JRandomHacker's recent activity

  1. Comment on What are some of your favorite tabletop RPG systems and settings, and what do you love about them? in ~games.tabletop

    JRandomHacker
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    I don't have nearly as much TTRPG experience as the rest of my usual playgroup, and I'm definitely not as talented with the improv/storytelling aspects. That being said, I've really fallen for...

    I don't have nearly as much TTRPG experience as the rest of my usual playgroup, and I'm definitely not as talented with the improv/storytelling aspects. That being said, I've really fallen for Exalted 3rd Edition. It's most definitely not a system for everyone - it's very crunchy (the base rulebook runs nearly 700 pages, and there are now multiple expansions for other character types), and character-building and combat get quite complex. The things that have made me like it:

    1. The over-the-top drama without relying on silliness: A starting-level Exalt is already vastly more powerful than most mortals, and things only go up from there. A long-running Exalted chronicle will probably end up on the "divine" or "cosmic" scale of conflicts. There's also the "stunts" system, akin to D&D's "inspiration". It's a small reward (dice bonuses or partial auto-success) given when you give extra flavorful description to the actions you're taking, instead of just listing off skills. You're able to stunt nearly every single roll you make, and you're actually encouraged to do so. My favorite example of the power-level of Exalted is the skill "Graceful Crane Technique". As-described, it allows your character to treat any solid object they stand on as if it were flat, level ground. Simple examples include things like walking a tightrope or maintaining balance on a rocky hillside. The book explains that this escalates all the way up to "running across the spear-points of a large mortal army, doing battle with another Exalt" - and this is a skill you can take right away during character creation.

    2. The social combat system. For someone who isn't naturally good at free-flowing roleplay character interactions, I love the structure that Exalted provides here. When you create a character, you give them Intimacies - strong positive or negative feelings towards either something or someone (a Tie) or a more abstract concept (a Principle). When you get into a social situation that you want to get something out of, you can use your skills to determine what Intimacies the other characters have, and then if you want to persuade them to do something out of the ordinary, you have to lean on one or more of their Intimacies to get them to do so.

    3. Honestly, the crunchiness. Exalted uses 9 attributes and 26 abilities to build your character's stats. You then get to select from dozens upon dozens of Charms, which are activated or triggered spell-like effects, but for any ability. The Charms are arranged basically into video-game-like skill trees, so you can really customize the flavor of your character by selecting which charms they take. My last character was heavily invested in the Resistance ability, and I specifically chose the portion of the Charm tree that dealt with berserker-style combat - once I got going, I was nearly unstoppable in battle. However, if I was stopped, Very Bad Things happened very quickly. Even though another character in the party also had a significant amount of Resistance, because he had a different set of Charms, we played our characters very differently.

    3 votes
  2. Comment on Why Chicago's skyline is insanely well designed in ~design

    JRandomHacker
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    This is one of my extremely-unimportant hills that I'll die on - that Chicago has the greatest skyline in the US. I'm really glad he talked about the view from the lake.

    This is one of my extremely-unimportant hills that I'll die on - that Chicago has the greatest skyline in the US. I'm really glad he talked about the view from the lake.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on What programming/technical projects have you been working on? in ~comp

    JRandomHacker
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    Finally gotten some serious time to work on the web interface for my DIY smart thermostat. Our house was obviously built in multiple pieces at multiple times, so it has a wall-thermostat for each...

    Finally gotten some serious time to work on the web interface for my DIY smart thermostat.

    Our house was obviously built in multiple pieces at multiple times, so it has a wall-thermostat for each heat zone on the boiler, and two of those thermostats control different AC zones as well. I'm replacing all of them with a single Raspberry Pi mounted in the basement near the boiler and connected to a relay board to drive the actual heat/cool zones.

    The web interface isn't anything super crazy, but it's been satisfying to see the pieces come together on a from-scratch design. I'm now pulling temperature data from Z-Wave sensors around the house via MQTT, and have a basic REST API for polling the current temperature of a zone and setting the requested target temp. Next step is to actually figure out the HVAC control algorithm part (or maybe I don't need to get any fancier than "if temp is more than X degrees outside the acceptable range, enable heat/cool").

    1 vote
  4. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    JRandomHacker
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    I've started trying Astrox Imperium - it's basically 100% billed as "EVE Online, but offline", and if that's what you're looking for, I think it delivers. I've barely scratched the surface and it...

    I've started trying Astrox Imperium - it's basically 100% billed as "EVE Online, but offline", and if that's what you're looking for, I think it delivers. I've barely scratched the surface and it definitely won't hold my attention for as long as EVE would, but I really can't afford an MMO that's as all-consuming as that right now.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Sanderson’s First Law for magic systems in ~books

    JRandomHacker
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    The man takes breaks from writing books by writing more books. He accidentally starts entire new series, then finishes them before many other authors put out a single book. He's also incredibly...

    The man takes breaks from writing books by writing more books. He accidentally starts entire new series, then finishes them before many other authors put out a single book.

    He's also incredibly devoted to his fans - I was at a signing for him a few years back that was hosted in a Chicago Public Library branch. The library closed at 11, but there were still people who wanted to ask him questions, so he stood outside for another hour and a half answering questions - in November in Chicago.

    5 votes
  6. Comment on Mascots, Unmasked - An absurdly deep dive into the history, culture, and antics of sports mascots in ~sports

    JRandomHacker
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    Very glad to see Benny the Bull make this list - the previous portrayer of Benny was easily one of the greatest mascots of all time.

    Very glad to see Benny the Bull make this list - the previous portrayer of Benny was easily one of the greatest mascots of all time.

    1 vote
  7. Comment on How to edit a podcast on Linux? in ~tech

    JRandomHacker
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    REAPER is excellent - I'm using it to edit a podcast on Windows right now. It's a lot of power for a very reasonable amount of money, compared to the big-name DAWs

    REAPER is excellent - I'm using it to edit a podcast on Windows right now. It's a lot of power for a very reasonable amount of money, compared to the big-name DAWs

    3 votes
  8. Comment on Into the Breach: Advanced Edition update in ~games

    JRandomHacker
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    Into the Breach didn't quite hook me as much as FTL did, but that's a really high bar. Subset proved to me that they've really got a knack for these sorts of games - this update will probably pull...

    Into the Breach didn't quite hook me as much as FTL did, but that's a really high bar. Subset proved to me that they've really got a knack for these sorts of games - this update will probably pull me back in for a bit.

    4 votes
  9. Comment on Neil Patrick Harris boards ‘Doctor Who’ as “greatest enemy ever faced” in ~tv

    JRandomHacker
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    NPH's performance at the 2013 Tonys is one of the most impressive live-show anythings I've seen.
    • Exemplary

    NPH's performance at the 2013 Tonys is one of the most impressive live-show anythings I've seen.

    1 vote
  10. Comment on Snarky Puppy - Trinity (Extended Version) (2022) in ~music

    JRandomHacker
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    It's a rite of passage to watch the live version of Lingus for the first time.

    It's a rite of passage to watch the live version of Lingus for the first time.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    JRandomHacker
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    This is an impressive achievement - big congrats there. I got through all the A/B/C sides, all the non-special berries, Farewell, and a small handful of goldens, but I couldn't get any further.

    This is an impressive achievement - big congrats there. I got through all the A/B/C sides, all the non-special berries, Farewell, and a small handful of goldens, but I couldn't get any further.

    5 votes
  12. Comment on We played Connect 4 by travelling to actual US states | Jet Lag: The Game in ~hobbies

    JRandomHacker
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    I just watched the last episode of this on Nebula - A+ series and I'm looking forward to more games that they play. It's quite cool to see Sam's air transport infrastructure knowledge on display.

    I just watched the last episode of this on Nebula - A+ series and I'm looking forward to more games that they play. It's quite cool to see Sam's air transport infrastructure knowledge on display.

    1 vote
  13. Comment on A letter to Discord for not supporting the Linux desktop in ~tech

    JRandomHacker
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    My tiny tiny nitpick about Discord on Linux that enrages me every time that it happens is that, at some point, the version of Electron they used didn't properly implement mouse-button-back on...

    My tiny tiny nitpick about Discord on Linux that enrages me every time that it happens is that, at some point, the version of Electron they used didn't properly implement mouse-button-back on Linux, so they implemented it themselves. At some later point, they upgraded to an Electron version that did support mouse-back, so now every time you press the "back" button, it goes back twice.

    8 votes
  14. Comment on After over four decades, This Old House’s Master Carpenter and pioneer of the home improvement television genre, Norm Abram is officially leaving the show and hanging up his toolbelt in ~tv

    JRandomHacker
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    End of an era, truly. I still can't operate a power tool without thinking about "these - safety glasses".

    End of an era, truly. I still can't operate a power tool without thinking about "these - safety glasses".

    1 vote
  15. Comment on Making sense of VRChat, the metaverse people actually like in ~tech

    JRandomHacker
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    PMG continues to do some absolutely top-notch journalism. I'm not really interested in actually engaging in the community aspects of it, but I'm absolutely fascinated by the technology behind...

    PMG continues to do some absolutely top-notch journalism.

    I'm not really interested in actually engaging in the community aspects of it, but I'm absolutely fascinated by the technology behind VRChat and/or VTubing - I'd love to spend a bunch of time researching and spec'ing out the highest-quality tracking possible from a consumer perspective.

    2 votes
  16. Comment on NVIDIA releases open-source GPU kernel modules in ~tech

    JRandomHacker
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    I did a literal double-take reading this headline. It's not "everything is free and open", but it's a hell of a step forwards.

    I did a literal double-take reading this headline. It's not "everything is free and open", but it's a hell of a step forwards.

    4 votes
  17. Comment on Review: Balldo in ~life

    JRandomHacker
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    I follow Eric on twitter because of his Animorphs video essays - he considers this to be his greatest piece of professional writing ever.

    I follow Eric on twitter because of his Animorphs video essays - he considers this to be his greatest piece of professional writing ever.

    3 votes
  18. Comment on Why modern sandwich bread is different from 'real' bread in ~food

    JRandomHacker
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    I think my favorites of Adam Ragusea's videos are the ones where he talks about "industrial" food - there are lots of processes that are super important to solving the problem of "get everybody...

    I think my favorites of Adam Ragusea's videos are the ones where he talks about "industrial" food - there are lots of processes that are super important to solving the problem of "get everybody fed" that people look down on for being not "real" food.

    7 votes
  19. Comment on Ncuti Gatwa: BBC names actor as next Doctor Who star in ~tv

    JRandomHacker
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    First name is pronounced "shoo-ti"

    First name is pronounced "shoo-ti"

    7 votes
  20. Comment on Mechanical watch in ~science

    JRandomHacker
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    That's the part that I find so amusing! He's the Magic coverage guy, and so when I found the channel, it was "hey look, Marshall is doing watch stuff" - but Wristwatch Revival is its own...

    That's the part that I find so amusing! He's the Magic coverage guy, and so when I found the channel, it was "hey look, Marshall is doing watch stuff" - but Wristwatch Revival is its own completely separate thing that's quite successful now, and that's super cool.

    1 vote