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 New Realmslore search tool: Ask Valhaeria

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 12 Nov 2022 : 00:02:53
Hey, guys, I've been working on and off for a year now on a tool to find Realmslore quickly. We've been using a prototype at the wiki, it's been invaluable. If anyone wants to take a look, it's here at

https://askvalhaeria.com

Basically, you input a subject and it tries to find matches in existing sources. The database on Ask Valhaeria so far only includes web sources that were put out for free by Wizards or TSR, so it shouldn't step on any legal toes. I might add search data for other books to that database later; the database doesn't actually store the books, it only stores searches it has already made inside the books, so it shouldn't be anywhere near infringement.

Right now it's ugly as sin, I've been putting off a migration and redesign. But I could really use some feedback, if anyone has two cents to share about it. Next I gotta change the way it shows links so it's a little more user friendly, and then make all of the webpage way, way prettier.

It has other functions, too: if you click "ZOOM" on a source, it allows you to restrict your searches to that source alone. That allows us at the wiki to find where in a book a specific word or sequence shows up without having to sift through the whole book by hand. It allows for multiple queries separated by bullet points, so that we can copypaste straight off the wiki. The last function it has is a plagiarism search. It finds matches for longer sequences (minimum 5 or so words), allowing us to catch plagiarism in the wiki in a blink (as it exposes us to legal action, it's central we don't let it exist for long!).

I've been wondering what else I could add to Valhaeria to make it more useful, but in the meantime, I got told you peeps would enjoy it. So I figured I'd show ya.
30   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 26 Aug 2023 : 13:38:35
Hey uh, had to shutter it down for a bit... there were some security concerns I couldn't afford to ignore any longer.

But when we're back I'll be adding the Patreon stuff and update Twitter/Discord. I've already gotten in touch with someone who has access to the Patreon, we've found a compromise that allows me to do the Patreon work without needing access to the Patreon files.

After this it's just a matter of regular updates or maybe adding the video games.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 31 Jul 2023 : 23:44:58
Added podcasts from Ed's Mages & Sages on Youtube, transcribed by Youtube's autotranscriber, to the database. Some were not transcribed and I hardly trust the transcriptions myself, but it's something.

Now only videogames and the Patreon are yet missing.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 20 Jul 2023 : 23:41:42
The database was rebuilt BTW. We've got it all, baby!

I'm working with someone who has access to Patreon, I'll have to look at ways to get those things to the database without me reading them. That might be a panino's.
Other things I'll have to work on sucking into the database are podcasts, which need me to transcribe them, and videogames, which will require bespoke coding to make sure we don't miss a spot.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 03 Jul 2023 : 22:48:48
Updated the DB. We've tweets and Grotto up to the 18th of June now, I think.

EDIT:

...and the error persists. I have borked half the DL links.
I'll have to rebuild. Again. Oh well.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 01 Jul 2023 : 02:47:29
Twitter did something vile, and shut off all access to people not logged in; that's bound to break my scraper.
I got permission to feed patreon data to Ask Valhaeria, on the bright side. The next update should improve things in a major way.
I have yet to get serious and feed it the old podcasts, or videogame contents.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 20 Jun 2023 : 18:24:16
I accidentally damaged the canary database and so there won't be an update to the DB, but I made an update to the GUI. It has now year-specific search, and a second field for special keywords, which persist after reload. This should make it way more efficient and less agonizing to make big searches.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 17 Jun 2023 : 23:32:37
Heh, this is embarassing, but I found a chunk of things I mistakenly kept out of the database. About 500 downloads' worth. I've gotten those, handled the easter eggs from 2107 that kept blowing up my scheme, improved column sorting. Still gotta pin down Realmswatch as a category, catch Personality Spotlight... after that I'll be done for good with 3e stuff, I think. Then it'll be time to set my sights unto patreon, podcasts, videogames.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 03 Jun 2023 : 21:48:12
Alright! New version up. Changed the way it digests text, added Dragon+, and improved web coverage. We're close to 100% collection!
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 29 May 2023 : 23:46:17
That's fair. I haven't gotten to the videogames yet, just their manuals. In time, I want to datamine every videogame, to ensure we've scraped every single last thread of content ever put out.

Nonetheless, being somewhere in a wiki doesn't absolve Valhaeria of the task to carry something- it isn't just for stuff we haven't looked at, but also for stuff we might need to look at again in due time, and for stuff we don't ever care about.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 29 May 2023 : 22:00:39
Ah, okay.

I believe most of what was listed in the Candlekeep Collection article is already listed in the wiki; I not long ago compiled the Collection list, the wiki list, and a list I'd gotten from Krash, so I could have my own list of in-setting published books. When I made my list, though, I excised from it the wiki entries that came from the video games, because of the prior stance that video games were not canon unless the events were canonized in published Realmslore.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 28 May 2023 : 19:51:34
My apologies, I meant the Candlekeep Collection column. My mass-loading script missed that one.

https://web.archive.org/web/20090604094848/http://www.wizards.com/forgottenrealms/FR_20001129b_P.asp
Wooly Rupert Posted - 28 May 2023 : 18:33:01
quote:
Originally posted by Italian Archmage Karsus

Next update coming tomorrow or so- I'm gonna fix an important oversight, somehow I missed the Candlekeep Compendium, and a bunch of other things. Inexcusable! I hope this is the last time that I have to adapt my project to capture literally every column.



Do keep in mind that was a fan project, with a lot of stuff pulled out of thin air. There's some really good material in there, some that is questionable at best, and pretty much nothing actually canonical.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 28 May 2023 : 03:33:54
Next update coming tomorrow or so- I'm gonna fix an important oversight, somehow I missed the Candlekeep Compendium, and a bunch of other things. Inexcusable! I hope this is the last time that I have to adapt my project to capture literally every column.

Not much left past this point- I haven't gotten to the Patreon posts or the podcasts yet. That'll be left for next time, alongside a few minor fixes, such as Volo's Guide to Euro Copyright, the column from Year 2107, and more descriptive names for more columns. Oh yeah, and the videogames- those are a panini to sift without playing 'em. Gotta ensure we get all of them!

I should also add a warning for game content- "This website cannot tell information that is included from that which is dummied out, nor does it care."
Gary Dallison Posted - 07 May 2023 : 16:00:28
There is a program I found that allows you to read everything out of the dB of an infinity engine game, but the data is all over the place
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 07 May 2023 : 14:04:19
Well, now that's an enticing offer! I may take you up on that later, with the items, if I can't devise another way to do it. These systems I've devised require me to be quite particular about sources, to say the least, and I have yet to squeeze anything about games into this thing. Besides, there's still podcasts, which are comparatively easy but I've been remiss on.

Gamemaker Studio is supposedly free, too, so long as you don't bother publishing to any major platforms. I've already trained myself with it, so I couldn't really be of any help to you in Godot, I'm afraid. But for system-agnostic matters such as sprite sheets, we should be able to share resources, I suppose! Just not right now. I've been remiss on IRL stuff and there's no way I get away with that for any longer.
Gary Dallison Posted - 07 May 2023 : 07:05:02
If you fancy buddying up on videogsme development then give me a shout.

I'd recommend looking at godot, it's free, quite advanced and is designed for 2d games.

I already have the text of the magic items from the infinity engine games if you want them. They are pulled from the dB so there Is a lot of duplication and unused data that I haven't bothered to remove.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 07 May 2023 : 00:46:43
Gary, by "grotto posts" I mean Discord messages from Greenwood's Grotto.

"Videogames will go unsifted" means I will not get into disassembling the Forgotten Realms games to add all the text from them to the database. For some games such as Pool of Radiance it would be unneeded; for some text-heavy ones such as Baldur's Gate, scanning the manuals alone is almost pointless. Making videogames is a separate project, unrelated to Ask Valhaeria.

But yeah, I do kinda make one game someday, maybe a sidescroller on Gamemaker Studio 2.0, where we can blast things as Maxiladanarr Torstren, the guy on the cover of FR4 and Eye of the Beholder II.
Gary Dallison Posted - 06 May 2023 : 19:59:55
What are grotto posts?

Oh and what videogame are you thinking of making and with what technology / engine. Its something i always wanted to do, even got as far as making a loading screen and a sprite character for Godot, but doing stuff on your own is hard, and videogame programmer can be like running into a brick wall at times.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 06 May 2023 : 14:00:23
Yeah... I misspelled Valhalaeria. Happens if you read too fast I guess. And yeah, the joke is precisely that it's Volo, a bad source for everything.
Athreeren Posted - 05 May 2023 : 16:53:14
Where does the name "Valhaeria" come from? Surely not from Valhalaeria the Vaunted? I know Volo is (for better or for worst) one of the most prolific sources on the Realms, but that might not be the most appropriate of his pen names for such a great endeavour...
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 26 Apr 2023 : 03:07:11
OK, a new update's coming. I think after this one there ain't much more I can toss in the database, it'll have just about all the things. Next update, I'm going to throw in videogame manuals (handled already), the latest tweets (handled already), look at podcasts (not yet begun) and Grotto posts (neither); I think that's all the free stuff online. The videogames themselves will go unsifted- that's a way, much taller order.

There's also going to be some other stuff, but that's all going to be internal use for the wiki. And I need to update the About page to reflect some more extensive crediting of the people who helped me to get to this point. <3

Man, when I'm done with this thing I'll sleep like the dead. And maybe gather some courage and make an actual videogame.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 15 Apr 2023 : 00:24:31
quote:
Originally posted by Athreeren

The Mages and Sages podcast can dump lore at high speed, and there is of course no way Youtube's automated subtitles can properly spell the names of the uncommon locations mentioned by the sages. Ask Valhaeria has been very useful for this, and I'm wondering how I can improve my search process: can I include joker characters, or characters that could be one of a few possibilities?



That was an idea I had, in fact. Those are publicly available, if I can just snag the podcast transcripts from Google CC, correct them by hand (shouldn't take THAT long) and then squeeze them into Valhaeria, with auto-link-handlers, that should take care of it.

I don't really see a way in which joker characters can work in Valhaeria, but I can take it into advisement for future updates, I think. I'll google it I guess.

Sleyvas, I have no plans to integrate ChatGPT into this thing. Even in the best case scenario, all ChatGPT does is pad things into essay form. I want things as small as possible, so that our reading for wiki writing is sped up; ChatGPT would slow us down at best, mislead us at worst, and compete with us in any event.
sleyvas Posted - 14 Apr 2023 : 21:53:48
Oh, interesting, so some have played with the idea. I'd probably be interested to see how it does finding obscure lore... but then I guess that might not be much better than doing a google.
Karthak Posted - 13 Apr 2023 : 22:51:50
Probably ask in So does not say Ed, they were playing with ChatGPT.

http://candlekeep.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24598
sleyvas Posted - 13 Apr 2023 : 14:15:08
just wondering... has anyone asked something like ChatGPT yet to "write a report about Khelben Arunsun" or "make a list of known harpers from the forgotten realms". I've seen the news going on and on about this AI, but I've yet to setup an account (there is a portion of me that loathes the idea of making an account with them).
Athreeren Posted - 12 Apr 2023 : 12:14:50
The Mages and Sages podcast can dump lore at high speed, and there is of course no way Youtube's automated subtitles can properly spell the names of the uncommon locations mentioned by the sages. Ask Valhaeria has been very useful for this, and I'm wondering how I can improve my search process: can I include joker characters, or characters that could be one of a few possibilities?
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 25 Mar 2023 : 23:04:01
Stuck in another database, hopefully with less Star Wars and Neopets and Harry Potter and other bycatch. Just enough to let us check for crossovers and inspirations, I hope!

Also added a LIBRARY view. It will let you know exactly what we've got in the base. Please don't abuse it! It's still a lot of results involved in it, and may be a wee slow for your connection.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 19 Mar 2023 : 02:54:40
Alright. Added a thousand and change sources to the database. It's getting pretty complete... If anything it is somewhat overfilled, some of them turned out to have failed to display links correctly and some others just don't belong.

It will take some time to go the rest of the way. There are about 70 columns missing about 310 articles and i didn't want tbem in the DB yet. I will try to stick those in next update. See you 'till then!
Ayrik Posted - 17 Mar 2023 : 23:08:00
That is much better, I can read it in the dark, I can read it in sunlight. Thank you.
Italian Archmage Karsus Posted - 17 Mar 2023 : 22:31:04
Alright! Lightened up lonk colors. I hope this will be more forgiving on your eyes, going forward.

Thanks for the feedback! Please let me know how it is right now!

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