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Battle For Far Go - The 'Famine In Far-Go' Adventure by Michael Price War Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 18:23
"Far-Go is dying... the people are afraid... the animals are wasting away... the crops are withering the fields. No one, even Arx Skystone, the high priest, knows what has caused Far-Go's misfortune.YOU are part of a group of young adventurers about to begin the sacred Rite of Adulthood. The last hope of survival for Far-Go rests with your party. On your journey to the Forest of Knowledge, youNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

PRESALE: Treasure Kraken Cryptkins: Series 2 Vinyl Figure (Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive)

Cryptozoic - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 17:00

She’s emerald-colored and loves the water, so this is definitely the event for her! Here’s your chance to own the Treasure Kraken vinyl figure created exclusively for Emerald City Comic Con 2019! You can make sure you get this limited collectible by purchasing it now and then picking it up at Cryptozoic’s Booth #1233 during the event.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A week in security (February 18 – 24)

Malwarebytes - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:52

Last week on Malwarebytes Labs, we explored the world of crack hunting, gave you a 101 on the world of bots and their threats and advantages, and took a look at some clever phishing scams. We also explained how a Mac fends off malware, posted a handy “lazy person’s guide to cybersecurity,” and dug into some APT action.

Other security news
  • YouTube ran into major problems, specifically, a network of pedophiles. (Source: Wired)
  • Facebook improved location settings: Android users will now find they possess greater control over which information is shared with Facebook. (Source: Facebook)
  • Big extortion, big money: Research reveals “salaries” of up to a quarter of a million dollars in return for getting up to dubious antics online. (Source: The Register)
  • Flaw, blimey: A 19-year-old WinRAR bug was discovered. (Source: CheckPoint)
  • Political infighting leads to data blowout: It’s all very exciting over in the UK, as a major political party reported a former member for alleged breach-related activity. (Source: The Guardian)
  • Collection leaks and compromised passwords: How to steer clear of trouble related to the ongoing “Collection” dumps. (Source: Help Net Security)
  • An egg in this trying time: A malware campaign offers up an eggy attack targeting job seekers. (Source: Proofpoint)
  • ATM hacking: A look at how easy ATM shenanigans has become. (Source: Wired)
  • BabyShark phishing: Yes, it’s a spear phishing campaign called BabyShark. (Source: ZDNet)
  • Wi-Fi and social engineering: A look at some of the most common social engineering tricks deployed against networks. (Source: Security Boulevard)

Stay safe, everyone!

The post A week in security (February 18 – 24) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

The Blue Elephants Make It Happen Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:00

The Blue Elephants Make It Happen Collection is a brand new collection of three printable ebooks that were created to help makers do more, and do it more easily! And I’m giving away one set to one very lucky maker right here on Moogly! Disclaimer: Materials provided by The Blue Elephant but all opinions are [...]

The post The Blue Elephants Make It Happen Giveaway appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

Categories: Crochet Life

Max Schrems: lawyer, regulator, international man of privacy

Malwarebytes - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:00

Almost one decade ago, disparate efforts began in the European Union to change the way the world thinks about online privacy.

One effort focused on legislation, pulling together lawmakers from 28 member-states to discuss, draft, and deploy a sweeping set of provisions that, today, has altered how almost every single international company handles users’ personal information. The finalized law of that effort—the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—aims to protect the names, addresses, locations, credit card numbers, IP addresses, and even, depending on context, hair color, of EU citizens, whether they’re customers, employees, or employers of global organizations.

The second effort focused on litigation and public activism, sparking a movement that has raised at least nearly half a million dollars to fund consumer-focused lawsuits meant to uphold the privacy rights of EU citizens, and has resulted in the successful dismantling of a 15-year-old intercontinental data-transfer agreement for its failure to protect EU citizens’ personal data. The 2015 ruling sent shockwaves through the security world, and forced companies everywhere to scramble to comply with a regulatory system thrown into flux.

The law was passed. The movement is working. And while countless individuals launched investigations, filed lawsuits, participated in years-long negotiations, published recommendations, proposed regulations, and secured parliamentary approval, we can trace these disparate yet related efforts back to one man—Maximilian Schrems.

Remarkably, as the two efforts progressed separately, they began to inform one another. Today, they work in tandem to protect online privacy. And businesses around the world have taken notice.

The impact of GDPR today

A Portuguese hospital, a German online chat platform, and a Canadian political consultancy all face GDPR-related fines issued last year. In January, France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) hit Google with a 50-million-euros penalty—the largest GDPR fine to date—after an investigation found a “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization.”

The investigation began, CNIL said, after it received legal complaints from two groups: the nonprofit La Quadrature du Net and the non-governmental organization None of Your Business. None of Your Business, or noyb for short, counts Schrems as its honorary director. In fact, he helped crowdfund its launch last year.

Outside the European Union, lawmakers are watching these one-two punches as a source of inspiration.

When testifying before Congress about a scandal involving misused personal data, the 2016 US presidential election, and a global disinformation campaign, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly heard calls to regulate his company and its data-mining operations.

“The question is no longer whether we need a federal law to protect consumers privacy,” said Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. “The question is what shape will that law take.”

Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia put it differently: “The era of the Wild West in social media is coming to an end.”

A new sheriff comes to town

In 2011, Schrems was a 23-year-old law student from Vienna, Austria, visiting the US to study abroad. He enrolled in a privacy seminar at the Santa Clara University School of Law where, along with roughly 22 other students, he learned about online privacy law from one of the field’s notable titans.

Professor Dorothy Glancy practiced privacy law before it had anything to do with the Internet, cell phones, or Facebook. Instead, she navigated the world of government surveillance, wiretaps, and domestic spying. She served as privacy counsel to one of the many subcommittees that investigated the Watergate conspiracy.

Later, still working for the subcommittee, she examined the number of federal agency databases that contained people’s personally identifiable information. She then helped draft the Privacy Act of 1974, which restricted how federal agencies collected, used, and shared that information. It is one of the first US federal privacy laws.

The concept of privacy has evolved since those earlier days, Glancy said. It is no longer solely about privacy from the government. It is also about privacy from corporations.

“Over time, it’s clear that what was, in the 70s, a privacy problem in regards to Big Brother and the federal government, has now gotten so that a lot of these issues have to do with the private [non-governmental] collection of information on people,” Glancy said.

In 2011, one of the biggest private, non-governmental collectors of that information was Facebook. So, when Glancy’s class received a guest presentation from Facebook privacy lawyer Ed Palmieri, Schrems paid close attention, and he didn’t like what he heard.

For starters, Facebook simply refused to heed Europe’s data privacy laws.

Speaking to 60 Minutes, Schrems said: “It was obviously the case that ignoring European privacy laws was the much cheaper option. The maximum penalty, for example, in Austria, was 20,000 euros. So, just a lawyer telling you how to comply with the law was more expensive than breaking it.”

Further, according to Glancy, Palmieri’s presentation showed that Facebook had “absolutely no understanding” about the relationship between an individual’s privacy and their personal information. This blind spot concerned Schrems to no end. (Palmieri could not be reached for comment.)

“There was no understanding at all about what privacy is in the sense of the relationship to personal information, or to human rights issues,” Glancy said. “Max couldn’t quite believe it. He didn’t quite believe that Facebook just didn’t understand.”

So Schrems investigated. (Schrems did not respond to multiple interview requests and he did not respond to an interview request forwarded by his colleagues at Noyb.)

Upon returning to Austria, Schrems decided to figure out just how much information Facebook had on him. The answer was astonishing: Facebook sent Schrems a 1,200-page PDF that detailed his location history, his contact information, information about past events he attended, and his private Facebook messages, including some he thought he had deleted.

Shocked, Schrems started a privacy advocacy group called “Europe v. Facebook” and uploaded redacted versions of his own documents onto the group’s website. The revelations touched a public nerve—roughly 40,000 Europeans soon asked Facebook for their own personal dossiers.

Schrems then went legal. With Facebook’s international headquarters in Ireland, he filed 22 complaints with Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, alleging that Facebook was violating EU data privacy law. Among the allegations: Facebook didn’t really “delete” posts that users chose to delete, Facebook’s privacy policy was too vague and unclear to constitute meaningful consent by users, and Facebook engaged in illegal “excessive processing” of user data.

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner rolled Schrems’ complaints into an already-running audit into Facebook, and, in December 2011, released non-binding guidance for the company. Facebook’s lawyers also met with Schrems in Vienna for six hours in February 2012.

And then, according to Schrems’ website, only silence and inaction from both Facebook and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s Office followed. There were no meaningful changes from the company. And no stronger enforcement from the government.

Frustrating as it may have been, Schrems kept pressing. Luckily, according to Glancy, he was just the right man for the job.

“He is innately curious,” Glancy said. “Once he sees something that doesn’t quite seem right, he follows it up to the very end.”

Safe Harbor? More like safety not guaranteed

On June 5, 2013, multiple newspapers exposed two massive surveillance programs in use by the US National Security Agency. One program, then called PRISM (now called Downstream), implicated some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Facebook.

Schrems responded by doing what he did best: He filed yet another complaint against Facebook—his 23rd—with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. Facebook Ireland, Schrems claimed, was moving his data to Facebook Inc. in the US, where, according to The Guardian, the NSA enjoyed “mass access” to user data. Though Facebook and other companies denied their participation, Schrems doubted the accuracy of these statements.

“There is probable cause to believe that ‘Facebook Inc’ is granting the NSA mass access to its servers that goes beyond merely individual requests based on probable cause,” Schrems wrote in his complaint. “The statements by ‘Facebook Inc’ are in light of the US laws not credible, because ‘Facebook Inc’ is bound by so-called ‘gag orders.’”

Schrems argued that, when his data left EU borders, EU law required that it receive an “adequate level of protection.” Mass surveillance, he said, violated that.

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner disagreed. The described EU-to-US data transfer was entirely legal, the Commissioner said, because of Safe Harbor, a data privacy carve-out approved much earlier.

In 1995, the EU adopted the Data Protection Directive, which, up until 2018, regulated the treatment of EU citizens’ personal data. In 2000, the European Commission approved an exception to the law: US companies could agree to a set of seven principles, called the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, to allow for data transfer from the EU to the US. This self-certifying framework proved wildly popular. For 15 years, nearly every single company that moved data from the EU to the US relied, at least briefly, on Safe Harbor.

Unsatisfied, Schrems asked the Irish High Court to review the Data Protection Commissioner’s inaction. In October 2013, the court agreed. Schrems celebrated, calling out the Commissioner’s earlier decision.

“The [Data Protection Commissioner] simply wanted to get this hot potato off his table instead of doing his job,” Schrems said in a statement at the time. “But when it comes to the fundamental rights of millions of users and the biggest surveillance scandal in years, he will have to take responsibility and do something about it.”

Less than one year later, the Irish High Court came back with its decision—the Court of Justice for the European Union would need to review Safe Harbor.

On March 24, 2015, the Court heard oral arguments for both sides. Schrems’ legal team argued that Safe Harbor did not provide adequate protection for EU citizen’s data. The European Commission, defending the Irish DPC’s previous decision, argued the opposite.

When asked by the Court how EU citizens might best protect themselves from the NSA’s mass surveillance, the lawyer arguing in favor of Safe Harbor made a startling admission:

“You might consider closing your Facebook account, if you have one,” said Bernhard Schima, advocate for the European Commission, all but admitting that Safe Harbor could not protect EU citizens from overseas spying. When asked more directly if Safe Harbor provided adequate protection of EU citizens’ data, the European Commission’s legal team could not guarantee it.

On September 23, 2015, the Court’s advocate general issued his initial opinion—Safe Harbor, in light of the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, was invalid.

“Such mass, indiscriminate surveillance is inherently disproportionate and constitutes an unwarranted interference with the rights [to respect for privacy and family life and protection of personal data,]” the opinion said.

Less than two weeks later, the entire Court of Justice agreed.

Ever a lawyer, Schrems responded to the decision with a 5,500-word blog post (assigned a non-commercial Creative Commons public copyright license) exploring current data privacy law, Safe Harbor alternatives, company privacy policies, a potential Safe Harbor 2.0, and mass surveillance. Written with “limited time,” Schrems thanked readers for pointing out typos.

The General Data Protection Regulation

Before the Court of Justice struck down Safe Harbor, before Edward Snowden shed light on the NSA’s mass surveillance, before Schrems received a 1,200-page PDF documenting his digital life, and before that fateful guest presentation in professor Glancy’s privacy seminar at Santa Clara University School of Law, a separate plan was already under way to change data privacy.

In November 2010, the European Commission, which proposes legislation for the European Union, considered a new policy with a clear goal and equally clear title: “A comprehensive approach on personal data protection in the European Union.”

Many years later, it became GDPR.

During those years, the negotiating committees looked to Schrems’ lawsuits as highly informative, Glancy said, because Schrems had successfully proven the relationship between the European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and its application to EU data privacy law. Ignoring that expertise would be foolish.

“Max [Schrems] was a part of just about all the committees working on [GDPR]. His litigation was part of what motivated the adoption of it,” Glancy said. “The people writing the GDPR would consult him as to whether it would solve his problems, and parts of the very endless writing process were also about what Max [Schrems] was not happy with.”

Because Schrems did not respond to multiple interview requests, it is impossible to know his precise involvement in GDPR. His Twitter and blog have no visible, corresponding entries about GDPR’s passage.

However, public records show that GDPR’s drafters recommended several areas of improvement in the year before the law passed, including clearer definitions of “personal information,” stronger investigatory powers to the EU’s data regulators, more direct “data portability” to allow citizens to directly move their data from one company to another while also obtaining a copy of that data, and better transparency in how EU citizens’ online profiles are created and targeted for ads.

GDPR eventually became a sweeping set of 99 articles that tightly fasten the collection, storage, use, transfer, and disclosure of data belonging to all EU citizens, giving those citizens more direct control over how their data is treated.

For example, citizens have the “right to erasure,” in which they can ask a company to delete the data collected on them. Citizens also have the “right to access,” in which companies must provide a copy of the data collected on a person, along with information about how the data was collected, who it is shared with, and why it is processed.

Approved by a parliamentary vote in April 2016, GDPR took effect two years later.

GDPR’s immediate and future impact

On May 23, 2018, GDPR’s arrival was sounded not by trumpets, but by emails. Facebook, TicketMaster, eBay, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Guardian, Marriott, KickStarter, GoDaddy, Spotify, and countless others began their public-facing GDPR compliance strategies by telling users about updated privacy policies. The email deluge inspired rankings, manic tweets, and even a devoted “I love GDPR” playlist. The blitz was so large, in fact, that several threat actors took advantage, sending fake privacy policy updates to phish for users’ information.

Since then, compliance looks less like emails and more like penalties.

Early this year, Google received its €50 million ($57 million) fine out of France. Last year, a Portuguese hospital received a €400,000 fine for two alleged GDPR violations. Because of a July 2018 data breach, a German chat platform got hit with a €20,000 fine. And in the reported first-ever GDPR notice from the UK, Canadian political consultancy—and murky partner to Cambridge Analytica—AggregateIQ received a notice about potential fines of up to €20 million.

To Noyb, the fines are good news. Gaëtan Goldberg, a privacy lawyer with the NGO, said that data privacy law compliance has, for many years, been lacking. Hopefully GDPR, which Goldberg called a “major step” in protecting personal data, can help turn that around, he said.

“[We] hope to see strong enforcement measures being taken by courts and data protection authorities around the EU,” Goldberg said. “The fine of 50 [million] euros the French CNIL imposed on Google is a good start in this direction.”

The future of data privacy

Last year, when Senator Warner told Zuckerberg that “the era of the Wild West in social media is coming to an end,” he may not have realized how quickly that would come true. In July 2018, California passed a statewide data privacy law called the California Consumer Privacy Act. Months later, three US Senators proposed their own federal data privacy laws. And just this month, the Government Accountability Office recommended that Congress pass a data privacy law similar to GDPR.

Data privacy is no longer a concept. It is the law.

In the EU, that law has released a torrent of legal complaints. Hours after GDPR came into effect, Noyb lodged a series of complaints against Google, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Goldberg said the group’s legal complaints are one component of meaningful enforcement on behalf of the government. Remember: Google’s massive penalty began with an investigation that the French authorities said started after it received a complaint from Noyb.

Separately, privacy group Privacy International filed complaints against Europe’s data-brokers and advertising technology companies, and Brave, a privacy-focused web browser, filed complaints against Google and other digital advertising companies.

Google and Facebook did not respond to questions about how they are responding to the legal complaints. Facebook also did not respond to questions about its previous legal battles with Schrems.

Electronic Frontier Foundation International Director Danny O’Brien wrote last year that, while we wait for the results of the above legal complaints, GDPR has already motivated other privacy-forward penalties and regulations around the world:

“In Italy, it was competition regulators that fined Facebook ten million euros for misleading its users over its personal data practices. Brazil passed its own GDPR-style law this year; Chile amended its constitution to include data protection rights; and India’s lawmakers introduced a draft of a wide-ranging new legal privacy framework.”

As the world moves forward, one man—the one who started it all—might be conspicuously absent. Last year, Schrems expressed a desire to step back from data privacy law. If anything, he said, it was time for others to take up the mantle.

“I know I’m going to be deeply engaged, especially at the beginning, but in the long run [Noyb] should absolutely not be Max’s personal NGO,” Schrems told The Register in a January 2018 interview. Asked to clarify about his potential future beyond privacy advocacy, Schrems said: “It’s retirement from the first line of defense, let’s put it that way… I don’t want to keep bringing cases for the rest of my life.”

Surprisingly, for all of Schrems’ public-facing and public-empowering work, his interviews and blog posts sometimes portray him as a deeply humble, almost shy individual, with a down-to-earth sense of humor, too. When asked during a 2016 podcast interview if he felt he would be remembered in the same vein as Edward Snowden, Schrems bristled.

“Not at all, actually,” Schrems said. “What I did is a very conservative approach. You go to the courts, you have your case, you bring it and you do your thing. What Edward Snowden did is a whole different ballgame. He pretty much gave up his whole life and has serious possibilities to some point end up in a US prison. The worst thing that happened to me so far was to be on that security list of US flights.”

During the same interview, Schrems also deflected his search result popularity.

“Everyone knows your name now,” the host said. “If you Google ‘Schrems,’ the first thing that comes up is ‘Max Schrems’ and your case.”

“Yeah but it’s also a very specific name, so it’s not like ‘Smith,’” Schrems said, laughing. “I would have a harder time with that name.”

If anything, the popularity came as a surprise to Schrems. Last year, in speaking to Bloomberg, he described Facebook as a “test case” when filing his original 22 complaints.

“I thought I’d write up a few complaints,” Schrems said. “I never thought it would create such a media storm.”

Glancy described Schrems’ initial investigation into Facebook in much the same way. It started not as a vendetta, she said, but as a courtesy.

“He started out with a really charitable view of [Facebook],” Glancy said. “At some level, he was trying to get Facebook to wake up and smell the coffee.”

That’s the Schrems that Glancy knows best, a multi-faceted individual who makes time for others and holds various interests. A man committed to public service, not public spotlight. A man who still calls and emails her with questions about legal strategy and privacy law. A man who drove down the California coast with some friends during spring break. Maybe even a man who is tired of being seen only as a flag-bearer for online privacy. (He describes himself on his Twitter profile as “(Luckily not only) Law, Privacy and Politics.)

“At some level, he considers himself a consumer lawyer,” Glancy said. “He’s interested in the ways in which to empower the little guy, who is kind of abused by large entities that—it’s not that they’re targeting them, it’s that they just don’t care. [The people’s] rights are not being taken account of.”

With GDPR in place, those rights, and the people they apply to, now have a little more firepower.

The post Max Schrems: lawyer, regulator, international man of privacy appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

On the Longevity of Dungeons and Dragons

Hack & Slash - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 13:00
Why is it always Dungeons and Dragons?

Why hasn't some 'better' game come along and replaced it? Why is it always some version or variant of Dungeons & Dragons that people play?

Surely some better game that is in some way different would be the top game, only if. . .

Well, something, right? Longevity of not just game, but campaign. People talk of Dungeons and Dragons games in years—many tables into their first, second, or even third decade of the same campaign.

When you go to a convention, what game fills the room, what game tops the sales, what game draws the young man's eye, and sets the savvy girl's heart aflutter.

Dungeons and Dragons,

But why?

WhyIt's not that it's first. Dungeons and Dragons always had lots of competition, and fell out of the public eye periodically. If its popularity was solely due to it being first, it surely would have fallen to a competitor by now. It has in the past, but only to something more Dungeons and Dragons-like then Dungeons and Dragons itself; when Pathfinder outsold Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

It might be tempting to make it seem like something complicated, drawing out the tension, but the reasons are straightforward and simple—it's the interactions between these simple reasons that  Dungeons and Dragons lands atop the heap.

  • You keep score in Dungeons and Dragons.
  • A role-playing game has a natural social resonance effect.
  • The game is fundamentally about enforcing order over chaos, erasing the fog of war, and reclaiming that which is lost.

These three factors intersect again and again. Early Dungeons and Dragons games were run with dozens, sometimes hundreds of players, making them addictive like the first massively multiplayer online games—except they weren't online.

If all our physical needs are met, what needs do we have then? Psychologists call it  "self-actualization" and it's a fancy word for 'not being a complete piece of shit'. You want to be helpful, and have your contributions be meaningful. How do we go about doing that?

We go out, into the unknown, and find/discover/do something involving risk, which we bring back to make life better for our people. This entire process is modeled at the table, in front of a group of your peers making it meaningful. It's not just you doing it, but you all imagining it together that makes it count.

But Dungeons and Dragons presents the process in a particularly attractive way.

There is an unknown place underground, across the threshold. We, as humans, know when we step into it. If you've ever been in a situation where you realize it is not safe, then you know how you know you've crossed the threshold into the dark. We explore those spaces in dungeons, lairs, and ruins while in the game.

That sense of risk, danger, agency, and meaning: it's good stuff. It keeps people playing and coming back.

But how does it last so long?

Why it lasts so long
  • There is no core mechanic.
  • The gameplay fundamentally changes as the level increases.

Dungeons and Dragons, particularly campaigns that run in excess of three years, have lots of fiddly bits. And as you gain in power, more and more bits become available. If you simply everything down to a few mechanics, further development once those are mastered or stabilized requires the referee to somehow mechanize magical tea party gameplay. Magical Tea Party is a term for when the activity during play becomes completely dissociated from the rules, procedures, and mechanics of the game.

In traditional games of dungeons and dragons, you progress to owning land, then investing time and resources into shaping and clearing that land, and then meeting your responsibilities for the people on that land. Though a lot of the focus has shifted in more modern versions to a more 'super-hero' version of dungeons and dragons, with a few house rules or deft changes, you can easily play in the old way way.

Because when you don't, you end up meeting the 'expected campaign' determined by research done by Wizards of the Coast. Campaigns run from levels 1-10 and last six to nine months. (Sorry for the video link, but what are you gonna do?)

So yeah. It's always going to be popular, because it's about doing the most meaningful thing we can in the presence of our peers with complete freedom in how we do it.

The Peanut Gallery I know there's someone out there who's really sure if everyone just hears about their favorite game (FATE) everyone will play their favorite game (FATE).

But people have tried those other games.

Of course you could set up a game in another system to run for years, but at some point you realize that there are rules and you are playing a game. And that game has to be about something, some objective, some goal. And that goal needs to be compelling, in the same way a game like Tetris, Dominion, Stardew Valley, or Factorio is compelling. Go into the dangerous area, overcome challenges, recover treasure, gain more power, expand your influence—that's a powerful compelling game.

Obviously, it matters.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fight On! #14 – Citadel of the Dark Trolls

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 12:11
Citadel of the Dark Trolls
Lee Barber

This is level 9 of the community Fight On Megadungeon The Darkness Beneath. It has nine locales in a large cavern system, with each of them expanded upon in to a number of keyed entries. Deep in its own mythology, it rivals the Ghoul Kingdom. And has no idea how to organize itself for play at the table. Ultimately, a disappointment.

Some of the upper levels of Darkness Beneath rank among my best of all time, including what I think of as THE best of all time, Level one. It’s simple, terse, non-standard and creates child-like wonder. I would argue that the Citadel of the Dark Trolls is has the most expectations of all the levels presented. That “dungeon map” that rides along with every Darkness Beneath level has had it staring us in the face for many years. Yeah, it’s not the LAST level, the Tomb of the Dark Lord remains there as desert, but Citadel has the kick ass name and the teaser right from level one, with the great doors on the underground highway. Lee has written something that lives up to the expectations set. It’s deep and rich and full of that hinted at mystery and mythology that Kingdom of the Ghouls (Baur) also did so well. You get a real sense for the place, and it’s not generic AT ALL. I have an issue with expectations and you can see that in many of my reviews. It’s not my most charming quality. But this dungeon met my expectations. It FEELS like the Citadel of the Dark Trolls.

The caverns have about nine major locales. These are large open areas and  the like, on a grand scale ala Descent in to the Depths of the Earth. Not really a hex crawl, but there’s a sense of large space/distance here. It’s a nod to the ecology and the “kingdom” of the dark trolls. Each locale is expanded upon, some more than others. There are fully keyed out locations, like the citadel proper, and then other locations that get more than a nod, like the troll “farmlands.” The hand-waving gets a little deep at the some places, like the farmlands/supporting “countryside” but it’s at a level that is about appropriate for something like this. It’s enough to give the DM something to work with, as a sideline if the party should flee there, for example, but I think also recognizes that this is not a 90 page supplement but rather one article/dungeon in a magazine with about 20 other articles in it also.

I’m going to concentrate on three points to the review, two minor and one major. First, I quibble with the overview map & key. Oh, did I say key? I mean, it doesn’t actually have a key. The “big map” has a hex-like map of nine locations, each with a number and a little embedded “#1 is the gatehouse” chart on the map. And then the main text has GATEHOUSE instead of “#1- Gatehouse.”I’ve seen a couple of adventures do this lately and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. (Since this was written a few years, I guess from this?) There’s this reliance on textual headers to convey location information. I don’t get it. How does that make it clearer? Maybe if magazine page numbers were on the chart also or something. But forcing me to fig through the text to find a one line offset entry for “GATEHOUSE” is not the way to earn “I am the friend to the DM” points.

Secondly, the linkages to the other levels seems a bit light. As an example, the gatehouse notes that the guards will let you through with a legitimate reason. Three are listed: legitimate bounty, an identifying item/pass, or you want to fight in the pit games. I know, all too well, how hard it is to link up a deeper level to an earlier one when you’re writing it at different times, and yet that’s the challenge to overcome.

Both of those are symptoms of a larger problem, the need to think about how the adventure will be run and orienting the writing and layout towards that. For example, on of the rooms at the gatehouse tells us what happens if people fly over the gatehouse. It’s the room with the giant ballista in it. Ok, that makes sense, in a way. But … isn’t it more likely that the party will just fly over the gatehouse and the DM will be left digging through the adventure looking at keys, ALL of the keys, to see what happens then? Why would you not put this information “up front” outside of the keys? That’s where the information is likely to be needed. Buried in room 23 of 76 would wouldn’t have a note about what happens if the party doesn’t visit the dungeon, would you?

But, the major issue is that I like to think this level is incomprehensible. Each and every room is so THICK and DENSE that you can’t make out what is going on and how it relates to the issue/room at hand. Rooms are a third of a column, or a column. Paragraph breaks are few and far between. I’m looking at room 2 of the gatehouse right now. It’s about half a column of text without bolding or paragraph breaks. There are long digressions in the rooms of things like:

“Skaemir was returned to the Citadel by posturing goblins, his lacerated flesh sliding from exposed bone. To chastise the troll nobles, Gorangol kept the Prince’s equipment, ate his Blood Thump, and demanded that a week-long party for her wild goblins be held at Dagendreng Hold, free of charge. While recovering, the angry Prince learned that the Shamans blamed an outbreak of disease on his combined failures to uphold prophecy.”

Uh, ok. I guess so. Is the middle of a room description the best place to put that fluff?

And fluff it is. Fluff after fluff after fluff. That section comes from a column and a half that describes fighting styles and other information. WITH ONE PARAGRAPH BREAK.That’s what this level is. It’s a fluff regional setting book. I don’t review those. Since fluff is solely inspiration, and I think that’s totally subjective (or, maybe, I don’t know how to review subjective shit) I don’t review fluff. I like it, and don’t mean fluff in a derogatory term, but it’s not an adventure.

This is 27 pages of fluff masquerading as an adventure. Ye Olde Pushbacke &| guidance seems to have been missing.

It’s fucking cool, but I’m currently running a game, not reading the background guide for a Tv series writer.

This is $8 on Lulu.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 12:00

In a fit of waning Google+ generosity, Goblin's Henchman sent me a copy of his zine-size adventure Carapace, available for free on drivethrurpg.

Carapace is an interesting product. The adventure (geared toward AD&D but usuable with any flavor), involving a giant ant-hill near a isolated town has no keyed locations. There is a brief bit of setup, covering not only the situation but what various parties in the community might want done, and what the consequences of the adventure might be. After that, there's section of on not one, but three different methods of procedurally generating the maze of tunnels and rooms in the colony: Pointcrawl, Labyrinth Move, and Hex-Flower. Read the Henchman's brief explanation of them here. Finally, there's a section on random encounters and random "dungeon dressing."

If you really dig new procedural approaches and procedural generation in general, this will definitely be your thing. Even if you are like me and this isn't generally your thing, the alien structure of an ant hill seems to me exactly the place where something like this might be useful. Not only would I run this, I may steal some of its techniques for use in other environments.

How to Cultivate a Christian Mind III

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 11:00

If you were under house arrest in ancient Rome as the Apostle Paul was late in his life, what would you be thinking about? How to escape? How to win an earlier hearing from the Emperor? How to get on the good side of your guards?

None of these were Paul’s first concerns. Instead, from his confinement, he was thinking about a church he had planted and loved deeply at Philippi, in Macedonia, seven hundred miles away. The letter he wrote to that church became the Epistle to the Philippians in the New Testament.

Always on the alert to advance the Gospel, his final point in this letter is an exhortation to young believers to nurture their thought lives to become ever more consistent with their faith in Christ.

In Philippians 4:8 his counsel about their private thoughts is captured in six important words. Here they are:

Truth. This word fits and affirms that which corresponds to reality. Two plus two equals four. (Jesus) is the way, and the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Nobility. Let your thoughts be elevated, worthy, honest.

Right. Stand fearlessly for what you know to be right. Be righteous in all your dealings.

Pure. Avoid moral defilement. Be inwardly pure. God is present at every moment of your life; nothing is hidden from Him.

Beautiful. The reference is to winsomeness. There is no need to be unpleasant in order to model serious faith. The Christian mind, says William Barclay, is set on the lovely things like kindness, sympathy, forbearance.

Admirable. Be alert to what is fine in the world and be free to admire whatever is deserving. See the handiwork of God and admire the wonders of his world.

As I read this passage it appears to me that the Apostle doesn’t want to leave out any important words from his list so he adds — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…. He appears to say, If there is anything I’ve forgotten, add those words also to the list for meditation and practice.

In the above list of words, the Apostle sets a foundation for morally wholesome thoughts and healthy relationships. The words seem to share a sense of firmness.

They are strong words, binding together ideas rooted deep in reality. To adopt and practice them seriously is to develop staunch character.

Paul’s teaching is apt for our age. Our culture’s saturation with relativism makes many people think truth is flexible, according to whim, and a moveable target: my truth, your truth…

Nobility of thought and behavior has fallen too often to coarseness of expression; righteousness, or right judgment and action, is now replaced with winning by the exertion of naked power; and purity and its subset chastity are too often reduced to vulgarity.

Not so for the Apostle Paul. His conviction is that moral excellence is to flow naturally from the embrace of the gospel. He dares to invite the young believers of Philippi to follow his example in whatever they have learned, received, heard or seen in him. He exhorts them to practice the above list of virtues, at the prompting of God’s Spirit assuring them that as a result the God of peace will be with them.

Paul’s urging to “think on these things” is appropriate because the human mind is like an electronic device that is always processing its environment. It continues even when its owner is not paying attention.

That is why Paul’s advice is so important. As believers, we are to monitor and assume responsibility for what our minds take in and doing so is a Christian discipline.

Christian minds need to be re-educated away from worldly values and enticements, and often some dark and hurtful thought patterns of anger, envy, resentment, greed, lust and such.

God wants us to be selective in our thought lives, searching within our day-to-day environment for thought content that is lovely and admirable.

The payoff is a buoyant and truly Christian mind as the Apostle Paul demonstrates. He was giving his counsel from confinement in Rome. He reports he was in chains. His future was uncertain. Yet the spirit of his letter is firm and upbeat. This shines throughout the whole piece and in that letter he uses the words joy and rejoicing sixteen times.

Image info: Saint Paul in Prison, Rembrandt, 1627 (Public Domain)

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Modification Monday: Cathedral Gloves

Knitted Bliss - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 11:00


Original Patterns: I-Cord Gloves and Cathedral Mittens Knitter Extraordinaire: clkerrigan (Ravelry ID) Mods: This knitter combined two different patterns for a completely innovative half-fingered glove set with great architectural details. Great details can be found on her project page, here. What Makes This Awesome: There are a lot of wonderful details to love about these

The post Modification Monday: Cathedral Gloves appeared first on %%www.knittedbliss.com%%.

Categories: Knitting Feeds


Looking For Group - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 05:00

The post 1273 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Random knit chat..

My Sister's Knitter - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 04:25
Hello there! Happy very late Sunday. Although considering that I had to miss last Sunday's post, I am sure you will forgive me. :) I was feeling quite guilty about missing the post but I was having some computer issues and it couldn't be helped. While I don't have any... Andi
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Nothing Else

Aikido Blogs - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 02:02
Nothing Else

Focus on your breath
And nothing else
See where it leads to
For me, it leads to pain
But, beyond
Beyond I see
I see something else

Categories: Aikido


First Comics News - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 21:38

A name that means many things to many people. Adventurer. Hero. Rogue.
Nemesis. Friend.
But even a man who is a legend in his own time started somewhere and the beginning of that legend is now available as a top quality audiobook produced by Radio Archives-YOUNG DILLON IN THE HALLS OF SHAMBALLAH.
Even Dillon was young once. YOUNG DILLON IN THE HALLS OF SHAMBALLAH back the curtain on the past of a modern-day hero. Many are the tales that have been told about Dillon, but none are stranger than the whispers of his having been raised in the mythical and eternal city of Shamballah and his training by those deadliest of adepts in the martial arts, the Warmasters of Liguria.
Now, at last, the true story behind those legends can be told. This is a story of a Dillon and the events and people who would forge him into the man we know.
This is a story of a Dillon in the days before his feet were set on the path that would lead him to the wildest adventures of them all. And it is itself an incredible adventure in its own right.
This is the story of Young Dillon in the Halls of Shamballah. And, once you’ve heard it, you and Dillon will never be the same.
A Youngpulp! digest novel from Pro Se Productions and Pulpwork Press, now an audiobook performed by Calvin Worthen, YOUNG DILLON IN THE HALLS OF SHAMBALLAH is available at https://www.amazon.com/Young-Dillon-Halls-Shamballah/dp/B07NX26CPS/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= and also available via iTunes.
This thrilling young readers adventure is also available in print and digital formats via Amazon.
For more information on and great products from Radio Archives, go to www.radioarchives.com.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Mapping With New Computer

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 19:26
So my new Surface Pro allows me to draw on the computer, which saves incredible amounts of time... and allows me to quickly create solid-looking maps. These move away from my Dyson-inspired style a little bit and towards a simpler, cleaner style. Here are a few variations of the map I created for the entry to the massive dungeon complex that I will be using for play testing... I am partial to the final one (black with grid) myself, but I'm interested to hear what others think. It's no great shakes to publish several of these. And yes, I know these are missing doors, stairs, and other elements... these are incomplete at the moment.

FYI, this is the upper tier of the dungeons beneath a fallen temple to Yahalla that has gone through several owners over many centuries. Most recently, this area was the home to a spider cult that left behind a lot of spiders, and a few undead. It's a level 1 area, and will be where my solo character starts his forays.

The Sacking of S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks & The Military Campaign Beyond It!

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 19:01
"A genius mad man with access with the technology of the stars. The keys & gates have been broken  all of time & space is open to his madness. Can our heroes stop the horrors  before he moves on to other worlds to pillage & plunder?! " I've been running around like a mad man but let's get back right now to Saint Stephen of The Rock & S3  Expedition to the Barrier Peaks By Gary Gygax. Let's Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


First Comics News - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 15:38

(W) John Ward (A) Giles Crawford
in the spirit of Astroboy, Gigantor and Giant Robo comes retro 1960’s manga action for the new age! Kip Fenwick is a secret operative fighting against a nefarious organization bent on world domination. When Kip’s essence is transferred into the body of a giant robot, it’s a now up to Ultrabot Go Go Go! to take on the fantastic enemies of the world in the most action-packed one-shot you’ve ever read!
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99


(W) Fred Perry (A) Fred Perry
Gina’s last escape route from the Omniverse is cut off by another interdimensional super-scientist who is ALSO trying to make his way back home! Unfortunately for Gina, her rival has brought his entire arsenal of super robots along for the journey, and when Gina deploys a hasty Bluetooth hack, she accidentally activates a suppressed urge to “destroy all humans”!
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99


(W) Bradley Golden (A) Andrey Lunatik, Mickey Clausen
In a small town near Miami, Florida, Thomas Wright, the local ice cream man serves up sweet, delicious new ice cream flavors he makes himself….from the flesh of his murder victims! Timmy LaLa Ice Cream delivers the taste of terror with some ice-SCREAM treats!
Prepare to face terror like never before, as you vie to survive the vicious struggle…for one of these awesome variant covers.
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $9.99


(W) David Furr (A) Shannon Smith, Donald Hash
Smith If he’s to save his partner from a sadistic killer, Detective Roger Crayton must decide if he can trust the mysterious Ned Hollister and his seemingly insane claims of the supernatural. ‘Dead Ends’ comes to its heart-pounding conclusion in this fifth and final chapter!
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99


(W) John Ward (A) Giles Crawford
Jim is cornered as he tries to break Booker out of jail. Luckily, old friends come to their rescue and give them a fighting chance against the mob and a host of corrupt cops.
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99


(W) Bill Williams (A) Matthew Weldon
When Versema chases a bunch of tomb raiders to a sunken city, she is confronted by a dimension-hopping woman with murder on her mind. Meet Rosevera. She wants Versema dead. The question is, why?
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99


(W) Arthur Bellfield (A) Flavio B. Silva
The thrilling conclusion from Arthur Bellfield, writer of War’s Chosen (OGN) (Arcana Comics) and God Cell: Gate of the Gods (Advent Comics)! In this last episode of “Secrets & Lies”, we learn the true origin of the man known as America One! Plus, the secrets of the Children of the Cowl are finally revealed!
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99


(W) Brian Shearer (A/CA) Brian Shearer
William and Ella are reunited and learn the name of their new, mysterious guide. Meanwhile, Magnus and Elias are forced to seek help in their rescue mission as night falls.
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

The Other Side of the Frontier

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 15:30

Much has been made of the themes of colonialism in D&D--perhaps too much, not because they aren't there, but because there are a lot of ways to play D&D, and "taming the frontier" doesn't seem to be the most common approach these days. In any case, it seems to me that it would be easy to reverse the roles and have the PCs and their cultures fighting colonization (or the remnants of colonization) rather than colonizing.

We can image the ur-humanoid species (be they orcs or trolls or something else), arriving at a new world and working to suppress its technology and abducting natives for experimentation like the greph in Vance's The Dragon Masters. The humanoid invaders might be technological or employ magic, but either way their "science" would be origin of many of the monsters of latter times.

The invaders have a weakness (or perhaps several, but one big one): they are from a world with a less bright sun, so they're nocturnal and prefer underground bases. Perhaps due to the magic possessed by the natives, or perhaps due to fractionalization among the invaders, the shock-and-awe conquest becoms a protracted slog that wears down both sides. The invaders borrow in and hunker down, and maybe in some places the original inhabitants think they have been wholly defeated.

The natives, of course, have paid a price as well, being reduced in number by weird weapons and alien diseases. Their civilization has as has their population, leaving many areas as wilderness filled with ruins.

So then what happens is up to the PCs and people like them. Do they drive the former invaders from their world? Do they make alliances where they can? Is it just recovering the wealth and technology for their on benefit they are after or do they try to restore their cultures to their former greatness?

Art by William Stout

RICH REVIEWS: Manowar # 1

First Comics News - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 15:19

Title: Manowar # 1
Publisher: Lucky Comics
Story/Art/Letters: Jay Piscopo
Cover by: Jay Piscopo
Price $ 2.00 US
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Website: www.luckycomics.com
Comments: Here is the origin of Manowar. The first part of the story takes place in the time of ancient Atlantis. The old style art is gorgeously done. Manowar is illustrated as a hero created to protect. His poses are heroic. The robots he battles are menacing.
Manowar is one interesting character. He is unlike other super-heroes.
In 1940 he appears again and here he helps America in the War. Hitler has super android soldiers that he battles. This story is short and over too quickly yet what you do get is a thrilling adventure with beautifully done art to match the times.
Manowar is a super-hero for anyone who loves the old style ones. His white streak power we do not see used much yet when it is it is a stunning show of force.
Pick up this comic for a great hero in thrilling adventures.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

NEW Limited Edition Tarot Witch Oracle Deck!

First Comics News - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 15:14

Did you Miss the Kickstarter?!
In 2015 the Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose card deck for Playing & Divination was created.
This NEW deck of Oracle cards, can expand the original deck OR be used on their own!
18 cards that will help you find sure footing on the future’s path.

Why 18? The number 18 is associated with independence and a solid foundation-
two things that will encourage an exciting and secure possible future.
All the cards are Unique and are the bewitching artwork of Jim Balent from his 18 years of creating Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose (another 18!).

The deck will include a full color Guide to interpret the cards and two ways to use them.

You may also ADD ON (At a special Add on Price of $8- reg $10) the 6 card Affirmation deck, featuring the art of Holly G!.

6 wallet sized cards to carry with you. Each card is of an entity that will encourage you those times you need a moment of inspiration.

The deck is intended for a Mature audience.

Order your Deck Now

Cards aren’t edited on our website

ADD ON the Affirmation Deck for Only $8! (reg $10)

Add on the Affirmation Deck for $8

While Supplies Last. Only our Kickstarter Backers will get all the Stretch Goal Perks with their decks.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs


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