08 January 2023

Halbardier Re-spin

(reposted from my frotz.prose.sh blog)

Helmbarten is Alex Schroeder's fantasy take on a Classic Traveller-style game, and I liked it so much I wanted to build a sci-fi game out of it. Alex and I did some work on it,  settled on Halbardier as a name, and then I never finished my work on it.

I have started to get back into it and I am working on it when time allows. I've had some different ideas since I last work on it, and this all may change again as I catch up to where I left off. I may stick with what I have in the book so far, but I started wondering what if the game universe looked more like Dune in the far future, where cultures are strange and three guilds or factions govern the interactions of all of the peoples in the galaxy.

It's not complete, and I'm still trying to come up with interesting and novel ideas. With that in mind, presented here is the work I've done so far on the three core careers of this idea and their skill choices. 


Viators are collectors and collators of the vast amount of information spread throughout the human Diaspora. To a Viator, knowledge is as important as breathable air or consumable food.

All Viators get Library-1 as they receive their first implant and the initial database implant. 

  • Exoterics index, collate, and flesh out the hard data the Viators collect across the galaxy.
  • Esoterics focus on "the knowledge within", and have developed some psi talents.
  • Entrists further the Viators' goals by influencing groups of people external to the Viator society.
  • Explorers discover and catalog resources for use by the other three branches of the Viator ideology, or for exploitation by the Spacer or Fighter organizations.
| 1d6 | Exoterica   | Esoterica | Entrism      | Exploration |
| --- | ----------- | --------- | ------------ | ----------- |
| 1   | Computer    | Charm     | Infiltration | Ship Ops    |
| 2   | Library     | Library   | Library      | Library     |
| 3   | Bureaucracy | Illusion  | Sneaking     | Survival    |
| 4   | Language    | Distract  | Spying       | Vehicle     |
| 5   | Society     | People    | Fighting     | Tinker      |
| 6   | Science     | Eyes      | Streetwise   | Fighting    |

27 December 2022

New Year - New(ish) Me

(repost from my frotz.prose.sh blog)

The end of the calendar year is drawing close, and my life has sort of settled down and perhaps this year I will have some time to write a little on my blog. It's hard for me to commit, as my attention wanders and small changes in my life tend to make big disruptive waves.

Platform Change

Aside from my work stuff (boring boring boring) and personal life (cringey tempest-in-a-teacup sort of stuff), the biggest change recently for me has been to switch away completely from living on the Windows platform to a 100% linux-based setup. I still have to have VMs to run the occasional Windows software, mainly for clients, but all of that takes place from within Linux and all of my personal stuff has been switched over.

I am hopeful that being able to use some better tools and processes will help me clear out my backlog of projects I want to tackle (just thinking about the list exhausts me, so I won't enumerate even a portion here), and maybe help me de-clutter my digital stuff a bit.

I landed on PopOS! for my desktop OS. I'm not really a GNOME fan (not of the "new" GNOME that replaced the old GNOME2, anyway), but System76 has made some nice enhancements to the interface and I'm really digging it, and I can stay on a stable release. Plus PopOS! has good support for my nVidia graphics card.

I hate, hate, hate the rolling-release model for day-to-day tool use; I want to be able to power on, log in, and get to work -- not worry that one of my tools has broken and then have to roll back or find an alternative. I have Fedora Silverblue on my laptop but I expect to replace that with PopOS! as well as I've spent too much time fiddling with it to get the same sort of parity. Since I don't use my laptop as much I don't know what I was thinking -- it needs to be more stable than my desktop, not less. Unfortunately my hardware tends to be too new or require too many non-free drivers to use Debian, so I'm going to have to relegate it to my server.


I'm going to try to do my take on the Dungeon23 project, but since I don't like following rules unless they're like a consensual agreement between parties I'm not going to follow along precisely. I figure I can do one area a week, but one room per day and using a paper journal and all that is just bollocks for me. I need less clutter in my home, not more. One area per week, digital content, and we'll see how it goes. I will probably put it up here once I get the logistics of hosting the images and files and I guess licensing figured out.

Other stuff

I expect I will post more ramblings about games as well - lately I've been thinking of the identity crisis of D&D and -alikes; the games can't seem to decide if they're supposed to be a coordinated team effort, or just the antics of superstars who are working side-by-side. I blame video games for this mentality (an easy scapegoat even if it's not totally accurate), and I expect I'll write up some stuff about this. Maybe some of it will actually be useful for discussion.

Wrap up

I think that's enough for one day. I hope if you're reading this your 2023 is better than your 2022 (no matter how good or bad your 2022 was). Maybe I can stick with this this year!

*** End of Line ***

04 September 2022


 Last week was my birthday, where I passed the 19,724 day milestone. That's a lot of days under one's belt. Aside from still working more than I want (of the seven days I set aside for myself I was able to forgo work on only two days), I've spent the time between then and now reading 15 books and messing around with a certain space MMO. 

(edit - forgot to account for leap years :-/ )

26 July 2022

Meatless (mostly)

 (reposted from my frotz.prose.sh blog)

I have reduced the amount of meat in my diet significantly, to try to help address some health issues I've been experiencing as I approach my middle fifties. I would say I went from 13/14 meals per week containing meat as a primary course to perhaps 4/14 containing meat at all, and maybe 1 or 2 per week where it was featured as a main course.

I say meatless, because I have not gone vegetarian. I still eat animal products like yogurt and cheese regularly. The (mostly) comes from an occasional breakfast or dinner with my partner, where I may indulge in something more than an egg or two (the bulk of my remaining meat consumption).

On the one hand, I hate being constrained. I hated when I had to give up drinking so much caffeinated sugar water, I hated when I had to cut back on the amount of coffee I drink, etc. But I get used to it -- after a month or two, I still remember the "great" days when I ate or drank what I wanted all the time, damn the consequences, but I don't feel like I really miss the experience so much. I just don't like not (really) having a choice.

It's been the same with the (mostly) meatless diet. It's not what I expected. I pictured endless dishes from a variety of cuisines that were known for featuring in vegetarian diets, but that is not what I've been doing. I have mainly been 'exploring' - trying to turn the vegetables and fruits I'm familiar with into dishes that I can eat regularly and in sufficient quantities to satisfy as main courses.

Thankfully, I only have to do this for myself which makes the process easier. However, my partner has been interested in trying some of the things I've prepared, and they have liked some of them (some of them, not so much :/ ).

I don't normally cook by recipe, so it's hard for me to provide anything that might be useful to someone, but I can give a general idea of some of the things I've made that both of us have enjoyed.

The caveat is that we both spent our formative years in southern California in the US, and Hispanic cuisine there was an important part of our diets, so I've focused a lot on replicating some of those foods, at least in spirit. None of these were invented by me - it's either something I ate when I lived in California, or inspired by something I ate from that time.


This one is essentially a fruit and dairy dish. It's simple and flexible, and may or may not sound appetizing. The idea is to take a mixed bowl of fruit (where I grew up this was a mix of local fruit grown in California and tropical fruit from Mexico), chopped/cut/pared into bite-sized pieces, and mix it with equal parts yogurt or sour cream and either sweetened or unsweetened condensed milk. I usually use thick yogurt (Greek style, as it's known in the US), mix it with an equal amount of unsweetened condensed milk, and then sweeten to taste with whatever I have on hand for the task. Mix the dairy together, sweeten it to your taste (I like mine a little sweet and a little sour), and pour it over the majority of the fruit. Top this with some more fruit, arranged for a pleasant presentation, or sprinkle muesli or granola or toasted grains or nuts or whatever on the top to add a little crunch. With the temperatures here hitting the mid- to high 30s for over a week straight, we had this for our evening meal more than a few times as it was cool and not particularly 'heavy'.

Tostada pizza

These are stupid simple. Per pizza, fry two small corn tortillas until they are the texture you like (crispy, chewy, whatever you prefer). Take one, cover it with refried beans, mashed beans, mashed & fried chickpeas, lentils, or other legume of your choice (spiced and cooked to your preference). I top the legumes with enchilada sauce (guidelines below this one), and shred some cheese.

Then I put another tortilla on top, another layer of beans, another smear of sauce, a little more cheese. Once I put together a few of these, I bake them for a few minutes in an oven or appliance until the cheese melts and crunch away.


My sauce usually starts with some olive oil, to which I add a minced aromatic like garlic or onion. I let that cook for a bit, then add some finely ground chili powder of some sort and a little flour and make a roux (stir it around for about a minute until the flour starts to brown and absorbs most of the oil). Then I will add some diced or pureed tomatoes or tomatillos, any other seasonings (salt, cumin, whatever you'd like), and let that cook for 10+ minutes. I usually go with a ratio of equal quantities of oil and chili powder, and add just enough flour to get the roux going. You may want to add a bit of water to your tomatoes if you'd like a thinner sauce (I like it thick, but thin is good, too!).


Another stupid simple dish. I take several small corn tortillas, and cut them into eighths. I fry them until they have an appropriate texture, and then drain them. Tonight I fried up about 400g of diced mushrooms and aromatics, mashed up and fried (since I had the skillet out) some white beans (called navy or pea beans here in the US) and seasoned with chili powder, and then topped the tortilla chips I made in the first step with the bean mixture, the mushroom mixture, and then added some cheese and melted it all for a few minutes. Like the tostada pizza, use whatever legume you prefer. I've also used chickpeas, lentils, roman beans, pinto beans, cannellini, and black-eyed peas.

14 July 2022


(reposted from my frotz.prose.sh blog) 

I grew up in a sort of in-between time and social class. I was a teen in the early 1980s, and while my family did reasonably well financially my parents didn't feel like the expenditure for a "real" computer ($1,600+ USD for an IBM PC or compatible around 1983 or so in 1983 US dollars) was worthwhile. I certainly didn't earn enough money to purchase something like that for myself with the sorts of jobs I could get, but I could afford an Atari and then buy various add-ons as time went on.

Since no one in my family graduated from a college or university (until my youngest sister), I had no idea what the Internet was, but I definitely was into BBSes and CompuServe in 1984 after I got my first modem (and then had to get my own phone line to avoid tying up the house line when people could reasonably expect to use the phone). I even wrote a couple of BBSes with a high-school friend of mine who also had an Atari, and we ran our own for a while until we got interested in something else.

It is probably nostalgia creeping up on me, but I miss the ease with which one could start programming back then. The machines all came with a rudimentary BASIC interpreter, and one could pay for Pascal or other "serious" programming languages when one bumped against the limitations of BASIC. I think we wrote our BBS software in Pascal or a strange little language called Action! that was Atari-specific. Our first BBSes were strictly interpreted BASIC, of course, and 300-1200 bps and a single user at a time (I couldn't afford more than one phone line) meant that aside from bugs even the BASIC BBSes ran reasonably well.

The programs were less functional, to be sure, but also it was much simpler. We didn't need SDKs or APIs, or dynamically linked anything. When I got into linux around 1993 or 1994 I was really surprised at how much faster a statically compiled system booted on my junk 486sx computer I had. Even now I occasionally try to compile software statically, but it seems mainly a fool's errand that leads to tears unless it's something like ffmpeg (which I do still statically compile).

I don't know why I was thinking about BBSes or my old Atari, but I sort of miss the old single-host BBS. I was never super big into FidoNET or the other gateways - I liked the little self-contained islands where one got to know the other users, and the little cultures that developed on those isolated systems.

That got me to thinking about setting up a BBS that could accept ssh, and there are some packages still around and apparently in use so maybe I will. I ran a Mastodon server for a while but in the end many users just used my low-pop Mastodon instance to get their feeds from octogon.social or the main Mastodon instance so I eventually took it down so the cobwebs wouldn't choke out the local channel.

As usual there's no real point to this post - just my reminiscences and (maybe?) nostalgic cravings.