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2/11/2006
12:55 PM
Yoctoprox progress
I'm working on yoctoprox again. Last night I finally got it to support HTTP authentication, which turned out to be pretty simple. All I had to do was detect the "WWW-Authenticate" header, and pass it on to the user's browser. Then if I detected that the browser was sending out an authentication username and password, I send that to the target server.

For a while I was thinking I'd have to do it in a complicated system involving multiple page-loads and yoctoprox cacheing the usernames and passwords and then matching them up with any authentication domains coming from the target server. This way, I'm making the browser do all that.

I was going to work on cookie support next, but now I'm noticing how many pages fail to be styled properly when viewed through yoctoprox. I think this is because I still haven't caught all the places where active URLs show up in a webpage (and associated files). I need to find all of them, and convert each one into a link to yoctoprox.

So far, I cover the following:

HREF: Used in many HTML tags, including A, LINK, and BASE.

SRC: Used in a few less HTML tags, including IMG and SCRIPT.

ACTION: Used in FORM tags.

url(xxx): This one is used in CSS 2.0 stylesheets. It prefaces any place where a URL is used. This can be used to call up image files that are used in styling, or to import other CSS files.

Reading through the CSS 2.0 spec just now, though, I've discovered I'm missing one. When you're importing one CSS file into another one, you don't have to use "url()" around the URL. You can just do "@import 'urlstring'", and the string will be treated as a URL.

This will be a major pain to parse. I'll still have to catch and translate url() tags that aren't after @import tags, and ones that are after @import tags, and URLs that occur after @import tags but without a url().

And to make things further complicated, I see many webpages that use "@import 'string'" within HTML documents! This puzzled me for a while, because I couldn't find the string "@import" anywhere in the HTML specification. Finally, looking through XHTML spec, I figured it out. Anything between <style> tags in an HTML document is style markup. Which means that in those regions, CSS markup reigns supreme, hence the use of @import.

So, now I either need to parse for <style> tags and then separately handle all the content in them, or I need to just handle @import and url() instances everywhere in an HTML page. The latter would result in some false positives, but it would make the program run faster.
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1/28/2006
4:19 PM
Character Idea 2
To avoid DM wrath, I decided to go drop the spiked chain concept and come up with another character. Having toyed with a dwarf character, I found that darkvision had become indispensible to me. So, I set out to make a character with darkvision.

Since I wouldn't be using the spiked chain, my only option to let my cleric fight from a distance was to go with ranged weapons. Most of the deities with ranged weapons as their favored weapon were elf deities, but elves were out because they don't have darkvision (except for drow, and I didn't want to be the guy who plays a drow). I found three non-evil deities who favored a ranged weapon: Ehlonna, goddess of nature from the Player's Handbook; Apollo, Greek god of the moon and hunting; and Uller, Norse god of archery. Any one of them would do.

Next, I had to pick a race. There are two darkvision races in the Player's Handbook: Dwarves and Half-Orcs. I didn't want to do either of these, because Orcs have a net attribute penalty, and Dwarves have a charisma penalty. I decided to do some digging and find a better race, ideally one with no Level Adjustment, and no penalty to Charisma, Wisdom, or Dexterity, since those are the three attributes I wanted to get bonuses in.

On someone's website I found a comprehensive list of D&D 3.5 player races. To my annoyance, I found that just about every race with darkvision has a charisma penalty. I guess it has to do with living underground. Other than races that only appeared in Dragon Magazine, I found only three races with darkvision and no charisma penalty: Underfolk, Dream Dwarves, and Desert Dwarves. Underfolk are semi-feral cave-dwelling humans from the Races of Destiny book, who have the substantial disadvantage of being in Dazzled when they're in bright light. Both Dream Dwarves and Desert Dwarves were out because they had Dex penalties, and I'd rather have a low Charisma than a low Dex. In case you're curious, Desert Dwarves are desert-dwelling dwarves, and Dream Dwarves are shamanistic dwarves from the Races of Stone book.

So, I accepted that a charisma penalty was unavoidable. This opened my options more, to include: All kinds of dwarves, half-orcs, goblins, deep halflings, deep gnomes, and whisper gnomes. Half-orcs and goblins have net attribute penalties. Deep gnomes and deep halflings were supposed to be rare on the surface world, so I'd have to come up with a reason they were out adventuring.

I took a liking to whisper gnomes. They're described in Races of Stone -- basically goth gnomes. Like a normal gnome, but with darkvision, a charisma penalty, a dex bonus, a 30 foot base movement, and different free spells. I could have gone with a dwarf, but I liked the idea of having a small character in order to get the AC and DC bonuses. And since we just evacuated a town full of gnomes, from an attack by an army of undead, I could say he's a refugee from that town.

So, today I put together a whisper gnome character: Wis 16, Dex 14, Cha 12, Con 10, Str 10, Int 9, cleric, worshipper of Ehlonna, specializing in the Longbow, possibly having Weapon Finesse and carrying a sickle and light mace for backup weapons.

Unexpectedly, I found that one of the advantages of small size is that you can carry more. A small character has 75% the carrying capacity of a medium character. But small armor and weapons are only 50% the weight of medium articles.

I'm still weighing other options, though. Maybe I'll go with that Spiked Chain wielder after all, and deal with the possibility of taking more heat from the enemy. Or maybe I'll go with a goblin or half-orc, and lower my Wisdom to 15. On the other hand, I'd like my new character to be Lawful, because we have too many Chaotics on our team already, so that would rule out a Half-Orc.

I'm also thinking quite a bit about doing a Favored Soul. That's a class that is to the cleric what a sorceror is to a wizard. They don't have to prepare their spells ahead of time, they have selection to only a limited subset of the spells from each level, and they get more spells per day than a cleric. The main thing that appeals is the greater number of spells per day, which seems like a fine trade-off with the limited selection because there are many spells I never have an opportunity to use. On the other hand, favored souls can't turn the undead. In our campaign, that would be a major drawback.
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1/28/2006
3:29 PM
Character Idea 1
My first idea was to make a character who specialized in using the Spiked Chain. It's a weapon with some very interesting properties. It's a reach weapon, so it threatens hexes one space away from my character, which would fulfill my goal of keeping him at least a little bit away from the front line. Unlike most range weapons, it can also attack adjacent hexes. It can do trip attacks. It gets a +2 on disarm attacks. It can be used with weapon finesse. Its attack role is 2d4 instead of 1d8, so it's damage probability graph is a bell curve instead of a flat line.

I even managed to find a deity with the spiked chain as his favored weapon -- the elemental file god from the Eberron setting. His domains weren't all that great, but I figured I could make do. And it wouldn't be any hardship to get the Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Finesse feats, because we had a house rule that gives all characters access to as many feats as they want to spend them time and money to learn. Weapon Finesse is appealing to me because it decreases the number of stats I need to boost. As a cleric, I need to have a high Wisdow for spells, a high Charisma to turn the undead, a high Strength for melee, a high Dex for ranged combat and touch attacks, and no Constitution penalty, because I need my hit points. The only stat I can afford to leave low is Intelligence. This spreads my stats pretty thin. But with Weapon Finesse, I don't need to bother with a high Strength, because I would use Dex for my melee attack rolls instead. I wouldn't get a damage bonus, but I'd rather hit often for small damage, than seldom for high damage.

I put together a dwarven cleric, dex-heavy. Initially I waned to go with a gnome or halfling, in order to get the AC bonus from small size. But a small spiked chain does 1d6 instead of 2d4, and I really wanted to get that damage bell-curve. Then I came to love the idea of having darkvision, because I had been ambushed by kobolds and the undead one too many times. And, dwarves get a +4 to avoid being tripped, which would be handy if I was doing a lot of trip attacks.

The only major downside to a dwarf, for me, would be the Charisma penalty. Due to the house rule that we use to assign attributes during character generation, all this meant was that I wouldn't be able to easily raise it above 12. But that's more or less high enough.

I ran this character past my DM, and he was iffy. There are some powerful combos you can put together with the spiked chain, due to its large attack range. For instance, with the feat that gives you more than one Attack of Opportunity per turn, you can attack many enemies each turn. And racking up a ton of feats is very easy in our game because of another house rule, which lets players buy feats through training instead of getting them automatically at level-up. He told me that I was free to take the character, but that our in-game enemies would quickly learn how dangerous an individual with a spiked chain is, and would begin directing their long-ranged attacks at him over the other characters.

So, I put this character on the back-burner. I had to admit, even to me it looked like a bit of a stretch. I was starting out with the idea that I liked the spiked chain and building a character around that, instead of developing it organically.

(continued in next post)
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1/28/2006
2:56 PM
My old D&D character
I've been playing in a D&D campaign for about a year now, and I want to switch my character. I like the personality of my current character, but he's the first D&D character I've played for any length of time, and I've come to realize that his design is fatally flawed.

My current character is a human cleric of Heironius, with WIS 16, CHA 14, STR 14, CON 12, INT 8, DEX 8. I was thinking that he could be a powerful melee fighter in addition to a divine spellcaster, but it hasn't really worked out. In practice, having a d8 hit die, he has less hit points than everyone else in the party, and he can't survive taking many hits. So, it doesn't really work out to have him on the front lines like a melee fighter needs to be, especially because he can't dodge since he has a Dex penalty. Most of the time, then, I wind up having him hang back to cast spells, but since he can't do that every turn, he fires his crossbow a lot. That's just so he can have something to do, though, because, again, with his Dex penalty he doesn't hit very often.

Now, I have spells that can help with these shortcomings, like boosting his armor class and his dex, but if I cast those every time I go into battle then I don't have any spells left for healing people!

I'm also not too happy with my deity, Heironius. I chose him mostly because I wanted to take the War domain in order to get proficiency and weapon focus with a longsword. Indeed, my cleric can cause a lot of damage with his longsword, but as mentioned above he takes more damage than he can give when he's up on the frontlines. While the War domain is okay, the Good and Protection domains suck, at least when you're a character below level 9. And even if I wanted to switch to long distance fighting primarily, I still have to rush in and fight with the longsword whenever it's feasible, because that's Heironius' favored weapon.

It's also been a pain to have an Int penalty, because as the cleric I've been responsible for all Knowledge (religion) rolls.

So, I'm switching characters. I still want to be a cleric, but I want to make a few changes to reflect my actual experience with the character. Mainly, I want to switch from Strength-heavy to Dex-heavy, because my character has mostly been a weakling who should avoid being hit, rather than a toughie who can soak up damage. For further ideas, I pored through the Player's Guide. (Continued in next post)
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This page last updated 2/11/2006