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Lost in the Sauce: Trump, Cruz, and Gohmert team up to incite election-related violence

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.
Housekeeping:

Election shenanigans

I put the latest info on Trump's phone call to Raffensperger in this comment.
According to experts, Trump’s conduct has potential criminal exposure:
A federal statute makes it a crime when one “knowingly and willfully … attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”
A Georgia statute similarly provides that a “person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.”
…The hard part for prosecutors would be proving Trump’s state of mind, because the statutes require proof of knowledge and intent. Prosecutors would have to show that Trump knew that Biden fairly won the election, and Trump was asking for Georgia officials to commit election fraud. And it’s not clear prosecutors could make that case.
At least 12 Republican senators plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6, when Congress is set to officially count the votes. The effort is being led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), as well as new Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Separately, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is pursuing a similar plan.
"Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," the senators said in a joint statement. “Accordingly, we intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."
Their plan is not going to succeed in preventing Biden from taking office, as majorities in both the House and the Senate would need to support a challenge against a state’s electoral votes. For an objection to be made, at least one member of both the House and Senate would need to submit it in writing. Then, the House and Senate separately convene to consider the issue. Debate is limited to two hours for each objection. After debate concludes, the House and Senate vote to uphold the objection and throw out the state’s votes. If the majority of the House AND the majority of the Senate does not uphold the objection, the state’s electoral votes are counted as cast.
  • Vice President Mike Pence’s role is simply to preside over the joint session, opening and presenting the certifications from each state. In his absence, the Senate pro-tempore Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will lead the session. At the end of the process, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority of votes for president and vice president.
The most immediate danger from Trump and Cruz’s doomed election gambit is rightwing terrorism and general violence: Trump, in particular, is inciting his supporters to swarm D.C. on Jan. 6. “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” Trump tweeted last week. Four rightwing rallies are scheduled, including one headlined by George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone.
The Proud Boys and other extremists are planning to attend the rallies and may set up an “armed encampment” on the National Mall, according to the Washington Post. On social media platform Parler, the leader of the Proud Boys said that members will be there “incognito” and may “dress in all black” to impersonate leftwing protestors.
Enrique Tarrio: "The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist...We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams."
Rep. Louie Gohmert has more explicitly tried to incite violence, saying the failure of his legal challenge to the election means “you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM.” (clip)
  • At the same time, pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood suggested that Pence could “face execution by firing squad” for “treason” if he doesn’t go along with the attempt to subvert the election.

Obstructing the transition

Biden’s transition director has accused the Office of Management and Budget of stonewalling the incoming administration’s team. OMB Director Russ Vought is not allowing key staff to meet with the transition team to help prepare the president-elect’s first annual spending plan, a move that could delay major proposals. Vought pushed back on the charges, saying that his agency needs to focus on finalizing the Trump administration’s regulations before the president leaves office.
“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic, and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to Covid-related expenditures and critical gaps,” [Biden transition Exec. Dir. Yohannes] Abraham said.
Earlier last week, Biden himself said Trump officials are not cooperating with his team, singling out the Defense Department for obstructing information on crucial national security issues. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said. The Defense Dept. finally scheduled meetings with the incoming team this week, after not briefing the transition for weeks.
  • The timing of the resumption in meetings is notable because it comes after the one year anniversary of the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. NATO officials are reportedly worried about the lack of coordination from the Trump administration: "We need the incoming Biden administration to be fully briefed and ready to deal with these very dangerous issues facing NATO's security."

Sabotaging the Biden Administration

U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack is taking steps to keep control of Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia during the Biden administration. As chairman of the boards of Radio Free Europe and Asia, Pack and his fellow members have added binding contractual agreements that will make it impossible to remove him or other pro-Trump allies from the board in the next two years.
In other words, although President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled he intends to replace Pack as CEO of the parent agency soon after taking office in January, Pack would maintain a significant degree of control over the networks.
The State Department is likely to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism “as an 11th hour effort to create hurdles for the incoming Biden administration.” The label, which requires the approval of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would undo a major accomplishment of the Obama administration. To take Cuba back off the list, the Biden team would need to conduct a formal review, a process that might take several months.
Such a designation would impose restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, certain controls over exports and various financial restrictions. It would also result in penalization against any persons and countries engaging in certain trade activities with Cuba.
The Trump administration has been rushing to finalize a myriad of rules before Biden’s inauguration. Since Election Day, the Trump administration has issued about three to four times as many new regulations as it did during other periods of Trump’s presidency. Rules that haven’t been finalized or taken effect can be suspended by an incoming president, which Biden has said he intends to do. By contrast, rules that are finalized can take months, or even years, to undo.
“As a general rule, it takes at least as much process to undo or modify a rule as it does to put the rule in place,” said Jonathan H. Adler, a professor and an administrative law expert at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. “The Trump administration is magnifying that challenge for the Biden administration.”
Trump loyalists are urging the president to stymie Biden’s efforts to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are working to get the agreements submitted to the Senate for ratification, requiring a two-thirds vote, with the goal of failure. While such an outcome wouldn’t prevent Biden from rejoining the accords, Cruz and Graham hope it would make their resurrection more problematic.
A vote against them would signal GOP opposition to the world and, they hope, undermine any unilateral action by Biden to rejoin the agreements. One senior congressional aide told RCP that sending them to die in the Senate “would be the final nail in the coffin.”
Further reading: “Biden To Be Saddled With Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral Mess,” Forbes.
Further reading: Biden will inherit a backlog of tens of thousands of visa requests from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and a bureaucratic tangle that refugee advocates say President Trump ignored or made worse.

Trump money and properties

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is employing forensic accounting specialists to examine Trump’s finances and business operations. Vance is looking “for anomalies among a variety of property deals” and trying to determine “whether the president’s company manipulated the value of certain assets to obtain favorable interest rates and tax breaks”.
The analysts hired by Vance probably have already reviewed various bank and mortgage records obtained from Trump’s company as part of the ongoing grand jury investigation, and they could be called on to testify about their findings should the district attorney eventually bring criminal charges
In yet another shady business deal connected to Trump, the United States sold the ambassador’s residence in Israel for more than $67 million. The person who bought the residence is none other than Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The property only became available due to Trump's controversial decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. Furthermore, State Dept. representatives reportedly lied to Congress about the sale, perhaps to hide that Adelson purposefully overbid.
For now, there is no alternative residence for the ambassador, David Friedman, Trump’s former lawyer, who currently uses a suite at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel or rooms at the former Jerusalem Consulate General when he spends nights in Jerusalem… As a result, the United States appears likely to end up leasing the residence it has owned since 1964 from the GOP-affiliated casino mogul.
“It is very strange that we are now paying Sheldon Adelson,” a congressional aide told The Daily Beast. “It is not above board. We have a number of questions. Did they get two independent appraisals? Was it a sweetheart deal? Was Adelson the highest donor? Was there a reason to sell it now?”
Trump’s businesses have taken in $10.5 million of donor money over the course of his presidency. $8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and related entities that Trump controls directly; $2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees. The biggest beneficiary was Trump’s NYC hotel, taking in $3,039,979 over the four years of his presidency, with $891,003 of that in just the final four months of the campaign.
Trump’s DC hotel is ramping up room prices and requiring a two-night minimum stay for two key events this month, as the president tries to squeeze more profit out of his office. On Jan. 6, when Congress is set to formally count the votes cast by the Electoral College, room rates are listed at over eight times the price of surrounding dates. Trump is encouraging his supporters to attend a protest of Biden’s win on the 6th. A room during the inauguration costs five times the normal rate, at $2,225 per night.
Trump’s Turnberry Resort in Scotland posted a £2.3 million ($3.1 million) loss in 2019, marking the sixth year in a row it has failed to turn a profit under his ownership. Since Trump took over the historic property in 2014, its losses now total nearly £45 million ($61.5 million).
The fact Turnberry remains in the red comes in spite of significant tranches of payments it has received from the US government during Mr Trump’s single term in office… the US Secret Service spent nearly £25,000 to accommodate its agents at the resort during business trips by Mr Trump’s son, Eric, an executive vice-president of the family firm. Since Mr Trump’s election, the property has received close to £300,000 from the Secret Service, US State Department, and US Defence Department
A Florida state lawmaker is calling for Mar-a-Lago to be penalized - and possibly shut down - for flouting coronavirus restrictions during a New Years Eve party. While Trump and the first lady did not attend, son Don Jr., attorney Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Fox News personality Jeanine Piro were captured on video among the maskless crowd. Guests paid as much as $1,000 for access to the ballroom to be entertained by Vanilla Ice.
State Rep. Omari Hardy: “My constituents are not snowbirds like @DonaldJTrumpJr & @kimguilfoyle. My constituents live here. This is their home, and they're going to have to deal w/ the consequences of a potential super-spreader party at Mar-a-Lago long after Junior & wife leave here on their private jet.”
Are you ready for a Donald J. Trump Airport? According to the Daily Beast, Trump has been asking aides about the process of naming airports after former U.S. presidents.
Further reading: “Jared Kushner’s family real estate business wants to raise at least $100 million in capital through Israel’s bond market… Kushner has helped spearhead a series of moves that have been applauded by the conservative pro-Israel community, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in disputed areas such as the Golan Heights. Kushner also has close ties to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Miscellaneous

The Census Bureau missed it’s end-of-year deadline to produce numbers that determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade. The agency is working toward Jan. 9 as an internal target date for completing the current stage of processing records. "If we miss Jan. 9, it's hard to envision that we would get apportionment done before inauguration," a Census employee told NPR.
The final timing of the 2020 census results' release could undermine President Trump's efforts to make an unprecedented change to who is counted in key census numbers before leaving office… If the first census results are not ready until after Trump's term ends on Jan. 20, it would be President-elect Joe Biden, not Trump, who would get control of the numbers, which are ultimately handed off to Congress for certification.
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

Respect Red Jacket Lupin the 3rd! (Lupin the 3rd Part 2)

"That just means the game isn't over yet! The goddess of victory will smile upon me, Lupin III!"
Required listening for this thread
Lupin III is the grandson of Arsène Lupin. He is the world's most wanted gentleman thief. Lupin is acknowledged by virtually every law agency on earth as the world's number one thief. Often in his adventures, he and his colleagues, Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII, will take it upon themselves to foil other criminals engaged in more violent crimes. While first glance may imply Lupin as fun-loving, flighty, perhaps even "goofy", his surface façade overcoats a brilliant imagination and a thorough knowledge of a hundred varying sciences. Forever extemporizing and reevaluating, Lupin has been responsible for heists no right-minded individual would believe possible. While arrested and jailed on numerous occasions, typically by his nemesis Inspector Zenigata, he has always managed to escape. He has a fondness for fancy gadgets from time to time plus hands-on experience in many skills a thief would find useful. His infatuation with Fujiko Mine is perhaps his most significant weakness, as it lands him in undesirable situations most of the time.

Equipment

Exactly what it sounds like. They are released to distract the motion sensors of an extremely secure museum
A rapidly expanding airbag.
Lupin's trademark blue and white boxer shorts double as an emergency parachute.
A small bomb that detonates when shot by Jigen.
A set of balloons that lift an Egyptian death mask display. Lupin also has a larger set they used to steal the Statue of Liberty
A briefcase containing a rapidly expanding balloon filled with knockout gas.
A small, golden coin with his face on it. When thrown, releases a giant Lupin-shaped dummy.
Several large barrels of explosive liquid set off by flaming rags.
A massive hang-glider shaped like a bat.
A grenade that, upon contact, expands into a massive blow up doll.
A decorative bracelet with a wire/chain on the end.
A pair of wings and an engine that extend from a handheld briefcase.
A massive bubble that protects Lupin from traps.
A nearly invisible hang-glider.
A small, silver ball that emits a loud bang, a burst of light, and rainbow confetti.
A large, green balloon with Lupin's face on it.
A paddleboat hidden within a larger boat's hull. The boat also has a large engine on the back
Several duck-shaped bombs that are capable of sinking large ships. They do not discern what they're blowing up, however, and can be dangerous. They can also be hidden
A dummy head that when stomped emits a thick smokescreen.
A dummy large enough for Lupin to hide inside. Can expand enough to lift a large truck
An electric gun developed by the same scientist who invented Lightsabers. Can cut through bullet proof glass, lift a store's worth of jewels and helps pull a building apart. It also instantly KOs Zenigata
Includes exploding chewing gum, exploding cigarettes, exploding cigars, an explosive hat an exploding head, a exploding lighter, a exploding mask, exploding navigation stick, an explosive suit, an explosive tooth, and an explosive watch
One of Lupin's left molars. Has a brevity of uses including a remote control for one of his vehicles, a computer that can analyze any drugs he's given, a pair of robotic arms that can throw the drugs back, a radio, and a lockpick
A small aerosol can that allows Lupin to lift fingerprints from a glass.
A small grenade that lets off a colorful explosion.
A remotely-controlled flying car. It manages to lift off the ground but nothing else.
A small device that opens a miniature black hole when used.
A grenade with a powerful knockout gas. Works fast enough to cover an entire oil rig in seconds.
A massive, propelled dummy of Lupin and Jigen that explodes with a giant boom and flash
A rocket fired from an RPG that, when detonated, sprays glue strong enough to stick several large ships together.
Pieces needed to assemble a working go-kart.
A small hang-glider that carries a single missile.
A standard hearse that turns into a helocopter.
A horse capable of outrunning several jeeps, dodging bullets, and running across a small ladder. Lupin has a way with animals that allows him to frequently use them in his escapes. Also he got a horse to do this once. I don't feel like trying to explain it.
A standard jetpack.
A pair of shoes which turn into personal jetpacks when activated by tapdancing. They can also be used offensively and for escapes
A small kusari-gama capable of swinging a car back onto an icy road
Works as a lighter and also can emit a powerful knockout gas. Also explodes when dynamite is strapped to it, as most things do and works as a communicator
A powerful drug slipped into Zenigata's drink.
A pair of magnetic hand grips that assist in climbing.
Standard marbles or ball bearings used to make a pursuer lose their footing.
A small kite able to carry Lupin.
A mini oxygen tank shaped like a cigarette.
A fleet of tiny RC cars, all remotely controlled by Lupin. Comes in Red, Green, and Yellow.
A breathing device kept in Lupin's jacket.
A gun that fires a suction cup dart that once attached pierces a glass window. It goes on to attach itself to a safe's dial. Lupin can control the dart remotely, cracking a safe from outside the room
A helicopter controlled by a small joystick.
Similar to his helicopter except it is controlled by a Gameboy-like controller.
A riding crop that fires miniature tranquilizer darts.
A bright light attached to a ring on Lupin's finger.
A pair of robotic legs that can be attached to an object. Strong enough to make a statue run through a wall.
A device hidden within an elevator that causes it to turn into a high powered rocket.
A pair of weights fired from an rpg. Used to wrap around submarines to weigh them down.
A small device created by Lupin that instantly cracks a safe.
A small silver sticker that delivers a massive shock "bigger than a stun gun"
A pair of knives fired from the tips of Lupin's shoes.
A small transmitter in Lupin's shoe that signals a nearby biplane. The plane has a large bomb attached to it.
A silver copy of Lupin's signature weapon. Lupin states it is "only for threatening".
An immediately effective sleeping aerosol.
Creates a thick smoke for quick escapes.
A pack of cigarettes that react when dropped in water to create a thick smokescreen.
A small bomb that can stick to any surface. The adhesive is strong enough a grown man cannot remove it and the explosion is large enough to topple a massive statue.
A car that doubles as a submarine with the flip of a switch. Allows Lupin and the gang to avoid a missile.
A pistol-sized gun that fires a suction cup on a rope. Strong enough to lift a man.
A car that can be driven from either the front or the rear.
Adhesive bombs with a set timer.
An umbrella that grows in size and operates that a helicopter's blades.
A small bomb that causes a big boom.
Allow Lupin to see hollow spots underground.
A propelled underwater vehicle. When surfacing, turns into a raft
A small machine Lupin wears around one of his teeth.
A small camera inside Lupin's watch. Can take and print photos.
Different from his normal grappling hook, this is attached to a pistol-like controller that reels it in.
A small dart fired from Lupin's watch that emits a trackable signal.
A sword made of pressurized water. Stated to be as "hard as diamond". During their duel, the blade cuts a door in half
A pair of wings that protrude from Lupin's car allowing it to glide.
A wingsuit.
A pocket-sized yo-yo.

Speed

General
Movement
Reaction

Skill

Accuracy
Dodging
Driving
Escapes
Fighting Ability
General
Quick Thinking
Sleight of Hand

Disguises

As Lupin uses disguises all the time, gathering every single disguise he uses would fill the entire respect thread. I gathered some of my favorites for this section.
submitted by CalicoLime to respectthreads [link] [comments]

A Cinematic Guide to The Weeknd: Pt 3. My Dear Melancholy and After Hours

A Cinematic Guide to The Weeknd: Pt 3. My Dear Melancholy and After Hours

My Dear Melancholy

Gaspar Noe/Cannes Film Festival
The My Dear Melancholy era notable for being a time when The Weeknd was in proximity to a lot of serious directors. While he’s had a foot in Hollywood for awhile, 2017 through 2019 he was actively engaging with filmmakers like the Safdies Brothers, Gaspar Noe, and Claire Denis, amongst others. While he had been actively courting the Safdies since Good Time was released, he attended the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where he crossed paths Noe, whose film Climax took home a number awards at Cannes. Noe’s Enter the Void had previously served as an inspiration for Kiss Land, and for MDM (and later After Hours) seem to call back to Noe’s other films, like Irreversible and Love, which are both twisted depictions of heartbreak. On the other hand, Climax is about a French dance troupe who accidentally take LSD, and according to Noe is not a “message” movie. It is an audacious psychedelic technical exercise, with numerous long takes and highly choreographed set pieces. The idea for Noe, who had previously captured the feeling of drugs in previous films, was to do the opposite, and present the objectively reality of drugs, watching people high from a sober perspective.
Noe is a rather strong advocate of film, and the opening scene of Climax features VHS boxes of a number of films that have influenced his filmmaking. Two of note are Schizophrenia, otherwise known as Angst, one of Noe’s favorite films which The Weeknd name checked to the Safdies, and Possession, which would go on to be an influence on After Hours (more on this later). He is also said to have sat next to Benicio Del Toro at Cannes, which means he likely caught some of the Un Certain Regard section, where Del Toro served as a jury member. Outside of that section, there were a few other films of interest such as The House That Jack Built from Lars Von Trier (The Weeknd has previously expressed affection for Von Trier’s Antichrist), Mandy from Pastos Costamos, and music video director Romain Gavras’s The World Is Yours, as well as a restoration of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Noe has referred to as the film that got him into filmmaking.
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Asian Cinema
Later in 2018, The Weeknd continued his globetrotting with a tour of Asia. He once claimed in an interview that whenever visiting a foreign country he only watches films from there. I’ve previously written about the influence of Asian cinema on Kiss Land, and there’s not enough work from the MDM era to glean anything cinematically adjacent to this, but now would be a good time to mention that the "Call Out My Name" video was heavily inspired by the work of famed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. The Asian tour poster seems to be a reference to Ichi the Killer, which leads us to Takashi Miike. Though he is notoriously prolific across a number of genres, his most popular works internationally are genre melding blends of horror, comedy and crime, most notably Audition, Ichi the Killer and Gozu. Another film worth mentioning is Perfect Blue, Satoshi Kon’s masterwork about a pop star’s mysterious stalker that The Weeknd posted about on Instagram before. Bloody and haunting, the film was a major influence on Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. In Interviews he has also mentioned a number of Korean films, such as The Wailing, I Saw the Devil and Oldboy. While Wong Kar Wai was previously mentioned as an influence on Beauty Behind the Madness, also worth mentioning is the work of John Woo, specifically A Better Tomorrow, well known for the shot of smoking a cigar off money, and Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau’s crime classic which served has the basis for Scorsese’s The Departed.
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After Hours

Martin Scorsese
While After Hours more so than any other Weeknd album is bursting at the seams with cinematic references, the influence of Martin Scorsese stands above all. Similar to The Weeknd’s body of work, many Scorsese’s are explorations of violence and masculinity, investigating them from a perspective that depending on who you ask (and how they’re feeling) glamorizes, condemns or just simply presents the reality of characters on the fringes of society.
While there are direct references to a number of prominent Scorsese films, what’s interesting is that his influence also reverberates in other films/filmmakers that influence After Hours. Todd Phillips’s Joker is in effect an homage to Scorsese’s loner-centric New York films, and the Safdie Brothers have been putting their own millennial spin on the type of 70s gritty thriller that Scorsese trafficked in (Scorsese was also a producer on Uncut Gems). Specific Scorsese works will be discussed more in depth in the requisite sections, but it is worth mentioning upfront what a prominent role that Scorsese plays in the nucleus of After Hours.
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Urban HorroIsolation
With After Hours, The Weeknd departs from the slicker sounds and influences that permeated Starboy and returns to the cinematic grittiness of Beauty Behind the Madness. While urban horror is a theme that permeates throughout The Weeknd as a project overall, there is a thorough line to be drawn here that follows a number of 70s and 80s cinematic and aesthetic references. For one thing, while the initial bandaged nose was a reference to Chinatown (previously, The Weeknd has a Kiss Land demo titled "Roman Polanski"), the full bandaged face that is so prominently featured throughout the After Hours era is a classic cinematic visual trope that was especially prominent throughout 60s and 80s, though it saw a slight re-emergence in the 2010s. The fully bandaged face is often used to remake someone in the image of another, usually against their will (The Skin I Live In, Eyes Without Face), or as a case of mistaken identity and doppelgängers (Good Night Mommy, Scalpel), themes present throughout much of After Hours. The "Too Late" video acknowledges these references, but instead presents the bandages on two Los Angeles models recovering from plastic surgery, in a nod to a famous Steven Meisel’s photoshoot for Vogue Italia.
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The “masks” people wear is another horror trope that is featured prominently on After Hours, and this is best seen in the red suit character. One important reference in the film is to Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill, where a serial killer is targeting the patients of a psychiatrist (any more on this film will veer towards spoiler territory). The Weeknd is on the record as saying Jim Carrey’s The Mask as being a large influence on the Red Suit character, it being one of the first film’s he watched in theaters. One of the more complex references would be to Joker. While it sort of an in-joke that the character of the Joker is commonly overanalyzed and misinterpreted, referencing Todd Phillips’s Joker is more nuanced because it is in essence a full on homage to Martin Scorsese’s New York films, most notably Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, which focus on eccentric loners, and can both be seen as cautionary tale of urban isolation, a theme explored perhaps in songs like "Faith." The King of Comedy revolves around a would be obsessive stand up Rupert Pupkin haggling his way to perform on late night TV, with The Weeknd’s talk show appearances being a prominent part of the early After Hours marketing, most notably in the “short film”. This idea of isolated and compressed urbanites recurs throughout After Hours and it’s films.
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The idea of urban repression is in the subway scene of the After Hours short film. The entire film itself is something of a reference to the subway scene to Possession (another Gaspar Noe favorite), mimicking the (also subway set) scene in which Isabelle Adjani’s Anna convulses on the subway due to a miscarriage, as well as Jacob’s Ladder, a 90s cult classic horror film starring Tim Robbins as a Vietnam vet (like Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle) who is experiencing demonic hallucinations, encountering them in the subway and later at a party he attends, splitting the scene into two.
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Las Vegas
As always, The Weeknd once again grounds After Hours with a strong sense of place, this time setting the album against a nocturnal odyssey through Las Vegas. One of the most prominent films is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s book. This is directly referenced in the "Heartless" video, which sees The Weeknd and Metro Boomin in the Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro roles as they tumble through a Las Vegas casino. The Weeknd has gone on the record to state that the famous red suit character was influenced by Sammy Davis Jr.’s character in the film Poor Devil. However, similar red suit has also been sported by a number of Vegas characters, most notably Richard Pryor and Robert De Niro’s Sam Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s Casino. With the red suit, The Weeknd seems to be playing with the idea of a devil-ish other, another side of his personality that emerges in Las Vegas.
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While the city lights are the oft discussed part of part of Las Vegas, it should be noted that similar to Beauty Behind the Madness, the desert that surrounds Las Vegas is just as important to the juxtaposition of its beauty. The "Until I Bleed Out" video ends/"Snowchild" video in the desert, similar to the confrontation between Robert De Niro’s and Joe Pesci’s showdown in the desert in Casino, as well as Joe Pesci's death in Goodfellas. The idea of a hedonistic desert playground also bears semblance to Westworld, both the film and the TV show. The desert seems to represent some sort of freedom to The Weeknd, as the "Snowchild" video portrays the desert as a pensive location for reflection, as well as the "In Your Eyes" video showing the girl prominently dancing with the dismembered head out in the open, in reference to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, another prominent desert film.
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New York/The Safdies
Despite it’s Las Vegas setting, After Hours also takes a good amount from films set in New York, most notably Martin Scorsese’s 1983 film After Hours. Besides the title, After Hours is similarly about a twisting and turning nighttime odyssey. The film stars Griffin Dunne as Paul, a working class stiff who heads downtown to rendezvous with a woman he met at a diner earlier that night. Of course, things don’t turn out the way they should, chaos ensues, and Paul is set on a dangerous trek back uptown. Like the film, the album After Hours is set off by a woman (though the album takes more stock in romantic endeavors), seems to be set over a single night (or at least a condensed period of time), and involves similar chaos and misadventures (sirens at night at the end of Faith). Tonally, After Hours the film is more comedic perhaps than After Hours the album, however The Weeknd is on the record as having said that "Heartless" and "Blinding Lights" placement on the album is intended to be somewhat comedic, reflecting exaggerated machismo and ecstasy, respectively (to comedic effect).
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Another of the most prominent filmmakers of After Hours are the Safdies, who featured The Weeknd in Uncut Gems. They also served as a link to Oneohtrix Point Never, who scored their last two films and later worked After Hours. I believe there are three major film tropes (not genres) that inspired After Hours, all of which the Safdies’s have engaged with. There is the one-long-night films, in which a character spends one-long-night on the run from whatever chaos and forces may be that they left in their path. This can be seen in the Good Time, as well as After Hours (the movie). Then, there is the descent-into-madness type, where a character slowly loses grip with reality and ends up in over their head (something like Scarface or Breaking Bad, but for our purposes Jacob’s Ladder can be categorized here as well), which the Safdies did with Uncut Gems. Lastly, but maybe most importantly, the Safdies also explored toxic romance (more on this later) in their less seen film Heaven Knows What, about two heroin addicts and the destructiveness their love brings out in each other, an idea that recurs throughout After Hours on songs like "Until I Bleed Out" and "Nothing Compares." A recurring song throughout Heaven Knows What is Isao Tomita’s synth version of Debussy’s "Claire De Lune", which is featured in some episodes of Memento Mori and bears some resemblance to the start of "Alone Again".
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Obsession/Toxic Romance
While love and lust and the ups and downs with it have been a formative part of The Weeknd’s ideology and themes, I don’t think it would be remiss to say that After Hours is perhaps his most outwardly romantic album. Despite this, one of the major arcs of the album is toxicity that comes with it, which a number of already mentioned films deal with. While "In Your Eyes" is one of the more romantic and accessible songs on the album, a re-assessment of it Ala Sting’s “Every Breathe You Take” could frame it as lonely obsessing, such as Travis Bickle’s infatuation with Jodie Foster’s teenage prostitute Iris, Joker's fixation on Murray Franklin, Rupert Pupkin’s obsession with Jerry Langford. Casino also deals with toxic romance, another prominent theme in After Hours, best seen in the love triangle that forms between Sam, his partner Nicky and his wife Ginger, played by Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone respectively.
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In almost all of the After Hours’s video content, The Weeknd seems to constantly meet his demise at the hands of women. Another interesting reference that may be something of a reach is to Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film about Reynolds Woodcock, a couture dressmaker loosely based on Cristobal Balenciaga and his muse Alma, played by Daniel Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps, respectively. The film delves into their dysfunctional relationship, with Woodcock berating her and Alma poisoning his tea to keep him dependent on her. One of the highpoint of the film is a New Years Eve Party that bears strong resemblance to the "Until I Bleed Out" video. While the balloons may just be a callback to his earlier work, there is something about the color grading/temperature and the production design of the "Until I Bleed Out" video (as well as parts of the "Blinding Lights" video) that made me immediately think of Phantom Thread. A similar relationship is seen in the German horror film Der Fan, which The Weeknd has mentioned in a recent interview. In Der Fan, a young girl Simone spends her days obsessing over popstar R, until she finally encounters him outside his studio. The film is similar to the aforementioned Takashi Miike’s Audition in its exploration of obsession and idealization. In the film, an older man puts up a fake casting call to search for the perfect girlfriend. While Audition explores these themes from an Eastern perspective of societal pressure, Der Fan explores it through a Western lens of pop idolization and idealization. Both films deal with the idea that despite outward appearances, the perfect partner does not exist, and anyone that claims to be (or has the expectations put on them) is not who they seem.
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One film he has spoken at length about is Trouble Everyday, Claire Denis’s arthouse vampire movie. The film stars Vincent Gallo as Shane, a scientist who travels to Paris under the guise of his honeymoon to track down core, a woman who he was once obsessed with who has now become a vampire. Core is locked up in a basement but sometimes sneaks out to seduce and consume unwilling victims. This seems to be where some of the bloody face stuff comes from, but I believe it’s influence is a little more conceptual. To me, a good companion film to Trouble Everyday is American Psycho, which seems to also have been a thematic influence on After Hours. Both films concern idealized version of masculinity and femininity, both very sexual and physical, but hostile as well. American Psycho ends with Patrick Bateman confessing to the killing of a prostitute, but no one believe him. Trouble Everyday ends with Shane killing Core, but Shane is unable to arouse himself after that except through violence. Koji Wakamatsu, a former Yakuza turned prominent extreme Japanese filmmaker (and a major influence on Gaspar Noe) is quoted as saying “For me, violence, the body and sex are an integral part of life.” Despite being hollow, idealized impressions of the self, a vampire and as a banker (cold, seductive bloodsuckers = monsters), Patrick Bateman and Core represent the Frankenstein-ian relationship between sexuality and violence, which I believe is the main theme of After Hours. Truly, we hurt the ones we love.
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Postscript

To cap things off, I would just like to illuminate some key takeaways. As a filmmaker myself, this has been an extremely helpful exercise in understanding other artists process and ideas.
Steeped in the history of the medium…
It’s clear that The Weeknd is not your typical “I’m influenced by cinema” artist but an extremely legit film buff with serious credentials. The Weeknd’s film taste leans towards 70s-00s genre works, mostly horror, drama and thriller, and is well versed in the classics but also has the nose to sniff out deeper cuts and obscurities. The mantra of “good artists borrow, great artists steal” works even better if not many people know where you’re stealing from! What is impressive to me is that he is not just versed in “mainstream” obscurities, but also serious deep cuts. Films like Possession and Phantom of the Paradise may not stick out to the average person on the street but are well known in most film circles. Films like Inland Empire and New Rose Hotel (Der Fan was especially impressive to me, it is one of my favorite films) however are not as well known and it is very impressive to me that he can come across films like that, and really get enough out of it to bring into his own work.
…is able to interpolate contemporary/mainstream films…
This perhaps is one of the most impressive aspects of his integration of film into The Weeknd’s work. It is very easy for film buffs to get lost within their own obscure taste, living in a world where everyone is an idiot for not knowing who Shinya Tsukamoto. Trilogy and Kiss Land had a lot of contemporary obscurities, like Stalker, David Lynch etc., well known but they still existed as artifacts, not of the time we live in. However, perhaps picking something from his work on Fifty Shades of Grey, of late he has kept his finger on the zeitgeist and anticipated/integrated what the filmmakers of today are doing, such as his work on Black Panther and Game of Thrones, general appreciation of Tarantino, the works of Nicolas Winding Refn in Starboy, and his use of the Joker and Uncut Gems on After Hours, both of which came out just a few months before the album. It feels Jackson-esque, and I believe this is one thing that will help him further in his quest for pop stardom.
…while also being fully in tune to the works of modern transgressive auteurs…
In addition to keeping up with the mainstream is in touch with, The Weeknd also makes it a point to seek out and learn from the cutting edge filmmakers of today. While the Safdies were always going to blow up, I don’t doubt that a Weeknd co-sign accelerated their rise. Gaspar Noe is one thing, Enter the Void and Irreversible exist as masterpieces of the mainstream obscurities I’ve been mentioning, but he really truly tries to understand the heart of Noe’s work, even going so far back as to understand Noe’s influences (I sincerely hope he is tuned in to the work of Koji Wakamatsu). But most of all, to be a fan of Claire Denis is one thing, but to seek her out and make her an offer that she ACCEPTED is absolutely astounding to me. Just spitballing but it would be like if Michael Jackson shot a music video with Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who I’d bet good money that The Weeknd was put on to by Noe). We can only PRAY that one day we will be blessed with a David Lynch Weeknd video.
---------------------------
…and that just about does it. Hope you enjoyed this and thanks for being patient with me. I got quite busy after the first two and had my own projects/work going that kept me occupied. As we’re still technically in the After Hours era, I also wanted to wait until a few more videos and interviews came out to aid me in my research.
I also wanted to find enough time to make the Letterboxd for this. I personally don’t love Letterboxd culture, I find the popular culture surrounding the site a bit snobbish and exclusive, but I’ve gotten a number of requests for one and you gotta give the people what they want. Throughout the list are a few films that he hasn’t mentioned but are some of my personal favorites and I believe Weeknd fans will like, I encourage you to accidentally stumble upon things on it. Don't overthink, just pick something and watch!
If you’d like to follow me further, you can find me on Instagram here, where I post about film reviews Letterboxd style. I prefer Instagram so that more average people see it instead of an echo chamber of film snobs. I am also a filmmaker myself, I just recently wrapped this short film and am currently in the process of putting together my next project.
The main reason I did this however, besides a general appreciation of The Weeknd’s work, was to put more people on to the beautiful art form that is cinema. One thing I learned from Scorsese is that one must be an advocate and truly champion your medium. I hope that this encourages to check out more interesting movies than they wouldn’t normally come across, and I hope this will inspire more people to create more as well, whether it be to write, make films, music, anything. If even one person picks up a pencil, a camera or a keyboard because of these posts, I will be satisfied.
Thanks all!
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Working Wise or Wizardly Working: how magic items affect the world

Magic items. Objects imbued with magic in order to make them better, or even gain a completely different function. But apparently the only places they exist are in monster hoards and adventurers' backpacks.
Realistically however, everyone wants things that are better at what they do. And eventually, people get what they want.
Today i will go over some objects that are useful outside of the context of adventuring, as well as how they might change the world around them. I will not mention artifacts, since those are one-of-a-kind objects with pre-established locations, usage, etc.
While the topic has always existed, Tasha's Cauldron has added a few interesting toys to our proverbial tool box, which makes this as good a time as any to take a look and
Much like in the Spells and Society post, the rarer an item the more amazingly powerful it must be to be worthy of mention. Actually i recommend reading that post before this one. Since a lot of magic items just allow you to cast spells for free, knowing which spells alter the world gives a good idea of which items can do the same.

Uncommon

+1 tools.
That's right, +1 tools. Not +1 weapons.
Consider a guard. How much of his time is actually spent fighting? A minute every other day? That's not getting a lot of use out of his sword. Even a soldier spends weeks marching, or months guarding a fort, and then only fights for a few minutes or hours. Even if a guard has a superb weapon that doubles his combat effectiveness, it only makes him 1% or 2% better at being a guard[1]. Given a choice of uncommon item, any guard and most soldiers would rather have a Weapon of Warning to prevent being backstabbed, ambushed or caught off-guard.
Now consider a lumberjack or miner. They spend several hours a day hitting trees and rocks. An enchanted axe, saw or pickaxe would see continuous use in their hands. Not only that, magic items are also described as being "at least as durable as a nonmagical item of its kind. Most magic items, other than potions and scrolls, have resistance to all damage". This means the +1 pickaxe would be far, far more resilient to wear and tear than a mundane one, potentially being passed down for generations. And with your miners and lumberjacks being more efficient, you need less of them. Which in turn means you get to have more guards.
Another noteworthy thing here is adamantine items. They deal automatic critical damage to objects and are much harder to destroy. In other words, they're great at chopping trees and ores, bending hot metal, cutting cloth, plowing a field, etc. All while having a fraction of the wear and tear.

Bags of Holding, Handy Haversacks and Portable Holes.
AKA your transporty boyes.
The bag of holding is an old favorite among players, and the reason is obvious: it has a million uses.
Most adventurers use it for carrying all their junk. The bad guys in the original Baldurs Gate game used bags of holding to smuggle whole shipments to and from their iron mine base with just one guy. One of my players once put a huge boulder in it, then flew up and dropped the boulder on an enemy transport ship. And let us not forget the classic Arrowhead of Total Destruction.
All of these are perfectly valid uses. Smuggling a small object is easier than smuggling a large object. Dropping huge objects from a high place turns anything that flies into a siege weapon. And the Arrowhead, while expensive, can deal with very large threats that could level a city.
But honestly, every merchant is a smuggler at heart. After all, as long as brigands roam the roads, there will always be a need to hide your valuables in an extraplanar space small enough to fit any orifice. Not only that, the bag allows you to dump a cart entirely and just ride to your destination much faster (and therefore, more safely).
Of course not every merchant can afford a bag of holding, so this brings about an interesting topic of inequality in your campaign. Some merchants can go from A to B faster and more safely on a horse, while the majority must go with a bull-drawn cart that is slow and vulnerable. And bags of holding don't even require attunement, so once you have one and your income soars you can get another, and another... Its a serious rich-get-richer situation, and you risk running all the mundane merchants out of business.

Broom of Flying.
I'm gonna start this one with saying that brooms of flying and carpets of flying are overpowered. They are consistently better than items of similar rarity that provide the same benefit, like boots and wings of flying. The reason here is, in my humble opinion, the same reason why Fireball deals more damage than any 3rd level spell and most 5th level ones: its iconic.
As for the item itself, its pretty much a permanent flying speed of 50 while carrying up to 200lbs, or 30ft. speed while carrying 201-400lbs. Its a deliveryboy's dream... except not.
You see, the broom of flying isn't just a hoverbike, its also a drone. You say the command word, and it flies up to a mile a way. Say it again, it comes back. In other words, the crazy wizard in his tower can just tie some money and a note on the broom and send it to a shop, then call it back once the shopkeeper has tied the groceries to it. Poor delivery boy just lost his job.
But wait, there's more! If the broom can fly on its own, can it plow a field? Can it spin an "animal" traction mill? The answer is: yes. But there's no reason to use magic where a common animal would do, unless its a crazy high magic setting or something.

Decanter of Endless Water
I think anyone can see how infinite water is broken as fuck[2]. But that's not all. By speaking the command word and pulling the lid, you can cause 30 gallons (136.4 litres) of water to pour out with enough force to push a 200 pound object 15 feet. This action can be repeated every turn (6 seconds), since a decanter of endless water has no limit on how often it can be used.
So a decanter is not just infinite water, but also infinite energy provided you have enough technology to build a mill. Even more energy if you activate the decanter in a high place and use gravity to give those 30 gallons even more potential.
Do keep in mind however that in 5e there must be someone using their action to activate it every turn. In previous editions however one could leave the decanter open and it would pour water constantly.

Hat of Disguise
This wee cap is not game-breaking for its great usefulness, but rather for its ability to fuck the world up. Any charlatan with a Hat of Disguise can walk into a bank, guild, ship, etc. and pretend to be anyone. Sure it doesn't happen often, but when it happens the crime spree is enormous. And while there are ways to work around disguised criminals, the fact people have to work around it is an issue in and of itself.
Societies based on trust pretty much can't function. Does everyone sign everything? Do people start using IDs? Do organizations start using items or employing animals that can see through illusions? Is there an industry for door frames that detect illusions?
Even without the hat, Disguise Self is still a 1st level spell. Yet somehow the sourcebooks have no mention of how the world might adapt to the idea that you can't trust people to be who they seem to be. And if anyone with access to 1st-level spells can walk up to the king without difficulties, you wont have kings for long.

Ring of Mind Shielding
A great item, if you're an asshole. Keeps people from sensing your evil alignment, keeps them from reading your evil thoughts, keeps pesky zones of truth from sensing your lies, and it even makes itself invisible so nobody can notice you're wearing the "i am evil" ring. It even keeps your immortal soul from going into eternal damnation!
One thing i always think of soul-trapping items is that they're a good way for evil people to avoid the afterlife. If you're good, you want to go to Celestia, Elysium, Arborea or Ysgard. Yet if you're evil, being stuck in a ring and talking to its wearer might be better than Baator, Carceri or the Abyss.

Sending Stones
Another classic, unfortunately the stones were nerfed and now can only Send to each other once a day.
Still, long range communication is nothing to scoff at. And while hiring someone to Send for you is cheaper, the stones provide more privacy and can be sent to far off corners of the world where you can't afford to station a caster full time.
Expect each mayor or baron to have one of these, while someone in the capital answers their "calls". Something of a royal secretary if you will. While magic items are expensive, shaving days off of your disaster response time can be the difference between having a kingdom and having ruins.

Rare

Bag of Beans
An often overlooked item, the BoB is crazy powerful. It has 3d4 beans, each of which can trigger a random effect. Notably they have a 10% chance of creating a random potion that lasts 30 days, a 10% chance of creating 1d4+3 eggs that can permanently raise an attribute by 1[3], a 9% chance of spawning a full on pyramid with a mummy lord and appropriate loot[4], and a 1% chance of leading anywhere.
Why bother with tomes when you can get twice as many stats from a bag of beans?

Helm of Teleportation.
1d3 castings of Teleport every day, plain and simple. That means 9 people can travel about 14 times in a week[5].
That's a lot of potential trading to be had for sure, but why stop there?
Say your kingdom spent tons of time and money training and equipping an elite unit. You wouldn't want them to spend 80% of their time on the road and 20% solving issues right? One rare item can make your 9-men unit five times more efficient.
Adventurers are in much the same boat: small group, lots of capital invested into their gear and training, yet they somehow spend most of their time going back and forth between adventures (until level 9 if they have a bard, sorcerer or wizard in the party, past 9 if they don't). It honestly amazes me that the Helm of Teleportation is not listed more often as a must-have party item.

Manuals/Tomes
For those unaware: there are 3 manuals and 3 tomes in the game, each increases an attribute by 2 when used and then loses its magic for 100 years.
The #1 item on any adventurer's to-get list, the existence of the tomes raises far more questions than answers. Who makes these? Why are they not mass produced? Can i get a magically accelerated demiplane, throw the books in and recharge them in a fraction of the time? Why do people not abuse the f*** out of them?
And when i mean abuse, i mean make smart use of them. Say a kingdom has, over the course of generations, acquired 5 or so tomes. Then the ruler reads them and becomes super smart/wise/popular. That sounds like the sort of thing that would make the whole realm prosper. Do it on an elven/dwarven kingdom and the ruler can read his tomes multiple times, granting him a godlike mind.
And that's without considering the idea of immortals. Or even high level druids. Any lich or vampire could become insanely powerful, not only from being able to use each tome a dozen times, but also from having eons to look for more or even craft them[6].
One thing i really like about tomes is watching the party decide what to do with them after spending the magic. Do they auction the books? Trade with some elf for favors? Give it to a friendly vampire?

Very rare

Candle of Invocation
For 4 hours clerics and druid of the proper alignment within 30ft can cast 1st level spells without using spell slots. In other words, crazy amounts of healing. Pop one after a battle and in a few minutes your whole army will be ready for more. Or pop it during a battle, and have the Healing Word the crap out of your troops from a safe-ish distance.

Carpet of flying, Peregrine Mask
Carpets of flying function much like brooms of flying, except they are faster or carry more weight (depending on size). They would be a strict upgrade, except they lack the drone function the broom has.
A peregrine mask provides a flying speed of 60, but has no carrying capacity. That means if you have a Powerful Build or a similar feature it can actually carry more than the carpets.

Cauldron of Rebirth
If there's one thing Tasha's Cauldron has brought us, its this cauldron.
It has some minor uses for scrying making potions, but here's the deal breaker: you put a corpse in the cauldron, fill it with 10gp worth of salt (200lbs.) and it casts Raise Dead on the creature.
Resurrection normally costs 500gp. worth of diamonds. With the cauldron it costs 10gp worth of salt. Sure there's a one week cooldown, but who cares? I see two scenarios here: either a resurrection every week is more than the local demand, or less than the local demand.
If its more than the demand, that means everyone who dies of unnatural causes and has 10gp to spare gets resurrected.
If its less than the demand, that means you're raising one person every 7 days. Depending on how high the demand is you could be making as much as 500gp a week, or 26k a year. Considering that the DMG says a Very Rare magic item costs 10.000-50.000 gold, the cauldron can pay for itself in under two years. Even if the math is way off for some reason, it is still crazy strong.
Honestly, this should be an artifact. Or at least have some heavy downside. The idea that someone over at Wizards of the Coast read this and said "Ah yes, 10gp resurrection, perfectly fine" simply boggles the mind.

Crystalline Chronicle
Speaking of items that make things cheap, 1d3 times a day this spellbook allows you to cast a wizard spell without material components of up to 100gp.
That means two spells on average, so let's take a look at a few good options: Continual Flame[7], Magic Circle (exactly 100!), Stoneskin (100!), Teleportation Circle and Astral Projection.
The ones that stand out here are Continual Flame and Teleportation Circle. Both cost 50 and have a huge demand in the world. Where a permanent TP circle would normally consume 18.250gp worth of materials over a year, it will now cost nothing[8].

Legendary

Staff of the Magi
This is, i think, the most powerful item in the game.
Has a bunch of charges, yadda yadda, here's the important part:
  1. When someone else casts a spell on you, you can use a reaction to absorb the spell. The staff then gains charges equal to the level of the spell it just ate.
  2. It can cast Plane Shift for 7 charges.
This means on an average day you get 16 charges, or two Plane Shifts, from the natural charge generation. But what if you could have someone cast spells on you without spending spell slots?
There are several monsters who can cast spells at will, too many to list. But there are also a few ways for players to do it. The first that comes to mind is the level 18 Wizard feature Spell Mastery, allowing any 2nd level spell. There's also the level 15 invocation Shroud of Shadow that allows infinite casts of Invisibility. Either case allows a duo to have infinite Plane Shifts a day, which is really powerful.
As usual, trade comes to mind. But with infinite charges you might as well start a tourism agency or a hotel and/or casino that brings in people from all planes. Yet what few people realize is that Plane Shift can be used offensively in order to permanently banish anyone to any plane. Infinite save-or-die effects.
You could also just settle for a fuckton of Shifts instead of infinite, and use a warlock or four-elements monk to convert their short rest resources into charges for the staff.
Now think of the possibilities and plot hooks. Mad king banishing dissidents, Red Queen style. Alternative death sentence. A high level wizard/warlock stranded somewhere because the guy who was attuned to the staff died or got separated from him. Random archdemon bringing an army to the Material Plane a couple demons a minute.

Notable mentions

These are items i left out, but which i will get yelled at in the comments if i "forget" about them.

Anything that creates energy
The truth is that a lot of magic items can do that. Fire for heating things, wind or water for pushing things, etc. For an energy source to be noteworthy it has to provide a considerable amount of continuous energy, without charges or daily limitations. Otherwise you might as well just use a regular water mill or a bull.

Alchemy Jug (uncommon)
It creates an amount of a liquid (beer, honey, etc) every day. It does nothing that cannot be done by an amount of workers, and for it to be world-altering we'd have to go into a lengthy math argument of how many labor hours of a bee farmer are needed to make a gallon of honey, and how that compares to the initial investment of hiring a wizard to make the item.
As a general rule, if something can be done mundanely it will be done mundanely. Let the casters focus on stuff where they have an infinite comparative advantage, like flying stuff, teleportation, resurrection, etc.

Cap of Water Breathing (uncommon)
It allows you to breathe underwater indefinitely. Can be great if you have important stuff to do underwater, and might enable interaction with sentient water folk. But in and of itself, not a world-altering item.

Horseshoes of Speed (rare)
Essentially +30 speed for hooved creatures, without requiring attunement. Honestly this item does not really fit this list, but i just thought the idea of pegasi flying real fast with these was worth mentioning. Sure a helm of teleportation outclasses it entirely for travel, but that's not useful in combat.
And i really want to play a centaur monk with these some day. Unfortunately the item description specifically says you have to have four equipped to benefit, so don't even think about it you satyrs and tieflings out there.

Lyre of Building (rare)
At a glance this looks like a regular magic items, with nothing too weird about it. Until you look at its spell selection and notice you can cast them as an action.
Mending normally takes a minute to cast, with the lyre its an action, and you can do it at will even without knowing the spell.
Fabricate takes ten minutes to cast, with the lyre its an action. That means once a day you can turn the ground under an enemy into a spiky cage, his sword into sword parts, etc. Until the lyre came about the only way to instantly cast fabricate was with a Wish, and that is a pretty good combat use of the 9th level spell.

Conclusion

To be quite frank, a lot of these item uses are a little niche and wont work in every setting. Then again, that that is never the goal with these posts. I hope i have provided you with at least a few interesting plot hooks and other crazy ideas, whether to amaze your players or ruin your DM's plans.

Notes

[1] There is a notable exception however. If your kingdom has a group dedicated to fighting monsters, some of which are resistant to nonmagic damage, then those guys should be prioritized. Not only does the +1 weapon double their damage output in this scenario, it also prevents your kingdom from losing special soldiers that are very expensive to train and replace.
[2] Stuff like constant abuse of Decanters of Endless Water are why in my setting there is a doomsayer cult that believes the world will be flooded some day. As they say it, every time someone activates a decanter, magically creates water, creates food and water, opens a portal to the Plane of Water, etc; the amount of water in the world rises just a bit. Given enough time, everything will be flooded by it. Unless someone like, puts a Sphere of Annihilation by the shore or something. But nobody said the cult has to be right.
[3] The bag has 3d4 beans. Each bean has a 10% chance of spawning 1d4+3 eggs. That means 7.5*0.1*5.5 = 4.125 raised stats, on average. Sure I'm assuming you'll pass the DC20 save every time, but with proper preparation its quite doable. Be near a paladin, get bardicly inspired, have someone cast Resistance, find ways to reroll a failed save, etc. Since the eggs last forever, you have all the time in the world to stack the saving throw in your favor. Or just use Portents.
[4] The mummy lord could have anything, even another bag of beans!
[5] Someone will say "but what about the chance of going off target? What if nobody has teleportation circles?" To that person i say: associated object. Get a pebble every time you're in a region, and you wont need a circle. Buy a bit of silk and you can teleport to any place along the silk road. Buy a used horseshoe and you can go all over the country. Now I'm just imagining this badass-looking special-ops soldier, clad in the finest plate, wielding a blazing blade, his cloak cackling thunder... and with a rusty-ass horseshoe tied to his helmet.
[6] And thus is born the legend of Swolomon the Buff. He was once a base vampire, who got stuck in a tomb for 4000 years with nothing but a Manual of Bodily Health and a Manual of Gainly Exercise. Now he's... selling supplements or something.
[7] See On Spells and Society linked at the top for why there's a near infinite demand for Continual Flame.
[8] You can even make two circles at a time, but there's some math about it. You have 3 charges, use 2, so you should always be with one to spare. Until you roll a 1 on the d3, and then its gone. After that whenever you roll a 1 without first rolling a 3 you'll have to pay the 50gp or let the circle go to waste. In other words, you'd be paying roughly 1/6 of the regular cost.
submitted by DungeonMercenary to DnDBehindTheScreen [link] [comments]

Recon in Yartar and Attack of the Mud-Fish - Ch.11 - Session 23

(In the previous post I titled it as being Ch.9. but it was actually Ch.11. Please forgive me, I will now delete this entire series. (Just kidding about the deletion, obviously)).
Previous Session: https://www.reddit.com/stormkingsthundecomments/k353q3/music_and_political_malevolence_in_maelstrom_ch_9/ After leveraging diplomacy and caution in Maelstrom our heroes gained a measure of Serissa's trust, much to Iymrith's dismay. The Queen Regent of the Storm Giants gave the tiny adventurers a clue found at the scene of her mother's murder, and teleported them to Everlund to begin their investigation. In Everlund they finally figured out how Iymrith has been so easily spying on them and had Krowen remove the Divination magic on Zep's sword. Now they head to Yartar to seek the connections between The Golden Goose coins, The Grand Dame river barge, and the Kraken Society. They hope to back to Everlund in time to meet back up with Klauth's airship by tomorrow.
.
Cast: Level 9
.
As they're teleported from Everlund to Yartar they find themselves standing in a greenhouse with glass fogged from the humidity. Out back in what appears to be a lush garden they can just barely make out the form of a man moving around before they hear an ominous, almost sentient sounding howl of wind. They head into the garden and Lyra notices it's not lush at all, but in fact the plants are withered and tangled with weeds and in desperate need of water and a trim. The Hallucinatory Terrain spell fades and she sees the unkept landscaping for what it is. The man they find in the garden introduces himself as Kolbaz, the groundskeeper and attendant mage responsible for keeping the teleportation circle a secret. He explains that he has to spend so much of his time keeping neighborhood kids away that he can't care for the garden.
The party asks him about The Grand Dame river barge and casino but he doesn't have enough free time to know anything about such leisurely activities. When asked about the Kraken Society he explains that they definitely have a presence in the city, as Harper agents will come through the teleportation circle from time to time to investigate. He knows the local theives' guild has a beef with the Kraken Soc. but not how to get in contact with them. Kolbaz suggests the adventurers check into the local temple dedicated to Tymora as her priests and followers spend a lot of time in gambling halls.
As they leave the villa attached to the scraggly garden Zdravko shouts at some children to flee and Beau uses 'Disguise Self' to look like a skeleton before giving mock-chase towards them for a few paces to help Kolbaz out a little.
.
Tymora's Temple in Yartar is a building called "Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenings" but was converted from an old, ominous-looking keep of black stone built into the side of the small mountain at the heart of the small city. The interior is much more befitting of the name - there are lush rugs and colorful tapestries and games of chance which count as offerings for the faithful.
Jormo greets a spirited, handsome young priest whose swoop of hair bobs as he talks expressively. He introduces himself as Kismet Nodarn. When asked about the Grand Dame he enthusiastically talks about how he frequented the Riverboat casino often; he's stopped going in recent days because his immense luck brought him under suspicion of the boat's Security officer. He was proven innocent, but doesn't like those bad vibes following him so he goes to different venues. He tells the group The Grand Dame is owned by a nobleman named Khaspere Drylund who also lives aboard the vessel.
The party has some time to kill and asks Kismet what he recommends to do around Yartar. He tells them that while it isn't much to look at, he enjoys frequenting a dive tavern called 'Karletta's Table' just on the edge of "the bad part of town." He says the food is great and the ownehost - whom the establishment is named after - takes great care of all her patrons.
.
Karletta's Table is a single story flat-roofed building sandwiched between a three and a four story tenement apartment buildings. Street Urchins sit on the streets outside; a couple run out from behind the tavern with fistfuls of bread while a couple more climb stacked crates to play on the roof.
Zdravko strides through the saloon-style doors with the rest of the party close behind. Inside they see a couple rough-looking patrons seated and talking quietly amongst themselves. Beau is searching carefully for any Kraken Tattoos but sees none. Behind the bar is a long order window that gives full view of the kitchen. A woman in leather armor is giving instructions to the chefs before turning her attention to the newcomers, "Find a seat; someone will be with you in a moment!"
The group sits at one of the tables for six, partitioned to provide some privacy and discuss how they should go about things. They agree that maybe having less discretion than usual would be a good strategy: if the Kraken Society catches wind of them poking around, maybe the fight comes to them -or- maybe asking more openly just gets them answers more quickly. A win either way, right?
The armored woman from the kitchen - a Half-Elf, possibly with Drow Ancestry but deep blue-dye masks the white locks of hair that would give it away - comes to the table and introduces herself as Karletta, "Don't tell me nobody's come to take your order yet?" and mutters to herself, "Just can't find good help..."
Beau orders the special: Floundering Flouder, and a Tuna Pate for her Tressym. Karletta is very amused by the flying cat, and by Zdravko's strange way of speaking. The party offers to buy Karletta a drink in exchange for her trove of rumors as she claims "Oh, I've got rumors up the wazoo!"
Karletta goes back to the kitchen to place the orders and they can hear her yelling at the staff that they'd better get their butts in gear because she's taking a break and they need to learn to function without her hovering over their shoulders.
She returns to the party's table with food, and a smile, "Now, let's have that drink!"
They ask her about the Kraken Society and she hesitates in thought for a moment, "Oh, they're some sort of gang, right? My friend Kestrel Hedgehopper hates them for some reason." Beau tries to get a read on Karletta who seems to be genuine.
Karletta goes on, "Y'know, I've got a good feeling about y'all. I'm going to send you - a bunch of strangers - to my friend Kestrel's house. Don't prove my trust to be foolishness, alright?"
.
They go to Kestrel's house, a fine two-story dwelling that suggests a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Despite there being no bell to ring, Zep uses his Kenku mimicry to produce the sound of a loud medium-sized bell. After some time it becomes apparent that nobody is answering. Karletta did mention that Kestrel spends most of her day traveling from place to place within Yartar so they leave a note saying they have mutual business to discuss.
.
They make their way towards 'The Fishyard' - Yartar's open-air market - in hopes of finding some guards with whom they can leverage a meeting with the town's Waterbaron. Zep tries to peel off from the group to find someone connected with the thieves guild but Lyra notices and suggests they all stick together.
Lucky for Zep, the thieves guild finds him first... as they pass an alley they hear the sound of a loud medium-sized bell, nearly identical in tone and volume to the one Zep made by Kestrel's house. They turn and hear a small voice add, "Back here, c'mon!"
Our heroes turn down the alley to find a single middle-aged halfling woman who motions for them to follow before running further down the alley and turning a corner. When they too reach the corner they don't see her but see a crate with a loose board; they hear her voice from inside, "Quick, in here."
They enter the crate and realize it has a false back that enters into a dusty, unused warehouse. There the small halfling woman turns towards them with her hands on her hips and with a smirk says, "Heard y'all were poking around my house and that we may have a common enemy."
Kestrel Hedgehopper goes on to tell the adventurers that the Kraken Society is much like the Zhentarim, except that individuals have less freedom, and that it functions more like a cult. It's an old organization whose core tenets always revolve around Krakens or the idea of attaining Godhood much as Krakens do. The current iteration of the Kraken Society seems to be in a phase of attempting to amass wealth and power and this has put them at odds with her own organization.
Using the Thieves Cant he learned from his Flock, Zep confirms that she belongs to the local thieves guild.
Kestrel informs the group that the Grand Dame plays an important role in the Kraken Society's local operations, that the ship's owner is undoubtedly a member of the Kraken Society, and that none of her organization has been able to gain access to the river barge which leads her to believe they've been infiltrated and why she's eager to let outsiders have a go at her enemies.
The party asks if she knows of the missing nobles, and she says she knows of them, but it doesn't impact her business so her organization really doesn't care. Kestrel does know for a fact that one of the missing nobles was on the Grand Dame the night he went missing.
The adventurers part ways with Kestrel who leaves a different way she entered through. They head back to the market to look for some guards, still hoping to access the Waterbaron.
.
Before they can reach any guards they feel a rumble in the earth. The crowds around them all look around in a collective, "that was weird" manner. Another rumble and one of the nearby vendor stalls is swallowed up by a sinkhole! As everyone begins to scatter, 4 humanoids resembling carp with arms and legs leap up out of the sinkhole. They raise shields and 2-pronged, spiked spears above their heads as they burble a chant in an unrecognizable language. Then a writhing, slithering mound of mud slides up out of the hole as it congeals into the shape of something resembling a bizarre, mutated catfish which slides forward towards Zdravko!
The sentient mudfish slashes long muddy whisker-tentacles at the Monk of Bahamut before he gets a chance to release and hone his inner energy. The mud-tentacles seem to be saturated in a foul poison which the hearty Zdravko resists.
Zdravko's counter attacks land hard and the mud rumbles in something akin to a language which Beau understands.
Beau slings Eldritch Blasts at the mud-fish while shouting in Primordial, "Why are attacking us?"
One of the fishy humanoids tries to sling a net over Zdravko but misses. Another casts the Bane spell at Zep, Beau, and Jormo immediately after Lyra Blesses them but only Zep fails to resist it. A 3rd fish man runs up to attack Zdravko, while a 4th does nothing because just then Jormo weaves a spell that causes tons of shadowy black tentacles to writhe up from the ground to ensnare it, the net-thrower, and the mud-fish.
Responding to Beau's question, the now restrained mud rumbles, "Why aren't you worshipping me?"
Lyra discerns there to be a high likelihood of Thunder damage being particularly effective against this muddy foe as she flies over to catch it, and a couple fish-men in a Thunderwave.
Beau sees the effectiveness and runs in to Booming-Blade the mud-fish calling out to it, "I don't even know who you are, why aren't you worshipping ME??"
Jormo finishes off a fish-man with an elemental sphere as Zep leaps out from having hidden himself in the fleeing crowd to ambush the fish-guy that cursed him.
As Zdravko continues hammering away at the tentacled mud with his staff, the creature rumbles back to Beau in anger and indignation, "Because you are not a GOD!!" and it whips the Tabaxi with its tentacle. Jormo extends his Arcane Ward to absorb all the damage.
Beau sheathes his blade in thunderous energy once again and stabs the tentacled mud-fish and mocks, "Oooh, you're a god? Which one??"
Zep gets grappled by one of the fish-men's pincer staffs, but Jormo's ward absorbs the damage and the Tortle wizard finishes off the humanoid with another elemental blast.
Lyra flies over the not very impressive god-mud and blasts it with a second Thunderwave, weakening it significantly. In the final throws of combat, it tells Beau a name that sounds as much like gibberish as anything else, "Thisooletherkrals."
Zep runs in and thrusts his Kenku Blade right into the mud's largest "eye" to finish it off.
.
As the guards arrive out of breathe from sprinting to "control the situation" the party asks if they can meet with Waterbaron Nestra Ruthiol, adding that they know about the missing nobles situation as well.
They are granted a 10 minute audience with Nestra, a shrewd and discerning middle aged woman.
She thanks them for their service and uses the mystery of the "mud-fish" as an excuse to send the scribe out to fetch an old tome on the matter. Once alone with the party she cuts to the chase about the missing nobles, inquiring how the party knows of this. Beau won't reveal their source, which the Waterbaron respects. She admits that Khaspere Drylund is her political adversary but assures them that he is no good, and likely involved in any unsavory business aboard the Grand Dame - he is definitely who they want.
Nestra recommends that whatever they plan on doing aboard the Grand Dame, they do it after it leaves Yartar for its all-night gambling cruise down river. She clarifies that despite whatever malfeasance is involved with Khaspere Drylund, his casino is a legitimate and registered business in Yartar and she would have to act on its behalf if there were any laws broken by the adventurers.
.
Next Time: The Grand Dame!
submitted by Yesh_Vroo to stormkingsthunder [link] [comments]

Recon in Yartar and Attack of the Mud-Fish - SKT - Session 23

Previous Session: https://www.reddit.com/dndstories/comments/k352ti/music_and_political_malevolence_in_maelstrom_skt/ After leveraging diplomacy and caution in Maelstrom our heroes gained a measure of Serissa's trust, much to Iymrith's dismay. The Queen Regent of the Storm Giants gave the tiny adventurers a clue found at the scene of her mother's murder, and teleported them to Everlund to begin their investigation. In Everlund they finally figured out how Iymrith has been so easily spying on them and had Krowen remove the Divination magic on Zep's sword. Now they head to Yartar to seek the connections between The Golden Goose coins, The Grand Dame river barge, and the Kraken Society. They hope to back to Everlund in time to meet back up with Klauth's airship by tomorrow.
.
Cast: Level 9
.
As they're teleported from Everlund to Yartar they find themselves standing in a greenhouse with glass fogged from the humidity. Out back in what appears to be a lush garden they can just barely make out the form of a man moving around before they hear an ominous, almost sentient sounding howl of wind. They head into the garden and Lyra notices it's not lush at all, but in fact the plants are withered and tangled with weeds and in desperate need of water and a trim. The Hallucinatory Terrain spell fades and she sees the unkept landscaping for what it is. The man they find in the garden introduces himself as Kolbaz, the groundskeeper and attendant mage responsible for keeping the teleportation circle a secret. He explains that he has to spend so much of his time keeping neighborhood kids away that he can't care for the garden.
The party asks him about The Grand Dame river barge and casino but he doesn't have enough free time to know anything about such leisurely activities. When asked about the Kraken Society he explains that they definitely have a presence in the city, as Harper agents will come through the teleportation circle from time to time to investigate. He knows the local theives' guild has a beef with the Kraken Soc. but not how to get in contact with them. Kolbaz suggests the adventurers check into the local temple dedicated to Tymora as her priests and followers spend a lot of time in gambling halls.
As they leave the villa attached to the scraggly garden Zdravko shouts at some children to flee and Beau uses 'Disguise Self' to look like a skeleton before giving mock-chase towards them for a few paces to help Kolbaz out a little.
.
Tymora's Temple in Yartar is a building called "Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenings" but was converted from an old, ominous-looking keep of black stone built into the side of the small mountain at the heart of the small city. The interior is much more befitting of the name - there are lush rugs and colorful tapestries and games of chance which count as offerings for the faithful.
Jormo greets a spirited, handsome young priest whose swoop of hair bobs as he talks expressively. He introduces himself as Kismet Nodarn. When asked about the Grand Dame he enthusiastically talks about how he frequented the Riverboat casino often; he's stopped going in recent days because his immense luck brought him under suspicion of the boat's Security officer. He was proven innocent, but doesn't like those bad vibes following him so he goes to different venues. He tells the group The Grand Dame is owned by a nobleman named Khaspere Drylund who also lives aboard the vessel.
The party has some time to kill and asks Kismet what he recommends to do around Yartar. He tells them that while it isn't much to look at, he enjoys frequenting a dive tavern called 'Karletta's Table' just on the edge of "the bad part of town." He says the food is great and the ownehost - whom the establishment is named after - takes great care of all her patrons.
.
Karletta's Table is a single story flat-roofed building sandwiched between a three and a four story tenement apartment buildings. Street Urchins sit on the streets outside; a couple run out from behind the tavern with fistfuls of bread while a couple more climb stacked crates to play on the roof.
Zdravko strides through the saloon-style doors with the rest of the party close behind. Inside they see a couple rough-looking patrons seated and talking quietly amongst themselves. Beau is searching carefully for any Kraken Tattoos but sees none. Behind the bar is a long order window that gives full view of the kitchen. A woman in leather armor is giving instructions to the chefs before turning her attention to the newcomers, "Find a seat; someone will be with you in a moment!"
The group sits at one of the tables for six, partitioned to provide some privacy and discuss how they should go about things. They agree that maybe having less discretion than usual would be a good strategy: if the Kraken Society catches wind of them poking around, maybe the fight comes to them -or- maybe asking more openly just gets them answers more quickly. A win either way, right?
The armored woman from the kitchen - a Half-Elf, possibly with Drow Ancestry but deep blue-dye masks the white locks of hair that would give it away - comes to the table and introduces herself as Karletta, "Don't tell me nobody's come to take your order yet?" and mutters to herself, "Just can't find good help..."
Beau orders the special: Floundering Flouder, and a Tuna Pate for her Tressym. Karletta is very amused by the flying cat, and by Zdravko's strange way of speaking. The party offers to buy Karletta a drink in exchange for her trove of rumors as she claims "Oh, I've got rumors up the wazoo!"
Karletta goes back to the kitchen to place the orders and they can hear her yelling at the staff that they'd better get their butts in gear because she's taking a break and they need to learn to function without her hovering over their shoulders.
She returns to the party's table with food, and a smile, "Now, let's have that drink!"
They ask her about the Kraken Society and she hesitates in thought for a moment, "Oh, they're some sort of gang, right? My friend Kestrel Hedgehopper hates them for some reason." Beau tries to get a read on Karletta who seems to be genuine.
Karletta goes on, "Y'know, I've got a good feeling about y'all. I'm going to send you - a bunch of strangers - to my friend Kestrel's house. Don't prove my trust to be foolishness, alright?"
.
They go to Kestrel's house, a fine two-story dwelling that suggests a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Despite there being no bell to ring, Zep uses his Kenku mimicry to produce the sound of a loud medium-sized bell. After some time it becomes apparent that nobody is answering. Karletta did mention that Kestrel spends most of her day traveling from place to place within Yartar so they leave a note saying they have mutual business to discuss.
.
They make their way towards 'The Fishyard' - Yartar's open-air market - in hopes of finding some guards with whom they can leverage a meeting with the town's Waterbaron. Zep tries to peel off from the group to find someone connected with the thieves guild but Lyra notices and suggests they all stick together.
Lucky for Zep, the thieves guild finds him first... as they pass an alley they hear the sound of a loud medium-sized bell, nearly identical in tone and volume to the one Zep made by Kestrel's house. They turn and hear a small voice add, "Back here, c'mon!"
Our heroes turn down the alley to find a single middle-aged halfling woman who motions for them to follow before running further down the alley and turning a corner. When they too reach the corner they don't see her but see a crate with a loose board; they hear her voice from inside, "Quick, in here."
They enter the crate and realize it has a false back that enters into a dusty, unused warehouse. There the small halfling woman turns towards them with her hands on her hips and with a smirk says, "Heard y'all were poking around my house and that we may have a common enemy."
Kestrel Hedgehopper goes on to tell the adventurers that the Kraken Society is much like the Zhentarim, except that individuals have less freedom, and that it functions more like a cult. It's an old organization whose core tenets always revolve around Krakens or the idea of attaining Godhood much as Krakens do. The current iteration of the Kraken Society seems to be in a phase of attempting to amass wealth and power and this has put them at odds with her own organization.
Using the Thieves Cant he learned from his Flock, Zep confirms that she belongs to the local thieves guild.
Kestrel informs the group that the Grand Dame plays an important role in the Kraken Society's local operations, that the ship's owner is undoubtedly a member of the Kraken Society, and that none of her organization has been able to gain access to the river barge which leads her to believe they've been infiltrated and why she's eager to let outsiders have a go at her enemies.
The party asks if she knows of the missing nobles, and she says she knows of them, but it doesn't impact her business so her organization really doesn't care. Kestrel does know for a fact that one of the missing nobles was on the Grand Dame the night he went missing.
The adventurers part ways with Kestrel who leaves a different way she entered through. They head back to the market to look for some guards, still hoping to access the Waterbaron.
.
Before they can reach any guards they feel a rumble in the earth. The crowds around them all look around in a collective, "that was weird" manner. Another rumble and one of the nearby vendor stalls is swallowed up by a sinkhole! As everyone begins to scatter, 4 humanoids resembling carp with arms and legs leap up out of the sinkhole. They raise shields and 2-pronged, spiked spears above their heads as they burble a chant in an unrecognizable language. Then a writhing, slithering mound of mud slides up out of the hole as it congeals into the shape of something resembling a bizarre, mutated catfish which slides forward towards Zdravko!
The sentient mudfish slashes long muddy whisker-tentacles at the Monk of Bahamut before he gets a chance to release and hone his inner energy. The mud-tentacles seem to be saturated in a foul poison which the hearty Zdravko resists.
Zdravko's counter attacks land hard and the mud rumbles in something akin to a language which Beau understands.
Beau slings Eldritch Blasts at the mud-fish while shouting in Primordial, "Why are attacking us?"
One of the fishy humanoids tries to sling a net over Zdravko but misses. Another casts the Bane spell at Zep, Beau, and Jormo immediately after Lyra Blesses them but only Zep fails to resist it. A 3rd fish man runs up to attack Zdravko, while a 4th does nothing because just then Jormo weaves a spell that causes tons of shadowy black tentacles to writhe up from the ground to ensnare it, the net-thrower, and the mud-fish.
Responding to Beau's question, the now restrained mud rumbles, "Why aren't you worshipping me?"
Lyra discerns there to be a high likelihood of Thunder damage being particularly effective against this muddy foe as she flies over to catch it, and a couple fish-men in a Thunderwave.
Beau sees the effectiveness and runs in to Booming-Blade the mud-fish calling out to it, "I don't even know who you are, why aren't you worshipping ME??"
Jormo finishes off a fish-man with an elemental sphere as Zep leaps out from having hidden himself in the fleeing crowd to ambush the fish-guy that cursed him.
As Zdravko continues hammering away at the tentacled mud with his staff, the creature rumbles back to Beau in anger and indignation, "Because you are not a GOD!!" and it whips the Tabaxi with its tentacle. Jormo extends his Arcane Ward to absorb all the damage.
Beau sheathes his blade in thunderous energy once again and stabs the tentacled mud-fish and mocks, "Oooh, you're a god? Which one??"
Zep gets grappled by one of the fish-men's pincer staffs, but Jormo's ward absorbs the damage and the Tortle wizard finishes off the humanoid with another elemental blast.
Lyra flies over the not very impressive god-mud and blasts it with a second Thunderwave, weakening it significantly. In the final throws of combat, it tells Beau a name that sounds as much like gibberish as anything else, "Thisooletherkrals."
Zep runs in and thrusts his Kenku Blade right into the mud's largest "eye" to finish it off.
.
As the guards arrive out of breathe from sprinting to "control the situation" the party asks if they can meet with Waterbaron Nestra Ruthiol, adding that they know about the missing nobles situation as well.
They are granted a 10 minute audience with Nestra, a shrewd and discerning middle aged woman.
She thanks them for their service and uses the mystery of the "mud-fish" as an excuse to send the scribe out to fetch an old tome on the matter. Once alone with the party she cuts to the chase about the missing nobles, inquiring how the party knows of this. Beau won't reveal their source, which the Waterbaron respects. She admits that Khaspere Drylund is her political adversary but assures them that he is no good, and likely involved in any unsavory business aboard the Grand Dame - he is definitely who they want.
Nestra recommends that whatever they plan on doing aboard the Grand Dame, they do it after it leaves Yartar for its all-night gambling cruise down river. She clarifies that despite whatever malfeasance is involved with Khaspere Drylund, his casino is a legitimate and registered business in Yartar and she would have to act on its behalf if there were any laws broken by the adventurers.
.
Next Time: The Grand Dame!
submitted by Yesh_Vroo to dndstories [link] [comments]

JoJo's Bizarre OC Tournament #5 - Round 2 Match 10 - Bert and Emilie "Dread" Delacroix vs John "Jack" Aurel

The results are in for Match 8.
Agnes and Arpeggi, in their shrunken states, continued to fight, surrounded by the rising flames of their lilliputian tower, fists flying and Stand blows being taken one after the other.
“You… Callous mother fucker!” Arpeggi cursed, Agnes feeling the singe of a heat blast both from behind and from launched wood. “We’re not aiming for a massacre!”
“You’re not,” Agnes spat out, then, pulling a tab on the table, a massive geyser erupting and launching his so-called ally away, “I don’t give a fuck about this place, and we’re in a Stand battle… And it’s all worthless, greedy scumbags watching! Let the fire spread! Let this place hit the ground so they see what someone with style can do!”
“You heard it here, folks! Agnes talked you all down… C’mon, where’s your passion! Don’t run out and away, c’mon! And here I thought you cared y’had money ridin’ on this…”
Conqueror Worm’s laughs reverberated as Glitch and William found themselves cooled by Ocean Eyes’ nectar, which found itself dissolving quickly but, for the moment, a functional barrier for the injured fighters, watching and listening to what happened.
“Th… They’re fighting each other up there…” William remarked, physically looking as though he was straining to force Ocean Eyes not to hurry up there and tear them a new one. “Glitch, we don’t have time to keep the flames at bay and call up another KST, and if I let Ocean Eyes up there it’ll eviscerate them, and-”
“What’s this? The kid is holdin’ back, afraid of his own Stand! Hey, kid, don’t hate this part of yourself! Ocean Eyes, it ain’t your enemy, that’s a part of you, what makes you special, so don’t be at odds with it! Embrace what it says, because it’s what YOU’RE sayin’!”
William was speechless, there, but his companion was less inactive in that time. Tiger “Glitch” Ricky simply hissed, then, her and her Stand hopping up out of the flames in an effort to brutally, mercilessly pounce upon the self-styled villain and the ally he had come to blows with. If they moved fast, they could bite through that shitty little twink’s neck right now!
Arpeggi grit his teeth, scrambling to find his footing as he witnessed the pouncing cat-stand, finding it hard to breathe among all the burning rubble, fading fast then.
Is… Is this how it ends..? Crushed and mangled as some lowlife’s burnt-up game piece..?
“And it looks like Glitch is about to take it! Shout-outs to Tigran, the only real one here, watchin’ through the fire and the flames!”
“Heh… This is just a bit of a sweat,” Tigran Sins answered, stifling a cough, “I’ll see all seven of these bastards run through games until they’re all-”
Arpeggi didn’t hear what was said next, only hearing his own defiant heartbeat. If he didn’t act fast, Agnes would die… Good riddance, right? But… Ugh, no, even scum like him, they don’t deserve…
He clutched at NEXT LEVEL until his fingers bled, and Glitch and William, both looking at him past their Stands waiting to attack, made curious sounds as yet more crumbled away.
“Mrr?!”
And then, there was white. An overwhelming cascade of baking soda burst from NEXT LEVEL, smothering the flames rapidly as an obscured form zipped up the tower again, grabbing Agnes and hurrying away from the thrown-off Glitch.
“You… Why did you…” Agnes rubbed baking soda out of his eyes, coughing and looking at the form of Arpeggi in this new Stand. “Motherfucker…”
“I have responsibility over even a scumbag like you… You tailed me here, and I’m not gonna let you die and escape responsibility easy.” He turned, then, to William and Glitch, his new form revealed. “Now, actually help me, follow my lead, and I’ll kick your ass later. We need to survive this-”
All four of the fighters, then, felt themselves grow rapidly, their combined weight so close together crushing the table they were on, much as a nearby tabletop wargame that had been setup found itself buckling under the weight of Metra, Oh No, the Black Angel, and their motorcycle.
“Welp,” Worm said with a bemused laugh, holding up the slumped body of Tigran. “Your fire couldn’t hurt him, but smoke inhalation sure could! I guess that means…”
“The winner is FIRE, with a score of 65!”
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Graveyard Shift 12-17
Quality Graveyard Shift 19-20 Reasoning
JoJolity BADD GUYS 24-18 Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10
With no more reason to fight, it got really awkward and everyone just sort of ran out of Heartache Casino. William Eyelash, recalling his stand and lost in thoughts, was the last to leave, joining the others in leaping single-file out a window into a nearby alley.
There, though everyone else seemed tensely uninvolved, the Black Angel’s motorcycle revved, and she stared down Worm as he safely stowed Tigran inside his Stand-body, leaning on his golden sword.
“There’s still something I need, Jones… I’ll run you down to get it if it means saving the city.”
Worm laughed, gesturing with his sword. “This thing? You’re huntin’ me down for this… Ah! I see! You’re tryin’ to do that.” Callously, he tossed it, so suddenly they fumbled with it in hand. “Here ya go, then! I don’t much want what Jack Aurel’s cookin’ up either!”
The Angel, worn and exhausted, stammered. “I… You just… But…”
“Lookin’ forward to killin’ me, huh? Get in line, kid… Or waste your time right now! See, nobody here is botherin’, they can all read that it’d be a waste when I’m in such good health! City’s countin’ on you, yeah, and you won’t get many opportunities for bein’ called a hero as an adult. Make it count!”
Then, before anyone could say more, he darted through a nearby wall, waving William and the rest off with a, “Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming and be sure it will lead us aright!”


“Asshole.” The Angel turned away, strapping the sword to their back and driving away. “Thank you, all of you. I’ll take this from here… Get yourselves help.”
There was silence as they drove into the sky, scarf billowing before them, and then Agnes started cackling. “You’re all fucking morons… If I didn’t burn that place down, we wouldn’t have gotten away, and some wannabe with no style would be going down as Los Fortuna’s worst villain! Fucking bow and grovel, Jack Aurel’s grave is gonna say ‘spat on by Agnes!’”
Nobody had the energy to dignify that with a response.
An anticlimax is leading into a super-climax, and meanwhile, an ant-loving little boy and an aid worker are racing through their dreamscapes, with a day left to vote there.
Narration:
What is, as of the 1990s, ‘Capital Island,’ was the epicenter of Los Fortuna’s founding several hundred years ago, in the midst of a bloody Stand User conflict, many militias clashing for superiority, in the 1680s, starting with the death of the era’s own Andrew Tiffany, the missionary William Mandolin, and towards its end, knocking people into their senses through the awakening of exactly what he had tried to warn them of.
A grand T-Rex by the name of Megalomania had survived, dormant, underneath the land through the might of its Stand, coated in a goldlike substance, and awoken in a deep rage by the conflict of the locals. Megalomania was met in battle by a man out of place named Aaron Bruno, ‘Sir Aurel’ to most, and Memory Management, and when slain, crumbled where it stood into a pile of bones, feet firm in the ground.
Los Fortuna’s natural history museum was built around this monster’s remains, and Sir Aurel would turn its golden coat into a ceremonial weapon. The power these symbols were imbued with, even with their old purposes lost, were of great importance to the city’s stability.
Scenario:
Outside Los Fortuna’s Natural History Museum, Early Evening
In the blink of an eye, the attention of everyone within Los Fortuna had been turned to the natural history museum. That made sense, of course - considering the looming dark clouds containing the ghosts of the dead within them, the scuffles of the stand users outside of the building, and the vague knowledge that a ritual with the purpose of destroying fate itself was currently being performed within it, it would be out of the ordinary for people to not be paying it any attention. Even those who weren’t stand users that were up to date with the situation were drawn to it by the unusual level of activity surrounding it, from emergency services and VALKYRIE forces alike.
And then there was Bert. They were invested in the whole situation, of course - keeping up with the latest reality-breaking ancient rituals was the least that a wannabe god like them could do. Their status as an observer did raise a few eyebrows - they’d had to shake off both emergency service workers and VALKYRIE forces, who’d both taken the time to try and encourage Bert to leave the area for their own safety, clearly underestimating Bert’s own prowess.
Within the chaos, one could be excused for not failing to notice the drones Bert had been sending around to overhear and oversee it all. First, they paid attention to the chief of security at VALKYRIE, Ugo McBasie, who seemed to be getting interviewed by someone from the Fortuna Hermod, an ODIN-owned news publication (not their usual guy at scenes like this… Wonder what happened to him). Bert had heard that the man was a violent and irresponsible meathead who’d caused plenty of trouble in the past, but he seemed to be keeping a thin veil of professionalism for now. However, Bert couldn’t help but notice a young man in a blue aviator cap standing a few meters behind the reporter and staring daggers at him, perhaps keeping him in check somehow, occasionally piping in for comment about how it was all they could do to surround the place and wait for an opening if they didn’t want a meat grinder on their hands.
Meanwhile, Los Fortuna’s own city council chairman, Raymond Delwin Shimizu was discussing something of note with someone else, who seemed to have just finished an interview of his own. Bert didn’t recognize him, but the interviewer had called him “Chief Prosecutor Cavallo”, and she seemed as if she knew what she was talking about, so Bert opted to believe her. The interviewer, Jillian Something-or-other, had been running all over the scene, trying to get interviews alongside her oversized cameraman Bert recognized as having been that really huge cop who used to hang around Aurelio a lot of the time not successfully doing his job. Not worth Bert’s time.
Cavallo scratched his head in frustration. “Chairman, please tell me that you’ve made progress of some kind here...”
Ray shook his head. “Not much. That stand user that’s working alongside Jack Aurel, Akiko Mizushima, is making it impossible to get in - anyone we do send in is as good as gone. We haven’t even been able to get Admiral Pineapples out. Judging by your demeanor, I assume that the board hasn’t made much progress either.”
“No, doesn’t seem like it.” Cavallo let out a long sigh. “Every day, it’s just more and more work… Now we’re stuck having to deal with this. If nothing’s done, the board’s thinking it might very well cause a disaster unmatched by… Well, anything but the earthquake from thirty years ago. Something like this, bending the rules of the city, and breaking free from it… Los Fortuna’s probably not going to let that slide easily.” He shook his head. “Where the hell is the mayor through all this? Watching anime at home or something, probably.”
Ray remained silent for a bit, thinking to himself. “Well, we’ve got emergency services ready to act for now, and we’re working on evacuating any susceptible areas, but it only works so much.” Before Cavallo could respond, another reporter came up to Raymond, ready with a batch of questions for him. “Well, Cavallo, our work isn’t done yet, so let’s get to it. Saving as many people as possible here should be our utmost priority.” And with that, the two men parted ways for the time being.
Having listened enough, Bert began thinking to themselves. This was a tricky situation - they clearly couldn’t get in as is, but they certainly wanted to. Learning more about the situation at hand would improve their knowledge of the mechanisms holding Los Fortuna together, and gaining control over the ritual somehow would certainly be a feat befitting of a god such as them.
Bert stood in front of the museum entrance, taking another look at the chaos in front of them and continuing to think about the next step they’d take. So many different possibilities, so little time. They thought, and thought, and then one of their drones’ eyes glanced upon someone familiar - a blue haired, red eyed woman wearing a mask, trying to blend in and clearly resenting it, skulking around the perimeter of the area as though she, too, wished to enter.
Yet despite her efforts, Bert recognized her.
“Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix!” They declared it loudly, thoughtlessly so, approaching her with a hand raised. “Are you perhaps looking to find a crevasse through which to enter that place as well? It’s quite fortified, isn’t it?”
“Hm?” She wasn’t bothered by the way Bert drew attention to her, still wearing her same very extra outfit under the also quite extra hooded dark robe she was using to blend in. “Ah, pardon me dearly for having failed to notice you… You are Bert, from that incident where we fought on equal terms, yes?”
“I am that same Bert, Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix, yes. Though I doubt I could be much mistaken for others…”
“We are both quite conspicuous individuals, yes,” Dread said, taking the conversation into a nearby alley before VALKYRIE goons on the scene could prove it was her, “but no, I’m not terribly nonplussed about my abilities to infiltrate that place… Simply, I am attempting to assess the probability by which my approach itself, through the barricades erected, might occur. If your intentions happen to be helping me sneak through, then it is simply not necessary on any fronts… I have formulated a plan now.”
Dread, now appearing alone, walked through that alley curiously, looking around her and beginning to see her opportunity of approach - there appeared to be a side door there, at which a certain fish-themed hero was sitting outside, looking, Dread knew from their DMs, at funny images of her wife atop the T-Rex skull in the museum.
Yes, certainly, this would be-
“Whoa, hey, it’s you!”
Damnable. Had she been spotted, or..?
No, no, wait. The one speaking, a man also in this alleyway who smelled of cannabis, holding what looked like a GAP bag, was speaking to someone on the opposite side of it, disembarking from a sportbike and handing it to the rider, who was wearing a very ornate-looking golden sword which Dread had sworn she’d seen somewhere before.
“Thanks,” the Black Angel told this young man, accepting the bag and producing its contents - a Roman helmet and black bird-looking tokusatsu cosplay? “Green couldn’t make it himself, huh?”
“I made it,” the guy said, pointing proudly to himself, before blinking. “Oh, you mean like… Showing up. Yeah, no, there was a thing with a mammoth coming down from the mountains, he’s helping East deal with that. Feel like lighting up before you go in? It’ll take the edge off..!”
The rider removed their helmet, coincidentally perfectly timed for the strawberry-blonde with pale blue eyes to stare him down incredulously. “About a million people live on this island, Weedboy. Now is not the time…” The Angel ducked into the nearby building to change, finishing, “shit, yeah, it looks just like the Flying Men do… uh. you should get out of here now.”
“You kidding?” He asked. “I don’t wanna bow out right before it gets good! That’s, like, saying I think you can’t do it!”
Well, these two appeared distracted, so Dread would continue along her way, walking right past them and towards the blockade, towards where Jo was sitting casually, only to be interrupted by-
“Holy shit, it really is her! Stop right there, Dread!”
Oh boy, here we go. This had been happening more lately, since a somewhat frustrating individual went and opened his big mouth about her dangers on Bifrost. Turned out that the head of VALKYRIE was literally in the server, so now she had a bounty on her head after a modicum of investigation into her after that public statement, and her casual admittance thereof!
Two armored guards were pointing guns at her as she stood there, unfazed.
“Don’t come any closer!” One of them, an older woman, said, turning to her younger partner and quickly telling him, “if she approaches, open fire. She’ll eat you alive if not!”
“This again, are you being serious?” Dread was less than pleased. “I am evil, and a murderer, unrepentantly so, yes, but I do not eat people. This rumor is being so blown out of proportion that I find it quite tiresome.”
“F-fuck off and die!” The younger moved to fire his weapon, only to realize there was a knife through him, catching the gun by the trigger after running from his shoulderblade to his fingertip.
Dread didn’t need the help, but like a true friend, Kimijo Kaneko offered it anyway
“Wh-what the-” The older woman cursed as her partner was cut open and dropped. “Fucking useless moron! HEY, EVERYONE, KANEKO BROKE RANK AND DREAD IS HERE TO! NOW’S OUR CHANCE TO-”
The distraction, then, was all it took for Dread to take her first kill of the day. Of course it was fine. She read the news, she knew how these VALKYRIE people were literally at war with poor people.
“Sh-shit, those people just died! More VALKYRIE corpses, and Jo again..!” The stoner declared in the background, and the Black Angel, now dressed exactly like the birdmen many had seen before, paused in her efforts to run past the opening created by Jo breaking formation.
Nobody could hear it or see her lips move, but she apologized under her breath, clenching her fist, but the disguise had worked. 32 Footsteps, the primary guard which would warp away anyone who tried to enter, apparently had instructions to allow in anybody dressed like this, yet none of the intended recipients of this deliberate loophole made their way in.
“Dread, hello, friend!” Jo exclaimed in high spirits, sheathing her knife, but still speaking quietly as she hurried back into place, “good to see you!”
“Yes, it is most certainly fortuitous for us to encounter one another…” Dread agreed, walking and talking with her as the pair were watched in horror. “By any chance, may I come into this museum? I am absolutely curiously intrigued by what is going on within here…”
“Sure!”
A VALKYRIE sniper was taking aim at Dread, then, as she entered, muttering under her breath, “got a shot lined up… I can take her out, and Jo a second later! Two bastards out of the way, at least, and-”
“Wait,” the youth in a blue aviator hat and goggles, speaking as VALKYRIE’s tactician, instructed, “hold your fire.”
“Sir, she just made one of our senior officers fall into rotten pieces! She’s chatting it up with this fish-bitch like it’s nothing!”
“I know, and I’m appalled too, but I think…” The Blue Kid paused, contemplatively. “No, I know it. Dread is here to defeat John Aurel, just like the Black Angel.”
Spinning and pivoting through the air, “Lou” Reed, dressed like a dark, sixth Flying Man, landed atop the skull of the t-rex, which had apparently been adorned in a cute little pirate hat. It made for a fine vantage point, then, to look all over the halls of the Natural History museum, noting one, two, three, four spots, grotesque and morbid statues Remix had apparently erected of ghostly abominations.
She was exhausted, injured from the three-way skirmish she, Metra, and Oh No had been forced to undergo and riding like hell to get here, but she had made it this far, and others had managed to get in too. She couldn’t choke now.
Seven minutes… I’ll just have to destroy those, and be back here in seven minutes. Easy enough… I don’t think I’ve been-
“Green, Orange, and Purple… I don’t believe a ‘Flying Man Black’ was ever mentioned, nor that any of the brothers were into swords.”
Shit. That voice, too… Lou turned around, then, seeing someone standing behind her, a man with long dark hair, brandishing a hammer and looking up at her.
John “Jack” Aurel.
“Even if you are what you appear to be and not in disguise, you should realize that you aren’t welcome here. There’s nothing to be done in this museum worth dying for, and no way to accomplish any more foolish goal if I were to raise attention now. Care to waste some of the time you have left and explain?”
Of course this would happen. Lou removed her faux-beak, helmet, and goggles, staring down at him as her hair billowed in the ceiling fans’ wind. “Jack… I’ve come here to put a stop to this.”
“You’re that kid who’s always running around, huh?” Jack frowned, twirling his hammer. “I hear what you talk about through the grapevine… About how we’re all victims of fate, forced against each other by Gravity. That Stand Users are always going to be molded by this… You understand it too. You understand that people like us prey upon the weak, that it’s in our natures and our place in the world. I want to remove myself from that… Remove these people from that, and atone for what I’ve done.”
“By killing even more people! There’s no way they’ll get everyone away from your blast radius, and you haven’t even given them the chance to!” Lou protested. “It doesn’t have to be this way… Don’t say this is how it has to be! We can save this place, free everyone from gravity, without barreling towards its destruction! I don’t want to kill you, Jack. I want you to stop this crazy, self-indulgent crap and help me do something real!”
“You think everyone deserves this? That Stand Users will simply reform without this? The cycle has started, and it will push to the end even if the wave guiding it fades away completely… Bastards, the lot of us, and I don’t intend to run from what I’ve done. I’ll give you one chance to run away, kid… the worst I can call you is naive.”
Lou drew the golden blade, seeing Jack wince as he clearly recognized its significance, all as her Stand appeared behind her. “We both know I can’t do that, even if I can barely keep my balance up here. And hey, maybe I will die here… Maybe I am fated not to see this through. But then, someone is gonna finish this for me! Your security is already compromised!”
“Fascinating… And you are utterly convinced that, should it work, those he’s slain to commence this ritual to begin with will return outside the city?”
“Remix is full of himself,” Jo said, nodding quietly, “but he and Jack, they researched a lot… Akiko and I, for helping this finish, we can finally go home! Be done with the bad city…”
“She has made this place remarkably impregnable,” Dread agreed, thinking aloud, “anyone who waltzes in waltzes into her backrooms…”
“Unless they have a ‘pass!’” A voice from within Dread’s cloak spoke, and as Jo raised her knife at it in defense, the pure-white, terribly contorted form of Bert tumbled onto the ground, stretching and reshaping into their typical humanlike shape.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, they are fine, with me!” Dread assured Jo, frankly thankful to have that weight literally off her back. Bert was very light, but even then it was hard to walk carrying someone, let alone not give it away. “We have… Some history, and so I thought I might as well indulge Bert’s request to see this place as well. I apologize for not mentioning earlier, but it was quite dire getting in here past guards attacking us.”
Jo didn’t seem to mind, continuing to lead the pair around, even passing Akiko who was casually, distractedly reading some manga while in a bit of a pirate mood.
They also passed by another scene, slightly more concerning, of an injured old man in a Hawaiian Shirt, close by the frontmost entrance of the place and clutching himself as his fleet of four Stand-starships remaining fired at Remix, who guarded against it with ghost-objects while a Flying Man Red tried to find an opening to strike.
“You’ve been at this for hours, old man, die already! You have no place in the world I mean to birth from your bloodied, pulped remains!”
Pineapples stood, then, leaning against the wall, trying not to show weakness.
“I think that guy is going to lose, at this rate… It’s a shame, too,” Bert, the loudmouth again, remarked. “He might have been a worthwhile pawn in wrestling control away from this operation.”
Dread, Jo, Remix, and Red all gave Bert simultaneous incredulous looks, all in completely unique ways.
Jo drew her knife again, about to transform, only to dodge out of the way of the injured ‘Lou’ Reed, blacked out, helmetless, being knocked away and into the floor, the shock of which made her rise quickly, feeling around. “Where’s the- Shit!” As she sat up, then, feeling around for the saber no longer in her possession, she noticed that she was smack in the middle of something else here.
Hurriedly, she rolled away, standing herself up and looking to the injured Admiral. “You… You’re one of those MFAs, right? How did you-?”
Weakly, he gestured to Remix. “He brought me here in a damned urn! I’ve been fending them off to buy others in the museum time to escape… Everyone in this hall here and Jack, those are the only ones left in the building, minus masses and masses of ghosts. They’re harmless, though… Don’t worry about them attacking unless that guy takes them.”
“I see…” Lou, then, smiled sadly, clutching her bloodied suit. She looked to Bert and Dread, then, moving to get between them and Jack’s incredulous accomplices. “You said you wanted to take him out, right? I overheard…”
“Well, Bert has let yet another cat out of the bag,” Dread admitted, “indeed, I came here with the intent of dethroning Jack Aurel before he had a chance to complete his little ritual. Few others would even be able to get in here.”
“So that’s my role, then…” Lou smiled, then, sighing, ducking out of the way of the Flying Man sending a kick her way, a gauntlet-clad arm emerging from her body, grabbing his ankle hard, and swinging him into the Jo who was shocked to hear Dread say that. “I can’t do anything about Jack… Too fucked up from that ED match…” She grinned, then, mouth bleeding as she stared Remix down. “But this old man and I can at least keep these assholes from interfering!”
Dread, then, watched passively as the five erupted into battle, she and Bert curious about what was to come as, from each hand, the Stand which emerged seemed to fire odd projectiles at their foes. “The ‘I’ll hold them off…’ You’re styling yourself as some sort of exceptional hero, aren’t you?” She seemed amused by that, the irony of their cooperation. “I’m evil, you know… And Bert, at least, is morally ambiguous. But if you’ve settled on putting the city in our hands, have you any advice?”
Over the sounds of laser fire, Lou quickly found time to answer, “yeah, there’s… I brought this golden ‘saber’ with me, and it must’ve fallen somewhere by the T-Rex… In, in a bit over six minutes from now, this ritual of theirs is gonna go through and rip this island open. Before that… They have these ‘failsafe’ statue things, and…” She took a breath, retracting and wincing from a blow her Stand had taken. “Look, I don’t have time to explain it, but you need to smash those up first! They’re there, made up of spirits fused together, to keep these guys safe from the consequences of their own actions… To ensure their safety, and at the same time act as a ‘failsafe’ for the ritual. Gives you the ‘power’ over it, too, in the way that right now Jack himself does… That’s important to stopping it. So you need to smash them first, and then, right as the time passes for the ritual, when the skull of the T-Rex in the center starts to split open and glow and its mouth starts gushing water… Embed the sword into the opening in its forehead, right as it starts to shape. That’s the only way to prevent this at this stage!”
“The forehead particularly, hmm?” Bert asked, pacing curiously and avoiding a cross split attack from Red, who barreled into Lou and was barely blocked. “Why there, per se? Why nowhere else on the thing?”
“Ngh..!” Lou grunted, saved from a follow-up by Pineapples. “I dunno, that’s just where you have to do it!”
“Black Angel… That’s what you’re called, yes?” Dread smiled, turning away. “You will be thanked for this victory… Try to live long enough to witness it firsthand, won’t you?”
“I’d… I’d love to,” Lou answered, smiling sadly, “for five years now, when I first learned there was anything worth a damn in this world, I’ve wanted to protect that… The dark pit of despair that was the first thirteen years of my life, and even so much since, I’d love nothing more than a world where no person is fated beyond impossible odds to suffer that.” She grew serious, then, raising her voice. “Go, now! Leave this to us!”
Bert and Dread approached the T-Rex, impressed at the amazing height and Akiko’s snazzy pirate duds upon the thing, the lab-grown being whistling with impression. “A T-Rex lived ‘til three-hundred years ago… Preserved whole, in this city. It’s astonishing, isn’t it, Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix?”
“A curious anomaly,” Dread agreed, examining it from afar, even noticing that alleged sword in the distance. “I wonder why it survived that long, so far after its brethren…”
“It’s because it was a ‘Stand User.’”
Jack approached from the same room in which Dread spotted glints of the golden saber, announcing his presence with that. “That was its ‘fate…’ A savage, cunning animal, ripped from where it belonged. to be a problem to solve and squabble over, to found this city on its literal bones.”
“John ‘Jack’ Aurel… You’d best stand down.” Bert, helpfully, started. “You cannot beat us… Even if we only had seconds to overcome you, I would be too much for you to handle!”
“No, he’s going to fight, I know it.” Dread, meanwhile, prepared Joywave, staring him down with a pointed, grinning lethality. “I suppose introductions are not necessary, with how Bert here loves to say my full name… I am not one to make things curt or brief, John, but consider yourself toppled, usurped, bloodied and dead.”
“The lab accident with a God complex and by far the worst, most grisly of Jo’s friends…” With no real amusement, no happiness in his eyes, Jack chuckled, looking them over. “Of course, right at the end, my final test isn’t some hero… It’s exactly the worst kind of Stand User! The apex predators that I’ve preyed upon, that stand in the way of saving everyone who’s died to reach this point! Of course it would be someone like me to gain entry, wouldn’t it?”
“You speak with such confidence you’ll raise the dead…” Bert was curious. “Even if it costs more lives, such a thing is… That is the realm of gods, John ‘Jack’ Aurel.”
“Not today it’s not,” Jack answered, twirling his hammer in his hand. “Both of you… You’ve been driven here, standing in my way, as agents of ‘fate’ itself. Isn’t that the reason you were ‘lucky’ enough to pass through our defenses… Because you were meant to stand here, and you were meant to watch as every horrible, cruel thing you’ve done amounts to nothing in the face of these circumstances.”
He looks the two intruders over with sympathy for a moment, before steeling himself and clenching his weapon, Stand appearing behind him just as stone-faced. “You may be the puppet of something beyond your control, but you must understand that I can’t let you ruin the plan I’ve bet my life on. I bear you no anger as people, but your role here is something I can’t ignore. I’ll waste our time no longer in arguing ethics, let there be no apologies or restraint until this is settled.”
The other conspirators had been instructed not to intervene if it came to this point, even if it risked the collapse of everything they had worked for. Not if it threatened lives. An enemy to make it this far was deserving of being dealt with reasonably. As the critical moment drew near, Jack readied all the fury that months of waiting had stored within him, and accepted that this may very well be his final true fight.
“Five minutes on the dot now, until ‘that time…’ If what the Black Angel said is true.” Dread looked to Bert. “What do you say we demonstrate incontrovertibly to John exactly how confused he truly is?”
OPEN THE GAME!
(Image credit to CaptainSpooky27!)
Location: A part of the Los Fortuna’s Natural History Museum. The area here is 75 by 75 meters with each tile being 5 by 5 meters. The ceilings here are 8 meters tall. The yellow tiles are the hallways and the green and purple tiles form the different rooms.
The white tiles have ritual shrines built on those areas. There are 7 shrines total and will be explained in further detail in the additional information.
The players start at the south of the map and Jack starts at the top of the map as represented by their tokens. The walls are represented by thicker borders and the dotted lines are the doorways.
At the top of the map, in the pink tile and yellow symbols, is the Golden Sword. It is currently pinned under 2 meters of rubble.
Each wing of the museum houses an exhibit, in the center is the main attraction a large T-Rex in display as denoted by the large grey circle.
The other exhibits are denoted by the letter on them:
  • G: The geologic exhibit, displaying and teaching about different rock formations and types
  • O: The two Oceanic exhibits, displaying the marine life and seabed of Los Fortuna.
  • C: The climatography exhibit, displaying the different temperature maps and features across Los Fortuna.
  • A: The Agricultural exhibit, displaying the various fruits and crops grown around Los Fortuna.
  • T: The two Taxidermy exhibits, displaying a wide range of animals in roped off and glass displays.
  • E:The Entomology exhibit, displaying photos and models of various bugs.
Goal: For the players, desecrate all the shrines and, when time runs out, have at least one of you, living and conscious, at the T-Rex with the golden sword in hand! For Jack, make sure the players don’t stop your ritual before it goes off!
The match will last exactly five minutes, unless of course players are dead before then. It doesn’t end just because players reach the goal.
Additional Information:
The shrines are 2 meter tall marked wood and metal structures, each having an strange carve effigy sitting in the center of them. In order to properly desecrate a shrine the players can do one of a few things, destroy the shrine outright, deface all the carvings made into the shrine, or destroy the effigy hidden within the shrine.
After destroying or defacing a shrine, the ghosts of the dead will begin harassing the players - three ghosts will move towards the player responsible for destroying the shrine (even in a situation where the stands are responsible: the ghosts will target Bert if a Perfect Hair minion destroys a shrine, and same for if anything affected by Joywave does so). These aren't strong, having flat 222 physicals and being partially see-through, but will increase in numbers as more and more shrines are destroyed. Strong enough hits can phase them out of existence, but they'll respawn ten seconds after at the spot that they previously were. They will go directly towards the players and can phase through any walls or objects that may be in their paths (but not out of any attacks), grabbing onto the players and trying to gang up on them once they're close enough to do so, dealing minor damage.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Red Carpet Rennaisance Emilie "Dread" Delacroix "Wow! It's a hand drawn original color illustration!" You’re a cultured woman, and this museum might very well end up being wiped off of the face of the earth quite soon, so you need to make the most of it while you still can! Make sure to visit and appreciate the various exhibits on display here! (Character Specific)
Suburban Regalia Bert "What a terrible person. If I wrote about someone like you, none of my readers would like it." So this man is playing at god, trying to control life, death, and fate themselves? What foolishness! Clearly, only you can do such things, and you do them best! Over the course of the strategy, prove your superiority to this “Jack Aurel“ and take him down a notch! (Character Specific)
??? Jack Aurel "Where the hell did you go?! Come out, you fucker!" It's now or never. This is the culmination of all of your plans, and failing is absolutely not an option here. During the fight, hold nothing back, and make sure to thoroughly defeat your opponents so that no one and nothing will ever stand in your way again!
(Jack sheet plain text version)
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by boredCommentator to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

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