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D&D’s revamped RPG companion site is live

Back in March, Wizards of the Coast announced a new digital toolset for Dungeons & Dragons that would eliminate the agony of paperwork in the pen-and-paper game. Players can still gather around a table and roll their own dice, but the web-based D&D Beyond will handle all their characters’ stats, skills and modifiers to streamline play. Today, the toolset is available for everyone with both free and paid tiers. Time to assemble a party, adventurers.

When we peeked into D&D Beyond, we liked what we saw: Finally, you can parse through the game’s Fifth Edition rulebooks and search for particular terms, which is a godsend for anyone who’s gotten lost in the official tomes. The step-by-step character creation process is great for players new and old, especially since you can fold in your own homebrew rules.

Best of all, you can use D&D Beyond without paying a dime — though there are benefits to subscribing. The ad-supported free tier grants most of the service’s features including the full site tools and access to the community forums, though it caps users at a 6-character roster. For $3 per month, the first paid option gives unlimited characters and allows users to load public fan-made content (spells, monsters and the like). The pricier $6 tier is for more serious party-forming players and dungeon masters, granting them bonus official materials.

While it’s currently only on the web, Wizards plans to expand D&D Beyond to mobile apps for an even more manageable experience. While the ultimate goal is to fully transition the game’s manuals and documents to digital platforms like D&D Beyond, they’ll keep printing books so long as the demand exists. After all, there’s nothing like cracking open your heavily-tabbed Monster’s Manual to find the next beast you’ll throw at your unwitting party…

Source: D&D Beyond

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick