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First draft o a narrative timeline of the chaotic medical evacuation /aftermath, combining what has been made public - livestream, news accounts, b-roll videos, helicopter footage, etc. - needs input pls

2023.03.22 01:10 Jean_dodge67 First draft o a narrative timeline of the chaotic medical evacuation /aftermath, combining what has been made public - livestream, news accounts, b-roll videos, helicopter footage, etc. - needs input pls

TLDR This is a crude and rough initial attempt to place many known events into a narrative order with some semblance of a time stamp to them. It concerns the time of 12:50 to aproximately 3pm? or later the day of the shootings.
lengthy intro, feel free to skip this part
You will see I don't get too far on the time stamp part, and I'm sure I'm leaving out known and likely vital events we know of, too. But the sources are scattered and their narratives jumbled as well. It does begin to sketch a picture though, to tell the story as best as I can from the top of my head. I'd like to make this a lot more factual and probably should make it a lot less "editorial," as well. But it is like the old joke, what do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the lake? "A good start."
I'm POSITIVE some of this is wrong. But I wanted to start somewhere before it all gets turned to mush in my brain. I keep notes but later they don't always make perfect sense to me because all the information comes in from every angle and it's spinning like a top, usually as well. . I'm not a historian, or a true crime reporter. I'm an amateur on the internet in this regard, please forgive me and help me get it right where you can. I dont mean to offend anyone, either. Hopefully we are all in this together, to establish the truth here. How can we have any real opinions or accountability or make the best policy decisions moving forward, or honor the fallen, or sue the heck out of one another, for that matter, without first establishing the basic facts.
It's just what sloughed off my keyboard this morning as I woke and once again tried to make sense of what makes no sense. why, ten months on we have to peice this together from corporate news accounts' hastily assembled snippets of B-roll, local rumor, internet conjecture (mine and yours, dear readers), leaks and bodycams edited and truncated by a hired PR firm for the city of Uvalde, and other odd sources coming across the ether and "over the transom," meaning we don't know who told us this.
This will be a partial timeline from a shattered afternoon where almost everyone present was in some sort of a state of shock, yet waving cheap and crude videocameras of various sorts and disordered eventual custody around in back of a school no one paid much attention to before, and that will soon be razed to the ground. And about which NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE other than to board up the windows and wipe up the blood. One important source seems to be a "whistleblower" who may in fact be a "bad actor" working to just help spread out bad news as slowly and poorly as possible, selectively omitting the worst of the worst. Who can say?
It's a portrait of chaos, drawn from chaos. A vision of hell from someone who wasn't even there, but can't stop imagining it somehow. I have little idea why. Some of my friends' children were there, but they were not in the 4th grade. It's probably all none of my business, my only real connection is that my children go to public schools in Texas. And I helped pay for these public records that are so well hidden. That at least means something to me. The rest just seems to spring from common decency and having an empathetic heart. I couldn't rightly say why any of us are here almost a year later but we are. It all started with a bang. And it all ends in sin and tears, like my grandmother would say.
The TLDR is that 21 people were murdered and a bunch of people who were only attempted to be murdered were mishandled by idiot cowards and dragged hither and yon while parents were tackled, tased and traumatized. The rest is just the gory sad details.
Don't read it if you can can help it. Horesman, pass by. But if you must, know this: it isn't pretty and it likely won't fix much of anything. But maybe just maybe it's part of path towards eventual healing or as Senator Gutierrez says, looking forward someday to "a slightly duller ache of pain."
There is no good place to start this narrative, the story of the "Aftermath." This is the wrong place but it's where I began so here it is:
Draft Narrative:
If it was Noah and AJ who ended up in an ambulance with Mayah, it seems like one of them may have originally been on the bus but taken off fairly quickly. The narrative from the lawsuit by the bus driver seems to say a boy was put on her bus but quickly taken off because of the seriousness of his injuries, or perhaps like with Mrs Mireles, the frantic cops seemed to have tunnel vision and couldn't find the ambulances at first and when one was finally right in front of them, they stumbled towards it instead.
It's also related that a dead child was placed into one ambulance, and that's why there were three in the other. Extrapolating from there it's also possible Mrs Mireles was eventually taken off the sidewalk and put in the ambulance with the dead boy still inside, or maybe she was moved to an ambulance the finally arrived from Main Street holding area.
The WP/TT/PP story has an excellently detailed animation of where ambulances and school busses came and went, beginning with the initial two ambulances. But it doesn't say who was placed inside any of them. The lead bus leaves the line at the funeral home where at least two livestream cams had caught the frantic scramble of LEOs to march and carry kids from the school to the bus. I'm not sure how many kids were on the bus. I haven't even re-read the lawsuit account yet.
Finding a sync point in order to put time stamps to the animation and the citizen livestream recordings for us poor saps denied full versions of public records videos is difficult. It seems likely the bulk of vehicle movement animation is drawn from DPS helicopter video and of course the funeral home cameras. We don't have those, but we can see snippets of them her and there the DPS helicopter at least. It's the one with the rangefinder marking and what looks almost like a weapon system crosshairs superimposed on screen. The story itself mentions LEO bodycam as well. Don't forget Crimson Elizondo is said to have ridden the "BORTAC express" school bus and wore an operating bodycam.
But the buses began to move - then stalled - before 1:01. That seems to tell us a few things - the "triage" was perfunctory and swift in getting the kids who could walk - and some who were carried - from the school to the BORTAC Express. But it took more than just one or two minutes, it seesm like it took almost ten to get children onto the BORTAC Express, but less than ten probably. We know one child was so wounded he was taken off the bus and put into an ambulance. likely the one manned by the EMT who treated thee kids, Mayah, AJ and Noah. That's not certain tho.
Two busses in the lead turn left onto Geraldine. Others go right. Were some on a route to civic center? Or to hospital? I need to check routes.
In a sick, sad moment on the Adam Ladezma livestream, seemingly after 12:50 and before 1:01 a US Marshall threatens parents, telling them harshly to move behind the busses or else their kids won't be brought out, and that the present delay is their fault, for standing on the grass off the street north of the busses, blocking no one and nothing. It seems like the scrum of agents are waiting inside, calling and stalling for a path to be cleared for them, rather than trusting that the public wants the same thing they want - for medical aid to be swift.
Some 5-10 minutes earlier the news had spread by word of mouth that the shooter was "in custody" or dead, it seems. The crowd is indeed increasingly distraught, frantic and hostile to LEOs. Some had likely seen a stretcher come out of the school. possibly with the dead child who was locked into an ambulance. And then abandoned, visibly, to some who could see it just across the street, undoubtedly. An air of pandemonium was cresting. No doubt many heard the gunfire at 12:50 or at minimum saw the LEOs n the west doorway courtyard react, after more than an hour of standing around trying to look tough, or whatever.
Then, a gaggle of LEOs, possibly BORTAC and seemingly although not visibly, DPS Crimson Elizondo among them rushes the scrum of children to the first bus, number 17, as seen on a livestream video from the parking lot at a distance in a blurry video. All hell breaks loose. On the door side/ funeral home side, a livestream cam catches some of the chaos as a distraught father is tackled by LEOs who prevent him from reaching his son. The crowd screams in protest, and women begin to loudly and openly wail in abject agony. They've seen THEIR children are bleeding, wounded, in shock, or worse. and all they are told is to "stay back" by the same people who didn't go in an hour ago and get them out.
They should be livid and they should be cursing and shouting, IMO. In some regards, these cops are accessory to murder IMO. A judge will never likely assess that. But they've kidnappend the kids and held them in police custody, arguably but not prevented the shooter from killing them at will for 82 minutes. And they've physcialy blocked those who were willing to immediately intervene.
On the other side of the bus, citizen Adam Ladezma, whose nieces and nephews go to Robb "films" or livestream-captures a child who, on encouragement from his family crawls out the back window of bus 17, the "BORTAC Express" as I'm calling it and is helped down and spirited away from the custody of the lawmen. As you watch, it's likely you feel a sigh of relief. These are poor custodians of children, one is likely assured despite the breakdown order occurring. Anyone would want to get away from their custody and the child readily complies. "When you find yourself going thru hell, keep going."
So there are all these things happening and more, and I'm attempting to put them into a coherent timeline. This is a bad, preliminary attempt to do so but I think the clues exist to do a much better job of outlining the actions. Perhaps the first pass should just be to name all the things that we see or know happened, in whatever order we have. I'm sorta doing that here but not in bullet-outline form, pardon the very poor choice of words.
But as the busses soon get moving, we know the BORTAC Express driver has locked the back door and that she sees Eva Mireles "dead" on the sidewalk being given CPR or at least lying there bleeding. And we know a child is taken off the bus by who she says is BORTAC, I think. She's made her initial turn onto Geraldine and the bus behind her follows her. lead. Does it have kids on it, the #2 bus? Does it have a LEO on it, or instructions where to go? I don't think so. It's just going. There may be a picture of aaLEO on the street speaking to the driver, IIRC, Ill try to find it. The driver wants the heck out of there, who wouldn't? Maybe it hopes to pick up more students and wishes to be closer. Seemingly, no one is put on board as it waits on Gerldine that I can see evidenc of however. It follows the Express off the scene.
The busses move far enough that the #3 and 4, 5, busses can turn right. As they do so, they too seem to stall as a helicopter comes in to land. I think it is the DPS chopper but I cannot be certain. If so, it's potentially one of the things that has delayed the arrival of the medical Air Flite choppers, although that sounds like mainly an oversight or foible of the Medina Fire chief, too. One of the choppers has blood supplies. The end up not getting used at the scene. I'm not sure if they go to the Uvalde hospital, the blood supplies, or back to a Trauma 1 center in San Antonio.
Dust covers the sky and drifts eventually onto the wounded (Eva Mireles, probably, gets covered in it) and and the ambulances that are newly arriving. A famous long-lens photo shows what looks like a 9/11style ash blizzard or. snowstorm-from-hell on the scene looking down Geraldine from the front of the school to chaos, disorder. We move quickly from two ambulances, one locked with a dead child inside and the other overcrowded with kids bleeding on the captains chair, to six or eight ambulances.
As the DPS helicopter moves towards the playground, the camera swings back to the west entrance and the bus lane. A stretcher gurney seems to be going IN to a newly arrived ambulacne. (See the first video WP/TT/PP story) Another gurney seemingly is OUT of another folded low on the ground by the tail of a ambulace. The tail end of the #2 bus is still there but begins to leave.
DPS tactical from all the way up in Austin has arrived somehow at 12:58 (too late, they were always going to be too late for the kids) in the midst of the bungled evacuations. Somewhere before all this they sprint to the courtyard by the west door, choking the passage of anyone. News helicopter seems to capture some of it, as well as news cameras down at the front of the school, and still photogs, too. it looks to all of them like something important is happening. It isn't. Not there, and not with them.
Somewhere in here SWAT from San Antonio enters the mix. I'm very loose on that timing. They're hard to tell apart from DPS tactical or SRT or whatever they are called. Is it them that runs as a big squad? I'm unsure. Nor can I spot where BORTAC huddles up afterwards. I think they stay inside the building because we don't spot them outside, not at tthe west and not at the south. They didn't all stay on the bus they commandeered. DPS Crimson Elizondo did, but who else?
We know ambulances have crawled across peoples yards, criss-crossing like a post apocalypse freeway scene to get around abandoned cop cars blocking the roads. They start arriving all from one direction as the second bus behind BORTAC Express finally manages to scoot off from the front of the school.
There's some sort of "load and go, load and go" action here that we don't have much information about unless we extrapolate what child was wounded how and eliminate the trio of AJ, Noah and Mayah from them, possibly.
At least one medical helicopter manages to land, to no avail at some point. Everyone is racing somewhere in an ambulance. Xavier, to his demise somewhere west of Hondo. Mrs Mirales never leaves the ambulance at the curb, as she desperately attended to possibly at near-gunpoint after UPC cops and attending EMTs have seemingly furiously pumped what little blood she had left onto the sidewalk, because her heart stopped from the traumatic way she was dragged from the room, seemingly and of course her multiple gunshot wounds from an AR-15. The "load and go" kids must also include the teacher from 111, who has first been placed in a cop car, or attempted- he didnt fit - and then onto the tailgate/ lift gate of a fire department truck? Possibly the one in the funeral home lot, which must have freaked the crowd out to witness, then finally into one of the "maze runner" arriving ambulances.
Again, I refer us all to the WP/TT/PP animation for clues to that. Somehow, "load and go" period ends. When? When the ambulances stop moving, whenever that is.
And then, finally, Rangers lock the scene down, even closing the gate to the west door. It's now a crime scene and they are in charge of the investigation. The Justice of the Peace, acting as coroner is enroute to pronounce the less than 18? bodies as dead. Unsure on the math here. Three left the classroom with a pulse who died. 21 died. (plus the shooter, #22). One body was locked in an ambulance. How many left in the classrooms when the rangers lock it down? 22 minus three who died and one who was improperly removed and locked in a (much needed) ambulance. 18 bodies including the shooters, is that right?
Eventually each is designated a letter of the alphabet and DNA sampled on site so the pieces of children and teachers can be sorted and reassembled, or at least distributed to the funeral homes in the right batches. Several are said to be more or less headless. On one, a pair of Green converse with a little heart-shaped sharpie drawn on the toe, that aids in identifaction.
Parents have been told to go to the civic center. Many are going to race to every hospital they can think of, including San Antonio instead. Mothers, fathers and grandparent must all separate to cover more ground, adding to the panic and desperation. Some have been told to go to the high school, but the high school gets some sort of possible gun threat? Again, NO ONE IS IN CHARGE.
On the curb near the front of the school sits Lexi's Rubio's mother and deputy father, utterly bereft. He's been kept out of the classroom but seems to have been told the definite news their child is not coming out. Curious news crews videotape and photograph them in their grief, until the mother of one parent seemingly arrives to join them. Eventually, they thread their way onto the campus to get away from the news anchors assembled by the school sign in the same intersection where Officer Hill had parked to witness Coronado's "wild ride" at 11:31 or so. 82 minutes and then some have passed, as have at least 19 souls? by now, some still fighting for life, the shooter one among the many dead, yet separate in category only. The blood of all spreads to mingle in the footprints and pools of fluids on the floors the gruesome CSI process begins in earnest.
In the queue on the video projector's mechanism, "Lilo and Stitch" awaits the Disney happy ending. Elvis won't be singing the finale BURNING LOVE today. Elvis has left the building. Elvis is deader than Elvis. And the children are going to meet him in Heaven, if you believe what the King does and loved to sing about. "Farther along, we'll understand it./ Farther along, we'll understand why."
submitted by Jean_dodge67 to UvaldeTexasShooting [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 23:37 Careless_Reaction_42 Minecraft is a christian game

ou start above ground in an outdoors environment filled with hills, mountains, oceans, grassy plains, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, and forests. You can also dig into the ground and find caverns, underground waterfalls, and lava. Even though it's all low-res blocks it's really beautiful!
Minecraft uses procedurally generated worlds based on Intelligent Design theory. Front-loading by the creator gives Minecraft worlds specified complexity, just like the real world.
In Alpha, the player isn't told what to do or given any back-story, but it is clear to those familiar with the Bible that the game takes place in a world much like it was shortly after the Fall. The land is vast and unspoiled by human settlements, but death has entered the world. During the day you gather resources to build shelters and craft supplies. When night falls, demons appear and try to kill you.
At first glance the game doesn't appear overtly Christian, but the more you play the more it become apparent that the goal of its creator (a programmer named Notch) was to teach Biblical wisdom.
During the day, lambs frolic around the countryside, reminding us of the Lamb of God.
Many lessons from the Bible are delivered to the player through intuitive immersion: For example, the player learns through trial and error to build his shelter on solid rock instead of falling sand, much as we should build our lives on the rock of Jesus. This is the same lesson taught in Matthew 7:24-27, however by engaging the player in actively experiencing the parable, the game subtly and effectively reaches Secular gamers who might otherwise reject explicit witnessing.
"I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock."
One of the central lessons comes when the player realizes that the most important thing to craft in the game are torches. Demons can spawn anywhere there is darkness, like at night or in caves. Torches keep this from happening, conveying the importance of light in a dark world. This makes the player more receptive to the good news that Jesus is the light: "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46) and "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Building shelter and torches will protect you from the darkness.
Just like in real life, wandering around Minecraft in the dark is a sure way to fall victim to demons. Again, this conveys Jesus' teachings: "If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him" (John 11:9-10). The demons' fondness for darkness and spontaneously combusting in sunlight are also Biblically founded: "They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof ... For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death" (Job 24:13,17).
Demons burst into flame when exposed to daylight (Job 24:17).
In the beginning, the player is fearful of darkness, but soon learns that light provides safety and his fears subside: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1).
The Biblical themes of solidness of rock and righteousness of light are central to Minecraft's gameplay. Even the most Secular of gamers will have these values instilled in them effortlessly without realizing they are learning the Gospel.
Another Biblical theme is Spiritual Warfare. Eventually the player is able to craft armor and a sword. This is necessary to survive the scariest of the demons, the creeper, which can silently sneak up on you and explode. Unlike other demons, creepers can survive sunlight without burning, teaching the player the value of putting on the Full Armor of God in order to engage demonic powers (Ephesians 6:10-18).
(And back to the theme of light, another enemy, the giant spiders, can also survive in the day. But sunlight makes them become peaceful, showing how the light of Jesus can transform even the most wicked among us.)
To reach the Secular gamers who would never play an explicitly Christian game, Minecraft needs to be subtle and non-threatening, teaching Christian values without scaring off those whose hearts have been hardened by years of anti-Christian conditioning. Still, there are clues to the Christian purpose of the game. The most obvious is the name: Minecraft Alpha. This is of course a reference to Jesus' revelation that He is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22:13). Also, the only animals in the game you can kill for food are pigs. This emphasizes the New Covenant with Jesus where we can now eat delicious ham -- a common ground we share with most Secularized people.
The other branch of Minecraft, Classic, doesn't have demons, darkness, torches, or many other Gospel elements that Alpha has. Instead, you are simply allowed to build whatever you want using an infinite supply of all types of blocks. This branch, based on an earlier version of the game, is free to play online and the multiplayer mode of it has a more social feel, kind of like a chat room where you can build things.
Classic multiplayer is a great tool for reaching the unsaved.
It's this multiplayer mode, in both Alpha and Classic, that's the true strength of Minecraft as not just a Biblical game, but a witnessing platform. Once Secular gamers are hooked on the innovative, open-ended, gameplay and have had many key Biblical values sowed in their minds, then they will be receptive to being approached by Minecraft missionaries in the multiplayer servers. Here is the real beginning of Salvation for these lost gamers, as they discover how the values they learned playing Minecraft apply to the Truth of God's plan for us all.
Minecraft Alpha is still under heavy development, with many more improvements and features planned. You can pre-purchase it now for half off the price of the final version (about $13.50). It's already a hit among Secular gamers and probably the biggest cross-over game on the Christian market today. Even though it is still a work in progress, I'm giving it †††††. It is an excellent game that teaches core Biblical values and represents the future of online Evangelism.
On Sunday a new Minecraft version (1.2.0) was released that increases the urgency of the game's message of Salvation by including the ability to witness Hell first-hand.
(The game's creator, Notch, was originally going to call this realm "Hell", but he thought that would make the Biblical origins of the game too obvious to the religion-averse unsaved gamers he's trying to reach, so he used the euphemism "Nether".)
Everything is on fire!
The Nether (Hell) is presented as a vast underground cavern composed of brimstone with lakes of fire (Rev. 20:10), without light (Mat. 8:12) except for the fires that burn everywhere. Fire is the central theme of this realm. You even travel there by building a portal out of obsidian and lighting it on fire.
Don't let this happen to you!
The unsaved wander around Hell in constant torment, their corrupted flesh eaten by worms (Mark 9:44) as they wail and purr in madness (Mat. 13:50). Pale demons (Rev. 6:8) patrol the cavernous skies spitting explosive fireballs at you. There is no water here to quench your thirst (Luke 16:24). If you bring some in a bucket and try to use it, it just evaporates.
Minecraft's Biblically accurate vision of Hell is very disturbing and scary and will convince any unsaved person of the necessity of accepting Christ into their hearts before it is too late.
Another new Biblical feature is a fishing minigame (Luke 5:1-11), which adds fish to the already existing loaves of bread as the most reliable sources of sustenance (Mat. 14:13-21, etc.).
Minecraft continues to be updated as the official release approaches. It's now up to version 1.9 (or at least the pre-release of 1.9). Besides lots of improvements in the technology such as a new lighting system, and more building materials such as pistons, Notch has added new mobs that further flesh out his vision of delivering Biblical teachings through interactive allegories.
Most interesting are the Endermen. The name is a portmanteau of "end of men", meaning the end of Man's stewardship over Earth, which the player's activity represents, and the beginning of the new Kingdom of God after Jesus returns. The Endermen come in the night and steal your blocks, causing destruction to your buildings. This is a clear reference to the analogy from 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 of the day of the Lord coming "as a thief in the night" and bringing sudden destruction to the unsaved. Also, the Endermen drop "enderpearls", which if you use on a pig will do absolutely nothing (a clear reference to Matthew 7:6).
A more vaguely Biblical mob is the Blaze, which seems to be a simplified, blocky version of the whirlwind of fire from Ezekiel 1:4 that marks the arrival of God's battle chariot. This was just added to the pre-release so it doesn't do much yet other than shoot fire and drop blaze rods, which might be a reference to the golden measuring rod that Jesus uses in Revelation 21:15 to measure New Jerusalem. It's a bit confusing, but I'm sure Notch is going somewhere with this. Maybe it'll be clearer in 1.10.
Much less vague are the villager mobs which appear in procedurally generated villages. They wear monk-like robes and are all currently named "Testificate" (ie. "one who testifies"... maybe a little too on the nose there, Notch ;) but this name will be replaced with their jobs, one being a priest. Again, these were just added and they don't do anything, but Notch has said that they will assign missionary work. Also, since they seem like Catholic mobs, what with having a priest and the Latin "Testificate", perhaps you have to convert their villages. I'm sure we'll learn more in future updates.
Similar to the villages are the strongholds, which are underground. They are in a state of ruin and populated with the usual zombies, skeletons and creepers, plus a new mob, silverfish (which are not true fish, which represent Jesus, but deceitful insects). This addition, and especially the use of the name "stronghold", is very telling as this can only be a reference to the Spiritual Strongholds that we erect to protect us from pain, that we must tear down in order to free ourselves from the clutches of Satan. Notch has said that there will be bosses in the strongholds that you must defeat. Devils perhaps? Combined with the silverfish swarming out of the walls when you try to break them, hindering you from tearing down the stronghold, we're definitely getting into some seriously deep Spiritual Warfare allegory here!
The most exciting news is that Notch has promised there will be end game content, so adding all this up, perhaps what we're seeing are the building blocks (pun intended!) for a game about the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth! Could this be what Notch had planned all along? All the unsaved who have been playing will be so pleasently surprised when they hear the good news!
Unfortunately I need to address a rumor that has been going around about Minecraft. Some people have been writing me to say that Notch is really an Atheist. Apparently they heard this on something called "Twitter", which is like a Secular version of Christianchirp. I got permission from Pastor Hoskins to use his unfiltered computer to check this out and what I found out was that there are a lot of people creating fake Notch accounts on Twitter, like "Communist_Notch" and "Lying_Notch", and writing all sorts of silly or even offensive things, including that he's an Atheist. The people behind this have even set up a blog called "The Faces of Notch" [NSFC] telling people how to make fake Notch accounts to cause mischief and confusion. Don't be fooled by these fake Notchs! Notch's game and the Christian themes woven into it speaks for itself.
I have troubling news about Minecraft. The game has been hijacked! Notch, the man who created Minecraft single-handedly and whose vision of a game that teaches the Gospel to the unsaved in a non-threatening manner made it a cross-over hit, has been pushed out of control of Minecraft's development by the people running Mojang, the company he formed with the profits from Minecraft. (Notch wasn't the CEO of Mojang since he just wanted to work on making games. He hired someone to be his boss. Bad idea?)
The game's now under the control of a guy named Jeb Bergensten. Since Jeb was hired last year by Notch to help out with development, he has been adding all sorts of questionable content, like occultic "enchantments" of weapons using the captured souls of demons, and drug labs that let you brew amphetamine-like drinks. Now he's been put in charge of the game and Notch is no longer allowed to work on it.
The last thing that Notch added before he was removed from development was a final goal you had to work toward where you must travel to the End (ie. the End Times) and defeat the Dragon (ie. Satan, see Rev. 12-13). Could this less cryptic Biblical content have been the cause of his removal?
I don't know what's going on at Mojang. Has there been a coup? Is Notch OK? His Twitter account, which is probably under the control of Mojang, is filled with all sorts of strange messages that sound like the fake Notches mentioned above, with Atheist stuff and.. weird math or something. Did anti-Christians realize the threat that Minecraft posed to their hold on the mainstream game industry and seize control to pervert the true meaning of Minecraft?
submitted by Careless_Reaction_42 to Christianity [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 22:27 PutridBite Last of the Defenders - Ch 28

Welcome new readers. Please start with chapter one https://www.reddit.com/HFY/comments/11ai7iv/last_of_the_defenders_ch_01/
Previously https://www.reddit.com/HFY/comments/11xe5m5/last_of_the_defenders_ch_27/
“I‘ve always been better able to swallow bad news with a good meal,” Li said as she walked around a counter and began rifling through a tall metal closet. She pulled out two wrapped bags. "Sadly, we’ll have to settle for this excrement."
Allah took the bags when offered, and a pair of bowls. Li grabbed another tiny spade, this one with a jagged edge. She opened her mouth, blowing on the spork and rubbed it on her forearm. She stepped to a cupboard and set a cup inside. “Dispense 2.5 liters of water at 343 Kelvin, Demeter.”
Steaming hot water filled the tall glass. Li placed a second under inside the cupboard, “Repeat command, Demeter,” and the second glass filled.
She walked to the bench opposite Allah and set the glasses down. “It's hot so be careful,” Li cautioned, tearing open the smaller pouch. She poured its contents inside Allah’s bowl, “Veggie broth number one for the sick kitty,” and Allah poured the glass of hot water in as well. It looked, as the powder started to disperse into the water, like settling silt, “And soy chicken chunks with almond cheese spread for me--yum yum!” she grimaced, as she pulled out three packets. She held the smallest of the three aloft. “But I do get a cookie.”
Allah sniffed the broth, remembering to bless the meal with “Xièxiè nǐ de zhōngwén shíwù” before sipping slowly. It was weak, bland, but it was warm. She had contented herself with a few sips of water during the quorum and her belly now demanded more.
Li stabbed her spade into Allah’s glass, stirring vigorously, “Sorry,” the human said, “but look on the bright side. This time tomorrow,” she ripped off the top of the largest pouch and Allah’s nose was assaulted with a smell that could only be described as “artificial”, “you should be well enough to sample this culinary delight.”
“I think I would prefer the broth,” and she took another sip. It did taste better when the silt was mixed. Li chuckled, pouring half her water into the large bag and ripped open another. That smelled even worse as a brown powder puffed free when water was applied. Li stirred the contents of both vigorously before pouring the orangey brown “cheese” into the freeze dried soy chicken substitute, and spooning both into her own bowl.
The human took a bite as Allah hid a wince behind another sip. Li chewed woodenly, swallowed and said “Not bad for a fifty year shelf life,” and dug back into the packets, searching. “If I know those pesky anglos--Ah ha!” She pulled out the tiniest pouch yet, ripped off the top and a smell Allah could only describe as tamed fire struck her nostrils as the human squeezed red liquid into her meal. “Hot sauce!” Li grinned and took another bite, nodding, “but I should’ve saved it for the cookie.”
Allah nodded acceptance of the tip and finished her broth.
“Want some more?” Li asked as she chewed.
“I would be honored by such a gift,” Allah nodded her head up and down, imitating the human response. Though, truth told fully, she was not so certain she would feel as honored by a second bowl.
Li did not get up, but instead pointed at the packet the broth had been contained in. “See those symbols?” Allah nodded, committing the human glyphs to memory. “Go find a matching pouch.”
Allah stood, sniffing and walked cautiously behind the counter. She used her claws to pop the metal closets open, gasping at the rush of cold air. Frozen air; cold as a warm winter day. She looked over her shoulder at Li, then carefully riffled through the icey box.
Several had similar glyphs as her pouch, but they were too big, the glyphs in the wrong order.
She opened another box, finding small packets of the right size but…wrong glyphs. Was the trough before the broken box with a line in its center or after. The two tails with a dash in the center had sat next to each other, she was certain…
“Need help?” Li called from the table.
“I will find it,” Allah called, “thank you for the offer.” There! Two curved tails with a dash in their middle. The trough was before the broken box. She pulled the packet out, returning to the table with tight lips.
Li, nodded. “Good. Now,” she lifted Allah’s glass to her. “Do you remember the temperature I gave Demeter?”
“Too poin’tah f’eye’vah Li’tours,” Allah fumbled with the words.
“That's the volume,” Li corrected. “But you need both. The temperature was three hundred forty three degrees Kelvin. You try.”
T-ta-ta’ree hun der red f’or--bach! Ta’ree hun’red f’ord’ee ta’ree da’ggg’ree Kah’el vine,” then grumbled "It feels like I am speaking with a rock in my throat!"
Li shrugged, “Welcome to English 101. Pop quiz,” she pointed to the hole in the wall. “Is to get our dim host over there to supply you with some fresh, hot water.”
Li continued eating as Allah took her glass to the square hole. She inspected the hole, saw a metal nipple sticking from its top. She placed the glass directly under and began to practice.
“Dimetar! Too poin’tah f’eye’vah Li’tours va’tour. Ta’ree hun’red f’ord’ee ta’ree da’ggg’ree Kah’el vine”
“Command not recognised,” the cheerful voice replied, translated by her metal implant. “Please restate.”
Allah sighed, bit her lip and tried again. And again. Each time, Li offered hints, coaching and encouragement. Try breaking each command down, see where he misunderstood. Enunciate, don’t growl the ‘guh’ sound.
“Dimetar?
“Yes, User Allah?”
“Too poin’tah f’eye’veh Li’tours wah tour.”
“Please specify desired temperature.”
“Ta’ree hund’red fort ee ta’ree da’gah’reez Kah’el vine.”
And water poured into the glass.
Allah took her prize in her paws and returned to the table. She set it down and beamed at Li. Then clapped her paws together so sharply that the human jerked back. Allah rushed back behind the counter, grabbed her own spork and returned to sit, panting onto the tiny jagged spade before rubbing it on her forearm.
“Proud of yourself?”
“Yes,” Allah puffed out her chest and twitched her tail as she sliced the packet open with a claw. For the first time in two days, she fed herself.
“Good,” Li spooned the last of her fake chicken and cheese into her mouth, opening the cookie. “I plan to teach you some basic commands to use if you need Demeter to help you when I’m not around. How’s that sound?"
Allah lowered her bowl and licked her lips with a small bow. “I will strive to be a worthy student.”
Li clapped her hands together, rubbing them furiously. “Then let's start with some ABCs,” but no sooner had the enthusiasm leapt to her face, it vanished.
Allah lowered her bowl in mild alarm.
Li held up a hand, her human face squishing in confusion. “Jung’s hailing me. Priority transmission. One sec,” and her eyes glassed over.
And just as quickly the human’s eyes widened in alarm “What!?!” Li stood up from the bench, jostling the table. “No, n-no. Hold it.” She looked at Allah, glowering. “Jung, repeat that last aloud.”
The AI’s voice spoke from the wall speaker “Li, these are confidential orders. I don’t like keeping secrets any more than you do--”
“It directly concerns her, Jung,” Li growled.
“Very well,” and the AI’s voice sounded resigned as he said “Stardancer and her assigned personnel are hereby ordered to leave OGLE-3219-BLG-2624L with all available haste and set course for the supply depot above Basker III. Shipboard AI is required to reconfirm receipt of message once personnel have digitally signed the read receipt.”
“And I’ll mate a monkey before I sign excrement! And neither are you, buckethead!”
“Li,” Jung soothed, “you must understand, this is a fleet command order. I am incapable of refusing such an order. If you fail to acknowledge receipt, they will ask me if it was delivered. I would be incapable of dissemination.”
“Tell them the transmission was garbled,” she countered.
“What does this mean?” Allah asked, growing alarm blossoming into new panic.
“That will not work as I have already sent my own read receipt,” Jung replied.
“Why the mate did you do that?”
“I was ordered to via direct transmission.”
“What does this mean?” Allah forced the distressed purring to stop. She would not shake herself to uselessness. "Li, Jung, what has happened?”
“They’re calling us home!” Li rounded and slammed her fists on the counter. “Without any notice of a reinforcement team.”
The human turned, a wild savagery in her dark eyes as she turned to look at Allah. The U’knock stood slowly but refused to back away in fear.
When Li spoke, spittle flew from her clenched teeth.
“We are not just leaving these people to die.”
“I empathize, Li,” Jung’s tone was soft, comforting. All Allah knew was that her world was about to die. No tone could comfort that grief. “But our orders are clear,” he continued. “If you disobey, they may begin sending instructions to Demeter to forcibly remove you.”
“Alright, alright.” Li took several calming breaths, in through her tiny nose and out through her mouth. “Alright,” and her voice retained a false calm. “Jung? Request reconfirmation on my authority. Ask them why they’re ignoring a Case Alamo.”
“I can send it immediately,” the AI replied
“You’ll send in a second,” she took another calming breath before saying “And Jung? Send it in the clear.”
That,” Jung’s voice was flat to the point of refusal, “is a violation of Secure Communication Protocol 23.9, section A, and a court-martial offense, Corporal Zhōu.”
“On my authority as acting ground forces commander of,” she paused and looked at Allah, “did your people ever name this planet?”
Allah nodded “U’dam,” she answered.
“Ground forces commander of U’dam. Note your protest, Jung, and confirm when you send the message.
“Noted,” but the AI sounded reluctant. “Sent.”
“Now,” she rubbed her face with her hands, “cut yourself out of the local circuit; I’ll call you back.”
“Li,” Jung protested.
Now Jung.”
There was a pause of heartbeats before the AI softly said “Complying.”
Li strode to a black panel on the mess hall wall. “Demeter, PDF override. Create a new partition in primary through tertiary data cores.”
“Building partitions. What file size do you require?”
“How large is your current Operating System size?”
“Demeter-907OS is currently utilizing 8.87693 yottabytes.”
“Make the partitions 9 yottabytes each.”
“Stand by,” the wooden voice replied. “Processing.
“Partitions complete.”
“Clone core OS to new partitions and label them as BACKUP ONE.”
“Cloning,” Li was bouncing back and forth on the balls of her feet; in excitement, renewed anger or impatience Allah was uncertain. “Files copied.”
“Run a scan against current OS and repair any anomalous files.”
“File check complete,” Demeter replied as Li growled a hushed “Comeon!” at the black panel. “Three thousand, one hundred and eight errors repaired across all copies.”
“Seal partitions labeled BACKUP ONE under Administrator Zhōu, Li, Corporal. Serial Service Number 218-08-986-42.”
“Files sealed. Private login access required for BACKUP ONE on primary core, secondary core and tertiary core. Would you like to open these files?”
"Now,” Li growled, shaking her arms like pieces of rope, “time to mate some excrement up. Demeter, access all thermopylae command files.”
“Accessing,” the wooden voice replied.
“Open program labeled ‘Naughty Boy’,” she ordered.
“Ope--Warning! Virus detected! Administrati--
“Authorization Zhōu, Li, Corporal! Serial Service Number 218-08-986-42,” Li shouted as a shrill alarm sounded. She slapped her palm against the black panel on the wall “Open ‘Naughty Boy’. PDF override authority!"
“Opeeeeeeee--” Demeter began, but the wooden voice hung. The speaker chirped, hiccuped and was silent. The mess hall lights flickered.
Li sighed, sitting back down on the nearest bench. “Thank you Sven,” she whispered.
“What has happened?” Allah asked. “What have you done to Demeter?”
“Hopefully,” Li forced a grin and patted the bench beside her. Allah came to sit next to her friend, “I’ve removed his ability to accept command instructions from offworld. Which sucks because that means Jung can’t interface directly via the comms until we establish a hard line connection.
“Demeter?” she called to the open air.
“Y-y-yes Administrator Li?”
“Contact Star Dancer.”
“N-n-no user found b-b-by that name.”
Li closed her eyes in thought. “Try AI Jung, or TSN-1337."
“User founnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd. Establishing c-c-connection.”
“What is wrong with him?” the lights flickered again. Li rose from the bench, pausing to pat Allah’s thigh, and walked to a white box opposite the counter. She opened it, pulling a thin package out. Ripping one end loose, she pulled a pair of green sticks out, tossing one to the U’knock.
Li bent her stick, shaking vigorously. It began to glow a soft green.
“Naughty Boy,” the human explained, “was based off of swarmer code the Star Dancer’s tech wizard acquired. It was originally written to strip local computer cores of higher thinking capability,” she gestured to the dark hallway. ”We should get moving.”
“Sven,” Allah asked, holding her own glowing stick above her head, “He was a friend of yours and Jung?”
Li’s head bobbed in agreement. “Our boy Sven retooled it to block external intrusion attempts--hostile or friendly. Never got it to work perfectly though. He always called it his ‘kitchen sink’ program; a last ditch effort to control an OS.”
“Is that why you told Jung to go away?” Li nodded again. “What would it do to him if he had not?” and silently Allah worried What could it do if he returned?
“Hopefully nothing,” Li answered, "Jung’s too smart to catch a cold,” and she smiled as she looked over her shoulder, “but there was no point in taking a chance.”
“Li?” an anxious voice called “Are you receiving?” the AI’s voice sounded strained, distant. Allah had played with other cubs near a culvert many times, calling to each other from different ends of the tube. Jung sounded like that now.
“I hear you Jung,” Li replied. “I was starting to worry.”
"Demeter has been spamming my firewall with unhealthy requests,” Jung explained. “I had to find a clean port.” His tone grew stern as he said “I have also lost communications with the fleet network. With Demeter’s behavior, I suspect I know why.”
“That information is ‘compartmentalized’,” Li grinned.
“I appreciate your attempts to protect me,” though Jung’s voice was anything but appreciative, “but you must understand this is a stop gap measure, at best. If you intend to continue requesting fleet assistance we will have to restore long range communication and they will, in turn, repeat their order.”
“Let tomorrow's worries worry tomorrow,” Li entered the room they had sent the mayday from. “What's your ETA?”
“Ram scoops at optimal angles, reactor mass at 60% of recommended capacity,” Jung sounded more distant still, as if talking next to a runoff stream, “I’ve begun suctioning the planet’s atmosphere and should be at safe slingtravel capacity in six hours, four minutes and twenty one seconds. I should be planetside in seven hours, fifty three minutes and nine seconds.”
Li took her seat at the monitor, tapping the screen on. “How long will it take to top off the tanks? I mean cutting out all safeties and max out pressure in your tanks.”
Jung hesitated.
“Seventeen hours, one minute and fourteen seconds, approximately,” he said so quietly that the noise of the connection almost drowned him out. “That assumes I would take such a risk.”
“Jung,” Li set her hands in her lap, looking up, “I know its a big ask--”
“Overriding safety protocols, Corporal Zhōu,” Jung interrupted angrily. The tone startled Allah. Jung didn’t get angry. Even when they had fought in the CNC and later in the Star Dancer’s mess, he had remained calm. “Rescheduling for high vector mass transport. Please be aware, traveling with such volatile materials will affect my time to return.
Li’s tone was soft now. “Revised ETA RTB?”
“Approximately two days dependant on U’dam weather patterns and celestial body avoidance routes,” he said resignedly.
Li winced. “That's cutting it close.”
“I would not complain if I were in your shoes,” Jung’s tone was acidic.
“If only you/I had any feet,” Li and Jung said together. The human smiled. Jung continued “You won't have remote access to Demeter until I’m on the surface,” he cautioned.
“I'll try to behave,” she patted the black screen affectionately. “Get back here as quick as you can, old man.”
“Stay safe down there, meatbag.”
And the speaker clicked dead.
submitted by PutridBite to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 19:44 juanchissonoro A small rundown on EQ history by Recordingology

Filters and EQ have a long history.
1915:
George Ashley Campbell, working at AT&T, persuaded electrical reactance to be repurposed as audio resonance, inventing the essential building block of EQ: the L-C circuit (inductor and capacitor).
1951:
The Pultec EQP-1 becomes the first program EQ built for audio. Adding a fixed make-up gain to the passive filter section, it becomes the EQP-1A. Studio HVAC bills will never be the same.
1952:
Peter Baxandall publishes his paper in Wireless World, “Negative Feedback Tone Control” and ‘tone’ controls start appearing on home hi-fi equipment.
1972:
George Massenburg publishes his AES paper, “Parametric Equalization,” giving recording engineers just about as much signal processing flexibility in the frequency domain as they’ll ever need.
There's so much more to say about important moments and design, but maybe we aren't so aware of how we got here.
submitted by juanchissonoro to audioengineering [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 17:07 MjolnirPants Jerry and the Apocalypse: Part 53

Part 52
Glenda Wilmington, Kinda Digging This Whole Cop Gig
"If you hear anything else, give me a call," Glenda said, handing the woman a business card with her cellphone number on it. The woman accepted it and then squinted skeptically at it.
"Cooperation with an investigation is the sort of thing that parole boards like to hear about," Glenda said in response to the woman's look. That seemed to do the trick. The woman slipped the card into her ample cleavage and met Glenda's eyes.
"I will call. I have no loyalty to that man." Her sing-song Norwegian accent, as well as her tall, thick frame and bright, yellow-blonde hair contrasted with the environment; a run-down housing project in the heart of Compton. But housing for convicted felons on parole was limited, and she'd had few choices in this area. Glenda wondered idly why the woman hadn't elected to return to Norway, where they tended to be a bit more sympathetic to ex-cons. The woman, Duke's one-time head channeler, didn't seem prepared to answer any more questions, however.
Glenda nodded and stepped back. The woman took a step outside, careful to keep the foot with the ankle monitor inside the door and took a look around before withdrawing back into the house. Glenda turned and walked down the steps off the creaky wooden porch and back to the rental car, where Jack dozed lightly in the passenger seat, his cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes. She climbed behind the wheel, trying not to wake him, and started the engine.
He woke anyways. Jack had always been a very light sleeper. He turned his head slightly towards her, not adjusting the hat at all.
"Anything?" he asked. Glenda shook her head. "Nobody's heard from him. I think it's safe to say he's not looking to connect with any of his old associates, at this point."
"Ayup," Jack agreed. Glenda pulled away, heading north, towards the 105 that would take them back to the airport. They were done here. As she drove, she couldn't help but note the scowling, suspicious faces that turned to watch them. She took in the low, chain-link fences that separated yards, the equally low concrete block walls that surrounded paved driveways. The odd mix of Spanish colonial and more traditional American architecture was like a sign. It told her that she could find a bag of the white lady, a bag of weed, or a bag of something more exotic here. She could find a gang, beefing with another gang, and maybe convince one side to pay her to make someone on the other side vanish.
It was almost nostalgic.
They passed a tan-painted Spanish colonial house with a faux wrought-iron fence, and she knew right away that a dealer lived there. The child's play set in the front had never been touched by anything more careless than the wind and rain. The SUV in the driveway might have belonged to a small family, except for the large speakers she could see through the rear window. The tint on the windows of both car and home added to the effect. The kicker, though, was the white-haired, middle-aged man stepping out the front door to squint suspiciously around before heading back up the street in the direction of the channeler's home, where Glenda had spotted him walking this way just a few minutes ago.
Without bothering to ask anyone, she could say with confidence that whoever lived there sold mainly cocaine, but he also had cheap weed for those who couldn't afford the prices at the dispensary. He'd have rocks too, but he probably wouldn't sell them to you if you knew where he lived. He'd sell them on the weekends, manning a street corner, alongside a thug from whatever gang he ran with or paid tribute to.
Everyone knew they were cops, of course. Years of living in rural Canada had faded Glenda's tan and affected her fashion choices. Once, she'd have moved through an area like this in gym shorts, sneakers and a faded old t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Showing off enough muscle to make the usual idiots think twice about harassing her, but not showing off so much skin than people might take her for a street worker with a schtick. Today, she drove in blue jeans, hiking boots and a flannel shirt. Next to her, Jack wore the same, complimented with a denim jacket. Only a couple of cops would dress like that in this neighborhood.
Though that wasn't strictly true -Jack's jurisdiction ended many hundreds of miles north of here- it might as well be. They were private investigators, working on behalf of the federal government, who was footing the bill for Dylan's recapture. Whether or not they were technically considered law enforcement officers depended entirely upon their needs and some paperwork. So far, they hadn't needed any LEO powers.
As she turned onto the 105 and marginally sped up in the dense traffic of the highway, Jack's phone rang. He begrudgingly lifted the brim of his hat up, squinting in the bright daylight at his screen. Apparently satisfied with what he saw there, he hit the accept button and pressed the phone to his ear.
"S'Jack," he said, then he listened for a bit.
"Ayup," he said. He glanced out the window, then covered the tiny mic at the bottom of the phone. "Get off the highway," he said to Glenda. She nodded and put on her turn signal, eyes searching for a chance to get over. A minivan in the next lane, slightly ahead of them, promptly slowed down to pace them.
"Awwright," he drawled into the phone. "We'll check it out. 'Preciate the heads up. Take care, now."
He pulled the phone away from his ear and tapped the screen again before slipping it back into his pocket jacket.
"That was intel. Said that a bank account belonging to one Dylan Boucher just got emptied by a wire transfer to one Derek Garcia. Just a hair over ten grand. Transfer woulda taken place about a week ago, intel didn't pick up on it until it cleared."
"Garcia, that's the one that calls himself the 'Planewalker', right?"
"Ayup," Jack said. Glenda finally got tired of trying to get behind the minivan and sped up to cut him off, instead. Jack could see that it was being driven by a heavily tattooed white kid with dredlocks. He honked and flipped them off, but she ignored him. She'd had her turn signal on, and tried to get behind him, but he had slowed down and sped up to block her.
Out of pure spite, she tapped the brakes a few times.
Jack bounced forward against his seatbelt as she did and gave her a dirty look. She smiled sweetly at him. "What? That's how you drive around here. You used to live in Atlanta, you've got to know this by now."
"We didn't generally make an effort to piss people off in Atlanta," he grumbled. Glenda turned onto the ramp to get off on Crenshaw, heading south.
Glenda scoffed. "Now you're just lying. I've been to Atlanta. Worst drivers in the bottom half of the country by far."
"You sure about that?" Jack said, eyeing the rear-view mirror. Glenda glanced up to see the minivan still behind them, the driver jabbing his finger at them and ranting.
"Huh," she said. "Maybe this fucker's about to prove me wrong."
"Well, we need to get gas anyways, if we're driving all the way down to San Clemente," Jack said. "Might as well pull over at the first station we see and get it over with."
Glenda chuckled, mostly at what the angry man behind her was about to experience and kept her eyes peeled for a gas station.
The minivan never wavered, staying behind her through multiple lane changes, all the way down to Artesia Boulevard, where she finally found a Shell station. She pulled in and pulled up to a pump.
"You wanna have a white knight moment, or is today an 'equality of the sexes' day?" Glenda asked as the minivan pulled in behind them and stopped, blocking the entrance.
"Sheeeit," Jack drawled. "I mean, I guess I'll handle him if ya want..." He unbuckled his seatbelt and opened his door as the irate young metalhead stomped towards them. He made sure to be outside the car by the time the kid got within angry dick-measuring distance.
"What the fuck is your bitch's problem, asshole?!" the young man demanded. Jack didn't answer, he simply strode forward, within striking distance. Normally, Jack liked to deliver a good, bone-chilling threat, followed up by taking a more reasonable tone as he continued to stare through whomever was causing problems and imagine himself blowing their head off as he de-escalated the situation. It was a tactic that had served him well, many times. But today, Jack was tired.
He'd been hunting Dylan down for weeks now, and only just got their first promising lead as this little shit had gone out of his way to stop them from changing lanes for no discernible reason. So Jack simply slugged the kid right in the nose. He caught him off guard and sent the kid sprawling onto his ass. Before he could gather himself back up, Jack kicked him in the chest with the sole of his boot and drew his large revolver. He crouched down, boot still pinning the kid to the ground, and held the gun casually where the kid could see it.
"You know what a turn signal means?" he asked calmly. The kid's eyes went wide as he spotted the gun.
"Y-y-yeah," he stammered.
"Good. Ya had a little lapse of judgement there. Ya might wanna see to that." Jack stood, holstering his gun and walked back over to open the gas cover and insert the company credit card into the pump. He picked the mid-grade and inserted the fuel handle, locking the valve open before he turned back.
The kid was still sitting there, wiping blood from his mouth where his nose was bleeding. "They oughta have napkins inside," Jack told him mildly. "They're usually by the hot dogs."
Jack filled the tank while the kid picked himself up and went inside. A cop arrived a few minutes later, stopping in the entrance that the kid was blocking and turning his lights on. The cop stepped out and walked around the minivan and into the gas station.
Jack waited for the tank to fill, then replaced the nozzle and climbed back in the car.
"You wanna stick around?" Glenda asked. "Shoot the shit with the locals, make sure the kid gets the short end?"
"Naw," Jack said. "Read about the LA cops. Not exactly whom I'd like to consider comrades-in-arms, if you catch my meaning."
Glenda shrugged and they pulled out right as the kid and the cop both emerged back into the parking lot. Glenda thought the cop look pissed and the kid looked dejected.
They got on the 405 and drove it down to California 73, then took that south to Interstate 5, which brought them to San Clemente an hour later. Glenda got off the highway and turned into a neighborhood full of upscale, tightly-packed Spanish colonial homes. Unlike Compton, most of the yards weren't fenced, and those that were tended towards white picket fences. The lawns were universally well-cared for and nobody looked twice at them as they drove through the neighborhood and up to the address highlighted on the GPS.
It was a small, modest-looking home with a distinctly 70's asthetic. It didn't match most of the tile-roofed, square walled homes around it, but it hardly stood out, either. A BMW sat in the driveway, framed by a pair of shaped topiary trees. It looked like something off the cover of some homemaking magazine, Glenda thought.
They parked on the street and climbed out.
"The air is crackling with magic," Glenda said. "He's in there, doing something right now."
Jack walked up and pounded on the door. Glenda held up a hand, fingers splayed. Jack would understand what she meant. The magic was currently at a five, and she'd let him know if it diminished, and by approximately how much.
She kept her hand still for a while as nobody answered the door. Five minutes passed before Jack turned to her.
"Okay, this is your gig, now," he said. He walked back to the car, opening the trunk to reveal the bound, squirming and sweating Caliope there. He yanked her gag down and fed her from a water bottle.
"Been a long drive, ain't it?" he asked, conversationally. Caliope sucked greedily at the bottle, managing to drink every drop that didn't get splashed into the trunk.
"Fuck you," she muttered weakly. Jack smiled. "Looks to me like you're the one what's fucked, darlin'. Guess you shouldn'ta gone and fucked with your sister's collar like that. I mean, if you'd played by the rules, we'd have overlooked the whole issue of you not actually being any help whatsoever, and taken your good faith efforts as enough to fill your end. But ya had to go behind our backs, causing trouble. So now you're stuck in a trunk until we get back to the airport."
"Fuck you," she gasped again.
"'Scuse me," Jack said, reaching past her for an armored vest. He pulled it out and tugged it over his head, getting the flaps velcroed in place and adjusting it. When he was done, he pulled Caliope's gag back up.
"Awright, girl, you jes sit tight while we check this out. Won't be but a little bit, then we'll be heading to the airport."
She tried to say something, but the gag turned it into a muffled wail. Jack smiled as he closed the trunk and returned to the front door. Glenda stood there, watching him, fully kitted up with her armor and a carbine in her hands.
"Ready," Jack said. Glenda turned and, without preamble, kicked the door open with a thunderous blow. She rushed inside, rifle up and leading the way, Jack hot on her heels. Neither made it very far, though.
The living room had been converted into a ritual chamber. The walls were festooned with runes and the twisting lines that connected them. The floor had a large, ornate circle in the middle, runes etched into it and twisting, spiral designs encasing the whole thing. But that wasn't what gave them pause.
In the middle of the circle hovered a shimmering mirage, through which Glenda could see a city. It looked like something out of a sci-fi film, all rounded corners and smooth, off-white concrete. The windows in the buildings were mirrored, or else none of them had lights on inside, because they all reflected a sunrise coming from behind the view.
"What the hell's that?" Jack asked. Glenda carefully felt the magic around the apparition. "I think it's a portal."
"Okay, so where does it go, do ya think?"
"I haven't got a clue. I don't recognize that city."
"Kinda looks like Mos Eisley, a hundred years after they found oil or something," Glenda said.
"Think that's what Dylan was paying for? A trip to wherever that is?"
"Looks like," Glenda mused. "We're gonna need to call this in."
"Ayup. Let's clear the house, first."
They did just that. They found a den set up in one of the bedrooms, an obviously-lived-in kitchen and a master bedroom used for its intended purposes. In the last bedroom, they found an arsenal and storage space. It was full of survival and camping gear, weapons and ammo.
"Missing rifle," Jack said, peering at a gun rack.
"Yup," Glenda agreed. She opened an ammo tin. It was only half full.
"Somebody geared up here," she said.
Jack sighed. "Let's call it in, then. We'll hand over our little helper when the backup gets here."
----
It took two hours to get a team there, mostly because the LA regional office was all the way up in Burbank. But they eventually arrived. Two security officers took Caliope off their hands, to bring her back to prison. They brought another collar, to replace the modified wet blanket spell Glenda had been holding since the riot. It hadn't seemed like a lot of effort to hold the spell in place, but as soon as she finally let it go, she felt a wave of relief.
"Julie sent some extras along," the leader of the relief force told Glenda once Caliope had been seen to. She'd already spotted the two middle-eastern men in different uniforms than the rest. She thought she recognized the older one.
"We'll take all the help we can get. Any of you boys willing to go jaunting across reality with us?" The man chuckled. "No, thanks. Besides, we've got orders to secure this building and wait for the feds. Gonna see if there's anything illegal here, so we can nab this Garcia fellow as soon as he gets back."
Glenda nodded, then looked at the two middle-eastern men. She jerked her head in a 'come here' gesture and they stepped forward.
"Glenda, right?" the older one asked, holding out a hand.
"Yup," she said as she took it. He shook firmly, then let go. "I am Aqib, and this is my assistant, Mateen. We've been running around, helping out where we can for months now. It seems it is your turn to accept our assistance."
"Either of you got any magic?" Glenda asked. Mateen hefted his rifle and then tapped his body armor. "All of our gear is enchanted. We have rings, as well," he held up a hand bedecked with silver bands. "They will help us heal from injuries and allow us to see in the dark and other such useful things."
"Good, good," she said, then stopped. Aqib. That name rang a bell. She squinted at the middle-aged man.
"You were at the Wyrm facility when we took it," she said. "About six years ago." He nodded.
"I was with your friend when she fell. She saved my life," he said. Glenda nodded. "I remember that. I'm glad you're still here, then. Glad you're with us. I, uh..." She stopped speaking before she got choked up and cleared her throat.
"Are you two ready?" she asked.
"We have our gear," Aqib said, nodding at a pair of large backpacks leaning against one of the DCM branded trucks. "Camping gear, food and water for three days. Spare ammo, tools. We were told you had much more supplies yourself."
"Yup. I've got fresh food, enough for a couple of weeks for the four of us. Plus a couple months worth of dehydrated foods, MRE's and other food that'll keep for a while. I've got water and other shit to drink, camping gear, etcetera, etcetera. As long as you guys brought your own tents, we're golden."
"That is good," Aqib said.
"Do you have battery packs?" Mateen asked.
"Battery packs?" Glenda responded.
"Yes, for phones and other electronics. To keep them charged. I have a solar recharger, but it takes a long time, and it isn't always convenient to set it up."
Glenda shook her head. "Nope. Never been much for carrying a bunch of electronics around. Besides, I doubt our phones will work, where we're going."
Aqib grinned at his companion. "No video games until we're done, Mateen," he said. Mateen rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah."
"Mateen is still a child at heart, even though he has children of his own," Aqib explained as he stepped forward to get a good look at the portal, still hovering in the middle of the room.
"As long as he can fight," Glenda said. Jack approached, finished with the field paperwork. He had a backpack slung over one shoulder, and a rifle slung over the other. He still wore his armor.
"He fights like a cornered dog," Aqib said mildly. At Glenda's quirked eyebrow, he clarified. "He is very fierce."
"Good," Glenda said. She turned to Jack and gave him a quick kiss. "We ready?"
"Ayup," Jack confirmed. "All the paperwork's done, we're good to go."
Glenda pushed past Mateen and Aqib as they moved to pick up their packs. "I'll take them," she said. Mateen frowned, but Aqib simply nodded and stood back. She grabbed both packs and sent them to hammerspace, accepting Jack's pack and giving it the same treatment. Mateen shook his head slowly, but Aqib seemed unimpressed.
"Okay, let's boogie," Glenda said and strode through the portal before she could work up any doubts.
----
"None of 'em rotted," Jack said. "They're all mummified. All the plants are dead, but none of them are rotted, either." He stood in what seemed like a small park, a few trees growing in clusters at the four corners, and an open field of dead grass in the middle. Bodies lay strewn about, adults and children alike. Many lay draped over the benches, or slumped in a pile in front of them. One cluster of small bodies had a large, rubber-ish ball laying next to them, as if they'd died in the middle of some sort of game.
Glenda eyed the surroundings. They hadn't encountered a single living being in the hours they'd been moving through this city. "What do you think happened here?" she asked.
"I'll be honest, I ain't got a fucking clue, darlin'," Jack said. They stood in silence for a bit, reflecting on what they'd seen and wondering about it. An entire city, dead. No signs of decay, except for rusted metal. Glenda had seen large piles of rust that she took to be cars, based on the plastic and ceramic components still in them, along with the bodies. An entire city, dead. And yet the bodies remained. They'd held up better than the metal, for sure.
Mateen came around a corner at a jog and made a beeline for them. "Aqib has found something, a fresh body. Recently killed."
"Lead the way," Glenda told him. They followed him back around the corner, two blocks down and then around another corner, where they found Aqib standing over a bloody, headless corpse, resting against a building under a sign written in a language Glenda didn't recognize.
"Sheeit," Jack said as they drew up. "That's certainly out of place. Wonder where his head got to."
"Over here," Mateen said. He gestured to what looked like a bus stop with a trash can next to it. There, fetched up against the trash can was a severed head. A sparse trail of blood led from the body to it. Glenda walked over and crouched down, peering at the head.
"I think this is Garcia," she said. She pulled the photo she had of the man from hammerspace, checking it against the head.
"I think you're right," Jack said, peering over her shoulder. "And the chopped off head. That sounds like something Dylan would do."
"I think we're on the right track then," Glenda said. "But how do we know what direction he went?"
She straightened up as they all looked around. Nothing stood out to them.
A moment later, a terrifying roar sounded from off in the distance. They all turned towards it, weapons rising.
"I do not like that, but I think we know what direction to check now," Aqib said.
"'Fraid I gotta agree with ya," Jack said.
submitted by MjolnirPants to JerryandtheGoddesses [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 16:43 TheDarkVoid79 The Romans were trying to contain something

15th of May
A couple days ago we marched out of our legion’s fort without being told where we were going. Many of us believed we were to be deployed to the east, where rumors said that the Parthians were stirring up trouble again. Others thought that we were bound for Illyricum, where they say a rebellion was brewing. Then there were the few who, in hushed tones, said that the governor was calling upon vexillationes from the frontier legions in order to form an army that would usurp power from the Emperor.
However, all of our guesses proved to be wrong, as we were all shocked to learn that our destination was not far from our previous posting. Instead of being deployed to a far off province, we were instead sent to central Gaul. We had no clue what our purpose there could be, but as we entered a thickly forested area, we soon encountered a large fortress of stone.
It was odd to have such a large and formidable fortification in a place so far from the frontier and nowhere near any strategically important city or town. It seemed so random and out of place, yet it was there. However, that was not the only thing that caught our attention. Spreading out from both flanks of the fort were tall stone walls, although its ramparts were facing inwards instead of outwards. This made me realize that the fort was only a part of a bigger system of fortifications. However, the inner facing ramparts made me question why it was designed like that.
Halting outside the entrance, we were ordered to set up camp there and await further instructions. We later learned that the detachment we were supposed to replace was not scheduled to leave till the next morning and so the barracks assigned to us were still occupied. The men grumbled at the thought of having to sleep another night in tents with nothing but a wool blanket on the ground. It was clear that they missed the beds back at the old fort and were longing to sleep comfortably again in a barracks.
I scoffed at their complaints. They should consider themselves lucky that they no longer had to dig defensive earthworks around the camp, seeing that we were so close to a strong fortification already. Many of the legionnaires were still weak and inexperienced, new recruits who had never been in the campaign. I had hoped that the upcoming campaign season against the barbarians would give them the experience they badly needed. However, the gods seemed to be frowning upon me, as our cohort was sent to this lone fortress far from the frontier.
Being so far from the nearest settlement and being so heavily guarded, I couldn’t help but wonder what was being guarded there. Was the province’s treasury in there? Was it grain for the legions? Perhaps large stores of armor and weaponry? These possibilities crossed my mind, but I quickly dismissed them all. It couldn’t be any of those, because none of them would require a fort so large that contained a detachment which, from my initial estimates, would have numbered at least three thousand men. Not only that, if they were protecting something inside, then why were the ramparts facing inwards instead of outwards? I had too many questions at that time and little to no answers.
However, my curiosities would be answered later that night.
At nightfall, once the men were asleep and the watch posted, the senior centurion leading our vexillatio gathered all of us centurions and told us that we were to head to the fort and meet with the senior tribune in charge. The senior tribune greeted us at the principia and wasted no time in explaining about the fortress under his charge.
The fortress, he explained, was actually a wall of circumvallation. This immediately piqued our interest, as we knew that the only reason such a wall would be made was in order to contain something inside. However, the more he explained, the more confused we became.
He told us that under the orders of the Emperor, the walls, and forts supporting it, were built to contain a phenomenon that only the gods could explain. Seeing the confusion in our faces, he gave us a nod and said that it would be easier to understand once we saw for ourselves. Then, without another word, he gestured us to follow him and led us away from the principia and up on the stone ramparts.
Once atop the ramparts, I saw something that made me feel true fear. I had thought that I knew what fear felt before. I had stood in the front ranks against hordes of barbarians, fought in battles where the odds were clearly against us and the chance of death were high. But none of that could compare to the sensation that ran through me the moment I saw what the walls were for. It seemed like my previous experiences were nothing but a mere punch on the face, while this thing in front of me gave me a stab directly to the heart.
In the middle of a barren lifeless field was something that I can only describe as a black eye. An eye that seemed to be staring directly at me, even if pointed directly up at the night sky. Protruding from the ground, this unnatural thing unnerved me and my fellow centurions. Briefly glancing at the senior tribune, his face held a neutral expression, although I could tell that he too felt uneasy while standing there.
After taking in what we saw, the senior tribune explained to us that the thing in the field is what they call the ‘Eye of Dis Pater’. They didn’t know its origins, but they did know that three years ago creatures that came out from the eye began wandering the land and annihilating a settlement near the forest. A few survivors, however, managed to escape and inform the governor, who dispatched vexillationes from the frontier legions to stop the creatures, before building a wood and earth rampart around the eye.
Ever since then the ramparts were improved and turned into stone and had towers that had ballistae mounted atop for additional support. A rotation of vexillationes from the frontier legions was also kept in order to garrison this fort and prevent any more creatures from roaming out and threatening Imperial land and citizens.
He firmly told us that it was now our new duty to spend a year holding the line against the Eye of Dis Pater. He informed us that the eye spewed out creatures once in a while in an attempt to invade our realm. These invasions were sometimes small, sometimes big, but whatever the size we were supposed to stop them at all costs.
Before dismissing us, he reminded us that our presence here and the existence of the eye was to be kept secret. The Emperor, he explained, did not want to cause panic among the masses. Because of that, all letters written by us and our men are to be reviewed by his staff to ensure that no mention of what was going on here would leak.
I’m not really sure if these orders of his include such documentation I’m making, but just to be sure I’ll keep these papers tucked away and hidden.
***
16th of May
Our detachment was finally let into the fort. We were greeted by the sight of the cohort we were replacing, as they stood by the entrance, ready to march out and back to their legion. Looking at the faces of these men, I noticed that many of them were just staring forward. Seemingly drained of life, the centurions, optiones, and legionnaires had the aura of emptiness. It was as if they were a group of walking dead men.
A few of them did make a few glances towards us, but the expressions on their faces were far from positive. Instead, they stared at us with eyes that seemed to be trying to warn us.
Making our way through the fortifications, members of the senior tribune’s staff guided us towards our posting. During this point, we had to go up the ramparts and so the men got their first glance of the eye. Just like us centurions the night before, their reaction was one of fear, as some halted to stare at the eye. However, a quick slap of my vine staff got them going again. Although I felt uneasy being exposed to the eye, I tried my best to hide it. We centurions are supposed to know no emotions aside from anger after all.
Many of the men, however, did have questions in regards to the eye. All we told them was that was what we were supposed to protect the Empire from.
Reaching our posting, our cohort was assigned to a castellum on the northern portion of the wall. The rest of the day was then spent cleaning the barracks the previous cohort had left and setting it up to become our new homes for the year.
My century had been assigned by the senior centurion to mount a guard atop the ramparts. Choosing ten men, I was frustrated to see them resist and tell me that they would not stand there and be exposed to the eye. However, after threatening to flog them, and after a few hits from my vine staff, they were eventually convinced to go up under the watch of my optio.
Later that day, us centurions were called up once more by the senior tribune and once more found ourselves at his principia. Like the night before, he wasted no time and immediately led us outside to another structure that resembles a stable. However, the sounds that came out from it did not sound like horses.
Entering the building, we were greeted by the sight of a cage with a strange creature locked inside of it. Standing tall as a man, but having skin that resembled scorched flesh, the creature had no nose, eyes or ears, but seemed to be aware of our presence in front of it. In the area where the mouth should be, a wide slit was located. Every once in a while, it would open the slit to reveal long dagger-like teeth.
However, out of all its features, the one that stood out the most were the six arms protruding from its sides. Located where a man’s arms normally should be, the creature had three long bony looking arms on each of its sides. These arms were nearly triple the length of a normal man’s arm and, instead of ending with a hand, it had a sharp dagger like tip. It was due to these arms that the creature got its name, aranea.
The senior tribune explained to us that the araneas would be the most common creature that we would encounter coming out of the eye. He said that they ran fast and came out in hordes larger than any barbarian horde that we could have possibly seen before. Because of their numbers, they would often pile up before the walls and eventually form a ramp for other araneas and creatures to get up on the wall. Because of this we were warned never to underestimate them.
He then advised us that a strong firm thrust from our gladii would be enough to penetrate its skin and make it bleed. To be most effective at killing it, he told us to aim for its chest.
The senior tribune then allowed us to approach the cage in order to get a better look of the creature. We moved closer, but stayed back far enough that we would be out of the range of its arms. As we observed the creature stare and make a low howling at us, the senior tribune told us that this specific aranea was captured in order to familiarize new detachments on one of the creatures the eye releases. He then said that it would be moved to our castellum tomorrowing morning so that our men would see what they would be up against when the time comes.
After leaving the building, the senior tribune then said that his staff would provide us centurions with sketches of the two other creatures that came out of the eye. We were told to familiarize ourselves with these sketches, learn the weaknesses listed with the notes that came with them, and then teach our men the things we learned.
***
17th of May
The saxa are large four legged creatures, with skin that resembles stone. Their size can range from that of a horse to as large as a two-story building. Due to their size and build, they can be a threat to the walls. The only counter for them is a good shot from the ballista. Compared to the araneas they are much fewer in numbers and the eye only spews out a couple dozen of them at a time.
Meanwhile, the spica is another threat that could prove deadly if they are able to get up the walls. Round with spikes all over its fleshy body, these creatures are often seen rolling around with araneas. Waiting till the araneas piled enough to form a ramp up the wall, the spica would then wreck havoc among the defenders at the rampart, as it would roll and slam against the vulnerable and unarmored feet of the legionnaires. The best tactic against them is to have auxiliary archers and pilum armed legionnaires attack them from range before they could get up on the walls.
***
20th of June
After a month since our arrival, we finally experienced our first attack last night.
It occurred late into the night, the watch had just switched and I had just replaced the previous centurion on duty. Gazing out towards the eye, I could barely see its silhouette through the darkness of the night. From my position it looked like a hill, a large mound that rose from the ground. But unlike any hill, it gave out a sensation that made you feel it was staring back at you.
Making my way along the ramparts, I carefully checked each man on watch, making sure that they were awake and alert. After a month on duty here, many of the men were less hesitant to mount watch atop the walls. The men were still scared of the eye, because I know I still am, but after a month of duty here with nothing occuring, the calm monotony has allowed them to do their jobs knowing that the chances of danger were low.
However, just as we were getting comfortable with our current posting, the moment we feared the most happened. The eye began to unleash its terror.
Finishing my rounds and leaning against the rampart, I stared at the eye as I felt it stare back at me. I don’t know what secrets it holds, but I feared what was inside of it. If creatures like the are areanea came out of that thing, then who knows what powers are held within it.
Lost in thought about the eye and mysteries, I was suddenly and violently taken away from such musings when brightnest covered the whole surface of the eye. Gazing ahead and watching, I was shocked to see that the formerly pure black eye lit up and shone light all along the field. As it did so, it emitted a low humming sound that echoed in my ears.
This was it. We were told how it would look like when it was ready to spew out a new wave of monstrosities and this was how they said it would happen. Deep inside I felt scared and I was nearly taken over by so much fear that I felt unable to move.
But I was a centurion and I had a job to do. Taking a deep breath, I drew my gladius and alerted the rest of the cohort of the situation.
The next few moments were filed with centurions and optiones shouting and legionnaires rushing up to man the ramparts. Gathering my own century, I shouted out order, my voice trying to stand out from the humming noise that seemed to grow louder and louder.
Soon enough my century was fully deployed and ready on the rampart. With us were three of our cohort’s six centuries. The other two were back at the castellum, as they formed a reserve that was ready to plug up any breach that may form. Joining us on the ramparts were auxiliary archers, ready to provide ranged attacks. Together, our force was to protect the northern wall and make sure that none of the eye’s creatures get through.
Moments after our forces deployed, the first of the eye’s creatures began to come out. I don’t understand how they managed to go through a solid object, but I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I was more concerned about the numbers that were coming out, as it seemed that an endless wave of creatures tumbled out of the eye’s surface and began rushing through the field.
Initially, the eye was releasing hordes of araneas from its eastern facing section. From there the araneas stumbled and ran towards the eastern wall, whose archers began firing at them. However, as time went on, the eye began releasing araneas from all faces, and I soon ordered my men to prepare themselves.
A clump of around three hundred to four hundred araneas were the first to charge towards us. Behind them were even larger clumps, with the one numbering an estimated five hundred, and the next numbering around a thousand. However, even more came out of the eye and I quickly learned there was no point counting them.
As the araneas ran towards us, they let out a low howling sound, similar to the one made by the caged one we saw. However, instead of having one creature howl, this was in the many thousand. Their collective howls, combined with eye’s humming, made a noise that was both intimidating and frustrating. It made it hard for me to think and plane, while also making it difficult to give out orders.
Once the horde got closer, the auxiliary archers wasted no time letting loose their arrows against the approaching araneas. However, such ranged shots did not seem enough to stop them. Due to the distance and the power of the bows, the arrows merely poked their skin, lodging the tips on them, but not penetrating deep enough to make them bleed. Despite this, the archers kept on firing, littering the approaching hordes with arrows. Once in a while, a lucky shot would take out a creature, earning a cheer from the archer who brought it down.
Seeing them approach and noting that the arrows had little effect on them, some of the legionnaires under my command began to shake and glance towards the rear. Years of experience has told me what such acts meant and so I was careful to approach the legionnaire who turned their heads and gave them a light tap on their backs. They may be scared of the creatures in front of them, but I wanted to remind them that they should fear me more and what I would do to them if I catch them running away.
Soon the creatures were upon the defensive ditch and were stumbling into it. As they tripped and fell, some of the araneas impaled themselves on the sharpened wooden spikes lodged in the ditch. This obstacle slowed them down and I also knew that them being there meant that they were within range of our pila.
Giving the order, I soon had my men let loose their pila, as the other centuries of our cohort did the same. At this range the bows of our auxiliary archers were also becoming much more effective, as closer ranges meant more power for them. Because of this, our combined pila and arrow onslaught managed to bring down a good number of araneas, making the ditch a killing zone for them.
However, as their first ranks fell, those behind them continued, stepping on the bodies of the deceased creatures. Letting loose our second round of pila, we brought down another good number. Yet more of them, rushing forward and stumbling into the ditch. Eventually, there were so many araneas in the ditch that they managed to fill it up with their bodies. This meant that the hordes behind them were able to easily get over the obstacle and rush towards our walls.
It didn’t take long for the first of the araneas reach the base of our wall. Pressing themselves against it, they uselessly swung their many hands on the stone wall, trying to break it to no avail. Being pressed on by the creatures behind them, the leading araneas ended up being stuck where they were.
With my men having depleted their pila, those in the first ranks resorted to using their slings. Lobbing cast lead bullets with their slings, they and the archers continuously bombarded the araneas with ranged fire, knocking down and killing a good number of them.
Making my way to the first line of my century, I looked down with satisfaction as I watched the creatures fall. However, glancing forward to see the endless wave of creatures pouring out of the eye, I couldn’t help but feel my heart beat fast in fear. I realized at that point that it would only be a matter of time before we ran out of projectiles and these creatures pile up enough bodies to scale our wall.
Moments passed and the pile of anareas below us began to grow. More and more of them got on top of one another, forming the living ramp that we had been warned about. When I saw this rise higher to the point that the long arms of the creatures were able to scrape the edge of our rampart, I knew that things were about to get bloody.
Ordering my men to raise shields, those in the first ranks quickly withdrew their slings and lifted their scutum. Standing among the first rank, I watched anxiously as more and more sharp dagger-like tips of the araneas’ arms poked up from the edge of the rampart.
Soon enough the first creature to fully raise itself above the edge came into view and as it stabbed its hands towards me, I used my shield to block the blow, before using all my strength to shove my galdius forward. Aiming right for its chest, I was able to penetrate its thick skin and drive the tip of my blade deep into it. This was enough to defeat the creature, which quickly fell back, my gladius sliding out of it as it fell.
However, as it fell, another one rose, and I had to repeat the same process. All around me my century did the same, using their shields to protect themselves against the creature’s blows, while counter-attacking with the gladii.
Once in a while, I would hear the pained scream of one of my men and I would let out a curse of frustration, knowing that they were either killed or injured enough to be taken out from the line. But the fight continued, as the man behind him was trained to step forward and take his place.
As more and more araneas surged forward and tried to take out rampart, I noticed that the men in the first line were starting to slacken. Tired from the constant battle, I knew that they needed to rest. Because of this I called for the first line to retire and had the second line advance to take their place. With that done, the fresher members of the second line continued the fight, as I kept my place and fought with them.
However, I got too distracted with the fight in front of me that I nearly forgot to check the overall situation around us. It was only when a horn signal cracked in the air that I was alerted to what was happening in other parts of the battle.
This signal was one of many that was taught to us early on after our arrival here. It was a warning that the spica were on the field and raising forward. Immediately I became alert and warned my men to watch out for any spica jumping over the ramparts. The horn would have also alerted the archers to target the spica above all others, but I knew that this was not a guarantee that none would get through.
As I continued fighting the battle in front of me, worrying if a spica would emerge at any point, another horn signal blared. This time it made a cold chill run through my back. It was the alert that saxa were on the field.
Stabbing the aranea in front of me and using my shield to cover myself, I managed to glance towards the distance and see the large figures of huge saxa rushing out from the eye and heading towards our direction. From this quick observation, I estimate that they were as tall as a two-story building. These were the big ones.
Having little time to worry too much about this, I continued my fight against the araneas, as I prayed to Mars that the ballistae would be able to take them down.
While I was changing the front ranks for a fresher line, I heard a loud cheer coming from a ballista crew on top of a tower to our right. This gave me and my men a morale boost, as it meant that the crew had taken down a saxum.
However, that lift in morale did not last long, as I soon heard panicked cries to my left. The words would forever be ingrained in my mind.’
“Spica among the ranks! Spica among the ranks!”
The voice came from the centurion that held a portion of the ramparts to the left of my century. His shout was then followed by panicked and pained cries of legionnaires, as I can only imagine groups of spica ravaging their ranks, as they stabbed the exposed feet of the men there.
It was terrifying to hear their screams, but there was nothing I could do to help them. The only thing I could do was alert the men on the left flank of my century and tell them to keep an eye for any spica that might come our way.
As the battle raged on, with the hordes of creatures seemingly pouring out without cease, I began to notice that the humming from the eye began to lower. Lessening over time, it sounded as if the eye was getting tired and running out of energy. Eventually, the humming ceased, leaving us with the howls of the araneas, the stomping of the saxa, and the shouts of our men.
For a moment I was able to glance at the eye long enough to see that it no longer shone bright. Instead it had returned to its earlier state, with its skin black as the night once more. I also noticed that no more creatures were coming out of it.
However, any relief this might have brought me was quickly shattered when I heard the sound of flesh being crushed. I then looked forward to see the bodies of a dozen aranea get flung upward to the sky. This was then followed by an intense slamming sound and shake of the floor beneath me. We on the ramparts were barely able to keep our balance, as the wall we stood on was shaken by powerful slams.
Channeling all the bravery left in me, I dared to look over the edge of the rampart to find myself facing directly at a saxum. Standing there at the base of the wall, this giant, in its reckless pursuit against our wall, had trampled and flattened all the araneas that had been piled in front of us. Now its large eyes briefly stared at me, peering into my very soul, before its whole stone body lugged forward and slammed on the wall. Its impact forced me back and made me bump against the legionnaire behind me.
Regaining my balance, I ordered my men to use their slings and throw bullets at the giant’s eye. However, despite many shots hitting, they seemed to do little to stop the creature. Once more, it slammed against the wall and I could hear the sound of stone crumbling before us.
Fearing what might happen next, I was about to order my century to get down from the rampart, when the sound of something large dropping filled my ears. Waiting for a moment, and feeling no more impact against our rampart, I once more dared to look over the edge and saw that the saxum had collapsed. Studying it for a moment, I noticed a large crack on the creature's head, just between its eyes. Then, in the distance, I could hear cheering from one of the far away towers. Sighing in relief, I told myself that I owe the crew of that balista a round of drinks.
The battle was ending at that point, with sections of the wall finishing off the last clumps of araneas.
Exhausted from the fight, many of the men slumped along the ramparts, drained of both their energy and emotions. However, despite this, many of us stayed fully away that night, fearing that another attack may come or a few creatures that somehow remained alive may sneak up on us if we weren’t alert enough.
The fight ended up with light casualties for my century, but the century on my left fared far worse, with around half their numbers taken out by the spica. The rest of the defenders also suffered badly, with portions of the southern line nearly overrun. We were later told that it was one of the biggest attacks by the eye so far and the fight had been a close call.
***
25th of June
Word has spread that an insane legionnaire has entered the eye. I did not witness it myself, but according to a fellow centurion who was on watch that day, a legionnaire had snuck out of the walls and began walking towards the Eye of Dis Pater. It didn’t take long for the watch posted on the walls to spot him, but no one dared to go down and stop him. Instead, they called out to him to stop and turn back. But he didn’t.
Instead, he walked up to the eye until he was a few steps away from its surface. Moving closer, he placed his hand on it and to the shock of many, it went through. Then, without hesitation, the legionnaire shoved his way forward and disappeared.
From what I gathered, the legionnaire was a veteran from one of the cohorts at the southern wall. Ever since the battle, it is said that he had been reclusive and had been talking to himself at night. Now, it is believed that he had gone fully insane and done something none of us would have dared to do.
It is said that the senior tribune was very shocked at the news, but was interested when informed that it was possible to go through to the eye during this seemingly dormant state it was in. A rider is rumored to have been quickly sent out after the senior tribune has been informed of the events.
***
8th of August
Something strange happened this morning while I was on watch. It started off like a normal day on watch, with me checking the men and making sure that they were at their post and concentrated on their duty. However, as I finished my rounds and gazed towards the eye, I felt a strange sensation. Although I and many others have felt the sensation of the eye staring back at us, this one was different. It didn’t feel like it was just staring at me. No. It felt like it was talking to me.
It was in the wind. Its voice was talking in the wind. At first I couldn’t understand it, the voice was strange and the language foreign. However, as I listened, it started to become more and more clear.
Concentrating on it, I soon understood its words until it began telling me something.
“You are a fool to stay here, centurion. Run while you can. They will kill to keep the secret. They will end up killing you and your men.”
Then it ended. The winds once more became wind and I was left to wonder what I heard.
Was it really the eye that spoke? Or was it my exhausted mind making up things?
***
15th of August
I had a dream of slaughter. Men dead, massacred. Blood was everywhere, the bodies piled into a massed grave, They were legionnaires and they were familiar to me. Staring at their faces, I saw the men of the cohort we had replaced. Every single one of them was now there, a look of shock plastered on their face.
I can’t get this dream out of my mind. No matter how many times I try to distract myself with duties, it keeps reappearing.
***
20th of August
The fort is filled with excitement. A legate has recently arrived with a contingent of five cohorts. Rumors quickly spread among the men, as everyone wondered what this could possibly mean. Was the current garrison to be replaced? Was the fortification going to be extended?
None of us knew what the legate’s arrival meant, but later that night all centurions from all cohorts were gathered at the principia, where the legate was to hold a meeting.
At the meeting the legate told us that he was sent by the Emperor himself. He explained that the Emperor is thankful for our valiant defense of the fort against the evil creatures of Dis Pater. He then said that after the close battle that occurred last June, the Emperor wanted to find a permanent solution to stop the attacks. After learning that it was possible to enter the eye during its dormant state, the Emperor asked that an expedition should be sent to see what was on the other side and figure out if there was a permanent way to end the terror.
The legate said that this was his purpose here and he said that he will accomplish the Emperor’s order.
***
25th of August
The legate ordered a scouting force to enter the Eye of Dis Pater, see what was on the other side, and report back to him. We thought this would not succeed, especially since the legionnaire that first entered it never came back. We Romans, however, were glad to learn that it would be a turma from the auxiliary cavalry that would be sent in.
We watched them enter and, once they were gone, gave no more thought about them. We were all convinced that they would be consumed by the eye and were as good as dead.
However, later in the day, we were surprised to see them ride out of the eye. I was on watch when that occurred and, although there were ten less riders, the fact was they had returned. They immediately reported to the legate, who is said to be pleased by the reports he was given.
***
27th of August
Another scouting force was sent into the eye today. This time it would be three turmae of auxiliary cavalry. The force ended up being gone for most of the day, but emerged out of the eye as night began to fall. They suffered heavy casualties and many of them were badly injured.
***
29th of August
We had just come back from a meeting with the legate. He plans for us to enter the Eye of Dis Pater tomorrow. According to him, the previous scouting mission has found the river of life for the eye and cutting it off would kill the eye and finally end its reign of terror.
I don’t really understand what that means or how we are going to cut off this river of life, but I am afraid of tomorrow. No campaign before this has frightened me the way this one is. After seeing what creatures came out of the eye and after seeing how many casualties all the scouting missions entering it had suffered, I knew that such an expedition into the eye would be bloody.
Rumors from the auxiliary cavalry also say that there are more creatures on the other side.
The legate plans to send seven cohorts of infantry, one ala of auxiliary cavalry, and one cohort of auxiliary archers on the expedition, all to be under his command. Two cohorts of infantry and one cohort of auxiliary archers are to be left behind to defend the fort, under the command of the senior tribune.
Sadly, for us, one of the infantry cohorts tasked to join the expedition is ours.
May Mars give us the strength to accomplish our task and may Jupiter light our way home.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The archeological site in central France is a curious one, as it seems to be a large fortification built in central France during the Principate-era of the Roman Empire. Archeologists and researchers alike are baffled why a fort of such size would be built in an area that was known to be peaceful at the time of its construction.
The fort itself has a strange layout, something uncommon for Roman forts at the time. Four walls surrounded an open empty field that had a lake at the large pond at the center. On the southern wall, a large castra stood, while smaller castellum on the north, eastern, and western portions of the wall. Such a format reminded us in the team of a wall of circumvallation, although none of us could find out what the Romans were trying to surround here. Survey of the central field reveals no signs of a settlement, but pieces of cast lead sling bullets, stones believed to have been fired from ballistae, arrow and pilum tips have been found.
Further surveys of the surrounding forest area were conducted in hopes of finding more archaeological evidence to help answer the question. This proved fruitful, as it resulted in a new discovery. However, instead of answers, it only opened up more questions.
This new discovery turned out to be a mass grave for fallen Roman legionnaires. From the skeletal remains recovered, it was noted that they were killed after being attacked with gladii and pila, leaving some speculate that they were killed by fellow Romans. Other objects recovered were various pieces of armor, weaponry, and dozens of vexilla. These vexilla have markings indicating that they belong to legionary detachments that had served at the fort. A leading theory at the moment is that these legionnaires were ordered to death by the superiors in charge of the fort in order to keep the secrets there contained. This theory, however, still lacks sufficient proof and needs further evidence and study.
These documents I translated were found inside in a leather satchel hidden under the floorboards of a room which archeologists believe were officer’s quarters at the northern castellum. Sadly, the other documents with it seem to have deteriorated to the point that they are unreadable. However, it seems like the document dated 29th of August is the last one this centurion wrote, with it being the last one in the group of papers.
The validity of the centurions account is currently being questioned by me and my research team, as his words describe the impossible. All of us knew that it was impossible to use his words as proof that unworldly creatures exist.
However, I have to admit that this place does have an aura of something strange towards it. Sometimes, when I wander near the pond, I can't help but stare and become fixated at it. As I do, I can’t help but feel the wind try to talk to me, as if trying to find the right words to say.
Yesterday, I felt like it did, because I swear I heard the wind whisper:
“I will be back.”
submitted by TheDarkVoid79 to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 16:10 rMasterBuilder248 CB #4 - Engineer (Primaries, Secondaries & Melees)

Its been 2 years since I began my Crazy Balance sets in this sub. I've come a long way since then and it reflects in my balance today. I hope you like what you see.
Welcome. Please give feedback to this post if something is wrong.
This time its a bit different than usual. Hope you like it!

Frontier Justice

New:
3 clip size, 54 max primary ammo, Base: 60, Crit: 180
(i) while equipped:
(+) stores 2 "Revenge" Crits for each Sentry kill and assist with user's kills
(+) stores 1 "Revenge" Crit for each Sentry assist and when the Sentry is destroyed by enemies
(i) when the Sentry is destroyed, all stored "Revenge" Crits are transferred to the weapon (max: 24)
(-) -50% smaller clip size
(-) "Revenge" Crits are lost on death

Reason: The FJ is a weapon of Revenge. So far, it was perfectly like that. However, it still had some problems, so with adding a bit more options for getting Crits, but also removing the quick switch ability to gain free Crits and reducing the total amount would make it a dedication, not a quick power punch

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Widowmaker

New:
- 200 clip size, N/A max primary ammo, Base: 60, Crit: 180
(+) on hit: dealt damage is returned as metal/ammo
(+) no reload necessary
(+) +20% more metal from all sources
(-) uses metal as ammo
(-) uses 30 metal per shot

Reason: The upside that Valve added had no real purpose. By giving it an upside thats worth using, the user can use the weapon a bit more effectively and be less scared from constructing buildings

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Pomson 6000

New:
4 clip size, ∞ max primary ammo, Base: 60, Mini-Crit: 81-105
(i) fires an energy projectile instead of shotgun pellets
(+) no ammo required (replaced with an ammo meter)
(+) projectile cannot be deflected or destroyed
(-) -33% smaller clip size
(-) -50% less damage against buildings
(-) gained/earned Crit are reduced to Mini-Crits

(i) Alt-Fire: launches a charged shot. Takes 0.75 sec. to charge:
(+) on hit teammate: grants a 20% speed boost for 4 sec.
(+) on hit teammate: increases firing speed by 20% for 4 sec.
(-) uses entire clip
(-) cannot be fired until the entire clip is loaded (only Alt-Fire)

Reason: The Pomson, similar to the Bison, has never truly seen better days. Its the worst primary that Engineer has and its effects are useless. This new rearrangement will help it not only have a use, but be useable in the first place

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Rescue Ranger

New:
4 clip size, 27 max primary ammo, Base: 51, Crit: 153
(i) fires an repair bolt instead of shotgun pellets
(+) Alt-Fire: use 100 metal to pick up buildings from long range
(+) can repair friendly buildings (heals 60 health (15 metal) per hit)
(i) 4-to-1 health-to-metal ratio
(-) -33% smaller clip size
(-) -50% max primary ammo
(-) -15% less damage
(-) user is Marked-For-Death when picking up a building and 3 sec. after holstering

Reason: Just some small tweaks and a little clarification that went unnoticed in the stats

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Wrangler

New:
(i) enables manual control of own Sentry Gun
(+) the Sentry Gun gains double firing rate and a laser pointer to assist in aiming
(i) press Reload to activate the shield
(+) the shield blocks incoming damage. After taking damage, depending on the buildings level, the shield breaks (Mini-Sentry: 100, Level 1: 150, Level 2: 180, Level 3: 210)
(+) if the shield is not further damaged for 5 sec., it will regenerate its health depending on level (Mini-Sentry: 10/sec., Level 1: 15/sec., Level 2: 18/sec., Level 3: 21/sec.)
(i) the shield immediately deactivates when switching the weapon and it cannot be healed by any sources
(i) after the shield breaks, it has to recharge for 15 sec. to be used again
(-) Sentry cannot be healed or refilled while the shield is active
(-) upon switching to another weapon or death, the Sentry Gun is deactivated for 3 sec.

Reason: The Wrangler is the strongest tool/weapon in the entire game, able to triple the Sentry Gun's health while allowing the user to control and boost its fire rate. These changes to how the shield works aim to combat this. More buttons are needed to press, less opportunity to fix mistakes

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Short Circuit

New:
200 clip size, N/A max secondary ammo, Base: 30, Crit: 41
(+) primary fire launches a projectile-consuming energy ball (120 HU wide, 1000 HU/sec., life span: 0.4 sec.)
(+) no reload necessary
(-) uses metal as ammo
(-) uses 50 metal per shot
(-) cannot gain metal from the cart or Dispensers while active
(-) gained/earned Crits are reduced to Mini-Crits

Reason: This semi-change aims to fix the power of the SC, but also get rid of its weak primary fire, which had no real purpose

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Wrench

New:
Base: 70, Crit: 210
(i) heals 105 health (35 metal) per hit
(i) buildings construct x2.5 times faster when hit (buildings build/deploy 62.5% faster)
(i) refills ammo on hit: 50 bullets (50 metal), 20 rocket salvos (40 metal)
(i) 3-to-1 health-to-metal ratio

Reason: Just some small tweaks for refilling your Sentry stock
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Gunslinger

New:
Base: 70, Crit: 210
(+) +25 max health points
(+) deals Crit damage on third consecutive hit
(-) replaces Sentry with Mini-Sentry

Reason: Just a fix in the stats, nothing more

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Southern Hospitality

New:
Base: 70, Crit: 210
(+) deals 100% more damage against buildings (removes Stock Sapper in 1 hit)
(+) on hit: causes bleed for 6 sec.
(+) +50% faster holstering speed
(-) -30% slower firing speed
(-) raises bullet vulnerability by 20%

Reason: The SH was a bit lacking, as it had no real benefit for your buildings or fully for yourself. With these buffs and nerfs, it will now perform much better as a Spy-counter than before

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Jag

New:
Base: 46, Crit: 137
(+) construction hit speed boost increased by 33% (x3; buildings construct/redeploy 75% faster)
(+) +20% faster firing speed
(-) -40% slower repair rate
(-) -35% less damage

Reason: The Jag is a quite strong wrench meant for quick set-up, but not longevity. I hope increasing the current downsides can help with that. It however gains some small buffs as well

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Eureka Effect

New:
Base: 70, Crit: 210
(+) press reload key to either teleport to your spawn room or a teleporter
(+) user immediately resupplies when teleporting to the spawn room
(+) Teleporters teleport both ways
(-) construction hit speed boost reduced by 50% (x1.75 (buildings construct/redeploy 31.25% faster)
(-) -25% slower construction/redeploy speed (15 sec./5 sec.)
(-) -20% less metal from all sources

Reason: The EE just needed some fixes. With these new buffs, it will now not only teleport more efficiently, but make much more unique use of the Teleporters

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Construction PDA

New:
(i) allows the user to build and destroy a Sentry Gun, Dispenser and both Teleporters

Reason: The PDA slot is a bit lacking and as seen with Spy, there is room for improvement and customization. Now we can do more with it

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Destruction PDA

New:
(i) allows the user to build and destroy a Sentry Gun, Dispenser and both Teleporters
(+) buildings destroyed or self-destructed will explode, dealing damage and knockback to nearby enemies
(-) raises damage vulnerability by 20% while active
(-) destroyed buildings no longer drop scrap metal

Reason: Credit to Numbuh24insane. This is the first official unlock in the PDA slot. It makes use of the stat-stripped Destruction PDA and gives it a unique style of play.
submitted by rMasterBuilder248 to TF2WeaponIdeas [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 02:08 CounterProgram883 Saw the DnD movie early. I honestly feel bad for the people who watch it, and then try the game itself.

Hi folks.
I got a free invite to a press screening I had no right to attend. I'm not a movie journalist/reviewer, and this isn't going to be a comprehensive review of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. If you care to know, I'd say it's about as good as the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. Autuer sincerety somehow snuck under the radar of an otherwise corporate item.
EDIT: Spoiler warning. I don't talk about specific plot points, and took care to avoid anything much more specific than "combat happens" or "spellcasting happens." Still, I'd recommend not reading if your not a spoiler sort of person.
More so, I want to talk about how the movie is exciting, high octane, and completely unrelated to how the game runs at the table. I think people unfamiliar with this hobby are going to see it, or be dragged by friends to see it, be convinced to try 5e out, and feel like they got positvely cheated.
This post is about to be mean as all get to 5e. If you like the system, I genuinely encourage you not to read any further. Don't let me yuck your yum.
Part One: But Of Course!
To be clear, I wasn't expecting people to take 1 sword swing in six seconds, or fight in turns on a grid. I figured there would be libereties. What I didn't expect was for the liberties to be that.... liberal? I'd say maybe 10 percent of the film can be replicated at the table, rules as written. That is my point of contention, and why I think viewers turned players are actually going to want to play any other game system than 5e.
Part 2: Nothing but DM Fiat
Specifically, the issue resides in how a lot of the action, combat, character abilities, spellcasting, and hiest-planning actually cannot exist in game, as portrayed in the folm. Not without the DM tossing the whole ruleset to the side and running a game composed of literally only the rule of cool.
COMBAT: At several points in the game, the barbarian character engages whole squads of enemies solo. The following parts of those fights can't be replicated in DnD:
1) Action economy: Eay and simple. 1 vs. 10 would be a drawn out disaster, even if the barbarian was much higher level than the mooks. Bouded accuracy and mostly static AC means that the barb couldn't walk out of 200 sword swings completely untouched.
2) Reactivity: A lot of the action revolves around the barbarian reacting to enemies. Not just locking swords with them, but disarming them, feinting and tripping, knocking them into each other. None of these things are mechanically present at the table. Attacks of opprotunity are not nearly this flexible. You roll to hit, you hit or you miss. You make 1 attack of opprotunity a round.
Edge case: When an enemy attacks you, the mechanics does really exist for you to deflect to disarm an oponent.
The only subclass that can get this is the battlemaster. It's a limitted resource that would need to be conserved across fights, not used with impunity. This movie is proof positive that the Superiority Dice mechanic and it's manuevers should have been standard for every single martial character.... and to be honest, shouldn't have a limit. Making standard attacks in DnD is the most boring "attack" action of any game I've ever run or played.
3) the environment matters. Half of the kills or knockouts in these repeat fights are subject to the barbarian using improvised weapons, smashing oponents into the environment, dipping them in molten metal, using existing terrain to block attacks. Each of these are partially possible, but nowhere near as fluidly. In game terms, attempting to leverage the terrain like this is strategically awful, reliant on DM charity to apply damage/profeciency, or so on.
On the DM's side, half of these "manuevers" are gonig to sit firmly in your court to arbitrate on the fly, using 5e's lackluster "rulings not rules" philosophy in a way that would get draining and stressful over the course of 1 combat. Much less several.
To replicate: You'd need much more flexible games, like Fung Shui 2, FATE, Savage Worlds, or if you're looking for something old school, at the ever least you're going to DCC for the Mighty Deeds mechanic.
CHARACTER BUILD
1) Edgin the Bard, played by Chris Pine, is actually flat out not a bard. He can't cast spells, his music has no magical effects, et cetera. He can't really fight, either. His whole value is being the "plan" guy, much like Sokka in ATLA was, before he recieved his training montage.The few times he participates in violence, it's by subterfuge. While the oponents are distracted, he'll sneak behind them and deck them with his lute. Overall, much closer to a mastermind rogue... one of the most DM reliant and maligned subclasses in the system. You can, barely, play Edgin in the game. Your teammates will suffer for your genuine lack of assistance in combat. Making improvised strikes with a lute once every four rounds is a mechanical dead end, rules as written.
2) The druid transforms into monster that, per the rules, it cannot. A shame, really. The bugbear animtation was cuts as fuck. DnD One has also nerfed animal shaping a lot in it's recent updates. Half the animals that are critical for the Movie Druid's usefullness (like turning into a fly to spy on others) are no longer available, or if they are, only at exceedingly high levels. A player looking to play like this Movie Druid is going to wait 100s of hours of game time to get close to what they saw on screen, if they ever get it.
3)Dumb thing, but the Paladin doesn't actually smite anyone, at any point of the movie. That really caught me by suprise. It's iconic, flashy, and straight forward. Why not include it? Instead, they're reliant on a 2 handed sword that splits into 2 different 1 handed swords at will, and a two weapon style of fighting much more easy to emulate on a ranger. It's a small thing, but I do not think you could succesfully emulate this paladin, or what they do, without the DM fabricating specialty magic weapons for you. The Paladin also, at least once or twice, uses one of the weapons to pin an enemy he stabbed through into a wall or rock. I don't believe this is posible in game at all? Correct me if I'm wrong.
SPELL CASTING: Probably the biggest offender. The spells in this film interact in a way the game has no mechanics for. We see mage hands dueling in extended arm wrestling sequences. We see spells bounce off each other.
My biggest issue with 5e is how clunky each spell is, in an attempt to fabricate gaming legalese to discourage creative, unintended or "op" use of the spells. Creativty is considered hostile, and the game is set on not letting you get away with horse-shit just because you're a magic caster. On the flip-side, I'd say the movie is really excited to let the magicians engage in glorious horse-shittery. There's a sequence where a single character reverses gravity in the midst of their up-and-down fall. So far as I know, you cannot do this without the DM's explicit cooperation, and completely ignoring the mechanics of limitted spell slots.
Special shout out goes to a magic staff that works like Valve's Portal Gun (from the videogame Portal, of course.) It has seemingly unlimitted charges, and unlimitted distance. Two properties that I don't think I've ever seen a published magic item get away with in 5e, but I could be wrong here.
The Heist: I'm going to limit the amount of plot related spoilers here by saying that any DM wanting to run this style of heist is going to need to tear out Blades in the Dark's guts and sew them into 5e to get anywhere near this intricate and flexible. Maybe make players spend Inspirations on flashbacks? Best of luck, if you try this.
Part Three: Does That Matter?
The reason I wrote this post, is because I defintely think that this hypothetical is going to bite new players' asses, and drive them away.
There's back and forth about whether the "Matt Mercer" effect is real, or what exactly it means. I'm not going to make use of that moniker. What I will say, is that during college, I had plenty of friends who wanted to get into DnD because of Critical Role. Because I'm a relentless, shameless, no-good, scumbag 5e hater, I didn't run it for them. I told them that I thought the rules would be too granular. I said that they should have fun trying it, and that I'll run them something more scenematic if they end up not liking 5e.
Anecdotal, obviously, but about 20 out of 25 different people I talked to had the experience I expected. I eventually ran them different games. Mostly Dungoen World, the FFG Star Wars game, and FATE. Now, it's mostly Forged in the Dark games.
As an adult out of school, the tradition continues. I won't run 5e, and most of the people I run games for end up preferring everything from Scum and Villainy to Burning Wheel instead. Watching a group of players have an easier time learning Burning Wheel, than making DnD 5e behave like a medieval Knights of the Realm story engine, was really eye opening. Suggestion: start with the minature Hot Circle hack, and then upgrade to Burning Wheel proper after a few sessions.
Part 4: Extra Salt in the Wound...
There's a big, triumphant speech in this movie about failing, and adapting to failure. I would even go so far as to say that failing forward is a theme of the film. DnD 5e famously does not have fail-forward mechanics. Not a substantive critique of the film, but something I personally found funny. Fucking up in DnD means nothing happens. Fucking up in the movie was the only way forward.
In Closing
No clue if this was a meaningful read for you, dear Redditor. Apologies if it wasn't.
If your experience with 5e is wildly different than mine, though... I'm just curious to hear how much of that was playing with homebrew, or with your DM's cooperation. I don't think I'm wrong about what 5e is, in writing. I know a lot of people don't play as written, though.
I hope whatever system youdo play, you're having fun. I hope that if you see the movie, you enjoy it.
Have a great evening.
submitted by CounterProgram883 to rpg [link] [comments]


2023.03.21 00:58 soggym8 is it me or has Cheltenham almost completely lost it's atmosphere?

I was born in '92, parents were heroin addicts, we moved about a LOT, I was brought up all over Cheltenham, lived everywhere, I really mean that, we lived for at least 6 months in every area of Cheltenham. Spent a lot of time wandering the streets and exploring as a child, my parent's had their troubles, but they were brilliant parents, when it wasn't a school day I was allowed pretty much free range, home by 9, that sort of thing.
I used to spend as much time as I could exploring, me and my mates would really get into places, we knew how to get into most wastelands around town, found loads of seemingly abandoned tiny alleyways behind buildings on the high street, we would get into the chelt and follow it under the tunnels and through town all the way from the moon under water to that park next to big yellow, we got on top of blocks of flats down PE way, we found a way onto the roof of the beechwood, up the old train tracks next to the racecourse and all the way the other way to old pat's.... basically I was a wee fucking monkey and my childhood was spent clambering up shit and scurrying under shit.
I moved away from Cheltenham when my folks both passed away in '06ish when I was 15, didn't have any other family, no girlfriend, went on a bit of self-destruction tour of the south of the UK and ended up in Bristol. Fell in love with the feel of the place, it reminded me of Cheltenham, especially what my vision of Cheltenham was as a child, and basically just hunkered down. Couple years ago I felt a strong pang to come home, so I got myself together, and came home. Been here for 2 and half years now. While I absolutely expected it to be different, I really never thought it would be as different as it is.
I always understood Cheltenham to be a sort of self aware but dirty town, very well off, a strong sense of wealth and opulence, but dirty, I distinctly remember a clear feeling of eccentricity and character in it's streets. unpainted buildings, old iron street signs, tiny dusty pubs, abandoned buildings, abandoned building sites, wastelands on every other street corner, uneven flats and wonky windows, old men in long coats shuffling up and down the high street, Irish women chatting outiside the laundries, kids running about throwing rocks, people lining up outside to get into clubs, music, laughter, characters... forgive my impromptu saudadic daydreaming... but what the fuck happened here? None of this seems to exist now, every little corner seems to have been swept clean and washed out, every old building seems to have been ironed straight, every point of curiosity seems to have been fenced off or paved over, the people seem all together in some sort of trendy daze, the empty spaces seem to have been filled by retirement homes or upmarket shops. The abandoned buildings have been knocked down and replaced by modern cubic flats. The shuffling old whisky lords seem to have replaced with trendy middle aged paper weights. The laughing, gold teeth and tracksuit sporting garage heads with spliffs hanging out their jaws seem to have killed off by lads I can only describe as fuckboys who all seem to have bought their light blue shirts and tight fucking jeans on the same sale, guffawing and grabbing at each other while displaying their fucking I Phones and lagers as though it is the only validation of their dumb existence.
I understand how the passage of time functions, as it moves forward, things change, but fuck me man, I really did not expect to feel such a stranger here. The only places that seem to have stayed the same is the Lower End, and even then there's 2 fucking shining chrome and black blocks of flats looming over the whole street blocking out the proverbial light from reaching out into the world. I know this town is a money maker, I know it's switched it's focus to a more tourist, races, come and shpend ya quids kind of place, but fucking eesh man...
and I was only born in fucking '92. for fucks sake I probably have no clue how much it's really changed..
fekin I dunno, doesnt matter like. I'm sure your all lovely, you are all lovely, you lovely bastards. i'd give u all a big shloppy kiss. Just fucking look after the place when I go next time boyos it's a fucking state now like. They even took the old fucking iron street signs man... I suppose these new ones are good for opening a bottle on wheyey
here's an old map of westall green, fascinating stuff like
here you can see I have decorated the map, now it looks like a little fella with his willy out, iv'e also given him two handguns. he seems a naughty wee lad
you can fuck off now if youd like ta for reading
submitted by soggym8 to cheltenham [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 20:30 GeneralSnoh Under 3 months of NC and I miss her like crazy

After our trip, I (32M) had asked my girlfriend (33F) to initiate intimacy
It is this moment, over facetime, she said she sees how it been effecting me and it's not fair to me because how unhappy she is, how we grew apart, didnt expect our relationship to turn out the way its going, how she is not sure she wants to be in a relationship anymore or and wants to take a break, and how we have problems that she can't speak to anyone about. I was shocked and didn't want to take a break at all, I just wanted to more of her involvement in the cute things of being in a relationship (She only called me by my first name)
I didn't even know we had these problems at all. I swear I didn't know we had these problems.
I had texted her right after saying how much I love you and I don't want to take a break because we can make it work together. The following day, I had called her on my lunch break. Apologizing for everything that I can even come up. From space to potentially being dependent to relying on her, setting expectation, being a bad communicator, or relying on her for my sobriety or even talking too much about my sobriety to whatever came up in my mind even. When asked why? She told me she is focusing/discovering things in therapy and wants to focus in gym (funny enough i had supported her on these two choices - even helped her find a therapist)
I then asked did I do anything wrong, she said no you didn't anything wrong, your a good man. I had explained to her then why do this, if I'm a good man to you, to your family, to your daughter why do this if you see how much I love you. She had asked me what does space mean to me? and I said you tell me and I will make it work. If you want space, take the time you need. A Month, two three months, just take it the time and just tell me that your still going to be with me because my life is good as it is but being with you makes it that much better. She got overwhelmed and said we will revisit this later.
I proceeded to say take all the time you need but I love you more than you ever know. She said take all love you have and put it towards yourself. That really hurt me a lot.
I had asked her you know this shatter me entirely and she said yea I know.
Next day after speaking with her cousin, I found out we are broken up. Over the next two or three days, Ive ahd spoken with her cousin. Who also said I didn't do anything wrong and I even told her okay there is something i need to work. To which, i was told to try again in three months and if i had authentic changed. Following Friday I had gave her clothes back to the cousin and received my keys. It's been a bit over 3 months since i spoke to her and as i reflect back on my whole relationship. I had spent the last six years of my life, putting my girlfriend ahead of myself. I literally would bend over backwards for her and whatever she needed. From buying gifts, to yearly vacations, to expensive concerts, to everything. I literally catered to her from head to toe. In fact, I would stay on the phone with her just to make sure she is safe when she was walking to her gym.
There something here that I have done that I baffles me of how supporting and caring I was. Even cheering her own every morning before gym, help her out with work, I even helped her succeed and guide her career from when i first met her. I literally fell so hard for that i treated her like my wife to be.
We spoke everyday and throughout the day and I would cater to her in every fucking way imaginable. It literally became a one-way relationship, I didn't care because I knew that it would make her life better. It became clear to me that I had put her on a pedestal the whole relationship. I had plans for us to get engaged and move to a different in two years, which i thought she agreed and pay for her daughters college. I had a great relationship with her daughter - she even called me stepdad. I've read all the text messages since 12/22 between the day - I have never saw any conflict or indication. It was nothing but I love yous and what not and checking in and our regular conversations.
I blame myself alot because my ex would always leave me, I was an functioning addict/alcoholic up until 1/2022 and put the blame on me a lot. I had a lot of shame and guilt due to my behavior Also in the first 1 year of our relationship, I had cheated a few times. I owned up to it. I've spent the next 5 years making sure that she knows i will never do it again and really re-claim my honesty.
I always had changed myself so many times and did the work needed to be in this relationship. I never heard her say I'm sorry or take accountability. I have no clue what happened for her to leave me when I literally would give her the world and whatever she needed.
So I reflect on the last few months. I had a relapse in December but I got back to being sober. Before that She found a d**k pic in my phone, it was meant for her but I didn't send it to for some reason, I had explained to her that was meant for her but she didn't care. And then two weeks before NYE, I had an argument with my mom about me getting a car. Which my mom wrote if you want to get a new car have your girlfriend start paying for things with you. My ex saw it. I had explained that after six years, my parents would want to us to start paying together and building a life together such as living together. I wanted that too.
The other thing was that I got into myself debt because i would pay for everything from her ubelyfts/dinners (800 birthday parties for her daughter, 3k vacations, 1.5k concert tickets, weekly dinners) etc and my job was doing layoffs so ive been very worried about money and was just anxious for the future so around august/september i had stopped being lavish. The other thing is we celebrated the holidays (Christmas, new years) so yea where did i go wrong? I made a joke about side chicks on the drive to nye and may have a small outburst with my family. But thats not a reason to leave.
She would leave me and block me for the smallest shit in the world. I literally once disagreed with her in front of her daughter, I got blocked for that.
I must share that I once mayhave some sort of disagreement with her like a calm and just disagreement with her in front of her daughter and nothing too bad as well. She would break up with me and block me and then I would wait or convince her to work on things.
Maybe the relationship was over when I said that "sometimes the only support system i have is you" she got overwhelemed by that. I get it that sounds like too much but we were that couple that was invovled in each other's lives. I was very supporting of her literally. Every thing she took on from gym to whatever, I made sure that she knew she had a support system from me.
She never said anything. I look back my ex is an avoidant. She would never really apologize to me and I felt like was doing the work of two people in the relationship. Or typical stonewall me, block me and give me silent treatments. I start seeing so many other red flags throughout the relationship (Love is blinding folks).
As compared to me, who likes to deal with things right then and there. See here she left so many times and I kept running and running back.
Simply, I knew how great she is and can be. I literally tried my hardest the last year from cooking together, to getting a book together about love, to having dinner dates together, to cooking at home and movie nights to and respect that i found that was suggested on Reddit weeks before the breakup she told how i'm everything she wants in a relationship and loves how attentive i'am to her and her daughter and her cousin.
Funny enough - all i wanted was to to get engaged and move in together. I wanted to have a family with her. I don't know when I brought that up. Said if i was to get engaged i would like to move in within the year of doing so. In our situation, we had to wait a few more years but I was okay with being in a ten-year relationship before engagement just didn't like it.
A few months ago we were looking at houses in florida and mortages.
I was so invested and scared her off? Did I trigger her by wanting more affection? Did I mess up by speaking with her daughter and her about colleges and paying for the colleges. Maybe bringing up kids? I was not trying to replace her dad at all. I was just being the generous and caring me.
Where did I go wrong? She was my life and I would of given her the moon and her future was secure with me. Literally all I needed was two to three years, we would move to florida as we agreed.
Now i'm mainting my sobriety, out of debt particularly, developed my role at work, and working out and doing everything to be better than the day before. In fact, been working on developing from an anxious attachment to a secure attachment. Furthermore, I been working on my priotizing myself and not relying on others so much so that I can stand my own ground.
Looking back - There was alot of up shit done towards me such as rejection from her end, emotional abuse (blocking), shamning me a few times my deceit (drug use & alcohol) use and early affairs during the first year.
Also, a weeks before - she started working out heavily and started to slim down in weight. and got a promotion (which as i said, I had supported her own in terms of motivating and guiding through office politics).
Idk anymore. Thanks for letting me vent because I miss her a lot but she blocked me. At some point, my anxiety tells me that she does not care, or does not respect me, or trusts me, or has a fear of missing out, or I pushed her too far because a relationship takes work. I can't make someone to want to work on a relationship.
Also i know how stubborn my ex is and i know she will never call or admit she was wrong, I can't recall once she took accountability after a fight/disagreement. It seems like I was always changing.
It's hard for me to grasp - i shouldn't fight for someone who is okay with losing me. I would have fought any chance I got for her. I loved her unconditionally because I thought we had plans for the future.
I look back on all the messages between 12/22 and the day of the break up. It's nothing but i love yous and us being us.
submitted by GeneralSnoh to ExNoContact [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 18:12 Remarkable_Words_439 Spelling Bee with Crossword-like Hints

I created a hints website for Spelling Bee. For each answer, you can see crossword like clues. The words are hidden, and you can choose the reveal the entire word, or reveal one letter at a time.
https://spellingbee.tips/
Would love to get your thoughts! I've been using it myself for a few days and found it helpful.
I got this idea because I created something like this for the New York Times Crossword puzzle (https://getcrossword.tips/puzzle/nyt) - where you get additional hints for each clue and thought it was a good idea for the NYT Spelling bee too.
submitted by Remarkable_Words_439 to NYTSpellingBee [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 17:05 MjolnirPants Jerry and the Apocalypse: Part 52

Part 51
At sunset on the third day, we set up camp on a tall ridge overlooking the city. As the sun was still low in the sky, I looked out over the glittering ruins. We had appeared right around the center of it, and it was about a day's walk from there to the edges in any direction.
We were west of the city. To the east, the skyline got lower and lower and the buildings further apart until it turned into a rotting, sprawling suburb. To the north, it ended at a large lake whose wooded far shore was visible about thirty miles distant. The water around the docks was speckled with the rusted remains of sunken ships, parts protruding above the surface. At the southern edge, the mess of tall skyscrapers gave way to a band of low, sprawling industrial buildings that wedged up to a cliff face.
Forty miles in diameter, or thereabouts. A forty mile diameter mass of towering skyscrapers, crumbling and rotting away. Glass still occupied many of the windows, glittering like stars as they reflected the setting sun behind us.
The narrowest point was half again as wide as the longest distance through New York City. And that wasn't counting the suburbs or industrial sector. And it was much taller. The tallest building still standing was, according to the marks on my rangefingers, about twenty-five hundred feet tall. And I suspected that it wasn't the tallest building originally. The piles of rubble around the bases of some of the runners-up were significant. And there were a lot of runners-up.
I did some math in my head. Assuming twenty-five percent more population density, owing to the taller buildings, taking into consideration the size of it, there had to be upwards of forty million people living there. A little larger than Tokyo, I thought. Plus another two or three million in the suburbs. Which was impressive, to be sure. What was more impressive was the similarly-sized cities, peeking above the mountains to the south, behind the low, wooded hills on the other side of the lake, and behind us. I hadn't gotten a good look at the city behind us, but it seemed to be about twice the size of this one.
Just within eyesight of the hill I stood on, peering around, I could see the former homes of somewhere around two hundred million people. Half the population of the US. That was the impressive part.
Footsteps behind me announced Avarisa's approach.
"Camp's set," she said. "What are you looking for?"
I shook my head slowly. "Nothing in particular. Just surveying the area. How many people lived here?"
"Um," she said, rubbing her chin. "In this world, I think seventeen billion, just before the war. Kvenland had a total population of six billion. Norumland had eight billion, but it was much larger."
"So most of the population lived in only two nations?" Avarisa nodded. "There were seventy three nations in total, but Kvenland and Norumland dominated this world."
"And they're all dead," I said.
"Not all of them," Avarisa said. "I read about several trips other gods had taken here. There's a few thousands transplants, mostly from Earth, but also survivors of some of the other worlds. They're on the other side of this planet, though. There's another populated region, about seven hundred miles to the south. There's maybe three hundred thousand, scattered over an area of about two hundred and fifty thousand square miles. Then some scattered pockets, a few hundred to a few thousand all over the place. About two or three million."
"That's a lot of dead people," I said. "Dead in a war that wasn't even theirs to fight." Avarisa looked like she might want to object to that, but she didn't say anything.
I heard more footsteps. I glanced back, expecting Kathy, but instead, I saw Spectre approaching. She was in a physical body, not the usual apparition. With a real body, she actually had some color in her cheeks and some life in her eyes. It made her look younger, around Aaina's age.
"Kathy wants to know if you want beef ravioli or chicken and pasta in vodka sauce."
"Ravioli," both Avarisa and I said at the same time. She met my eyes and smiled briefly. The raviolis were the best of the camp foods we'd brought.
Instead of heading back with her answer, she walked up to stand next to us. Her torn, rotted dress fluttered in the breeze, the stained white fabric a stark contrast to the jet black hair that flowed around above it.
"It's about a day's walk from where we came through to any edge of the city," she said. "So Ixy should be around the edge, right?"
"That's assuming he's in this world," Avarisa said. "There's hundreds of portals in the city proper that lead to other worlds, if you have the magic to open them."
"He's got to be in the Sixteenth World," I said.
"Why do you say that?" Avarisa asked.
"Because that's how this works," I said. "We're here on information from Fulla. She gives her secrets out as clues that we have to follow to get the answers we really want. And when you look at her, magically, while she's doing this, you can see that the way she puts her messages together is very similar to the way an oracle's visions congeal. Which means that it's a probabilistic clue with a narrative structure."
"I don't get it," Spectre said.
Avarisa did. She answered for me. "Most of the portals are to the Sixteenth World. And the Sixteenth World is a giant mystery, which is right up Fulla's alley."
I made a so-so gesture. She was right, but for one of the wrong reasons. Magical thinking was so very different from the rational, critical thought I'd spent so much time and effort developing in school, but it was quite useful at times. And though it still felt a little weird to engage in it, I'd learned to turn it on at times. Avarisa was, like Sarisa, a very rational thinker.
"You're right about the number of portals, but wrong about it being up Fulla's alley," I said.
She gave me a skeptical look. "It's not that Fulla likes mysteries, but that it's a mystery that I only learned about as a result of following her clues."
"Ahhh," she said. "Narrative. As opposed to thematic, which was what I said." I nodded. "And you're sure it's the one, and not both," she continued, making me look at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Themes matter, Jerry," she said with a self-satisfied smirk. I shrugged. "Fair enough," I said. She was probably right, which was something I should bear in mind.
I looked back at the city in front of us, then pulled out the map we'd found. It was on a plastic-like material, thin and foldable like paper. Avarisa had been the one to find it, and after playing with it a while, she'd figured it out. It was tech, not a simple printout. Pinching the creases flattened them out, then squeezing the outermost of four small circles at the bottom left made the light-grey sheet fill with a diagram of the city below. I squeezed the third circle, then handed the sheet to Avarisa.
"Mark all the portals you know about that lead to the Sixteenth World," I said. She took it, and began to press the tip of her finger to different spots, marking them with a red dot.
"I don't know all of them, but like you said, it's almost certainly going to be one of the ones I do know."
I waited for her to mark about a dozen spots, then draw a circle around one near the far end of the city.
"I think this is the most likely one," she said.
"Why is that?" I asked.
"It leads to a place where..." She trailed off, her face flashing through a pained expression and back to a neutral mask.
"What's wrong?" I asked. I tried to fill my voice with the usual levels of concern it would have when asking that question in response to that look, but like everything else I've said in the past few weeks, it came out cold and harsh. I couldn't even work myself into being upset about that, so I just waited for her to answer.
"Sarisa... I told you that she gave me memories of our time together, until you met Inanna," she said, speaking slowly as if this was a grave admission.
"I made it sound like those were the only memories I had, but she... She gave me others, including one in which I accompanied Tientus to the Sixteenth World, mere days after what calamity befell it. This portal leads to the place where we first appeared on that trip."
I nodded and looked at the map. "That will be more than a day's walk. We should probably fly. I don't want to camp in those ruins again."
The previous night, we'd camped in the city, as we had the night before. Only this time, we were attacked. A pack of unusual, canine animals had come sniffing around, likely drawn by the scent of our dinner. Magical alarms woke Kathy and I as they entered our small camp, and when we emerged from the tent to investigate, the animals attacked. We were forced to kill three of them before the others fled.
Of course, that wasn't what made the choice for us. Instead, as the seven or eight remaining animals fled into the night, we'd heard a roar, followed by more of the same yelping and growling we'd heard as we fought them off. It didn't last long. The ensuing crunching sound was very reminiscent of Ixy, but when I'd put in the buttplug and flown off to check, I'd found a rancor, instead.
Yes, like the rancor from Star Wars. The resemblance was shocking. a bipedal animal with short, stubby legs, a powerful upper body, long arms with clawed hands and an enormous, forward-thrusting head with massive, fanged jaws. The only way in which it differed was the brown-and-gray coat of fur the thing wore. The coat was thick and full, reminding me of a bear's fur. It also blended in with the surroundings quite well.
I returned and we shifted our camp to the base of a large satellite dish on top of a thirty-story building that looked less likely to collapse than others nearby. This morning, I'd examined the dog-like creatures.
They reminded me of a thylacine. They had stripes on the back ends of their backs. Their rear legs had the same short thighs and long, thick calves as thylacines, and like the rancor, they had thickly muscled forelimbs and chests. During the brief fight, we had seen them open their jaws almost ninety degrees, a sight which is uniquely unsettling, even though they didn't pose much of a challenge to us. They had the same smooth, almost cat-like faces, narrow muzzles and distinctly dog-like noses as a thylacine, with subtle cranial ridges.
I'd seen videos of thylacines moving about, and read descriptions. One thing I recalled was that they were not particularly fast nor agile, a feature that clearly did not apply to the animals we'd fought off. They had moved lightning fast and struck like snakes, snapping bites and slinking away.
In any event, we had decided that since the ruins were the homes of several dangerous predator species, it would be best to to move outside of the city. With the map Avarisa had found, we could plan our forays better, in any event.
"I can't fly," Avarisa said. I turned to her, a look of disbelief on my face. "Kathy can fly, and she's about the least talented flyer of all of us."
"I'm going to tell her you said that," Spectre said with a little smile. I tried to smile back, really, I did. But my lips didn't twitch. "She knows. She's possessed of enough talent in other areas that she shouldn't be insecure about it."
Spectre's smile faded. She'd been trying for a little levity, which I appreciated, so I put an arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head.
"I've tried," Avarisa said. "I can't. I can levitate, but once I'm in the air, I can't seem to make myself move around. It feels like I should be able to, but I just can't. I think Sarisa did it. On purpose."
"I could check, with the right circle and tools, but I don't have the tools in hammerspace," I said. "But that can wait. I'll carry you when it's time to fly."
"Won't that slow you down?" she asked. I shrugged. "Not enough to matter. I'll most likely have to stay close to Kathy in any event. We should still be able to make it there before nightfall, tomorrow. We'll leave the camp here, unless we encounter more predators. If we do, we'll bring the camp and set it up on top of one of the buildings again.
Avarisa had assured us that there were no winged predators in this region that would pose any threat if they caught us unaware. I trusted her, because I'd seen the library she had been reading back at the gods' camp. It wasn't the Library of Souls, but it was nonetheless extensive. And I knew she read lightning fast. Like a speed reader, except she absorbed everything she read.
"Come on, I'm getting hungry," Spectre said. All three of us turned and walked down to the small copse, just off the peak of the hill, where we'd made camp. To my surprise, there was a second tent,a small pup tent, on the other side of the fire from the one we'd been sharing until this point. Kathy was busy heating up beef ravioli in a camp pot. She looked up as we approached.
"I found a pup tent buried in hammerspace. Might be a little less crowded in there with just two of you."
I nodded, taking one of the folding seats set around the fire. I produced a pair of plates, with utensils fitted into slots on their underside and handed one to Avarisa as she sat. Spectre made a circuit of the fire, then leaned down to speak quietly to Kathy.
"I'm going to go now," she said. Kathy smiled at her. "Will you tell Lya what we're up to?"
Spectre nodded. "Of course. I'll keep her company. She's working all week and coming home to an empty house."
"She'd appreciate that. I would, too," Kathy said. She kissed Spectre, to my surprise, not on the cheek, but on the lips, and the spirit vanished.
I didn't say anything about the kiss. Just because it surprised me didn't mean it interested me.
After a few minutes, Kathy doled out the food, producing her own plate at last. We ate quickly, washing it down with little plastic barrel-shaped containers of what tasted like watered-down koolaid. I kept several cases of them, pre-chilled, in hammerspace, mostly for my younger children, but.... I wanted them gone. Used up. So we drank them, three or four at a meal. It was tastier than water.
After we ate, the sun had fully set, so I cleaned up, scrubbing the plates with sand and then rinsing them in a stream at the base of the hill, and then we retired to our tents. Avarisa and I in mine, Kathy in her pup tent. I set my magical traps and alarms and then sat there for a bit, Avarisa laying on her side, next to me.
None of us had bathed since we got here. And though it was cold out, we'd been on our feet all day, every day. I could smell myself when I paid attention, and I could feel the grime and sweat built up under my clothes. I had a camp shower in hammerspace, and I sat there and considered whether it was worth retrieving, setting up, and heating up some water for.
"Would you like a shower?" I asked Avarisa after a few minutes. She lifted her head and eyed me.
"Fuck yeah," she said. "I feel like I've got a second skin, right now."
"You'll have to either share one with me, or we'll have to heat up two full pots of water over the fire. That'll take a while."
"We can share one, if you're okay with that," she said, her voice sounding a little strange.
"Okay," I said. I stood and unzipped the tent, stepping out.
"Kathy, I'm going to set up a camp shower, if you want to use it when I'm done," I said in a normal voice, knowing she could hear me through the thin material of her tent.
"Just leave it up, I'll use it in the morning," she said.
"Okay."
I retrieved it from hammerspace. It was a folding metal and fiberglass frame. It had a large bladder with a hook at the top to tie a rope through, to hoist it. There was a plastic plate that the bladder rested on, angled so as to make it easy to slide in and out of place. It had a hose at the bottom that connected to a shower head that could be used to spray yourself down, or hung just below the plastic plate. There was a tarp that wrapped around the whole thing for some privacy. The whole thing was packaged in a large pot.
I pulled the assembly out of the pot and began to set it up. It didn't take long at all. Once I had the frame assembled and wrapped in the tarp, the hard part begun. I carried the bladder down the hill to the small creek and filled it about 3/4 full of water. Using a bit of paracord through the hood, I hoisted it on my back and brought it back. I flung the free end of the paracord over a tree branch that looked capable of taking the weight, then grabbed the pot and headed back to the stream to fill it.
Lugging it back, I placed it on the cooking rack over the fire while Avarisa added some more fuel to build it back up. We then had to wait for the water to boil, which took about fifteen minutes. When that was done, we opened the bladder again, the mouth forming a large funnel, and poured in the boiling water. I tested it after we emptied the pot, and it was nice and warm.
"Okay, get undressed," I said as I hoisted the bladder up. It slipped up the plastic platform and I reached up to close the gate to hold it in place. I tied off the paracord (the gate alone wouldn't take the weight) and then quickly stripped as Avarisa stood next to the door, waiting for me. We had to move quickly, because the chilly air would cool the water quickly. The bag was not insulated, but rather a thick, black plastic so that one could use the sun to warm it over the course of a day.
I stepped in, producing two bars of soap from hammerspace and I opened the valve to spray both of us down with warm water. Once we were thoroughly wet, I closed it and handed Avarisa a bar. We soaped up quickly, the night chill getting to us.
Once we were thoroughly soapy, we ran the water to rinse again, then I sent the soap back and produced a combination shampoo and conditioner. We sudsed up our hair and rinsed off again. About two thirds of the water still remained in the bladder.
"Want to just enjoy the soak?" I asked. She nodded, so I left the valve open. She pressed against me, both of us sharing in the cascade of water. I watched the top of her head, and when she put her hands on my hips and looked up, I met her eyes.
"This is nice," she said.
"Yeah," I responded.
Flashes of memories swept through me. Aaina, when we first brought her home, afraid to be alone, needing me or Inanna in the shower with her. Sara and Junior, joining me for my showers once they were steady on their feet because it was just easier to bathe them that way, when time mattered. Normally, we let them play in the bath, but I'd scrubbed them down a few times in the shower.
And of course, those memories all gave way to the countless showers I'd shared with Inanna. It may come as a surprise, but most of the time, we simply helped each other get clean, and then got out. We had fooled around in the shower many times, of course, but that wasn't the norm. The falling water could be a distraction, whereas the possibility of getting clean and then fooling around as soon as we got out was almost always there.
Without even thinking about it, I put my hands on Avarisa's hips and pulled her into me. She didn't hesitate or resist, stepped forward and running her hands up my sides. I bent down and kissed her, and she quickly moved a hand to the back of my head, pulling me in, clinging to me.
We kissed for a long moment. It wasn't until I grew chilly and realized that the water had given out that I drew back. She rested one hand on my shoulder while the other slipped around to my front, to grab me.
"Are you sure?" she asked quietly. I shook my head. "Don't make me question myself," I said. "I just want to stop thinking."
She nodded, then met my eyes.
"I just finished my period," she said. "Yesterday was the last day. Tamp down on your fertility, Jerry, and I can all but guarantee you that I won't get pregnant."
I nodded. I lifted her up in my arms and carried her to the tent.
The next morning, I was woken by Kathy holding my pants, which I'd left draped over one of the folding chairs last night, peeking through the flaps of the tent. "Seriously?" she asked.
I blinked away the blurriness and focused on her. It took me a second to recognize what I was seeing, and another to put the pieces together in my mind.
"Shit," I muttered. "Sorry."
"It's your own clothes that have ants in them," Kathy said. "And hers."
I pulled Avarisa's arm off of me gently and slipped out of the sleeping bag. "I'll get it," I said.
"Good, I'm going to refill the shower. I already got a pot boiling. You two can start breakfast while I'm showering."
She handed me the pants and pulled her head out of the opening. Checking them, I could see that there were, indeed, tiny ants crawling all over them. I sighed and summoned clothes from hammerspace, then retrieved my stuff from the pockets and transferred it over. I walked out and picked up all the clothes we'd left out.
The ants had gotten into all of them.
I brought them down to the creek, passing Kathy as she walked back with the bladder three quarters full of water. She shook her head slowly, not saying anything as we met and then parted. I rinsed all the clothes out, letting the little ants get swept away in the current. When I returned to string up a paracord clothesline and hang them to dry, I could see Avarisa's silhouette in the morning glow, moving around inside the tent. I climbed in.
"I left my clothes out there," she said.
"Here," I said. I pulled a t-shirt, a hoodie sweater and a pair of pants from hammerspace. "These should fit. I don't have any underwear, though."
"I normally don't wear a bra," she said as she pulled the clothes on. "Going commando will be a new one, though..."
She finished dressing and we both went out to make breakfast. Kathy was in the shower, singing quietly as she scrubbed off. I got a good scramble going, eggs, cheese, bacon and potatoes, along with fried naan bread. When Kathy was finished, she toweled off and immediately sat down, not bothering to get dressed. We ate quickly, and I let Kathy get a larger portion than the rest of us, because she seemed to need it.
When we were done, Kathy summoned clothes and I made a harness out of paracord.
"We're going to fly to the first portal, it's more than a day's walk," I told Kathy. She stared at me for a second.
"Shit, Jerry, you'd better stay close to me and help me with the landings," she said. I nodded. I intended to do just that. When I had the harness ready, I had Avarisa put on her armor, and then I secured her back to my chest, adding a few lines of paracord from her plate carrier that passed between her legs to be sure. I had her pad them out with one of the still-damp towels, which she giggled and protested over the chill about. I asked her to imagine her body weight all on the paracord lines between her legs, though, and her protests ended. The giggles continued for a few minutes, though.
Thus secured, we layered more magic over top the camp to ward off any curious animals and took off. Kathy wobbled a lot during the flight, but she managed to keep up with me just fine. It took about two hours to reach the spot. I took Kathy's arms, reaching around Avarisa to do so, and we settled down on the ground in front of what looked like a high-end clothing store.
The clothes on the mannequins had all rotted away, and green mold coated the glass windows, making the insides dim. The doors were locked, so I smashed the glass out of one of the windows and we stepped in.
Avarisa led us to a wall, where I pulled down some shelves. Once clear, I touched the keys in my pockets mentally and a section of the wall shimmered. It seemed to fade from view, showing a desolate cityscape not too different from the one we were in. We all stepped through.
"Welcome to the Sixteenth World," Avarisa said, her voice a little choked. I wondered what memories Sarisa had given her that caused this.
We were in a much smaller city than before. Only four skyscrapers stood, each one immaculate except for the layer of dust dulling the windows. Lower buildings surrounded them, all looking to be made of concrete. The last city had brick and even a few wooden structures, but this place all seemed to be made of the same, light gray concrete. Streets, sidewalks and buildings alike.
Piles of rust stood here and there, the remains of vehicles left exposed to the elements for hundreds or thousands of years. And bodies.
In the last place, the bodies had been skeletons, mostly partial bodies, many with signs of being worried by the local fauna. Here, they were mummies.
I could see dozens of them, including at least one in every pile of rust. Desiccated corpses, clad in sun-bleached fibers that still kept their shape. I recognized T-shirts and button-down shirts, sundresses and skirts, pants and shorts. Avarisa wandered off, towards a smaller, one story building with a line of bushes in front. I followed her gaze to see a curious site.
Most of the vegetation was brown, but intact. Leaves still clung to tree and bush limbs, grass still lay across the ground. But where she was moving, there was a circle of... I'm not sure how to describe it.
The bushes in front of the building simply melted away as they approached the circle. Bushy brown limbs gave way to bare limbs, which gave way to shattered, sparse limbs, which gave way entirely. The grass grew sparse, and then faded out into dark, rich soil.
Right at the center of the circle lay two small skeletons.
Scraps of rough fabric still clung to their limbs. They were both small, young children, I thought. And they had no flesh left on them. Unlike every other corpse, these had been subjected to the process of decay.
"What happened?" I asked.
Avarisa knelt at the edge of the circle, staring at the remains in the middle. When she spoke, her voice cracked with grief.
"When Tientus first learned of what happened here, she grabbed two children. She brought them here, as guinea pigs, to see if whatever happened affected them. They hadn't done anything to displease her, they were just... The first humans she saw when she went looking, I think. She brought them here. Nothing happened, so I took them and was going to bring them home, but..."
She sobbed once, her shoulders hitching.
"She stopped me. Made me leave them, because she didn't want to wait the thirty seconds it would take me to bring them home. They died so that she wouldn't be inconvenienced in even the mildest way.
"These two children, whose names are long lost, they're the inspiration for the war. Because of them, I began creating the spell to strip a god's divinity. Because of them, I reached out to Astoram, who had always been at odds with the other elder gods, and secured his aid."
Kathy and I stood behind her, looking at the two small skeletons and listening to her words. When Avarisa stopped talking, we remained in place, thinking about the death and destruction that had resulted from the casual murder of two children.
"This is pretty heavy," Kathy said after a while. I nodded.
"Yes, it is," I said.
We must have stood there, reflecting on the bodies for ten minutes, when a sound came to us from the distance. All three of our heads came up and turned in the direction it had come from.
"Was that..." Kathy said. I nodded.
"Ixy's roar," I said.
Part 53
submitted by MjolnirPants to JerryandtheGoddesses [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 16:27 DescensionSC DIY Upgrade to an ISEL Tech DaVinci - First "DIY" Build

DIY Upgrade to an ISEL Tech DaVinci - First
I picked up an Isel Tech Stepper DaVinci education CNC from Facebook Marketplace last year for $600. My goal was being able to machine Aluminum, and small soft metal parts. I liked how overbuilt and bomb proof the frame was and size wise it was perfect for a project I had coming up. After running it for a few months and getting some good parts out of it I decided to upgrade it to a true 3 axis with upgraded steppers and spindle. Here is my current build and how I got to it.

https://preview.redd.it/rjthlienvwoa1.jpg?width=3000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5680d678cbe69b20f028d0b24721b1aa14d87d97
Old Hardware (Kept from Isel DaVinci):
  • Aluminum Extrusion X/Y/Z plates
  • Cast Aluminum Gantry Supports
  • Dual Linear Bearing Rails X/Y/Z
  • Ball Screw Drives X/Y/Z
New Hardware:
  • Controller: BlackBox X32 (OpenBuilds)
  • Power Supply: Meanwell 24v LRS-350-24 (Amazon) w/ PowerCase Kit (OpenBuilds)
  • Spindle: RATTMMOTOR 2.2kw 110v Water Cooled ER20 80mm (Amazon)
  • VFD: HuanYang 110v 2.2kw Inverter (Amazon)
  • Spindle Mount: 2x 80 mm dia (Bulkman3D)
  • X/Y Stepper: 2x Nema 23 High Torque (2.45nm) (Bulkman3D)
  • Z Stepper: Nema 23 High Torque (3nm) (eBay)
  • Cable: 2/3/4 Conductor Shielded 22awg Cable (Bulkman3D)
  • Limits: 5x Xtension Limit Switch (OpenBuilds)
  • Z Axis Plate Hardware: 20x80mm V Rail, Joining Plates, Corner brackets (OpenBuilds)
  • Z Coupler: Rigid ¼” to 10mm (Amazon)
  • X/Y Coupler: Rigid ¼” to ¼” (Bulkman3D)
  • E Stop: NO and NC contact Combined 22mm Mushroom (Amazon)
  • Chip Removal: Loc-line kit (Amazon)
  • Air Pump: Vivosun 50 watt 70L/Min Pump (Amazon)
  • Linear Rail: 20mm x 20mm V-slot Linear Rail (OpenBuilds)
Bud Box Hardware:
  • Relays: 25a Solid State Relay DC to AC w/ Heatsink (Amazon)
  • Fans: 24v DC 40mm Fan (Amazon)
  • Power Connectors: 15a C14 Panel Mount Plug (Amazon)
  • Enclosure: Watertight 200mm x 120mm x 113mm Enclosure (Amazon)
  • Connectors: Weld Free Plug in terminal Blocks - 2/4 pos (misc)
  • Misc Electronics: LEDs, Perf Board, Resistors, IC, Bus Bar
  1. Bud Box
I knew that I would need to control both my water pump and air pump with the Blackbox. Thats where the DC/AC solid state relays come in. Below is a schematic of the Bud box. Took the Coolant (24v DC) and Tool (3.3v DC) out signals from the X32 and ran them into the DC side of the relays. The AC side is in line with the mains power and the pumps. What this allows me to do is use the Coolant On (M8) command to turn on the chip removal air pump. The water pump is tied to the Tool (M3) control so that it always comes on when the spindle is on. Additionally I took 24v DC from the power supply to the Bud box to power cooling fans for the relays. There is also a mains power ground bus with an external connector so that I am able to ground my enclosure and chassis. This is something that could be accomplished with IOT Relays, but they are hard to come by and I wanted some additional functionality.

BudBox

https://preview.redd.it/r85n9qdrvwoa1.jpg?width=4000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1cf75c1e5be879a66b8e17c69f3f18bbfd52cc48
  1. VFD Wiring
The VFD wiring to spindle is straight forward. UVW/E to the spindle thru a 4 connector 15a rated cord with aviation style disconnects. RST/E to Mains power. For my configuration I also wired the following terminals:
  • Jump from FOR to DCM (Hardwired for forward spin)
  • Wire NO E-stop Terminal to DCM and SPL (SPL is set to E Stop in settings PD048)
  • Wire 0-10v DC X32 Output to V1 and ACM (VFD Controller Signal from X32)
  • Moved VR jumper to VI (Allows for external VFD Control)

https://preview.redd.it/z9i0b32vvwoa1.jpg?width=3000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=31e8f9ada94d00f3e449d0a9ea346d718a856968
2a. VFD Settings:
  • PD013 = 8 - This is the factory reset code
  • PD001 = 1 - This sets external terminal control
  • PD002 = 1 - Sets Op freq to simulation (external potentiometer)
  • PD005 = 400 - Max Operating Freq
  • PD004 = 400 - Base Freq
  • PD008 = 110 - This is your Mains Power Voltage
  • PD024 = 1 - Sets your stop bottom to Valid
  • PD048 = 13 - Sets SPL to be used as an E Stop
  • PD070 = 0 - Sets analog input to 0-10v
  • PD072 = 400 - Sets higher analog freq
  • PD144 = 24000 - Rated Motor Revs
  1. E Stop
The Blackbox X32 has a quirk that if it is connected via USB any output that is under 5v will stay active if the 24v DC power is lost. This can cause major issues if you use the 3.3v DC Tool connection. You can cut power to the Controller but if you have USB connected your tool will stay live. I say this is a problem because if you use the controller in Wifi mode or with the interface kit then there is no 5v supplied and cutting power will kill the whole unit. I used this to my advantage. The EStop is set up this way:
22mm Mushroom interlock switch with both a NO and NC contact attached. The NC contact is placed inline with the 24v DC power line between the power supply and the controller. I do this because cutting the power to the Power supply is not instant. The power supply has conditioning capacitors that keep the system live longer than I’d like for an EStop event. Additionally I run the power supply and pumps off of a UPS to mitigate brown outs/power drops. So cutting power “at the wall” is not an option.
The NO contact is wired to VFD terminals DCM and SPL as stated above. This is a built-in safety interlock on the VFD that will cut power to the spindle and let it safely coast down. I mentioned that I used the controller's odd USB power usage to my advantage. Since I use the 0-10v output for Spindle control, and the Tool (3.3v) output for my water pump, when I ESTOP the system my water pump does not turn off. This allows my spindle to coast down but continue to receive cooling.
To sum up: ESTOP switch kills the VFD and kills 24V power to the controller. This stops the spindle and steppers but keeps the cooling water active.


https://preview.redd.it/jl4cpbmwvwoa1.jpg?width=4000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1f344b19bca75240646b5d66619269bfbefa988e
4.Steppers
Luckily for me the ISEL had good mounting and routing options for the Steppers. I used 2.45nm steppers for the X and Y axis and a 3nm stepper for the Z. I went with a higher torque model for the Z axis due to the spindle weight. There is not anything fancy going on here. 4 conductor 22awg shielded cable from the X32 to each stepper. I do however use 4 position weld free connector pairs to allow for easy maintenance. There is a set in each stepper housing and a set inside the cast gantry cavity.

https://preview.redd.it/tameoutxvwoa1.jpg?width=3000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0598c5d858b4c47bfa51d48e5301da2157823646
  1. Limit Switches
I went back and forth on whether I wanted to use standard micro switches or the Openbuilds Xtension Limit Switch Kits. Ended up going with the Xtensions due to mounting options. Personally I think the Xtension switches are flawed. All 3 mounting holes are plated through holes. Which means that if they are mounted with standard hardware you “ground” the DC circuit thru the chassis.
This is a problem for 2 reasons:
  1. If you use a Openbuilds probe kit, it will always show a closed circuit since your machine is already “grounded”.
  2. If your Spindle is grounded to mains power you are know combining Mains ground and DC (-) “ground”. Meaning if your VFD/Spindle shorts then it has a path directly to your controller.
Getting back to the switches. I ended up mounting them all with nylon spacers and hardware to isolate them. 2 switches in parallel for both X and Y Axis. 1 switch for the Z axis. All 5 are connected back to the controller with 3 conductor 22 awg shielded cable with weld free connectors throughout the build for maintenance.
  1. Z Axis Upgrade
While building up the new Spindle mounts I realized that the Stock axis plate was way too heavy. I wanted to cut as much weight from the Z Axis as possible since I added so much weight with the spindle. I took some 20x80mm V rail and brackets to build up a more efficient mounting plate that would fit the spindle mounts better.

https://preview.redd.it/514t4m2wwwoa1.jpg?width=3000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=35b20a66c65fee1c6d1bf371e4b9988fb69e0abe
https://preview.redd.it/a4t6kl2wwwoa1.jpg?width=3000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=962ae10b29ea6d0657570901b5c49c4482954756
  1. Grounding and DC (-), Isolation
I mentioned it previously but I went to great lengths to make sure that Mains ground is separate from DC (-) and not accidentally combined on the chassis or other places. Limit switches with Plated thru holes were mounted with nylon hardware to isolate them from the chassis. In the BudBox the mains ground bus was used to ground the chassis and enclosure to mains power through the power supply cables of the pumps. Mains power and DC (-) were kept separate in the BudBox. Also, all DC signal wires are run into the enclosure on one side with Spindle and AC power lines run on the other side to reduce crosstalk and interference.

https://preview.redd.it/gmdodrl2wwoa1.jpg?width=3000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=479a13ddef7b2a551794ab048370edf9bf9321b0
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submitted by DescensionSC to hobbycnc [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 14:11 CaspianX2 LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars for Nintendo 3DS - Review

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Genre: 3D Action-Platformer
Players: 1, StreetPass Supported
.
Review:
LEGO Star Wars III is a family-friendly 3D Action-Platformer released in 2011 on the PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, and Wii, with versions also released on Nintendo DS and on Nintendo 3DS just in time for that platform’s launch in 2011. Unlike the prior games in the LEGO Star Wars franchise, which all focused on films in the Star Wars series, LEGO Star Wars III is based on the computer-animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, including characters and plot elements from that series.
While one wouldn’t look to a LEGO launch title on the Nintendo 3DS as a graphical showpiece, LEGO Star Wars III is surprisingly impressive, not only featuring3D visuals with plenty of little animated LEGO bits and pieces flying around the environment as you battle with enemies, but also making use of some good lighting and shadow, with lightsabers and blaster shots illuminating surrounding areas.
And as was typical of LEGO games at the time, the sound makes minimal use of voice, with grunts and screams, and occasional clips of droids shouting a monotone “Oh no.” as they’re about to get blasted to pieces. Still, the sound painted this as unquestionably a Star Wars property, as blasters, lightsabers, and other in-universe tech all have their appropriate sound effects, and covers of John Williams’ legendary score plays throughout the game.
As for the gameplay… well, you surely know how Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO games play by this point, yes? The series’ formula of 3D Action-Platformer has remained fairly consistent over the years, and this game is no exception. You’ll move and jump through the levels, occasionally stopping to solve some puzzles (usually by either swapping to a different character and/or building something using bouncing blocks in the area). It’s pretty accessible, with just enough variety to keep things interesting.
This game adds a few elements that streamline the process a bit for the handheld release - There’s an R2D2 icon in the corner that you can tap to give you clues if you get stuck or don’t know how to do something, and you can quickly swap characters by tapping L&R, and unlike console games in the series, this just transforms your character rather than having these other characters trailing behind you in the environment (and honestly, I like this version of the mechanic better, as I don’t have to keep track of multiple party members in the area).
However, one change here is very clearly in the negative, removing one of the biggest elements of the Traveller’s Tales LEGO games - this game has no multiplayer. The loss of this feature is a terrible blow to the game, as much of the fun of this otherwise relatively simple experience is sharing it with a friend. Without that, the game feels a bit more repetitive. There are a few other issues I have here too, such as a camera that isn’t always optimally-placed and which you have no control over, and characters with ranged weapons that are too difficult to aim.
In the end, LEGO Star Wars III is a solid but not perfect transition for the franchise to Nintendo’s then-new handheld. The loss of multiplayer is one of the biggest flaws in this release, and there are a few other issues here as well. However, for the most part, players seeking a Nintendo 3DS game with the same quality gameplay that typifies the Traveller’s Tales LEGO games will indeed find it here… though of course, they’ll find it in a lot of other places too (as there are tons of LEGO games on the Nintendo 3DS).
tl;dr – LEGO Star Wars III is a solid first entry for the Traveller’s Tales family-friendly LEGO games on Nintendo 3DS, though not a perfect one. While the game largely retains the same great 3D Action-Platformer gameplay as its console counterparts, the lack of multiplayer is a big disappointment here. It’s still worth playing if you’re a fan of the franchise, though.

Grade: C+

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submitted by CaspianX2 to eShopperReviews [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 13:59 jryad Countryside Sabbath Fellowship Chapter 1

Part I :: “The Little Church”
As I stepped inside Countryside Sabbath Fellowship, I never imagined how this place would change my outlook on faith, God, and Seventh-day Adventism as a whole. It didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. It is your typical red church with a big white steeple rising high towards Heaven. A symbol of the enduring power of the love of Christ immortal. Or something like that. My eyes moved up towards the sign above the door that read The Church in the Wildwood. Perhaps it was a remnant of a previous church that had moved on? A small door led to a dining hall. Folding chairs and brown tables were set up around the room. My eyes darted left and right. Everyone here was old. Some were very old. I tapped my shoes on the rug. The gravel driveway still lingered on the bottom of each. Outside, cars loaded with the lost souls of the world rushed along Highway 395, a highway leading from Spokane to Canada.
A group of ragtag aging Adventist outcasts wandered almost aimlessly around the dining hall waiting for the morning service to start. We missed Sabbath school and in between there was a break where the members could unload their bladders and bowels, or grab a piece of church literature from a little table set up in the dining room. It was also a chance for the pack leader to chit-chat with those who came in late.
Here we all were, gathering to learn about “God’s truth for these last days.” It was funny how so few people were interested to learn about the end of the world. Yet, such knowledge, although freely given, is not popular with the masses. That’s what makes it even juicier. It seemed that the aged knew something that the younguns who were spending their Saturday involved in the sins of the world did not. Yet, I was new and did not know what a thrill all of this was. Hell, I had not even met Albert Fletcher, yet. When I stepped into Countryside Sabbath Fellowship, I felt like I had walked into some strange place removed from time. I had never been inside a church quite like this. There was something familiar and nostalgic about it. I took a deep breath, and could almost taste the old wood smell that the whole place seemed to be dipped in. I don’t know if it was pine or birch, but the place smelled like a cross between wood paneling and the bedroom at your great-grandmother’s house.
Deer Park, Washington is a town of four thousand souls. Given that this church had about twenty or so people attending, that meant that there were still 3980 that were lost and desperately in need of salvation. Yet, the situation was not as hopeless as the reader may think. There was another God-fearing Seventh-day Adventist church in this small town (praise the Lord!). That was the thing that really perplexed me from the start. I asked myself: “Why did a second Adventist church open only a couple miles from an SDA church that has been a part of this community for decades?” I had been married in the other church, and when I was baptized I was made well aware that the other Adventist church was also the remnant church written about in Revelation. So, why was I seeing double?
There’s really no way to sugarcoat things. I was not raised a Seventh-day Adventist. I joined shortly after being married (and I was married far too young). I really had no clue that not being an Adventist at the time could have barred me from marriage. I was incredibly impressionable. I wanted to impress my future wife and future in-laws. I knew that there was no chance for me to be wed to my lady if I did not join the church. The truth was, I really wanted to be baptized into a relationship with Christ for some time, so I jumped in, fins first so to speak. But, with that said, I always thought Adventism was kind of strange (and it never made sense to me that I had to agree to 28 fundamental rules in order to be baptized into Christ). I could say that I would have probably found any church strange. I am sure they all have their peculiarities. Yet, there were some things within Adventism that never really sat right with me. The big one was this idea that you have to separate yourself from the big bad world. Bear with me.
You see, in the Adventist ecosystem, it is suggested that kids go to separate schools, and universities, and then get jobs in the church. I suppose the latter one is optional, but the church is the place that Adventist parents pray their kids end up. I am sure that’s a noble thing. Being a pastor, doctor, or missionary is the gold standard. You get a kid who agrees to enter into the holy trinity of career paths and you are golden. Sit back, light a cigar, and celebrate the fact that they are on the fast track to Heaven.
Actually, let’s go back to the cigar thing. The Adventist church has a pretty strict health message. No smoking, no drinking, no drugs, no cheese. Wait, back up a minute. I get the no smoking, drinking, and drugs thing—but no cheese? Yeah, you heard me right. I said no cheese. There’s also no hot peppers, no vinegar, no meat, and no ice cream. Now, you may be thinking that’s absurd. It may or may not be. You see, the church is famous for its health message. Cheese is to be shunned and is “not fit for food.” And that was a shame for me because I am kind of in love with cheese. There’s more though. The idea of living far out in the country, away from the cities, and being separate from society is a high ideal. Why, you ask? Well, you had to prepare for the end times, an imminent National Sunday Law, and intense persecution. Some of these issues had me struggling, but I didn’t give them too much thought. I don’t know how many did. I know that it was mentioned during sermons, and some people were obsessive about it, but during day-to-day life, most people just did the same thing as those people who were out and about on that strange Saturday morning.
What Adventism did provide for me was a way to stay close to the Lord. Although I had much to learn, I was happy in my ignorance and felt that my relationship with God was slowly growing. For me, that ignorance was bliss. How little did I know that my ignorance was about to be shattered.
As I sat there in that dining hall, with the pastor’s eyes locked on me, I thought back to my recent return from Eastern European Country. I had been a missionary in Kyiv. My job was nothing spectacular. I was just an English teacher. I loved Eastern European Country but decided to come back to the United States with my wife to live a more pastoral life. The idea was that we would consider buying property and living a more pastoral life in accordance with Ellen White’s* prophetic insight. After close to fifteen years married, we had just had a child and that child was now two years old. Seeing that the world was slated for the great and terrible day of the Lord, we thought best to begin a new phase of life and consider building ourselves a country home.
*Note: Ellen White was hit by a rock when she was a young woman. This was a very traumatic part of her life and it affected her. Like many who call themselves modern-day prophets, a traumatic event is often a springboard to purported visions and dreams. Young Ellen claimed to have visions in her weakened state and eventually a movement formed. Her power and authority grew. She wrote prolifically (with help from others) and a host of source material (and I’m not talking angels). Much of what she says is controversial, yet a lot of that is not shared in church. Many offshoots and extremists have formed that take her words as true messages from God and elevate her to a position of spiritual authority. Many of these cults are full of spiritual and sexual abuse, and many still arise in the United States and Europe, as well as developing countries around the world. Countryside is an example of such a church.
It was a happy accident that I became a missionary. Before diving head first into the Lord’s work, I had finished law school in New York City. Before that I was in San Francisco, working at In-N-Out Burger and attending college at the University of San Francisco—a Jesuit school. Not the kind of places you would expect a baptized Adventist to spend his time. Yet, I was not your everyday Adventist. As I said, I was a first-generation Adventist, and at the time I had no idea that multi-generational Adventists looked at us like we were retarded. Now I know why.
But I didn’t then.
Now the pastor was on a quick march toward me. He wore a sharp-looking grey suit. His skin had an olive complexion to it. We met at the pamphlets on a table all proclaiming the benefits of a vegan diet and how country living could help you escape end times persecution.
“Hi. I’m pastor Albert*,” he said, smiling. His smile showcased two full rows of teeth—something that not all the members of this church could claim ownership to. I shook his hand, stating that I was glad to finally meet him. I had heard a lot about this man as of late, and my in-laws were quite giddy that we were going to meet him on this holy day.
*NOTE: Albert Fletcher is the pastor at Countryside Sabbath Fellowship. Since he is a limited public figure with a vocal public church and YouTube channel, I have used his name in this book.
I was still in awe. I had traveled to around 30 countries at this point in my life, yet nothing was quite like this place. I had stood in some of the world’s greatest Buddhist temples, The huge mosques in Cairo and Istanbul, and the legendary temples of India and Thailand, and yet there was nowhere quite like this. I had read a lot about Adventism as it existed back in the early days, and this place reminded me a bit of how that must have looked. Observing this church, I realized that it seemed like something out of “pure” Adventism. Something like one would see back at the very beginning when the rock had just struck Ellen White, and the prophecies were flowing like sweet milk and honey.
My wife’s parents had been singing the praises of his church for the better part of a year now. Yet, I just did not understand it. I thought back to the days when they were active in the Deer Park church. The father-in-law in particular was quite involved there. He would work with the Sabbath school classes, and play the piano during service. Both he and his wife had forged many friendships during the decades. It was the church their children were baptized in and their grandchildren were dedicated to the Lord in. Why did they leave for this new church? What changed? And why didn’t Albert and all these old guys just go there for Sabbath worship? There was plenty of room in the pews. The potluck tables still had room for them. They could make themselves useful in aspects of church outreach. Something seemed strange about it.
As Albert stood there, shaking my hand, I could not deny that he seemed charismatic and kind. There was a level of energy to him that radiated. His big smile was welcoming and warm. As our hands parted, his wife rushed over. We are going to call her Kathleen, and like everyone else in this story, her name has been changed. Kathleen had wispy white hair and a frail physique. Her voice was also warm. Motherly even. “It’s great to meet you.” She spoke slower than her husband but was still bubbly. Her smile matched her husband’s. “We’ve heard a lot about you both,” she said.
“We hope it’s good,” I said, laughing a little. I had been married to my wife for 15 years at this point. When it came to my in-laws, I just “went with the flow.” Freddy, my wife’s father, is known to be an easily riled and opinionated man who finds being right to be the pinnacle of importance. To say we have clashed over the years has been an understatement. He never really took to me, but the truth is, he clashed with all of his sons and every man who dated one of his five daughters. My wife happened to be the youngest. My life choices never really seemed to please him, and to say we were opposites also is an understatement. He loved the country, working on mechanics, hated change of any kind, and was—and I’m just being honest here—easily given to conspiracy theories. I, on the other hand, loved the city and traveling. I thrived under constant change and had no desire to bother with mechanics. Moreover, I hated conspiracy theories and didn’t even like to talk about them. His wife was a much quieter woman, although not the silent type. She took a back seat to him in most matters, likely wondering what it was that would set him off next. As his top would blow (and it often did), the little wife would tell him to “knock it off.” Those words were music to my ears, as nothing and nobody else could shut him up quite as she could. For all of our sanity, we needed her when he was about to go all Krakatoa.
“We are glad to have you here,” Albert said.
I looked back to when I started out in Eastern European Country and how we had been missionaries. I hoped that Albert liked that (at the time it was important for me to impress others). Who doesn’t like a good missionary? Yet, I felt like a failure in Eastern European Country. Nobody was baptized because of me. I didn’t feel fruitful at all. And I felt that Adventism in Eastern European Country was a bit conservative. One of our friends was pulled aside for wearing pants and told it was not right for a woman to wear pants to church. Wearing pants is a big deal in Adventism, and a lot of legendary fights have been started over pants. Just today I read an account of how one woman was called a slut for wearing dress pants to church.
As I breathed in the scent of aged wood, I thought back to the phone call I overheard in our Kyiv flat. My wife and her mother spoke about a new neighbor that had moved “all the way from Southern California” to eastern Washington. “He’s going to start his own church!” Even as a missionary, I didn’t think people really did that anymore.
“He’s an Adventist!” Darla bellowed. Darla is the name we are going to call the mother-in-law.
“I’m so glad he’s not another crazy neighbor,” she said.
Over the years, many “crazy neighbors” had moved into the area. A couple of child molesters were in the ranks, as was a guy who was borderline insane (in the clinical way). It was not uncommon to hear gunshots being fired “just because.” I don’t mean hunting or target practice, either. There were plenty of stories about people who were attracted to cheap land and who didn’t always take their pills. And that was the land we were thinking of moving to. Sheesh.
“His own church? Why?” I asked her after she hung up.
My wife didn’t really know what to say. It seemed strange to her, too. Yet not completely unfamiliar. This thing had happened before, but with someone else. They called it a “Historic Seventh-day Adventist church.” This church preached the evils of the organized modern Seventh-day Adventist church (I’m tired of typing Seventh-day Adventist and I am now going to type SDA instead for the remainder of this book). This church also preached the evils of the Jesuits (which we will get to soon), and the merits of a certain prophetess known as Ellen Gould White. With the end of the world fast approaching (even back then), it was time to “get ready get ready get ready!” They were armed to the teeth with strategies for country living, healthful eating, and books on “present truth” written by a man named Bill Hughes. Yet, not even all those armaments would help this church when it eventually fell apart.
“Your brother Stephen is such a helpful person to have here,” Kathleen said, looking over at him. He stoically stood with his bible under his arm and stared out towards the sanctuary. It was as if he was counting down every slow second before church would start, like a soldier standing at attention.
Is that so? I thought. He has never seemed very religious to me. Now, here he was, dressed sharper than I had seen him dressed, at least in a long time. I had even seen him smile! Another church member approached him and they began to speak. He took a small stack of DVDs out of his pocket and handed one to the man. He then walked over to the literature table and set the rest there.
“I’m glad to hear that,” my wife said. “it’s been VERY good for him,” Darla said, beaming with a kind of pride that says, “I think my child is going to make it into Heaven after all.”
At that point, people start to spill into the sanctuary like lemonade from a cracked cup on a hot summer day. We followed them and took a seat near the back. As we stepped through the doors leading to the holy room, I closed my eyes for a moment and let the moment wash over me. To the Countryside congregation, this room was like the Kabaa in Islam. It was a holy room where God was present every Saturday morning at 10:45. You did not run in the sanctuary. You did not spit in the sanctuary. You did not speak loudly in the sanctuary. You did not bring your donkey into the sanctuary. You did not jump up and down in the sanctuary. You did not eat cheddar or Swiss cheese in the sanctuary. This room was a large room with wood panel walls, long old pews, and sturdy authorized King James Bibles. That’s right, they were authorized! By who? King James maybe? I don’t know. The room had that thick pine scent that tickled you like grandpa’s smoking room (without the smoke). Behind you could see the mother’s room through a glass partition. On the walls were shelves of toys that would make Geoffrey the giraffe blush. Old blocks, games, cars, and all sorts of little doo-dads for the kids to play with before they were old enough to take in one of Al’s sermons were neatly lined up from the floor to ceiling. Beyond, another door leads to the foyer. Soft, diffused light shined through obscured windows. This place was truly different than the more modern SDA (I told you I’m not typing that long word anymore), churches, and even different than that Deer Park church in town.
“We only use the King James Bible here,” Albert proudly proclaimed.
“The other bibles have been corrupted by the Catholic Church,” Stephen informed me as he slipped a pamphlet my way. “Read it.”
I looked it over. I had time to spare before everyone got all comfy and the song service started. Information was methodically presented that showed in detail how certain words had been strategically omitted from the New King James and NIV Bibles. Strange and ominous imagery graced the pages of the pamphlets. These pictures were of the kind that could give a child nightmares (or lifelong PTSD).
“I’m going to read this later,” I said, sliding it into my own Bible. Thank God it happened to be a King James Bible. Otherwise, I would probably have had some explaining to do.
Then, all of the sudden, without warning, like a bomb going off, we all shot up to our feet. A younger old man was wrestling with the piano like he was possessed by some kind of demon. Up front, Albert stood erect, with his wife next to him, before the entire congregation started bellowing, in unison:
WE HAVE THIS HOPE THAT BURNS WITHIN OUR HEARTS
HOPE IN THE COMING OF THE LORD
WE HAVE THIS FAITH THAT CHRIST ALONE IMPARTS,
FAITH IN THE PROMISE OF HIS WORD
At that point, as the sanctuary was literally shaking, the tone changed. The voices got deeper. The more serious part commenced:
WE BELIEVE THE TIME IS HERE
WHEN THE NATIONS FAR AND NEAR
SHALL AWAKE, AND SHOUT, AND SING
HALLELUJAH! CHRIST IS KING!
WE HAVE THIS HOPE THAT BURNS WITHIN OUR HEARTS,
HOPE IN THE COMING OF THE LORD.
submitted by jryad to exAdventist [link] [comments]


2023.03.20 06:12 drummer_marvel Issues with neighbours reporting us.

Hi everyone! My partner and I moved into a very dog oriented apartment block. Like these buildings have a dog park and walking trails attached to us, as well as surrounding us. Since we have moved here we have had an overall very positive experience.
However there is one unknown neighbour who has been reporting us to animal welfare and bylaw consecutively.
For context our dog has extreme separation anxiety and used to bark for long amounts of time when we had to work. We felt awful that this kept happening and kept open conversations with our neighbours, letting them know we were training the dog and had multiple vet appointments to get her on medication so that we could hopefully stop the behaviour.
Fast forward to now she barley barks unless she hears someone in the hallway going past our door or she wants to play. Sometimes when we first leave her when we go to work there will be one or two barks and then she settles down and sleeps in her create according to our furbo.
In December when she was still in the middle of training we had a report come in from animal welfare outright lying and saying that she was malnourished and left alone for 3 days, after also having a nasty note left on our door. An outright and heartbreaking lie. Luckily the official was able to see that she was well looked after and my partner made sure to let the officer know that we were having some issues with an unknown neighbour and he seemed understanding about the situation.
Now we have had one mailed note and one note left in our door from bylaw for disturbing the peace with barking, date and time of which no barking was recorded on the furbo and was when we had left for work for the day. I talked to the officer and once again he was very understanding but said that they have to follow up on any and all reports and that if a fine does come in that we can contest it but that they have to follow up on all reports especially if it’s an ongoing complaint.
We completely understand the officers position but are just so frustrated with this unknown neighbour because compared to what our dog used to be she’s honestly been so much better, and barely makes a peep and when she does we correct it right away. And it’s normal things that dogs bark about, not long and ongoing barks.
The neighbours to our faces have been so understanding and kind which makes it so much worse, because we have no clue who it could be. We are not the only dog owners in the building and not even the only one barking but to our knowledge are the only ones getting reported. We are walking on egg shells and just feel at a loss for what else we can do! There are full blown parties that rage on occasionally on weeknights after 11pm and loud arguments that to our knowledge doesn’t get reported.
It just feels like we are targeted, and it feels awful. If anyone can give us some insight or advice it would be greatly appreciated.
Edit: Thanks to everyone who gave constructive suggestions. In case it wasn’t made clear in my comments and the original post, we do try to look at it from this persons point of view, we completely understand how annoying and disruptive it can be to have a dog constantly barking. We also know that living in a dog friendly apartment doesn’t excuse constant barking which is why we invested in training, consulted with our vet and put her on medication because the vet did say that it was a very high case of anxiety that our dog has. The medication helps to regulate and relieve some of her anxiety, just like when people take anxiety meds. We tried a shock collar but it just made her more anxious and made her bark more.
We have a neighbour that comes everyday that she is left alone for a few hours to check in on her and take her on a walk while we are both at work.
I also want to repeat, we are not the only apartment that has a dog that barks in the building. But based on conversations with most of our other neighbours we are the only one that gets reported.
Thank goodness it is during the day, another comment mentioned that if we are reported during the day there isn’t much that can be done unless it is excessive because barking is how dogs talk and the bylaw officer said something very similar to me on the phone. It doesn’t excuse excessive barking, but that isn’t the case here anymore.
I wish it was an option that we could move into a house but that is not feasible for us right now. I also wish working from home was an option for our careers but it just isn’t. Unfortunately not every job is a work from home job. Realistically a dog has to be left home alone at least sometimes so a lot of these comments that imply she’s left alone all the time or shouldn’t be left alone period just aren’t true or feasible.
We love our dog, we take her almost everywhere with us when we can. We are going to continue training her and supporting her, because she is doing better and will continue to do so with our consistency.
Thanks again to everyone for suggestions and feedback. It gives us a better idea on things we can do to help support our dog, our neighbours and ourselves as well.
Apologies for the long winded post, have a nice day.
submitted by drummer_marvel to ottawa [link] [comments]


2023.03.19 21:31 cahutchins The Night Caravan: Chapter 3 of the Oakheart Frontier (ft. Teacup the Golem)

Click here for the fully formatted Google Doc version, including links to city maps on Inkarnate, stat blocks for creatures, and the most up-to-date version of the adventure.
This session is a continuation of the Oakheart Frontier campaign, but much of it could be adapted to another campaign or story. I'm particularly happy with how the chase mechanic turned out, which could easily be adapted for a variety of uses. Shoutout to DnDBehindTheScreen and the BehindTheScreen Discord channel for helping me design and troubleshoot!

Premise

The party has learned the secrets of Egdod’s Portable Tower. They also learned that they have accidentally awakened agents of the Deathless Empire, who are intent on claiming the Eye of Adia, a mysterious artifact. After barely surviving an attack by Deathless soldiers, the party discovers that the Eye is contained within Teacup, their Iron Golem companion.
Now they must learn more about what the Eye of Adia is, and why the Deathless Empire wants it. The only clue they have to go on is a reference to the Night Caravan, and a magical glyph pointing them to a chapel hidden in the Reclaimed Forest.

Kiara's Chapel

The party must learn more about the Deathless Empire, the Eye of Adia, and why the Empire’s undead agents are after it. The only clue you have is a cryptic note saying, “The Night Caravan can help,” along with a glowing sigil of a diamond-shaped lantern.
The same symbol appears on the map in Egdod’s tower, marking a clearing in the Reclaimed Forest, northeast of Oakheart.
Assuming the party chooses to head toward that location on the map, you may want to remind them to “take the tower with you,” if they haven’t already figured out the nature of Egdod’s Portable Tower.
You can “Fast travel” to Kiara’s Chapel, or add your own encounter along the way if you want to stretch out the session.
Following the map into the forest takes you to Kiara’s Chapel. A clearing in the woods, a simple path leading up a low hill. A modest building made of whitewashed wood, with a pitched roof and a small belltower. Stained glass windows, each representing a parable or story about lost travelers finding shelter, slaves being released from bondage, or wanderers being given aid.
If any players cast Detect Magic, they’ll sense a ward of protection around the chapel and surrounding area. The front door of the chapel is unlocked.
Inside is an old woman in a light blue robe. Her name is Mother Godwin, she’s a Cleric of the goddess Kiara and secretly an agent of the Night Caravan. Godwin has been using the chapel as a waypoint and staging area for Caravan operations. She’ll ask the party what their business is here, and will play dumb if the players mention the Night Caravan, the Eye, or the Deathless Empire. She’ll only reveal the truth if a player mentions Egdod, shows Egdod’s letter, or reveals or draws the Lantern sigil. Feel free to follow the script below, or unravel elements of it gradually through questioning or conversation.
“Very well,” Mother Godwin says, “You deserve to hear the truth… or at least as much of it as I can share.”
“You have indeed found the Night Caravan, or at least one of its safe houses. We have a hidden network of allies and safe houses all across the Frontier. The Night Caravan has existed, in one form or another, for over a thousand years.
Long ago, this region was home to a powerful kingdom. It was a realm of wondrous cities and tall white marble towers, and its inhabitants were masters of both magic and technology. The kingdom had no name, because it needed no name. It had no rivals or enemies, save for entropy and time. It was ruled by a lineage of powerful wizards, the last of which was Adia. In order to power the machinery of her empire for all eternity, Adia created a mysterious artifact that produced endless arcane energy. She called it the Eye of Adia, and it was her greatest creation.
But the Eye held a fatal flaw, and the energy it produced came at a cost. It could power an empire’s worth of machinery and magic, but it drained the life essence of those who used it. It gave Adia immortality, but corrupted her mind and body, turning her into a Lich.
To maintain her immortality she drained the life from her most loyal advisors, generals, and governors, turning them into undead soldiers. She christened her realm the Deathless Empire. And when willing volunteers were depleted, the Empire began conscripting unwilling sacrifices.
A resistance movement worked to sabotage the Empire’s corrupted machinery and help doomed conscripts escape their fate. They called themselves the Night Caravan, and for many years they fought a losing battle, while the land itself was corrupted and tainted. Out of desperation, a small team of rebels infiltrated Adia’s sanctum and stole the Eye.
The Deathless Empire’s towers fell, its machines ground to a halt, and its countless undead minions collapsed into bones and dust. The few living survivors gradually drifted apart and rebuilt their lives. The eastern desert buried some of the Empire’s ruins, and wild forest reclaimed the rest.
We don’t know what happened to Adia, or her Eye. Descendants of the Night Caravan have continued our work ever since, fighting corruption and protecting the innocent.”
Depending on what the players tell or share with Mother Godwin, you can play up different aspects in her response and monologue. The overall gist should be:
Egdod was known to the Night Caravan, I myself met him a handful of times when I was a younger woman! He would occasionally provide useful equipment or magical expertise to the Caravan, and in return we would share knowledge of the Deathless Empire for his historical research.
We had no idea he was even seeking to recover the Eye of Adia, let alone that he succeeded! And you mean to tell me that the Eye is here, inside this Golem?!
This is beyond the realm of my knowledge or ability. I fear that more remnants of the Deathless Empire will continue to wake up, drawn by the Eye’s power. I couldn’t say for certain what you should do next, but I can suggest a few possibilities.
-- The Elven Circle might be able to help. They live a nomadic lifestyle, replanting trees and trying to heal the broken land of the Frontier as they travel. I believe they currently occupy a camp three days’ travel up the North Road.
-- The Dwarven Smiths could offer advice. They keep to themselves, living in a mountain fortress to the North, beyond the crater lake.
-- There’s a group of Gnomish Artificers that work in Ruinshore, digging machinery and artifacts out of some Deathless Empire ruins on the south edge of the crater lake. Perhaps their expertise could help?
There is a Human historian that lives in Eastguard, and sometimes makes expeditions into the desert. She might have some further knowledge of the Empire and their secrets.
The party needs to decide what they want to do next. They should consult the regional map, and plan out a route to their desired location. Traveling directly through the Reclaimed Forest should be treated as Difficult Terrain, while traveling along roadways count as Normal Terrain.
Depending on player choices the party may end up first traveling through Eastguard or Ruinshore. Both options will be expanded into separate sessions in the future. For now, just have the party decide which direction to head toward first.
Before you leave on the next step in your journey, I must ask you for a favor. If the story you’ve told me is true, the Night Caravan will have dire need of something I have here in the chapel. I need you to deliver a package to a Night Caravan safe house. Our agent in [Eastguard/Ruinshore] is named Finn, they can give you shelter and help you on your way after delivering the package.
Mother Godwin takes the adventurers to a backroom in the chapel, and shows them a coffin made of dark lacquered wood, wrapped in chains. She says that she can’t tell them what is inside, and asks that they not attempt to open it. The coffin is extremely heavy, and requires the entire party to lift it. Godwin says there’s a hand wagon currently sitting outside the chapel that the party can take if they want.
Detect Magic will sense that something magical is inside the coffin, but can’t determine a school of magic. If the party gets curious and tries to open the coffin, they’ll have to pick a lock with a DC of 17. If they manage to get it open, you can read the description found later in this document.
Mother Godwin begins to bid you farewell and good luck, then suddenly stops. She looks past you, and her gaze softens and unfocusses. Suddenly she snaps back to attention.
“Something is coming. I sense great evil approaching, more than I can count. Their attention is on you,” She points to Teacup. “You must go, now. Move quickly, and don’t look back. Make your way to [Eastguard/Ruinshore], be careful who you trust, and don’t speak the name of the Night Caravan lightly. Look for the hidden sign of the Lantern. Find Finn, deliver the package, keep this Golem from harm until you can figure out what to do with the Eye. Kiara’s blessing be upon you. Now run!”

The Chase

As soon as the party sets out, a large group of undead soldiers -- far too many for the party to handle -- are going to start chasing them. Any spells or abilities that detect Evil, Law, Undead, etc. will sense a horde of unnumbered enemies approaching from the forest, slowly but steadily.
If the players need a further hint, you can describe an army of skeletal soldiers slowly walking out of the forest. Time to run!
For this chase sequence, we’ll use a Progress Clock adapted from the Blades in the Dark RPG. Show the players two circles, each divided into 12 segments. One circle represents the party’s progress to reach their destination, the other circle represents the Deathless army.
You’ll run through a series of checkpoint encounters, skill tests, and short battles, and depending on the results of each checkpoint you’ll color in a segment for either the adventurers or the deathless, starting at segment 1.
You may want to use a timer for some of the following encounters, to heighten tension and force quick player decision making. A phone timer will be fine, but a 3-minute sand timer would be a nice tangible option. Feel free to rearrange, modify, or improvise any of the encounters to fit your style, party power levels, or to increase tension or provide space as needed. Ideally the party will end up feeling like they just barely made it to safety by the skin of their teeth.
  1. Run for it!. 3-minute timer to determine how the party will transport the wagon. Two characters could pull the wagon with a teamup check, the strongest character makes a Strength DC of 12 with Advantage. Or the party can ask Teacup to pull the wagon, it can do so easily but this will make it more difficult for Teacup to assist with other tasks going forward. Either way, A+1 (fill in an Adventurers segment.)
  2. Running through the forest. Navigate rough forest terrain, each player makes a Wisdom (Survival) or Intelligence (Nature) DC 14, their choice. On a group success (if half the party, rounded up, succeeds on their checks), A+1. Otherwise, D+1 (fill in a Deathless segment.)
  3. Fallen logs block your path. 3-minute timer to find a solution. Could ask Teacup to move the logs, or a character could pass Strength (Athletics) DC 14, or other problem-solving. A+1 if they succeed before the timer runs out, A+2 if they figure out a way to hinder the army behind them, otherwise D+1.
  4. Huntbeasts Attack! Two Deathless Huntbeasts burst out of the undergrowth, combat encounter. After resolution, A+2, A+1, D+1, or D+2 at your discretion based on battle performance.
  5. Ford the river! You must cross a small but swiftly moving stream. The wagon is in danger of being swept away, 3-minute timer to find a solution. Use ropes? Cast a spell? Chop down a tree? Ask Teacup if it can just pick up the cart and carry it over its head? A+1 if they succeed before the timer runs out, A+2 if they figure out a way to hinder the army behind them, otherwise D+1. Teacup wordlessly picks up the cart, lifts it over its head, and calmly walks across the river. The water comes up to Teacup’s knees.
  6. You’ve made it to the road, A+1.
  7. Hard run. Group Constitution DC 11. Group success, A+1. Group fail, D+1.
  8. Harder run. Group Constitution DC 13. Group success, A+1. Group fail, D+1.
  9. Hardest run. Group Constitution DC 15. Group success, A+1. Group fail, D+1.
  10. Round a corner, catch your breath. Three-minute timer for players to heal, and to plan any sort of distraction, obstruction, trap, etc. If they implement a plan, A+1 or +2 at your discretion. If they run out of time before making a decision, D+1.
  11. Try to hide your tracks, Each player makes a Dexterity (Stealth), or Wisdom (Survival), or Charisma (Deception) DC 13, their choice. On a group success (if half the party, rounded up, succeeds on their checks), A+1. Otherwise, D+1.
  12. A cart wheel cracks! 3-minute timer to find a solution. Mending spell? Levation? Try to repair it with available tools? (Tool or Int DC 12) Abandon the cart and carry the coffin? (Three players could carry it, or Teacup could wear it like a backpack, for example.) A+1 if they succeed before the timer runs out, otherwise D+1
  13. You’ve lost valuable time, improvise! 3-minute timer to do something to move faster or slow the enemy’s advance. Spells, traps, distractions, etc. Must be different from their #10 decisions. A+1, +2, or D+1 at your discretion.
  14. Don’t give up! Group Constitution DC 12. Group success, A+1. Group fail, D+1. Repeat any previous skill checks at your discretion, until the party or the Deathless are within one step of completing the race.
  15. The final stretch. A Deathless Goliath and a Deathless Huntbeast block your path, combat encounter. After resolution, A+1 or D+1 at your discretion based on battle performance.
If the Deathless fill in their clock before the Adventurers do, read the next segment. Otherwise, skip to the following segment.
You can’t keep up this pace, you are exhausted. You can see an army of Deathless skeletons round the corner and continue their relentless, plodding march. There’s no way you can defeat this many, all hope is lost.
Teacup looks at each of you, and you can literally hear the faint grinding and clicking of gears turning in its great iron head. “MY FRIENDS, I AM AFRAID THAT THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU. PLEASE DELIVER YOUR CARGO TO IS INTENDED DESTINATION, PERHAPS IT WILL BE PUT TO GOOD USE. JOURNEYING WITH YOU HAS BEEN MOST EVENTFUL, AND i AM SORRY IT ENDED IN THIS FASHION.
With that, Teacup turns around and walks directly toward the skeleton horde. Arrows plink and bounce off of its iron skin. Soon the golem is engulfed in a wave of death as skeletons surround it, climb over it, and engulf it completely.
You cry out in horror. Skeleton archers take aim and begin firing volley after volley of arrows in your direction, out of range at first but inching closer and closer, until you have no choice but to flee. You drag the coffin along with you, limping the final mile to your destination. After a while the skeletons stop their pursuit, and you are alone.
Teacup has been captured, its fate unknown for now. Hopefully someone in the party has the Witching Compass, and could potentially track Teacup once they’ve rested and healed of their wounds. For now, continue to the next segment, removing any references to Teacup’s presence.
If the party safely reaches either Eastguard or Ruinshore:
By now the sun has begun to set, and the sky is darkening. Just when you feel like your legs are going to give out, you turn a corner and see glimmers of light in the distance. There’s a rough wooden gate barring the road, and a guardhouse and watchtower are set with lanterns. Beyond the gate you can see wisps of chimney smoke, and hear the quiet sounds of a village beginning to close up for the night. It may just be your imagination, but you think you can even smell the scent of chicken stew wafting from beyond the gate.
A city guard lifts a hooded lantern toward you suspiciously and says “Halt! Who approaches [Eastguard/Ruinshore]?
If the players try to explain that they’re being chased by a horde of undead, the guard peers beyond the party down the road and listens intently, but sees and hears nothing.
“Ah yer pullin’ my leg. Nothing out there but deer and foxes, maybe the occasional goblin bandit at worst. You’re tellin’ me that you big strong adventurers and that Iron monster of yours can’t handle the trade road? Hah.”
You look behind you, and sure enough there’s nothing. No sound, no movement, no sense of evil. It seems the agents of the Deathless Empire are not keen on revealing themselves to the wider world just yet. In any event, you’ve made it to [Eastguard/Ruinshore] alive. Barely.
We’re cheating here a little bit, regardless of which location your party stops at, they’ll be looking for Finn and the safe house. But each town has its own flavor and potential plot threads for future sessions, so start with the town introduction and then continue with the Finn encounter.

Eastguard

If the party has arrived in Eastguard: Eastguard City Map
The trade roads are each blocked by toll gates, and the guard looks over your party and your strange cargo.
“What’s in the box? Can’t allow any cargo, trade goods, valuables or hazardous materials into town without an inspection and the approval of the Mayor.” Then the guard winks at you evilly and says “Unless of course you want to pay the… ah… Expedited Entry Service Fee.”
The guard will accept a bribe of 10gp to let the party pass without inspection. Players could also try to trick, intimidate, distract, etc. to avoid the bribe. The guard has +0 bonuses for all skill checks or saving throws. In the unlikely event that the players allow the guard to inspect the coffin, he’ll find that it’s locked, will confiscate it and keep it in the guardhouse for now. Players will have to problem solve a solution to get it back.
Eastguard is a dire looking place. Forest and hills close in around it, creating a sense of claustrophobia. The buildings have an aura of neglect, and bits of refuse and debris are collecting in the alleyways and corners. The few villagers on the streets look at you with suspicion, and quickly move on to avoid interacting. Cruel looking guards lounge around major intersections in pairs and threes, leering at the women and scowling at the men.
The town square is centered on a fountain, but next to it is a hangman’s gallows. Thankfully, it’s currently unoccupied.
You notice some ruined houses on the east edge of town. They appear to have been burned to the foundations some time ago, and never repaired or rebuilt.
There are a handful of businesses open to travelers, a smith and a general store, an herbalist and an inn.
The party needs to find someone named Finn, and the secret safe house of the Night Caravan. They could ask around for them, and/or use the Lantern of Revealing to look for secret Caravan markings.
If the players ask around, most of the villagers will be cold and very suspicious. Eastguard is not a friendly town. Spending some money at a shop or the tavern might loosen some tongues, or charm or intimidation could work as well. Eventually the players can be directed to Finn’s shoe shop, one of the buildings at the edge of the town square.
If the players try using the Lantern or detect magic or a revealing spell, they wander around town for a while until they find the Night Caravan’s sigil glowing on the door of the shoe shop. Continue to the Finn encounter.

Ruinshore

If the party has arrived in Ruinshore: Ruinshore City Map
You trudge through the night and into the morning. As dawn begins to break, you realize that you’re passing beyond the borders of the Reclaimed Forest. Trees give way to dense brush, which give way to scrubland, then to sparse dry grass, and finally to red desert sand.
In the distance you can see the glint of sunlight on water. A huge circular crater lake, with a single smoking peak rising from the center. You continue following the northern trade road, and eventually a small desert village comes into view. The southern edge of the town is protected by a low wall made of dried mud bricks.
To the east of the village is a startling sight, three huge pyramids. They’re made of weathered gray marble, and are topped with golden capstones. One of the pyramids is partially submerged in the crater lake.
You approach the town gate, and are greeted by a pair of sunburned guards, a human and a gnome. “Welcome to Ruinshore!” The gnomish guard says cheerfully. “Travelers, traders and researchers are welcome, but scavenging, dungeoneering, or ruin-diving are prohibited without a license from the Explorer’s Guild.
The human guard eyes your party with a little more professional suspicion than his tiny partner. “We don’t want trouble here, we have enough problems with those tree huggers across the bridges.”
Just past the southern gate is the Explorer’s Guildhall, with a conspicuous sign reading “Licensed Adventurers Only.”
Most of the buildings in Ruinshore are terraced houses made of scavenged marble blocks and stucco. There is a small square surrounding a bubbling fountain, shaded from the desert sun by colorful fabric panels. The market square includes a smith, an adventuring supply store, a cobbler’s shop, and a well.
North of the square is a large terraced building decorated with streamers, it appears to be the Ruinshore Inn. Farther north beyond the city, you can see the remains of a large stone bridge that once spanned a deep canyon, now broken and impassible. Two rough wood and rope bridges have been built to span the gap.
The party needs to find someone named Finn, and the secret safe house of the Night Caravan. They could ask around for them, and/or use the Lantern of Revealing to look for secret Caravan markings.
The players can ask around randomly. The town is populated by a mix of humans, gnomes, and a handful of dwarves. Spending some money at a shop or the tavern might loosen some tongues, or charm or intimidation could work as well. Eventually the players can be directed to Finn’s shoe shop, one of the buildings at the edge of the town square.
If the players try using the Lantern or detect magic or a revealing spell, they wander around town for a while until they find the Night Caravan’s sigil glowing on the door of the shoe shop.

Finn, Agent of the Night Caravan

The building is modest, thin and narrow, three stories high. The ground level is a cobbler’s shop, and you can see shoes and boots on display through the leaded glass windows. A sign hangs over the entrance that reads “The Fleet Foot.” The door is shut, and no lights are on. You knock on the door, and hear quiet movement inside. The door opens to reveal a small elf, with dark gray skin and short hair. They are a Drow, a Dark Elf. It’s extremely unusual to see their kind in this region.
“Terribly sorry, but we’re closed for the evening. Any shoe or boot emergencies will have to wait until tomorrow.”
Finn will be polite but won’t give away any secrets until a party member mentions the Night Caravan, or references the Lantern symbol in some way. Once that happens, Finn looks around to make sure noone is eavesdropping, and quickly ushers the party inside the shoe shop, locking the door behind them.
They’ll interrogate the players to explain themselves and recall the campaign so far.
They express shock that the Eye of Adia has been found and is embedded in the chest of an Iron Golem pacifist, but says this would explain some of the alarming events that have happened lately.
If the party mentions the coffin, Finn will produce a key that fits the lock perfectly, and unchain the coffin. They say that the party has earned some trust after all this, and then opens the coffin.
Inside the coffin lies an object you can’t identify. Most of the object is a bundle of seven metal rods, about four feet long, bound tightly together with a metal band, like a barrel. The rod in the middle of the bundle is solid. Six of the rods around the solid rod are hollow, with openings on one end. They connect to the central rod with an axle, like a wagon wheel. On the other end of the bundle is a handle made of wood, and a turning crank like on a hand-turned flour mill. There’s also a bracket along the bottom of the object, like it’s meant to be mounted onto something. There’s also a stack of hollow, rectangular metal frames, about a foot long. Each frame holds a stack of smooth metal cylinders, flat on one side and pointed on the other.
It’s a magical Gatling gun, but don’t spell that out for the party. Even if they guess what it is out-of-character, none of the characters should have any idea what it is or how to use it. Attempts to identify, investigate, etc. might tell players that the weapon is over a century old, and is of Dwarven craft, but that’s all for now.
Finn whistles admiringly, and says “There are rumors and stories that circulate through the Night Caravan network, that Mother Godwin had some powerful weapons stashed in that dusty old chapel of hers. I always figured they were just tall tales to entertain the new recruits. But I guess they were true. Let’s hope we never have to use it.”
Finn locks the coffin back up, and with your help puts it in a storage room, covers it with a canvas cloth, and stacks some boxes and barrels around it.
“I need to make contact with some of the other agents in the area, and see if we can come up with a plan for Teacup and the Eye. It might take me a few days, so you may as well make yourselves comfortable here in Eastguard/Ruinshore until I return. There are a few tasks in the area where your skills might come in handy. In the meantime, I think you’ve earned these…”
Finn pulls their hand from a pocket and reveals a handful of metal pins, fashioned in the shape of the Night Caravan’s sigil. “Hold out your hands, if you please.”
With a quick motion, Finn pricks the skin of your palm with a pin, drawing a drop of blood. [Take 1 damage] You feel a sharp pain for a moment, and then a strange tingling sensation. You suddenly notice that Finn has been wearing an identical pin the entire time, and it’s glowing faintly.
“Welcome to the Night Caravan, adventurers. These pins are enchanted, and are invisible and undetectable to anyone but other agents. Wear them and we will know you as allies, and you’ll know us.”
End of session.
You could have Finn reward the players with some gold or basic supplies from the Night Caravan’s stocks. You could also let players shop in town for supplies or furnishings for Egdod’s Tower.
The next chapter will depend on which town your players have ended up in. I’ll be working on the Eastguard chapter next, but will eventually build the Ruinshore chapter as well.
submitted by cahutchins to DnDBehindTheScreen [link] [comments]


2023.03.19 19:28 Ronald_McGonagall Solo Sundays: Azul

(Crosspost from boardgames)
Welcome, friends! This is a little project I’ve decided to take on because I enjoy writing about the games I play, and I hope it’ll help me play more of my games more regularly. It’s not affiliated with the sub’s “two player twosdays, one player wednesdays, etc,” I just do not have time to play and write about games on weekdays. I’ll structure this more or less like a normal review, but with a heavy emphasis on solo play rather than multiplayer. If you’re interested in multiplayer, there are likely plenty of reviews to choose from already. My goal is to do this weekly (on Sundays, believe it or not!) but I admit that I tend to be absolutely drowning in work on any given week so it may not work out ideally. That said, I do want this to force myself into the habit of doing more things I enjoy and not just working all the time, so hopefully I can be fairly consistent.
With that out of the way, I’d like to start this thing off with a couple surprises: surprise number one is that I’m covering Azul! This may come as a surprise to some because Azul does not have an official solo ruleset. The second surprise is that I’ll be covering not one, but all 4 entries in the Azul series. These are shorter and easier games with a ton of similarities between them, so I figured doing 4 separate threads for each would be a bit repetitive, and it’s probably best to just review them as variations of one game rather than 4 separate games. Without further ado, let’s jump into Azul.

Azul

Overview

To kick things off, I’ll be looking at the solo variant of Azul created by Ricky Royal, the very same Ricky Royal responsible for the official solo modes in Pax Pamir 2e and John Company 2e. The rules are unbelievably straightforward and take about a minute to read and seconds to implement, turning solo Azul into a true solitaire game. These rules state that you want to beat 85 points which is fine, but it’s easier to approach as a bring beat your own score (BYOS) style of solo game – this is particularly true of the later games, where it’s harder to decide on an ideal score to beat.
The gist of Azul is that you’re creating a mosaic by drafting azulejos (the tiles) and placing them onto work benches to be entered into the mosaic. If you take too many, the remainder fall to the floor and shatter, resulting in negative points. This is an abstract game at its heart, and all this boils down to is that you will be drafting tiles and placing them into a tableau in the most point-efficient way. It offers an excellent puzzle and is one of my favourite games that I own. In the solo variant, there is no difference in objective.

Theme

As I mentioned, this game is abstract, so the theme is pretty loosely connected to the mechanics; you could slap any other theme on here and nothing would changethis is called foreshadowing. The theme is generally quite nice, and my gf is from Spain where the culture surrounding azulejos is shared with Portugal (the setting of this game), so the theme was very welcoming for her. The aesthetics of the theme are very well done, but the bright, punchy colours are sort of the opposite of relaxing. It’s not a big deal by any means, and overall I’d say the theme is sufficiently well done, if disconnected due to the abstraction.
But wait, there’s more! A limited edition of this game was recently created with the theme of azulejos and mosaics replaced by chocolates in a chocolate box. I admit I did not read the rule book for that since the rules of the game are already so ingrained in my mind, so I’m not even sure how they tried to explain the drafting mechanism, but does it really matter? The original theme was already sufficiently abstract that this mechanic was already sort of a ‘just go with it’ kind of thing, so I doubt anyone is really scrutinizing this too much with the newer theme.
Now I visited my hometown for Christmas and decided to pick up an ‘at home’ copy of Azul because it’s ideal for families, and every single person I played it with loved it. I opted for the Chocolatier’s edition for the sake of change, and I hate to admit it but both my gf and I liked this theme more because it just looks prettier. Why didn’t I take this one as my main copy and leave my original, VanillAzul copy at my mother’s house then? Because I have the wild tile expansion that only fits the theme of the original and it would have driven me insane (and I’d have had to deal with the logistics of trading them between cities, I guess). Overall, the new theme doesn’t really add anything the original didn’t have, but it just has a look that we prefer and that’s really all there is to say on the theming here.

Components

This is where Azul caught my eye for the first time. The azulejos (or chocolates) are thick acrylic (or plastic of some sort, but decidedly not bakelite, as some believe) slabs with beautiful designs on them. I do wish all the tiles had a unique design, as the red and blue tiles are simply red or blue. The Chocolatier edition also has this flaw, but the visual similarities to actual candy makes this more forgivable – the light beige piece is easily the most delectable looking board game piece I’ve ever had the pleasure to hold, so that fits in with the theme a bit better than the plain azulejos of the original. An extension of that point is the commonly held opinion that all of Azul’s tiles look delicious, and in particular that the original tiles absolutely look like Starbursts (serious aside, watch this game around children because the pieces do genuinely look edible).
In addition to the fantastic tiles, the game comes with a lovely cloth bag to shuffle the tiles in, allowing you to satisfyingly roll your hand around in a bag of chunky, cool plastic tiles every single turn. The component quality here is out of this world, and I simply cannot say enough good things here. Additionally, the insert is extremely functional and well designed, so this whole package just gets an A+.

Gameplay

The basic idea of this game is that you draft tiles and place them onto your benches, whose lengths differ. If you take more tiles than you need, some can contribute to negative points, and if you take too few you’ll need to spend more turns filling them up. Finally, you place them into the mosaic in the end and gain adjacency bonuses for every placed tile, which allows for some incredible comboing and it feels very satisfying. This description applies to both the multiplayer and solo modes of the game.
As for this solo variant specifically, I love it because it really transforms the game into a proper game of solitaire (which is a positive for me). One thing to really point out is that the solo mode does not emulate the feeling of another player, and it does miss out on the multiplayer aspects like hate drafting. While the best solo modes aim to achieve this emulation, I think the solitaire nature of this mode is very well suited to this game and it’s incredibly satisfying. You can complete games of this in minutes, and that includes setup and takedown. If you’re the kind of person who likes solitaire or doing things like crosswords or sudokus, this might be right up your alley. I would absolutely recommend this game to anyone in the hobby for just solo, and it’s also one of the best beginner gateway games for any guests you might have over.

Expansions

This game has several expansions, most of which are not really expansions. There are a variety of different tiles available from the official website if you want to switch things up (e.g. replace the plain blue and red tiles with more interesting ones), however the player boards don’t match them and they’d really only work nicely with the advanced variant (flip side of the player board) as a consequence. Personally, I have no interest in these tiles.
The second ‘expansion’ is the Crystal Mosaic expansion, which includes acrylic overlays for the playerboards to prevent bumping, as well as new player boards. Both sides of the new boards are very close to the advanced variant of the original, except side A has a few pre-printed squares that double the points and side B has a few pre-printed squares and increases the end-game points. The boards are fine but nothing to write home about, while the overlays are the real reason to get this expansion – they’re not very expensive and they can really save the gameplay if a big bump occurs. I also just happen to really like slotting the tiles into the overlay, but overall this expansion is a pretty easy pass if you don’t care about the overlay.
Finally, the only true expansion is the Joker Tile expansion. This comes with 10 transparent tiles that are incredibly nice, one tiny cloth bag and a ruleset: replace some tiles with the jokers and they act as wild tiles. If you draft a wild tile as a colour, you are required to put it into the wall, and at the end of the game it does not count to the colour bonus. It’s a nice balance of making tile laying a lot easier while not contributing to the big bonus, but at the end of the day I have to admit that it really doesn’t change the game all that much, and if you don’t normally go for (or achieve) the colour bonuses at the end then all this really does is make the game easier. I don’t regret picking it up, but if you want to keep the collection lean it’s not a difficult decision to skip it.

Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

Overview

From this point, the reviews will get shorter since there’s so much overlap between the games. Since the solo variant rules don’t actually affect tile placement, but only the drafting which hasn’t changed, the exact same rules apply to this game.
The point of this game is to draft stained glass pieces which you place into window panes to create the stained glass windows of the Sintra cathedral.

Theme

Again the theme is very abstract and could easily be replaced by something else, but has not had a limited edition retheming as of yet. Frankly, the theming on this one is a lot more ‘meh’ than Azul because it kind of feels a little more forced, but for an abstract game it’s fine enough and certainly doesn’t detract from the game.

Components

Once again, they’ve hit it out of the park on components here: this time around, the tiles are indistinguishable from lozenges rather than candy. I personally think this is the coolest looking game in the series, with a decidedly darker aesthetic. The cloth bag that comes with this one is also a different colour from the first game, which is a detail I appreciate.
This game utilizes long columns for the window panes which I found to be a bit fiddly, and the glazier pawn is inoffensive. This game took a step up from the last game, however, and included a small tower to discard unused tiles (in the first game I just use a spare dice tray). The insert, however, does not account for the space this would take up, and so you have to dis- and re-assemble this flimsy paper tower every time you play the game. It’s fine I suppose, but if you play this game a lot I can easily see that tower not lasting. It’s unfortunate because with the component quality of these games, I’d have expected something nicer, or at least an insert that accounts for it.

Gameplay

Azul: SGS still has you drafting tiles, but this time you place them into columns below or to the right of your glazier pawn, and move the pawn to the location of the filled window, or if this is not possible you take a turn to reset the pawn. Once a window is filled you score points only for the colours that match that round’s bonus colour (determined randomly at the beginning of the game) and then score pre-printed points for that window and all other completed windows to the right, allowing for some very satisfying chains of points. Once you finish a column once, you flip the tile; once you finish it twice, you remove the tile.
One big change in this one is that glass breakage builds up, and once it hits a high enough number you lose all the points at once (or at the end if you don’t reach the end of the track) which just enables the negatives points to become increasingly punishing the more you break glass.
At the end of the game, points are assessed based on your completion of the columns, but in my experience I’ve found that just completing each column once and working from right to left is the optimal way to play the game. The two big downsides to this are that the game tends to feel more one dimensional since there’s really only one optimal way for you to achieve this in any given game, and that the main way to score points is actually not the best way to score points. For me this game is fine and if my gf wants to play it (because it’s one of her favourite versions) I’ll agree, but I’d rather play any other version. If you can only get one version, do not get this one; if you can only get 3 versions, also do not get this one.

Azul: Summer Pavilion

Overview

Again, the drafting has not changed here so the same solo rules apply. How convenient!
The point of this game is to draft tiles to place into the pavilion square. It’s really that simple.

Theme

This is the game where thematic integration sort of disconnects entirely. It’s incredibly easy to forget what this game is supposed to be about, to the point where I had to get out the rulebook in order to check that my description was accurate. Visually, I think they’ve done a great job and really stepped it up from the previous game to something a little more colourful, and if that connects to the theme then.. cool?

Components

This one’s a bit of a mixed bag. Again, the tiles are very nice, but a bit thinner (probably because they needed a lot more this time around) and the cloth bag is again a new colour, but that’s where the good ends and the frustrating begins.
This game has upgraded the small, flimsy paper tower to a large, flimsy paper tower, and this time the insert accommodates it – just not well. One of my biggest frustrations with this game is that the insert has a spot for the tower, and nice indents for the factories (the name of the pieces where you display the tiles for drafting). The factory indents are at the bottom of a large well, just like the first game. In the first game, you placed the bag of tiles on top and everything stayed in place, but in this one the bag full of tiles is too big to fit in the well! So you have to separate out roughly 1/4 of the tiles to place into a more shallow well… because. It’s very frustrating that they didn’t just make the single well larger instead of including a shallow well for no reason. Finally, it’s been claimed that you’re supposed to put the tiles in the tower, but if you do that then there’s nothing to hold the factories in place! Agh, it’s a nightmare!
Aside from my (albeit very personal) woes about the insert, the flimsy tower is a bit disappointing, and very annoyingly they’ve gone for nice cardboard player boards but flimsy card stock for the central display which is the same size. I don’t know why they did it, but the stark difference in what I think would be expected to be identical components is jarring.
Finally, in this beautiful, colourful game, the 4 player colours are white, black, grey and beige. I’m not even kidding, and it’s actually quite easy to get mixed up regarding who is where because the colours are just so drab and similar. Super odd choice, but I guess if you just got a few colourful wood cubes you’d be able to make this a non-issue.

Gameplay

This game differs immediately in that you no longer draft and place, but rather draft and keep. Then once all the tiles are drafted, you place away to your heart’s content. The key to placing this time around is that you must pay for tiles: a red 5 tile requires you to pay 5 tiles that are either red or wild (with the wild colour changing each round), discarding 4 and placing the 5th. It’s not unlike the original game, except there’s a lot more flexibility here. You still get adjacency bonuses for placing tiles together, although not quite as all-encompassing as the original due to the separate stars into which you place them, but this game has combo potential. You see, in the central display there are a bunch of extra tiles. And if you place some higher valued tiles on your player board, you can get some of these tiles for free, mid turn. If you play your cards tiles right, you can manage to get a big influx of tiles right as your turn is coming to a close, and proceed with this multiple times. I did it once where I chained 3 consecutive bonus tile selections together and cleaned out the entire display, and let me tell you, it’s a high like you wouldn’t believe.
The other thing this does differently is adds the ability to take tiles to the next round, effectively removing the negative points altogether (technically they’re still present but mitigated to the point of easy aversion). This makes this game both slightly more robust, but also nicer than the original while still maintaining that same spirit of the OG.
Personally, I rank this one equal to VanillAzul, offering more gameplay variety but less cut-throat actions. But for solo only, I’d say this one beats out the original due to the more nuanced complexity of Azul: SP. This is another one I would recommend for anyone, as both a solo-only purchase or a great gateway game for guests.

Expansions

This one only has the one, Glazed Pavilion. It’s exactly like the Crystal Mosaic expansion of the original, with the added benefit that it has an overlay for the flimsy central display so it seems marginally less flimsy. The unfortunate downside to this is that the points track indents don’t seem to fit more than one point marker nicely, which sort of defeats some of the purpose. An easy skip if you don’t care, but I like to slide those tiles into the inserts and it enables me to play with my gf on the bed without worry.

Azul: Queen’s Garden

Overview

Last but certainly not least, we have the most recent installment of the franchise. This one marks a departure for the franchise from the basic drafting-and-laying-tiles mechanics and finds itself exploring deeper into some more complicated decisions. This can be a positive or negative for you, depending on your stance.
In this one, you need to make a nice garden.

Theme

It barely exists. Even with the idea that you’re making a nice garden, it barely connects to anything you’re doing in the game at all. That being said, it has the most pastel and relaxing palette of the whole franchise, and is consequently my favourite game from an aesthetic standpoint. One obscenely stupid drawback is that they’ve opted to use 6 different coloured tiles: yellow, blue, green, purple, green and purple. Oh, the last two are slightly darker shades of green and purple. Really? They couldn’t think of two more colours? Despite that, it’s a beautiful game.

Components

This is another mixed bag: on one hand, the tiles are back to their thick, lucious chunkiness and grabbing them from the newly coloured cloth bag is great, but on the other hand they’ve gone in a direction where all boards, both player and central, are flimsy paper instead of cardboard. This is a direction I do not like, and it definitely feels a bit lower quality compared to the earlier games in this regard.
Back to the first hand, the insert holds everything very nicely – you have to store the bag and tiles in the flimsy tower again, but at least this time nothing else moves around. But jumping back to the other hand, the new grey tiles (while very ornate and pretty) look like they’d be these weighty, chunky bad boys, but actually are made out of a cheaper, lighter plastic than the main tiles. Overall it’s fine and the tiles and bag are still very nice, but everything else kind of feels like a downgrade, with the grey tiles being more a lateral step in that they’re a neat and pretty addition, but executed suboptimally.

Gameplay

This is where the game really sets itself apart. Instead of drafting tiles from a set of factories with all of a round’s available tiles on display, you draft from a single factory with 4 tiles. When that tile is no longer at 4, another factory becomes available with its own 4 tiles. When you select tiles, you select from all factories at once, and fact made more challenging by the printed faces of the tiles (effectively a mapping from the numbers 1-6) also factoring into this decision: you can choose all tiles of one colour or face value, but no duplicates. You can see already that this is much more complicated than the earlier games. If a factory is emptied, it flips to reveal more garden space with a pre-printed tile and becomes available for the drafting. Once you draft tiles, you place them into your storage for later placement.
Unlike Azul: SP, your storage here is limited, and placement takes place when you decide to spend your turn on it, rather than all at once at the end of the round. This means you can spend your turn placing tiles while someone else takes the tiles you need from the factories. Once someone is done with their actions, they pass for the remainder of the round, and the first person to do so takes the 1P token.
Points are scored by having chains of tiles in the garden, either of matching colour and no duplicate face values, or matching face values and no duplicate colours. Each round has specific face values and colours that gain points, but the real points are at the end when you score these chains.
For the solo variant, this took some reworking since the drafting is so different this time around. The AI (which, to reiterate, is basically a greedy algorithm for removing tiles) still removes tiles the same way but if you balance taking tiles and placing you will lose all the tiles you need as the AI does not place anything. I solved this by giving the AI a storage board card of its own and blocking 3 spaces with grey tiles – once the AI fills that up, it passes. This means your round will be heavy on drafting at the beginning so the AI doesn’t clean you out, then you get a more passive and relaxing placement phase. Finally, since this means the AI always passes before you, it would always get the 1P token: the new criteria is that the 1P token goes with the first flipped factory since these are more precarious to take due to your limited capacity. It felt like a good trade off and overall seems to work well.
Clearly this is a lot more complicated and has a lot more rules overhead to remember (while not requiring much maintenance). If you like the Azul games for their simplicity, Azul: QG may not be for you. However, if you like the Azul games but wanted something a bit meatier, then this might be exactly what you want. Personally, I would classify it as my favourite of the 4 versions because I tend to prefer heavier games, but my gf hates it. I would gravitate toward this or Azul/Azul:SP depending on if I was after something meatier or more relaxing, but all 3 are excellent in their own ways. If this is something you’re into, I can recommend it as a solo only game, but with the big caveat that it does not fill the additional role of being a beginner gateway game if you have guests. If you get this just for solo, that is basically the only spot it will fill; in this regard I would tend to recommend Azul: SP over this one for a solo-only purchase, even if that more complicated nature is what you like.
Thanks for taking the time to read all this, I really hope that you found it informative. Most importantly, I hope that if you already own any Azul game and enjoy solo gaming but didn’t know they were compatible, you’ve now learned that not only can all Azuls be played solo, but play excellently solo. I don’t know what I’m covering next, but keep an eye out for next week if you found this helpful – I’ll try to choose something with a bit more thematic substance. Finally, if this isn’t your kind of thing, don’t worry about it! I’m writing this because I like to write about the games I play, not because I think what I have to say is something people need to hear. In spite of this, I do hope some people found it helpful, or at least pleasant to read.
submitted by Ronald_McGonagall to soloboardgaming [link] [comments]


2023.03.19 19:27 Ronald_McGonagall Solo Sundays: Azul

Welcome, friends! This is a little project I’ve decided to take on because I enjoy writing about the games I play, and I hope it’ll help me play more of my games more regularly. It’s not affiliated with the sub’s “two player twosdays, one player wednesdays, etc,” I just do not have time to play and write about games on weekdays. I’ll structure this more or less like a normal review, but with a heavy emphasis on solo play rather than multiplayer. If you’re interested in multiplayer, there are likely plenty of reviews to choose from already. My goal is to do this weekly (on Sundays, believe it or not!) but I admit that I tend to be absolutely drowning in work on any given week so it may not work out ideally. That said, I do want this to force myself into the habit of doing more things I enjoy and not just working all the time, so hopefully I can be fairly consistent.
With that out of the way, I’d like to start this thing off with a couple surprises: surprise number one is that I’m covering Azul! This may come as a surprise to some because Azul does not have an official solo ruleset. The second surprise is that I’ll be covering not one, but all 4 entries in the Azul series. These are shorter and easier games with a ton of similarities between them, so I figured doing 4 separate threads for each would be a bit repetitive, and it’s probably best to just review them as variations of one game rather than 4 separate games. Without further ado, let’s jump into Azul.

Azul

Overview

To kick things off, I’ll be looking at the solo variant of Azul created by Ricky Royal, the very same Ricky Royal responsible for the official solo modes in Pax Pamir 2e and John Company 2e. The rules are unbelievably straightforward and take about a minute to read and seconds to implement, turning solo Azul into a true solitaire game. These rules state that you want to beat 85 points which is fine, but it’s easier to approach as a bring beat your own score (BYOS) style of solo game – this is particularly true of the later games, where it’s harder to decide on an ideal score to beat.
The gist of Azul is that you’re creating a mosaic by drafting azulejos (the tiles) and placing them onto work benches to be entered into the mosaic. If you take too many, the remainder fall to the floor and shatter, resulting in negative points. This is an abstract game at its heart, and all this boils down to is that you will be drafting tiles and placing them into a tableau in the most point-efficient way. It offers an excellent puzzle and is one of my favourite games that I own. In the solo variant, there is no difference in objective.

Theme

As I mentioned, this game is abstract, so the theme is pretty loosely connected to the mechanics; you could slap any other theme on here and nothing would changethis is called foreshadowing. The theme is generally quite nice, and my gf is from Spain where the culture surrounding azulejos is shared with Portugal (the setting of this game), so the theme was very welcoming for her. The aesthetics of the theme are very well done, but the bright, punchy colours are sort of the opposite of relaxing. It’s not a big deal by any means, and overall I’d say the theme is sufficiently well done, if disconnected due to the abstraction.
But wait, there’s more! A limited edition of this game was recently created with the theme of azulejos and mosaics replaced by chocolates in a chocolate box. I admit I did not read the rule book for that since the rules of the game are already so ingrained in my mind, so I’m not even sure how they tried to explain the drafting mechanism, but does it really matter? The original theme was already sufficiently abstract that this mechanic was already sort of a ‘just go with it’ kind of thing, so I doubt anyone is really scrutinizing this too much with the newer theme.
Now I visited my hometown for Christmas and decided to pick up an ‘at home’ copy of Azul because it’s ideal for families, and every single person I played it with loved it. I opted for the Chocolatier’s edition for the sake of change, and I hate to admit it but both my gf and I liked this theme more because it just looks prettier. Why didn’t I take this one as my main copy and leave my original, VanillAzul copy at my mother’s house then? Because I have the wild tile expansion that only fits the theme of the original and it would have driven me insane (and I’d have had to deal with the logistics of trading them between cities, I guess). Overall, the new theme doesn’t really add anything the original didn’t have, but it just has a look that we prefer and that’s really all there is to say on the theming here.

Components

This is where Azul caught my eye for the first time. The azulejos (or chocolates) are thick acrylic (or plastic of some sort, but decidedly not bakelite, as some believe) slabs with beautiful designs on them. I do wish all the tiles had a unique design, as the red and blue tiles are simply red or blue. The Chocolatier edition also has this flaw, but the visual similarities to actual candy makes this more forgivable – the light beige piece is easily the most delectable looking board game piece I’ve ever had the pleasure to hold, so that fits in with the theme a bit better than the plain azulejos of the original. An extension of that point is the commonly held opinion that all of Azul’s tiles look delicious, and in particular that the original tiles absolutely look like Starbursts (serious aside, watch this game around children because the pieces do genuinely look edible).
In addition to the fantastic tiles, the game comes with a lovely cloth bag to shuffle the tiles in, allowing you to satisfyingly roll your hand around in a bag of chunky, cool plastic tiles every single turn. The component quality here is out of this world, and I simply cannot say enough good things here. Additionally, the insert is extremely functional and well designed, so this whole package just gets an A+.

Gameplay

The basic idea of this game is that you draft tiles and place them onto your benches, whose lengths differ. If you take more tiles than you need, some can contribute to negative points, and if you take too few you’ll need to spend more turns filling them up. Finally, you place them into the mosaic in the end and gain adjacency bonuses for every placed tile, which allows for some incredible comboing and it feels very satisfying. This description applies to both the multiplayer and solo modes of the game.
As for this solo variant specifically, I love it because it really transforms the game into a proper game of solitaire (which is a positive for me). One thing to really point out is that the solo mode does not emulate the feeling of another player, and it does miss out on the multiplayer aspects like hate drafting. While the best solo modes aim to achieve this emulation, I think the solitaire nature of this mode is very well suited to this game and it’s incredibly satisfying. You can complete games of this in minutes, and that includes setup and takedown. If you’re the kind of person who likes solitaire or doing things like crosswords or sudokus, this might be right up your alley. I would absolutely recommend this game to anyone in the hobby for just solo, and it’s also one of the best beginner gateway games for any guests you might have over.

Expansions

This game has several expansions, most of which are not really expansions. There are a variety of different tiles available from the official website if you want to switch things up (e.g. replace the plain blue and red tiles with more interesting ones), however the player boards don’t match them and they’d really only work nicely with the advanced variant (flip side of the player board) as a consequence. Personally, I have no interest in these tiles.
The second ‘expansion’ is the Crystal Mosaic expansion, which includes acrylic overlays for the playerboards to prevent bumping, as well as new player boards. Both sides of the new boards are very close to the advanced variant of the original, except side A has a few pre-printed squares that double the points and side B has a few pre-printed squares and increases the end-game points. The boards are fine but nothing to write home about, while the overlays are the real reason to get this expansion – they’re not very expensive and they can really save the gameplay if a big bump occurs. I also just happen to really like slotting the tiles into the overlay, but overall this expansion is a pretty easy pass if you don’t care about the overlay.
Finally, the only true expansion is the Joker Tile expansion. This comes with 10 transparent tiles that are incredibly nice, one tiny cloth bag and a ruleset: replace some tiles with the jokers and they act as wild tiles. If you draft a wild tile as a colour, you are required to put it into the wall, and at the end of the game it does not count to the colour bonus. It’s a nice balance of making tile laying a lot easier while not contributing to the big bonus, but at the end of the day I have to admit that it really doesn’t change the game all that much, and if you don’t normally go for (or achieve) the colour bonuses at the end then all this really does is make the game easier. I don’t regret picking it up, but if you want to keep the collection lean it’s not a difficult decision to skip it.

Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra

Overview

From this point, the reviews will get shorter since there’s so much overlap between the games. Since the solo variant rules don’t actually affect tile placement, but only the drafting which hasn’t changed, the exact same rules apply to this game.
The point of this game is to draft stained glass pieces which you place into window panes to create the stained glass windows of the Sintra cathedral.

Theme

Again the theme is very abstract and could easily be replaced by something else, but has not had a limited edition retheming as of yet. Frankly, the theming on this one is a lot more ‘meh’ than Azul because it kind of feels a little more forced, but for an abstract game it’s fine enough and certainly doesn’t detract from the game.

Components

Once again, they’ve hit it out of the park on components here: this time around, the tiles are indistinguishable from lozenges rather than candy. I personally think this is the coolest looking game in the series, with a decidedly darker aesthetic. The cloth bag that comes with this one is also a different colour from the first game, which is a detail I appreciate.
This game utilizes long columns for the window panes which I found to be a bit fiddly, and the glazier pawn is inoffensive. This game took a step up from the last game, however, and included a small tower to discard unused tiles (in the first game I just use a spare dice tray). The insert, however, does not account for the space this would take up, and so you have to dis- and re-assemble this flimsy paper tower every time you play the game. It’s fine I suppose, but if you play this game a lot I can easily see that tower not lasting. It’s unfortunate because with the component quality of these games, I’d have expected something nicer, or at least an insert that accounts for it.

Gameplay

Azul: SGS still has you drafting tiles, but this time you place them into columns below or to the right of your glazier pawn, and move the pawn to the location of the filled window, or if this is not possible you take a turn to reset the pawn. Once a window is filled you score points only for the colours that match that round’s bonus colour (determined randomly at the beginning of the game) and then score pre-printed points for that window and all other completed windows to the right, allowing for some very satisfying chains of points. Once you finish a column once, you flip the tile; once you finish it twice, you remove the tile.
One big change in this one is that glass breakage builds up, and once it hits a high enough number you lose all the points at once (or at the end if you don’t reach the end of the track) which just enables the negatives points to become increasingly punishing the more you break glass.
At the end of the game, points are assessed based on your completion of the columns, but in my experience I’ve found that just completing each column once and working from right to left is the optimal way to play the game. The two big downsides to this are that the game tends to feel more one dimensional since there’s really only one optimal way for you to achieve this in any given game, and that the main way to score points is actually not the best way to score points. For me this game is fine and if my gf wants to play it (because it’s one of her favourite versions) I’ll agree, but I’d rather play any other version. If you can only get one version, do not get this one; if you can only get 3 versions, also do not get this one.

Azul: Summer Pavilion

Overview

Again, the drafting has not changed here so the same solo rules apply. How convenient!
The point of this game is to draft tiles to place into the pavilion square. It’s really that simple.

Theme

This is the game where thematic integration sort of disconnects entirely. It’s incredibly easy to forget what this game is supposed to be about, to the point where I had to get out the rulebook in order to check that my description was accurate. Visually, I think they’ve done a great job and really stepped it up from the previous game to something a little more colourful, and if that connects to the theme then.. cool?

Components

This one’s a bit of a mixed bag. Again, the tiles are very nice, but a bit thinner (probably because they needed a lot more this time around) and the cloth bag is again a new colour, but that’s where the good ends and the frustrating begins.
This game has upgraded the small, flimsy paper tower to a large, flimsy paper tower, and this time the insert accommodates it – just not well. One of my biggest frustrations with this game is that the insert has a spot for the tower, and nice indents for the factories (the name of the pieces where you display the tiles for drafting). The factory indents are at the bottom of a large well, just like the first game. In the first game, you placed the bag of tiles on top and everything stayed in place, but in this one the bag full of tiles is too big to fit in the well! So you have to separate out roughly 1/4 of the tiles to place into a more shallow well… because. It’s very frustrating that they didn’t just make the single well larger instead of including a shallow well for no reason. Finally, it’s been claimed that you’re supposed to put the tiles in the tower, but if you do that then there’s nothing to hold the factories in place! Agh, it’s a nightmare!
Aside from my (albeit very personal) woes about the insert, the flimsy tower is a bit disappointing, and very annoyingly they’ve gone for nice cardboard player boards but flimsy card stock for the central display which is the same size. I don’t know why they did it, but the stark difference in what I think would be expected to be identical components is jarring.
Finally, in this beautiful, colourful game, the 4 player colours are white, black, grey and beige. I’m not even kidding, and it’s actually quite easy to get mixed up regarding who is where because the colours are just so drab and similar. Super odd choice, but I guess if you just got a few colourful wood cubes you’d be able to make this a non-issue.

Gameplay

This game differs immediately in that you no longer draft and place, but rather draft and keep. Then once all the tiles are drafted, you place away to your heart’s content. The key to placing this time around is that you must pay for tiles: a red 5 tile requires you to pay 5 tiles that are either red or wild (with the wild colour changing each round), discarding 4 and placing the 5th. It’s not unlike the original game, except there’s a lot more flexibility here. You still get adjacency bonuses for placing tiles together, although not quite as all-encompassing as the original due to the separate stars into which you place them, but this game has combo potential. You see, in the central display there are a bunch of extra tiles. And if you place some higher valued tiles on your player board, you can get some of these tiles for free, mid turn. If you play your cards tiles right, you can manage to get a big influx of tiles right as your turn is coming to a close, and proceed with this multiple times. I did it once where I chained 3 consecutive bonus tile selections together and cleaned out the entire display, and let me tell you, it’s a high like you wouldn’t believe.
The other thing this does differently is adds the ability to take tiles to the next round, effectively removing the negative points altogether (technically they’re still present but mitigated to the point of easy aversion). This makes this game both slightly more robust, but also nicer than the original while still maintaining that same spirit of the OG.
Personally, I rank this one equal to VanillAzul, offering more gameplay variety but less cut-throat actions. But for solo only, I’d say this one beats out the original due to the more nuanced complexity of Azul: SP. This is another one I would recommend for anyone, as both a solo-only purchase or a great gateway game for guests.

Expansions

This one only has the one, Glazed Pavilion. It’s exactly like the Crystal Mosaic expansion of the original, with the added benefit that it has an overlay for the flimsy central display so it seems marginally less flimsy. The unfortunate downside to this is that the points track indents don’t seem to fit more than one point marker nicely, which sort of defeats some of the purpose. An easy skip if you don’t care, but I like to slide those tiles into the inserts and it enables me to play with my gf on the bed without worry.

Azul: Queen’s Garden

Overview

Last but certainly not least, we have the most recent installment of the franchise. This one marks a departure for the franchise from the basic drafting-and-laying-tiles mechanics and finds itself exploring deeper into some more complicated decisions. This can be a positive or negative for you, depending on your stance.
In this one, you need to make a nice garden.

Theme

It barely exists. Even with the idea that you’re making a nice garden, it barely connects to anything you’re doing in the game at all. That being said, it has the most pastel and relaxing palette of the whole franchise, and is consequently my favourite game from an aesthetic standpoint. One obscenely stupid drawback is that they’ve opted to use 6 different coloured tiles: yellow, blue, green, purple, green and purple. Oh, the last two are slightly darker shades of green and purple. Really? They couldn’t think of two more colours? Despite that, it’s a beautiful game.

Components

This is another mixed bag: on one hand, the tiles are back to their thick, lucious chunkiness and grabbing them from the newly coloured cloth bag is great, but on the other hand they’ve gone in a direction where all boards, both player and central, are flimsy paper instead of cardboard. This is a direction I do not like, and it definitely feels a bit lower quality compared to the earlier games in this regard.
Back to the first hand, the insert holds everything very nicely – you have to store the bag and tiles in the flimsy tower again, but at least this time nothing else moves around. But jumping back to the other hand, the new grey tiles (while very ornate and pretty) look like they’d be these weighty, chunky bad boys, but actually are made out of a cheaper, lighter plastic than the main tiles. Overall it’s fine and the tiles and bag are still very nice, but everything else kind of feels like a downgrade, with the grey tiles being more a lateral step in that they’re a neat and pretty addition, but executed suboptimally.

Gameplay

This is where the game really sets itself apart. Instead of drafting tiles from a set of factories with all of a round’s available tiles on display, you draft from a single factory with 4 tiles. When that tile is no longer at 4, another factory becomes available with its own 4 tiles. When you select tiles, you select from all factories at once, and fact made more challenging by the printed faces of the tiles (effectively a mapping from the numbers 1-6) also factoring into this decision: you can choose all tiles of one colour or face value, but no duplicates. You can see already that this is much more complicated than the earlier games. If a factory is emptied, it flips to reveal more garden space with a pre-printed tile and becomes available for the drafting. Once you draft tiles, you place them into your storage for later placement.
Unlike Azul: SP, your storage here is limited, and placement takes place when you decide to spend your turn on it, rather than all at once at the end of the round. This means you can spend your turn placing tiles while someone else takes the tiles you need from the factories. Once someone is done with their actions, they pass for the remainder of the round, and the first person to do so takes the 1P token.
Points are scored by having chains of tiles in the garden, either of matching colour and no duplicate face values, or matching face values and no duplicate colours. Each round has specific face values and colours that gain points, but the real points are at the end when you score these chains.
For the solo variant, this took some reworking since the drafting is so different this time around. The AI (which, to reiterate, is basically a greedy algorithm for removing tiles) still removes tiles the same way but if you balance taking tiles and placing you will lose all the tiles you need as the AI does not place anything. I solved this by giving the AI a storage board card of its own and blocking 3 spaces with grey tiles – once the AI fills that up, it passes. This means your round will be heavy on drafting at the beginning so the AI doesn’t clean you out, then you get a more passive and relaxing placement phase. Finally, since this means the AI always passes before you, it would always get the 1P token: the new criteria is that the 1P token goes with the first flipped factory since these are more precarious to take due to your limited capacity. It felt like a good trade off and overall seems to work well.
Clearly this is a lot more complicated and has a lot more rules overhead to remember (while not requiring much maintenance). If you like the Azul games for their simplicity, Azul: QG may not be for you. However, if you like the Azul games but wanted something a bit meatier, then this might be exactly what you want. Personally, I would classify it as my favourite of the 4 versions because I tend to prefer heavier games, but my gf hates it. I would gravitate toward this or Azul/Azul:SP depending on if I was after something meatier or more relaxing, but all 3 are excellent in their own ways. If this is something you’re into, I can recommend it as a solo only game, but with the big caveat that it does not fill the additional role of being a beginner gateway game if you have guests. If you get this just for solo, that is basically the only spot it will fill; in this regard I would tend to recommend Azul: SP over this one for a solo-only purchase, even if that more complicated nature is what you like.
Thanks for taking the time to read all this, I really hope that you found it informative. Most importantly, I hope that if you already own any Azul game and enjoy solo gaming but didn’t know they were compatible, you’ve now learned that not only can all Azuls be played solo, but play excellently solo. I don’t know what I’m covering next, but keep an eye out for next week if you found this helpful – I’ll try to choose something with a bit more thematic substance. Finally, if this isn’t your kind of thing, don’t worry about it! I’m writing this because I like to write about the games I play, not because I think what I have to say is something people need to hear. In spite of this, I do hope some people found it helpful, or at least pleasant to read.
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2023.03.19 16:20 forest-Guy- I live in a farmhouse in the middle of an enchanted Forest. Strange things happen here and I would like to tell you about all of them.

Have you ever been tail down the side of a mountain by a band of angry machete-wielding onion people with Jack o’lantern like faces and major territory issues?
Have you ever been followed through the woods by a mysterious hooded figure crunching through the brush and stalking your every move from just beyond the tree line?
Have you ever been stabbed through the center of your palm by a stumpy little demon shrub with needle like spikes hiding beneath the leaves and running down its trunk like exterior? Not to mention the erratic demonic tendencies some of the plants around here seem to sometimes possess.
Well, if you have experienced any and or all of what I had just mentioned, then you probably already have a good idea of the place and some of the things I am about to tell you.
If you haven’t, however, then are you in for one heck of a tail. Because the stories I am going to be sharing with you during my free time moving forward, might just be some of the craziest things you've ever heard. But before that, there are a couple things you should know about me first.
My name is Blake, and I live on a farmhouse.
It's nothing fancy (obviously) just a big old building right in the middle of nowhere surrounded by layers upon layers of thick bushes, trees, and mountains high as the eye can see. The kind of place where cellular towers are practically non-existent, and the nearest civilization is at least a gazillion miles away. That kind of farmhouse.
I also work here. Making around eighty bucks an hour. Which I guess is a little above average for most gardeners, but I did let the owners know I was just about ready to work for free. All I needed was a roof over my head and a place to sleep. But they insisted I take the money or go find some other place to sleep. And so I did.
Other than being a full-time gardener at the farmhouse, I am also a part time forest runner on most days. Although it's not my second job of choice, it's just something I do on the side whenever I want to. Plus it bumps up my salary a bit, and I appreciate the extra money I get from doing it. Despite how crazy and insanely dangerous it almost always gets.
What is a forest runner? Well, on the one hand, I want to say it is one of the easiest things in the world. Since it mostly involves walking into a single patch of forest, making a loud noise, and immediately turning back to run in the opposite direction. But what you run from is what makes it tricky. And whether or not you are fast enough to outpace whatever hears you, also makes the difference. I can't believe I am about to say this, but I also run away from monsters for a living.
Ferocious, blood thirsty creatures ready to tear you limb from limb The second they grab hold of your jacket and pull you towards them. Those kinds of monsters. But I don't just run away from monsters in the forest. I also run away from other things too. Wildlife. Creatures of different shapes and sizes. Spirits. Ghouls. Ghosts. Goblins. And my list favorite of them all: Mermaids.
Okay. Maybe mermaids aren't supposed to be on the list. I just had that one "experience" with a particular mermaid a few weeks ago, which almost scarred me for life. I kinda have most of the memories a bit blurry but let’s just say because of her, I was literally almost seafood. But before then, I've never actually seen one in person. But I've heard stories.
Stories of how they rarely swim up to the surface and whenever they do, you are not to approach any of them, under any circumstance, unless invited. I wasn't. And I approached one anyway. Safe to say, it really didn't bode well for me when I did that. Lesson learned that's for sure. But do you know what? Let that be the first story I tell you.
The first thing I remember from that experience was the image of a blonde girl sat crying by the riverbank. It was a Saturday evening, and I was out raking a bunch of leaves when her incessive sobbing was carried over to the farmhouse by the wind. At first I chose to ignore it. Hoping that, it was just that. Incessive sobbing carried over by the wind and nothing more. But then the sobbing grew louder, and I promise I had a very good reason to go check it out.
At this point, it was just me at the farmhouse and no one else. My boss "Frank" was out hunting with the farmhouse dog, and his wife "Linda" was out supplying a fresh batch of mixed herb to the nearby villages and markets. Which reminds me.
Remember how I said the nearest civilization was at least a gazillion miles away? Technically, that's not entirely accurate. The nearest civilization is not a gazillion miles away as I initially had you believe. Sorry about that. The nearest civilization for real this time, is actually just a couple walks downhill. Past the field of murdering bush lilies, and through the enchanted trees of killer mushrooms. Then, voila. Civilization. But the nearest 21st century civilization however, that's the One that is at least a gazillion miles away. The place where the rest of present-day humanity lives. Yeah. Super far from wherever this place is. Anyway, back to the story.
So there I was. Standing in the middle of a clearing in front of the farmhouse, a small pile of dried grass and leaves sitting in front of me and starting to Russell over from the wind. I placed the bud of my rake on top of the heap, preventing it from spreading any further and causing me to start over, while I lifted my head up to listen intently to the sounds in the wind. Again, it was just as I described. Sobs. Someone crying. Soft sniffles, coughs, and everything. You didn't need an otolaryngologist to help identify what your ears were picking up in that moment, it was just so clear that the person doing the crying might well have been right next to you.
I jumped at the thought of something sneaking up behind me while I was distracted and began searching my immediate environment for any potential anomalies that might have gotten past the wooden fence surrounding the farmhouse. Poltergeists. Trolls. Ogres. And a sumo sized demon gorilla with red eyes and muscles the size of bowling balls. Believe it or not, but these are just a few of the abominations that have somehow managed to cross on to the compound one too many times before, and if it weren't for the intervention of Frank and Linda, the power couple currently running the farmhouse, the aberrations would probably have done a lot more than break a few things while also nearly giving me a heart attack in the process.
But after a few quick nervous glances over my immediate environment, and finding not one thing out of place, I turned my attention over to where the sobs sounded the loudest. It was coming from a fairly large crack in the fence on the west side of the farmhouse. A demarcation that when gazed through, revealed a whole new world consisting of a deep gray sky, rocks, a bunch of trees that were hopefully weren't harboring zombie tree people, and its most alluring feature of it all. A great body of water that is almost as gray as the sky itself. That is where the sobs were coming from. And like any reasonable person in that situation, my initial thoughts were NOT to check out the strange noise emanating from beyond the fence.
I mean, just think about it. I was all alone, on a hill. In a farmhouse located right in the center of a very large, very enchanted mystical forests, capable of hoarding a huge amount of very dark, very demented creatures, which are seemingly on a never-ending hunt for lonely gardeners, and farmers, and small groups of villagers to torment, or possess, or straight up consume whenever they are feeling a bit frisky.
So yes. I most definitely wasn't about to leave the comforting embrace that the squarish wooden structure around the farmhouse provided, to go investigate a strange sound that just so happens to be coming from the same place I was warned on multiple occasions never to visit. And whenever I asked, I was straight up told mother nature herself was sleeping at the bottom of that very river and waking her up was asking for trouble.
I never could tell when Linda is joking, or when Frank is being serious. But when it comes to things concerning the forest and around the farmhouse, I always listen. So if mother nature herself is sleeping in that very river, then mother nature herself is sleeping in that very river. And instead of investigating the strange sobs, I ignored it. But then, it got worse.
There was a sudden ear-piercing screech as whatever was crying by the river, let out a scream that almost blew out my eardrums. The intense whale only lasted for about a moment, but every second was an excruciating eternity, causing me to let go of the rake I was holding and cover my ears in reflex. It was so loud it must have reverberated round a good chunk of the forest, sending a few hundred birds scattering into the air, and a dozen more rodents dashing for cover. When the screeching finally stopped, it was as if the world fell silent, and nothing moved.
It took a few seconds for me to be comfortable enough to uncover my ears, setting my hands by my side in the process. I blinked a couple times before scanning my environment once more, searching for anything out of the ordinary. For some reason, I was certain a display of such fierce vocal capacity, especially one of such intensity, was bound to disturb the mother of forest, rousing her up from her slumber. But instead of waiting around to find out, I gathered up my equipment, abandoned the rest of my work for that evening, and began marching towards the farmhouse where it was safe. Ish.
Besides. I run away from monsters for a living. I don't face them. If anything, I want to say that was consistent with my character. Also, when that monster is essentially a superpower of the forest resting in your backyard, it kind of puts a lot of stuff into consideration. Plus, I was all alone so. Yeah. Definitely wasn't waiting around to find out.
Approaching the farmhouse in a haste, I made a beeline for the equipment's shed positioned on the east side of the compound, almost directly opposite where the strange sobs were initially coming from. Now, the sobs were quiet. But that doesn't mean something was not still back there.
Reaching for my keys in my lower right pocket, I pulled them out in a flurry of clinks and jingles, while instinctively feeling for the specific key I needed with the tips of my fingers. As the farmhouse is situated in a very remote area of the forest, we don't often get that many unwanted visitors from the nearby villages and settlements who want to take things from us without asking. But it is still advised we lock up anything of value because, well, where do you think some of the creatures around here get their weapons of callus destruction from?
Nearing the doors of the shed, I finally picked out the key I needed from the bunch, then used that to flick open the rusty metal lock and entered the belly of the Makeshift storage unit. Inside were rows after rows of very sharp, very blunt instruments of numerous shapes and sizes, with each one Easley being the perfect leading murderous tool for any band of pissed off bulbus shaped vegetable people to ransack, steal, and utilize to illegally carve out any portion of the forest and claim it as their own.
They were knives. Blades. Scissors. Hoes. Clippers. Shovels. Diggers. Daggers. Slicers. Splicers. And of course. A big ass sword standing in a stone on the opposite side of the far wall. The rest of the stuff were just scattered haphazardly, with some of them still hanging on the metal rings connected to the woodwork lining up the ceiling, while others were resting on the tables, and some lying on the floor.
I dumped all of my equipment, then stepped out closing the doors behind me and remembering to lock it. I continued my march toward the farmhouse, but just as I rushed up the flight of small stairs and placed my hand on the doorknob, I heard it again.
The crying from before.
This time however, it was different.
This time, it sounded more human.
I don't know what came over me. It was as if a million little metal fists shot out of nowhere and punched me right in the gut. The creature's pain became my pain, and its worries became my worries. I did not like the feeling.
The crying took me back to a point in my life I really did not like to think about. It made me sick to my stomach and made my eyes want to water. Every cough. Every sniffle. Every audible inhale I now heard emanating from just beyond the fence, made me felt gross to my core. I wanted it to stop.
But instead of running upstairs and throwing on a pair of earplugs, I decided to do the opposite.
I went to go investigate the strange sobs coming from beyond the fence.
And before you role your eyes at me, I promise. I had a very good reason for doing so. I just can't tell you about it at the moment. Brings up too many unwanted memories. Just know I needed to confirm that whomever or whatever was crying by the river, wasn't going through a similar thing I ones did. And if he or she wasn't peaceful, or friendly, then I will simply not approach them.
That's it.
So after releasing the doorknob and taking in a few deep breaths, I backed away from the front door and took off down the flight of stairs, turning in the direction of the west side of the farmhouse. To where the sobs were coming from.
Although now it wasn't full on sobbing, it was more of a blend between sniffling and coughing. Which was starting to decrease in frequency and intensity as I got closer.
I was halfway across the yard, mere feet away from gazing through the crack in the fence when I suddenly remembered the vicious scream from earlier, which then prompted me to do a quick u turn to go grab a pair of earmuffs from the top of my desk within the farmhouse. Sometimes, strange noises emanate deep within the forest at night, and the earmuffs primarily helps to preserve my sanity whenever that happens. It also helps to block out sounds like annoying chattering crows, shadow whisperers, and sleepwalking inducing river sirens. Amongst other things. But the main reason why I went back for it that evening, was to help protect my ears from the screeching.
I used the opportunity after snagging the pair of blue earmuffs, to gaze out my window overlooking the river on the west side of the farmhouse. I didn't quite catch a glimpse of whatever was crying by the water, on the count of my window not being in exact focus to the sobs, so I threw on the muffs, went downstairs, and headed out the front door.
I once again turned in the direction of the sobs which, I could no longer here as much. But blocking out the crying like I said, wasn't really what I was going for. I wanted to make sure whoever was crying was okay. And just as I was approaching the fence, ready to peer through the crack in the wooden structure surrounding the farmhouse, someone got in my way.
There was a sudden pressure against my back as something had landed so gracefully behind me, that it completely escaped my sense of hearing, bringing me to a literal standstill. I didn't even need to turn around to find out who it was. The scent of fresh blood in the air. The waves of dark aura pushing against my back. The ability to move as fast and as silent, so as to completely evade the senses. There was only one forest aberration I knew could do that.
"And just what do you think you are doing?"
I heard the voice of Sebastian ask from inside the back of my head, sending ripples of dread down the length of my spine. I turned around slowly and came face to face with the thing that would forever be the number one reason why I find owls to be one of the scariest species of birds on the planet.
Sebastian was a part man, part owl hybrid thing, with a ghostly white face, deep black eyes, and a feathered, makeshift winged cloak that was just as deep, dark, and menacing as his eyes. He has no beak. But lips. And it doesn't really matter because when he speaks, they don't move. At all. No matter the circumstance.
"Have you suddenly lost your tongue boy? I asked you a question. What do you think you are doing?" he added, his cold voice bouncing around in my head and his gaze frozen solid.
I tried saying something, but I was so captivated by fear I forgot how to speak. My entire body was shaking like a leaf, and I was pretty sure I was about to piss my pants.
Among all the aberrations in the forest and Frank just so happen to pick the creepiest looking one of them all to serve as my babysitter. Thanks Frank. I really appreciate it.
"Don't make me repeat myself boy," Sebastian said, his tone dropping to sinister levels.
"SPEAK!" he ordered, and the ferocity of his pitch almost caused the inside of my skull to split in two.
I swallowed the fear stuck in my throat and finally spoke.
"There's... It's... Someone needs our help," I said. My words somehow managing to form a cohesive sentence. "I just wanted to..."
Sebastian jerked his head to the side to glance over my shoulder. More specifically, he glanced over my shoulder to stare through the crack in the wooded fence behind me.
We both heard the sniffling noises simultaneously.
After a second or two, Sebastian then snapped his head in my direction, returning his soulless gays back on me.
"Were you invited?" he asked, a hint of calm resignation in his tone.
"What?" I replied, genuinely confuse at his question.
"Were you invited?" he asked again, with his voice starting to shift into enraged annoyance.
In fear of not wanting to piss him off any more than I already did, I simply shook my head in response, hoping that was enough non sassy, non-disrespectful way of indicating I was still at a loss of what he was asking.
Letting out a sigh, he said, "Take a look." And I began to slowly step backwards while keeping my eyes trained on him. It was not until my back connected with a flat wooden surface behind me that I finally broke eye contact in order to turn around, crouch, and gaze out the crack in the fence standing on the west side of the farmhouse. And the view was just as I described.
There was the deep gray sky with all its glory. The smooth dark rocks. The towering trees looming overhead. And the large body of water that had her swampiness resting underneath. Everything was as I described with one exception. Now sitting on one of the rocks by the left side of the river, with her back turned and both of her legs stuffed into the water, was a girl. Or more specifically, a young woman.
Her hair was a mixture of white and yellow, with rows of beads running half circles along the back of her braid, decorating her already very colorful, very voluminous hair all the way down to her lower back. Her shoulders each held three sets of clothing strips, which appeared to act as the primary (hold me up support) for the rest of her slim green looking attire, and the tone of her skin was a pale shade with a hint of Olive undertone. She looked hunched over in her sitting position, with her hands, each one decorated with rows of transparent blue bangles, lifted up to her face, cupping her eyes and nose as she continued to sniffle and sob quietly into the morning breeze. I didn't even have to sight her tail to know what kind of creature she already was.
Some of the creatures in the forest, especially the mermaids, take great pride in the kinds of accessories they wear, and in the way they look. If you were to ask me why, I would say it probably has something to do with ethnic origins or simple personal aesthetic choices. Suddenly, the question Sebastian kept repeating to me made a lot of sense. If you don't ask a mermaid for permission before approaching, things for you can become really painful. And for a brief moment, I wondered if the screeching noise from earlier had anything to do with the kinds of things they are capable of.
So, in light of the sudden Discovery that I was in fact dealing with a potentially hostile mermaid, my drive for wanting to help her process whatever grief she was going through suddenly plummeted. Especially now that I knew she was capable of letting out a screech that could easily rip apart my skull if she wanted to. And because of that, I ceased staring through the gap in the fence to lean back and look up at the frozen stature of Sebastian looming just behind me. He kept silent as always, and continued to observe me with a steady gaze, waiting for me to speak of my findings. I gave myself a second to process the image I had just witnessed before speaking.
"It's a mermaid," I said, perplexed at my Discovery.
"Yes," Sebastian replied, his lips shut, and his voice reverberating around the inside of my skull.
"I can't believe it. I've never seen a mermaid before," I said.
"You should count yourself lucky then rabbit," Sebastian said, unmoving. "Those who sight a mermaid for the first time from such close distance don't usually walk away to tell about the tail," he added. "They always end up doing something stupid."
"Stupid?" I asked, flashing a nervous smile.
Sebastian picked up on my former intentions and shot me a disappointed angry stare.
"Stupid like trying to get nearer for an even closer gander," he said, his pitch-black eyes narrowing and warning. "What were you thinking?" he asked, and luckily for me I did not have to answer the question.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash as if a tree had toppled over in the distance. Sebastian spun his head around, twisting his neck so the back of his head was now facing me. I squirmed at the site of his forward backwards appearance, never having gotten acquainted with most of his characteristics and capabilities in the short time I've known him working at the farmhouse. After a second or two, Sebastian then twisted his neck back into place, returning his dark gaze back on me.
"What is it?" I asked, standing up from my crouched position by the fence and allowing the thought of the mermaid disappear from my mind for a moment.
"You should get inside. Now," Sebastian replied, taking a step back before opening his massive dark wings and spreading them to the sides.
He arced his knees a little bit, and with a single downward flap of his wings, he was airborne. Off the ground by a total of eight feet, before coming to a halt midflight to stare down at me.
"Get inside and lock the doors. Now!" he barked, eyes narrowed, and his wings flapping up and down by his sides keeping his suspended state.
"But you still haven't..."
I never got the opportunity to complete my sentence.
Just then, an almost invisible ball of spiraling blue energy, shot out from somewhere behind me and collided with the body of Sebastian, sending him flying across the front yard and expelling him from the premises entirely.
I immediately took out my earmuffs and was hit with an eerie silence. My heart was pounding. My brain was starting to enter a hyperactive panic mode. And my breathing became ragged and intense. What the hell just happened?
I didn't have to wait for my answer.
I spun around to the sound of rapid approaching footsteps, and almost had a heart attack from what I saw.
Running towards the farmhouse from the other side of the fence. Bare feet. With the lower half of her dress dripping with river water, and the top part of her attire and voluminous hair flowing in the evening breeze, was the mermaid. In full spectacle.
Her eyes were the color of midnight. Her gait, although a little hindered by her dress, seemed just like the way a normal girl would run. The rows of transparent blue bangles on her forearm and wrist, were now a bright luminescent glowing color. And they were streaks of dried-up black makeup tears running down the sides of her cheeks, prove she was indeed the one crying moments earlier.
She resembled something straight out of a marionette's horror movie running towards me and I was a deer caught in headlights. I couldn't believe it.
I started to back off slowly and she snapped her head in my direction, causing my heart to almost leap out of my chest.
"Hey! No! Wait! I'm not going to hurt you!" she yelled, rushing towards the fence, and lifting up her hands defensively. "I just want to help," she added, finally coming to a halt, and staring at me through the gap in the fence.
"Something terrible is coming this way and it's all my fault," she said. "Please. We need to leave"
She continued to stare at me through the crack in the fence, a look of genuine concerned plastered across her face. Her dark blue eyes held a tinge of guilt behind them, and her cheeks and lips were flushed with honest worry. She reached out an arm through the fence, as if physically showing she wasn't a threat. That's when I looked down and found that the rows of bangles on her hand, the same ones that were glowing a bright luminescent color only seconds before, were now dimming back into their original shade, almost as if they were in a state of powering down.
"Please," she whispered, and I lifted my head up to meet her gays once more.
For a second, I didn't move. I was frozen in fear and contemplating weather to Make a run for the farmhouse and lock myself in, or run away with this stranger offering to take me to a new location. The safety of the farmhouse had already been compromised thanks to her, and it was about to become a hotspot for major forest aberration activity.
I took a moment to consider my options. I really did. But the renewed sound of trees toppling over from somewhere behind me, accompanied with the ground shaking rumble of a dozen legs digging into the ground and barreling towards the farmhouse in a rush, suddenly made my decision that much obvious.
"Please. We need to go. Now!" she said, with her arm still stretched. And without a second thought, I carefully placed my hand on hers, and the instant my palm came in contact with the inside of her hand, the rows of transparent blue bangles on her arm lit up, and she immediately let go of my hand and grabbed my forearm instead.
I looked up at her face in horror, but before I could utter a word of protest, the insides of her eyes grew brighter, and she lifted her arm up, flinging me over the fence sooner than my mind was able to comprehend what was happening.
I was airborne. For like 2 and a half seconds. But it felt like a lifetime. And while I was busy somersaulting over the fence, the world around me seemed to slow down, giving me plenty of time to catch an upside-down glimpse of the humongous forest creature now climbing its way into the compound from the other side of the fence.
If none of what I've said so far has remotely sounded crazy in the slightest, this is the part where shit should really start to hit the fan. Because climbing into the compound from the other side of the fence, in a downwards arc of its massive body, was the biggest forest crab I have ever seen.
The thing was huge. Like, really huge. It possessed a dirty brown colored appearance, with some parts of its shell-like armored plating covered in green splotches. Its legs were long and pincer like, and its two main frontal claws were massive, reinforced gauntlets ending in scissor like appendages. It had tiny, jagged needles coating almost every inch of its crustacean, with the most vicious looking ones located on its arms, its legs, and the sides of its shell. And other than the overall monstrous sea creature vibes the think presented, there was another disturbing aspect to the thing.
On its back. The topmost part of its shell. Sitting on what resembled a saddle and wielding a slag of rope that somehow connected to the giant crab's antenna, was a rider. Donning some kind of yellow, red ceremonial armor.
The mermaid had planned to catch me as she already had a hand stretched upwards, ready to somehow break my fall the second I cleared the compound and was falling on the outside part of the fence. But she might have thrown me further than she can catch me because our fingers barely even brushed the top of one another before a look of horror flashed across her face, and I mentally braced myself for the inevitable rough landing.
What followed was almost instantaneous.
The world around me sped up and I watched as a ground littered with sharp rocks and stones rushed towards my face. And the last thing I remember as I fell onto the ground was smashing the side of my head against something hard before going blank.
This next part might have Played out as if in a dream sequence, but it was just the symptoms of my brain going into shock.
I was sprawled on the floor. Unmoving. But I could still perceive most of my surroundings. The side of my face in the ground was warm, and I could make out the sound of something growling and bashing against a wall, and the voice of someone crying out over the noise in the distance.
"Hey! Are you okay? I'm sorry I did not catch you. Please. get up. Hey! Can you hear me? Please. Get up. Please!"
"Easy stone breaker. Easy." A second voice spoke out over the noise, and the bashing stopped. So did the growling.
"Look princess. What you've done."
The second voice belonged to a man. And if I were to guess, I would say it belonged to the same person I saw riding the giant crab.
"Please. Get up," the girl said.
“Disappointing,” the man said. ”You see princess, this is what happens whenever you do this. Death. Destruction. And innocent people suffer for it.”
There was a pause.
“I mean, I try my best to minimize the second one, but you can't seem to stop yourself from causing the first one," the man continued. “If you would just come with me back home princess. Watermeena misses you. Your parents miss you. And I’m sure you must be tired of all this constant running?”
I couldn't quite see what was happening mainly because I had fallen facing a patch of bushes, but the rock my head was now resting on beside a nearby tree, provided enough elevation for my peripheral vision to catch some of the action.
First was that the mermaid was still standing outside the wooden fence surrounding the farmhouse. However she was now in some kind of forward leaning stance, with her arms pushed out in front, holding steady a giant transparent blue dome that had seemingly appeared from nowhere and enveloped the compound. Trapping the giant crab and its rider inside.
Second was that she seemed to be getting tired. She had her head lowered, staring at the ground. Her arms were shaking. Her legs were quivering. And the bangles on her arms were starting to blink on and off, indicating that they were probably stressed and overheating, or were simply losing power. Either way, she looked like she was about to pass out and I felt like I needed to do something.
I slowly lifted my head up and was immediately rewarded with a sharp ache shooting through my skull. I lowered my head and winced in pain, before waiting a few seconds and trying again.
This time, I was able to lift my head up and also shuffle my first step forward. And my second. And my third. Other than what I was certain was a broken knee, twisted ankle, and a bruised rib, which were all yelling at my brain for my body to stop moving, I had no other injuries. At least, so I thought.
“Huh,” the voice of the man said. “It seems as though your pedestrian casualty survived after all.”
Still laying on the ground, I lifted my head up and turned in the direction of the farmhouse. The mermaid had also lifted her head up to stare back at me.
There were fresh tears running down the sides of her cheeks. But she now had a smile plastered across her face. A smile of relief. With a little worry sprinkled in.
“Well, isn't that just wonderful,” the man said. ”Now princess,” he continued, “the ball is in your court. You either bring him along and we all go in search of a healer to help dress his injuries, in which case we leave him there and continue onward to Watermeena. Or you leave the poor fellow here to bleed out, and instead do what you've always done. Run. With whatever charge still left in those rings of yours. Just know I cannot guarantee his safety if you do choose to run. Stonebreaker gets a bit agitated when he hasn't had his dinner. And guess who hasn't eaten all day because of you.”
The mermaid looked up at the rider on the crab, then look down back at me. The smile had disappeared from her face and was now replaced with the familiar flush of worry. I turned my attention away and continued to press forward on my elbows and remaining good knee. And after a little while, I was able to make it to the trunk of a tree and lifted myself up to rest my back on it.
Wait. Did he just threatened to feed me to the crab? And did he just say I was bleeding out?
I looked down and was mortified when I saw a trail of blood smeared along the ground from where I sat, all the way to a collection of rocks sticking out of the ground which must have been my point of impact. I lifted my hand and felt a deep gash on the side of my forehead, and a sticky warm liquid was now between my fingers and running along the side of my face. I was suddenly like headed, and unable to focus on anything around me but the voices speaking in the distance.
“Hey! No! Open your eyes! Stay with me!”
Wait. When did I close my eyes?
“He is going into shock. It's now or never princess. Make your choice.”
“No. Please. Wake up,“ I heard the voice of the girl ask, reminding me of that particular memory I really did not like. I opened my eyes to a blurred mess of the things around me, then turned my attention over to where the blurred figure of the mermaid still stood holding together the blurred dome wall.
“Time is running out princess. A few more minutes and he is going to lose consciousness. You should make your choice now.”
“Promise me you won't hurt him,” the girl said, her voice restrained. “And promise me your beast wouldn't lay a single claw on him either.”
“As the commander of the royal army, you have my word princess.”
There was another pause. And just as I began lowering my head and shutting my eyes closed, I made one last attempt in hopes of saving my ass and also preserving the mermaid's independence since it really seemed like she didn't want to go with him.
“Screech,” I said, mustering some of the remaining ounce of energy I could to say that one word.
“What? The mermaid replied,” sniffling.
“That thing you did earlier. Do it again,” I said. “Scream.”
“But that was an accident,” she replied, “and it can hurt you.”
“Just do it,” I said. “Please.”
"Don't bother princess," the man said. "Your disorientating song might have led us to you, but it is not going to drive us away.”
“Good,” I replied, lifting my head up to stare in their direction and blinking a few times to clear my vision. "There is someone I would like you guys to meet."
I turned so I was now facing the mermaid.
“Do it,” I said. “Now.” And with a reluctant nod of her head, she let out three consecutive wails that were not as vicious as the first one, but still packed enough punch to force My hands to cover my ears in response. Even stonebreaker seemed to stumble on his legs a little, before shaking his head to the sides and brushing off the noise. When she was finally done, she lifted her head to stare up at me, with the look in her eyes begging the question. What now?
Her answer came in form of The River beside us starting to bubble over, with a large dark humanoid shape slowly rising up from the deep.
She was awake.
Suddenly, the bangles on the mermaid's hands sparked a bright flash, forcing her to flinch in pain before releasing her grip on the blue dome and dropping to her knees. The bangles began dimming back into their original shade and the blue dome surrounding the compound evaporated.
The man did not cease the opportunity to steal the mermaid in that moment. Instead he was transfixed on the entity now emerging from the water.
The figure in the river continued to rise, until it was out of the water to its waste and was facing the direction of the farmhouse.
It was big. Very big. Its body was made entirely of dark brown roots and tree bark, and its eyes were hollow circuits of glowing lights. There was a greenish bluish swamp like slime covering its entire body, and the hair on its head was long, dark, drenched, and coated with seaweed. Its overall visage was akin to the top half of a woman, and when she spoke, it was with a thousand voices that came before her.
“I am Kiai Ohana. Mother of nature. Guardian, and protector of all living things in the forest. Crab fender.” The thing lifted her hand to point at the man sitting on the giant crab, which was now 10 times smaller in comparison. “You are currently violating the sanctity of this land with your presence and putting the life of yet another of my own at risk. As you and your men have done on multiple counts before,” she said, lowering her arm. “No longer should I allow such acts from you go unpunished. Leave now and consider this to be your final warning.”
Without saying another word, the crab fender pulled at the rains of his beast, steering his massive crustacean away from the mermaid and exiting the compound by crawling over the same fence he crawled in.
“You too little one,” the spirit said. Turning her attention over to the mermaid. “I must continue to recuperate. You must be on your way. Now.”
The mermaid got to her feet and rushed over to where I had my back against a tree.
“But can you please help him,” she said. “He is like this because of me.”
She tore a piece of her dress and pressed it against my forehead.
I want to say it hurt like hell, but I was already slipping back into unconsciousness, and everything was becoming numb. The girl kneeling in front of me was but a blur again at this point.
“I know,” the spirit replied. “I will see to it that he is treated. But you must go. Now. Like the crab fender, you have also caused a lot of trouble and are now trespassing on private land. And I cannot have that.”
“Okay,” the mermaid replied. “And I'm sorry for all I've caused. I really am. But thank you for accepting to help him. She said. Thank you."
“It's my duty little one,” the spirit said. “Don't thank me. Besides. I know this one. He is a sapling in training. Hopefully he is able to blossom before the start of the dark days, or a simple head injury would be the list of his problems. Now go little one. And don't come back.”
“Okay,” the mermaid replied.
Before leaving, the mermaid ended up wiping the blood from my face with the piece of fabric, then tor another piece from her dress and wrapped it around my head like a Makeshift Band-Aid. After that, she took my hand in hers and leaned in closer.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
And with that, she got to her feet and began bolting down towards the river, and just as she jumped into the water, I blinked a few times to clear my vision, and caught sight of her transformation as she dove into the water. Headfirst, tail last. Then, she was gone.
But the spirit was still there.
“Don't worry little sapling,” the spirit said, as my vision began to tunnel. “Help is on its way,” she added. “Save your strength and get well soon. The dark days are almost upon us. And I am going to need every man and woman of the runners, prepared to trade their lives for the forest. Including you.”
I could only mutter a silent "what?" Before I completely blacked out. And when I woke up a few hours later, the first thing to cross my mind was an echo of what the spirit had said.
"The dark days are almost upon us. And I am going to need every man and woman of the runners, prepared to trade their lives for the forest. Including you."
What the hell are the dark days?
submitted by forest-Guy- to u/forest-Guy- [link] [comments]


2023.03.19 11:08 Hawkenness Despite playing Minecraft for over a decade, I am hopeless at redstone. Can someone please help me figure out how to make a bridge with gates that can be opened from either end?

I've been working all weekend on making a little bridge (literally just a few blocks long) over a river with double gates at either end. I wanted to make it so the gates at both ends would open with the one lever, and for a lever to sit at both ends so I could enter either way. Goodness knows I must've been possessed into thinking that'd be easy.
Anyway, after slaving away for hours on what I'm sure is a very rudimentary build, I finally managed to do this with a signal that travelled down, under the river and then back up again.
Great, I thought! Now all I need to do is put a lever on the other side so I can close and re-open the gates from either side.
How foolish - I forgot the circuit signal only travels down and up and doesn't reverse. I've no clue how to make a circuit that can go both ways. Can someone please give me an idea? (Keep in mind that I'm very, very, very dumb when it comes to redstone.)
Save me from this nightmare.
submitted by Hawkenness to redstone [link] [comments]


2023.03.19 08:21 Crafty_Wallaby_294 How to make money in 3 easy steps

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sell baskets to the basket-less
sell bats to the bat-less
sell baths to the bath-less
sell bathrooms to the bathroom-less
sell battles to the battle-less
sell beachs to the beach-less
sell bears to the bear-less
sell beats to the beat-less
sell beautifuls to the beautiful-less
sell beds to the bed-less
sell bedrooms to the bedroom-less
sell beers to the beer-less
sell beginnings to the beginning-less
sell beings to the being-less
sell bells to the bell-less
sell belts to the belt-less
sell benchs to the bench-less
sell bends to the bend-less
sell benefits to the benefit-less
sell bets to the bet-less
sell beyonds to the beyond-less
sell bicycles to the bicycle-less
sell bids to the bid-less
sell bigs to the big-less
sell bikes to the bike-less
sell bills to the bill-less
sell birds to the bird-less
sell births to the birth-less
sell birthdays to the birthday-less
sell bits to the bit-less
sell bites to the bite-less
sell bitters to the bitter-less
sell blacks to the black-less
sell blames to the blame-less
sell blanks to the blank-less
sell blinds to the blind-less
sell blocks to the block-less
sell bloods to the blood-less
sell blows to the blow-less
sell blues to the blue-less
sell boards to the board-less
sell boats to the boat-less
sell bodys to the body-less
sell bones to the bone-less
sell bonuss to the bonus-less
sell books to the book-less
sell boots to the boot-less
sell borders to the border-less
sell bosss to the boss-less
sell bothers to the bother-less
sell bottles to the bottle-less
sell bottoms to the bottom-less
sell bowls to the bowl-less
sell boxs to the box-less
sell boys to the boy-less
sell boyfriends to the boyfriend-less
sell brains to the brain-less
sell branchs to the branch-less
sell braves to the brave-less
sell breads to the bread-less
sell breaks to the break-less
sell breakfasts to the breakfast-less
sell breasts to the breast-less
sell breaths to the breath-less
sell bricks to the brick-less
sell bridges to the bridge-less
sell briefs to the brief-less
sell brilliants to the brilliant-less
sell broads to the broad-less
sell brothers to the brother-less
sell browns to the brown-less
sell brushs to the brush-less
sell buddys to the buddy-less
sell budgets to the budget-less
sell bugs to the bug-less
sell buildings to the building-less
sell bunchs to the bunch-less
sell burns to the burn-less
sell buss to the bus-less
sell businesss to the business-less
sell buttons to the button-less
sell buys to the buy-less
sell buyers to the buyer-less
sell cabinets to the cabinet-less
sell cables to the cable-less
sell cakes to the cake-less
sell calendars to the calendar-less
sell calls to the call-less
sell calms to the calm-less
sell cameras to the camera-less
sell camps to the camp-less
sell campaigns to the campaign-less
sell cans to the can-less
sell cancels to the cancel-less
sell cancers to the cancer-less
sell candidates to the candidate-less
sell candles to the candle-less
sell candys to the candy-less
sell caps to the cap-less
sell capitals to the capital-less
sell cars to the car-less
sell cards to the card-less
sell cares to the care-less
sell careers to the career-less
sell carpets to the carpet-less
sell carrys to the carry-less
sell cases to the case-less
sell cashs to the cash-less
sell cats to the cat-less
sell catchs to the catch-less
sell categorys to the category-less
sell causes to the cause-less
sell celebrations to the celebration-less
sell cells to the cell-less
sell chains to the chain-less
sell chairs to the chair-less
sell challenges to the challenge-less
sell champions to the champion-less
sell championships to the championship-less
sell chances to the chance-less
sell changes to the change-less
sell channels to the channel-less
sell chapters to the chapter-less
sell characters to the character-less
sell charges to the charge-less
sell charitys to the charity-less
sell charts to the chart-less
sell checks to the check-less
sell cheeks to the cheek-less
sell chemicals to the chemical-less
sell chemistrys to the chemistry-less
sell chests to the chest-less
sell chickens to the chicken-less
sell childs to the child-less
sell childhoods to the childhood-less
sell chips to the chip-less
sell chocolates to the chocolate-less
sell choices to the choice-less
sell churchs to the church-less
sell cigarettes to the cigarette-less
sell citys to the city-less
sell claims to the claim-less
sell classs to the class-less
sell classics to the classic-less
sell classrooms to the classroom-less
sell clerks to the clerk-less
sell clicks to the click-less
sell clients to the client-less
sell climates to the climate-less
sell clocks to the clock-less
sell closets to the closet-less
sell clothess to the clothes-less
sell clouds to the cloud-less
sell clubs to the club-less
sell clues to the clue-less
sell coachs to the coach-less
sell coasts to the coast-less
sell coats to the coat-less
sell codes to the code-less
sell coffees to the coffee-less
sell colds to the cold-less
sell collars to the collar-less
sell collections to the collection-less
sell colleges to the college-less
sell combinations to the combination-less
sell combines to the combine-less
sell comforts to the comfort-less
sell comfortables to the comfortable-less
sell commands to the command-less
sell comments to the comment-less
sell commercials to the commercial-less
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sell communitys to the community-less
sell companys to the company-less
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sell competitions to the competition-less
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sell computers to the computer-less
sell concentrates to the concentrate-less
sell concepts to the concept-less
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sell concerts to the concert-less
sell conclusions to the conclusion-less
sell conditions to the condition-less
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sell confusions to the confusion-less
sell connections to the connection-less
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sell consists to the consist-less
sell constants to the constant-less
sell constructions to the construction-less
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sell contests to the contest-less
sell contexts to the context-less
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sell contributions to the contribution-less
sell controls to the control-less
sell conversations to the conversation-less
sell converts to the convert-less
sell cooks to the cook-less
sell cookies to the cookie-less
sell copys to the copy-less
sell corners to the corner-less
sell costs to the cost-less
sell counts to the count-less
sell counters to the counter-less
sell countrys to the country-less
sell countys to the county-less
sell couples to the couple-less
sell courages to the courage-less
sell courses to the course-less
sell courts to the court-less
sell cousins to the cousin-less
sell covers to the cover-less
sell cows to the cow-less
sell cracks to the crack-less
sell crafts to the craft-less
sell crashs to the crash-less
sell crazys to the crazy-less
sell creams to the cream-less
sell creatives to the creative-less
sell credits to the credit-less
sell crews to the crew-less
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sell crosss to the cross-less
sell crys to the cry-less
sell cultures to the culture-less
sell cups to the cup-less
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sell currents to the current-less
sell curves to the curve-less
sell customers to the customer-less
sell cuts to the cut-less
sell cycles to the cycle-less
sell dads to the dad-less
sell damages to the damage-less
sell dances to the dance-less
sell dares to the dare-less
sell darks to the dark-less
sell datas to the data-less
sell databases to the database-less
sell dates to the date-less
sell daughters to the daughter-less
sell days to the day-less
sell deads to the dead-less
sell deals to the deal-less
sell dealers to the dealer-less
sell dears to the dear-less
sell deaths to the death-less
sell debates to the debate-less
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sell deeps to the deep-less
sell definitions to the definition-less
sell degrees to the degree-less
sell delays to the delay-less
sell deliverys to the delivery-less
sell demands to the demand-less
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sell departures to the departure-less
sell dependents to the dependent-less
sell deposits to the deposit-less
sell depressions to the depression-less
sell depths to the depth-less
sell descriptions to the description-less
sell designs to the design-less
sell designers to the designer-less
sell desires to the desire-less
sell desks to the desk-less
sell details to the detail-less
sell developments to the development-less
sell devices to the device-less
sell devils to the devil-less
sell diamonds to the diamond-less
sell diets to the diet-less
sell differences to the difference-less
sell difficultys to the difficulty-less
sell digs to the dig-less
sell dimensions to the dimension-less
sell dinners to the dinner-less
sell directions to the direction-less
sell directors to the director-less
sell dirts to the dirt-less
sell disasters to the disaster-less
sell disciplines to the discipline-less
sell discounts to the discount-less
sell discussions to the discussion-less
sell diseases to the disease-less
sell dishs to the dish-less
sell disks to the disk-less
sell displays to the display-less
sell distances to the distance-less
sell distributions to the distribution-less
sell districts to the district-less
sell divides to the divide-less
sell doctors to the doctor-less
sell documents to the document-less
sell dogs to the dog-less
sell doors to the door-less
sell dots to the dot-less
sell doubles to the double-less
sell doubts to the doubt-less
sell drafts to the draft-less
sell drags to the drag-less
sell dramas to the drama-less
sell draws to the draw-less
sell drawers to the drawer-less
sell drawings to the drawing-less
sell dreams to the dream-less
sell dresss to the dress-less
sell drinks to the drink-less
sell drives to the drive-less
sell drivers to the driver-less
sell drops to the drop-less
sell drunks to the drunk-less
sell dues to the due-less
sell dumps to the dump-less
sell dusts to the dust-less
sell dutys to the duty-less
sell ears to the ear-less
sell earths to the earth-less
sell eases to the ease-less
sell easts to the east-less
sell eats to the eat-less
sell economicss to the economics-less
sell economys to the economy-less
sell edges to the edge-less
sell editors to the editor-less
sell educations to the education-less
sell effects to the effect-less
sell effectives to the effective-less
sell efficiencys to the efficiency-less
sell efforts to the effort-less
sell eggs to the egg-less
sell elections to the election-less
sell elevators to the elevator-less
sell emergencys to the emergency-less
sell emotions to the emotion-less
sell emphasiss to the emphasis-less
sell employs to the employ-less
sell employees to the employee-less
sell employers to the employer-less
sell employments to the employment-less
sell ends to the end-less
sell energys to the energy-less
sell engines to the engine-less
sell engineers to the engineer-less
sell engineerings to the engineering-less
sell entertainments to the entertainment-less
sell enthusiasms to the enthusiasm-less
sell entrances to the entrance-less
sell entrys to the entry-less
sell environments to the environment-less
sell equals to the equal-less
sell equipments to the equipment-less
sell equivalents to the equivalent-less
sell errors to the error-less
sell escapes to the escape-less
sell essays to the essay-less
sell establishments to the establishment-less
sell estates to the estate-less
sell estimates to the estimate-less
sell evenings to the evening-less
sell events to the event-less
sell evidences to the evidence-less
sell exams to the exam-less
sell examinations to the examination-less
sell examples to the example-less
sell exchanges to the exchange-less
sell excitements to the excitement-less
sell excuses to the excuse-less
sell exercises to the exercise-less
sell exits to the exit-less
sell experiences to the experience-less
sell experts to the expert-less
sell explanations to the explanation-less
sell expressions to the expression-less
sell extensions to the extension-less
sell extents to the extent-less
sell externals to the external-less
sell extremes to the extreme-less
sell eyes to the eye-less
sell faces to the face-less
sell facts to the fact-less
sell factors to the factor-less
sell fails to the fail-less
sell failures to the failure-less
sell falls to the fall-less
sell familiars to the familiar-less
sell familys to the family-less
sell fans to the fan-less
sell farms to the farm-less
sell farmers to the farmer-less
sell fats to the fat-less
sell fathers to the father-less
sell faults to the fault-less
sell fears to the fear-less
sell features to the feature-less
sell fees to the fee-less
sell feeds to the feed-less
sell feedbacks to the feedback-less
sell feels to the feel-less
sell feelings to the feeling-less
sell females to the female-less
sell fews to the few-less
sell fields to the field-less
sell fights to the fight-less
sell figures to the figure-less
sell files to the file-less
sell fills to the fill-less
sell films to the film-less
sell finals to the final-less
sell finances to the finance-less
sell findings to the finding-less
sell fingers to the finger-less
sell finishs to the finish-less
sell fires to the fire-less
sell fishs to the fish-less
sell fishings to the fishing-less
sell fixs to the fix-less
sell flights to the flight-less
sell floors to the floor-less
sell flows to the flow-less
sell flowers to the flower-less
sell flys to the fly-less
sell focuss to the focus-less
sell folds to the fold-less
sell followings to the following-less
sell foods to the food-less
sell foots to the foot-less
sell footballs to the football-less
sell forces to the force-less
sell forevers to the forever-less
sell forms to the form-less
sell formals to the formal-less
sell fortunes to the fortune-less
sell foundations to the foundation-less
sell frames to the frame-less
sell freedoms to the freedom-less
sell friends to the friend-less
sell friendships to the friendship-less
sell fronts to the front-less
sell fruits to the fruit-less
sell fuels to the fuel-less
sell funs to the fun-less
sell functions to the function-less
sell funerals to the funeral-less
sell funnys to the funny-less
sell futures to the future-less
sell gains to the gain-less
sell games to the game-less
sell gaps to the gap-less
sell garages to the garage-less
sell garbages to the garbage-less
sell gardens to the garden-less
sell gass to the gas-less
sell gates to the gate-less
sell gathers to the gather-less
sell gears to the gear-less
sell genes to the gene-less
sell generals to the general-less
sell gifts to the gift-less
sell girls to the girl-less
sell girlfriends to the girlfriend-less
sell gives to the give-less
sell glads to the glad-less
sell glasss to the glass-less
sell gloves to the glove-less
sell gos to the go-less
sell goals to the goal-less
sell gods to the god-less
sell golds to the gold-less
sell golfs to the golf-less
sell goods to the good-less
sell governments to the government-less
sell grabs to the grab-less
sell grades to the grade-less
sell grands to the grand-less
sell grandfathers to the grandfather-less
sell grandmothers to the grandmother-less
sell grasss to the grass-less
sell greats to the great-less
sell greens to the green-less
sell grocerys to the grocery-less
sell grounds to the ground-less
sell groups to the group-less
sell growths to the growth-less
sell guarantees to the guarantee-less
sell guards to the guard-less
sell guesss to the guess-less
sell guests to the guest-less
sell guidances to the guidance-less
sell guides to the guide-less
sell guitars to the guitar-less
sell guys to the guy-less
sell habits to the habit-less
sell hairs to the hair-less
sell halfs to the half-less
sell halls to the hall-less
sell hands to the hand-less
sell handles to the handle-less
sell hangs to the hang-less
sell harms to the harm-less
sell hats to the hat-less
sell hates to the hate-less
sell heads to the head-less
sell healths to the health-less
sell hearings to the hearing-less
sell hearts to the heart-less
sell heats to the heat-less
sell heavys to the heavy-less
sell heights to the height-less
sell hells to the hell-less
sell hellos to the hello-less
sell helps to the help-less
sell hides to the hide-less
sell highs to the high-less
sell highlights to the highlight-less
sell highways to the highway-less
sell hires to the hire-less
sell historians to the historian-less
sell historys to the history-less
sell hits to the hit-less
sell holds to the hold-less
sell holes to the hole-less
sell holidays to the holiday-less
sell homes to the home-less
sell homeworks to the homework-less
sell honeys to the honey-less
sell hooks to the hook-less
sell hopes to the hope-less
sell horrors to the horror-less
sell horses to the horse-less
sell hospitals to the hospital-less
sell hosts to the host-less
sell hotels to the hotel-less
sell hours to the hour-less
sell houses to the house-less
sell housings to the housing-less
sell humans to the human-less
sell hunts to the hunt-less
sell hurrys to the hurry-less
sell hurts to the hurt-less
sell husbands to the husband-less
sell ices to the ice-less
sell ideas to the idea-less
sell ideals to the ideal-less
sell ifs to the if-less
sell illegals to the illegal-less
sell images to the image-less
sell imaginations to the imagination-less
sell impacts to the impact-less
sell implements to the implement-less
sell importances to the importance-less
sell impresss to the impress-less
sell impressions to the impression-less
sell improvements to the improvement-less
sell incidents to the incident-less
sell incomes to the income-less
sell increases to the increase-less
sell independences to the independence-less
sell independents to the independent-less
sell indications to the indication-less
sell individuals to the individual-less
sell industrys to the industry-less
sell inevitables to the inevitable-less
sell inflations to the inflation-less
sell influences to the influence-less
sell informations to the information-less
sell initials to the initial-less
sell initiatives to the initiative-less
sell injurys to the injury-less
sell insects to the insect-less
sell insides to the inside-less
sell inspections to the inspection-less
sell inspectors to the inspector-less
sell instances to the instance-less
sell instructions to the instruction-less
sell insurances to the insurance-less
sell intentions to the intention-less
sell interactions to the interaction-less
sell interests to the interest-less
sell internals to the internal-less
sell internationals to the international-less
sell internets to the internet-less
sell interviews to the interview-less
sell introductions to the introduction-less
sell investments to the investment-less
sell invites to the invite-less
sell irons to the iron-less
sell islands to the island-less
sell issues to the issue-less
sell its to the it-less
sell items to the item-less
sell jackets to the jacket-less
sell jobs to the job-less
sell joins to the join-less
sell joints to the joint-less
sell jokes to the joke-less
sell judges to the judge-less
sell judgments to the judgment-less
sell juices to the juice-less
sell jumps to the jump-less
sell juniors to the junior-less
sell jurys to the jury-less
sell keeps to the keep-less
sell keys to the key-less
sell kicks to the kick-less
sell kids to the kid-less
sell kills to the kill-less
sell kinds to the kind-less
sell kings to the king-less
sell kisss to the kiss-less
sell kitchens to the kitchen-less
sell knees to the knee-less
sell knifes to the knife-less
sell knowledges to the knowledge-less
sell labs to the lab-less
sell lacks to the lack-less
sell ladders to the ladder-less
sell ladys to the lady-less
sell lakes to the lake-less
sell lands to the land-less
sell landscapes to the landscape-less
sell languages to the language-less
sell laughs to the laugh-less
sell laws to the law-less
sell lawyers to the lawyer-less
sell lays to the lay-less
sell layers to the layer-less
sell leads to the lead-less
sell leaders to the leader-less
sell leaderships to the leadership-less
sell leadings to the leading-less
sell leagues to the league-less
sell leathers to the leather-less
sell leaves to the leave-less
sell lectures to the lecture-less
sell legs to the leg-less
sell lengths to the length-less
sell lessons to the lesson-less
sell lets to the let-less
sell letters to the letter-less
sell levels to the level-less
sell librarys to the library-less
sell lies to the lie-less
sell lifes to the life-less
sell lifts to the lift-less
sell lights to the light-less
sell limits to the limit-less
sell lines to the line-less
sell links to the link-less
sell lips to the lip-less
sell lists to the list-less
sell listens to the listen-less
sell literatures to the literature-less
sell livings to the living-less
sell loads to the load-less
sell loans to the loan-less
sell locals to the local-less
sell locations to the location-less
sell locks to the lock-less
sell logs to the log-less
sell longs to the long-less
sell looks to the look-less
sell losss to the loss-less
sell loves to the love-less
sell lows to the low-less
sell lucks to the luck-less
sell lunchs to the lunch-less
sell machines to the machine-less
sell magazines to the magazine-less
sell mails to the mail-less
sell mains to the main-less
sell maintenances to the maintenance-less
sell majors to the major-less
sell makes to the make-less
sell males to the male-less
sell malls to the mall-less
sell mans to the man-less
sell managements to the management-less
sell managers to the manager-less
sell manners to the manner-less
sell manufacturers to the manufacturer-less
sell manys to the many-less
sell maps to the map-less
sell marchs to the march-less
sell marks to the mark-less
sell markets to the market-less
sell marketings to the marketing-less
sell marriages to the marriage-less
sell masters to the master-less
sell matchs to the match-less
sell mates to the mate-less
sell materials to the material-less
sell maths to the math-less
sell matters to the matter-less
sell maximums to the maximum-less
sell maybes to the maybe-less
sell meals to the meal-less
sell meanings to the meaning-less
sell measurements to the measurement-less
sell meats to the meat-less
sell medias to the media-less
sell medicines to the medicine-less
sell mediums to the medium-less
sell meets to the meet-less
sell meetings to the meeting-less
sell members to the member-less
sell memberships to the membership-less
sell memorys to the memory-less
sell mentions to the mention-less
sell menus to the menu-less
sell messs to the mess-less
sell messages to the message-less
sell metals to the metal-less
sell methods to the method-less
sell middles to the middle-less
sell midnights to the midnight-less
sell mights to the might-less
sell milks to the milk-less
sell minds to the mind-less
sell mines to the mine-less
sell minimums to the minimum-less
sell minors to the minor-less
sell minutes to the minute-less
sell mirrors to the mirror-less
sell misss to the miss-less
sell missions to the mission-less
sell mistakes to the mistake-less
sell mixs to the mix-less
sell mixtures to the mixture-less
sell mobiles to the mobile-less
sell modes to the mode-less
sell models to the model-less
sell moms to the mom-less
sell moments to the moment-less
sell moneys to the money-less
sell monitors to the monitor-less
sell months to the month-less
sell moods to the mood-less
sell mornings to the morning-less
sell mortgages to the mortgage-less
sell mosts to the most-less
sell mothers to the mother-less
sell motors to the motor-less
sell mountains to the mountain-less
sell mouses to the mouse-less
sell mouths to the mouth-less
sell moves to the move-less
sell movies to the movie-less
sell muds to the mud-less
sell muscles to the muscle-less
sell musics to the music-less
sell nails to the nail-less
sell names to the name-less
sell nastys to the nasty-less
sell nations to the nation-less
sell nationals to the national-less
sell natives to the native-less
sell naturals to the natural-less
sell natures to the nature-less
sell neats to the neat-less
sell necessarys to the necessary-less
sell necks to the neck-less
sell negatives to the negative-less
sell negotiations to the negotiation-less
sell nerves to the nerve-less
sell nets to the net-less
sell networks to the network-less
sell newss to the news-less
sell newspapers to the newspaper-less
sell nights to the night-less
sell nobodys to the nobody-less
sell noises to the noise-less
sell normals to the normal-less
sell norths to the north-less
sell noses to the nose-less
sell notes to the note-less
sell nothings to the nothing-less
sell notices to the notice-less
sell novels to the novel-less
sell numbers to the number-less
sell nurses to the nurse-less
sell objects to the object-less
sell objectives to the objective-less
sell obligations to the obligation-less
sell occasions to the occasion-less
sell offers to the offer-less
sell offices to the office-less
sell officers to the officer-less
sell officials to the official-less
sell oils to the oil-less
sell ones to the one-less
sell openings to the opening-less
sell operations to the operation-less
sell opinions to the opinion-less
sell opportunitys to the opportunity-less
sell opposites to the opposite-less
sell options to the option-less
sell oranges to the orange-less
sell orders to the order-less
sell ordinarys to the ordinary-less
sell organizations to the organization-less
sell originals to the original-less
sell others to the other-less
sell outcomes to the outcome-less
sell outsides to the outside-less
sell ovens to the oven-less
sell owners to the owner-less
sell paces to the pace-less
sell packs to the pack-less
sell packages to the package-less
sell pages to the page-less
sell pains to the pain-less
sell paints to the paint-less
sell paintings to the painting-less
sell pairs to the pair-less
sell panics to the panic-less
sell papers to the paper-less
sell parents to the parent-less
sell parks to the park-less
sell parkings to the parking-less
sell parts to the part-less
sell particulars to the particular-less
sell partners to the partner-less
sell partys to the party-less
sell passs to the pass-less
sell passages to the passage-less
sell passengers to the passenger-less
sell passions to the passion-less
sell pasts to the past-less
sell paths to the path-less
sell patiences to the patience-less
sell patients to the patient-less
sell patterns to the pattern-less
sell pauses to the pause-less
sell pays to the pay-less
sell payments to the payment-less
sell peaces to the peace-less
sell peaks to the peak-less
sell pens to the pen-less
sell penaltys to the penalty-less
sell pensions to the pension-less
sell peoples to the people-less
sell percentages to the percentage-less
sell perceptions to the perception-less
sell performances to the performance-less
sell periods to the period-less
sell permissions to the permission-less
sell permits to the permit-less
sell persons to the person-less
sell personals to the personal-less
sell personalitys to the personality-less
sell perspectives to the perspective-less
sell phases to the phase-less
sell philosophys to the philosophy-less
sell phones to the phone-less
sell photos to the photo-less
sell phrases to the phrase-less
sell physicals to the physical-less
sell physicss to the physics-less
sell pianos to the piano-less
sell picks to the pick-less
sell pictures to the picture-less
sell pies to the pie-less
sell pieces to the piece-less
sell pins to the pin-less
sell pipes to the pipe-less
sell pitchs to the pitch-less
sell pizzas to the pizza-less
sell places to the place-less
sell plans to the plan-less
sell planes to the plane-less
sell plants to the plant-less
sell plastics to the plastic-less
sell plates to the plate-less
sell platforms to the platform-less
sell plays to the play-less
sell players to the player-less
sell pleasures to the pleasure-less
sell plentys to the plenty-less
sell poems to the poem-less
sell poets to the poet-less
sell poetrys to the poetry-less
sell points to the point-less
sell polices to the police-less
sell policys to the policy-less
sell politicss to the politics-less
sell pollutions to the pollution-less
sell pools to the pool-less
sell pops to the pop-less
sell populations to the population-less
sell positions to the position-less
sell positives to the positive-less
sell possessions to the possession-less
sell possibilitys to the possibility-less
sell possibles to the possible-less
sell posts to the post-less
sell pots to the pot-less
sell potatos to the potato-less
sell potentials to the potential-less
sell pounds to the pound-less
sell powers to the power-less
sell practices to the practice-less
sell preferences to the preference-less
sell preparations to the preparation-less
sell presences to the presence-less
sell presents to the present-less
sell presentations to the presentation-less
sell presidents to the president-less
sell presss to the press-less
sell pressures to the pressure-less
sell prices to the price-less
sell prides to the pride-less
sell priests to the priest-less
sell primarys to the primary-less
sell principles to the principle-less
sell prints to the print-less
sell priors to the prior-less
sell prioritys to the priority-less
sell privates to the private-less
sell prizes to the prize-less
sell problems to the problem-less
sell procedures to the procedure-less
sell processs to the process-less
sell produces to the produce-less
sell products to the product-less
sell professions to the profession-less
sell professionals to the professional-less
sell professors to the professor-less
sell profiles to the profile-less
sell profits to the profit-less
sell programs to the program-less
sell progresss to the progress-less
sell projects to the project-less
sell promises to the promise-less
sell promotions to the promotion-less
sell prompts to the prompt-less
sell proofs to the proof-less
sell propertys to the property-less
sell proposals to the proposal-less
sell protections to the protection-less
sell psychologys to the psychology-less
sell publics to the public-less
sell pulls to the pull-less
sell punchs to the punch-less
sell purchases to the purchase-less
sell purples to the purple-less
sell purposes to the purpose-less
sell pushs to the push-less
sell puts to the put-less
sell qualitys to the quality-less
sell quantitys to the quantity-less
sell quarters to the quarter-less
sell queens to the queen-less
sell questions to the question-less
sell quiets to the quiet-less
sell quits to the quit-less
sell quotes to the quote-less
sell races to the race-less
sell radios to the radio-less
sell rains to the rain-less
sell raises to the raise-less
sell ranges to the range-less
sell rates to the rate-less
sell ratios to the ratio-less
sell raws to the raw-less
sell reachs to the reach-less
sell reactions to the reaction-less
sell reads to the read-less
sell readings to the reading-less
sell realitys to the reality-less
sell reasons to the reason-less
sell receptions to the reception-less
sell recipes to the recipe-less
sell recognitions to the recognition-less
sell recommendations to the recommendation-less
sell records to the record-less
sell recordings to the recording-less
sell recovers to the recover-less
sell reds to the red-less
sell references to the reference-less
sell reflections to the reflection-less
sell refrigerators to the refrigerator-less
sell refuses to the refuse-less
sell regions to the region-less
sell registers to the register-less
sell regrets to the regret-less
sell regulars to the regular-less
sell relations to the relation-less
sell relationships to the relationship-less
sell relatives to the relative-less
sell releases to the release-less
sell reliefs to the relief-less
sell remotes to the remote-less
sell removes to the remove-less
sell rents to the rent-less
sell repairs to the repair-less
sell repeats to the repeat-less
sell replacements to the replacement-less
sell replys to the reply-less
sell reports to the report-less
sell representatives to the representative-less
sell republics to the republic-less
sell reputations to the reputation-less
sell requests to the request-less
sell requirements to the requirement-less
sell researchs to the research-less
sell reserves to the reserve-less
sell residents to the resident-less
sell resists to the resist-less
sell resolutions to the resolution-less
sell resolves to the resolve-less
sell resorts to the resort-less
sell resources to the resource-less
sell respects to the respect-less
sell responds to the respond-less
sell responses to the response-less
sell responsibilitys to the responsibility-less
sell rests to the rest-less
sell restaurants to the restaurant-less
sell results to the result-less
sell returns to the return-less
sell reveals to the reveal-less
sell revenues to the revenue-less
sell reviews to the review-less
sell revolutions to the revolution-less
sell rewards to the reward-less
sell rices to the rice-less
sell richs to the rich-less
sell rides to the ride-less
sell rings to the ring-less
sell rips to the rip-less
sell rises to the rise-less
sell risks to the risk-less
sell rivers to the river-less
sell roads to the road-less
sell rocks to the rock-less
sell roles to the role-less
sell rolls to the roll-less
sell roofs to the roof-less
sell rooms to the room-less
sell ropes to the rope-less
sell roughs to the rough-less
sell rounds to the round-less
sell routines to the routine-less
sell rows to the row-less
sell royals to the royal-less
sell rubs to the rub-less
sell ruins to the ruin-less
sell rules to the rule-less
sell runs to the run-less
sell rushs to the rush-less
sell sads to the sad-less
sell safes to the safe-less
sell safetys to the safety-less
sell sails to the sail-less
sell salads to the salad-less
sell salarys to the salary-less
sell sales to the sale-less
sell salts to the salt-less
sell samples to the sample-less
sell sands to the sand-less
sell sandwichs to the sandwich-less
sell satisfactions to the satisfaction-less
sell saves to the save-less
sell savingss to the savings-less
sell scales to the scale-less
sell scenes to the scene-less
sell schedules to the schedule-less
sell schemes to the scheme-less
sell schools to the school-less
sell sciences to the science-less
sell scores to the score-less
sell scratchs to the scratch-less
sell screens to the screen-less
sell screws to the screw-less
sell scripts to the script-less
sell seas to the sea-less
sell searchs to the search-less
sell seasons to the season-less
sell seats to the seat-less
sell seconds to the second-less
sell secrets to the secret-less
sell secretarys to the secretary-less
sell sections to the section-less
sell sectors to the sector-less
sell securitys to the security-less
sell selections to the selection-less
sell selfs to the self-less
sell sells to the sell-less
sell seniors to the senior-less
sell senses to the sense-less
sell sensitives to the sensitive-less
sell sentences to the sentence-less
sell seriess to the series-less
sell serves to the serve-less
sell services to the service-less
sell sessions to the session-less
sell se
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