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Topics - Jubal

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General Gaming - The Arcade / Dragon Age
« on: May 14, 2020, 11:38:24 PM »
I'm finally playing through Origins. Anyone got thoughts/want to flail at me excitedly about the series?

I'm finding it fairly enjoyable. Thoughts so far:

Overall likes:
  • Small group combat. Gives a nice mordheim-y feel to it at times.
  • Range of skills and specialisations is fun, I feel like upgrading my character is something I generally look forward to.
  • Companions. Broadly an enjoyable and well written bunch and most of them are narratively fairly interesting, although there are also a fair number of NPCs I'd prefer taking with me to the ones I actually get to.
  • Decisions feel meaningful, morality doesn't feel super railroaded. I think this is one of the main playthrough things. The game does a good job of leaving you in some actually quite valid "here are your options, none of them are perfect, what do you think is right" scenarios. The endings of the Daelish and initial Redcliffe sections I thought worked pretty well in particular.
  • Generally the different areas and mission sections manage to vary the theme and pace a fair bit. It feels like a very classic dungeon crawl a lot of the time, but one at least where you're faced with a series of fairly varied encounters rather than just "chop your way through 500 darkspawn one by one".
  • Lots of content to explore, with a minimap system, so I'm not too often left feeling the classic RPG thing of "everywhere is absurdly small and I don't know why there's so little distance between places".
  • The setting has a good amount of whimsy in it, though I would personally lighten it a bit more, possibly because its main existential threat and sub-villain are both kind of tropey. I'm not suggesting taking away the moral decisions or any of the darker elements, I'm mostly just saying that the tree that talked in rhymes was lovely and I would like some more things in Ferelden like that which genuinely give me hope for the place.
  • There is a Very Good Dog.

Overall dislikes:
  • Like most RPGs, terrible at portraying politics. It always winds up as "here's some no-good-option sidequest choices that make you hate yourself whatever you pick" which I mean is a viewpoint on politics but it just frustrates me.
  • Inventory space issues, constantly, all the time. I keep having to do two extra runs round a dungeon area to ensure I've picked up every damn shortbow and veridium mace and got them to a merchant. It's quite a pain.
  • I don't enjoy micromanaging equipment so much as I feel the game is asking me to. It's really hard for me to work out what the balance of stats and nominal tiers means in practice, even 50% or so of the way through the game.
  • Four in the party feels restrictive sometimes, especially as one of them has to be me and one of them more or less has to be a healer.
  • Battles can get very micromanagey - like, I'm at times pausing so often to adjust what every character is doing on perfect timing in order to win that it may as well just have turn based combat.
  • Not always good at flagging up things that can have large consequences - I've missed moderately interesting or important sidequests because it wasn't made explicit that I had to do them before X other thing. And I've done a couple of reloads after giving things to party members that appeared to be in their theme for gifts but they hated and got -50 relation from. I guess that's life, but even so. losing a quarter of the scale from one bad gift seems OTT.
  • Tactically, 90% of what I'm doing is kiting and then piling on half the enemy party most of the time. I pretty frequently feel like I'm meant to end up in some giant stand-up fight but then I just kite small blocks of enemies away from it to the point where it's sensible but immersion breaking.

How are people finding the speed of game/loading? From starting a first playthrough, it's taking a long time on loading screens and occasionally getting lag in battles for me even when I clock all the graphics settings down to low. Not sure if I should just chalk it up as my computer being a bit old or whether it's likely to improve as the engine gets optimised better.

M&B Mods - The Explorer's Society / Bannerlord Modding Resources
« on: May 10, 2020, 05:52:48 PM »
A pinned thread for modding resources and where to find them - be that tutorials, downloads, etc. Suggested links very welcome :)

I've not looked into what's available much yet, but here's the thread for when I or someone else gets the chance :)

Exilian Folk Club / Cara Dillon Chords/Lyrics
« on: May 06, 2020, 02:52:57 PM »
Yes, another of these threads!


I enjoyed this and it was better than I expected - in that from the opening clip I expected it to be a "but they're not doing this by the manual" ritual dunking on it all, cinema sins style. On watching though, actually I thought he was very fair, made some interesting points about use of space which were worth thinking about for me, and also discussed with actual interest the importance of narrative and narrative presentation in many of these fights. Also gets a bit of credit from me for recognising/accepting what I think of as the historian's reversal argument - specifically, if you get a historical text telling you that X is right and you shouldn't do Y, it certainly doesn't mean "everyone therefore did X", but definitely means that someone was doing, or arguing for doing, Y. A surprising number of people don't seem to get this fact, but it's a general truism that almost nobody spends time and effort telling people not to do things that they weren't doing anyway.

Also he shares the correct opinion about the Princess Bride's swordfight which is that it's The Best Thing.

The Jolly Boar Kitchen - Food Discussion / Kitchen Gardening
« on: April 29, 2020, 10:11:39 PM »
So, I've been accumulating pot plants at a terrifying rate since all this started. I now have a whole bunch of extra things in pots outside. The best news? They will pretty much all produce edible stuff or are directly edible.

As such, here's some thoughts on what I've been growing and why. :)


Herbs are easy-ish, even if Cara still occasionally defines my ability with plants by the one time I let a rosemary die shortly after moving to Vienna. It's a good climate for rosemary, thyme, and oregano here and in well drained soil they should do OK. I've also got a herb pot with outer loops which I'm trying to establish basil and bit more thyme in.

Here on the left we have my main herb plants - the big trough has my rosemary and oregano in it and the little pot to their right is the thyme. I'd like to repot the thyme into another trough with something else but I'm not sure what yet & my local hardware/home/plants shop doesn't do plastic rectangular planters.

I've not much to show on the basil yet - if you scroll down to the cucumbers you can see the first few seedlings coming up in the herb pot.

My herb growing is fairly successful, in that I haven't had to buy rosemary or oregano in quite a long time now, I basically produce enough for my own needs, which given I'm pretty liberal with herbs isn't bad going. I just hang them to dry in bunches in the stairwell:

And then it's a case of stripping the leaves. Easy with rosemary where the stems are woody and the leaves easily separable, much harder with oregano where one almost always ends up with bits of stem etc.


Not much to say here, I have a tomato (principe borghese variety, it should produce small lunch/snack size plum tomatoes), I got it from the supermarket, it is now in a bigger pot than it was. It's currently producing nice little yellow flowers which is hopefully a good sign.

This variety can apparently grow very big (like taller than me) but I'm hoping it won't get quite that high... I have a bamboo cane ready for when it needs to climb higher.


I have three strawberry plants, kept in a pot together. Unfortunately I just had to cut some of the flowers/early fruits because of a possible mildew infection on them, but hopefully it won't get any further or reappear. They seem to be flowering nicely anyway.


So I got some cucumber seeds free with a bottle of gin, and expected them to be rubbish, so I sowed them all in a pot (the green one on the right here) to see if any would come up...

And now here are my two cucumber plants in their nice big pot outside, with canes to climb up! Cucumbers naturally are ground-spreading, but they can climb, and it's much better to get them to do so if growing in a small enclosed space which I am, so I'm going to get them to go up these bamboos as they grow.

And here are ALL THE OTHER SEEDLINGS, because every single seed I planted germinated successfully. About three died when transplanting between pots, but I still have a lot of spares. I will need to find new forever (OK, for the season until they probably die over winter) homes for all these little ones in the near future!


Finally possibly the easiest and neatest of the lot, cress, grown on folded damp kitchen towel. When it was a bit colder my flat was too dry for it and it was drying out overnight, and often I think it wants more light than my one functional windowsill gets, but I've had some good crops all the same. The "in bag on windowsill for a few days, then take out and water 1-2 times a day, soaking the kitchen towel and draining run-off" system seems reliable.

And it's largely a lunch utility food for me at least, or versatile as a garnish. It probably isn't as much of a culinary heavy lifter as e.g. the herbs, but it's a nice thing to grow now and again and as you're eating the seedlings it's neat and harvested, eaten straighway, sorted and done with in a fairly short span of time.

Have any of you been doing food gardening during the pandemic/anyone have any particular thoughts on the above?

The Jolly Boar Kitchen - Food Discussion / Acharuli Khachapuri
« on: April 29, 2020, 06:46:57 PM »
Acharuli Khachapuri

My first attempt at making one of the most visibly distinctive classic Georgian dishes, from the Adjara region in the southwest of the country. Khachapuris - cheesebreads - are a wide variety of local dishes in Georgia, but the acharuli with its boat shape and egg topping is one of the most visually distinctive varieties. Here's my attempt to make it, using more or less this recipe with a couple of modifications, in pictures :)

First, dough making. Equal mix of about 50mls each of milk and water, warm to 30-40c, mix in yeast, add to flour with a small dash of oil and half an egg (maybe salt for taste but I didn't, tiny bit of sugar for a more golden colour), mix in enough flour to make a reasonable dough.

Cover and leave to rise for 2hrs. This went badly for me because my yeast was old and rubbish. Use good in-date yeast and your bread won't be as horrifically dense as mine was. I moved it from the bookshelf to a super low temp (40C) oven for a while but that didn't help alas.

Once maybe 1h30 is up, you can make the filling. Or at any time really, it refrigerates OK for a few hours, you're going to cook it anyway. Here we are: mix of 2/3 mozzarella to 1/3 feta, plus an egg, a little bit of butter (like under 50g), and in my case some added salt and tarragon.

Smush it all together nicely with a fork.

OK, get the dough out once it's risen and knead it for ten mins or so, then make a flat boat shape, put the filling in the middle, and wrap it round like so:

I used the other half egg from earlier to glaze it, and added more tarragon on top.

Then cook it! I cooked it for 12 mins, then took it out, cracked the egg, and put it back in: I should actually have added it earlier as it took rather longer to cook the egg than expected (recipe said 3 mins, was definitely more like 6) and I think I probably overcooked the other bits as a result. A final stick of butter may be added at the very end.

Goes well with wine, it's Georgian after all!

Overall it worked fine and made for a decent dinner, and if the bread had worked properly then I think it would've really been very nice. Can recommend!

The Boozer / Hasdrubal the Pigeon
« on: April 29, 2020, 02:43:15 PM »
So I woke up this morning and there was a fledgling pigeon outside my back door. I've tried offering it food and water to unclear levels of avail. I've also named it Hasdrubal.

This is Hasdrubal:

Hasdrubal is clearly a fledgling - that's what all those fluff feathers around the head are.

Next step is to try and move Hasdrubal up onto the wall. This will mean the parents are better able to find their fledgling and hopefully will start taking parental responsibility... if I still have a pigeon here overnight I guess I have to start thinking about temporary nest construction. I'm reasonably hopeful that there shouldn't be predator issues here, I've never seen foxes this deep into Vienna and the cats are mostly indoor ones (though I did once see a feral polecat in 8th district) and the area where I am is quite closed off. Crows are more of a worry but rarely come down here.

Wish me luck in my adventures as a temporary bird parent!

General Gaming - The Arcade / Shogun 2 TW Free on Steam now
« on: April 27, 2020, 06:30:56 PM »
In "actually neat stuff" today, Shogun 2 is free, as they announced on Twitter. So I guess I'm finally actually getting a copy.

The Boozer / "My Body Is A Temple" - But What Kind?
« on: April 25, 2020, 02:07:12 PM »
I was contemplating how "my body is a temple" works depressingly well with the extent to which my body feels like it's falling to bits sometimes at the moment, and then produced some further thoughts on the matter as follows. Which sort are you?

(The below is intended entirely as gently meant amusement, I hope nobody is upset at the presentation of their religious structures but apologise in advance if so).

So I kinda thought I'd done this already, but I just realised I never got round to moving a bill to making external staff advertisements permanent as a thing and I've been doing it without having any authority to do so. Oops. Anyway, this does that for a bunch of roles. The senior, constitutionally defined admins it currently does not allow us to advertise externally for, which I think is sensible - I think we generally need people with good understandings of the community to deal with those roles, they're very necessary, and if we hit unforeseen circumstances we can always endorse external advertising for those as a separate thing.

This also makes the roles probationary for four months, which I think is sensible given our prior experiences with people getting given admin jobs and then rapidly vanishing on us again.

Simple majority vote, one week.

This Plaza moves:

a) That a full and functional staff team is necessary for a fully functional Exilian, and it is therefore necessary to advertise externally for certain roles.

a) That three administration roles not noted in the constitution (that is, those of heteriarches or despotes) are currently endorsed as ideal by the Plaza, comprising the respective areas of Communications and Social Media, Content and Editorial, and Membership and Development officers.
b) That should it be necessary, external advertisement for the two junior of the regularly elected staff roles, those of Tribounos or Spatharios, would also be acceptable.
c) That where necessary, the administration should be able to externally advertise for any junior staff positions, those of Logothetes and Hekatontarchoi, that they see fit to create as per their constitutional powers to do so.

a) That the adminsitrative council may advertise for these externally to the current citizenship for the roles designated in section 2.
b) That the current administrative council may advertise for all or any of these three roles as they see fit, at times of their choosing, and are not obliged to fill all of them.
c) That all of these roles should be scrutinised and voted on by the citizens as per normal procedure.
d) That all successful applicants to these roles will immediately be granted citizenship and, where applicable, patricianship, as per normal procedure.
e) That in cases where a staff member has individual power to create a new role, Sebastokrator should approve external advertisement being used for such a role.

a) That external applicants should be treated as probationary for a number of months after recieving the role.
b) That granting of citizenship as part of recieving a role, if not otherwise earned, will only be treated as permanent if they remain active in the role for two months or more, and granting of patricianship only if they remain active in the role for four months or more.
c) That adjudication of their status of remaining active in the role should require visible evidence of their continued activity in the role, with discretion given to the Sebastokrator to make judgements in unclear cases with the option of recourse to the Tribounos if a decision of this sort is challenged.

Since we have these for history, space, palaeontology, and nature, I thought a physical sciences one might be good.

And this video on making a cloud chamber at home was moderately amusing:

Computer Game Development - The Indie Alley / Monstrous nomenclature
« on: April 20, 2020, 01:26:06 PM »
So, I've been adding more to The Exile Princes lately, which has meant trying to work out turning some more medieval demons into enemy creatures for it - which has led me to be pondering the problem of naming them quite a lot. When a monster appears which is new to you, do you prefer it if its name is a) plain words (e.g. "devourer", "abyssal beast"), b) contains plain elements (e.g. "cemetaur")  or c) novel (e.g. "sarien", "vorthal")?

Initial thoughts: a) works best for individualised monsters. Fighting the Master of Lies works well, fighting 2d4 Masters of Lies works less well. It also seems to give a more demonology/biblical feel, though I honestly don't know why (As in, I don't know if that's a result of biblical texts actually giving creatures plainer  names, or if it just dates back to things like Warhammer where the bloodletters, plaguebearers, screamers etc have the plain-ness as a distinct nomenclature feature).

The middle option I think works well mainly if you can relate the creature well to something else. Like, the cemetaur is a disappointment in The Witcher because we're used to -taur being half-and-half beasts (cen-, mino-), even if that is etymologically nonsensical. So it's possibly the best option but hard to actually use in practice.

Doing something really novel gives more freedom of action, but OTOH it can make it harder to explain to people why they should care about the new creature and how they should feel about it, because they have less mental hooks to hang it on. That's great for a weird/SF aesthetic, but can be more of a struggle in a fantasy one, especially if you have limited time or options to build up people's feelings and mythos around a creature.

(Also it strikes me that this could be a good subject for an article, if anyone would be interested in reading that?)

The Jolly Boar Kitchen - Food Discussion / Easter food (and chocolate)
« on: April 12, 2020, 08:40:18 PM »
Anyone done anything exciting?

I had one box of chocolates in the house and decided I'd try those. I've had three so far: not for lack of appetite per se, but they're excruciatingly sweet for my tastes, to the point where it's actually offputting, so I've not really done easter chocolate this year :/ Or had energy to make hot cross buns. I should do more baking soon...

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