NVDaydreamr: Bob Portnell

Musings and Sharings

This is the (I imagine) last website of Bob Portnell (that's me!). Please find my latest journal notices and useful files from my past and present.

Bob is a technical writer living in Sparks, Nevada. Bob is also a father, husband, nerd, disciple, and some other things. His internet presence beyond this website is not large.

Site content Copyright © 2015-20 W. Robert Portnell. It's all hand-coded HTML, CSS, and a splash of JS.

Scripting and site styling adapted from tutorials at Yahoo! (thanks, Doug!) and w3schools.com.

Site Neocities, of course.

Here are the files I have available. Some are new creations. Some are ould favourites which have attracted kind comments in the past. This page runs long, so here are some shortcuts.

Library Sections

Dice Stuff

I've been crazy about dice since I was a toddler watching my grandmother play Yahtzee with friends. (Though compared to other gamers, I'm about average.) I've designed and bought "ideal" sets. I've written many dice-rolling programs. At this point in my life, I'm resolved that less is better. My personal dice set is now four pairs of d6 and d20, each pair in a matching color, for use with my Fake Book (see below). The Fudge/Fate box has ten sets of Fate/Fudge dice. The guest bag has eleven black/red DoubleSixes I bought with Traveller in mind, nine red/gold TFT dice, nine blue/gold TFT dice, five white Illuminati dice, and nearly three dozen d6 in assorted colors from previous collections. In the "back of the closet" are three d20s from the early 1980s including my first hobby die, two d10s in memory of my days with MicroTactix, and two aluminized d6s gifted to me by a daughter. Total of 124. That's not a lot, is it?

Bob's Dice Fake Book

A booklet that shows how to do any common dice roll with true mathematical fidelity using only a d6 and a d20. There are two versions: the printable version is great for printing with booklet settings. The tablet version is great for screen devices of landscape persuasion.

Dicepick Dice Rollers

Speaking of dice rollers, here are these two again. DicepickXR has positive dice on the right; DicepickXL has positive dice on the left. I'll probably write more rollers, as I explore the Python programming language. But these are my last word for the public.

Dicepick Manifesto, Brief Version: I like dice rollers, but I think most of them take us too far away from the physical and mental activities that make rolling real dice such fun. The DicepickXR/XL programs better echo the "real dice" process (or so I believe).

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Roleplay Game Stuff

I've been engaged with tabletop roleplay games since 1980. My websites have always had plenty of RPG documents; why stop now?

The Fantasy Trip

The first RPG I loved, and I'm over the moon to see it back in print and well-supported. Most of my roleplay these days is the solo sort using this game.

Risus: The Anything RPG

I love Risus so much, I stole ideas from it for EZFudge (below). And I'm (twice) a member of the International Order of Risus, so I can completely testify to its utter grooviness. I've written a few rules tweaks and designed some variant character sheets. They're in the Risusiverse somewhere, along with many other, much cooler, things.


This is part demonstration Fudge build, part game-engine heartbreaker.

It has been suggested here and there from time to time that EZFudge should be given a fantasy setting. I've worked on that for a while and concluded that EZFudge is not suited to supporting an interesting magic system. I recommend Fantasy Fudge, the not-very-heavy fantasy rules included in the free Fudge SRD.


I spent many, many years immersed in GURPS, and I even managed to get published a time or two. Probably my best GURPS work is Final Frontier (0.4 MB PDF), roleplaying rules for the Star Trek universe, rather minimalist by GURPS standards. Final Frontier requires GURPS Lite (3e), a 0.4 MB PDF. "This is the boiled-down 'essence' of GURPS: all the fundamental rules, but not the options and embellishments that often confuse new players." (I have no plans to update this to GURPS Lite 4e.)

The Black Hack

A wild and fun take on THE classic game, light, quirky, and flavorful. My twist is The T22 Hack (0.2 MB PDF), a rules hack to make rolling higher always better. Supports any version of TBH including the spanking new Second Edition.


Steffan O'Sullivan's roleplay game to be played outdoors. Here's my house rule to make Sherpa higher-is-better: For unopposed tasks, add the trait to the random number (and modifiers). The total must meet or beat 11. And here's my Character, Reference, and GM scene cards (0.1 MB PDF).

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Board Game Stuff


The classic space war game by Marc Miller, now ably published by Steve Jackson Games (and out of print again). I've written an article on the Basics of Space Flight which I hope is useful for the novice interplanetary traveler. One of these days I need to take a day to make the illustrations better.


The Looney Labs card game that's never the same twice. I made a playmat!


Steve Jackson Games' card game of the fantasy gaming experience without the pesky roleplaying. I made a (legal-size) playmat! And a long time ago I made the one-page Flowchart. It's dated, but might still help you through the first few games.

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Stargazing Stuff

Yes, just "stargazing." Maybe someday I'll put more investment into it, but for now I'm content learning and discovering via naked eye or binoculars. I've had two telescopes that didn't get used, so probably no point trying that again.

Being a nerd, I'm overprepared. I haunt weather sites — no point in going out if you can't see more than 10 miles up. I have grab-and-go bag with all my stargazing supplies: binoculars, basic star atlas, dim red flashlight, and a copy of Sky & Telescope's annual guide to sky events, Nightwatch. I don't use electronic tools in the field — I need my night vision! I just do a lot of prep, and here are some of my favorites.

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Spacemodeling Stuff

Spacemodeling is what the rest of the world calls model rocketry. I fly with very low-power motors in very light models, and I build with the fewest and simplest (and often cheapest) techniques. But it's still rocket science, and I've been doing it since 1975.

Model Rocket Safety Code

The bottom on how to build and fly rockets safely and within the law. The master copy at NAR is fine, but as a technical writer the inconsistencies in measuring units bug me. Here's my edit.

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This is where journal posts will go, when I start to have them.

Fri 11 Oct 2019 — Top of the Stack

When the blogging thing starts all over again …

Sun 28 Jun 2020 — A Gaming Update Post

In which Bob accepts some inevitables that have been around awhile …

Sun 28 Jun 2020 — A Rocketry Project Update

In which Bob confesses to surprise but not ruthless efficiency …

Sat 27 Jun 2020 — Cloning the Estes Cloud Hopper

In which Bob is in full rocketry nerd mode …

Tue 16 Jun 2020 — Seven Nights Later

(and not a zombie yet) …

Sat 13 Jun 2020 — Rewriting Some Rules

In which Bob repaints the goalposts …

Fri 12 Jun 2020 — Never Read The Comments

In which Bob comments …

Tue 02 Jun 2020 — Where Were You When ... ?

In which Bob speaks briefly to the current time …

Sat 30 May 2020 — Flights of Fancy

In which the sky is not the limit …

Sat 23 May 2020 — Now Presenting: RUST -- The Oxidation Extravaganza

For audiences which couldn't get enough of WATCHING PAINT DRY and WATCHING GRASS GROW …

Wed 20 May 2020 — Space Race

In which Bob sets a goal … ?

Mon 18 May 2020 — Letting The Days Go By

In which Bob reflects with fondness …

Thu 14 May 2020 — Another Week Indoors

In which Bob catches up and looks a little ahead …

Thu 07 May 2020 — Upside-Down Again

In which Bob has mixed feelings …

Sun 03 May 2020 — Speedy Delivery

In which Bob reports on the "new" computer …

Wed 29 Apr 2020 — Let Me Tell You About My …

(roleplayers know to run away right now) …

Wed 29 Apr 2020 — The Modest Step Forward

In which Bob continues to embrace the state of the art of five years ago …

Fri 24 Apr 2020 — Assorted Assorteds

In which Bob gives a smattering of news and updates …

Sun 19 Apr 2020 — Taking Stock

In which Bob reflects some more and maybe plans …

Tue 14 Apr 2020 — Memory Skylane

In which Bob visits the past and accuses the future of treason …

Mon 13 Apr 2020 — Balsa Engineer Apprentice

In which Bob meanders around the topic of model rocket building …


Sun 12 Apr 2020 — Bob and Yuri's Weekend

In which Bob blathers about some news …

Tue 07 Apr 2020 — The Die is Cast

In which Bob reports a commitment and a change of plan …

Sat 06 Apr 2020 — Flying Again

In which Bob lays plays for the spring "and beyond" …

Sat 28 Mar 2020 — The Month That Was

In which Bob recounts the past four weeks …

Tue 10 Mar 2020 — Finnegan, Begin Again

In which Bob starts so many things over …

Tue 03 Mar 2020 — Sunrise, Sunset

In which Bob is blindsided by an unexpected aspect of parenting …

Sun 23 Feb 2020 — Where Have I Been?

A few updates …

Sun 26 Jan 2020 — Pocket Boxing

In which Bob recalls two games and reports news …

Wed 15 Jan 2020 — This is Madness

Slowly digested over a thousand years …

Sat 11 Jan 2020 — Odometer Rollover

Reflections and resolutions abound …


Thu 19 Dec 2019 — A Random Mess

In which Bob just starts writing and sees what happens …

Fri 13 Dec 2019 — Bye, O'Rhythm

In which Bob plays with numbers and mocks the hive mind …

Thu 12 Dec 2019 — Calculating Ways

In which Bob goes nerdy on old tech …

Sat 30 Nov 2019 — Logocycles

In which Bob learns, albeit slowly …

Mon 18 Nov 2019 — Echoes and Reverberations

I don't remember Memory Land being this round …

Sat 09 Nov 2019 — Round the Whirl'd in 80 GHz

In which Bob looks yet again at his use of tech …

Sat 02 Nov 2019 — Over My Shoulder: The Dice Fake Book

In which Bob answers the question "What were you thinking!?" …

Fri 01 Nov 2019 — Propulsion

In which Bob reports on the battle with inertia