Category Archives: Survival

WYRDROAD

I have established a new Facebook Gaming Group.

I haven’t had much time to build up the membership yet because I’ve been busy but I have tried to build up some interesting content. The primary interest of the group is gaming, but like this blog it will cover history, archeology, warfare, science, technology, fantasy and science fiction, literature, pop culture, comics, etc.

You’re welcome to visit and to join. Just hit the links provided.

WYRDROAD

 

NornsOld4

KITS GALORE – LOST LIBRARY

THE KITS AND THE KITS AND THE KITS

You know, it makes an awful lotta sense that, especially in the early stages of their career, and in a world in which such things were common, there would develop pre-designed “kits” for various professions. Just as existed for soldiers.

Of course such kits would vary by race certainly, likely by geographic region (terrain, weather patterns, availability to water and shelter, limes and outpost proximity, etc.), and perhaps even by nationality or economic strength or technological capability or even just by preferred design modes. Or by such factors as item or material availability.

And absolutely such kits would vary with experience and exposure. My gear and equipment kits and carries have changed considerably over time as I have learned what gear is likely to be needed, what is likely never to be needed, what is truly useful, as equipment designs have changed, as far better tools and multi-tools have developed. And in certain situations I know I will need certain kits and stocks, and in other situations I will need different kits and tools, though overlap almost always occurs with some items. (You will always need a lighter, always need binocs, always need a knife, etc.) And I have encouraged both my players (and those I have known in real life) to develop their own kits specific to their own experiences and professions and to develop complimentary kits so that people in a team avoid redundancy or over-burdening themselves to no real point. (If one or two guys carry a hatchet then not every team member need do so as long as they do indeed work as a team and remain cohesive. One machete a team is usually sufficient, but everyone carries water and a knife.)

But this is, if you ask me, as excellent idea (and I know previous versions of different games have toyed with similar ideas in other forms), basic starter kits for various professions (not just tool sets) followed by highly individualized and special function kits as one gains experience.

(For instance a Ranger’s Urban Kit, used while tracking an assassin in a city would be quite different from his Wilderness Kit while tracking foreign raiders involved in frontier skirmishes. Money would likely be plentiful in an urban kit to pay bribes and develop informant networks, money is practically useless on the frontier.)

So you could have all kinds of Kits, such as General Profession Kits (Combatant Starter Kits, Magic User Starter Kits), down to Class Kits (Paladin’s Kit and Barbarian’s Kit) to Special Function Kits (Urban versus Wilderness Kits) to Highly Specialized Specific Mission Kits of the very experienced Adventurer and Team Member and even all the way down to the Sole or Single Operative who might act as an Undercover Operative, an Agent, or a Spy.

Then again you could have Special Gear and Special Weapon Kits designed for very refined purposes, such as thieves tools, medical and first aid kits, field chemical kits, firestarting kits, business kits, inscribing kits, disguise kits, instrument kits, weapon kits, even kits to be used against specific opponents (tactical kits).

Kits like this (of all kinds and of different levels of complexity) would be extremely useful. Especially Emergency Kits deposited at known locales, at dead-drops, and at safe houses to be recovered as needed.

ODD IN EVERY WAY – GAMEPLAY

I was looking forward to this. This is very odd.

 

Signs point to cancellation for Kojima’s Silent Hills [Updated]

Del Toro quits collaboration, playable trailer coming off of PSN.

A GIF-ified version of the key part of the P.T. reveal of Silent Hills.

Updated: Konami has sent out a Q&A responding to the series’ supposed cancellation. While the company notes that it will continue to develop the Silent Hill series, it doesn’t specifically mention that Silent Hills is still being made. The full Q&A from Konami is at the end of the story.

In all of last month’s drama surrounding Hideo Kojima’s troubled relationship with Konami and the Metal Gear Solid franchise, there was little information on the fate of Silent Hills, the survival horror sequel collaborationbetween Kojima, film director Gullermo del Toro, and actor Norman Reedus. While the Kojima Productions logo was removed from the game’s home page late in March, there was no official word from Konami regarding the project’s fate. This weekend, though, a number of strong signs point to the game’s outright cancellation.

The bad news started when a member of the Metal Gear Solid subreddit noticed a troubling message on Konami’s Japanese site: “The distribution period of ‘P.T. (Playable Teaser)’ on PlayStation Store will expire on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.” That cryptic “teaser” was the same interactive demo that hid the original Silent Hills announcement last August. It’s possible Sony or Konami simply decided that P.T. had run its promotional course, but it seems odd to remove such a well-received free download with little warning… unless the game it’s promoting no longer exists, that is.

The bad signs continued today, with del Toro reportedly telling a San Francisco International Film Festival audience that his collaboration on the project is “not gonna happen,” according to tweetsfrom multiple sources in attendance. Norman Reedus responded to reports of del Toro’s statements,tweeting that he was “super bummed” about the apparent cancellation and “hopefully it’ll come back around.”

It’s quite possible that Reedus doesn’t have any insider information, and he’s simply working off the same incomplete reports that we all have at the moment. IGN cites an anonymous source who clarified that del Toro was only speaking of his involvement in the project, not speaking definitively about the game’s overall fate. “You’ll have to go after Konami for those answers,” the source said. (Konami and representatives for del Toro were not available to respond to a request for comment over the weekend).

On the other end, Polygon cites an anonymous “person with knowledge of the project’s development” in reporting that the project is “effectively cancelled.”

Given the already fragile relationship reported between Kojima and Konami, all the new smoke surrounding the project likely points to some sort of fire regarding Silent Hills‘ cancellation. If confirmed, the news would be another blow to a fan base that has been waiting patiently for the series to return to form following 2012’s disappointing Silent Hill: Downpour.

SITUATIONAL ENRICHMENT – GAMEPLAY

SITUATIONAL ENRICHMENT

This is a sort of parallel post to one on Easter Eggs that I will post here later on.

Today a buddy of mine sent me a link to an Army video on Hyper-Realistic Tactical Training. (Think of it as a kind of live-action wargame involving TSS/Transferable Skill Simulations. I cannot herein reproduce the link because the link has since been extinguished, probably due to security REASONS.) He knows that I’ve been active in experimenting with and developing gaming related training techniques for a long time and thought I’d enjoy the video. (I did by the way. I had never seen it before.)

Anyway the video reminded me of a technique I use both in-
game(s) and in training scenario development that I call Situational Enrichment.

You might think of situational enrichment as the non-combat version (or parallel development version) of Hyper-Realistic Immersive Training.

It has a couple of objectives, but this is basically how it works. You take a non-combat situation, but one highly charged, and interject the players into this situation without warning. The situation will be filled with a veritable plethora of challenges, obstacles, and enrichments. Usually these enrichments will be multi-layered, have various applications, will sometimes compete against each other (in nature, or for the player’s attention), be in continual motion, and have some immediate or demanding application.

The point of an enriched environment is to provide a high level of stress and potential danger without anything that might necessarily induce a combat situation. It will simply be that the enriched environment will be filled with so many potential problems, devices, articles, objects, creatures, movements, events, etc. that are all happening either simultaneously or in quick succession that attempting to react to everything available might very well produce exhaustion, or information, observational, and functional overload. Plus a well-enriched environment might present so many “potential dangers” (regardless of whether the dangers are real or not) that to the player it seems as dangerous if not more so than a standard combat situation.

One of the advantages to this kind of situation (among others) from the point of the DM or scenario developer is that you can test the participants’ reaction capabilities, see how they react to conflicting and/or multiple stressors, and to conditions of “overload.” The advantages to the player are manifold, but include learning to handle high stress situations that do not involve combat, improvement of observational skills, learning to organize reactions to environmental demands (conducting environmental triage), improvement of mental capabilities and problem solving abilities, and so forth and so on. Plus such situations are usually very interesting and fascinating to both develop and play through.

You do not want to inflict conditions of Situational Enrichment on players continuously as they can become mentally exhausted, just as protracted periods of combat or unknown danger can also take a mental and psychological toll.

But used occasionally and judiciously they can, I think, provide a fascinating enrichment experience, and serve as a great training scenario for future actions.

Let me give an example of what I would call an Adapted Gaming Enrichment Situation.

Situation: (this is a situation I have actually used before) The players have been moving through a set of underground ruins. It has been a relatively long time since they encountered any creature or real danger or threat. They are walking down a seemingly ordinary corridor when suddenly there is a blaring din, like several horn blasts going off simultaneously. The noise does not abate but only grows louder over time. At about the same time the walls begin to pulse and glow in a variety of different colors, and it can now be seen that the walls are covered in complex and strange glyphs and designs. As the noise gets worse the walls glow more fiercely until the light becomes almost painful. Fire erupts behind the players and seems to run along the floor, ceiling, and walls. Smoke begins to accumulate along the ceiling and the temperature rises. From the fiery ceiling suddenly erupts a huge swarm of buzzing, flying locusts, all alight. They are careening crazily towards the players. Forced forwards by the fire and the burning insects the players tumble into a room ahead that is also blaring non-stop and whose walls both pulse and seem to bleed. The locusts begin landing on the players, threatening to set their clothes afire. There is apparently a pool of water ahead but as the players move for it a large flesh golem erupts from the water and it can now be seen that the liquid is corrupt and foul. The golem does not attack but screams relentlessly, gesturing wildly at the players and a corner of the room in which lies a man, seemingly a fellow adventurer, moaning in pain and severely wounded. As the party watches some of the locusts swarm around the golem and it and the pool catch fire. The pool was actually filled with some type of highly combustible liquid, not water.

The golem screams even more loudly and rushes towards the wounded man. Before he can reach him the floor drops away spilling both the golem and the man into some type of pit. The players can hear the man is crying and begging for help, but just barely due to the intense and relentless blare. Many of the blocks upon the floor begin to heat, but some seem dark and cool. The air begins to shimmer and several characters vanish from sight, only to wink back into view ten to twenty seconds later. The ones who disappeared swear that it was the other players who actually disappeared. This continues at random intervals until one player reappears in different clothing, and with different possession than he had before.

Suddenly three doors appear which might allow escape from the room. One is on the ceiling and is apparently made of stone and metal. One is on the floor and has already caught fire. One is on the wall on other side of the pit where the golem and man disappeared, and has a demonic like face with a horn for a mouth. The din seems to be absorbed by the mouth of the monstrous face but any time the players try to speak or communicate with one another the demon mouth also instantly absorbs their words. Suddenly the din is gone but there is no noise at all as the face mouth absorbs all sound.

How would your players react at each stage of such a scenario or situation? What would they make of it? How would they attempt to solve such problems, and in what order? What would they fear might be happening?

The point of an enrichment environment however is not necessarily to do any physical harm to the players at all. It is to misdirect, exhaust, and test them with seemingly dangerous, bizarre, and confusing situations. Although occasionally I will throw in a trap or series of them or a real fight in the middle of such a disordered or over-stimulated environment.

However the example I just used was one of “Stress Enrichment.” You can also enrich an environment in any number of ways, such as providing so many amazing, wonderful, and valuable things, all operating at once that the players have a difficult time sorting priorities and modes of reaction.

Anywho, that’s some of the ways I use situational enrichment. Do you do something similar or related, and if so, how do you o about it? Can you cite examples?

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN – ESSAY ELEVEN: LUCK BE NOT LAZY

My next Essay on Gaming and Game Design, since this is my post for Design of Things to Come.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN

Essay Eleven: Luck Be Not Lazy

“High Fortune is the Good Wife of the Brave Husband.”

“Our survival kit is within us…”

“Good Luck befriend thee, Son…”

Synopsis:Boldness makes you luckier.” Boldness and risk taking make you more likely to survive and succeed than timidity and cowardice. This is true both in life, and in-game.

Recently while reading the book The Survivor’s Club (I am a survivalist and often study various aspects of survival art and science) I came across a very interesting equation by Nicholas Rescher.

The equation is as follows:

λ(E) = ∆(E) x [1-pr(E)] = ∆(E) x pr(not-E)

Rescher was attempting to mathematically illustrate how conclusions are drawn about the conditions and functional nature of “luck.” I have not had the time to examine the mathematics in detail for myself since I have only the basic equation formulation and a basic interpretation by the author of the book (not the author of the equation). I plan on looking up the entire background of the equation when I have the time.

Basically the equation states that how lucky an individual (or theoretically an event, with variable exchange) is considered to be depends upon a number of factors, but not least is the level of sufficient risk associated with any endeavor. That is to say the greater the risk taken by an individual, when success is finally achieved (though success is not guaranteed), then naturally the “more lucky” such an individual is considered in relation to others. This is of course only logical, and can be illustrated in the following way.

Two men decide to cross a chasm. One does so by a secure wooden footbridge with a safety railing, another along a length of tightrope. If both men make it safely across then most objective observers would say that the man walking upon the tightrope was “luckiest.” His risk was greatest and when (if) he succeeds then luck has been said to play a greater role in his crossing (in spite of any personal skill he might possess in wire-walking) than in the guy who has crossed the chasm on a relatively secure footbridge (in which case chance or luck plays a much smaller, if any, role as regards the crossing). This is self-evident, though perhaps often ignored or not noticed in this way in most circumstances by some observers.

lady luck

But I suspect that an even more interesting underlying and basic assumption fundamental to the structure of the equation (though it may not necessarily be overtly stated, when considering “normative variables”) is this: the greater the risk you take the more lucky you are likely to be. Not merely as a matter of relative comparison to others in different circumstances, but as a practical and fundamental matter in most any circumstance. And by extension then the more risk you assume in your given situation then the more likely you are to eventually succeed within that given situation. (Also this implies that luck is not a matter merely to be judged and quantified after the fact, or after the conclusion of the endeavor, but as a functional force, and likely an indirectly measurable force, operating throughout the course of events.)

Think about that for a moment. For the idea may just very well be fundamental to the nature of what many consider “good fortune.” Whether most people realize it or not.

The implication is that with great risk comes not only great danger, but also a greater probability towards actual and more capital success. (I think that there are several reasons for the likelihood of this conclusion, some physical, some psychological, and a few of which I will discuss here). The equation actually states that if you succeed then a larger level of risk can be said to include within the nature of the success a greater degree of good fortune, expressed colloquially as “luck.” But underneath the equation, if you examine it closely, is a sort of sub-structural formulation that implies that the greater the level of risk you assume in attempting any given or particular thing, the more likely you are to actually succeed, but that this does not become absolutely mathematically obvious until after the events are actually concluded.

In short the equation is covertly implying that all things being equal, and excluding the impossible (of course, as well as the intentionally foolhardy and reckless), it is the one who assumes the greatest risk who is far more likely to be lucky and in the end, to succeed as a result of the advantages bestowed by luck. (Is luck the only factor in success? Good Lord no. Preparation, skill, cunning, cleverness, drive, desire, etc. – all of these factors and more, or even less, can help to assure success. But what it is saying is that among roughly equivalent situations and/or competitors it is the more daring and less risk averse who is mathematically far more likely to “get lucky” and win the day, other factors not withstanding. Risk is therefore, as counter-intuitive and paradoxical as the idea may seem, one of the open and golden gateways to good fortune. Or as the old maxim goes, “Fortuna favet fortibus.” There is far more to that observation than mere Latin wit.

We all know that boldness is a fundamental aspect of the nature of Heroism. (Indeed, I personally would not attempt the execution of the function of anything heroic lacking the mettle of individual bravery as my guide. There is neither room for in most risky situations, nor likelihood of success in most dangerous situations for the ‘timid hero.’) Heroes therefore are universally bold. Or on the royal road through hardship and risk to becoming universally bold. Yet often heroes also triumph over seemingly vastly superior opponents with vastly superior resources. Why? Because they are bold. Because they are daring, and audacious, and brave. They also almost universally, whether in real life, or in myth or literature, “get lucky” or at least luckier than everybody else around them. Why? Because fortune does indeed favor the bold. The bold risk great things and therefore fortune is a natural and interested companion along the way. Fortune is attracted to bravery and risk-taking. (This does not imply that all risks are equal, or even equally fortunate, only that fortune prefers boldness to a lack thereof.)

Now it might appear on the surface that the heroic individual, or group, is often both bold and lucky. But the actual truth is they are lucky precisely because they are bolder than everyone else. Hence luck does not make one bold, being bold makes one lucky. There is a direct, if not always immediately observationally evident, correlation. That man who takes the most risk is that man who is likely to be luckiest and to be most successful. Even if bravery does not create good fortune in a particular circumstance it at least maintains and augments what good fortune already exists within that circumstance.

There are several reasons for this I think, some derived from my own personal observations, others I have gathered from anecdotal evidence, some taken from historical studies, still others implied by the equation I listed above.

First, the psychological ones:

1. The man who is audacious and daring tends to impress others with their vision. Small visions do not attract interest or followers. Bravery impresses and heroic visions and examples evoke imitation. Courage inspires devotion. And devotion inspires more courage as well as more of itself, which thereby tends to augment good fortune through cooperative enterprise and shared labor and objectives. Making success far more likely.

2. The individual who is brave tends to impress even dangerous creatures and animals, which will sometimes flee a man who the animal could easily kill because the man exhibits no fear. So if something or even someone thinks you’re crazy enough to be unafraid (regardless of whether you really are or not in that situation) when they think you should be then this gives them pause about their own chances of success against you. Courage in yourself can often inspire caution in an enemy or dangerous opponent, tipping the scales of good fortune, as well as the initiative and control of the situation in your favor.

(This has happened to me on more than one occasion with animals, men, and situations. For instance I’ve been shot at and drawn on on more than one occasion. Most recently this happened to me about two weeks ago. Yet I managed to defuse that particular situation without bloodshed or anyone being harmed because I walked towards the gunfire instead of freezing or fleeing from it when guns were drawn. Not that walking into gunfire is the most impressive or important kind of courage, it is far from it. Other things are often far more dangerous. I know that from personal experience. But the policeman in this case had the wrong location and the wrong target and he was obviously afraid of attack himself and so he drew and fired when he thought he was under attack. I don’t blame him by the way, he did indeed think he was under attack and may have even thought he could possibly be killed. He was also a young fella and a bit of a rookie. I doubt he had ever drawn his weapon before in the line of duty, but that’s just an assumption mind you based upon my observations of the boy, I didn’t really ask him. But he didn’t do anything really wrong; he was just surprised and scared by the situation, not knowing what was really going on. So I supported him when his commanding officer came out to do the in-the-field inquiry about why and how he had discharged his weapon. But I was able to prevent any real harm during the incident by walking into his line of fire [he wasn’t shooting at me, but I caused him to pause by interjecting myself] and taking control of the situation with my voice. Thereby stopping any further firing. I don’t think most people realize how effective an instrument the human voice can be in controlling a dangerous situation but those of you with law enforcement or military backgrounds probably know exactly what I mean. Your voice is probably often your most effective tool of courage and control. So I wasn’t afraid at all when it was happening, though my wife later yelled at me, as she often will, by saying “you stupid white guys run towards gunfire instead of away from it.” But obviously it has got nothing to do with being white, I’ve known a lot of brave men from all kinds of backgrounds, or even really with being stupid I would argue, but with training. I wasn’t afraid at all and so acted as I have trained myself over time, to walk towards danger and not away from it, and to attempt to command any given dangerous situation by not panicking, but by trying to assume control of the circumstances. I also wasn’t scared at all in this situation because I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. Over time I have basically trained fear for my own safety out of myself so that when others are endangered I think about others and not myself. Which eliminates the occupation with “self-fear.” It has become a matter of habit by now, and I never consciously weigh dangers for myself in my mind in that way anymore. However this does not mean the elimination of fear, if my children or wife had been under fire or endangered then I would have been afraid, I would have been thinking of their survival. I do not think though, and thank God this has never occurred, that even in that situation it would have paralyzed me, but I would have been afraid. Afraid for them. Indeed after the shooting I spoke about before was over and I realized just how bad the situation could have become for everyone – there was another officer who could have drawn and started shooting but he remained basically calm and watchful – I had about two minutes where I needed to sit down. To prevent my legs from shaking. But that was about 15 to 20 minutes later. Various friends and some people at church heard about this little adventure from my wife and the police and they all said I was a lucky fool. Just shook their heads. But I wasn’t a lucky fool; I was lucky because in that situation my training allowed me to be bold enough to prevent the situation from becoming completely out of control. I guess what I’m saying is that training yourself to move towards danger may seem apparently crazy, and so the assumption is that you just get lucky that nothing bad happens. Actually you get lucky because you act boldly. The crazy is only relative to those who do not understand that boldness enhances good fortune, not detracts from it.)

3. Bravery does not allow for panic, especially not debilitating panic. Courage is usually prepared for most situations (through exercise, practice, training, and habit) or at the very least does not panic and make situations worse. Boldness has “faith in itself.” Because boldness and enterprise are habits and skills that can be learned through practice. Perhaps some people are naturally born fearless or bold. But regardless of the veracity of that statement a person can become bold and daring through the exercise and practice of courage, just as is the case with bodybuilding through resistance training. You become muscularly and physically stronger by working ever-heavier resistance against weak and inexperienced muscles. You become more courageous by placing yourself in dangerous situations and exercising control against your fear. Eventually your “courage physique” will increase and it will take more and more danger to cause fear any real friction or resistance against you.

That’s all I’m gonna say about the psychological factors because it is not my intent in this essay to discuss all possible psychological variables. But merely to present basic possibilities.

greek

Now for some of the physical factors:

1. I suspect that on the physical level there is an “Entrainment of the unlikely” but nevertheless “necessarily possible” whenever boldness is a factor operating upon the physical environment. That is to say that boldness has both a physical and a quantum effect upon the surrounding environment much as it does on the psychological environment in which courage is in operation. Though the effect may be subtle, it nevertheless positively influences events in favor of the party operating “boldly.” The apparent physical effect is displayed as a tendency of events to move favorably in relation to the “bold party.” Though of course more than one party may be simultaneously operating in a bold fashion. It is not my intention in this short essay though to discuss competitions or conflicts between separate parties acting against each other each in their own bold fashion. That subject can be taken up by another if they so desire.

2. I suspect boldness is probably also a “quantum excitement” to the local environment, causing obstacles and frictions to move away from or bend away from the “bold party.” Friction and resistance does not build up in the environment against the bold, but rather boldness acts as a sort of overlaying energy field that slightly tilts the operational environment in the favor of the bold. You might think of daring and risk as exciting the local environment in such a way that it acts as a sort of simultaneous lubricant for good fortune, and as a sort of barrier against misfortune.
Now if all, or indeed if any of this is true, then this idea has large scale implications for human activity and work in the real world. It also has large scale gaming implications, because heroic gaming could therefore be used as a sort of imaginary training ground for the development of higher and higher states of mental and psychologically habitual (behavioral habits begin in the mind after all) boldness, which could then be effectively transferred outside the self-contained environment of a given game and exported to the wider world.

But for the moment, since this is a website and forum dedicated to gaming let’s examine how we might exploit the idea encapsulated by the statement: “Boldness makes you luckier.”
So I’m going to make a few suggestions as to how to use this hypothesis within your game and/or game setting.

1. If you use some factor, variable, or attribute in your game that represents or expresses Luck (I use several in my games) then (given that my previous statements and hypotheses above make sense to you) anytime your players display real courage this should have a corresponding and even compounding “Luck Effect.” If they are brave, and bold, then their level of Good Fortune should naturally increase, or be augmented in some way. Good luck is never lazy, and it is rarely risk-averse. Rather the braver the character the more likely he is to be lucky in any given situation (assuming he or she does not face impossible odds or an inescapable situation).

So acts of courage and heroism are more than likely to have a direct and positive corresponding effect upon factors of good fortune and the benefits bestowed by luck. I can’t tell you how to do this exactly in your game or setting (because I don’t know the details of your setting) but it is my recommendation that you bind together in some way acts of heroism and boldness to corresponding gains in good fortune. (However these things might be expressed, as bonuses to saving throws, or as “luck advantages,” or as gains to certain types of abilities or skills, or whatever the particular case may be in your situation.)

2. I would also suggest that acts of cowardice and timidity have a corresponding suppression upon factors involving luck. The risk averse would also be averse to natural good fortune. After all the obverse of my proposition, that bravery makes you luckier, is easily demonstrable. No great thing was ever achieved by timidity. The timid do not attempt and therefore naturally do not achieve great things. That is self-evident. Therefore good fortune can hardly be considered a close ally of timidity or cowardice, for achievement is the opposite of being retiring and timid. And achievement against great odds can be called one of the potential proofs of good fortune. So the bold often achieve where the timid will not go. And good fortune goes where the bold dare to lead her. Therefore fortune is long time friend of the bold, but always the stranger to the timid.

3. Courage might not only affect “Luck Factors” but even attributes like Charisma, Wisdom, and leadership. Courage should and will increase luck and overall good fortune but it might also temporarily or even permanently increase attribute scores like Charisma, Wisdom, Intelligence, or leadership abilities.

4. Courage causing increases in luck and good fortune might also have a corresponding positive effect upon things like intuition or even psychic abilities (I use the term psychic to reflect both mental abilities and spiritual capabilities.)

5. Courage would make one “fortunate” in the types and quality of the individuals you attract to yourself as friends, allies, and followers.

6. Another suggestion I might make is that in game terms at least allow for a sort of generalized and conditional reaction to acts of heroism, bravery, and boldness on the part of the surrounding environment. This could take any number of different forms but the overall effect would be that the environment “acts lucky” towards the person exhibiting bravery, initiative, and enterprise.

7. Courage and luck might have a beneficial effect upon the degree of power and level of control one may exercise over magic, magical items, artifacts, and devices, and/or more mundane types of tools/technology.

8. If courage increases good fortune and good fortune makes survival more likely then heroism and bravery should likely have direct and positive effects upon any useful survival mechanism or skill within your game.
These are but a few simple ways that the relationship between boldness and good fortune could be exploited in game, and could also serve as a sort of “reward system” to your best and bravest role-players. I could go into other related matters such as the possible mathematical relationship between boldness, confidence, and chance mechanisms, like gaming dice. But I’ve explored pretty much what I personally wanted to explore as regards this subject, and since I am presenting this post as an Interactive Essay others can add related or peripheral content as they see fit.

But in summation I would also like to encourage you all to make better use of heroism, enterprise, initiative, and boldness in your own situation(s), both in real life and in-game. I suspect that given time you will find yourself more and more inclined to boldness through practice (assuming you are not already), and as a result of that more likely to find yourself enjoying an ever increasing level of good fortune and definite luck.

Good luck to you then.

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Ancient Shrines Used for Predicting the Future Discovered

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | February 19, 2015 07:14am ET

ancient shrines, gegharot archaeology, divination, ancient hilltop fortress

A shrine excavated at the entrance of a fortress’ west terrace in Gegharot in Armenia. The stone stele like would’ve been a focal point for rituals practiced there some 3,300 years ago.

Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Adam Smith

Three shrines, dating back about 3,300 years, have been discovered within a hilltop fortress at Gegharot, in Armenia.

Local rulers at the time likely used the shrines for divination, a practice aimed at predicting the future, the archaeologists involved in the discovery say.

Each of the three shrines consists of a single room holding a clay basin filled with ash and ceramic vessels. A wide variety of artifacts were discovered including clay idols with horns, stamp seals, censers used to burn substances and a vast amount of animal bones with markings on them. During divination practices, the rulers and diviners may have burnt some form of substances and drank wine, allowing them to experience “altered” states of mind, the archaeologists say. [See Images of the Divination Shrines and Artifacts]

“The logic of divination presumes that variable pathways articulate the past, present and future, opening the possibility that the link between a current situation and an eventual outcome might be altered,” write Adam Smith and Jeffrey Leon, in an article published recently in the American Journal of Archaeology. Smith is a professor at Cornell University, and Leon is a graduate student there.

The fortress at Gegharot is one of several strongholds built at around this time in Armenia. “Evidence to date suggests that this coordinated process of fortress construction was part of the emergence of a single polity that built and occupied multiple sites in the region,” write Smith and Leon.

Smith believes that Gegharot would have been used as an occult center for the rulers. “I would think that this is probably a cult center largely specializing in servicing the emerging rulers from the ruling class,” he told Live Science in an interview.

At the time, writing had not yet spread to this part of Armenia so the name of the polity, and its rulers, are unknown.

Predicting the future

Smith and Leon found evidence for three forms of divination at Gegharot. One form was osteomancy, trying to predict the future through rituals involving animal bones, in this case the knucklebones of cows, sheep and goat.

The knucklebones, which were covered in burns and other markings, would have been rolled like dice in rituals attempting to predict the future, Smith said. “You would roll them and depending upon whether the scorched side or the marked side came up you would [get] a different interpretation,” Smith said.

Lithomancy, trying to predict the future through the use of stone, also appears to have been practiced at Gegharot. Inside a basin at one shrine, archaeologists found 18 small pebbles. “These stones appear to have been selected for their smooth, rounded shape and their color palette, which ranged from black and dark gray to white, green and red,” Smith and Leon write. How exactly these unmarked stones would have been used in rituals is unknown.

Flour for the future?

At one shrine, on the fortress’ east citadel, the archaeologists found an installation used to grind flour. Smith and Leon think that this flour could have been used to predict the future in a practice called aleuromancy. [The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

“What is conspicuous about the grinding installation in the east citadel shrine is the lack of a formal oven for bread baking,” Smith and Leon write. The shrine’s basin “was clearly used for burning materials and certainly could have been used to bake small balls of dough, but it is unlikely that it would have been used to cook loaves of bread.”

Stamp seals found at the shrine would have allowed people to punch a variety of shapes into dough. “One possibility (admittedly among many others) is that the stamps marked the dough that was then used for aleuromancy.”

Future’s end

The shrines were in use for a century or so until the surrounding fortress, along with all the other fortresses in the area, were destroyed. The site was largely abandoned after this, Smith said.

At the time, there was a great deal of conflict in the south Caucasus with a number of regional polities fighting against each other, Smith said. The polity that controlled Gegharot seems to have been wiped out in one of those conflicts.

Although the rulers who controlled Gegharot put great effort into trying to predict and change the future, it was to no avail — their great fortresses being torched in a cataclysm they could not avoid.

Excavations at the shrines are part of the American-Armenian Project for the Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies (Project ArAGATS).

The west terrace shrine was excavated in 2003, the west citadel shrine in 2008, and the east citadel shrine in 2010 and 2011.

NEW ALIEN LANDSCAPE

It’s a go…

New ‘Alien’ Movie Confirmed with Director Neill Blomkamp

Alien: New Movie Confirmed with Director
February 18, 2015 | 04:32PM PT
Justin Kroll
Film Reporter @krolljvar

20th Century Fox has closed a deal with director Neill Blomkamp to develop a new “Alien” movie, sources confirm.

The untitled sci-fi project is separate from “Prometheus 2,” which Fox is still making with Ridley Scott.

Blomkamp, who directed “District 9″ and the upcoming Sony feature “Chappie,” had been teasing the project in recent months but said the extra-terrestrial reboot was likely abandoned. It was supposed to star “Alien” veteran Sigourney Weaver.

But on Wednesday Blomkamp confirmed the tentpole was back on track at Fox.

“So I think this is officially my next film,” he confirmed on Instagram.

It’s unclear whether Weaver is still attached to the movie.

According to insiders, the new “Alien” takes place years after the “Prometheus” sequel. Scott is producing both films through his production company Scott Free.

“Prometheus,” also distributed by Fox, was “loosely based” on the “Alien” franchise and earned over $400 million worldwide. But the 3D movie opened to mixed reviews, and Fox hopes Blomkamp, who last directed “Elysium,” can take the franchise to the next level.

Born in South Africa, the 35 year-old Blomkamp is repped by WME.
Filed Under:

Alien

 

DEAD HEADS

I’m not really a fan of the Walking Dead, but my children certainly are. So for all your Dead Heads out there, in the case you haven’t seen this already…

SOME OF THE BEST

36 of the Best Roleplaying Games

“I love video games, but you can’t beat the magic in the personal interaction around a table.” — Filamena Young


Just as there really is no such thing as a best book or movie, there is no best roleplaying game, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking for something new to try, this selection of games will help. The games were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs.

Select an image to read a full page writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.


13th Age
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Apocalypse World
Atlantis: The Second Age

Basic Roleplaying
Burning Wheel
Doctor Who
Dragon Age

Dread
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Dungeon World
Dungeons and Dragons

Eclipse Phase
Fate Core
Fiasco
Firefly

Godlike
GURPS
Lady Blackbird
Microscope

Mindjammer
Mini Six
Misspent Youth
Mutants and Masterminds

Night's Black Agents
Numenera
Pathfinder
Pendragon

RuneQuest
Savage Worlds
Shadowrun
A Song of Ice and Fire

Star Wars
Swords & Wizardry
Traveller
Valiant Universe

WALKING BACK IN

Rick and his gang take aim in the woods in new teaser for The Walking Dead’s fifth season 

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his gang of survivors take aim in the just-released teaser for The Walking Dead’s fifth season.

In the slow-motion preview, which premiered Friday, the hardened former sheriff’s deputy brandished a rifle in a chilly Atlanta forest.

‘Surviving together is all that matters,’ Rick says in the voiceover.

Scroll down for video 

Resuming on February 8! Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his gang of survivors take aimin the just-released teaser for The Walking Dead's fifth season

Resuming on February 8! Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his gang of survivors take aim in the just-released teaser for The Walking Dead’s fifth season

His right-hand man Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) wielded two different weapons – a shotgun and his trusty crossbow.

The formidable Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) readied her knuckle-grip knife for lurking walkers in the woods.

Michonne (Danai Gurira) grimaced as she raised her trusty katana at more unseen enemies – dead or otherwise.

The Walking Dead Season 5 trailer: returns Sunday Feb 8th

'Surviving together is all that matters': In the slow-motion preview, which premiered Friday, the hardened former sheriff's deputy brandished a rifle in a chilly Atlanta forest

‘Surviving together is all that matters’: In the slow-motion preview, which premiered Friday, the hardened former sheriff’s deputy brandished a rifle in a chilly Atlanta forest

Two is better than one: His right-hand man Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) wielded two different weapons - a shotgun and his trusty crossbow

Two is better than one: His right-hand man Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) wielded two different weapons – a shotgun and his trusty crossbow

She's come a long way: The formidable Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) readied her knuckle-grip knife for lurking walkers in the woods

She’s come a long way: The formidable Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) readied her knuckle-grip knife for lurking walkers in the woods

Samurai of the apocalypse: Michonne (Danai Gurira) grimaced as she raised her trusty katana at more unseen enemies - dead or otherwise

Samurai of the apocalypse: Michonne (Danai Gurira) grimaced as she raised her trusty katana at more unseen enemies – dead or otherwise

Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) clutched a dagger as the gang, including his fiancée Maggie (Lauren Cohan), hunted.

Tyreese Williams (Chad Coleman) bounded down a hillside with a rifle on his back through the foggy forest.

His sister Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) carefully listened for any disruptions in the eerie stillness.

Love still survives: Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) clutched a dagger as the gang, including his fiancée Maggie (Lauren Cohan), hunted

Love still survives: Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) clutched a dagger as the gang, including his fiancée Maggie (Lauren Cohan), hunted

Non-violent at heart: Tyreese Williams (Chad Coleman) bounded down a hillside with a rifle on his back through the foggy forest

Non-violent at heart: Tyreese Williams (Chad Coleman) bounded down a hillside with a rifle on his back through the foggy forest

Paranoia or panic? His sister Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) carefully listened for any disruptions in the eerie stillness

Paranoia or panic? His sister Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) carefully listened for any disruptions in the eerie stillness

Sergeant Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) warily peered through the scope of his automatic rifle.

Confessed fraud Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) armed himself with a tiny knife alongside gun-wielding gals Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Rosita (Christian Serratos).

Porter’s false claims that he could deliver a cure to Washington, D.C. for the zombie outbreak derailed the entire group’s plans this season.

Ginger thunder: Sergeant Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) warily peered through the scope of his automatic rifle

Ginger thunder: Sergeant Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) warily peered through the scope of his automatic rifle

Stay behind the ladies: Confessed fraud Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) armed himself with a tiny knife alongside gun-wielding gals Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Rosita (Christian Serratos)

Stay behind the ladies: Confessed fraud Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) armed himself with a tiny knife alongside gun-wielding gals Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Rosita (Christian Serratos)

Thanks, Eugene: For the first time since the show began in 2010, Rick and his gang are loose in the woods with absolutely no shelter

Thanks, Eugene: For the first time since the show began in 2010, Rick and his gang are loose in the woods with absolutely no shelter

For the first time since the show began in 2010, Rick and his gang are loose in the woods with absolutely no shelter.

Not seen in the one-minute trailer were Rick’s children – son Carl (Chandler Riggs) and daughter Judith aka ‘Little Asskicker’ (Charlotte & Clara Ward).

The Walking Dead’s just-released poster prominently features the discarded map Abraham gave Rick outlining their abandoned plans for D.C.

It’s the same map Rick’s old friend Morgan Jones (Lennie James) picked up during the midseason finale – hinting at a reunion.

Where were the kids? Not seen in the one-minute trailer were Rick’s children – daughter Judith aka ‘Little Asskicker’ (Charlotte & Clara Ward) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs)

So much for a cure: The Walking Dead's just-released poster prominently features the discarded map Abraham gave Rick outlining their abandoned plans for Washington, D.C.

So much for a cure: The Walking Dead’s just-released poster prominently features the discarded map Abraham gave Rick outlining their abandoned plans for Washington, D.C.

Season 1 standout: It's the same map Rick's old friend Morgan Jones (Lennie James) picked up during the midseason finale - hinting at a reunion

Season 1 standout: It’s the same map Rick’s old friend Morgan Jones (Lennie James) picked up during the midseason finale – hinting at a reunion

Sexual tension: Beth Greene's senseless death during the finale was shocking, but it did open the show up for a possible romantic relationship between Carol and Daryl

Sexual tension: Beth Greene’s senseless death during the finale was shocking, but it did open the show up for a possible romantic relationship between Carol and Daryl

Beth Greene’s senseless death during the finale was shocking, but it did open the show up for a possible romantic relationship between Carol and Daryl.

Now in its sixth year, The Walking Dead is beloved by critics and it’s scored two Emmy awards and one Golden Globe nomination.

The post-apocalyptic drama was developed by Frank Darabont based on the 2003 Robert Kirkman comic book.

The 16-episode fifth season of The Walking Dead resumes February 8 and airs Sundays through March 29 on AMC.

The Walking Dead returns in February: Watch the trailer

Hit show: Now in its sixth year, The Walking Dead is beloved by critics and it's scored two Emmy awards and one Golden Globe nomination

Hit show: Now in its sixth year, The Walking Dead is beloved by critics and it’s scored two Emmy awards and one Golden Globe nomination

Weee! The 16-episode fifth season of The Walking Dead resumes February 8 and airs Sundays through March 29 on AMC

Weee! The 16-episode fifth season of The Walking Dead resumes February 8 and airs Sundays through March 29 on AMC

A FEW THINGS I HAVE LEARNED OVER THE YEARS PLAYING STAR FLEET BATTLES/STAR FLEET COMMAND

A few principles I have learned in playing SFBs, but many are also widely applicable to both numerous other wargames and to Real Life.

Missiles are always the most effective weapons. They track, they force the enemy to consume resources on defensive countermeasures, their range is the effective greatest of any weapon, they consume little power to prepare, and they do not degrade over distance as far as their destructive power. Their only real limitations are speed of movement (in some cases) and interceptability – otherwise they are a near ideal weapon system

Obtain and use the fastest and most powerful missiles even if they cost you far more – they are worth the expense

Save your attacks against enemy tractor beam defenses until after they are damaged – that is to say punch through enemy shields first and let them intercept your missiles then close in and cripple their tractor beams defenses only after they are in missile holding mode

Always use probes to gather better Intel on operating capabilities/conditions and damage to enemy ships

Carefully time your boarding actions but use them freely

Do not deploy your fighters either defensively or offensively until you have sufficiently damaged or crippled the enemy – your fighters are too easy to kill and are wasted in the initial stages of an engagement, but if the enemy is crippled they are truly lethal

Use missiles as a stand-off weapon against multiple enemy ships so they cannot close and flank you all at once

Prepare all counter-measures (such as wild-weasels) at the beginning of an engagement, a counter-measure is useless if it is unprepared

The Gorns are paper tigers, so are the Romulans if you simply stay out of range and time your defenses properly

The Klingons mean business and fight like hell – short of enemies like the Vagr they are your most dangerous opponents

Hydran fighters are extremely dangerous in squadrons, but Hydran weapons are hit and miss at best – Hydran ships can’t take a punch

The Lyrans are knife-fighters, avoid close contact, if you have to get close then kill immediately

You don’t like the Kzin/Kzinti – liquidate on contact with extreme prejudice

Throw combinations, and often

The optimum range for almost all weapons is point-blank – however that’s probably not the optimum range in which to operate

Constantly rotate your shields and your firing arcs – become excellent at coordinating defensive and offensive actions simultaneously

Maneuver is your friend, but you have to earn his friendship

Your ship will be destroyed if you get too close to the enemy as he dies – let the enemy die at a distance

If you can capture an enemy ship then do so, if you have to destroy him then do so, but never let him escape

The unknown works in both directions

Assume every alien/unknown entity is a potential hostile, but do not force them to be such

Unless your ship is specifically designed for stealth operations then Electronic Counter-Measures are far better employed in a defensive fashion

Place transporter bombs where they will do the most damage – place them strategically, because sometimes that’s the whole battle right there

Once your enemy is afire then press your attack

It is better to cripple or destroy enemy systems than to attack hull or kill crew

Do not give the enemy an opportunity to undertake useful damage control efforts

Never hesitate at your own repairs – employ damage control and repairs efforts as needed and immediately

Withdraw whenever necessary

Steal enemy repair goods with your transporters and use them for your own or simply deprive the enemy of necessary resources – he can’t repair what he doesn’t have

Good Intel and proper sensing is a Weapon – short of main weaponry your most effective one

Sensing passively and running silently does not disclose your location – so get good at it

Scan at all times unless there is a very good reason not to

Limit your enemy’s ability to maneuver

Do not Cross Your T’s, rather dog-leg your firing arcs

Become superb at precise targeting

Fire first if you must, and if you must, fire often and with sure aim

Screw the Prime Directivelet the lawyers sweat over that crap

Yellow or Secondary Alert is the most useless nonsense ever invented, don’t ever bother with it, you’re either on real alert or you’re not, so, always be on real alert

Use the environment (planets, asteroids, gravitational fluctuations, nebulae, etc.) to your advantage

Time is part of your environment – at all times use time to your advantage

Never assume an ally will make a smart tactical decisionalways assume your ally will screw up and be prepared accordingly

Develop new technologies constantly

Study enemy capabilities constantly

Always be open to superior ship designs and refits

Speed is better than power, power is better than toughness, especially when you’re talking high-energy weaponry

Don’t be there when the weapon strikes –avoid rather than absorb

Always be ready to take advantage

Have a battle plan prior to engagement

Be fluid and flexible, but mostly be much faster than the other guy

Make all of your decisions before you have to

Imagine you’re going to be crippled and nearly killed – now you’re that much better prepared for it

Each enemy is different, with different capabilities and liabilities, know your enemy

Out-thinking your opponent is the best way to prove your superiority

He who can recover and re-attack fastest will probably win

There is no virtue and no advantage in absorbing attacks

Wait until the proper moment then cut loose with all hell – do not hold back in combat

The enemy has weaknesses – observe and exploit them

An unstable or untrustworthy alliance is a point of leverage

You can beat multiple opponents at once, but you must be prepared with a plan of action and combat

There is no shame in escape, but there is destruction in defeat

Be prepared for the Trap

Be proficient at Setting the Trap

Anticipate, and avoid

Whether your win or lose and whether your crew lives or dies depends entirely upon you

Communications are vital – unless you have a death wish, and in that case do whatever the hell you want, because you’re an idiot anyhow

Sneaky works – be very, very sneaky

Victory is far better than heroics

The fast kill is the best and saves the most lives – by far

Be unpredictable

There are far more ways to kill the ship chasing you than the one approaching you

Always destroy approaching probes and hamper enemy efforts at gaining information on your ship and capabilities

Disinformation and misinformation – disinformation and misinformation – disinformation and misinformation – don’t make me repeat it again

The Federation has, by far, the most well-rounded and multi-capable ships – that gives you a huge overall set of advantages – use them

In-game targeting systems for photon torpedoes suck, what in the hell is the point of having great ordinance you cannot reliably deliver to the target? Think about it

Smarten all of your weapons, and then make them so efficient in operation that even a dumb-ass could use them effectively

Invention is the Mother of (Power) Projection

Constantly train your crew

Constantly train yourself

The last battle is the one you lose, the next battle is the one after you win

IT AIN’T JUST FOR SLAYING DRAGONS NO MORE

And there ya go…

Actually my whole family has played for years now and it has been an especially good tool for teaching critical thinking, overcoming danger with planning and preparation (basic survival mind-set and skills), problem solving, and tactical decision making to my wife and daughters. So I think it is every bit as good a gaming tool for females as it is for boys.

 

Dungeons & Dragons strikes back

After a period of decline, the iconic game shows signs of revival thanks to an update and a greater diversity of players

From left: Sophia, Jung, and Charles Starrett play D&D at home.

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

From left: Sophia, Jung, and Charles Starrett play D&D at home.

Some updated player’s and dungeon master’s guides for D&D.

Ethan Gilsdorf

Some updated player’s and dungeon master’s guides for D&D.

As a teenager in the 1980s, Charles Starrett spent hours playing Dungeons & Dragons with his pals but stopped after high school. His interest was rekindled as a father when he introduced basic role-playing games to his two daughters when they were six years old, and he also persuaded his wife, Jung, to play.

“They just gobbled it up,” Jung Starrett says of her daughters’ interest in D&D.

Now the couple and their now 14-year-old daughters, Sophia and Julia, gather around their Brookline dining room table regularly on weekends to toss polyhedral dice, slay orcs and hobgoblins, and tell an unpredictable, unfolding fantasy story, together.

As it turns 40 this year, the pioneering role-playing game (or “RPG”) appears to be enjoying something of a renaissance after a period of decline. Once the province primarily of white, suburban teen boys and young men, D&D is drawing a more diverse group of players, owing in part to the widespread popularity of fantasy books, films, and television shows. And a new update of the game is renewing interest among veteran players.

An estimated 20 million people have played the game and spent at least $1 billion on its products since D&D’s early days. But the game, which experienced strong growth throughout the 1970s and ’80s, began a slump in the 2000s. The game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, does not make sales figures available, but analysts say that RPG sales have been declining for years, partly supplanted by the surge in video games and Internet culture.

In response, Wizards, a Washington subsidiary of Providence toy-and-game giant Hasbro, launched a revamp of the game’s rules this year, informally known as “Fifth Edition,” that returns D&D to its story-based roots. The response has been positive.

“Nearly every player I’ve spoken to says they like the new rules,” says David Ewalt, author of “Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It.” When one of the core rule books, the D&D “Player’s Handbook,” was published in August, it climbed to the top of Amazon sales charts and hit number one on both Publisher’s Weekly and Wall Street Journal’s hardcover nonfiction lists.

Distributors and retailers say the new edition is selling better than expected, says Milton Griepp, founder and CEO of ICv2, a publication that covers geek culture. “And expectations were high.”

Nationally, and locally, retailers are saying the new edition is doing well and drawing players to game nights. John Beresford, books manager at Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, reports that the store’s weekly in-store D&D events have grown by at least 25 percent. “Fifth edition is getting a lot of nostalgia gamers back in to take a look and is also drawing in a number of new gamers,” he says.

Unlike the last edition, released in 2008, the new D&D focuses less on mimicking video game-like action and combat, and more on ease of play, role-playing, and narrative. Also making the game more accessible, the rules ask players to consider characters who do “not conform to the broader culture’s expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior.” Your 12th level wizard might be gay.

In addition to getting a boost from the game update, D&D and other RPGs are also finding fresh player bases.

“There’s been a real expansion of the audience in recent years,” says Ewalt. When Ewalt went to his first game convention 20 years ago, the attendees were largely white, male, ages 15 to 40. When he attended the massive role-playing game and tabletop game convention called GenCon this summer in Indianapolis, “there were men and women, kids and adults, and people of all races and cultures.’’

Liz Schuh, head of publishing and licensing for Dungeons & Dragons, agrees. “We are seeing a broad mix of ages playing D&D today,’’ she says. “The game spans generations, as parents introduce their kids to the game that inspired them as kids.’’

One reason new audiences are embracing D&D is that so many of its key concepts are already familiar to a generation steeped in video games. D&D spawned a legion of game designers and programmers, and the industry borrowed heavily from D&D tropes such as outfitting characters, leveling up, cooperative game play, representing character traits as statistics, fantasy battles, dungeon environments, and controlling avatars.

D&D also benefits from the popularity of fantasy entertainment such as the “Lord of the Rings,” “Hobbit” and “Harry Potter’’ books and movies, and hit TV shows like “Game of Thrones.” As in the case of video games, the appetite for consuming fantasy worlds is one that D&D actually had a role in nurturing.

A whole generation of screenwriters, novelists, directors, musicians, and actors who once played D&D — including Stephen Colbert, the late Robin Williams, Matt Groening, Vin Diesel, and George R. R. Martin — have proudly embraced their basement-dwelling days as a nerdy badge of honor.

“All those kids who were obsessed with the game in the early 1980s have grown up, and many of them entered creative pursuits because D&D got them excited about telling stories and creating adventures,” says Ewalt.

The game’s imaginative reach extends beyond popular entertainment. “Gaming certainly provided me with an imaginative praxis that helped prepare me for the imaginative praxis of being a writer,” says Junot Diaz, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and MIT professor whose group played D&D in the 1980s. “The game was an important source of solace, inspiration, learning excitement and play for us.”

Chris Robichaud, author of “Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy” and a D&D veteran since age 10, is bringing RPGs into the classroom as a learning tool. At the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he is a lecturer in ethics and public policy, Robichaud has been teaching D&D-like simulation called Patient Zero. “I wanted to give policymakers the creative, outside-the-box thinking opportunities that only a tabletop design with a gamemaster at the helm could really create,” says Robichaud, who believes his game “has the distinction” of being Harvard’s first “zombie pandemic tabletop simulation.”

The potential educational benefits are not lost on younger players. Back at the Starrett home, Julia and Sophia say they play primarily because it’s fun, but the game has also imparted valuable life skills.

“I have the reputation as a walking dictionary, which I got from playing D&D,” says Sophia, who has been blogging about “the benefits of playing D&D.” Beyond building your vocabulary, the two sisters reel off myriad other boons. The game improves critical thinking, decision-making, spatial intelligence, and team-building.

“In D&D, if you’re going to succeed,” says Julia, “you have to be part of a group of very diverse individuals all going for the same goal.”

Indeed, the role-playing game is a perfect tool for forging communities and connections “which can further knit our society together,” says dad Charles. “We can even explore living a life as someone who believes quite differently from how we actually believe, which increases understanding and empathy towards those who differ from ourselves.”

Like a warrior after an epic battle, D&D has survived to fight again — and its players hope it will keep on rolling for another 40 years.

Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.” Contact him at www.ethangilsdorf.com .

THE OLD CITIES OF CAPPADOCIA

I’m familiar with these places. As a matter of fact they show up in my Other World novels.

Nevertheless they are as fascinating to me now and when I first learned of them.

In addition to the Real World significance of these domains this also possesses very under-utilized story and gaming possibilities. And God, yes, I’d love to vad these places.

 

This Guy Knocked Down A Wall In His House. He Never Expected This To Behind It. WOAH!

Province of Turkey was doing a little home remodeling. He decided to knock down a wall of his home for an expansion. He discovered a hidden room behind the wall with a slender hallway carved out of of the stone below his home. The hallway lead to a cave-like room which lead to more hallways and cave-like rooms. Before he knew it he had stumbled onto an entire city underground and attached to his home. The city was completely empty and abandoned but it had every amenity you would need to sustain a society. What he had stumbled on by accident was Derinkuyu and The underground cities of Cappadocia.
underground city 1

These tunnels are believed to be hand dug around the 15th and 12th century BCE. They sheltered the people and their food from the extreme climates above. They also served as protection from an enemy attack.

underground city 2

Here is A small drawing of what these underground cities look like. The ground is primarily made of ash and volcanic material making it easy to excavate and still very durable. No one is sure who first occupied the underground city however it is certain that many groups have occupied it over the centuries.

underground city 3

With up to 11 floors at points accessible to the public, the city reaches depths of over 280 feet below the surface. 11 floors have been excavated and deemed safe for tourism however it is speculated that there are over 18 floors below that have yet to be discovered.

underground city 4

The miles upon miles of tunnels are blackened from centuries of torches traveling through them. The city connects to other cities in the area spanning miles which would be able to sustain tens of thousands of people at one time.

underground city 5

The underground tunnels lead to giant rooms that housed schools, wine cellars, oil press rooms, churches, gathering halls, shops, tombs, arsenals, livestock corrals, escape routes and water wells separated from the surface water. 

underground city 6

There are over 100 entrances to the underground cities but each and every one of them are hidden behind bushes or walls, even courtyards had entrances that were hidden but big enough to move livestock in and out of.

underground city 7

The entrances and other important rooms were guarded with giant stone doors. They were hand carved and weigh up to 1,00 pounds. Some are over 5 feet in diameter.

underground city 8

Underground river systems were used as drinking sources in order to avoid being poisoned by surface water susceptible to enemies above ground.

underground city 10

 How amazing is this place? I’m astounded that it was completely built by hand.

underground city 11

The size of the rooms is incredible. Right now about 10% of the underground city is open to the public but it was only discovered in 1963 so experts still have a lot to excavate and document.

underground city 12

This is one of the well shafts. They built it so that the vent shaft did not reach the surface. This would prevent any poisoning from enemies on the surface.

underground city 13

This is a vertical staircase leading to a floor below. These lead to most levels and can be very dangerous. 

underground city 14

 

 

The tunnels were dug very narrow to force people to walk through them single file. This would give the people living in the underground cities an advantage over their enemies. 

underground city 16

The room above is a wine cellar and cold food storage. The amount of detail and time that went into each room is impressive to say the least. To think that this may still be sitting undiscovered if it weren’t for one man who decided to remodel his home. He knocked down one wall and opened a door to another society completely hidden underground. A society hidden for thousands of years only to revealed in 1963.

 

ALONE IN THE DARK – AGAIN

The original Alone in the Dark I liked almost as well as the original Silent Hill. One of my very favorite survival horror-games of all time.

I don’t know what this will be like but it looks interesting. Although the archaeological and preternatural puzzles and the clues of the original were just as fascinating to me as the horror. So I very much hope they leave in the exploration parts of the game and do not turn it into a mere shooter.

The new Alone in the Dark mixes Left 4 Dead with Lovecraftian horror

Atari is returning to its Alone in the Dark series of survival horror games this holiday season with Alone in the Dark: Illumination, a different take on the franchise that’s more similar to Left 4 Dead than the original ’90s Alone in the Dark games or the 2008 reboot. Developed by a new studio called Pure FPS, Illumination brings co-op and online play to the series for the first time, and the studio is hoping it can honor the franchise’s heritage while delivering something fresh.

Los Angeles-based Pure FPS is led by CEO Jason Brice, who was previously the head of the indie studio Plastic Piranha. That company released the first-person shooter Rekoil in January to a poor reception, but Brice told Polygon in an interview earlier this week that he learned a lot on that project, and that the two studios are very different.

“We took the foundation of what was working” at Plastic Piranha, said Brice, and “shed most of the Rekoil” team for Pure FPS. The new studio also brought on some former 38 Studios employees, and has been working on Illumination with a team of about 20 individuals, plus some outsourcing. The project came into being after a chance meeting between Brice and some Atari representatives during a Christmas golf tournament last year, and the company offered Alone in the Dark to Pure FPS…

 

THE INDIAN FIGHTERS

What this country definitely needs is more “Indian Fighters.”

Do you know what I mean by Indian Fighters? I don’t mean people trained to fight Indians, I mean men and women (civilian and military) who are trained by Indians to fight like Indians. As occurred in the French and Indian Wars, and like with the early settlers.

We’ve lost the edge the Indians gave us. We’ve lost the things they taught us.

We need those things back. In a bad way. Especially nowadays.

We need to retrain ourselves as Indian Fighters. Both in the Real World and even in the practice of our games.

​What Tactical Tomahawks Are For And How To Use One

​What Tactical Tomahawks Are For And How To Use OneExpand

From the Native Americans to Vietnam War soldiers, the venerable Tomahawk is finding new favor in this era of asymmetric warfare and, well, with the guys who prepare for battle when they go camping. This is what they’re for and how you can actually find a use for one.

To find out, we talked with SOG Specialty Knives and Tools‘ Chris Cashbaugh, a decent left-handed tomahawk thrower. SOG and its products were inspired by the knives and tomahawks of MACV-SOG, a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert operations before and during the Vietnam War.

IndefinitelyWild: How does a tomahawk differ from an axe or hatchet?

Chris Cashbaugh: Typically, an axe or hatchet is not designed specifically for military or tactical uses. Axes excel at chopping, splitting, shaving and more, plus they can be used for many of the same chores as an edged tool. The handle or grip is typically more ergonomic in shape and sometimes offers multiple hand positions and an axe or its little brother, the hatchet, is typically heavier to help facilitate chopping. In many ways, axes and hatchets are designed for one activity — chopping — and they do it very well.

A tomahawk is going to be lighter. A ‘hawk is more useful for combat and the straight handle is ideal for releasing while throwing. It does good job at bushcraft operations and can handle some chopping, but it’s not designed like an axe for that one chore. They are fun to take into the wilderness and throwing ‘hawks is a real blast.

Also, they have a military/tactical look to them and a deep military history.

IW: Are they actually useful as a breaching tool for the military? Most guys I know say they typically use explosives and rams to “kick” down doors.

CC: In quick response situations they can be used to breach doors and windows. This is true in situations where there might be a fortified door or there isn’t enough time to setup an explosive charge. They are excellent tools for breaking glass — particularly using the spike — and they are small enough in the hand that they can get that job done quickly and in tight quarters.

IW: What uses do they have for soldiers beyond breaching?

CC: Tomahawks can be used for chopping, splitting, digging, prying or even cutting rope. Typically, anything that an edged tool can be used for, you can use a tomahawk for. It might not be the best option for any one of those jobs, but it will work in a pinch and it’s a tool that can do multiple jobs. That’s very beneficial to soldiers.

I guess, theoretically, they can be used in close-quarters combat, but that doesn’t figure into the design nor is it an expected uses.

They are also widely used for throwing at targets. If you’ve never done that, it’s a really fun way to pass the time if you’re sitting around base, waiting for your next patrol.

IW: When did the tomahawk first find popularity with modern soldiers and how has it evolved to suit there needs?

CC: Tomahawks, or some version of them, have been popular with the military since the 18th century and were used by both sides of the American Revolution. Robert’s Rangers, the story goes, used them in the French and Indian War, which is neat when you consider the name is a version of an Algonquin word for a stone-headed tool of the same shape.

During the Revolution, tomahawks were valued for their versatility in wilderness tasks and effectiveness as a close-quarters weapon. As modern firearms increased in reliability, the need for a close quarters weapon wained. Then, in the mid-1960s, there was a rise in popularity for them among American troops in the Vietnam War. The MACV-SOG group, from which SOG Knives takes its name, had a version of the tomahawk, which are valuable collector’s items today.

They have seen a big surge in popularity with the military and general population over the last 10 years, due to introductions of new designs and the unique needs of current urban battles. The biggest evolution in the tomahawk has been the transition from natural handles like wood to more modern, advanced materials like glass-reinforced nylon, composites and metals that make them both lighter and stronger.

​What Tactical Tomahawks Are For And How To Use One

SILENT HILLS

Silent Hill(s)

By far the scariest and spookiest game I ever played was Silent Hill. So I’m really looking forward to this:

Also most of the music from Silent Hill was terrifying, especially if listened to while playing alone in the dark. Some of it was sad, disturbing, and beautiful all at once. such as this:

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