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Everything posted by Enoch

  1. I don't recall the "no combat" comment, but reading between the lines of his twitter feed for the last 6 months or so, I very much suspect that he's working on the alt-history Darklands spiritual successor that he's mentioned a number of times.
  2. Sigh. Second time in a week that I'm here posting an R.I.P. to a legend. Florian Schneider Autobahn was one of the albums that my dad used to sometimes play for my sister and I at very high volumes, with the lights all off in the house. Well, Side A, anyway-- Side B drove the dog nuts. My kids don't quite have the attention span for that yet (they're now 4 and 6), but I think I've posted here before about the year-long stretch during which the eldest nearly always asked to hear "Wobots!" when we were in the car. Anyhow, here's one of my favorites of Kraftwerk's less-celebrated tracks. Just a lovely way to end an album. P.S., for the Very Online among us, this is some of dasharez0ne's best work.
  3. Oh man, Tony Allen has died. Easily on the list of greatest and most influential drummers in history, and, depending on who you ask, may well be at the very top.
  4. It's Herbie's 80th B-Day! That merits a few tracks. Here's Dolphin Dance. IMO, the best of the tunes he wrote that became part of the standard jazz repertoire. And Rain Dance! My favorite early-electronic Herbie. Head Hunters, which came out right after Sextant, was of course the huge hit of this era, but my tastes run more towards the weird early jazz-electronica than to the funky popular stuff. Lastly, Herbie himself dancing. Sort of. This was an incredibly influential live performance-- it's from the broadcast of the '84 Grammys and was an introduction of both breakdancing and record-scratching to the nationwide TV audience. "Rockit" was already a hit, but millions of people who heard it had no idea how they got the record-scratch sound until they saw this broadcast. The Grammys are a famously conservative organization, and it might be the fact that the ostensible "front man" here was 43 and already an acknowledged master helped them sneak some then-underground stuff into living rooms throughout America.
  5. Ooh, this is a thing that I know things about! It actually is kinda subtle! It's certainly a shot across the bow of the federal oversight community, but the CARES Act has a fair amount of redundancy in oversight organizations built in. First, some background about Inspectors General (IGs). They are auditors and investigators that are within federal agencies, reporting jointly to both the head of the agency and to Congress. As such, they have some degree of independence (or at least insulation) from political influence. IGs at large agencies are presidential appointments, subject to Senate confirmation, but these appointments are required by law to be made without regard for political affiliation, based only on expertise, experience, etc. Also, by consistent practice since the position was established in 1978, they do not resign when a new administration takes office. A President can remove an IG, but they have to notify Congress of their intent to do so, with reasons stated, 30 days before the actual removal. (Notably, Trump recently informed Congress of his intent to remove the IG for the Intelligence Community.) There is also an organization called the Council of the IGs for Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE)-- a Council of all the federal IGs that provides training for IG staff, sets standards, investigates allegations of wrongdoing against IGs, and other stuff like that. Also, vacancies in government positions that require a presidential appointment and Senate confirmation ("PAS positions") are governed by the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA). Under FVRA, the vacant position's "first assistant" takes over, unless the President takes action to appoint someone else as the "Acting" official. He can appoint either a senior official in the same agency, or an official currently holding (officially) any PAS position in the government, and there are time limits that govern how long most Acting officials can serve. Presidential action under FVRA regarding IG positions has historically been avoided, for the most part-- IGs typically have a lot of friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle, so past administrations have usually shied away from using FVRA to threaten IG independence. There have been press reports that the Trump admin have considered using FVRA to replace the Acting IGs at Education and Interior with folks currently serving in political PAS positions, and both attempts have evaporated when the rumors hit Capitol Hill. So, Glenn Fine is the Deputy DOD IG, and has spent the last few years acting as the IG. Trump used FVRA and appointed the current EPA IG (also a PAS position, but, crucially, within the IG community) as the Acting DOD IG. Fine goes back to being the Deputy DOD IG. The tricky thing is that the big coronavirus bill-- the CARES Act-- established a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, made up of IGs from across government. (In essence, it's a subcommittee of CIGIE with specific funding.) Mr. Fine had been appointed as the Chair of this new PRAC. But he can't do that if he's not an IG or Acting IG anymore. So the CIGIE Chair (the DOJ IG) will have to appoint a different IG to chair the PRAC. The funny thing is that both the EPA IG who replaces Fine at DOD and the DOJ IG who gets to appoint his replacement on the PRAC have been critical of this administration in the past. The PRAC's work will go on with different leadership. And the CARES Act has other folks looking after this money, too-- a new Special IG, a Congressional oversight panel, and the Government Accountability Office (which is similar to an OIG, but covers the whole government and reports only to Congress). So the effect of all this might end up being minuscule. But, viewed in the context of the administration's other recent actions with regard to the IG community, it definitely contributes to the picture of a president lashing out at anybody who might hold his government's actions to account.
  6. I think part of my struggling with the current cabin-fever conditions is in knowing how ideal I would've considered it had it happened before I had kids. Staying at home and seeing nobody but my spouse, apart from occasional grocery shopping? Amazing! I know that I really have no serious grounds to complain-- a global pandemic and my part of the suffering is that I have to spend time with my kids. We're not especially economically impacted. Both the wife and I can work remotely. She's under some pressure to keep her hours-billed up, but it's not anything she'd get canned over if she falls short. I'm allowed to work at 3/4ths normal time at standard pay, and I have ample leave saved (and an understanding supervisor). But there is some expectation that both of us will spend some time working each day, and the kids (3 and 6, although the little guy levels-up in about 5 weeks) need active minding by at least one of us for the 14 hours/day they're awake. Makes all the stuff I see around teh inertnets about what folks are doing with the extra time they have on their hands burn a little. Also, I'm discovering that I'm a pretty lousy kindergarten teacher, and lil' bro is still young enough that I feel limited by all the guidance on excessive screen time for kids. (Also, he only seems to want to watch Octonauts, which, despite being among the less-bad kids-show options, I'm kinda sick of.) Schools and preschools being closed means I can't keep parental-inadequacy anxiety at bay by having professionals instruct them anymore. And the lack of a clear end-date to all this is somewhat daunting.
  7. I'm guessing you meant Symbol, rather than Seal. The highest level seal spell is only PL5. (And, yeah, the Symbol of _____ spells are really good.)
  8. I don't understand a word of Japanese, but I'm a half-hour into this and enjoying it immensely. Anyhow, I noticed The Comet is Coming in your Best-of-2019 list, and I concur that they're pretty great.
  9. Yeah, I've been playing with a single-classed Priest in the party, and my #1 use of her tier-IX spells is Light of Eothas, specifically to reduce Dampener duration. Which feels pretty weird for what are, ostensibly, the ultimate abilities for the class. I'll have to make a note to put some of those potions in the quickslots of my most buff-reliant characters.
  10. I'm certainly not on the level of an Ultimate player, but, in my experience, it's pretty broad. There is probably a hidden quality to most statuses that flag them as "beneficial" or "hostile," and I can't recall any instances where they really missed something. I haven't tested Merciless Gaze specifically (IMO, it's an underwhelming spell that I don't really use), but I know that I've seen summoned weapons suppressed by Arcane Dampener, which certainly keys on the same "beneficial" quality. Everything I can think of that you would cast as a "buff" is going to count as "beneficial" such that it would be suppressed by Dampener, or have its duration influenced by an effect like Cleansing Flame, Concussive Tranquilizer, Salvation of Time, or Arcane Cleanse. Conversely, "hostile" effects have their duration affected by RES, are influenced abilities like Suppress Affliction, Liberating Exhortation, Minor Intercession, Light of Eothas, and the Enfeebled condition. The weirdness comes in with effects that don't have a duration. Sometimes you can Dampen enemy buffs that you can't Cleanse, because they're limited by a factor other than time (e.g., Wizard's Double lasting until the character is Hit by something). What I probably should understand the details of but don't is how this interacts with statuses like a Barbarian's Frenzy, which has effects that are both good and bad for your character. (I'm guessing that that particular example is considered purely "beneficial," in spite of the DEF debuff, but I can't say that I've tested that specifically. I highly doubt that Obsidz would've let us trigger a buff that has a drawback, and then Suppress the drawback.)
  11. Sun and Moon is lovely if you buy into the Monk's Crit-seeking abilities (Swift Flurry, Enervating Blows, Stunning Surge, and Heartbeat Drumming). Because every attack gets you 2 attack rolls, you'll generate crits at a faster rate than other melee weapons do. And you buy it at Legendary enchantment, which saves on long-term costs and lets you get it ahead of the leveling curve. A Priest can also make use of its bonus to Fire PL in the daytime.
  12. Yes, pre-Citzal's, I used the Battle-Worn Grimoire for Chill Fog, Combusting Wounds, and Minor Blights. When tier IV opened up, Pull of Eora was the obvious choice. Kept a backup Grimoire with melee stuff for when that was most appropriate. He was probably less effective than a single-classed Wizard would've been at that point (being a tier behind on spells hurts!), but it worked well enough, and his value skyrocketed when the Lance came online.
  13. See also this entertaining twitter thread from QA Lead Taylor Swope on some of the process that went into this patch: https://twitter.com/_taylorswope/status/1205252714680045568
  14. Don't take Backstab unless you're going to be using the invisibility abilities heavily. Sneak Attack (if that's what you meant) works fine with ranged attacks. Just get the targets debuffed first, and the damage bonus should apply. Spellblade Aloth works well for me. I use him mostly as an engine for combining AoE summoned weapons with the Rogue's debuffing abilities. Early on, Kalakoth's Minor Blights is your main damage source. Use with Infuse with Vital Essence (for the INT inspiration's effects on durations and AoEs) and maybe a Pull of Eora to concentrate the enemy. Once you can access PL5, though, repec into a straight melee build. (Keep a backup grimoire that has the ranged debuffing stuff when that's more what the party needs.) Get one of the melee-forward grimoires, and your self-buff order is something like IwVE, Spirit Shield, Mirrored Image, Deleterious Alacrity, and Citzal's Spirit Lance. (You can add things like Spell Reflection and Flame Shield situationally.) The Lance AoE is quite large, and the effects of your afflicting Rogue attack abilities will apply to everyone in it. Summon a Phantom once you're holding it if you like. I wrote down the ability build that I spec'ed him into for melee use at one point, because I anticipated a skills-focused respec later on. This is what I was planning on, pairing with Katrenn's or Llengrath's Martial grimoire (they're mostly identical, and include necessary spells like Spirit Shield, DAoM, and the Lance). Rogue abilities plaintext; Wizard bold. 2) (Whichever of Escape or Crippling Strike he doesn't start with) 3) Thrust of TV 4) Mirrored Image; Blinding Strike 5) Two-handed style 6) Dirty Fighting 7) Arcane Dampener; Arterial Strike 8 ) Confounding Blind 9) Finishing Blow 10) Essential Phantom; Persistent Distraction 11) Pull of Eora 12) Withering Strike 13) Rapid Casting; Deep Wounds 14) Devastating Blow 15) Ryngrim's Repulsive Visage 16) Arkemyr's Capricious Hex; Toxic Strike 17-20) Other than to be sure to get Deathblows at level 19, doesn't matter much. N.B., Some of that was influenced by the party around him, and it may not even accurately reflect what I did when I actually leveled him up. Many of the spell choices are just things I like to have in the party for utility (Aloth was usually the only Wizard in the group), rather than anything that is necessary for this build. He doesn't use Thrust or Dampener often, but every once in a while, it's exactly what the party needs. (The Capricious Hex is just a fun combat-opener.) I'd love to get Combusting Wounds in there too, but his standard buff routine uses all his 2nd-level slots.
  15. I think of Oscar Peterson. (Also, my high school marching band, which used a version of it in its field show in my freshman year.)
  16. Humdinger of a post over on the SawyrTumblr on the potential for another Pillars game Excerpt:
  17. Why Armored Grace? You've got the character in Robes, so it would have zero effect, right? Or do you recommend armoring up for certain fights such that it would be helpful?
  18. Edit: Is the forum's auto-inbedding of twitter links looking weird for anyone else? Here's the tweet as a link, just in case.
  19. I have her using Serafen's Mortars, plus the Eye of Wael and Currents Rush in the second weapon slot for solo enemies. All the various ____ Strike abilities in AoE with 3 chances to hit is just lovely.
  20. Substantively, most of my picks have been covered already in this thread, but the coolest ability icon is easily The Long Pain. (The upgraded versions don't look as nice, IMO.) Some of the movement abilities are just satisfying to watch, too. Leap and Launching Kick, in particular. (The Knock-up on the latter is indeed annoying to manage, but an AoE interrupt is worth a little disruption in my view.) Conceptually, all the Chanter abilities are just cool in my book. All it took was the inclusion of a lot of world-building epic poetry to achieve the otherwise-impossible: a Bard analogue that wasn't lame.
  21. Does anybody have the details on precisely how the Substantial and Essential Phantoms differ? The spell descriptions recite that Substantial has more health and the ability to cast 3 spells, but how much more health? My intuition is that a melee wizard (or a Blackbow user) should actually prefer the 4th-level version version, as its duration will be higher due to Power Level scaling. Plus, its stats other than health will be the same as the Substantial version, but it will spend its time fighting with the copied weapon you want it to, rather than casting low-level spells with AI targeting. Also, it's possible to heal/buff an Essential Phantom to make up for fragility, but summons duration cannot be extended.
  22. Others who have played more of these options can probably advise you better, but, for my part, a Citzal's Lance Spellblade is a lot of fun. Can work with base classes for the most straighforward option, but Streetfighter-Bloodmage has the highest damage ceiling, for the price of some fragility and management trickiness. Infuse w/ VE, Deleterious Alacrity, Citzal's Lance, and L's Safeguard, drop your HP to under 50% to trigger the safeguard, then add Mirrored Image or Arcane Veil and hope that nothing sneaks by your silly-boosted defenses. (With base classes, just cast all the buffs above plus Spirit Shield at the outset and don't worry about keeping your health low-but-not-too-low. Can probably skip the Safeguard for most fights, too.) Black Jacket is a somewhat unusual pairing for a melee-caster multiclass, in that many such builds make use of summoned weapons. AFAIK, you can't switch out of a weapon after you've summoned it, so the benefit of Black Jacket might end up being under-utilized.
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