to do. Our team is overstaffed, and several of our clients have simply dropped off for some reason I don't care enough to find out (I just work here. I'm no SEO or business enthusiast). So many times I come into work and am done with all my duties after as little as an hour and a half, and then I have to look busy for the remaining 6 or 7 hours till 7:00 pm.

Thank goodness for D&D, both in playing form (we play during our lunch hour every Monday—totally worth the one less hour of paid work per week) and in watching/listening form through Critical Role (I love Mondays), or else I would go insane. But I still ride the line of craziness most of the week when I get tired of fantasizing about playing a group with my siblings again and investing in worldbuilding for a future game to an unhealthy amount. There's such thing as "entertaining yourself to death." This may be the most first-world-problematic thing I've ever said, but I hate coming home from work and not feeling like watching YouTube videos or shows because I've already done that all day and the experience has been cheapened.

And yet, that is why I'm in this situation. I'm sick of my job, I hate working in SEO and editing, and I so very bitterly crave a satisfying career. So I'm learning languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in hopes that they can get me a job that, even at an entry level, will double my salary.

And now for the positive part: I do really love coding! My instructors aren't the sharpest teachers, but that's mainly because they're professional coders, so they know best how to just sort of emanate expertise and hope we can follow along. But the coding itself is fun, I love the problem-solving aspect of it and the vastness of possibility in terms of what I could possibly make now, and I really enjoy the thrill of debugging! Whenever I figure out a particularly troublesome bug, I hear this music in my head. :D

My brother who is a CS major has helped me out quite a bit to wrap my head around the logic involved in JavaScript, and the best way for me to do that is to make it as geeky as possible! If you're into coding, this may demonstrate my method of thinking:

let deathKnight = new Class(Arthas,

Anyway, another thing I've been able to have fun with is making my own programs. D&D-related, of course, and once I perfect them, they'll likely be really useful for worldbuilding in future campaigns (as I said, an unhealthy amount). So here they are if you're interested in using them. Just don't spread the word too much, since I'm technically using information found in a purchased book, so it may not be strictly lawful good, if you know what I mean:

Character Generator


This generator is pretty rough, especially in the CSS sense. I have a lot of visual/UI polishing to do. But it currently does its primary job—that of generating a random race, class, and name—perfectly! You can even fill in fields that you don't want to be random and then randomize it till you get a result you like. You can also edit the text yourself if you want to tweak it.

Eventually I hope to get to the point where you can generate all kinds of different aspects of the character's story, and possibly even click a button to save the entire sheet as a PDF or something. I've gotten a bit discouraged with the coding on this one, mainly because there are SO many random tables I have to make and nest, but feel free to use it in its current state and check it for updates periodically.

Place/Landmark Generator


This one is a lot more solid. I really like how it turned out. Basically, you choose however many "moods" you want the generator to choose from, a biome or terrain type where the place is located, and whether or not you want it to generate a specific landmark or just the name of a region or town. I personally am really proud of how well I nailed the compound words that fit together. Almost every single time you press the button, it comes up with something that sounds evocative and fantastic. I took some inspiration from World of Warcraft, but the names sound a lot like what Matthew Mercer comes up with for his world of Exandria as well. Check these generated names out:
  • Ravenleaf Summit
  • Graysbrad Vineyards
  • Gloomdale Wilderness
  • Shimmerburn Dike
  • Grayflake Forest
  • Banebank Isle
  • Dawnburble Wetlands
  • Chainbush Gardens
If nothing else, this can serve as a great way to get inspiration for a fantasy map you're creating, especially if you're trying to deck out a region with landmarks, dungeons, or other places of interest. I may add some more functionality to this in the future as well; for example, adding the option to have shorter names or names that are more vague (which is sometimes more evocative), like "The Ghostburrows" or something. And I may add more word components as well. But for the most part, it's a solid tool that I'm proud to call my own!

I made a goal to update this blog at least twice a month. There's a lot I want to talk about and have kept putting off for months and years, and I want to show Pretzel Lectern some more love. And heaven knows I need something productive to do here at work!

I'll write again soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Inkarnate Argaenothruzil Map

I've been looking into all the D&D dungeon-mastering resources I can find (and brainstorming ideas for custom ones I could make someday) lately, and came across this nifty map making program Inkarnate. Naturally, I decided to adapt Argaenothruzil to it. I think it turned out great, though their workspace is extremely small... I ended up having to warp the map considerably and not even have enough room for the word 'Argaenothruzil' at the top or anything like that. The pro version apparently lets you make enormous maps. If I ever get enough money for a subscription, who knows? I may look into that.




Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Year Off

I'm tired. I'm tired of making so many projects that no one sees, and tired of having no time to work on the things that people do care about, like Knight Guy and the Warcraft 3 Easter Eggs series. And with me starting one last school degree this year to get certified in web development and coding, all while working full time, I've decided to take a year off from formal projects.

Will I still work on projects if I get excited about one? Sure! Will I still update this blog? Absolutely. In fact, the blog is one of the things I want to work on more, since I feel like I've neglected it for talking about things like nostalgia and relic projects—something I used to do and miss now.

I also just want to read more. I haven't red* anything long and engaging for years, now. I want to go back to old classics that I used to read as a kid, like Hatchet, Castle in the Attic, and The Seven Songs of Merlin, and look into new interesting series that I've wanted to try for a long time like Redwall. And I don't want to read them as audiobooks. I want to actually sit down with a good book and flip the pages and use a bookmark. I feel like a part of me from the past is missing, and this just feels like a way for me to bring it back.

I've also cut Facebook out of my life for the year! Or possibly forever. It's such a stupid waste of time.

Anyway, while I'm here, I thought I may as well showcase one more project I've been working on. It's basically just some "realism" homebrew rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. If you're interested, here are the links to two sets of them you might find fun for your own games:

Optional Realism Rules
Pregnancy Rules

I may update and fine-tune them from time to time, so feel free to check back on them and leave comments about them.

Anyway, here's to one more year of educational drudgery, in hopes of a career that will actually sustain my family and give me free time to work on stuff I care about!

_______
*Yes, I spelled it like "red." The past tense of "lead" is "led," so why isn't "read" the same way?! It's super hard to tell which it is since you have to rely on freaking context! I have an English language and editing degree. I reserve the right to use logic in place of what I know to be prescripted as the correct way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Christmas Carol Reading

A year ago, I made this audiobook reading for my mom as a Christmas present. It was a lot of fun to do a full-length project like this from start to finish. I learned a lot about what voice actors and audiobook performers have to go through, as well as how much the editing process plays a part in audio. It took me two days to record the 116-page novella, at a total of probably 6 or 7 hours of recording time (my voice was rather tired). After that, it was another 6 hours of editing as I listened to the entire thing and cut out all my mistakes, moments of dead air, etc. Finally, I had to listen to the whole thing over again, which ended up shortening to just about 2½ hours. Quite a bit of work for such a short production!

Still, I had a lot of fun, and the production turned out pretty nice overall. I had some fun with making the voices of three of the ghosts different, and someday it'd be fun to add background music and noises, รก la Graphic Audio, but I dunno if that'll happen. Either way, I'll be listening to this production every year for sure!

To preserve the value of the recording as a gift, I waited a year to post it. But here it is for everyone! Merry Christmas!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Lose 40 Pounds in 10 Months, and Keep It Off Forever


I never really was one to worry about my weight. I was always a pretty average-sized kid, and when I was a teenager, I ate all I wanted and my body never changed. But after getting married, the pounds slowly started packing on. I didn't really think much of it. I felt fine and took pride in my love of all foods and willingness to lick my plate clean with every meal so nothing was wasted. Besides, all my weight seemed to just go to my gut. I didn't really "look" fat at a glance. But once I hit 210 pounds, I decided it was time to lose some weight. Fast forward to today, nine months later, and I'm 40 pounds lighter! Let me tell you the keys to my incredibly successful weight loss story and you may find something that works for you.

1. It's all about the calories—not working out


That "before" picture was actually taken a bit earlier than when my weight loss journey this year started. I took it because I decided I was going to start going to the gym each morning before work. I began a discounted gym membership with my work and went and worked out each morning. I lifted weights one day and then ran on the eliptical every other day. After working out, I'd come back home ravenous and reward myself with a huge breakfast. I told myself all the while that I would lose weight from turning fat into muscle, and that at the end of the summer I'd be fit and back to a healthy weight.

It didn't work. I got a little bit stronger (for the first time in my life someone asked me "Have you been working out?"), but I weighed the same and still had my paunch. Eventually I gave up, mostly because I didn't feel like I fit in at the gym, but mostly because it just didn't seem to be making a big difference. Then my dad showed me the app LoseIt. I started counting my calories every day with a calorie budget, subtracting calories that I lost from exercising (all built in the app), and the results were immediate, significant, and satisfying.

I learned from experience that dieting is for your weight. Working out is for your shape. And the best part was, I didn't need to cut anything out of my diet. Just eat less of it. I could never stick to a routine where I couldn't eat my favorite foods ever again, or where I had to exercise a ton every day just to stay the same weight. One day I'd slip up, and that'd be the end of it. I'd just get right back to my old routines.

2. Smart eating


Using LoseIt, I learned a lot about how much I really needed to eat to get full, and eventually it even became a game to me, seeing how few calories I could consume each day while still feeling healthy. Turns out, we eat a lot more than we really need to. And on top of all that, I learned about which foods were calorie-rich and not worth eating. I've since cut a lot of cheese, dairy, and carbs out of my diet, and it's helped me make good habits that will help me keep my weight off. Forever. Did I ever splurge? Sure, I ate at Chuck-A-Rama with my wife once and gained 4 pounds in one day, but the next day I skipped breakfast, ate a salad for lunch, and drank lots of cleansing lemon water and was back on track the next day.

One trick I learned to stay full around lunch time is to eat two mini-lunches instead of one big one. If you eat half of your lunch at 11:30 and the other half at 1:30, you stay full for a bigger part of the afternoon, and eliminate time that you usually spend snacking. Losing weight is all about covering all your weight-loss bases, whether that be eliminating bad habits, planning ahead for different situations, and so forth.

3. Slow and steady


Everyone wants to lose weight immediately. Everyone wants to be instantly and eternally skinny or fit. But the fact is, your body likes being fat. It's still got its caveman tendencies of "I don't know when my next meal will be, so better stock up!", so it'll turn against you time and time again unless y
ou take it slow. When I stuck to a calorie budget over the period of 9 or 10 months, my body slowly adapted to me eating less, trusting me and forming a new base weight where it could enjoy homeostasis. So many diets make you lose a ton at once, which your body is fine with because it just thinks you're going through a food famine. But as soon as you make one mistake, you blow up like a balloon and are back at square one. I got to my goal weight of 170, and it's been easy as pie for me to stay at or around that weight, even if I'm eating pie. As long as you weigh yourself every morning and never let yourself get more than 5 pounds over your goal weight, it's a piece of cake to stay at your goal weight. Even if you eat cake.

That's another thing—weigh yourself every day. For the rest of your life. I've heard some people say they get anxiety or get frustrated when they weigh themselves every day because they get worried when they don't see results, but that's ridiculous. If you don't weigh yourself, you're not being accountable to yourself on a regular basis. Of course you're going to plateau sometimes, but the trick is to look at the long-term. Don't get discouraged if at the 10% mark you haven't lost 10% of your goal weight. Just keep doing the same things day after day, and one day you'll look at yourself in the mirror and see your collarbone again, or you'll have to drill a new hole in your belt, or your pajama pants will start falling down.

Conclusion


Weight loss doesn't have to be impossible or hard. You don't have to accept your heavy body the way it is. If you just commit to a steady, simple calorie budget; weigh yourself every day, and work on changing your habits, your body will do all the work for you in creating a new body for yourself. If you take it slow, it'll trust you more, and you'll find a new baseline for your body to feel comfortable at. It'll make it a lot harder for your body to bounce back to your old ways. The best part of all is that once you're done losing, you're done! Forever! You can splurge more often, eat those desserts you crave, and indulge on the things that other diets say are forbidden. Your habits will ensure that you don't go back to the way you used to eat, and you'll enjoy feeling better on a regular basis, thinner and in control.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Year of Selfies!

For the past year, I've been taking a selfie every day. I've been looking forward to finally compiling all of them into this video, with my theme song in the background! I've also lost 35 pounds since February, so it's fun to see that pretty visibly too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Project: D&D Item Sheet

Since D&D has become a bigger part of my life over the past few months, I've been having a huge interest in compiling resources and making the DMing process as streamlined as possible. My latest venture has been copying all of the items from the Dungeon Master's Guide into a Google Sheet for easy filtering by rarity, item type, etc. After doing this, I decided to have some fun and adapt the artifacts from Heroes of Might and Magic III and the items from Warcraft III into D&D 5th edition as well. They've been one of the most amazing sources of inspiration for me. It's fun to try and adapt things like morale bonuses and Warcraft mechanics into D&D's system. Here are a few examples of the items and my take on what they do in D&D:
***
Hearthstone
Wondrous item, rare

This item resembles a round, polished stone with a faintly glowing blue rune imprinted on it. In order to attune to the hearthstone, you must spend 10 minutes meditating and holding the stone, at which point an invisible destination mark is placed at your location. After this attunement takes place, you can speak the command word and spend 1 minute holding the stone and concentrating on it, after which you instantly transport yourself and everything you are carrying back to the mark, even if it is on a different plane of existence. Once being used this way, the hearthstone cannot be used again for 24 hours. You can create a new destination mark at any time, spending the 10 minutes of concentration again. If you break your attunement with the hearthstone or if someone else attunes to it, the mark you have made vanishes.

Khadgar's Pipe of Insight
Wondrous item, very rare

When this intricately crafted pipe is smoked by a spellcaster during a short rest, any spellcasters within the 30-foot faint smoke cloud regain spell slots with a combined level of equal to or less than a third of the smoker's spellcasting level (minimum 3), similar to the Arcane Recovery ability of wizards. In addition, all creatures within the smoke with an Intelligence score of at least 11 who can speak a language gain the ability to cast the prestidigitation cantrip until their next long or short rest. The pipe can only be smoked in this way once per dawn.

Ancient Janggo of Endurance
Wondrous item, uncommon

If you use your activity while traveling to beat on this janggo during a forced march, all members of your party have advantage on the Constitution saving throws to avoid exhaustion. If you are proficient in the Performance skill while doing this, all party members also get a bonus to their roll equal to your Performance skill modifier.

Amulet of the Undertaker
Wondrous item, very rare

If you die while wearing this coffin-shaped amulet, you immediately rise as a zombie, using the stats of the zombie found in the Monster Manual, except your Intelligence score matches the one you had in life. You can use your items as normal, but you count as Undead and cannot regain lost hit points. If you reduce a creature to 0 hit points using your Attack action while in zombie form, your body is restored to life with 1 hit point, and the amulet turns to dust. You suffer the -4 penalty condition matching that of the resurrection spell thereafter. If you are reduced to 0 hit points while in zombie form or if the amulet of the undertaker is removed from your person in this form, you and your zombie form are utterly destroyed.

The Grail
Wondrous item, artifact

This resembles a dazzling, expertly crafted golden chest, lined with pearls and topped with an ornate golden crest. The Grail sheds bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light 30 feet beyond that. No one knows what is inside the chest, as it is magically sealed and impossible to open. As long as the Grail is above ground and not surrounded by dirt or buried, divine blessings follow it wherever it goes. The following effects apply within a 1-mile radius of the Grail:
  • All plant life is immune to disease and become "enriched" as per the plant growth spell; any diseases the plants currently have fade after 1d4 days upon entering the Grail's radius.
  • Pests and vermin within the radius feel afraid of the Grail and avoid it, making efforts to move away from it over time.
  • Humanoids and beasts within the radius are affected as if by the protection from evil and good spell.
  • All food and drink within the radius is purified, as per the purify food and drink spell.
  • All humanoids and beasts who die within the radius are affected immediately with the gentle repose spell, but cannot be affected more than once by it.
It is likely that villages and towns recognize the holder of the Grail as a great and noble leader, and they are likely to want to build a structure to keep the Grail above ground and guarded. Enemies or rivals of the Grail's town may attempt to steal the Grail or seize it through violent means. 
The Grail cannot be destroyed, but its effects can be suppressed if it is interred in the earth or surrounded by dirt. In this situation, its effects fade over the course of 1d6 days, and it is affected as if by a nondetection spell. Within 10 miles of this location, mysterious writings, riddles, engravings, and clues work their way into books, stone and wood carvings, and other forms of language. Those who are seeking the Grail can follow these riddles to eventually narrow down its location and unearth it.
***

Kudos if you recognize any of the names of these items! If you'd like to look at my sheet, feel free to check it out here, It may be incomplete for a while yet, and I may add new additions to it in the future that you'll find useful if you're a DM, such as monster creation guides or spells. Either way, I always love me a good project!