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Topics - Cain

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« on: December 02, 2020, 04:56:26 pm »

RPG Ghetto / Of Conspiracies and Contracts
« on: May 12, 2020, 07:29:50 am »
So, since I've enjoyed reading about Cram's varied settings, I thought I'd put up a post here about the stuff I'm DMing as well, for your enjoyment and reading pleasure.

We're essentially playing a looser version of the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Tabletop RPG, which is in and of itself a loose adoption of 5E rules to the Elder Scrolls universe (and, in my personal opinion, keeps too much D&D baggage that makes absolutely no sense in TES, such as alignment).

The Setting

Setting wise, it's six years after the Planemeld, 588 of the 2nd Era. The Three Banner War still rages, with the Daggerfall Covenant, Aldmeri Dominion and Ebonheart Pact all vying for the Ruby Throne, to seize control of the Imperial City and Cyrodiil at large and name themselves Emperor. Abnur Tharn, Grand Chancellor, Imperial Battlemage and de jure leader of the Cyrodiilic Empire, is missing in action after the events of Dragonhold. What remains of the independent Elder Council attempt to rule in his stead while managing a steadily deteriorating war situation everywhere outside of the Gold Coast. There, the cities Anvil and Kvatch, defended by Varen's Wall on land and a ragtag collection of privateers who call themselves the Imperial Navy by sea, maintain a precarious independence under the rule of the "Wolf of Kvatch" Count Carolus Aquilarios, nephew to the deceased Emperor Varen.

The story

Our story, interestingly enough, starts with a previous group I joined as a player. In this we operated as a diverse group of morally flexible mercenaries based in High Rock, dealing with the deadly interplay of Breton noble politics, money and people with absurdly large private armies. A DM badly handled the rejection of their attempted railroading of the group, which ultimately led to the dissolution of that group on the part of the DM. Ironically, I think most of us had less problem with the railroading than the subsequent response which, instead of giving players other better reasons to go wandering the deserts of the Alik'r, was to derail the entire storyline altogether. Some of the players wanted to continue with the theme however, and their characters and thus our new group was born:

Things started off bad for our mercenaries. The end of the company came at the hands of the Evermore City Guard, taking our former leader into custody on charges of murder, treason and tax avoidance, and seizing the company's estate and resources. Since there was no evidence of any crimes on our part, though many suspicions (and rightly so), the guard let us gather our things and depart in peace. We reconvened at the nearest bar in the city to discuss our plan of action, if there was to be one. There was little love lost for our leader: she played High Rock's game of influence, she played badly and she lost. There was nothing to be salvaged by clearing her name and she was likely guilty anyway, so we didn't try.

Instead, we picked up odd jobs around the city, calling upon our old comrades when we needed an extra hand. My own character, a member of the Fighter's Guild in dubious standing, needed help breaking up a smuggling ring operating on the docks. The company's archaeologist was able to get us hired out as guards for excavations on the Ayleid, Direnni and Orcish ruins that dotted the Bangkorai countryside. We provided security for local taverns. One even got us a job tracking down a flesh sculptor for a wealthy noble client's daughter.

Time to get a real job

However, things came to a head when a very unusual series of events happened in the City. Firstly, the Resolutes of Stendarr, hunters of daedra and those who practice the forbidden arts of necromancy, were routed in some kind of incident at the city gate, bringing their wounded back to the city rather than pursue their quarry. Then, when they tried to speak with the Fighters Guild and contract them to assist, the city guard intervened to threaten the Guild's charter if they took on the job. Seeing an opportunity, my character, a former Imperial Legion scout turned mercenary/occasional assassin/definitely not a spy for the Elder Council, made arrangements to meet with the Resolutes and handle the matter outside of official channels.

The Resolutes told a strange and disturbing story. Several years past, a necromancer and murderer had been put to death by the Crown in Evermore. However, they received reports that a man matching his description had been seen around the city, very recently. When they confirmed the reports themselves, they mustered the members of their order to detain him and discover how he had supposedly cheated death, as well what he was doing in the city now. The risk was deemed minimal - the necromancer, though notorious was most certainly not a master of the dark arts - but he somehow caused a significant magical explosion when cornered by the north gate of the city, and escaped in the subsequent confusion. The contract was to not only bring the necromancer in, dead or alive, but also to discover why the city guard was apparently intervening to protect him.

The party investigated several leads, including a smuggler at the docks who had been paid to provide the necromancer with certain supplies, the Resolutes own source (a lieutenant in the City Guard) and the Captain of the Guard, who had ordered the Resolutes to stand down. Unsurprisingly, the smuggler had provided him with the supplies he needed. The stuff he was asking for could be sourced from the local Mage's Guild or the existing apothecaries in town, but obviously the necromancer was cautious about being recognised. The guard lieutenant gave a story about how the captain had been making several odd decisions lately, which was why he bypassed him in going to the Resolutes with his information. And the captain's office, searched quietly while an official complaint from the Fighter's Guild was delivered by yours truly, showed he had been looking into missing people's reports, as well executions carried out by the Crown over the past five years.

The clues from the smuggler and in the Guard Captain's office both pointed to a single location, an old Ayleid ruin by the name of Bisnensel, located on the lake north-west of town.

However, they missed several important clues, which is why what happened next surprised them so.

"I think you just stumbled backwards into a Ring of Daggers covert operation."

When they arrived at the ruin on the lake, there were already several undead walking around. On one particular piece of the shoreline, the Guard Captain was being held captive by the necromancer's undead minions. The necromancer was raving, about assassins being sent after him, about not wanting to "do this" anymore, and so on. When he saw our party, he of course attacked right away, suspecting them of being the assassins sent to kill him. The undead were not too difficult, and the necromancer was subdued. As the party, and the Guard Captain, went to interrogate him, a crossbow bolt from behind the party (ie; from the direction they had just come from) took the necromancer in the throat, killing him.

The guard lieutenant was there, along with a number of anonymous looking but clearly very well-equipped and trained fighters, who moved and fought as a unit. Having killed the necromancer, they sought to now kill the party and the captain. After some tense and, in some cases, especially disgusting fighting (the Dunmer spellsword's lightning bolt ripped off half of one guy's face, but he kept fighting to the bitter end) they were left with precisely one survivor who, under pain of being shipped back to Ebonheart in a box as a slave for House Dres, finally started talking.

The necromancer had "gone rogue". He was supposed to deliver and attune a Sigil Stone for them, but instead he never made the delivery. So to track him down, they decided to use the Resolutes as their cats paw, hoping that their man in the City Guard would be able to retrieve the Sigil Stone as evidence. That explosion, at the gate? The necromancer tried to bring something through, some daedric summoning, but he fucked it up because he wasn't a very good necromancer. Still, different realms have different properties, including air pressure, airborne chemicals and weather patterns. Rip a hole in one, and it might just cause those two realities to explode a little on contact.

Meanwhile, the guard captain intervened because he was getting suspicious that someone was running parallel operations out of his guard house without his knowledge, and he wanted to get to the bottom of things without having the Fighters Guild, the Resolutes, or anyone else running around and confusing the matter even further. He'd also heard the reports about the necromancer, from his own sources, and found there were missing records in the jail and courts relating to the necromancer, hence his investigation.

The unit that had just attacked them? They'd fought together in the war. Not as part of the Lion Guard though, not as an official part of the Covenant military. No, they'd been a black ops team, part of a covert operation during the Covenant invasion of the Stonefalls region of the Pact. An invasion that saw significant use of necromancy, especially in the siege of Fort Virak. And that was how the necromancer had cheated death, he'd never died in the first place. His execution had been mocked up, and he'd been moved into this covert unit, with a number of other criminals who were being repurposed into death squads and sent to the nastiest fights in the Three Banner War, supervised by handpicked soldiers...such as this team. A dirty little Covenant military secret that could certainly cause scandal, should it ever be proven.

Before the prisoner could be questioned further about things like why this unit was operating on Covenant territory and what they needed an attuned sigil stone for, she killed herself with one of our party's weapons. The guard captain said he would take care of this mess on the island and that the party had, of course, assisted him in his inquiries so there would be no problems on that front. But you can't just have people running around with weapons and calling themselves mercenaries, it doesn't work like that. If the party wanted to continue to operate in the city, it would have to be by the book, and they would have to be officially registered as such. He would of course vouch for the party despite their...checkered past, and be in touch in due course regarding this incident.

Apple Talk / Open Bar: Drinks are on the Supreme Court
« on: October 02, 2018, 12:20:11 am »
Don't worry, he'll send a bear to maul some kids for making fun of a bald man soon enough.

Aneristic Illusions / A righteous rant on Twitter
« on: September 16, 2018, 04:20:35 pm »

I thought, Mr. Dorsey, that we had an understanding. I would not ever concede that telling you or anyone else they ought to die of boils was unjustifiable after their own rhetoric lapsed into abject slander, dishonesty or dishonor, and you — pretending that I had somehow threatened the actual well-being of another human, or that my words were measurably more cruel than telling someone to, say, take a long walk off a short pier or grow like an onion with his head in the ground — would continue to bar me from the demagogue-encrusted, Nazi-profiteering national agora that you call a social-media platform.

I was more than content with this bargain.

For one thing, leaving intact on Twitter my threaded suggestion that boils are your deserved fate for your civic performance in this moment would make clear why I departed months ago. No one had actually been threatened or harassed, and the rhetoric itself was purposed as a precise critique of your incompetent attempts at algorithmic censorship, which routinely ban people for the most casual sarcasm while leaving intact organized slander and disinformation. This seemed to me fair payment for my exile.  For another, I was able to use the time I had previously spent on Twitter jabbering with Russian bots and assorted meme-spewing deplorati to much greater accomplishment, such as deworming my neighbor’s dog and rearranging the books on my shelves by color.

At that point, we were good, and our ways, well parted.

Imagine my renewed contempt for you and all your public works when I find out from a third party that even though I declined to delete the tweet in question — which was number 10 on an 18-tweet thread explaining exactly why Twitter has managed to embrace censorship on matters of mere decorum, without having the slightest effect on any of the grave and actual offenses perpetrated on your site — your shitsquib, basement-dwelling minions simply went behind my back and unilaterally removed item #10 from the string.  And get this — they did so while continuing to present me with the insistent demand that I delete the item myself in order to be reinstated.

That’s right, you took it down yourself, quietly, secretly — and all the while kept pretending that until I did so you couldn’t possibly return me to your platform. You gutless, cheese-eating, back-dooring fuckbonnet.

Apple Talk / Open Bar: Free Russian Orphans with Every Purchase
« on: July 12, 2017, 09:47:44 am »
So, I've been solicited to write an article for a relatively well known national security/military website (it's not War On The Rocks, as awesome as that would be).  It's a little odd, but quite flattering, because the website in question usually puts out requests for articles and then presumably picks from the pieces they are sent, and they usually publish pieces from current and former military and intelligence officials, and I'm not either of those barring my two weeks blowing up things for the Royal Engineering Corps.

Only problem is, I have absolutely no clue what to write.  They've not given me a timetable, and I am travelling for the next 2 weeks anyway, but it's mildly frustrating.


Last November, voters in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region re-elected to the state house of representatives a man who appears to be one of the secret architects of the internet’s misogynistic “Manosphere.”

The homegrown son of a preacher, 31-year-old Robert Fisher is a Republican who represents New Hampshire’s Belknap County District 9. In addition to his legislative duties, Fisher owns a local computer-repair franchise, and in his spare time, seems to have created the web’s most popular online destination for pickup artistry and men’s rights activists, The Red Pill, according an investigation by the Daily Beast.

An investigation into Fisher’s online aliases found a trail of posts linking the lawmaker to the username Pk_atheist, the creator of The Red Pill—an online Reddit community of nearly 200,000 subscribers that promotes itself as a “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.”

In manosphere-speak, the rabbit hole is feminism, which the red pill reveals to be a War on Men. In this reality, the “feminine imperative” reigns; masculinity is its victim. As a result of this power struggle, old gender dynamics formerly seen as mutually beneficial, such as marriage, have all but disappeared, but female expectations of a pedestalled life unfairly remain. A common refrain among men’s rights activists is “take the pussy off the pedestal.”

The Red Pill guides men as they become accustomed to this new “reality.” It advocates self-improvement: the importance of diet, exercise, and constant learning. But this community also subscribes to the beliefs that women lack both intelligence and substance, are programed to cheat on their partners, and expire after the age of 30. Its darkest sections are heavy with rape denial and apologia.

In a post from 2012, Fisher explained that the con “…is why feminism pushes to increase alimony and child support. In the USA where feminism is completely unchecked, women can meet another man and profit from having two providers instead of one. Alimony and child support will ensure her lifestyle isn’t the one that suffers. The only risk a woman has for leaving her husband is if she’s too old and ugly to hook another guy. But even then, the amount of money she can get from her ex-husband is almost criminal.”

On The Red Pill, Fisher commonly expressed disappointment that the institutions of marriage and religion were destroyed by women’s equality. He maintained that as a result of financial independence, women were no longer compelled to remain faithful and as a result, men needed to protectively adapt their sexual strategy.

“Marriage, and yes, female oppression, slut shaming, religion, these were all a means to control hypergamy [infidelity]. Marriages might be considered loveless, and women might have been unhappy, but for men it meant marriages that lasted, commitments that continued, and protection against the fickle whims of females,” Fisher wrote on The Red Pill in November 2012.

Literate Chaotic / I know, tarot cards are woo...
« on: March 19, 2017, 10:03:52 pm »
...but I can forgive a lot for some really good art.

And these cards are pretty amazing:

10's only fit that it brings back medieval tortures for no good reason

On June 23, 2012, Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic man serving time for cocaine possession, was thrown into a prison shower at the Dade Correctional Institution. The water was turned up top 180 degrees — hot enough to steep tea or cook Ramen noodles.

As punishment, four corrections officers — John Fan Fan, Cornelius Thompson, Ronald Clarke and Edwina Williams — kept Rainey in that shower for two full hours. Rainey was heard screaming "Please take me out! I can’t take it anymore!” and kicking the shower door. Inmates said prison guards laughed at Rainey and shouted "Is it hot enough?"

Rainey died inside that shower. He was found crumpled on the floor. When his body was pulled out, nurses said there were burns on 90 percent of his body. A nurse said his body temperature was too high to register with a thermometer. And his skin fell off at the touch.

But in an unconscionable decision, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office announced Friday that the four guards who oversaw what amounted to a medieval-era boiling will not be charged with a crime.

High Weirdness / The Great Clown Panic of 2016
« on: October 04, 2016, 05:36:55 pm »
So, as you may have noticed, creepy clowns are, for some reason, back in the news. seems to be the best place currently tracking is weird phenomenon, so I wanted to bring it to your attention.  Consider this the thread for creepy clowns.

Because we probably need one, the way things are going.  For example, this is what our Baltic friends are thinking:

The revelation that Russia’s intelligence services hacked the computer systems of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in what appears an attempt to weaken her in the U.S. election against Donald Trump may seem like the stuff of conspiracy.

But the truth is far more alarming. Russia’s activities aren’t part of a conspiracy. They are elements of an openly stated doctrine — a resurrection of Soviet style political warfare, in which intelligence agencies seek to amplify divisions among their enemies, weakening the Western front by sowing discord and dissent whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The political warfare of the Cold War is back — in updated form, with meaner, more modern tools, including a vast state media empire in Western languages, hackers, spies, agents, useful idiots, compatriot groups, and hordes of internet trolls. The target of the hacks wasn’t just Clinton. Nor is Moscow much interested in supporting Trump (willing useful idiot though he may be). What the Russians have in their sights is nothing less than the democratic fabric of American society and the integrity of the system of Western liberal values.

Russia is effectively using our democracies and our systems of rule of law against us. The method works like a computer virus. They insert a lie, a false accusation, a fabrication, an illegally-obtained private conversation — some form of kompromat — into our media, competing for ratings and ad revenue, and then they let us tear ourselves apart.

Aneristic Illusions / Possible military coup in Turkey
« on: July 15, 2016, 09:14:13 pm »
Lots of weird shit being reported on Twitter and, in the last few minutes, the BBC

Aneristic Illusions / Looks like Jo Cox MP was assassinated
« on: June 16, 2016, 06:03:53 pm »
BBC's not reporting it so far, but according to several eyewitness reports, the killer shouted "Britain First" repeatedly as he attacked her with the knife and what sounds like a home-made gun.

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