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Posts about life, roleplay, and character creation

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All My OCs

Making this blog entry to keep track of all the OCs I use for RPing since I can only have so many links in my sig xP   Carnelian Clout - A multi-billionaire viscountess from the Crystal Empire. Ask her anything!   Succulent Scent - An indomitably positive crystal pony perfumier!   Soft Zoisite - Carnelian's estranged, hemophiliac, autistic savant of a son. Ask him anything!   Proud Ametrine - Carnelian's estranged daughter with anger issues.   Low Key - A young unicorn noble living with Carnelian Clout as her ward (and paramour).   Bronze Bulwark - A cocky, flightless pegasus with a complete immunity to magic.   Ophelia & Dahlia - Fraternal psychic twins with complementary talents

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

 

A Review of the latest ArmA 3 DLC, Laws of War

On the 7th of this month, Bohemia Interactive released the sixth premium DLC package for ArmA 3, titled "Laws of War".  Renowned as being the most committed military operation simulator, the reaction from the fanbase was mostly positive at the addition of a humanitarian faction whose goal is to clean up the detritus of war and bring some semblance of a normal life back to war-torn regions.  On top of that, with an MSRP of $11.99 USD, Bohemia is donating half of all sales to the International Committee of the Red Cross.  With everything said, I had to buy it the moment it came out! Although there was a free update that added all the new content to your harddrive, the DLC vehicles, attire, weapons, and campaign were locked behind a paywall.  However, Bohemia did at least provide us with two free showcases, one of which was an exposition of all the new content and a background on the new faction, IDAP (the International Development & Aid Project), and the other was a much more action-oriented seminar where players are run through various simulations to impress the laws of war upon you.  Some examples of lessons taught in the seminar included not firing on civilians who haven't engaged you in combat or unarmed enemy medical personnel. There was also a demonstration on how mines and cluster bombs can be more trouble than they're worth, staying hidden in the ground for days, months, or even years at a time until someone, anyone, accidentally disturbs it. Of the new content that was added in the DLC, the campaign will be explained later.  Several new civilian, press, and IDAP-themed outfits and clothing articles were added, such as a paramedic jumpsuit, hard hat, dust mask, and safety goggles.  Decorative items were also added, such as IDAP tents, water bottles, body bags, etc.  The new vehicles include an IDAP van, ambulance, new IDAP skins for the formerly AAF-only Mohawk heavy transport helicopter and CSAT-only Zamak transport truck, and a special utility drone capable of dropping leaflets (which can have custom designs overlayed on them) as well as timed charges for safer disposal of mines and UXOs (UneXploded Ordinance).  Speaking of mine-clearing, the mine sweeper that was already in the game was reworked, giving you a new display that shows you the direction of mines and UXOs, allowing you to mark them manually rather than the original mechanic, where the mine sweeper did all of that automatically. However, just because this DLC focused on the civilian and humanitarian aspects of war doesn't mean that the military factions didn't get anything.  All organized military factions (so everyone but the FIA) get the APERS Mine Dispenser and the cluster bomb air strike utility.  The former item is a portable device that deploys dozens of small Anti-PERSonnel mines in a forward-facing cone after either a 40-second timer or a manual touch-off, allowing players to set up minefields in a fraction of the time that it would have taken them to do so manually.  The latter allows for Zeus operators (think Game Masters for organized ArmA 3 custom operations) to call in highly-destructive air strikes, with the very-obvious downside that not all of the cluster munitions will explode. As for the campaign, I'll do my best to explain the nuances of it without spoiling it.  For those who don't mind the spoilers, I'll be putting them down at the bottom of the page, but keep in mind that there will be some spoilers for the main ArmA 3 campaign, as well. "Laws of War" takes place in the small town of Oreokastro in the mountainous northwest of Altis before, during, and after the events of the vanilla campaign.  For most of the mini-campaign, you take on the role of Nathan MacDade, a former US Army engineer now working as an IDAP mine clearer.  As you progress through the town, clearing out mines and UXOs, you encounter "memories", which take on the form of visual anomalies that you can interact with.  Interacting with them either transports you into a flashback of what you remember the town was like one year ago, or into the shoes of a member of one of the four warring factions (NATO, FIA, CSAT, or AAF), all of whom were present during the battle in one way or another. The take-away message from this mini-campaign is that there is no such thing as black and white in war.  From the opening scene, when you watch, helpless, as a civilian who survived the war and returns to his hometown in search of his brother steps on a mine and dies instantly, to the end, when you're put on the spot and asked to tell a reporter who you think is to blame, you're led to the understanding that war is complex and that when you send young men and women off to kill each other, they don't always make the right choice.  No matter how good your intentions are, just because you aren't butchering civilians and laughing while doing it doesn't mean that your actions aren't having adverse effects on the non-combatants whose peace of mind is now shattered.  If you're looking for honor and glory, you'll find none of it in war. For those of you who are on the fence about buying "Laws of War", I cannot recommend it enough.  While about 60% of it can be classified as a walking simulator, it provides a whole new perspective on war that's rarely seen outside of games such as "This War of Mine".  To quote one of Nathan MacDade's most profound lines (as well as the slogan for the game, overall): "This is war."  

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

 

Pewds F'ed Up, False DMCA's Ensue

Before I begin, I should give full disclosure: I am not a subscriber of PewDiePie's.  I'm not a big fan of his content, and I don't watch his content that often, if at all. I do not condone the use of racial slurs or prejudice based on one's skin color or ethnicity. Anyway, on to the meat of the article.  Recently, while PewDiePie was livestreaming PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, he was caught uttering a racial slur.  The video is below https://oddshot.tv/s/g_05U6 First of all, as I said above, I don't condone the use of racial slurs, and if Pewds had used it casually, then I would have certainly shook my head and walked away.  However, after watching the video, it was clear from the context that PewDiePie was aggravated and wasn't thinking straight.  On top of that, there was an immediate apology afterwords. Now, if this was all that happened, then there would be nothing really to say.  Some guy said a racial slur in a moment of stress, apologized for it, and everyone moved on.  However, I'm sure everyone here can guess that a comment like that simply doesn't slip under the radar of the internet, neither does it slip by the media.  In an article by Javy Gwaltney of Game Informer, Sean Vanaman and Campo Santo, the developer and studio behind Firewatch, respectively, have announced on Twitter that they will be taking action against PewDiePie by filing DMCA takedowns of all of his videos which feature their games. This is the part where I become aggravated, myself.  Yes, PewDiePie fucked up, and as one of the most popular content creators on Youtube, he should be held accountable for the things that he says and does.  I wouldn't be surprised and I also wouldn't care if he loses ad revenue because of this latest scandal. However, what makes me mad is the flagrant, open, and proud abuse of Youtube's DMCA flagging system by a professional developer.  I don't think Sean Vanaman understands that his copyright claims are completely illegal and unenforceable, and if he does understand this, then what exactly motivated him to pick a fight with a professional youtuber and millionairre who could easily win a legal battle if Sean decided to double down.  On top of that, I think PewDiePie realizes and understands that the media hates him now, and that there's simply no point for damage control.  Even more so, following his recent battle with the Wall Street Journal, his fanbase is more fanatical than ever. I can see this ending in one of two ways: One, Sean Vanaman gets a cold, hard slap from reality and learns that his morals don't count for shit when you abuse the legal system, or he gets an even harder slap when PewDiePie hits him with a countersuit when the courts refuse to uphold his copyright strikes.  Hell, it could happen different, as well.  PewDiePie may actually just get fucked and social justice can applaud at having taken down a youtuber with a titanic fanbase.  In the end, however, I'm not really interested in what happens to Pewds.  Sean Vanaman's actions have soured whatever opinions I may have had of him, and I sincerely hope that his attempt to abuse an already overabused legal tool will blow up in his face.

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

 

Idea for an Advanced RP Thread: Space Station 13

Considering it's late at night and my anxiety is spiking from a combination of homework and politics, I thought I'd channel my energy into a more constructive creative outlet and outline an idea I've been bouncing around in my head. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll ever become a thing as I simply don't have the time or energy to GM a thread, but I still think it's an idea worth sharing.   As the title of this blog post would have hinted, this RP I have planned is based off of a very underrated round-based sandbox game called Space Station 13. What is Space Station 13, and what would it look like with ponies? Well...   Imagine that it's the distant future, and Equestria has colonized the stars. Corporations rule and fight over the galaxy, and all is what you would expect in a generic far-flung future science fiction setting. At the edge of pony controlled space, far away from the prying eyes of any princess, is Space Station 13, owned and operated by the Nanotrasen corporation.   Space Station 13 is a state-of-the-art research vessel that is (almost) entirely self-sufficient. Food is grown on board in the Hydroponics bay, resources are mined from the mineral-rich asteroid that the station orbits, and energy is collected from the carefully maintained singularity core and auxiliary solar panels. Before I get too ahead of myself and marvel over the station for several paragraphs, I should focus on the actual life: the crew members! For convenience's sake, instead of exhaustively listing out all the jobs and how they work, I'll simply be listing out the departments and their prime duties. My intention is to try and give as much room to creativity as I can with this RP, so a prospective player would simply just select a department and develop a role that their character would play in it:   Engineering
Arguably the most important department on the whole station, Engineering is directly responsible for ensuring the habitability of the station through maintaining power, hull integrity, and atmospherics (and could easily hold the entire station hostage if their demands for free pizza aren't met). At the heart of the department is the most likely cause of the station's future destruction: the singularity core. Literally a miniature (well, relatively small) black hole, it is kept penned within an energy barrier and bombarded by a particle accelerator. The result is a release of high-intensity radiation that is then collected and converted into power for the station. Special care must be taken to ensure that the energy barrier stays up and the singularity does not grow too large. In the event of a containment breach, Nanotrasen advises that all Engineering staff jump into the singularity as soon as possible, as any survivors will be lined up against the nearest wall upon arrival back at corporate headquarters.   Science
Unlike Engineering, the Science department is utterly pointless except for the fact that it is the entire point of the station. Eggheads hunch over their desks, performing experiments and expanding the cumulative knowledge of equines everywhere. What they do in there, not even Celestia knows, leading to quite a few paranoid theories from other crew-members: Stories abound of breeding strange, globular creatures with a penchant for glomping every living thing to death; ten foot tall suits of magical power armor with drills powerful enough to bore through half their height of solid rock in seconds; and even rumors of contact with other planes of existence! Of course, all of this is denied and everypony is kindly told to mind their own damn business and get back to work.   Medical
Murphy's General Law of Reality states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. In the event that something does go wrong and somepony gets hurt, the highly-trained medical staff are ready and available to handle anything that can come through those double doors. Fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology, internal damage can be sniffed out in a heartbeat and surgery takes no more than a few minutes. Should the cold bleakness of space get the better of you, there are also full-time psychiatrists and counselors on board ready to help you face any fears or neuroses you may have developed. Finally, in the event of an introduction of a pathogen aboard the station, there is also a microbiologist with enough equipment to create a vaccine and discern a cure in enough time to save (most of) the crew!   Security
In space, no one can hear you scream. Good thing you're on board Space Station 13, then, which is staffed by a fully armed security force! With as much money as Nanotrasen sank into this station, there are quite a few organizations with a vested interest in seeing it explode. Rogue changelings, saboteurs and strike teams from Nanotrasen's rivals, Nightmare Moon cultists, and hostile alien life forms are but a few things that the security team has to worry about each time they make their rounds. However, while they may say their prime directive is to Serve and Protect the crew, the station is much less replaceable than a few ponies. The contract each pony had to sign before they were allowed aboard may have given some leeway in having opinions that contradict the official narrative, but open sedition will not be tolerated. For those who would pose a threat to the general harmony of the crew and the station, there is a cold cell in the brig for waiting them.   Civilian
If Engineering is the heart of the station, and Science is the brain, and Medical is the...spleen, and Security is the...hell if I know, the point is that Civilians are the backbone of life aboard Space Station 13. The Civilian department includes all of the background roles that make civilized life possible for everypony else: Farmers to grow food, cooks to make it look appetizing, bartenders and musicians to provide entertainment, janitors to clean up the piles of puke left by the ponies the bartender got drunk, clowns to **** with everypony, and so on.   Logistics
Probably the smallest department on the station, Logistics is no less important. Their sole purpose is ensuring that every department gets what they need as soon as possible, whether that be resources, materials, or components ordered straight from Nanotrasen. For example, if Science places an order for more Uranium, the mining team is notified and Uranium is prioritized in the mining efforts aboard the neighboring asteroid. Another example would be if Medical asked for more surgical equipment to be ordered after somepony broke into the medbay and stole everything sharp that wasn't nailed down. Security is still working on the case, but they found a bike horn amongst the broken glass, so that narrows things down considerably.   Command
All of these ponies running around need direction, and that's where Command comes in. This department consists of the highest authority on the station, the Captain, and his/her advisors, the Heads of Staff of each department: the Chief Engineer, Chief Medical Officer, Research Director, Head of Personnel, Quartermaster and Head of Security. Each of the Heads of Staff have but one job, and that is to ensure that everyone in their department is doing their jobs, and their word is final.   AI
Space Station 13 is big. Like, really big. In previous Nanotrasen research stations, it has been proven time and again that more is needed to ensure the smooth operation of the ever more complicated technology employed. As such, Space Station 13 will be the first to have a fully functional AI with control over all of the basic systems. In addition, the AI also has under its command a cadre of specialized cyborgs able to fill a role in any department in the event of a loss of staff or hazardous conditions too dangerous for equines.       It is my intention to fill all the Command and AI roles so as to maintain control over the RP, but there's no need to fret about this possibly causing stagnation! During each in-game day (which will be arbitrarily decided), a new event will create a problem that the crew has to solve in one way or another. Steps will be taken to ensure that it is the crew members and not the Heads of Staff that play the largest roles in preserving the station.   Anyway, I'm feeling a lot better now, so I think I'm going to head off to bed. Feel free to comment with further ideas or suggestions down below! As I said before, I don't think I'll ever make this thread any time soon as it would involve way more commitment than I'm able to give at the moment, but a man can dream, can't he?

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

 

Preparation of a Carboxylic Acid, or SCIENCE!

After about two weeks of stressing over my progress in my integrated experimental chemistry lab course at university, I've come to learn that I'm actually ahead of the curve. As such, I can finally appreciate what I'm doing and realize just how much fun I'm having! To anyone interested in chemistry, this is an example of what you can expect in a 300-level lab course!   Before we get to the pictures I attached, I should tell you where it all began. Everyone in the lab started with a glass bottle full of a mixture of salts, various soluble and insoluble impurities, and an unknown carboxylic acid (a hydrocarbon with a carboxyl group at one end, meaning there is a carbon atom that is double-bonded to one oxygen atom and single bonded to another oxygen atom which is in turn bonded to a hydrogen atom. I've attached a chart with some examples.).   Our primary goal was to isolate the unknown acid in order to discern its identity. To do this, the first thing we had to do was remove the insoluble impurities by dissolving the mixture in hot deionized (DI) water (water so pure, that if you were to drink it, it would leech the vital minerals from your very cells!). After dissolving what could be dissolved, suction filtration was used to isolate the soluble filtrate from the insoluble impurities. This left me, in particular, with a light-blue filtrate, the light blue color coming from the soluble impurities in the sample (a pure carboxylic acid + salt solution would be clear/colorless).   The next step was to isolate the carboxylic acid and salts from the soluble impurities. This step is a bit less obvious and where actual chemistry comes into play. In order to decolorize, or preferentially remove soluble colored impurities, a small pinch (0.5% of the original weight of the sample) of activated charcoal was mixed into the heated solution and then filtered. The charcoal adsorbed (bonded to, as opposed to took into) the colored soluble impurities, keeping them from passing through the filter and leaving me with a clear and colorless filtrate.   The final step towards isolating the acid involves a process for which, if it does have a name, I don't know what it's called The general idea is that heated solution is poured into a mixture of ice and hydrochloric acid, and then cooled in an ice bath. If the mixture is acidic enough, then an acid slurry should form on top of the solution. After filtration, you're left with a liquid filtrate (DI water, salts, and what soluble impurities the activated charcoal didn't adsorb) and a solid cake of "crude" acid.   Congratulations, you've isolated your acid! However, we're not out of the woods just yet. The reason it's called "crude" is because, while you might think you've removed all the impurities, you haven't. The process from before isolated the acid in a "crude" manner, and we want the sample to be as pure as possible. Therefore, in order to turn all of our "crude" acid into "pure" acid, recrystallization must be performed. This involves dissolving your acid in a heated solvent and then allowing that solvent to cool. Which solvent you use entirely depends on which one works best for your acid during your small and medium batch trials. For this lab, we tested four different solvents: water (Generally the weakest of the four), hexane, toluene (The one that worked best for me), and ethanol (The strongest of the four, I was able to dissolve 20 mg in barely 0.05 mL of the stuff. The reason I went with toluene, however, was that the acid refused to recrystallize in the ethanol even after cooling, seeding, and scratching the sides. Thankfully, this was only a small batch and only about 20 mg of a bulk amount of >7 g of "crude" acid was lost.). Something to note about solvents is that the best ones for the job often have similar structures to their solutes. As such, since toluene is aromatic, so must the acid! (An aromatic molecule, in a nutshell, has a structure that is focused around one or more hexagonal benzene rings, such as the attached picture of toluene.)   This brings us to the needle-like crystals you see forming in the Erlenmeyer flask. After dissolving my bulk "crude" acid into heated toluene and allowing it to slowly cool, the acid began to precipitate out and recrystallize while any impurities that might be left remained in solution. I've since left it to continue recrystallizing over the weekend to allow for the maximum yield, but soon to come will be filtering and drying the pure acid as well comparing the melting temperatures of crude vs recrystallized vs double-recrystallized acids.   While I'm still an undergraduate, I've been a chemistry major for five years and I would love to hear any questions you might have!

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

 

A Half-Awake Rant on Ponysonas that Someone Might Find Offensive

Before I begin, a little disclaimer: I do not hate the concept of ponysonas. As you can see in the attachment, I have a ponysona, myself (Credit for the art goes to Tambelon). Instead, this ramble will focus on a disturbing trend I've seen among some people who make ponysonas. If you disagree with me, then you are entitled to your own opinion, just as I am entitled to mine.     Let me start this rant off by gushing about how unique you are. You may take it for granted at times, but you're not doing yourself justice by saying that there's nothing special about you. What's your favorite subject in school? What do you like to read about? What do you see yourself doing as a career?   Your ponysona is a representation of yourself, your avatar in Equestria. If you were to be asked what your special talent is, what you can do that very few others you know can do, what would you say? For me, my ponysona, Quick Reference, is a library of random nuggets and kernels of knowledge: Robert Goddard invented the modern rocket engine; the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second; North Korea is not a communist nation on the basis that they, themselves, do not consider themselves communist; the first recorded instance of religious persecution was c. 164 BCE, when the Greek Seleucids conquered Judea and began outlawing Jewish rituals and customs in an attempt to forcefully Hellenize the Jews; and so on.   Of course, that's not the only thing I could claim as my special talent. I could claim my talent for writing, or my interest in biochemistry, or feudalism, or ancient history. There are a lot of things I'm interested in, and I'm sure you're no different.   This all brings me to the reason why I'm making this: If each person on the planet has a multitude of interests and talents that they could call their own special gift, then why...   Why...   Why, oh why...   Why, oh heavenly father...   Why do people make their ponysona's special talent be video games?   Now I know what you're saying: "What if they're a professional gamer? Or a game tester? Or a developer? Or something similar?" Yeah, you got me there. If their occupation involves video games, then that's the caveat to this rant, but I'm not talking about people who have careers in the video game industry. I'm talking about people who simply enjoy playing video games and claim that as their special talent.   ...Seriously, dude? Bro? Gal? Is playing video games all you're good at? Why not watching TV? Or surfing the internet? Or any other leisure activity that literally anyone can do? Come on, you have to be good at something!   Be good to yourself, friend. Don't put yourself down. You're more talented than you know, and you should give yourself credit where it's due. This may seem corny, but it's true: everyone is special in their own way. Don't be afraid of embellishing yourself, just don't fall for a cop out.

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

 

Character Creation 101: My Personal Pet Peeves

Before I begin, I should probably start with a little bit of information about myself. As someone who's been writing for about 16 or 17 years now, eight of which have involved on and off roleplaying, I thought I'd share a little bit of the wisdom I've accrued in those years. While I have met a lot of people with very interesting ideas (quite a few with ideas better than mine), I've also met a few with some...well, they certainly are interesting ideas, but implemented very poorly. As such, I'd like to have a sit and impress upon you my two biggest personal pet peeves in regards to character creation.  
First, let's start off with the most common one I've seen, and an archetype that I, myself, am guilty of using at least once in my life: The Traumatized, Chaotic Good Vigilante. Not that it's a bad archetype, especially because the best example of it is none other than the Dark Knight, himself. What gets my goat, however, is the way I usually see it applied.   Some people tend to forget that they're supposed to be designing a character with a trauma, not a trauma with a character. Yes, trauma scars the psyche and the character can never really forget that it happened, but it shouldn't be what defines them. They had a personality before, so why are they suddenly cold, unfeeling, angsty murder machines now? Where was the transition?   More importantly, however, it's not realistic. Someone who constantly ruminates on past traumas, kicking themselves for things they could have done, and otherwise reinforcing their victim complex will eventually develop a neurosis in the form of extreme anxiety and paranoia. A healthy character (not necessarily a good one) will have found a way to accept what happened and not let it define who they are. Victimhood is a choice, and they choose to be who they are. Either condition is an interesting route to develop a character, feel free to try one!  
The second character design choice that irks me most is what I like to call "Tumblr Tokenism". As someone who lasted just over two years on that wretched site, I saw plenty of examples of this. What is it? Essentially, like the pet peeve above, their character was based upon one single idea. In this case, however, it was their identity.   In my honest opinion, when someone asks you to describe your character, the adjectives that you supply should not have anything to do with sexuality, gender, or race. What effect does that have on their character? What is so interesting about them being gay/bi/trans/agender/black/latino/etc? Why don't you tell me what their favorite color is? Their favorite hobby? What they do for a living? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their aspirations in life?   Don't get me wrong, a character's identity is an important part of their character, but it shouldn't be a selling point. Create an interesting character first, THEN decide on their identity. If it's common sense that judging a character on the color of their skin or the sex they're attracted to or the gender they identify as is wrong, then why are you making such a big deal out of the color of their skin or the sex they're attracted to or the gender they identify as? Of course, if you're trying to tell a story of discrimination, then there's an obvious exception in that sexuality, gender, and race does matter.   Outside of that, though, your character's identity should be the least interesting thing about them. Collective identities do not exist, and those who identify as something don't always share the same experiences. First and foremost, your character is an individual, and if you want to write a more than one note character, then you'll treat them as such.       Anyway, that's all that I have for now. Thanks for reading! Give a brohoof if you enjoyed this or leave a comment if you have questions!

Hazard Time

Hazard Time

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