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 auld 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 her pals. 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. The current inventory is: 5d20 and 5d6 (for use with the Fake Book, below), plus my Microtactix 2d10, my TFT 31d6, my Fudge 40dF, my antique 3d20, my aluminized 2d6, and a miscellaneous 20d6. Total of 108. That's not a lot, is it? I think I'm forgetting some.

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: print with booklet settings or view on portrait screens.

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 might make a Windows version of this …

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 a meaningful and fun part of gaming. The DicepickXR/XL programs better echo the "real dice" process (or so I believe).

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Stargazing Stuff

As a kid who was in elementary school during the prime of the Apollo missions, anything to do with space is prominent in my makeup. And 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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Board Game Stuff

Board and card games held a deep fascination for me as an only child who liked play. They still do and I still do.

Triplanetary

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.

Fluxx

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

Munchkin

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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Spacemodeling Stuff

Spacemodeling is what the rest of the world calls model rocketry, and I've been doing it since 1975 off-and-on. My building skills are basic but sound. I have eccentric launch equipment and fantasies about building more. My models are mostly small and light, with low-power motors, and I build with the fewest and simplest (and often cheapest) techniques. But it's still rocket science. I've had lots of fun with the math and theory side of rockets, too, which is good when flying opportunities are rare.

Model Rocket Safety Code

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

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.

EZFudge

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 haven't yet made a magic system that retained an EZFudge vibe. I recommend Fantasy Fudge, the not-very-heavy fantasy rules included in the free Fudge SRD.

GURPS

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) (see below). (I have no plans to update Final Frontier to GURPS Lite (4e).)

GURPS Lite (3e) is a 0.4 MB PDF, "… the boiled-down 'essence' of GURPS: all the fundamental rules, but not the options and embellishments that often confuse new players." As commented elsewhere in my journal, GURPS Lite (3e) is probably all the rules I want for playing GURPS, with the right balance between detail and inspiration. It's free, at Warehouse 23 or from my library.

The Black Hack

A wild and fun take on the original roleplaying 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.

Sherpa

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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Blog posts! I have some again!

Fri 11 Oct 2019 — Top of the Stack

When the blogging thing starts all over again …


Sat 21 Nov 2020 — I Had A Terrific Post Title This Morning

And a teaser, too …


Wed 11 Nov 2020 — Post Toasties

In which Bob goes round and round …


Sat 24 Oct 2020 — Iidying Up and Moving Things Around

In which Bob plays code-monkey for a while …


Sun 18 Oct 2020 — More Musings on Launch Sites

In which Bob might be de-ranged …


Sat 17 Oct 2020 — The Weave

In which Bob updates and downchecks …


Sun 11 Oct 2020y — Old Dogs and New Tricks

In which Bob rules the rules of thumb …


Sat 26 Sep 2020 Catching Up

In which Bob circumloquates about recent developments …


Sun 13 Sep 2020 — Far Future Enterprises

In which Bob looks ahead while commiting a sly callback …


Sat 12 Sep 2020 — The Fixed Stars

In which Bob rewrites the rules, which is better than starting over …


Fri 11 Sep 2020 — Waffles

In which Bob demonstrates his spine of steel-colored gelatin …


Mon 07 Sep 2020 — Less Labor Day

In which Bob natters about rocketry tools some more …


Mon 31 Aug 2020 — Rocket Madness, Ground Support Edition

In which Bob spins in a relatively new circle …


Sun 30 Aug 2020 — Hopping the Clouds Some More

In which Bob commits meta-posting …


Fri 28 Aug 2020 — Summer's End

In which Bob meanders around the season change …


Sat 15 Aug 2020 — Night Errands By Day

In which Bob goes shopping again …


Sat 08 Aug 2020 — Flight Day

In which Bob reminds his family what used model rocket motors smell like …


Sun 02 Aug 2020 — Gone Shopping?

But not for piston engines …


Fri 31 Jul 2020 — A Reflection on Rocketry Tools

In which Bob takes the measure of his work …


Wed 29 Jul 2020 — A Dice and Rocketry Update

... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... roll! …


Sat 18 Jul 2020 — A Computing Update

which Bob needed ten minutes to remember he wanted to write …


Sat 18 Jul 2020 — A Calculator Update

including special bonus rant …


Mon 13 Jul 2020 — A Stargazing Update Post

The omens were right …


Mon 13 Jul 2020 — The Shaving Cream is a Lie

And so is the shaving gel …


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 …


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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 …


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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