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I'm a PhD student in biomathematics, working on stochastic individual-based models of evolution in spatially structured populations. My other interests include cryptography, programming games and puzzles, photography and graphic design.

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I'm the main author and maintainer of the Stack Overflow Unofficial Patch (SOUP), a user script for browsers with GreaseMonkey-compatible user script support (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, possibly Safari) that fixes or works around a number of outstanding issues with the Stack Exchange user interface.

I tend to answer a lot more questions than I ask. Some answers I'm rather proud of:

CC-Zero Please consider any (original) code I post to Stack Overflow and other Stack Exchange sites to be released under CC-Zero unless stated otherwise. You may do whatever you want with it and don't have to credit me in any way, although of course that would be nice.


Dec
5
comment How do I keep the game moving without undermining player agency?
@DCShannon: This answer doesn't seem too long to me -- to badly misquote Tolkien, it's just as long as it needs to be. But yes, if I had to distill its key point into just one sentence, it would be exactly the one you picked out.
Oct
12
comment Can I change the alignment of my intelligent item?
Or, failing that, sell the belt to the paladin and buy a less troublesome item instead.
Oct
12
comment Can I change the alignment of my intelligent item?
Reading the link posted by BBlake, I don't see "sprouts legs and tries to throw its owner into lava" listed as a typical result of an ego conflict, not even under "extreme circumstances". What did you do to that poor belt to deserve such treatment, anyway?
Sep
25
comment What is the average outcome of this opposed roll resolution mechanic?
I edited my answer to eliminate the skill+1 cap for crits. I think it now finally meets the spec. (Ps. Yes, treating any triple -- except maybe 1,1,1 -- as a crit would probably make more sense; the probability of rolling a triple other than 1,1,1 is 5 / 6³ ≈ 2.3%, or a bit less than half the probability of rolling a natural 20 on a d20. Still pretty rare, but at least likely to happen a few times during a reasonably long game.)
Sep
23
comment How should I handle a ruling that really hurts my character?
@user2623010: ...left something out of your comment? ;)
Sep
22
comment What is the average outcome of this opposed roll resolution mechanic?
That looks good, but I think you'll probably want if SCORE < DIFFICULTY { result: 0 } and result: ( SCORE - DIFFICULTY ) / 2 + 1 in your second function, so that a score of 9 or 10 vs 9 will yield one success instead of zero.
Sep
4
comment Are there any sources for a rural modern fantasy setting? (Redneck D&D)
Just the link alone is worth a +1. "Luke Bailey, oil tycoon, needs you to grab some shovels and get'n some the local raccoon-wizard infestation. Your reward is a whole hog." :D
Aug
28
comment How do I deal with players that pick very situational skills for a Campaign?
@Scott: Well, sure, but it'd still be cool enough to let slide in a game with super heroes and giant snake monsters. ;-) If necessary, it might be justified by the music being magical, or by the monster not being a real snake. And besides, even if the attempt to charm the monster with music fails, at least the player got to try using their skill.
Aug
28
comment Can I Dodge before a combat starts?
For some reason, your question reminds me of this Goblins strip...
Aug
28
comment How do I deal with players that pick very situational skills for a Campaign?
@Culyx: IME, the way to make obscure skills relevant without making it seem artificial is to encourage the players to come up with uses for those skills, and just go along with anything the suggest if it's halfway plausible. If they're as creative as the OP's players seem to be, they'll come up with something.
Aug
20
comment How to handle a Summoner with his Eidolon having too much “stage time”?
I think it would help if you told us a bit more about what kinds of situations this problem occurs in. In particular, does it happen mostly in or out of combat, or both?
Aug
20
comment How to handle a Summoner with his Eidolon having too much “stage time”?
@mxyzplk: A real NPC friend has free will, and, if their role in the party is non-negligible, should be played by the DM. An eidolon has a constant telepathic link to the summoner, and (played the way the OP's group seems to be playing it) effectively only as much free will and independent personality as the summoner wants it to have. But yeah, if the other characters are willing to tell the disguised eidolon "Sorry, Eddie, you don't count, you're just a henchman / hireling / NPC," then there's no problem. It just didn't seem to me that was the case.
Aug
20
comment How to handle a Summoner with his Eidolon having too much “stage time”?
@mxyzplk: True, but (assuming that the other characters know what an eidolon is), it gives them an in-character excuse to say things like "No, your eidolon doesn't get a vote." or "No, your eidolon definitely doesn't get a share of the loot." or "You already know the plan, so I'm not going to waste time explaining it to your eidolon too, even if he was in the other room while we planned it."
Aug
19
comment How to handle a Summoner with his Eidolon having too much “stage time”?
One major difference between the OP's case and your pirate game is that, in the OP's game, that one player essentially gets to play two characters, and the others don't. I suspect the other players would find it considerably less unfair if they also got to play an extra party member sometimes.
Aug
13
comment Multiple-arms and ambidextrous?
Relevant webcomic: schlockmercenary.com/2002-04-12
Aug
8
comment Force equip cursed item on another character in pathfinder
+1, but I'd rather expect the GM to insist on some kind of a circumstance penalty on that Sleight of Hand check, because you're trying to wrap a belt around the other character's waist without waking them, rather than just trying to drop something in their pocket.
Aug
5
comment A fellow player does not want me to roleplay, what do I do?
I rather suspect that, unless the other player absolutely trusts you not to cheat in an RPG (and it doesn't sound like they do), telling them that "I will leave it up to you to figure out, what mechanics I'm using." isn't going to go over well. They wouldn't ask if they didn't care, and the obvious reason why they might care is because they're wondering if your character is really supposed to be able to do that. (Even if the GM is completely OK with your behavior, it might just make the other player feel that the GM is being inattentive, or, worse, playing favorites.)
Aug
1
comment How can I continue to access Wizards of the Coast's D&D 3.5 Web articles?
Looks like URLs of the form http://dnd.wizards.com/go/whatever are just shortcuts for http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/whatever, so, for example, the "Getting Wired" article can now be found here and "Luck of the Draw" is now here. Alas, the download link for "Luck of the Draw" seems to be broken. :(
Jun
15
comment Can you heal a split black pudding?
A bit tangentially, the NetHack computer game, which draws heavily from early D&D editions, implements black pudding splitting exactly like this. And, yes, the consequences are predictable.
Jun
15
comment How to raise the largest possible zombie (undead) army
While reading the title, my mental parser paused briefly at the first parenthesis, leaving me thinking of giant zombies...