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Tilted Heart Tote

Moogly - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 14:36

The Tilted Heart Tote is blingy, fun, roomy, and a unique combination of yarn and a very special fabric – and a free crochet pattern on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Leisure Arts, Red Heart Yarns, and Brittany Needles. The Tilted Heart Tote features the Leisure Arts Diamond Kit in the Heart [...]

The post Tilted Heart Tote 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

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 11:00

www.knittedbliss.com

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week Literary party games? Sign me up! Complaints have no magic. So true. How to be a better listener. Why you shouldn’t hit the snooze button. Although I find the advice of ‘go to bed earlier’ to be completely unhelpful, in the same category of ‘just get over it’

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Planets For Planes

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 11:00

I alluded to this yesterday, but I thought I should expand on why I have a bit of trouble with the "Planes as Planets" idea. First, I should say, I think this is fine for a certain sort of "magic is misunderstood science" pulp settings, and it would work wonderfully with a conception of planet something like the ancient idea of the crystal spheres because then the planets basically are planes. (GURPS Cabal by Kenneth Hite sort of takes this approach.)

True, the planes as typically presented are a bit abstract, and any many cases it might not be immediately apparent what adventurers should do with them. On the other hand, "planes as planets" runs the risk of too much mudanity. In a magical setting, I feel like the environments need to be sufficiently strange (and challenging!) to explain why you just don't have them exist on the main setting world (or beneath it).

I think science fiction might offer some suggestions. This can get tough, because adventurers don't usually go around equipped with the sort of gear space explorers have to deal with hostile environments (though it certainly could be available to them). This means sticking a bit more to pulpier sci-fi with more human-friendly environments for inspiration.

Here are two examples from the work of Stanley Weinbaum I think would work:

Weinbaum's Uranus from "Planet of Doubt" is permanently shrouded in green-gray mists (visibility only out to a few feet) and heated not by the too-distant sun, but by volcanism. There are strange, swirling beings (or what appear to be beings) of solidified mists with "the faces of gargoyles or devils, leering, grimacing, grinning in lunatic mirth or seeming to weep in mockery of sorrow. One couldn't see them clearly enough for anything but fleeting impressions—so vague and instantaneous that they had the qualities of an illusion or dream."

Those apparitions are not what they seem, but I won't spoil it for you--and of course, it doesn't really matter to your setting what Weinbaum did with them, anyway.


Then there are giant, tubular beasts resembling a larger, stranger version of the processionary caterpillars of Eath--or when they are forming a "train," Jason Sholtis's googlopede. They are a hazard that can't be defeated by brute force (probably, though multiple fireballs cure a lot of problems!), but rather have to be overcome strategically.

All you need is the addition of some treasure player's might want, and Weinbaum's Uranus is ready to be explored.

Weinbaum's Venus from "Parasite Planet" is even more interesting, though its shear hostility may make it less suitable. It's tidally locked, with a desert hot side and a frigid cold side, and a strip of more hospitable (relatively) twilight zone. That zone is a mostly jungle, hotter than anything on Earth, plagued by mud eruptions that make encampment tricky. It's teeming with life of an unsavory, but gameable, sort:
A thousand different species, but all the same in one respect; each of them was all appetite. In common with most Venusian beings, they had a multiplicity of both legs and mouths; in fact some of them were little more than blobs of skin split into dozens of hungry mouths, and crawling on a hundred spidery legs. All life on Venus is more or less parasitic. Even the plants that draw their nourishment directly from soil and air have also the ability to absorb and digest—and, often enough, to trap—animal food. So fierce is the competition on that humid strip of land between the fire and the ice that one who has never seen it must fail even to imagine it.If that's not enough, the air cannot be safely breathed, except right after a rain, due to the risk of inhaling mold spores that will sprout in the lungs. Food or water left exposed for even a short period of time begins to growth fuzz.


Terrans brave Venus because of its bounty plant-derived substances for pharmaceuticals, predominantly an anti-aging drug. Similar "potion ingredients" might tempt adventures. Venus also as a very D&Dish creature:
...the doughpot is a nauseous creature. It's a mass of white, dough-like protoplasm, ranging in size from a single cell to perhaps twenty tons of mushy filth. It has no fixed form; in fact, it's merely a mass of de Proust cells—in effect, a disembodied, crawling, hungry cancer. It has no organization and no intelligence, nor even any instinct save hunger. It moves in whatever direction food touches its surfaces; when it touches two edible substances, it quietly divides, with the larger portion invariably attacking the greater supply. It's invulnerable to bullets; nothing less than the terrific blast of a flame-pistol will kill it, and then only if the blast destroys every individual cell. It travels over the ground absorbing everything, leaving bare black soil where the ubiquitous molds spring up at once—a noisome, nightmarish creature.Again, something that brute force might not be the best way of countering.

Those are just a couple of examples. Weinbaum's fiction is in the public domain at least in some countries, so visit the internet and read more about them.

[ZINE] Echoes From Fomalhaut #05 & The Lost Valley of Kishar (NOW AVAILABLE!)

Beyond Fomalhaut - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 10:58
Echoes From Fomalhaut #05 / The Lost Valley of Kishar
I am pleased to announce the publication of the fifth issue of my fanzine, Echoes From Fomalhaut. As before, this is a 40-page zine dedicated to adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school rules, with cover art by and illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, and the Dead Victorians.
In The Enchantment o Vashundara, I am happy to welcome Zsolt Varga, who has written the titular adventure, the runner up in a module writing competition I was judging last Autumn. Adventure and wonder await those who would venture into the palace of a god, and free him from his current predicament… or leave him to his fate and make off with his treasures? This 3rd to 4th level scenario shows that you don’t have to be a lord or patriarch to visit strange otherworlds, or have a hand in the fate of deities.
Echoes #05Returning to the Isle of Erillion, two of its small towns are presented in a manner inviting adventure, conflict, and player engagement. The Divided Town of Tirwas is an overgrown village in the north, where old communal customs clash with the rule of the feudal Landlords who have seized power and divided the town among themselves. 18 keyed locations are described with adventure hooks and NPC notes, and just enough detail to get going. Further adventures await under Tirwas in Plunder of the Stone Sacks, a dungeon scenario for 3rd to 5th level (45 keyed locations). The Stone Sacks, a set of limestone caverns, were once used as a communal shelter from sea raiders, and are now used for storage, or lie abandoned. Yet strange things are afoot and there may be more to the place than meets the eye… Finally, in Sleepy Haven, everything is fine. Or is it? Visit the sleeping fishing community to find out (8 keyed locations).
While both towns were created for the Isle of Erillion (described in Echoes #02-04), they should also be easy enough to use in a modular fashion, placed in a campaign setting of your own. Player maps for Tirwas and Sleepy Haven are provided on the obverse and reverse of this issue’s map supplement, included with all purchases.
The print version of the fanzine is available from my Bigcartel store; the PDF edition will be published through DriveThruRPG with a few months’ delay. As always, customers who buy the print edition will receive the PDF version free of charge.
***
The Lost Valley of KisharBut that is not all! In addition to Echoes #05, I am also pleased to announce the publication of The Lost Valley of Kishar, a 32-page adventure module for 6th to 8th level characters, and the winner of the 2018 adventure writing contest. Venture into a lost world of savage beasts and ancient sorceries – and discover an old mystery from beyond the stars! Whether you have come for the strange fruits of an enchanted tree, in pursuit of a great winged ape, the gold of a lost temple or a magic mirror, glory and death await in equal measure in… The Lost Valley of Kishar!
“Somewhere, only a few days’ travel from a busy trade route, there lies a valley surrounded by untamed wilderness. It is surrounded by cliffs forming the shape a ring, unnaturally steep and tall, as if they had been wrought by human hand. No one remembers who had originally erected the ruins standing within the valley, and who had nurtured the wondrous tree which had once drawn pilgrims from distant lands. Kishar’s priestesses have been long forgotten – but the tree’s blessed radiance persists. As if under an odd compulsion, all manner of beasts have been drawn to the valley, and in time, there emerged others. Those who came from far beyond human imagination, and were already here before the first priestesses…”
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Shipping note: Do note that due to postage cost changes, a flat shipping fee is in effect: you will pay the same whether you order one, two, or more items (larger orders may be split into multiple packages and shipped individually – this does not affect the shipping fee).
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Six Rites & Spells of The Spectral Phoenix For Space Age Sorcery & Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 03:18
'Carl why are we out here in the middle of the Martian night!?'Because I saw it out in the dust storm again over by the ruins yesterday.''The Spectral Phoenix. That god thing you claim spoke with you.''Look colour me skeptical Carl but do know how nuts that sounds?'Martin didn't have time to react to the knife that found its way into his stomach by Carl's hand.The violence was too quick & strikeNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Five Spells Of Space Age Sorcery & Lovecraftian Space Opera

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 17:31
"An alien sorcerer crawls to a lone stone at the edge of the universe & calls upon the power of unrivaled fury!The space & dimensional ways quake with the stirrings of an ancient power & the ley lines at the ends of the universe buckle under the pure power of cosmic might. He calls upon ancient pacts & demons flow to his side from the darkest of places on the small rock. His form wracks & Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

MooglyCAL2019 – Afghan Block #7

Moogly - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 15:00

Kicking off the second quarter of the MooglyCAL2019 is the Farmhouse Square by Snappy Tots! Heidi is known for her bright, fun use of color – and you can definitely see that in this free crochet block pattern! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Red Heart Yarns, Furls Crochet, and Chetnanigans. Just [...]

The post MooglyCAL2019 – Afghan Block #7 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

Steal the Eyes ... Scratch That

Roles & Rules - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:12
That feeling when you're playtesting your long-delayed megadungeon and there's a 20' high bird god idol with glowing orange eyes and one of your players -- who has in fact probably never seen this picture:



follows her rogue's instinct to climb up and see if those eyes are a) gems and b) pry-able ...

but no, they are just magic light cast on stone eyes.

In what is not really a fit of pique and more like dogged mission completion mode, she then takes hammer and chisel and chips off all the light-bearing stone, raining a shower of little half-glowing, candle-strength chips on the floor ...

which turn out to be a useful small treasure in their own right.

Confirming that it's much more fun to redraw the path of ages, then follow it.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Simple and Perfect Fingerless Mitts

Knitted Bliss - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:00

www.knittedbliss.com

** this post is sponsored by Spinrite yarns. All opinions and photos are my own.** I’ve long been interested in marled yarn, there is something so visually appealing about the stripy swirl of two colours together that adds a bit more dimension and visual interest, especially in simple stitches. Case in point – I wanted

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

The Weird Solar System of "Life on Other Worlds"

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:00
"Life on Other Worlds" was a feature that appeared periodically in Planet Comics in the 1940s. Most were drawn by Murphy Anderson, but the writer is unknown. I am not completely sold on the sometimes promulgated "Planes as Planets" idea in regard to D&D's Outer Planes, chiefly because I think it sometimes sells planes and planets a bit short on weirdness, for some reason. Reading some of these "Life on Other Worlds" segments and thinking about them as planes as caused me to rethink that position.

Take Saturn, for instance:


Mercury is more conventional, but still:



1284

Looking For Group - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 04:00

The post 1284 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Figuring out the scale of Viridstan's Map

Bat in the Attic - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 03:57
One of the mysteries of the original run of Judges Guild products is the scale of the map of the hexes on the City State of the World Emperor.


Nowhere on the above the map or in the text of CSWE is how big each hex is and has remained a minor mystery for the past 35 years.

Recently I realized that the city map to Tarantis is drawn in a similar style to CSWE. While it doesn't have hexes it does have a scale.

So I superimposed a section of Tarantis on top of CSWE and resized Tarantis until the main street, alleys, and building look comparable to the same on the CSWE map.


I then made the Tarantis map transparent and moved the scale over on of Viridstan's hexes. And viola! It looks like each hex is 120 feet.


While my works is an elaborate guess it makes a lot of sense. It unlikely to be 240' feet, but it could have been 60 feet. Or the 60 yards of the Thunderhold Map. Making the scale 120' would make the size of the building comparable to those in Tarantis.
If I ever get around to drawing the City State of the World Emperor that the scale I will go with.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Death of A God & The Tomb Of Pan Dungeon Session Report '89

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 16:49
I saw a city in a lonely land:Foursquare, it fronted upon gulfs of fire;Behind, the night of Erebus hung entire;And deserts gloomed or glimmered on each hand.The City of the Titans  (1915) by Clark Ashton SmithThere was a quick debate on Twitter about how gods should never be killed in Dungeons & Dragons style games. This reminded me of one of the most dangerous dungeons our party of playersNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Was this really an attempt by the Chinese?

Malwarebytes - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 15:43

Last weekend, during President Trump’s visit to the Mar-a-Lago resort, a 23-year-old Chinese woman attempted to gain access to the Florida resort by lying and bluffing her way in. After some discussion at the gate, she was escorted to the reception of the resort where it was found out that she was not on the list of people that were allowed to enter.

According to the report a search of her belongings showed she was carrying four cellphones, a hard drive, a laptop and a thumb drive that was found to be infected with malware.

The word infected was emphasized by us because it raises an important question. A thumb drive can have malware on it that is inactive. The malware can be deployed when the carrier is able to connect it to a target system. But it can also have malware on it that will deploy automatically once it is connected to a system. For example, like we have seen in USB drives dropped in the parking lot of a corporation that a threat actor wants to infiltrate. The third option is that the thumb drive is actually infected without the knowledge of the carrier. We sometimes see an old worm resurface that has infected the root of a thumb drive and consequently infects the system it was connected to. These are usually older worms that were widely spread and get a second chance when someone finds and uses an old USB stick.

As you can see, it is very important to know which of these scenarios is true here. Given the circumstances we are led to believe that the first scenario might be true.

But even if this is true this seems an amateur attempt that we should not attribute to the Chinese government or one of their APT groups too quickly. While it is true that Russian and Chinese attempts to gain access to important information are getting more overt, this one seems to be of a less professional nature. We will have to wait and see. Ms Zhang has a detention hearing April 8 and an arraignment April 15, so hopefully we will learn some more then.

According to Malwarebytes’ expert on China and APT groups William Tsing:

Although China has a long history of manipulating members of the Chinese diaspora towards espionage goals, we lack sufficient information at this time to conclude definitively that Zhang was engaged as an intelligence collector.  What we can say for sure is that businesses at high risk of cyber attack – such as Mar a Lago – can take measures to lower their risk profile.  Knowing your customers, and what legitimate business activity looks like, can assist in spotting fraudulent or dangerous behavior.  Empowering employees to challenge or alert to suspicious activity can stop an attack in its tracks.  Lastly, hotels of any sort are functionally impossible to secure well due to their transient population, and should not be the location of any sensitive or significant business transactions.

What we do know is that secret service agents at the gate verified that the last name on the passport she presented matched that of one of the club members, so when she claimed she wanted to use the pool she was escorted to the front desk. There she showed an invitation – in Chinese – for a United Nations friendship event. There was no-one that could read the invitation, but no such event was scheduled, so Ms Zhang was questioned and eventually detained.

President Trump was not at the resort at the moment this went down, but he was playing golf at a nearby facility.

The post Was this really an attempt by the Chinese? appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

How gamers can protect against increasing cyberthreats

Malwarebytes - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 15:00

A few years ago, cybersecurity scryers predicted that the video gaming industry would be the next big target of cybercriminals. Whether this will come true in the future or not, the average gamer may have little to no idea of what awaits them, much less be prepared for it.

In fact, while generally more technically adept than the average Joe, most gamers lack familiarity with risks they could encounter while gaming or browsing the web for game-related content. For the majority of US households, this takes place on devices such as the personal computer, smartphone, and the dedicated gaming console.

Factoring in the gaming industry’s steady growth since 2011—the changes in consumer gaming perception, habits, and appetite for new content, tech, and accessories—and the expectation that, despite a foreseen nominal dip, the industry will still hit high marks on sales at end of year, it is more crucial than ever to educate gamers on cybersecurity best practices. This includes the various threats gamers may encounter online, their real-world consequences, and what they can do to protect themselves.

While a lot has changed in the gaming industry in the last five years, most of the tried-and-tested tactics of ensnaring the unfamiliar (and oftentimes, the experienced) are still around, causing panic and making headlines.

So, without further ado, here are the risks every gamer—on a PC, mobile, or gaming console—should keep an eye out for.

Malware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs)

Malware and PUPs have been the top-of-mind threats to online gamers, and for a good reason. They come in many, many forms—key generators; game cracks; trainers; fake mobile game apps [1][2], game installers, clients/launchers, and audio protocol; game hacks; cheat files [1][2]; infected or risky mods; unofficial game patches; bogus emulators—you name it. At this point, it won’t be a surprise to consider that every conceivable software related to gaming might have a malicious equivalent in the wild.

Malware doesn’t only appear as applications, but can also be embedded in image files. In 2016, cybercriminals were found to have hidden a Trojan in image files in over 60 Android apps using stenography. Perhaps even more surprising, cryptomining code was included in Abstractism, a platform that was once peddled in Steam and was eventually pulled from the market after a flood of complaints.

Malicious binaries can also exploit software vulnerabilities, the way the TeslaCrypt ransomware did when, with the aid of several known exploit kits, it took advantage of unpatched Adobe Flash Player programs.

Lastly, malware can affect gamers when they connect to infected servers. In the report, Study of the Belonard Trojan, exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities in Counter-Strike 1.6, security experts at Russian antivirus firm Doctor Web investigated Belonard, a Trojan that takes advantage of weaknesses in both Steam and pirated versions of Counter-Strike 1.6 (CS 1.6).

Once infected with Belonard, gamers are then made part of a botnet, which can further propagate the promotion and marketing of other potentially malicious servers.

Survey scams

We sometimes wonder how a tactic this old can stick around for so long, and we find the answer in a longstanding phishing truism: It works.

Survey scammers immediately jumped on the Far Cry 5 craze by offering “free” copies of the game after it was released in Q2 2018. Unbeknownst to users who are led more by their desire to get a free Triple-A title game than to protect their data, they sign up to a service that purports to offer “unlimited movies,” but end up giving away their email addresses, receive even more offers they don’t want, and realize in the end that they didn’t get any of what was offered to them.

A similar flocking happened when Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA V) came out in Q3 2017. Many scammers used YouTube to market their so-called money generators, which are survey scams, to nudge gamers to give away their personally identifiable information (PII) or download a potentially malicious file.

Let’s also not forget the amount of scammery that went down when Pokemon Go reached peak hype.

Phishing scams

Steam users are probably more than familiar with the times when phishers used squatted domains to lure them into giving out their credentials to Steam or their favorite third-party trading site, like CS:GO Lounge.

sleamcummunity.com and steamcornmunity.com were just two of several new domains that popped up, made to look like a Steam Community page, and used in several campaigns aiming to harvest Steam accounts. We believed that the stolen accounts could be used to lead more Steam users into giving away their credentials as well.

Similarly, a fake CS:GO Lounge domain was registered and mimicked the real trading and bidding site. Criminals behind it were also after Steam credentials. To rub salt to the wound, they even added a Trojan that pretended to be a Steam activation file.

A phishing campaign targeting PS4 users. Not a particularly good one.

Account takeover (ATO)

An account takeover is the result of credential fraud caused by phishing, hacking, or a data breach. Anyone maintaining an account online is at risk.

Ubisoft, the company behind Assassin’s Creed and the Tom Clancy brand, was compromised in 2013. While the company was mum about how it happened, one of our experts hinted that an employee may have been spear-phished, allowing the criminals to gain access to their internal network. Ubisoft prompted its users to quickly change their passwords.

Employees aren’t the only likely targets of those with nefarious intentions. Game developer’s forums are also at risk. Bohemia Interactive’s DayZ had theirs compromised, with hackers accessing and downloading usernames, passwords, and email addresses.

Ad flooding and malvertising

Ads, whether showcased on websites or apps, are perceived as more of an annoyance than a threat by normal users. But when they become too aggressive, Malwarebytes characterizes them as adware.

Mobile users who enjoy playing free games can probably attest that they can tolerate ads—they’re usually not in the way of the game they’re playing anyway. But if ads are more prevalent than the actual game, then expect to hear users complain. A lot.

Of course, some ads also contain malvertising, which opens up the angle that ads can be used as infection vectors to reach users who aren’t usually bothered by them.

Cyberbullying

Not all threats video gamers encounter online are after their information or their money. Some are after them, their reputation, their peace of mind. We implore every gamer to be wary of the items below as much as the items above because they can cause mental and emotional damage, rather than financial.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the division that maintains the stopbullying.gov website, online bullying includes flaming, harassment, exclusion, denigration, outing/shaming caused by deception or pretension, and doxing. Nude photo sharing or revenge porn can also be considered a form of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can happen to gamers while interacting online, whether that’s using voice features of multiplayer games, or in forums or other chat functions of gaming platforms.

We’ve covered the topic of cyberbullying on several occasions, especially during events like the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). We shared tech that could help curb cyberbullying, statistics on online bullying trends, and demystified the myths surrounding this act. It pays to go back and read these posts.

Trolling/griefing

Trolling could be both fun and funny. At least at first. But after the raucous laughter dies down to a chuckle, gamers eventually decide to get serious and carry.

Except they can’t.

Because sometimes that troll continues to stand in the open doorway doing jumping jacks, preventing gamers from going to the next room and advancing in gameplay.

This was what happened after Ubisoft officially released Tom Clancy’s The Division.

On the other hand, griefing—the term used to bring grief onto players by ruining their overall experience—is not lost in Elite Dangerous, a space exploration simulation. For one of its players, Commander DoveEnigma13, the end game is to reach a distant star system called Colonia. It may be his last chance to make the trip, as he had been battling a terminal illness for at least three years. So, with other Elite players, his daughter, and Frontier (the game developers) helping make this voyage a success, the Enigma Expedition was born.

However, reports of other Elite Dangerous griefers were sabotaging the expedition by attacking the final waypoint, a mega-ship called Dove Enigma, which Frontier also created as homage for the Commander. Without this, it would be difficult for the Enigma fleet of 560+ players strong to reach Colonia due to fuel shortage. However, in an interview with the Polygon, one of the players who was part of the fleet said that “the threat is minor at best.”

Read: When trolls come in a three-piece suit

Stalking

Thanks to Pokemon Go, augmented reality (AR) has become part of the modern gamer’s vocabulary. It’s the future of interactive and immersive gaming, bringing the experience to new heights. Unfortunately for some, AR games like Ingress have also made a way for gamers with questionable intent to use unofficial tools to stalk other gamers, visit their real-life homes, and leave creepy messages on doorsteps for the homeowners to see.

Intoku, an Ingress gamer, admitted to Kotaku in an interview: “Players on both sides have stalked and been stalked.” With a game that is based around real-world locations, players shouldn’t be surprised, nor should they expect little or no risk when playing such games.

Swatting

Swatting might start off as a prank call to emergency services, but the results—a dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address—can quickly become deadly, as we’ve seen in the Andrew Finch case. And yet, Peter “Rolly Ranchers” Varady, a then 12-year old YouTube streamer, was swatted less than a month after Finch’s death. This happened days after Cizzorz, a renowned YouTube streamer with millions of subscribers, helped him dramatically increase his subscriber count from 400 to almost 100,000.

In another story, a gamer with the pseudonym “Obnoxious” used swatting to get back at mostly young and female gamers who ignored or declined his friend requests on League of Legends (LoL).

In response to numerous swatting stories, some local US law enforcement agencies offer an anti-swatting service to video gamers and YouTubers.

Grooming

Probably the worst risk young gamers can encounter online is grooming, which is when a pedophile prepares a child for a meeting with the intention of committing a sexual offense. Not only is grooming a targeted act, but it’s also premeditated. Sometimes, it can be stopped if a parent happens to be in the same room as their child, or law enforcement is already tailing a suspect. Other times, it can lead to tragedy beyond words.

Breck Bednar was 14-years-old when he met Lewis Daynes online. Daynes was the ringmaster of the “virtual clubhouse” where Bednar and his friends at school would hang out. He claimed to be a computer engineer running a multimillion pound company. Daynes groomed Bednar into tricking his parents in order to arrange a meeting. He invited Bednar to his flat in Essex one Sunday in February 2014. Bednar texted his father that he’d be spending the night at a friend’s (who wasn’t Daynes). That was the last time they spoke.

There’s another side of grooming that is built around the highly popular game, Fortnite: the cybercrime kind. According to the BBC, teenagers as young as 14 admit to stealing private gaming accounts and reselling them online. Experts say that organized crime is linked to these activities, and that cybercrime grooming is taking place behind the scenes by dangerous persons or groups.

Play it safe. Always.

With a myriad of risks in online gaming, from financial to physical, it’s especially important to adhere to cybersecurity best practices. The gaming community is active, engaged, and passionate—and criminals will take advantage of that to the best of their ability. Head them off at the pass by following our advice:

  • Explore your options. Regardless of your gaming platform, it always pays to know how it works. Since a lot of PC-based games use launchers, acquaint yourself with their settings and customize them with security and privacy in mind.
  • Take advantage of additional security and privacy options when available. These launchers may have some form of two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that a user who asserts they own the account can verify this claim easily.
  • Update all software installed on your gaming rig or, if you’re a console gamer, the firmware and the games installed in it.
  • Always treat links sent your way—either by someone you’ve known for a long time or by someone you just met—as suspect. Because of the number of ways gaming accounts can be taken over by miscreants—and most of the time, victimized gamers are not aware of this—it’s wise to handle links with caution. It would be easier if you have other means to contact the link sender other than the gaming platform to verify that indeed it was them who messaged you. Ideally, if you and your friends and family members play games to bond, establish amongst yourselves a verification process, like a keyword/phrase you can mention or type up in chat. Not saying the keyword/phrase can denote that you’re not talking to the person they claim to be.
  • Use a form of password management that works for you. We know it causes fatigue just to remember all those username and password combinations. Based on some comments we’ve received on the Malwarebytes Labs blog, we also know that not everyone is using password managers, but instead have created their own way of managing and storing passwords. Go with what works, as long as your passwords are kept safe and secure. Most of all, avoid reusing passwords.
  • Manage your gaming profiles. These days, gaming profiles should be treated the way a regular social media profile and feed should be. Don’t reveal information about yourself that is deemed sensitive. You can pick and choose who sees your gaming activities and who doesn’t. Use your options wisely.
  • Keep your shields up. If suspicious files claim they can help you in your gaming, but you must first disable your antivirus or turn off your firewall, that’s a major red flag. If a piece of software wants to have free rein in your system without your security protections on, you better find safer alternatives.
  • Play games in the presence of or within earshot of your parents/carer. Grown-ups living with minors who are into gaming are always advised to get involved this way. They don’t have to breathe down their children’s necks, but they should at least pop in from time to time and make sure nothing nefarious is taking place—whether that’s the content of the game itself or the conversations happening amongst players.
Game over

We can say with confidence that many of the risks to online gamers a few years ago are still the risks they face today. Although nowadays, news of gamers behaving badly toward other gamers are at equal footing with news about malware and online criminals targeting gamers. Because of the real-world and life-changing impact they present to people behind the avatars—and to their families and loved ones—more is at stake now than just playing along in a computer-generated world. Gamers are not only called to take cybersecurity seriously, but they’re also called to be responsible digital citizens.

Playing video games is meant to be fun; a way for us to relax, blow off steam, and de-stress. However, let’s also recognize that gaming is already part of the overall threat landscape. Make sure that your information—and your person—are safe from harm in the digital world and beyond.

Game on!

The post How gamers can protect against increasing cyberthreats appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

[STUFF] The Dungeons of Morthimion

Beyond Fomalhaut - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 11:52

[Players wishing to adventure in Castle Morthimion: STAY AWAY!]
Work in ProgressInspired by reading the recently published Black Maw dungeon levels, and playing in a friend's S&W-based game, I was once again bitten by the megadungeon bug. I started putting some thought into running a canonical OD&D dungeon exploration game – the proverbial huge ruined pile built by generations of wizards and insane geniuses. Nothing Castle Greyhawk-sized (thus, not something that would accommodate multiple parties playing 24/7), but hefty enough to feel expansive and mysterious, and true to the tone of the three booklets. To avoid overreach, and give myself some structure, I decided to stick to a brief keying style I experimented with in Zuard Castle, an older thought experiment (but with just a bit more detail). In fact, Zuard Castle became the base for the dungeons of Morthimion.
My general idea for the dungeon structure is based on six main levels (of which five are depicted here). The background idea is that the sixth level is a kind of dimensional interconnector, dumping hapless critters from all over down in the deeps, which battle each other, and gradually filter up to the surface through passages and gates, menacing the surrounding lands. Morthimion Castle was abandoned to its fate when the mining operation underneath hit the monster motherlode, and has pretty much gone to the dogs since - now occupied by a senile and dangerous 11th level Wizard and his retainers. (In a world which otherwise has a limit at LVL6) The surrounding forests (to be mapped as a wilderness maze, pointcrawl-style) are so bad that they are separated from the civilised lands by a Hadrian's Wall kind of construction. These woods are a first testing ground for the adventurers who venture from the civilised lands.
General Level PlanThe dungeon levels are fairly self-explanatory, with multiple themes, and a number of interconnections. I am particularly interested in developing the "Sideways Level", a vertical environment populated by flyer types, and allowing for some interesting dungeon tactics. Another central feature of note is a grand staircase to levels III and IV, but one which has a 1:3 chance to transform into a one-way slide. Multiple secret levels, reached after the ways of accessing them are learned, are planned (some within the "ruined pile" itself). Keying is much more dense than the Greyhawk standard (to compensate for the fact that we don't play as much as the Lake Geneva crowd back in the day), but the notes are fairly light.
I currently have most of the map for the first and second levels. Following tradition, the first level is a mixture of storerooms, jails, magical enigmas, deathtraps and other things you would find in a realistic castle basement. The openings in the walls are doors, and the rectangular symbols are heavier gates (the kind you roll for to lift). The initial entrance is through a dry well in the courtyard, with a tithe extracted by the Wizard's henchmen. The Level II stairs are to the north and south, the former behind a locked gate, and the latter controlled by a large robber band. I have tentative plans to use the empty space for further development, probably accessible from down below.
***
The Dungeons of Morthimion have already gone through a trial by fire testing round. I originally intended to slowly sketch out a few levels, and stock them in fits of inspiration in a piecemeal fashion – the scrap of paper idea collection phase if you will. Then, 23:30 Friday night, I realised I had forgotten to bring along my regular campaign folder, and the game would be on Saturday afternoon. Ooops. So I got up Saturday morning, had breakfast while numbering the rooms, then wrote the damn Level 1 key between 8:00 and 11:30 – the time I had before packing up for the afternoon and having lunch. This kind of creative pressure (recalling the immortal tunes of Crash Dive on Mingo City) tends to be good for me, because I took my notes and map, along with a printout of Greyharp's single-volume OD&D book, and we had a great time.
Level 1Since they were very brief, I typed up my notes and created an annotated map last night, and am posting it for your interest down below. This is rough stuff, pretty much verbatim with the bare minimum of clarifications (mine had a bit more monster stats – you can find them in the OD&D booklets), and a two-paragraph background. I may clean it up later for publication if we get there, maybe, but it will remain in a terse, focused format even if I do.
***
I am really proud of my players – they were dying left and right in Castle Xyntillan, but those lessons proved useful. Here, they survived with a single casualty, who froze to an ice statue while trying to extract a precious gemstone from a stone head (as the old wisdom goes, “The risk I took was calculated, but boy, am I bad at math”). They moved quickly, made snap decisions, avoided risky fights (I kept rolling powerful monsters who had come up from the lower levels), and were quite successful at finding the good stuff, including a 6000 gp crown. When all was said and done, they had mapped perhaps more than a third of the level over two expeditions. Random findings/remarks:
  • Some monsters play more of a channelling/blocking role, restricting player movement through the dungeon.
  • Stuck doors (and doors becoming stuck again) are a vital part of OD&D, and opening them is a major time sink / random encounter risk.
  • Damn right you need encumbrance rules, and bulky treasure. By the end, they were considering if they could haul out a particularly heavy marble throne.  :D
  • I did reduce random encounter numbers, not wishing for battles with 300 orcs. I swear there was a note in OD&D about the same, but the game's organisational issues being what they are, I couldn't find it.
  • A cluster of storerooms ended up containing several instances of cloth, rugs and tapestries, and were promptly dubbed "The Crypt of Karl Lagerfeld".
  • They found, but didn't attack a band of 50 bandits, even though they were then 14-strong. Smart thinking, although they may have done it with some losses.
  • Charm person became very useful in recruitment.
  • Creative problem-solving: finding out if an insane hermit is chaotic or just disturbed by walking him to a nearby chapel of Law, and forcing him to pray; buying a ball of yarn to put the spirits of dead kittens at ease.
  • About the dead character who had died for a gemstone: “He has gifted us with more than 500 gp of profit - by dying, he relinquished his share of the loot.”
  • They first thought their initial 900 gp haul (after multiple rooms with no treasure) was exceptional. Being reminded of the XP rules, they reassessed their priorities and became even more efficient at finding, evaluating and transporting treasure.
  • There were two characters per player, plus henchmen. A single player opted for one 2nd level PC, a Cleric with 3 Dexterity and 2 hit points. He survived the expedition.

The characters:
  • Xang, Fighter 1
  • Xing, Thief 1 (a concession to new-school D&D!  :D The only casualty.)
  • Tycho the Ascetic, Cleric 1 of Light
  • Weirlord, Magic-User 1
  • Xingar, Fighter 1
  • Fatalgor, Thief 1
  • Brutus, Magic-User 1
  • Rianh, Fighter 1
  • Brother Tivold, Cleric 2 of Light

Their henchmen:
  • Ruphart the Guide (acquired via charm person because he didn't want to come down to the dungeon - no honour among murderhobo scum)
  • Sanislo, light foot
  • Wul, light foot
  • Morton Melf, Elf 1 (freed captive)
  • Lydia Luckless, Thief 1 (freed captive)

Download: Castle Morthimion - Level 1 (1.7 MB PDF)


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Winter’s Daughter

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 11:18
By Gavin Norman, Frederick Munch, Nicholas Montegriffo
Necrotic Gnome
B/X
Levels 1-3

The tomb of an ancient hero, lost in the tangled depths of the woods. A ring of standing stones, guarded by the sinister Drune cult. A fairy princess who watches with ageless patience from beyond the veil of the mortal. A forgotten treasure that holds the key to her heart.


This 32 (digest?) page adventure details a nineteen room dungeon with a heavy fey bend. Gavin experiments with formatting and has a decent number of interconnecting rooms and puzzles to explore. A solid journeyman effort, if a big page-heavy.


For (reasons) you are going in to an old knights tomb. Once there you probably get asked from someone inside to find and deliver a ring to a fairy princess. There’s about eight pages of overview and background that relates a fey/human war a few hundred years ago and a hero who banished the fairy ice king …and fey dude is looking for round 2. Thus a kind of fey-heavy background and location, with them being the more classical fey/fairies than the bullshit they turned in to in later D&D. Of the nineteen rooms about four are outside the heroes tomb, and about four more are in the land of faerie, leaving elevenish in the tomb, proper.


The adventure is pretty solid, content wise. Each room pretty much has something to fuck with, examine, investigate, puzzle over, and so on. Look at a mural to find a secret word, figure out what was dragged where from scrape marks on the floor. There’s a statue with a blindfold on you can take off. Skeletons float and dance together near the ceiling in one room. A mirror freezes you in place. Each room, just a little bit and a part of a larger whole. Cultists outside greet you warmly, thinking your appearance a boon, and their sacrifice happy to be one. Frost elf knights and nobility waiting for a wedding in faerie. There’s a little bit of interactivity in just about every room.


It’s also got a decent theming. Magic is glamour. The goblins are the “merchants” variety, and chasm leads not to death but a gentle float in to the realm of faerie. Gilded mirrors, and owls with violet eyes. Elven knights, ice wines, and foppish nobility. A troll in hessian garb that is of the “moss” variety rather than the carrot nose variety. This has that airy vibe that a good fey adventure does. Fey being who they are, Holy Water and sunlight works wonders in dispelling their glamours, a nice thematic touch.


The most noticeable feature though is going to be Gavins play at formatting. He’s trying something new, I think, and experimenting with a room format that allows one or two room per page. Large grey-boxed heading draw your attention to the major features of the room. Under those are key description words, bolded. WHITE MARBE STATUE. A fair maiden (long, flowing hair and robe, upon her brow a star) Beseeching silence (the statue is posed facing the stairs, with a finger raised to her lips) Blindfolded (a black cloth wrapped around the statues eyes, covering them) Round plinth (marble, 3’across, 1’high.) And then also some bullet points like *Removing the blindfold (the inside is embroidered with golden crucifixes) And then follows another grey boxed section for another feature of the room, the stairs down. It’s in interesting format and It works fairly well for drawing the eye and allowing for expanding detail as the players ask follow up questions and probe further.


The use of adjectives and adverbs is good. a candle is “thick” and slime is in “sheets.” Brass is tarnished, skeletons slowly waltz and speak in a “distant whisper.” This is the sort of verbiage I can get behind.


He goes further with leveraging the maps. There’s a little “mini-key” on them to help the DM during play and there’s no messing around with duplication …In one room there’s a chasm and, momentarily confused, I checked the map and yes, there was a chasm! Thus map features and whitespace are leveraged to provide still more resources to the DM during play.


I will say that the background is also done in bullet-point style and I’m not sure that works. I don’t think it’s reference material, during play, and perhaps, as an evocative piece, some freeform might have been better. Likewise there are bits and pieces that feel out of place and break immersion. The main quest item is a “ring of soul binding.” This links the ghostly knight to his fiancée, the fey princess. But, it’s described in the back as a normal magic item would be, even though it’s unlikely to ever be used as one, and in particular effects other than “destroy”, etc. Better, I think, to NOT explain the knight/princess magic and simply make them bound through their love and the betrothal ring. More explanation than that is not really needed and detracts from the mystery.


But, overall, a great effort. There’s thought here in how the thing is constructed and how it tries to orient itself to the DM’s use. A little slow, I think, or maybe, melancholic? It’s a perfectly adequate adventure and I’d not hesitate to drop it in a hex crawl or some other locale. and, of course, in Bryce-speak “perfectly adequate” means one of the The Best.

This is on DriveThru for $7. The preview is nine pages and gives you a great idea of what you’re buying. Check out those last four pages to view the format.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/270795/Winters-Daughter-OldSchool-Version?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hookin On Hump Day #188: A Yarny Link Party!

Moogly - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 01:00

Hookin On Hump Day is a great way to see what’s hot right now in crochet and knitting – and this week, it’s colorful crochet – all free! Check out all these wonderful designs – and then add your own to the HOHD link party on Moogly and Petals to Picots! Hookin On Hump Day [...]

The post Hookin On Hump Day #188: A Yarny Link Party! appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

What does Aikido Mean?

Aikido Blogs - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 21:47
My name is Erik Calderon and I've been doing martial arts from the age of 5. When I was 20, I got this incredible itch to move to Japan and study martial arts full time.

In 1989 I went traveling to Mexico with my Dad. One night, he had some business to attend to, and I was left in the hotel to kill the time. I turned on the tv and a movie called, "Nico," was airing.

It was interesting, and I enjoyed watching it. I especially like the martial art that was highlighted in the film, Aikido. I knew nothing about Aikido, but from what I saw, it looked like fun.

When I got back to Boston, I looked up a few Aikido schools and started taking Aikido classes at Shobu Aikido of Boston under William Gleason.

I read every book I could find on Aikido and learned about it's history, it's culture and its philosophy.

Aikido was founded by a man named Morihei Ueshiba. He was born in 1883 and died in 1969. In 1926 he moved to Tokyo, Japan and opened up his dojo, the Aikikai World Headquarters. During World War II the dojo was closed and Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama and built a dojo there. It's important to note these two location, because they have developed into two distinct styles of Aikido, the Iwama Ryu and the Aikikai style.

Learning about the history of Aikido and Japan and how it influenced the development and ultimately the meaning of Aikido is very important to make note of. During the war, and Japan's loss, the martial arts as a whole changed in Japan. First off, during the US occupation, all martial arts were banned. This is about the time Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama and was able to continue his teaching and training in secret.

All arts transformed at this time, from "jutsu" (術 【すべ】 way, method, technique, means) for example, Ueshiba had trained in Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, to "do" (道 【みち】road-way, street, district, journey, course, moral) Aikido. This helps us understand how this word was shaped, from method or technique to way of life or path.

The Japanese language is structured differently than the English language. In English we typically have the Subject - Verb - Object structure, where as in Japanese the structure is Subject - Object - Verb.

This difference in language structure helped me understand, on a deeper level, what Aikido means and the practical applications of the techniques. Let's say that this is one of the hidden secrets of Aikido. Instead of me being an active participant in applying a technique, the subject, me and the object, my attacker are brothers and the technique is what comes last.

Let's take a look at the the word, Aikido (合気道.) The word is made up of three seperate Chinese Characters know as Kanji (漢字.) The first kanji - Ai - 合い means to fit, suit or join. We usually refer to this word as meaning harmony. The second kanji Ki - 気 - spirit; mind; heart​. We refer to this word as meaning spirit. And the last kanji - Do - 道 - road-way, street, district, journey, course, moral, teachings. We refer to this word as way.

So, translated into English, Aikido means, "The Way of Spiritual Harmony." But, what does that actually mean? The word has a deep philosophical meaning that transcends the literal meaning.

I've been doing Aikido for over 19 years, constantly thinking about what Aikido means and why I continue to pursue learning Aikido.

Constantly, I think about Aikido on three separate plains; the physical, the mental and the spiritual.

On a physical level, Aikido means the forging and training of the body. Constant and never ending physical exercise. Taking our bodies as far as they can go. And yes, that means being extremely physically fit. Training the body so that you can train all day long. Training the body so that even when you are tired, you can continue. Kind of like running a marathon. You need to constantly train the body so that you are at a level that, one, you can compete against the clock, and two you are physically able to run the marathon without injury.

This is a very important point to note. You do not train to injure yourself, but train in order to build the physical body to prevent injury and endure long training sessions.

On a mental level Aikido means that we are constantly studying and seeking for understanding on a philosophical level as well on a technical level of the movements of Aikido. While in Japan, I spent hours upon hours reading every book I could in order to understand what Aikido is. I studied the religions it's based on, I studied the people that wrote the books. I studied the philosophies of the time. Everything I could get my hands on, even fictional books. I enjoyed the novel, Miyamoto Musashi. This novel is a must read for anyone interested in martial arts. Musashi was a true figure and a legend of the sword in Japan. He also wrote, "The Book of Five Rings." And, another book I read about him: Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings.

One important point to make note of, you can always learn something and the deeper you dive into the learning, the deeper the pool of knowledge becomes.

On a spiritual level, Aikido means that we are working on values that add to and build our spirit:

Self-Discipline
Compassion
Responsibility
Friendship
Work
Courage
Perseverance
Honesty
Loyalty
Faith

I actually picked up these values from a book I read, "The Book of Virtues," by William Bennett while in Japan studying Aikido and they became a core essence of what I believe to be the important values that we can build while training in Aikido that will transcend into every aspect of our lives.

It's not easy training the spirit, it's such an unknown and hard to understand aspect of our lives. Exhaust yourself physically, never stop learning and that is the gateway to the spirit. And yes, the bible is a great book to read.

Although Aikido literally translates into, "The Way of Spiritual Harmony," it means a lot more than just that. Aikido is a martial art, or a fighting art. The techniques are designed to protect you from an attack. Interestingly what separates Aikido from other martial arts, is that the techniques are also designed to protect your attacker as well. This adds even more meaning to the word Aikido.

As you train, you will develop your own meaning, the harder and deeper you study, the more profound your understanding of the word Aikido will become.

Visit my website for more information: Aikido Houston
Categories: Aikido

Stalwart Age 2 Almost Here

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 21:27
In addition to the four releases for Tales of the Splintered Realm, the Stalwart Age continues unabated... here is the cover for issue 2. The book itself should be up for sale by the end of the week.

I am REALLY digging this design for the covers, and look forward to seeing 5 or 10 of these side-by-side to see the whole tapestry of Doc's adventures as they come together...


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