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DShomshak

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DShomshak last won the day on June 16

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  1. Which, according to a biography my brother read in Rolling Stone. he does. Or at least that's what his father told him: That he is genetically superior to the people around him. Keep in mind, this is my recollection of what my brother said he read. So, not the most reliable source. Someone with better internet connection and time than I have could try to check this. Dean Shomshak
  2. IIRC, I read once that Imperial Japan amassed a gigantic arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, though it never used them. So one scenario might be: For some reason the Manhattan Project never happens, but the US still slowly closes in on Japan. The invasion of the min islands is about to begin. US generals and admirals know this is going to be a meatgrinder, but too much blood has been shed to accept anything but surrender. Faced with the choice between humiliating surrender, endless guerilla war and destroying the world, the high command decides to use their arsenal. The chemical weapons are locally destructive, but it's the plagues -- perhaps delivered by balloon bomb if nothing else is available -- that devastate the US and everyone else. Perhaps this gives Germany a chance to develop an atomic bomb before the plagues wreak their full damage;perhaps not. North America becomes Mad Max-style post holocaust chaos. Seven decades later, what's left of America is still fragmented. Germany and Japan have rebuilt quicker than most other people because of their ruthless internal discipline and industrial base. They play a Great Game using the Disunited States of America, claiming some as outright satrapies, allying with others, and setting their pawns against each other. The largest power on the continent is the New Confederate States of America -- an eager Nazi ally, as Germany heartily endorses the restored "oeculiar institution" of black slavery. Germany has even resumed the slave trade from its extensive African possessions. The Confederate gentry ape German manners, while the "white trash" are kept docile with the opiate of racial superiority. The West Coast is thoroughly under Japanese dominance. The chief interest is in resource extraction. They don't give a crap about American culture or religion, only obedience. If any Anglo attacks one of the colonial masters, retribution is harsh and indiscriminate. The desert and mountain West is no-man's-land in the Great Game, still in Mad Max chaos. Raiders erupt now and then to pillage settlements on the coast or plains, or attack the heavily armed convoys that must still pass through now and then. Mining campas, set up under German or Japanese auspices, are fortresses under siege. But the tribes and villages of the Drylands can always be set against each other with bribes of weapons because, well, desert people. I'm leaving out possible superbeing involvement since the original post didn't ask, though it's a natural supposition for a Champions thread. Dean Shomshak
  3. DShomshak

    Flags and emblems in science fiction

    Here are three emblems from the Alpha Centauri system in my Star Hero setting. Two of the three refer to Alpha Centauri being a trinary star system: A, a yellow star a bit brighter than the Sun; B, a cooler and dimmer yellow-orange dwarf; and C, or Proxima, a red dwarf star so faint and distant from the other two that it wouldn't be visible from any planets around the other two. Nevertheless, being trinary is part of the system's "brand," for lack of a better word. Hestia is the most populous world. Its emblem is actually that of the dominant society, which has a strong American influence. There are several other large cultures, though, and numerous small ones. Poseidon, the next planet out from Alpha Centauri A, is a waterworld, the result of it formind deficient in radioactives elements to maintain mantle heat. Nobody planned to settle it; colonization happened through a typo that nobody cared enough to correct. Blue for the world-ocean, the three stars for Alpha Centauri, and the trident for the planet's name. The Centauri Belt Alliance occupies an asteroid belt around B, where a planet was prevented from forming by tidal disruption from A. It's a no-frills design, black and white, with the initials CBA and little stars to represent the asteroids. These are rougher than the preceding. At the time I designed them I never got past scanning the pen-sketch originals. For this I just colored them in. And why circles instead of rectangular flags? They're based on NASA mission patches: the ones I remember were circular. My assumption is that these mission patches were more influential in early space colonization than the classic flag. After all, no air in space to set a flag fluttering and looking flaggy. So even when planets were settled, the official form of the government emblem often remained the circular patch. HESTIA.BMP POSEIDON.BMP CBA.BMP Dean Shomshak
  4. DShomshak

    A Human Firewing

    Indeed. All one can confidently say is that the Rathuliorns will have strong feelings about this. It is, after all, a matter of their religion in a society that does not seem very supportive of merely casual faith. And given Malvan ultra-science, even a small number of Malvans having strong feelings about you can make your life, um, interesting. I wouldn't expect all Rathuliorns to feel the same way, either. Some might hate the new super in the belief she somehow "stole" divine power meant for Malvans alone. Others might want to revere her as a priestess, or even a prophet. Some members might even want to kidnap humans and throw them into the Furnace to see if this happens again. How far you go with this doctrinal infighting depends on how important you want this as a subplot for your campaign. If you want to make this important enough to develop Rathuliorn further, an easy way is to model it on Zoroastrian/Mazdean religion. Read the Wikipedia article, change some names and otherwise file off the serial numbers, and your players will probably never know the difference. (Or don't file off the serial numbers, go von Daniken, and say that ancient Persian fire worship is the result of Malvan influence. Hm, what was a Malvan doing on Earth thousands of years ago?) As a start, Zoroastrian doctrine details at least five kinds of fire: In addition to ordinary fire there are the ritual fire of the temple, the inner fire of people andanimals, the fire of lightning, and the divine fire that burns in the presence of the supreme god, Ahura Mazda. The next six most important divine beings are the Amesha Spentas (I am horribly simplifying all this): Vohu Manah ("Good Spirit"), who instils the presence of God in the righteous and conveys them to Paradise after death; Asha ("Right"), spirit of fire and guarantor of cosmic and moral order; Kshathra ("Power"), spirit of war and metals who protects the righteous; Spenta Armati, patroness of the Earth; Haurvetate, spirit of water, prosperity and healing; and Ameretat, spirit of plants ande immortality. Possible inspiration for other power-sets the Furnacew might grant? Dean Shomshak
  5. Possibly of interest to the people discussing tax policy: The cover story for the August 11, 2018 issue of The Economist is on this very topic. I haven't had time yet to read the article, but the subheader for the lead article goes, "Countries must overhaul their tax systems to make them fit for the 21st century." Dean Shomshak
  6. DShomshak

    Flags and emblems in science fiction

    Here's the emblem I designed for the world of Scheat, as part of some Traveller background I never had a chance to use. "Scheat" is an old name for Beta Pegasi, the star it orbits. Beta Pegasi is a red giant; Scheat is therefore a very young world, made habitable through terraforming. (And with an expiration date, because Beta Pegasi will eventually go supernova. If isn't destroyed first by one of the spare protoplanets that are still careening through the system. But it had a good location otherwise.) The prancing pegasus is of course for the star's location as seen from Earth, the red sunburst-section is for the star itself, and the orange upper part is for the planetary sky. That Scheat would have an orange sky is a wild-ass guess on my part. Beta Peg radiates most of its visible light in the red-to-yellow part of the spectrum, with almost no blue. Scheat also has a dense atmosphere that scatters light more than Earth's atmosphere does. (And the planet has no true night, just a long perpetual sunset as sunlight bends around the planet.) It's atmosphere is also higher in CO2 than Earth's, and that might change the sky's color. (See Peter Ward's book, Under a Green Sky.) That might result in a sort of muddy brown on Scheat. But I don't know, and an orange sky looks better. Dean Shomshak SCHEAT_C.BMP
  7. DShomshak

    In other news...

    Yes, I heard a story about this on public radio the other week, though I forget whether it was on All Things Considered or Marketplace. Insert standard comment about some people apparently having too much money, that they can spend it on such things. Dean Shomshak
  8. DShomshak

    Flags and emblems in science fiction

    And here's the logo for Barnardia, an industrial colony at a jovian world orbiting Barnard's Star. Barnardia does hypernuclear engineering: Most of the colony consists of monstro-gigantic particle accelerators to produce antimatter, strange matter, monopoles, and the like. The logo is an extremely stylized syncrotorn surrounding a red dwarf star. BAR_CLR.BMP Dean Shomshak
  9. DShomshak

    Flags and emblems in science fiction

    I won't be able to watch the videos until a few days from now, but I designed a few flags and logos for societies in my Star Hero setting and some friends' Traveller setting. The best, I think, was for a Traveller adventure I ran. The setting was a lost colony -- lost because for 200 years people thought plague had destroyed it. The "flag" was actually the logo for the genetic research company that set up the colony, Joralemon Biome. It was a big space station in an asteroid belt orbiting a red giant star, so the logo incorporated those elements: a sunburst in red, orange and yellow, the letters J and B, and a double helix. I thought it turned out so well that I used it for the cover design of an imaginary supplement of the adventure. Let's see if I can get it to post, and you tell me if you'd pick it off the shelf for a second look if you saw it in a gaming store: J_COVER.BMP
  10. DShomshak

    More space news!

    The August, 2018 issue of Scientific American has an article on, "Is Dark Matter Real?" The authors point out various flaws in the theory -- notably including the failure to otherwise detect any of the hypothesized particles it's made of, which the LHC should now be producing if the theories that predict them were correct. The authors prefer Modified Gravity theories. They admit these theories also have problems, and some have been killed by the recent dual observation of colliding neutron stars, but they suggest that the failures of Dark Matter theory should set astrophysicists looking harder for alternatives. (including one really wild alternative in which the phenomena ascribed to the gravity of dark matter might not be due to gravity at all.) ADDENDUM: I forgot the most important part! The three theories -- particle dark matter, modified gravity and superfluid dark matter -- make different predictions for low surface brightness galaxies and the very early universe. Upcoming telescopes such as the James Webb and Large Synoptic Survey Telescope should be able to make observations that confirm or deny. (Or, perhaps, upend everyone's theories and send theorists back to square one.) Dean Shomshak
  11. Incidentally, the July 14, 2018 issue of the Economist has a good article on the built-in bias Republicans enjoy in American elections. This isn't just superior gerrymandering -- a lot of it goes back to elements of the Constitution designed to privilege rural regions over cities. (The clause about slaves being treated as 3/5 of a person for census purposes even makes an appearance.) The rural bias didn't matter as long as the two parties had both urban and rural constituencies. But now all the cultural, political and economic polarities have aligned, turning Democrats into the Big City Party and Republicans into the Smaller Community Party. By the Economist's electoral models, Democrats need to beat Republicans by at least 7% in popular votes even to break even in electoral votes. The July 21, 2018 issue also has a nice editorial (in the "Lexington" column) on how Republicans seem to have come to accept their place as "minority majority" party and "white ethnic" party. Forget about those exhortations of yore (like, 2012) that the GOP must broaden its base to survive. With enough gerrymandering and a fervent enough base, they can keep power... for now. Of course, the longer and more squalidly they keep trying to implement de facto apartheid, the more destructive the eventual crash becomes. South Africa was very lucky in having a Nelson Mandela. No one should count on such luck. Dean Shomshak
  12. An appearance of helping Democrats serves Putin's ends: If the Dems take the House (as the Economist's model says is 70% likely), Republicans can say they were robbed and get even crazier and angrier. If Republicans keep the house, they now have more ammunition for attacking Democrats as enemies of America -- look who's trying to help them! The same is true, in reverse, if Russia lets itself be seen apparently trying to help Republicans. Whoever wins, partisans get angrier and legitimacy is damaged. So Putin wins either way. I expect meddling that seems intended to help both sides. Dean Shomshak
  13. Except in this case, perhaps it should be interpreted as "See no facts, hear no facts, speak no facts." Trump certainly speaks plenty of evil. Dean Shomshak
  14. DShomshak

    More space news!

    It... it speaks to me. Ia Tsathoggua! I hear and obey! Dean Shomshak
  15. The cartoon in the July 14, 2018 issue of the Economist certainly called it. As the National Public Radio reporter who covered the Helsinki press conference put it, Trump constantly presents himself as this big tough alpha male, but there was only one alpha male on stage in Helsinki, and it wasn't Donald Trump. I'd put it a little more crudely: Any country's leader watching that press conference could only conclude that he'd do better to make a deal with Putin, because Trump is Putin's bitch. Dunno whether it's because Putin has some incredible kompomat or other leverage on Trump as Nancy Pelosi suggests, or if Trump's obsession with strength and power impels him to fawn on men who really have the power and dominance he craves and merely pretends to possess. The reporter also commented upon Trump's extraordinary babbling digression about Hillary Clinton and her emails. 18 months in office, Trump is still trying to tear her down as if there was doubt he really won the election. Reminds me of a child caught misbehaving, desperately trying to deflect the grown-up's attention onto something, anything, else. All in all, a bizarre and appalling performance. Dean Shomshak
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