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Improved Fallout EK comes back after short hiatus

Malwarebytes - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 19:51

After a short hiatus in early January, the Fallout exploit kit is back in business again with some new features for the new year. During its absence, we noticed an increase in RIG EK campaigns, perhaps to fill that temporary void.

Fallout EK is distributed via malvertising chains (one of them we track under the name HookAds), especially through adult traffic. Since January 15, Fallout EK activity has been picking up pace again to deliver the GandCrab ransomware.

The revised Fallout EK boasts several new features, including integration of the most recent Flash Player exploit. Security researcher Kafeine identified that Fallout is now the second exploit kit to add CVE-2018-15982.

Fallout EK 2019 highlights:
  • HTTPS support
  • New landing page format
  • New Flash exploit (CVE-2018-15982)
  • Powershell to run payload

One aspect that caught our attention was how Fallout was delivering its payload via Powershell rather than using iexplore.exe. This was also mentioned in the EK developer’s advert reposted by Kafeine on his site.

The Base64 encoded Powershell command calls out the payload URL and loads it in its own way:

This technique is most likely an attempt at evasion, as traditionally we’d expect the Internet Explorer process to drop the payload.

What this new development tells us is that exploit kit developers are still monitoring the scene for new exploits and techniques. In 2018, several zero-days for Internet Explorer and Flash Player were found and turned into easily adaptable proof of concepts. Even though the market share for IE and Flash continues to drop, there are many countries still running older systems where the default browser is Internet Explorer. Therefore, threat actors will take advantage.

Malwarebytes users are already protected against this updated Fallout EK.

Indicators of Compromise 185.56.233[.]186,advancedfeed[.]pro,HookAds Campaign 51.15.35[.]154,payformyattention[.]site,Fallout EK

The post Improved Fallout EK comes back after short hiatus appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part V)

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 14:00
Robber’s Bridge Concept Map (v3) by D. Koch

Hello friends!

If you’re new to this series, we’re collaboratively developing a short Torchbearer adventure.

If you need to catch up:

Last week we took a look at a concept map from Mordite Press developer D. Koch. Above Koch has provided an updated map adjusted for many of the things we discussed. You’ll note that the break in the bridge has been enlarged and the Middle Tower now has a portcullis on either side with murder holes that could be used against attackers trying to pass through. There’s also a stairway on the southern side of the Middle Tower that grants access to the upper levels of the tower.

There are still a few issues that I need your help to address, but first I want to circle back to some of the questions raised in Part III. The suggestions are below. What do you think about them? Which ones do you like or not like? Do they suggest any additional ideas to you?

How have the inhabitants altered the location to serve their needs?

A shrine to the Lords of Valor and Terror. The Bjorning cleric and wizard have affixed an idol of their Lords to the fireplace mantel of the top-most room in the tower. They have built up this elaborate ceremonial chamber. It would be where the buckle1See Part III for more on the buckle. is kept hidden (separate from the other loot). The irony would be this idol is very valuable and could serve to turn the tables or provide an additional bargaining chip for cut-throat hobo parties.

What traps or terrain features make navigating the adventure location difficult?

Here are the ideas you suggested:

  1. Boiling oil tripwire trap above the stairs and main entrance.
  2. A magical rune ward on the treasure vault.
  3. A covered-up Pit trap. Thin stone, like shale, cover up a pit that falls into the river or into the lower levels.
  4. Not a “trap” per se, but I had an idea for a possible twist for when the adventurers try and access the secret passage. The idea of the captive nykr immediately made me wonder what’s moved into the river since the nykr has gone missing: After years of the nykr’s absence, those souls that it lured to watery graves with its enchanting melodies have grown restless and long for the nykr’s song to soothe them back to slumber. They are cursed to not be able to leave their river tomb, but will grab at anyone they find within the water, moaning horrifying atonal dirges to try and get their victim to restart the song.
Additional Thoughts
  1. What if the nykr is not trapped? What if, through its shapeshifting powers, it is actually running the show with the Bjornings. The nykr enchanted and entranced the raiders with its music and they are doing its bidding.
  2. Or another idea, and perhaps better yet, maybe the raiders know about it but have not contacted it yet. They are digging it out and trying to get to it (this could explain why they are distracted when the party enters). The have heard its haunting music and want a favor for freeing it. The Bjorning raider cleric believes that if they can offer a sacrifice to it, they can learn its power and its songs — which might give them more motivation to stick around the tower.
Why is the tollgate in ruins?

Now on to some questions from last week’s post. Here’s what you suggested:

  1. Can we connect it to the Bjornings and the nykr somehow? There could be clues that the tower fell recently (the raiders are still clearing away the debris, townsfolk along the road talking about the tower falling). All of this could have happened within the last few months, but it had something to do with the Bjornings and the Nykr. Perhaps there was a group of Bjornings that came out here first, but they mysteriously disappeared. This second group of raiders is continuing the mission against the Gott and also trying to discover what happened to the other group (thinking them killed by the Gotts). This would play off the theme of “power.”
  2. On the other hand, I do like the idea of the Black Wyrm. I can imagine it swooping down and pushing on the tower with its hind legs. This would connect the theme of history repeating itself (the conquerors become the conquered).
What is the state of the tollgate now?

The Bjornings have cleared away enough of the debris to salvage the lower gatehouse of the southern hightower. They have a makeshift roof of tied-together blankets that keeps the snow off of the supplies inside the room. They use it for extra storage and non-essential items.

How do the Bjorning raiders cross to the north bank?

The Bjornings have created a crude rope bridge to cross the gap caused by the ruined bridge that serves as a secondary defense mechanism of sorts. A detail known to the Bjornings, the bridge can hold no more than two men at a time, or little more than one man with a full pack. To help with the burden of more successful raids, the bandits have installed a net on a secondary rope line above the bridge, which can be pulled to either side of the bridge with pulleys hooked to the wooden pillars the rope is bolted to. The line is able to hold significantly more weight than the bridge itself.

The bridge is firmly staked on the northern side of the gap, but on the opposite end is only knotted to a wooden beam at two points to allow for quick collapse in case of emergencies. Easily missed is a smaller, thinner cord attached to the last board on the southern side of the bridge that serves as a means to pull the bridge back up after it has been disconnected rather than having to rebuild the bridge from scratch. This has lead to many a Bjorning to return from a raid on the northern bank only to find themselves offering trinkets or an extra turn fetching firewood to a watchman who has disconnected the bridge on the other side.

The Secret Bit

One thing we haven’t figured out yet is the hidden entrance in the Middle Tower that leads to the lower part of the tower and the underwater passage to the nykr’s prison (area 9). Where is it? What does it look like? How is it hidden? How does it work?

Provide feedback

So what do you think? What works for you? What doesn’t? Give me your suggestions and critiques. New ideas are welcome too! In the next Robber’s Bridge installment we’re going to nail these details down and start thinking about what the various players want.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Early Tropes, Eggs and Raising Young Monsters

Hack & Slash - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 13:00
From the very beginning of Dungeons and Dragons, Pokemon was a thing. Not only was Charm Person and Monster often used to fill out ranks for henchmen, many beasts were found and raised. You can see early thoughts on this from Gygax, on Page 50 of the Dungeon Masters Guide.

"Griffons are often nasty and bad-tempered. If captured when very young and trained, however, they can become fiercely loyal mounts. Their loyalty is non-transferable once fixed, so they must be disciplined and trained solely by the intended rider. The griffon must be trained and exercised by its owner on a fairly regular basis while it is a fledgling (up to age six months) in order to accustom it to his or her presence and the bridle, blanket, saddle, etc. When the griffon is half-grown a period of intensive training must begin, which will last at least four months. The daily routine must never be broken for more than two days, or the griffon's wild nature will assert itself and all progress will be lost. After two months of this intensive training, it will be possible to begin to fly the griffon. This will be a period of training for mount and owner alike, as the rider must learn how to deal with a new dimension, And he will probably have no teacher but himself. Imagine the confusing tumult of giant wings, the rush of air, the sudden changes in altitude, and you will realize why an inexperienced rider absolutely cannot handle a flying mount.
Griffons, like all large flying creatures, eat enormous amounts of food, especially after prolonged aviation. Moreover, they are carnivores, and thus very expensive to feed. Care and keeping of a griffon will be a constant strain on the largest treasure hoard. Costs will probably run in the area of 300-600 g.p. per month. It will require special quarters, at least three grooms and keepers, and occasionally an entire horse for dinner (diet will differ, but similar arrangements must be made for all flying mounts).
Hippogriffs are not so difficult to train os griffons, but neither are they as dependable in a pinch. A  training process basically similar to that previously described will be necessary, though occasionally an animal trainer con substitute for the master for short periods if he or she is tied up elsewhere. Once broken, hippogriffs may possibly serve more than one master. They are omnivores, and thus somewhat less expensive to
feed thon griffons.
Pegasi are greatly valued for their speed, which makes them virtually the fastest things in the air. Their training is o long process similar in many respects to thot of griffons." -Gary Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide
Obviously this was an issue that came up repeatedly, and Gygax developed the following procedures to train animals.

One of the formative experiences of Dungeons and Dragons are the challenges with taking a monster, enemy or opponent, and turning them to your ends. As with most challenges to get creatures to change their inner nature, it is astoundingly difficult, and requires a bond on top of the serious commitment maintained above. The animal must be socialized till adolescence, and then intensively trained for months.

The general consensus about Animal Friendship and the limits of animal training are subjective and should be worked out between the Dungeon Master and the player, keeping in mind the animals intelligence and alignment. And it will come up, with unicorns, flying creatures as above, or even minanimals from the Monster Manual II.
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Abhumans [ICONS]

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 12:00
Art by Agus CalcagnoABHUMANS
First Appearance: FANTASTIC TALES #56

History:
The Abhumans are a hidden human subspecies created around two hundred thousand years ago as a result of exposure to an accidental dumping of Otherworldly toxic waste. An archaic human tribe was genetically altered by the wastes, developing superhuman abilities and extended lifespans.  Certain traits common among them—such as severe allergies to iron and silver and sunlight sensitivity—led them to a more nocturnal and subterranean lifestyle, further separating them from the rest of humanity. Brief encounters with these hidden folk gave rise to legends of fairies, trolls, dwarfs and the like among primitive humans.

By the end of the European Middle Ages, a group of Abhumans decided to withdraw as far as possible from human civilization. They trekked into the Arctic where they discovered an abandoned city that appeared to be made of ice. This was the former domain of another offshoot of humanity, the Hyperboreans, whose civilization had fallen into decadence, then died out. The Abhumans took refuge in the abandoned city and made it their own.

In 1950, the Abhumans discovered young Arno Kaltmann (see Frozen Führer) in the Arctic after his escape from the custody of the United States government. Kaltmann had been genetically modified through use of Hyperborean technology and was adapted to extreme cold. Curious, the Abhumans took him back to their city and nursed him back to health.

When Kaltmann’s link to the Hyperboreans was discovered, a group of disaffected Abhumans (who believed they were heirs to the Hyperboreans and destined to plunge the world into a new Ice Age) came to view him as a messiah-like figure. Aided by power-hungry members of the Abhuman elite, the cultists staged a coup and installed Kaltmann as their ruler, though in fact, he was mostly a figurehead.

The previous monarchs, King Oberon and Queen Titania were forced to flee with their close allies the trickster Hobgoblin, the dwarf engineer Brokk, and the lumbering gnome, Kobold. Later, with the help of the Kingdom of Sub-Atlan the exiles were able to establish an underground community beneath the British Isles with other Abhuman refugees. Though Kaltmann, as the Frozen Führer, has been defeated and imprisoned at various times, his adherents still maintain power over the Hyperborean Abhumans.

KING OBERONAbilities:Prowess: 3Coordination: 4Strength: 4Intellect: 6Awareness: 7Willpower: 7
Stamina: 11Determination: 1Specialties: Leadership, Occult Expert, Magic Expert
Qualities:Abhuman Leader in ExileMore Scholar than Warrior
Powers:Magic (Extras: Blast, Force Field, Illusions, Phasing): 7
Telepathy: 6
Nullification (Magic Only): 7

The Advanced Persistent Threat files: APT10

Malwarebytes - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 17:00

We’ve heard a lot about Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) over the past few years. As a refresher, APTs are prolonged, aimed attacks on specific targets with the intention to compromise their systems and gain information from or about that target. While the targets may be anyone or anything—a person, business, or other organization—APTs are often associated with government or military operations, as they tend to be the organizations with the resources necessary to conduct such an attack. Starting with Mandiant’s APT1 report in 2013, there’s been a continuous stream of exposure of nation-state hacking at scale.

Cybersecurity companies have gotten relatively good at observing and analyzing the tools and tactics of nation-state threat actors; they’re less good at placing these actions in context sufficient enough for defenders to make solid risk assessments. So we’re going to take a look at a few APT groups from a broader perspective and see how they fit into the larger threat landscape.

Today, we’re beginning with APT10. (Note: These groups have a panoply of different names, but for simplicity’s sake, we’re going to borrow Mandiant’s naming conventions for Chinese groups.)

Who is APT10?

First observed in 2009, APT10 is most commonly attributed via open source research to the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS). MSS attacks are typically, but not limited to: intelligence targets surrounding trade negotiations, research and development in competition with Chinese commercial entities, and high value counter intelligence targets overseas. As an example of a trade negotiation op, Fidelis Security observed a watering hole attack in February 2017 targeting members of the National Foreign Trade Council, a US trade lobby group.

A commonly-used tool of APT10 is Scanbox, which is a form of malware that can offer insights into their targeting priorities. Scanbox has been observed on assorted industrial sector targets in the US and Japan, but also on Uighur dissidents overseas. While this supports the thesis of APT10 being a government threat group, we caution defenders against associating any one piece of malware exclusively with one group. Countries maintain multiple threat groups, all of whom are fully capable of collaborating and sharing TTPs.

Malware commonly deployed

APT10 is known for deploying the following malware:

Note: PlugX and Poison Ivy were originally developed and deployed by Chinese state-sponsored actors. They have since been sold and resold to individual threat actors across multiple nations. At time of writing, it is inappropriate to attribute an attack to Chinese threat actors based on PlugX or Poison Ivy deployment alone.

Should you be worried?

That depends on the type of organization you run. APT10 has been observed to most commonly target construction, engineering, aerospace, and regional telecoms, as well as traditional government targets. If your company exists outside these verticals, it’s unlikely that APT10 would expend the time and resources to target you. For companies outside the targeting profile, it’s much more cost effective to spend defense budgets on common vulnerabilities that are most leveraged by common attackers.

What might they do next?

Like most APTs, APT10 has traditionally targeted at scale when attacking commercial enterprise. However, a more recent report by Price Waterhouse Cooper and BAE Systems suggests that they’ve begin devoting a portion of their operations to targeting Managed Service Providers (MSPs), most likely in an attempt to exfiltrate sensitive client data. Given that there’s been increasing awareness of advanced threats by high-value targets, continuing to target MSPs in this way is a plausible means of obtaining the same desired data at a lesser cost.

Further resources

If you’d like to do some additional reading on APTs, and specifically APT10, take a look at the following resources:

FireEye’s APT10 profile

Dark Reading article: China-based threat actor APT10 ramps up cyber espionage activity

PwC’s brief on Operation Cloud Hopper (APT10 campaign)

The post The Advanced Persistent Threat files: APT10 appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

On Brothers of Battle

Hack & Slash - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 13:00
It's so good, it's like a snow globe made of murder hobos and horrific violence. It's an abstract tactical puzzle, where if you are smart, tactics will beat numbers and arms.

After a short tutorial battle, you are set loose upon a randomly generated world and can do what you want. Ally with a noble house, rob caravans, explore the unknown.

Your troops gain levels, and you improve them selectively. After the first hours of play you start to realize you can build them for specific roles—dagger assassin stabbing men to death in their heavy armor, nimble duelists moving first and darting between targets taking out back rank archers, bowmen raining down arrows, arbalisters knocking people off hills, heavy tanks taunting and drawing attention. From the palette of abilities they give you, you can make countless roles.

Let's talk about Battle Brothers!

The BasicsYou manage a mercenary company. You must have gold and food for daily wages. You can visit different cities, recruit and train new men, slay brigands, orcs, the dead in the wilds, and horrors even worse.

Here I have taken the high groundCombat is turn based on a hex map with height levels, obstacles and terrain. The graphics are of your men and monsters as game pieces—they are busts that display all necessary information visibility, the condition of your helmet, armor, weapon, and man.

You must manage your funds, via victories and trade, to bring in enough income to cover medical supplies, ammunition, tools to repair armor and weapons, food and wages.

Over time your brothers grow increasing both 3 of their 8 stats and picking a new 'perk' which changes certain aspects of how they interact on the field. One might allow you to step away from an engagement, another might increase damage after you get a kill, a third by increase one of your stats by a %. Each different brother develops like a plant, where you guide their organic growth.

Death comes quickly, along with permanent injuries, failure, and loss. But each choice, from where you move your piece on the battlefield, to what rolls you select when your brother levels, has ramifications that change the course of your game.

I don't know the devs. No one is paying me. But when you find yourself staring into the facets of a diamond for untold hours (301 hours as of this post. Well, I guess it's told now.), you kind of want to share. Why is it so engaging?

The FacetsBecause the differences are significant, and create different kinds of emergent play. When the world
is generated, cities have attached sites that determine their character, the spawns and arrangement of towns is always different, along with the distribution of lairs and dens of evil. The way the game works changes dramatically from these differing starting states. There are really strong parallels to sandboxes in Dungeons & Dragons here.

I was very far into the game before I realized that each of those buildings adjacent to the city, changed not only the characteristics of that city, but how it interacts with the rest of the map. Those goat farms mean affordable goat cheese for your men. These building and even cities can be destroyed and rebuilt over the course of the campaign.  Because this town has both an ore smelter and blast furnace, it produces high quality armor and weapons in the stores. But the regiments it produces are also extremely well armored and it has vision to the sea, meaning that it's hard for lairs to fester.

Which, they do you know. Nits make lice. A goblin city will produce goblin patrols. As it grows, it will eventually send out a patrol that sets up a camp. Go in and clear out all the greenskins and it will take them a long time to repopulate. So each map is strongly different based on its random starting arrangement. Sometimes there's a forest town in the frontier assaulted constantly by enemies. Get dogs and birds from cities with kennels, and use them to hunt down nightmares and archers.

It's often unclear how things affect other things, and I'm still discovering new nuances. Each nobel house has a personality, and I'm not certain, but it seems to affect which quests you get from it. Is this true? Only a lot more testing and play will tell. But everytime I reroll I find or see something new.

The MenYour first games end in brutal destruction, without even understanding why. But as you play you begin to understand, these aren't individual men, they are part of a squad that works together.

Each man has a head and body. Those who don't wear a cover are corpses, yeah? Each is covered in armor. Better armor is not always 'better', some men go heavy armor and some go light, depending on their role. You take wounds in combat (which always heal, depending on severity in 1-6 days) based on the % of your hit points taken, meaning tougher brothers take fewer wounds. If killed, there's even a chance they survive with a permanent wound. And while some are. . .untenable, some people consider a boost (it's harder for witches to charm or giests to scare a brain damaged brother).

Each man has eight statistics, and they increase by a random roll at every level. So you want to increase what he needs when the roll is high, and skip low rolls, but it's important to know what role they have so you can assign the stats correctly. The statistics are Hit points, Fatigue, Resolve, Initative, Melee Attack, Ranged Attack, Melee Defense, and Ranged Defense.

When you hire a brother they may have traits, like iron lungs, or athletic, which positively or negative affect their stats. The following brother is Huge (+10% damage -5 Ranged Defense, -5 Melee Defense) and Paranoid (-40% initiative,  +5 Ranged Defense, +5 Melee Defense) meaning he does +10% damage in exchange for going later in the round. So I gave him a cleaver, and made it reduce the damage he needs to do to wound, and gave him duelist so that more damage penetrates armor. So he cripples and bleeds anyone he strikes. This causes morale checks, which reduce the combat ability of your opponents.

If you're reading this, you probably like the same things I like, and this sounds awesome, right? It is. You can name and go to the barber to change the look of your brothers. It's like controlling a team of bonsai trees that you have very carefully cultivated to mercilessly slaughter any who stand against you!

The difficulty curve is very clear, with several different stages. When you start out, you aren't prepared for this. You generally end up destroying equipment you must salvage from your opponents. Striking someone in the head will leave their fancy armor untouched, or you can surround or dagger opponents to death.

Every 100 in game days, a crisis occurs, either greenskins invade, the undead, rise, or there is a war among the noble houses. There are certain thresholds where the base difficulty increases. You have a range of danger options on the contracts you can take, as well as creatures in the wild getting more dangerous as you venture away from civilization.

The recent expansion turned it from a good game into a great one. There are a selection of new enemies, creating different and dangerous tactical challenges both apart and with other groups. The enemy variety is very high and differs significantly between campaigns. It's like a good movie. Every part of the journey is fun.

In the End
It's written by two brothers, not a big game studio. The soundtrack is amazing. There's a growing community of people who stream and play this game, that has significant overlap with interests in Dungeons and Dragons sandbox play. The actual game design is rock solid. It's amazing how neatly the different parts of the game interact with each other. You only have 9 action points a turn, but depending on the weapon, traits, and skills, you can turn that into two or three attacks each round. Once you see how the pieces fit together, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to turn that to your advantage, often only coming to the correct conclusion after a lot of testing or tries.

It's good and I needed to tell people about it. Don't complain to me about missed sleep.
Battle Brothers is $30 on Steam.
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Martian Manhunter #2

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 12:00
The first thing you might notice  about Martian Manhunter #2 (in a 12 issue maxi-series, a name I have not heard in a long time) is the word balloons on the cover. This bit of retro contrasts with the art itself that is slightly cartoon and tinged with some photoshoppy sort of effects. I don't know how this relates to the books contents other than it suggests you ought to expect something different.
The first issue intrigued me with its imagining of Mars as a place familiar enough, but very alien. Though it synthesized elements of J'onn Jonzz Silver Age origin, the 1988 DeMatteis/Badger "most everything you know is a lie" limited series, and the Ostrander/Mandrake ongoing from 1998, it add new stuff to it, and looked it the old continuity from a new angle. It also revealed that J'onn J'onzz on Mars was a dirty cop.

I am happy to report the first issue was not a fluke. The second continues to be just as interesting with its parallel stories on a murder investigation on Earth and J'onzz's life on a doomed Mars. As life continues mostly as normal for the "manhunter" and is family, tension has begun to creep in. The deadly Curse of H'ronmeer is spreading. Rossmo's art really adds to the alien sequences, but is adequate in the more True Detective Earth-bound portion of the story. The coloring style seems to shift a bit between the two sections as well.
It gets bonus points for providing an explanation for J'onzz's bettlebrow: a brief Martian Neanderthal-mania.

Outlander Trading Cards Season 3: Sketch Card Previews

Cryptozoic - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 02:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment is excited to reveal that our upcoming Outlander Trading Cards Season 3 will include 1-of-1, original Sketch Cards! In anticipation of the set's official release on February 15, we are thrilled to present our amazing collection of Sketch Card previews! For those new to the trading card hobby, you may be asking, "What are Sketch Cards?" Sketch Cards are original artwork, hand-drawn by artists onto standard-size trading cards (2.5” x 3.5”), which are then randomly inserted into various trading card packs.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Great Molasses Flood in Call of Cthulhu

19th Level - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 01:37


Today, January 15, 2019, marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood in Boston. On that day, around noon, a massive tidal wave of molasses flooded the North End neighborhood. Supports for elevated trains were damaged, buildings toppled. Twenty one people died and around 150 were injured. I've written of this before in my review of Stephen Puleo's Dark Tide, the best (and one of the only) source of information for this disaster.

I find Boston of the 1910s to be a fascinating period in history and have been running a Call of Cthulhu campaign set in 1914 - it's about to reach 1915. They might eventually merge with a previous campaign, one that began in France at the end of World War One - but whose second adventure was about the Molasses Flood.

What makes the era so fascinating? It was a time of extreme tension. Immigrants were pouring into cities and traditional power bases were being disrupted as the immigrants found their voices. It was also a time of extreme hardship, with brutal work conditions and few worker protections. When examining old Boston Globe archives from that period I found an advertisement for Grape Nuts Cereal - and it suggested eating them would keep you healthy, helping you avoid missing work and losing your job due to illness.

In this period were a number of new movements - in the United States these included communism and anarchism - often linked together though they had very different desires. Anarchists were quite terrifying to Americans of the day - and understandably so. There was reason for the caricature of the bomb-throwing anarchist. Many heads of state were killed by anarchists, including US President McKinley. Anarchists blew up a Boston Police Station. They made use of mail bombs.

When a great tank of molasses spilled 2.3 million gallons of molasses onto the city streets, the initial assumption was it was done by anarchists. This isn't surprising. Anarchists had threatened the tank as it was used in the production of industrial alcohol, essential for the munitions of the Great War. It was built in a hurry to take advantage of the economic opportunity provided by the war - with poor quality. It often leaked onto the streets.

One of the things I dislike in my own Call of Cthulhu games is having the Mythos responsible for events in human history. It's something that can work if used sparingly but it is very easy to overdo - and can get very tasteless. For example, I would consider it offensive to say "the Holocaust was all for a magic spell that Hitler was casting that required the deaths of millions". However, if one's group were comfortable with the subject matter (and I'm not certain I would be), I could see having an individual Nazi sorcerer taking advantage of the horrid circumstances.

For the Great Molasses Flood, it was such a major event that it would seem a great opportunity for inclusion in a historic game. When I ran an adventure during the Flood, I had it kill a cultist of Tsathoggua in his basement shrine- which unleashed a Formless Spawn no longer under his control. This Spawn was able to easily conceal itself in the molasses that covered everything in the area for days after.

Should our current game reach this point, I'd probably not repeat the same adventure - unless something happens to force a divergence, I consider them taking place in the same universe, so I'd say that was happening in the background. However, there are a number of other possibilities that come to mind. I've taken advantage of the criminal connections that anarchists of the era had and have had cultists often integrate with such groups - some as true believers, some just taking advantage of them.

It is quite likely that some cultists will be displaced by the Flood. The North End was a crowded immigrant neighborhood. One might have been killed by the Flood, leaving his trove of artifacts unprotected - causing a cultist war, if one supposes multiple sorcerous factions in the city. One can easily imagine the early investigation centering around known anarchists, possibly causing a cultist to accelerate his or her plans. One might be arrested, causing followers to attempt a break-out.

Also consider the possibility of using the Flood as a great opportunity to bring investigators together. People struggled to survive and help with rescue efforts. They might even wind up rescuing a cultist...

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

5150 Bugs Outbreak - Call in the Militia!

Two Hour Wargames - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 00:19
Part 3

“You have a choice of course,” the Gaea Prime Diplomat said semi-insincerely. “If you want our aid, give us the rights to build an orbital Space Station, solely under our control, overNew Hope.”


“That violates the Halverson Accord,” the City Mayor said. “Perhaps there’s an alternative?”
“Yes, yes there is,” the Diplomat replied. “You can all die from the Bugs; your choice.”


The City Mayor shook his head. and replied "We'll mobilize the Planetary Militia first. They'll handle it."
"Do what you want, just know it's your neck the people of New Hope will want when you fail."

Two days later, the City Mayor's body was found on the streets of  the Downtown Area, dead from a "self-inflicted wound". Next day, the first elements of Gaea Prime Star Marines landed in NHC.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How the government shutdown is influencing cybersecurity jobs

Malwarebytes - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 17:16

As of this writing, the government shutdown of 2019 is the longest ever in America. The only good news about this situation is that, with each passing day, a new group of people in the country seems to rediscover just how essential government services are, now that they’re unavailable.

The next likely casualty is the government’s stable of cybersecurity talent. Here’s why—and what it might mean for us in the long run.

How much government talent is furloughed?

Some of us might be surprised to learn the federal government has a workforce dedicated solely to cybersecurity. Many of these completely essential institutions and teams are now reduced to skeleton crews. This has the potential for long-lasting harm when it comes to the government’s ability to retain these specialists.

At time of writing, the Department of Homeland Security has furloughed 20 percent of its staff dedicated to “main cyber operations,” as well as administrative and supporting roles. But when you look at the entire cybersecurity apparatus of the federal government, the total potential loss of talent is far greater than the DHS alone. According to a planning document, 43 percent of the entire US cybersecurity workforce is currently furloughed.

Taking the top spot, however, is the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, with 85 percent of its staff furloughed.

This represents a danger today on a number of levels. But there’s a longer-lasting kind of harm, too, that few are talking about right now.

Will federal employees flock to the private sector?

Some of the more important staff and talent initiatives taken on during the Obama administration concerned the treatment, compensation, and benefits of federal employees and contractors. The goal was to make the public sector (the government) more competitive with the private sector. That’s how corporations retain talent, and it’s how the government can do so as well.

It’s no secret that job prospects for computer scientists, and cybersecurity specialists in particular, are rather cushy right now. Software developers enjoy a median income of more than $100,000 per year.

But now that the government is shut down, Washington, D.C. (and all of our state governments) will struggle even more not only to win talent over from the private sector, but keep it. With paychecks potentially off the table for a while, it’s becoming more likely that this already fragile situation will be pushed to the breaking point.

In an interview with the Washington Post, a former DHS cyber official named Greg Garcia explained the situation: “There’s unpredictability and uncertainty and instability [for DHS cyber employees],” he said. “Add on top of all that not getting paid, and I do not envy them.”

The problem here is one of morale. We have not been trying hard enough in recent years to maintain the government’s competitiveness with industry, and now we’re paying the price.

What does the future hold for cybersecurity talent at the federal level?

The bottom line with this government shutdown, just like with any other, is that sending your employees home without pay, and without a timetable for when their jobs and offices will be back up and running, is a bad way to do business.

What we’re likely to see is a “chilling effect” on the next generation or two of potential government employees. Holding these positions hostage in budget negotiations, positions for which applicants earned degrees and accreditation, is the equivalent of telling them the government isn’t an honorable employer and their talent isn’t valued—and that we don’t care if they take it elsewhere.

And there’s plenty of “elsewhere” for them out there, it turns out. In 2017, there were nearly 300,000 jobs available in the “cyber sciences.” That sounds like a lot of opportunities—but it will actually blossom into a full-blown talent shortage of 1.8 million jobs by 2022.

We don’t really want to be turning people off from this line of work—especially not when the stakes are so high. Moreover, it’s clear the government can’t afford to lose the talent it’s already brought together. There’s not going to be enough of it to go around before too long—and the priorities, arguably, should rest with national security.

Remembering the stakes

Barely a day goes by where we’re not reminded that, just as it has brought us closer together, Internet connectivity has also provided new tools for potential disruptive influences.

Reports are available now detailing the degree to which critical national infrastructure—such as our nuclear and other power plants, water treatment facilities, and electrical grids—are surprisingly vulnerable to domestic as well as foreign hacking attempts. This is a bright and wonderful age, but it’s clear that many of the systems we rely on for civilized living aren’t as safe as they’re supposed to be.

We should remember that even our voting machines are outdated and stand a good chance of being hacked or otherwise tampered with. But while public awareness of these issues has increased, furloughing and devaluing cyber talent at the federal and state levels is not a good way to drum up attention and support for such important issues.

Are there any foreseeable solutions to this problem?

The first solution involves remembering that the US Defense Department, even before the government was shut down, was already losing some 4,000 employees to the private sector every year, a sign that our government was already a dissatisfactory place to work. In point of fact, “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” was how 20 percent of DHS employees described their jobs in a survey that made the rounds in 2018.

Even some of the most critical resources on the Internet have been taken offline by this shutdown. NIST maintains catalogs of government cybersecurity standards that are essential for maintaining webpage uptime and HTTPS certificates. With 85 percent of their staff sitting at home, security certificates will expire and websites will be taken down.

When resources like these are unavailable, the Internet becomes a manifestly less safe place to spend time. And that’s the last thing we want.

The post How the government shutdown is influencing cybersecurity jobs appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Swatching with Caron x Pantone

Knitted Bliss - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 15:41

www.knittedbliss.com

I’ve been swatching with the new colour of the year, can you tell? These are all the same stitch, one of the carts from Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting, since whenever I’m playing around with colourwork, I like to try out one of the charts from there. Pantone is the definitive authority on all

The post Swatching with Caron x Pantone appeared first on %%www.knittedbliss.com%%.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

On Gygax Design IV

Hack & Slash - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 13:00
My thesis here is that something was misunderstood. The question I'm left with is how did that happen?

Let's take a look.

Cave IntroductionThe first page of the caves proper contains the flavor text we discussed in the last post. It's lurid, and therefore interesting.

If you're going to ask someone to listen to something, it better get a reaction.

Immediately Gygax takes one column line to outline all his overview notes for the adventure: 600 words. He describes how to read the cave contour map on the outside, describes the woods, underground, and interiors.
He then covers prisoner ransom ("Set the sums low — 10 to 100 gold pieces or a magic item. . . "), the specifics of the tribal relationships, how monsters should react and handle player actions, and what happens in empty areas.

It is a training module, but these sections only contain nine sentences containing specific  'newbie' or training advice. The rest of the information is all useful, reduces the need for repetitive text, and is easily found in the front of the appropriate section. This is the really interesting thing. Here's a room description
1. Guard Room: 6 kobold guards (AC 7, HD 1/2, hp 3 each, #AT 1, D 1-4, Save NM, ML 6). They will throw their spears the first round if they have initiative. Each carries d6 silver pieces. One will run to warn areas 4. and 6.. The guards will be altered by loud noises or lights.Is there a single unnecessary word in that description to craft an emergent encounter for the players?

What is an Adventure?All the rooms are like this.
"Number. Description: # creatures (one line stat block), Rules and tactical information, treasure."

Is there any boxed text? No. Each room only tells you what you need to know what's in it, and more importantly how they act. The text is there to create emergent play. Here are quotes.
"This huge kobold is so powerful that he fights with a battle axe. . . and a large gem on a great golden chain around his neck."
"Six goblin guards are alterly watching both passages for intruders of any sort"
"If there is a cry of "BREE-YARK" similar to "hey rube!" (ed: noted in the rumor section as goblin for "We Surrender"), 2 of these guards will rush to the secret door, toss a sack with 250 gold coins to the ogre and ask him to help him"

This is over and over again in the room encounters. Set-ups from earlier pay off. Encounters are dramatic scenes. We know from his own play descriptions that he used random encounters and avoiding keying many areas in Greyhawk for these reasons. Each one uses as few descriptive words as possible to give the Dungeon Master a hook to hang his hat (the encounter) on.
There's no ancient history text, no unknowable background information.

Mostly. I lied a little bit. Everyone had to get the wrong idea from somewhere, right? Even when there is some unknown history, it is referenced and due to non-player character actions is discoverable by players. e.g.
13. Forgotten Room. Only the two orc leaders (from this area and from B.) Know of this place. They secretly meet here on occasion to plan co-operative ventures or discuss tribal problems, for although separate tribes are not exactly friendly, both leaders are aware of the fact that there is strength in numbers. . . . Looking at this alone, it certainly looks like the usual dump of information to the Dungeon Master that is completely inaccessible to the players. Except, note the following sentences:
From 12. Orc Leader's Room: . . . If hard pressed, the leader will wiggle behind the tapestries on the south wall and attempt to work the catch on the secret door to the south and go to the rival tribe for help. . . 
From Dungeon Master notes: If the leader is slain, the survivors will seek safety in area B/C, taking everything of value (and even of no value with them)

So you know, it's part of a dynamic encounter.

Encounter DesignI've talked before about how room environments should consist of clearly interactable objects in Red Herring Agency. That article uses the example of play from the Dungeon Master's Guide, and it's pretty clear the same design aesthetic is in use here. In the forgotten room, it describes "A small table and two chairs", "a wooden chest", "Two shields hanging on the wall", and "Two pouches behind an old bucket." The chairs are normal, as are the shields. The chest is unlocked and contains some weapons. The pouches have treasure, but cover 2 centipedes.

It's explicit, direct. Here are the interactable objects. Each one has a different effect and clues are available in the environment.

There is a specific structure to the different pillars of play. This is what the exploration pillar means. It means there are specific presentable things—clickable objects— within play. It's these objects, their integration into the environment, their creativity, and the tactical infinity options they offer that is the gameplay of exploration.

Walls the players can knock over, doors that open into space, a ring that shrinks objects, a chained megatherium. Give the players simple things that allow interaction. Create a world where non-player characters take action in response to the players. The complexity and gameplay is emergent.

Every single piece of information is either immediately accessible to the players, or is necessary for the Dungeon Master to run the encounter.

Each room is an encounter designed, and it should be like a good scene in a movie. Interesting, helping create tension and set the pace. It shouldn't be simple, boring, dull, and buried in a thousand words of useless text. It requires both active actors and things to act upon, and it must be designed and not just generated. This doesn't require verbiage, it requires thought. You want my examples of this in use, check out Megadungeon (or any of the modules I have coming out soon!)

From RPG CartographyI'm not saying it's perfect. It's certainly raw—for example many rooms have information on how people act if they hear someone nearby. This could be on the map, along with other modern improvements due to better tools. Which way the doors open, what the light levels are. . .

When the goblins rush the players and yell BREE-YARK, if the players got the rumor that it means "We surrender", shenanigans ensue. This isn't the only setup. More than one character is lost when the chaotic evil priest that offers to come with them from the keep casts 'inflict wounds' on characters instead of cure wounds.

The prisoners have a variety of races and genders, as well as each providing some non-standard reward, trick, or trap. You may notice a theme. There are also slaves that can be freed and armed. Each of these things creates a specific experience for the players. He isn't just writing descriptions of rooms! He's creating a scene flowchart just like the one in the start of Deep Carbon Observatory, but using the dungeon as his flowchart paths.

I did find a sentence of flavor text, "The owl bear. . . sleeps in the most southerly part of its den, digesting a meal of gnoll it just caught at dawn." That's some information that's not accessible to the players. It's on page 19.

There's also quite a lot of humor within the module. Signs posted on doors say things like "You are
invited for dinner!" and "Safety, security and repose for all humanoids that enter — WELCOME! (Come in and report to the first guard on the left for a hot meal and bed assignment.)" The thing is, it's not just a joke for the reader. The players will also find this joke amusing, and although it's funny, like all Dungeons & Dragons, it's deadly serious. I ran Hackmaster for years, and a gummi bear golem seems really funny, until it crits your fighter in the head for 38 points and kills him in a shower of sticky blood.

All of the rooms contain setpieces—interesting reactions and organic events, but this is one of the best.
"[Bugbears] lounge on stools near a smoking brazier which has skewers of meat toasting over the coals. Each will ignore his great mace when intruders enter, reaching instead for the food. Through they do not speak common, they will grab and eat a chunk, then offer the skewers to the adventurers — and suddenly use them as swords to strike first blow (at +2 bonus to hit due to surprise!) unless the victims are very alert. . . I mean, that exclamation point though.

If you aren't creating scenes and experiences through activities for players (and not excess verbiage) please start, and point people to this series to get them to change.

You don't have to write a bunch of words about how encounters react to every last thing, you just have to write something interesting well, and from that the Dungeon Master will be able to know how it reacts.

Enter the Present.This is INFURIATING.

Why? I just downloaded the most recent Dungeons & Dragons pay what you want adventure to find a room description to compare. Each room description is literally a full page. In lieu of typing the whole page, I'm just going to quote some random sentences from this full page of text for a single room. A whole page. It's not even an A5 page! It's a full letter page.

"The bed is perfectly normal and has a warm, soft blanket stretched over it."
"The party is in the right place, but this isn't the chamber in which the wardrobe is kept."
"Unbeknownst to the players, a hidden passage lies beyond the bookcase"
The box text says "the chamber. . . is not quite what you imagined"

I will summarize the entire room description, as I think Gygax would have laid it out.
3. Wizard Bedroom. Locked Chest (Disable Device DC 15, Strength DC 20) contains pouch 32 gold, 13 silver pieces, 21 copper. Secret door behind bookcase filled with bird books. Note in book about secret door. Corridor beyond trapped, must flap like bird or say "[REDACTED]" 50 XP for door, 50 XP for ladder.You do not need 1,200 words! I am a Dungeon Master looking for useful tools!

The early examples were great and maintain their popularity and utility decades later, look at the sales of the poorly-reviewed Keep on the Borderlands 5e reprint. They had to hold a second pre-order since pre-orders exceeded their first print run.

This endless glut of poor adventure writing is someone emptying their uninteresting brain noise right in the middle of what I need as a person that runs a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. Is there a market for people who want to read an adventure and have no use for it during play?

Yeah. there is, and it's pretty big. That's the problem.

People keep trying to characterize "What the old school renaissance" is. This has never been a mystery.

It's just people trying to find something they can use in play!

People were playing Dungeons and Dragons until people who did not play, and instead just read and admired ran it into the ground and nearly caused it to cease to exist. You can clearly publish a game with no firm rules and just allow everyone to do what they want, but they aren't very successful are they?

I would think everything in this post is obvious, but due to my inability to use 90% of everything ever published it apparently is not. If you feel the same way, link it the next time someone doesn't know how to write a module. Or, if you're feeling generous, you can join our hierarchy over here, and support more posts like this on Patreon, where you can get special access to my discord


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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Shatter Empires and Shape the World with Sons of Chaos

First Comics News - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 18:20

Immersive Graphic Novel Unearths the Hero of the Forgotten War That Defined Western Civilization

San Diego, CA (January 14, 2019) — IDW Publishing proudly presents Sons of Chaos, a lavishly illustrated graphic novel written by Chris Jaymes and illustrated by Ale Aragon. Slated for release in June 2019, this oversized hardcover relates the real-life, heartrending story of the war that quietly shaped Western civilization.

Sons of Chaos – with its nearly 200 pages and measuring 13.5” by 10.5” – provides an immersive, panoramic experience for readers, harkening them back to the Mediterranean shores of 1821, where Marcos Botsaris, a child raised within the dungeons of an Ottoman Pasha, escapes captivity, falls in love, and fiercely leads Greece to bloody revolution.

Writer Chris Jaymes says, “Nearly a decade of work has gone into creating Sons of Chaos, and the masterfully gifted, international individuals involved have created an experience that I’m eternally blessed to be a part of. It’s epic, it’s vulnerable, it’s vicious… and it brings pivotal events from our recent past to light, exposing the circumstances responsible for shaping our present-day conflicts.”

Sons of Chaos brings the real-life history of the Greek War of Independence to the comics page in a thrilling, ‘sword and shooter’ epic that marries Mediterranean history with the sensibilities of Game of Thrones,” says Justin Eisinger, Editorial Director of Graphic Novels & Collections for IDW Publishing. “Like me, many readers will find themselves considering this 19th Century war for the first time!”

The Greek Revolution, fought during the pinnacle of the Romantic Period, drew impassioned fighters from throughout the world (commoners and celebrities alike) to the battlefield. The war shattered the Ottoman Empire and, even as we now approach its 200th anniversary, its lingering tensions yet plague the Eastern and Western worlds.

Sons of Chaos is now available for pre-order via online booksellers and comic book specialty retailers.

Sons of Chaos
by Chris Jaymes & Ale Aragon
ISBN 978-1-68405-479-4
$49.99 (US)
192-page, full-color hardcover graphic novel, 13.5” x 10.5”

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

RICH REVIEWS: Faith’s: Winter Wonderland Special # 1

First Comics News - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 18:16

Title: Faith’s: Winter Wonderland Special # 1
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Marguerite Sauvage
Artist: Francis Portela, M.J. Kim
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Marguerite Sauvage
Variant Covers: Paulina Ganucheau, Sibylline Meynet, David Lafuente
Price: $ 3.99 US
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Website: www.valiantentertainment.com
Comments: This starts out like a fairy tale with Faith following Mr. Rabbit down the rabbit hole. Faith still has a mind/soul/spirit of a child. She has not been totally made into an adult. Faith still dreams. Which makes her perfect to help save a Wonderland in turmoil due to a crazed Queen.
The Pink Candy for Girls and the Blue Candy for Boys these two protectors of the Queen are something else. This is a story with imagination.
Faith uses the power of faith and imagination to get through to the evil Queen and to Alice as well. Both are so alike and more than they know.
Faith if you have not read her comics or know who she is you are in for a treat with this book. It will bring out the child in you and maybe a tear of joy to.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Primark Stores Launch “Rick and Morty” Collection

First Comics News - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 18:03

Turner’s Cartoon Network Enterprises has partnered with international retailer Primark to launch an exclusive collection featuring the critically-acclaimed Adult Swim series Rick and Mortywhich has taken the pop culture zeitgeist by storm around the world.

The Rick and Morty line for Primark spans menswear, womenswear, fashion accessories, homeware, drink ware and bedding, all featuring exclusive designs inspired by the illustrious 1950s B movies and sporting fan-favorite characters from the series such as Pickle Rick, Mr. Meeseeks, and of course Rick and Morty themselves. It launches at Primark stores in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the US on January 13th.

The launch of the collection will be celebrated with 40 of Primark’s stores and window displays branded Rick and Morty, as well gifts with purchase and in-store competitions for the Rick and Morty super fan.

Rick and Morty is the half-hour animated hit comedy series on Adult Swim that follows a sociopathic genius scientist who drags his inherently timid grandson on insanely dangerous adventures across the universe. Rick Sanchez is living with his daughter Beth’s family and constantly bringing her, his son-in-law Jerry, grand-daughter Summer, and grand-son Morty into intergalactic escapades.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Diamond Announces Top Selling Comic Books & Graphic Novels for 2018

First Comics News - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 17:10

 

  • Marvel Comics Top Comic Book Publisher of the Year; The Infinity Gauntlet Bestselling Graphic Novel of the Year
  • Action Comics #1000 Bestselling Comic Book of the Year; DC Comics Ranked #2 Publisher
  • Image Comics ranked #3 publisher; Leads Graphic Novels Chart with 6 out of the Top 10 Titles

(HUNT VALLEY, MD) — (January 9, 2019) — DC Entertainment hit a celebratory landmark with its publication of Action Comics #1000, the best-selling comic book published in 2018, based on total unit sales to comic book specialty retailers, according to Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of comics, graphic novels, and pop-culture merchandise.

An all-star line-up of top talent led by Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, and Geoff Johns paid tribute to the legendary Man of Steel. The special, oversized landmark issue presented the best in Superman stories, spanning the 1930s to today..

Annual comic book sales to the comic book specialty market increased in 2018, up +3.3% for the year, while graphic novel sales dipped -6.6% from 2017. Combined, annual sales of comic book and graphic novels to comic book shops were up slightly in 2018, by .6%.

Marvel Comics finished the year as the comic book specialty market’s top publisher, leading in both Dollar and Unit Market Shares, with a 38.24% Dollar Market Share and a 40.4% Unit Market Share. Marvel Comics top comic book, Amazing Spider-Man #800, the ten-year landmark issue led by Dan Slott and Stuart Immomen, charted at #2 for the year. Overall, Marvel had seven titles in the top ten comics of the year, including the preceding Amazing Spider-Man #798 and #799, as well as Fantastic Four #1, Amazing Spider-Man #1, Return of Wolverine #1, and Venom #1. Marvel Comics also had the top graphic novel of the year with The Infinity Gauntlet, the epic crossover event from Jim Starlin, George Pérez, and Rom Lim that helped form the storyline for Marvel’s blockbuster Avenger’s Infinity War movie.

DC Entertainment was the comic book specialty market’s number two publisher in 2018 with a 30.04% Dollar Market Share and a 33.82% Unit Market Share. DC Entertainment had three of the year’s top ten comics; in addition to Action Comics #1000, Batman #50 and The Batman Who Laughs #1 were among the top ten.

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ award-winning science fiction epic, Saga from Image Comics once again dominated the top ten graphic novels chart and solidified Image Comics as the year’s third largest comic book publisher, with a 9.93% Dollar Market Share and a 9.9% Unit Market Share. Image Comics took six of the top ten graphic novel spots, with Saga Volume 9 charting as the #2 best-selling graphic novel for 2018. Saga Volumes 1 and 8 also placed in the top ten, along with The Walking Dead Volume 29 Lines We Cross (#6), Paper Girls Volume 1 (#7), and Monstress Volume 1 (#10).  The best-selling comic book for the year from Image was Mark Millar’s The Magic Order #1 at #18.

IDW Publishing was the comic book specialty market’s fourth largest publisher, propelled by its licensed titles from Hasbro, Disney, and Lucasfilm. The company’s Dollar Market Share was 3.83% for the year. Marvel Action: Spider-Man  #1, was IDW’s top-selling comic book, landing at #460 for the year.

Dark Horse Comics’ mix of creator-owned and licensed titles helped the company to be the fifth-ranked publisher in the comic book specialty market in 2018 with a 2.92% Dollar Market Share. Dark Horse’s top comic book for the year Stranger Things #1, based upon the popular Netflix series, at #184.

BOOM! Studios was the sixth ranked publisher at 2.24%, and Dynamite Entertainment was seventh at 1.86%. Viz Media, Titan Comics, and Oni Press rounded out the top ten comic book publishers for 2018.

 

2018 TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER

DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS 38.24% 40.40% DC ENTERTAINMENT 30.04% 33.82% IMAGE COMICS 9.93% 9.90% IDW PUBLISHING 3.83% 3.30% DARK HORSE COMICS 2.92% 2.10% BOOM! STUDIOS 2.24% 1.90% DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 1.86% 1.73% VIZ MEDIA 1.22% 0.46% TITAN COMICS 0.87% 0.61% ONI PRESS 0.83% 0.54% OTHER NON-TOP 10 8.01% 5.25%

2018 TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS

QTY

RANK

RETAIL

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

1

ACTION COMICS #1000

$7.99

FEB180142-M DC ENTERTAINMENT

2

2

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800

$9.99

MAR180831-M MARVEL COMICS

3

3

BATMAN #50

$4.99

MAY180450-M DC ENTERTAINMENT

4

4

FANTASTIC FOUR #1

$5.99

JUN180771-M MARVEL COMICS

5

5

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1

$5.99

MAY180784-M MARVEL COMICS

6

6

RETURN OF WOLVERINE #1

$4.99

JUL180968-M MARVEL COMICS

7

9

VENOM #1

$4.99

MAR180803-M MARVEL COMICS

8

10

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #798

$3.99

FEB180832-M MARVEL COMICS

9

8

BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1

$4.99

OCT180464-M DC ENTERTAINMENT

10

13

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #799

$3.99

FEB180836-M MARVEL COMICS

2018 TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS

QTY

RANK

RETAIL

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

1

INFINITY GAUNTLET TP

$24.99

JUL110745 MARVEL COMICS

2

4

SAGA TP VOL 09 (MR)

$14.99

JUL180297 IMAGE COMICS

3

19

SAGA TP VOL 01 (MR)

$9.99

AUG120491 IMAGE COMICS

4

6

SAGA TP VOL 08 (MR)

$14.99

OCT170715 IMAGE COMICS

5

2

ACTION COMICS 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN HC

$29.99

DEC170241 DC ENTERTAINMENT

6

8

WALKING DEAD TP VOL 29 LINES WE CROSS

$16.99

JAN180844 IMAGE COMICS

7

38

PAPER GIRLS TP VOL 01

$9.99

JAN160645 IMAGE COMICS

8

7

BATMAN WHITE KNIGHT TP

$19.99

JUL180733 DC ENTERTAINMENT

9

3

DARK NIGHTS METAL DELUXE ED HC

$29.99

JAN180379 DC ENTERTAINMENT

10

33

MONSTRESS TP VOL 01 (MR)

$9.99

APR160803-M IMAGE COMICS

 

Data for Diamond’s sales charts — which includes the market shares and all top product charts — are compiled by Diamond Comic Distributors from sales made to thousands of comic book specialty shops located in North America and around the world.  Additional sales made to online merchants and other specialty retailers may be included as well.

Unit and dollar market shares are calculated based upon orders for comic books, graphic novels, and magazines invoiced and shipped to Diamond customers during 2017, which comprises pre-orders, advance reorders, and reorders, minus any copies that are received back from a title marked as returnable.  The category tables in this press release are ranked by units sold by Diamond to its accounts for the comic books and graphic novels categories.

 

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

A week in security (January 7 – 13)

Malwarebytes - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 16:45

Last week on the Malwarebytes Labs blog, we took a look at the Ryuk ransomware attack causing trouble over the holidays, as well as a ransom threat for an Irish transportation company. We explored the realm of SSN scams, and looked at what happens when an early warning system is attacked.

Other cybersecurity news
  • Password reuse problems. Multiple Reddit accounts reported being locked out after site admins blamed “password reuse” for the issue. (Source: The Register)
  • 85 rogue apps pulled from Play Store. Sadly, not before some 9 million downloads had already taken place. (Source: Trend Micro)
  • Home router risk. It seems many home routers aren’t doing enough in the fight against hackers. (Source: Help Net Security)
  • Deletion not allowed. Some people aren’t happy they can’t remove Facebook from their Samsung phones. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • Takedown: How a system admin brought down the notorious “El Chapo.” (Source: USA Today)
  • 2FA under fire. A new pentest tool called Mantis can be used to assist in the phishing of OTP (one time password) codes. (Source: Naked Security) 
  • Facebook falls foul of new security laws in Vietnam. New rules have brought a spot of bother for Facebook, accused of not removing certain types of content and handing over data related to “fraudulent accounts.” (source: Vietnam News)
  • Trading site has leak issue. A user on the newly set up trading platform was able to grab a lot of potentially problematic snippets, including authentication tokens and password reset links. (source: Ars Technica)
  • Local risk to card details. A researcher discovered payment info was being stored locally on machines, potentially exposing them to anyone with physical access. (Source: Hacker One) 
  • Facebook exec swatted. The dangerous “gag” of sending armed law enforcement to an address ends up causing problems for a “cybersecurity executive,” after bogus calls claimed they had “pipe bombs all over the place.” (source: PA Daily post)

Stay safe, everyone!

The post A week in security (January 7 – 13) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

ASPEN COMICS APRIL 2019 SOLICITATIONS

First Comics News - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 16:24

ASPEN MLT Inc.

April 2019 Solicitation Copy

THE ZOOHUNTERS #4

Peter Steigerwald – Art & Story

 

THE ZOOHUNTERS is back!

 

There is life on other planets—THEY find it. After their encounter with the villainous Quarec, Abros is in a race to save his son Ty from death. Can he and Minalara keep Ty alive or will Abros lose the only family he has left? The critically acclaimed series makes its long-awaited return as creator and artist Peter Steigerwald presents to you Aspen’s most out of this world hit series – THE ZOOHUNTERS!

 

THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 is in stores April 24th, 2019!

 

FC                            32 pages                              $3.99

 

RETAILER NOTE: THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 will ship with two different covers by series artist Peter Steigerwald and artist Joe Benitez. Each cover is available to order separately, with no quantity limitation or restrictions.

 

THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 6 copies of THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the alternate THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 cover by artist Billy Tan, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional Tan alternate THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 Covers at net $4 each.

 

THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 EXPANDED RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 12 copies of THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the alternate THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 cover by artist David Finch, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional Finch alternate THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 Covers at net $8 each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Benoist, Hoechlin Added To Wizard World Portland

First Comics News - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 16:16

‘Supergirl’ Star Melissa Benoist, ‘Teen Wolf’ Standout Tyler Hoechlin Added To Wizard World Portland

 

Benoist To Appear Saturday, Feb. 23, Hoechlin Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 23-24, Joining Momoa, ‘Buffy’ Stars, More At Oregon Convention Center

PORTLAND, Ore., January 14, 2019 – Melissa Benoist, who headlines the CW series “Supergirl,” and Tyler Hoechlin, who had a key role in MTV’s “Teen Wolf” as well as a recurring spot on ‘Supergirl’ as Superman, are among a few popular celebrities added to the lineup at the seventh annual Wizard World Portland at the Oregon Convention Center, February 22-24. Benoist, making her first Wizard World appearance, will attend on Saturday, February 23, while Hoechlin will appear on Saturday and Sunday.

Benoist first portrayed the “Kara Danvers/Supergirl” character in episodes of the DC series “Legends of Tomorrow” before reprising the role in “The Flash” and “Arrow.” Now in its fourth season, the acclaimed show chronicles the adventures of Superman’s cousin. Benoist’s other roles include the 2018 Paramount TV miniseries “Waco,” feature films Patriots Day and Lowriders and the Oscar-winning movie Whiplash.

Hoechlin made his first big splash in the 2002 film Road to Perdition before a regular role as “Martin Brewer” in “7th Heaven” helped land him the part as “Derek Hale” in “Teen Wolf.” He will also be seen in the upcoming Netflix sci-fi drama “Another Life.”

In addition, several other notables have been added, including Ray Fisher (Justice League, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Stella Maeve (“The Magicians”), Iyari Limon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). They join a standout roster that already features Aquaman headliner Jason Momoa and eight “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” stars including Alyson Hannigan, Alexis Denisof, James Marsters, Juliet Landau, Julie Benz, Amber Benson, Clare Kramer and Charisma Carpenter, plus Hale Appelman (“The Magicians”), Matt Ryan (“Constantine,” “Legends of Tomorrow”) and Thomas Ian Nicholas (Rookie of the Year, American Pie). Additional celebrities may be announced closer to the event.

Wizard World Portland will also feature non-stop live entertainment, gaming, exclusive Q&A sessions with top celebrities, movie screenings hosted by stars and directors and more. Details to follow soon. Details on additional Artist Alley guests, programming and entertainment stage schedules and more will be announced closer to the event.

Wizard World events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop culture: movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, comics, sci-fi, graphic novels, toys, original art, collectibles, contests and more. The second event scheduled on the 2019 Wizard World calendar, Portland show hours are Friday, February 22, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, February 23, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, February 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with paid adult.

Wizard World Portland is also the place for cosplay, with fans young and old showing off their best costumes throughout the event. Fans dressed as every imaginable character – and some never before dreamed – will roam the convention floor and participate in the famed Wizard World Costume Contest on Saturday evening.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

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