John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Bah! 'n'stuff

Hello from the Circle Solutions reception desk. The regular receptionist has wandered off again, so I'm up here fending off all the sales calls as usual.

Next week, I am the only courier, which means I'm going to be on the road pretty much all day every day. If the receptionist wanders off next week, they're going to have to get somebody else to sit up here instead.

Dover living out one of my fantasies.

Still fighting with M$ Weird. And still about odd/even page section breaks. I found out why it was randomly changing the section break types and figured out how to prevent that. So all the new sections that are supposed to start on "right hand" pages (like the first page of a new chapter), I set the section starts to "odd page." Then, when I printed it, they all printed on the left-hand side.


Okay, so I figured that, contrary to all conventions of publishing and layout, M$ Weird must think that the right-hand side pages are even, and set the section starts to "even page." Then, when I printed it, they still all printed on the left-hand side.

It is a very annoying feeling to be taunted by software.

It's even more annoying to know that if I could use WordPerfect or Pagemaker, this project would have been done a week ago.

Still going on about E-Tools...
The boss villain in my current D&D adventure, Vormorax, is a cleric/sorcerer who is obsessed with turning himself into a red dragon, and so far has only been partially successful. To create him, I used the Dragonkin creature from Monsters of Faerun as a base and added sorcerer and cleric character levels.[1] This was a fairly complex process on paper, because I had to "reverse engineer" what all his base saving throws were, his base attack bonus, etc., so I'd know what the baseline was after making changes in his stats. (I did all this with notebook paper and a calculator, a month ago.)

Last night, I decided as an experiment to recreate him in E-Tools. Since "Dragonkin" aren't in the Monster Manual, I first had to enter the race into the database using the race editor. It took me a few tries because I kept making "first timer" mistakes (wrong size class the first time, wrong number of hit dice the second time, etc.), but overall was actually quite easy. The hardest part was remembering all the fiddly little bits of monster creation, such as the fact that monsters get bonus weapon proficiencies based on what they're listed as carrying.

I am pleased to report that once the dragonkin race was entered correctly, the rest was easy. I had to build his weapon of choice as well as all of his various potions and scrolls, but it went fast. The whole process, from start to finish, took about an hour ... which is much faster than it went on paper. The results are almost identical, except that for some reason, E-Tools figured all of his saving throws as 1 point less than I calculated them to be. I don't know if it's my mistake, or the software's (there are a few known bugs that are due to be fixed by a patch in the near future).

So, it looks like the software will actually be useful, since I use a lot of monsters with character levels, and 9 times out of 10, I just use the core classes for that anyway.[2] In the rare cases where I want a strange class (such as the orc in an earlier adventure who used the Sovereign Stone "archer" class), I can either tweak the stats and create custom feats within the software to get a close approximation, or just resort to pencil and paper (how quaint!).

So, it's cool. Not perfect, but cool. :)

-The Gneech

[1] Why didn't I just apply the "half dragon" template from the Monster Manual to a human sorcerer/cleric, you ask? Umm ... 'cause I didn't think of it. Although after the fact, I like the dragonkin result better because dragonkin don't have a breath weapon, while half-dragons do. Given the nature of this character, I just like the idea of him roaring in frustration over the fact that he can't breathe fire, and has to use potions to compensate.

[2] Is a mind flayer with five levels of "psion" really any scarier than a mind flayer with five levels of sorcerer? Especially when I can create custom spells that simulate psionic abilities...

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