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Weird Revisited: Toward A Taxonomy of Magic

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 11:00
The original verison of thie post appeared in September of 2011.


Discussion last week got me to thinking (tangentially) about different magic systems in media and how they might be categorizes. Maybe taking a closer look at these sorts of models might suggest variations for gaming systems? This analysis is in the formative stages, so bear with me here.

It seems to me that on one side we have ritual-based systems. Spells in these systems tend to be specific, discrete entities with distinct effects. Some sort of ritual (of varying levels of complexity) is involved in their production. Effects may be flashy and visual, but just as often there is no visible connection between caster and effect, other than the caster's ritual performance. Magical duels are games of "oneupmanship" with canny spell choice winning the day.  Various ritual magic systems in the real world are examples of this, as are many popular rpg systems. Card-based systems of various manga and anime (and the card games they support) would probably be a variant. Interestingly, this sort of system is otherwise not particularly common in media, though it is not new: Roger Corman's The Raven (1963) has a wizard duel of the ritual sort, though much less elaborate in terms of ritual than what would come later.


On the other end of the spectrum are energy-based systems. These portray magic as some force to be manipulated and wielded. Effects tend be very visible. There may be talk of spells or “cants” or “weaves,” but these tend to be portrayed more like maneuvers or techniques rather than strict formula. Magical duels are marked by a concern with the comparative "power levels" of the participant, not in the advantageousness or disadvantageousness of the spells they choose to employ.  Most comic book mages (outside of John Constantine) wield this kind of magic--and so does Green Lantern, for that matter. Many literary mages are off this type: The Aes Sedai in the Wheel of Time series, the Schoolmen in R. Scott Bakker’s Three Seas novels, and the Warren-tapping mages of Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series are all examples.

Of course, it’s a spectrum with many systems showing some elements of both. For example, Harry Potter magic has ritual, but the power level of individual mages is very important. Also, what characters say about there system is often not completely congruent with how they appear to work; Doctor Strange mentions a lot of spells and rituals, but the appearance of his magic tends to be energy manipulation.

Still, I haven’t been been able to think of one so far that does seem to fit. Obviously, there are other parameters to consider--external versus internal power source, for instances--but I think this divide is the most generalizable.

HackMoor 2018/08/08 Finally a Hack Night

Furiously Eclectic People - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 03:10

​Games are on Thursday nights sometime after 6:30PM at World's Best Comics, 9714 Warwick Blvd Newport News, Virginia 23601.

We had a large steak and fresh mozzarella pizza.

PART 1.

++++ START OF SESSION ++++

It has been two months and two days since the last official Hack. If you recall he party had descended from the fighting the Pit Fiend into a forest of 80 foot tall mushrooms.

Aerys had gone ahead to search for the thief that had stolen​ the Party's valued magic items. All he found was his own stolen dagger embedded in one of the mushrooms trunks.

At this point one of the players took his character option. Because the party was participating in the yearly Blackmoor Dungeon festival and had been down there for a week. It was Jacko's time to use one of his magical devices to portal himself in and commandeer the Party. I forget why he was away, maybe it was schooling at BlackMoor U. He may have been a few hours early in the timeline, what the heck.

Meanwhile the party was now down on the forest floor following the tracks that Aerys had found. Eventually it led to an encounter. with some giant lizards that live amidst the mushrooms. I did modify the encounter a bit. The text actually said the forest was populated with "Monitor Lizards". However that seemed a bit strange since none of the encounter tables, listed any Monitor Lizards to be found. So I simply slipped a dozen into my own personal table. Oh and to enhance the encounter a little bit more, instead of Monitor Lizards, I made them Minotaur Lizards.

Now the fight was more or less typical, although as soon as they defeated the first Lizard, two more arrived. then four, then the remaining five. It took awhile.

After that, the party encountered the 11 headed Pyrohydra and also defeated that.

​Lastly after the party had silenced the last encounter they heard singing.

Fee, fi, fo, fum...

++++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR ++++

BT

BBBB

PART 2.

++++ CHARACTER ROSTER ++++

CHARACTERS
Grok the Dwarf, a third level WitchRanger (Battlemage subclass of Magic User).
Aerys, an Elvariel, a Fingersmith (Thief class).
Baronet Huang - a Master of the West Wind of the Stone Tiger Order, (Monk class).
Numrendir - a human Conjurist (a Conjuror, Magic User subclass)
Junkbot Jackson - a human Tracker/Friar (a Ranger 5th and Cleric 6th level).
​​Jacko, an Albino Dork Elf, a Master Espion (Infiltrator, subclass of Thief).
Serena 2.0 - First Level Battle Mage Second (a Protege of Jacko).​

NPCs/Proteges:
Baronetess Honda - a Human Datai Samurai, Steward of Catan (formerly Temple of the Frog)
Gnomex, a Gnome Adept of Geardal Ironhand (Cleric class.)
Tanzen - a Fae-Born first level Exciter. (Fourth level Invoker, a Magic User subclass).
Fundisha - a half-Elf Swordsperson/Tout (Fighter and Infiltrator, a Thief subclass).

CAPTURED CHARACTERS (both PCs and NPCs)
Gerry Castagere, human Fingersmith, (Thief class) and ever loving devotee of Elefus, abandoned to the Blood Cult in the City of Brass on the Plane of Fire.

MISSING/OFFLINE/RETIRED CHARACTERS
Count Elefus, a human Abbot of Heimdall (Cleric class). RETIRED
Felipe the Dwarf, a third level Sigil (Chosen One subclass of Cleric).
​Sir Weasel, human Guild Soldier, Warlock, & Champion (Thief, Magic User, & Fighter classes) he stayed back in BlackMoor.
- and nine Pilgrim henchmen of various levels. (They wear hoodies.)
Slade Wilson - Dwarven Professional (a Bounty Hunter, Fighter subclass) Left behind at Catan.

BT

BBBB

++++ RECORD KEEPING ++++

PART 3.

This is also posted on three forums, and a blog.



--

Tracy Johnson
Old fashioned text games hosted below:

BT

NNNN

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Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Postcards

Yarn Harlot - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 01:17

A few weeks ago, friends of ours (we’re having them sainted later this week) offered us use of their cottage up North. We’re not idiots, so we jumped at the chance, and started organizing the family.  It took a lot of doing, but on Friday we caravaned up here in two cars, with Amanda, Sam, Meg (and her sidekick Elliot) and stuffed Penny the dog in for good measure.

We proceeded to have three glorious days with all three of our girls, and we had the best time. Swimming, sunning on the deck, canoeing, playing hours and hours of boardgames and stargazing at night.  (Sam and I saw a meteor that she called “life changing.”) They did each others hair like they were wee again, and took turns setting the table and serving.

It was nothing short of delicious and completely charming.  On Monday afternoon, Sam and Amanda had to go, but we’ve stayed on with Meg and Elliot, revelling in the luxury of being full time grandparents, and (hopefully) giving Meg a vacation of her own.

We’ve had friends to dinner, I accidentally dropped a ball of yarn in the lake (it dried, it was fine) and a huge thunderstorm missed us by an inch. We’ve eaten corn on the cob and we all saw a fox, and Amanda actually spontaneously uttered those epic Canadian words “hold my beer, and watch this.”

I couldn’t ask for anything more, except for longer days, and some extra of them before we need to go home. (Also, if Elliot wasn’t so obsessed with eating books, that would be cool too.)

PS. Happy Birthday, sweet Meggie.  We’ll do it all together when we’re home again.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Wednesday Comics: Seven Soldiers

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:00

The "metaseries" Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison and various artists in getting the omnibus treatment later this month. You might want to go ahead and pre-order that. If you haven't read it, I think you will enjoy it. Morrison sort of re-imagines several DC characters (a preponderance of Kirby characters, but not all) and makes them a team that never actually teams up (once you read it that will make sense). The art by the likes of J.H. Williams III, Ryan Sook, and Frazier Irving (and that's not all) is really good.

If the omnibus format doesn't grab you, you can still get it as two hardcovers or paperbacks.

The Giant and the Rock

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:00
Our Land of Azurth 5e game continued last night, with the crew of the yellow submarine (which included the PCs) still trying to find their way to the Land of Under-Sea. Captain Cog has been stymied from getting their bearing by a tempest that drove them deep. When it lifted, they rose to the surface and found discovered a floating rock outcropping, like a asteroid in the atmosphere overhead. Even stranger, they were hailed from it by an imprisoned giant:


Calibrax (the giant) alleges that his flying island, Yufo, was stolen, and he was unjustly imprisoned here by a wizard named Phosphoro. Calibrax wishes to enlist the party's help in freeing him from the wizard's chains. When the party seems reluctant, he suggests they take the secret passage on the underside of the island to the wizard's sanctum and discover his villainy for themselves. That, the party agrees to do.

Using Kairon's broom of flying, they fly up and open the hatch. They discover a passageway where they are weightless and a brass whistle floating inside. The bard Kully manages to find the right note to have them whisked into a strange, spherical structure, divided up into rooms. They explore the rooms and discovered several magic items before trying to open a door with a jewel encrusted design.


Waylon the frogling touches the design and finds himself in a maze, being hunted by a bronze minotaur. He must touch the gem stones found across the maze in the right order to escape. With the help of his friends, he manages to do that. The puzzle solved and the door opens to a banquet hall.

Strange music beguiles half the party and a blue-skinned woman shows up to taunt and threaten them. She is the wizards servant, Ariella. Before she can decided what to do with them, she is summoned away. Next they are greeted by the wizard's daughter, Randa. She reveals her father was ruler of a distant world, but his throne was usurped. They have been traveling "by circuitous, subconscious routes," never approaches their home by the direct path, so as not to be detected. They have been returning for "eons." Randa says Calibrax's crime was aggressively seeking her hand.


She offers to take the party to her quarters where they can rest away from Ariella's tricks, and they agree.

Indiana Jones Judge's Survival Pack

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:00

When I did my retro-review of the TSR Indiana Jones role-playing game, I mentioned the much cited fact that it doesn't have character generation rules, but noted that it did in its first supplement. It's worth taking a look at that supplement, because it has some other interesting stuff there.

The Indiana Jones Judge's Survival Pack (IJAC1) is a slim supplement (16 pages), but all contains a "supplemental" Judge's Screen with repeated information on old and new weapons, and stats for common animals and vehicles. Then there's the making of a cardboard device to allow to show the results a various sorts of checks, which seems more trouble to put together than it's probably worth.

Anyway, the first topic tackled in the main book is character generation, and it runs only one page. You roll ability score on percentile die, improve them with 30 points to spread around (but nothing can be increased above 70, though you obviously can roll over 70). Then, you determine your broad background (Education, Soldiering, and Real World), then select skills. Interestingly, the Education and Real World skills are on a chart with no dice rolls next to it, suggesting you choose them, while Soldiering does have dice rolls. Since the directions are identical, I assume this was an oversight.

The next section would be of particular interest to old school procedure-lovers: Random Ruins. It has tables that determine basic history, some architectural features, items of interest, creatures or hazards encountered, and tables of "dungeonmorphs" for room and hallway configurations. It's compact but flavorful, and might be useful for GMs in other genres, at least for some random inspiration building.

Next, the chase rules from the main book are expanded. The chase rules are a set of procedures often cited as one of the interesting thing about the game. This adds new location flowcharts (including rooftop chase for foot chases), and adds some flow stunt rules for really aggressive driving or things like trapeze swings and vaulting for foot chases.

The last couple of pages were probably interesting or somewhat useful in the pre-internet days, but all now just filler. There's chart of ancient scripts including cunieform, hieroglyphics, and runes, then a page of small maps of real life ruins/site maps.

The Judge's Survival Pack would have been an essential aid for a referee actually running Indiana Jones. Gamers playing other games still might find its random ruins or chase rules usual, the the latter would also require the basic game.

Impish Misadventures

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:00

I've had this idea for a game for a while, but haven't done anything with it yet, but I thought writing it down would insure I don't forget it.

The high concept would be: "C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters meets GURPS Goblins." It would be an infernal Horatio Alger story (or parody thereof) where young imps try to get ahead in Hell's hierarchy by misadventure, toadying, and blind luck. They would be abused and give out abuse and probably come to comedically horrible ends--only to be respawned in the larvae pools and start their Sisyphean climb to archdevil-hood once again.

The rules would need to be simple, but (like GURPS Goblins) flavorful, and I imagine gameplay as something like (GURPS Goblins) with a bit of Paranoia and D&D with a pinch of Planescape.

Getting Lucky

Yarn Harlot - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 23:58

I’m home again, and for the first time since I got here – it’s a day without a deluge. It’s been raining. Not just raining, but pouring – almost since I arrived back, it’s been tipping great gouts of water from the sky. Lashes of rain, flooding, spectacular curtains of water heaping down on the city, and all I’ve been able to think of is how different the Rally would have been if it were this week and not last. It really gives me the willies.

What a different sort of Rally we had this year.  Every year I feel like there’s a theme that develops over the course of the ride. It has been bravery, it has been endurance, it has been loneliness or difficulty, it has been friendship, and even love. It’s become so predictable, this idea that a theme will emerge, that I’ve started to look for it. This year, with my job on the Rally being what it was, I expected that the theme might be responsibility, or care-taking. I thought maybe it would be sacrifice – our time and work for someone else’s need, or good time – sort of like being the host of a really big week long party, metaphorically filling the bowls of chips and worrying about running out of ice.

There was some of that too. Every time I saw an ambulance I worried it was a rider, every time the weather threatened to be too hot or too cold or too wet, I worried it would be crappy for the riders and crew. I was very, very, very worried that something terrible would happen on my watch. There were meetings morning and night, and lots of extra work to be sure, but in the end, I didn’t see the theme coming, and it emerged just the same. It was luck.

I have spent so much of this last year feeling unlucky.  Unlucky that my Mum died the way she did, unlucky that Susan followed her so quickly. Unlucky about the stupid shingles and the way my hair always does that thing. Fill in the blank, and I’ve been feeling unlucky about it.

I have spent great gobs of time reflecting over the last year on the ways that I’ve been lucky too, trying not to sink under the sadness or feelings of poor fortune.  I’ve reminded myself that I have a wonderful family left, that Elliot came at exactly the right time for me to have something joyful to hold on to, that I am beyond blessed to have such good friends, and people around me who care, and that I’ve got friends who might let me sit at the edge of the self-pity pool and dabble my feet for a bit, but won’t let me jump in and swim. I know we are not supposed to talk about this sort of thing, but I have truly struggled for my happiness this last year. Genuine joy, however small, has been fleeting, and difficult to grasp – but this last week I found it again. Every time it didn’t rain. Every time someone wept from happy pride that they were accomplishing all this. Every time we met another fundraising goal, every time someone spoke about the work that PWA does and will do with the money and time we all gave them, every time we reflected on the privilege we have that gives us the time and energy to do something like this… every time we weren’t lost, or poor, or hungry, or sick, I thought “There it is. We are so lucky.”

It was there the very first day, when as we cycled across beautiful Ontario, in the bright sunshine, and I turned to my friends and said “look how lucky we are.” When that night, even though it called for thunderstorms, it just sprinkled, and then there was a rainbow – actually, scratch that. There was a double rainbow.

It rained a little in the night I think, but the tents weren’t even wet in the morning.  One of the days – who knows which one, they’re all a blur – we arrived in camp, Cameron showed me the weather forecast – and it was dire.  Rain, rain, rain – with little respite all night, and even more dumping on us the next day as we rode.  At the time I told him that I was opting out of believing it, that maybe it wouldn’t rain, and he cocked an eyebrow, continued putting a tarp over his stuff, and shook his head a little at my delusion. I knew it was crazy, but I’d long taken things I couldn’t control off my worry list, and the weather was right up there. Ten minutes later it sprinkled again, not even enough to bug anybody, and then cleared right up beautifully.

 

There were no ambulances. Nobody got badly hurt. We met a fundraising goal and didn’t raise it, feeling bad about moving the goalposts, and then were staggered when we surpassed it, and then surpassed what we’d secretly hoped for, and then surpassed that again. The fancy message from the Prime Minister we didn’t think would arrive in time did.  I felt great on my bike, strong and fast. The generator broke one night, but it was fixed really quickly. People got along- they made friends, I didn’t have to work so hard that I didn’t have time for some fun, and on the last night in spider camp, there was only two spiders on my tent and that is a freakin’ miracle.  It was warm, but just a little overcast so that nobody got too hot, and three days there was a wind at our backs, speeding us along. I have never been more grateful. Almost everything worked, even the things that I didn’t think were going to.  One night, as we slept, the worst part of one of the bike paths we had to ride was freshly paved – we didn’t even have to deal with the construction crew.

I am not going to pretend that there weren’t challenges. The whole thing is a challenge, that’s the point. I’m not going to say I didn’t cry on my bike a few times (the hills, holy wing of moth) or that there wasn’t a morning when we all ate ibuprofen like they were tictacs. I won’t tell you it wasn’t hard, or that there weren’t things that went wrong – and I’m also not going to fail to mention that a lot of what seemed like “good luck” was the result of a lot of people who worked really, really hard in the year leading up to the Rally to make it a great place for good luck to land – but overall, the fates smiled. (I still slept for about three days straight when it was over – and I’m not the only one. Ken was still sitting gingerly at dinner last night.) I am not going to tell you that this fixes everything- that joy and unfettered happiness are back in my life without restraint, but oh, it felt so good to have a success – to see everyone succeed, to see them so moved by it all.

When we arrived in Montreal, I stood up in front of all the riders and I told them the truth. In your life, if you are very lucky, you will get one hundred summers, and I cannot believe that they chose to spend one of them on this. I am so proud of them, of the riders, of the crew, of the committees who worked so hard. I am so proud of every single one of you too – Team Knit collectively raised $105,326.49 this year, and the Rally itself a record $1.73 million.  I have said it a thousand times, riding my bike to Montreal does nothing without you.  It wouldn’t make a single bit of difference without the donations and momentum you all put behind us.  The ride is just a metaphor – a symbol of our commitment, and without your actual commitment, we’re just some really sweaty people on bikes. You, my petals, are the thing that made it matter, and I am so lucky to have you.

When I asked for your help, you said yes, and helped as best you could, and now,  each one of those yeses, is going to turn into something amazing over the next year. They’re going to turn into times when someone enduring real bad luck walks into PWA and asks for help, and whoever is sitting at the front desk can say Yes, this is your lucky day.

Thank you.

(I’m going to knit something now.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Armchair Planet Who's Who Update

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 11:00
Art by Agus Calcagno
There's been a bit of a lull in the posting on the Armchair Planet Who's Who superhero supplement, but work proceeds. Here are a couple of new pieces of art to prove it! Since designer's notes seem to be the new hip thing (at least according to G+ discussion), I wanted to say a bit about my approach to the writing of it, beyond the game stats side of things.

Like Strange Stars, the Who's Who is meant to suggest a world rather than completely describe it. Unlike Strange Stars, it does it almost entirely through characters, and specifically the presentation of character like the DC Who's Who or similar to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. This means there might be more detail on a given character (maybe) than you need at the table, but you can always flip the page and go straight to the game stats. Or, you can read the text and get hints of the superhero universe the characters inhabit, and perhaps a sort of meta view of the different "ages" f the fictional comic book company that published them. (We won't dwell on the hypothetical Armchair Planet Comics. The only textual appearance of it will be in the "first appearances" of characters, which can be easily ignored if you find such conceits too precious.)

So you might read about the Abhumans making their home in an abandoned city of the ancient Hyperboreans or learn that Thunderhawk once teamed up with those motorcycle-riding, crimefighting ladies, the Avenging Angels, but you won't find entries for either Avenging Angels or Hyperboreans, or for the teen-humor-comic-refugee band, The Tomorrows, that Futura shares a house with. Context will hopefully be enough to get your creative juices flowing and you don't need me over-specifying homages to various fictional entities you're already aware of. If your version is substantially different than the one I came up with, well that's just fine.

Also, the characters themselves, while all fitting a late Bronze Age DC mold have hints of the eras they were likely "born" in built into them. Some have origins that clearly saw their earliest versions in the Golden Age (like Champion), while others (like Damselfly) show telltale signs of (multiple) later eras. My goal was less a consistent comics universe than a naturalistic one, though like any good handbook of the mid-80s, I've smoothed over the incongruities to make it look coherent. Which is to say, I wrote it like incongruities were being smoothed over.

As I write this, it all sounds a bit metatextual, but I don't think the finished product will require that level of engagement. Also, I feel like superhero role-playing is a genre that has always had a bit of metatextuality to it. If comics history easter eggs and homages can be put to use in springboarding the creation, well maybe, if used with restraint, they might serve a purpose.

Art by Chris Malgrain

Hanging Gift Card Holder and Luggage Tag Tutorial

Moogly - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 14:54

The Hanging Gift Card Holder and Luggage Tag is a perfect beginner pattern – great for gift giving and for craft fairs! And I’ll show you every step to make your own in this Hanging Gift Card Holder and Luggage Tag Tutorial on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Red Heart [...]

The post Hanging Gift Card Holder and Luggage Tag Tutorial appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Living Planet (part 4)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 11:00
My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.


Storm: The Living Planet (1986) (part 4)
(Dutch: De Levende Planeet)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Thanks to his rescue of the daughter of the crew member, the captain agrees to let him try his plan to kill the fire worm, despite the fact he's an escaped debtor. However, Ember is held hostage and put in peril to unsure he's not playing tricks:


Storm climbs on board one of the flyers with one of the pilots and arms himself with a harpoon.  When he sends a harpoon down the creatures throat, it explodes internally, where the worm has no armor:


Their flying mount is hit by pieces of the flying worm and is going down.


The current makes the animals body rigid, and they are able to walk down its wing to rescue before it is consumed by the lava. They are greeted as heroes. Ember is set free. They are debtors no more.

Storm, as the worm's killer is offered the honor of drinking one of it's eyes. Storm demures.

The Captain now has to figure out what to do with Storm and the other freed debtors. Before they can complete the conversation, both Ember and Storm began to choke and ultimately collapse!


TO BE CONTINUED

234

Looking For Group - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 04:00

The post 234 appeared first on Tiny Dick Adventures.

Categories: Web Comics

Hookin On Hump Day #172: A Yarny Link Party!

Moogly - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 01:00

This week’s collection on Hookin on Hump Day is beating the heat with cool blue tones! Are you feeling called to the beach for some late summer crochet? This round we have 5 fab new patterns – which one will be your new seaside project? Hookin On Hump Day is a knit and crochet link [...]

The post Hookin On Hump Day #172: A Yarny Link Party! appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

Exploit kits: summer 2018 review

Malwarebytes - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 15:00

The uptick trend in cybercriminals using exploit kits that we first noticed in our spring 2018 report has continued into the summer. Indeed, not only have new kits been found, but older ones are still showing signs of life. This has made the summer quarter one of the busiest we’ve seen for exploits in a while.

Perhaps one caveat is that, apart from the RIG and GrandSoft exploit kits, we observe the majority of EK activity contained in Asia, maybe due to a greater likelihood of encountering vulnerable systems in that region. Malware distributors have complained that “loads” for the North American or European markets are too low via exploit kit, but other areas are still worthy targets.

In addition, we have witnessed many smaller and unsophisticated attackers using one or two exploits bluntly embedded in compromised websites. In this era of widely-shared exploit proof-of-concepts (PoCs), we are starting to see an increase in what we call “pseudo-exploit kits.” These are drive-by downloads that lack proper infrastructure and are typically the work of a lone author.

In this post, we will review the following exploit kits:

CVEs

Two newly found vulnerabilities in 2018, Internet Explorer’s CVE-2018-8174 and Flash’s CVE-2018-4878, have been widely adopted and represent the only real attack surface at play. Nevertheless, some kits are still using older exploits in technologies that are being retired, and most likely with little efficacy.

RIG EK

RIG EK remains quite active in malvertising campaigns and compromised websites, and is one of the few exploit kits with a wider geographic presence. It is pictured below in what we call the HookAds campaign, delivering the AZORult stealer.

GrandSoft EK

GrandSoft is probably the second most active exploit kit with a backend infrastructure that is fairly static in comparison to RIG. Interestingly, both EKs can sometimes be seen sharing the same distribution campaigns, as pictured below:

Magnitude EK

Magnitude, the South Korean–focused EK, keeps delivering its own strain of ransomware (Magniber). We documented changes in Magniber in recent weeks with some code improvements, as well as a wider casting net among several Asian countries.

GreenFlash Sundown EK

A sophisticated but more elusive EK focusing on Flash’s CVE-2018-4878, GreenFlash Sundown is still active in parts of Asia thanks to a network of compromised OpenX ad servers. We haven’t seen any major changes since the last time we profiled it, and it is still distributing the Hermes ransomware.

KaiXin EK

KaiXin EK (also known as CK VIP) is an older exploit kit of Chinese origin, which has maintained its activity over the years. It is unique for the fact that it uses a combination of old (Java) and new vulnerabilities. When we captured it, we noted that it pushed the Gh0st RAT (Remote Access Trojan).

Underminer EK

Although this exploit kit was only identified and named recently, it has been around since at least November 2017 (perhaps with only limited distribution to the Chinese market). It is an interesting EK from a technical perspective with, for example, the use of encryption to package its exploit and prevent offline replays using traffic captures.

Another out-of-the-ordinary aspect of Underminer is its payload, which isn’t a packaged binary like others, but rather a set of libraries that install a bootkit on the compromised system. By altering the device’s Master Boot Record, this threat can launch a cryptominer every time the machine reboots.

Pseudo-EKs

Many exploit packs have leaked and been poached over the years, notwithstanding the availability of a large number of other dumps (i.e. HackingTeam) or proofs-of-concept. As a result, it is not surprising to see many less-skilled actors putting together their own “pseudo-exploit kits.” They are a far cry from being an EK—they are usually static in nature, their copy/paste exploits are buggy, and consequently, they are only used by the same threat actor in limited distribution. The pseudo-exploit we picture below (offensive domain name has been blurred) is one of the better ones we saw in July, in particular for its use of CVE-2018-8174.

Mitigation

We are continuously checking drive-by download attacks against our software. This time around, we had a more extensive test bed thanks to new and old exploit kits making it into this summer edition. Malwarebytes continues to block exploit kits with different layers of technology to protect our customers.

Don’t call it a comeback

It seems as though talking about the demise of exploit kits triggered an opposite reaction. Certainly, some digging is required to encounter the more obscure or geo-focused toolkits, but this revival of sorts continues thanks to Internet Explorer’s—and to a lesser extent Flash’s—newly found vulnerabilities.

While IE has a small and decreasing global market share (7 percent), it still has an important presence in countries like South Korea (31 percent) or Japan (18 percent), which could explain why there is still notable activity in a few select regions.

Exploit kits, even in a reduced and less impactful form, are likely to stick around for a while, at least for as long as people use a browser that wants to latch on indefinitely.

The post Exploit kits: summer 2018 review appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

[BLOG] Year Two, and Onwards

Beyond Fomalhaut - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 12:08
Things I made this year
Beyond Fomalhaut started two years ago, and while most people tend to do this in late December or early January, this is my regular time for stock-taking and reflecting (and ranting). I should actually have posted this a day or two earlier to make it exactly one year, but we were gaming. Gaming takes precedence. Sitting down by the table with my circle of friends and playing is the reason to participate in this hobby, and it is the wellspring from which everything else flows. I am making a point here, and I will return to it at the end of the post. But for now,
The State of the Blog
Last year, I had 55 posts; this year, I had 42, this one included. It is slightly less (although some of my 2016 posts were reposts), and there have been more reviews than discussion. I have always been more of an actual play guy than a theorist, and I just had less to say about general matters than I used to. (I also canned some posts I did not think were up to par.) Reviews, on the other hand, are not just easy and enjoyable to write, they sometimes involve discussion on practical game design. The 23 I posted average out at 3.0, about the same as in 2016-2017 (3.1). This year, there were more outliers and slightly less reviews in the middle. This is how the rating break down:
  • 5 with the Prestigious Monocled Bird of Excellence (). This rating was not awarded this year.
  • 5 went to one new product, The Red Prophet Rises. This is a great sword&sorcery adventure module which I would recommend without reservations.
  • 4 went to eight products, ranging from the fairly high-profile (The Hyqueous Vaults and Deep Carbon Observatory) to the oddball little surprises you find in PDFs, zines, and even a blog post (Sanctum of the Snail, The Quarrymen and The Secret Garden of Lord Vyre). These are very good, too.
  • 3 went to seven adventures. Most of them were in the “decent but could have been better” league, with the only flawed gem being Crypt of the Lilac High Priest and I almost gave that one a four. I would recommend Lilac High Priest with some reworking, and Fever Swamp if you like a good helping of masochism in your gaming.
  • 2 went to four adventures. This mostly means there is an entire category of lacking modules I am successfully avoiding, or leafing through and not writing the review. To turn Tolstoy’s quote on its head, “every good adventure is good in its own way, while the poor ones are all alike”. There are patterns common to this rating which can become helpful warning signs for the reader, and a time-saver for the harried reviewer. I will post on this issue soonish.
  • 1 went to three adventures. One, The Wrath of Grapes, was classic shovelware, the kind you pick up out of curiosity and regret immediately afterwards. Then we come to Orcs in Tarodun’s Tomb and The Exfiltrators, which both caught me off guard at the end of this year. Neither of these were newbie efforts; in fact, they were both written by people with fairly well-known names and industry awards. Something went wrong in both cases: one is a creative failure as an intro adventure, and the other is a return to bad writing and design practices which have been around in the hobby for a long while. I suppose both are instructive in the “don’t do this” sense.

My campaign journal, still going strong last year, died an ignoble death after its 13th instalment. I don’t think it had too many followers: the posts were too long, increasingly convoluted (a fairly natural progression for a campaign, but not easy to buy into as a reader), and I am no writer. It has also been more useful to share actual game materials, which brings us to...
The State of the Fanzine
From concept...E.M.D.T. lives, again! After a lot of vacillation about the business end of things, I took the jump and launched my zine. This has been a tremendously enjoyable experience, and probably the best way to publish game materials these days. I have long been complaining that social media and blogs have the wrong kind of architecture to make things last – posts inevitably drop out of sight in the information churn, and hobby publications do not receive enough time to prove themselves and find their proper place in the popular imagination. Zines are small and inexpensive enough to be personal, but substantial enough to have staying power. These are not exactly the newsletter-style zines of the 70s to 90s: their information exchange role has been assumed by the Internet, so you don’t really get much of correspondence and commentaries-upon-commentaries that had once served to connect fandom. (This was still the case in Chaos Ultra, the late-90s diskmag where my first game-related writings appeared.) Instead, they are an excellent venue for self-expression and craftmanship.
...to reality.This aspect has always drawn me to zines and newsletters. For a long time, most of my output was in the form of PDFs, but I grew to miss the look and substance of a physical product. I knew Echoes From Fomalhaut would have to be a physical zine, and I had very specific ideas about the way it would look and feel (mainly influenced by the early Judges Guild instalments). There is something slower and more old-fashioned about a paper zine than an RPGNow PDF. I buy and enjoy a lot of those, too, but receiving an envelope in the mail and poring over someone’s handmade booklet is a feeling like no other. It also goes for publishing my own. Writing and disseminating a zine involves a lot of busywork from editing to packing envelopes and doing taxes, and now that I’m working out of the weekend house, it is kind of physical, too – the post is 40 minutes away on foot, and a round trip in the summer heat is a good daily walk. But it is tremendously enjoyable labour. So much of what we do these days is virtual or hard to put into concrete terms that the routine of processing orders feels like a task that produces clearly understandable value. Seeing the first working proofs after multiple homemade prototypes, or bringing three or four envelopes’ worth of zines to the post at a time is a reward onto itself.
The ideologues among us could be right to point out that Echoes, like most of its peers, kinda betrays the DIY principle. That’s correct: I did not actually make it all by myself. I have had help, and lots of it. The unsung hero behind the zine is Akos Barta, my printer: an old gamer friend from way back, he owns the printing company which had published my 2013 Helvéczia boxed set, and now prints and assembles my booklets. I have also been lucky to commission excellent illustrators who truly “get” the old-school style: Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, Matthew Ray and Andrew Walter (so far). As Denis had once remarked in our personal correspondence, they draw on different old-school predecessors from Sutherland, Russ Nicholson, Trampier and a bit of Otus; I will add that they also have developed personal styles that are their own, and which fire my imagination. Last but not least, my players: obviously, but sometimes you have to restate the obvious. Thanks, guys!
Zine readers vs. zine publishersSo how’s the business going? The first two issues of Echoes From Fomalhaut, and The Barbarian King, which was kind of a test balloon to see if I could also do print modules, have sold sufficiently well to recoup my costs and generate a modest profit after social security and the taxman’s cut (you are welcome, guys). Echoes #01 is getting close to selling out its first print run at 194 of 220 copies sold (this does not count a 30-copy pre-release I distributed at a Hungarian game convention), and will be reprinted; TBK and Echoes #02 are at 121 and 115 copies out of 240. This means the zine project is financially self-sustainable, and generates a profit I can reinvest into subsequent issues, more modules, as well as larger projects down the line. That’s pretty good. The next issue of Echoes is scheduled for late September, and I would like to make it run on a quarterly schedule, with the odd module and supplement on the side. The next module will be in the Hungarian, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of my RPG (it will also be the 50th E.M.D.T. release). If time allows, I would also like to release something in English, a utility product based on something I had once worked on with Matt Finch, but never ended up releasing. This may or may not come out before Christmas.
I did not finish this
The State of My Other Projects

People who have been reading this blog might remember the promises. Well, burnout and a stronger focus on the zine has also meant that Castle Xyntillan, my Tegel Manor homage, has been very slow to progress, but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel. I was dissatisfied with some of my ideas for the dungeons, and rather than beat my head against the wall, I scrapped the problem areas and replaced them with something completely different. We are also in the final stages of our campaign, meaning we will wrap it up soon and if I can find the time, it will be reasonably easy to complete the manuscript and hand it out to people for comments and criticism while I redraw the maps (they will still be hand-drawn, just a bit prettier). Xyntillan is going to be a larger book, maybe a hardcover similar in size to the 1e PHB, with large foldout GM and player maps (either two or three of them each). It is also for OD&D/S&W.
Helvéczia, my picaresque fantasy RPG, has been lying untouched for almost two years now (the last major work I did on it was in August 2016). The rulebooks and the first two adventures are translated and mostly laid out, but as projects tend to go, I stalled at 90% readiness and haven’t been inspired to progress ever since. It will happen, although I don’t know if it will happen in 2019. Maybe the end of it. Helvéczia is a game I believe in, and want to see it done right no matter what it takes (apparently, years).
Other things I made this yearThere is also something else I haven’t been talking much about on RPG forums. Thief: The Dark Project, my favourite computer game will have its 20th anniversary at the end of November, and there is a level design contest for an old-school thieving experience. Some ten years ago, I was one of the people trying to go for an old-school aesthetic in the Thief level design community, and I have since found a following of talentedpeople (for some reason mainly French) who have taken things to the next level. In the last eight years, I have been focusing on The Dark Mod, the free Thief-inspired stealth game, but the anniversary and the contest were a one of a time opportunity to return to Thief level editing. It turns out Dromed, the hoary old level editor used to build Thief fan missions, is as quirky as ever, but it has gotten some improvements to make it easier to work with and remove some of its hard limitations.
"That stupid thing with all the lines"Building Thief levels is an incredibly addictive hobby; using simple geometric shapes (cubes, wedges, cylinders, pyramids, corner-apex pyramids and dodecahedrons) to construct complex terrain and build rewarding gameplay is time-consuming and utterly absorbing. Where a simple house could be a cube with two wedges on the top, a sequence of interlocking shapes (which can be solid, “air” or water) can result in some pretty sophisticated stuff. Of course, by current computer game standards, Thief is incredibly low-fi: even on its release 20 years ago, it didn’t win any awards for graphics. But it is this low-fi aesthetic which makes it look timeless, and its other features (a revolutionary stealth system, the world’s best sound design, and the ability to build huge, labyrinthine levels have stood the test of time very well. If some of my RPG projects have been slow to appear, Thief and Dromed are partly to blame.
The State of the Old School
Old-school gaming is as stable these days as it gets. It may not be obvious to many, but with its roots in communities like Dragonsfoot, the OD&Dities fanzine, and the Necromancer Games forums, it has been around since 2000 and 2001. OSRIC was published in 2006, and Swords & Wizardry will turn ten this October. Contrary to a lot of doomsaying and wishful thinking on part of its detractors, it has not been proven a passing fad, or a few nostalgiacs clinging to their childhood. Instead, our niche interest (and a niche interest it will remain) has established itself as a legitimate approach to gaming. It is here to stay, although not necessarily at the level of its 2010-2012 peak. Being fan-based and decentralised without a dominant lead product, old-school gaming has weathered its boom years better than the d20 system.
The breadth of old-school gaming has necessarily brought divisions: with common roots in the classics, the communities around OSRIC, LotFP, Into the ODD and Dungeon Crawl Classics can easily remain in communication, but they are otherwise increasingly separated by taste, design interests, and the kind of people they attract. I personally think early 1st edition AD&D is the game with the strongest and most distinct creative legacy, and the common wellspring to which we can (and should) all return time and time again. There is, however, no denying that there is an equally strong interest in the Basic/Expert lineage, a segment of the OSR which has strongly overlapped with the indies, and ideas which have drifted off into far-flung corners of gaming. In some of these cases, the influence and mutations of old-school philosophies may yield surprising new result. It may also turn out we may not like some of them. So it goes; this is, fortunately, a corner of the hobby where the stakes are small, and everyone can create the kind of gaming they want. More or less, anyway.
Social_media.pngThe last time, I mentioned commercialisation and a loss of our focus (as bottom-up, actual play-focused DIY communities) as one of the threats which can seriously harm us in the future. I am not too happy to bring it up, but this time, it is politics. Make no mistake, I am not anti-political (to the contrary, I am a politics junkie), and if releasing a politically charged game is your poison, be my guest. But there is too much of a good thing, and the people who can’t shut up about their specific brand of radicalism are becoming a nuisance. Perhaps a lot of things are political, including my chair, my table, and especially the parasol I am sitting under (all bourgeois conceits when I could be building barricades), but the people who try to bring their crummy politics into everything are rapidly becoming “that guy”. And they never seem to notice themselves.
But there is more than nuisance, there is just plain shitty behaviour. When you see people clamouring to punish other gamers for imagined or real ideological transgressions, or for associating with the wrong kind of people, or as it happened, for interviewing someone on a podcast who had associated with the wrong kind of people, that is not a “nuisance”. These people will incessantly talk about toxicity and bad guys, while consistently making the Internet a worse place for everyone. They will try to ruin you, get you fired from your job and destroy your business and reputation for failing their self-made ideological tests. The thing to realise is that fuck no they aren’t fighting the good fight, and they are not acting out of good intentions, let alone “self-defence”. These ideological bullies want power, and they’ll be sure to start abusing it as soon as they get their hands on it. We ought to recognise it. We have known Pat Pulling and her ilk, and these new heirs of her are just the same, the same, the same. They don’t own gaming and they only speak for a small clique. The correct response to their jackassery is found in the classics: “Well, hello, Mister Fancypants. Well, I've got news for you, pal, you ain't leadin’ but two things right now: jack and shit... and Jack left town.”
What to do, then, if you perceive something political in gaming that annoys you? My plan is to game more, and that should be your plan, too. First of all, a commitment to gaming will weed out the people who are in “the community” to spread misery and generate outrage. They can fuck off back to wherever they came from. Second, in its own modest way, I think gaming is beneficial. Our hobby is built around friendship and hospitality, and if there is something our world needs more of, it is those two.  How many times do modern people invite friends over to sit around their dinner table for a few hours of conversation? More than that, enjoying gaming lets us realise the things we have in common. Shared creativity and friendship enriches us all. Is gaming a recipe for moral improvement? Do not ask too much of it. But do not undersell the small things either.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Would Dungeons & Dragons Play Better If It Stayed Loyal to How Gary Gygax Awarded Hit Points?

DM David - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 11:20

In a typical fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure, characters will reach every battle with full hit points. Healing comes too easily to enter a battle at less than full health. Above level 10 or so, spells like Aid and Heroes Feast mean parties routinely pass their day with hit point totals above their ordinary maximums.

By the time characters near level 10, few monsters inflict enough damage to seem threatening. Except for a few outliers like giants, foes lack the punch to dent characters at maximum hit points. If round of combat results in a gargoyle hitting a 90-hit-point character 6 damage, then the fight seems like a bookkeeping exercise. “At this rate, I can only survive 14 more rounds!”

I know I sound like a broken record but man, high level #dnd monsters don’t do nearly enough damage. This is true in Mordenkainen’s as well. The Leviathan, a CR 20 monster, does about 62 damage per round when it should do about twice that at least according to the DMG.

— SlyFlourish (@SlyFlourish) May 19, 2018

I think every edition of DnD has had that problem. It’s why authors would tweak 3E monsters with absurd templates and levels. Or why I spent hours picking good monsters in 4E and 5E, plus adding terrain damage, etc.

— Alphastream (@Alphastream) May 19, 2018

The fifth-edition design limits the highest armor classes so weaker monsters can attack stronger characters and still hit on rolls less than a natural 20. This design aims to enable hordes of low-level monsters to challenge high-level characters. In practice, the hits inflict such pitiful damage that the hero would feel less pain than the bookkeeping causes to the player. It’s the pencils that suffer the most.

The obvious fix to high-level creatures and their feeble damage is to make monsters’ attacks hurt more. Mike “Sly Flourish” Shea routinely makes creatures inflict maximum damage on every hit.

But what if the solution doesn’t come from the monsters? What if characters at double-digit levels just have too many hit points?

If high-level characters had fewer hit points, high-level monsters with their puny attacks would suddenly become a bit more threatening. Lower-level monsters could pose more of a threat high-level heroes without becoming too dangerous to low-level characters. High-level PCs would still rip through weak foes, but the survivors could deal enough damage to seem dangerous rather than laughable.

D&D no longer focuses entirely on dungeon crawls where characters judge when to rest based on their remaining store of hit points and spells. The game’s move to storytelling means characters often face just one fight per day. Healing comes cheap and easy, so characters start fights at full hit points. Lower hit points at high levels would suit the reality that characters enter every fight at maximum health. In more battles, foes would seem like credible opponents.

Of course, no one has ever argued that low-level characters sport too many hit points. New characters feel as fragile as soap bubbles. Before level 5, don’t get too attached to your hero. As characters near level 10, they begin to seem stout. They rarely go down in anything short of a slugfest, so they feel like superheroes, but not invulnerable.

But in double-digit levels character hit points keep rising at the same steep rate until DMs resort to letting monsters routinely deal maximum damage. D&D might play better if, somewhere around level 10, characters stopped gaining so many hit points.

When I first considered this notion, I dismissed it as too big a break from the D&D’s conventions. For nearly two decades, characters have gained a full die worth of hit points at every level.

Except for most of D&D’s history, somewhere around level 10, characters stopped gaining so many hit points.

From the original game through second edition, when D&D characters reached level 9 or so, they started gaining hit points at a much slower rate. In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, fighters rising above 9th level gained 3 hit points per level with no bonus for constitution. Other classed gained even fewer points. Continuing to let characters gain a full hit die plus constitution bonus at every level defies D&D’s origins.

The original limits to hit dice served as co-creator Gary Gygax’s way of putting a soft level cap on D&D. The cap kept the game’s link to the Chainmail mass-combat rules, where the best fighters acted as “superheroes” who could match the power of 8 soldiers. Gary wanted a game where crowds of orcs or goblins could still challenge the heroes.

Admittedly, when I started playing D&D, I disliked how characters’ hit points topped out. Gary and his hit-dice tables seemed to punish players of high-level characters—especially fighters.

Although the soft cap on hit points lasted 25 years, the cap on the other perks of leveling started to disappear as soon as the first Greyhawk supplement reached gamers. While the original box topped out at 6th-level spells, Greyhawk included spells of up to 9th level. Gary never intended player characters to cast the highest-level spells, but that didn’t stop players.

By the time designers started work on third edition, they aimed to deliver perks to every class at every level from 1 to 20. The soft cap on hit points must have seemed vestigial. The designers felt the game’s math could handle a steep rise in hit points past level 10. The design abandoned any aim of making groups of low-level mooks a match for high-level heroes. Besides, a steady rise in HP made the multi-classing rules simpler.

Today’s D&D game does a fine job of awarding every class—even fighters—perks at every level. Nobody leveling into the teens gets excited about another helping of hit points. Reverting to smaller hit point advances doesn’t spoil anyone’s fun.

Fifth edition keeps levels and monsters at power levels broadly similar to those in original game. This loose compatibility makes adventures written during D&D’s first 20 years continue to work with the new edition. In theory, a DM can just swap in monster stats from the new game and play. In practice, higher-level characters have more hit points, more healing, and the creatures fail to do enough damage to keep up. Story-centered adventures make the mismatch worse.

Suppose Gary Gygax had hit points right all along. Would D&D play better if characters stopped gaining so many after level 9?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Geometry

Knitting | Work in Progress - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 16:20
When I was a kid, geometry was one of my favorite classes. In fact, I distinctly recall completing a rather complex project where we were charged with representing a series of geometric shapes in a way that demonstrated our understanding of the underlying mathematical principles.

I used pins and colored string to create swirling, dimensional shapes that impressed my teacher (known for his tough standards) and won me a top grade. This was a very long time ago, and while I've seen similar things since then, at the time it was seen as fresh and unique.

Clearly, my love of textiles and geometry can be traced back to my childhood, so I guess it's no surprise that color, texture and crisp geometric shapes regularly surface in my knitting designs.


All of this is a long way of saying I have another afghan on the needles, and it's moving forward at a steady, satisfying pace. The first strip is finished, and it's patiently waiting in the background while I tackle the next one.



I confess, I'm rather excited by this project. It's fast and easy, a quality I treasure at times like this, when work (and life) are so complicated there's nothing more enticing than a simple, straightforward knit. 

It's also a true stashbuster. I'm using Four Seasons, a lovely cotton-wool blend by Classic Elite, yarn I've held in my stash until the right project came along. This project will put quite a dent in that precious reserve, but it will also move a fair amount of yardage out of stash, which is an ongoing goal.

Finally, I once wrote that in the US, red, white and blue where the true colors of summer, so it seems only fitting to be working on a project that features these iconic colors. And if all goes well and time permits, I may have it completed just in time for Labor Day, the last big blowout of the summer season. We shall see.

RELATEDI Heart Red, White & BlueSpotlight | Red, White & Blue Holidays


Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.
Categories: Knitting Feeds

A week in security (July 30 – August 5)

Malwarebytes - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 16:07

Last week, we posted a roundup of spam that may have landed in your mailbox, talked about what makes us susceptible to social engineering tactics, and took a deep dive into big data.

Other news:
  • Facebook claimed to have removed accounts that display behavior consistent with possible Russian actors engaged in misinformation. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
  • Yale University disclosed that they were breached at least a decade ago. (Source: NBC – Connecticut)
  • High school students, be on the lookout! If you receive email or snail mail from organizations with impressive-sounding names, consider that it may just be a carefully packaged marketing scheme. (Source: Sophos’s Naked Security Blog)
  • A researcher from Amnesty International revealed that hackers have targeted them with malware from an Israeli vendor. (Source: Motherboard)
  • Certain e-commerce providers in the UK were affected by a data breach and exposed potentially more than a million user data. (Source: Graham Cluley’s blog)
  • A game on the Steam platform was found hijacking video game player machines to mine cryptocurrency. (Source: Motherboard)
  • The Alaskan Borough of Matanuska-Susitna was infected with malware that disrupted normal activities so much that they had to dust off old typewriters to continue issuing receipts. (Source: Sophos’s Naked Security blog)
  • While we’re on the subject of breaches, here’s another popular victim: Reddit. (Source: TechCrunch)
  • Google joined Apple in banning mining apps on the Play Store. (Source: Coin Central)
  • An independent security researcher from the UK spotted a DHL-themed spam carrying malware hidden in a GIF file. (Source: The SANS ISC InfoSec Forums)

Stay safe, everyone!

The post A week in security (July 30 – August 5) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Red Heart An Italian Story Ombra Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 15:00

Red Heart has debuted an amazing new line of yarns – An Italian Story! These yarns are made in Italy, and they are absolutely gorgeous. The one that called to me right away was the An Italian Story Ombra, with gorgeous color-shifting and chainette construction – and I get to give away enough to make an [...]

The post Red Heart An Italian Story Ombra Giveaway appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

Weird Revisited: Antediluvian Apocalyptic

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 11:00
The original version of this post appeared in November of 2015. It's an idea I revisited from a slightly different angle about a year later.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
                                                      - Genesis 6:5Think Carcosa is the only horrifying milieu for gonzo adventure fantasy? Ditch the mutli-colored men (maybe) and get Biblical, Old Testament style.

Before the Flood, (the book of Genesis tells us) humankind was exceedingly wicked, which is a good way for them to be for adventuring, really. And there were giants (gibborim) in the earth, and the Nephilim (either giants or fallen angels, or the children of fallen angels. Or something.), who were "mighty men or men of renown." Talking serpents from Eden were still probably around somewhere. And though the Bible doesn't mention they specifically, any good creationist will tell you there were dinosaurs. Check out this I'm sure meticulously researched timeline:

(source)It's not hard to imagine a sword and sandals (plus sorcery) or barbaric sort of world were weird Antediluvian beasts and human-angel hybrids run rampant--and apocalypse hangs over it all. It's like Afronosky's Noah meets The Road. Or Hok the Mighty meets Blood Meridian. The Aaron/Guera comic The Goddamned approaches this same era, and it has a Nephilim eat Cain in the first story arc. (It does not turn out so well for the Nephilim.)

Actually Masters of the Universe, but this fits.

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