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DShomshak last won the day on July 23

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  1. For further inspiration, I suggest Astro City #17 (January 2015), in which Kurt Busiek presented an entire cosmology of layered microverses -- the Molecuworlds, Subatomica, the Quarklands, the Unterverse below them all, and others unnamed -- in only 24 pages. Plus another dimension, the Non. All in a cracking good story, too. The man's a flaming genius. Dean Shomshak
  2. Interesting choice, and I'm glad to learn that somebody used the character origin hooks I sprinkled about! If anyone wants to develop the Seven Planetary Demons further, remember that it's a basic law of occultism that any groups of the same number can be correlated. Therefore, the Seven Planetary Demons can surely be associated with the Seven Deadly Sins. That I have never seen such a correlated list is probably a failure of my research, or else my memory. Feel free to work out your own list. It's not as if anyone can prove you're wrong. 😉 Dean Shomshak
  3. A 4th ed. version of Aratron, the Demon of Saturn, appears on p. 94 of Creatures of the Night: Horror Enemies. That version is 335 points, at a time when PCs supposedly began at 250; but the standard for supervillains was already well beyond that. Since each edition brought further point inflation, a 6th ed Aratron should probably be about 600 points for "an intermediate power demon lord who might be summoned as a powerful wizard's enforcer." This would still be well below the 950-point Greater Demon in the 5th ed HERO System Bestiary, and far below the Demon Princes in that book, but I have a different design theory and esthetic in these matters. As a point of unmitigated pedantry, the grimoire that describes Aratron et al, the Arbatel of Magic, calls them Olympian Spirits rather than demons, and claims to be a work of White Magic. In making them demons, I was guided by three principles: Arthur Edward Waite's observation that the methods and goals of supposed White Magic and Black Magic grimoires tend to be identical; that I didn't want to try explaining Olympian Spirits or creating a Champions Universe role or explanation for them; and that I could do something cool with a set of Planetary Demons, such as creating Astralle. The Seven are, shall we say, a creative misinterpretation of the source material. Since writing Creatures of the Night, though, I've learned more about Hermetic magical theory. A separate class of planetary spirits would actually work quite well. Fitting them into the of the CU mightky, though. The best home for them, since Dante's Divine Comedy portrayed a Heaven mapped onto the planetary spheres of Ptolemaic astronomy. Dean Shomshak
  4. <Abashed> I'm sorry... ...And to be fair, considering some of the bizarre stuff I've seen on Antiques Roadshow your version of the Galileo Project is not entirely laughable. Probably cheaper, too. Dean Shomshak
  5. I saw what you did there. Because I read the actual article. Dean Shomshak
  6. I realize the legalities would be complicated; and I made the comparison to South Africa's "homelands" to make clear this wouldn't exactly parallel Native American reservations. The "Albistans" wouldn't exactly be territories like Puerto Rico or Guam, either. My paper today had an editorial by Leonard Pitts addressed to Democrats in general and Kirsten Sinema in particular, the gist of which is that the old Union is as dead as was once the Civil War started. Trying to restore it is a fool's hope. Just as Lincoln realized he couldn't restore the status quo ante, leading to the Emancipation Proclamation, Dems like Sinema must realize it's time to reinvent the United States again. I would be interested in finding out how many Republicans would willingly give up any Federal participation in order to gain nearly-unfettered local control. It's a fairly "out there" proposal, but I agreewith Pitts that there's no going back. Dean Shomshak
  7. To use sociologist Arlene Hochschild's title for her book about Tea Party/Trumpists, a large segment of White Americans fell like "Strangers in their Own Land." Deep cultural grievance against what they perceive as urban/coastal professional elites; zero belief that government, at any level, serves their practical interests so they vote based on cultural signaling; a complete and seamless alternate reality of interlocking delusions about minorities, welfar, how many people work for government, and many other matters. At this point, yeah, I think the best option is to try negotiating a peaceful divorce. My two proposals are: 1) Sell the cities to Canada. I'd be willing to accept colonial status for 50 years, while I and other former-Americans adjust to Canadian norms. Worth it for the health care and gun control, while Canada acquires most of the USA's economic activity. 2) Reservations for white people. Think South African-style "homelands." Whites only, however residents choose to define this; they can write their own laws and constitutions, but lose congressional representation and a vote in presidential elections, and cannot conduct any foreign policy or foreign trade. So, residents give up all political power but they can indulge their cultural obsessions to their hearts' content. Mandatory Christian observance? (What sect?) Go ahead. Stoning for homosexuality or abortion? Go ahead. History textbooks that are fantasy novels? Outlaw unions as 'Marxist' abominations? Go ahead. Just so long as people can leave. If Trump had won reelection, I'd be actively promoting Option 1 through letters to Congress. Since Biden won, I'd prefer Option 2. Dean Shomshak
  8. It's hyper-correct virtue signaling. Or else it's magical thinking, that social justice can be achieved simply by renaming things. Sorry, I don't think it's that easy. When I started reading the story, that this obscure-to-most-people NASA administrator was being challenged for, let's face it, being a man of his time, my sarcastic thought was, "Name it after Harriet Tubman or Martin Luther King, Jr. Because they're the only people it's still safe to name anything after." I wish I was more surprised when the article went on to say that, yes, Harriet Tubman was nominated as a replacement namesake. Anyway: The telescope is meant to succeed Hubble at the deepest of deep space astronomy. On that subject, the first name this interested layman thinks of after Edwin Hubble is Allan Sandage, who IIRC was imporytant in classifying galaxies. I know nothing of his politics or personal life. Unfortunately, naming the telescope after him would make it the ASST or SST, which both stand for other things already. Dean Shomshak
  9. Thank you: I saw Black Panther only once (though I liked it very much). I didn't trust my memory enough to use it as an example. Dean Shomshak
  10. Donald Trump tried to use the National Guard as his Praetorian Guard in suppressing protest and generally asserting imperial authority. Let us hope the Guard does not embrace this new role. While it might be amusing to see disgruntled Guard units pointing guns at Republican lawmakers while saying they will get paid, that would be very, very bad for the country as a whole. Dean Shomshak
  11. Another way the modern world has progressively eroded a classic trope: the Hidden Lands have a harder time staying hidden. Up through the 1960s, it was not too implausible there could be an uncharted island, a hidden valley in Tibet, or a lost city in the jungles of Africa. But as satellites with cameras proliferated, comic-book writers had to come up with reasons to keep them hidden, like the perpetual cloud cover over the Savage Land. Sorry, even that won't work anymore with cameras that use other frequencies to see through clouds. By now, the Hidden Land needs a holographic shield, or it's extradimensional, or whatever. I'm not even sure Atlantis et al. can stay hidden undersea, given US and Soviet/Russian programs to map the ocean floor in support of submarine warfare. My latest campaign's Hidden Land, the Hot Zone where the mad super-biologiest villain Helix conducts his most radical experiments, is a complex of kilometer-wide caves beneath an African shield volcano. The world now knows it exists, but not all of what Helix does there. My previous campaign had Manoa, the City of Gold and last outpost of Mu, hidden from aerial surveillance by its Chronal Barrier. But that situation was made to be unstable: the Chronal Barrier is a fraud, easily penetrated once people know it's there... only one of the frauds underlying Manoa. Dean Shomshak
  12. Well, the HERO books generally classify power sets into Attack, Defense, Movement, Information, and Miscellaneous. That's not a bad place to start for designing spell sets for spellcasters who, presumably, are meant to include PC adventurers. You can also consider the fundamental applications of magic in RL beliefs: * Luck and prosperity; * Healing and exorcism; * Curses (any magic to inflict harm on others); * Dominating the wills of others (could be considered a subclass of curses); * Divination and detection; * Transcendental experiences; * Commanding the powers of nature. For further explanation, see The Ultimate Mystic. Though not every style of magic includes all these functions. For instance, the Evil Eye (probably the most widespread RL magical belief) only does curses, while divinations\ systems of course only do divination. At the other extreme, European Grimoire Magic can summon a demon for nearly any purpose -- but it's limited by the need for long and complex rituals. So before you write spells, maybe work out what role you want magic to play in the setting, which in turn will influence the mechanisms of spellcasting and what characters can do. Dean Shomshak
  13. Since this is just for your own use, Steriaca, you could use Matachin (from Ultimate Supermage) as your sword guy instead of Red Rapier. At some point I hope to publish my 6e revision of him as part of my Sylvestri family expansion product, but doing your own rewrite shouldn't be too hard. I also offer Sun-Saber from Shared Origins: Sky-Q, if you want someone who's more Silver Age. Like archers, fencers seem to be a pretty well-used (or well-worn) concept. Dean Shomshak
  14. speaking of Australia, cockatoos in Sydney show disturbing intelligence. No doubt their growing facility with trash bins is merely practice for some new way to kill people. (It is, after all, Australia.) Oh Flock... Clever Cockatoos Are More Culturally ... - npr.org www.npr.org/2021/07/22/1019413219 Cockatoos in Sydney have become expert trash bin burglars. Scientists say birds in different neighborhoods have taught each other different techniques to open the bins, a sign of cultural... Dean Shomshak
  15. A teacher asks: <quote>"How could a teacher possibly discuss slavery, the Holocaust, or the mass shootings at the Walmart in El Paso or at the Sutherland Springs church in my district without giving deference to any one perspective?” she asked.</quote> Sounds easy to me: After describing the event in all its horror, conclude with, "The Republicans of the state legislature forbid me, by law, from saying that these actions were immoral." Which is absolutely factual, and thus cannot be accused of "giving deference to any one perspective." But I suspect that high schoolers, at least, will get the message. Especially if delivered with an eyeroll and an ostentatiously pious tone of voice. Dean Shomshak
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