Ember Dev Log, Part 9!


This post is a little late due to my brain being spaghetti and suffering from a lack of food and some sleep deprivation. This should be interesting!
My friend Dan and I worked on a personal programming tool of mind called Mass-IV. It’s a script in BASH that I use to generate characters when I need some in a hurry. It very nearly does everything you would want in a playable character, but at

lines of code (or 13,000 depending on how you count, not including support files), it’s got a few bugs. Most of the time they don’t matter too much because it’s a personal tool not intended for outside use. But it seems to matter to Dan.
Mass-IV has several parts that deal with spell list and even standalone spellbook generation. One such sub-generator is the one that makes “player packets” for pregens at conventions. Such packs include spellbooks, race and class information, and weapons and armor illustrations.This is his point of fascination. He has been sawing on this for fun and I’m happy to let him. I usually don’t work on it that much anymore because of other obligations, but he roped me in the other night. I was up with him for two days into the wee hours when I really ought to have been writing on another adventure, and we skooshed a lot of bugs. He has the ability and the tools to see problems my dev environment can’t, such as the existence of 0-width spaces (which don’t print!) and the difference between various ASCII commas that were introduced into spell names. What a wonder! And what a pain in the ass that they were made in the first place. Why is this even in ASCII and Unicode? WHO NEEDS A 0-WIDTH SPACE?
The reason these moon-octopus characters were even in there was that LibreOffice Writer made some decisions as I was converting between standard ASCII files, OCR data from PDF’s, and Writer files. I don’t know where the unsanitary crap came from for sure, but I’m blaming OCR.
Anyway, that all happened. Mass-IV is greatly improved, but the bug I was begging him to look into was the miscalculation of Base Strength Attack Bonuses and Base Dexterity Attack Bonuses. In short, they return blank values, which BASH reads as zero. So all the TAB values for characters it makes are wrong and have to be recalculated by hand. I’ve chased this bug before and it keeps coming back. It’s what I call a Heizenbug – you’re never sure if it’s dead or alive. I hope Dan gets froggy on this soon.


This guy is the other half of my brain. He does my proofreading and has all kinds of wild ideas for features and points of interest. Many of them can, and should, be safely ignored. But when he has a gem, it’s a gem of a gem. Right now, Andrew is looking at the Eastern portion of the world map and noticing that it’s alarmingly empty.

Guess where we’ve been playing?

Well, there’s a lot for him to play with. He’s mostly interested in Qualashaierenenian – that horn-shaped projection in the upper right. It is the homeland of the Elkan, and he’s trying to build something mighty there. GO ANDREW!!


I’m back on this adventure and I’m into the Denouement now writing up what everyone is doing when the party gets back to town. Now that the Player’s Guide is through Pre-media (woo!) and I’ve ordered proof copies (WOO!), I can finally return with a mostly clear head. I’ve done about 5 pages of writing on it so far, and things are looking pretty good. I’ve decided against doing fully fleshed out encounters for most of the entries, and am using this section as a set up for the sequel adventure “Iron Man”. I’m planning a third entry called “The Wrath of Roth”, but that’s about as far as the story has gone.
The reason I’m not going full monty on this section is that I want to keep the adventure down to less than 128 pages. That’s my hard limit. Why? Because this adventure is going to cost $10 to print as-is. If I go over that, the cost goes up, which means the cost of the adventure at retail goes up. I have to pay shipping. The PDF will cost $9.95 just like the others. But the print copy will be a beast of a book (as adventures go), and I don’t want to charge in excess of $20 for it. I mean, I would if I could get away with it, but it feels wrong. So that’s my target for this one. I expect to sell a NUMBER of copies. Like, 4 maybe! At any rate, that is a problem for future me.


I’m just keeping up with all the goings-on in gamer land around here, and I totally missed a local comic convention here in town today because I didn’t know about it. However, I did run my regular game in Walnut Ridge. More on that tomorrow. Right now I’m going nap-nap and getting out of these shoes while blood can still circulate in my feet.


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