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DShomshak last won the day on February 12

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  1. My grasp of pop music is weak, but weren't Toto and Kansas completely different bands? Dean Shomshak
  2. Nope! Everything I wrote about the Kings of Edom, their minions, and the Qliphoth was meant as a starting point, not the last word. What follows is advice on developing the Kings of Edom in your own campaign, not dictates on What You Must Do. One thing that I think doesn't get emphasized enough is that one of the defining aspects of the Kings is that they defy definition. Are they powerful qliphothic entities? Some of them, maybe, kinda. The category "qliphoth" does not encompass them. Even the category "supernatural" does not encompass them, except in the broad sense that they fall outside the boundaries of the conventionally natural. If you make the Kings an important part of your campaign, try to break players' expectations. If they think Edomites appear only as Black Magic Horrors, have some monsters released by an accident at a particle accelerator, by freaky math, or by investigation of supposed "junk" DNA in the human genome. (See Doktor Pandemonium in DEMON: Seervants of Darkness for an example.) Tidy categories make things seem more under control, and therefore less scary. Since there are no definite limits to the Kings, there are no definite limits to where they can act or what they can threaten. If the GM decides a particular King can extend its influence into a Brialic dimension, then it can. You just have to work out the effects of an incomprehensible force of madness disrupting a fundamental concept of reality. (And then, what PCs can do about it.) All this goes for the ancient enemies of the Kings, too. They can range from conceptual entities from the Upper Planes, to powerful alien civilizations, and even -- like the Harab Serapel -- qliphothic entities nearly as fearsome as the Kings themselves. But I do agree with LL about "crisis creep." This also brings up a key aspect of horror: Making the threat bigger doesn't necessarily make it more horrific. Horrors can be intimate as well as cosmic. For instance, one of the most effective scenarios I ran that involved the Kings centered on a horror writer who didn't realize that his weird and nightmarish images came from seeing a manifestation of Vulshoth when he was young. (Event in another adventure, in another campaign.) The connection strengthened until his dreams began materializing and committing grisly murders at locations that would eventually create a Gate to let greater entities into the world. The PCs traced the murders to him and his dreams. They faced the problem of breaking the connection. Then one of the PCs failed a control roll and the writer became a living Gate, spilling horrors into the world constantly. The PCs were left with no choice but to kill him. The situation had escalated beyond their power to stop it any other way. And that need to kill an innocent man messed them up. That was the horror, greater than any monster. Dean Shomshak
  3. Last weekend, I almost ran the adventure that would introduce Balthazar Blackheart and Princess Shadira, showing the other PCs that the Magical Moon Kingdom might be real. As I have mentioned, my Champions campaign has become a fill-in when neither of our group's two D&D campaigns is possible. Two players had to cancel, so I was up. Except my mother went into hospice care, and on Saturday morning she wasn't at her best. She told me -- yelled at me, in fact -- to go visit my friends anyway, demanding that I take a day and a half off for myself. So I boarded the bus for the long trip to Seattle. Of course once I reached the house of our host, I called home to check in and pass along my friend's phone number to my sister. Good thing, too. An hour later, my sister called to say our mother was doing worse but was still refusing oxygen, what should she do? I reminded her that she could call our hospice care provider any time, and they would instruct. The weekend shift sister hadn't been present for any of the hospice briefings, and I now realize we hadn't told her enough. Just as the last player arrived, though, the fourth member of our group had his own medical crisis, which I will not explain, and had to leave for urgent care. Game off. At which point I decided I might as well go home. I called home to tell my sister and found our mother was even worse. I begged a ride from my friends and got it. And a good thing too, because by the time I got home my mother was gasping for breath, disoriented, and utterly miserable. She HATES the supplemental oxygen cannula. Fortunately, I remembered the O2 concentrator also came with a mask. We dug it out and fitted it to my mother, and got her more comfortable and her blood oxygen rising. So, no introduction to the Magical Moon Realm yet. OTOH I suspect my mother would not have died in misery that night if I hadn't come home. It's a good trade. The saga of Princess Moonray and the Magical Moon Kingdom will have to go on hold indefinitely. In my mother's current condition, it takes two people to take care of her, even if it's just to reposition her when she gets uncomfortable. My gaming weekends are off until circumstances change. And they are only likely to change one way. I am not a theist in any way, but my mother is. For her sake, I borrow the language: "Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace." Until then, I will do whatever I can to keep her alive and in comfort. Gaming can wait. Dean Shomshak
  4. Society-requires-a-hierarchy seeming especially plausible and attractive when you're at the top of the hierarchy. (I know, obvious and trite, merely added for the sake of completeness.) Dean Shomshak
  5. A leader article in the latest Economist said much the same thing. Apparently many of America's billionaires have started kissing up to Trump, and those who criticized him have gone silent. Perhaps they think they can get more tax cuts from him and the Pubs in a second term; perhaps they merely seek to avert his vengeance against those who did not support him. The Economist argues it's a bad choice either way. His announced policies would be economically disastrous. Cronyism, vindictiveness, and general chaos are bad, too. Mere commonsensical self-interest says America's tycoons should be working to keep him out of the White House. Unfortunately for this rational argument, billionaires are not always rational. Quite a few of them hold Evangelical social views, or other views on the further fringe of conservatism, and they might imagine the economic damage is worth it to deal with The Gay, crush the unions, protect the fossil fuel industry, or own the libs. Cronyism is also the most profitable of all economic systems if you can be one of the cronies... and stay one. I mean, look at Russia's oligarchs, they've found Putin's rule flipping *wonderful.* (Just stay away from high windows.) Dean Shomshak
  6. Primordial black holes as dark matter? Astrophysicists apply some math to the speculation. Scientists may have found an answer to the mystery of dark matter. It involves an unexpected byproduct (msn.com) Still speculation, but the scientists involved point out that, first, black holes of various sorts are already proven to exist; and second, that that the low-mass black holes they predict should have detectable effects beyond their collective gravity, using telescopes and gravity wave detectors people are building anyway. Dean Shomshak
  7. As this relates to a RL political campaign on which people have extremely strong feelings, it's probably best to leave this alone. Dean Shomshak
  8. Let's see if this works. The caption on DeviantArt is, "Biblically Accurate Angel Food Cake." Dean Shomshak
  9. How about another Mongol proverb? "The water carrier drinks no slime." (One of the players in my Planetary Romance campaign created a character with a Mongol background. As part of the background, he included a collection of excellent Mongol proverbs. I still have the collection.) Dean Shomshak
  10. Actually, I would have no problem with Ms. Alito responding to rainbow Pride flags with a Sacred Heart flag expressing her Roman Catholic convictions. Free speech is free speech. And it would be just as wrong for any LGBTQ+ zealots to tear down her Sacred Heart flag as it is for far-right zealots to tear down Pride flags (as they sometimes do). Dean Shomshak
  11. I cannot speak from personal experience, but a friend who's worked for decades as a hospital pharmacist has often fumed about managers who seem to believe there's no difference between running a hospital and running an automobile factory or any other business. As my friend puts it: If your just-in-time delivery scheme to keep inventory costs low fails at an auto plant, production is held up a day and some money is lost. If a hospital's just-in-time delivery fails for medicines or other critical supplies, people die. Humans are so pesky that way, refusing to get sick or wounded in predictable numbers, in standardized ways. Dean Shomshak
  12. Appearing in my front-page "news"feed, a collection of AI-generated caricatures of Americans, state by state. Most of us are, of course, fat. (Rhode Island actually comes off pretty well. So do the Dakotas; which are just landscapes/skyscapes with a tiny person in the distance.) I Asked AI What Europeans Think Americans From Every Single State Look Like, And The Results Are Just Plain Mean (msn.com) Dean Shomshak
  13. A clever political operative might find a way to exploit this. Manufacture provocations that keep Trump lashing out in so many directions that he swamps his own message. (Possibly the Lincoln Project was trying something like this.) Except an episode of This American Life I listened to a few days ago suggests that a lot of Trump's base doesn't pay much attention to his threats of retribution against his ever-expanding list of enemies. It makes the hard-core MAGA cadre cheer, but he holds a different appeal for many others. First, they genuinely believe he's persecuted by Biden and the Deep State. But they don't want to see, say, Bill Barr in the dock for deriding Trump's claims of election fraud. The Trumpists interviewed talk about getting back to normal, being able to afford a house or to fill up their truck's gas tank. At least in this program, they don't seem to get that Trump is all chaos and disruption, that what policies he enunciates won't supply the normalcy they crave, and that presidents can't do the sort of economic changes they want. A president can't just order the oil companies to reduce the price of gasoline, or decree the construction of millions of low-cost homes. Though a king dould. I suspect many Americans do not understand the difference -- and if they did, would prefer the king. Freedom is having a good master. But I can only speculate here. Anyway, let me see if I can get a link for the episode. It's mostly about Trump's revednge mania, with interviews with some of the people high on his enemies list, and what they're doing to prepare for a Trump second term. EDIT: Oh, that was easy. Note that this includes unbleeped profanity. Right at the top there's a link to a bleeped version, if you'd prefer that. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/833/come-retribution Dean Shomshak
  14. I'm not a country music fan, but every time I hear Dolly Parton, or hear about her, she's doing or saying something so darn nice that I wish I was more like her. Apart from her being one of the major talents of her field. I somehow missed whatever this is about, but if anyone in MAGA-world is taking offense at some kindly thing Dolly Parton said or did, I am sure they only make themselves look like ulcerous vermin to everyone else. Just contemptible. And you know what? I don't want to know the context. Life's too short to waste it on this tripe. Dean Shomshak
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