Assorted Blog Updates and News

It’s been a little bit since I did one of these. I have a few brief blog-related details which are not remotely worth their own posts separately, but which I should post about for public record reasons I suppose. Below the following news items, I’ve also included some gameable material to cover my Joesky Tax for writing this otherwise fairly boring blog-related post.

Rating System

A week or two ago I decided to revise my rating system after realizing I had to qualify it on a post. The long and short of it is this: I have previously employed an n/5 rating system for books. This made sense to me at the time I started this blog, but which I don’t think I successfully made clear to readers, rendering it worthless. I will now be reviewing books on a rating scale of n/10, and I have gone back to older reviews and updated them to this new scale. I have retained the legacy rating and rating text on these older posts as well, and noted the change in scale on those posts.

For transparency, I’ll explain. The thing is, I was actually writing reviews on an n/10 system all along, I just do not review books that I think are below 5/10 because they do not excite me enough to share and I don’t really want to write negative reviews, either. I understand negative reviews are helpful to many, including creators (which is why I try to remain strictly objective and critical in my reviews even of books and creators I enjoy or, gasp, have befriended). However, it’s not my cup of tea for several reasons, most important of which is the simple fact that I do not want to write 2,000 words about a book that bored or annoyed me. So I was writing about books I consider 6+ on an n/10 scale, and since I’d only be writing about those five grades, effectively, I decided to just go with n/5.

The problem is, that isn’t clear to anyone not inside my own head, and I realized this very clearly when I found myself trying to explain that a 3/5 on my scale is not bad nor a mediocre book – it’s like a 7-8/10! That made it pretty clear that my scale wasn’t useful to others beside myself. So here we are.

Bottom Widget Change-Up

Awhile back I made a change at the footer of the blog and forgot to document that anywhere for transparency reasons. There is now a proper blogroll at the bottom. It shows the five most recent blog posts from the various blogs on my feed by default (so it fits the dimensions of the widget footer) but it can be expanded to show a bunch. That slot in the footer was previously an Amazon affiliate program image link, but if you use an adblocker (like I do) it was probably just a blank rectangle to you. This is much more useful.

To be clear: I remain an Amazon affiliate member. I think I’ve linked there in like two articles and I’ve made like $0.15 off of it. I’m sure I’ll have a reason to link there again. But that affiliate image was wasting useful space, so it’s dead to me.

Index Updated

I have updated the Index page, which you can find in the sidebar on desktop browsers and in the menu button on your mobile devices. It has a listing of popular articles by categories which hopefully are at least vaguely useful. Pressing ctrl-F should help you search within it if you vaguely remember a title and don’t know what category it fits into. Hopefully it is useful to you if you ever need to reference something here, which frankly might just be an egotistical, self-indulgent, fanciful assumption on my part in the first place! I’ll be honest: it’s there mostly because it’s handy for me and for some reason I like indices more than search functions.

Anyway, it’s up to date now. I’ll do this periodically and try to stay vaguely on top of it, but it’s gonna be sort of a batch process where I do it every so often. If you don’t see something there, try the blog’s search function in the left sidebar instead, because I probably haven’t added it yet.

One Hundred Posts

Last year, a few months into this blog, I remarked on Twitter that I’d like to have written 100 decent articles on my blog by the time I hit the one year anniversary of its founding. I have kinda worried if that was a lofty, unreachable goal, because I tend to write longer posts to begin with and I also took an unscheduled hiatus from blogging and the internet in general back in October and November of 2018 due to a chaotic and difficult time in my personal life. However, wonder of wonders, my post about Jeff’s Gameblog was, fittingly, my 100th post, and was posted on what is more or less on the nine month mark of this blog’s existence. Jeff’s Gameblog is a longtime inspiration and commentary on some of Jeff’s published work was one of the earliest features of this blog. I think it’s cool that it worked out that way.

I am weirdly proud of this tiny achievement. Writing these first 100 posts has been an unexpectedly joyful and rewarding experience. I don’t think everything I’ve written has been a hit or even of interest to anyone beside myself, but I think I’ve done an okay job, and I hope I get better with the next 100 posts.

Thanks so much for reading a hundred posts. Truly. I hope you’ll read the next hundred, too!

Joesky Tax

In the name of our CAPSLOCK savior Joesky, hallowed be his PBR, I offer the following gameable odds and ends I haven’t found a use for just yet:

BEGIN JOESKY TAX

SPELL: Slumber Spy, 2nd level, Magic-User
Enchant a pillow or mattress to record the mumblings of a sleeping creature. Those seeking simple secrets and details – the location of a key or clue, the solution to a puzzle, a passphrase, etc – can target a mattress or pillow to have it record the words of an intelligent creature who sleeps on the object(s). When the creature vacates the bed, the magic-user may return to the pillow or mattress. On a successful result, the magic-user may have it reveal the words of the creature in glowing letters upon its surface. Casting the spell requires a drop of a tincture comprised of alcohol, lamb’s ear leaf, and deadly nightshade.
Determining success: Roll 1d20. If it’s below a combined value of Magic-User’s Intelligence score and their level, it is a success.

SPELL: Greater Slumber Spy, 4th level, Magic-User
Enchant a pillow or mattress to record the mumblings of a sleeping creature. Those seeking deep, hidden, even forgotten secrets and details – memories, spells, ancient techniques or knowledge – can target a mattress or pillow to have it record the words of an intelligent creature who sleeps on the object(s). When the creature vacates the bed, the magic-user may return to the pillow or mattress. On a successful result, the magic-user may have it reveal the words of the creature in glowing letters upon its surface. Casting the spell requires a drop of a tincture comprised of alcohol, lamb’s ear leaf, and deadly nightshade.
Determining success: Roll 1d20. If it’s below a combined value of Magic-User’s Intelligence score and their level, it is a success.

TABLE: 1d30 Weapons of Murderous Half-Giants

1d30
Assorted Weapons Found In The Lost Barracks of the Terrible Half-Giants
1
A golden polearm with a heavily weighted business end and two perpendicular hooks at the midpoint of the haft. The brutish implement appears heavily used, as the blade shows signs of having been sharpened hundreds of times.
2
A porcelain mace in the shape of an albino male’s head bristling with needle-like pins in all directions. The pommel is terminated in a confounding cube detailed with inscrutable pictograms.
3
A glove with space for only a thumb a three squat fingers, on the back of which is a crescent-shaped blade that smells vaguely of malice and copper. Poisonous creatures seem preternaturally attracted to it.
4
A glaive nearly twice as long as normal glaives in both haft and blade length, decorated with a series of scribed floral patterns based on a flower that only grows in a very distant land. It smells faintly of petrichor.
5
A large cleaving knife in a squared-off shape, with a mercilessly serrated edge which has managed not to dull or tarnish despite centuries of disuse. The grip is wrapped with linens stained a sickly chartreuse.
6
A bardiche with an intricate engraving depicting the victory of the half-giants over a human village, with the warriors crushing defenders and cowering citizenry alike. The workmanship is surprisingly complicated for half-giant smiths.
7
A rugged two-handed sword with a broad blade ending in a rounded executioner’s tip. Its length is inscribed with the names of fourteen warrior-chiefs. The slightest touch from its edges will extinguish flames of natural creation.
8
A large hook, not dissimilar from a massively oversized fishing hook, with a grip fashioned of leather and a chisel-edged barb. It gently vibrates and emits a low hum when held next to a sufficient amount of water.
9
A pike produced from a thorny hardwood, with its nasty stickers sprouting outward and toward the point from every angle. If scored with an edge, it still bleeds milky orange sap.
10
A sickle with a wickedly curved blade made of a crimson metal. It weighs very little in the hand despite being quite large, and it has sixty-one hash marks scratched into its surface. It gives a vague sensation of disquiet to those who hold it.
11
A large voulge made from a particularly jagged, unrefined piece of iron. It eschews a wooden shaft and is instead simply one single piece of uncomfortable, poorly-shaped iron. It is constantly warm and, if submerged in water, it will cause the water to boil and hiss.
12
A hatchet made out of a knapped semi-transparent stone lashed to a split branch from a yew tree. It seems to reflect things which are not there.
13
A warhammer with an extremely long haft. The head is fashioned from cast bronze and appears to be a screaming demon’s face. When struck against metal, it seems to cry out.
14
A pair of gauntlets of steel enameled with indigo and red geometric patterns. The knuckles are adorned with a row of razor-sharp, short blades. They come with a cup in matching décor, stained with what looks to be blood.
15
A fan-like blade shaped like a maple leaf, with an obtuse grip. It is made of a yellow steel of unknown origin and whispers about beings at the bottom of the sea who crawl on their bellies and dream of torturing mortals for the indignity.
16
A longbow with a pull weight in excess of human possibility; possibly even a stretch for a particularly athletic half-giant. Its arrows are nearly five feet long and tipped with ruthless splayed iron heads. The flights appear exotic, and are many colors.  
17
A great club of oak banded with blued iron. It is barely more than a tree trunk hewn into a regular shape. The iron studs holding the bands to the wood are shaped like flowers – far too intricate for the quality of construction evident otherwise.
18
A short, stabbing blade for half-giant use, with a rounded pommel and a disc-shaped guard. It was clearly made by captives pressed into service, as the fuller is detailed with elvish script consisting of a farewell letter and an apology.
19
A bronze axe with several hook-like blades jutting off the sides of the head. Its haft is scorched irregularly as if repeatedly taken into burning confines.
20
A massive iron flail, its head positively glittering with short cruciform spikes in all directions. The chain connecting head to handle is barbed with short, jagged points. The handle is well-worn and bears a single glyph shaped like an eye with two irises.
21
A spear-like weapon with a long, broad blade at each end of the shaft. If the blades are dipped into water, the water will turn red as if blood is being rinsed off the surface of the pristine metal.
22
A throwing dart of lead and obsidian tied to a long, scarlet ribbon of silken fabric. It is wrapped around a wooden scroll case containing pictograms instructing its use in a primitive art style not unlike cave drawings.
23
A stout hacking blade with a wicked recurve. The weapon is comprised of silver and has a simple grip of pinned bone. It is decorated with an engraving of a skeletal dog.
24
A rusty, pointed sawblade haphazardly bolted to a gauntlet for use as a penetrating punch dagger by unscrupulous half-giants. Its pocked surface belies years of bloody use.
25
A broad, flat bronze hoop with a razor sharp edge all the way around. Its purpose is poorly understood even by educated warmongers, but it seems to scream loudly if thrown through the air.
26
A long sovnya with a viciously serrated edge. It sings a dark song when swung, one unintelligible word at a time, reminiscent of a funeral chant. The haft has numerous human skulls hanging on fine iron chains which clatter rhythmically in time with the song.
27
A mace of heavy black steel, its striking head shaped like a broad-branched fig tree. It is covered in matted hair and stains. It smells like meat left in the summer sun. When struck, it rings as if hollow.
28
A spear with a barbed head not too dissimilar from a harpoon. Its shaft becomes very flexible when the butt is tapped on the floor three times, enough that it can be swirled overhead like a whip or flail.
29
A gleaming longsword of flashing turqouise metal with a scabbard made of bones and jade. It pulses with light as if catching an unseen sun with no discernable regularity.
30
A flail with three striking heads of bronze tarnished with verdigris. The heads are shaped like triskelia comprised of goat hooves. The weapon reeks of rancid oils and is constantly attended by a cloud of flies.
END JOESKY TAX

Okay, that’s all, folks. Thanks for reading this blog and this post about this blog. If you want to holler at me, use the comments below, the email widget at the bottom of the page, or hit me up on Twitter @dungeonspossums.

2 comments on “Assorted Blog Updates and News

  1. phillcalle

    Those are great spells, which if I ever run a game of fantasy palace intrigue, I'll definitely use! And the d30! And half-giants. Dang. That's a lot, Possum.

  2. Sully

    "A long sovnya with a viciously serrated edge. It sings a dark song when swung, one unintelligible word at a time, reminiscent of a funeral chant. The haft has numerous human skulls hanging on fine iron chains which clatter rhythmically in time with the song."

    This is pretty damn cool. I imagine the song having an effect on one's enemies; maybe a Cause Fear spell or a penalty to morale.

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