Friday, 11 May 2018

Campaign idea: The Power of Positive Zombies

I don't have much experience playing D&D and the like but I enjoy reading the manuals and thinking through cool ideas. One I want to try is the Positive-Energy Charged Creature

An undead with fast healing 5 and a 5 feet aura that heals living creatures and damages undead for 1d6 per turn. In addition, not only do all its negative energy damaging powers become positive energy (sadly though energy drain does flip to positive, it doesn't give temp levels), but its natural attacks become positive energy too so you get healed by getting hit. There's also overhealing, so all the excess energy gets converted into an equal amount of temp health.

It gets better, an undead killed by a positive energy undead gets transformed into a positive energy undead with full hitpoints, though it is staggered for up to 4 rounds and not under the control of its maker.

This seems like the perfect undead killing machine doesn't it? Except for one thing, Overcharge. If you get more temp health than your maximum HP, you explode in a burst of positive energy. There's no save involved, the body just automatically disintegrates and sends out a burst dealing 1d6+1d6*(temp health at time of death/10). The burst is positive energy so you can actually trigger a cascade effect and wipe out a whole slew of creatures in a single turn.

They still have a weakness to positive energy and acquired an immunity to negative energy as part of the process so they aren't really good in groups but you could still have a lot of fun with these especially if the players fail the check and don't recognize the danger. Maybe NPC's have been using them in an infirmary and don't realize the danger because only the injured pass by and they never get enough temp health to explode.

I'd like to see them incorporated into a castle. Place them in cages in 10 ft intervals. You could either use it offensively, buffing your assaulting units as they disembark from a fortification, or defensively; any unit with hit points less than the number of zombies gets vaporized before it can reach the end of the corridor.


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Interesting Animes

Below will hopefully be a list of good, bad and interesting anime that I've stumbled across. Same rule as Netflix for interesting, 'Bad'/average and 'Interesting' will be put in the 'Interesting' category while 'Good' and 'Interesting' will just be marked Good.

Good

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? - Dude that became a zombie and then a magical girl. 

Shokugeki no Soma (aka Food Wars) - Iron Chef as an Anime. The foodgasms get a bit much early on, but they tone it down as it goes on.

Yakitate!! Japan - Similar to Food Wars, but focused on baking. It ends abruptly in a way that suggests it suddenly lost funding and a lot of the puns are specific to Japanese but still good. 

Ace Attorney - Based on the Ace Attorney games. If you enjoyed the games, or ever wanted to play them it's worth looking into. 

Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - Groundhog day with loop after loop. 

.Hack//Sign - The original 'guy stuck in a video game' anime. The games that follow on and the anime that you get with them is interesting. 

Overlord - A guy who got stuck in a virtual reality game. Nothing unusual except he's an undead mage with a huge dungeon/castle. 

Log Horizon - Another 'stuck in a game' anime. Focuses a little more on logistics and survival than most. 


Bad

Yugioh Arc V - Like I said in my Netflix entry, pendulum is bullshit and the main characters deck is extremely convenient.

Interesting

Tatakau Shisho The Book of Bantorra - "In a world where dead people are turned into books..." If that doesn't meet the definition of interesting almost nothing will. 

Monday, 30 April 2018

Netflix: The good, bad and interesting

There have been a few times when I've been asked to recommend titles for friends on Netflix. Despite letting you mark things as recommended or not recommended, there doesn't seem to be a way of passing that information on to others. Therefore, for my own future reference and friends, I'm keeping a list of Netflix shows that are good, bad and interesting.

Regarding the 'interesting' category, if it's good and interesting, it'll be marked 'good'. If it was bad (or average) but interesting, it'll be 'interesting'.

The Good

  • Black Lightning
  • 3% - Bad English dubbing, but great story
  • Lucifer
  • Limitless - There's a movie by the same name that comes before the show (and isn't on Netflix) but it's only tangentially related so you don't need to watch it first. 
  • Firefly - No longer on Netflix
  • Killjoys
  • Travellers - I particularly enjoy how each iteration of Traveller remembers a different future. 
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Ascension - Feels a bit like Fallout to me, but in a good way.
  • Sense8 - Really slow at times, but when they do the scenes when they're all sharing it is amazing.
  • The Disastrous Life of Saiki K - Imagine Daria as an anime then give her absurdly overpowered telekinetic powers. Very entertaining.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender
  • Power Rangers RPM - My favourite iteration of power rangers that makes fun of itself and has almost no filler. 
  •  Designated Survivor - also known as 'why I don't want to be a politician'.
  • Train to Busan - There were rumors about turning this into a Hollywood movie. Watch it before they ruin it. 
  • Odd Thomas
  • The Good Place
  • Continuum - The final season is largely pointless, but the rest is good and the ending is well done. 
  • Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman: Office worker in Tokyo strives to be the best in his company so that he can slack off and eat sweets while on the job. Covers desert places in the Tokyo area and has a very anime feel to it. 
  • Paradox - Some well built time travel. Can't really say more without spoilers. 
  • Transformers Prime - The girl pisses me off, but it's still a great version of Transformers
  • Frequency - A time travel story where no people actually travel through time. Just an exchange of information.

The Bad

  • Yugioh Arc V - The story telling in this is horrendous. They don't bother to explain anything and there's lots of plot conveniences (like the main characters deck being full of effect monsters for a technique he couldn't use). Also Pendulum is bullshit. 
  • ID-0: I have no idea where this one was supposed to be going. It doesn't feel like they achieved anything. 
  • He Never Died: This was so freaking boring. 

The Interesting

  • Equilibrium - How are going to explain all of the crazy gun combat and how the protagonist never gets hit? Statistics. An answer that is sensible, but at the same time completely absurd.
  • Synchronicity - The time travel is fairly well done, but it goes off the rails right at the end even though there was an avenue that would have tied it all up neatly. 
  • Horns - The plot is kind of average but the horns themselves make it interesting. 
  • Kakegurui - A card game anime, but based around gambling instead of Yugioh. 
  • Erased - Guy with groundhog day powers gets sent back to stop a child kidnapper. They tend to ignore the time powers for more mundane stuff but it still works. 
  • 2057: The World in 50 Years - A few short stories intermixed with physicists talking about potential future technology.
  • Forensic Files - A real crime show that covers forensic techniques. 
  • ARQ - A gritty groundhog day style movie. 
  • The Toys That Made Us - Histories of famous toys. It was interesting hearing how She-Ra apparently ruined He-Man
  • Rotten
  • Castlevania - It's a shame that it's so short. I was keen to see more.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Frangipani Infused Vodka: Experiment 1 (Success)

I've had a dehydrator for a while now and have been dehydrating frangipani flowers. We have a couple trees in the backyard and there are quite a few trees in my neighborhood. There are always enough flowers on the ground that I can just pick them up without having to take any off the actual trees.

The dried flowers can be used for potpourri and the dehydration process makes the house smell nice, but the volume of flowers I can produce greatly outweighs the amount I'd use for scent. Today I crushed some of the dried flowers and left it to stand in some vodka. After a few hours, the vodka had taken on a distinctly yellow hue, very similar to whiskey, and had a clear smell of frangipani.

I had a taste and it was almost entirely the original vodka taste. I placed about a shots worth in a small glass and topped it up with water. The result still tasted like watered down vodka, but it freed up the frangipani smell. Now, when taking a sip the smell spreads throughout my mouth.

Frangipani vodka is not a flavoring agent like midori, it's a perfume. While the taste of alcohol is pure alcohol when undiluted, its blooming smell once diluted makes it perfect for cocktails; it allows for modification of their smell without compromising their taste.

The next test I need to do is check if the smell will be retained when in the presence of stronger tastes and smells like pineapple, mint, or orange juice.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Banana Mousse: Experiment 1 (Failure)

I had a bunch of bananas in the fridge that were black and a recipe for banana/rum mousse. After skimming it and dismissing it (I don't like double boilers), I wondered if I could make something similar with instant pudding mix.

I like the concept of instant pudding, but I wish that it had better nutritional value. I was curious to see if I could use banana smoothie in place of the milk to make a healthier smoothie. Unfortunately, it didn't work. It tasted nice, but it didn't whip up properly. My current theory is that the banana made the mixture too dense and the air bubbles that should have formed in the mousse kept collapsing under the weight.

Fortunately, I was able to add a small amount of the mixture to milk and restore it to a smoothie (with the butterscotch flavor from the mousse which was nice). I also put some of the mixture in the freezer and left it overnight. It still crystallized, but it formed significantly smaller crystals that I was able to dig through with a spoon straight from the freezer with no defrosting required.

When I go for my second attempt, I plan on making the mousse first then folding in the pureed banana. It'll still be heavy, but I'm hoping that if the mousse has already set and firmed up in the fridge then when I fold it through it will retain at least some of the air pockets.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Pressure Cooked Olives: Experiment 1 (Failure)

I attempted to pressure cook olives today in the hopes of creating a process that was quicker than the natural curing method I found which was daily replacement of a brine mixture (water, salt and vinegar) for about 2 weeks.

It was my thought that the bitterness compounds that leach out may be heavy enough that when they're drawn out by the steam they'll be drawn into the pot with the condensate and left behind during the next steam creation cycle.

While this may have been the case, the liquor left behind after the pressure steaming was bitter and had some of the coloring from the olives, they did not have sufficient bitterness removed. In retrospect, pressure steaming was not the most suitable method of testing this theory. Since it suggests that contact time is the most important element, an atmospheric temperature steaming basket with a longer time would probably work better by potentially allowing for greater flow out of the vessel.

The liquor in question reminded me of overbrewed tea (specifically from the bitterness). I'd like to see if it had any health benefits, but I have no idea how to organize nutritional testing or have the capital available to undertake it. I am curious if there would be any use for a concentrated bittering agent. It doesn't have the sweetness of hops, but with a sweetener, perhaps it could be used as a substitute for them.

The pressure cooking time tested was very short as I didn't know how long you can pressure steam before it runs out of water. The total cook time was probably 20 minutes (bring up to temperature, then kill the electricity and let it come down extremely slowly). I suspect based on the remaining liquid that I could probably have run it for about an hour before liquid levels became a problem. The issue is that with a pressure cooker I have no way to check or increase the liquid level.

When examined after steaming the olive skins were very loose fitting, but still in one piece. It's not clear if it was mass lost from the centers or if the skin was merely stretched out by the heat. The centers were fairly liquidy though very bitter. The taste had some similarities to creamed corn or avocado. The latter has prompted me to flag this for further research.

I skinned the olives and left them briefly in a brine, but I neglected water so I ended up with olives that were more sour than bitter. I'm currently soaking them in some water in the hopes of negating both.

The consistency may be useful for development of vegan cheeses or avocado substitutes. while not as environmentally or politically useful as vegan foods, avocado is expensive with prices ranging from $2 to $9 per avocado, compared to about $7 a kilo for olives.

I'm considering repeating this experiment with pre-brined olives like those you get in a store. I wouldn't expect the same results since most canned or jarred foods would be heat/pressure treated for sterility, but I'm still curious about the result.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Waste Heat Cookies

My lovely girlfriend made me a slice from something close to cookie dough and chocolate and peanut butter topping. It was absolutely delicious, but I was curious to see if it could go from slice to cookie.

The answer was yes. I first attempted to microwave it, but chocolate absorbs too much energy so it burns way too easy. However, it did bake relatively easy.

The best way I've found to do them was to take a piece and place them in the oven after baking something. The residual heat from an electric oven was enough to bake the cookies to be cooked and warmed throughout. Topped with a little ice cream, they were really nice.