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BUNDLES for SECRET WEAPONS #1-4 and X-O MANOWAR

First Comics News - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 16:58

Valiant is proud to announce that the publisher’s best-selling pre-order edition bundles will return this June with two new offerings: the SECRET WEAPONS #1-4 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE and the X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4-9 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE! Expanding each of Valiant’s seismic releases to a colossal 40 pages packed with exclusive material for the standard $3.99 cover price, orders for each upcoming PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE must be placed with your local comics retailer by the June 2017 initial order date of April 27th, 2017 before they’re gone forever!

“The success of Valiant’s first pre-order bundle for the launch of X-O Manowar in March took everyone by surprise. On every level, from longtime fans to new readers to retailers, it exceeded our internal expectations by several multiples,” said Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani. “Based on that reaction, we’re upping the ante and expanding the program to include two of our biggest series of the summer and creating special features, including a ‘deleted scene’ that otherwise would have never been made available to the general public. This really is a special format and, as a show of thanks to those readers who get their pre-orders in early with their local comic shops, we’re redoubling our efforts to pack each and every Valiant pre-order edition to the gills with exclusive content too expansive for a standard comic.”

First: Reserve each issue of Livewire’s stunning, much-anticipated solo debut with the SECRET WEAPONS #1–4 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE – spanning the complete, VALIANT PRESTIGE-format limited series from Academy Award-nominated writer Eric Heisserer (screenwriter of the international hit motion picture ARRIVAL, as well as the upcoming BLOODSHOT and HARBINGER feature films from Sony Pictures) and Harvey Award-nominated artist Raul Allen (Wrath of the Eternal Warrior)! Released monthly from June through September, each PRE-ORDER EDITION comes packed with trade paperback-style extras and bonus content, including creator commentary, behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of the comics, process character designs and artwork, and first looks at upcoming issues! Available only as a pre-order set, the SECRET WEAPONS #1-4 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE can only be ordered as a set and must be ordered with your local comic shop by the initial order date of April 27th, 2017!

The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure. A young girl who can talk to birds… A boy who can make inanimate objects gently glow… To others, these are expensive disappointments. But, to Livewire, they are secret weapons…in need of a leader. Now, as a mechanized killer called Rexo seeks to draw them out, Livewire and her new team of cadets will be forced to put their powers into action…in ways they never could have imagined…

Then: In the wake of X-O Manowar’s epic debut, don’t miss the next staggering act of the year’s most-talked about new series with the X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4-9 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE! Available only as a pre-order set, the X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4-9 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE – including six, massively expanded editions of X-O MANOWAR’s “GENERAL” and “EMPEROR” story arcs by New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (Divinity, Dept. H) and superstar artists Doug Braithwaite (Bloodshot U.S.A., Justice) and Clayton Crain (Rai, X-Force) – can only be ordered as a set and must be ordered with your local comic shop by the initial order date of April 27th, 2017! Released monthly from June through November, each installment of this six-issue pre-order bundle comes packed with all-new extras and bonus content, including creator commentary and behind-the-scenes process materials…including AN UNFINISHED DELETED SCENE that won’t be found anywhere else!

In the fires of victory, a soldier becomes…a general. With the hostile Cadmium army crushed beneath his force’s boots, Aric of Dacia now commands an entire fleet into the final battle for the soul of an empire. But as a new dawn rises across this unrelenting alien world, what vicious new menace will come forth to greet it?

The only way to obtain each of these Valiant PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLES is to pre-order both sets  with your local comic shop by the June initial order date of April 27th, 2017! No more copies will be made available beyond that date and subsequent issues will not be offered in later solicitations!

Head to your local comic shop and place your orders early to get an exclusive and expanded reading experience like no other! Loaded with new content that fans won’t find anywhere else, now is the time to jump onboard the most talked-about series of the summer, only in the SECRET WEAPONS #1-4 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE and the X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4-9 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE – only available until April 27th, 2017!

SECRET WEAPONS #1 (of 4)
Written by ERIC HEISSERER
Art by RAÚL ALLÉN with PATRICIA MARTIN
Cover A by RAÚL ALLÉN
Cover B by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC
Variant Cover by ROBERTO DE LA TORRE
Variant Cover by BRYAN HITCH
Signed Virgin Art Variant by RAÚL ALLÉN (Individually Signed by ERIC HEISSERER)
Blank Cover Also Available
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PRESTIGE | On Sale JUNE 28th (FOC – 6/5/17)

SECRET WEAPONS PRE-ORDER EDITION #1-4 BUNDLE
Written by ERIC HEISSERER
Art by RAÚL ALLÉN with PATRICIA MARTIN
Covers by CLAYTON HENRY
SECRET WEAPONS #1 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale JUNE 28th
SECRET WEAPONS #2 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale JULY 19th
SECRET WEAPONS #3 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale AUGUST 16th
SECRET WEAPONS #4 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale SEPTEMBER 20th
$15.96 US [four issues] | 40 pgs. each | PRESTIGE FORMAT | T+

X-O MANOWAR #4 (ALL-NEW ARC! ALL-NEW JUMPING ON POINT! “GENERAL” – PART 1)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
Cover A by LEWIS LAROSA
Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON
Interlocking Variant Cover by RYAN BODENHEIM
X-O Manowar Icon Variant by BOB LAYTON
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PREMIUM | On Sale JUNE 28th

X-O MANOWAR PRE-ORDER EDITION #4-9  BUNDLE
Written by MATT KINDT
Art DOUG BRAITHWAITE (#4–6) and CLAYTON CRAIN (#7–9)
Covers by DOUG BRAITHWAITE (#4–6) and CLAYTON CRAIN (#7–9)
X-O MANOWAR #4 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale JUNE 28th
X-O MANOWAR #5 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale JULY 26th
X-O MANOWAR #6 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale AUGUST 23rd
X-O MANOWAR #7 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale SEPTEMBER 27th
X-O MANOWAR #8 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale OCTOBER 25th
X-O MANOWAR #9 PRE-ORDER EDITION | On Sale NOVEMBER 22nd
$23.94 US [six issues] | 40 pgs. each | VALIANT PREMIUM | T+
SECRET WEAPONS #1-4 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE – Coupon


SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Cover A by Raul Allen


SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Cover B by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic


SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Pre-Order Edition Cover by Clayton Henry

SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Interior Artwork by Raul Allen with Patricia Martin

SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Interior Artwork by Raul Allen with Patricia Martin

SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Interior Artwork by Raul Allen with Patricia Martin

SECRET WEAPONS #1 – Interior Artwork by Raul Allen with Patricia Martin


X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4-9 PRE-ORDER EDITION BUNDLE – Coupon


X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4 – Cover A by Lewis LaRosa


X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4 – Cover B by Dave Johnson


X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4 – Pre-Order Edition Cover by Doug Braithwaite

X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4 – Interior Artwork by Doug Braithwaite

X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4 – Interior Artwork by Doug Braithwaite


X-O MANOWAR (2017) #4 – Interior Artwork by Doug Braithwaite

 

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

go to class when you want to be a couch tater

Aikido Blogs - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 16:46
Uke is a positive role. It is not just waiting to be nage. Aikido is not about overpowering each other but learning, together, how to resolve unrest, conflict and disorder.

Uke provides nage with the opportunity to feel another person’s energy, physicality and essence. Nage provides uke with the opportunity to let go in a controlled environment, to not have to be in total control and to give a gift of energy.

Aikido happens when uke and nage work together to resolve the conflict or attack of the moment. Being as in the now as one can be makes the experience so fun and educational.

By being the best uke or nage we can be in each moment we provide earnestness.
Earnestness is defined as: sincere and intense conviction. It is such a sacred gift to give to each other. In this world where really being seen and heard by others is rare and fleeting we come together in the dojo to see and feel each other deeply as we strive to become safer and more comfortable in the world.

Everyone can’t be a wildly athletic uke or a smooth polished nage. Yet we can start right where we are and do our best. That is all earnestness requires of us. We just be who we on any given day.

Some days I feel totally healthy and happy. Other days I feel grumpy and sore. I have practiced when I was limping because of an injured knee from carrying too much weight for my frame. I got to practice from a revolving armless office chair that was actually fun when I got over my ego. I had a chronic back injury for years that is finally fixed by a super intuitive physical therapist and now I can sport freely in all realms. I lost weight and my knees have healed completely.

What I learned through that 10 year process was that I had value on the mat anyway; whether I was perfectly healthy or not. I do have way more fun when I am healthy. But all practice is valuable. So challenge yourself to go to class when you want to be a couch tater.

We love to see you. Yes, even if you can’t fall. Even if you are just watching. You matter. As do we all.
Categories: Aikido

The Truth About Wrestling – Seven Bucks March Q&A

First Comics News - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:57

You have questions and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has answers in his latest Q&A! #TheIdesOfRock SUBSCRIBE for more!: http://bit.ly/28Okvch

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Review & Commentary Of The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Retroclone Rpg System By Thomas Denmark

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:41
Bare with me as I'm going to dive into Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts but I've got to finish my lunch time beer. Some days you just need to go out with your buddies for a beer to get your head out of your ass. So over the weekend I happened down to my favorite watering hole with three other very experienced dungeon masters who were able to get away from the familial ties for a bit. That's Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

High School Ministry Weekly March 24th

Mark Hughes (Church of the Rock) - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:38


This week…


Coffee House/ Talent Show
March 24th @ 7:11pm – 10:00pm
Show us how talented you are by signing up and performing onstage at HSM.  Use your imagination with the acts!  This is a great time to invite your friends to church to perform as well!  Email me to sign up to perform!
Auditions start at 6:00pm Friday!

Next week…

Youth Baptisms

March 31st @ 7:11pm – 10:00pm
If you want to get baptized this is the time to do it!  Email me to sign-up!  Come join! Invite your friends and family to this night as we celebrate young people committing themselves to Jesus!

The week after that…

Small Groups
April 7th @ 7:11pm – 10:00pm
Sometimes, you just need to relax and hang out with your friends.  And this is what this night is all about!  We have a faith based discussion with complimentary snacks in a chill environment.  Of course, our youth room will be open as well!  See you there!

MONTHLY CALENDAR

  Click here for this month’s calendar

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Chinese PUPs and backdoor drivers: making systems less secure since 2013

Malwarebytes - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:00

PUPs affect systems all across the world and are developed in many countries. A few weeks ago I came across an installer for a China-developed WiFi hotspot application, targeting English speakers, and being dropped by one of the major PUP bundler networks (it has since started to be dropped by another). The SHA-256 hash for the installer is B89017C2627CA80C68292453440CFCAE07A12798422737915F80F0720879C3D4.

The PUP bundler runs the installer with the /silent command line argument. The installer drops a bunch of files; there’s a .7z file in its resources, with the first two bytes swapped (probably to prevent easy detection as .7z SFX by decompression tools).

Among these files are two drivers with the same functionality (one for 32-bit Windows and the other for 64-bit Windows). The SHA-256 hash of the 32-bit driver is: E6427DF5D439EE854485C1C1BC8747487B5F0848D5EBA98838BD8F377F9E8DBE, and the SHA-256 hash of the 64-bit driver is: E5BC7CC800866C749FC588F5FC2F31D8B3202DD9EE3F40D450528AC08B08F311. When obtained, these two drivers had very low detection rates (the 64-bit driver was fully undetected).

Analysis

Drivers in a PUP always make me suspicious, so these files naturally warranted a further look. Analysis below will be performed on the 32-bit driver.

At the entry point of the driver, one of the first things done is to check the OS version. If the OS version is not one of the following, the driver will not load:

  • Kernel major version 5
    • Windows 2000
    • Windows XP
    • Windows Server 2003
    • Windows XP x64
  • Kernel major version 6
    • Windows Vista / Server 2008
    • Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2
    • Windows 8 / Server 2012
    • Windows 8.1 / Server 2012 R2
    • Early Windows 10 builds (up to build 988x)
  • Kernel major version 10, minor version 0, build number less than or equal to 14393
    • Windows 10 (build 10240 / v1507)
    • Windows 10 v1511
    • Windows 10 v1607 / Server 2016

Most notable is the build number check that means that on any version of Windows later than Windows 10 v1607, the driver will not load.

If this check passes, the driver continues to set itself up, setting the DriverObject MajorFunctions, creating the device, etc. This overt functionality may or may not be malicious.

However, soon before returning from the driver entry point, another function is called.

This function repeats the version check done previously and then creates another device, HelpDetectWz, and hooks the MajorFunctions that were set up previously:

Afterwards, a couple of lists are created, a function is called that resolves some kernel APIs (manually, by getting the kernel filename, loading the kernel again into memory, and then parsing its exports — resolved API name strings are also obfuscated, by ROT-1), and creates a new thread.

The main API for drivers like this are IOCTLs. The HelpDetectWz device has code for two of them: 0x8000C004 and 0x800C00C.

Three exports that got resolved on driver load are nt!KdDisableDebugger, nt!KdEnableDebugger, and nt!KdDebuggerEnabled.

These are used by the IOCTL code as anti-debug: each IOCTL wraps its real code around calls to KdDisableDebugger() and KdEnableDebugger() to try and prevent the use of a kernel debugger to step through the code. In addition, one of the IOCTLs checks KdDebuggerEnabled to see if the debugger really was disabled, and doesn’t perform the real functionality (after setting up inputs) if it wasn’t disabled.

(If you have a kernel debugger setup and you’re working with the drivers above, you could easily patch out those calls/jump in memory using the kernel debugger before calling the IOCTL!)

In addition, both IOCTLs’ input buffers have to be obfuscated. The obfuscation is XOR with a static 1024-byte key:

Now that this background information has been given, let’s move on to the relevant IOCTL code.

The first IOCTL copies deobfuscated data from the passed IOCTL buffer into a structure and if the kernel debugger really is disabled, adds that structure to a list. It then waits for some operation to complete before returning a value from that structure. This value is copied into the IOCTL buffer to then be returned to the caller.

Upon further investigation, that operation to be completed happens in the thread that was started at driver load.

This thread waits to be triggered, then while the driver is loaded it gets the last value added to that list, calls a function on it, then waits to be triggered again. If the driver gets unloaded, the driver unload function flips a global variable, which causes this thread to clean up (so no callers get stuck waiting for an operation that will never complete).

The function that gets called? It resolves some APIs (in the already loaded kernel), deobfuscates part of the buffer that was copied into the structure (again, so this part of the buffer is doubly-encrypted, using the same XOR key), loads it as a PE, gets its entry point, and calls it using IoCreateDriver, with no signature checks whatsoever.

So, this driver contains a backdoor enabling the defeat of Driver Signature Enforcement. If the driver has already been installed on a system, it doubles as a local privilege escalation, as non-administrators can also call the IOCTLs.

Further investigation

After finding this backdoor, I searched online for the device name `HelpDetectWz`, and found a post on a Chinese forum from 2013 describing a very similar driver inside a calendar application.

Searching on VirusTotal enabled me to find several Chinese applications with similar drivers including the very same backdoor.

Even more interesting, some of these similar drivers have some obfuscated code, up to and including being packed with VMProtect:

Clearly, some Chinese developer really didn’t want their backdoor to be discovered.

Some of the applications including these drivers include a Chinese Android rooting toolkit, a Chinese driver updater (there’s an English version available, which doesn’t include the drivers for some reason), a Chinese WiFi hotspot application (Chinese version of the PUP that the driver was initially discovered in, perhaps), and a Chinese USB drive helper utility. The latest version of the mentioned Chinese calendar application no longer contains the driver.

Addendum

A PoC to use the HelpDetectWz functionality to load an unsigned driver is available here — included are source and binaries to two test drivers (x86 and x64, coded in pure assembler), which will bug check the system when loaded. Many thanks to slipstream of Ring of Lightning for the PoC!

Malwarebytes 3.0 detects the drivers and related applications and installers as PUP.Optional.WifiHotspot, Rootkit.HelpDetectWz.PUA and Rootkit.DriveTheLife.PUA.

The post Chinese PUPs and backdoor drivers: making systems less secure since 2013 appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Carrying Yarn Along the Side of a Project

Moogly - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 14:47

I love stripes, you love stripes, everybody loves striped crochet projects! However, unless you’re using a self-striping yarn, you’re going to be working with multiple skeins at the same time. With some patterns, the only solution is to cut the yarn every time you switch to a new color. But sometimes, you can carry the [...]

The post Carrying Yarn Along the Side of a Project 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

Making Toys Like A Boss

Looking For Group - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 13:57

Have you heard about the Richard Action Figure that’s currently on Kickstarter? Of course you have, but it’s only a 7 day campaign so we need to make sure anyone who might be interested is aware that time is running out! We’ve mentioned […]

The post Making Toys Like A Boss appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Twitter app spams Fappening bait and Amazon surveys

Malwarebytes - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 13:37

With news of another so-called Fappening (nude photos of celebrities distributed without permission) doing the rounds, it was inevitable that scammers would look to take advantage. We’ve already seen message board aficionados warn others of dodgy download links and random Zipfiles claiming to contain stolen nude photos and video clips, but today we’re going to look at one specific spam campaign aimed at Twitter users.

The daisy chain begins with multiple links claiming to display stolen images of Paige, a well known WWE wrestler, caught up in the latest dump of files. With regards to two specific messages, we saw close to 300 over a 24 hour period (and it’s possible there were others we didn’t see). These appear to have been the most common, however.

The messages read as follows:

1) “VIDEO: WWE Superstar Paige Leaked Nude Pics and Videos”

2) “Incredible!!! Leaked Nude Pics and Videos of WWE Superstar Paige!!!!: [url] (Acept the App First)”

Well, that doesn’t sound suspicious at all.

The Bit(dot)ly link, so far clicked close to 7,000 times, resolves to the following:

twitter(dot)specialoffers(dot)pw/funnyvideos/redirect(dot)php

That smoothly segues into an offered Twitter App install tied to a site called Viralnews(dot)com.

The app permissions are as follows:

This application will be able to:

Read Tweets from your timeline.
See who you follow, and follow new people.
Update your profile.
Post Tweets for you.

Will not be able to:

Access your direct messages.
See your email address.
See your Twitter password.

We’ll come back to the app later, but as far as the Viralnews goes, it appears to play no part in what lies ahead (and looks like a very retro linkdump site). Once the app is installed, would-be picture viewers are sent to a site located at

specialoffers(dot)pw/paige-leaked-video

The site reinforces the idea that salacious stolen imagery is on the way – except that the site quickly greys out and makes it clear you have to click yet another link to continue. It’s another bit(dot)ly (highlighted in the bottom left hand corner), which (after another redirect) took us to the following URL:

brazzershd(dot)co/PaigeVideos

We have a landing page, still promising stolen images (and indeed, serving one up) with the continuing promise of more to come. From the blurb:

1 First Click on the Bottom Download
2 Then you will be redirected to an Amazon Giftcard Website where you have to Leave your Email
3 Leave your Email in the Blank Box to win an Amazon Giftcard and Click on SUBMIT
4 Then You will be Redirected to a MEGA Download where you could Download Paige Leaked Videos and Photos

As per the screenshot, there’s one final redirect URL (a bit(dot)do address) which took us to an Amazon themed survey gift card page. Suffice to say, filling this in hands your personal information to marketers – and there’s no guarantee you’ll get any pictures at the end of it (and given the images have been stolen without permission, one might say the people jumping through hoops receive their just desserts in the form of a large helping of “nothing at all”).

At this point, it’s time to return to the app and see what it’s been up to on the Twitter account we installed it on:

Automated spam posts, complete with yet more pictures used as bait.

As freshly leaked pictures and video of celebrities continue to be dropped online, so too will scammers try to make capital out of image-hungry clickers. Apart from the fact that these images have been taken without permission so you really shouldn’t be hunting for them, anyone going digging on less than reputable sites is pretty much declaring open season on their computers. Do yourself a favour and leave this leak alone. It probably won’t be long before the Malware authors and exploit slingers roll into town.

Christopher Boyd

The post Twitter app spams Fappening bait and Amazon surveys appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Doctor Who S10 – Here’s What We Know…..So Far!

Blogtor Who - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 12:00

The wait has felt like an eternity, but Doctor Who Series 10 is now less than one month away. But what do we actually know about the upcoming season? Can you believe that it’s been well over a year and a quarter since the end of Series 9? Our last regular run of Who concluded […]

The post Doctor Who S10 – Here’s What We Know…..So Far! appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time Lords Released in May

Blogtor Who - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:59

BBC Books have released details of a new illustrated book – ‘Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time Lords’. This brand new 160-page hardcover book, written by Steve Tribe and beautifully illustrated Richard Williams unlocks the secrets of the ancient, legendary civilised, and immensely powerful alien race of the Time Lords. Yet we know very little […]

The post Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time Lords Released in May appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

The Nevermore Mines

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:14


By Jon Bertani, Aaron Fairbrook, Mark McAllister
Merciless Merchants
For Gold & Glory/2e
Level 4-7

For generations, bards have enjoyed spinning the tale to honest folk and their children of the lost Nevermore Mines and the Master of Darkness that lies within them. They warn the children that if they misbehave, the Dark Master will come for them and take them away to be lost in the Mines forever. Most folk regard these stories as spirited attempts by bards to make some coin, but the town of Oakvale was just recently attacked by the nightmare from the tales. Will your group be brave enough to travel to the Nevermore Mines to discover and put to rest this great evil?

This 56 page adventure describes a two-level mine now being used as a lair by a devil, along with the wilderness environs around the lair. It’s a pretty classic environment, with an encounter mix that is a cut above the usual dreck. It’s also a classic “highlighter adventure”, being absolutely clogged with text. It’s clear a lot of effort went in to this, and unfortunate that its usability is hampered.

A devil possessed a miner long ago and is now trapped in the mine; warded from leaving. He’s accumulated some followers. There are a small selection of hooks to get the party in to the mine, most of which are the usual boring stuff. Our children are missing. Hired to go find something, and so on. But there’s also … you won the deed in a poker game! This, and the associated “found the deed” and “were granted the deed as a reward” are great examples of appealing to the players. “Well, I got this deed to a gold mine …” That’s the kind of very personal appeal to a player that I think makes a good adventure hook.

The wilderness area leading to the mine is about five miles long, with a couple of paths leading off of the main trail, and ten encounter areas scattered through the side trails. This is supported by a small wandering monster table that … is a little fun! An etting having an internal monologue that does not immediately attack, hobgoblins that don’t attack immediately … it’s amazing! A variety of encounter types from mundane, to mysterious, to social, to the usual monster attack. The variety is refreshing to see. Similarly, the wilderness encounters proper have a decent mix of variety to them. Several simple barrows to explore, an abandoned hut, a nice rock bridge to a werewolf lair, “the slime cave” (with weird mushrooms!) and a bog, complete with ghost children carving weird pumpkins to scare off the evil one and light the way for their parents to find them. Again, several non-violent encounters or encounters that let the party get themselves in to trouble (grave robbing the high priest? Ought oh …) The variety and mix is great, as well as the fact that there’s an actual REAL wilderness area offered .. even if it is a little simple, being paths through the mountains.

The main encounter location is a two-level mine with about twenty five rooms in total. The vibe inside is that of … surprise! a mine that has a devil inside! There’s a mix of natural type things (spiders, mine workings) with devil-like things such as heads hanging on hooks and so on. Generally each room has one encounter in it, and there’s some direction on how to respond to incursions … so more of a lair dungeon than an exploratory dungeon. That would usually mean that it skews heavily toward “this room has a guard monster that attacks you” but this adventure throws in a decent amount of encounters that don’t just feel like a slog. There are captives to rescue, dead children to find, a ghostly prisoner to “make friends with” … which is a banshee! It’s a nice little devil lair with a bunch of fucked-up monsters, not all of who like each other.

The primary sin is verbosity. The adventure confuses a long descriptions with a good description. Every single room/encounter gets two or three paragraphs of text. The text is a combination of fact based descriptions and history, neither of which I’m particularly fond of. The history is, generally, not needed in adventures and serves to only pad the adventure word count. Which makes it harder to find the information that you actually DO need to run the adventure. The “fact based description” ding sounds weird, I know. While not the worst, I think these sorts of fact-based descriptions come off, at best, flat and at worst trend to the “useless detail” end of the spectrum … which once again ends up clogging things up. The flatness comes from a communication style that is attempting to communicate too much. The designer needs to communicate a vibe, or feeling, to the DM, letting them fill in the rest. There’s a very long paragraph in one of the rooms of the slime caves. “A large hole in the ceiling on the east side of the chamber opens into the open sky above and light from the moon or sun is able to shine through the room.” I think we all get what the intent is. The designer clearly has a picture in their head and is trying to get that out to the DM. And yet “God rays stream in from a hole in the ceiling.” 10 words instead of 33 and, I think, a much better visual built up for the DM. I know it seems minor, but that first long paragraph has eight long sentences in it and it would be a BEAST to go through during play. Short. Punchy/Evocative. The last paragraph, of the same room, reads: “ Anyone entering the bubbling mud bath will find it very warm and comfortable. The basin is approximately four feet deep and three human sized characters can fit in it at once. Anyone spending an hour or more in the mud bath will heal twice the amount from their next resting for a full day.” Again, this could be shortened considerably, getting rid of useless wording and still delivering the intent, less prescriptively, in a more evocative manner.

The barrow mounds are good example. One of them has four of five “empty” rooms, all of which get relatively lengthy descriptions, about sixty words, to describe chambers that have nothing much going on in them. They are, at best, window dressing. A short, punchy description, would have communicated more for less and be easier to run during play.

There’s also this tendency to elaborate on the “why” of things. Backstory for monsters, usually. Tickles the evil clown (yes, I know. It’s ok, the entire adventure isn’t like that. A better word than “clown” should have been used.) has this buried in his backstory: “However, due to the Master’s experiments, Tickles can now regenerate like a troll and has special abilities.” You don’t need to explain WHY a monster can regen, unless you’re doing some kind of mythic thing. In fact, we probably don’t need Tickles backstory at all. He’s unlikely to engage in conversation the way the ghost children in the bog are (who DO talk to the party, and thus a little more can be justified.) Again, all of this is towards the singular end of making the room descriptions, the text the DM has to wade through to run the game at the table, useful AT THE TABLE. Hunting for information is a pain. Hence … a classic highlighter adventure. Flawed, but a highlighter helps a bit. If you have to use a highlighter then things could be better.

There are a few other nits as well. There are a few magic items worth paying attention to, but most are just book magic items or treasure with no attempt to make most of them more interesting. That’s too bad, because the ones that ARE new are pretty interesting. The maps are weird. A bright blue background was chosen for a couple of them, which seems really weird and I find distracting. But, there’s also some attempt to include more interesting detail on a few, like the slime cave. That map shows a nice blue river running through the cave and tries to communicate some information with more detail on the map. The whole thing is jammed with art .. of varying usefulness. Sometimes I like a good monster art piece, or room art piece, because they can communicate a vibe well. This one is hit and well. The pumpkin man comes across well, as a monster, as does the slime cave entrance on the same page. Quite a few of the others work less well. They come across as “generic imp” or “generic gargoyle.”

This is a decent little adventure that’s going to take a decent amount of highlighter work, and DM visualization and notes, to make work to the degree I expect.

You can find this on DriveThru. The last page of the preview shows a description for wilderness area #1. That’s a decent enough example of both good art (the standing stone picture does a good job communicating the vibe) and the verbose/fact-based descriptions.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/206540/The-Nevermore-Mines

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Modification Monday: Caragh’s Cashmere

Knitted Bliss - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:00

www.knittedbliss.com

Original Pattern: North Shore Knitter Extraordinaire: Jennifer (Ravelry ID, blog) Mods: Changed up the design on the yoke using charts from selections Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting, combining two different charts to make the new yoke. Details can be found on her project page and her blog post, here. The blog post in particular

The post Modification Monday: Caragh’s Cashmere appeared first on %%www.knittedbliss.com%%.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Re-post: The Second Coming of Christ — Is it on Your Radar?

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:00

It’s been estimated that one out of every 28 verses in the New Testament has to do with the Second Coming of Christ.

I have three favorite verses that keep that hope vibrant and uncluttered in my heart. I call them my anchor verses on the subject.

First, there are the words Jesus spoke to his eleven disciples during their time in the upper room only hours before his crucifixion. He said, “I am going to (my Father’s house) to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-4).

Can such a lavish promise be trusted? In his teachings Jesus constantly pressed the issue of truth. He often introduced his message with the words, “Truly, truly I say to you.” Or, “I tell you the truth.” He even testified, “I am the truth!” Is it not reasonable then to take him seriously when he says, “I will come back.” so that, “you also may be where I am”?

If he made good on the first half of his promise to ascend to the Father to prepare a place for us, then we can count on him to make good on his promise to return for his followers.

Second, two angels spoke to the disciples on the Mount of Olives at the time when Jesus was taken up into heaven. To the astonishment of the “eleven” these heavenly messengers said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

“This same Jesus.” Our Lord was fully human when he ascended. Why should it be hard to believe the promise of angel messengers that he will return “bodily.”

It was apparent that the brutal, disfiguring death Jesus had suffered had not in any sense diminished him. His identity was fully preserved, even though his distraught followers had to clear their vision to see it. In fact, by his resurrection they saw he had obviously been endowed with new qualities of life (Luke 24:30,31,36; 1 Cor. 15:44-49).

The Apostle Paul, taking his cue from these facts, later referred to a resurrected body as a spiritual body with new properties and capabilities. And — good news for us — Christ himself said to his followers, “Because I live, you too will live” (John 14:19).

The third scriptural portion I hold dear on the Second Coming of Christ was written years later by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. He compared living in this mortal body to living in a tent (2 Cor. 5:1). Tents can provide shelter but they are fragile. A sudden wind storm can blow them away. Then what?

By contrast, the Apostle visualized our state of living in heaven as living in “an eternal house, not built by human hands” (1 Cor. 5:1). The difference between living in a tent and living in a house built by God — a resurrection body — is infinitely great.

But what about the interim between “tent” and “house?” My third verse fits here. We are left to wonder about the intricacies of what some call the “intermediate state” — the time between the believer’s death and resurrection when Christ appears in his glory. The Apostle covers the interim adequately with the words, “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (1 Cor. 5:8).

For the true believer that assurance is enough. We may not be told when or where or how, but we have the assurance that during the waiting time, for those who have died in Christ, the situation will be, “absent from the body, (but) present with the Lord.”

Some say it’s all a myth. A fairy tale. A cover for the fear of death.

In response: I believe in the resurrection of the body because our Lord promised it, the apostles proclaimed it, the early martyrs died believing in it, and through the ages the church on earth has born witness to it as an ongoing anchor point for faith.

Photo credit: Mike Vondran (via flickr.com)


Categories: Churchie Feeds

Midnight on the Prismatic Peak

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:00

I've been working on Mortzengersturm, Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak all weekend--and Jeff Call has put in some awesome work too. Check out the illustration of the Prismatic Peak above. Jeff does a really good Mary Blair, don't you think?

Happy Birthday to Who? – 20th March: Freema Agyeman

Blogtor Who - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 08:00

When Rose Tyler departed the TARDIS, The Tenth Doctor needed a new companion to join him on his travels. Billie Piper left some big shoes to fill, but it wasn’t long before a feisty medical student turned up on the scene. Introducing Martha Jones, played by birthday girl Freema Agyeman who turns 38 today! However, the […]

The post Happy Birthday to Who? – 20th March: Freema Agyeman appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

1071

Looking For Group - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 04:01

The post 1071 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

A WTF!?! Kickstarter - Dungeons and dragons: the whispering ring

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 03:18

There is SO much wrong with the Dungeons and dragons: the whispering ring Kickstsarter (and yes, that is the exact title of it.) Let's see, where shall we start?

1 - Maybe the damn title itself? You can't call it Dungeons & Dragons (or Dungeons and dragons - its the same shit)

2 - Look at the pic above. Look at the spine of the book. Yep. Can't miss it, can you?

3 - Anyone want to take a stab at editing the pic below?


I count at least 11 edits needed. I may have missed one and I'm not counting awkward grammar.

4 - Kickstarter charges between 8% and 10% in fees. Something doesn't add up:


5 - Read what I highlighted below:


I thought the problems with universities and unprepared students were unique to the US. The person that is running this Kickstarter is graduating university in the UK and this is how they present their best, most professional side while begging for money using another company's property.

Hasbro shouldn't even bother with the takedown, as this won't even fund.

I needed this right before Gary Con ;)

edit - in the time it took me to type this post, they edited the title and the main graphic - doesn't change the piss poor editing...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gary Con Prep Complete - Should Have 5 Alpha (pre-edit) Copies of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light to Give Out

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 01:38

Phew!

50 copies each of Pocket Creatures Volumes 1 & 2 printed and ready to go.

10 copies of the pre-edit Alpha of the Swords & Wizardry Continual Light rules. Five of those copies are spoken for by Frog God Games and associates, so five copies to give out (and maybe one more on Sunday if I give up my play copy) Again, this is the pre-edit version. There are typos fixed, editing changes and some rules changes in the final version (plus a page of optional rules) That being said, if you want a peek of what is coming up for SWL, track me down at Gary Con and you can page through SWCL (as well as get your Swords & Wizardry Legion pack)


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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