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Everything posted by DShomshak

  1. Mythic Monster/Guardian: Osorkon The android Osorkon demands that the characters prostrate themselves in worship and pledge their fealty to him, or he will kill them. If they obey, he will try to kill them anyway, while he can get in a free shot or two. His android body is superhumanly strong and extremely resistant to damage (at least compared to whatever weapons the PCs managed to get through the tech-destroying traps in the tomb or pick up along the way, such as the swords and nets from the Binding of Apep). His crown can fire laser beams, because why not. He also ha
  2. 5th Location: The True Tomb The 12th door opens on a gigantic chamber, at least 100 meters wide and high. There's air and gravity. A wide section of the metal floor slowly irises open. Up rises a hugwe bird made of flame, on a platform that turns so the bird faces the door. The holographic flames fade to reveal a gilded star-yacht. Beneath the nose of the star-yacht stands a middle-aged Black woman in a lab coat. The woman nods politely and says, "Welcome. I am the simulation of Dr. Julia Mbenge, chief science advisor to His Majesty Osorkon II, and architect of this tom
  3. 4th Location: Hall of the Negative Confession If the explorers figured out how to link someone's mind to a ba-bird in the 10th cave and used it to obtain transport through the Sea of Nun, they've reached the entrance to the 11th cave: the Hall of the Negative Confession. This long gallery has air and gravity. After the initial 3-meter vestibule, the floor is tiled in alternating, 2-meter bands of black and white tile -- 42 in all. The walls and ceiling of each section hold a dozen muzzles of plasma guns. An inscription on the floor before the first band warns that the confessor may
  4. So what other of the Twelve Caves should be described? The holographic paradise (with traps) of the Field of Reeds? The dark House of Seker (with traps)? The cave of the Binding of Apep? Pfft. Take it as read, they all have various traps and challenges. Let's just skip to the end, or ends. So the intrepid tomb-looters have fought their way passed the robot guardians and survived all the traps. Everything from the classic spiked pit trap (with artificial gravity to pull victims down... or up... or sideways) to curtains of taut monofilament that can slice through armor, o
  5. Possibly of interest. Center-right columnist David Brooks concludes that the American war of ideas over the role of government is over, and liberal Democrats have won. He cites polling statistics to prove it. Opinion | How Democrats Won the War of Ideas - The New York Times www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/opinion/democrats... The era of big government is here. By David Brooks Opinion Columnist Over the last 100 years, Americans have engaged in a long debate about the role of markets and the welfare state. Republicans ...
  6. They could have cited "spectral evidence," a la the old with trials. Have any children dreamed about the laptop and emails? Do epileptics have seizures when the topic is raised? Given Trump's fondness for claiming "Witch Hunt" every time someone exposes evidence of his wrongdoing, it is worth noting that anonymous accusers and witnesses were a mainstay of the actual witch hunts. Also paid witnesses, testimony from convicted perjurers and other criminals, and similar abuses that were not allowed in conventional criminal trials of the time. Dean Shomshak
  7. Since Death Tribble posted "Waterworld" on Sunday, I'll assume the "weekends off" rule is void. Good thing, because there's no way I finish this tonight and Monday. Anyway: The "Twelve Caves of Duat" plan means there's no pure exploration in this dungeon. The Lost Tomb of the Galactic Pharaoh is grinder an essentially linear dungeon of one threat after another, with no way to skip ahead to the end, as your resources for staying alive are whittled down. There may be a time limit, too, since most of the dungeon is in vacuum and the PCs might no longer have a ship where they can rest
  8. The latest episode of NOVA is "Touching the Asteroid," about the OSIRIS-REx mission to collect a sample of the asteroid Bennu. Which it apparently has done. Woohoo! (Though we still have to wait three years for the sample to be returned to Earth. Bummer!) Dean Shomshak
  9. From what I hear, "economic migrants" might be a more accurate description of the Californians. Though with the wildfires, some Californians might look at those treeless Texas plains with longing. As I mentioned last year, The Economist had an interesting special report on California and Texas as contrasting models for America's future. They seemed fairly frank in pointing out the problems with either state's policies. Dean Shomshak
  10. Addendum to the Addendum: I also forgot to mention the two large ion engines stuck onto the asteroid, that were used to push it into its long orbit. They might come up later. Why Was It Built? Well, duh. It's a tomb. No... not "Well, duh." If Osorkon just wanted a safe place for his corpse and a bunch of loot, he could have just drilled a shaft into an asteroid and filled it in afterward. But Egyptian royal tombs weren't just tombs. The mummification of the body, the spells on the walls and nested coffins, the amulets, canopic jars and assorted bric-a-brac f
  11. <Bows> I should hope so. Addendum: That is, the would-be tomb robbers are stranded or dead if they didn't have the sense to take simple precautions, such as only sending remote-controlled machines into the tomb chamber, or keeping backup transportation. If they weren't quite smart enough, they still might have a way to reach an orbiting ship despite losing a ship's boat or shuttlecraft. Two of the robot falcons don't activate. (Whaddaya want, they are well made robots, shielded and in vacuum, but they *are* still 300 years old.) Salvage the two damaged falcons and
  12. Location 1: The Asteroid Itself The tomb-asteroid is an irregular, oval lump about 5 km along its longest axis, with several large crevasses and craters. Slag and rubble covers large areas of the surface. It's very dark, since it is still so far from Rigisamos' sun. Deep-radar or seismic sounding reveals the asteroid is riddled with small tunnels that interfere with any attempt to scan the interior. Systems Operation at -3 (SS: Mining Engineer is complementary) to infer this interference is more than could be produced by simple mining for raw materials. The interior is
  13. And in other news, water is wet. Economy The Wealthy Getting Less Scrutiny On Taxes by Scott Horsley Listen · 4:25 4:25 Dean Shomshak
  14. Who Built the Dungeon? (Labor Force) Though records of Osorkon's tomb are sparse (for the reasons mentioned earlier), it is quite certain that robots did most of the work, with only a few human engineers supervising. Osorkon liked robots: They would do anything he commanded, without question, fear or hesitation. Mostly he used ordinary automated machinery and autonomous or semi-autonomous weapons, but Osorkon expended great effort on constructing lifelike androids. These were called shabti after the dolls that ancient Egyptians placed in their tombs; these dolls were su
  15. Psychologist Johathan Haidt finds that people who self-identify as conservative or liberal pretty consistently show different profiles in his "Moral Foundations" psychological test. See his book, The Righteous Mind. So these do seem to be real, distinct points of view, and people are fairly reliable in how they describe themselves. Though the authors do mention the distinction between the sort of far-right thinking they study and formal, classical conservative political theory. Dean Shomshak
  16. I haven't read this one yet, because I just heard about it yesterday on All Things Considered, but it sounds interesting. Rebecca Roanhorse, Black Sun. First volume in a planned trilogy. Roanhorse said she's been a big fan of epic fantasy for a long time, but irked that it all seemed to be based on European myth and legend. As a Native American, she wanted to see something based on New World cultures. So she wrote it herself. Black Sun, she says, is not based on any specific Native American culture -- she mentioned cultures ranging from Chaco Canyon to the Incas as inspirations --
  17. Okay, Old Man, you're on! I will continue on Monday. Oh, and don't assume you come in third. People seem to like purty pitchers, and I'm afraid I'm limited to text/ Dean Shomshak
  18. Is it certain the laptop even exists? Because the NYTimes story said the information, and its supposed chain of custody, comes from Rudy Giuliani. As of that article, we don't know the store, the owner, or anything else, apparently. Dean Shomshak
  19. I gave a martial artist villain a Missile Deflect DS. He had the Wonder Woman bullet deflection thing, but didn't need to use an action to do so -- he could keep attacking or do other things. The dimension lord Skarn, most recently published in CV1, has an EDM Damage Shield. Do not try to grab Skarn. Dean Shomshak
  20. Huh. Only two of us. Okay, I'll make one more post, but if no one else joins the draft before next Monday we should probably just quit. Why to Seek the Lost Tomb of the Galactic Pharaoh: Like most conquering despots through history, Osorkon looted the people he conquered; and in true Egyptian fashion, he filled his tomb with treasures for the Afterlife. It is estimated the tomb holds the contents of several major art museums, as well as conventional treasures of precious metals and gems. (Though the gems are not so valuable as they once were back on Old Earth, since most stones can
  21. It's worth going back to John Milton's essay "Areopagitica," which is one of the first (and still one of the best) defenses of intellectual freedom against censorship. Keep in mind that Milton wrote it while the Wars of Religion raged across Europe: Books killed. Milton argued that authorities should allow much that appeared false or dangerous, because there might be a good or true idea of value mixed in, and that truth would out in the crucible of open debate. But he still argued that books published with malice aforethought, that were weapons calculated to cause harm, should be s
  22. The latest from "On the Media": October 9, 2020 The Unlucky Many GOP Senator Mike Lee tweeted this week that "we are not a democracy." On this week's On the Media, why the Republican party's political future may depend upon anti-democratic — small-'d' — ideas. Plus, how the good luck of the so-called "silent" generation has shaped the politics of Joe Biden. And, how the bad luck of the millennial generation might shape our collective future. 1. Nicole Hemmer [@pastpunditry], Columbia University research scholar and author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the T
  23. Getting back to Babylon 5: I had the honor of hearing J. Michael Straczinski talk at Norwescon, and one of the things he talked about was how he makes stories. B5 fans may find some of it familiar. You start with characters. As you create each character, come up with answers to these questions: Who is the character? What does the character want? What impedes the character from getting/doing what he/she/it wants? What does the character do to try overcoming those impediments? And that's your story. Good advice for GMs and players as
  24. (Not saying the TEAM system isn't a reasonable idea -- just that people would try to manipulate it for their political ends. Because people will try to manipulate any system for political ends. Which generates stories, so that's a good thing.) I expect that many groups would receive a collective assumption of personhood: "We have tested enough Perseids to say that all Perseids are assumed to be persons, unless evidence is produced to suggest otherwise." Or elves, or clones. Things would get complicated with one-offs (is the hive-mind pf robot beetles a sentient person, even though
  25. Well, I can see a supervillain arguing that why should baseline, born-of-unskilled-labor humans be grandfathered in? Under his wise rule (he is of course one of those arrogant genius types), people will receive a place in society commensurate to their personhood rating (all very Brave New World). Or governments might try using TEAM scores to shape the electorate, or get out of various obligations. For instance, my understanding is that US Federal law enjoins states to educate all children as best they can, but teaching children with mental handicaps or other special needs is expens
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