Back to the Mac (Book Pro)

So, about two months ago I wrote this: Returned.

Well, here I sit, writing this blog post on pretty much the exact computer I returned. I spent the better part of two months looking at alternatives. These ranged all across the spectrum, including Windows alternatives, and even creating a Hackintosh. As a last ditch effort, I even put an SSD drive in my old 2012 iMac just to see if it would be good enough.

It wasn’t. Though, to be fair, it was really the video card that just couldn’t keep up. I run a 3440×1440 monitor setup. Sure, it could drive the display, but not very well. At least I will have a speedier little build machine.

So, Hackintosh, right? The problem: I just can’t justify violated the EULA to build a computer that I plan to do business work on. So that option was out.

Refurbished? I did think about it, but I couldn’t really justify to myself the price difference between a refurb machine and the new machines and missing out on getting Thunderbolt 3.

So… it’s with great hesitation that I pulled the trigger and re-purchased the 15″ Mac Book Pro with Touch Bar. It is simply the best option given the choices, and I’m tired of waiting.

Back to the Mac (Book Pro)

D&D – Storytelling Fun

This is why I really enjoy D&D: epic encounters with friends.

Below is a brief recap I wrote for our first adventure in Storm King’s Thunder (very minor spoilers ahead).

Scarlett, on a quest of self discovery and looking to shed the ways of her past knows that Nightstone is small town with wealthy nobles that may be willing to pay for the services she’s been cultivating since her youth. Distancing herself from her previous run-ins with a noble that bears much ill will toward her is also on the top of her mind. Of course, if the winds of fortune change, the nobles could very well be her next target.

Saamasal is heading to Nightstone looking for answers, but only he knows the questions. Is it power? Knowledge? What Sam does know is that Nightstone is a town with an interesting history. The town got its name from a massive chunk of obsidian that once stands in the middle of the village square, or at least that it once did. Many have tried to decipher the strange glyphs that were carved into it and understand the magic that radiated from it, but it is still a mystery.

Along the path, Scarlett and Sam meet up with two other travellers: Bastion, a small halfling bard and Adrik, a stout looking dwarven barbarian. As night had already fallen, everyone was anxious to get to the city as soon as possible.

As the characters approached the town, a sporadic ringing of the church bell grew louder and louder. The drawbridge to the city was suspiciously down, and the town was eerily quiet, other than the obnoxious sound of the church bell.

Cautious, the adventurers made their way into town. As night had encroached, it was hard to see what had actually transpired in the town, but Scarlett reveals that boulders were strewn about town as if they had fallen from the sky, and the Nightstone that should be in the town square was missing.

Approaching the church to find out the source of the bells triggered the attention of two large, four legged beasts out of the shadows. The first was felled quickly by Adrik and Scarlett. But another emerged and was able to fell Adrik with a vicious bite. In a somewhat state of panic, Bastion, in hindsight against his better judgement, rushes forward letting out a booming thunderwave pushing the beast back.

It was not enough, and the sound echoed through the town square. The sound of the church bell ceased, and into the battle came four goblins flanking the characters.

Bastion, though able to miraculously shrug off the effects of a arrow from the darkness would fall as another struck him from behind. Sam would try valiantly to squash the beast, but the goblins were approaching. An arrow stuck him and nearly bringing him to death’s door. His wits were with him though and he was able to cast sleep to subdue the two surrounding goblins and the beast. Scarlett made an incredible shot with her crossbow into the darkness striking dead one of the two last remaining goblins.

In a last attempt to kill the two remaining adventurers, sensing their death shortly, the last goblin snuck around and was able to get behind Sam, whom had taken up shelter in the church. Turning and charging to the window, Saamasal crushed the last goblin with a single, devastating blow.

Shaken and badly wounded, the adventurers regrouped within the temple. Aiding their new acquaintances, Adrik and Bastion, all were able to slightly recover from the battle after taking about and hour to calm their nerves.

D&D – Storytelling Fun

Wizard Tradition: War Caster

Some old friends and I are going to be starting up a D&D game shortly. I’m pretty excited about it! Anyhow, I’ve got the hat of being the Dungeon Master this time around.

So, one of my players came to the group saying that he wanted to play a human, maul-wielding, war wizard. Sounds intriguing. He then presented a few ways he could go about doing it.

  1. Eldritch Knight – though, he wanted to remain a full caster, so this didn’t really suit his character.
  2. Wizard with the war caster feat – but this was a bit lacking and still forced an arcane tradition that didn’t suit his character.
  3. The Bladesinger arcane tradition from Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide – again, this basically forced him to be an elf, and was really around being dexterity based fighter/wizard combo.

So, what’s a DM to do?

I’m of the philosophy that D&D is about playing the type of character you want to play. I thought the concept was good, so I decided to come up with a new arcane tradition.

The primary things I liked about this tradition:

  1. It kept the fighter/wizard combo and the Eldritch Knight significantly better at combat, especially combat with multiple enemies.
  2. It kept the Bladesinger better at dexterous combat and also at multiple enemy combat.
  3. Provide my player with an opportunity to play something that fit his character without any big compromises.

Our campaign is using the spell points rule variant, so that is listed in the table for easier reference for my players.


Warchanters are wizards that understand that the realm of the world is more than just scholarly pursuits and fancy endeavors of intricate magical incantations. In order to survive, it is often better to blend in with the more common folk around you. To do that, one must also be able to take a punch and not retaliate with a chilling touch or a fireball to the face. If one isn’t careful, one might end up and the end of an angry mob of townsfolk.

Foregoing the more in-depth studies that typical wizards undergo, the Warchanter instead devotes oneself to the studies of martial combat.

Training in War and Chant

When you adopt this tradition at 2nd level, you gain proficiency with light armor, and you gain proficiency with one type of melee weapon of your choice.

You also gain proficiency in either the Athletics or Acrobatics skill if you don’t already have it.

War Chant

Starting at 2nd level, you can invoke a secret magical incantation called the War Chant. It graces you with supernatural combat abilities and focus.

You can use a bonus action to start the War Chant, which lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are incapacitated or your concentration is broken. You can also end your War Chant on your turn as a bonus action.

Once you have used your War Chant the number of times shown for War Caster Wizard level in the War Chant table, you must finish a long rest before you can perform the incantation again.

While your War Chant is active, you gain the following benefits:

  • You gain a bonus to your attack strikes equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1).
  • You gain a bonus to your AC equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1).
  • You gain advantage to any Constitution saving throw you make to maintain your concentration on a spell.
  • You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.

At level 20, you have become infused with your War Chant ability such that it is always active so long as you are conscious.

Improved Chanter’s Armor

Starting at 6th level, you gain the medium armor proficiency.

War Strike

Starting at 6th level, while performing your War Chant, your weapon becomes infused with arcane magic. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack roll to deal an extra 1d8 damage of the same type dealt by the weapon to the target.

When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.

Greater Chanter’s Armor

Starting at 10th level, you gain the heavy armor proficiency.

Chant of Victory

Starting at 14th level, you add your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1) to the damage of your melee weapon attacks while your War Chant is active.

Table 1: Warchanter
Class Level Proficiency Bonus Features Cantrips Known War Chants Spell Points Max Spell Level
1st +2 Spellcasting, Arcane Recovery 3 4 1st
2nd +2 War Chant Training 3 2 6 1st
3rd +2 3 3 14 2nd
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4 3 17 2nd
5th +3 4 3 27 3rd
6th +3 War Strike, Improved Chanter’s Armor 4 4 32 3rd
7th +3 4 4 38 4th
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 44 4th
9th +4 4 4 57 5th
10th +4 Greater Chanter’s Armor 5 4 64 5th
11th +4 5 4 73 6th
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 5 5 73 6th
13th +5 5 5 83 7th
14th +5 Improved War Strike, Chant of Victory 5 5 83 7th
15th +5 5 5 94 8th
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 5 5 94 8th
17th +6 5 6 107 9th
18th +6 Spell Mastery 5 6 114 9th
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 5 6 123 9th
20th +6 Signature Spell 5 Unlimited 133 9th
Wizard Tradition: War Caster

RetroBoy Advance – Sound On!

Time for sound… so where to start? As usual, (too bad they don’t have an affiliate program!).

So, what are we looking for? A linear audio amplifier. The goal isn’t necessarily to get the cheapest, but rather to get the one that is going to fit the needs of the device. Namely:

  • mono speaker output
  • stereo headphone output

Looking through the options, LM4853MM/NOPB really sticks out to me as the big winner. Why? Great question!

From the data sheet:

The LM4853 can automatically switch between mono BTL and stereo SE modes utilizing a headphone sense pin. It is ideal for any system that provides both a monaural speaker output and a stereo line or headphone output.

This is exactly what I want! Also, this package has the friendly pins to make soldering easier.

Here is the “typical circuit” the data sheet provides too:

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 4.07.48 PM.png

Just look at the connections on the outside, the rest is the internal circuitry. Of course, some of the resistor and capacitor values might need to be tweaked, but it’s a great starting reference.

The thing that is missing from this is the volume control. For that, I’m going to need to do a bit more research. Until next time!

RetroBoy Advance – Sound On!