Thursday, December 24, 2009

Adventures in Flu Season

You know your three-year-old is sick when she climbs up in her bed and just lays there until she falls asleep. The worst part of kids getting the flu is that they can look fine and feel fine up until the moment they're depositing their lunch onto the carpet. For ten days straight. Multiply this by 3 kids, who somehow managed to each catch it right after the last had gotten over it, and you have my last month.

Then of course there's the parents getting it too, experiencing completely different symptoms. Fortunately this was a pretty mild one for us; we both worked half the day during the worst of it.

We just have one more kid to get over this before they can go back to the nursery during church. I feel like an inactive member lately.

Update: Now that we're over the flu, we're all catching colds. *sigh* This is going to be a long winter.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gaming Resources You Always Wanted

Ahh, Google got me again. Whenever I do research lately into any of my plethora of projects, I find tons of helpful text links and banner ads right under my fingertips. I run a couple campaigns using the resources over at Obsidian Portal, and for a while, all I saw there were ads for online games, many of them with severely under-dressed young ladies somehow involved. I had actually given up on finding anything useful in the side banner, until tonight when I was wrapping up for the night and just about to close a new post I had made.

That's when I saw it. The vague promotional language teased me with the threat of competing with my latest brilliant scheme. I couldn't let it slide, and I clicked the link. What I found was a product I wish I'd had years ago. Long Tooth Studios has come up with the penultimate in portable gaming boards. They're just a start-up company, and their marketing budget isn't what it could be, but I feel that this is a product worth promoting. Every reputable game store should carry these! In fact, I think I'll send an email to my local gaming shop after work tomorrow...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kindred Spirits & Wikiclicking

Have you ever come across somebody's blog and absolutely agreed with almost everything they had to say about any topic mentioned? That's what happened to me last night, as I surfed the internet looking for cool pictures of dice. I found this guy's blog, an article about 2 years old about diceless vs dice-heavy roleplay systems (they were nice dice by the way - my husband has a set just like them). Right next to it was a rant about getting an idea for a story while wikiclicking/wikipedia surfing/whatever name you happen to call it. The list goes on; White Wolf, World of Warcraft, magic items in Sci-Fi, opinions about Spiderman, Batman, Transformers - all just about perfectly in line with my own. Now all I need is to find out that he swordfights on Thursday nights and watches anime.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Retroactive Interpretation

Ok, so I finally figured out, over the course of a couple months of active posting, what my blog topic is going to be. Obvious to anyone who's been reading along, it is roleplay (primarily Dungeons & Dragons) and anime. By no means a new combination, but as I rarely combine the two I felt a little bit of explanation was in order.

For this explanation I point out the name of this blog; the Iron Wolf. Certainly the words making up the title have little in common. Wolves are commonly used as symbols of wildness and natural things, where iron is representative of civilization, technological progress and warfare. Even the banner for my wordpress blog expresses this contradiction.

But if you get creative enough it's easy to link the two. Iron can be used to make daggers which are sharp as wolves' teeth. Even my name, Lironah, contains both iron (in the spelling) and wolf (in the inception - Liro has always and ever will be tied to the wolves in some way). So let us equate the title of this blog with its content and claim it as intent, even though it was incedental, that both contain two different aspects of myself.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Warlock Class Feature: Familiar

Warlocks with the Familiar class feature have bound a spirit into physical form. To select this class feature, you must give up the pact boon associated with your Eldritch Pact.

Familiar: You gain a familiar, its type determined by your Eldritch Pact. Its physical form may be anything from a tiny animal to a simple construct. The familiar is capable of whatever tasks its body is equipped for (i.e. a mole can dig, a bird can fly, a doll can walk around), and may range in size from a mouse to a small dog. It has no combat abilities and may not be targeted by an attack as long as it occupies the same space as its master. If it leaves this space, it may be attacked as normal; any damage taken returns it to its master's space.


  • Ability Scores: Strength 6, Constitution 12, Dexterity 16, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 10, Charisma 12
  • Size: Tiny
  • Speed: 4 squares
  • Defenses: AC 14 + level, Fortitude 10 + level, Reflex 14 + level, Will 10 + level
  • Hit Points: 1
  • Trained Skills: Perception, Stealth
Directing the familiar is usually a minor action. The familiar may move on its own to any distance, and may return to its master's square as a free action when directed or summoned. A familiar understands all languages its master speaks, and can communicate freely with its master, but not with others. It is intelligent and can execute complex commands such as using an item, but it must possess the necessary appendages for the task, and instructing it takes the same type of action as it would take a character to perform the action.

A familiar's level is always equal to yours, and its defenses improve with level. Its ability scores increase in the same way a player's do. A familiar always has low-light vision.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Broken Barriers

It's hard to say exactly how long I've been studying Japanese now. I'm pretty sure I'm approaching ten years; I'd have to look at my college transcript to tell for sure. I'd be interested in finding out how my vocabulary compares to that of an average 10 year old native speaker.

I've been translating song lyrics for most of those ten years, as my only real translation practice. I did once translate Yu-Gi-Oh! as I watched it with my husband (I'd seen it twice all the way through and there was a great deal of repetition in the dialogue), but my first actual attempt at translating a complete episode of anything was a disappointment. There were words I'd never heard before, spoken so quickly I didn't have a chance at looking them up, even if they'd been in the dictionary. My speed was nothing impressive - more than a week for a single episode - and the group I was translating for quickly decided to go looking someplace else.

It's probably been 4 years since then, and despite the lack of any real practice in between, my Japanese has somehow improved so much from simply watching anime that I can now finish the translation of an entire episode of Pandora Hearts in less than 10 hours. Granted this last one was a little shorter on dialogue than the one before it, and I've read ahead in the manga (and also have the raw to use for reference), but that's still an amazing leap for me.

The real surprise, however, came this morning as I was opening up the shop. I'm one of those people who thinks aloud when I'm alone, and I frequently do this in Japanese as it's my only speaking practice. I've long attempted to perfect my accent when, after saying something aloud, I'll realize that my inflection is completely off. But this time, my tongue took over and filled in the gap that even my conscious mind has never been able to bridge. My inflection was perfect. Because I'd heard the phrase so many times my subconscious took over.

Now, I realize that my vocabulary is far from complete, and even familiar words are nearly incomprehensible to me when Alice speaks them as B. Rabbit. But I've finally broken a barrier I've been banging my head against for ten years. That's a greater accomplishment to me than any number of overnight translations.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Becoming a Fansubber

A while back, I saw an ad tacked onto a fansubbed episode of Pandora Hearts saying that they were looking for a translator for the project. Naturally I jumped at the chance, and sent over an email. To make a long story short, they eventually quit the project and I went looking to see if anyone had translated the manga, or possibly even had the raws of it up to read. I found a scanlation group which was working on it and jumped in with both feet.

But they wouldn't let me translate. Apparently one of their long-term translators had earmarked the project, and was working on it a little behind the cleaners. I volunteered as a cleaner and whipped through a few chapters, but I still really wanted to translate - more than just reading it aloud on the fly for my SO. I tried typing my translations directly onto the cleaned raws for him, but it took forever and just wasn't the same.

Then yesterday I finally got fed up with fansubbing groups dropping the project and making me search for another group's releases. Also most of them take nearly a week to release an episode, which is frustrating because I can watch and understand it, but I can't share it with anybody else. So...I've decided to try my hand at fansubbing.

Last night I spent a couple hours translating episode 8 with my headphones on so I wouldn't bother anyone. I got about halfway done with it when another search finally pulled up a new group's release of the episode, but I decided to take what I had and see if I could turn it into subtitles.

I found a sweet program called Aegisub, which lets me create subtitle files. I wasn't really certain what I was supposed to do with the sub file, at first. Sure I could send it off to some current fansubbing group, but they'd most likely have their own translator and I didn't want to step on toes there like I had at MangaAbyss. On the other hand, the only search results I could find for encoding looked like a nightmare - 7 or 8 programs, just to put the subtitles on? That couldn't be what I was looking for.

Finally I found the right search keywords. A program called Virtual Dub with a couple of plug-ins turned my nice raw anime episode into a shiny brand new (half-)subtitled .avi file! Woohoo! As soon as episode 9 airs on Thursday, it's go time! (P.S.: Don't tell my husband. It's a surprise!)

Edit: Virtual dub hashed my karaoke. AVI ReComp is better, but still isn't displaying properly.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wedding and Weeding

Phew! Today was a long day! It started yesterday, actually, or maybe back on Wednesday...I've been so busy since about Monday afternoon that it's hard to keep track.

Anyways, today was my friend Andy's wedding and he held it at the Utah Renaissance Faire up in Odgen. I live nowhere near Ogden, so we had to make good and sure we had all the stuff we needed for a long road trip with two toddlers and a newborn. Last night I was up till 4 am (I usually go to bed around midnight) packing our bags with clothing, food, water, toys and tunes for the road. My two oldest were flower girls, so we also had to make sure we brought all the clothing for them, as well as my husband and I.

It was the first conventional full-blown wedding ceremony I'd ever been to. All the others, including my sister's, were simple affairs with a handful of close friends in somebody's backyard or at the church building. Given that my friend does a lot of similar events with the local Belegarth chapters, I'm sure he was able to pull a few strings on the prices, but there was still period costuming, live music (harp and bagpipes!) and sword fighting demonstrations to be paid for. Certainly more than I spent on mine.

The Faire was fun; we hung out for a while until the wedding procession and fortunately the kids didn't get into too much dirt before the ceremony. (I can't say the same for the wedding photos, of course; they were after food and everything.) Afterward, I wandered around with the kids and let them buy $1 souvenirs, which were promptly lost, of course. I bought myself a frog for my sword; unfortunately the one I picked up was a left-handed version. I can use it in reverse, but it won't look as nice. There were a lot of cheap leather bracers too, but nothing anywhere near sturdy enough to replace the ones I had commissioned from Nashova. :(

After the wedding photos, we were sick and tired of chasing kids so we headed out. It sounded like the joust was just starting too - a shame, but we all have bad enough sunburns already that I really can't say I'm sorry I missed it. We went to see Andrek joust a few years ago anyway; there's not as much point to watching a stranger do it. The other thing I missed was playing battleguard; apparently Yestare was being held jointly with the Faire, but nobody mentioned it to me so I didn't bring my weapons. Not that I couldn't have bought some there - I've never seen so many boffer sword vendors in my life!

Back to work I made a decal for a fellow blogger named Julene. She's got some pretty cool art on her blog, and we managed to make one of the more simple designs into a decal for her car. Now she can advertise her portraits in style. :D

Now then, it's time to go sleep off this sunburn...

Friday, April 17, 2009

D&D 4E Monster Stat Template

@Level # @Elite/Solo @Role (Leader)
@Size @origin @type (@keywords)
XP #
Initiative +# Senses Perception +#; @other senses
@Aura aura #; @effect.
HP #; Bloodied #; see also @power reference
AC #; Fortitude #, Reflex #, Will #
Immune @immunity; Resist @resistance; Vulnerable @vulnerability
Saving Throws +#
Speed #, climb # (spider climb), fly # (altitude limit #, clumsy, clumsy grounded, hover), overland flight #, swim #
Action Points #
Melee @Melee Basic (standard; at-will) Star @Keywords
Reach #; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Melee @Ranged Basic (action, recharge) Star @Keywords
Ranged #/#; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Melee @Melee (@action, @usability) Star @Keywords
Reach #; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Melee @Melee Recharge (@action; recharge Roll 2 Roll 3 Roll 4 Roll 5 Roll 6 ) Star @Keywords
Reach #; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Ranged @Ranged (@action, @usability) Star @Keywords
Ranged #/#; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Ranged @Ranged Recharge (@action; recharge Roll 2 Roll 3 Roll 4 Roll 5 Roll 6 ) Star @Keywords
Ranged #/#; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Close @Close (@action, @usability) Star @Keywords
Close @blast/burst #size; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Close @Close Recharge (@action; recharge Roll 2 Roll 3 Roll 4 Roll 5 Roll 6 ) Star @Keywords
Close @blast/burst #size; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Area @Area (@action, @usability) Star @Keywords
Area @burst/wall #size within #range; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
Area @Area Recharge (@action; recharge Roll 2 Roll 3 Roll 4 Roll 5 Roll 6 ) Star @Keywords
Area @burst/wall #size within #range; +# vs. @Def; #d# + # @type damage, and @other.
@Continuous Effect
@Non-Attack Power (@action, usable only @; @usability)
@No Action, Triggered Effect (when @trigger)
Alignment @Alignment
Languages @Languages
Skills @Skillname +#
Str # (+#)
Dex # (+#)
Wis # (+#)
Con # (+#)
Int # (+#)
Cha # (+#)
Equipment @equipment

Here is a stat block template for displaying a monster from the new D&D 4th Edition Monster Manual, as presented in the SRD. Theoretically, this is a complete template, and thus contains more information than anyone should need for a single monster.

There's a few things I'm not quite satisfied with, as far as this template goes - some indentation issues I want to clean up, for example - but for the most part it should work for presenting any monster created by myself or my fellow gamers.

My next project is building CSS templates for each type of power; At-Will, Encounter and Daily. Mostly it's just busy work now; I've got all the presentation stuff figured out, including an annoying glitch which was shortening one of my images by 10 pixels every time I edited the content of the block. I'm still not sure what was causing it, but the fix is simple and seems to have done the trick.

Speaking of CSS and all that, my current theme is based on one I found over at Blogger Templates. It was a little too narrow for my uses originally, but it was much easier to edit than the standard template I started with, and adding a couple hundred pixels (just enough for this text right here, in fact) was a simple matter of trial and error. Then I just had to undo a few changes which adversely affected my monster template, such as extra line space and borders around each of my images. Nice in theory, but not very helpful.

My motivation for building this D&D monster template and others to come is a surprise for later; we'll just say they're part of a couple of much larger projects. For now we'll call it a successful test of CSS as well as a learning experience.