heavy-duty nerdery

A thing I made: 2edStatBot, for all your Twitter old-school RPG needs.

I’ve been toying with the idea of, and over the weekend finally got around to finishing, a silly little Twitter bot, 2edStatBot, which generates a set of AD&D 2nd Edition stats — old school, 3d6 in order — picks a class recommendation based on a not-very-sophisticated algorithm (re-rolling if it can’t find a recommendation, which in practice means if every stat came out below 9), and tweets the result, every ten minutes:

[tweet https://twitter.com/2edStatBot/status/295908019101917184]

The code is basically just Darius Kazemi’s Metaphor-a-Minute, except with all the metaphor-related guts replaced by random-number-related guts, and like Darius’s bots, it’s running on Nodejitsu (in fact, since Nodejitsu requires apps to respond to HTTP requests, I figured that endpoint might as well do the same thing as the Twitter bot, so if you want, you can go get a D&D character there, too).

I’ll upload the source code here shortly; it’s rather hacky but it works. I should probably put it on some public source control repository or something, but I never did figure out git. At some point I plan to make it respond to mentions, so you could tweet “@2edStatBot roll me a ranger” and it would respond with an appropriate set of stats.

Update 2013-12-25: Well, I finally got around to figuring out github and uploading the 2edStatBot source, nearly eleven full months after the bot went live. Whoops! Here it is, if you’d like to take a look: https://github.com/smadin/2EdStatBot

A* Thing You** Should*** Buy

I don’t usually post stuff like this (though, I suppose, lately I don’t usually post much of anything, so it’s probably good to get back in the habit), but it’s a good enough deal to warrant bringing to folks’ attention, on the off chance I have any readers (let alone any to whom it applies).

For the next 23-odd hours, as part of their year-end sale, you can buy the Morrowind Game of the Year edition (which includes the two expansions) on Steam for $5.  If you haven’t played Morrowind, you really owe it to yourself to grab it.  There’s still a huge, thriving mod community despite the game being eight years old, and it’s easy to spend hours browsing TESNexus, Planet Elder Scrolls, and UESP — not to mention the incredibly ambitious Tamriel Rebuilt project — working out exactly what you want your gameplay experience to be like.  The game world is immense, the plot interesting but entirely optional, and it (and its predecessor Daggerfall and successor Oblivion) is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a genuine roleplaying experience in a video game.  It still imposes artificial constraints, of course — there are things that simply aren’t possible, because the engine isn’t programmed that way; dialogue seems virtually unrestricted at first because Bethesda just put so much time into writing text for the game, but is really just the same old branching trees of question and response we’ve had since the first adventure games; there are a limited number of ways of interacting with objects in the world; and there’s no physics engine, so you can’t knock things over — so you haven’t got the kind of freedom a genuine (i.e. pencil-and-paper) RPG affords, but especially with some well-chosen mods it’s a remarkably immersive and enjoyable game.

* Well, two things. The masterful Indigo Prophecy is available through tomorrow for $3.40, and it’s well worth your time.
** Assuming you play video games and have a Windows machine.
*** If you don’t already own it.

The Nicest Thing Anyone's Ever Done For Me*

So, a little while ago there was this thread over at Shakesville, where standard mockery of a wingnut’s absurd hyperbole quickly devolved into a barrage of our own absurd hyperbole.  Note that “quickly” here means “by the second comment.”

In the course of the thread, Jen said,

No fair. Scott’s got his hyperbole shield on. It’s like he wants to destroy us all with snappy comebacks while remaining immune himself. SCOTT MADIN IS THE EBOLA VIRUS OF THE INTERNET.

To which I responded, as anyone would, “I want that on a plaque.”

Reader, I did not have to wait long!


Iä! Iä! Bruuuuuuce Fhtagn!, or, Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born to Summon Unspeakable Doom from Beyond the Stars

The Device of the Sinister Magician in Lovecraft and Springsteen

Fair warning: I’m about to be a huge nerd right here.

First of all, what I’m not claiming.  I am not claiming that the writings of H.P.  Lovecraft have had any significant direct, or even indirect, influence on Bruce Springsteen’s songwriting; much less that Springsteen has consciously based any lyrics on Lovecraft.

What I am claiming is that both Springsteen’s song “Magic,” from the last year’s record of the same name, and Lovecraft’s iconic short story “Nyarlathotep” draw on a literary trope I’ll tentatively call the Device of the Sinister Magician, and that if present in such disparate works, the Device can reasonably be surmised to predate them both, and with a bit of looking can probably be found in other texts.