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DShomshak last won the day on January 26

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About DShomshak

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  1. I've started reading Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire and it's... eh. Worldbuilding and magic seem intriguing and original, but characterization seems tepid and the dialogue and prose seem off in a way I can't put my finger on. It's also clear that as the first volume in a trilogy of fat books, the plot is going to take its own sweet time to develop. So I ask those who've read it already: Did the plot turn out to be worth the page count? (Not asking for spoilers! ) Do the characters develop in interesting ways? How would you rate the dialogue? Given that r
  2. Debates aren't about policy. There isn't enough time. They are about assessing the mind and character of the candidates: How they behave, how they express themselves, what matters to them. Sure, Trump is going to bluster, boast, insult and lie. But if he keeps getting muted because he can't resist trying to talk over Biden, while Biden presumably is better at following the rules and taking his turn, well, that says something. Nothing we didn't already know, but it might be emotionally persuasive for the few people who haven't made up their minds: Biden can control himself, Trump can't.
  3. Getting away from the daily outrages (but relevant to understanding them), I'll recommend the PBS series "Hacking Your Mind," about how we make decisions, how we are manipulated, and how we can resist manipulation. One of the stranger (and more depressing) bits of research reported on: Humans are apparently the only animals to wired for superstition. The experiments involve opening a box to get a treat. The experimenter does various irrelevant things before flipping open the box, such as wiggling a handle that isn't connected to anything. Dogs, chimpanzees, and other animals ignore
  4. Ten minutes into the debate, my brother said in disgust, "This is a farce." 45 minutes in, I decided there was no point in continuing to watch the farce, because it was truly not funny. What burns me most is that to his loyal base, Trump's bullying, blustering, talking over Biden and Wallace probably looked "STRONG!" I am sure that right-wing media are gloating that Trump ate Biden's lunch, and Wallace's too. I don't think there's any point in watching the remaining two debates unless the moderator is given a mute button to use on interruptions. Dean Shomsha
  5. As mentioned, Trumps debts may be more "interesting" than his tax shenanigans. (Though those are apparently push-the-envelope even for the tx dodges of the super-rich. Claiming property taxes on a private residence as a business expense?) The analyst from the "Trump Inc." podcast noted that those personal debts might give foreign actors some pretty powerful leverage on Trump if he can't shell out the money on time. The scenario I imagine is a hostile government buys the dbts from the banks, then tells Trump, "Do this official act, and we will cancel the debt. Refuse us, and try to foreclose on
  6. Then you were wiser than I. I stuck with it for 5 seasons, until I realized I wanted the army of zombies to win. Disappointed to hear from others that they didn't. I could rant at greater length what was wrong with Game of Thrones, and why I lasted that long. I'll just say... A gilded turn is still a turd. Dean Shomshak
  7. Yes. I may have mentioned that I'm poor. In my most "lucrative" years of freelance game writing, though, I paid more than $750 on the pittance I received from White Wolf and Hero Games. Self-employment tax is kind of a bitch. Dean Shomshak
  8. I can't even begin to nominate a best episode, there were so many points of excellence. B5 had its grand story arcs, but also strong stand-alone eps. (Or they seemed to stand alone, until you later saw how they fit into a larger chain of events.) Screen-filling space battles, but also concentrated stories of just a few characters interacting, such as the aforementioned "Comes the Inquisitor." One of the few aspects I found misconceived was showrunner J. Michael Straczinski's repeated attempts to include Orations. Most of them had me rolling my eyes. Perhaps that is a defect of mode
  9. For future reference, IIRC there's a "Creepy Pix" thread in the Non-Gaming Discussion" forum. You can also develop your imagination by keeping an eye out for vivid images, whether in movies and TV, books, or other art media. I've gotten a fair bit of weirdness from Surrealist painters such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Rene Magritte. And of course DeviantArt.com is a treasury of eye candy. At least make mental notes of the images that resonate with you, as inspiration for the images you describe to your players. If you feel it, they'll feel it. Dean Shomshak
  10. Incidentally, I referenced Starget: SG-1 in the introduction I wrote for the Mage: the Awakening supplement, Secrets of the Ruined Temple. Mage: the Awakening had Atlantis in its mythology, and Secrets was about building adventures around ancient ruins, secrets of the magical past, and stuff like that. "Stargate and its TV offspring Stargate: SG-1I are nominally science fiction, but nonestly, the "technology" of the Ancients is carved from rock and engraved with mysterious symbols. Stir in false gods with more "magic" items, weird creatures with unearthly powers, lost races and anc
  11. I don't remember the series well enough to nominate a best episode, but I know I liked quite a lot of it. IIRC, "The Warrior" was the ep in which SG-1 encounters a group of rebel jaffa that's operating like a suicidal death cult. It turns out that the leader is Not What He Seems. A good reminder about the dangers of charismatic bad leaders and getting hypnotized by struggles against evil. Also the excellent bit of badassery, when the team introduces the jaffa to aatomatic rifles with specialized ammunition, by contrasting them with a blasty-staff: More or less, "This is
  12. If anyone's interested, Scientific American has published articles on carbon removal techniques, theough the month and year numbers aren't in my sieve-like memory. You can probably search their web site. IIRC, no single method of carbon removal and sequestration can possibly be scaled up to do the job at a necessary speed and reasonable cost. (The more people are willing to spend, the faster it goes, of course, but even given the substantial uncertainties of such estimates there are points at which even the greatest optimist must say, "No, we just can't do that.") Ergo, we must use
  13. Getting away from daily events for a moment, Freakonomics Radio looks at America's political parties as a duopoly or rival businesses, like Coke and Pepsi or Schick and Gillette. Though I would still argue there are deep and meaningful differences between the parties and what they are trying to achieve beyond their self-perpetuation as fundraising machines. September 2, 2020 America's Hidden Duopoly (Ep. 356 Rebroadcast) We all know our political system is "broken" — but what if that's not true? Some say the Republicans and Democrats constitute a wildly successful industry that has
  14. As for simulating radically different power levels, one of my friends worked out a "scaling" system for Hero. (I think he adapted an idea from DC HEROES, but I've never seen that game.) Characters of the same scale interact with each other as per standard Herp System, but when characters of different scales interact you multiply or divide results based on the scale difference. So Chrysaor, scion of the Greek Gods, has a listed STR of 30 -- but he's Scale 4, one of Earth's mightiest heroes. If he punches another Scale 4 character, he does only 6d6. But with regard to a Scale 2 character, he's e
  15. Getting back to Quantum... I very much enjoyed the article and squirreled away the idea of Quantum Levels to use later. And did: Devil's Advocates member Shadowfire, in Creatures of the Night: Horror Enemies, has quantum levels set by how many black lotus addicts he can gather near himself. Design goal being that sometimes you have to attack this mob of helpless but controlled people before you can defeat him. I used the idea again in my new campaign for a villain called Apostle. He's a mentalist who can brainwash people by placing mind control widgets on the back of th
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