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Tuesday Magic Item – Village Ooser

17 January, 2017

The Ooser judges youVoddick and Gollaon watched the man ride by on a donkey, facing backward, while the crowd made a terrible din,banging on pans and other things.  Children ran behind taunting the man and tossing pebbles at him.

“Poor unfortunate,” said Gollaon.

“There are no harsher judges than one’s neighbors.” agreed Voddick.  “Hopefully he will survive his shame.”

“I shall have to behave myself here, that donkey ride seems unpleasant for all,” added Gollaon with a wry smile.

Village Ooser

These massive masks are ancient folk magic, traditionally cut from a single block of timber, with the exception of the lower jaw, which is movable and connected to the rest of the mask by cloth or leather hinges.  The lower jaw can be moved by pulling on a string which passed through a hole in the upper jaw to connect to the lower with locks of hair on either side of its head, a beard on its chin, and a pair of bullock’s horns.  It has two purposes, to use as punishment of those who violate the village norm and in ceremonial usage or defense of the village.

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Dark Future Ahead 20 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

14 January, 2017

Let’s jack in and see what the futurewatch brings us this time.

Sailing the sea on a massive container ship, the time-lapse of the port is especially inspiring, but there is a considerable amount of useful information in this fairly short article.

Vanguard RoadsterVanguard is a new company producing a premium motorcycle (in NYC no less).  Now, not only is this a very cyberpunk looking machine. but it was primarily digitally designed.  The Economist has a good article (may require registration) about how the new digital processes allow for small firms to enter markets that have been dominated but the huge vehicle corporations.  Now there is a ton of cyberpunk adventure ideas to exploit from there.

Power from organic waste!  What could go wrong with producing massive amount of methane from organic matter?  Hopefully not much as it is a great way to turn garbage (and less pleasant matter) into electricity.

Feeling lonely?  What about a ‘virtual wife’ to manage your house?  A Japanese company, Vinclu, has developed a hologram linked to an expert management system, who could need more?

And what will your virtual wife have prepared for dinner?  A light article form Gizmodo looks at 8 Foods of the Future, maybe.  Still some good ideas for setting color in a cyberpunk world (“Fried grasshopper anyone?”).

New ways to fix your teeth!  King’s College London is developing a chemical to encourage cells in teeth to heal them.  No more fillings!  If it works.

And the US Department of Defense is looking into spent casting from training ammunition that grows plants!  Guess they are seeking to be more green than olive drab.

What visions of the coming dark future have you seen recently?

Note: Photo from Vanguard and used without permission.

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Thoughts on the Suicide Squad movie

12 January, 2017

Suicide SquadI do not get to movie theaters much anymore, so I waited for this to be available on DVD and finally got around to watching Suicide Squad.  I was a fan of the original comic thought I have not followed the series recently.  To my surprise, considering what I had heard about it, it was actually pretty entertaining.  The opening third is slow, laying out too much unnecessary background but once it gets to the action, it starts to come together.  While it is far from perfect (some of my concerns, I will discuss below) it much more than I was expecting and it has some surprisingly effective sequences.  If you like superhero or action movies, you will probably enjoy it.

More thoughts and Concerns (spoilers probably abound):

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Tuesday Magic Item – Silk Slippers of Civilization

10 January, 2017

Stylish“I could get used to this,” said Voddick leaning back and letting the fire warm him as he sipped at a cup of mulled wine.

Golloan tossed another log into the fire.  “Do not,” he said stepping back.  “Sooner or later the hobnailed boots of war will come to tramp upon the silk slippers of civilization.”

“Such as the ones you are wearing?” observed Voddick.

“Just so, might as well enjoy it while we can.”

Silk Slippers of Civilization

These are exquisitely made silk slippers often, but not always, exquisitely decorated, occasionally even with gems.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Gate Key Ring

3 January, 2017

Let's go“Are you sure there is a way out?” hissed Gollaon to the lady in waiting.

“The Princess’ escape route has been planned,” she replied, opening the lock to the north tower.

Voddick loosed a bolt down the corridor and was rewarded with a curse.  “They are gathering their courage, they will rush us soon,” he said, recocking his crossbow.

“Come along Princess, time to go,” said Gollaon ushering her through the door.  “Come on, Voddick,” he whispered.

Voddick shot through the door which Gollaon closed, locked and barred behind him.  Voddick kicked a dagger under the edge to wedge it tighter still.  He turned to go down the spiral stairs.

“Up,” Gollaon gestured with his thumb.

“Up?”

“Seems there is an old mystical gate that will be our way out.”

“Lovely, those always work,” grumbled Voddick.

Gate Key Ring

These rings are always composed of alloys or braided metals, mixed resonances serving as a focus for the ring’s magic, sometime set with crystalline gems but always marked with runes and sigil.

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Leaving December and the Year MMXVI, Welcome MMXVII

31 December, 2016

JanusJanuary and the New Year and are just around the corner.   Good fortune to all in MMXVII!

January is named after Janus (Ianuarius) the god of doorways, pictured as looking both forward and back.   We will revisit the themes of doorways, transport and travel for January what with moving into the New Year and all.  As usual, if there is something on this theme you would like to see, let me know.

My main goal for 2017 will be to get the Sea of Stars campaign setting finished and out to its backers, really this time.

Looking back over December, 2016, not an entirely quite month:

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Definition – Terrorist and Guerilla

30 December, 2016

Watching Rogue One yesterday (thoughts on that here), the interplay between the various factions among the Rebel Alliance, and former members of the Alliance, brought this subject back to mind.  What sorts a terrorist from a guerilla fighter?  Villain from hero?

The debate over the definition of terrorism is actually surprisingly fraught with politics, but mine is this:

  • Terrorism, the use or threat of violence by non-state actors to cause or inspire terror for political ends.  It is ethically and morally reprehensible and usually counter productive to the aims of the organization using terrorism.

States can certainly use terror as a weapon as well, but that is a war crime or crime against humanity, depending on how it is used. and by which part of the state.

  • Guerrilla Warfare, is irregular warfare usually conducted by non-military persons against the military, security and structural forces of a state.  Guerillas often use their ability to blend in with the people to their advantage and try to minimize their infliction of non-combatant casualties, their attacks are designed to weaken the power and legitimacy of the targeted state with the intention of overthrowing it.  It is a legitimate, if little liked, branch of warfare.

States use counter-insurgency (or COIN) tactics to try and divorce guerrilla movements from their support in the general populace, these tactics often shade into government sponsored tactics especially when used by authoritarian regimes.

For historical examples, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were guerillas, the modern IRA factions (1969-current) veer between terrorism and guerrilla warfare, leaning more towards the former.  The Chechen independence forces started as guerrillas and became terrorists after brutal Russian tactics crushed their bid for freedom from the Russian state, the move to terroristic tactics cost the Chechen what support they had among the Russian people.

Modern reporting tends to blur these two types of violence together, any attack against the United States or its allies by irregular forces is called terrorism, regardless of target type or purpose of the attack.  Terrorism is an overused word and overuse of it blurs understanding of current situations.

But, back on track, in Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance seeks to be guerillas but the implication in Rogue One is that some, perhaps quite a few, of the factions had moved into terrorism against the Empire and some had been cast out because of it.  This is an excellent moral conundrum that most rebel groups will encounter sooner or later (probably soon) and make for good drama and conflict in games.

Just some things that have been bouncing around in my head for a while, make of them what you will.

 

 

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