Solethania It Sounded Better In My Head Tue, 28 Jul 2020 17:27:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Solethania 32 32 Trying out Foundry VTT Tue, 28 Jul 2020 17:27:29 +0000 Read More Read More

I stumbled across FoundryVTT while browsing the interwebs and really liked the idea of having my own instanced VTT server, and it promises to be more responsive than Roll20. The one downside so far is they don’t have licensing for any game systems yet, so I’ve been having to copy/paste from my rulebooks into the library.
I figured I’d try another go at Savage Worlds, and have been putting those rules into it. Once the rules are in there, everything works surprisingly well.

I’m going to try for a Space Opera setting a la Star Wars or Mass Effect. A bunch of random alien species, pulpy sci-fi, mysterious powers, and high tech guns.

On that note I’ve been back heavily into No Man’s Sky. I don’t know what it is but I keep coming back to it. It’s oddly relaxing, and I alternate between exploring and base building with the occasional dalliance into researching and improving my ships and gear.

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Gun Violence and Statistics Sun, 19 Jul 2020 20:13:57 +0000 Read More Read More

I ran across this on the internet today and felt it really needed to be saved somewhere public.

There are about 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms, this number is not disputed. (1)
U.S. population 328 million as of January 2018. (2)
Do the math: 0.00915% of the population dies from gun related actions each year.
Statistically speaking, this is insignificant. It’s not even a rounding error.
What is not insignificant, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths:

  • 22,938 (76%) are by suicide which can’t be prevented by gun laws.
  • 987 (3%) are by law enforcement, thus not relevant to Gun Control discussion. 
  • 489 (2%) are accidental.

So no, “gun violence” isn’t 30,000 annually, but rather 5,577… 0.0017% of the population.
Still too many? Let’s look at location:

  • 298 (5%) – St Louis, MO
  • 327 (6%) – Detroit, MI
  • 328 (6%) – Baltimore, MD
  • 764 (14%) – Chicago, IL

That’s over 30% of all gun crime. In just 4 cities.
This leaves 3,856 for for everywhere else in America… about 77 deaths per state. Obviously some States have higher rates than others
Yes, 5,577 is absolutely horrific, but let’s think for a minute…
But what about other deaths each year?

  • 70,000+ die from a drug overdose
  • 49,000 people die per year from the flu
  • 37,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities

Now it gets interesting:
250,000+ people die each year from preventable medical errors.
You are safer in Chicago than when you are in a hospital!
610,000 people die per year from heart disease.
Even a 10% decrease in cardiac deaths would save about twice the number of lives annually of all gun-related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.).
A 10% reduction in medical errors would be 66% of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides.
Simple, easily preventable, 10% reductions!
We don’t have a gun problem… We have a political agenda and media sensationalism problem.
Here are some statistics about defensive gun use in the U.S. as well.
Page 15:
Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).
That’s a minimum 500,000 incidents/assaults deterred, if you were to play devil’s advocate and say that only 10% of that low end number is accurate, then that is still more than the number of deaths, even including the suicides.
Older study, 1995:
Page 164
The most technically sound estimates presented in Table 2 are those based on the shorter one-year recall period that rely on Rs’ first-hand accounts of their own experiences (person-based estimates). These estimates appear in the first two columns. They indicate that each year in the U.S. there are about 2.2 to 2.5 million DGUs of all types by civilians against humans, with about 1.5 to 1.9 million of the incidents involving use of handguns.
——sources—— (stats halved as reported statistics cover 2 years, single year statistics not found)

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Life Update Thu, 02 Jul 2020 18:53:06 +0000 So amidst all the craziness of 2020, I finally got in to get braces installed yesterday. If all goes well, I’ll have to wear them for 28 months. I get two upper teeth extracted on the 7th, followed by another visit to the orthodontist to finish up on the 14th.

As of two weeks ago I started learning Latin, with the goal of eventually being able to read The Aeneid by Virgil in its original language. I started now because I realized Duolingo offered it as a course. I’m doing a combination of Duolingo and Memrise to help me learn faster, with the idea that these two apps are fairly complementary.

Turns out I’m also learning a bit more about English during my learning of Latin. As in, English desperately needs an official second plural form of ‘you’. It does have one in certain regional dialects with “You all” or “y’all” (found in the south), yinz (found in pittsburgh), and yous (found in NY), and ye (found in Northern England, Cornwall, Ireland).

Technically it used to have one. That word was… ‘you’. The singular version was ‘thou’. ‘Thou’ fell out of use, and so ‘you’ pulls double duty as both the singular and the plural, which caused the English language to become even more confusing to those trying to learn it.

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Solethanian Lore: The Boluego Tue, 26 May 2020 00:05:21 +0000 Read More Read More

Pronounced Boll-weigh-ho, but often bastardized by other cultures as Boll-eh-gah or Boo-leh-go

The Boluego is a mass-produced shoulder fired weapon powered by 12 inch wands of reconstituted Litia. It looks like a cross between a quarterstaff and a rocket launcher where one end has been replaced by a fist sized crystal. It generally has a hand grip, a receiver, and a bolt for loading the wand into the Boluego. A single wand can power 10 shots, and the wand’s type determines the spell used. While the Boluego can be scaled up in power, the physical size of the weapon scales up as well, as does the amount of power necessary to operate it. A Boluego capable of firing a level 3 spell is the size of a cannon, and any Boluego larger than the original size requires a crew to operate it effectively. 

Historical Notes: The Boluego made its first appearance at the Battle of Torre Arranes, and turned what should have been an unmitigated disaster into pyrrhic victory. The Battle of Torre Arranes became the bloodiest battle in written history -but it was a record that it wouldn’t hold for long. 

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Final Fantasy XIV Sat, 09 May 2020 03:59:14 +0000

That’s it. That’s the literal last minute of FFXIV: Shadowbringers. That clip may be my all time favorite moment in an MMO, and I regard it as one of the greatest endings to a story in an MMO, and possibly any RPG, of all time. Because when you get to it, you’ve probably played hundreds of hours, you’ve experienced a wild, wild ride of a story, and the player character’s interaction with the child is the perfect reminder of where your character has been, who your character is, and what you’re capable of in less than a minute as the credits roll, giving time for reflection as you watch names scroll across the screen. It’s perfect.

It took me a long time to get into Final Fantasy XIV, I had been playing World of Warcraft since the end of Burning Crusade, and it took Blizzard itself going into the gutter, and many friends and people online raving about how good FFXIV gets for me to finally give it a shot. I had dabbled in it a bit, getting up to about level 30 in A Realm Reborn before going back to WoW. But, now that World of Warcraft no longer had a grasp on me, I pushed on, hoping the good stuff was as good as people were saying. There is a review floating around regarding FFXIV and its expansions that I feel sums it up best.

  • A Realm Reborn: 3/10
  • Heavensward: 9/10
  • Stormblood: 7/10
  • Shadowbringers: 11/10

In retrospect, after completing the game I would definitely rank ARR higher, but going through it for the first time, it is an absolute slog. ARR is a mediocre, but passable story that isn’t really anything to write home about as far as MMOs go. I’d equate it to a pretty lackluster first season of an incredible TV show, because it sets up all the world building and story arcs that everything else is built on. ARR is pretty much a bog standard MMO experience with some Final Fantasy flair and some really cool mechanics. At least when you start. Once you’re through, the deeper into the expansions you go the more you realize just how pivotal it all was to the crazy story that develops. Though in all honesty, I should have expected it since they turned the original failure and shut down of FFXIV to rebuild it into an actual part of the world’s lore.

Hoo boy, when that story kicks off to start Heavensward, they really kick it off in a deeply unexpected and wild fashion and never let up. Something I’ve never seen in an MMO is how deeply character story centric it FFXIV is. It’s the first MMO I’ve actually ever felt the idea that my character has an actual personality and defined motivations that I actually know. I would argue even SWTOR in comparison is more focused on the character’s class than the actual character, and is probably the closest. I’m not even going to touch on WoW because the story in that game is a total joke, and the closest they ever came to toying with the idea of player character story progression was Legion Class Halls and becoming a Class leader. Which they immediately dropped and forgot about the very next expansion. And it’s not just your character. You wind up with a group of characters that are with you throughout your journey, and they grow and change. Sometimes drastically. But after hundreds of hours with them, you’ve definitely grown attached to, and care for a few or even all of these characters (I definitely did), and it’s also reflected in your character as well.

It was Heavensward and Stormblood that got me solidly hooked into the game and made FFXIV my favorite MMO. Shadowbringers however, took it to a whole new level, and made me view it not just as a great MMO, but possibly the best Final Fantasy game ever made. It has a story build up to one of the best character moment payoffs ever in the game’s climax, and it has one of the best Final Fantasy villains ever. As in, if I was in this guy’s shoes, I’d have done the same thing. It’s perfectly believable and understandable why he’d do all this stuff, and it’s a bit tragic that you actually have to stand in the way. And you do have to stand in the way because where you’re coming from is just as valid as where he’s coming from and someone is going to have to give. And in terms of Final Fantasy Villains, the vast majority of them are deeply forgettable and/or have obscure or deeply crazy reasoning for why they’re doing their thing. It’s really incredible that it’s an MMO, a genre not exactly known for its solid villains, that managed to break the mold so hard.

But enough of with the story before I go and spoil everything. Another huge draw for me into FFXIV was how deep it was. The Job (class) system is the best of any MMO period. There’s no need to visit a trainer or roll a new character to try a different class or style. Just equip a different weapon and boom there you go. The crafting is also not just something added on because all MMOs have a crafting system, but rather something that is not only rewarding, but challenging. You actually have to learn rotations for crafting like you’d learn rotations for fighting and it’s worth it to do so. And then on top of the jobs are the myriad of things to do, and it seems I keep finding things to do that are completely optional but really fun to do and spend time at if you wanted to, that provide alternate ways to level or earn rewards or just exist because they’re fun. Things like Chocobo Racing and Breeding. Triple Triad. The Golden Saucer casino. Sightseeing. Housing. Retainers. Beast Tribes. Palace of the Dead (a procedural roguelike dungeon).  etc. etc.

All this stuff also adds up to FFXIV being the most Final Fantasy of the FF games. Because it has everything considered ‘classic Final Fantasy’ including crystals, iconic classes and appearances, recurring cameos from various ff games, chocobo racing and breeding, etc. And a story that ranges genres from fantasy to political intrigue, to comedy, to sci-fi, to mythology, to even a bit of time travel. Oh, and it has that classic award winning soundtrack that makes you just stop and listen sometimes (especially Shadowbringers) that is a hallmark of a good Final Fantasy game. It really is hard to think of anything that could beat it as the best FF.

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We’re Back Wed, 06 May 2020 23:59:15 +0000 Read More Read More

You may notice some things have changed, maybe not. However, I changed to a newer instance that I have more control over updating. The other one was getting a little long in tooth, and I couldn’t do important security updates. I finally decided it was time.

However… I ran into some issues. You’ll notice there aren’t any images, and some things aren’t where I left them or not how I configured. I’ll be going through and fixing that slowly but surely. This is also a good time for me to actually sort things out properly. So there is that.

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A Thought on Lord of the Rings Thu, 16 Apr 2020 13:46:53 +0000 Read More Read More

A very interesting observation regarding the end of the Lord of the Rings from reddit. I wish I could find the original author or thread, alas. 

“While Tolkien has been accused of basing the Lord of the Rings on the Second World War, the First World War was a much, much greater influence. You can see something of the Somme in the Dead Marshes and No Man’s Land in Mordor. But for me, the most important mirroring is in the soldiers returning home and the Hobbits returning home. In a very real sense, I feel like the point of the Lord of the Rings wasn’t the destruction of the Ring and the defeat of Sauron, but the return of soldiers to their homes. I feel like Tolkien wrote everything before the destruction of the Ring so he could write about what happened afterwards.

Merry and Pippin are able to return to their normal lives. There were no shortage of men who literally grew while in service, put on a good diet and getting good exercise for the first time of their lives (note that Merry and Pippin literally come back taller). They saw battle, saw friends fall, and experienced the horrors of war, but they never saw the trenches. The war was on the whole a positive experience for them, the great adventure of their lives, and they came back to be the leaders of the next generation.

Sam and Frodo are the men who lived in the trenches for years. They walked through the craters of Verdun, slogged through the mud of the Somme, trudged up the ridges of Passchendaele. Their journey was through worst of the Great War. It wasn’t just the Ring that broke Frodo. And while Sam didn’t break, he certainly had deep cracks in him. Tolkien would have called it shell shock; today we’d call it PTSD. Frodo goes off into the west. His real world equivalents committed suicide. Sam puts up a brave face and has close family and loved ones to help him, but he was walking wounded for the rest of his life. Indeed, Sam himself eventually takes a ship into the west.

Sam and Frodo survived the destruction of the Ring, and returned home, but to a lesser and greater degree found that they were too deeply wounded to ever be truly home again. Sam could be back physically, but a part of him would always be trapped in Mordor.”

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The Silliest Encounter Wed, 04 Mar 2020 15:12:05 +0000 Pitbull’s Fireball needs to be playing instrumental/karaoke style in the background. Quiet at first, getting louder the closer they get to the main room of the cavern. 

The various rooms leading into the main room are scattered with dead, unconscious, or barely conscious kobolds and goblins (a check of the living will tell they are deeply intoxicated or under the influence of something, likely a powerful drug. A check of the dead shows a 50/50 split between violent death and apparent OD).

Kobolds, goblins, and other assorted ‘minor’ villainous types are dancing in a conga line around a ‘treasure’ trove of mostly shiny looking junk and baubles. The treasure appears to be on fire, the flames are a whole rainbow of reds, blues, greens, purples, and yellows, flickering and dancing to the beat of music. Hovering two feet above the pile of treasures is a crystal about 3ft tall, glowing dim white and pulsing with streaks of opalescent rainbow colors to the music. 
The music is performed by a diverse and raggedy group similar to those in the lines. Scattered around the room are the bodies of mostly kobolds and goblins.

Occasionally a fireball with materialize from the hovering crystal and land in a random part of the room, killing or roasting whatever happens to be there. A cloud will be released from the epicenter of the explosion and disperse around the room, adding to the haze. This cloud is what causes the intoxication. (roll a medium/hard Con check against. A fail results in a 50/50 roll. Result A means the character falls into blissful partying trance with the rest of the partying creatures. Result B means the character has a deep yearning desire to go and round up more ‘silly little creatures’ and bring them back to this neverending party.) 

Why is this happening? It can be for whatever reason you find that fits best with the campaign. 

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Willful Ignorance Fri, 07 Feb 2020 13:29:50 +0000

I will never understand the willful and loud ignorance of athletic sports, usually by people immersed in ‘modern geek culture’. If sports aren’t your thing, that’s ok. But to revel in and be proud of it by telling anyone who will listen (especially on Social Media) is straight up stupid, you look like an idiot, and most importantly: nobody cares.

You and your carefully curated and proud of it disdain of ‘sportsball’ or whatever you want to call it is a prime  example of exactly what’s wrong with America today. Get over yourselves, and either make an attempt at understanding what it is and why people enjoy it, or don’t speak up about it.

Remember the wise old adage: ‘It is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.’

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Notes from the Chiefs vs Texans Game Mon, 13 Jan 2020 14:41:21 +0000 Read More Read More

  • Both teams set a NFL Playoff record with 52 points in the 1st half.

  • The Chiefs scored 41 unanswered points, first team to do so in the playoffs since the 2002 Jets, and outscored the Texans 28-3 in the second quarter.

  • Travis Kelce become the first player in NFL history with 3 receiving TDs in a quarter. Damien Williams also ended the game with 3 TDs.

  • Pat Mahomes threw 4 touchdown passes in a span of 9 minutes. He ended the game with 5 TD passes, 300+ pass yards and 50+ rushing yards (a NFL first).

  • The Chiefs first 10 offensive possessions went PUNT-PUNT-PUNT-TD-TD-TD-TD-TD-TD-TD.

  • The Chiefs are the first team to tie or lead at half-time after trailing by 24+ points.

  • The Chiefs are the first team since the 2010 Packers to score TDs in 6 consecutive drives. They set a new record with 7.

  • The Chiefs set a franchise record for most points scored in a playoff game. They also scored the most points in a playoff game since the 2009 Cardinals.

  • The Texans allowed 51 points today, the most ever in franchise history. That was after scoring the most points in the first quarter in team history.

  • Both teams had 20+ points leads during this game.

  • Andy Reid is now the only coach in NFL history to be on both sides of a 20+ point playoff comeback.

  • Arrowhead stadium ran out of fireworks due to the Chiefs offense scoring so much.

  • With this win, The Chiefs will host the Tennessee Titans next week in the AFC championship game. They are currently on a 4 game losing streak against the Titans.

credit to /u/Palifaith on reddit for compiling the list.

That first quarter was rough to watch. I really thought the Chiefs were going to get utterly massacred and this would wind up being another historic choke in the playoffs for them. Instead it turned out to be one of those legendary comebacks that’ll be remembered for as long as there’s random NFL playoff trivia. 

The fact that the Chiefs didn’t give up and refused to be intimidated or demoralized by such a near impossible lead and poor initial performance speaks volumes for the team leadership and places them as serious contenders for the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately to get there, they need to beat Andy Reid’s personal Kryptonite: The Tennessee Titans.

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