Black Powder ‘Command’ rule amendment Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Never been happy with the statistical likelihood for the various move probabilities in Warlord Games ‘Black Powder’.

Every commander on the table has a command value – usually in the range 7 to 9, but 4 to 10 is the total range; the higher the better. This can be modified for local conditions

When giving an order you roll 2d6.

Equal or 1 less – one move
2 less – two moves
3 or more less – 3 moves.

The problem is that this generally makes 2 moves the LEAST likely, which seems odd. You expect

i) 1 move most likely, 3 least, or
ii) 3 moves most likely, 1 least likely, or
iii) 2 MOST likely.

All 3 can be rationalised – increasing likelihood, or ‘2’ being the ‘ground state’. 2 moves LEAST likely makes no sense.

So recently we trialled a modification.  To get 3 moves you must roll 3 less than target AND equal or under half, otherwise it stays as ‘2’


Command 9- 3 moves on 4 or less
Command 8- 3 moves on 4 or less
Command 7- 3 moves on 3 or less

The differences can be seen in this table
Combos is number of different ways to get this result of 2d6. For example Command 8 you get 1 move on a 8 or a 7. There are 6 ways to roll 7, and 5 ways to roll 8, so ‘8 combos’ out of a total 36.

Original Method
Command 9 Command 8 Command 7
Moves Combos Chance Combos Chance Combos Chance
1 9 25.0% 11 30.6% 11 30.6%
2 6 16.7% 5 13.9% 4 11.1%
3 15 41.7% 10 27.8% 6 16.7%
New Method
Command 9 Command 8 Command 7
Moves Combos Chance Combos Chance Combos Chance
1 9 25.0% 11 30.6% 11 30.6%
2 11 30.6% 9 25.0% 7 19.4%
3 6 16.7% 6 16.7% 3 8.3%

Weird things you find out as a writer. Sunday, Jul 26 2015 

Isobel (lead female in new novel) has her next period this Tuesday coming.

I didn’t mean to work it out, it came up in conversation.  I have had to timeline this one, because unlike ‘Promises’ I need to keep track of who’s doing what (or even who’s doing who!)

Alex and Izzy who houseshare are having the following conversation, and I know the date it is happening:

“I was having some really weird dreams, and when I woke up all sorts of stuff was going through my head.”  She forked some yolk covered salmon into her mouth.

“Is it ‘cause you’re due on Monday?”

“Could be… hold on, how do you know when my period is?”

“You don’t need a sexual relationship with a woman you share a house with for any length of time to know that,” he said, “and you are like clockwork.”

“Most men don’t, No-Show was always surprised.  When’s my next one then?”

She watched as Alex did the maths muttering under his breath and then said “Twenty-eighth of July, which will be a Tuesday.”

The fact that this is 2 days away from when I’m writing is a complete co-incidence.


I wonder if new surgeons feel like this? Thursday, Jun 4 2015 

Cracked open my 4 year old lap top today to see if I could fix an overheating problem.

That’s a nervewracking time – wondering how delicate it all is in there. (I’ve done stuff in towers before, but that was easy things, drives, and they are designed to be like Lego, and easier to get into).


I High-Fived a vicar Sunday, May 17 2015 

Highlight of the weekend – it’s not something you do very often.

I ran a quiz for the local church last night. Although the building is 13th century, very traditional Church Of England, the vicar is from Florida You have to feel sorry for him at things like this. He always gives his full support even though he is often lost and bewildered, and I have heard he has problems at these Anglo-centric quizzes. So I wrote a round specifically for him.  (I say specifically, the questions were general enough for people to know.)

Question 3
In January 1861, Florida declared its secession from the Union and became a founding member of the Confederate States. However, in what previous decade had it joined the United States? It wasn’t a founding member.

He had to think hard, but he got correct answer – I’ve never seen anyone so excited when quiz answers are given!  OBVIOUSLY I had to High-five him.

General Election 2015 – The worst possible result. Friday, May 8 2015 

The UK 2015 General Election has produced the worst possible result for anyone who isn’t Sir Bufton Tufton, MP for Much Frothing in the Marsh.

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

The Tories have a majority.  This will be taken as a sign they can do what they like, much like Thatcher at the peak of her powers in the ’80s or even Blair. There are no brakes.  The fact that a majority of people don’t want the NHS to be privatised, believe that the Big Businesses who call the shots to be reigned in and pay their tax, fora rebalancing of Britain towards fairness, won’t matter.

We can now expect ‘Cutting Red Tape’ (code for removing workers protections), ‘Freeing business’ (code for reducing regulation on the very companies that crashed the economy in 2008) and ‘Rewarding hard work’ (Tory code for tax cuts to the rich, with attacks on the bottom of society to pay for it). All with the Right Wing press cheering them on. (I’m going to miss the BBC when they gut it).

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

This is the Party who brought in a £1,200 fee for workers to go to employment tribunals.  That’s about 3 weeks of the AVERAGE take home wake, let alone what it is for those in the low paid jobs who are more likely to need protection.  Then they crowed how businesses had been helped by the fall in the number being sued.  That’s like closing Police Stations then saying how reported crime has gone down.

This is the party who are stopping green energy and subsidising fracking and oil.  We could make a push, we could have a vibrant tech sector selling renewables to the rest of the world. But no. Throw money at the Oilmen.  No matter what your thoughts on Global Warming, even if you put your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, the idea of subsidising a hugely profitable yet polluting industry is madness.

Expect more money and public services thrown at ‘Service Industry’ giants, with a proven track record. Of screwing up. Who rake in huge profits while their employees qualify for Government Benefits.

And yet Cameron is facing his own nightmare. He already knows this, and so do all those around him.  They realised it even as they popped the corks in their constituencies last night.  The majority is wafer thin.  It is smaller than John Major’s in 92, and look at the trouble he had.  The loonies will crawl off the back benches.  They are no longer lobby fodder, they have power.  All the kind of people who thought about joining UKIP because no one at Tory HQ would listen to them.

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

Good luck, because we may all be on our own.

Google and Microsoft ARRRRRGGGHHHHH Sunday, Apr 26 2015 

I have Excel and Word 2013. MS think you want to save everything to OneDrive or your computer. Just OneDrive, nobody elses cloud drive, just theirs. It is inconceivable that you would have anything stored anywhere else.

On the Laptop this isn’t a problem, because Google Drive acts like another drive/folder. Fine, can just go to My Computer and save in that handy little subfolder which also happens to be a cloud drive. Google Drive easy to use on MS Windows.
Now I can open that file on my tablet using Excel for tablets (but see next para). BUT I can’t save it to Google Drive. Why? Because Google have hidden Google Drive, buried deep withing Chrome WHICH IS PUBLISHED BY GOOGLE. When you do find it, after a tortuous path, each document has its own folder, with a name like 2he7whdhw8d28hh2hhsnm – I kid you not. You can’t save to these so it appears in Google Drive.

Oh, the same with opening on a tablet- I can’t see Google Drive in Excel, but I can open by opening the Drive, and opening the file that way. But because I can’t save it is read only – so no editing on the go.

Of course Google can’t believe I’d want to receive emailed documents in anything other than the manure-like ‘Google Docs’.

“Its a Word Document. I have Word. Open it in Word”
“I can open it in Google Docs”
“I don’t WANT IT open in Google Docs – you won’t let me edit it.”
“Howabout we download it to Google Drive”
“Howabout you Bleeped texting open it in a programme of my choice”

Stormtrooper name generator Sunday, Apr 5 2015 

For all your Star Wars games

Copy and Paste the following into Excel


For greater realism change the font.

Atheist Morality Monday, Feb 9 2015 

I am moral because I choose to be. I choose to treat others well, and I try to. Not because I am scared, but because I believe it is the right thing to do. When I am not moral, I choose not to harm other because in the heat of the moment I lose my reason, but fear lawful retribution. When I am calmer I realise my thoughts were wrong, and consider ways to keep emotional control. I am moral so as not to hurt others.

When they are moral it is because they are scared of retribution. There does not have to be a reason to be moral, apart from they are following rules. Not because they believe those rules are in themselves moral, but because they have been told these are the rules they must follow. They do not question those rules, because to do so would deny that their god is greater. To question this would be against those rules – the moral do not question god, the immoral are punished. Thus they are moral so they do not get hurt.

Who is the more moral? He who acts not to hurt others, or he who acts to avoid being hurt?

Devrions-nous être Charlie? Tuesday, Jan 20 2015 

George Galloway has described Charlie Hebdo as “a racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag.  Typical of Gorgeous George he ignores everything that he can’t get angry about, that doesn’t prove or argue with what he believes.  He ignores the magazine’s continued and long standing criticism of the Catholic Church, for instance.  Like the Pope he blames the victim.

To stand with Charlie Hebdo isn’t flowers on a celebrity’s grave, an act of condolence of a stranger.  It is to make a stand against those who say “You may not say anything about my religion, because I will be offended.”  That attitude would be unacceptable with any other notion: caricatures of politicians aren’t stopped because those who believe in their policies profoundly are upset.    Criticising someone’s home town may be downright rude, but isn’t something that can never be said.  Yet religeon demands this pass – despite not only the followers of Abraham splinting into three sects that not only disagree vehemently with each other, they can’t even agree among themselves what they believe, yet attack anyone who questions their world view as intolerant.  Einstein may not have liked Niels Bohr’s sub-atomic theories, but he did admit their correctness when proof was shown.  He didn’t feel the need to set off a bomb.

This is the response I put on HuffPo UK


Why count in decimal? Sunday, Oct 26 2014 

I’ve long wondered why we don’t count in base 11 or base 6. People will say ‘We have 10 fingers’, but that is rather my point: You don’t need a “10s” column until you reach ”11”. Imagine an early farmer counting sheep- he gets to 10, then on 11 puts a stone in the ‘hands full’ pile.

Likewise, you can count to 5 on your one hand, then use the other to record 6.”1,2,3,4,5, Onehand, Onehand-1, onehandy-2 etc” This would allow you to count to 35 on just 10 fingers (Fivehand-five), then ‘Stone’ (say) for Sixhand.

Of course over time these would be slurred and contracted (like four-ten is 40): twoston threehandy four is nine-tens four.

Feel free to steal this for alien cultures in your RPGs!

Top Gear sorry for Waterloo station Saturday, Oct 11 2014 

The BBC have today apologised for a scene where Jeremy Clarkson is seen driving past Waterloo Station. The French Embassy lambasted Top Gear for insensitively reminding everyone that it took a British General to stop a crazed meglomaniac from taking over Europe.

BBC spokeswoman, Ebola McBlamehound, said “It is obviously unfeeling for the BBC not to do everything in its power to change the name of the Station.

Ebola and context Saturday, Oct 11 2014 

As of October, there have been approximately 4,000 worldwide Ebola deaths. Im not saying we should ignore this, but…

In the UK alone flu kills 2,500 people per year. Road accidents 2013 killed 1700.

A third of British adults are obese, and as far back as 2001, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) ‘Tackling obesity in Britain’ estimated that approximately 6% of all deaths in England in 1998 were caused by obesity – a total of 30,000 excess deaths in that year, but when the Government looks at ways to help people reduce calorie intake there are screams of “Nanny State”, even though modern food processing, if left unregulated, makes it difficult to control your diet.


Just a thought.

Oh Captain, My Captain. Wednesday, Aug 13 2014 

I have  a low tolerance for “celebrity” news. I found the outpouring of grief about Princess Diana just a bit nauseating, the mass flower layings at the homes of the famous annoys me.  I was sad when Rik Mayall died, but it wasn’t a matter of grief, just sadness at the early death of another human, one whose work I enjoyed.

So why am I affected so much by Robin Williams?


“Do not forget one line of this, not one day.” Friday, Jun 27 2014 

My son finished college today, and hopefully will be off to University in September.

Education hasn’t been easy for him. When he was 7 he was diagnosed with a lazy eye. It wasn’t found early enough (the only day he had off school sick when he was 5 was the day they did the eye tests). It was thought that this was what was holding his reading back.

Then we found he had dyslexia – quite severe as far as I can tell. We fought the council for funding for help for him at school. We also paid for a lesson with a specialist teacher once a week. After a while she suggested we get him tested for Aspergers. That was another fight to get the education department to recognise the diagnosis (because the support costs money). This is a proper diagnosis, done by professionals, not ‘I’ve done a checklist from the internet’.


Another Poem for my Wife Tuesday, Mar 11 2014 

It was suggested to me recently I haven’t written a poem in a while. I took the hint. Not sure it’s what she expected, though.

Everywhere on Earth
There are things that come in twos
Coz no one likes the rhythm
Without listening to the blues.


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