Dumping Place

So, this one site is one that I’ve forgotten about over time.  I was so focussed on the Tumblr site (http://www.ridingtohellinahandbasket.com) for so long and then after that it was Facebook (http://fb.me/TomD1969), that this place really wasn’t on my radar.  The creation of a Windows app kinda means that it becomes easier for me to post and administer this site (is that the right term?  Geez, I’ve been out of the blogging game for too long).

So now the question becomes: What do I do with this space now that it’s here?  It has never really garnered the attention that my other avenues have (see “Tumblr”), that might be okay.

In the past, I have done reviews of RPG assistant apps for RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder (see this and this are two primary examples) with the proviso that they be “rules agnostic,” meaning they can be used by all players regardless of what rulees system they use.  Dicenomicon and Sheet Yourself are two examples of this.  I would like to continue in that vein and maybe get my math explanations (what is the area of a 2m hex in the Hero System?) and maybe provide support for my personal favorite RPG: Champions.

We’ll see.


RPG Assistance App Review: Sheet Yourself

Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way: the name “Sheet Yourself” is a terrible name.  There, I said it.  I feel better.

Now, on with the show.

Sheet Yourself (which I’ll call “SY” from now on so I can avoid that name) is a system-agnostic character sheet editing and displaying app for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire, and costs $0.99.

Despite its terrible name, this does have quite a bit going for it, but it doesn’t quite get there.  More on that in a minute because I always like to start with the good stuff, then get to the bad stuff.

The Good Stuff

First of all, the app is aesthetically pleasing and the interface is clean and relatively easy to understand.

Ah!  Look at how pretty that is!  Look how clean!  Why can't all apps be this pretty?

Ah! Look at how pretty that is! Look how clean! Why can’t all apps be this pretty?

(Side Note: Allow me to apologize to Vanessa Hudgens and the copyright holders for using their photos.  I would love to give credit, but I haven’t been able to find any).

Now, as you’ll see in my screen cap above, “Sheet” as this app refers to it is not just for characters; it is for abilities, weapons, armor, consumables, anything that might have stats that would litter a normal character sheet.  A good example is the weapon I have there which is based on the Blast.  The important stats on the blast itself is to the right on its own sheet; then I linked the Blast to the Holdout Pistol.  What you can’t see is that I’ve also linked the Holdout Pistol to Lorena Méndez.  Just like last week’s review, this is showing how this app could be used for the Hero System.

First you start with a template, and then you add attributes to it which you can categorize.

Ability Template

This is a template for an Ability. In SY, an Ability can be just about anything: a power, a spell, and so on; something that is “inherent” to the character. There are several templates available (Weapon, Armor, Consumable, Character) and all can be linked to each other.

Adding Categories and Attributes could not be simpler: you just tap “Tap here to add an Attribute” and you’re presented with a text box to enter the attribute (it can be whatever you need).

Editing Attributes

Tapping on the “Add an Attribute” button will bring up a text box where you can type anything you need into it. You can also see some other Attributes that I’ve grouped as “Skills”. Conversation has an asterisk because it is affected by other abilities.

The app is pretty flexible on what it can do.  I’m very pleased with the visual aspect of the app, and I’m pleased with many aspects of its flexibility.

The Bad (Other Than the Name)

One thing that I find annoying is that you first have to create a sheet from a template and then have to go back into it to add attributes.  Why doesn’t it go directly into the sheet once I’ve created it?  I can’t find a logical reason why it shouldn’t.  At the very least, give me a button at the bottom of the sheet creation screen to give me that option.

Another thing that I find annoying is that each attribute has only one field, almost as if the designers thought “Oh, they won’t need to have a numerical value in addition to a text value.”  I think this is very short-sighted of them, and hamstrings any further development in this area.

Speaking of which, why doesn’t it include tracking of Hit Points/Stun/Body/Health/Whatever?  Also, shots on that Holdout Pistol in the screencap above?  On their website, they make a big deal about being a paperless character sheet system.  If that’s so, then why do I need a piece of scrap paper to keep track of HP?  It’s baffling.

Finally, it would be great (although, perhaps a pipe dream) if it would make appropriate rolls that I can set up in advance (in the case of the Hero System, it would be “roll 3d6 and compare it to the skill level and tell me by how much I make or miss the roll”).  This is what I mean by “hamstringing further development.”  If they had included more than one field per Attribute (such as a text element and a numerical element) it would have made this bit simpler.


Despite its crappy name, this is a very solid character sheet app despite its shortcomings and lack of foresight in certain areas on the part of the developers.

My grade: B-

RPG Assistance App Review: The Dicenomicon

Inspiration has suddenly hit: I’m going to try to review apps that assist players and GMs in RPGs, whether they are dice rollers, character sheets, and so on.  Biases: I’m a Hero System fanatic, so I look for things that will work with the Hero System.  Also, I only own an iOS device, so I don’t know if these apps are available for Android.


Dicenomicon’s Roll Box.  Note the dice at the bottom: tapping them throws one die of that type into the roll box.  For 3d6, just tap “d6” three times.  More dice are available by swiping to the left.

Today, I thought I’d start by reviewing The Dicenomicon by gandreas software (Download it on the iTunes App Store, $5.99US).

The Dicenomicon is a system agnostic dice-rolling app.  You can use it any number of ways: there is a bar on the bottom of the screen that you can tap for a quick roll of dice, or you can use the very powerful dice macro system.

A Macro example

Here, in this macro example, we see that it will roll 8d6 and display the results in Stun and Body for the Hero System (Champions).

The type of dice available to roll is simply staggering, including some (such as the d9) that I did not know existed.  It can handle open-ended d% rolls (like Rolemaster), dice pools (such as ShadowRun and StoryTeller), and the BODY and STUN of the aforementioned Hero System.  You can save die macros in your favorites for quick access to the rolls you use the most often for your game.

A D&D 4 character sheet in Dicenomicon

This is the character sheet for D&D 4th. Just about everything on this screencap is tappable, and will automatically roll the appropriate dice (usually a d20), compare it to a Difficulty, and display the results.

Probably the most staggeringly powerful function of the app is the character sheet ability.  You can download a template for a character sheet and put in all your pertinent stats (Characteristics, Skills, Powers, etc).  All you have to do is tap the appropriate ability on the character sheet (such as the Fortitude Saving Throw in the above screencap), type in the target number and any modifiers and Dicenomicon will automatically roll the appropriate dice for you and tell you the results.  Unfortunately, there are only templates for a few systems (d20 and Pathfinder among them).

Now, to the bad: there is an annoying bug where every once in a while an extra set of dice will appear in the roll box, particularly when you shake the device to re-roll.  Also, occasionally, the dice will just freeze in mid-air.

The support is better than I’ve seen with some apps, but could still use some work.

There are also some peculiarities and annoyances in the die roll macros, too, such as parts of the “if-then-else” clause will just disappear with no rhyme or reason.  Parts of it are also woefully under-documented, and if they are documented, not very easy to get to or find.

All in all, this is a good app to assist players and GMs.  It could use some more full templates for more systems (such as the Hero System, alas), but is powerful enough to assist players of any system, regardless.

My Grade: B+

What A Day!

An alarm was going off at work, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the source. I called a technician and asked him to help find the source and shut it off.

I followed him around as he went from station to station trying to find the source of the alarm and turn it off. More than once, the technician would say, “Aha!” and push a button; yet the annoying alarm kept blaring.

Despair began to settle in that we were never going to find the source of this horrible and terrifying alarm and that I would certainly get into trouble for it. The technician stopped and we looked at each other, and he grudgingly admitted, “I don’t know how to turn this off.”

I woke up in my bed, the alarm on my iPhone going off. It was all a dream. I grumbled as I tapped “snooze,” rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Brain Dump

So I think I’ve reached a point in my life where I couldn’t give a shit less whether or not anybody reads my blog.  The problem is that I’ve said this before, and got caught up in the trap of suddenly caring, and reading analytics, and trying to make my other blog conform to what I believed others wanted from me, and it has made me miserable and a half.  (now, there’s a title of a blog: Miserable and a Half.  If only “Hyperbole and a Half” wasn’t already taken).  But I ended up being miserable.

Anyway, so this blog is going to have to be about a place where I practice writing in the long form, and where I can see about some deeper topics than in my other blog.

I might post here something about math, science, technology, and any other nerdy endeavor that I fascinates me at the moment.  You’ve been warned.