Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Bard of Three Archetypes

Andrew West, whose Pathfinder stories I mentioned last month, has started a forum challenge. What can each class best contribute to a tenth-level party?.

The challenge includes five enounters through which to showcase a sample character's contributions.

Here is my silly and fun entry, designed to be a companion to a tenth-level sorcerer similar to a lower-level version of Andrew's own Camulus.

This Fun Bard

Foxisyu is a tenth level Kitsune bard that blends three archetypes: Dirge Bard, Sound Striker, and Geisha.

(His ability scores without item bonuses are STR 9, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, and CHA 20. Only the last really matters. His headband increases his Charisma to 22.)

(All of the important standard bardic abilities are replaced by the archetypes, except for the bardic performances Inspire Courage, Inspire Greatness, and Dirge of Doom.)

His traits are Ghost Sight and Omen.

His feats are Toughness, Allied Spellcaster, Fox Shape, Fleet, and Swift Kitsune Shapechanger.

(Toughness brings him to 79 hit points, due to 39 Bard + 20 CON Mod + 10 Favored Class + 10 Toughness.)

As he gained experience he kept five skills maximized: Perform (percussion), Perform (dance), Diplomacy, Perception, and Stealth. His other ten skill points are spread around less important skills, including Craft (calligraphy), Knowledge (Religion), Perform (strings), and Perform (sing).

His equipment is a Doomharp, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Feather Falling, Staff of the Master, and Lesser Extend Metamagic Rod. He also has 12,800 gold pieces worth of other less significant equipment.

His spells are:

His sorcerer partner also knows the four big "control you" spells: charm person, command undead, charm monster, and apparent master.

Before a Big Encounter

He prepares himself and his sorcerer partner in many ways. He gathers information using commune with birds. He performs a geisha's tea ceremony to grant them Inspire Greatness. Using his rod he casts arcane concordance, coordinated effort, and good hope. Then he casts acute senses on both of them, anticipate peril on his ally, and expeditious retreat on himself.

(For the rest of that day he still has 22 rounds of bardic performance and can do four first-level castings, two second-level castings, one third-level, and two fourth-level.)

Now he and his ally both have two extra hit dice, a bunch of temporary hit points, +20 to perception checks, +3 to Fortitude saving throws, +2 to Reflex and Will saving throws, +4 to hit, and +2 to ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage. His ally has +5 to the next Initiative check.  Moreover, while they are within 10 feet of each other the ally gains +1 to spell DCs and free silent metamagic. Finally, when they are adjacent the ally gains +2 to overcome spell resistance—and those four big "control you" spells gain +4 instead, and an additional increase to caster level.

Then he hands his ally his staff (so the ally has three free uses of dazing metamagic), shapechanges into a fox, and has his ally use spider climb to make the fox sticky.  He rides in his ally's shoulder so they remain adjacent.

Having a fox's keen nose and the ability to see Undead very well also keep him useful, especially since he can survey the surroundings more calmly than his busy ally.

(His base movement rate with the Fleet feat and expeditious retreat spell is now 65' in his own form or 75' as a fox.  He is weak in combat, but flees really well!) 

(Before a really big fight they find a Druid ally. Preparing an additional person only requires four more rounds of bardic performance and one more casting of acute senses.)

During Combat

His ally fights as an invisible, flying sorcerer using dazing spells and those four "control you" spells

He rides his ally as a tiny fox, often barking a few high-pitched notes, ether using Wordstrike for a small amount of automatic damage at any range or Weird Words from up to 30 feet away to cause about 100 damage.

(The Weird Words are ten sonic missiles that probably each hit for 1d8+6 damage.  They are ranged touch attacks, and he not only has that +4 to hit from Inspire Greatness and good hope, but also a +2 to hit from his fox form's extra Dexterity and a +2 to hit from his shrunken size.  Some enemies will succeed on a DC 21 Fortitude saving throw to halve damage.)

More help is seldom needed.  Yet he has several useful tricks to use in his normal shape, from a place of safety, when appropriate. He can maintain a silent zone in which his ally can still cast spells.  Using Dirge of Doom while up to 60' away is a safe way to help his ally's spells work. Once a foe is slain, he can perform the Dance of the Dead to create distractions.  While performing, he can also stomp or beat on his harp so the percussion intimidates one foe each round.

(His skill bonus for Perform (percussion) is 31, from 10 ranks + 3 Class skill + 6 CHA mod + 10 Geisha Knowledge +2 Masterwork Item. When he uses it to demoralize foes it increases to 33, beacuse of + 5 Haunting Refrain + 1 trait − 4 smaller size. This is guaranteed to each round make a new enemy shaken for several rounds, as the DC is a lowly 10 + target hit dice + target WIS Mod.)

During emergencies he uses his daily swift action intimidation, the two finale spells (granting his ally a saving throw reroll or an extra standard action), or liberating command. Occasionally casting distressing tone might also help. He can also use the four "control you" spells, but not as well as his ally.

Finally, in some circumstances it is very helpful to diplomatically gain permission from a charmed enemy to target it with a spell, and surprise it by casting marionette possession.

Monday, March 03, 2014

An Update on my Projects

Yesterday I realized that I had not blogged about all my projects since my 2009 blog post A Personal State of the Union.  Time for an update!

Of course, in November 2009 nine Smiley was a year old and Gallant was not yet around.


Now Smiley is in kindergarten, and Gallant will start preschool a few days each week in a month or two, when his toilet-training success stabilizes.


(I am very much looking forward to finally having a few hours each week with no child in the house!  Then some of my projects can receive a lot more time.)
 
Scriptural Concept Studies

Not much change here.  The P'nei Adonai website is gone.  I have successfully moved the essays to my own website.  That required a bit of formatting effort, and a few of the essays now look nicer.

But the heart of the project has remained on standby.  I know that God wants me to write more about the scriptural understanding of some concepts.  This can start as simply as extracting the relevant parts from many of my old sermons from P'nei Adonai.

I also need to edit the existing essays to add scholarly footnotes and citations.

But God has not told me that this project is urgent, so I have been devoting my time to things that directly help my family.

Appropriate Masculinity Essays

I have spent a lot of time during the past 18 months studying what it means to be appropriately masculine.  I want advice about this topic to be part of what I give to my two boys.  It is important enough to me as a parent that I am writing essays about it.  Not only might the essays help other people, but if (Heaven forbid) something happens to me then this part of my legacy will somewhat endure.

The hobbies part of website now has four essays that discuss confidence, connecting, maturity, and flirting.  Another three essays are incomplete but should be ready before the year is done.

I also want to compile the blog posts about why I love my wife as one page.  That series is not yet done!

Investment Essays

I keep having conversations with people about how I do investing.  So I have put together five essays in the hobbies part of my website that explain my methods for investment picking, investment timing, dividend investing, sector investing, and charitable giving.

Elementary School Volunteering

Now that Smiley is in kindergarten, I have been spending about three hours each week volunteering at his school.  I help in his classroom doing various things, as well as with the fourth and fifth grade classrooms doing math.

My hobbies page now has a great list of math games, movement games, and tag variants as resources for anyone doing those in elementary schools.

Role-Playing Game

My role-playing game has grown and matured.  It is now named Nine Powers.

http://davidvs.net/ninepowers/index.shtml

My current typing projects are converting the old Caves of Chaos adventure (from module B2 Keep on the Borderlands) for my wife to play during the evening.

Other Games

Not much progress here.  I still have a bunch of old board games that need to be put online, but it has not happened.

Math Teaching

My Math 20 notes have changed from PDF slideshows to web pages.  The math department overhauled the Math 25 class during the past few years.  I am waiting for that dust to settle before fixing up my old Math 25 workbook as web pages instead of a rich text format document.

Two Fantasy Novels

I still have not published my two fantasy novels, Windsong and The Sandy Isles.  But I did go through them carefully, fixing typos as I changed them to web pages.

Self-publishing as e-books can't be that hard.  But I have not yet prioritized it.

Other Writing

All of my worthy old poetry is now on my website.  None of the stories are yet.

Recipes

All of my recipes are now on my website.  Smiley and Gallant eat the tropical teff pancakes almost every morning.

Martial Arts

A project that does not involve my website!  I have shifted from Tai Chi to Gracie Ju-jitsu.  That was a lot of fun in 2013.  Unfortunately, my math teaching schedule prevents me from attending classes during this Winter term.

Swing Dancing

Another project that does not involve my website!  For the past few years my wife and I have done little swing dancing, despite that being her favorite kind of exercise.  First it was Gallant being so little.  Then the local swing dance group took a hiatus.  But now we are going to a monthy dance with TrackTown Swing and a weekly dance with UO Swing Night.

Stella's Stunners

My colleague Gayle Smith at LCC passed along a link to a nice collection of "non-routine mathematics problems" named Stella's Stunners, created by the Ohio Resource Center.

As an example, here is the first one.  Stella calls this an "introductory level" problem.

Scott the Painter
Scott the painter is going to paint the floors of 16 rooms. He is in room #1. He can go through any door (see diagram). He cannot return to any room once he has painted it--slow-drying paint! In what order should he paint the rooms? Obviously, #16 must be last.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Local Banjo Part 2 - a Sort-of Kickstarter

In December I mentioned my friend Jeffrey Weitzel's new banjo-making business, Weitzel Banjo.


He has been using a website similar to Kickstart named Indiegogo to raise money for a production run of six banjos.  The byline (and link) is Pickin Beyond Tradition.

With only six more days (UPDATE: the fundraising is extended until mid-March) he is near his goal, but not yet there.  You can contribute and get thanked with his personally designed banjo-themed playing cards or baseball caps.


Fun!

Government Support for the Elderly Versus Children

The other day I wondered how much the government (Federal, State, and local) spends on the elderly versus children.


I looked for an answer at the website USGovernmentSpending.

As a rough approximation, the overall U.S. government spends:
  • 20% of its expenses on health care (70% of that on the elderly, 30% of that on children)
  • 16% of its expenses on education (50% of that on children)
  • 8% of its expenses on welfare (13% of that on the elderly, 87% of that on children)
  • 19% of its expenses on pensions (100% of that on the elderly)

So the elderly get roughly 34% of the government expenses overall, and children get 21%.

Wanting more reliable answers, I started doing some searching and found an urban myth popular last year  People who refuted that myth found that the best answer is "the elderly receive about twice as much" but there are details of timing and categorization.

Another essay claims the real issue is the middle class.  Families must care for both their children and their elderly parents.  Perhaps the real issue is how the government promotes this happening.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Most Fun Fraction Games Ever

A month ago I mentioned inventing a better version of the Battleship game to help the elementary school students I work with learn about equivalent fractions.

I recently invented two more fraction games that are even more fun!

(I did a fairly exhausting search online for fraction games.  The bar is not set very high.  These might really be the most fun faction games ever!)

The first is Fraction Bingo Twenty.


The second is Customized Deck Fraction War.  It does not have a nice picture.

The rues to both are with my math games page.  Jump to Fraction Games and enjoy!