What I've been doing instead of writing this newsletter.
I’ve had an unhealthy1 obsession with getting my kids to play D&D recently - they asked to! So, I haven’t had my usual liminal time to get a newsletter out.
To that end, my son wanted to make a harpy character. While there are home-brew (is that the right lingo? I stopped playing D&D in about 1993, maybe ‘92) harpy character races, we encountered a problem: harpies don’t have hands, really. Also, I don’t think it’s really so sporting to have a first level character be able to do a harpy siren song thing. So, I made up a “half-harpy.”
We haven’t actually played this yet, so I don’t know if it “works.” I figure what you do is run it up against some goblins in an ambush, maybe getting a blacksmith to send you on a mission to find a lost apprentice or, like, investigate a pie-shop robbery. At first level, it’s always those fucking goblins, right?
Doing this was a great, I don’t know, exercise in AI stuff. I didn’t use ChatGPT for the text (I didn’t even think of that until now!), but I used Midjourney to make the paper and the images. Some notes:
I sort of figured out how to use the give it an image thing to start with; I don’t really understand it. I bet Adobe’s Firefly thing would be better at prompts where you upload an image and say, like, “except use a human head instead of a bird one, and add in human arms in addition to the wings.” That one of the female crouched down under the combat page is as close as I ever got, and that’s still not exactly right. If you put too much vulture in, you get those vulture faces. That’s why I added the line to the text that faces can range from human to bird-like - at least I typed that somewhere. And also the part about having either human or vulture feet. I would have preferred just vulture feet. Maybe I can figure out the prompts.
It is incredibly hard to figure out the prompt for “make a human with bird feed, a human torso, a human head, human arms, and wings. Make the hands have long talons.” I’d also like to say “make the people look normal!” Instead, they all come out hella heroic, chiseled, and mid-driffy. I tried all sorts of things, but the only thing that would change it was to say “chubby.” “Zaftig” didn’t work, norHer did “stout.” And, “average” or “normal” definitely did. There must be some prompt tricks for “make them look like normal people, not super-models.”
Without trying, one time it actually generated full on breasts for a female harpy! I always thought nudity was programmed out. This sort of makes sense: that’s such a thing with harpies that it’d be hard to program that out. All the other times, the female harpies were either dressed or had those nipple-less bulbs like you’d see on a creepy robot.
If you do enough of these, you’ll see the humans arms softly stretched out…just like statues and pictures of angels! It took me a long time to realize that, but clearly “human with feathered wings” sends it right to the centuries of angels, all of who always have their arms spread out in that lazy, well, angelic way.
My son wanted his characters to be a cleric, so I tried to make some religious symbols. I dunno.
That one eating is great! I’ll throw in a bonus of the female version:
Here’s a link to my Midjourney profile if you want to see all the others that I didn’t use.
I have a one to two player adventure thought up. The one that comes with the D&D starter set is a little too much.
Do I make plans based on what I want done, or what I want to be doing?
The number one, recommended cure for procrastination is to just actually do the task.
“Nature doesn’t tell stories.” Here.
This is a good tofu recipe, except you should deep fry it. Deep frying is super easy, it just requires an insane amount of oil. Fill a wok, turn up the burner, and the cornstarch breaded tofu cooks right up just like you’d get in a restaurant. Why did I wait all these years?
Speaking of D&D: The terrans are suspicious and fearful of the half-harpies - the ability to fly, the taloned feet and lack of high-intelligence (they’re “bird brained”!), vulture-like eating habits, and behavior makes them weird to the terrans.
See y’all next time!
Well, if you think “unhealthy” means doing things that are fun with your kids, like, “hobbies” instead of grinding away at work and life.