All posts by tony

Dinosaurs in Dungeons & Dragons

Scan of the Tyranosauraus Rex stat block from the Expert Rules, BECMI edition of D&D

I don’t like dinosaurs in my Dungeons & Dragons and despite them being there from the very start, I know I’m not the only one (I checked). 

However, the time has arrived in our 5th edition D&D game when one of the casters has the Polymorph spell, has reached level 8 and so wants to polymorph themselves in to the most powerful beast the spell supports.  At the time of writing this post, that beast is the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  There are two other CR8 official beasts but one is a whale and the other (from an adventure, not a core rulebook) is a giant crab.  So the Rex it is.

Luckily for me, it turns out my polymorphing player also doesn’t like the idea of dinosaurs in D&D.  Before I’d broached the subject, he asked if we could do something so that during a fight he’s not declaring that he’ll be turning himself in to a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

As a result of this unexpected good news, I’m reskinning; so in a spark of unoriginality I’m branding all dinosaurs Tyrant reptiles and then adding descriptions or monikers to them.  My player is also working up a different physical description to go with the renamed Rex.  Maybe, when announced in-game, some players will think doesn’t he just mean the Tyrannosaurus Rex and why isn’t he using that name.  That’s fine, for me and my polymorphing player at least, it matters.

I don’t want to just dump all the dinosaurs; for a start, I’d have to find a CR8 beast to make sure the Polymorph spell doesn’t lose potency, but also if the characters ever go to Chult or any adventures set there, I don’t want to be replacing huge swathes of beasts.  The alternative I’ve chosen, thinking of new Tyrant names for them, isn’t going to be that hard.

There are other posts online (Reddit for example) with many of these suggestions, and a lot of folk saying “why bother, dinosaurs are fine in D&D“?  As I thought about it last night there are really two aspects that have irritated me since I started playing (in the 80’s).  Firstly, the names are anachronistic as far as I’m concerned.  They’re too scientific, too tied in my head to the Victorians who invented them, and I just can’t separate that out.  Secondly, when I was young, I read about the ‘real world’ which had dinosaurs, or I read fantasy books, which had dragons and magic.  I didn’t (I’m sure there are some) read any books or watch any shockingly bad TV which had magic and dinosaurs, and so I’m not able to easily assimilate the idea that dinosaurs exist in a fantasy setting.  It’s daft, and there’s no good reason for it ultimately, but in my head-canon, Dinosaurs are real, and Dragons are fantasy and D&D is a game of fantasy.

So anyway, here’s a bunch of unoriginal names for core 5th edition dinosaurs based on calling them Tyrant reptiles.  Apologies if this unintentionally rips off anyone else’s ideas.

DinosaurTyrant reptile name(s)
AllosaurusSharptooth (Tyrant)
AnkylosaurusWhiptail (Tyrant), Tyrant Juggernaut
BrontosaurusTyrant Behemoth
DeinonychusSickletalon Tyrant, Fastclaw (Tyrant), Shredder (Tyrant)
DimetrodonSpineback (Tyrant)
HadrosaurusBeaked Tyrant, Duck-billed Tyrant, Crested Tyrant.
PlesiosaurusDeep Tyrant, Tyrant of the Deep, Sawtooth (Tyrant)
PteranodonCrestwing (Tyrant)
QuetzalcoatlusSkywing (Tyrant)
StegosaurusPlateback (Tyrant)
TriceratopsRhino-tyrant, Trihorn (Tyrant), Triple-Horn (Tyrant)
TyrannosaurusTyrant Sovereign, Tyrant Alpha, Apex Tyrant, or just Tyrant.
VelociraptorTyrant Hunter

I’m not overly fond of ‘Beaked Tyrant’ (and some of the others are a bit weak) but I may come back and change that one (or more) later.  It’s a start.

Edit: All good ideas are inevitably re-inventing the wheel, and someone pointed out to me today this Eberron sourcebook on the DMs Guild which does pretty much exactly what I’ve done here but has a set of different entries.

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/248087/The-Korranberg-Chronicle-Threat-Dispatch

Hole in the Wall

From this (rotten, been there years and been getting worse, had it ‘repaired’ twice so far).

To this (done it myself, over two weeks, bit by bit, don’t care about how messy it looks as long as it keeps the rain out).

Regrets …

I often joke that regret is one of the four pillars of my life, but I don’t really dwell much on past decisions once I’m over the ‘angry at myself’ period.  I do regret not spending more time in my 20’s being more hands on with stuff, decorating, DIY, repairs, etc.  It’s a confidence thing mostly, but it prevents me doing even small jobs around the house, and as a result, the house slowly rots.

One of the things they don’t teach you at school is how to find reliable craftsmen.  We paid a guy last year to repair some rotten wood, he did 2/3rds of the job and never came back (used the weather as an excuse, but then just stopped responding to us).  Turns out, he only did 1/3rd of the job and I’ve been repairing the mess he left for the past two weeks (good weather, so taking my time sealing up the hole with multiple layers which I’m allowing to dry in-between).

So we’ll once again be on the lookup for a ‘handyman’ who can do lots of little jobs, because there’s loads of stuff which needs fixing once the Covid19 shit is over, and unless we win the lottery we can’t afford to get the whole house done in one go.  Typical example of Samuel Vimes’ ‘Boots’ Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness.

Covid-19

We can’t say for certain if I’d had (got) Covid-19, because there’s no testing unless you’re hospitalised at present, however, I’m reasonably confident I’ve had it.  I have my flu jab every year and this year’s jab is ‘reasonably effective’, so there’s a good chance I didn’t have flu, the symptoms I did have line up with Covid-19, and the timeline looks like it’s a match.  Recording this here, like other posts, just so that I have it in one place.

Around the 17th or 18th March I was suffering from mild diarrhoea,this isn’t entirely unusual for me especially if my diet changes.  However, on the 19th March I felt unwell, and on checking my temperature found it was over 37.6C, so just in to the mild fever range.  I had no cough.

On the 20th March, I had two bouts of intense shivering (the first lasted over half an hour, the second was shorter) and several periods of mild shivering, along with severe muscle pain.  The pain might have been as a result of the shivering.  I won’t lie, I wept at one point during the first bout.  The diarrhoea was also significantly worse and I had a headache in the morning.  On the 21st I developed a cough (and retained the headache).  I wouldn’t describe it as frequent, and it was generally more of a background irritation, but it was dry and unproductive.  My temperature was still up and down throughout the day.  I was also, as Greté would describe it, pretty foggy.  On the 22nd and 23rd, the cough was still present, but very mild in nature.  My temperature on the 23rd was pretty stable for the latter half of the day and well within normal levels.  On the 24th (today), there’s been little to no cough at all and my temperature has been normal all day.  Tomorrow is my official last day of forced isolation.  Sadly, Greté then has another 7 days to see if she develops symptoms.

We’ve been trying to remain apart and keep surfaces clean while I’ve been showing symptoms, although it’s virtually impossible, and I’ve made multiple errors while not thinking (handed her the house phone at one point).  It’s entirely possible Greté’s already had this anyway, she had a very slight cough, very slight temperature and headache for a day before I showed signs of anything, but it was so mild it barely registered until I was showing full on symptoms.  The physical separation has been hard, but we’ll be able to hug by the end of tomorrow so we’re looking forward to that.

Then it’s back to the challenge of trying to shop.

Personal Journey

My father died when I was 4 (1975), my mum died in 2012 and my sister passed away in 2015.

After my father died, my mother never spoke about him to us. My sister had more memories of him because she was six years older than me, but my memories were hazy, and a lack of conversation meant they faded over time. I found out after my mum died why she hadn’t spoken about him much, it was because she was still heart broken. She missed him so much every day that she couldn’t even bear to talk about him. I know this because of the words we found on his gravestone, which myself and my sister saw for the first time when we buried my mum.

After my sister passed away I realised I’d lost all immediate connection with my past. My grandparents were all deceased, and although my mother had three sisters I’d moved away from them a long time ago, and wasn’t really in touch with any of my cousins on a regular basis. Over the past few years, two more of the sisters have passed away, one very recently, leaving only a single sister remaining.

There’s really no one left who I can talk to about my dad, or in fact my mother’s life when she was young. I know almost nothing about either.

What I do have, are some photographs. Not many, and almost none of them are labelled or written on. But I do have some photos. I’ve been scanning an album today with Cyprus on the cover, made in Germany, and full of photographs of my dad, his army buddies, and some of my mum, maybe my sister, and other members of the family.

A lot of them are people I don’t know and will never find out who they are, mostly in the army. My dad was stationed in Cyprus for a while (it looks like my mum didn’t go), and Germany (my mum lived there with him for a while). I have no idea who took these photos, where they all are, or what year any of them were. Most of them I guess are the 60’s and 70’s, but one is from the 50’s and one has a car in it which looks to be 50’s era as well.

I’ve been meaning to scan these for a long time, but it’s meant,

  1. removing the photographs carefully from the album, but inevitably losing some of the photo corners they’re stuck in with at the same time
  2. spending a lot of time doing it

b) is easy to solve now I’m in self isolation, and a) I realised I’m the only person left in the world who I can ask for permission, so I gave it to myself.

Here’s my mum,

And here’s my dad,

They’re photos they sent or gave to each other, while my dad was stationed away (because they’re among the few to have something written on the back).

I’ve put all the images (or nearly all of them) on Flickr, and a photography forum I participate in, and some of them have been confirmed as Cyprus, which is good to know.  This is a post I originally made on the forum, but wanted to duplicate here for my own blog so that I didn’t lose it.

Lockdown

Well well, we’re locked down.  The UK government has finally decided to close all but essentially shops, limit gatherings to no more than 2 people (unless all close family), and fine people if they’re out and about without an important reason.

I’ve got 3 days left before I’m out of self isolation due to presenting symptoms, I just hope it was Covid19 and that you can’t get it twice so that I can stay confidently healthy.  I’ll just need to hope for the best on that front.

Plenty of folk will be chronicling this time, daily updates, isolation blogs and diaries and the like.  I don’t feel compelled to do that, although I had hope to do a photo journal of the outside world.  That’s probably scuppered now.  I will try and carry the little camera with me if I go out for essential supplies, and grab a few shots of nearly empty streets.

The World Has Changed

What a strange situation we find ourselves in.  Covid19 will change the world.

I’m pretty sure I’m on day 5 of my own personal infection.  Fever, cough, headaches, the whole set, but very mild.  Doing what we can to delay / limit Greté’s exposure but the physical separation is extra hard on her.  We’ve got enough supplies to get us through to the end of my isolation, and then we’ll just take it day by day.

Trying to do something with the hours we’re stuck in the house, scanning some old photographs.  Which has me thinking about family and friends.

Just a quick post to record the fact that I think I had the virus and this is day 5, because without this blog I’d have little chance of recalling my own life events.

The silence is delicious

For the past couple of months or so we’ve been able to hear water moving through the cold water pipes in the kitchen and bathroom.  Turns out, as I previously posted, it was caused by a leak in the pipework outside of the property.  It’s now been repaired, I’ll probably post a blog when it’s fully finished, at the moment the path still has a hole in it.

But I just wanted to quickly post about how insidious the sound was, something only made clear by its absence.  Obviously, when in the kitchen in the quiet moments or in the bathroom, the sound was very obvious and loud.  However, now that it’s gone it is hugely apparent that I could hear it even in a noisy house, and even in other rooms.  A constant background cavitation noise from the pipes.  Like an audible version of Chinese water torture.

I was in the bathroom earlier, and it’s silent.  So, very, very quiet.  It’s truly delicious.

Water movement

Looks like we might have movement on the water front.  Severn Trent are coming out, possibly Wednesday, to repair the leak in pipe between us and the mains.  Fingers crossed.  That’ll be an absolutely huge weight off my mind.  You can clear hear the leak from inside the house now and it’s getting louder – the sound of running water constantly is not pleasant when you know it’s basically going out of the pipe and in to the ground!

Memories are made of this

I don’t remember life events very well.  When they happened, what year, where I was, or in many cases, that they happened at all.  Reading back over blog entries really helps.  So I’m going to try and keep writing them.  I never thought actually keeping a diary would be useful, but I guess it would have been given how bad my memory appears to be for this kind of thing.  I can probably recall  the command line parameters for AIX commands from 1998, but not much about my life in that year (except obviously, I got married).

Fizz is back home.  She was in the vet’s for one night, and was much brighter the next day.  She didn’t really eat while she was there (and judging by the poo this morning, she didn’t shit while she was there either), but they felt that was more because she was stressed and unhappy with them, rather than unwell.  So we agreed we’d bring her home.  She’s mildly anaemic, and seems to have sporadic bouts of sickness which trigger the lethargy.  So we’ve agreed to manage symptoms rather than put her through multiple tests which might not help anyway.  She’s 16, and overall she’s happier and more active these days than she was a year or so ago (we’ve introduced an anti-inflammatory for her arthritis, and a laxative to help with ‘regular movements’, both of which have had a visible and positive effect on her behaviour).  We’ll keep an eye on her, and manage any symptoms and ensure she’s got the best quality of life possible for however long she keeps going.  At the moment, we’ve got no reason to doubt that could be a lot of years yet.

No progress on the mains leak, Severn Trent haven’t been back in touch and we don’t know what that means.

No progress on the wood repairs, the guy is waiting for a dry day to come and do the final sanding and staining.

I’m three or four weeks in to a new photography project, documenting the area in which I live.  You can see the album of hundreds of photos so far on Flickr.