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Samnell's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 3,352 posts (3,456 including aliases). No reviews. 2 lists. No wishlists. 6 aliases.


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Limeylongears wrote:

Hum. The mental indigestion I got from reading Nesta Webster was bad enough (or when somebody lent me William Cooper's 'Behold A Pale Horse'... Or when I made the mistake of reading the Protocols... Or the SCUM manifesto...

I can't read anything from SCUM without cracking up. I know she meant it seriously, regardless of her later defenses, but it's literally what I would expect from a parody. Also I keep getting images of the episode of Venture Bros. that had a character quoting from it in a Scooby-Doo parody.

Other news: Got to the start of real fighting in Bleeding Kansas. I was previously under the impression that John Brown was responding to the start, rather than initiating things himself. Turns out prior to him one had mostly isolated incidences of violence against people, if a bit more against property, and only a few murders. Very revolutionary vanguard of him. Writing about it all will be challenging as well as fun.

If I'm honest, I don't get too worked up over people murdering slaveowners. But random dudes who voted for the proslavery ticket? Sure, they're evil but I don't know that they're massacre material. Then again, Brown is the same guy who went into Kansas and came out with slaves he personally freed and escorted all the way to Canada. He freed more slaves in one raid (I think eleven.) than the entire white antislavery movement had in twenty years. Right now I think he's a sane, heroic terrorist but that's going to take quite a bit of writing at. Complicated dude.

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Tinkergoth wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Influential Books List Betrays the Fact that Most Adults Don't Read

Man, if that poll saying 23% of Americans don't read a book in a year is even close to accurate, then wow. Even my mates who claim they "don't read for fun" get through at least a few books in a year, even if they are historical stuff or biographies (it's not for study purposes, so I count it). Personally I get through at least one book a week, normally more (but I tend to re-read a lot of stuff) and most of my friends get through one a week too. I can't even imagine going for a year without reading a book.

It's hard for me to even count anymore. I probably only read two or three fictions a year and a few more non-fictions, but I do quite a bit of reading for my blog (which is both research and for-fun reading) that skews things. I tried to set myself aside an hour right after the daily writing to read, but that ended up being an extension of the blogging time past when I previously had the satisfaction of having finished for the nonce. Even I need a break from history now and then.

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Limeylongears wrote:

I haven't, but I'll keep my eyes peeled for that one. Thanks!

Just to be clear, I don't find myself thinking while reading Thongor, "Yeah, it's *OK*, but how, how I wish there was more genocidal racism in it" I imagine I'd be pretty disturbed if I ever read, say, The Turner Diaries

I could make some suggestions from nineteenth century American political writing if you really want to corrupt your internal monologue. Sometimes it's very darkly funny when a random proslavery argument just pops into your head, with most of the key phrases as direct quotes.

Does make me very happy that telepathy isn't real, though. I'm socially unacceptable enough without the extra help.

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Read the lyrics to John Brown's Body today. Much better than the generic religious war song based on the same tune.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Checked my phone today. No missed calls, no messages. Guess my books on Bleeding Kansas aren't in yet. Sit down with the Howard Report and start in.

Phone rings: "We have your books."

I set aside the blog and ducked out to collect them. Got home and dug into Nichole Etcheson's Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era. I skipped ahead and read the chapter on the election of the territorial legislature, where she picked many of the same illustrative incidents out of the Howard Report that I did...and then added several new ones. And it's well-written!

This is not what I expect from non-fiction, especially on the usual margins of the field and on a subject that last got a survey like forty years ago...and it's short. Also by pure coincidence, it's precisely the same form factor as the book that shipped with it in everything except width.

Fun times. :)

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Good news, bad news from the GM.

Good news: Wow, he's gotten lots of interest.
Bad news: Possibly more interest than he can handle if he accepts everybody.

It's a good problem to have but an awkward one to fix. He informs me that his solution is that everyone is welcome to put forward a PC, but he may have to turn some people away to keep things manageable.

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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

I've been reading Louisa May Alcott's gripping sword-and-sorcery saga Little Women.

Just got to the part where the paladin (Beth) and the barbarian (Jo) have met up with Sir Laurence and they stormed the Moffat Castle to rescue Meg. When Beth rammed the candelabra through Ned Moffat's skull in revenge of his horrendous treatment of Hannah, the loyal family slave, I almost wept. Can't wait to see what they get up to in the Slough of Despond. I bet Mr. Brooke gets his.

[Rough sketch for a re-write of Little Women.]

I need to rewrite Moby-Dick so Starbuck strips naked halfway through and eviscerates everybody who thinks they should stick with Ahab, covering himself with their blood and going about with teeth clenched, telling anybody who asks that he's becoming a legend in the minds of the men he hunts but all he can feel is the warm blood of the kill trickling down his skin. Then he cuts himself out of the book and goes off to do the same to John C. Calhoun.

Because there needs to be more fiction where a naked man cuts open Calhoun.

Also went to the bookstore today and ordered up Nichole Etchseon's Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era and Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke's Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border.

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Hi, Paizonians,

I have a friend who has decided that he wants to run a Council of Theives PBEM. A real friend, not the kind of friend one has when trying to ask the doctor if it's normal to have something odd happening in a private place. I am not running the game, but will be playing in it. He's shy and doesn't want to post here. :)

The yahoo group is at this finely-crafted link.

If you want to know how to make a character, you can also go straight here and read the chargen, but the action will actually take place on the list. He's old-fashioned that way. Gory details of his contact information are also there.

Here's how he describes the game:

Samnell's Shy Friend wrote:

You’re a bunch of average Joes with as checkered pasts as you want caught in a vast web of dirty dealings, double crosses, and deceit in the corrupted underbelly of a once-grand city. Trapped as you are in the shadows between the forces of light and darkness, you can’t hope to solve the city’s problems, all you can do is try and make it a little lighter shade of gray.

Welcome to Westcrown, the City of Twilight.

The Crown on the Bay is your home. You've laughed, cried, sweated, and bled just to scratch a few coppers together to get another mug of hard milk to make you forget the killing fog, the rampant crime, the curfew, and the dirt a poor schlub like yourself has to put up with at the hands of the powerful and wealthy. So, when a sultry and dangerous looking woman named Janiven approaches you with a proposition you can’t refuse to join her little brigade, you’re more than willing to join the cause to satisfy your own personal agenda of revenge/justice.

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Lord Snow wrote:

Hah, he probably didn't, the guy's a mormon or something. It's interesting that in each of his books he invents different fantasy curses and uses them instead of real ones. And, indeed, Sanderson's writing style is the weakest thing about his books so I can see what you mean - but I still consider him a very capable story teller. Also, it's not like Jordan's prose was ever really impressive or anything, so I don't think losing that is such a big deal...

Jordan's prose was never a wonder of the world, but I do think he was pretty careful with his style. There are a few places in the late books, even aside the swearing, where Sanderson is so far off from it that it took me out of the story for a moment. It wasn't bad exactly, but the contrast was so sharp for me that it felt like a passage from some other novel got shoved in.

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Lord Snow wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Celestial Healer wrote:
Volume 4 is about where I gave up on Wheel of Time. Maybe 5...

Stop now! For God's sake, stop now!

At some point you'll have too much effort invested in the damn thing and you'll feel obligated to finish it.

I hear the last few books are good...

Things are ok through Book 6, though much more political than they have been, but then things go pretty badly off the rails. Seven and Eight are just dire, though Seven is kind enough to at least keep to the formula of having a nice, fun battle at the end. Nine is a marked improvement, even including the kind of things that used to get one excited about the books, but then ten is little more than an extended reaction shot. For the entire cast. Eleven gets things back on track and feels very much like one of the books from earlier in the series, with a strong sense of things coming to a head and the more obnoxious subplots generally working themselves out.

The last three are solid reads, but Sanderson provides many moments where it's painfully obvious that Jordan had nothing to do with the prose (the events, sure, but you know you're not reading any of his writing in these passages). It's at its worst when the cast try to swear. Jordan's characters always use fantasy swearing, but they use it with roughly the same rhythm that real people would use real world profanity. Sanderson clearly does not get those and he pushes pretty close to mad libs in trying to fit the swearing in. One gets the impression nobody has ever cursed at him.

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Samnell wrote:

Yeah, the report was written in 1856. They actually sent a panel out from Congress to Kansas to question the witnesses, so it's a great collection of firsthand accounts. Some of this stuff is so wild you'd expect it of a party of adventurers gone off their meds.
[Whistles a familiar melody]

Now you know why I blew up your starting town so quickly. :)

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thejeff wrote:
Samnell wrote:

If I'm honest, I'm really reading this: Report of the special committee appointed to investigate the troubles in Kansas,: with the views of the minority of said committee.

So far there's been hostage taking, a guy chased into a river at gunpoint, broken windows, a battering ram at a door, an attempt to literally bring a house down on the heads of the people inside, and a threatened hand.

The sad thing is that my first thought was "What's going on in Kansas now? How did I miss this kind of escalation?"

Then I realised it was you and probably a pre-Civil War reference.

Yeah, the report was written in 1856. They actually sent a panel out from Congress to Kansas to question the witnesses, so it's a great collection of firsthand accounts. Some of this stuff is so wild you'd expect it of a party of adventurers gone off their meds.

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If I'm honest, I'm really reading this: Report of the special committee appointed to investigate the troubles in Kansas,: with the views of the minority of said committee.

So far there's been hostage taking, a guy chased into a river at gunpoint, broken windows, a battering ram at a door, an attempt to literally bring a house down on the heads of the people inside, and a threatened hand.

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samerandomhero wrote:
So the horde side is quiet but has spikes of activity, I believe more are getting active on it. Sean routinely hops through and one of the members of this board is active on it. I will leave it to him to decide if he wishes to announce himself.

*looks to both sides*

I suppose that's me. :) Full confession:

Oodledoodles, goblin warlock
Eatstheveal, tauren druid
Momorka, orc shaman

Been thinking about getting the warlock into some flex raids on reset days. His ilevel is in the high 540s (mostly upgraded timeless gear and LFR drops) so I think I'm geared enough.

My Ally 90 turned out to be a character that I've never gotten the hang of playing so he mostly comes out when we do transmog or other runs of older instances. Currently working on a hunter with the expectation that she might become my new ally main and see more action.

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Detect Magic wrote:
Are these guilds still active?

They are. I know some were doing raiding on Alliance just today, though the usual time there is inconvenient for me so I don't put on an appearance often. Horde is less active but people do come around.

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Meant to get back to Lovecraft. For a combination of boring life reasons, and a well-timed Humble Bundle, I ended up digging into the Transformers comics instead. Never read them before and I've only ever been a peripheral Transformers fan.

Optiums Prime makes terrible decision.

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Yes, I forgot and posted with my PBP alias. Everyone point and laugh. :)

Kirth Gersen wrote:

Anyway, the point of my comment is that the writer, Nic Pizzolatto, grew up in Lake Charles, so he knows exactly the kind of twisted s@+& goes on there -- very, very close to what you were saying, although I have no idea what or where your own hometown may be.

I can imagine. It doesn't look like or sound like my town, but I can't see much from the first few episodes that would be all that out of place here. Cohle's ghost of a town comment is very fitting.

Kirth Gersen wrote:

"" wrote:

I'd like the potential for it to turn open-ended and if they have the natural reaction of wanting to burn the whole place to the ground then that does limit things.
Yeah, I get that a lot, too, with some players. If it's a small town, you can always have the same kinds of creepy stuff going on in a lot of the neighboring towns, so all is not lost. If it's a major city, well, that makes it that much harder to burn down, so that's something.

That's true; I could use the whole county. One of the players lived here too, so there's a lot of potential for little in jokes like making the site of his former home the scene of a human sacrifice. :)

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Just finished The Rhesus Chart. S##% went down. I'm a bit bummed that we didn't get to see some of it, though.

Now I think I'm back to a Lovecraft collection. A friend has been bugging me about an idle notion I had to run a Lovecraftian game based on my hometown, informed by the kind of vicious hatred and bleak realism that only a lifetime resident could possess.

Gay Male Inhuman
Reckless wrote:

update Twitch notes

for some reason, I get Super-Speed as 18 (speed 15 minimizes to a cost of 6 apparently), not 17.

I'm not sure at this point how I did the math either. I think I might have just treated the flaws as a straight -10 off the top. Forgot about the flaws for extra ranks rule.

Speed is 1 point per rank. I think the first flaw should take it to 2 ranks per point. The second to three. Which would mean those five ranks cost 2pp.

Initiative 4
Quickness 8
Speed 10
Extra speed 2
24pp total. Pricier still, if I've done this right.

I think I might be starting to chase my own math tail, so let me try it again from the ground up. Initiative and Quickness can stay as-is. I like him right around mach one as a safe speed, give or take a bit. It's a benchmark to work from, anyway. The internet tells me that's around 750 mph.

If I've read the rank & measure table right, an hour is time rank 9. I need to get from there to speed rank 17. 17-9=8 ranks of superspeed. Anything above that is all gravy and seizures. I still like madness of Speed 15 for the high end.

So I need to make 7 ranks of speed carrying the two flaws. Speed's a 1 point effect, so two -1 flaws bring it to 3 ranks per point. Rounding down, let's call it 6 ranks of dangerous speed. 2 points cost, DC 16 to resist seizures.

Putting it together:
Enhanced Initiative 4 (+20 to init), Quickness 8 (30 minutes -> 6 seconds), Speed 14 (8,000 mph) Unreliable & Side Effect on 6 Speed.
Side Effect: Affliction 6 (Fort DC 16). Conditions: Dazed (absence seizure/"blanking out"), Stunned (tonic-clonic/grand mal seizure), Incapacitated (Status epilepticus/continuous seizure)

4 initiative 4 points
8 quickness 8 points
8 safe speed 8 points
6 seizure speed 2 points

I'm not sure which of us is right at this point. :) Any ideas? I'm can just go with the 18 points but I don't want to take advantage. The fix to twitch fighting (removing Str from the damage) will free up 4, which is most of the deficit by itself. I can trim a skill or two, possibility an ability, and make good on the rest.

Reckless wrote:

it looks like you spent 7 on defenses (2 Fort 5 Will)

I forgot to knock my Will defense down a point when I reduced his awareness. Will fix in the next revision.

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
I prefer a digital copy when referencing something, such as looking up rules. For casual reading I prefer an actual hard copy.

I'm just the opposite. For pleasure reading, I'm fine with having just the PDF. I mostly buy disemboweled tree carcass fiction to help support my locally-owned independent bookstore. For reference, it's got to be paper. That said, many of my referencing needs go to dusty out of print histories that are unlikely to get a PDF copy and less likely still to get a good one.

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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
Samnell wrote:
Hitdice wrote:

Samnell: Dude, you want The Hotel New Hampshire; That's the Irving book (or movie for that matter; it's no wonder Rob Lowe's life was ruined by a sex tape!) you want to read. many books! I just finished Elminster Must Die, which was fun. But I've also got Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast (about blockade duties off the coast of France in the Seven Years' War, naturally) to finish. And a Lovecraft collection that I bought on the strength of the endnotes. And the new Laundry Files book is out...

I need more hours in the day.

Yes, but does Elminster Must Die hit the ** spoiler omitted **

If possession via magic counts, it does indeed.

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Hitdice wrote:

Samnell: Dude, you want The Hotel New Hampshire; That's the Irving book (or movie for that matter; it's no wonder Rob Lowe's life was ruined by a sex tape!) you want to read. many books! I just finished Elminster Must Die, which was fun. But I've also got Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast (about blockade duties off the coast of France in the Seven Years' War, naturally) to finish. And a Lovecraft collection that I bought on the strength of the endnotes. And the new Laundry Files book is out...

I need more hours in the day.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Yuugasa wrote:

While Cider House Rules isn't my fav film of all time, I hear you on the Toby Maguire desire. One of the great disappointments of my life is that This is not a real movie=)

I knew what it was before I clicked the link. :) You can get a little close in a real movie. Downey and Maguire have a thing as a subplot in Wonder Boys, though it is pretty brief and relatively incidental to the movie.

Gay Male Inhuman

Thanks for the codename suggestions, everyone. I almost went with Veloce but I think it's a little too sophisticated for him, even if he probably speaks Italian. I liked Synapse and Neuron, but both come with too much City of Heroes baggage. (Neuron was the evil version of Synapse. I miss that game...) In the vein of Zip and Whizz (which I am far too juvenile to use seriously) I think I'm going to go with Twitch.

Since I'm n00btastic with M&M 3e, I'm looking through the basic speedster powers. Tell me if I understand them correctly? For simplicity, I'm using the PL 10 numbers from the example rather than recalculating them all on the fly.

Power Theorycrafting:

Fast Attack: Damage 3, Strength-Based, Multiattack and Selective on 5 Damage

Alternate Effect
Damage 3, Strength-Based, Burst Area and Selective on 5 Damage

So the attack options would be:
1) throw around 5 Damage in a flurry of punches either
*to one target and get +2 to damage for every five points by which the attack roll beats his defense, BUT if the target has impervious resistance which would have blocked the base damage I'm out of luck or
*make an attack against everybody I want to attack in a single arc (I assume that would be front, back, left, or right), but for every target chosen, all those attacks take -1 to hit or
*Only with a ranged attack (so throwing a bunch of marbles or something) provide covering fire to a visible ally, granting cover to said ally. BUT if the target wants, it can suck up the attack (Suffering an auto-hit?) and ignore the cover effect

2) Hit everything within a 30 foot radius with Damage 5, except things I choose to exclude. But all targets get a Dodge resistance check for half damage. This option doesn't require an attack roll.

Fast Defense: Enhanced Dodge 11, Enhanced Parry 11

These jack my Dodge and Parry up to...the sample sheet says 15 each. I see that the sample speedster has fighting and agility each at 4. Ok, that adds up. Parry is like melee AC. Dodge is a combination of ranged AC and reflex saves, essentially. Since they're enhanced traits, they require a free action each round to keep running. Also they halve themselves if I'm unable to move.

If they were not enhanced traits but were just baked into the base traits, they would be always-on but not subject to power stunting, extra effort, etc.

Super-Speed: Enhanced Initiative 3, Quickness 10, Speed 15 (64,000 MPH)

Pretty self-explanatory. I get +12 to initiative and reduce the time to do routine tasks by 10 ranks. I can run the stated speed.

Run On Water and Run Up Walls are self-explanatory.

Possible Drawbacks:

I see that I can use side effect to give myself an affliction. Seizures are one of the suggested descriptions for a second-level affliction. That sounds good, but potentially crippling since just missing with a power could trip them. Of course, I do get a save and could apply the affliction only to part of a power's ranks, so he wouldn't be on the ground after every missed punch.

I wouldn't think it kosher to apply the side effect to a power that inherently can't fail, like the speed itself or running on water. But maybe if I applied a bit of check required to them and an equal amount of side effect?

I don't want to get too baroque here, but I'm envisioning the seizures as what happens when his whole nervous system doesn't quite get on the same page. Failures in coordination/mismatches between expected and actual performance seem like an obvious case. On the other hand, I'm wary of creating a seizure machine that incapacitates himself while rolling for initiative. :)

I would also like him somewhat subject to ordinary seizures, but that sounds more like a complication. The idea's that his powers are a big, organized seizure that he has some control over. But overclocking himself brings on much higher risk.

The heat aura, I think, probably works best kept at the complication level. I see that even rank 1 fire is a burning torch, which is hotter than pictured. I thought more candle or lit match. Street clothes suffer wardrobe damage. If he's been going for more than a little bit, or close to his peak speed, he could come out steaming. Fun flavor stuff, not the Human Torch. :)

All of that sound more or less sane?

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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:

And the screenplay was written by John Irving, which makes it all the more disappointing.


I enjoyed the movie...and not entirely because of my unending lust for Tobey Maguire. Michael Caine was also great, if not sexually appealing. I clapped my hands in delight at what I immediately dubbed
the incest jackpot

As soon as we met those characters I got the vibe, but kept telling myself that they wouldn't go that way. Then they did!

Also really appreciated the positive portrayal of abortion.

Gay Male Inhuman

Misguided Speedster reporting in! :)

I could also use codename suggestions...and will probably need help with the rules but I'll look at the book/SRD tonight. I think I know how to make superspeed go but I'm not sure how to model the seizures or other drawbacks he's carrying.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Reckless wrote:

Some people have no taste. Is Professor X one of them? You decide!....

School Uniforms For Everyone!

No bright yellow codpiece? Are we sure Xavier designed those? :)

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Rough backstory, open to revision:

Vincenzo Rafael Tuveri was born to an arch-traditionalist Sicilian-American family. His father, Rafael, made all the decisions. His mother stayed at home and involved herself with charity and the church when not supervising the maid. Everything was a certain way and there was no other way it could be. Everybody ate together every night. Every Sunday they drove half an hour to attend the church that Vincenzo's great-grandfather, the stonemason who came over from the old country and never learned to read, helped build. After the service, they paid their respects at the stone that had his name carved into it. Vincenzo's grandfather, that one that made good, had that put in for his father's sixtieth birthday.

Church, family, tradition. You could depend on those things. Vincenzo learned very early on that his first duty was always to them. He should always be loyal and faithful and never do anything that could bring shame or harm to the family. Most especially, he should never speak to the police because they hated Italians (the Italian cops most of all) and anything you said they would twist around to get you or someone else into trouble. At home and at St. Andrea's Catholic School for Boys Vincenzo encountered little to bring any of it into question.

But bring shame on the family he did. Despite the generous, stable home that his father provided, Vincenzo barely made it a year into his schooling before he began having momentary blackouts. They happened often enough to thoroughly destroy his grades. When he blacked out while moving, he often fell over or ran into things. Sometimes one of his legs or an arm would spasm too. Soon he was the kid everyone loved to make fun of.

Vincenzo's father did not take it well. Vincenzo always knew he had a temper, but that temper only ever appeared directed at other people and rarely, if ever, at home. His father turned from a gentle giant into a terrifying being with two windows to Hell for eyes, trying to knock Vincenzo into shape.

For most of a year, Vincenzo lived in almost constant terror. Then he blacked out and fell face-first into the school pool. He nearly drowned, but it was enough to convince the teachers and his parents that Vincenzo had problems that ran deeper than attitude. The doctors diagnosed him with epilepsy and gave him medication. It helped quite a bit. His father made a complete turnaround as well, going back to his gentle, nurturing self. He even apologized for what had happened, though afterwards he would never speak of the epilepsy again. Vincenzo's mother had to handle his medication and all the related appointments and discussions. His father would just get up and leave the room.

Things settled down and Vincenzo went on to be a more or less typical kid. He had an aversion to sports that dated back to his seizures and some residual mocking remained, but overall it was fine. He lived a boringly ordinary life until he found the sack full of hundred dollar bills while playing in the basement one day.

Vincenzo knew better than to talk about it. He went straight to his father and received the talk. Things had gotten better in America, but lots of people still had it out for Italians. They pretended everything was equal, but really they were always out there waiting to cut you off at the knees. They rigged the system so you couldn't get ahead. So sometimes you had to break those rules they set in stone. It wasn't just about getting ahead personally, but also helping your community. And most importantly, it was something that Vincenzo's father, his father before him, and his father before him were all part of. It could be rough, it could be scary, but it was about keeping people safe and being a man of honor. It was about demanding the respect you deserved.

Vincenzo ate it all up. His father was part of a secret knighthood that protected people. If some of the kids at school occasionally said something, they were just jealous or ignorant. If the other parents were on their best behavior around the old man, that was just the respect he deserved. And none of it would ever come into Vincenzo's home. He would always be safe and taken care of, just like his mother and his little brothers. Maybe some day, Vincenzo would be part of it too.

From then on, Vincenzo imagined all the good things his father did in secret and went about his life until puberty hit. Then it was time for him to join a sport, because that's what men do and he was becoming a man. Vincenzo wasn't all that interested, but the old man had made the decision. One of Vincenzo's cousins was under similar pressure and decided to try running track, so Vincenzo signed up for the same.

Vincenzo had a natural gift for it. He started out as one of the fastest five kids on the middle school team and within three months had them all beat. The sport Vincenzo joined unwillingly soon became his abiding obsession. His life revolved around his training. He won races. He set middle school records. He beat kids with two years' life and five years' training. Vincenzo was a star.

His schoolwork suffered a little, but Vincenzo found the time to mostly keep up. His bright competitive future more than justified a few more Cs on tests. Only later did he realize that he'd begun having blackouts again.

During Vincenzo's freshman year, his personal best times leaped forward. Then they did it again. And again. People began to ask questions and soon enough Vincenzo was taking drug tests before every competition. With his old man's encouragement, Vincenzo saw it as one of those ways that people were out to get him. But he loved running so he gritted his teeth and endured it.

Everything went well enough. Vincenzo had no drugs in his system except the ones his doctor prescribed, and quite low doses of those thanks to his years of improvement. Then came the big meet against St. Andrea's rivals, St. Sebastian's. They had seniors who were within spitting distance of beating some of Vincenzo's times. A bad day could ruin his perfect record. Losing to St. Sebastian's would just make it all the worse. He'd let everyone down if he lost. Vincenzo resolved to run faster than he ever had before.

The starter pistol went off and something clicked in Vincenzo's head. The world froze in place. His feet tore free from the soles of his shoes and hurricane-force winds slammed into him, tearing at his uniform. He finished the race in half a second, bursting over the finish line just as the cheering began. Smoking bits of shoe fell in his wake and hot steam rose off his body. The field looked so dark that for a moment Vincenzo thought he'd fallen asleep and woken up near sunset. His eyes ached. His uniform had odd holes with black edges. He barely felt like he'd moved at all.

The other kids shot past the finish line as Vincenzo took his first breath. The cheers were just dying down. They gaped at him. Then his mind began to work again and Vincenzo realized that he'd just won the race. But he'd done it by running faster than anybody could run. Awesome! Was it a miracle? Could he do it again?

Vincenzo looked for his coach, spotted him, and started over. He made it two steps before tasking strawberries. The world went black and he collapsed. It was his first tonic-clonic seizure. He had four more before they let him out of the hospital a week later. By then, Vincenzo was just numb. Coach had been by to explain that Vincenzo's records were no more. He had an unnatural advantage over the other runners. His track career was over. Vincenzo might not even be allowed to go back to St. Andrea's because people like him just were not safe. What if he had a seizure and hit someone at full speed?

Home brought worse news. His father bluntly told him, with those hell-gate eyes burning wide, that Vincenzo was no son of his. No freak was carrying his name. Whoever's he was, whatever he was, Vincenzo wasn't living under that roof. Because he didn't want anything that touched Vincenzo's filthy body, he could take some clothes. But he was leaving, then and there. They were through.

The Old Man was good for every word of it too. Vincenzo, not really believing it was happening, packed a bag and got fairly shoved out the door.

Xavier found him sleeping against the wall of the family church the next day.

He's a basic speedster with baggage. The seizures come from parts of his nervous system kicking into superspeed without consulting the rest of it. Something Xavier could help him with. He also has significant problems with air pressure and inertia when he runs. The speed generates a lot of heat, hence the burned clothes. He'll need goggles or something to protect his eyes until he can adjust.

I'm not very experienced with M&M 3e, but I was thinking that maybe at the upper edge of his speed he risks some damage from the friction and/or generates a minor heat aura. (Could be just a flavor text thing on the latter.) Both could eventually be fixed with training.

As he gets faster, I was thinking he might develop into going invisible while running. More or less standard speedster tricks down the road.

Basically Vincenzo's a good kid that grew up in an environment that gave him some bad ideas. He really believes all the men of honor stuff and honestly does think that, all in all, the mob are like working class superheroes. He's convinced that nobody gets hurt who doesn't deserve it.

Vincenzo believes in loyalty, family, and all that stuff. He puts on a good face, but he essentially accepts that he did wrong and deserved some kind of punishment. He doesn't like hearing people object to his treatment or say anything else negative about his father. He thinks that maybe somewhere down the road he can prove that he's actually useful to the old man and deserves a place in the family business...or at least in what he imagines is the family business.

While he essentially means well, Vincenzo has very old fashioned ideas about gender roles, sex, and lots of other things. Men should be men and women should be women. Men are there to protect and provide for women, which entitles them to make the decisions. He also responds very well to strong male authority figures. (Female authority figures? What are those?!) He grew up believing that a man who needs to explain himself isn't really in control. These not attractive traits by any stretch, but he's young and capable of learning better. Doing so could be a fun character arc.

So far as real superhero work goes, Vincenzo would understand Xavier's dream as exactly the same as the mission of his fantasy vision of the mob: bend some rules here and there, but to protect the downtrodden and do right in the end. He's sort of a very confused paladin. :)

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Dotting for intense personal interest due to combined loves of mutant stories, teen heroes, and the 1980s as a setting. Will commence work on a concept or concepts.

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Hitdice wrote:
The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix. Look, Kirth, this isn't an intervention, but just answer this question for me: When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

Not cool, man. Don't get between a guy and his footnotes.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Samnell wrote:
How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?
He claims (with a straight face) that after Rome fell, Christian monasteries preserved all remaining knowledge and goodness, until it could spread to the rest of Europe again.

So the Christian roman empire was a model of democracy and freedom. Then after the Christian barbarians destroyed Rome and established their own Christian kingdoms, they stopped being Christian and only people in the monasteries were Christian. They apparently reproduced by budding. They never had secular authority. And they had to wait until the power of institutionalized religion was pretty thoroughly broken and subdued by the state until new Christians arose outside the monasteries.

That is so stupid that I think that trying merely to conceive of the scenario may have permanently damaged me.

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I know I will regret asking. I know the stupid will burn me so. I blame this all on frying my brain on Kansas census rolls today, tallying up what each qualified voter said was their state or nation of origin.

Kirth Gersen wrote:

He cherry-picks some partial quotes from the American founders (including a number that have been shown to have been outright fabrications); from a Christian Chinese guy he met once; and himself in a previous book (yeah, I read the footnotes) -- then uses these to supposedly support his claim that Christianity is both a necessary and sufficient condition for democracy and liberty.

How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Chris Hedges accused of plagiarism.

It couldn't happen to a more sanctimonious guy.

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Finished up with the filibusters last week, finally, and read volume two of Young Avengers before deciding to order up Skin Game. Great histories, but I desperately need to read more fiction.

With regard to the comics, I get the strong impression that Marvel likes the characters and wants them in use but also feels very protective of the original author's story. Which he very clearly isn't that interested in continuing. This second volume felt like a Loki story into which the Young Avengers were shoehorned on the grounds that they are also kids. All the characters felt flat for most of the run.

It was also missing half the cast, most of whom were replaced by less interesting characters. The volume concluded with a sense that the author was bored now and wanted out. At least he didn't end, as the previous two books did, with the team disbanding.

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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
I don't know what you're all talking about. I'd happily piss on that little kid in Omelas for [thinks about it] all the frozen pizza I can eat, free internet service, a gobbo girlfriend, and a prescription for whatever neat-o soma the Omelasians can come up with.

I was stunned at Leguin's moral blindness. Because of it that I've taken no interest in the rest of her work. The problem is in the name: they just walk away.

Well that's nice for them, but what about the kid that they allegedly don't want to see suffer? They just left the little s!$+ to rot. No attempt to understand the situation. No attempt to build an alternative. No attempt to ameliorate the kid's suffering. They just close their eyes, pretend their hands are clean, and take a hike. They're a bunch of narcissists.

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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:

Actually, it was more like free birth control pills, public discussions of masturbation, nudism and, when the wall came down, a higher rate of female orgasm.

Sanity actually prevailed? Don't see that very often.

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Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:

I, alas, wouldn't know, but it's about hawt times in the ol' DDR who, apparently, refused to abide by that totalitarianism and prudery connection that we talked about some time past.

We already have the Stasi; might as well get the jobs, health care and higher rate of female orgasm! For workers revolution!

I remember seeing footage back in the mid-90s where the Stasi recorded people using the toilet. Can't imagine they didn't have some hot sex tapes too. Probably some stereotypically depraved commie sexy times too, like doing it with the lights on between busts of Lenin and Marx, bourgeoisie on top.

Right then, topic. Finished Mays' Dream and started Underground. He has a fascinating chapter detailing filibustering attempts against Canada, including a few years of fairly constant cross-border shenanigans. Then the Webster-Ashburton Treaty took all the fun out of it and people went to molest Mexico instead.

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Long time, no post.

Slavery By Another Name is going to have to wait. It's great, but could not command my interest. I slipped over to Alan Taylor's The American Colonies and got quite a bit out of it before my copies of Robert May's The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire and Manifest Destiny's Underworld arrived.

The latter two actually fit into what I'm working over for the blog lately and so hopped to the front of the line. I've got the first almost finished. So far as I know, it's forty years old and still, I think, the standard text on filibustering. That's odd because Mays himself isn't and hasn't been happy with it for decades. His introduction to this edition lays out how he ought to have begun before 1854 and talks about a few areas where he'd write more now.

But he wrote Underworld in part to shore that up, I imagine. I've yet to read it, but it covers quite a bit more time and expands to include filibustering up against Canada. So that's next.

Regrettably neither appears to do much about the burning of the free port of Greytown in southeastern Nicaragua in retaliation for the inhabitants tossing a bottle at Solon Borland, American Minister to Central America. This appears to all have really been about the Accessory Transit Company finding Greytown's authorities an impediment to their profits and so trying to stage an outrage that would warrant wrecking the place. The Navy did that job for them in 1854, shelled the town and then burned it to the ground.

But it seems like nobody much cares in the anglophone academy. The most in depth account I've gotten is from Allen Nevins, writing back in the early 50s. He goes on for five pages, which is fine, but I'd have liked much more context and detail. Nevins' stuff is more about the political fallout than the act itself. I've gotten some stuff out of Horace Greeley's paper which has been helpful, even if the scans are killing my eyes, but the apparent smoking gun linking the Commercial Agent, Joseph Fabens, with the Transit Company's plot appeared in another paper that is only online behind a paywall.

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Fear not! Though I am leaving Paizo, the official unofficial Paizo guilds on Borean Tundra shall continue on with me as their steward. Other than a brief hiatus during my cross-country drive to Indiana, I expect to be online at least once a day. :)

It'll be twice as officially unofficial now! :)

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Yeah, it's pretty dense. On my third try and still haven't finished it.

I read every word. :) Made me want to slap Genovese again. In Freehling's Road to Disunion endnotes he takes a cordial swipe or two himself, while also conceding that his work ignores the breakup of the national churches and thanking Genovese for pointing it out. There's also a line where he says something about thinking he and Genovese reached some kind of mutual understanding in an exchange of papers. I haven't read the papers, but the note has a kind of "I'm so sick of dealing with this guy" whiff about it.

Sadly River of Dark Dreams only came out this last year and so I don't know what Freehling would has had to say about it. His account of the master-slave relationship scans much more like Johnson's work than Genovese's.

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MagusJanus wrote:

Cool. Learned something ^^

Won't stop my using the horrific oversimplification, though. And I apologize for that.

I should have marked my post as using horrific oversimplifications...

Since you showed contrition, I'll suspend the conventional sentence of three spankings with a paddled labeled "history is complicated".

Just keep your nose clean. Recidivism risks confinement on the Dry Tortugas with only John Wilkes Booth's doctor for company.

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MagusJanus wrote:
It isn't until the Civil War that the U.S. truly became a singular nation; even the language changed as a result. Before the Civil War, people said "the United States are" and after they said "the United States is."

This is a popular notion, which I think we can probably blame in part on Shelby Foote telling everyone on PBS, but it's not clearly so. Rather it appears that "United States is" and "United States are" constructions had roughly equal popularity between 1800 and 1820, with various periods where is came up ahead, and then the is phrasing pulled decidedly ahead in the 1830s. There is some narrowing in the 1840s but by that point you have to look at it in part as an expression of deliberate political rhetoric being consciously developed in contrast to the then-dominant tone.

A more likely situation is that the phrases were used interchangeably in the early nation without much distinction of meaning between them. Only as the slavery controversy heated up and it became clear that the slave states were on the losing end of the demographics (a point Calhoun liked to gripe about) that it suddenly became important that the Constitution established a bizarre alliance even less firm than the Articles of Confederation, in the service of their goal of preserving the interests of the white minority section in slavery against the will of the white majority section.

But don't believe me, you can look at the data right here for the general English corpus and here for the American English corpus. Broadly the same trend.

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Lissa Guillet wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
While I was growing up I was amazed that the country that had this as their defining statement ever had slavery. But it is unreasonable to expect perfection. It is simply our job as a society to move toward perfection. Even though we never expect to be perfect, the struggle toward it makes us better and better, and that is enough.
It was somewhat contentious, even in it's time but because of the problems of passing the Declaration of Independence which basically required not just a majority but a unilateral commitment from each of the colonial states. It was a statement of war against the King and the southern states wouldn't sign without the express promise of slavery not being outlawed. Much of the northern and midatlantic had already abolished slavery, though many slaves still existed in the north by good old boys looking the other way. One of the few constitutional clauses that couldn't be ammended was the requirement that no laws hindering slavery would be passed federally until sometime in the early 1800's.

Minor historical derail:
In 1776, all thirteen colonies had slavery and none had abolished it. Pennsylvania was the first state to abolish, in 1780. Massachusetts slavery was invalidated by a court decision in 1783.

The institution never quite caught on so well in New England as it did in the South, for the obvious reason that the South had the prime tobacco land. Outside the southern colonies, slavery also did pretty well in New York and New Jersey. New Jersey still had 16 slaves on the books due to its very gradual emancipation law in 1860. They didn't even pass that law until 1804.

Those laws left lots of slaves in place, to serve a term before freedom and liable to be sold off into a jurisdiction with more slavery-friendly laws before their freedom dates came. Between legal cutoff dates and mandatory service to a certain age, most states outside New England still had residual and superannuated slaves up until the 1840s when separate legislation freed the lot.

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Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
Pepsi is for people with good taste.

We're drinking the pop, not the person. Mostly. People are mostly not for drinking. Too many solids.

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GreyWolfLord wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:

Separation of Church and State, except that a clergyperson can sign off on that Government issued marriage certificate.

The US Government should switch to recognizing only the legality of Civil Unions, and then let the Churches deal with Marriages.

I actually would agree with this. ALOT. Except perhaps have one termed government/civil marriage and the other the religious or traditional marriage.

I think if this was done, it would solve a LOT of the debates regarding issues that surround definitions and freedoms in regards to marriage rights.

The debate has literally nothing to do with the words. It's a straight argument over whether non-heterosexual relationships are worthy of the same treatment as heterosexual relationships are. The words are just a poll-tested way of saying answering that question in the negative.

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Looks like it'll be Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II now that I have finally finished with Freehling.

Until I read his book on wartime anti-Confederate resistance. But it's Slavery by Another Name for now. I'm getting up to go read a chapter this very instant. Or this one. Or-

The instant I get up and go read a chapter is the instant I will get up and go read a chapter. So there.

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I just checked and discovered that I am less than forty pages from ending my long ordeal of generally not reading William W. Freehling's The Road to Disunion, Volume Two: Secessionists Triumphant.

It's still a great, well-written history. I still have no idea why reading it has been an uphill battle.

After that? I'm kind of making eyes at Robert E. Mays' books on the filibusters. Or maybe some fiction.

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Haladir wrote:
Cilice of Shared Suffering

Thanks for reviewing it. :)

I did retype it, as I forgot to save a copy of the final draft and so only had my printout from the voting screen. Which I did not think to just copy and paste at the time.

The original cilices were hairshirts and the like, but I took the more modern usage as any device meant for self-mortification because I thought it gave a more evocative visual and avoided weird issues imagining having the hair shirt under your plate armor, or wearing it above. Also I didn't want an item that inflicted friction burns on foes because that seemed a bit goofy.

I wanted to avoid the kyton association to minimize reliance on Golarion knowledge and put forward a more neutral flavor. Kytons seemed to put the thumb on the scale for it being a villains-only kind of thing.

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Cilice of Shared Suffering
Aura faint necromancy; CL 5th
Slot wrist; Price 31,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This finely made silver chain bears many garnet studs and numerous barbs curved inward to pierce the wearer's skin when worn wrapped around the wrist. The barbs inflict five points of piercing damage on the wearer when donned. This damage cannot be whiled while it is worn. The wearer may remove the cilice as a standard action. A single chain occupies the wearer's entire wrist slot.

Twice per day, upon suffering damage from a melee attack, the wearer may invoke the cilice's power as an immediate action to influct half the damage just suffered from that attack upon the attacker as piercing damage. The cilice inflicts only hit point damage, not ability damage or any other conditions or effects that the wearer suffered from the attack. This damage manifests as a series of puncture wounds in the pattern of the chain's barbs around the attacker's wrists, or center of mass for creatures without comparable anatomy. The attacker must also make a DC 14 Will save or suffer the effects of a howling agony spell for five rounds from the pain of the wounds. Whether or not the safe succeeds, an attacker cannot again be the target of the chain's effect for one day.

For the duration of the howling agony, the cilice's garnets glow red, providing light equivalent to a candle.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, howling agony, inflict serious wounds, light; Cost 15,750 gp

What I think could be better:

1) There's some clunky writing that mostly appeared in last second editing in the submission box. In particular, I used a pronoun in the first paragraph when I really ought to have called it a chain or something again.
2) I probably overwrote the primary effect.
3) It's not a weapon, per se, but is awfully weaponlike with how the primary thing it gives you is a nasty, damaging surprise for the first pair of dragons to try chowing down on you each day.
4) The pricing of the damage effect was a pure stab in the dark.
5) The light effect was probably gratuitous and certainly not useful.
6) I ought to have linked howling agony and did not. Changing the save from fort to will was deliberate since it's an item that's meant to be used against big brute monsters who usually have good fort saves. A really cool effect that just never happens against what ought to be the item's primary targets is lame.

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A goat bled to honor the victors! Because I found another one after all and, you know, it's a goat. :)

Must invest in a better goat organizer...

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