DnD 4e: Human Warlock Part 2

(continue from Part 1)

Power
All warlocks, regardless of choice of pact, will need to choose either Eldritch Blast (also can be used as basic range attack) or Eldritch Strike (also can be used as basic melee attack) and decide whether it should be Con or Cha based.

Initially a friend frightened me about the prospect of my warlock of being surrounded by 2 or 3 enemies and so I picked Eldritch Strike for the sliding effect. However, the very same friend later persuaded me to pick Eldritch Blast (which does more damage) because that friend would be playing a shaman that could give free basic attack to his ally. As for being crowded? Well, I have to make sure I don't get into such situation!

Since I chose Infernal Pact, Hellish Rebuke was automatically picked for me. Great At-will power.

As a human, I got to choose an additional At-will power. Initially I chose Dire Radiance which caused additional damage the first time the target moves closer to me on its next turn. I thought it was great as it would deter enemy from coming closer to me. Later, however, I thought otherwise. Its attack is vs Fortitude and melee creatures tend to have high Fortitude defense. Range creatures tend to have lower Fortitude defense but why would they want to move closer to me? Secondly, as the guide pointed out, once the melee creatures are next to my melee allies, they tend not to move again until either party is dead.

For the reasons I've outlined in Part 1, in the end I chose Eyes of the Vestige.

As for Encounter power, I was interested in Vampiric Embrace for its THP effect but it overlapped with the Pact Boon's effect and it also has range of 5 only (compared to 10 for other power). For a time, I was using Chain of Levistus where it causes additional damage if the creature moves at all but it is vs Fortitude (refer to Dire Radiance above). Finally, I chose Diabolic Grasp which is a great power to pull enemies closer to my melee allies, especially range enemies.

As for Daily power, I chose Flames of Phlegethos. Great damage plus ongoing fire damage!

Feat
Human gets an extra feat i.e. total of 2. After scouring all over the guide and websites and also suggestions from friends, I chose Rod Expertise, which gives +1 attack bonus and shield bonus of +1 to AC and Reflex. The second feat chosen was Hidden Sniper, which grants me combat advantage against any enemy I have partial concealment against. I can gain partial concealment if I move at least 3 squares, due to the Warlock's class feature Shadow Walk :)


A deal almost gone wrong

I have become accustomed to getting my car washed (and occasionally vacuumed) at the car wash place at Armanee Condominium, where my sister stays. It's a little more expensive than at petrol station i.e. RM6 for wash and RM10 for both wash and vacuum but it's convenient for the residents and visitors there. Also, they do their job quite well.

I recently sent my car there for wash. The first thing I said was "cuci saje, tak mau vacuum" and the guy said something about "dalam" that I couldn't understand but I made it clear that "luar sahaja" needed.

Later, when I collected the car, I was shocked that he vacuumed the car as well. I protested and also pointed out that I had RM8 with me at that time but to no avail because even his boss (I presumed he was the boss) just told me to pay the balance RM2 next time.

I went away unhappy. In my opinion, it was stupid of them to argue with me over a mere RM4 when there was clearly a  misunderstanding. A better response would be for them to apologise and either (a) totally forgo the RM4 difference as a apologetic gesture, or (b) to ask for a compromise of, say, RM2 more since vacuum was already done anyway i.e. RM8 for wash and vacuum. I decided at that time to just pay the balance and never to use their services again.

However, when I was back there shortly to pay the balance RM2, the boss had a change of heart. He forwent the balance and (sort of) apologised to me, saying that his worker was a little confused. I was mollified and thanked him.

DnD 4e: Human Warlock Part 1

After Ironclaw, Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition was the second pen&paper game I played. I did hear a little about it from Ban, who had been wanting to get hold of the Core Rules books (which we did few weeks ago - yay!) and disliked the previous edition ("Pathfinder") for having fun-killer game mechanic.

Class
In an astute observation made by Ban very recently, consistent with Ironclaw (and the MMORPG game Everquest which I played and loved years ago), the first character I chose was a warlock and more specifically, the high damage-dealing kind. Ban was very helpful in providing links to two guides on building a warlock character.

From the guide and given that I'm looking to specialise in dealing damage, I chose the Infernal Pact. Not a great Pact Boon - gain temporary hit points ("THP") equal to my characater's level - but good spells.

Abilities priority
As per Ban's advice, I looked at the spells to determine which abilities (Strength "Str", Constitution "Con", Dexterity "Dex", Intelligence "Int", Wisdom "Wis", Charisma "Cha") I should concentrate on. For the Infernal Pact, they are Constitution (primary stat) and Intelligence. Constitution based warlock is nicknamed Con'lock. It turned out that this worked pretty well because Constitution determines total hit points and Fortitutde defense while Intelligence determines Reflex defense bonus. There is no overlapping of defense here, unlike the Cleric Templar and Paladin where their primary and secondary stats are Wisdom and Charisma respectively, both determine Will defense bonus but only the higher value is used (sucks!).

Race
Naturally the races I considered were those from the guides as well as any race that boosts the Constitution and Intelligence stats. At first I chose Half-elf for its racial feature that allows me to choose an At-will power from any other class as an additional encounter power.

However, luckily I read the guide a few more times and caught hold of this recommendation for Human Con'lock to get Eyes of the Vestige as the extra At-will power. Human has this racial feature that allows me to choose an extra At-will warlock power. This spell is great because it helps to spread the Warlock's Curse around (as otherwise the curse can be planted only on the nearest enemy the warlock can see) and the power is vs Will (rather than Reflex which is more common among the Infernal Pact powers).

Besides having a great extra At-will power, Human also has +1 defense bonus to Fortitude, Reflex and Will and get to train in an extra skill. The downside is that unlike other races, it could boost only 1 ability score and I chose Constitution for obvious reasons.

Calibrating ability scores
Ban taught me to first determine the "dump stat" i.e. the ability score that I wanted it to be the lowest. That easily was Wisdom. Charisma is used for some of the warlock's trainable skills. Next was to determine the ability I wanted to be the highest and that was Constitution. Second highest was Intelligence. After fiddling with the scores many times, in the end I chose 10 Str 18 Con 11 Dex 14 Int 8 Wis 10 Cha (an array of, in descending order, 18 14 11 10 8), before adding the chosen racial bonus of +2 to Con. The aim was to have as high Con as possible for me to be able to land a hit on enemies. The score of 11 for dexterity enabled me to choose the feat Dual Implement Spellcaster (able to dual wield implements!) by level 8 if I raised it by 1 at level 4 and at level 8 i.e. to a total of 13. It is a requirement to have at least 13 dex to choose that feat.

I now realised that it may not be a good idea to have odd-numbered score because it's kind of a waste. The ability score determines defense and attack bonus by subtracting 10 from the score , divided by 2 and rounded down to the nearest integer (if the ability score is 10 or less, then that bonus is automatically 0). When I discussed this with Ban recently, he agreed and revealed he usually sticks with the array 16 16 12 12 8.

Risk nothing

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.

- Leo F. Buscaglia


GM-ing: result

Ban, a friend and I decided to go ahead to start my GM-ing debut without Ban's brother, with me offering to play a cleric, acting essentially like an NPC, to be part of the party.

After an Ironclaw session, I spent nearly 4 hours finishing up my GM material as well as building my cleric character. I admit that I was a little stress and I thank Ban for being patient, understanding and helpful in this instance *muack!*

Overall, the gaming session went pretty well. Not entirely the way I expected (the players were zanier than I expected hehe) but I believed I managed to execute the game according to a primary guiding principle i.e. everyone should have fun! This is also Ban's belief. If a GM builds his campaign around this idea, then his game session should go much better. The 4e book for dungeon master has some good tips on how to do so.

For my game, there was no negative feedback, despite me asking for it a few times. I take that as a good sign.I hope to inject more fun in the next session :)

However, I strongly suspect that GM-ing and playing a character (even though it's like an NPC) at the same time is more stressful than GM-ing alone (mainly during combat encounters). Hence, once Ban's brother is available, I'll just focus on GM-ing and not play an NPC and I'll see what's the effect like.

GM-ing

After flirting with the idea for months, I've decided to try my hand at hosting a pen & paper game. I could have chosen either Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition ("4e") or Ironclaw but I've chosen the former because generally it's an easier game to host and play.

The final impetus that clinched this decision was Ban. He has been planning to play a druid charater (who can turn into a bunny and summon a swarm of bunnies hahaha) during the next campaign to be hosted by our current GM. However, from the latest session of our current campaign, Ban was fed up with the GM's skill. The basic problem was that we, the players, were stucked at a particular place for a long time. We did this and that and yet yielded no result. Yet, for a long time, the GM didn't give any hint or make things happen so that we could move along. So Ban decided not to join the next campaign and I decided to host one so that he could play his druid.
I'm nervous and anxious because hosting a game is new to me and also that I'm rather bad at describing stuff and I'm not very imaginative. Furthermore, I'm a rule lawyer freak hahaha.

Hence, I've decided to keep it small and asked only Ban, his brother and a friend to join my short campaign. It would be about 4-6 sessions and extended only if everyone is happy with my GM-ing skill thus far. Also, I told them that it would be a whimsical and zany campaign...to make things easier for me hehehe.

I really hope it'll go well.

Conned

Have you ever been conned by others before? I have. Twice and I felt shameful each time.
Once was due to greed. A later incident was due to my sympathy for the conman.

From my experience, the one that played on sympathy was awful because I kept putting myself in the conman's shoes. I was fully aware that there was a great chance that that could be a con job but "just in case it's not" kept playing on my mind. It's terrible that there exist such people who indirectly deny help for those genuine cases.

It's similar to donating to beggars. I once told a friend that I've stopped doing that after knowing a few fraudulent cases from the media (and also that I believed some of the able-bodied ones are just lazy to find jobs) but that friend said he would continue to donate in case there are genuine beggars out there.

It's ironic that I'm constantly cautioning my parents to be wary of suspicious "words" and yet I fell prey to 2 of them. Sigh.

Fortunately in both cases, the sum of money wasn't huge. I consider them as "tuition" money for "lessons in life". In future, I'll make sure I'll say "no" at the start and wave them away or I'll just walk away as otherwise, the shame (and possibly the losses too) would be much greater. Apologise to those genuine cases.

Bread: Extra egg

My third attempt at baking bread using the sponge and dough method yielded the largest dough ever! It was a result of proving the dough (i.e. letting the kneaded dough to rise to at least twice its size) longer than I wanted to (was busy outside). It was so large that it couldn't fit into the loaf pan (gah, should have taken a photo).

So I split the dough into two and baked half on that day and the remaining the next day. The first half tasted as per normal but the second one was harder and smelled of yeast i.e. the sourish smell. The latter didn't rise as much after I took out of the fridge even after I placed it in the oven together with a separate tray of hot water (and then later, switched on the oven at very low fire).

For the next attempt, I wanted to to reduce the volume but since the recipe requires an egg, it's difficult to 'split' the egg. Hence, I decided to reduce everything else by a quarter.

However, the decision was taken out of my hand due to lack of yeast. The amount left was just enough for half the original volume. Oh well. In fact, I also ran out of wholemeal flour and so I used entirely high protein flour.

The resultant dough was very gooey and the softest thus far of all dough I've made.

Extra egg sponge dough

The texture is starkly different from all other bread I baked. It reminds me of untoasted muffin. I prefer the original recipe version i.e. proportionately less egg. Hmmm next time I may still try reduce all ingredient by a quarter except the egg.

Share investment Jun 12 Part 2

(continue from Part 1)

Here's a breakdown of where my investment went to:

Invested amount 28Jun12

Here's the average purchase price and the closing price on 28 Jun 2012:

Price 28Jun12

Here's the historical dividend yield:


Div yield 28Jun12

The annualised dividend yield for a share was calculated as sum of  the actual dividend yields (actual dividend yield = amount of dividend paid divided by invested amount) pro-rated to a year. This was done sensibly by taking account of the frequency and timing of the dividend payment.

Shares with dividend history of less than a year were excluded.

Share investment Jun 12 Part 1

Here's the latest update on my investment in shares (last update was in Feb 12):

(1) I finally managed to sell Suntec REIT at a very slight profit. Before that, I found more reasons to sell it:

(a) The manager, ARA Asset Management, sold almost all of its holding in the REIT at the same time. These units were distributed to them as payment (in lieu of cash) for their service. Naturally shareholders were a little upset about them being sold at one-go which caused a knee-jerk decrease in share price. ARA defended the use of units as payment because it aligned the interest of the manager with the shareholders but there is no such alignment if they sell most of the units!

(b) The % of the REIT's income that went to the manager (as reported in The Edge) was clearly above most of the REITs in the market. Tsk tsk tsk.

(2) With Suntec REIT gone, I had no position in any of the REIT that owns malls in Singapore. So, when market went down significantly due to very poor job growth result in US, I took the opportunity to go back into CapitalMall Trust, which is like the "blue chip" among its peers.

(3) I've also added more into SBS Transit after its shares price dropped to more than 14% lower than my average purchase price at that time. I tried to look for news to determine what was dragging it down (and still is!) but there was no news that was good enough to explain it. Anyway, I take comfort that it still has sound business in favourable environment.

(4) During the market sell-down in (2) above, I've also seized the opportunity to initiate position in SingTel, the largest telco in Singapore. My interest in the company is its stable business that has overseas exposure. I'm a little concerned about how Singapore-centric are the companies I've invested in and so I'm always on a lookout for shares of companines that generate revenue overseas (like SP Ausnet).

(5) So, as at 28 Jun 12, I have investment in 13 companies:

  • Second Chance Properties
  • AIMS-AMP Industrial REIT
  • Boustead Singapore Ltd
  • CapitaCommercial Trust
  • CapitaMall Trust
  • CapitaRetailChina REIT
  • First REIT
  • M1
  • SBS Transit Ltd
  • SIA Engineering
  • SP AusNet
  • Singpost
  • SingTel
I'll post some charts in Part 2.