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Yarn Love: Red Heart Soft Essentials Baby

Moogly - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 15:00

Red Heart Soft Essentials Baby is a soft and silky, easy-care yarn, available in both solids and prints! So let’s take a closer look at the cozy new yarn in this month’s Moogly Yarn Love yarn review – and get some free patterns to make with it! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Red Heart Yarn, but [...]

The post Yarn Love: Red Heart Soft Essentials Baby 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

The global data privacy roadmap: a question of risk

Malwarebytes - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 15:00

For most American businesses, complying with US data privacy laws follows a somewhat linear, albeit lengthy, path. Set up a privacy policy, don’t lie to the consumer, and check the specific rules if you’re a health care provider, video streaming company, or kids’ app maker.

For American businesses that want to expand to a new market, though, complying with global data privacy laws is more akin to finding dozens of forks in the road, each one marked with an indecipherable signpost.

Should a company expand to China? That depends on whether the company wants to have its source code potentially analyzed by the Chinese government. Okay, what about South Korea? Well, is the company ready to pay three percent of its revenue for a wrongful data transfer, or to have one of its executives spend time behind bars?

Europe is an obvious market to capture, right? That’s true, but, depending on which country, the local data protection authorities could issue enormous fines for violating the General Data Protection Regulation.

What if a company just follows in the footsteps of the more established firms, like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft, which all opened data centers in Singapore in the past two years? Once again, the answer depends on the company. If it’s providing a service that Singapore considers “essential,” it will have to heed a new cybersecurity law there.

At this point, a company might think about entering a country with no data privacy laws. No laws, no getting in trouble, right? Wrong. Data privacy laws can sprout up seemingly overnight, and future compliance costs could severely cut into a company’s budget.

While this may appear overcomplicated, one guiding principle helps: If a company cannot afford to comply with a country’s data privacy laws, it probably should not expand to that country. The risk, which could be millions in penalties, might not outweigh the reward.

Today, for the third piece in our data privacy and cybersecurity blog series, which also took a look at current US data privacy laws and federal legislation on the floor, we explore the decision-making process of a mid-market-sized company that wants to expand its business outside the United States.

With the help of Reed Smith LLP counsel Xiaoyan Zhang, we looked at several notable data privacy laws in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

Issue-spotting within a culturally-crafted landscape

Before a company expands into a new country, it should try to truly comprehend the data privacy laws located within, Zhang said. She said this involves more than just reading the law; it requires training one’s thinking into an entirely different culture.

Unlike crimes including manslaughter and robbery—which have near-universal definitions—Zhang said data privacy violations fluctuate from region to region, with interpretations rooted in a country’s history, economy, public awareness, and opinions on privacy.

“Data privacy is not like murder, which is much more straightforward,” Zhang said. “Privacy law is very intimately tied into culture.”

So, while overseas concepts might appear familiar— like protecting “personally identifiable information” in the US and protecting “personal information” in the European Union—the culture behind those concepts varies.

For example, in the European Union, a history of fierce antitrust regulation and government enforcement helped usher GDPR’s passage. In fact, Austrian online privacy advocate Max Schrems—whose legal complaints against Facebook heavily influenced the final text of GDPR—remarked years ago that he was surprised at the lack of tall garden hedges around Americans’ homes. The country’s understanding of privacy, Schrems realized, was different than that of Austria, and so, too, are its data privacy laws.

Similarly, Zhang said she has fielded many questions from EU lawyers who assume that data privacy regulations around the world are similar to those in GDPR.

“EU lawyers are used to thinking that, for every data collection, there must be a legitimate purpose, and they insist on asking the same questions,” Zhang said. “When I’m talking about legal advice in China, they’ll say ‘Oh, our medical device needs to collect data from users, does China have any law or statutes that give us a legitimate business purpose to collect that data?’”

Zhang continued: “No. In China, you don’t need that. It’s totally different.”

The differences can be managed with the right help, though.

The safest path for market expansion is to rely on a global data privacy lawyer to “issue-spot” any obvious global compliance issues, Zhang said. These experts will look at what type of data a company handles—including medical, financial, geolocation, biometric, and others—what type of service the company performs, and whether the company will need to perform frequent cross-border data transfers. Depending on all these factors, each company’s individual roadmap for data privacy compliance will be unique.

However, Zhang led us on a bit of a world tour, detailing some of the notable data privacy laws in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Company expansion into these markets, Zhang emphasized, depends on whether a company is ready for compliance.

Many countries, many laws Europe

Starting with Europe there is, of course, GDPR. Complying with the sweeping set of provisions is tricky because GDPR gives each EU member-state the authority to enforce the new data protection law on its own turf.

This enforcement is done through Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), which oversee, investigate, and issue fines for GDPR violation. Each member-state has its own DPA, and, in the months before GDPR’s implementation, the DPAs gave mixed signals about what local enforcement would look like.

France’s DPA, the National Data Protection Commission (CNIL), said that companies that are at least trying to comply with GDPR “can expect to be treated leniently initially, provided that they have acted in good faith.”

Less than one year later, though, that leniency met its limit. CNIL hit Google with the largest GDPR-violation fine on record, at roughly $57 million.

The best defense to these penalties, Zhang said, is to consult with local legal experts who know the region’s enforcement history and details.

“You cannot just seek consultation from a GDPR expert. If you want to go specifically to Germany, you need German lawyers who can offer insight on things that are specific to Germany,” Zhang said. “That’s for all of Europe.”

Latin America

Outside of Europe—but still inspired by GDPR—is Latin America. Zhang said several Latin American countries have enacted, or are considering, legislation that protects the data privacy rights of individuals.

In 2018, Brazil passed its comprehensive data protection law, which protects people’s personal information and includes tighter protections for sensitive information that discloses race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, and biometrics. Argentina also forwarded privacy protections for its citizens, and it earned a special clearance in GDPR as a “whitelisted” party, meaning that personal data can be moved to Argentina from the EU without extra safeguards.

Asia

Moving to China, a whole new risk factor comes into play—surveillance.

China’s cybersecurity law grants the Chinese government broad, invasive powers to spy on Internet-related businesses that operate within the country. Implemented in 2017, the law allows China’s foreign intelligence agency to perform “national security reviews” on technology that foreign companies want to sell or offer in China.

This authority raised alarm bells for the researchers at Recorded Future, who attributed past cyberattacks directly to the Chinese government. Researchers said the law could give the Chinese government the power to both find and exploit zero-day vulnerabilities in foreign companies’ products, all for the price of admission into the Chinese market.

“China’s law has a hidden angle for government control and monitoring,” Zhang said. “It has a different rationale.”

Outside of China, Singapore has garnered the attention of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, which all built data centers in the country in the past few years. The country passed its Personal Data Protection Act in 2012 and its Cybersecurity Act in 2018, the latter of which sets up a framework for monitoring cybersecurity threats in the country.

The law has a narrow scope, as it only applies to companies and organizations that control what the Singaporean government calls “critical information infrastructure,” or CII. This includes computer systems that manage banking, government, healthcare, and aviation services, among others. The law also includes data breach notification requirements.

Moving to South Korea, the risk for organizations goes up dramatically, Zhang said. The country’s Personal Information Protection Act preserves the privacy rights of its citizens, and its penalties include criminal and regulatory fines, and even jail time. Cross-border data transfers, in particular, are strictly guarded. One wrongful transfer can result in a fine of up to three percent of a company’s revenue.

Africa

Traveling once again, expansion into Africa requires an understanding of the continent’s burgeoning, or sometimes non-existent, data privacy laws. Zhang said that, of Africa’s more than 50 countries, only about 15 have data protection laws, and even fewer have the regulators necessary to enforce those laws.

“Among [the countries], nine have no regulators to enforce the law, and five have a symbolic law but it’s not enforced,” Zhang said.

So, that invites the question: What exactly does happen if a company expands into a country that doesn’t have any data privacy laws?

What happens is potentially more risk.

First, a country could actually develop and pass a data privacy law within years of a company’s expansion into its borders. It’s not unheard of—less than one year after Amazon announced its rollout into Bahrain, the country introduced its first comprehensive data privacy law. Second, compliance with the new data privacy law could be expensive, Zhang said, forcing a company into a tough situation where it might have to withdraw entirely from the new market.

“One common misconception is that if a country doesn’t have a law at all, it’s a good country to go to,” Zhang said. “You should think twice about whether that’s the case.

Expand or not? It’s up to each company

There is no single roadmap for companies entering new markets outside the United States. Instead, there are multiple paths a company can take depending on its product, services, the data it collects, data it will need to move between borders, and its tolerance for risk.

The safest path, Zhang said, is to ask questions upfront. It is far better to make an informed decision about how to enter a market—even if compliance is costly—than to be surprised with fines or penalties later on.

The post The global data privacy roadmap: a question of risk appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

How to Create Loveable Non-Player Characters While You Supercharge Your Sex Appeal

DM David - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 11:37

When roleplaying game players have affection for the friends and allies in a campaign’s supporting cast, the game improves. Players who feel an attachment to non-player characters will strive to help and protect them. That draws players into the game world, raises an adventure’s emotional stakes, and encourages player characters to act like responsible members of their community.

How can a game master make players care about imaginary people? To help answer that question, I asked for advice. Hundreds of game masters weighed in. Many suggestions linked to research that shows how people can increase their real-world charisma. The same qualities that make imaginary people likeable can work for real people like you. Will these techniques really supercharge your sex appeal?

Yes. Trust me. I write about Dungeons & Dragons on the Internet.

How can you create likeable NPCs (and also apply the techniques to become more likeable)?

Make characters distinctive

In a roleplaying game, before characters can become likeable, they must become distinct and memorable. If characters blend into a game’s supporting cast, no one will care for them. So key characters need traits simple enough to flaunt in a roleplaying scene and quirky enough to stay memorable.

For GMs comfortable acting in character, traits might include mannerisms, speaking voices, or a phrase someone uses and reuses. Some characters might have distinct passions. Wallace adores cheese. Others might have quirky habits. Perhaps the informant at the bar cracks raw eggs in his beer.

Traits that defy expectations often prove most memorable. In D&D, the beholder Xanathar would be just another Lovecraftian horror if not for a beloved pet goldfish.

In a roleplaying game, subtle traits disappear. Broad strokes work best.

In the real world, quirks make you interesting. When you share your passions, your enthusiasm shows. All these traits make you more likeable.

Make characters flawed

Flaws often make the most likeable traits. For instance, romantic comedies always seem to make their female leads a klutz. Such movies start by casting a gorgeous actress, and if her character is good at her job, no one will empathize with Ms. Perfect. How could she be unlucky in love? So filmmakers make these characters clumsy. Meanwhile, Hugh Grant, a similarly gorgeous co-star often played characters with a certain shy hesitancy that made him relatable. Even Indiana Jones may be handsome, smart, and brave, but he panics around snakes.

Flaws make fictional characters relatable. After all, we all feel acutely aware of our own flaws.

Movie leads serve as the imaginary stand-ins for viewers, so we rarely mind if they seem better than us. In roleplaying games, our own player characters become our stand-ins, so we accept perfection. But in NPCs, we favor flawed characters.

In life, competent people who fall to everyday blunders and embarrassments become likeable thanks to something called the Pratfall Effect. We relate to flawed people too. None of this means you should purposely embarrass yourself, but when you goof, own it and take it in good humor. People will like you for it.

Make characters relatable

People like folks similar to themselves. In life, if you share an attitude, background, or interest with someone, you have the start of a friendship.

In a game, you can create NPCs who reflect bits of the players’ personalities and interests. For instance, some players inevitably love books, so NPCs who share that affection almost always make friends at the game table.

In life, you can make a good impression by finding a shared anchor that connects you to another person. You become relatable.

Relatability explains why a fondness for pets like Sylgar the goldfish makes such a likeable trait. At any game table, players who love animals will identify with such affection.

A desire for connection also explains why powerful non-player characters become disliked. These characters don’t just steal the spotlight—any hint of arrogance or request for deference shows the NPC putting themselves above the players. In the real world, a lack of humility also makes people less relatable and likeable.

Make characters useful

According to Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth, some charisma comes from a person’s power and from signs of a willingness to help others.

While players dislike NPCs powerful enough to overshadow the party, players favor NPCs who can help. Often useful NPCs act as a source of secrets, clues, or as a guide. Perhaps a helpful NPC pilots a boat or casts a spell outside the party’s repertoire. Don’t make friendly NPCs good at any talents the players want for their characters. Those characters become rivals.

Make characters authentic and vulnerable

People love dogs and children partly because they always reveal their true emotions. In roleplaying games, the same goes for NPCs too stupid for guile.

“Because most NPCs only exist to oppose, trick, or act as disposable exposition devices,” writes Tom Lommel, “the players inherently distrust or dismiss them.” Authentic characters break that pattern, so they work particularly well in roleplaying games.

In life, likable people are authentic, says Karen Friedman, author of Shut Up and Say Something. “They are comfortable being who they are, and they don’t try to be someone different,” she says. “They are approachable and sincere even if what they have to say isn’t popular.”

Often people avoid showing their authentic selves because that makes them feel vulnerable. What if people don’t like me? Will I be judged? But people admire folks brave enough to be vulnerable.

Make characters struggle

Sometimes vulnerability comes from characters thrust into a bad situation. R. Morgan Slade and Tom Lommel both named examples: Players might witness NPCs caught in an unfair deal or by a false accusation. NPCs might struggle with a sick child, a debt, or their own vices.

We admire characters for trying more than for succeeding. Give an NPC a goal to struggle for, but out of reach.

In a 70s TV show, the tough-guy detective Kojak sucks lollipops to cut his smoking habit. This trait works on several levels: The visible habit defies his hardened image, making the quirk memorable. Sucking candy like a child makes Kojak vulnerable. His battle against smoking shows a struggle.

Make characters ask for help

When players help NPCs, a quirk of psychology called the Benjamin Franklin Effect makes the NPCs more likeable. When we do something for someone, we justify the good deed by supposing we liked the person from the start. Our rationalization makes the affection real.

In life, you can trigger the effect by asking someone for a small favor.

In a game, players do favors and even save lives. If players save an NPC’s life, they can become particularly attached. When people invest in someone, they feel connected. The investment becomes a sunk cost, and people unconsciously work to believe the reward was worth the price.

Make characters show warmth

People reveal warmth by showing concern for another person’s comfort and well-being. We appreciate warmth in others because it demonstrates a generosity that may help us, even if we just need understanding and a cool drink.

In a game, GMs can have NPCs show warmth just by offering an imaginary chair. Brian Clark suggests building an emotional bond by having NPCs sharing wine, serving a meal, or defending the party against criticism.

In life, warmth is an unappreciated trait leaders need.

Make characters show admiration

Everyone loves getting a compliment—if it’s authentic. People of give compliments show warmth and generosity. In life, avoid complements on outward appearance. Instead seek chances to give genuine compliments praising things people choose, or especially traits people worked for.

Compliments come from admiration, which makes a likable trait in the game world. Many GMs cite examples of players favoring NPCs who admire the player characters.

“Tell them that a little girl with a bucket helmet and a stick sword runs to the strongest character and asks if she can join the party because they are her heroes,” writes Niko Pigni. “They will love that NPC.”

In most campaigns, player characters grow into heroes. Sometimes, NPCs should treat them as celebrities.

Respect reveals a sort of admiration. Brandes Stoddard writes, “Players like and respect people who offer them respect and social legitimacy.”

Make characters entertaining

When romantic comedies feature ordinary-looking leads, they cast comedians. We like characters who entertain, especially when they make us laugh. In life, the most likable folks make jokes at their own expense or that tease folks about traits outside of their core identity.

In roleplaying games, stupid or otherwise exaggerated characters can be funny and entertaining enough to be loveable. Recently, I played in a game where a foolish goblin who fancied himself king fit this role.

I take my player characters seriously, but I often give them humorous quirks. My monk recites his master’s nonsensical aphorisms and pretends they hold great wisdom. “The stone that weeps in silence weeps best.” My sorcerer points out ordinary things like a bed, and says, “Oh, this inn has straw beds! That’s much better than where I come from. We only got a bed to hide under on our birthday.”

Make characters optimistic

Part of my affection for my sorcerer stems from his optimism. We like people who show optimism because it lifts us. Optimism brings confidence and suggests competence—all traits that foster charisma.

Mixing traits

NPCs don’t need all these qualities to become likeable. Adding too many traits will dilute them all and waste creative energy. A few likeable qualities make a loveable character.

Author Eric Scott de Bie writes, “One of the NPCs in my current D&D game has been dubbed ‘the cutest dwarf ever.’ Not because she’s a romantic interest or anything, though the low-Charisma, half-orc bard might have plans, but because she’s cute, optimistic, and helpful. And she has a dire weasel animal companion.” This NPC checks optimistic and useful, plus she brings a pet.

Minsc from the Baldur’s Gate computer games appears on lists of gaming’s most beloved characters. As a companion, he’s useful, but he gained notice for an authentic lack of guile, optimistic enthusiasm, entertaining dialog, and for being the proud owner of Boo, a “Miniature Giant Space Hamster.”

Meepo the kobold from The Sunless Citadel surely ranks as one of D&D’s most loved NPCs. Meepo serves as his tribe’s Keeper of Dragons, but he struggles to find his missing dragon. He is distraught, making him seem authentic and vulnerable. He needs help, but also becomes useful as a guide and intermediary. In the hands of many dungeon masters, Meepo’s broken Common, exaggerated woe, and low intelligence add an entertaining comic element. No wonder Meepo became irresistible.

As for Meepo’s sex appeal, perhaps some of these traits work better in fiction. Instead, just tell folks that you’re a dungeon master. It’s a thing now.

Related: See part 1, How to Make Non-Player Characters That Your Players Will Like.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Weekend in the County with Knitting Friends

Knitted Bliss - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 11:00

www.knittedbliss.com

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw a whole bunch of photos on my Instagram stories of me, Tanis (of Tanis Fiber Arts) and Shireen (of The Blue Brick) having a little weekend away in Prince Edward County. I’m a massive fan of the county and have planning a weekend in the County

The post A Weekend in the County with Knitting Friends appeared first on %%www.knittedbliss.com%%.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Sexual Selection & Existential Fear

The Rational Man - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 04:43

Way back in the early years of this blog I wrote a post flipping a common feminist trope on its head. In Women’s Physical Standards I laid out the case that it is women, not men, who hold the most stringent and static standards for ideal male beauty.

…from a purely physical perspective, it is women’s idealized masculine form that hasn’t changed in millennia. While there may have been a Rubenesque period when men loved the fatties of the 1600′s, no such era ever existed for women’s physical preferences. The classic broad chest, wide shoulders, six-pack abs and squared jaws of greco-roman athleticism are still the idealized male form that has graced EVERY romance novel cover in existence. I’m still waiting for someone to post me a link for a dating site that caters exclusively to women’s fetish of BBMs – Big Beautiful Men – average to good looking, fit, women specifically looking overweight men. Executive Introductions caters to women seeking affluent, influential men, but women just looking for overweight men, that site doesn’t exist.

I wrote this essay in a time well before apps like Tinder and Bumble became household names. Since then (September, 2011) the sexual marketplace has fundamentally shifted to exactly the state I saw it going to then, and all it took to prove it was a handful of fucking ‘dating’ apps to facilitate Hypergamy. In 8 years women have proven they are every bit as viscerally motivated by men’s physical appeal as I spelled out in this post. Back then I was run up the flagpole for suggesting women were the ones with “unrealistic beauty standards”, now it seem matter of fact.

Of course, the double standard has gotten much worse with respect to men having any sexual selection standards. In Maryland we have the instance of high school boys being pilloried on a global stage for daring to rate their female classmates’ looks on a 1 to 10 scale. Ironically, the the same teen girls who took such offense to this will think nothing of swiping left or right on a potentially lover on Tinder in just a few short years. In fact, they’ll think it’s normal for a woman to base her sexual selection on the physical, yet the same is sexual objectification for men to do the same. Certainly, men will never be allowed to voice their physical preferences without the fear of personal destruction in our Global Village.

About 5-6 months ago, Pat Campbell, my co-host on Red Pill 101, linked me to a pair of stories about how offensive some social justice warriors found it that young men were avoiding trans-gender ‘girls‘ as potential dates. The logic was that more evolved heterosexual young men should feel attraction towards a trans-gender, biological male, if he was presenting himself as a female. The natural sexual selection process for those young men, and by extension all men, was being circumvented by the social imperatives of others.

Pat also linked me to a story where a popular, heterosexual, high school quarterback accepted the Homecoming Dance proposal of another homosexual young man. As expected, the story was written as a heartwarming victory for modern progressivism and a young man “secure in his masculinity” praised as a hero for essentially accepting a social control over his sexual selection process. Naturally, the predictable hate to overcome would be from ‘less evolved’ guys alleging the quarterback was really gay.

This is the pre-written script we expect will follow (the clichéd triumph over homophobia), but the real story here is that a young man’s sexual selection process has been removed from his direct control. If the quarterback had refused the proposal the best he could hope for would be that no story would be written about it – but the more likely story would be him having to defend himself against his homophobia. In essence, the threat of a global online mob ruining his future makes accepting the proposal a necessity.

In 2019 men’s control over their sexual selectivity is something women don’t want to hear about. Part of ensuring that Hypergamy is the defining social dynamic today includes exercising as much control over men’s sexual selection process as possible. As fluid as men’s selection naturally is, it’s still out of women’s total control. The method to that control is social pressure. Women’s need to insure against their own Existential Fear of pairing with an unacceptable guy is so obsessive they will resort to social engineering.

Tinder and Bumble are social engineering programs as much as they are facilitators of women’s Hypergamy. Body Positivity / Fat Acceptance (exclusively for women) is equally a social conditioning effort. But for these and more the latent purpose is the same – convincing men to repress their evolved sexual selection proclivities in favor of accepting women’s selection process as the ‘correct’ one. The Cardinal Rule of Sexual Strategies states that for on sex’s strategy to succeed the other’s must be compromised or abandoned. In today’s feminine-primary social order, the Feminine Imperative wants nothing less than complete abandonment from men – and it will use every social and political means available to insure men do.

Men must be raised up and conditioned from the earliest age to accept women’s strategy and their role in it as the only acceptable one. Men’s selection of a mate must be made for him according to women’s standards. Many times I’m asked how to go about “vetting for a wife”. I’m asked what the criteria, what aspects, what traits should a woman possess to make her “marriage material”. From a Red Pill perspective a lot of what I lay out seems highly offensive to the sensibilities of men and women conditioned by the Feminine Imperative. But the qualities, and the reasons I define them being desirable, are nothing any man who is invested in his own sexual strategy wouldn’t find mundane.

It’s not difficult to figure out what attributes in women would make for a good pairing – what’s offensive is that a man would ever have the temerity to require a woman to possess them at all.

It’s offensive to feminized sensibilities for a man to speak aloud the things he wants from a woman. How dare he ever have the presence of mind to create a list of acceptable qualities for a potential long term mate. Who is he to make demands? Has he not learned that Hypergamy and women’s needs now define his existence?

I’ve written in the past about how women commodify their own sexuality. We’ve pandered to the security needs of women for so long they feel entitled to their being met. We’ve developed a social order that’s prime directive is to insure against women’s Existential Fear of ever having to worry about a bad Hypergamous decision. We ensure that they can voluntarily reproduce at will via sperm banks and frozen eggs. We demand that men find them arousing no matter what their physical condition and in spite of 100,000 years of evolved arousal cues. Gynocentrism demands men be nothing more than willing participants in women’s sexual / life strategies.

A day ago I posted this quote on Twitter:

Women only see men as breeding stock or draft animals.

Women and their ‘allies’ lost their collective minds. Follow that link, see for yourself. It’s a litany of middle school blathering and presumption about my motives for making public what most of these feminists confirmed. All the responses are the predictable boilerplate you’d expect from a generation of women used to parroting back what the Village has taught them to respond with for so long.

But what is my observation revealing here? Nothing that we don’t already know – women define the reproductive process in western culture. And again, most of these feminists proudly agree with the observation. They say, “Yeah, as it should be”, while their oblivious male ‘allies’ seek affirmation.

The boys at the Maryland high school got caught in the gynocratic gears. They weren’t properly conditioned to know their place. They did what most guys in high school do, they compare notes, they make comparisons, because they still believed they might be allowed to have a preference of who they want to date, bang, have for a girlfriend, have for a wife. How dare they!

When the Beta Bucks / provisioning side of the Hypergamous equation is more or less accommodated for by the social order the only thing left is Alpha Fucks. This is Hypergamy on a meta-scale. Why would any woman bother with the notion of Value Added to make herself more ‘marriageable’? Men aren’t allowed to have preferences. They should feel lucky that a woman would date them in the first place. Feminism has taught her that if she is to be the ideal Strong Independent Woman® she is “never to do anything for the express pleasure of a man.” And besides, the exciting guys, the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys who she does swipe right on; those guys don’t care about ‘value added’ – they care about fucking.

The New Polyandry I described is an extension of ensuring women’s Existential Fear is always compensated for on a societal level.

The goal of feminism is to remove all constraints on female sexuality while maximally restricting male sexuality.

Roissy

I’ve quoted this in other essays. Usually I’m asked why this would at all be feminists goal?

“You think feminism is all about controlling your dicks?”

In essence, yes, but really it’s about affording women unilateral control over their Existential Fear and absolving them of any consequences for the bad decisions made in controlling for it. In the last essay I stated that Abortion is Eugenics, but isn’t affording women total control of human reproduction eugenics? Isn’t socially engineering and conditioning men’s behavior to accept women’s sexual strategy as the “correct”, normal one eugenics as well?

I would say yes, except, the Sisterhood doesn’t have a ‘master race’ planned. There is no uniform conscious direction to this eugenics. It’s all driven by women natural, evolved mental firmware and impulses – all facilitated by the power afforded to them by men. We’ve unfettered Hypergamy. We’ve allowed women to do something unprecedented in human history, we’ve given women the reins of the direction of human reproduction.

And we’ve done this at the same time we’ve maximally restricted male sexuality. Dr. Jordan Peterson once predicted that in the future any expression of male sexuality will be illegal. I would amend that: any Beta male expression of sexuality will be deemed offensive or illegal.

Categories: Miscellaneous Blogs

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful

Yarn Harlot - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 01:20

I tried really hard to write a post where I was all La-dee-da about something that happened today, but I just can’t gaslight you all that way. I’ve got to be honest, it’s just not fair otherwise. Last night I took a guess at a needle size, and knit a swatch for Elliot’s sweater. Then I washed it (because unwashed swatches are total lying arseholes) and because it’s colourwork. (Remember from a post or two ago? I want to see dye problems now, not in the finished sweater.) Then I laid it tidily out to dry, and went about my life.  I returned, not too much later and measured it.

Knitters, I have both stitch and row gauge on the first try.  Like I said, I was going to try and pretend to be all casual about that BUT I CAN’T BECAUSE IT IS LIKE FINDING A FRIENDLY SPARKLE UNICORN IN YOUR BATHTUB.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Red Heart Soft Essentials Baby Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 15:00

Red Heart Soft Essentials Baby is a super soft yarn with colorways that are perfect for babies, toddlers, and kids patterns – and I get to give away 10 skeins of it here on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Red Heart Yarn, but all opinions are my own. Red Heart Soft Essentials Baby is [...]

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

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Categories: Crochet Life

Compromising vital infrastructure: water management

Malwarebytes - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 15:00

It’s probably unnecessary to explain why water management is considered part of our vital infrastructure, but it’s a wider field than you might expect—and almost every one of its components can be integral to our survival.

We all need clean water to drink. As much as I like my coffee, I can’t make it with contaminated liquids. And the farmers that grow our coffee need water to irrigate their land. On top of that, the water we use in our households and workplaces needs to be cleaned before it goes back into nature.

In some countries, and especially in large river delta areas, we need a high level of control over the water level to prevent flooding. Other areas need methods to retain water to avoid droughts or to keep vital transportation methods that depend on rivers and canals on the move.

We also use water to generate energy, for example, through dams and mills. In the first decade of this millennium, hydropower accounted for about 20 percent of the world’s electricity, and with the increasing need for clean energy, we can expect this percentage to rise.

Water management is considered so critical that tampering with a water system is a US Federal Offense (42 U.S.C. § 300i-1).

Yet, cybercriminals have found ways to compromise these vital systems as well. Let’s take a look at their methods of attack.

Hardware

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) architecture that is in use in various water management plants, despite their diversity, is for the most part consistent. There are only so many companies that produce Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). In the past, vulnerabilities have been found in widely-used PLCs made by General Electric, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Modicon, Koyo Electronics, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. And I would dare to wager that some have been found that we haven’t been made aware off.

One of the best organized safety aspects of water and sewage plants is its physical access (which is not always easy to secure either, if only because of the size of some of these installations). But, according to the 2018 Cybersecurity Risk and Responsibility in the Water Sector report by the American Water Works Association (AWWA):

“Cybersecurity is a top priority for the water and wastewater sector. Entities, and the senior individuals who run them, must devote considerable attention and resources to cybersecurity preparedness and response, from both a technical and governance perspective. Cyber risk is the top threat facing business and critical infrastructure in the United States.”

The report goes on to say that getting cybersecurity right is not an easy mission and many organizations have limited budgets, aging computer systems, and personnel who may lack the knowledge and experience for building robust cybersecurity defenses and responding effectively to cyberattacks.

In cyberwarfare, a mass shutdown of computers controlling waterworks and dams could result in flooding, power outages, and shortage of clean water. In the long run, this could lead to famine and disease. In March and April 2018, the US Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that the Russian government is specifically targeting the water sector and other critical infrastructure sectors as part of a multi-stage intrusion campaign.

Malware

One of the major threats to water-energy plants is Industroyer, aka CrashOverRide, an adaptable malware that can automate and orchestrate mass power outages. The most dangerous component of CrashOverride is its ability to manipulate the settings on electric power control systems. It also has the capability of erasing the software on the computer system that controls circuit breakers. CrashOverRide clearly was not designed for financial gain. It’s purely a destructive tool.

Another malware that many industrial plants are threatened by is called Stuxnet. This threat is designed to spread through Windows systems and go after certain programmable controllers by seeking out their related software. Near the end of 2018, the Onslow Water and Sewer Authority (ONWASA) said it would have to completely restore a number of its internal systems thanks to an outbreak of Emotet and one of the ransomware variants it is known to deliver.

Earlier in 2018, the first cryptocurrency mining malware impacting industrial controls systems and SCADA servers was found in the network of a water utility provider in Europe. This was not seen as a targeted attack, but rather the result of an operator accessing the Internet on a legacy Human Machine Interface (HMI).

Not that SCADA systems are free of targeted attacks. A honeypot that mimicked a water-pump SCADA network was found by hackers within days and soon became the target of a dozen serious attacks.

Insider threats are another cause for concern. In 2007, headlines told of an intruder who installed unauthorized software and damaged the computer used to divert water from the Sacramento River. In hindsight, this turned out to be a former, and probably disgruntled, employee.

An infected laptop PC gave hackers access to computer systems at a Harrisburg, PA, water treatment plant. An employee’s laptop was compromised via the Internet, likely through a watering hole attack, and then used as an entry point to install a virus and spyware on the plant’s computer system.

Countermeasures

A lot of what we can learn from these incidents will already sound familiar to most of our readers. Countermeasures that security teams in water management plants and organizations can apply follow many of the same cybersecurity best practices as corporations protecting against a breach. Some of our recommendations include the following:

  • A clear and strict Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy can help prevent staff bringing in unwanted threats to the network.
  • A strict and sensible password regime can hinder brute force attacks and should close out employees who left the firm.
  • Legacy systems that serve as human interfaces should not have Internet access.
  • Easy backup and restore should be made possible to keep any disruption limited in time and impact. Needless to say, this is imperative for critical systems.
  • Software running on industrial controls systems and SCADA servers should not give away the nature of the plant or the underlying hardware. This makes it harder for attackers to find out which exploits will be successful.
  • Use secure software, even though you cannot control or check the security of your hardware.
  • Monitor the processors and servers that are vital to the infrastructure constantly so any abnormal behavior will be flagged immediately.
Water and power

As you can see, there are many similarities between water management plants and power plants. While water management may be even more vital to our existence, many of the threats are basically the same. This is due to the similarities in plant infrastructure and hardware.

And when the threats are the same, you will see that the countermeasures are also similar. What’s strange, however, is that despite both water and power being vital to the country’s infrastructure, their cybersecurity budgets are quite limited, and they often have to work with legacy systems.

When the city of Atlanta was crippled by a ransomware attack in March 2018, city utilities were also disrupted. For roughly a week, employees with the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management were unable to turn on their work computers or gain wireless Internet access. Two weeks after the attack, Atlanta completely took down its water department website “for server maintenance and updates” until further notice.

Instead of systems backing each other up, they brought each other down like dominoes—an almost perfect example of Murphy’s Law, or the “butter side down” rule, as my grandma used to call it. It doesn’t have to be that way, and when it comes to our vital infrastructure, it shouldn’t.

Stay safe and hydrated, everybody!

The post Compromising vital infrastructure: water management appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

The Devil of Murder Cliffs

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 11:33
By Casey Christofferson
Frog God Games
S&W
Levels 3-5

In the pale light of the witching hour when the moon shows off its twin horns,
Tis said that a devil rises from the deep with a murderous taste for the soul.
You will know ere he stalks for the crows love to talk
About how they have picked clean your bones.

Let’s see what the Frogs are up to these days!

This 39 page adventure details a small regional with a bandit camp, some gnolls, an inn, a druid, and some loggers. There’s a meta-plot thing going on where the inn, bandits, and a ghost have some stuff going on. It feels more like the outline of an adventure, with a lot of generic detail added to it. The emphasis on act 1 & 3 is too short, I think.

Part 1: You arrive at the inn. It’s about a page long and then the inn is described, room by room, up until about page 20. The inn room description is 9 pages long with the “mission introduction” contained on a 10th page. You get your mission: defeat the bandits &| druid. Part 2: the wilderness including the bandit camp, gnoll camps, druid, evil mountain altar, logging camps, etc. 6 pages, 8 with the wanderers. Part 3: After defeating the bandits/druid you come back for a feast. Then all hell breaks loose. 1 page.

This feels more like the outline of an adventure. Imagine I wrote a page of plot. Then I write the outline of some locations to go visit. Then I expanded those locations with a bunch of generic detail, over several pages. That’s what this feels like.

The introduction/hook is a couple of paragraphs about four bandits (1hd) attacking the inn, a lady inside yelling at the party to kill them, and then her asking the party to kill the bandits and their ally, the druid. It’s almost a throw-away. I guess it’s meant to be expanded by all of the context provided in the NPC backgrounds and situation overview that appear before this. It feels like a cumbersome way to handle things. Yes, all of the NPC’s in the inn kind of make sense, but the way the “plot” is condensed in to just a couple of paragraphs seems awkward. I think maybe it could have used a little less of NPC description up front and maybe a little more in the “welcome to the inn!” sections.

Likewise, the wilderness sections are weird. A wandering monster table followed by some wilderness locales. There’s a couple of gnoll lairs that expliplify this. Just six or so cave rooms, with some generic descriptions and generic gnolls. Leaders, wives, bodyguards, young … it could be the B2 cave. It feels flat, and somehow could be replaced with “gnoll lair with 6 rooms, 12 gnolls, a chief, 2 wives, 8 young, and 2 bodyguards. 300gp” It feels weird. There’s a lot of text but it doesn’t really DO anything.

Party 3 kind of exemplifies this. It’s about a page and deals with consequences. A dinner party, maybe escaped prisoners if the party captured any and then a hunt for them in the inn, and a ghost possessing people to cause trouble, and maybe an attack by gnolls and bandits on the inn, all at the same time. First: AWESOME! I fucking love chaos in an adventure, especially at the end. A billion things going on at once! Delicious!

But, more to my point, it’ feels weird. It’s almost like THIS is the actual adventure and everything else just led up to it. But it’s covered on one page. Suddenly, the EXTENSIVE room by room inn description makes sense. If the party is doing a hide & seek with the escape prisoners then you need a full map and room description. It’s still weird though … the extraneous detail of the inn. And, yes, the designer is right, the party is likely to explore and get in to trouble in part one, so a map kind of makes sense then also. But nine pages worth?

It’s all a kind of super-weird choice. There’s this evil mountain alter that has a magic item that will be pretty hard/impossible to recover, given the permutations and lack of hints. But then it once again becomes a focus in the end of party 3, when a ghost can possess someone there. Except they can do it in part one also.

There is something to this adventure, but the emphasis and the way ideas are presented is out of whack with the clarity. Specificity is missing, and instead we get this kind of outline format that’s then expanded upon with genericism. And then it’s WAY long while the more interesting sections are very short.

And then the treasure is quite light for S&W. The gnolls have 400gp. The bandits little more. What/how the bandit officers patrol is buried in the description of the officers tent instead of the camp overview. Information is misplaced and wrongly emphasized all over the place.

Again, the concepts are not bad, but it’s quite cumbersome. Well, the inn people are baddies who betray you, which triggers lifelong D&D trauma of always sleeping together in inns and never eating or drinking their food and never making friends/allies anywhere. The DM’s party in murder hobo survival is an important tale to tell.

This is $10 at DriveThru. There’s no preview. Sup with that froggies? How about letting us see what we’re buying ahead of time when you charge us $10?

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/270859/The-Devil-of-Murder-Cliffs-Swords-and-Wizardry?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Re-post: God’s Super City

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 11:00

And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2 RSV).

The city is neither modern New York nor ancient Sodom. It is neither buried beneath centuries of sand nor clouded by the haze of fossil fuel combustion.  It isn’t marked by human genius, nor is it scarred by human depravity.

Its splendor owes nothing to man; it is the city of God. Humans, wherever they have gone, have organized into communities. Their skills in social structures have come to a peak in the building of cities like Tokyo, San Francisco, Toronto, London, and Atlanta. These highly developed communities have witnessed across history to the genius of their creators. Yet cities have fallen one by one: sacked by enemies, corrupted by their inhabitants, or emptied by the vagaries of history.

The Bible has a dual attitude toward cities. Jesus loved Jerusalem and wept over it in great tenderness, then pronounced destruction upon it. It was his city, the place of the patriarchs and prophets, and it had known great moments. But it also distinguished itself for its stoning of the prophets. Then this city that God had uniquely honored had swelled with pride and rejected his Son.

The Bible begins its story of mankind in a garden and ends its story in a city, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:2). The vision of this city, given to John on Patmos, is rapturous, and the Book of Revelation records it with splendor of expression.

This last book of the Bible speaks throughout in what some have called cartoon language. It has been pointed out that a cartoonist today wanting to show tensions between Russia and China, for example, simply pictures a bear being eyed menacingly by a red dragon. We would get the message.

The Revelation is filled with verbal pictures – four-headed beasts, angels with vials, and cities like the New Jerusalem – from all of which we are intended to get a message too.

The message is that in his time, God will provide the perfect community for those who belong to him. Paul calls it the Jerusalem which is above (Galatians 4:26), and our commonwealth . . . in heaven (Philippians 3:20 RSV). It is the city toward which Abraham was headed, the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10 NEB), the eternal dwelling place of God and His people.

Today, many of the cities of man are under a cloud, if not one heavy with a cloud of sulphur dioxide or a threatening cloud from a dirty bomb. The city is a place of physical decay and human despair to many forgotten people, to them a seeming hell without flames. Yet, their leaders keep a proud silence about God and his Kingdom, and grope only on the horizontal plane for solutions to their troubles.

Even so, Christ wept over a city ruled by such attitudes, and he healed body, mind, and spirit of people in its dirty streets. Can God’s people do less? In every sector there are needs which compassionate Christians can meet, despair they can work to relieve, boredom they can help to replace with meaning. In many decaying cities, small corps of Christians join to help relieve such problems.

But here’s the paradox. We can serve with compassion in the city of man only if we are convinced at every level of our beings that our true destination is the New Jerusalem, the eternal city of God.

Photo credit: blogmulo (via flickr.com)



Categories: Churchie Feeds

Encounters In A Martian Bar Before the Gunfight Started

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 11:00
Art by Jeff Call01 A jovial human trader eager to unload a large, glowing jar containing squirming creatures he claims are Mercurian dayside salamanders.

02 A shaggy, spider-eyed Europan smuggler waits nervously for her contact.

03 Four pygmy-like “mushroom men," fungoid sophonts from the caverns of Vesta. They are deep in their reproductive cycle and close proximity gives a 10% chance per minute of exposure inhaling their spores.

04 A Venusian reptoid lowlander with jaundiced eyes from chronic hssoska abuse and an itchy trigger-claw.

05 Two scarred, old spacers in shabby flight suits.  They're of human stock mutated by exposure to unshielded, outlawed rocket drives.

07 A cloud of shimmering lights, strangely ignored by most patrons, dances around twin pale, green-skinned chaunteuses. It's  actually an energy being from the Transneptunian Beyond.

08 An aging, alcoholic former televideo star (and low level Imperial spy) with 1-2 hangers-ons.

09 A Venusian Wooly who just lost a Martian chess game to a young farm-hand who doesn't know any better.

10 A Martian Dune Walker shaman on his way to a ritual at a nearby Old Martian ruin, with a bag of 2d6 hallucinogenic, dried erg-beetles. He dreams of driving all off-worlders from Mars.

A week in security (March 25 – 31)

Malwarebytes - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 08:24

Last week, we looked at plugin vulnerabilities, location tracking app problems, and talked about plain text password woes. We also looked at federal data privacy regulation and took a deep dive into  BatMobi Adware.

Other cybersecurity news

Stay safe, everyone!

The post A week in security (March 25 – 31) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Castles & Crusades, Old School Mars, & Appendix N Authors

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 05:39
 "Gaunt giant and passionate beauty, they dragged their thirst-crazed way across the endless crimson sands in a terrible test of endurance. For one of them knew where cool life-giving water lapped old stones smooth -- a place of secret horror that it was death to reveal!" Queen of the Martian Catacombs by Leigh Brackett  Part of the reason that the war between the forces of light & Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1283

Looking For Group - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 04:00

The post 1283 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

march finishes

Autumn Geisha - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 00:56

Hooray I actually finished a sweater!!! So incredibly excited to cast off my Edith Cardigan while it is still chilly enough to wear. Good thing that it is extremely cozy because every year when the calendar turns to March, the hubby dials down the heat to sub-zero temps. But this year I will not engage in thermostat battles :)  I love how warm & woolly this cardigan is. It was my first time knitting a dropped shoulder construction and I was a little concerned with how the finished sweater would look since I usually wear raglan sweaters. Really pleased with the relaxed fit. It was a very well written pattern and would make a great first sweater project. I am debating on whether or not to add in the big patch pockets. Maybe at some point down the line but for now, I want to finish up my Weekender and cast on for some Easter socks. Here’s the pair I made for St. Patrick’s Day:


These were fun fun fun to knit! The yarn is from Desert Vista Dyeworks in the Zombody go bragh colorway. Those green stripes have me looking forward to some fun Spring knitting. What’s currently on your knitting needles? Anything on the radar for Spring?
Categories: Knitting Feeds

6 things D&D 1e can do for you (and you didn't know)

The Disoriented Ranger - Sun, 03/31/2019 - 18:20
There is an excellent post over at Marlinka's Musings you should read, as it inspired this post to some extent. Daniel writes at some point in his post that D&D is about killing things and taking their stuff. The game is good at that, but if you want something else in it, you maybe should look into other games for inspiration (he names FATE and Nobilis as examples). It illustrates his point well and works for the argument he's making. But it got me thinking: is it true? Are we actually needing those other games to have aspects like narrative flow or philosophical musings in D&D 1e/BECMI as written?
More a Development of Insight than an Evolution

I'll start with a heresy: most of what is sold to us as new evolutions in game design is merely a designer exploring something that is already existing in the original games and giving it a different form*. This hobby of ours is not even half a century old and I think in a way we are still trying to find the words to explain what happened in 1973 and why it mattered.

Yeah, one of those posts ... Simple proof of this is that we (as in: humanity as a whole) have always been telling stories and always will be. Same goes for playing games (another abstract form of telling stories, if you think about it). We learn abstract thinking by listening and telling stories, which in turn helps us understanding the world. Preparing us to handle it, as it were. We have the science/philosophy/art to proof this for a long time now.

I've long been saying that roleplaying games are not doing much more than offering various tools to expand language to a degree that the output of an exchange gets a specific flavor mixed with a good dose of uncertainty of outcome, while keeping within the rules of suspension of disbelieve. Those tools manipulate the narrative with specific terms and outcomes and developments that are deemed favorable for the intent of the individual game. However, the collective narrative is the thing and we really know how to tell stories.

There's also lots of science about how language works and why, so I could go and rest my case right there (or at least that's the thesis): if roleplaying games are understood as tools that expand language to form a narrative in a playfull and uncertain way and if that is the innovative part of that original design, then most of what comes afterwards cannot be more then just variations and expansions of what the original games already formulated.

Oracles: expanding language with external tools for thousands of years now [source]Or to put another spin on this: my theory is that if those rules of yore are read with our more modern interpretations of what a role playing game is or can be, we will find that those ideas are already in there to some extent or at least came up pretty fast.

However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I'll try to do the title of this post justice, name 6 modern game design trends and show how they'd already been part of the first editions (I'll draw from OD&D and BECMI/D&D RC for this, if I need to):

1. The System Shapes the Long-Term Narrative

The classic 5 saves in D&D had been a great way to guarantee different class reactions to the narrative environment between classes as well as with character advancement. Players are relatively autonomous to do as they please, so no character will feel alike, even if it's the same class. Campaigns will also differ from DM to DM, so the rules for advancement are the only somewhat reliable constant in all of this. Now, Saves are a character's passive reaction to the environment, not player controlled and only to some extent within a DMs control, which means, a characters reaction to the environment is something every player will experience THE SAME over the course of each characters career. It's one key aspect why fighters feel hardy, thieves feels dextrous and wizards feel well versed in the magic arts: they react that way to the challenges the environment throws them (system-wise).  This is true for all first editions of D&D.

2. Players Decide the Difficulties of their Actions

You will often hear that in the olden days DMs would set you a difficulty and you either make it or not. Sometimes people will add that you could argue some bonusses because the situation (or a rule) allows for it. Modern games will often allow rolls with nuanced results, like, say, partial successes. However, there has always been something like the "play without the dice" and even if not everyone had realized this in the beginning of the hobby (which I doubt, actually, since the early versions had been pretty rules light, negotiation must have been the main mode of gaming), it's common sense today for players to explore and use the environment to their best knowledge to gain an advantage before the first dice fall. So the difficulty of a roll was never the DM fiat many would make it to be, it was the end of a negotiation and if the players did play it right, that roll (if  necessary at all) would be an easy one.

3. Character-Driven Narratives instead of Murder-Hobos

It certainly didn't start that way, but BASIC already introduced the idea that monsters could just be "overcome" with wits instead of combat and Moldvay also offers experience points for playing your character and class well (as well as for great ideas and heroic play). Later in the BECMI series clerics will get xp for helping others of their alignment, domain play offers xp, as do jousts and leading an army into war will also garner a character xp. So it's not just "kill and loot" and it is interesting at this point to note that on higher levels (up to level 36 with the BECMI series) there wouldn't be enough monsters or treasure in the world for a group to gain enough xp just with killing and looting (which is why late in the development of 1e you potentially gain more xp for playing your character than for anythiung else ... read here for details). Also: there wasn't that heavy an emphasis on high ability scores and lots of freedom for coming up with who your level 1 character is ...

Diplomacy can be fun, too! [source]4. Scope

Epic, year-spanning campaigns or one-shots, fantasy or steampunk or science fiction, as many classes as you can come up with (want an example how, have one), highly customizable toolbox of rules (from very low to very high complexity), lots of original material (still in print!), highly compatible with newer versions of D&D (and other games, for that matter), just as easy to house-rule and over 40 years of fan-made material freely accessible on the internet (another example), with all the experience and advice you could need to last several life times of gaming ... that's D&D 1e in a nut-shell. Few games can do that much, most won't even come close.

5. It's not Randomness, it's Controlled Variation

Random Encounter Tables, Random Encounter Reaction Tables, Random Treasure Table, Morale ... Going by the rules, the DM gets to decide bery deep in the manifestation process what how how things happen. This is by design and it has a very simple reaon: it (1) reminds the DM that there are more possible outcomes to a situation than he could come up on the spot and it (2) also illustrates that you can still have some controll within that randomness by chosing the selection of possibilities a random table offers. Lots of games try (and achieve) some of the same effects with story circles or shared narratives to produce recognizable yet unexpected variation, but D&D made this work right from the start in it's own way.

6. The Cheat is in the Game

Many modern games claim that one distinctive new element to older roleplaying games would be that modern games enable players to influence play from a meta-perspective with concepts like story points, for instance. It's always some sort of meta-currency that could help getting characters out of tight spots. The thing is, that's not a new  or "modern" idea at all. I'd say that it was part of those first editions from the beginning in form of magic items, spells like Wish and wonders like Ressurection, you just had to play long enough to earn them. In modern gaming terms you had to "unlock" them, so to say, as they'd only be accessible to higher level characters. In a way it is part of learning the game to reach that point (it's like that famous G. Gygax that character background is what comes with the first 6 levels ...). Experienced players (or so is the theory) will have all the meta-currency they need to keep their characters afloat for as long as possible.
 

And that's that ...

I was aiming for 10, but that might stretch it a little. The result of this little exercise (for me at least) would be that, well, "there's nothing new under the sun" doesn't quite cut it. Of course there is beautiful and great and creative modern games out there and there's definitely room for more.

However, the closer I look at those first editions (D&D RC is one of my favorite things in the world, as you might be aware), the more I come to the conclusion that it was more the inability to completely express what they had in hands when they published it. They had been quick to adjust, for sure, and many of the first alternative rulesets published were arguably nothing more than what the game intended to begin with: variations of the original game (even when not published by TSR).

Furthermore, and I'll close with this, I hope I helped to show that many of the now popular facettes we have in newer games were also arguably already part of those first games. I mean, sure, you could argue that there might be some better ways to use the dice (or something else entirtely, like cards) and there's still lots to explore. But damn, they did a lot right from the start and even where they weren't entirely on target, it ended up being strong enough to become part of popular (gaming) culture on more than one level.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the subject. I know, lots of this comes down to taste, and I'm not as much interested in hearing subjective claims about what new game is superiour. Instead I'd love to hear about games that are truly innovative in their approach and why.

Either way, thanks for reading!

[source]
 * Conversely it's the discovery and enhancement of those ideas that made games like Vampire: The Mascerade so popular, so there definitely is merit to the process.
 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

That’s a Week Excuse

Yarn Harlot - Sun, 03/31/2019 - 18:01

It snowed again last night, which is not at all unusual for March/April, and is still inexplicably heartbreaking. I got up, took one look at it, thought about what this all means to spring and hope and then I thought “What do I care. I am going to Texas.”  In three days I will get on a plane and I will go somewhere that the sun is shining and it is warm and flowers are blooming (maybe even the bluebonnets which is very exciting) and I will walk outside and not once while I am there, will I think of knitted accessories in their capacity to prevent frostbite.

I thought this, gleefully and happily, as I drank coffee – cheerfully raising my cup to the snow in as much of a of “screw you” gesture as one can manage with coffee in one hand and knitting in the other. (I have been practicing this particular gesture with those exact items in my hands for some decades now, and it’s actually pretty solid.) I thought about how nice it will be to see my Texas friends and some of my colleagues, and reflected that this event is one of my favourites every year, only made more perfect by the fact that this year, I’m home in time for Elliot’s 2nd birthday, which is the Monday after DFW.

In that exact moment -two things happened.  I imagined how cute he was going to look opening his presents and wearing his new birthday sweater, and suddenly realized that if I was looking forward to seeing him when I got back and that I was also looking forward to DFW in just a few days, that this actually meant whatever idea I had about there being buckets of time to get his sweater knit might be crazier than a bag of wet weasels.

I have been looking at the yarn for his sweater for about three weeks now – and I keep thinking about what a little sweater it is, and how it’s going to be so fast and I don’t have to worry, and now, suddenly, I think I have to worry, or at least start knitting. I’ve got seven days to whack together a sweater.

I should at least make a swatch today.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

(5e) Horror at Havel’s Cross

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 23:15
By Richard Jansen-Parkes
Winghorn Press
5e
Level 2

When a group of archaeologists put out a call for adventurers to help them escort a valuable artefact back to civilization, nobody expects anything out of the ordinary. However, our heroes have more than mere bandits to deal with at Havel’s Cross… Undead monsters roam the night and an ancient artefact stirs within a long forgotten temple. Getting to the bottom of the mystery will require a strong sword-arm and an even stronger stomach.

This six page adventure has three encounters. It’s free text format make it hard to use during play. Any detail is lost.

So, up front, I loathe the “archeology” thing in D&D. That implies a 19th century setting and I like my D&D less Victorian/Edwardian. Miners, lost kids, there’s lots of reason to have some people disappear and someone to want to find them.

Positives: It only uses the D&D basic rules. That’s a good approach. The basic rules are enough for most people to have and it would be great to have a rich amount of data to pull from. It also uses bullet points to convey information, particularly when you question someone. If Bob has some information for you then you can expect to find three or four bullets points, each with maybe a couple of sentence. The first few words of each sentence coney the subject of the bullet, so you can scan it easily enough to find what you need. Bullets: good. Putting the important stuff first so you can easily find which bullet is which: good. There’s also a section where a DC check on a dead horse (or inside an inn) can help inform you that there might be undead involved. That sort of thing is good. I quibble with putting it behind a DC check to begin with, but at least it’s not an empty check.

And on the bad side … garbage read aloud: it’s too long and it tends to try to tell the players what they feel, etc. On the DM text side I’m going to mention something else related: “It’s like staring in to a nightmare.” Uh huh. These are both symptoms of a large problem: the adventure tells instead of shows. “You feel scared” is telling. I’m not scared. At all. It’s lame and breaks immersion. But if you describe a scene and the players GET scared, or they think “man, that’s out of a nightmare!” then you have SHOWN. This is substantially more effective. And of course, no one pays attention after two read-aloud sentences.

Did I mention there’s a roll to continue? You need to roll a DC 12 in order to find a door in order to continue an adventure. Don’t put your adventure behind a DC check that the party can fail. Yes, every DM on earth is gonna hand wave it. That doesn’t mean you did right when writing it.

The major issue, though, is the organization.

This is now the second or third adventure that is organized in paragraph form. What I mean by that is, imagine you write out the adventure without any section heading, keyed room entries, and the like. Just one long document of text, only broken up by paragraphs. Then bold a word or two. That’s an extreme example, but it’s essentially what’s going on in this adventure, and the other few like it I’ve seen. Wherever this shit is coming from it needs to stop.

There’s no keyed map. It attempts to describe the map in the text. “There’s a chamber to the left” says some read aloud. Somewhere in the text that follow is a paragraph or two that describes the chamber to the left. There’s a window to look in, but you have to hunt the paragraph that tells you what you see. The complete and utter lack of effective organization is a major pain.

If I were forced to run this close to RAW then the adventure I would run is “Contacted to find a missing archeologist. Find a dead horse outside an inn. Dead people in the inn and some goblins/a hobgoblin. Go to the dig site and find temple with empty room, a room with some ghouls, and the final chamber.” I mean it, that’s what i would run, almost verbatim, that is contained in the adventure. I would supplement this with the bullet point data, because it’s easy to find, but that’s it. I’m not gonna take ten minutes to read the room, etc when the people show up to it. It’s more important to me that the players be engaged in the game then I run the adventure as written. That means that ALL that extra detail, beyond what I typed above. Is completely worthless and should never have been written/included. Unless, of course, it’s organized in such a way that I can find and reference it during play.

But as written, now, in the free-form text flow it uses? No fucking way. This is just some generic throw-away stuff that’s hard to use, and that’s not compelling enough for me to make an greater than usual effort.

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/191126/Horror-at-Havels-Cross–A-Basic-Rules-Adventure?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Clark Ashton Smith's Novella The Plutonian Drug To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting & the Slow War

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 21:15
The Plutonian Drug is one of the cooler early efforts by Clark Ashton Smith & fits right into the Old School Solar system nicely. The connections are there for the other H.P. Lovecraft's circle of writers & the Plutonian drug lays down some very deep connections indeed. The Plutonian Drug, published in Amazing Stories for September, 1934 isn't that well known outside of fans of Lovecraft & Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Humble Beginnings

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 17:04
The first not-a-kid's-song I can remember learning the lyrics to was Longer, by Dan Fogelberg. Ignoring the bits about yucky love-and-stuff, the lyrics really spoke to me and sparked my imagination. Between that, and the animated version of The Hobbit, I was well on my way to starting the fantasy world that would become Avremier - a few years before discovering Dungeons & Dragons.

Longer - on YouTube


Longer spoke of moving the seasons as if that was something people could do (well, that's how I heard it). If you know how the seasonal cycle works in Avremier, you'll see the impetus. It mentioned "mountain cathedrals," which became dwarven citadels to my mind. And books, it talks about books. Deal sealed.



Afterwards, I delved into Norse myth. Dungeons & Dragons burst onto my life. The Last Unicorn hit the screens. I was reading every fantasy or sci-fi book I could get my hands on.



The avalanche could not be put back into the bottle.
















Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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