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Topics - Jubal

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1
Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Afghanistan
« on: September 02, 2021, 06:03:13 PM »
So, I thought I'd do a thread for some updates and discussion on what's going on in Afghanistan. I fear there's going to be a tendency for the world press to start looking away now the US forces have left, so I wanted somewhere to put reports from the region and keep informed.

The situation is basically now that the Taliban control most of Afghanistan... for whatever value of control that means. People seem to be exhausted by fighting and possibly enough are willing to accept Taliban rule in exchange for stability, but this presupposes that's something that the Taliban can provide. Governing a country and fighting an asymmetric war are far from the same skill set. Many Afghans are desperate to get out, some Taliban groups are clearly hunting down supporters of the old regime, and it's not clear what the relationships between different Taliban groups will end up looking like or whether the new government will be able to balance supporting its fighting forces with managing the civilian population. And then there's the issue of ISIS or Al-Qaeda or other such affiliated groups, who seem to have been behind the major bomb attack on Kabul airport and might try to destabilise a Taliban government that they feel is making too many concessions.

There's also the complicating factor of Panjshir, which remains in government hands under former president Ghani's Vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, and the Tajik military leader Ahmad Massoud. Talks between the Taliban and Panjshiris appear to have broken down, and fighting has broken out there in the last couple of days. Both the Taliban and the Panjshir forces have been claiming some success so far: it's quite difficult to ascertain more from the limited media reports. Generally the outside assessments I've seen have suggested that the Taliban's overwhelming advantage in numbers and munitions mean that they are unlikely to fail if they try and capture Panjshir, but I don't know how true that is.


Anyway, some recent notes:

The Hindustan times reports that Tajikistan has honoured Ahmad Massoud's father, which given the timing is presumably at least in part a political statement of favour towards the Panjshiris.

The above conflicting reports on Panjshir are summarised here by NBC.

The Taliban are openly saying that they will rely on Chinese funding for rebuilding. China seems to be seeing the Taliban as a possible ally in its conflict with the Uyghurs. Afghanistan has a small border with China's Xinjiang province, home of most Uyghurs, along the end of the Wakhan Corridor.

2


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3
General Gaming - The Arcade / Going Witchering
« on: August 22, 2021, 10:28:55 AM »
Right, I've gone back to the Witcher games, and we don't have a general thread for them so here's one.

I played through two surprisingly fast, partly because I decided I'd do a lot more switching to easy mode than the previous time and partly because I managed to get the hang of the controls and not incinerate any guards, which it turns out is pretty helpful for completion of the game. I did Iorveth's path and helped Saskia build the Pontar Free State, which was nice albeit that
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

And now I'm on 3. I'm not finding the combat much more fluid than 2, but I think a lot of the effectiveness of the Witcher's combat systems relies on you having a controller. For example, I really can't use the step-dodge because accurately tucking my thumb under to use the alt whilst stepping fluidly whilst next to an enemy, in a game that really relies on you not taking hits, is a recipe for disaster. I also think I've barely made a single strong attack all game, I need to get to working that one but it's one key more than my brain can manage most of the time. I guess the other issue as ever is that my timing is crap which means the nice new stuff like having blocking/parrying available on the mouse isn't very helpful for me. All that said, now I'm improving a bit at strike-and-roll combat it is a lot more bearable, and I'm playing on Normal rather than Easy.

Regarding other mechanics, the alchemy system feels very streamlined: the ability system took longer to work out, it feels a bit weird that you can have so few abilities activated simultaneously as it really reduces the "ooh cool upgrades" feeling as you probably can't use whatever you just bought, though that might just be me still misunderstanding the system.

The plot writing has been very good with 3 so far - I'm still bumbling about in Velen and probably will be for some time, since I'm very much exploring random areas of the map first, sidequests second, then main quest third, although I've got back and done some chunks of main quest recently since I was feeling super underlevelled for absolutely everything. I also seem to have a constantly full inventory and almost no money due to the cost of equipment repairs and the fact this game keeps giving me chances to be generous to people and I'm taking all of them. The writing of Strenger/the Baron was really interestingly done, I though, as was Keira, though there is some obvious flirting in the latter and I have a bad feeling I'm going to horribly mess up all the major interpersonal stuff in this game.

4
General Chatter - The Boozer / August Pub/Virtual Meetup
« on: August 13, 2021, 06:59:58 PM »
So I guess this willl now be the 26 or 27 - any preferences from people?

5
General Gaming - The Arcade / What to play next?
« on: August 13, 2021, 05:21:57 PM »
Did one of these a bit over a year ago, guess we're back here again.

  • Continue/complete the Witcher games. I keep being told I should play these, but also I hate strike-and-dodge-and-roll combat systems and I gave up on W2 once on that basis.
  • Another Elder Scrolls game, probably Oblivion. Might be fun, I don't know how well going backward through the series would work for me and like the Witcher games they're quite time consumptive.
  • Some older RPG that isn't so hack and slash - probably Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights or Planescape Torment, but I'm not sure which. Psyanotek's James I know really likes Planescape: Torment, and IIRC Spritelady is a Neverwinter Nights fan.
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. I liked PoE, apparently PoEII is quite different and I'm a bit worried from what I've heard that it'll have another round of "everyone is evil lol" moral bad choices which I never like much.
  • Play a more modern Total War or Civilisation game. I've barely played Total Wars more modern than Rome, and Civs more modern than, uh, Civ II. So I feel it might be interesting to mechanically see where those franchises are nowadays. I'm not actually a very good strategy gamer which gives me pause - I can't play those games for the challenge, and I don't know if I have the time to do the sort of mental narrative stuff that I enjoy with them.
  • Stellaris. I do own the base game and it's meant to be pretty good.
  • Something else? I'm sure there's many options I've not considered.

6
General Chatter - The Boozer / July Pub
« on: July 20, 2021, 10:43:59 PM »
Just going to get the message out via email - I'll call this one for the 30th, since I know some people prefer Fridays so shifting weekday now and again would seem to make sense. Hope to see folks there :)

7
General Gaming - The Arcade / Wildermyth
« on: July 03, 2021, 01:20:53 PM »
Anyone else playing this? It's really really good: a turn based party RPG with strong storytelling, a really nice art style, procedurally generated but editable characters, and a really fun legacy character system so you end up building up a richer and richer mythos around particular heroes. I'm enjoying it hugely.

To give you an idea, my characters so far include:
  • Rivbaron Arcum, a ranger, loremaster and master archer with literal giant crow wings.
  • Gonbrek Van Duncan, leader of the adventuring party Van Duncan's Shields, who had a very cute same-sex marriage to the party ranger and also made a deal with a mystical giant tortoise to become part of an immortal guardian order upon his death.
  • Worwae Firglass, another member of Van Duncan's party who was the only person to run through that whole campaign, and also started a family such that by the late game half the party were Firglasses and I was running around with three generations of her line. She had a lightning arm gained from a random event and took down the final boss of the campaign, aged ninety, by repeatedly blasting electricity into it.
  • Erwenna Sybarien, who has a pet golden rabbit which used to be a magic sword before she adopted it.

The combat is fun too, and the enemy range is good: there's five main enemy types, the Gorgons (corrupted wildlife, a bit lovecraftian), the Drauven (bird-lizard-kobold-types), the Morthagi (magical fantasy horror skull robots), the Deepists (weird underground awakened cult types), and the Thrixl (insectoidish weirdnesses from a parallel world of dreams). Each faction has its own story campaign, and you can also have generic campaigns as well. All enemy types have huge ranges of units, and develop with new units emerging during the campaign. Also it all works in multiplayer!

8
This conference is just starting - all the papers are in twitter-thread form and publicly readable, and it'll be going until Friday. Do discuss it there or here!


You can follow along at:
https://twitter.com/MidAgesModGames

9
The World of Kavis / Camahay
« on: May 22, 2021, 01:03:03 AM »
Camahay is a southern region with a peninsula and islands curving around south of Dulshan. Camahayans vary significantly between those in a set of small city-republics, and those in the semi-nomadic clan societies of the region.

Camahayan Knots
Camahayans have an elaborate system of communicating particular hopes and feelings via coloured textile knots, which are often ceremonially given or left to particular individuals as a ritualised form of cultural communication.

~More to be added~

10
The World of Kavis / Dulshan
« on: May 22, 2021, 01:01:19 AM »
Dulshan (lit. "the land of five"), is a country or region well to the south of Chardil.

Children
Wealthier Dulshand families have a strict order of attachment for male children, the so-called rule of five. The first child is turned wild - usually abandoned in sacred spaces in jungles or on mountains. Most of these children die: those very few who survive are considered extremely holy. The subsequent order is that the second child inherits the family estates, the third is given to the priesthood, the fourth is given to some sort of military occupation (see the notes on Francolins below) and the fifth and further children work on behalf of the second in some capacity and often take up respected skilled occupations. Female children are not governed by these rules, although a child initially considered female, as long as she would not become the first, may at any time once they are able to understand the concept challenge a relevant younger brother to a duel for the place they would have had in the family heirarchy had they been male. If they win the duel, they are treated as male from that point onwards.

Poorer families - those who are not of the estate-owning classes - do not usually observe the rules, although in the urban centres lines can sometimes blur and choosing to observe the rule of five is an important prerequisite for attempting towards or claiming higher status.

The Francolins
Dulshand fourth sons often serve across the world as mercenaries - the Francolin Companies are the most notable form of this.

~More to be added~

11
Pangolin Games / Exile Princes Lore Dump
« on: May 22, 2021, 12:58:55 AM »
I've tried to intentionally keep TEP lowish on settled lore - after all, the random maps make it a bit of a sandbox setting by nature - but nonetheless, lore has happened, and I think what's there sort of helps to tie the setting together thematically, so I thought I should make some notes on it, firstly in case it interests people and secondly so I don't contradict myself.

The Houses
These are sort of a major organising principle of the game, though not every house appears in every game. I'm not even really sure what a house is, in this setting. They're not houses in the usual sense of being families or extended families, I think, though I'd imagine that some families tend to align to particular houses. Rather, I suppose the best way to think of them is as loose factions vying for power, with different interests, methods, and philosophies to apply to that power (with a further important caveat that in practice they often don't represent or live those philosophies: they're not ideologically selective or sorted.

I'm not going to focus too much on playstyles etc here, but rather any bits of background story info on each house.

House of Scholars (Playable)
The scholars were the first house, though are now one of the smaller ones. Their original leader is not named in the lands' chronicles, and is known as the Duke in Green. He was the only one of the fabled Four Mariners who landed in the exile lands, and was thus the first of the eponymous exiles there: The Duke to the land, Kyra to the deeps, Theyan to the sky, and the Navigator to the open sea.

House of Generals (Playable)

House of the Dragon (Playable)

House of the Phoenix (Playable)
Their legendary founder is called Phyche.

House of the Wolf (Not Yet Playable)
House of Princes (Not Yet Playable)

Faith and Saints
It's my intention that the game will eventually have some more faith identities outside the major faith. There are currently hints of this (lost altars etc) but it's not as explicit as it later will be.

The major faith of the Exile Lands is a monotheistic religion with a fairly un-varied in rank and type, mixed in gender, clergy. The clergy and faith tend to be somewhat associated with social conservatism, but not by any means universally so: in many areas there is no effective central church authority, though some are formed into more formal bishoprics, so different churches have their own lines of succession and often rather fierce theological debates.

The major saints are the Blessed Alche, the Unmarred Fynda,  the Learned Woll, the Noble Thele, the Honoured Curalin, the Sacred Alazda, the Prophet Carc, the Saintly Oraphas, and the Risen Theyan.

Oraphas is probably the most fleshed-out saint so far: he is at least in standard re-tellings a wood sprite, and the subject of "Saint Oraphas was a Wood Sprite", a popular tavern song about how an angel taught him the holy word and he lived contemplatively in the woods until coming upon some demons and sending their king, Pentagathus, back to hell by singing the holy rites. Whilst he is a popular saint, some more conservative clergy dislike his worship both because it encourages people to have a better view of the fey, who they consider untrustworthy, and because it encourages hermits and other religious practices outside the church's control.

Theyan was one of the Four Mariners, and thus presumably the earliest chronologically of the saints.

Other Mythic Figures

Kyra was one of the Four Mariners, and became a spirit of the waters. She occasionally appears to do things like randomly provide items of dangerous weaponry to suitably fated individuals.
The Navigator does not yet appear, but is another of the Four Mariners.
Caradilis, the forest witch, is of unknown origin, and has an uncanny knack for appearing in the right place at the right time to push useful potions in front of heroic adventurers (for a fair price).
Ysengrin and Reynardine fulfil much the same function as in real-world myth. Ysengrin in some stories was at some point ruler of the Exile Lands, or possibly even the whole world, until tricked by Reynardine.

12
General Chatter - The Boozer / May pubmoot?
« on: May 16, 2021, 05:01:53 PM »
I was wondering about the 28th? We've often done Thursdays, but there's no way I can do the 27th, the 28th is the day I have to do two talks in one day but after that I'll finally be free come the evening so that would be viable though the concern/downside is that I might be knackered.

I think the main alternatives would be Tuesday 25th, just before I run into conference madness, and Monday 31st, but I suspect a Monday pubmoot wouldn't be well attended (I may be wrong).

13
General Chatter - The Boozer / Baelin's Route
« on: May 15, 2021, 09:23:03 PM »
So Viva La Dirt League, a New Zealand based comedy group who do a lot of very good little skits based on fantasy and gaming tropes, recently released their first longer piece, and it's really rather fun and quite charming - entitled "Baelin's Route", it's the tale of an NPC with only one dialogue line who accidentally ends up becoming the hero of an adventure. Can very much recommend :)


14
Exilian Media / Just As An Aside: An Attempt At Comedy
« on: May 12, 2021, 04:11:52 PM »

In which I make a probably lame attempt at Dragon Age related humour :)

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Questions and Suggestions - The High Court / Post drafts?
« on: May 11, 2021, 11:01:44 PM »
I'm wondering whether I should look and see if there's a post drafting mod anywhere. This would be a nice-to-have for me personally as I often find I start writing a post then it gets to midnight and I'd like to just save the draft and come back to work on it in the morning, but sometimes end up scrapping the post instead.

Would this be useful to anyone else or just me?

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