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War Games But Without The War

Posted by Ta-metru_defender in TMD's Creatively Named Blog, Jan 19 2019 · 13 views

Essays, Not Rants! 355: War Games But Without The War

I’m playing Mass Effect: Andromeda again, trying to polish off my second playthrough and nab that elusive Platinum trophy. With the sheen of "Oooh, it’s new" worn off, the game is decidedly a buggy mess, UI popups stay on screen long after they should have disappeared and I’ve spent an entire cutscene viewing my character as a party member blocked the camera (after we walked through a door whose opening animation didn’t happen).

It’s a bummer, really, because there’s such promise in it as an idea. A group of explorers, millions of lightyears away from everything they know, strike disaster and have to make do with what they’ve got. There’s first contact with a hostile alien society, and then again with a friendly one. One thing that makes Andromeda really stand out, though, is that for all the fighting and all, the Andromeda Initiative is a fundamentally civilian organization. They ain’t trying to be conquerers, nor are they an army outfitted with warships and other such weaponry — most all of the Initiative’s ships are unarmed.

You play as the Pathfinder, Ryder, and yes, you’re fighting outlaws, genocidal Kett, and ancient Remnant robots, but the narrative as a whole is less about a war than it is exploration and setting up colonies to find a new life. You’re not a member of a group of warfighters, you’re explorers (who are good at fighting, yes). Compare this to the prior Mass Effect games. In the second, you were putting together a team to fight an existential threat, and the third saw you fighting said existential threat. It’s less pronounced in the second, where Shepherd is former military, though one who has thrown in with a militant pro-human organization whose leader believes Shepard is the only one who can stop a mysterious alien threat. There’s a lot of emphasis put on Shepard’s military background and how he’s the one who can fight this war.

It is a pleasant change, then, that Andromeda eschews a militaristic outlook. Even though the Pathfinders are military trained, they’re no longer part of an army; their skills now used to protect the colonists. Though there is a big fight against the Kett, the main drive of the Initiative is to establish a home in the strange Andromeda Galaxy. As much as you’re fighting Kett, defeating them is the goal than is exploring the galaxy and terraforming planets to support life.

A lot of big operatic science fiction tends to revolve around, well, war. Halo and Gears of War are both Thames that revolve around war — but in space! This is not a criticism; setting these stories in space frees them from a measure of baggage. One reason that Halo’s narrative works is that its existential fight is against a genocidal alien alliance so that militaristic rah rah is less rooted in xenophobia (see: most Call of Duty games and other ‘realistic’ militaristic shooters). All the same, when everything is skewed one way, it’s pleasant to see a narrative that goes in another direction.

It’s less an issue of one necessarily being better than another, and more the need to have different narratives. I love Star Wars, but I enjoy watching Star Trek because it’s a fun change to see a group of characters trying to solve the Problem of the Week (but in space!) rather than fighting an out-and-out war. Though the Trek has its Admirals and Captains, Starfleet isn’t a military organization so much as one that’s about exploration. Generals and such need not apply.

All this to say, there’s an enjoyable relief when it comes to these different narratives. For Andromeda to feature a space explorer trying to overcome the challenges of the galaxy and doing stuff instead of being the hardcore military commander is a nice change — one that you don’t really see much in video games. Such a shame that the game itself is so lackluster.


Review: 41161 Aladdin's and Jasmine's Palace Adventures

Posted by xccj in Team J.A.F., Jan 19 2019 · 18 views

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Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies (making Jasmine one of my favorite Princesses) but I’ve been disappointed that she hasn’t appeared in more than one Lego Princesses set. Well, this year she gets to be in a couple, likely hoping to capitalize on the live action Aladdin movie coming out. The biggest one of the Palace Adventure, so I picked that up. It’s $29.99 with 193 pieces.

The main draw is the characters. Jasmine has appeared in one set before as a minidoll (included in the picture in the lower right). In this set, she gets some printed upgrades on her pants, torso, and face, and I like the details. It looks like her hairpiece is unchanged. Aladdin appeared once in the Disney CMFs, so this is his first appearance as a minidoll, and the details totally fit the character. I think they also reuse his hairpiece, but the rest of the printing is new.

We also get the magic carpet; it was included in the Jasmine set as a simple build, but it’s a bit more detailed here. It uses a wavy wall with a decent sticker on it showcasing all the details. (Sadly, it’s not visible in my picture, and I didn’t quite get the sticker on straight, but it still looks great.) The bigger deal is the use of the gold tassels, which are a major part of the character. In theory, there is room for both characters to ride on the carpet, but minidolls aren’t really built to sit side by side like that. I added some studs to Aladdin’s feat, pushing him back just enough so their arms aren’t colliding, so it kind of works, but I think the set just wants you to use one character at a time.

There are some interesting parts, including some lavenders, golds, tans, magentas, and teals (although those aren’t quite the colors I picture when I think of the palace from the movie.) Some of the big white / lavender wall / window pieces are fairly new, and it could be useful for some builders. Some of the rare or exclusive parts include the teal 1x1x5 brick, teal 2x2 round corner brick, teal 1x4 arch, lavender 8x8 plate, magenta 1x4 tile with 2 nobs, medium lavender doorway, medium lavender 6x6 round plate, purple wavy wall, gold 3x3x2 arch, gold 3x3x2 fence, and the new white bird piece.

The build is. . . well, basic. The Lego Princess builds have never been anything to really call home about. You build two levels with some furniture and accessories on each. On the bottom level there’s a table with some seats, as well as a market stall. The top includes the balcony section with a domed room, and them a small patio with a chair, birdbath, and small tree. The big action feature is that the dome is built on a swivel and had a beam that can attach to the flying carpet, so you can spin it around and have the characters fly over the palace. I like this bit. There’s also a small Cave of Wonders build included, with a hidden compartment for the golden lamp, and a sticker with the Genie on it. The set comes with a lot of sparkly stickers, but I only included about half of them.

One feature that I wasn’t aware of until I read the instruction was that all the Disney Princess rooms this year are semi-modular. You can mix and match them together, and the example picture shows that you can create quite the impressive Disney Castle when you combine most of the sets. I obviously can’t do this because I haven’t bought any of the others (and don’t plan to) but it’s a neat idea and gives the infectious “collect them all” mentality to this line of sets too.

In short, I like the character designs and the flying magic carpet, and I really like the function that lets you spin them around over the palace. The rest of it is pretty bland, and I consider it an okay parts pack, since it does have a few interesting and rare elements. Worth the $30? Probably not, but I was impulsive. Maybe wait for a sale if you’re also a fan of the movie. (Or if you’re buying for somebody in the target audience; there’s plenty to like, but I’m a jaded AFOL who doesn’t appreciate that kind of stuff.)



I Think I'm a Hummingbird

Posted by JAG18 in The JAG18 Stronghold, Jan 17 2019 · 26 views

Recently I was reading "The Hedge Knight" graphic novel, which is based on a "A Game of Thrones" prequel and there is one bit where two characters are discussing a particularly mean and nasty prince (Aerion the Monstrous) who, being a Targaryen and all, believes himself to be a dragon (the Targaryen sigil). One of the two characters then comments that he wishes that the prince were a Fossoway (whose sigil is an apple) so that he would believe that he were, well, an apple.
Now I of course got a good laugh out of this at the time, but it's also made me think of my own armorial achievement which if you want to see for reference you look either at my avatar or below.

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Actually this version is missing both my motto ("Truth is truth") and battle cry ("To hope's end and heart's breaking!); of course the "complete" version on my computer is also missing my supporters (hedgehogs) so c'est la vie.

Anyway back on topic, what I'm saying is since my charge is a hummingbird does that mean if I were that prince I would believe myself to be a hummingbird? Well, I suppose that's better then being an apple right? At least I don't have to worry about someone touching me and making me lose my apple juice.
Plus they are lots of cool facts about hummingbirds right? [see here]

Speaking of my armorial achievement, remember if you ever see anyone on any website with it as their avatar then odds are pretty good that it's me (especially if the username is some variation of JAG18). It's not technically official because in order to make a coat of arms official (to my knowledge) is you need to be either a member of the British realm or a direct descendant of a British subject (which I am) and then pay a few thousand pounds. So, if I ever have several thousand pounds laying around that I'm not using then I know what I'll be spending them on.


Immigration and Name Change

Posted by Jean Valjean in Kraggh's Works ♫♪, Jan 15 2019 · 68 views

:kaukau: If I were a rich man (da ba de ba de ba de ba de ba de ba de ba dum) I would be a sponsor for a few thousand people trying to immigrate to America, although because I'm someone eccentric, there would a a certain condition. Lately, I've been offering several friends to pay for all of the expenses should they legally change their last names to "Skywalker."

So anyway, in the age-old tradition of Americanizing the surnames of immigrants, if I could pay ten thousand people to change their last name to that, and then immigrate to the United States with my sponsorship, we'd then have a substantial population of people with the surname Skywalker. That needs to be a common Amerian surname. Plus, I think that that people will get naturalized more quickly it they clearly and visibly embrace STAR WARS.

Yeah, I know, other rich people think, "Cool! I can get a cheap source of labor!" And then there's me, thinking, "Hey! I can artificially increase the number of Skywalkers in America!"

Well, I don't have the money to actually do that for ten thousand people. In the meantime, there's a friend of mine who has a boring last name, and I'm offering to pay him to change it to "Dangerkill."



The Ultimate Smash Bros

Posted by Super Fighting Pahrak in Mt. Coronet, Jan 14 2019 · 44 views

I just finished unlocking every character, and I know it's not news but man what a roster.

I really, really like World of Light. I get why so many people call it a grind, but as someone who has always only played Smash by himself trying to do most of anything in the games has always seemed a bit grindy, so the presentation of this one is more than enough for me. I opened the way to the true final boss and then went to clear out as much as I could--there are still a handful of tough Spirits left, but I think I'm going to go for the ending and come back for those later.

Speaking of Spirits, while trophies might've been a bit more fun to look at, the fact that Spirits do something automatically makes them better as far as I'm concerned. More than that, each one being tied to a specific battle and so many appearing in World of Light makes them feel far less random, which has always been a complaint of mine. (I still don't have the Star Force Mega Man trophy in Smash 4.) I have a little over 700 Spirits right now, including all the Spirits from Mega Man spin-offs: they have at least one from each, 16 total across six series, and that makes me happier than it probably should. ZX is finally represented! Granted, the Model ZX Spirit isn't phenomenal, but it's pretty good for when you get it in WoL so that's something. It's crazy to think I'm not even halfway towards getting a complete collection!

I've been pretty much exclusively playing Spirits mode thus far, but now that I've got everyone I want to try to take them all through Classic Mode next. Maybe I'll find a fighter who clicks somewhere along the way--I've been using Zero Suit Samus mostly, though the past few days I've been trying to get the hang of Greninja. I mean, I'm not especially good with either of them, but...eh.

And I'm still really, really excited for Pirahna Plant. Really excited.


2018 in Film

Posted by Lucina in Great Games, Jan 01 2019 · 50 views

Been a few years since I last did one of these I think.
I will of course give a quick shoutout as per usual to the movies I didn't get a chance to see yet but think that I would enjoy:

A Quiet Place, Ocean's 8, Christopher Robin, A Simple Favor, Assassination Nation, The Old Man & the Gun, Bad Times at the El Royale, Widows, Creed II, Bumblebee, and Anna and the Apocalypse

Anyway with that done, let's get on with the show.

#1: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
God, this was a tough one. I went back and forth between the top two for awhile, and I was hesitant just because I saw this one so recently - but at the end of the day, I had to do it. This movie's score - by Daniel Pemberton - is amazing. The soundtrack curated for the movie is amazing. The animation is revolutionary (literally - I'd be willing to read a book on everything that went into developing the visual design for this film and how they implemented all of it). The story is heartwarming. The jokes are funny.

This movie gets Spider-Man. It gets Peter Parker, and better yet, Miles Morales.

The Spider-Verse is a fascinating concept, and I can't wait to see it explored further in future films. Getting to see two sides of Peter Parker and how they both impacted Miles was great. Seeing Miles' journey into becoming the new Spider-Man - a Spider-man that is unique to him - was even better. I really liked Spider-Gwen and can't wait to see more of her.

Please, go see this movie. See it in 3D if you can.

#2: Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Back in 2015 when I first saw Rogue Nation, I thought it was a good film, but not a great one. I was just off the heels of Mad Max: Fury Road and Kingsman: The Secret Service, both of which had blown me away. This year, I was coming off of Avengers: Infinity War (more on that in a bit), and found myself almost reluctantly excited for this film.

Then the reviews started coming in, and I knew this was a movie I had to see.

Like all Mission Impossible films, the story is a little convoluted and a bit of a mess - but it works. And god, everything else. The fight scenes are frenetic. Every hit has an impact. Characters stumble, fall, wheeze, get the wind knocked out of them. The stunts are relentless, and with Tom Cruise himself performing them, you get to see many unique shots that wouldn't be possible otherwise.

I could go on about the HALO sequence, or the bathroom fight, or the climax at the end. I could talk about Henry Cavill's character, who rivals Tom Cruise every step of the way. I could talk about the way the film plays with your expectations and it works, or how I felt like Imax was finally worth it. But I don't have that much time.

Christopher McQuarrie has directed an action masterpiece with Fallout, and it's clear that the longer he and Tom Cruise work together, the better they're getting. Here's hoping the two will reunite at least once more for a Mission Impossible 7.

#3: Avengers: Infinity War
You had to know this would be here. Ten years of buildup. Iron Man and Thor teaming up with Doctor Strange, Rocket Raccoon, and Spider-Man to fight Thanos. An Avengers film where the main villain is arguably the main character.

And the ending. We all know how it'll end with Avengers 4, but I'm excited to see just how they'll make it happen.

#4: Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors. The Grand Budapest Hotel will always rank among my favorites. Isle of Dogs is no exception. The stop-motion, the framing, and Wes Anderson's brand of slightly off-kilter humor. It's a pleasant package, and you should watch it if you have the opportunity.

#5: Black Panther
A cultural phenomenon, one that I hope Captain Marvel will echo in some form next year (because money talks, and it'd be nice to move on from all white males with five o'clock shadow).

I know it's still kind of a low bar, but Kilmonger is my favorite MCU villain to date, and I hope he'll get to come back in Black Panther 2 for a quick ancestral plane cameo.

I'd say more, but so many others have already said it before me, and they've said it better; so I'll leave it at that.


Anyone want a blog for six months?

Posted by Bfahome in You're attacked by a Repair Nektann, Dec 28 2018 · 102 views

Got the convention circuit perks and I don't feel like doing a contest or anything for it. First person wins I guess.


Stellaris Space Romans - Origins

Posted by The Hip Historian Iaredios in Scribbler's Hall, Dec 28 2018 · 148 views
game, space, history

Stellaris Space Romans - Origins

So I started watching the OG Star Trek series, and loving it. It has put me in a sci-fi mood lately. In spirit of this, I have picked up Stellaris again. My, there have been quite a few changes to this game, and I welcome most of them! Game is more fun now. I revisited the Roman Empire space civilization i designed and touched upon some details before wiping all my previous saves and starting a new campaign with my interstellar Roman Empire.

Many of you may be thinking, "How the Heck could the Roman Empire have survived beyond the modern day and unify the planet under its grasp?" Well allow me to explore some ideas of mine that could allow for such a course. I must specify here that in relation to talks of domination below, I am opposed to these Roman things and its taint on my faith in history. I am not saying this would be a better world, but a different world, that is all. Enjoy.


Despite what your outdated history classes may teach, the Roman Empire did not fall in Late Antiquity (a half decayed into independent Foederati kingdoms), but rather in 1204 at the hands of rogue catholic crusaders tempted by Venetian guile and in zealous revenge for a genocide of catholics in the domain of the Roman Empire under Andronikos Komnenos, culminating in the disastrous Sack of Cosntantinople. Its demise was settled upon during the Partition of Constantinople where Western occupying forces split up the remnants of the Roman Empire into crusader states and unified them under a crusader dynasty dubbed the Latin Empire, and successor Greco-Roman Kingdoms vied for who better represented the continuation of the Roman Empire. The so-called "Empire of Nikaea" was able to dismantle the Latin dynasty in New Rome and a second Roman Empire was founded under the Palaiologos dynasty, though the damage from the Sack was so extensive that they would never be able to rise anywhere to the great power that the first Roman Empire had. This second take was more of a Greek kingdom with strong Roman Imperial ties, and from here the term Byzantium would be used in later centuries to classify the Palaiologos realm that lasted from 1261 to 1453 (before purposefully misused in western eurocentric propaganda during the early modern period), where the shadow of a shadow fell to eastern invaders and thence forge an attempted Islamic Roman Empire, the Ottomans.

That is what happened in our timeline, but it did not need to be so.


By implementation of the Foederati states to save funds on the military and the fall of imperial authority in the Occidental Roman realms due to corruption and puppet emperor, the West was going to be lost to the Roman Empire eventually, even if Maiorianus and the other last vestiges of strong authority were not assassinated by corruption. But a preventable loss of influence in the West would be the prevention of the rise of the Catholic, or Universal church movement, a counter-culture movement against the Roman Empire. During and after the reign of the Theodosius I, the Roman Empire proclaimed itself to be the realized New Jerusalem from the Holy Bible, and with that thinking, all of Christendom was to be under the power of the Roman Empire (the light in a dark world) and the leader was both a political and religious figure, this spawning the modern word Caesaropapism and the modern definition of autocracy which comes from the rank of the Roman Emperor in the government, Autokrator, absolute, supreme power (different from the title used by rulers to describe this position to their person, like Caesar, Augustus, and Basileus). The Catholic Universalism movement in the West taught that Christianity and Christians could exist and live beyond Roman Imperial borders and can survive without the Roman Empire or its authority. Parts of this initial movement still reside in the modern Papal Church, but was largely overtaken by church politics what with the Donations of Constantine and the making of their own (Carolingian) Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire to secure their own hegemony over masses, and is now muddled with variance of traditions. (In short, the word Catholic Church now has a lot more baggage to it than the original Universalist movement and main remnant from this period is the word Catholic itself). Likewise, the loyalists to the Caesaropapist rule of the Emperors were classified as being orthodox to the legal norm, and likewise this name exists in the modern day with little relevance to its present existence, unless a new Orthodox Emperor (understood as Divine Regent over New Jerusalem) is crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople (which has been vacant since the fall of the Russian Empire; Vladimir Putin was offered Imperial coronation but he declined the offer).

In local levels, the traditions of the Roman Republic stayed true to freemen, though the growing danger of the world from the 200's-forward made many people give up their civil rights and become the first serfs in exchange for protection, and so serfs outnumbered freemen. On this topic, it must be said that slavery would later be technically outlawed on Christian grounds as the Abomination of the Age but many rich people had house slaves from captured prisoners of war and the Islamic Slave Trade and people turned a blind eye towards these as the only people that didn't like it were those in lower societal positions. The Roman Empire came to find that the best source of work came from motivation, so the Roman Empire serves as one of the earliest sources of free waged labor in the world. Funny how they go from mass slavery to free labor, but it took them less than a thousand years, and serfs were still a thing.

With those things in mind, a good way to prevent the rise of Western Christian Universalism (also in the East, like the Nestorians ceasing Iranian persecution of Christians was by declaring themselves separate from the Romans) is to expand upon Justinian I's creation of the Patriarchial Pentarchy, for by this there was only one Patriarch in the western provinces, the Patriarch of Rome (later to be called the Pope) who assumed control over the rest of Europe as being under his religious dominion and at the same time led the counter culture Universalism movement, and also at the same time the Patriarch of Roma claiming the place of Imperial divine power with the help of the forged document called the Donation of Constantine (discovered to be a forgery in the 1400's) being used to attain higher power and help solidify Papal rule over the Roman Empire in Europe.

Another means of this is to not be so strict in theological debates, allowing for more mental freedom and recognition in humanity's divine element of sentience, free-will. What constitutes as heresy and the crimes for it should be loosened, and Christ's message of freedom should be emphasized while also pointing out the need for a strong central authority to protect the commoners and economic stability, while also finding some way to make laws for the Emperors so that the prize of ultimate authority, the throne of the Roman Emperor, would not be as coveted and civil wars be prevented; reconciling this with divine authority and the boost of ego that comes with this is a tricky thing, only thing i can think of is adopting a philosophy of their contemporary future, Enlightened Despotism as laid out by Frederick II Hohenzollern, King of Prussia. This point of limitation of and responsible use of power is what stretches any plausibility for an ever-lasting Roman Empire, but the creation of the USA and the Internet are other events of implausibility in history as well as many other things, so perhaps something could be made. Potential reforms that fuse the Greco-Roman Empire with the earlier Latinate Roman Republic. To go off of the structure of the United States, perhaps a divine imperial federal level and smaller provinces/states with senators and monarchical governors, or in other words, in ways similar to the German Holy Roman Empire prior to the fall of House Hohenstaufen. The Empire being in a better economic situation for reasons stated below means that that Emperor Constans II will have no reason to strip precious metals from public works across Italy, which accompanied by arresting the Patriarch of Rome at the time for rebellious attitude, will make Italy and the rest of the West less angry at the Roman Empire and see a need for further independence.


Whatever the cause may be, retaining the unity of the Roman Empire, institutionalization of inherent freedom of man (within the plausible confines of their deranged Roman-Christian views), and the limitations of power while retaining divine authority, are the key ways of making a Roman Empire that could last. History would have an affect on these things, however, namely Islam. In our history, in the 600's Islam was able to expand beyond Arabia with a combination of military genius and unmerciful destruction, but solidifying their conquests over native peoples was because of national disunity and war weariness, the former for the Roman Empire in the form of rebellious Christian populations who tired of the tyranny of the caesaropapist Emperors and invited Islamic conquerors in so that they could practice their faith even it meant that they would have to pay more money than muslims (the dhimmi class of the Muslim caste system; i imagine it was only the wealthy because the poor in lacking funds would be forced to either convert or die), and the latter in the form of Iran under the Sassasnid dynasty who was essentially destroyed by the Roman Empire in their final war with them (though Iranian resistance with minute Chinese assistance) and in this state found that after two major defeats they were wholly conquered, to not gain independence until the 1000's and the 1400's.

In a world where the local Christians of North Africa, Egypt, Palestine and Syria were allowed to express sentience on theology and not bear physical punishment of force for crossing the whims of a tyrant, the Muslim invaders would have found it so much harder to keep their conquest of the East Mediterranean, if being able to do so at all. With this means that Carthage, the richest city in the western realms, would have been spared a second complete annihilation and Roman imperial presence in the western Mediterranean have been secure, so long as the city remained in control or intact (Carthage and Ravenna were the most powerful cities in the Empire's western realms, they being the capitals of vice-royalty polities, Rome was naught but a nostalgic relic of the past). In our timeline, so destroyed was Carthage after its conquest by Islamic forces that the citiy's ruins were abandoned and the nearby village of Tunis was instead invested in; the fall of Carthage allowed for the conquest of Marrakesh and after a betrayal by a Roman fort commander opposite of Gibraltar, the Muslims conquered the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania, save the northern hill-lands.

With Carthage intact, Roman presence in New Carthage (South Spain) may be retained, and the heavily Romanized Visigoths will continue to be allies of the Roman Empire, providing a good counterpart to the Merovingian Frankish realms in Gaul. Without the Battle of Tours (Frankish realms in Gaul unify to halt and defeat a great Muslim horde from invading Europe from the West) to legitimize the illegitimate Frankish prince Charles Martel, the Carolingian dynasty does not rise to power and there will be no Charlemagne and the whole influence on history he had. The Conquest of Egypt and Spain proved to be vital to the economy of the Caliphates, so without the funds in the form of the great treasures looted form these lands, we can expect that Islam to not be as expanded upon in this world, at least in the West. According to their scriptures, however, Islamic forces would continue onslaught to breach roman borders and the East Mediterranean may see a similar militarization of settlements like what was seen in Europe during and following the Third Century Crisis to defend against Germanic invaders.


With the Roman Empire retaining influence over the Christian world (save the Nestorians of Iraq, the Syriacs of India, and the Oriental Church of China) and retaining its vital power-bases in north africa, the Roman Empire would be able to push back the great Sklavonian Horde that conquered Greece and laid waste to the lands and the ancient inhabitants before the empire was able to push most of the invaders out and they mixed with the natives. the Danuvian Limes would still be a hot bed for conflict, if not by the Bulghar Horde that Justinian II unwisely brought to those lands (and the nemesis Bulgarian Empire that the horde would turn into) then by other forces, but again the funds from the Mediterranean means that it would not be as apocalyptic. With ties to the West still intact, perhaps an alternative history counterpart to Constans II would successfully make Syracuse of Sicily the new Roman capital (he was assassinated for this consideration), so Justinian's restoration of the West could still be a dream to be realized in the future. (Hera

From this point onward, with the technological achievements of the Roman Empire seen during the early medieval ages (Greek Fire, the automatons of the throne room, the flying throne, and mining machines) and stable national security, as well as ties to the Germanic kingdoms of the West without rise in papal power, we can see that the Roman Empire will become a couple centuries ahead of what was seen in our world, especially in the passing of ideas from the Germanic west (like the advancement of steel plate armor) to the mathematics of Iranian muslims prior to the crushing of scientific advancement by a certain al-Ghazali. Only worries be the tradition of Roman cut-throat politics, the pride of Emperors, and the influences of possible invaders like:
  • The Viking Norseman (a lack of Charlemagne's Saxon Wars would prevent the radical fury of the Norsemen and their attacks on Christian lands would be less severe, so maybe less lasting; this might also lead to earlier exploration beyond Iceland and longer lasting settlement in Labrador),
  • Seljuk Turks (Seljuk never converts to Islam, the actions of all his descendants never occur),
  • and the Mongols (Temujin Borjigin could have died very easily while exiled as a child in the winter wilderness).
But who knows, maybe with the survival of the great empire of the west, perhaps gunpowder could be brought to Rhomania without need of Mongol delivery, or maybe chemists could make their own gunpowder in their own search for eternal life and power. And with that, it is only a matter of time before a second era of Roman expansionism unites a resurgent Europe back with the Roman Empire or at least vassalizes them, religious fervor may make a thing like Roman Crusades, and in seeking alternate routes around the Islamic world to their eastern counterparts in Cathay, may have them discover the New World.


From here, i can say that centuries down the line after a lot of stuff happens, the Roman Empire spans the globe, whereby in an early action in Stellaris, they then unify the Earth under a single banner, and start mining the rest of the Sol System. They seek to expand the realm of their realized New Jerusalem to the stars, pressing their claim as the inheritor of all Creation no matter who or what may stand in their way. All planets shall like tzatziki sauce, or perish! Oh, and a lot more places are going to go with neo-byzantine and neo-byzantine-gothic architecture (from the influence of Franks and Visigoths), might remind you of Theed from Naboo.

To fit this new world of total dominance of a single, theocratic-monarchic imperial state, a new Dominante System may evolve (the first version in our timeline never dying until the empire died twice, started by Constantine I following his abolition of the Tetarchy System, tweaked by Theodosius I), the title of Basileus (meaning King or Emperor) having since given way to Sebastokrator (a title coined by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos that was itself meant to supplant the ancient title of Caesar in rank). Sebastion is a Greek translation of the Latin Augustus, and means "venerable, awe, reverence, dread, to feel ashamed in the presence of", and Kratos means Ruler in Greek. This new word is to hark back to the times of the Pax Romana while not upsetting the Greek-speaking majority of the Empire. The planet Earth is known as Hagioteira, or Holy Land/Holy Earth. The capital is Nea-Atlantikos, a massive green-tech megalopolis in-between Spain and the Caribbean, and is largely populated by global warming refugees of a largely beflooded Europe.

The words of this song, and its tone, befit my Space-Age Empire of the Romans, and the Roman Empire in general, its epic grip of fascination on me as an example of a dark picture of humanity that we must avoid to become, to never return to, and thus, to learn from.

The ruler was in some sense god's representative on earth and because of this, a weapon, which as a symbol of oppression is conferred upon to the ruler into his possession in a religious ceremony. The weapon is a religious symbol as well as a symbol of government and oppression.


Moving Back to the States

Posted by Vorahk1Panrahk2 in V1P2's Blog, Dec 24 2018 · 80 views
General Life Stuff

It's been a truly wonderful and blessed experience to live in a country that's not my own. But while it was an adventure, all adventures have to end, and I have officially hopped back across the equator (into winter, glorious winter) to continue my life. Now time do all those fun things like... finishing school and finding a new job.


The Original BIONICLE Fandom are all adults

Posted by JMSOG in Odd Thoughts by JMSOG, Dec 23 2018 · 125 views

Apologies if this is slightly confusing or incoherant.

So, I've been listening to this song over and over for months after finding it on Spotify:

I find it fascinating, and really like it, in a very precise, specific, probably almost nitpicky way.

It's clear the narrator in the song (whether he's supposed to be Ethan Wood himself, doesn't matter) spent his childhood with bionicle. Seeing as he's showing specifically Tahu Mata, and the fact that he still has the original set with the original canister, it likely mattered to him through his childhood, teenage years, and now adulthood.

Now, he's an adult dealing with adult problems...he clearly is approaching the end of a relationship, which is a difficult and confusing thing for anyone to go through.

So, how does he try to make sense of his emotions in that moment? He relates it to Bionicle, something that's been a part of him since he was small. He expresses vulnerability in the confusion of this moment by essentially showing something pure from his childhood. In doing that, he expresses at the core who he is, as expressed in the line "what you see is what you get".

That may be reading in too much...but really, this resonated with me in a big way. The narrator in the song clearly had hopes for everything in his life to go well when he grew up, and when something didn't, he calls back to his childhood in an effort to make sense of it. This isn't a new idea, but to my knowledge, this is the only song to do something like that with specifically bionicle...Bionicle was one of the biggest parts of my development as a child, so this resonated with me in a big way in particular.

So, bringing attention to that song is one thing...but, there's a second thing that it made me realize. All the original fans of bionicle, who were old enough to be there for 2001 and experienced the story as it unfolded until 2011, are adults now. There's an entire population of people who were influenced by Bionicle as much as the singer in that song, all of whom are entering their respective industries right now, if they haven't already.

For star trek, so many of the people who saw it in theaters were so inspired by it that they took jobs in specific scientific fields, changing what technology is available today. Some went into film, creating some of the most well-known movies and shows. Some got jobs in the government out of optimism to try to create the future. Many of those people lived their lives in a way that were shaped by what they took away from star trek. Many of them brought unique insights to their careers that were inspired by star trek. Many of them changed the course of the world in some way, influenced uniquely by star trek. This isn't at all unique to star trek, it just so happens that Star Trek's influence is well documented.

Well, Bionicle's influence begins now. Obviously, the song I showed is not well known at all, but it is deeply unique and could only have been made by someone who grew up with bionicle. I think that some of the media, technology, and policy that emerge soon may begin to be influenced by the bionicle fans who contributed to them, even if it's in small ways. I think, statistically, that at least a handful will make a massive impact in the world, influenced by their experiences with the bionicle story and sets. I have no idea what the specifics of that will look like, but I believe that that will begin around now...and that's really cool to me.

Again, maybe I'm reading too much into it. but it's definitely something I've been thinking about for a few months.


Light Bluish Gray

Posted by Illuminatus in The Minimalist, Dec 04 2018 · 104 views

My very first topic (or post, for that matter) on BZP was in BIONICLE-Based Creations and featured... an MOC with a very vague description and literally no photos, as I hadn't yet heard of Brickshelf. The MOC was called the "Ko-Defender."

On a seemingly unrelated note, I had no idea about the distinction between "light gray" and "light bluish gray" until yesterday; I only knew about "dark gray" and "dark bluish gray" as the pieces in those two colors tend to be bigger. So obviously, I had to go through my entire list of sets to figure out which ones may have incorrect gray pieces.

The answer was easy: all of the second-hand sets I'd bought from 2013 till now and all of my own sets from before and after the color transition in 2004 that I'd personally mashed up.

And it turns out the last sets I'd EVER mashed up in my life were the sets I used for that cringy-looking ice-based MOC in 2005.

So I opened up my Kopaka Mata, Kopaka Nuva, Kurahk and Toa Nuju to check if any of the light gray pieces were mixed up, and—of course—they were.

And now they're all in their proper places.

I literally can't believe how satisfying it was to trace and redistribute these pieces after almost 14 years.


Toward My Future

Posted by Windseeker in Wind's Weblog, Nov 12 2018 · 173 views

It was some form of serendipity that I joined this site when I did in 2003. It's been over 15 years now, and somehow this place still figures in my life in a prominent way.

In December 2016, the best OBZPC on this site and I got together, and our relationship is still going strong almost two years later now. Strong enough that we're serious about our future to the point where I am going to finally start toward the independence I've wanted for myself by moving up to Ontario to live with her.

This also comes from my recognizing how far I've come in facing and dealing with the trauma I finally put a name to in early 2017. I've come through spans of daily panic attacks, depression to the point of complete inertness, anxiety of a severity I don't care to look at again, and through so many periods of instability and stability that I still doubt the permanence of my progress. But I know that I am more resilient now, and even if I don't understand entirely, I am able to keep moving forward.

To get myself up to Ontario and settled enough to start working toward citizenship, I'm going back to finish my PhD. I'm starting applying to various schools, and hopefully have enough credentials to pick up where I left things. I have my MA and some incredible references and work from Penn, at least.

Aside from the motivation Emily gives me, I'm also increasingly terrified by the state of things down here for LGBTQIA people, and especially for a trans woman like me. So while I have to face uprooting my entire life while still working through difficult emotional and mental troubles, I figure that, somehow, it's safer. And too, that I'll never fully heal and recover if I stay close to the places where all of my trauma has its roots.

So, this should all come together for better life? I can only say I will do everything to make it work. It's a future I've told myself many times that I would never have, or didn't deserve, but now, I will make sure of having it.

(And if you want to help with some of the initial logistical work, I do have a fundraiser.)



Posted by Valendale in The Frozen Mirror, Nov 12 2018 · 172 views

Well, my life has taken a bit of a turn for the worse since my last entry. About 2 weeks ago, my boyfriend and I broke up. It was pretty mutual, we both had the realization at about the same time, but it's still been a very rough time for me. I've felt a lot of different things since then, which I won't go all into, but mainly it's a lot of just missing him and wondering if we made the right choice.

And while I did wonder, I've felt pretty confident that we were better off not being together, as painful as that may be. It does feel liberating in a weird sense, and since we broke up, I've been being a lot more social. (I'm really enjoying all the time I'm spending with my friends.) That was up until Saturday night, where I ended up breaking down and crying about some other problems in my life. I realized I didn't really have anyone else I could talk to about these things, who even knew. It was moment of weakness, but in that moment I wanted him back, and that's the only time I've felt that way since the breakup.

I just felt like venting that a little, and I had a BZPower dream last night, so I figured I might as well use this lil old place. I'll probably end up saying all of this to my ex since we're meeting up tomorrow to give some stuff back and talk a little, but there's one other thing I wanted to say to someone, that I can't say to him, even though he definitely already knows.

Today, we would have been together for a year.


Mama Punk

Posted by Queen of Noise in A Pinch of Rock and a Dose of Roll, Oct 31 2018 · 167 views

I logged into this site for the first time in two years to dig up an old recipe I'd lost...figured I'd post some recent pictures and a plug for my band while I'm here, for old time's sake. For those who don't remember me, let's just say I was once an admin...briefly. :psychotwitch:

STRANGE LIPS, fronted by yours truly: http://strangelips.bandcamp.com (twitter/IG: @Strange_Lips). If you live in or around New York, come see us sometime; we generally play at least one show a month.

Most-recent picture of me, post-haircut:

Posted Image

Some pics from a gig last month, pre haircut:

Posted Image

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Moving forward

Posted by SwagtronYOLO in Designated Tekulo Crying Corner ♡, Oct 21 2018 · 192 views
Life, Goodbye, Hello

Keeping this susinct, I moved back to Ohio for medical reasons. I had a second mental breakdown, failed to set up proper doctors at the West Coast, and I had to pack up, move and say goodbye in less than a day (which wasn't easy on two different levels).

I'm going through a long and expensive process of getting a new diagnosis. I am on new meds now. Some professionals seem to think I'm bipolar. We'll see.

So yeah I was reckless with my health, I was overworked and constantly making overtime, and by the end of one sour week I was jobless, homeless, and wound up working with a charity and then later transferred from two separate hospitals to a behavioral health center (which was actually probably one of the most helpful places I'd visited for me to sort things out).

So yeah, kinda heavy news here. I would like to say the last thing I need right now is pity. I always felt annoyed when people just say "I'm sorry" to this sort of thing when they don't know what else to say. I know I'm guilty of that too, but some of my favorite responses have been words of wisdom, or gentle encouragement, or even from some of my closest friends just saying "I love you and I'm here for you," or something to that effect.

I've been plenty scolded by nurses and a few other people in my life (with very much good advice, to their credit).

So all that aside I've been reaching out to old friends in Ohio. I've been cleaning my room from adolescence and doing my best to ignore the news. It's one step at a time.

I was missing my friends from the west earlier, but I realized all of those friendships and bonds were made in the past three years. I'm still in contact with a lot of friends, and I'm still in my mid twenties. I have so much longer than three years left, and if I can build myself a happy social life in three years, then well... who knows? This chapter of my life is part of the adventure. It may seem like a step backwards, but life doesn't stop, even for these kinds of events.

I dunno. The glass is kinda at an equillibrium to me at this point.



The Return (Redux (Working Title))

Posted by Haku340 in All That I'm Hearing From You..., Oct 20 2018 · 91 views

Before I continue my years-long pattern of "Hi I'm back" posts followed by radio silence, I thought I'd drop in to the forums once again to see what's been happening. It's been a decade since I made my account, and longer since I started reading the forums (though I couldn't tell you when). Reading back over my old posts has the expected embarrassment of encountering your younger self at any point, but it's cool to see that some people I recognise are still around. I really enjoyed taking a look at the Dark709 Hereafter series in particular; those old flash movies were really inspiring back when they came out, and I hope Dark and the whole comics crowd have gone on to even better things since.

I stumbled back here after I found that someone had made a small page about me over on a wikia site dedicated to the old BZP comics community. I don't know how I compared to someone like Dark709 back in the day (though my younger self certainly felt I was right up there with the big dogs), but it was nice to see that someone remembered me enough to record a couple of random facts and images.

I should really go back and see if I still have all of those old comics buried somewhere on my computer. Now that Majhost is gone, a couple of twitter avatars are the best things I can find outside of Brickshelf.

These days my main presence on the internet is a YouTube series reading some silly old Japanese Visual Novels with a friend of mine, so if that's your speed I'd love if you could check it out.

So hey, if you happen to run past this post and you want to chat about anything old forums, new forums or how much we've all grown up while this place has been around, drop a comment. I promise I'll try not to disappear for at least that long.



Posted by Noxryn in Fantasy Costco, Oct 10 2018 · 145 views

haven posted a thing here in forever but decided to come back for nostalgia and boredom sake for a single night in the midst of october

its so weird

like bein in an abandoned hospital but the lights're still on and you can jus hear your voice echoin down the halls

man and i spent like... idk, i think i was active mostly through 2015? but like, 12 years of havin an acct

my acct is older than elementary school

also nearly half my current lifespan


my icon cute tho


What has been going on - this limbo that is my life

Posted by Toa Imrukii in Toa Imrukii's Blog, Oct 10 2018 · 119 views

Okay, so let me preface this with a disclaimer of sorts, nothing that I may say here is intended or directed in any way to cause discourse or conflict, in my own personal life I had been between (metaphorically) juggling balls left and right, for a long time I was more or less trying to appease two sides of people in my own personal life, both of which having some strong detrimental tendency on me personally, I'll explain exactly what I mean by this in a bit, but for now let me get to the meat of the issue.

I have for so long now felt as though I am in a limbo, I have recently, more or less, cut off the stress from my life, and though my OCD still reminds me of it, I live each day knowing full-blown well that I do not have it on my shoulders any more. So, I have fallen into sort of a limbo, a limbo where I try to ready myself for a major personal task one day, only for that day to come and I lose the will to go ahead and do it, with examples of such, personally, for myself to get anywhere, literally and metaphorically, I need to do my GED, I need to apply to accomplish getting my learners permit; eventually learning to drive, and so on from the GED more-so, though admittedly from both, I need to get a job, and beforehand finish my resume. There have also been lessor things I've been more or less held back from, like getting my iPad repaired for some damage that peeves me (which is regardless of money for me and my family, money isn't an issue), as well, I've been looking to find a relationship, but everytime I get to talk with a girl I just lose the will to see them, and I don't know why. I talk to 'em, and get to know them, but than I just seem to not care anymore, and I seriously can't put my finger on why. And, I know, not everyone is going to know or be interested in my personal hobbies, like bionicle, like conlanging, such and such, but, going back to the original prefaces, how am I supposed to do anything when (and admittedly I may not have originally said this) I feel like I'm being shot down left and right from reaching my goal.

I do have anxiety, and depression, but the former of those two, in regards to me actually reaching and achieving those things, my anxiety I feel is that which is holding me back the most. I want to get my life in order, I need to get my GED done, but why would I want to remind myself of school again?, I want to get my learners permit, but why would I need to drive when I have nowhere to go?, I want to be in a relationship, but why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't care about your interests or someone who you don't feel attached to? This is my conundrum.

And, back to the regard of my personal interests, and a going back to my disclaimer of I mean no offense, I feel like-, no, I know that my friends are simply not interested in conlanging and linguistics, but can I blame them? It's a very specific field, and a very finite detailed creative field at that, in fact if anything it shows I do have a degree of autistic tendency to how I function, which may to some degree be something that is holding me back, but more so I feel the lack of care or passion people; my friends, family, peers, show towards me is seriously hampering me as a person. It's a very basic conundrum when you get down to it, why would you want to keep on living and doing something if no one appreciates you? And not in the regards of my close friends, but some of my less close friends, I know they simply do not in their hearts appreciate me, even if they say they do, they just don't care. So, why would I want to care about them you may ask? I care about all my friends, not simply because I consider them as such, but because I want to try and come to an understanding with them, but there is no way to achieve that from where I am.

I have become so sick and tired of the petty tendencies people do to each other, "we have a difference of opinion, so we're going to fight one another and make ourselves tear our own hair out in anger because of it." just absolutely petty bulldung as that, and it drives me insane, so I cut myself from it, even though it hurts me, because I do truly believe that understanding can be found, despite how much we allow something to tear us apart from eachother.

Now, I have come to the realization that I have to make something of my life, I try each and every day to get myself motivated enough to get to doing just that, but as I have stated here already, I quickly lose my motivation to keep on going, and as so clear as day, I may look to the mirror, see my reflection, I may see my shadow, see the light I block, as is such the nature of future and past, we may try and look to the future, but be will never truly be able to see it and live it before it's time, and the past we may very well remember it forever on for the rest of our lives, but there is somthing keeping me from looking in the mirror so-to-speak, and I simply cannot overcome it, and so this is my limbo. Neither in pain nor in suffering, not in joy or pleasure, but as has always been there, sadness is the only fallback, and the only adictive substance of my limbo which I simply will not be falling back on again as I have so many times, and even if I somehow do, I can't be there for long. So, I am stuck here, in a limbo, with no way to get out.


An Exciting Career Move

Posted by danny316p in danny316p's Blog, Oct 08 2018 · 367 views

It's now official enough to talk about: I'm starting an exciting new job at Comcast in Philadelphia on October 15th. In some ways, it's a big step up after a lengthy rough patch, but in other ways, it's a logical next step after the end of my time at Talari Networks in 2013. I was overdue for a sane career move and it couldn't have come at a better time.

In related news, I'd currently be up for roommates or crash space in the Philadelphia area. I figure I need to start with some temporary arrangements until I can find a place to move into permanently. I'll still be paying a mortgage in Camp Hill until after I've secured a house (or equivalent) within reasonable commuting distance of Center City.


this place is so dead

Posted by Rodimus in The Lost Light Insider, Oct 07 2018 · 270 views

ive never seen this place so. empty

what makes people continue to haunt this ghost town

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