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Kibbutzing before the game, and another example of the kind of conversational thread this group follows - why oreos taste so horrible, Sesame Street songs about sugar beets, and the problems of translating surnames into English. And the T-28 Superheavy tank, of which two prototypes were made, then scrapped largely because the battle they were designed for was already over, and they were too big to transport anyway. And then one turned up abandoned in a field 27 years later.

GM: I consider this proof that you can lose ANYTHING in the paperwork.
Me: Or the Nazis in an alternate Earth invented dimensional weaponry.
GM: The enemy tank has been disintegrated, mein Fuhrer! 'I'm pretty sure it's not disintegrated' 'Do YOU want to tell the Fuhrer that we're making the Americans in another universe stronger?'

Back to the game, where we're squirreled away an anthrax-ridden zombie cow, and are debated whether or not we actually want to go after the people responsible, or even inform the authorities.

Ys: You keep making me do things I don't want to.
Harshal: Look at it this way - you get to prove the superiority of murder over necromancy.

GM: If you ask the necromancer-morticians to cast Corpse Compass for you, they'll want to know about the undead cow. These are *socially responsible* necromancers.

GM: You could also use the Pathfinders.
Harshal: Good point - I hadn't even considered using professional adventurers. As opposed to whatever we are. Career Criminals, perhaps.
GM: Worse - they're professional veteran prodnoses.

Of course, we don 't have to go after the necromancer right now - we already have the cow, after all.

Gillert: Give him a few months to get complacent.

Instead we could use the chaos as an excuse to rob some houses.

Zin: I vote we make money.

Ys's player and the GM: *mocking my tendency to apologise about everything* Stop saying you're sorry. Sorry. Stop apologising For being sorry! Sorry. ARGH!

Sadly, Harshal's inquiries fail to find any likely targets that haven't already been robbed - with the exception of one attempted burglary that ended with half-a-dozen Gargoyles dead. That house had a curious Mark on the door. Zin nips across to copy the design, which seems to be an Elf design referencing the four elements - some kind of Guild badge from out of town.

GM: They're like the Pinkertons. If the workers are striking 'We'll take care of it'.

Ys: We spent too much time on that fucking cow.
Harshal: Look on the bright side - you can invite all the thieves guild members around for a barbeque.

Most of the remaining premises are under the protection of the Guard, the Mob, private security guilds, and so on.

Ys: We're going to piss off SOMEBODY doing this - we just have to pick who we annoy.
Gillert: I'd rather not piss off the martially inclined wizards. Or the mafia.
Ys: And we've already pissed off the Thieve's Guild. And we have to pawn the goods afterwards.
GM: At least they haven't figured out it was you. Yet.

It looks like we'll be annoying the Varisian Mob, the Sczarni, who are notorious for the shark tank they use on annoyances. We could try and implicate somebody else for the robbery of a Mob mansion.

Harshal: Did we keep any of those Nightscale weapons?
Ys: Are we about to provoke a turf war in the middle of a plague?

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Star Wars : The F- Troop

Returning to Fomos, where a large number of Imperial Stormtroopers are now marching around, and various smoking piles indicate what happens when Stormtroopers can shoot straight. Apparently somebody knifed a trooper on shore leave, and the Imperials reacted with weapons 'set to stun'. There were 'weapon malfunctions'. All shore leave is cancelled, which ruins our chance to sell them cheap beer.

Fakybe: Godsdammit. This is why we can't have nice things.

Forvuk also what to know if anybody dropped a heavy weapon.

Fakybe: I'm not sure I like where this is going.

GM: Any mission where you need to carry a heavy gun on a harness is probably a combat mission anyway.
Fakybe: Or a shopping trip on Smuggler's Moon.

He also wants to know if the heavy weapons he has can fire up through a floor.

GM: If they could, somebody would have already done it, and the cantina wouldn't have a mezzanine level.
Fakybe's player: That is one of the best 'GM shutting down player's idea' I've ever seen.

GM: You can see bodies being carted off by janitorial droids, to the-
Forvuk: Glue factory?

Half the people we know are missing, and the cantina is closed for repairs - the Imperials are paying, for some reason.

GM: 'We killed half the town, but we're rebuilding the cantina as a good-will gesture.'

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So, off to the Wongan Hills next weekend, with the WA Naturalist's Club. I wonder if anybody I know would like to come along? Desiree and Belinda are overseas, unfortunately

Hero Shrew: We killed some zombies! And nobody got bitten so we'll be fine.

Flux wants to take the zombie's train back to base for study - Hero Shrew is dead against this.

Hero Shrew: We both know what will happen! You'll take one down to the basement for autopsy and before you know it there'll be hundreds of zombies trying to get into the compound.

Hero Shrew: Every time I go to the base I'm going to be carrying a baseball bat with a nail in it. Just in case Flux got bitten during the autopsy.
GM: Flux, you need to make him a device with two lights on it. But only the green like is hooked up. 'If it turns red I'm a zombie. It's a zombie detector'.
Hero Shrew: gee, thanks!
GM: 'Hey, it just turned red'
Flux: 'Wait, what?'

Flux: *shambles around the base groaning*
Hero Shrew: AAAHHHHH.
Flux: I'm not a zombie, it's just coffee withdrawal.

Flux and Hardlight try and figure out where Hardlight's powers actually originate, given some of the strange reading Flux had been getting on his detection spells earlier.

Flux: I need you to stand over there. Naked.
Hero Shrew: I didn't know your swung that way.

Flux does make an intuitive leap.

GM: Your most heartfelt expletive is 'Tesla's Magnificent Moustache'.
Flux: Oh god...
Hero Shrew OoC: Ah - broadcast power.

Somebody has set up a power source that broadcasts energy to the crystals that empower Hardlight and the Iron Claw, and goodness knows what else.

Hero Shrew: I'm going to go buy myself some nice clothes, and a bunch of flowers, and try and impress Sally down at the Collie Club. Actual fresh flowers this time, and not one of those bunches I find taped to traffic poles.
GM: You DO know those are shrines to the dead, right?
Hero Shrew: Well I know that NOW.

Sally, a Golden Setter morph with biomanipulation powers that works as a bouncer at the club, is polite, but overly sensitive to the scent of the flowers. She IS a scent hound after all.

Hero Shrew: Sigh. Maybe I'll get plastic flowers next time.

Sally is a foot-and-a-half taller than Hero Shrew.

GM: At least you have an excuse to look at her tits.
Hero Shrew: Yes, I have to look up past them to see her face... But I do have fantasies about what I'd like to do down here. *happy sigh*

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Star Wars: Taxi Driver

After shooting up a pirate base, capturing most of the pirates alive if not necessarily intact, and making a not of where the base and the ships are so we can come back and loot or utilise as we like, the Deniable Plausibility is on the way back to Fomos. The ship now has even more people on board, as well as a large amount of loot that the Rodians chose for their part in the attack. It's standing room only.

Forvuk the Dresellian Brute: And I'm learning to swing a vibro-axe.

Fendri the Bothan Pilot: I'm actually getting worried about the life support - everybody who isn't on duty has to be asleep.
Forvuk: By 'sleep' do you mean-
Fakybe the Adorable Little Bat-faced Con-artist: Not 'the long sleep'
Fendri: Or carbonite.
Fakybe: We don't have any carbonite anyway.

Fakybe: Don't worry, I'll keep everybody's morale up - I'll organise a sing-along.

Fakybe: If you're so desperate to get some target practise, join the Rebellion and go shoot up some Tie Fighters.
Forvuk: Target practise is less fun when the targets can shoot back.
Fakybe: Quite - I could insert a comment about the Massacre at Dralkh here.
Forvuk: *deathglare*

GM: When you get back to Fomos there's something alarming in orbit.
Fendri: There's always something in orbit, that's not alarming. Unless it's an Imperial Star Destroyer.
GM: *sings the Imperial March*
Fendri: Goddammit.

We act nonchalant, detach the looted starfighter and all that Glitterstim in high orbit, and land normally. The Rodians can arrange to have the starfighter, the pilot thereof, and the drugs, landed later. That distances ourselves from any connection to the raid (and the pilot in question is actually pretty relieved to have been captured - that starfighter was a deathrap). The surface is now swarming with bored Imperial troops, apparently on shore leave, although there's also a suspicious number of probe droids buzzing around.

Forvuk: What are the Imperials armed with?
GM: Same thing US Navy are when they're on leave.
Fakybe: Money!

Maybe we can get some cash acting as a taxi service, transporting troops back up to the destroyer.

Fakybe: It means they'll be less likely to blow us out of the sky later, if they think we're up to something. 'Hey, I remember those guys! They got me home after I got paralytically drunk at the cantina - and they didn't even roll me for my cash!'

We post a card offering off-planet transport at the trading post - even if we don't taxi stormtroopers around, there are certain to be people that want off Fomos in a hurry.

GM: The Star Destroyer 'Eviscerator' is obsolete, and only bought out of mothballs after the destruction of the Death Star. This a cadet training voyage for new recruits.
Forvuk: So... How many actual Imperials on board?
Fendri: *We are not skipjacking an Imperial Star Destroyer.*
All the Imperials in the cantina: *staring at us*
Fakybe: Don't mind him - he's drunk and an idiot.

We make arrangements to get the pirate's ship running again, whilst at the same time keeping the position of the base secret - although for some reason the Star Destroyer is blasting away at a remote part of Fomos 'for target practise'. Fendri handles the negotiations, and the negotiations with the person who answered our ad. It's a Mon Calamari, who is wearing an environment suit to cope with the dryness.

Fendri: What the hell is a Mon Calamari doing here?
Fakybe: He's an admiral, who was on holiday.

Actually, he's an entrepreneur - eventually we decide that bringing in holds-full of cheap booze from another system, to sell to the Imperials. The smuggler we clashed with earlier makes a reappearance too - by sending us a free pizza topped with the hand of that spy that we caught.

Fendri: He seems annoyed with us. Can't think why.

The entrepreneur also reports that the pirates and smugglers have be making enquiries, to find out what happened to their leader, and who they need to brutally kill in revenge.

Fakybe: Maybe we should leave an anonymous tip with the Imperials that the smuggler is a rebel spy.
Forvuk: Do you want me to be more overtly evil so you can offer people a more enjoyable alternative?
Fendri: I don't think you're evil. I just think you're unnecessarily violent.

The Stars Are Right!

*goes outside, looks up, not two bright stars in Scorpio that shouldn't be there* *downloads SkyView App, which calculates my position, which way I'm pointing the phone, and displays and up-to-date starmap including the ISS and Hubble Telescope*

What an age we live in.

It was a conjunction of Mars and Saturn, incidentally. Over on the horizon is a very close triple conjunction of Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter.
Kibitzing before the game this week - cannibalism on the set of the African Queen. Also, Red Dwarf.

GM: There was a reason the entire cast of characters was male, and heterosexual.
Me: Hence that conversation in one episode about the Flintstones 'Well, I'd go with Betty - by I'd be thinking of Wilma.'
Gillert's Player: Ah Betty, the town bike.

What long-term objectives do the PCs have?

Zin: I want a safe place for the kobolds. Filled with impassable traps. Where I can charge money to train parties of adventurers.
Harshal: That's not training adventurers, that's farming adventurers.
Gillert: 'Here, sign this waiver'. 'Why is it so long?'
Harshal: I'll write up the waiver for you. Basically you want a giant mulching machine, with a sieve underneath to catch the coins that fall out?

Gillert: Knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and doing good.
GM: You are SO in the wrong campaign.

Harshal: I want to be indispensable to anybody that wants to seem legitimate in Magnimar.
GM: Tricky - you'll always have competition.

Ys: I want to be deadly enough to kill anybody I want.
All: ...
Zin: Simple.
Harshal: And straightforward.

Harshal: We need to come up with a heist that can't be immediately traced back to us - by the guards finding a pile of stolen goods in our spare room, for example.

Ys: I just want to be in a position where I have the power of life or death over people. I don't mind if I'm working under somebody for that.
Harshal: You just want the job satisfaction.

Zin: Are we going to be the Mission Impossible team?
GM: Dun dun, DUNDUN, dun dun DUNDUN
Harshal: It would help me become indispensable. We already have our disguise expert *points at the Kobold disguised as a Halfling disguised as a gnome*.
Tannis: We need legal authority to go around beating up people - I mean, be adventurers.

Tannis points out that we need premises.

Harshal: As the case of Sala No-name exemplified, we need a postal address.
Ys: I am not volunteering my place.
Harshal: The non-sex dungeon might be a problem.

GM: You could always clear out the sewer goblin nests, but that would leave a power vacuum.
Harshal: So we install kobolds. And then Zin can become the Underlord.

Ys: We could always capture some goblins alive..
GM: Who are you?
Ys: I'm not finished. Then we dump them over the wall into whatever district we want to buy property in. That would lower property values.
GM: I'm not sure that's what people had in mind when they invented the term 'social engineering'.

GM: I'm just glad none of you suggested dressing up some kobolds as goblins and assassinate an arch-duke.

Tannis: Plagues aren't difficult to synthesise...
GM: I'm glad we're not playing poker.

Because people are starting to get sick in Magnimar - ships are already diverting to Riddleport rather than risk whatever mystery disease is at work.

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Star Wars : The F-Bomb

The Deniable Plausibility takes off to launch a surprise attack on a pirate base, with the F-troop, a couple of droids, a Wookiee, a Duros named Fnord, a Rodian researcher, and three Rodian would-be smugglers who we're calling Huey, Dewey, and Louie, since we can't speak any common languages. Yes, this is far more people than our freighter is rated for. Imagine the queue for the head.

Forvuk: Can we test our guns first, and shoot up a few asteroids on the way?
Fakybe: Why shoot up an asteroid? There's some Imperial Tie fighters going that way, they're easy targets.
GM: And expendable, too - nobody will notice if they go missing.

Our plan - hyperjump into the asteroid field, drift towards the space-worm-riddled planetoid they're using as a base, and dive out of the sun, ECM roaring, and shoot seven colours of shit out of any berthed fighters, drones, etc they have parked nearby.

Forvuk: I'm assuming the Wookiee is on the ventral gun, since a Wookiee on top is an ugly prospect.

Fendri: I still have to pick up some milk. On Fomos.
Forvuk: Do they even have cows on Fomos?
Forvuk: Fakybe, did you pick up any fridges when you scanned the asteroid? Maybe we can steal their milk.
Fakybe: I wasn't actually looking.
Forvuk: Fat lot of good you are.

Soon enough their fighter and combat drone are completely incapacitated, and we move in to board their main ship as they frantically try to get the engines going.

Fendri: I don't have a Code Against Killing, but they ARE worth more to us alive.
Forvuk: So a Code Against Damaged Merchandise?

Fendri OoC: Assume a cinematic system until we score a critical. THEN we talk physics.

Fakybe, the F-troops resident engineer and liar, doesn't actually have much to do for the bulk of he battle, other that hose down the engines when they start to overheat, and broadcast the following of the pirate's main comm channel.

Fakybe: Die Fledermaus to Big Red One, Die Fledermaus to Big Red One - some resistance encountered, send in the marines.

The Aqualish pirate captain refuses to surrender, even when he's the last pirate standing.

Fakybe: He probably wants to go out fighting.
GM: Once you become a pirate, violent death is pretty much guaranteed. If you take him alive the Empire will make him mine glitterstim for the rest of his life, and I don't want to think what the Hutt would do with him.
Fendri: The Hutt has interesting taste - he'll have the Aqualish dance for him.
GM: *throws up in his mouth a little*

Fendri: Well, there's a reason they call us the F-troop.
GM: Yes - the eff-wits. Or "Or F--- it's them"

The pirate captain eventually takes cover, and offers a deal - we let him go and we get all the glitterstim. Or he remotes detonates the glitterstim and goes out with a bang. We argue about this - the Rodians in particular like the drug offer.

Forvuk: I don't suppose you anything about the massacre on Drelk?
Pirate Captain: What kind of outfit are you running here? Are you all-
Fakybe: OK, just kill him.

The Rodians manage to intervene - they get the pirate, the glitterstim, and their relative back, and fuck off to do what they like with it. We get the pirate's base, the rest of the pirates, and the pirate's various ships after their fighter pilot sheepishly limps back to base and surrenders.

#1130 - 1138 - More

#1130 - Ligia sp. - Sea Slater

My wife is currently on a long overseas trip, and recently she visited Aoshima (青島), better known as one of Japan’s Cat Islands. On top of the somewhat excessive cat population, the island also had these - which is hardly surprising, since Japan has four species of Ligia and there’s many more on rocky coastlines worldwide.
Also known as Rock Lice, Wharf Roaches and Beach Roaches, these large isopods have gills, and can run into the water when escaping predators, but prefer not to since that leaves them vulnerable to marine predators. On the other hand, they dry out easily and therefore won’t stray far from water, or onto sandy beaches. A few species can manage a fully terrestrial existence, but only in areas with high humidity.
They have two long forked appendages at the tail end, but this one is holding hers together for some reason. Females also have a brood pouch for the young, like many other isopods.

#1131 - Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata - Aburazemi ( アブラゼミ )

Purrdence found this large (3 inches) cicada outside the Poison Gas Museum in Okunoshima, Hiroshima Prefecture. It was neither a kaiju, nor was it dead (cicadas that noisily prove themselves still alive are known as 蝉爆弾 - semi bakudan, or “cicada bombs”).
The Large Brown Cicada is found in Japan, Korea, and China, and other parts of East Asia. It’s a striking species - quite different to the ones we get here in Perth.
There’s 30-odd species of cicada in Japan, and their emergence and earsplitting song is such a feature of the summer there that they’re used to indicate the season on film, TV, and anime. They also star in poetry and literature - in Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji, Genji attempts to surprise Utsusemi, “The Lady of the Cicada Shell” in her chambers, but finds only the robes she casts off to evade him. He writes a poem about it, comparing the empty robe to the exuvia of a cicada nymph.

Matsuo Basho wrote one too -

A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.

As did Yayuu -

Methinks that semi sits and sings
by his former body,
chanting the funeral service
over his own dead self.

#1132 - Westralunio carteri - Ambiguus Mussel

A large freshwater mussel, and the only one in the southwest of Australia - Westralunio is a portmanteau referring to West Australian Unionida, although it’s in the Hyriid family, rather than the Unionidae. Currently threatened by rising salinity in our inland waterways, thanks to agriculture. This one, interestingly enough, was in the artificial lakes at the Wellard Wetlands.
There’s a wide variety of freshwater mussels - the Unionida - around the world. Some, such as the zebra mussel, are highly invasive pests. Others are at very high risk of extinction, thanks to pollution, habitat loss, over-harvesting for freshwater pearls and pearl shell, and competition from the zebra mussel. Many have fascinating methods for getting their young upstream, including attracting predatory fish with elaborate lures, then spraying them in the face with parasitic baby mussels, or more mutual parasitism in which the adult mussel incubates the eggs of a bitterling, and the bitterling fish gets a load of the parasitic bivalves. Predictably, the latter is a continuing arms race, complicated by the fact that bitterlings are invasive in some areas and invasive mussels are moving in elsewhere.
Baldivis, Perth

#1133 - Fam. Milichiidae - Jackalflies

The thing that got me so excited over Rosie Benz’s photo at BowerBird wasn’t the rather plump assassin bug and the honeybee it had caught. It was the tiny dark flies crawling all over the body, feasting on the dissolving body of the bee.
Jackal-flies, also known as freeloader flies, are swift arrivals whenever a large spider or predatory bug has caught an insect, and feast on the leaking bodyfluids. Generally, the spider or bug doesn’t seem to mind - indeed, one behaviour described at Wikipedia states “Another activity observed in some species of Michiliidae shows them to be serving a function analogous to that of cleaner wrasse and cleaner shrimp; they literally scavenge around the chelicerae and anal openings of large spiders, such as species of Araneus and Nephila, that cooperatively spread their wet and sticky chelicerae thus allowing the flies to feed actively all over the bases, fangs and mouth.”
Milichiids breed in decaying vegetable matter, manure, and human ordure, which earns them another common name - filth flies.
Sunshine Coast, QLD

Spiders and other stuff under the cutCollapse )

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