Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nymphs Part 3: Tree Nymph

The crystal clear water of the icy pool shimmered and rippled in the still air of the morning. Gradually, the ripples grew in an upward undulation that formed shapely calves, then thighs, and eventually a fully formed woman of surpassing beauty.
Nymphs are loci geniuses that inhabit various natural places. While similar to what are sometimes called “fae”, they more closely resemble elementals of a specific locale. They are inherently tied to the location they inhabit; indeed, their very existence depends on the wellbeing of the environment. And they defend it vehemently.

All nymphs exercise a measure of control over their homes and use this, in combination with their preternatural beauty to ward off attacks. Their beauty is terrible and captivating, and they use this mercilessly to their advantage.

As dangerous as nymphs can be, they are excellent sources of information on the area in which they dwell, and if befriended, they make powerful allies. However, their legendary shyness makes this difficult, and their sadistic impulses make it doubly dangerous!

Tree Nymph

CER 72 (OR 31 and PR 41)
Tree nymphs are spirits of place who watch over woodland areas.  They are closely attached to trees and may not stray more than a short distance from their home tree without becoming seriously ill.  They defend their homes fiercely, employing magic to animate the plants and trees around them, usually while hiding inside a tree.  Some tree nymphs are experienced mages, but most are simple forest guardians.  All command great knowledge about their environment.
ST: 8                                                       HP: 8                                                      Speed: 6.00
DX: 12                                                    Will: 10                                                  Ground Move: 6
IQ: 10                                                     Per: 11
HT: 12                                                    FP: 12                                                     SM: 0

Dodge: 9                                                Parry: 10 (Unarmed)                           DR: 3

Bow (14): 1d impaling. Acc 3. Range 120/160. Bulk -7.
Club (14): 1d-1 crushing. Reach 1.
Punch (14): 1d-2 crushing. Reach C.
Animated Environment: Tree nymphs can animate the environment around them to grapple (Binding or Telekinesis) intruders with ST 10 or strike at them (1d crushing or impaling) with branches.
Stunning Beauty: By striking even the slightest pose, anyone who sees her must make a Fright Check at -5 and roll on the Awe table.
Threshold Entity: This being doesn’t breathe, drink, eat, or sleep, is immune to metabolic hazards, and is either insubstantial and invisible or substantial and visible.
Woodwalk: A tree nymph can see and move through wood without hindrance.

Traits: Acute Hearing 1; Appearance (Beautiful; Universal); Berserk (9) (Special Trigger, harming the wilderness); Callous; Can Be Turned with True Faith; Curious (15); Dependency (Home Tree; Daily); Dislikes Loud Noises; Divine Curse (Keep to the letter of any promise); Fearlessness 2; Fragile (Combustible); Higher Purpose (Protect Home Tree); Impulsive (12); Night Vision 5; Obsession (Protect Trees); Odious Personal Habit -1 (Capricious); Sadism (15); Sense of Duty (Home Tree); Shyness (Mild); Silence 2 (Limited, In Woodlands Only); Terrain Adaptation (Jungle or Woodlands); Unaging; Vulnerability (Iron x2); Walk on Liquid (Specialized, Water).
Features: Affected as Spirit.
Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-12; Axe/Mace-14; Bow-14; Brawling-14; Camouflage-12; Intimidation-17; Naturalist-12; Sex Appeal-12; Stealth-14 (18 in jungles and woodlands); Wrestling-14.
Notes: Most nymphs won't negotiate because they are too shy.  Those who do are amiable enough, but dealing with such an astounding beauty is often disconcerting – especially while under the effect of her intoxicating beauty (see above).  Always scars from wounds inflicted by iron.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Rocket Design Project, Spring 2016 - What I Would Have Done Differently

So having completed the Spring 2016 Rocket Design Project with the AIAA at UCF, here is what I would have done differently. 1) Have clear goals from the beginning and NOT change them. This is a design project. If you don't know what you are designing for, you can't really come up with an effective design. The mid-project changes royally screwed us (we picked our parts based on a target altitude of 17,50 feet) only to be told afterward that we needed to go as high as possible. This greatly affected our approach to the project. So number one issue with the entire project is that the leads failed to clearly state the goals we were aiming for up front. 2) Give each team a budget and catalog to order from. Doing this would afford the teams more freedom and variation in design. Because we all had similar motors and similar parts, we all achieved similar altitudes (of the four I have seen launch, we were all within about 50 feet of each other, thus proving that similarly built rockets achieve similar altitudes). Instead, give each team a budget (more realistic to real world applications) and let them sort out their own parts. This doesn't impact the organization's budget, because each team is constrained by how much they can spend, but it gives them the freedom to attempt innovation - or at the least, interesting designs. 3) Don't change the design goals halfway through the project. By laying out the scoring rubric up front and not changing it, the leadership pushes the teams toward predesigned goals and the teams know how they should design their rockets. Considering that rockets are basically a tube with a motor in it, a parachute, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears; consistent design goals are a must or people will randomly get screwed. To this end, I would suggest either giving every team the EXACT same rocket motor or making them sort their motor as part of their budget. Either would be fair (more money on a bigger motor removes funds for extra body tubes, couplers, etc.), and for heaven's sake, don't discourage outlandish designs like multi-stage rockets. If someone can pull that off, kudos to them! 4) Just like all the other rockets I saw launched, the intent should always be to safely recover all parts of a the rocket. This restriction would only really come into play if a team made a multi-stage rocket. But for heaven's sake, let's not discourage that sort of thing! Just because a group wants to go above and beyond to successfully launch some outlandishly complicated design with multiple motors and multiple stages, doesn't mean they should get shot down by leadership. The project leads should serve as information resources and a final safety check, but they shouldn't inhibit creativity or safe failures. After all, the most is always learned from failure than success. Of course this is all armchair quarterbacking, but as I do blog periodically, I feel like I get to say my piece. Everyone else is free to decide if I'm full of it or not. Nonetheless, as someone who has a decade of managerial experience and has administered projects in the past, this is my opinion.

The Noisy Cricket Lifts Off

This past Saturday, I got to finally see our rocket lift off. But before I get into the ultimate performance of our rocket, let me recap the progress.

This project began with the goal of achieving a target altitude of 1,750 feet. We knew we were getting our choice of G38-FB (87 Ns impulse) or G40-W (97.4 Ns impulse) motors. Based on initial OpenRocket designs (not knowing what diameter body tubes, etc. we would receive), we decided we wanted the weaker motors and the largest bodies available. After choosing thusly, the project leads changed the ultimate goal to that of achieving maximum altitude. With little we could do about our parts, we opted to use only one body tube (18") plus our 9" ogive nosecone, plus juuuust enough fin for reasonable stability (1.25 calibers).

It is worth, noting at this point, that the project leads doubted our design and were quite surprised by our demonstrated stability during our swing test. This makes me think we could have gone with smaller fins, but it's too late for that now. After the swing test, I rounded our fins with some sandpaper and made some fillets with wood glue, as suggested by someone I know who has done this before. I can't say if the fillets were ultimately a waste of weight or helpful, but as two of our fins seem to have broken their initial fastening, I can't balk at a touch extra glue holding them in place.

Ultimately, the launch was successful, with our rocket achieving an apogee of 541 meters, as opposed to a predicted 600 meter apogee for a margin of error of about 10%. Most people were surprised that it did as well as it did (it looked like a midget among giants on the launchpad), so I was largely pleased, myself. We didn't get the highest apogee from among the teams, but I'm considering fixing the fins that came dislodged and dropping $20 on a new (and larger) motor to try for some serious altitude next month.

Overall, I have to admit that despite the seemingly constant setbacks and design changes, this was a great experience, and based on what I've heard from friends currently working as engineers, this was pretty typical of a design project. I'm thankful for the chance to do this and am looking forward to next semester's rocket design project.