Elemental Dice 1-4

I have received Elemental Dice 4, and will now make a post about all the 25 dice. I have previously posted about 1-3 and Silver. Lets start with a picture of all 25 (it is hard with light and reflections).

I have measured the density of all the dice on a kitchen scale with 1g precision.

EDAtomic WeightElementDens (g/cm)Dice Weight (g)Weight quoteActual Density (g/cm)Quote

A “4” in the first column is that they are new for the Elemental Dice 4 series and not included in my previous article. Densities seem quite fine, most of them well above 90% (which means I have no imminent reason to think the dice are not what they say they are). Carbon (C) has a lower density than expected (for graphite) but Carbon is not a metal and it makes sense to me that manufacturing method affects the atomic configuration.

The box states “pure elements can change color over time as the result of long term air chemical reactions with the […] air”. I sorted them from darkest to lightest and took a picture:

10 dice, sorted by shade of grey

This is difficult. Pb is more blue/cold. Cr is very shiny. Gd & Y changes position depending on light and perspective. But it gives you a hint.

Fe, Co, Ni (26,27,28) are all magnetic, as is Gd. The plated dice are slightly magnetic due to the material in the core, not the plating.

Elemental Dice Silver vs Silver

I wrote a post about my Elemental Dice a little while ago and the Silver dice got an entire section for themselves. I had owned the plated one longer and it had been in the aluminium stand. This is what they used to look like:

Plated silver to the left, severely oxidized after months, solid silver to the right, somewhat oxidized.

So, my guess was that the aluminium stand did something bad to the silver.

Since then the solid silver has been standing in the “faux leather dice roll mat” (available in E.D.2) and the plated silver has been standing in the aluminium stand. Now, a month and a half later I found that if any of them had any miscoloration it was the solid one, on the 6th face, that had been exposed to the faux leather.

I washed them both carefully in warm water and manual dish washer (which typically is used for utensils of metal), and took a few photos (with my new TX-158 “microscope”):

Solid Silver
Plated Silver

What you can clearly see here is that the solid one is laser engraved leaving the letters matte. The plated one is plated after the laser engraving, so also the letters are shiny. You can see this with your eye if you just look at them so this is an easy way to tell them apart (you can also determine that the solid one is a bit heavier, but it is not so obvious when you have them in your hand).

I took another picture of both of them at the same time.

Solid silver to the left, plated to the right

You can very clearly see that the inside of the “g” shines on the plated one and is matte with the solid.

But I also now see that more things are different. The plated one has had a thin layer of silver added afterwards, and that silver seems to have attached in a naturally shiny (almost liquid) way. The solid die on the other hand seems to have been polished to be shiny, leaving a very fine brushed surface.

To the naked eye, they also do not look exactly the same. The solid one appears to be more grayish and the plated one more warm yellow and perhaps even more shiny. If this is a matter of different age (time in the poluted air), different surface structure, or slightly different silver alloys I can not tell. Also the solid one seems to be blackish on 6th face.

Here is a picture of the 6th face of both dice. The solid die, to the right, has some black stains, and I suppose that is silver oxide (left one has been 45 days in aluminium stand, right one has been 45 days on faux leather).

Plated silver to the left, solid silver to the right.

But for now, it seems I was wrong about the aluminium oxidizing silver. I washed them today and I will put them back as they were, solid on faux leather and plated in the aluminium stand.

Technaxx TX-158 Microscope Review

I just got this idea that I want a Microscope. There are very many to choose from, and the prices vary much as well. I have no professional or real need of a Microscope, I am just a nerd. One thing I wanted to do is to have a close look at my Elemental Dice.

When I was quite young I had a childrens microscope that was 100x, 200x, 300x magnification. It was not so easy to use, and obviously it was not capable of capturing digital pictures. After doing some research I decided to buy a very simple cheap USB/Wifi microscope, knowing that it would probably not be so amazing.

Technaxx TX-158 basics according to marketing:

  • Live view for PC or smartphone (so I can use my iPad as a screen)
  • Photo/Video (I just care about photo)
  • With a stand
  • LED illumination
  • Magnification up to 1000x (as I see it, it is max 40x magnificaiton, see below)
  • Full HD resolution

This is mostly true. What is absolutely not true is 1000x magnification. The stand is on the cheap (light, flappy) side. The pictures are 1920×1080 and then the question is: are they that sharp? You will see for yourself below. All pictures below are straight from the TX-158, no editing.

Basic usage and features

It is easy to get started (with iOS, only thing I tried).

  1. Charge it using USB (cable but no power supply included)
  2. Download the iWeiCamera App from Apple App Store.
  3. Turn TX-158 on.
  4. Connect your iOS device to the unencrypted WiFi network called Cam-something
  5. Start iWeiCamera
  6. Use the wheel on TX-158 to focus
  7. Use the button in the App or on TX-158 to take a picture.

That is kind of it. You export the pictures from the iWeiCamera to Photos (in iOS), and then send them to your Mac with AirDrop (or something else you find convenient).

Optical Capability

TX-158 has 8 LED lights that can be adjusted (pressing the on-button repeatedly). This is convenient. It also has a transparant plastic shell around the lens. I have found that the shortest possible focal depth is “kind of” the distance you get if you place TX-158 on a surface. You may be able to focus on something that is slightly closer, but not much. If a small coin fits inside the plastics shell you are probably fine. My 16mm dice also fit inside, that does not work.

You may however photograph items more far away. This picture of a 16mm metal die is taken (horizontally) from almost 10cm (click the image to open the full resolution).

The noise around/behind the die looks a bit strange, but it is probably reasonable given how I mounted the die between white postit notes. If I open this picture on my computer display the object is about 16cm large (with no digital zoom). The actual object is 16mm, so to me this is about 10x magnification.

I then moved the die as close as possible and focused on “13” in the top left corner.

I would say this picture is about 4x more magnified than the previous one (just measuring the height of “13”.). Compared to the real object I would say we have about 30-40 times magnification. Anything “more” than that is just digital zoom, and I do not think the picture quality allows for much digital zoom.

Zoom & Focus

The box that comes with TX-158 states on the backside: “Up to 1000x magnification / Magnification adjustable with turning wheel”. In the little booklet however I read: “Zooming: turn the focus wheel until you reach the personal best view option”. So it is a focus wheel and the marketing about “adjustable magnification” is a lie. The good thing is that it is obviously a “fixed” or “prime” lens which is better for image quality than a zoom lens. Adjusting magnification is easy (within 10-40x something) by simply moving the TX-158 closer or more far away from the object. But when the object gets too close to the lens it can not focus anymore.

The little booklet also mentions Autofocus. I am not 100% sure, but I don’t think it has any autofocus.

More pictures

All the below pictures are taken by simply placing the TX-158 on top of whatever I photograph and manually adjusting the focus.

Dust on a plastic surface
The surface of a worn Teflon or Ceramic frying pan

An oiled wooden table

One of my hairs
Worn wooden surface
A leaf, cut off from a pineapple (stainless surface at top of picture)
A blanket made of wool
Fake/faux leather
A piece of dirt – wax from a cheese probably – on a stainless surface
A piece of linen cloth
The text TECHNAXX, on the image of TX-158 printed on the box it came in
3cm mark on an aluminium ruler (the lines to the right are mm lines)
A drop of honey on what I thought was a black metal surface (the 8 LED lights reflect in the drop)
An iPhone connector
Tip of a knife
Grains of salt in a blue porceline bowl
A safety match
Letters svERige on a coin


After having played with an analog childrens microscope at 100-300x when I was little, I kind of hesitate to call the TX-158 a microscope at all. To me it is more a macro-photo-camera.

When you get to “real” 300x magnification you can start seing things that this device do not at all reveal. I would say it is 40x magnification (and then I am quite generous), but perhaps that is the wrong way to measure it.

The practical thing is that 40x is not THAT much, so it is quite easy to move around the TX-158, find your object and adjust the location of things manually. For a higher magnification you probably need a much more stable stand, and being able to move the microscope or the sample in a controlled way. TX-158 is more point and shoot.

Anyway, when you read about different microscopes for sale on Amazon and other places, if it mentions magnification in the range of 1000x, just do not trust it. I doubt any real microscope can be 100-1000x magnification or anything like that.

The iWeiCamera-App is very rudimentary. Copying images from the App to Photos gives me a message in Chineese. But connecting the iPad via WiFi and getting started is very simple.

I guess for soldering work or other very delicate work, it is a useful digital magnification glass. Then the stand probably more comes to its right too.

Qnap, SonarQube and Elastic Search

Update 2021-10-20: Solution in the end of the post

I use SonarQube (and SonarScanner) to analyze my JavaScript source code in a project that has almost 200k lines of code.

SonarQube is a non-trivial install and it should be on a server so different developers can access it. Thus, SonarQube is an application that it would make sense to put in a packaged container, easy to set up.

I have a QNAP, with Container Station installed. That allows me to run Docker images and Linux (LXC/LXD) image. To me, this sounds like a perfect match: Just install a SonarQube Docker container on the QNAP and be happy!

Well, that was not how they thought it.

Last time I checked the SonarQube docker image did not come with a database. That would have been the entire point! Most work related to setting up SonarQube is related to the database. Docker support data folders, so it would be easy to configure the docker container with a single datafolder for the database and everything. No. You need two docker images.

The next problem is that SonarQube comes bundled with ElasticSearch which has some remarkable system requirements. Your operating system needs to be configured to support

  • 65535 open file descriptors (link)
  • 262144 vm.max_map_count (link)

Now the first problem is that Docker in QNAP does not support this. However it works with LXC.
The second problem is that QNAP is getting rid of LXC in favour of LXD, but you cant have 65535 open file descriptors with LXD (on QNAP – hopefully they fix it). So I am stuck with unsupported LXC.

But the real problem is – who the f**k at Elastic Search thought these were reasonable requirements?

I understand that if you have hundreds of programmers working on tens of millions of code you need a powerful server. And perhaps at some point the values above make sense. But that these are minimum requirements to just START ElasticSearch? How f***ing arrogant can you be to expect people to modify /etc/security and kernel control parameters to run an in-memory database as a priviliged user?

The above numbers seem absolutely arbitrary (I see that it is 2^16-1 of course). How can 65535 file descriptors be kind of fine, if 32000 are not? Or 1000? I understand if you need to scale enormously. But before you need to scale to enormous amounts of data, it would be absolutely wasteful, stupid and complicated to open 50k+ files at the same time. And if 32000 file descriptors are not enough for your clients big data, how long are you going to be fine with 65535? For a few more weeks?

This is arrogant, rotten, low-quality engineering (and I will change my mind and apologize if anyone can provide a reasonable answer).

All the data SonarQube of goes to a regular database. ElasticSearch is just some kind of report-processing thing serving the frontend. I did a backup of mine today, a simple pg_dump that produces an INSERT line in a text file for every database entry. Not very optimized. My database was 36Mb. So if Elastic Search would use just 36000 file descriptors, each file correspond to 1k of actual data.

I don’t know if I am the most disappointed with the idiots at ElasticSearch, or the idiots of SonarQube who made their quite ordinary looking GUI dependent on this tyrannosaurus of a dependence.

Hopefully the QNAP people can raise the limits to ridiculous values, so nobody at ElasticSearch needs to write sensible code.

And if anyone knows a hack so you can make ElasticSearch start with lower values (at my own risk), please let me know!


QNAP support helped me with the perhaps obvious solution. Log in as admin with ssh to the QNAP and run:

[~] # sysctl -w vm.max_map_count=262144
[~] # lx config set deb11-sonarqube limits.kernel.nofile 65535

The first command I already knew. You have to run it whenever the QNAP has restarted.

The second command is for setting the file limit in the particular container (deb11-sonarqube is the name of my container). I guess you just need to do it once (and then restart the container), and that the setting remains.

Pendragon Houserules for Battles

This is a draft!

There are numerous battle systems for Pendragon. Version 5.2 of the standard rules includes a battle system, as well as book of battles. I find the standard rules in 5.2 unsatisfying:

  • they are rather complex, and despite that
  • it does not feel that they are reasonably good att deciding the outcome of the battle (number of soldiers, types of soldiers, level of training and such fundamental things have vague implications)
  • the Army/Battallion/Unit/Personal/Special-event layers are simply too many layers of rules and events, with too little connection between them
  • the Personal mode is still not “in character roleplaying” but some rather abstract melee resolution

I consider Pendragon a roleplaying game. I don’t want it to be a tactical Battle-game (so the Book of Battles is out). What I am looking for in a Battle game is:

  • Plausible, simple, battle resolution – in case winner and loser need to be determined and something is at stake for the players
  • An personal battle experience for the player characters

When I write plausible, I mean that Gamemaster and Players should be able to envision the battle in a theater of mind, and what happens should not be unreasonable or ridiculous. We can ask ourselves questions like:

  • would 10 peasants be able to through a knight off his horse and beat him to death?
  • can you charge through a little river, and with what disadvantage?
  • are a bunch of well equiped peasants going to have any chance against poor knights?

My idea is that the answers to such questions should be decided in a whay that both Gamemaster and players think it is reasonable.


For most not too large battles, both sides just make up one Battalion each (this is not the way Battalion is used in the rules, and it is probably not historically correct either).

For very large battles, it is fine to let both sides consist of several battalions. The battalions will resolve their battle like separate battles. It is possible in the middle of the battles to evaluate the situation, reorganize (perhaps merge remaining forces) and start over.

Such a battle between two battalions is not divided any further. It is a battle. However, there is a Personal level for the player characters.

The battle is divided in Battle Turns (typically 30 minutes) and between each Battle Turn there is a Personal Turn for resolving what player characters experience. The Player Turn is typically divided into normal combat rounds when needed. If the player characters are in the front line, charging, start the battle with a Personal Turn.

Battle Level

Both battalions are assigned a Battle Value (typically 10). The battle is then resolved as turns of opposed checks against the Battle Values. Each turn will result in losses, and eventually one battalion will be more or less defeated.

Units and Damage

In order to keep track of losses, it is decided how many Units each battalion consists of (can lose). Starting with the smaller force, assume it consists of 5 units, and decide how many participants are in each unit. Then do the math and figure out how many units the larger force consists of if the units are roughly equally big. For a shorter battle, start with 3 or 4 instead.

Each unit can be lost two times

  1. The unit is withdrawing, has suffered some losses, and can not participate in offensive fighting
  2. The unit is fleeing, has suffered significant losses, and can not participate in any fight

What this means is that a Battalion of 4 units can take at most 3 points of damage, and still keep attacking. At 4 to 7 damage, the Battalion can defend itself if the enemy keeps attacking. At 8 damage there is no organised battalion left, the battle rules are not used any more, and if the attacker wants to chase imprison or kill everyone that is a different business.

This means that a battle can often end in an inconclusive result (as in the standard rules), when no side is defeated and no side is capable of attacking.

Resolving the opposed check of Battle Values

The opposed check of Battle Values for the turn (typically rolled by the Battalion commanders) is resolved like this:

Success Tie0 damage on both sides
Success vs PartialWinner decides if there will be 2-1 damage, or 1-0 damage
Success vs Failure2 damage to loser
Failure Tie1 damage to both sides
CriticalAs success, and Battle Value +1 (to maximum 18, otherwise one extra damage)
FumbleAs failure, and Battle Value -1 (to minimum of 3, otherwise one extra damage)

Deciding Battle Values

Battle Value and Unit Count are essentially what decides the odds of the battle. Both Battalions have a Battle Value of 10, plus or minus the sum of their advantages and disadvantages decided below.

A smaller advantage gives the Battalion with the upper hand +1 Battle Value.
A major advantage gives the Battalions +1 and -1 Battle Value respectively.
No significant advantage gives no modifications.

A major advantage (+1/-1) generally requires that all the troops on one side has the advantage over all the troops on the other side.

Standard possible advantages are:

  • Better trained troops
  • Better weapons
  • Better armors
  • More horses (double effect first round)
  • Ranged weapons (only effective first round)
  • More rested
  • Better organization, discipline, motivation, and leadership (not the battalion leader leader)
  • Terrain advantage
  • Ambush
  • Defensive measurements

Both battalion leaders also roll a Battle check where Critical: +2, Success +1, Failure -1, Fumble -2. This modification should be given some in-game explanation, and may be removed/rerolled later in the battle if conditions have changed.

If any side gets more than 18 Battle Value, set it to 18 and compensate with not counting the first hit.

If any side has a very diverse army (like 50 knights and 1000 unequiped peasants), use the guidelines above and make sure everyone kind of agrees on the Battle Value. An alternative is of course to divide the army and make more than one battle. The important thing is that the story makes sense, and that the rules dont create implausable odds and outcomes.

Personal Level

For the player characters, the battle is roleplayed. It is not an abstract melee as in the standard rules, but the normal combat rules that are used. First a reflection: A battle may last for 1-2h or longer. If both sides are roughly the same size, and some participants die, some are wounded and some are quite fine after the battle, it means that most participants do not kill a single opponent in hours of battle. Otherwise the battle would be over in a few minutes. Roleplaying 2h of in-game-battle, stardard combat round for round, would take days and nobody would survive. So I think we need to agree that most of the time, player characters involved in a battle are:

  • Looking for their friends, unit or horse
  • Taking care of someone elses wounds
  • Helping someone else off the battlefield
  • Guarding an ally who is wounded and perhaps attended
  • Taking a breath
  • Considering where are we going to run/charge next
  • Discussing tactics or passing on information
  • Enemies evaluating each other without engaging
  • Move to different part of battlefield

I would assume that things going well, you and your unit are able to pick and engage enemies that you can defeat. Things not going so well, enemies are probably assaulting you in large numbers possibly from behind.

For the personal level, normally assume that all the player characters are included in a unit (as in the standard rules) with a unit leader. This is not one of the Hit Point-units. Keep some kind of normal roleplaying record of who is in the unit, how many they are, and what has happened. The participants of the unit are expected to follow their leader and to care for each other.

Each Personal Turn calculate a Tactical Value. It is based on two things:

  1. The opposed Battle Value roll above
  2. The current unit leader (may be a player character) making a Battle skill opposed roll against a Battle skill of an enemy leader (if the enemy is disorganised, use 5, if in doubt use 15)

Interpret those two opposed rolls using the next table, and add the results (to a value 0 to 10).

Partial Fail2
Partial Success3
Success / Tie4

In the below table, see what the unit can be doing. If there are multiple options the Unit leader chooses. It is possible to choose from a worse (lower) result if it makes sense.

0Surrounded and engaged by twice as many foes as unit size, no chance of escape
Surrender/Taken as prisoner (if enemy takes prisoners)
1Engaged by stronger enemies
2Engaged by equal enemies
3Can just lay low (no glory for this turn)
4Can withdraw
5Can get into combat with enemy unit of equal strength
6Can do first aid or watch over someone
7Can engage an enemy unit, having the upper hand
Can attempt to find a horse
8Can take a prisoner
Can engage enemy unit leader with bodyguards
Rescue attempt of allied prisoner
9Good assault or assasination opportunity on enemy unit or unit leader
Can engage enemy high commander with bodyguards
10Good assault or assasination opportunity on enemy high commander

Options are to be interpreted by the Gamemaster and other opportunities or threats may be possible.

Gamemaser can decide that the Player events may result in a -1 or +1 modification to the Battle Value, for one or more Turn. Killing or taking as prisoner a high commander may have even bigger effect.


If the players are in the front line, the first Turn is resolved as a charge. Roll an opposed Unit Battle check as above. What typically happens is:

First (if enemy ranged weapons)Second (lance charge)Third (melee)
Fumble1d6 arrowsLost opportunityEngaged by strong enemies
Fail1d3 arrowsStrong enemiesString enemies
Partial F1d2 arrowsEqual enemiesEqual enemies
Partial S1 arrowWeaker enemiesWeaker enemies
SuccessChoose enemy typeChoose enemy type
CriticalChoose enemy type, +5 first roundChoose enemy type, +5 first round


Glory is decided as in the standard rules, for each turn of the battle, at GMs discretion.


The players can get Passion during the Player Turn as during normal. The Passion may last for more than one turn, if there is a continuity of action. A turn without combat typically cancels the Passion.


What good is a battle system if it fails to produce likely outcomes? I programmed a simulator (link) to verify the likelyhood of outcomes. Everything about this battle system is quite subjective. It is meant to produce plausible outcomes with plausible probabilities so the result of the battle can be accepted in the story.

Pendragon Houserules for Jousting

This is a draft. House rules are not tested much.

This article applies to Pendragon 5.2. The rules are useful with any version.

We ran a small jousting tournament the other day, using the standard 5.2 rules. We soon found that the rules were not good enough, and we did some quick in-game house-rules. My main objections are:

  • A partial success (success, but still not as good as your opponent) makes no difference.
  • The horsemanship roll to save from Knockdown is far too easy. Jousting can go on for (too) many rounds.

The truth is that I have no idea for how long real knights were jousing. 1 pass? 5 passes? All afternoon? But I do not care – I and my players have seen Ivanhoe – we have an idea what we expect, and we want it to be quick.

Suggested House Rules

The suggested house rules are not that different from the orginal 5.2 rules. Both knights roll opposed Lance checks.

OriginalHouse rule
Both fail/fumbleTieTie
FumbleGM decidesSee table below
Same success (or both crit)TieBoth falls off
Winner vs Fail/fumbleDamage and Horsemanship rollsLoser falls
Winner vs PartialDamage and Horsemanship rollsIf difference in success is
1-4: Damage and Horsemanship rolls
5+: Loser falls
CriticalReal damage and Horsemanship rollsDeal real damage, Loser falls

This should avoid too many passes/rounds.

Type of Win

Here is a random table to decide what the victory looked like, in case anyone is curious. This is for dramatic effect. If it is a real battle no one should be penalized by this table.

  1. Hit to head, helmet removed, dizzy for a while
  2. Loser stays on for for a dozen feet but can not hold it
  3. Hit to head, rolling backwards over horse
  4. Shoulder hit sends loser spinning off the horse
  5. Loser thrown off, lands on back with a noise
  6. Loser falls off backwards, manages to land on feet
  7. Loser seems to make ut, but lance hits ground and he falls of
  8. Loser is left dangling to the side of the horse, can’t get up or down
  9. Losers horse made a weak rush, making him an easy target
  10. Loser hits shield, then ground and is pole jumping off his horse
  11. A corner of the shield comes off
  12. Hit to head, on his back on the horse, then rolling off
  13. Hit to head, dizzy for a few moments, fails to stay on the horse an falls off moments later
  14. About to be hit in neck, evades, fails to stay on the horse
  15. Loser delivers a solid shield hit, but it is him losing the balance
  16. Loser is pulled down by his shield (being hit by the lance)
  17. Loser lifts shield to protect from head head, gets shield in the head
  18. Tries to dodge a head hit, taking hit to upper torso
  19. Hit to shield is just too powerful to recover from
  20. Tries to dodge sideways, falls off doing so
  21. Comes off rolling into the middle fence, comes to sudden stop
  22. Shield hit, lance slides hitting the lance arm, pulling the knight off
  23. Light hit to side of head, enough to lose all balance
  24. A rare lance-lance hit sends knight off spinning
  25. Loser, sitting high, manages to get lance under him, ejected out of saddle
  26. Violently thrown off, helmet comes off, face buried in mud
  27. When about to recover from impact, thrown off by horse
  28. Rider and horse falls by the force of the impact
  29. Falls off, landing on the fence, not pretty
  30. Looking bad, landing on head, but rolls up nicely finishing on his feet
  31. Breaks lance when landing on it. Score?
  32. Ridiculously flapping with arms, throwing shields and lance, for no gain
  33. Never taking determined eyes off opponent, until afoot again
  34. Both horse and knight falls backwards
  35. Losing breath, taking a few minutes to recover
  36. Hit by horse kick when falling off
  37. Pushed backwards by impact, falling off behind horse
  38. Shield hits face with some blood spilled
  39. Horse comes back quickly, licking his master in the face to get him up again
  40. Horse comes back quickly, kneels down, and helps knight to his feet
  41. Horse runs away
  42. Crashes into the mud on opponents side of the fence
  43. Seems confident for a while, then just falls off
  44. After impact, horse makes a few jumps, throws knight off forward
  45. Pushed out of saddle by impact, tries to recover sitting on the rear of the horse, but fails
  46. Hit to head, leans numbly forward for a little while, then falls off
  47. Saddle comes off, knight has no chance
  48. Clings to the mane of the horse to get back up, but has to surrender afoot
  49. Gets splinters in face and eyes, takes a while before walking off the field
  50. Knight gracefully slides sideways out of saddle, ending up on knees and hands
  51. …you are welcome to suggest more…


Fumble is 1/20. For two knights that is almost 1/10. I think that is way to often for some kind of critical or disqualifying event. So this table is somewhat forgiving.

  1. Hit opponents horse, dealing normal damage. Disqualified
  2. Horse tries to get rid of rider, Horsemanship or fall off before impact
  3. Blinded (by dust, sun), and makes no proper attack attempt
  4. Horse tries to run off in another direction (roll horsemanship or disqualified)
  5. Too voilent charge, can not direct attack at all
  6. Lowers lance way too late
  7. Lowers lance way too early
  8. Horse stops suddenly, just before impact (horsemanship or fall off forward)
  9. About to hit opponents horse, throws lance on ground to save
  10. Cracked lance, not even an attempt
  11. Hesitating start, no power, easy target
  12. Lose grip of lance, trying to recover as it hits the ground (DEX or fall off)
  13. … you are welcome to suggest more…

Elemental Dice 1 – 3

There has been some Kickstarter projects under the name Elemental Dice. Backers get dice made of “pure” elements, well as pure as possible. When it comes to very valuable elements (like gold) the dice are just plated with pure gold.

The first 3 Elemental Dice projects contained 15 different elements:

I decided to weight them and present some stats:

Real (g/cm)
Dice Weight (g)Density
Actual (g/cm)

The side of the dice are 16mm. But there are cavities and roundings so their actual volume is slightly smaller.

The plated dice all weight 34-35g, and they probably have the same interior. Their weight is rather uninteresting.

When it comes to the “as pure as possible dice” most of them are more or less within the error margin of my 1g resolution scale. Iron (Fe) seems to be an alloy with something lighter and Zink (Zi) even more so.

As expected, Nickel (Ni) and Iron (Fe) seems to be magnetic.


2021-10-14: I wrote separate post about the two silver dice and questioned some of below conclusions.

Silver is a noble metal, but everyone who has owned silverware knows that it gets blackish after a while. After a while I had the feeling that my silver dice were the ones that had deteriorated the most since I received them. I happen to own silver dice: one solid and one that is just plated.

Today someone who should know told me: pure silver does not oxidize like that in air. I had a closer look at them, and decided to take a photo:

This has obviously been a gradual process. The one to the left is the oldest die and is plated. The left die actually is that much darker on its 6th face. Since they are next to each other you can see it is just not a light reflection phenomena. The dark corner on the right dice IS the left die being reflected though.

As you may be aware of, the 6th face is opposite to the AG-face. I have kept my Elemental Dice in the aluminium stands, with the 6th face downwards, in contact with the aluminium. As you can see on the 3rd face, the stain/oxidization is triangular, being larger on the side that has been more down in the aluminium stand. And on the 2nd face, you can see kind of a line where the dice has touched the aluminium.

I feel quite confident that there is a reaction between Al and Ag, and that the silver dice (or silver in general) should not be in contact with Aluminium at all.
Not so sure about this any more, see separate post liked above.

Also, the little “holes” in the left (non-solid) die have turned yellowish. I don’t think is an optical phenomena because it has not happend (yet) to the solid silver dice, and there is nothing yellowish about Pt, Pa, Rh.

I am considering to paint my Aluminium stands with clear nail polish. Any other ideas?

Cleaning it!

There is a very simple way of removing the tarnish: link. It just requires sodium bicarbonate and some aluminium foil. The result is amazing, and it is fun do to chemistry in your own kitchen! Basically the Aluminium metal is sacrificed (oxidized) to restore the Silver atoms from Silver Oxide (and perhaps Silver Sulphide) to metal form.


There is a new set of Elemental Dice 4 with 10 new dice coming. The most missed ones after that would be:

  • Gallium – with a melting point of 29C it poses some practical problems, but including a mold for it would be cool
  • Uranium (depleted) – export restrictions and perhaps someone clever can turn U238 into Pu239

Camera HDR vs Graduated ND filter

Sometimes when I take photos I have a rather dark ground and a rather light sky. The consequence is that the sky gets overexposed and the ground underexposed. There are remedies. HDR means digitally improving the image, often after taking several images with different exposure times. A gradeduated ND filter is a physical camera filter that is half completely transparant, and half greyish.

I have a Sony RX100Va and I decided to compare the two methods. When using HDR this camera produces two images: the original unprocessed and the HDR-improved one. So the first two columns below are produced in one shot. The third column is a separate shot, with the filter attached to the camera.

If you open the images in a new window/tab you get higher resolution.

No HDR, No Graduated filterHDR, No Graduated filterNo HDR, Graduated filter ND8

There is obviously a difference, and in the end it depends on what you want. I find that the HDR-feature of my RX100Va camera is not as powerful as a Graduated ND8 filter. However the filter goes from light to darker, while HDR is obviously can do its job even if it is not an horizon in the image (for example if you photograph into a dark window but also want the exterior). If you look at the tree of the top-right GND image, it is very dark in the top. The HD-images have a bit more vivid green, I don’t know if that is an advantage.

To attach a filter to my RX100 I bought a MAGFILTER. So far I am very happy. The filter used above is a 52mm URTH Graduated ND8.

Note (to self if nothing else): In Swedish Graduated is translated into Graduerat or Halvtonat.

Whisky Blind Tasting Log

I got some sample bottles from a good friend, labeled 1-9. So I will blind taste them and I was recommended to start with 1,2,3,5,8 (thats close to a Fibonnaci siries but I am quite sure that is a coincidence). #1 is supposed to be cask strength. Try them head to head, randomly first.

#2 vs #5: #2 is darker. #5 has a quite classic aroma, not so little bourbon and vanilla in it. Neither very peated or sweet. #2 is fruitier and if one would be sherry matured it is this one. #5 is a softer, more malty thing. #2 is a bit more raw (or that is how I experience the probably-sherry-character). I taste #2, yes it is very good, in my taste, much vanilla and oak, and not so soft in the mouth as I first thought: it both has a kick and is soft (I add a little water). #5 has a strong sherry character, but what a sherry character (!), it is fruity like raisins or cherries, rich and deep, soft and malty. Very good. I really like #5 (although it has a hint of surprising bitterness after #2), but the only reason to not let #2 win would be if I were an absolute sherry hater, and I am not. Victory to #2.

#1 vs #3: Quite similar in color, #1 is cask strength and #3 is perhaps slightly more red. These are not so obvious on the nose, classic almost subtle with no immediately dominating aromas. #3 is a bit more of oak and vanilla, #1 a light, somewhat fruity maltiness. I taste #1 (first without water) and it is an unusual whisky, I find coffee and stout (or porter) in it. Oh, #3 is nice, an elegant mix of classic malt and sherry, with a nicely lingering red fruitiness. Back to #1, I remain at this roasted somewhat sweet flavour. #3 wins.

So that leaves us with #2 and #3 winning, and #1 and #5 losing. Lets play the losers and winners before trying #4.

#1 vs #5: Similar color. A bit more vanilla and oak in the aroma of #5, #1 is harder to put words to. I like #1 now, classic but yes still with some coffee and stout. #5 is more soft, with more vanilla. I really like #5 and it wins.

#2 vs #3: #2 is darker. I ended up with the two sherry inspired whiskies in the final. Well, this is weird, #2 is a bit chlorine, like a swimming pool, but in a good way! #3 has a more rough sherry cask character. #2 has to me a close to perfect sherry whisky flavour, soft and well balanced, without the sherry dominating too much. #3 is good, but a bit more rough and raw, and perhaps with a hint of that sulphur (which I don’t find a trace of in #2). Victory to #2.

So at this point we have #2 in the top, followed by #3, #5 and #1. I pour up #8 and find it as dark as #2, and yes, it has a definite high quality sherry character. Lets play it against #3.

#3 vs #8: #8 is darker, and it has more powerful aroma. I think #8 may be a bit peated. On the nose I would think that #3 is the more safe choice, and #8 is the joker. Lets taste the joker. Not bad, it is definitely a sherry matured whisky, a but juicy – like fresh and sour. #3 is more malty, a bit more conservative, I prefer #3.

#5 vs #8: #5 is paler. On the nose, #5 is a much lighter, maltier more classic speyside-like whisky. #8 is more spectacular sherry. #5, very good soft bourbon flavour. #8 is more powerful, and obviously more sherry. I prefer #5.

#1 vs #8: #1 is paler, and cask strength. On the nose #8 is rich, sherry, peated (perhaps) and complex. #1 is rather anonymous and subtle. #1 starts with a quite classic malt flavour, ending with this coffee roast again. These are a bit different in character, yet similar in quality. I am not a sherry fan (although top 2 of 5 went to sherry so far), and there is some I don’t like about #8 and I find #1 more enjoyable.

Final list (best to worst – and with the actual names written out):

  1. #2 Bunnahabhain 1986-2010 Carn Mor
  2. #3 Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches
  3. #5 Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli
  4. #1 Bunnahabhain 1979-2000
  5. #8 Bunnahabhain 28 Statement

More tasting against other whiskies

(#2) Bunnahabhain 1986-2010 Carn Mor vs Bunnahabhain 21 Königsmann Oloroso: Königsmann is darker, and it has a very powerful fruity aroma. #2 is more subtle, balanced, classic malt here. Königsmann has a distinctive sherry character, rich sweet and complex. #2 is more balanced, not exactly subtle sherry but less dominant sherry. I prefer #2.

(#8) Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Bunnahabhain 21 Königsmann Oloroso: Königsmann is darker, with more fruit and bourbon (! – who would have thought) on the nose. #8 a bit dull here. First two very small sips, Königsmann feels like the richer more powerful whisky. #8 tastes a hint of peat, not so much sherry, and some unfortunate sulphur that I can’t forget or forgive. Königsmann has a more straight sherry influence, more fruity. It is actually very close, but I prefer Königsmann.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli vs Redbreast 15: Redbreast a bit darker. Not so little similarity in aroma, Redbreast has a little bit more raw bourbon character and Bunnahabhain seems slightly softer, fruitier. Bunnahabhain has a rich and complex flavour that lingers long, a bit salty, a bit bitter, not so little bourbon and oak. Redbreast is more immediately and powerful sweet bourbon, which is very nice, but then it fades quicker. These two dont quite improve each other, Bunnahabhain seems a bit dull and Redbreast a bit chemical. Bunnahabhain is definitely a more complex and complete whisky, with some unfortunate bitterness. Redbreast is much more simple, but it does its bourbon extremely well. I prefer Redbreast, but I understand if connaiseurs and enthusiasts find that crazy.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli vs Bushmills 16: Bushmills clearly darker. Bunnahabhain has a saltier and maltier aroma (you can feel the Islay/Sea-character, without the peat). Bushmills is sweeter, more chemical. I taste Bushmills, at first sweet, then sweeter, caramel, very soft. Bunnahabhain is saltier, maltier, and more bitter. Thinking I have very cheap and sweet preference, I lean towards Bushmills. I find Bunnahabhain more interesting than pleasant.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli vs Springbank 15 Rum PC#629: Springbank much paler to the eye, but to the nose much rougher. Bunnahabhain rather soft and balanced, Springbank actually a bit sulphur. Springbank tastes fantastic though, no sulphur really, salty and with a hidden sweetness from the rum. Bunnahabhain has a more dominant sweetness more in the front. Bunnahabhain is more complex, lingering nicer, and I prefer it.

Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Glengoyne 21: Very similar color, both rather dark. Glengoyne has a light, almost wine-like aroma, definitely dominated by a soft sherry character but I thought I found bourbon in there too (and reading the bottle I am wrong). Bunnahabhain not so different, a bit saltier, rougher and in-your-face sherry, but not so much. Bunnahabahin is the more sweet. Tasting Glengoyne, it is sweet, caramel, some dark fruits, soft nice and round. Bunnahabhain is saltier, rougher, and an unfortunate hint of sulphur. I add little water to it. Tasting both again, I prefer Glengoyne.

Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Longrow 13 Red: Both rather dark and reddish, Longrow stronger but adding water makes not so much difference. Not so different on the nose, Longrow is a bit rougher and saltier, perhaps more sulphur, and its “red” casks have given less sweetness than the sherry casks of Bunnahabhain. I take a small sip of both, Longrow has too much sulphur, like old margarine, and Bunnahabhain has more complexity and and variety. Bunnahabhain wins.

Bergslagen Two Hearts vs Bunnahabhain 28 Statement: Very similar color. There is something thin, sweet, fruity and unnatural about Bergslagen, where Bunnahabhain smells of old quality. I taste Bergslagen, and it does have some quality: reasonable compexity, some softness, sweetness that is easy to enjoy and quite an absense of unwanted flavours. Bunnahabhain is saltier, but with some unfortunate sulphur. However, with that sulphur in mind, Bergslagen is not so flawless after all, and I think Bunnahabhain wins a narrow victory.

Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Johnny Walker 18: Similar color, JW probably slightly paler. JW quite light, something mint/hay about its aroma, otherwise classic scotch and perhaps a hint of peat. Bunnahabhain fresher, fruitier, saltier. I taste Johnny Walker, and it is flawlessly soft and balanced and it remains fairly long in the mouth. No bones. Bunnahabhain is much more sherry, and with that comes the sulphur: it has a lot of quality, but I am not forgiving with Sulphur. I prefer Johnny Walker 18.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Glen Ord 18 (2019 Special Release): Much more color in Bunnahabhain. Glen Ord has a somewhat oily soily nose, but also fruity. Bunnahabhain strikes me as more sherry, those dark and red fruits. Glen Ord is classic, easy to enjoy, dry and a bit burnt in the mouth. Bunnahabhain has a more powerful aroma with an nice balance between sherry and malt. Glen Ord being a bit lighter, still has a comparable wealth of flavours. I have a simple flavour, not leaning towards sherry, and I prefer Glen Ord.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Macallan 1993-2013: Very similar color. Macallan is lighter, more maltier, a bit more caramel and soft fruits on the nose. Bunnahabhain is saltier, rougher with more sherry. Macallan tastes good, very soft and balanced, slightly bitter. Bunnahabhain is a saltier more powerful experience. Back to Macallan, a bit dull, not quite up to this. Bunnahabhain wins.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Highland Park 18 Viking Pride: Bunnahabhain perhaps slightly paler. Both has a bit salty and rough aroma, Highland Park a bit more oil, leather and peat (definitely), Bunnahabhain becomes a little in the shadow here, not quite matching HP in nose power. In the mouth the sherry of Bunnahabhain turns a bit sour, Highland park is very well balanced. I prefer Highland Park.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve: Similar color. Bunnahabhain has a more rough and salty aroma, Glenfiddich fresher and fruitier and some maltyness comes through more as well. Tasting Glenfiddich it is very soft, honeylike, malty with some fruitiness. Bunnahabhain is more rare, exquisite in flavour, but also more of an aqcuired taste. I can really see myself and other people prefer Glenfiddich but there is something thin and somple to it side by side with this Bunnahabhain, so I will let Bunnahabhain win.

Bunnahabhain 1979-2000 vs Macallan 1993-2013: Bunnahabhain slightly paler. Macallan has a light fruitiness, with some maltiness. Bunnahabhain rougher, sweeter and saltier. Both have a sherry origin but quite different. Macallan is malty and nice, caramel, a bit nutty. Now there is much more raw sherry character to Bunnahabhain and I add water to it since it is cask strength. Bunnahabhain gets softer with water. Very similar quality, quite quite different character. Macallan is good but it is missing something to me, Bunnahabhain does its thing more straight. So it is a narrow victory to Bunnahabhain.

Bunnahabhain 1979-2000 vs Glengoyne 21: Glengoyne is darker in color. Bunnahabhain has a more mellow, subtle aroma. Glengoyne is more fruity sherry. Bunnahabhain has a classic malty salty whisky flavour. Glengoyne is more on the fruity side, a bit lighter. Some hint of peat in Bunnahabhain. I prefer Bunnahabhain to Glengoyne.

Bunnahabhain 1979-2000 vs Dufftown 18: Dufftown is darker. Very similar aroma, Dufftown is perhaps a bit more spicy and Bunnahabhain a bit heavier (yet not more powerful). Dufftown has a fine rather dry malt flavour. Bunnahabhain is richer, slightly sweeter, and I prefer Bunnahabhain.

Bunnahabhain 1979-2000 vs Johnny Walker Blue Label: Johnny Walker is much darker, and with a more peated nose. Bunnahabhain is more light and fresh. JW is very soft yet peated. Bunnahabhain a bit more sharp, raw yet more pure and distinct. Blue Label is a bit sour. I prefer Bunnahabhain.

The Others

I also got #4, #6 and #7 to blind taste.

  • #4 is Bunnahabhain 2001-2020 Elexir (WB158992)

#4 vs Glengoyne 21: Color is very similar, golden/amber medium dark. On the nose, #4 is a bit more sweet and creamy, Glengoyne a bit more fresh/sour sherry notes. After a few minutes Glengoyne has a more definite Sherry character and #4 is… more like a sweeter wine than Sherry. Perhaps different types of sherry casks. #4 is supposed to be cask strength so I splash some water. Glengoyne tastes fine, but rather thin for what I could expect from a 21YO. Balanced sherry thought, that is good. #4 is sweeter in the mouth than Glengoyne and has a nice taste with a subtle hint of sulphur (perhaps – no it does not). There is nothing wrong with Glengoyne, well, there is a slight metallic taste lingering I think, and it really offers me nothing extra. It is a perfect whisky for people who dont want too much flavour and who are in to very delicate whiskies. Not interesting enough for me. #4 is really soft, it makes me think of both bourbon and sherry. #4 wins.

#4 vs Bushmills 21: Quite similar color, Bushmills is slightly darker after adding water to the strong #4. Bushmills has a soft sweet fruit aroma. #4 is a bit more classic, I would say more bourbon. Both are soft and rich, but Bushmills is the more Irish-soft and #4 feels a bit more Scotland-dry. Bushmills tastes amazing, so long lingering fruity flavour, almost not whisky. #4 is a bit more straight – it does not have that wide palette of flavours and it does not linger so long, but it is also flawless. But the quite special Bushmills 21 wins.

#4 vs Longmorn 16: I find Longmorn more pale and greenish in color. Quite similar aroma here, Longmorn is a bit less sweet and #4 a bit heavier. Longmorn is very well balanced in the mouth, the sweet and fruit does not dominate. #4 tastes more like heavy sherry flavour, but not at all too much. Longmorn is more a mix of classic speyside and bourbon. I find bourbon notes in #4 also though. This is about to come down to preference rather than quality. Longmorn feels more delicately crafted, #4 has more raw character. I often prefer more dry whisky to more sweet and sherry-tasting whisky and this Longmorn 16 is a bit of a favourite, but #4 is better.

#4 vs Bushmills 16: Very similar color. Bushmills has a hint of mint or grass on the nose (reminds me of younger Bushmills). #4 is more solid and sweet. Bushmills has a soft nice fruity flavour (quite unlike younger Bushmills). #4 has a more single-minded powerful taste. I put both to my nose, and none of them benefit from being compared to the other. I was about to conclude that I like the smell of #4 better, but the taste of Bushmills better. But I change my mind and find #4 simply better.

Wilesco D10 Review & Notes

I have owned a Wilesco D10 model steam engine since many years. Last days I gave it a few runs and I will write a few words about it.

In short conclusion I think it is great. It has a nicer cylinder than the budget D5/D6 models, and it is the real deal. I have never had any issues with my D10. However, there are some things that other more advanced models might have, that I actually miss.

Water Tray

This is actually my biggest complain or concern with the D10. There is a small red water tray around the cylinder. It gets full. Water ends up everywhere. The D24 has a removable tray to the side. The D20 has some solution. I believe perhaps a newer D10 also has some condense water tray. I like to run gentle and slowly and then the steam is probably less hot when it comes out, giving more condensed water than if running more aggressively.


I am pretty careful and I find the idea that the boiler should explode quite creepy. Some models have a manometer so you can follow the pressure in the boiler. That is nice.

Steam Regulator

Some models come with a Steam Regulator so you can adjust the speed of the engine. That is nice – especially together with a manometer. What does work on the D10 is to move the burner slides slightly in and out, which changes the amount of oxygen for the fuel, and this quite quickly regulates the steam pressure.

Water Drain Valve

It is quite nice and civilized to have a water drain valve. My D10 does not. I either need to turn the machine upside down to empty it, or use a little hose to suck out the remaining water.

Reqired water level

This is with 4g Esbit fuel tablets.

Four fuel tablets: I would fill up the boiler to the top of the glass. However, I think operation is a bit to aggressive with 4 tablets and I avoid it.

Three fuel tablets: I have found that with three tablets, about half of the water in the boiler can boil away, so you should fill above half full. If you start with more water more fuel with will be wasted to just start up.

Two fuel tablets: For a gentle run two fuel tablets placed on top of each other in the middle, and slightly less than half full boiler, seems to be a good start. To me, this is the preferred mode of operation. The condense water is mostly contained in my little red tray.

One fuel tablet: For a very gentle run a single fuel tablet placed in the middle, and somewhat less than half full boiler works fine.

Starting up

When starting up it is easy to get a high pressure, and at first the steam pipes are cold and gets full of condensed water. So I start with the whistle open, and when steam starts coming out of it I close it and run the wheel manually until the engine starts.

Adjusting Speed

Despite there is not steam valve, moving the burner slider slightly changes the amount of oxygen available and you can quite control the power and speed of the engine.