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Red Sonja Vol. 4 #19 preview

First Comics News - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:28

Red Sonja Vol. 4 #19

Writer: Amy Chu, Erik Burnham

Art: Carlos Gomez

Covers: Sean Chen (A), Tom Mandrake (B), Jan Duursema (C), Cosplay (D), John Royale (E-Subscription)

FC  |  32 pages  |  $3.99  |   Teen+  

Still seeking Lord Skath, Sonja finally reaches his castle in the Cimmerian mountains — and it’s not what she expected! Castle Skath is now something of an attraction for wealthy visitors from across Hyborea; and its new owner, Rusa Sandak, has sinister plans to keep the gold flowing…

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Project Superpowers #1 preview

First Comics News - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:28

Project Superpowers #1

writer: Rob Williams

artist: Sergio Davila

covers: Francesco Mattina (A), Ed Benes (B), John Royle (C)

              Philip Tan (D), JG Jones (E) Stephen Segovia (F)

              Sergio Davila (G), Philip Tan (RI-B/W)

              J.G. Jones (RI-Sepia), Ed Benes (RI-Virgin)

              Francesco Mattina (RI-Virgin)

FC  |  32 pages  |  $3.99  |   Teen+  

The Project Superpowers heroes came from the past, now they have to prove their relevance in the modern world. A 21st Century threat is coming for us all. What dread secrets does The Death Defying Devil hold? The Lighthouse will rise and the Spirit of The American Flag will take on a new host. But will it be enough? Can superheroes still save the day?

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

28mm Dark Ages Figures for sale

Splintered Light Miniatures - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:25
I have various 28mm Dark Ages figures for sale.  They come as is and are from a variety of companies such as Gripping Beast, Old Glory, Artizan, Black Tree Designs, and Foundry.

Early Saxon Germanic $50 for roughly 53 Infantry and Cavalry
Foundry Vikings $60 for roughly 68 Infantry
Late Saxon $50 for roughly 57 infantry
Normans $30 for roughly 40 infantry and a couple of riders
Old Glory Vikings $15 for roughly 28 infantry
Irish and Picts $75 for roughly 80 infantry and cavalry figures
Romano-British $40 for roughly 40 infantry and cavalry figures
Shipping will be actual cost of shipping ($7 for small flat rate priority mail in the USA and $14 for medium flat rate priority mail in the USA).  I am happy to consider international sales.

I will take $250 for all of the above plus shipping.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

What’s in the spam mailbox this week?

Malwarebytes - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 15:00

We’ve seen a fair few spam emails in circulation this week, ranging from phishing to money muling to sexploitation. Shall we take a look?

The FBI wants to give you back your money

First out of the gate, we have a missive claiming to be from the FBI. Turns out you lost a huge sum of money that you somehow don’t have any recollection of, and now the FBI wants to give it back to you via Western Union.

Sounds 100 percent legit, right? Here’s the email. See what you think:

Attn: Beneficiary

After proper and several investigations and research at Western
Union and Money Gram Office, we found your name in Western Union
database among those that have sent money through Western Union
and this proves that you have truly been swindled by those
unscrupulous persons by sending money to them through Western
Union/Money Gram in the course of getting one fund or the other
that is not real.

In this regard a meeting was held between the Board of Directors
of WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM, the FBI alongside with the Ministry
of Finance, As a consequence of our investigations it was agreed
that the sum of One Million Five Hundred Thousand United States
Dollars (U.S.1,500,000.00) should be transferred to you out from
the funds that The United States Department of the Treasury has
set aside as compensation payment for scam victims.

This case would be handled and supervised by the FBI. We have
submitted your details to them so that your funds can be
transferred to you. Contact the Western Union agent office
through the information below:

Contact Person: Graham Collins
Address: Western Union Post Office, California
Email: westernunionofficemail0012@[redacted]

Yours sincerely,
Christopher A. Wray
FBI Director

Sadly, the FBI are not going to discover you’re owed millions of dollars then send you off to deal with a Western Union rep to reclaim it. Additionally, a quick search on multiple portions of the text will reveal parts of the above message dating back many years. It’s a common scam tactic to lazily grab whatever text is available then reword it a little bit for a fresh sheen. For example, here’s one from 2013 that came with a malicious executable attachment.

This one has no such nasties lurking, but someone could still be at risk of falling into a money mule scam, or losing a ton of cash from getting involved. The good news is that ancient text reuse tends to send up the spam filter flags for most email clients, so if you do come across this, there’s a good chance it’ll be stuffed inside your spam bin where it belongs. If it’s in there, hammer the delete button and forget about it.

Let’s go Apple phishing

Next up, a pair of Apple phishes:

Click to enlarge

The first links to a site that’s currently offline, but does try to bait potential victims with a fake transaction for a set of $299 headphones:

Click to enlarge

As with most of these scams, they’re hoping you’ll see the amount supposedly paid, then run to the linked site and fill in the phishing form.

The text from the second one reads as follows:

Your Apple ID has been Locked
This Apple ID [EMAIL ADDRESS] has been locked for security reasons.

It looks like your account is outdated and requires updated account ownership information so we can protect your account and improve our services to maintain your privacy.

To continue using the Apple ID service, we advise you to update the information about your account ownership.

Update Account Apple ID
For the security of your account, we advise not to notify your account password to anyone. If you have problems updating your account, please visit Apple Support.

A clickable link leads to the below phishing site located at appelid(dot)idnotice(dot)info-account-update-limiteds(dot)com:

Click to enlarge

Upon entering a username and password, the site claims the account has been locked and needs to be set back to full health.

Click to enlarge

Potential victims are directed to a page asking for name, address, DOB, payment information, and a variety of selectable security questions.

Click to enlarge

We don’t want anybody handing over personal information to scam mails such as the above, much less any fake login portals further down the chain. Always be cautious when seeing wild claims of payments and mysterious orders you have no recollection of; the name of the game is not so much panic buying as panic clicking, and that can lead to only one thing: hours spent dealing with the customer support section of shopping portals or your bank.

Sexploitation, Bitcoin, and old passwords

Speaking of mysterious behavior you have no recollection of participating in, a recent, massive phish email first hooks users by divulging their real, former password in the subject line, and then telling said recipients they’ve been caught on camera looking at porn and, um, doing other stuff.

Now, the drop of a password, even an old one, is enough to get many readers to raise a brow and open the email. Once opened, though, one of two things can happen. Those who haven’t viewed porn on their computer can breathe a sigh of relief. For the millions of others who have, however, a little panic might ensue, especially when the scammers ask for $7,000 in Bitcoin for hush money.

The email reads as follows:

I am well aware [redacted] is your password. Lets get directly to purpose. You don’t know me and you are probably thinking why you’re getting this email? Not a single person has compensated me to check you.

Let me tell you, I setup a malware on the xxx videos (porn material) web-site and you know what, you visited this website to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were watching video clips, your web browser began functioning as a RDP that has a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display as well as web cam. Right after that, my software collected all of your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, as well as emailaccount. After that I made a double video. First part displays the video you were watching (you’ve got a good taste rofl), and next part displays the view of your webcam, & its you.

You actually have two different possibilities. Shall we review each one of these solutions in aspects:

Very first option is to just ignore this email. In such a case, I will send out your actual recorded material to every bit of your personal contacts and thus think about regarding the embarrassment you will see. In addition if you are in a romantic relationship, how it would affect?

2nd solution is to give me $7000. I will call it a donation. Then, I most certainly will straightaway discard your video footage. You will continue on with your way of life like this never occurred and you will not ever hear back again from me.

You’ll make the payment by Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).

BTC Address: 14Fg5D24cxseFXQXv89PJCHmsTM74iGyDb

[CASE-SENSITIVE copy and paste it]

If you may be wondering about going to the authorities, good, this email can not be traced back to me. I have covered my actions. I am just not attempting to charge you very much, I only want to be compensated. I’ve a special pixel within this email, and now I know that you have read this e mail. You have one day to pay. If I do not get the BitCoins, I will definitely send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, colleagues, and many others. Nevertheless, if I do get paid, I’ll destroy the recording right away. It’s a non-negotiable offer, thus don’t waste mine time and yours by responding to this message. If you want to have evidence, reply with Yup! and I definitely will send your video to your 9 contacts.

This sextortion scam has been around for quite a while; the new twist is the use of real passwords. According to Krebs on Security, the scammers likely collected these passwords and emails from a data dump possibly dating back 10 years or more. Our own Malwarebytes researchers have been scouring various data dumps looking for the source of the breach, but so far have not found the smoking gun. The problem is that most users’ credentials have been swiped in one breach or another, if not multiple—if not dozens! So it’s difficult to triangulate and trace back to a single source.

The good news is, if you received one of these emails, you simply need only flag it as spam and delete. And if you’re suddenly worried about someone being able to see your nocturnal activities, you can buy a webcam cover for between $US5 and $10.

The post What’s in the spam mailbox this week? appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

5e monster manual on a business card

Blog of Holding - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 14:41

Lately I’ve been doing statistical analysis on D&D 5e monsters to see how they’re built, and I’ve learned some interesting things: the DMG monster-creation guidelines don’t work as expected, monster design formulae have stayed stable from book to book, and many of the complexities of the official monster-design process don’t significantly affect its outcome.

Today, let’s come up with simple instructions for creating monsters in line with the Monster Manual, replacing the faulty instructions in the DMG.

Along the way, I think we can streamline the process. The Dungeon Master’s Guide has 9 pages on monster creation. I think we can fit the key rules on one page. Or even a business card. That way, you can create new monsters on the fly, not as a laborious game prep chore.

Here’s the finished business card! The rest of this post will explain how we came up with it.

Card front:

Card back:

If you prefer everything calculated out, here’s a one-page version with more explanation and an example

First of all, to reiterate what I learned in previous posts:

1) real monsters have fewer hit points and do less damage than those created by the DMG chart, and are more accurate

2) there is no significant correlation between any major monster stat (HP, AC, attack bonus) and any other stat. For instance, you might expect that a monster whose AC is high for its Challenge Rating should have lower hit points, attack bonus, or damage output to compensate. That’s not the case. Therefore, we can examine each monster stat separately without having to consider the others at the same time.

attack bonus

Here’s a scatter plot of the attack bonuses of all the Monster Manual and Mordenkainen’s monsters. The black line is the best fit line. (For comparison, the red line is a plot of the Dungeon Master’s Guide suggested attack bonuses.)

As you can see, the scatter plot shows us a nice, straight, easily graphable best-fit line. It works out to almost exactly:

attack bonus: 4 + 1/2 CR

So tidy! It’s almost as if the designers designed it that way! Hint: I think they did. While the DMG graph is arbitrary and inaccurate, actual monster design shows signs of being very carefully put together.

A note about CRs below 1: These complicate things. For the purposes of drawing graphs, think of them as negative numbers instead of fractions: CR 1/2 is really 0, CR 1/4 is -1, CR 1/8 is -2, CR 0 is -3. That’s the way that the linear values on the attack graph work out, and the way I’ve graphed it.

How much leeway do we have to adjust the attack bonus up or down based on our concept? The DMG advice is to adjust as much as you want, you can always adjust the CR later. We don’t want to adjust anything later! We’ll just look at our Monster Manual data and see how much variation there tends to be from the average monster accuracy.

For our attack bonuses, the average variance (which is a statistical calculation for determining how closely grouped numbers are) is low: 1.22. In other words, monster attack bonuses tend to be a little more than one point away from the average. And, as we’ve proved in previous steps, there is no correlation between high/low attack bonus and any other monster stat. So we could say, without doing too much violence to the Monster Manual data, something like, “Based on your monster concept, you may add or subtract up to 2 points from the attack bonus without affecting its CR.”


Difficulty Class is similarly neat. In fact, its graph is nearly identical to the attack bonus (nearly every monster’s DC is their attack +7). In the following scatter plot, blue X’es are DC, and green triangles are attack bonus.

The DC best-fit formula is

DC: 11 + 1/2 CR

Variance is also the same for DC as it is for attack bonus. So on our final rules, we’ll say, “+-2 DC based on monster concept.”

Armor Class

From the scatter plot, Armor Class also looks like a fairly neat linear graph.

Expressed as a formula, this is very tidy: AC = 13 + 1/3 CR

From looking at the scatter plot, you can see that there will be a higher variance in AC than there was in attack and DC. The average variance is 1.65: 50% more than in attack and DC. Therefore, if we say “+-3 AC based on monster concept” we’d be allowing all but a few outliers.

hit points and damage

I did attack bonus, DC, and AC first because they were the easy ones. The remaining values, average damage and hit points, are a bit hairy, because they’re not nice, neat linear graphs.

Here’s one interesting thing about hit points and damage: they have a very strong relationship, especially at low level. Take a look at this chart where I graph median hit points (blue) and median damage x 3 (red).

To me it kind of looks like the average monster’s hit points is intended to be 3x the average monster’s damage (or, to put it another way, each monster should survive exactly three rounds of hits against one of its peers). Given the fact that the D&D designers have frequently mentioned three rounds as their target combat length, this seems plausible.

I admit, something about the chart above gave me pause. At high CR, doesn’t it look like there is an inverse correlation between damage and hit points? At CR 19 and 21, for instance, where damage is high, hit points are low. Did I miss something in my earlier analysis that showed no such correlation?

After looking at this graph, I did a more thorough statistical analysis. A note about my methodology: I calculated p-value for each pair of stats (above-median damage AC vs below-median HP, etc) and also for each stat paired with the presence of major special defenses, major special attacks, and legendary status. No correlation was significant to a value of p = .05. However, some more confident statistician should re-check my values with the Monster Manual dataset, since I’m not really a stats guy, just a guy with access to free web stats tools.

In particular, the seeming correlation we see on this chart, high damage to low hit points, does exist but is statistically insignificant: in the monster population as a whole, of the 227 monsters who deal higher-than-median damage, 101 have under-median hit points and 96 have above-median HP: a difference of 5 monsters either way. But some of the similar monsters happen to be clumped together. For instance, it just so happens that three low-HP, high-damage monsters are grouped together at that big red spike at level 18. I think we just have to say that, at high levels, our data is sparse and unreliable and we are going to have to be careful not to over-model the ups and downs of the graph.

At low levels, though, where we have dozens of monsters per CR (and where D&D play actually happens), I do want to be as faithful to the data as I can.

Take another look at the graph above and then listen to my crazy plan. Hit points and damage x 3 look pretty damn correlated: The correlation may or may not be intentional, but it’s there. Maybe we can come up with one trend line that will describe both hit points and damage?

Here’s that graph again, with my proposed best-fit threading the needle between the hit points and damage line. The data isn’t linear at low CRs, but high CRs are linear enough.

Here are the formulae for average damage and hit points:

Average damage below CR 1: 1, 3, 5, 8
Average damage between CR 1 and 7: 5 + (CR x 5)
Average damage above CR 7: CR x 5

Average hit points: 3x average damage for that CR

Unlike for AC, DC and CR, variance increases quite a bit for hit points and damage as the numbers get bigger. Take a look at this damage scatter plot, which sort of explodes into confetti once we get to the airy heights of CR 10.

For both hit points and damage, we can say Increase or decrease by up to 50% based on monster concept and get all but a few outliers.

Shouldn’t such a big increase or decrease – for instance, bumping a monster from 100 to 50 or 150 HP, or from 30 damage to 15 or 45 damage – change its CR? Perhaps it should, but it doesn’t in the corpus. There are plenty of examples of monsters with wildly varying hit points and damage potential sitting next to each other in the same Challenge Rating – without any other attributes which obviously compensate for the differences. Consider Geryon and the ancient green dragon, both CR 22.

Geryon: AC 19, HP 300, attack +16, damage per round 97
Ancient green dragon: AC 23 (+4), HP 385 (28% higher), attack +15 (-1), damage per round 151 (55% higher)

It’s wacky, but it’s how CR currently works. And I’m trying to describe CR here, not improve on it.

We need to do one other thing before we leave the topic of damage: on our new, improved monster-creation rules, we have to explain our average damage calculations so that people can turn each monster’s raw damage total into arbitrarily complex sets of attacks, including spells, area attacks, and limited-use abilities. This will be hard to explain concisely and clearly, but let’s take a shot at it.

Here’s a first draft: “Damage: This is the average damage that a monster can do each round during the first three rounds of combat. Assume 1) it always uses its most damaging attack(s) or spell which hasn’t yet been exhausted; 2) all area attacks target 2 enemies; 3) auras and similar traits target one enemy per turn; 4) variable-length effects like Swallow last one turn; 5) all attacks hit; 6) all opponents fail saving throws. Based on the monster concept, the monster’s damage may be dealt in one attack, or be divided between multiple attacks and/or legendary actions.”

This encapsulates the rules as described in the DMG. There’s one problem with these rules though. They’re facing the wrong way. They’re the instructions to take a Monster Manual creature and turn it into a single damage number. We need the instructions to take a single damage number and turn it into a Monster Manual creature. How about this:

Damage: This is the damage budget for all the monster’s attacks. Limited-use (daily, recharge, or situational) attacks do 4x the damage budgeted. Multi-target attacks do ½ the damage budgeted. Limited-use multi-target attacks do 2x. All other damage sources are 1 for 1, including at-will and legendary single-target attacks, auras, reactions, and variable-length effects like Swallow. If a monster has several at-will options (such as melee and ranged), the lower-damage options are free.

Here’s an example of how you could spend a damage budget on several attacks. Let’s say you imagine a fire-using spellcaster. You give her a 1/day fireball for 28 damage (spending 14 points of the damage budget); an at-will Fire Blast against one target that does 11 damage (spending 11 damage); and, to round it out, a 3-damage dagger attack (free because it’s an at-will option that does less damage). That would cost us 25 damage: right on the nose for a CR 4 creature. But because of the variance in damage, she could be pegged as anything between a strong CR 2 (on par with a pentadrone) and a very weak CR 10 (on par with a CR13 rakshasa).

monster traits

Nearly every monster, except for beasts and some boring humanoids, have some “schtick:” some special trait that makes them unique. It’s hard to quantify these. The DMG tries: it offers two pages of traits, listing the modification that should be made for each to the effective HP or AC. Most of these minor modifications, by the DMG rules, are worth a fraction of a CR. Given the wild fluctuations in power of same-CR creatures, this is illusory precision (I talk more about that here).

We can test common and seemingly powerful traits like legendary resistance and magic resistance and in almost all cases, the presence or absence of these traits has no correlation to higher or lower monster statistics. Therefore, they are not visibly affecting a monster’s CR. The only verifiable exceptions, as I mentioned here, are regeneration (which has a negligible but real effect, reducing some monster HP a by a few percent) and possession (which has a large effect, halving hit points) and possibly damage transfer. I think we can turn these three cases into a general rule: you may reduce damage-avoiding monsters’ hit points by the amount of damage you expect them to avoid over 3 rounds of combat.

what about saving throws?

I think we can improve on the original DM’s Guide rules in another way. The DMG chart has values for proficiency bonus, AC, HP, attack, damage and save DC. Monsters also need to make saving throws. Really, what we want to know is, “what does a saving throw look like for a monster’s good stat?” and “what does a saving throw look like for a monster’s bad stat?”

The bad saving throw is easy. It can be anything based on the monster’s story! For instance, the tarraque’s Dex save is +0.

For the good saving throws: calculating this was an afterthought and I didn’t feel like manually entering the good saving throws for the entire Monster Manual. I decided to see if a sample would be enough. I manually entered the best saving throws of all of the monsters up to page 84 of the Monster Manual, right before the start of the Dragons entry. I also added the ancient red dragon, so I could get the good saving throw of the strongest non-thought-experiment monster in the game. Based on how the data looked, I’d see if I had enough information or if I needed more. Here’s what I got.

This data is clearly tightly-grouped and linear: I don’t need any more sample to see that. It’s a hair off of 1 point of saving throw bonus per 2 levels. This formula will always keep us within about half a point of the real value:

3 + 1/2 CR

And the eye test tells me that variance is very low. I’d estimate it at +- 2. That is to say: the saving throw bonus column is equal to the Attack Bonus column minus 1.

By the way, 3 + 1/2 CR also works for a monster’s good skills!

putting it all together

OK, now we have everything we need to make a complete chart replacing the one in the Dungeon Masters Guide! This will give us out-of-the-box numbers that closely match the Platonic ideal of a 5e monster of any CR. Just tweak according to taste, add a special ability or two, and you are good to go. This is something you can do live at the table, not as part of your game prep!

Here’s the finished chart:

And here’s a PDF that you can print out and put in your DMG.

And if you want something really compact, here’s the important rules on a business card:



Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Warner Bros. Consumer Products Announce Release of DC Spyfall

Cryptozoic - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, today announced the limited release of DC Spyfall at Gen Con, August 2-5, followed by a full retail release on August 8. In this new iteration of the social deduction game Spyfall, 3-8 players take on the roles of DC’s greatest Super Heroes as they have a secret meeting at an iconic location, such as the Batcave, Daily Planet, or the Fortress of Solitude. The twist is that one of them is secretly The Joker in disguise. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How the Dungeon Powered the Success of D&D and the First Role-Playing Games

DM David - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 12:00

When home computers seemed like rare gadgets, a killer app was a program so compelling that people purchased the computer just to run the application. VisiCalc became the Apple II’s killer app, and then Lotus 1-2-3 drove customers to the IBM PC.

Dungeons & Dragons came with a killer app baked in—the dungeon crawl. The dungeon provided such a powerful setting for the first role-playing game that I suspect the game’s success owes as much to this setting as to the invention of the role-playing game. (For a taste of fantasy role playing without the dungeon crawl, read my post, “Chivalry & Sorcery: What if Gary and Dave had not found the fun?”)

From Gauntlet to Diablo, the dungeon crawl is now such a popular video game convention that it stands as its own genre. Even folks who think tabletop games are all like Monopoly and see video games as unworthy of attention, know of Indiana Jones, the Tomb Raider movies, and the Mines of Moria. The D&D dungeon may seem conventional by now, but in the early 1970s, nothing exactly like it existed in the popular imagination.

The dungeon has developed such a huge role in popular culture that we struggle to imagine how novel and compelling dungeon crawls were 40 years ago.

In 1977, when I first overheard kids at my new school talking about Dungeons & Dragons, I managed to learn just two things about the game, but these hints electrified me. In D&D, you played a person in the game who grew in power through experience, and you explored dungeons filled with monsters, hidden secrets, and treasures—often magical. I went home, opened the yellow pages, and called countless hobby shops in Chicagoland, searching for one that stocked this astounding game. When I finally located a copy at the distant Hill’s Hobby, I coaxed my mom into providing a ride—but not until the weekend. Still excited, but facing a torturous wait, I sat down with some graph paper and speculated on how a game of dungeon exploration might play.

My enthusiasm was not unique. The dungeons under Castle Blackmoor began as a minor diversion to the campaign’s fantasy battles above ground, but the Blackmoor bunch spent so much time underground that Dave Arneson ultimately declared the above-ground conflicts lost to forfeit. Dave Megarry of the Blackmoor game wanted to capture the dungeon experience during Arneson’s down time, so he created the Dungeon! board game.

Even when the first role-playing games left medieval fantasy, they kept dungeons or sites that played like dungeons.

Empire of the Petal Throne (1975) devoted rules to the underworld, and explained dungeons as buildings and civilizations lost to the “Time of Darkness.”

Metamorphosis Alpha (1976) moved the dungeon into space in the form of the drifting starship Warden.

Dra’k’ne Station

Traveller (1977) brought an entire universe to play in, but for years all the game’s published adventures featured derelict space ships, alien and abandoned research stations, and other location-based adventures resembling dungeons in space.

  • Dra’k’ne Station (1979) is “a vast alien research station hollowed out of an asteroid…still protected by its automated defense systems and one surviving alien.”
  • Darthanon Queen (1980) consists of deck plans for a 600 ton merchant ship along with a crew and a passenger roster. The adventure suggests a few scenarios to stage on the ship, including one cribbed from Alien.
  • Adventure 2: Research Station Gamma (1980) describes an arctic laboratory that players must infiltrate.
  • Adventure 3: Twilight’s Peak (1980) takes characters to a location with “many of the elements of a haunted house,” and then to an alien base complex.

Stone Mountain dungeon cross section from 1977 basic set

The dungeon crawl offers several essential advantages:

  • Ease of play – The dungeon’s walls limited options, making the game master’s job manageable. In a Gamespy interview Arneson said, “Dungeon crawls were, I think, the easiest things to set up because all you had to do was draw a grid map and didn’t have to worry about the great outdoors and setting up trees and stuff. People also couldn’t go wandering off where you didn’t have a map because it was solid rock.” More than anything, the wide-open space of Traveller drove designers to attempt to duplicate the dungeon experience in space.
  • Group play – Dungeon exploration provided an activity for a party with divergent skills. A host of role-playing games ranging from Chivalry & Sorcery to every spy game ever struggled to find reasons for characters to work together.
  • Obstacles – Dungeons provided an excuse for monsters, tricks, and traps. Their inevitably-insane architects gave dungeon masters free reign to create a funhouse environment.
  • Goals – The treasure underground gave a reason to explore, and a gave players a common goal.
  • Flavor – Dungeons provided an evocative setting full of secrets and ripe for exploration. For me, the most evocative illustration in the blue box was the underground cross section. I wanted to crack the mysteries of just such an underground complex.

Nowadays, some D&D players dislike dungeon crawls and that’s fine. Forty-some years of evolution have taken D&D to villages, forests, palaces, and across the planes of the great wheel. Dungeon masters no longer prepare for play by following the instructions from the 1974 brown books. “First, the referee must draw out a minimum of half a dozen maps of the levels of his ‘underworld.’” If you dislike dungeons you can still like D&D. (If you don’t like dungeons or dragons, then you probably just play to seem cool.)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A tribute to the life and career of Nikolai Volkoff

First Comics News - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 10:23

Josip Nikolai Peruzović (October 14, 1947 – July 29, 2018), better known by his ring name of Nikolai Volkoff, was a Yugoslav-born American professional wrestler who was best known for his performances in the World Wrestling Federation. Volkoff died at home on July 29, 2018, at the age of 70, days after being released from a hospital in Maryland where he had been treated for dehydration and other issues.

Look back at the incomparable legacy of WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Brian Christopher passes away

First Comics News - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 10:16

WWE is saddened to learn that Brian Christopher Lawler, who is best known in WWE as Too Cool’s Grandmaster Sexay, has passed away. Lawler, who is the son of WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, competed during the height of the Attitude Era. WWE extends its condolences to Lawler’s family, friends and fans.


In early July 2018, Lawler was arrested and jailed for driving under the influence and for evading police. On the early morning of July 29, 2018, Lawler was found hanging in a cell at the Hardeman County Jail and was observed to be brain dead. His life support was disabled after his father Jerry Lawler had arrived to the hospital to bid his farewell. Lawler was pronounced dead at around 4:40 PM EST at the age of 46.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 09:11

Beloved Guardian of Love and Justice Returns In Special

Two Weekend-Only Engagement in More Than 590 Movie Theaters Across The U.S.


San Francisco, CA, June 7, 2018 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of publishing, animation distribution, and global entertainment licensing, will partner with leading event cinema distributor, Fathom Events, to present a special series of SAILOR MOON limited engagements set for July and August at more than 590 movie theaters across the United States. A comprehensive list of all participating theatre locations and advance ticket sales are available now for all screening dates at https://www.fathomevents.com/collections/sailor-moon.


Sailor Moon, the beloved Guardian of Love and Justice, returns to the big screen for a special theatrical event! Following an encore presentation of the first movie SAILOR MOON R: THE MOVIE, the Sailor Guardians unite once more to battle their chilliest adversary yet in SAILOR MOON S: THE MOVIE. The second week of showings will feature the classic anime’s third movie SAILOR MOON SUPERS: THE MOVIE along with never-before seen in theaters short, “Ami’s First Love.” A limited edition SAILOR MOON full-color poster will be given to ticket holders at the screenings while supplies last. All features are presented uncut and true to the original Japanese version, with English dubbed and subtitled showings available. Catch the trailer at https://youtu.be/DXWaZudCdtc.



Saturday, July 28th – Dubbed Versions

Monday, July 30th – Subtitled Versions


SAILOR MOON SUPER S: THE MOVIE and “Ami’s First Love” Screening

Saturday, August 4th – Dubbed Versions

Monday, August 6th – Subtitled Versions

“We are very excited to partner with Fathom to bring the next set of SAILOR MOON movies to audiences nationwide,” says Brian Ige, Vice President, Animation. “Catch the adventures of the Sailor Guardians the way they were meant to be seen – on the big screen – at this summer’s exclusive SAILOR MOON theatrical events!”


The SAILOR MOON anime series and movies are inspired by the bestselling manga series created by Naoko Takeuchi. In the series, Usagi Tsukino is a clumsy but kindhearted teenage girl who transforms into the powerful guardian of love and justice, Sailor Moon. Meeting allies along the way who share similar fates, Usagi and her team of planetary Sailor Guardians fight to protect the universe from forces of evil and total annihilation!


Fans are also invited to enjoy the original, classic SAILOR MOON as well as the all-new SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL anime series, which are now available from VIZ Media as Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs as well as multi-disc Standard Edition DVD Sets.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


First Comics News - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 09:00

The adventures return!


New York, NY—July 30, 2018—Continuing its celebration of the return of CONAN this January, Marvel is excited to announce the release of two volumes of CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTION: OUT OF THE DARK HILLS and THE HEART OF YAG-KOSHA!

Collecting Conan: The Legend 0 and Conan (2004) #1-19, CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTION: OUT OF THE DARKSOME HILLS presents tales from industry great Kurt Busiek and Eisner-winning Conan artist Cary Nord, including classic stories adapted from the epic works of original author Robert E. Howard. Relive all the legendary and glorious detail of Conan’s battle with the Vanir, his meeting with the Frost Giant’s daughter, and more! CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTION: OUT OF THE DARKSOME HILLS is VOL. 1 in the CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTIONS, collecting Conan’s various ongoing series from 2004-2017.

CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTION: THE HEART OF YAG-KOSHA presents the legend in more swashbuckling stories, including tales of Conan’s storied youth! Relive all his adventures in the City of Thieves and the Hall of the Dead, with more of Howard’s classic tales. CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTION: THE HEART OF YAG-KOSHA is VOL. 2 in the CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTIONS.

Next year, get ready to take on Conan’s early exploits and magic with the CONAN CHRONICLES EPIC COLLECTIONS! And beginning later in 2019, the CONAN: HYBORIAN TALES EPIC COLLECTIONS will collect Conan’s various one-shots and miniseries from 2004-2016!



On Sale 2/6/19


COLLECTING: VOL. 2: CONAN (2004) 20-39

On Sale 4/3/19

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

OSR Commentary On The Classic TSR Era Expert Dungeons & Dragons Book By David Cook

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 06:01
Tegel Manor event went down well on Saturday with all of the players happy & their role playing advancing the adventure's thread. They wove around the adventure & interacted with a good number of NPC's from Tegel village. But I was thinking about the Expert Dungeons & Dragons rule book later that night. So what's so important about the Expert rules? Well for the dungeon master this is the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Modification Monday: King of the Hipsters

Knitted Bliss - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 18:29


  Original Pattern: Heartstring Knitter Extraordinaire: Geraldine (Ravelry ID) Mods: Adjusted for worsted weight yarn instead of DK, eliminated the dotted design around the neckline, experimented with a checkerboard neckline instead, ripped it back, ad went with contrasting hem and cuffs. Details can be found on her project page, here. What Makes This Awesome: I

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

A week in security (July 23 – July 29)

Malwarebytes - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 15:57

Last week on Labs, we looked at an adware called MobiDash getting stealthy, a new strain of Mac malware called Proton that was found after two years, and the ‘Hidden Bee’ miner that was delivered via an improved drive-by download toolkit. We also delved into the security improvements expected in the new Android P, and had a fresh look at Trojans to help users define what they really are.

We also gave you a quick introduction to the Malwarebytes Browser Extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Other news:
  • Russian hackers reached US utility control rooms, Homeland Security officials say. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
  • Dozens were sentenced for a call center scam, where victims bought iTunes gift cards under threat of arrest. (Source: Gizmodo)
  • Guardian US finds that 72 percent of video spend is fraudulent without Ads.txt. (Source: Mediapost)
  • No, you shouldn’t use the new version of Stylish. (Source: Robert Heaton)
  • These are 2018’s biggest hacks, leaks, and data breaches so far. (Source: ZDNet)
  • Google Translate is doing something incredibly sinister and it looks like we’re all doomed. (Source: IFLScience)
  • The Death botnet targets AVTech devices with a 2-year-old exploit. (Source: Security Affairs)
  • Long Beach Port terminal hit by ransomware attack. (Source: Press Telegram)
  • State governments warned of malware-laden CD sent via snail mail from China. (Source: Krebs on Security)
  • 23andMe sold access to your DNA library to big pharma, but you can opt out. (Source: MotherBoard)
  • Fake websites for Keepass, 7Zip, Audacity, and others found pushing adware. (Source: BleepingComputer)

Stay safe, everyone!

The post A week in security (July 23 – July 29) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Kollage Square Crochet Hook & Knitting Needles Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 15:00

There are dozens, if not hundreds of different kinds of crochet hooks and knitting needles out there – and finding one’s own perfect tools is a journey for each maker! Personally, I love trying out new hooks and needles – the more unique the better. So I jumped at the chance to try out Kollage Square Hooks [...]

The post Kollage Square Crochet Hook & Knitting Needles 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.

Categories: Crochet Life

Cryptozoic, Funimation, and Quidd Partner to Bring Digital Collectibles to Anime Fans Worldwide

Cryptozoic - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment, Funimation, and Quidd today announced a wide-ranging partnership to create digital collectibles for an array of properties, including Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul, My Hero Academia, Full Metal Panic, and Hellsing. These and other titles from Funimation's catalog will be making their way to Quidd, the leading platform for digital goods, which is available on iOS and Android (LINK). 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

No Helicopter Lifts to the Mountains of God

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 11:00

You’re in mountain country. You have little protection from squalls. Nights get cold and wild animals lurk.

Your guide points across a wide valley to a majestic range in the distance. “There,” he tells you,” the sun always shines; you breathe crystal-clear air; mountain gales do not batter; and wild beasts are unknown.

“Best of all,” he says, still pointing at the towering range, “one dwells there who is glorious beyond words, and he receives warmly those who respond humbly to him.”

You feel a sudden sense of longing while the image of a helicopter forms in your head. “I want to go,” you say.

No helicopter appears. Your guide beckons you to follow and he starts in the direction of the valley that must be crossed. The path descends, narrows and at points becomes difficult. At times it threads through a darkening canyon and the sense that predatory animals may be near chills the blood.

You feel like turning back but a moment later the path opens to a wider place, as it does by times. After a brief rest to catch your breath and with the encouragement of your guide you say, “Let’s go on.”

This is a story, of course. It pictures two of many experiences in the Christian life reflected in Romans 5:1-5. They are hope and hardship.

Hope is the expectation that someday we will be in “the land that is fairer than day,” as Sanford G. Bennett portrays it in his song, The Sweet By and By. There we shall see God face-to-face in his radiant presence! (1 Corinthians 13:12). 

In our mortality we can scarcely imagine the glory of God although across history there have been moments when he has drawn especially near. Moses returned from Sinai after being in the Presence and his countenance shone with God’s reflected glory. The tabernacle in the wilderness was marked by visible manifestations (Shekinah) of God’s presence. And the disciples experienced this too:  ‘We beheld his glory,” the Apostle John wrote.

All of this, and so much more, is the focus of the Christian hope. The majestic mountain range can only hint at God’s splendor.

Yet as marvelous as the hope of God’s glory is, there is a valley to cross and that  means hardship. There are no helicopter rides to the Mountain of God.

That’s why Paul speaks also of unpleasant times along the way. The King James Version uses the word tribulations to describe this reality. J. B. Phillips paraphrases it, trials and troubles. The Revised Standard Version reads, sufferings.

Whichever of these expressions we choose, none speaks of an experience we want, but each reflects an aspect of life every believer will have. Although life is also filled with times of great fulfillment and accomplishment, trials and troubles are a part of everyone’s experience in the valley of our mortality. They confront us all in the valley of our mortality.

Yet, the hope on our horizon makes the menacing shadows and storms of life endurable — even worthwhile. Note Paul’s progression of thought in Romans 5:3,4: Hardships produce endurance. That is, they develop grit as we learn to hold up under them. And, endurance produces character. Character is who we really are in intention and commitment. And character produces (more) hope.

To the new believer, hope may begin as little more than a doctrine. But the successful meeting of adversity nourishes it into a sustaining conviction. And even while still in the valley we may be granted fresh glimpses of the mountains of God, heightening our anticipation of seeing his glory as our journey progresses.

If the Christian life is an intertwining of hope and hardship shall we then resolve to bear this world’s suffering with resignation? Possibly, at times, but Paul has something even loftier in mind. Resignation is only one aspect of the Christian response. The other aspect is rejoicing.

“We rejoice in our hope,” the Apostle writes. The mountains are there; the valley must be crossed; the perils may be stark; but the Almighty God is bigger than them all.

The life of faith for Annie Johnson Flint was no helicopter ride to heaven. She lost both parents early in life and spent most of her years as an invalid. Yet she could write:

The danger that his love allows

Is safer than our fears may know,

The peril that his care permits

Is our defense wher’er we go.


Adapted from Along The Way

by Donald N Bastian

Photo credit: r chelseth (via flickr.com)

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Two Towns

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 11:00
These settlements go in this world, but certainly could be placed elsewhere.

Tuskinth: A village whose primary industry is nonnig husbandry. it specializes in the so-called healing breed of furry nonnig, whose purring and warmth is said to have a calming influence on the nerves which aids in healing, and of course, nonnig of any breed are highly nutritious and flavorful. The nonnig yards are composed of hill-mounds surrounded by small moats (the nonnigs avoid water). The nonnig breeders can be recognized by the mail gauntlets they wear on their left hands, to protect themselves from the sting of the mound wyrms that form a symbiotic relationship with the nonnigs and protect them from predation with the warrens. Some nonnig breeders may keep small mounds of scintilla-sniffers on the side, but the practical folk of Tuskinth look down upon treasure-seekers.

Harfo and Sons is the most prosperous of the breeders, though many in Tuskinth would opine that only the old man, Grenz Harfo has any particular head for nonnig-breeding. His eldest son, Halx, is a handsome dullard, and his youngest. Festeu, is a idler and wastrel. Of note, he does own a rare (outside of the Daor Obdurate) telesthetic hound. The poor beast is quite mad, made so by an over-sensitivity to human anxieties resulting from over-breeding. Its shrew-like snout is has a-quiver and dripping, and it's whip-like tail sways nervously.

Horbizond: Was the name of an ancient city, and also the current modest village that squats in a meager portion of it. The people of Horbizond dress in the decaying finery of the ancients and appoint their over-sized but crumbling homes in an equally ostentatious fashion. They live in holy dread of the Prismatic Man, an angular, crystalline visitant, who materializes at random intervals to isolated folk of the town. The actions of the Prismatic Man are various and strange. He has at times pointed with a glassy finger to hidden treasures. Other times, he has emitted a chiming that the hear perceived as some spiritual wisdom. Then there are the occasions when he has seemed to produce rays of color from his palms that struck an individual dead. If there is any rationale to whom the Prismatic Man favors and whom he destroys, the folk of Horbizond have yet to discern it. In fact, they believe it would be blasphemous to do so. The Hwaopt Library is willing to pay for detailed observations of the Prismatic Man, whose nature and purpose they are eager to discover.

Ch. 5, Page 19

Castle Greyhawk - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 04:30
Quij had seen Robilar levitate plenty of times, but being able to fly himself was a brand new experience to the orc hero. He pushed off into the air like he was pushing off from the shore into a river and tried to "swim" through the air.

Otto made his way inside. Combating the invisible stalker with bags of flour seemed like such a natural idea, he could not think why it had not occurred to him earlier. He made to the innkeeper with lightning precision and made his demands.

Tenser, meanwhile, was eager to reach the spellbooks and scrolls in his room upstairs. He could think of a half-dozen spells that would help with the stalker -- all of which he had, by chance, failed to prepare that day. He had no time to prepare new spells, but if he could just find the right scroll...

But then, Endelar started to resist his tugging hand. In the middle of the common room, she decided she had had enough.


Looking For Group - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 04:00

The post 1213 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics


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