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Tales of Grayhall - (Adventure #1, Part 4)

Tales of Grayhall - A Scarlet Heroes Campaign (Adventure #1, Part 4)

Character sheet
Adventure #1, Part 3
Adventure #1, Part 2
Adventure #1, Part 1
In the previous session, Nikova brawled with a group of drunkards at a brothel, learned his suspect was in some presumably sketchy club and recruited the Chieftain’s eldest son along with his personal group of guards to help him crash the club meeting. I feel this will naturally beget a conflict scene, so that’s what we’ll start with this session.
{Conflict scene: 1d10 = 1 = Waylay a minion of the foe. Face a Fight instead of a check. Fight Difficulty: 1d8 + (1/2(T), rounded down) = 3 + 1 = 4 = 1d4+T Rabble +1 Veteran = 2 + 1 Rabble +1 Veteran = 3 Rabble and 1 Veteran. Potential foes: 1d8 = 3, 1d10 = 1 = Aged Veteran. That worked out well. Now the Rabble: 1d8 = 4, 1d10 = 10 = Watchful Neighbor. Hmmm. I’ll say the suspect will opt into the scrap and she will be a Rabble since she doesn’t have much fighting experience. I’ll consult oracles regarding club intent as it becomes pertinent.}
With covert haste we approached the brothel. I hope we aren’t too late and the group remains in session. Fyodor’s 4 guards form a semi-circle around him, myself and the rear door of the building with practiced precision. Fyodor and I listen closely. Voices can be heard within. I recognize the gruff voice of the miner and signal my ally accordingly.
He knocks. “Chieftain’s Guard! May we enter?”
Rustling can be heard from within before a response is delivered. “Aye!” We enter, closing the door behind us to hide the semicircle of guards.
The miner is immediately on edge. Recognition in her eyes indicates that I am the source of her unease. She’s not the head of this quadrumvirate. An older Dwarf from the Soldier Clan is the obvious leader. He glances over at the miner, showing his senses are still as keen as ever, and sees how she has set her teeth in a slight grimace. {Is this enough cause for the Veteran to initiate combat? Binary Oracle (likelihood unknown): 1d20 = 2 = No.} They share a silent look and she relents.
“Copperhew. Spearstander. Honor.” He greets us with a customary bow and we do so likewise. His face does not stray from the solemnity carved thereupon, yet his voice escalates ever slightly to a more positive tone. “How can we serve our Chieftain?”
“As you know, our Clan meetings are this day so we have bolstered security. Report of a small group gathering in the area is a reason to be wary, you understand. We are checking the area to ensure safety of the village.”
{NPC Reaction (unfriendly NPC): 2d6 -1 for the risk of significant cost to their actions = 5 - 1 = 4 = Scorn.}
“I am a decorated soldier! How dare you imply high treason! I defend my honor!” He lurches forward as he draws a small dagger and combat begins.
{Veteran: [HD: 2. AC: 5. Hit: +2. Dmg: 1d8. Morale: 9. Skill: +1. Move: 20’] Rabbles (miner, A, and B): [HD: 1. AC: 9. Hit: +1. Dmg: 1d4. Morale: 8. Skill: +1. Move: 30’]}
{Nikova draws his warhammer and attacks the Veteran: 1d20 + Attribute Mod + Atk Bonus + Veteran AC = 15 + 2 + 1 + 5 = 23. Success! Dmg: 1d8 + 2 = 4 + 2 = 6. 2HD damage! Veteran incapacitated! Fray die: 1d8 = 6. 2 more HD damage! Nikova targets the other unknown Dwarves and handily knocks them out.}
The Veteran’s senses were definitely still keen, but his speed betrayed him. In a single movement my warhammer’s pommel struck him atop his crown. He lay unconscious. My attention turns to two other Dwarves approaching with no regard to the fate of their superior combatant. Being mindful to use non-lethal force, I quickly send them to greet the brothel’s floorboards. Fyodor straightens his stance as if to offer truce to the remaining club member; our miner.
{My scene prompt is to waylay a minion of the foe. I feel this means she’s going to attack for sure, but I won’t run that as combat. Nikova has quickly won this exchange so it’s safe to say between him and Fyodor, the miner is not going to change the outcome. I’ll assume Nikova is able to neutralize her attack and she is then taken into the guards’ custody.}
She declines to change her intent and thus charges. Spearstander maneuvers so I can catch the hand with which she is wielding her pickaxe. “No, miner. This is not your fate. I saw that ore and you know I did. You’re a precious gift to your Clan. Speak up and allow us to help you. Our Chieftain’s own son will ensure your protection.”
{NPC reaction (unfriendly NPC): 2d6 -1 for the risk of significant cost to their actions = 5 - 1 = 4 = Scorn.}
“I don’t need your fucking help,” she hissed through gritted teeth. “I’ve been always been on me own and done just fine. Ye’ll get nothing from me, pig.” Recalcitrant words dart from her mouth like stingers, however she drops the pickaxe all the same. She knows she is not within her element with regard to combat and therefore must answer for her treason of attacking Chieftain blood along with her snoozing commerads. Fyodor whistles a signal that brings the guards inside to collect the perpetrators.
“We broke up a threat, for sure, but we didn’t learn anything either. I thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ll try to find out what the purpose of this little group is once they awaken.”
“Spearstander. Honor.” I bow to Fyodor as he and his guards escort their prisoners. I have more questions than answers, however I cannot shake the feeling I’m closer to the truth much more now than ever.
{Successful Conflict Scene! +1 Victory Point for Nikova and -1 Victory Point for the antagonist. These Dwarves attacked important figures to the clan and therefore no Heat was earned as a result of their beatdown. Antagonist VP roll (investigation + action scenes = 3 + 2 = 5): 1d10 = 2 = yes. +1 VP. Victory Point totals: Nikova 7, Antagonist 3. Heat: 1}
{I feel from here another investigation scene is prudent. Investigation Scene: 1d10 = 3 = Tail an Actor who might have a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight. Roll Actor: 1d8 = 1, 1d10 = 3, 1d3 (1d6 cut in half, rounded up) = 1 = 1. Commoner. Beautiful young mistress. Actor Relationship: 1d100 = 22 = Crime Culprit. Wow! Here we go!}
I begin to search around the room for any information that may point me in the next direction. My search is shallow at first so I don’t disturb anything beyond that which resulted from the scuffle. I must have been quietly deep in thought because the creak of the door leading further into the brothel seemed as loud as a hawk’s screech! I turn my head in that direction to see only the face of a young female Dwarf. {Memorable Trait: 1d100 = 10 = Asthmatic} Clearly, she was not expecting anyone to be in the room because my presence startled her a great deal. She inhaled a loud gasp which immediately turned into a coughing fit.
Between coughs she choked out, “Ack!... I’m sorry, sir!... I saw guards… remove some patrons and since it was… quiet… I didn’t think anyone was in here! Please excuse me. Carry on.” She darts away before I can offer to fetch her a drink.
As I ponder this scenario a bit longer, the thought strikes me how little time had elapsed between the escort and her attempt to enter the room. I allow my instinct to carry along the suspicion and I leave the building.
For the time being, I wait around the corner of a nearby building with an eye on the brothel. Soon, a cloaked individual peeks out of the rear door. They establish the coast is clear and quickly walk out carrying something. My ears pick up a wheezing and I can assert this figure must be the beautiful girl from moments ago. I do my best to give her some distance and then begin stealthy pursuit.
{This will be an opposed check because Nikova is trying to tail her and she’s trying to go unnoticed to her destination. Young Mistress: 2d8 + 1 for general skill bonus since she’s been able to avoid detection this far in the adventure = 5 + 1 = 6. Nice! Nikova: 2d8 + 1 for Dex + 1 for lightning reflexes = 12 + 1 + 1 = 14. Success!!}
She’s not running full tilt and I have honed in on the sound of her labored breath. Even when she dips out of sight I’m able to track her down quickly. She turns to look back only a few times and thanks to the hood of her cloak, I have just enough time to strafe behind cover before her field of vision can catch me. She eventually reaches a small home not too far from the Chieftain’s fortification. Something is not sitting well with this at all… Not to mention the fact that she was now carrying something which was not in her possession when I first saw her. I suspect she collected it from that room and I’ll wager it has something to do with the ruffians removed from thence. I remain hidden from view of the home’s windows and consider my options.
{Investigation Scene Successful! +1 Victory Point! +1 Clue! Antagonist VP roll (investigation + action scenes = 4 + 2 = 6): 1d10 = 7 = no. Woohoo!! Victory Point Totals: Nicova 8, Antagonist 3. Heat: 1}
BRUH! These were fun! I’m digging not having to drag out these scenes! Pick the scene, generate something that makes sense, resolve the challenge, then set up for the next scene. Easy peasy! It also helps that my rolls have been fantastic lately, so fate has been quite kind. I feel like the easiest path from here would be to try maybe one more investigation scene and then a conflict scene. If I win them both, I’ll hit 10 Victory points by a margin of 7 and can move immediately to an action scene to try winning the campaign. If I fail the action scene, I still have a spare clue to get straight into a second attempt. Sort of like a failsafe.
Thanks to all of you following along! Take a rest and we will rendezvous again in haste!
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The Division 2 - Episode 1: D.C. Outskirts - Patch Notes

Patch Notes: Episode 1 - July 23rd, 2019


New Main Mission: Manning National Zoo

Emeline Shaw, the leader of the Outcasts, has fallen back from her defeat on Roosevelt Island and barricaded herself deep in the Manning National Zoo. To get to her, you will need to fight through the blockades and the Outcasts who protect her to put an end to her violence.

New Main Mission: Camp White Oak

The Black Tusks and their leader have set up a strategic position close to an estate nestled deep in the woodlands, and your assignment is to take them down and capture him in the new Camp White Oak mission.

New Feature: Expeditions

Expeditions are free events that bring players to unexplored locations around D.C. to discover new narrative and gameplay opportunities. These sites offer unique challenges and lore not found anywhere else: new collectibles, treasure rooms, environmental puzzles, unique boss mechanics, and more await every Agent who embarks on our Expeditions!
New Classified Assignment: Central Aquarium New Classified Assignment: NSA Site B13

Shepherd Reward System – Call for Backup

  • Added the ability to earn the “Shepherd” title by responding to call for backups and earning endorsements. An agent who received help will be able to endorse the helping agent.


  • Added Discovery Mode difficulty for the Operation Dark Hours raid.
  • Added Raid Completion Time to Clan Leaderboards. This leaderboard ranks clans based on how quickly they were able to complete the raid as a clan-only party.


New Exotic: Diamondback Exotic Rifle
  • Lever action rifle
  • 5 round magazine
  • 100 RPM
  • Talents:
    • "Agonizing Bite"
      • Diamondback randomly marks an enemy. Hitting that enemy consumes the mark, guaranteeing a critical hit with +20% total damage. A new random enemy is marked afterwards, and whenever you reload.
    • "Deep Fangs"
      • After hitting 5 marked enemies, gain +50% reload speed, +20% total damage and all shots fired are guaranteed critical hits for 10s.
    • "Shedding Skin"
      • While drawn, each time a round is loaded, gain +20% bonus armor for 3s. While holstered, each time you reload or cycle your current weapon, gain +8% bonus armor for 2s

New Exotic: BTSU Exotic Gloves

  • Black Tusk gloves
  • Talents:
    • "Elemental Gadgetry"
      • Skills that apply status effects gain +50% status effect duration and +50% skill haste
    • "Energy Infusion"
      • Whenever you apply a status effect, your gloves become infused with that for 60s. While infused, you gain +10% skill damage, +10% skill healing and repair and +10% skill duration for each Utility (yellow battery) on your gear.
    • "Charged Proxies"
      • Whenever you throw a skill, 1.25s after landing, it creates an explosion applying the infused status effect to all enemies within 6m. Enemies affected by the infused status effect take 50% more damage from your skills.
  • Heroic Bosses now drop Exotics
    • Only exotics that the player is qualified for.
      • For world drop exotics it requires that the player has the drop previously
      • For crafted exotics, it requires that the player has the blueprint
      • Eagle Bearer remains exclusive to the Operation Dark Hours Raid
    • The purpose of dropping these is to allow a chance to get GS 500 variants without upgrading, or get materials to upgrade other exotics
    • These exotics can be team shared to other players.
  • Exotic items no longer have a random range on their damage/armor roll. All exotics are set to the previous highest possible value. This also affects existing exotic items.


New Assault Rifle: Carbine 7
  • 30 round mag
  • 790 RPM
  • By default rolls with a new talent:
    • "Overflowing"
      • Every 3 reloads from empty increases your magazine capacity by 100%
New Light Machine Gun: Stoner LMG
  • 580 RPM
  • 200 Mag capacity
  • By default rolls with a new talent:
    • "Overwhelm"
      • Suppressing an enemy, that is not currently suppressed, grants +5% weapon damage for 10 seconds. Max stack is 5.
  • Increased the base damage of Shotguns in PvE.
    • M870: +36% damage
    • AA12: +29% damage
    • Super 90: +33% damage
    • SASG-12: +33% damage
    • SPAS12 +8% damage

Weapon Mods

  • Added Flashlight attachments for pistols


Developer Comments: We took a hard look at the current meta. The builds that are fun, effective and popular. We knew that skill builds, while it being something people want to play with, was nowhere near competitive. We knew there was an explosives damage build that was on the fringe of popularity, but none that actually relied on really good skill mods driven by skill power.
We analyzed the best damage builds and survivability builds out there and looked at their efficiency - how fast they kill, how fast they can clear content, how fast they can take down enemies - and mapped that to our skills. How much more power do skills need to get from 3K skill power (our current maximum requirement on skill power mods) to compensate for all the damage bonuses the player is "giving up" on gear to reach that skill power?
Then we looked at each skill and what it should be good at (burst, sustain, single target damage, survivability etc) and went to work tuning the mods to make a skill build approach the efficiency of a "red" damage build or a "blue" tank build. To that effect, here are the current changes to skill mods power levels, and in some cases base numbers, on skills.

Skill Haste

Cooldown Reduction has been replaced with skill haste. Skill haste works equivalent to speed. So 100% skill haste reduces cooldown by 50%, like a car speeding up by 100% getting to it's destination in half the time. This means that the player can invest in more than 100% Haste and still get something back. It also means there's a diminishing return to Skill Haste, as opposed to cooldown reduction where each point was actually worth more than the last one. This allows us to have a good amount of Skill Haste possible from gear, but even larger amounts granted by high skill power Skill Mods, granting skill builds more frequent access to their souped up skills.
To that effect, these are the changes to Haste (formerly Cooldown Reduction)
  • Removed the 90% Cooldown Reduction hard cap
  • Lowered the minimum Cooldown cap for all skills from 10 seconds to 3, except for the Chem Launcher which is now 8
  • Renamed all instances of Cooldown Reduction on existing gear to Skill Haste, with a 50% increase to their base values
  • Eg: +10% Cooldown Reduction will become +15% Skill Haste
  • Increased Surge talent Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
  • Increased Alps Summit Armament 1-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
  • Increased China Light Industries Corporation 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
  • Increased Petrov Defense Group 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
  • Increased Tip of the Spear 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +20% to +40%

Specialization Skill Mods (granted from each spec tree)

  • Removed all Skill Power requirements
  • Bonuses greatly improved to provide a strong initial boost to the skill platform
  • Demolitionist
    • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +1 to +3
    • SHD CPU V.2 - Damage increased from +7% to +100%
  • Survivalist
    • Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
    • Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing bonus increased from +14.5% to +50%
  • Sharpshooter
    • Graphene Battery - Duration increased from +14.5% to +80%
    • Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
  • Gunner
    • Microwave Amplifier - +30% Banshee Pulse Confuse Duration
    • Directional Transmitter - +30% Banshee Pulse Cone Size

Skill Platform Changes

  • Scanner
    • Scanner Pulse will now begin its cooldown after a 3 second delay on activation, rather than at the end of the Pulse effect's duration
    • Lowered Scanner Pulse base radius from 52m to 50m
    • Lowered Scanner Pulse cooldown from 90s to 40s
  • Remote
    • Lowered Remote Pulse cooldown from 120s to 60s
  • Jammer
    • Lowered Jammer Pulse cooldown from 120s to 90s
  • Assault
    • Increased Assault Turret base damage by 22.5%
    • Increased Assault Turret base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Assault Turret cooldown 120s to 60s
  • Incinerator
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret base damage by 60%
    • Increased Incinerator Turret base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret base burn duration from 5s to 4s
    • Increased Incinerator Turret base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Incinerator Turret cooldown from 120s to 90s
  • Sniper
    • Increased Sniper Turret base ammo from 5 to 6
    • Lowered Sniper Turret cooldown from 240s to 60s
  • Artillery
    • Lowered Artillery Turret cooldown from 240s to 60s
  • Increased Turret platform base health by 100%
  • Restorer
    • Increased Restorer Hive base healing amount by 50%
    • Increased Restorer Hive base health by 20%
    • Lowered Restorer Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
  • Stinger
    • Stinger Hive damage is no longer affected by Explosive Damage modifiers
    • Increased Stinger Hive base health by 50%
    • Lowered Stinger Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
  • Booster
    • Increased Booster Hive base health by 33.3%
    • Lowered Booster Hive cooldown from 240s to 90s
Chem Launcher
  • Firestarter
    • Increased Firestarter Chem Launcher base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Firestarter Chem Launcher base burn duration from 5s to 4s
  • Riot Foam
    • Increased Riot Foam Chem Launcher base radius from 1.5m to 3m
  • Blinder
    • Lowered Blinder Firefly base blind duration from 8s to 6s
  • Burster
    • Lowered base damage of Burster Firefly by 20%
    • Lowered Burster Firefly cooldown from 90s to 60s
  • Demolisher
    • Lowered base damage of Demolisher Firefly by 25%
    • Lowered Demolisher Firefly cooldown from 90s to 60s
Seeker Mine
  • Explosive
    • Increased Explosive Seeker Mine base damage by 42.8%
  • Airburst
    • Increased Airburst Seeker Mine base burn damage by 60%
    • Lowered Airburst Seeker Mine base burn duration from 5s to 4s
  • Cluster
    • Increased Cluster Seeker Mine base damage by 33.3%
    • Increased Cluster Seeker Mine explosion radius from 3m to 4m
    • Lowered Cluster Seeker Mine cooldown from 90s to 40s
  • Mender
    • Increased Mender Seeker Mine base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Mender Seeker Mine cooldown from 180s to 60s
  • Striker
    • Increased Striker Drone base damage by 7.1%
    • Increased Striker Drone base duration from 120s to 300s
    • Lowered Striker Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
    • Lowered Striker Drone base health by -20%
  • Defender
    • Lowered damage reduction from 100% to 80% (20% in PvP)
    • Increased Defender Drone base duration from 20s to 40s
    • Increased Defender Drone base health by 100%
  • Bombardier
    • Lowered Bombardier Drone cooldown from 120s to 60s
    • Lowered Bombardier Drone base health by -46.6%
    • Increased Bombardier Drone base bomb blast radius from 3 to 4 meters
  • Fixer
    • Increased Fixer Drone base health by 60%
    • Increased Fixer Drone base duration from 180s to 300s
    • Lowered Fixer Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
  • Tactician
    • Increased Tactician Drone base duration from 180s to 300s
    • Lowered Tactician Drone cooldown from 180s to 60s
    • Lowered Tactician Drone base health by -73.3%
Ballistic Shield
  • Ballistic Shield base health regeneration is now percentage based and scales with the total health of the shield
    • 5% HP/s Holstered Regeneration
    • 2.5% HP/s Active Regeneration
  • Bulwark
    • Increased Bulwark Ballistic Shield base health by 33%
    • Lowered Bulwark Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
  • Crusader
    • Lowered Crusader Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s
  • Deflector
    • Lowered Deflector Ballistic Shield base health by 6.6%
    • Lowered Deflector Shield cooldown from 240s to 40s

Skill Mod Changes

All numbers based on maximum (3000 skill power) mod attribute rolls
  • Extra Payload - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Experimental Blend - Changed from flat value to percentage based increase of base Healing amount (+50%)
  • Experimental Blend - Stim Efficiency bonus increased from +20% to +50%
  • Experimental Blend - Buff Duration bonus increased from +20% to +50%
  • Nitroglycerin Mixture - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Nitroglycerin Mixture - Healing bonus +50% variant added
  • Cooling Vents - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Internal Storage - Charges bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Swarm Control - Charges bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Radar Signal Antennas - Duration bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Network Firewall - Radius bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Network Firewall - Duration bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Steel Harness - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Polycarbonate Wiring - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Magnetic Rail - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +150%
  • Lubrication Gel - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Lubrication Gel - Incinerator Turret Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo +8 variant added
  • Cyclone Magazine - Extra Sniper Ammo +12 variant added
  • Spare Parts - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Organic Circuits - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Ammo Box - Extra Sniper Ammo bonus increased from +3 to +12
  • Ammo Box - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +2 to +8
  • Ammo Box - Mortar Radius +50% variant added
  • SHD CPU V.2 - Damage +150% variant added
  • Multi-tool - Skill Haste bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Weather Coating - Health bonus lowered from +120% to +100%
  • Carbon Fiber Barrel - Health bonus lowered from +120% to +100%
  • Nickel-Chromium Wire - Skill Haste bonus increased from +60% to +200%
  • Nickel-Chromium Wire - Remote Pulse Skill Haste +300% variant added
  • Silicon Carbide Coil - Charging Speed bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Exploded Blueprint - Skill Haste bonus increased from +60% to +200%
  • Heating Mantle - Charging Speed bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Distributed Architecture - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Super Glue Pulse - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Unstable Oscillator - Effect Duration bonus lowered from 55% to 50%
  • Atmospheric Analyzer - Effect Duration bonus lowered from 55% to 50%
Seeker Mine
  • Mini Electric Motor - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to 200%
  • Delivery System Upgrade - +100% Damage variant added
  • Ball Bearings - Damage bonus increased from +30% to 100%
  • Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste +200% variant added
  • Phosphorus Ingredient - Healing bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • RDX Pellet Payload - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • RDX Pellet Payload - Airburst Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing +100% variant added
  • Brushless DC-motor - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Sturdy Piston - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
Chem Launcher
  • Piranha Solution - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Piranha Solution - Firestarter Burn Strength +100% variant added
  • Chromatics Training - Radius bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Slip Fit Tube - Skill Haste bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Cell Penetrating Peptide - Healing bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Hydrochloric Infusion - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Ultra-Thin Cartridges - Radius bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Liquid Nitrogen Cooling System - Skill Haste bonus increased from +30% to +100%
  • Pharmacokinetic Enhancer - Healing bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Imbued Metal String - Ensnare Health bonus lowered from +60% to +50%
  • Polypropylene Recipe - Ensnare Health bonus lowered from +60% to +50%
  • Graphene Battery - Duration +100% variant added
  • Electric Soldering Tool - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +100%
  • Gimbal Vibration Damping - Health bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Blitzkrieg Blasting Powder - Striker Damage +600% variant added
  • Blitzkrieg Blasting Powder - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Freedom Package - Radius bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste +100% variant added
  • Reinforced Rotor Blades - Health bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Terminal Ballistics - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +200%
  • Trauma Analyzer - Healing bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Trauma Analyzer - Deflector Duration +50% variant added
  • Gaffer Tape - Duration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Hollow-point Bullets - Damage bonus increased from +30% to +200%
  • Micropulsing Stimuli - Healing bonus increased from +30% to +50%
  • Micropulsing Stimuli - Fixer Skill Haste +100% variant added
  • Adaptive Insulation Foam - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • Synthetic Mineral Frame - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
  • Titanium Reinforcement - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
  • Shape-memory Alloy - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Cementitious Material - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Weaved Aramid Fiber - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
  • Supramolecular Networks - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Liquid Metal Microdroplets - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
  • Thermoresponsive Polymer - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
  • Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Ballistic Shield Health +100% variant added
  • Alignment Valve - Damage +100% variant added
  • Tungsten Compound - Damage +100% variant added
  • Propantriol Adhesive - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
  • Microfiller Resin - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
  • Hardened Casing - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
  • Tungsten Compound - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5
  • Guiding System - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5


  • Added a crafting bench upgrade in World Tier 5 that allows players to craft at Gear Score 500. The items crafted are gear score 500, there will be no random range in terms of gear score/power. The bench upgrade is given to players when they complete the “Enter WT5”-project (same as all the other bench upgrades in endgame, the upgrade will be available at the bench once the bench is upgraded to World Tier 5). Players already in WT5 will automatic get it as they log in, The upgrade requires 1 weapon and 1 gear piece of Gear Score 490+, and some of each Specialized (blue) material Crafted items can be used in recalibration, both as materials and to be improved
  • Deconstructing High-End gear now guarantees a brand material (increased from 50% drop chance). Named branded items also award the brand mat on deconstruction
  • Deconstructing gear set items awards 4 of each Specialized (blue) material
  • Added an opt-in perk for the player to share blueprints and materials between characters in endgame. Some Blueprints and mats are excluded to not break game logic/progression, such as the specific exotic materials. This perk can be crafted and the blueprint is available at Inaya, the Crafting vendor.
  • The blueprints awarded from control points, vendors and projects are merged into one pool of rewards. Players can get all these blueprints from all three sources. Once the pools has been exhausted, none of the sources will give more blueprints.


  • Increased the radius of the Gunner's Riot Foam Grenade from 2m to 3m


  • Changed shotgun PvP modifier to 1.0 (was 1.65)
    • Net result in PvP with revised normalization modifiers:
      • M870: -14% damage
      • AA12: -21% damage
      • Super90: -17% damage
      • SASG-12: -17% damage
      • SPAS12: -42% damage
  • Changed the general PvP modifier to 0.55 (was 0.40)


  • Reduced the TAC-50 signature weapon’s damage per shot


  • Calculated Talent reduced to 20% from 10%. Now works off any kill from cover instead of weapon kills.


  • Cassie Now sells GS 500 items. She sells normal gear, some exotics and named weapons


  • Improved player feedback when trying to pick up ammo with maximum signature weapon ammo
  • Inspecting a player now allows inspection of weapons, grenades and skills


  • Intercepted projectile by the deflector drone now do a % damage, rather than binary be dropped or not
  • Return player control quicker after dropping down
  • Reduced Depth of Field strength when aiming
  • Improved reload + interaction prioritization (if you hold down the interact, it will cancel the reload and start the interaction)
  • Improved player replication for players with widely different quality connections, should reduce inconsistent speedup/freezing of remote players


  • Slapback System enabled: The gunshot echo system that was featured briefly in the private beta prior to launch has been re-enabled


  • Improved Arabic voice-over localization
  • Added missing lore description for Dodge Citys Gunslinger Holster

Bug Fixes

  • Cyclone Magazine +Extra Sniper Ammo variant added to all loot list quality tiers
  • Unstable Oscillator and Atmosperic Analyzer Pulse Mods now properly reference the correct Effect Duration platform modifier
  • Vac Pack and Guiding System Firefly mods now correctly increase Max Targets by the amount listed on the tooltip
  • Distributed Architecture and Super Glue Pulse mods no longer affect the radius/range of the Banshee Pulse
  • Explosive Seeker Mine radius now correctly says 5m in the Skills UI
  • Cluster Seeker Mine radius is now displayed in the Skills UI
  • Explosive and Cluster Seeker Mines now show the correct explosion radius before detonating
  • Incinerator Turret burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Firestarter Chem Launcher burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Firestarter Chem Launcher now correctly states that it inflicts fire damage.
  • Added missing Artillery Turret & Tactician Drone showcase videos.
  • Airburst burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
  • Fixed an issue causing the Chem Launcher cooldown to reset when restocking ammo
  • Fixed an issue where the Turret skill could deploy inside a wall under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue causing the reviver hive to not revive players when thrown
  • Fixed skill mods requirement having an invisible decimal, resulting in incorrect power requirement information
  • Fixed the Banshee Pulse skill mod description to state that it applies Confusion status effect on affected target
  • Fixed an AFK related exploit in the Conflict PvP mode
  • Fixed several locations on Conflict maps where players could ignore damage when behind cover
Weapons & Gear
  • Fixed an issue where the Sweet Dreams and Lullaby upgrade blueprints wouldn't appear on the crafting vendor under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue where some Longe Range Pack "Sett" backpacks could roll with 0% weapon damage on Specialized (blue) quality
  • Fixed an issue where the opportunistic talent did not work in PvP.
  • Fixed an issue causing armor rolls below the minimum advertised when upgrading an exotic gear piece.
Missions & Open World
  • Fixed an issue causing players to become stuck during the “Reach the first hall” objective in the Air & Space museum mission
  • Fixed a loot exploit in the Invaded Capitol Hill stronghold
  • Fixed enemies becoming stuck in their spawn rooms in the “Museum Water Source” side mission
  • Fixed “Neutralize the hostile” objective not updating correctly in the “Agent Edwards Support” side mission
  • Fixed an issue where NPC’s from a Warhound Convoy could spawn in an inaccessible area
  • Fixed an inaccessible bounty location in the Judiciary Square zone
  • Fixed several areas where players could leave the playable map
  • Fixed several areas where players could fall through the world
  • Fixed several areas where players could vault into water. Don’t go swimming with all that gear, agents!
  • Fixed several areas with missing climb prompts
  • Fixed several areas where the player could become stuck in the open world
  • Fixed several areas where the players could become stuck in missions
  • Fixed several world objects with missing cover prompts
Special Field Research
  • Fixed Special Field Research objective “Complete 5 Public Executions with Marksman Rifle” not progressing under certain circumstances
  • Fixed the Specialization adventure progression circle to be consistent with other progression circles
  • Fixed “Resource Distribution Merit” not progressing correctly
  • Fixed “Calibration Award” not unlocking not progressing correctly
  • Fixed “Prone Target Award” not progressing correctly.
  • Fixed an issue causing loadouts using the same skill to revert all affected loadouts to the same skill mod
  • Fixed the Conflict UI being misaligned when using Dual Monitors and the Offset UI option
  • NPCs no longer double heal their armor
  • Players can now damage NPCs rappelling on ropes with explosives
  • Fixed an error during the calculation of weakpoint kill stats
  • Players can no longer easily pass through Black Tusk Warhounds
  • Control point officers no longer instantly revive players if the player has just used the Chem Launcher
  • Outcasts suicide rushers now blow themselves up closer to their target
  • Fixed abnormal NPC behaviour when suppressed outside of the players view
Dark Zone
  • Fixed an issue where agents at Dark Zone level 50 do not lose XP when killed as a rogue agent.
  • Fixed an issue where the Black Tusk medic’s drones would self-destruct in the Dark Zones
  • Fixed an issue where the player was unable to cut the rope at an extraction if the “Sleight of Hand” perk was active.
  • Fixed an issue where killing wildlife would yield signature weapon ammo.
  • Fixed an issue where signature weapon ammo could drop mid-air
  • Fixed a clipping issue with the Gunner Uniform when equipped on a female character
  • Fixed an issue relating to interacting with ECHO’s when in a group
  • Fixed several occurrences of Delta errors when interacting with world objects
  • Fixed performance drops when browsing player inventory on Xbox One
  • Fixed performance drops when opening the Ubisoft Club Challenge tab on PC
  • Fixed an issue causing NPC weapon audio to be stuck in a loop under certain circumstances
  • Fixed an issue causing missing weapon audio when firing immediately after having switched from a grenade
  • Fixed an issue causing older versions of the Tobii Eye Tracker to be unresponsive
  • Fixed an issue causing the “Aim at Gaze” option for the Tobii Eye Tracker to be inaccurate
  • Fixed an issue with the Motion Sickness mode causing the player’s FOV to change drastically when enabled
  • Fixed an issue where players incorrectly could vote kick a member during a boss fight in the Roosevelt Island stronghold on challenging difficulty
submitted by JokerUnique to thedivision [link] [comments]

The Big Yoink: A Smol Detective Story, Chapter 15

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the They Are Smol universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
The first Smol Detective story can be read starting Here.
There will be some spoilers/references of the first SD story in this one, so consider yourself duly warned.
First Chapter
Previous Chapter
Next Chapter

In the previous chapter:
There was Preparation.
Bgrarh, James Bgrarh.
The Floofdinos do something Stupid.

In this chapter:
Oscar has a Chat.
Ter'yeik makes a Delivery.

Maria half expected that she and her compatriots would be put through some tedious security screening. But instead of walking through a scanner or getting frisked, they were met at the huge doorway by Nerlharg. The Dorarizin wasn't wearing power armor this time; he was clad in a knee-length outfit that looked like a Mandarin's robes.
Nerlharg pulled a small flat tablet out of his pocket. "[Welcome! Just before we start, I'll need to scan anything you're carrying.]"
The Jornissians shrugged and presented their holographic prop swords. Nerlharg waved the tablet near them and nodded. "[Fine. And that?]" He pointed at the guitar case slung on Oscar's back.
Oscar slid the case off of his shoulder. "Scan away. Just be careful, this thing's older than me." He set down the case and unzipped it to reveal the instrument within.
Nerlharg chuckled. "[I assure you our security scans aren't that strong.]" He swept the tablet over the guitar. "[And this is also fine. Is that real wood?]"
"You better believe it," replied Oscar.
"[I look forward to hearing what it sounds like. His Excellency bids you all welcome. Unfortunately, we cannot permit the security drones indoors.]" He pointed at the hovering spheres near each human.
"This is a hell of a time to find that out," said Oscar. His jaw set as he glared at Nerlharg.
Rgrarshok looked pretty pissed as well. "[I assure you that these only use nonlethal protection methods. Scan them yourself if you don't believe me.]"
Nerlharg looked very apologetic. "[It is out of my hands. [Sssnnathor] does not want them admitted into such a large party. He's worried about them deploying a net or taser by accident, what with so many bodies moving around.]"
Oscar and Rgrarshok shared a long look. Maria knew that the Captain was asking the human do you want to go through with this? without saying a word. Finally Oscar shrugged in a sure, let's go for it manner.
Maria kind of wished she'd gotten a chance to throw in her two cents as well; she hoped that the big lug wasn't being cavalier about her safety. Or his, for that matter.
"[Very well,]" said Rgrarshok. "[We'll program them to remain here. Will that be acceptable?]"
Nerlharg nodded with a slight smile.
"[Good. What time do we start?]" asked the Captain.
"[In [one hour]. In the meantime, [Sssnnathor] requests the honor of your presence among our guests.]"
Maria groaned inside. The last thing she wanted to do was make small talk with a bunch of fearsome aliens who were, oh by the way, a bunch of criminal assholes as well.


Much to Oscar's annoyance, one hour became two. On top of that, their presence at the tyrant's party wasn't a simple case of 'walk around, mingle a bit, then go do the show'. No, from the outset Sssnnathor was determined to keep them circulating among the considerable number of well-dressed party-goers. But Oscar didn't let the outward civilized veneer fool him for a second.
He was glad Myyreh wasn't there. The poor girl would have been crawling right out of her fur to see him in the midst of so many untrained xenos. At least they were polite enough to keep their distance when asked.
Right now he was holding a drink of some fruity-tasting cocktail. At least the glass was human-sized. He was chatting with a gray-furred Dorarizin who was wearing what looked like a frock coat with a lacy 'ruff' that accented the alien's mane. Several other huge xenos hovered around them, clearly waiting for their turn to talk to the human. In the meantime, Oscar kept himself facing the Dorarizin so that the nanocams in his suit could get a good look.
"Got a positive ID on him!" said Egrwreh's voice in his ear. "Ghranzor-of-Ahnz, known trafficker in small arms, suspected of Green smuggling as well."
Oscar nodded, both in response to the information as well as to a question from Ghranzor.
"[So you are enjoying your stay thus far?]"
"I sure am, sir. Didn't think I'd get to go this far into space, let alone meet so many people!"
Ghranzor gave a little bow and motioned to the several-foot gap between them. "[I'm pleased to hear that. I feared that you were overly paranoid about us, given how much personal space you requested.]"
Oscar shrugged. "I gotta admit I'm a little worried. Can't be too safe, right?" He caught a nearby Karnakian's eyes and winked. "Remember what happened the first time we tried to shake hands with y'all." He used his free hand to mime pulling his other arm off.
The Karnakian floofed out her neck feathers in anger. "[Really! It was an honest accident!]"
Oscar waved his free hand. "Relax, I'm just kidding ya!"
The Karnakian subsided and let forth a little trilling, forced laugh of her own.
Oscar motioned with his glass overhead, where the party's main source of light floated. The hologram consisted of two bright suns floating in the atrium's center. Around both suns coiled a massive, scaled body that endlessly moved in a figure-eight formation like the living representation of infinity. Another coil emerged from the huge figure to reach out and circle another, smaller blue-white sphere which floated near the larger figure-eight. There was no real head or tail that Oscar could see, just an impression of never-ending sinewy strength.
"What's that?" he asked.
He heard Sssnnathor's smooth hiss-purr behind him. "[That, [human], is Sotek-Who-Circles-The-World.]"
Oscar turned casually to face the tyrant, and noted how everyone around Sssnnathor stood with a slight bow to their head. Not wanting to stand out, he followed suit.
"[Oh, please, you all honor me too much,]" said Sssnnathor. Oscar picked his head back up and saw the Jornissian looking up at the hologram. Oscar was still figuring out Jornissian facial expressions, but judging by the tilt of Sssnnathor's hood he could swear the tyrant had a look of longing.
Sssnnathor pointed at the encircled binary star system. "[Sotek coils the earth and sky in himself. He holds all fire in the sky, and lets out just enough of it to warm the world.]"
"Huh, neat. Sort of a sun god, then?"
"[Not just that. A god who encompasses eternity. He lives forever.]"
"Hey, who wouldn't want that?" replied Oscar as he took a casual sip of his fruity-stuff. It was time to do a little fishing and see if he could draw Sssnnathor out as to his true intentions.
Sssnnathor slithered towards Oscar with a gleam in his eyes. "[That's exactly what I say! Everyone desires eternal life, even if they're too craven to admit to it!]"
The surrounding courtiers moved away, and from their startled body language Oscar got the sense that this passion was not something they were used to.
"[Those fools in the Senate refuse to see the truth,]" continued Sssnnathor. "[The universe is unimaginably old compared to even a few thousand [years] of existence. Why not at least give us the option?]"
There was no Junior to give a warning noise, so Oscar raised a hand. "That's close enough, sir."
The statement snapped the tyrant out of his trance. He chuckled and motioned with his snout at Oscar. "[It's a pity you have to resort to such coddling just to have a chance at a any life, let alone an eternal one.]"
"Times change, sir. Sure we're fragile and endangered now, but we won't be forever. And I dunno, a thousand years or so sounds like a pretty good run to me."
"[Of course you say that now, you're barely out of a clutch! But a thousand [years] from now, I wager you'd be very receptive to living a thousand [years] more.]"
Oscar gave a noncommittal shrug. "[Maybe. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."
"[The [powers that be] won't let you,]" replied Sssnnathor. "[After all, they threw me out for daring to even think of the possibility.]"
The tyrant's hood flattened out in anger, and those around the pair drew back in fear of being the recipient of some of that wrath. Oscar figured he should get the conversation back to light and fluffy.
"That's a shame, sir. Still, looks like you're doing all right for yourself, eh?" Oscar grinned and waved his glass in general at the huge atrium.
Sssnnathor's hood relaxed and he gave a Jornissian shrug. "[I suppose I am.]" He looked at the fearful faces around him and gave a wide, fanged smile. "[Please, everyone, drink! Smile! This is supposed to be a party!]"
Before anyone else could chime in, Captain Rgrarshok moved her way into the circle around Oscar. She kept glancing off into the distance in irritation as she moved.
"[Sorry to stick my paw in, sir, but my performers need to make their way backstage,]" she said.
"[Of course they do,]" said Sssnnathor. "[I look forward to the performance. I'm sure we all do, yes?]"
Amid the hasty assurances and declarations that followed, Rgrarshok gave another irritated glare. Oscar followed her direction of interest and saw...
Bgrarh-of-Arhraz stood a ways away, also ringed in by partiers. He gestured casually with one paw as he chatted with a female Dorarizin. His deep blue eyes twinkled as he talked. The alien wolf-woman looked about ready to bear his pups, judging by the way she stared at him.
She wasn't the only one. Among the circle of people surrounding him were quite a few females (some not even Dorarizin) who looked at him with equal entrancement.
Oscar heard a faint grinding noise and realized it was the Captain's teeth. He decided to draw fire for his friend. "Er, boss, want me to go fetch him?"
Rgrarshok drew in and let out a deep breath. "Yes, please do."
Oscar grinned in general at those around him and gave Sssnnathor a bow. "Sorry folks, sorry sir. The show must go on!"
As he trotted away, Oscar heard Sssnnathor say something to Rgrarshok about an announcement. Fortunately the surrounding crowd parted as he called out "Make way, please!". The sycophants around Bgrarh at first looked annoyed at hearing his call, then they looked a lot more interested as they laid eyes on Oscar.
"'scuse the interruption, Bennie. The boss wants us backstage."
"[Of course!]" replied Bgrarh. He reached over, picked up the paw of the Dorarizin facing him, and gave the back of her paw a gentle kiss. "[It's terribly unfortunate we have to part, my dear. But duty calls.]"
The kissee stared after them like a poleaxed steer as Bgrarh and Oscar walked away.


Rgrarshok-of-Ngraz took another deep breath to calm herself as she strode towards the stage. It was set in the geometric center of the soaring atrium, consisting of knee-high circular platform that was expansive enough for all of the acts. The partygoers were already crowded around the stage perimeter but parted to make way for her. Along the far side of the stage was a temporary domed hut that acted as the backstage area.
Both the stage and hut were supplied by Sssnnathor, which meant the latter was certainly bugged. She'd impressed on the whole team that there was to be absolutely no breaking of their cover until they were all back on safe ground.
Her face remained impassive as she berated herself. Why was she getting so worked up over Bgrarh's antics? The specialist could be a little annoying at times, but he was always a loyal pack member. He was just acting a part, not really flirting.
But the knowledge still didn't calm the little churn of unexpected jealous anger in her gut. She'd been on the cusp of striding into the middle of that circle and showing that hussy of a female who was the real Alpha. Bgrarh was hers.
Rgrashok slowed as she neared the stage. Sssnnathor was already coiled up in the middle of it, and he lifted his upper body to tower over them all. As he held up his arms the crowd quieted.
"[My friends, you gladden my heart by your presence. I have enjoyed my time here during the past [sixty years], and I look forward to many more such celebrations. But that is not the only reason to throw a party. As you may have heard, I've recently come into possession of an artifact which has a long and storied history among our [Karnakian] brethren. I've taken great pains to display it with the reverence due its status. It is my pleasure to present to you all...the Sacred Claw of [Ta'irrl'qc]!]"
Sssnnathor gestured to his right, and the partygoers on that side parted as a smooth polished stone plinth rose up out of the marble-tiled floor. The plinth's top split open and folded back down along itself to reveal the artifact that Rgrarshok and her crew had been chasing this entire time.
The Claw was polished, nut-brown sickle shape which lay on a blue velvet cushion. At its root were embedded emeralds and rubies that sparkled in the light from Sotek's hologram above them.
As the crowd gave the appropriate oohs and aahs, Rgrarshok had a fleeting notion of simply grabbing Sssnnathor and holding him hostage while the team escaped with the Claw. But no, that would put the [humans] in unnecessary danger. Instead she made sure to smile and applaud along with everyone else.
Sssnnathor nodded to her and slithered his way back off of the stage. He coiled himself possessively around the Claw's plinth with a very satisfied expression on his face.


"[I don't believe it,]" whispered Tk'rii'na.
"[Don't even think it,]" said Resh'skk.
Maria didn't like the way the Karnakian's fore-claws twitched as he peeked out the ajar door. It looked like Tk'rii'na was getting ready to do something really stupid. She walked up beside him and placed a hand on his arm.
"Hey, Tarky? Relax. We'll..." she glanced around the hut and tried to choose words that wouldn't blow their cover to anyone listening in. "I know you're worried about the performance, but you'll do great."
"[But it's right there.]"
Frick chose that moment to try and pull Tk'rii'na away. "[Let me see!]"
Tarky pushed back against the tug, resulting in a brief round of the two raptors squawking and slapping at each other.
"Both of you COOL IT!" hissed Maria. She glared up at Tk'rii'na. "You remember you swore to protect me? That includes not putting us in danger by causing a scene!"
Tk'rii'na hung his head. "[You're right. I'm sorry. I shall cool it.]"
He looked so literally crestfallen that Maria's anger evaporated. She patted his arm. "No harm done."


Rgrarshok strode into the middle of the stage, turned, and bowed deeply to the assembled throng. "{We thank you all humbly for your attention. The Company of the Long Dance of Fghrealh is pleased to bring to you a wide range of entertainment from around the galaxy. Including that of our newest comrades, the tiny-chompers!}"
That last part drew a nice round of applause.
"{We shall begin shortly, starting with an amazing display of [Karnakian] congretory singing!}"
Rgrarshok spun and walked towards the hut. Its door slid open and Rgarshok ducked inside. It was a small windowless space with a few tables along one curved wall and another door at the rear. The hut was made even more claustrophobic by the presence of the performers.
Rgrarshok raised a curious ear at seeing a few feathers on the floor near the entrance door. She glared back up at the four Karnakians. "{Is there a problem?}"
"[No, just nerves before the show,]" replied Maria. "[Right, guys?]"
A big paw touched Rgrarshok's shoulder, and she turned to see Bgrarh giving her a wide smile that she found herself automatically returning. She just couldn't stay mad at him.
"{Are you ready for our performance, darling?}" he asked.
She put her stoic 'Captain in Charge' face back on. "{I am, just don't draw too much attention to yourself.}" That warning should be sufficiently vague to throw off any listeners.
Bgrarh moved close and slipped an arm around her waist. "{And what if I want the attention of somebody in particular?}"
Rgrarshok blinked as a welter of conflicting emotions ran through her. Bgrarh was a pack member; he was also strong, smart, and athletic. In ordinary circumstances his advances would be welcome to any pack's Alpha. But hers wasn't a normal pack and she wasn't just the Alpha, she was the Captain. She had to set herself apart, be a strong leader for them all...but his eyes were so deep and pretty, and he smelled so nice...
She leaned in towards his face. "{Not now, Bgrarh. We have a show to do.}"
Bgrarh didn't lose that infuriating and adorable grin. "{And after the show?}"
"{We'll see.}"
Rgrarshok gently peeled his arm off of her and cleared her throat. "{Singers, you're up.}"
She stood aside as the Karnakain quartet moved towards the entrance. Rgarshok noted with amusement that there was now a lot less glaring between the two pairs of guards than when they'd first come on board her ship. Now they all just looked nervous at the prospect of that most dreaded of things, Screwing Up.


Ter'yeik put on his best disarming smile as he pushed a big wheeled tub towards the service entrance. This was no grand archway, it was instead a smaller square portal guarded by one bored-looking Jornissian in low-profile armor. A rifle leaned against the wall next to the guard, within easy reach.
A voice hissed out from under the tub's cover, a voice just barely audible to him. "|Stop smiling, you idiot! Look bored and put-upon!|"
He did as The Silken Feather instructed and slouched a bit as he continuted pushing. The Jornissian looked just as bored as he held up a hand. "[Hold up. You with the catering crew?]"
"|Yeah, we had a last-minute menu change. [Sssnnathor] wanted some namptha soup added.|"
The guard held his rifle at the ready as he coiled himself up higher, now looking a lot less bored and more ready to dispense some violence. "[We weren't told.]"
Ter'yeik kept his feathers from trembling with a supreme effort and tried his best to sound peeved. "|Really? That's typical. I get a work order, bust my tail making this stuff, and the Diarchy-cursed paperwork gets lost! What am I supposed to do with [two hundred gallons] of namptha soup? I sure as hell can't eat it!|"
Unbidden, the guard reached forward and plucked the cover off of the tub. Ter'yeik froze as the Jornissian gazed on the sight within. It was a sea of red, with white spheres floating here and there within it. "[Hmm. That does look tasty.]" His tongue flicked out and back in. "[Smells good, too.]"
Ter'yeik flattened his crest in mock distress. "|Listen, can you just check again for the work order?|"
The guard nodded and tilted his head as he checked his implant. "[Huh! Whaddya know, there it is. Musta got held up in the system for a bit.]" He stood aside and waved at the entrance. "[You know where to go?]"
Ter'yeik managed to keep his voice from squeaking as he replied. "|Yep! To the right, isn't it?|"
The hallway beyond the entrance was metallic and utilitarian, its walls bearing the scars from many years of heavy equipment moving through it. Ter'yeik waited until he was well out of sight of the door before breathing out a huge sigh of relief. He reached forward and took the cover off of the tub again. This time, instead of being full of soup it was full of Silken Feather, crammed awkwardly around a small pot of red-and-white soup.
"|Now aren't you glad you let me have my hacking and holo toys?|" she asked as she uncoiled herself and stood up out of the tub. She shrugged her shoulders, then flexed her neck. "|Ooof. Not my most comfortable entrance ever, but I've had worse.|"
"|I was wondering why you insisted we stop off to buy that stuff,|" said Ter'yeik. "|I didn't think about the smell.|"
The Silken Feather reached forward and patted the side of his snout like he was a mere hatchling. "|That's why I'm the master thief and you are not.|" She concentrated, and her appearance suddenly shifted into that of a mottled gray Karnakian.
Ter'yeik started back. "|Wait, what's this all about?|"
"|I'm not about to go walking around wearing my own face. [Sssnnathor's] security team knows what I look like.|"
A low, powerful moan drifted down the hallway towards them. The moan rapidly rose in pitch, followed closely by another moan whose harmonies worked in counterpoint with the first.
"|Ah, it sounds like the show has started!|" said The Silken Feather. She stepped out of the tub and held out her arm to Ter'yeik. "|Shall we?|"
He stared in confusion at the proffered limb. "|What?|"
"|In order to steal the Claw we need to see where it is, silly. Therefore you and I need to crash the party.|"
"|We can't go walking in there! I thought we were going to do more sneaking around.|"
"|There's no time for stealth. Besides, there's plenty of people milling around, we'll just blend right in. A confident attitude is the best disguise. Trust me and above all act casual.|"
After another moment of hesitation, Ter'yeik took her arm.


Nerlharg-of-Aergh nodded along with the song as he stalked through the party. Most of the crowd was pushed in around the stage, but there were a few stragglers circulating around the food and drink tables.
The melodic structure was odd but interesting, even if the words were now a jumbled mess to his translator. He made a mental note to look up other examples of Karnakian congretory singing and see how this compared.
Nerlharg's nose twitched as a scent hit his nostrils that he wouldn't expect to encounter at a party. It was the smell of a Karnakian in the grip of mortal fear, a scent he knew well thanks to his experiences in Sssnnathor's employ.
He kept his expression neutral as he turned to scan the nearby partygoers. In the distance, the four Karnakians' crests bobbed in time with their singing. Closer to him was another pair of Karnakians. One of the pair was a mottled gray alien standing arm-in-arm with a cream-colored one. He discreetly sniffed again. The lighter of the pair was definitely the source of the fear.
"[Doesn't it sound marvelous, dear?]" exclaimed the darker Karnakian in a low, throaty voice. Something about that voice sounded familiar to Nerlharg.
"{Yes darling, quite nice,]" said the lighter-colored raptor. His voice had a little squeak in it as he fidgeted his claws together.
Nerlharg sidled up next to them and cleared his throat. Upon making that sound he got another spike of fear-scent up his nose.
"{Pardon me, but I'm not familiar with congretory singing. Is this a good example of it?}"
The darker Karnakian shrugged her crest. "[It's a little unusual compared to the norm, since you have the pairs alternating instead of all singing together. But it's still quite lovely.]"
Nerlharg was sure she was deliberately pitching her voice lower. More to the point, he was pretty sure he'd heard her voice before. He nodded aimiably at the pair and strolled off. As he did so, the fear-scent subsided.
He reached out with his implant to Sssnnathor. "{Pardon the intrusion, Excellency. We have a situation. I believe I've spotted the Claw's thief among the guests.}"
The distant coiled-up figure of the tyrant didn't twitch, and his subvocal response was nothing but amused. "[Trying to steal back her stolen property, eh? I suppose she doesn't lack for bravery. I imagine these entertainers are in on her scheming as well.]"
"{That is also my assessment, Excellency. Shall I arrest them all?}"
"[No, let's let the show finish. Although, I supposed if you get a chance during the performance to grab them, take it. But I want the [humans] unharmed, understand?]"
"{Of course. What about the others?}"
"[Capture them if you can, but don't worry too much about their health. If they resist too much, go ahead and shoot them.]"
Nerlharg cut the connection and sighed. Tiny-chompers were so notoriously fragile that even grabbing them too fast could seriously injure them. Not to mention they were in the midst of their friends. He'd have to get creative on this one.


Maria Vargas strode out into the center of the stage with Coleridge's words fixed firmly in her brain. She told herself that this was just a simple recitation, nothing at all to worry about. By this point she could do the damn poem in her sleep.
She reached the center, took a deep breath, raised her eyes...
And froze.
A sea of gleaming eyes stared back at her, eyes that were every color of the rainbow. Those eyes were attached to huge forms sporting far too many claws and fangs. Her hind-brain shrieked at her to flee, that she was a mouse under the gaze of far too many predators.
She glanced to her left, and saw Sssnnathor staring at her intently with a silvery gaze. Next to his head was the Claw, the thing that had brought her to this moment of danger. Neither sight helped her nerves, and she could feel her heart hammer faster.
Maria faced back to the crowd and tried to swallow, but it felt like she had a golf ball lodged in her throat. She wetted her lips and closed her eyes, which helped a little.
"It is..." she began with a raspy, choked voice. She paused and told herself that even with no drone Reshy was watching over her. That knowledge helped slow her heart even more.
Maria opened her eyes and this time deliberately kept her eyes unfocused on the crowd in front of her. As far as she was concerned, the assembled crowd was nothing but a blur of color. She cleared her throat, and when she spoke again the rasp was gone.
"It is an ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three..."
Once Maria started speaking, instinct kicked in and the words flowed easily. As the poem wound on and the ship in the tale went through first storms and then ice, she began to half-notice the crowd instead of treating them like a backdrop. Their rapt expressions emboldened her, and by the time she hit the part where the Mariner's becalmed ship ran into the ghostly hulk captained by Death himself she knew she had them.
"...A sadder and a wiser man, He rose the morrow morn."
After Maria finished, there was a moment of silence.
"[Amazing!]" Sssnnathor called out. His exclamation seemed to break the logjam, and the crowd followed suit with a chorus of various whoops and trills. Maria ignored the pounding of her heart as she smiled, bowed, and left the stage. She did her best to keep the wobble out of her knees.
Hrathra'sstah gripped Maria's shoulder after she re-entered the hut. Hrathra's face was still set in its ususal intense glare, but from the set of her hood Maria knew that her boss was ecstatic. "[Excellent job!]"
"Thanks, boss." Maria stared at the floor and all but panted.
"[Are you all right?]"
"I'm good, I got a bit of stage fright there. Just need a while to calm myself down."
Hrathra gave her shoulder a squeeze and moved off. The crew was busy getting the Captain and Bgrarh ready, so for the moment all eyes were off her.
Not getting stared at anymore helped, but Maria really needed some alone time. While everyone was looking the other way she ducked out of the hut's rear door.
There was nothing behind the hut but a short 'alleyway' between the temporary structure and the sloping wall of Sssnnathor's pyramid. Maria leaned forward, placed her forehead on the wall's smooth cement-like surface, and let out another shaky breath. After a little moment of doing nothing but paying attention to her breathing, she stood up again.
She was feeling a lot calmer now, an emotion that lasted for all of ten seconds before she felt the faintest whisper of air and realized she was no longer alone.
Maria spun around towards the hut and drew in a breath to yell just as an invisible paw clamped tight over her mouth.


Oscar peered out through the half-open door to the stage. Bgrarh and the Captain whirled in a complicated dance that he could barely follow. It looked a little like a waltz but with a lot more airborne bits to it. To his uneducated eye it looked amazing, and the Captain actually looked happy, something that Oscar had never seen before.
He turned away and picked up the guitar. It was about as well-tuned as he could get it, but fiddling with it gave him something to take his mind off of his nerves. He'd done a few open-mic nights back on Earth, but this was something much more serious.
Plus there was the whole threat of being found out and getting involved in a huge firefight.
Oscar peeked back out again, this time scanning the crowd instead of paying attention to the dance. It looked like they were digging it, just like they'd dug Maria's recitation.
Speaking of which, where was she? He turned away from the stage door and looked around the hut. He did a circuit of the place, dodging around the Jornissian and Karnakian forms. He didn't ask anyone if they'd seen Maria; that might trigger a freak-out, especially in Resh'ssk. There was no need to worry anyone just yet.
As he walked by the rear entrance, he heard Maria's quiet voice. "Oscar? Can you come out here, please?"
The others were busy prepping, and didn't notice as Oscar set his guitar down and cracked open the door to poke his head out.
Maria leaned casually against the sloping wall across from the door, staring off into the distance.
"What's up?" he asked.
She didn't answer. Oscar glanced to each side and saw nothing. His brow wrinkled as he moved himself all the way out of the door and approached her. "Maria? Are you okay?"
She ignored him and continued to stare off, unmoving and silent. It wasn't until Oscar got within a few feet of her that he realized just how unmoving she was.
As unmoving as if she was a hologram.
On pure instinct Oscar threw his arm up to ward off anyone trying to get him in a choke-hold from behind. He managed to get his sleeve up in front of his face before his world went dark and he found himself unable to move.


"[I'm getting a strange reading from the drones onboard the Claw,]" said Egwreh's voice in Tk'rii'na's ear. "[Plus the telemetry from the [humans] is looking oddly muted.]"
He and Irr''kttz turned from watching the dance onstage. The Karnakians known as 'Tarky' and 'Frick' to their [human] friends both scanned the hut in increasing panic.
"|I don't see [Oscar] or [Maria].|" said Tk'rii'na.
Both saw at the same time that the rear door was now open. After one quick glance at each other, they sprinted as one for the back door.
In true Karnakian fashion neither bothered to open it. The temporary structure shook as the entire rear of the hut all but evaporated, sending chunks of composite ricocheting off of the rear wall and onto the surprised guests.
Irr''kttz pointed. "|THERE! I see them!|"
Tk'rii'na followed the claw with his eyes and saw two faint whirls of familiar sparkly light floating in the middle of the air. There was nothing visible around the pair of sparkly souls as they rapidly approached a side exit.


Onstage, the pair of whirling Doaraizin spun to a sudden halt as the resounding crunch of the Karnakian's dynamic exit sounded through the atrium. Rgrarshok ignored the bits of former hut bouncing off of her skull.
"{REPORT!}" she barked. She saw guards here and there among the party starting to stand up straight, but she ignored them for now. She glanced around in rising panic, and realized she saw no sign of Sssnnathor.
The plinth that had once held the Claw was now empty.
Irr''kttz's voice yelled in her ear. "[THERE! I see them!]"
Tk'rii'na sounded a lot calmer. "[I see them too, they've been wrapped in optical camo. Heading for the exit to your right, Captain.}"
"[Got it,]" said Rgrarshok. She and Bgrarh exchanged one look, to which he gave a Dorarizin nod.
"{[Calvinball],}" they said simultaneously.
Bgrarh sprinted for the hut just as Rgrarshok charged towards the edge of the stage nearest the indicated exit. The confused murmuring of the crowd now became earnest screaming at the sight of the rampaging Captain.
The trigger-word also reactivated the drones hovering near the far-off main entrance. Each immediately locked onto the telemetry readings from their respective [human]; rather than waste time maneuvering through the doorway they both 'decided' that the quickest route between them and their charges was a straight line. Two loud bangs sounded from the main entrance as each drone smashed its way into the atrium.
In the middle of her icy rage, Rgrarshok noted the trajectory of the two drones. Following that line, she caught the merest hint of a pair of heat-shimmers in the air; several panicked partygoers bounced off of the cloaked figures as they sprinted for the side-exit.
Rgarshok leapt off of the stage as the crowd beneath her parted with great alacrity to get the hell out of her way. As she landed in a crouch, a lone Dorarizin guard pushed out of the mob to block her way. He thrust a shock-baton at her chest which she didn't even try to block. The armor did its job, hardening with the impact and allowing the baton to skate off to the side.
Rgrarshok shoved herself upright as she grabbed the guard's weapon-arm. He was wearing low-profile armor as well, so instead of wasting time punching at him she settled for a overhand throw that flung the guard away with a wet crunch that signaled a ruined shoulder.
The Captain continued to push forward, but couldn't go fast enough through the panicked mob. Rgarshok decided that now was not the time to play nice and began throwing people out of her way. Even a Jornissian or two found themselves the target of her flinging. The only good news was that the drones had reached the doorway and now hovered in the path of the cloaked goons carrying the tiny-chompers. They each projected a targeting grid, trying to lock onto the cloaked goon without hurting the tiny-chompers...
Both two drones sparked and fell to the floor with smoking holes drilled neatly in each of them. Two more Dorarizin in full armor and wielding rifles stepped over the wrecked machines.
The guards parted to let the heat-shimmers pass between them, then stepped back together and came running towards Rgrarshok. Her attackers didn't use their guns for their intended purpose, instead they used the long weapons as clubs to smack aside the partygoers as they moved towards her.
Rgarshok roared in rage and charged.
submitted by Frank_Leroux to HFY [link] [comments]

My big fat cancelling critique

Hear ye, Hear ye, Contrapoints stans, fans, casual consumers and detractors all, I present to you a more full critique of the video "Cancelling" than I have ever published before.
[I'm nobody's stan -- a preamble]
While I was slowly re-watching the video and writing this critique, I got accused by a Contra-stan of being an EssenceOfThought-stan. And also a lying, disingenuous piece of shit. It was in a thread that talked about this really toxic atmosphere brewing on /breadtube and /contrapoints in which anybody who makes a video about Natalie is magically responsible for a new campaign of harassment. And this has spread to Natalie's defenders. People are saying that EoT personally mounted a harassment campaign against PigPuncher (now xanderhal, @xanderhaltv) and got him mass reported off twitter. And it just doesn't ring true to me, nonetheleast b/c xanderhal said himself that the alt-right has mass reported and swatted him in waves for the last couple years.
It's a real problem that there are stans who think everybody is either a stan or a nobody right now. Look, I'm not an EoT stan, even though I'm citing two of their videos in this critique. I have made some firm criticisms of his first video, read my profile for yourselves. When I received and posted Chrisiousity's video, EoT dropped a third drama-bomb of a video and I started to watch it. I stopped after 8 minutes because I already found EoT making one big mistake, and one really shitty line.
First, EoT says that Natalie is only talking about post-Opulence backlash, and thus accuses her of lying about a timeline on some tweets. They're just wrong.
Second, EoT says "Natalie has a fragile ego."
In the very least, this line is hack. Everybody's ego is fragile. That's freshment psychology 101, it's how egos are, it's a feature. It's just saying somebody is being too fragile, and that's an attack on character.
Second, it's fucking mean. It's mean in a general sense. And it's mean in a more personal sense, and I'll tell you why.
I'll mention this later, but I was what I call a first-generation youtube skeptic/atheist. Youtube was founded in 2006, and by 2008, peaking around 2010, we had a thriving group of what the media would call "New Atheists" on youtube. I can drop you a huge list of names, and it's still at most 20% of what was out there. I never made a single video, though I did have a webcam for a short while and regularly hanged out in Stickam with a dozen members of the Rational Response Squad. At first I fell for Pat Condell's shit. I was a big fan of Thunderf00t until his feud with DawahFilms. I apologize to the world. Sincerely. Look, what I want you to take from this is that I've come to be seen as redeemed by many feminists on reddit and beyond, and I think that Natalie is even more redeemable than I. I'm not trying to be a hater. This is constructive criticism.
But also back then, there was Natalie. Under a different channel whose title contains her deadname. I've linked to three different videos on parasocial relationships. Lemme tell you, I've been through 'em. Some that have had intense influence on my daily life, many others not so much. Natalie was, until she started Contrapoints, somewhere in the middle.
From what I've seen over the last 10 years, Natalie has every reason to be sensitive. Fragile, even. I've seen Natalie make meatspace friends with a few of these fellow atheist/skeptics, and they traveled and dined and chilled with one another. They even pulled a couple New Atheist stunts that backfired. Even contributed to a musical collab, which is still funny.
I've seen the community fragment and bubble and burst and burn and mutate. Basically I've watched Natalie lose friends and get hurt, as with many others. And with 10 years of experience, I can look back at old videos where Natalie's old self can be found, and see the unhappiness that she's described.
EssenceOfThought pulling the "fragile ego" line is frankly toxic. EoT only has 2 years of very hard work to look at, and 2 years of public transformation and transition. And EoT seems to assume that the quality of work a youtuber puts out is porportional to how head-above-water they are when it comes to stress levels and strength of will, and wealth of support. And that's wrong.
It's callous. You can't just assume things about people's accumulated life trauma. Calling people fragile as an insult, I've come to find, is morally wrong, because it calls that we celebrate stoic strength as a virtue. And it's always punching down. Every time it's punching down. Looking at somebody who's feeling vulnerable, and going "gross, you're vulnerable!" And EoT has done this despite listening to Natalie talking about a lack of friends in the world. I can't actually name many meatspace acquaintences of hers, much less good friends, besides {Theryn, Olly, Lindsay Ellis, Jenny Nicholson, other people in the few photos with Lindsay and Jenny maybe, Riley and Fiona, Chelsea Manning, Dan Olson, innuendostudios, hbomb...}. Can you? And how long distance most of those are! Almost all of them are expensive-distance. It sucks.
I stopped watching EoT's third video shortly after 8 minutes when they said that, becuase I was just disgusted. And as I said in Chrisiousity's comment section, it looks like a sign to me that in EoT's focus on Natalie the past month, Natalie has evolved in their mind from a popular creator with a specific and powerfully effective flaw, to an outright Adversary, capital-A included. And that's sad. It's the wrong way to go. In early drafts, I refrenced the first two videos because there's a lot of good points made in them. But EoT grows more combative over time and by the third video steps out of line.
So no, I'm not a stan for EssenceOfThought, and I'm not a hater of Natalie Wynn. I've even removed all but one future reference to them from this critique (if I got my editing correct). Even though you'll find that some of the faults I find with the video are the same or similar to EoT's video(s), I don't attribute malice to the flaws as EoT does, now that I've looked back at it. In fact, I'm cancelling my subscription to EssenceOfThought on that alone. It's that gross. Natalie's one overriding flaw is so common and comes from such a human place of vulnerability, I just cannot stand to any further advocate somebody's who's making her such a devil. Shit on Buck angel all you want, EoT, but Natalie is not out to be the monster that jumps out of the closet to bite at enbys. If EoT could re-make his Buck Angel video so as to leave Natalie out of it, that'd be good. As it is though... yeargh.
I still don't think EoT is leading report/harassment brigades. I think the brigaders just love EoT incidentally. EoT is boosting them, but not leading them. But that's enough.
I'm just a dude who thinks this one video, Cancelling, and the cameo in Opulence, did way more harm than she thinks. Than you think. And I think she's capable of coming to understand it, and so are you.
[Reese's Theses]
I have to agree with Chrisiousity and say that when you're doing an essay, written or video, when you're making a case, an argument, you need to leave hyperbole out of the thesis. The entire introduction, even. At least the paragraph the thesis resides in. Because what you're doing is priming.
Hyperbole is lacking in clarity. You're inviting bad interpretations and you create claims you don't know you're making when you do that. It says things whether you intend to or not. Stop it. Everybody stop it.
On the guillotine metaphor specifically: I don't think Natalie meant that cancel culture is like the guillotine in that we are meaning to murder people. All she wanted to point out was the similarity in which a tool for justice became corrupted by people who want to use it purely for the spectacle (trolling) or people who come to believe in a great expansion of enumerable crimes that deserve the max punishment (improper discretization). Natalie could've used a different punishment for the juxtaposition. Prison could serve, as cancelling is nominally a form of isolation. Or perhaps a pillory? But then again, in her defense: with the example of August Ames, Cancelling has lead to death. Or at least hastened it?
Nobody's going to be satisfied with any kind of metaphor in this case because "cancel culture" is decentralized and leaderless. If it had centralization and a written manifesto, we would be better able to describe what she's talking about in existing language : "mission drift." This is a phrase that does exist in activist lexicon. Originally intended to apply to evangelical missionaries (hence the name), I've seen an amibiguated version applied to many other kinds of activism.
This is just what happens when you work without an editor and you drink while making a video. It's not that bad.
[When is cancel culture not cancel culture? When it's ajar!]
I disagree with the claim that cancel culture sprang from "Black Twitter." Though obviously it is a re-branding of "call-out culture." Frankly I don't see anything that hasn't happened before the internet and basically any boycott in American history.
Search for callout culture on any specific social justice subreddit, search it on twitter, search all reddit or just google it... raise your hand if you never heard the word "cancel culture" until a right-wing pseudo-centrist grifter was making strawmen of it (including Obama) like it's the end of the world? I remember lots talk about call-out culture before. How black is it? Did it really come from black twitter? It makese sense that it came more from women. But specifically black women? We need help verifying this.
[James Charles pt. I: Tati]
In Tati's full video, she gives more details than simply the claim, "James Charles tries to trick straight men into thinking they're gay" (with secondary implied extension, "to trick them into sex of dubious consent"):
Natatlie's short little list does mention that cancel-crowds abstract away details, but the fact is Natalie presents the case without the details herself. She makes it seem like Tati never presents these details and that the backlash against James Charles was mostly devoid of said details. Natalie says that the only appropriate claim would read, "Tati accuses Charles of 'trying to trick straight men into thinking they're gay.'"
I think we can see that Natalie is in fact omitting details herself. And that's wrong.
It may be true that every wave of backlash, whether it be black-twitter-specific "cancel culture" or generic backlashes for all kinds of beginnings, will have a dishearteningly-large proportion of people who have joined it only for the spectacle and will not bother with the details. But Natalie has presented us with the following argument.
  1. Tati never used the words "sexual predator."
  2. Cancellers are using the words "sexual predator."
  3. Therefore, the backlash against James Charles is necessarily vacuous, and
  4. It is simply Tati wanting to eliminate a competitor.
The case of, "People have heard details that they believe are aptly summed by the words 'sexual predator'" has been dismissed out of hand, out of sight, and out of mind. That's wrong.
As for the phenomenon of the outrage itself, there are many possible dots to connect into a coherent or incoherent narrative map of weighted segments, to tell what has happened This could be a little bad I admit, but let's lump the dots into starting points and end points. First, the starting points:
And then the endpoints, categories of cancellers that:
I say every line you draw from a starting point to an endpoint is a valid hypothesis to test, and some of them can exist simultaneously because the outrage was not monolithic. And it's simply up to yourself, reader, to ascribe percentages to each line until you think you've accounted for the whole picture. That would be an honest description. And it's not what Natalie's done.
There is a bit of ambiguity in Tati's video. What does it mean to "behave sexually in [your] favor," when she speaks to James? Does she mean that these men "performed sexual favors," as the euphemism goes, meaning they performed sexual acts with james, including things such as petting, kissing, handjobs, blowjobs, receiving or giving anal penetration, rimming, etc? Or does it mean dressing and behaving flirtatiously in a very explicit manner? The list is full of assault and rape. The other option is not. And we have to ask ourselves: would or wouldn't Tati use the word "rape"? Is Tati too flustered from the extemperaneous speaking to remember or not? But that's still besides the point, it's not specifically what's wrong or right with Natalie's video and claims.
Next up on what shouldn't have been done: Nat compares two sentences, and claims that they are contradictory.
Because the first is something James' behavior, and the second is his character. Look, let's cut the bullshit, folks. Whether or not one succeeds in their attempt to abuse somebody does not have bearing on the fact that what they are doing is toxic and manipulative. This entire part of the video was bullshit. These actions do make one a bad person. This is just how the words 'toxic' and 'manipulative' fucking work. That's how using adjectives works.
When you listen to a radio personality describe a wolf failing to catch a deer this one time, do we stop describing the wolf as a predator? Was it not trying to catch prey just b/c it didn't succeed? Do we even need to hear the word "wolf" to know we're talking about a predator? Obviously, no. We know what hunting prey looks like. We can tell when two animals surprise and attack each other vs when a predator stalks and attacks.
Fuck's sake, y'all. If I swing at you and miss, do people get to say I wasn't violent towards you?! Would somebody that witnessed this happen often be wrong in describing me as violent? That's the shit you're doing with the James Charles thing!
Contrary to what Natalie says, this is not essentialism in action. An argument from essentialism would go the other way. It would begin with the belief that James Charles is a sexual predator, and then it would pick something he "would do," and transform the "would" into a "did." That is how essentialism works, and why it is problematic.
And no doubt, because so many people join outrage for the spectacle of it, b/c they just listen uncritically when dopamine says "go," there are some who went that route. But Natalie presents essentialist argumentation backwards (at this point), and gives the idea that essentialism is all we've got. Neither are correct.
Finally, Natalie brings up that we have the phrase "believe the victim" these days, and presents the James Charles cancelling as a case about why that idea is dangerous. But there's the thing: we're not talking about a backlash that was believing victims. What's been presented is cancellers believing a witness. Natalie has made the error -- and encouraged her audience to do so as well -- of disbelieving a witness and following from that, disbelieving plaintiffs (the victims) before hearing from them; in the very least, dismissing their part in the directino the outrage took, wrongfully describing the outraged as having only heard from Tati. Do I really need to explain how dangerous and unethical that is? Seems like maybe we need to have that discussion, too, by the way y'all are defending every second of this video no matter what. I mean seriously: if I had not linked to Carmie Sellitto above, would any of you stans know who he is? I just do not see a lot of you stans quoting the alleged victims and making a case of James's innocence from that. No, you just go with "I don't like the way twitterers sounded, so Tati must be lying and James is innocent." That is not good epistemology, and it's not a good way of systemic justice reform.
[James Charles pt. II]
Natalie goes on to discuss twitters that react to the un-cancellers by pointing out that they still think that JC is a racist transphobe.
First there's the issue that some of these people maybe are the type who never heard of JC before Tati's video, and have retroactively heard talk of JC saying transphobic and racist things. But I really think if one is to make the case that this is the default for people calling JC "transphobe" and "racist," that has to be shown, and not just claimed. And I think that Natalie has attributed this behavior to essentialism, when really it's at worst people who don't want to research properly.
What we're talking about here is improper discretization, or stratification, when it comes to determining when we say a person "is a transphobe" vs "has ignorant views about trans people, gender, and sexuality." There does need to be a distinction between a person who's preoccupied with their bigotry and pontificates on it by compulsion, vs a young person speaking ignorantly, albeit earnestly. If you want to name discrete steps on the journey from innocence and ignorance to full blown x-phobe, you need a lot more steps than what we're commonly presented with, which is rarely more than two. So what Natalie says 14:30 to 17:22 is good.
And she gets essentialism right this time. This is how essentialism is built. Manly men are manly, x-phobic example x-phobe full time. People start to affirm their bias by making an essentialist extrapolation and justifying it backwards. Not quite the same as what happened above in my review here. This is, "oh he's a transhpobe? So of course he said transphobic things, what else can you expect?" And that attitude leads to reading any other honestly ignorant statement being seen as just super hardcore fetishized bigotry Y bubbling to the surface. That is the essentialism that really does lead to trope 5. He's essentially this, so he's also essentially that. Nat nails this one.
[Fucking Ebola]
The ebola joke isn't "the same vague conceptual area as certain racist tropes." It is flat out a racist trope. Anybody remember "Ugandan Knuckles?" Yeah. The people who loved that shit also didn't give one shit that tongue-clicking languages in Africa didn't come near Uganda. There are other viruses one could associate with Africa that are much more wide spread and common, such as Malaria, and afflictions such Dysentery, but no.
The ebola joke is itself a very clear example of racist essentialism. Because for the joke to work, all of the continent of Africa is Africa, wink-wink. Like, all the different countries in it and how big it is... too-long-didn't-read. It's all the same. That's what's required for the joke to work. And it went exactly how Natalie describes it: to the most extreme example.
I really thought this is something Natalie would know better about given her wonderful video "America: Still Racist." And I sure as hell hope she's getting it by now, what with people whose heritage comes from all over the continent of Asia being attacked as suspects of coronavirus.
Even in JC's apology, he's just "traveling to Africa." Fucking where in Africa, JC?! This is definitely something you should be able to handle before you jump on the plane. The very same racist essentialism the joke is based on is still the same racist essentialism his apology stands on.
But sometimes call-out culture doesn't get it. I can't find any news stories that give a shit about thinking the whole continent of Africa is one country. Statistically 0 people so far have mentioned it, in my experience. And things like that are why I don't think cancel culture came from Black Twitter.
Again let me point out: "Two years ago James made a joke that referenes his fear of getting ebola in Africa" "James made a racist joke" is not abstraction. It's summary. Er... Natalie doesn't use "abstraction" the same way I ever would.
[Connecting dots: a challenger appears]
19:44 Natalie rightfully acknowledges (and is very knowledgeable about!) wolves in SJW clothing "signal-boosting" call-outs if it's against a minority person. But I think this should've been mentioned much sooner. It's really contradictory to what Natalie presented as the bulk of call-outs against JC. Suddenly there's a bit of nuance, where before there was not.
[Buck Angel]
Just read Buck Angel's twitter feed to see what a total shithouse he is. Besties with Graham Linehan and Blaire white, demanding the enby community answer for a single sex offender (Rain Dove) and accusing the whole enby community of idolizing them, all kinds of heinous shit. He's totally truscum, and the stans' defense is just inexcusable.
Why do I think Natalie keeps defending Buck when she shouldn't? The same reason stans are doing it for her: "Not my Nigel!" see link above. We all have been guilty of it and will be guilty of it for something in the future. Including me. As I said in preamble, I was a first generation atheist/skeptic youtube shitbird. Trust me. I know it when I see it. Nobody wants to believe their friend is that problematic. We all have some sort of parasocial relationship. Read links above. This is the one overriding flaw I mentioned.
But on EoT's second video, I did leave the following comment, which explains how I used to agree with Natalie more on the subject than I do now:
I've failed to understand how some of Natalie's work has harmed NB people. Mostly I've restricted my view to whether or not Natalie directly said something about NB people or the NB category. But that's not right.
A problem occurs in "The Aesthetic", in two parts. First, because it does seem like Justine wins the debate. I didn't see it that way, I just saw it as she had more to say, because that position takes longer to explain than "if we say we are then we are." But I had really forgotten something. In cinematic language, in movies, tv, the debate sphere and youtube all alike, "winning" in a debate is when you overpower your opponent. When you get to finally do your Finishing Move, the long-winded tirade that makes your adversary sit down and shut up.
It's not just Ben Shapiro that does this, it's not just the alt right and the grifters. It's often this way for lefists, too. Pwning republicans and religious zealots alike. Dan points this out in his "alt right playbook" series, Never Play Defense, 6:50 -- the clip from that tv show (West Wing) where the U.S. president makes the fundamentalist lady sit down and shut up, defeated. We like to think we don't think we see winning the way Shapiro does, when you make somebody do a 'wtf' o-face and hesitate, but often we do. more than often enough.
So, meaning to or not, Natalie had Justine do her Finishing Move and win the debate. I don't think that's winning a debate, I eventually grew out of that attitude and have not appreciated it in some time. But I let myself forget that in the real world, that's what counts for winning in people's minds, and it's very much in the cinematic language.
Part 2 is exactly like you explain, EoT, and sadly I didn't think of it. People who think that gender is performative do consistently misname, misgender, and passive/active-agressively disregard the feelings of NB people because they "don't act like the gender they claim to be, or "act like the gender they say they aren't." Performativity is, in real life, a weapon used against NB people. Binary trans people too, but it kind of never stops for NB people. It's worse.
But does that make Justine a transmedicalist? Well, no. But I'm willing to bet now that there were many more people, a greater proportion, who did not say that Justine was transmedicalist. Rather there were probably more people who said that by having the performativity advocate win the debate, Natalie glorified the most common weapon used against NB people. And when Natalie, in "Cancelling," makes it seem like the former claim is the primary or only claim, she was again either egregiously lazy in her research or outright lying. Definitely disingenuous, and definitely continuing the harm.
This even extends to Buck Angel and his attacks on his ex. Let's draw a venn diagram! Maybe not all performative theorists are trans medicalists. But all trans medicalists use it to attack NB people. And when NB people get undue skepticism thrown at them it's often in the form of "but you don't dress like the gender you say you are," which is basically to say, "So you're crossdressing? Weirdo!" So despite what I said in a reddit thread, it's pretty reasonable to extrapolate that from Buck's current truscummery, that attack too was enbyphobic.
Hey, third edit, here's some more: Maybe we should also consider three more things:
(1) that there are plenty of NB people who've never experienced an instance of being described as a crossdresser from somebody who wasn't pushing performative-theory, and
(2) What if there are more people who identify as NB who crossdress, than those who crossdress but don't.
(3) Shitty attacks on crossdressing or "incorrect performance" by default harm more NB people than not.
Dear enbys,
I formally apologize for not getting it, and for also causing harm by defending it in a couple /contrapoints threads. I will try to be better.
[Slurs Are Still Gross]
Please let's not accept "cunty" into our lexicon. Even in supposed jest like this. Ugh. It feels like this will be used unironically in the future and I don't look forward to it happily.
[I think, therefore I tran]
After she stops that, it suddenly gets good. Like, snap of the finger.
I just dealt with The Aesthetic in that youtube comment, incidentally. The video did something truly by accident in the way that I said, and it's forgivable. It's perfectly redeemable, and so is Natalie. I'm 90% with Natalie on this one. She forgot one thing about media language. Her haters forgot most things about media language.
Natalie grew out of the first tweet she apologizes for. That's awesome. She doesn't need to apologize for it, IMO, and she doesn't. Ring that bell, gorge.
[Boymode gals]
Natalie is correct that the tweet is out of context. It was part of a conversation, a narrative in which Natalie was surprised in her early exploration that some trans people not only do not dress androgynously or conventionally aligned with their self-identified pronouns, but can often have styles that seem coded entirely the other direction. Natalie is describing the experience of becoming aware of the error. The haters have completely misunderstood this.
The context was about generational differences in trans expression. What you haters need to understand is that people of Natalie's age (my age) have experienced harsher and more prevalent social attacks on trans identities, with less to none of the out reach that younger people have had access to in the 2010's. It was a lonelier experience with much less exploration and expression allowed, and it really does create different trauma and thought processes.
People are built different. Not just from the womb, but from the environment in which they grew up. Respect the build.
DING, motherfuckers.
[Leftist discord servers in spaaaaace!]
^ That's a Muppets reference. See how we're a different generation?
Good apology. noice. But not perfect. Gosh. We've listened to politicians faux-pologize for so long we aren't aware we're emulating them. Leave out the "if you felt trivialized by it" part, Natalie. They're triviliazed by it whether they're aware of the video or not.
*Less enthusiastic ding.*
[Pronoun Rodeo]
This tweet was perfectly fine. Even when one misunderstands the sarcasm and thinks Natalie was way more angry than she actually was. Pronoun circles are an adaptation to awareness of the false cis/binary hegemony. And adaptation comes with a cost. And it's fine to gripe at a skin rash. She said nothing wrong.
[Last of the Old-School Transsexuals]
I said before that I myself couldn't make sense of this line. But now I can see it's referencing the same thread from the girl-in-boymode tweet. Only she didn't really connect it to that other thread in any way, so the connective tissue is completely absent. It's only visible now because Natalie happened to juxtapose them in two contiguous video segments. I don't think she should apologize for this one.
[♪ Maybe it was me who was fucking up ♫ - "Hurt" - Oliver Tree]
53:40 -ish. "Maybe tomorrow he [Buck] will say fuck nonbinary people, and I'll have fucked up."
Well, he has gone on to practically french kiss Graham Linehan on twitter, loves Blaire White, and as I pointed out in another /contrapointsdrama thread, demanded that the enby community answer for a supposed enby icon doing a bad thing once in his young past, which is a great big trio of middle fingers to nonbinary folk.
[The Soy Luck Club]
I'll just copypaste much of what I said before about the vidcon 2017 events, but add a little too:
Natalie, there's something I really want to get through to your brain, and it just hasn't happened yet. Know that "nice to me IRL they're not problematic on a level worth confronting" fallacy I mentioned above? The alt-right shitlords don't reciprocate it, at least not in the same way. They just increase their own self worth and validation. If you're nice to them IRL, for any reason, they will only concede in some amount to something very specific that personally made you upset on that day on that brunch. But then they escalate everything else because you became "one of the good ones," and they get to have their extra recruitment ammo of "see? some lefty loves me! the others are just haters and their evidence made up!". and that's just what they've done if they managed to keep up a regularly active youtube channel.
please. stop. feeding. that. beast. That brunch is regrettable. A confrontational livestream is one thing. The brunch is another.
I don't know why you are so unaware, Natalie. you validated their harassment during the harassment. Their presence at vidcon, every single second of it, was harassment, and you sat with the figurative dog-whistling wolves in their zoot suits and chummed it up . And you have never bothered to listen to this fact. "because they were nice to me IRL."
* (The above imagery is derived from old cartoons the youngest here probably haven't seen.)
sargon, armoredskeptic, shoe0nhead, chris raygun, etc all, in total more than a dozen, went to they could occupy blocks of chairs so that Anita Sarkeesian couldn't ignore their presence. That's what Anita was reacting to when she referred to sargon as a "garbage human" in a live panel.
Even during the brunch, they sat together so as to create a space that Anita couldn't also occupy (or avoid seeing), to keep her out of the dining area, because everything she says and does can and will be used against her in the court of alt-right law. They travel in groups to any panel she's in or wants to watch so that they can't be ignored and make Anita upset about what new youtube/twitter harassment onslaught is about to be faced not only by her, but anybody she positively associates with at the con. And you joined them. You couldn't see through it. You bought the "nice to you irl" bait, and you harassed Anita Sarkeesian. There, that's the reality of it, why I'm still bringing this up myself after 2 years. You may have been unaware of it at the time, but you were harassing Anita Sarkeesian. It's not. ok. I just do not want for you to bring up that brunch and not be confronted about it.
Just so you readers out there understand why Natalie even mentioned Laci Green, why people have compared Natalie and Laci: it's because Laci started dating Chris Raygun, accepted a shitty fake apology from SargonOfAkkad, and changed her mind on all trans issues, and this all happened at that same vidcon.
[The Theryn Parsons Project]
Get it? Because it's Theryn, and Alan Parsons Project, the band? Fuck you, I'm funny!
Has anybody watched Shoe0nHead the last 2 years? Fuck no, she didn't evolve as a better person. Even now that she's trying to pander to the left on her "brainlet" channel, she's still a turd. And "Brainlet" is a 4chan meme. She's just grifting still. There are plenty of breadtube members who fall for this, too.
[Twitter, the clogged shitter]
Do any of these twitters understand what the difference is between grift and just asking for compensation for hard work? Doesn't seem like it.
Yes it's still a huge deal that Natalie doesn't want to see Buck for what he is. But clearly , contrary to what many alt-right concern trolls would have us believe about their baby bigots, Natalie really is a person for whom honey attracts more cooperation than vinegar. We really could've sat down with Natalie and demonstrated what's wrong with Buck Angel in a civilized manner. But instead yer jumping to this 'grifer', 'terf' & 'truscum' charges and stuff? No wonder Natalie identifies with James Charles (outside of the intern abuse). Y'all jumped straight from "She's made a mistake" to "Contrapoints is the devil, Bobby Boucher!" with no point in between.
And no wonder she wants to avoid looking into it as long as possible - giving this type of twitter an inch yields a mile more bullshit abuse. Y'all aren't just cutting your cord -- you're making a cat-and-nine-tails and whipping mutaneers.
Lindsay Ellis went into a hospital to deal with the abuse people were giving her before Opulence. And this is how you deal with her being associated with Natalie? This isn't cancelling. This is witch hunting.
What I'm doing here is legitimate critique. What twitter is doing is not.
People who do activism on Twitter inevitably turn into reactionary shitheads. We should ALL quit Twitter. I've been through this with the first-generation youtube atheists/skeptics, too! I watched at least three sub-communities crumble because they couldn't correctly put together twitter timelines, soundbites, DMs, and private facebook groups into coherent narratives, and they all drove themselves into extinction. Which I'm sure Natalie may have also watched glumly, and I don't blame her for not wanting to live through that multiple times.
And likewise, when a mob is at my doorstep demanding I condemn Buck Angel to save myself from Cancellation... No!
That's just it, isn't it? Y'all could just cancel your subscription, announce why, convince others to, and move on. You can make videos all about Buck Angel, that don't witch hunt any of his followers, and present it casually all over the internet until it works. If you successfully succeed in canceling her, she loses all her money, she stops making the videos, and you can move on. But you don't do that. You come to her over and over, with your carrot and stick, and demand she dance. You're not acting like she's a person in power who needs a strong public response. You're showing that you have the power and want to use it not for public good but for personal gratification. This is indeed how a mob behaves. But y'all think you're marching on Washington.
I've checked. There have never, ever been so many videos or tweets made in anger about Buck Angel until Opulence. There is no reason to make it seem like association with Natalie Wynn is inflating his influence to such a dangerous level as to warrant this. If Buck was so goddamn bad, you wouldn't need the help of bashing Contrapoints. The jump would never have happened if you thought that. Now that I know about him, I do think he's that bad. But you don't!
And I don't care that you can say that Natalie has been showing up on NPR and news outlets. Know who else has done that? Anita Sarkeesian. Anita went all the way to the fucking U.N.. And how much influence does she have on any of your lives? A hair above zero, that's what. Y'all think you're better than gamergaters or the republicans bashing Greta Thunberg? Nah. Ya ain't.
There are a few youtubers who have made some OK, good-faith critiques. But you twitter folk are garbage humans.
I don't have anything negative to say about the rest of the video.
submitted by Aerik to u/Aerik [link] [comments]

Oneangrygamer is just not even trying anymore.
"We continue to see our society fall by the wayside. The next step down the rabbit hole of societal decay was commenced by none other than the Yacht Club. They announced that Shovel Knight has added a third gender pronoun option… “they/them”."
How dare they gush gamers an OPTION! It's not like we have a CHOICE on this even though we actually do!
"The responses, thankfully, called out how trying to appease people who suffer from mental delusions is a complete turnoff. Various people noted that they did not accept appeasing the people who are trying to push “non-binary” as a standard, even though it biologically doesn’t exist."
...ok, I have to say that these people are idiots and so are you:
"It’s basically more virtue signaling, adding in features that don’t actually improve the game in any way, they just placate the sensibilities of people constantly trying to subvert the biological norms of today’s society."
"Unfortunately the people with common sense were in short supply within the Twitter thread. Majority of the comments were people praising Yacht Club Games for caving into the disconcerting demands of a minuscule minority."
As opposed to say, your miniscule minority?
submitted by ryu289 to Gamingcirclejerk [link] [comments]

Two-Man Mystery Hunt: Chordal Callings (Update 12)


The spam filter really didn't like me this week. This is my fourth fifth attempt to make a post that won't get removed immediately upon submission. This was entirely written by yesterday afternoon, and I'm still confused as to why it's not live, so I'm reposting it.
Outside of Hunt-land, next week, Syntax is going to have finals and a busy work schedule. Not only that, but the plug separated from the cord on his laptop charger yesterday. We soldered it, but we don't know how long that'll hold up or how long it'll take for a new one to be shipped. While there isn't much that will prevent me from solving things personally, I likely will not be able to keep up on my own (especially since we're down to only the stuckest things.)
The title might be a bit weird this week, but I didn't have a pun or a pop culture reference in my head. That's because I spent most of the weekend playing Magic: The Gathering like the nerd I am. I realized that my favorite Magic card would be doubly (if not triply) relevant to the puzzles in this update, so it sort of became the name of the post.
Anyway, here it goes again.

Rules Changes

Usually, I put questions about the rules in the "final notes" section, but this is important enough to go in the header.
We finally unlocked Your Birthday Town this week (party on!) It's been unclear whether there's any non-trivial way for us to interact with it-- the answers I've heard have consistently varied between "no" and "maybe". If there were spoiler-tastic behind-the-scenes discussions about what would happen when we got here, we obviously haven't heard the results of them.
It was suggested at some point that we could just view the answer to see what the puzzle should have been, then move on with our lives. That feels kind of unsatisfying, but since we have no way to know what the difficult-to-replicate part of the puzzle could be, we'll do it if we have no other options by the time of the next write-up (even if it's another announcement that says the Hunt didn't move far enough.)
Incidentally, that will be a week from tomorrow, which is Syntax's actual birthday.

Tales of a Magic: The Gathering-Crazed Shire

A Tiny Note About Rose Garden

While it was fairly obvious that something was missing from the clues, I'm surprised that we didn't use the years or realize that team names could be important until now. Sometimes, we completely miss the intent of a puzzle when we go through it. This puzzle's design was a lot more clever than we were.

A Tiny Note About I AM GROOT

People still ask me about this one-- it happened at least once at Magic this weekend. I told a lot of people about this before I knew how to get the answer, and I still get asked if I've solved it. They're amazed that people actually figured out what to do and were able to do it, and are generally surprised that the answer doesn't have a lot to do with Groot.

A Tiny Note About Something In Common

I've had some problems explaining what this puzzle was to outsiders. I've had some success, though, mostly by singing the House of the Rising Sun melody with the lyrics "I wanna be the very best / That saved a wretch like me / Remember Christ our savior was / United States Marines".

A Tiny Note About No Shirt

One of the most surprising moments in this entire journey was when I found out that the solution page to this puzzle was entirely clean.

Puzzle-Specific Notes (Solved)

A Bunch Of Ripoffs

"I would say that's a novel approach, except that it's exactly not as novel as other teams." - the puzzle creator
Identify, sort, index, solve. It's been a common enough archetype in Hunt history to get a name. There were a few of them near the beginning of the Hunt this year-- mostly about weird pop-culture topics for comic relief-- but the formula has rarely been played straight in the later rounds. There have been a couple of puzzles (IN SYNdiCation, for example) where we got stuck because we incorrectly assumed that they would play the formula straight. I've sort of come to expect puzzles that start with "identify, sort" to end with "sort again, index, task" or "do something completely unrelated to the rest of the puzzle, solve". This one was the former.
Syntax tackled everything on the puzzle page fairly quickly, so I didn't have a lot to do with identifying the books. One thing that he realized very quickly was that people avoid naming the villain in a whodunit when they give a short synopsis of it. Between the obscurity of some of the books and the amount of Google hits that we found to be completely unhelpful, the identification here was actually fairly difficult.
The phrase "TEAR US A NEW ONE" came out of it all. We thought that making a new mystery novel cover would be easy but potentially time-consuming, so we worked on other things until we hit a slow week. Then, last week was so slow that we barely got to averaging one solve a day. I was at the point where we had six solves and I wanted one more before I wrote anything, and decided to complete this.
As it turns out, I'm really bad at using image manipulation tools to recreate the images in the puzzle with different text. As it also turns out, I didn't have a disposable mystery novel to tear up. (Something about tearing up books makes me feel a little uncomfortable, as well.) Then I remembered that the context in which the phrase "tear us a new one" comes up is rarely about literally tearing something.
"I'll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals..." - a great sage, probably
I needed a long insult-laced tirade to submit in lieu of a novel cover, and the Navy Seal copypasta was the first thing that came to my head. Of course, I did edit it so that it was a lot more relevant to the puzzle and to our team in general. I have to say that I really enjoyed this one.
That being said, as our Hunt is slow and unofficial, the various task submissions can have wildly varying response times. While waiting for a response, we'd managed to solve Split Seven Ways, and I proceeded to post the write-up for the week. Even though the delay sort of implied that something was happening in the background, I was surprised when the response that I got back was a continuation of the puzzle. It was a great twist, and it didn't take too long for me to find out what was missing from the cover to solve it.


Most of the puzzles that played the "identify-sort-index-solve" formula entirely straight this year have had at least one step that was about a completely different topic from the rest of the puzzle. This was no exception.
A lot of effort on my part was put into dissecting the seemingly-irrelevant changes to the original books' text ("Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. Patty.") Travelogue has had more extraneous information presented on the puzzle page than almost anything else this year, all things considered, and it definitely obfuscated the correct path to the answer even with the blatant flavor text.
I had the three-letter abbreviations and authors listed from before we took any of the puzzles seriously for some reason. "Are these airport codes?" gets suggested nearly as often as "is this Caressing?", and we asked that question multiple times before I got anything out of it. Syntax and I had both thought that airports weren't relevant to the puzzle for some time; we knew that most or all of the TLAs were real airport codes, but they were usually for tiny airports, and it isn't too unlikely that it could happen with completely random letters. This week, I decided to list them all out anyway.
At a certain point last year, Syntax and I had a discussion about how difficult it would be for someone to visit every time zone. Even disregarding the fact that repeatedly flying overseas to different countries would be prohibitively expensive for almost everyone, there are still a lot of time zones that are just plain hard to get to. Several countries which are very questionable tourist desinations have unique time zones. There are also a few time zones which don't have a lot of land in them. UTC-12 only has two uninhabited islands in it, for example, and UTC+14 isn't much better. At first, we thought that UTC-2 would also be very difficult to visit, with its landmasses only consisting of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, but then we realized that Fernando de Noronha, a small archipelago off the coast of Brazil, was much more accessible and just so happened to use that time zone.
That last bit of information ended up being extremely relevant here. I ended up listing out the airports on the spreadsheet this week, despite them not having any apparent pattern, hit the one in Fernando de Noronha, and correctly assumed that it was only included because of the severe lack of airports in UTC-2.
Even though the stretch of time zones was apparent, my chart was reversed, and it took a couple of minutes to figure out how to properly index. I don't know whether the last letters of the codes running from UTC-1 to UTC-7 were meant to spell out "on a card", but I took it as a clue. Since I completely failed to think of a non-numerical playing card that was three letters long, I had to figure out how to properly index into the authors' names and then feel really stupid after looking up the code for Lanzarote.
I'd guess that this would be among the hardest non-technical puzzles in Bloomsday, except that three-letter answers are typically pretty easy to backsolve.

Flag Day

The main obstacle to completing this was getting enough people that were willing to be guinea pigs. Thankfully, I still know a lot of people at my former college's board gaming club, and this wasn't too different from a normal game of charades with us.
We had two friends on one side of a large room there, me and a friend on the other side, and Syntax moderating. Syntax assumed that we couldn't both participate without spoiling the puzzle. Because Syntax was moderating, he also made decks of cards with the words on them so we could send them back and forth in a random order.
The first couple of messages were rocky, but after a certain point, doing the correct motions got to be fairly simple (though it distracted a lot of people walking by.) At some point, my partner left to go play another game, so I had to signal to the other team by myself. Letters like "T" and "Y" suddenly got really hard.
Since I had a complete team sending things to me, and I only needed to receive four messages, I quickly figured out the puzzle, and got to the answer without the other side. But, apparently, it couldn't end until the other team could recognize all of the correct codes. "GOLD INLAY" was not something that they were picking up on, and even with me sending the message repeatedly, it didn't get communicated very clearly.
To whoever helped us with our semaphore, thank you for the 20 solvent.

Ridin' Delhi

In Holi Town, a certain Mr. Chand tells you a colorful story about three members of the Indian Resistance and their journeys throughout the subcontinent. - flavor text, emphasis mine
"That's so stupid if it's actually the answer." - Syntax
I looked at this for a while during a break between rounds of a Magic tournament and realized that I probably had to index into the cities by color somehow. While the Ticket to Ride map was fairly obvious to us, and identifying the cities wasn't too difficult, we somehow forgot about resistor color codes existing. Oops.
I like how the character names both were color words and were colored in properly. There was no confusion there. We also thought that it was supposed to be more of a logic puzzle than what it actually was.
This is where I mention that we only got one Holi solve this week. Also, this is where I talk about not being able to say a lot about certain puzzles. Did I mention that Holi is hard and stuck to the point of being unreasonable? I kind of have to do that.

Turn On A Dime

Meanwhile, a lot of the puzzles in Bloomsday were decidedly quick, and they also had some of the flashiest presentation.
I don't know how you all find out everything that has ever been alphabetized. While Syntax was busy matching the front of the coins, I was identifying the images on the back and lucked into finding the design of the ten pence coins before I realized that there were multiple designs that went from A to Z.
We still don't know how there were so many near-identical fronts or backs of US coins with different values. Several of the coins' differences came down to the mintmarks; meanwhile, a few of them we had to disambiguate by seeing what would make a correctly-spelled clue phrase. We realized that the mintage numbers mattered, and we started to work on opposite ends of the line. Syntax found the letter "B" to be the first thing in the message, and I expressed concern.
"It's a 26-letter clue phrase. That isn't an A for "answer." That isn't a C for 'call in X'. That isn't a T for 'the solution to all of your problems is the name of this coin.' It's a B for 'bring us something'. Probably a coin. Hopefully not a past Mystery Hunt coin, because I don't think we have any of those." - my feelings, paraphrased
We learned that the expression started with "bring" and ended with "coin", and things got worse. It didn't help that this process was pretty slow-- there wasn't one convenient source we could use for the number of every coin in existence. The gap being filled in with "HQ any real Canadian" was honestly a relief.
I kind of assumed that you'd normally keep the coin, but just like with our joker, I decided to use our inability to give you all an object could be an opportunity to be creative. Here are the pictures of a Canadian $25 coin that got submitted. We have one laying around because at one point, our family drove to Winnipeg because it was close and we hadn't ever seen it before. That happens to be where the Canadian mint is; they sell a lot of souvenir coins and things, and they really like to talk about Canada having painted circulation coins in full color.
(Oddly, the Winnipeg mint doesn't typically make collector coins; that's usually reserved for the other mint in Ottawa that makes nothing but collector coins. They do, however, make all of the coins that are intended to go into circulation. Maybe a regular coin would have been more fitting.)
After Travel Planning had the hardest part of the puzzle on the flyer, I've been cautious about assuming that whatever we get back from calling into Setec will be either a direct answer line or a puzzle with a trivial solution. The final step ended up looking hard. It looked a lot harder than it was, though. I'd stopped thinking about those ten pence coins a while back, but Syntax didn't, and we got to the answer right away.

Getting Digits

Yesterday, Syntax said that the worst kind of mistake is when you dismiss the right answer while chasing something else. This was in reference to a different puzzle that's a couple of entries below this.
I'd beg to disagree, though. To me, the second-worst kind of mistake is thinking of the right answer and throwing it out. The worst kind of mistake is when you end up with a wrong answer that doesn't have any apparent differences from what the right answer should be.
While the presentation was cool and answering the clues was fun, we got through that part fast enough to not have a story. (The inclusion of a list of Chinese names and a patent number in the puzzle was pure evil, however.) We had the right mechanics for getting digits out of the clues, too. I called the number we had, which I will not mention because it might be the thing that's causing my posts to disappear, and this is where the fun began.
"Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again, or dial 611 for customer service. Message G A zero zero one fifty-one."
Before I could dial again, another message played:
"Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again, or dial 611 for customer service. Message M N one eight four fifty-one."
Dialing 611 did nothing, and having the "51" at the end of both messages didn't help, either. The call disconnected itself. I called the number again.
"Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again, or dial 611 for customer service. Message I L zero zero two fifty-one."
"Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and dial again, or dial 611 for customer service. Message M N one eight three fifty-one."
That's it! Every time I call, I get some random other state's number, and a message telling me where I am with a random number, and I need to figure out how they relate to each other. There's no way that there would just be random message numbers from our service provider when it's sending out the same message every time.
I kept getting the same two responses when I called, though. Syntax could only manage to get Texas, 006. (I managed to get Michigan, 201, as well when I transcribed the message for the write-up.) This was stuck unless we could find enough different phones to collect close to every state's number.
Syntax suggested that we did something wrong after about 45 minutes of trying to solve this, and I dialed a 555 number to test it. I got the same response back. Oops.
We couldn't find where we made our mistake, though, and we had to verify that the number still was live. This was stuck for several days. We ended up making the assumption that one of the digits in the number was supposed to be a 0, 4, or 7, and that only one segment could be wrong. Then, I found out that 683 wasn't a real area code, which was enough to uniquely identify the mistake. We had "Murder on the Orient Express" listed as our Kenneth Branagh movie, when we really should have had something with "off" in it. I don't think we could have resolved that one by just checking if we'd correctly answered the clues.
The answer checker to this was apparently broken when we unlocked this, but we were reassured that it would be fixed, and that the answer would be obvious even if it wasn't fixed. Then, we got told that it was fixed. Then, we got told that the number was supposed to work correctly. The number we dialed explicitly said that the answer was "MINI USB". That's a useful phrase for the Bloomsday-Arbor Day wheel, but the answer checker still didn't accept it. Not because it's still broken-- because I didn't clear my cache before trying it again.
Sometimes, the silliest things can make a puzzle go off the rails.


Good news! It isn't impossible!
We had a fair bit of work put into this puzzle, almost all of which was entirely unhelpful. The most helpful thing we did, oddly enough, was make printed copies of the puzzle so that our mom could think about "the sheet music puzzle" to get a nonexistent star.
Thinking that a puzzle is hard definitely changes the way we approach it. The 2011 hunt was the first one that I saw, and it had things like this IN THE FIRST ROUND. Meanwhile, the 2015 hunt was the first one where I'd put in effort to solving puzzles at random. The objectively hardest and also least-solved puzzles were things that took a lot of technical knowledge to even approach. Sometimes, this was extremely obvious, particularly in the case of Practice in Theory. It probably wasn't too much of a stretch to assume that this had two solves because it took graduate-level something.
Realizing that the rhythm of both lines could be interpreted as Morse Code was painfully obvious in hindsight, even if it wasn't that obvious at all.
I'd mentioned earlier this week that we thought we'd made headway on a Pi Day or Bloomsday puzzle by trying to guess who the author was. As a response to that, I was also given a generic yet cryptic piece of advice: "think about what information you haven't used yet". The odds that method gets us unstuck varies heavily from puzzle to puzzle, and certain authors tend to use every scrap of information on the page more than others. It felt like we were talking about different events.
When I found out what a harmonic table was, that tidbit came with a good number of progressive rock musicians that had used a keyboard in that configuration. That's when I realized that this was probably by the author of IN SYNdiCation, Turtle Power!, and (of course) Caressing, who is vaguely associated with a specific progressive-rock musician in a way that I will not describe because I want my post to still be readable. Nearly all of their puzzles have taken the form of figuring out what to do with a large amount of given information. The advice finally clicked with me.
Oddly enough, though, that conversation happened before I figured out what this puzzle was about; it was actually about a completely different puzzle, and an author who wrote a lot of puzzles where that piece of advice is completely irrelevant. Not only that, but I'm not sure if trying to guess who the author was ended up being helpful at all, because that one's going to be found in the "unsolved" section today.
When I went to draw out the harmonic table, I found out that I had accidentally invented my own. At some point, I tried to fill in the hexagons with notes so that all the chords would be covered, but couldn't quite get the right orientation, even though I found out that there was a consistent way to put notes on a hexagonal grid so that every corner would be a major or minor chord. This is mostly because I thought that the octaves mattered. That idea continued to bother me even when I had the correct harmonic table, and it took me about half an hour to figure out what to do with it.
I'm honestly surprised that I was able to get stuck because nobody had asked if a puzzle was Caressing. Not only does that get asked a lot, but it's unlikely to be the answer. The "connect-the-dots" tag in devjoe's index is criminally underused; while "drawing letters and numbers" lists a few more puzzles that are Caressing, it adds a lot that aren't. The fact that it was actually relevant in both Running for Office and Travel Planning feels really weird in hindsight. (There were links in this paragraph, but I took them out because they might have been causing my post to be filtered.)
This did go fast after that point, and we didn't even need to fold up the soccer ball. Using everything that we hadn't used-- the rests and the pitches-- was enough to get us to the answer. As usual, the challenge wasn't so much in translating the Morse or connecting or grouping the dots as much as figuring out that there was Morse and dots that could be connected.
One final note about this: Originally, we thought that all of the hard puzzles in Pi Day started with the letter P, and grouped them together as the "puh-puzzles". That really messed with us on Protection Plan. Once we realized that Protection Plan wasn't a difficult puzzle, we thought that this was the only impossible thing and that Playing A Round was supposed to be easy. Then, we got told that Playing A Round was the star after we solved it, which carried the implication that this wasn't that hard.
This is a prime example about how thinking about the difficulty of a puzzle before we actually attempt to solve it is sometimes very counterproductive.

Valentine's Day-Presidents' Day Meta

A meta?!? I thought that we couldn't do these at all! They'd survive until every normal puzzle had been solved, and then we'd have to give up on them.
Initially, we had no idea what went here, while we thought all the answers with food went to Thanksgiving. We had to get to 11 solves in Presidents' Day to prove that there wasn't enough food there to save us.
We had to spend 40 solvent on Presidents' Day to figure out what was going on. We needed exclusively two-word answers for this meta, and we couldn't tell what went to the other one at all.
This was, of course, the puzzle where Syntax suggested the worst type of mistake is when you throw out the correct answer. I joked about inserting "IM" into Francis Bacon to make Simba a couple of times, and then we moved on. Syntax was pretty vehement about the two-letter "couple" hearts going to Valentine's Day, as well, and making Simba would go against that.
Well, we needed Simba. And a lot of other characters, too.
While the actual puzzle went fast after we figured it out, we still needed to backsolve to figure out that "CLEAN ROOM" went here. That's because Running For Office explicitly presented it as a single word, and we were very much unsure if it could be separated.

Thanksgiving-Presidents' Day Meta

We'd always said that clearing one side of Presidents' Day would cause us to clear the other side.
In this case, we were doing everything correctly by using each column of presidents as indices by their succession order. That being said, we didn't know how to sort the answers at all, and consistently stumbled because we couldn't identify what answers fed this meta.
At first, we kept throwing things from the Thanksgiving-New Year's meta into this because we didn't know how to place words into the grid there, and because we didn't have two things long enough to fit in the fourth and fifth columns. Of course, we had no idea how to divide the Presidents' Day answers, either. Even though we'd assumed that the grid would give us a message starting with "they", there were lots of ways to do that which didn't work. There are still lots of wrong ways to do that even if you know exactly what goes to the meta.
I still haven't bothered to check whether there was actually a way to sort the answers-- we're too excited to have finally gotten beyond the Presidents' Day meta wall.

Safety Training

"There's only one common English phrase that fits that pattern?!?" - Syntax
This was straight-up backsolved. Apparently, three letters out of 20 is enough to do that.
Since we don't know if we were close to solving this or not, we haven't looked at how to get "MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU" yet. That being said, this probably was a relatively simple puzzle that we kept doing the wrong things on.
I don't have much more to say here, but this probably will end up in Tales someday.

Puzzle-Specific Notes (Unsolved)

Bloom Filter

Syntax told me that he found a way to prove whether we know about everything that passes the filter. Today, he actually coded something to test it-- we now know that we have the complete word list.
Beyond that tidbit, this is still practically stuck in the same place it was when we unlocked it.

Chain of Commands

We've assumed that "ST" ENTER needs to be a valid command in whatever this puzzle is about. Syntax and I have tested a lot of options-- stage commands didn't work, we've found a lot of questionable digital topics that might work (mostly CAD and Stata-related things), Syntax found out that it could be crochet shorthand, and I found a lot of resources for learning Vim a couple of weeks too late.
Most of the reason why this is stuck is because we have no idea what it's about, so I tried the novel approach of trying to guess at what topic would motivate the author to make this puzzle. Of course, I don't know who made this puzzle. After throwing out a few ideas for who could have written this, I came to the conclusion that, on its surface, Chain of Commands feels most similar to the work of the author behind Deep Blue and Poor Richard Goes to Sea. Going to devjoe's archives and reading what she wrote in the 2017 hunt, I found this massive chunk of knitting shorthand.
Syntax thought that this could be crochet shorthand, so that's potentially helpful! (Or extremely unhelpful.) Unfortunately, none of the words look meaningful, whether they're crochet instructions or not, and we've failed to find any use for them no matter what the puzzle is about.
Even though I thought that figuring out the topic of this puzzle would be a simple process, it's shown to be difficult, and even the most promising options aren't working. As weird as this feels to me, we probably need to figure out what the puzzle is about mechanically before we find the topic.

Picture Book

This is probably meant to be read row by row, since completely black squares don't seem to exist in horizontal blocks. We still haven't done a lot of work on this, and to some extent, we still don't really know what to do.

Standardized Mess

We haven't found the answer key that the tests were actually graded on yet. We also haven't found a way to read the bubbles as five-bit binary or as any other type of code, combined or uncombined.

Pi Day-Holi Meta

We used our first solvent in Holi on Chris Chros and found out that the answer went here. Of course, we still know very little about this meta. I'm guessing that we're still missing at least one and maybe two answers from the Pi Day side that feed this, which isn't helping us.

Both Bloomsday Metas

We have enough answers for both of these to be in really awkward positions. Either the Pi Day-Bloomsday meta doesn't alternate between holidays in its rows, or the Arbor Day-Bloomsday wheels aren't both meant to be filled in the same way. This is a situation where having more information has caused us to be more confused about what answers feed each meta.

New Year's-Holi Meta

If there's a meta that needs a buttload of really short answers, it has to be this one. That being said, we have no evidence for or against that idea other than us not understanding what could possibly take in "gut" or "oops".

Everything Else

I think that we actually solved most of the things we worked on at all this week. This was a surprisingly short "unsolved" section.
(We did get another solve on a puzzle not listed here while I was trying to figure out how to get through the spam filter, though. That will be saved for the next update.)


Christmas: 6/6, ⭐ (Nobel Laureate)
Halloween: 17/17, ⭐ (Starbucks Lover), proven anomaly (A Killer Party)
Thanksgiving: 14/16 (missing Jukebox Hero and Your Wish is My Command), ⭐️ (Cross Campus), proven anomaly (Stuffing)
Valentine's Day: 16/17 (missing The Treehouse of Crossed Destinies), ⭐ (Caressing), proven anomaly (Invisible Walls)
President's Day: 12/12, ⭐ (State Machine), proven anomaly (The Bill)
New Year's: 10/13 (missing Art Tours, First You Visit Burkina Faso, and Taskmaster), ⭐ (Display Case)
Arbor Day: 18/18, ⭐ (Delightful), proven anomaly (Middle School of Mines)
Pi Day: 16/18 (missing Clued Connections and Compass and Straightedge), ⭐️ (Playing a Round)
Holi: 11/17 (missing Battle of the Network Stars, Bee Movies, Chicago Loop, Have You Seen Me?, Riding The Tube, and Would Not Make Again), ⭐️ (Something in Common)
Bloomsday: 10/14 (missing Bloom Filter, Chain of Commands, Picture Book, and Standardized Mess)
Path metas: 7/14 (CH-HA, HA-TH, HA-VA, TH-PR, VA-PR, VA-AR, and AR-PI)
Events: 3/5 (missing Talk Like a Pirate Day and Date And Thyme/MLK Jr. Day)
Solvent stored: 10

Final Notes

If you can see this post, and there are 10 complete write-ups about different puzzles that got solved this week, and there aren't yet comments, then please let me know that it's visible to you.
Any input on Your Birthday Town is appreciated.
We have unresolved solvent on The Bill and Middle School of Mines; the only logical option I can think of is that they go to one of the supermetas in the middle of the page. Do they feed Your Birthday Town?
Otherwise, we have no further questions this week. Thank you all for reading these!
-Cheshire Songchild
submitted by CheshireSolves to mysteryhunt [link] [comments]

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