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An Overly Long Fanmade Ace Attorney 7: Echoes of Discord Pitch: Episode 1. Possible spoilers for all main games (AA1-6)
Hey, everyone! Over the past few weeks, I've been making up a plotline that I think would fit for the inevitable Ace Attorney 7, whenever it releases. As of right now, I only have Episode 1 fully plotted out, but I'll put some of my ideas for the other cases at the end of the post as an author's note, of sorts. Considering how much I wrote for the tutorial case alone, I don't know if I'll ever continue this project, because Case 2, a case with 2 investigations and 2 trials, would basically be 4 times the length of this case, and I don't know if I have the talent to write a compelling mystery that would do a case of that length justice. The overall concept of the game would be to focus mainly on Athena and Phoenix, and it would involve Phoenix attempting to institute the Jurist System while Athena would have to deal with the Phantom's organization and her past at the Cosmos Space Center and in university. The lawyer-case distribution would be as follows: Phoenix gets 7-1 (tutorial) and 7-4 (filler), Athena would get 7-2, 7-3, and 7-5, which would all be plot relevant, and Apollo would get a Rise from the Ashes style case in Khura'in, which would be unlocked after completing the game instead of being offered as a DLC case. As this is my ideal version of Ace Attorney 7, I've taken some liberties that the writers at Capcom might not do, as I've taken the Payne brothers out of the main story entirely, but they'll still be in the game in the Phoenix Wright: Asinine Attorney case, which is unlocked after beating the tutorial case. Also, a beloved character from the original trilogy is the victim of the first case of the game, which might be controversial. But I think that the story will be overall more compelling with the changes that I've made, so without further ado, here's the first episode of Ace Attorney: Echoes of Discord! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Episode 1: Turnabout Terror Date: Late March 2029 Location: Skye Detective Agency Defendant: Ema Skye Attorney: Phoenix Wright Co-Counsel: Athena Cykes Synopsis: Nine months have passed since the revolution in Khura’in, and after many deliberations, Phoenix has finally regained the trust of the legal system of LA and instituted the Jurist System, which has now been slightly modified since the events of Apollo Justice, the biggest change being the fact that the jurors are present in the court room, like in DGS. For the first official case under the Jurist System, Phoenix is defending Ema Skye, who has been accused of murdering her older sister, Lana Skye, at the Skye Detective Agency. Ema had been working a case abroad in Khura’in, and as soon as she returned to the US, she went to visit her sister, who became a private investigator after losing faith in the justice system because of Phoenix’s disbarment and the UR-1 incident. When Ema entered the office however, she found her sister dead from an apparent poisoning. Desperate to find out who did it, she dusted the entire scene for fingerprints, not even thinking about preserving the scene. But while she was in the middle of her forensic investigation, Lana’s co-worker, Elias Coggs (Age ???) walked in on her, and contacted the police. When the officers arrived, it was discovered that Lana ingested some Atroquinine poison from her cup of tea, and since it hadn’t been manufactured in the country for two years, Ema became the prime suspect, since she just came back from Khura’in. In the defendant lobby, Phoenix and Athena are discussing the case with Ema, and she claims that her own fingerprints were found on the bottle of poison, to which Athena and Phoenix are shocked. But she rationalizes that she must have touched the bottle when she was in a state of panic while investigating the crime scene. In the middle of their discussion, Juniper Woods enters the lobby, and she explains to Athena and Phoenix that she will be the forewoman of the jury today. She is nervous, but she’s also treating this as her first official trial experience for when she becomes a judge herself. She gives Phoenix and Athena a newspaper article that is advertising the current trial, saying that she had a hunch that they’d need it. The bailiffs call for the trial to start, and Ema mutters under her breath that the “glimmerous fop” is going to make a spectacle of her sister’s murder. The trial begins, and Klavier Gavin is revealed to be the prosecutor in charge of this case. He reveals that he’d decided to take the case due to the recent shortage of prosecutors due to the Paynes and others being fired for their incompetence and corruption by Miles Edgeworth. He displays remorse over being the reason why Phoenix lost his badge seven years ago but says that he’s still fired up for a rematch. The judge introduces the 5 jurors for the trial, who are Juniper Woods (No. 1), a male reporter from the Reality News Network (No. 2), Delicia Scones (No. 3), a female computer programmer from Blue Screens Inc. (No. 4), and a young butler resembling Shelly de Killer (No. 5). The judge then admits that he hasn’t studied up on how the reformed jurist system works, and asks Phoenix if he could give him a refresher on how the trial would work, which would serve as the tutorial for the case. Klavier calls Ema to the stand as his first witness, and she reluctantly agrees to testify about what happened on that day. She has a press-all testimony, which is pretty much identical to what she told Phoenix and Athena in the lobby, but after the testimony ends, the jury goes into a panic because all of them, minus Juniper, are convinced of Ema’s guilt. Athena becomes overwhelmed from the discord from all the jurors’ hearts, and this is where the new trial gameplay mechanic, Discordant Reasoning, is introduced. This would be similar to the Panic Debate from Danganronpa V3, where you have to pick out the statement out of the 5 jurors that’s causing the discord, based on reading their emotions like in the Mood Matrix. The Mood Matrix has now been relegated to investigations because of reasons pertaining to the main prosecutor of the game, and now works similarly to Logic Chess from Investigations 2. After presenting the article that Juniper gave them to the juror that caused the discord, the reporter from the Reality News Network, Ema resumes her testimony. She assumes that her sister’s killer had recently fled the scene, since she had recently succumbed to the poison when she arrived at the crime scene, but Phoenix points out that the killer could’ve left way earlier, since Atroquinine is a slow acting poison. Ema then gets emotional, saying that she got so caught up in the moment seeing her sister dead that she couldn’t perform a proper investigation into her death. She is overcome by remorse due to the knowledge that she never would’ve been quick enough to stop her sister’s killer. She outright blames Klavier for what happened, saying that if he hadn’t accused Phoenix of forging evidence nine years ago, then Lana wouldn’t have lost faith in the court system, which wouldn’t have lead to her becoming a P.I. after getting out of prison. Klavier reassures Ema, asking her if she knows the real reason why he took the trial. It turns out, he was certain of her innocence from the beginning, and intended to use the common sense of the Jurist System to prove her innocence. He says that he understands why she might feel the way she does about him, but the show must go on, and the only way the truth will ever be reached is if the defendant tells everything that they know, even if it’s just a hunch. With newfound courage, Ema posits that there might be a clue in Lana’s files on her computer, as Lana had confided in her that she’d been performing an investigation on a high-profile case the last time they saw each other. Luckily for them, Elias Coggs had already looked through Lana’s files and emails, and was waiting in the lobby to testify. Klavier excuses Ema from the stand for the time being, and calls Elias Coggs to the stand. He appears to be a middle-aged man with a mechanical prosthetic arm, leg, and eye, giving him the appearance of a cyborg. Klavier asks Coggs to state his name and occupation, and he complies, but when probed about his past, he states that it’s classified information. He was put into the Witness Protection Program a long time ago after an incident involving his accident, and can’t disclose anything about his past that isn’t related to the case. His testimony begins, and he states that on Lana’s computer, he found that on the day of the incident, she had been exchanging emails with two different people. The first being Connie Scout (Age 29), her most recent client, and the second being Phoebe Coronus (Age 41), an old friend of hers from overseas. After probing into his testimony, he admits that the case that Lana was investigating was an international affair, and that Coronus was helping her in the investigation. He also reveals that it appears that a USB was stolen from Lana’s office, but again, he cannot reveal its contents. Suspicions are raised immediately on Coggs, but Klavier verifies that he had an alibi, as he had been at his doctor’s office all afternoon. As Coronus is still in Europe, it becomes evident that the prime suspect for the murder has to be Connie Scout, who is a computer science major at Ivy University. The judge calls for a 30 minute recess, but right before it begins, Coggs requests that Phoenix and Athena get to the bottom of Lana’s death, as the case at hand means a lot to him. During the recess, Ema apologizes for her outburst in court, and explains the case that Lana, Coronus and Coggs were investigating in more detail. Apparently, the organization they were looking into was an international spy ring that had previously mainly been involved in various acts of cyberterrorism, but she reveals that it was actually the very same organization that sent the Phantom over during the UR-1 Incident nine years ago. Athena is shocked, as she recounts how that was the same organization that killed her mother and caused the incident at the Cosmos Space Center two years ago. Ema is surprised to hear this, as Lana hadn’t informed her of the exact details of the case, and she realizes it was probably out of fear that she herself would become a target of the organization. Suddenly, Trucy Wright appears in the defendant lobby with two important pieces of evidence retrieved from Miles Edgeworth, a report of a supposed smuggling of contraband into the country and a breach of cybersecurity at the Criminal Affairs Department. Trucy questions how these pieces of evidence pertain to the case at hand, but Phoenix and Athena clearly have a suspect in mind. The bailiffs announce that the recess is over, and Trucy says that she’ll be watching the trial from the gallery. Court reconvenes, and Klavier calls Connie to the stand. She has a visor over her face and has orange dyed hair like Athena, but otherwise she has the appearance of a normal university student. She introduces herself as a foreign exchange student from Borginia, and explains that Connie Scout was the name she chose for herself when she came to study from abroad. Klavier asks her how she knew the defendant, to which she responds that she met her at a Forensics Investigation Seminar that was being held at the University a month ago, along with Ema Skye. While she was there, she was given a luminol bottle from Ema as a gift for attending it. Afterward, she asked Lana Skye to investigate a crime of her own, though she doesn’t reveal what it is. Throughout her testimony, her lies are exposed, and she becomes the prime suspect for the breach of cybersecurity at Criminal Affairs and the murder of Lana Skye. Phoenix argues that it would’ve been feasible for Scout to have been the one who had the poison smuggled into the country. But the final contradiction in the case is how Ema’s fingerprints managed to get on the bottle of Atroquinine. The thought route begins, and after deducing that she had likely been a part of the Phantom’s organization, that she was likely the one who hacked into the Criminal Affairs Department, and considering her meeting with Ema and Lana one month ago, it becomes apparent that she could’ve obtained the fingerprints off of the luminol bottle and modified the fingerprints on the bottle of poison to look like Ema’s using the information obtained from her hacking of the Criminal Affairs Department, just like how the Phantom had framed Athena at the Space Center two years prior. Connie then confesses everything. She had been a member of the Phantom’s organization, and she had been attempting to erase as many traces of her organization’s crimes that she could. Her only reason for attending the seminar one month ago was to get some info on Lana Skye, so that she could trail her and learn everything that she knew about her own organization. She arranged for a meeting to discuss a possible case for Lana to take on, but that was all a farce-what she really wanted was the USB Lana had in her possession. When she wasn’t looking, she slipped the poison into Lana’s tea, and left the scene after stealing what she needed. When probed about the USB, she says that she already passed it on to another member of the organization. With the suspect having confessed, Klavier calls Ema back to the stand. He and Ema have a conversation, and while Ema is still annoyed by his carefree attitude, she acknowledges that she would’ve been found guilty if Klavier hadn’t given her the opportunity to speak, and thanks him for his help. The judge then pronounces Ema not guilty. In the defendant lobby, Ema thanks Phoenix and Athena for defending her, and they’re soon joined by Klavier and Trucy. Ema, while thankful that the gang found her innocent, is still understandably traumatized over her sister’s death. She expresses doubts about her career choice, considering she never imagined she’d have to investigate her own sister’s body, and she’s now considering leaving her position permanently. Phoenix presents her the luminol bottle that she gave to Scout, and asks her to remember when she began to take an interest in forensics. After recounting how her sister had given her a forensics investigations book when she was young, and briefly referencing the events of Rise from the Ashes, Phoenix reminds her of all of the strides she’s made since then, and all of the times she’s helped the Wright Anything Agency solve cases in the past thanks to her impeccable forensics work. He then reminds her that he had to deal with many bumps in the road himself throughout his career as an attorney, and that he had to learn some lessons that changed his outlook on the legal system. He encourages her to follow her own path in life, but reminds her that he and Athena would greatly miss having her around to help solve cases. Ema, moved by Phoenix’s speech, thanks him for the kind words. Trucy then brings up one last thing that she still doesn’t understand about the trial, those being who Elias Coggs and Phoebe Coronus are. Ema explains that she doesn’t really know who Elias Coggs is, but she does know who Coronus is. She was Ema’s former mentor that took care of her when she first went to Europe to study, and she’s now an international forensics prosecutor. It turns out she intended to be present in the gallery for Ema’s trial, but due to a delay in her flight to LA, she couldn’t make it. Ema then theorizes that working a case with her former mentor might help reinvigorate her love for forensics. Her and Klavier have to attend to some business at the Prosecutor’s Office, and they leave together. To wrap up the case, Trucy brings up three invitations that Juniper had passed on to her for Phoenix, Athena, and herself to attend a Murder Mystery Party at the Woods Manor out in the mountains as a celebration of Juniper recently graduating from Themis Academy while also serving as a way of thanking Phoenix and Athena for defending her two years prior. Trucy declines her invitation, as she has to practice for her first international gig that she’ll be performing with Klavier and Lamiroir, but she encourages Phoenix and Athena to go. They both agree to go, and the case ends with Phoenix’s internal monologue reminiscing about all of the trials and tribulations he’s had to go through to revamp the legal system, and that he never could’ve gotten there without the help of his colleagues. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Author's notes: -I know that killing off Lana Skye might be controversial, but I felt that she made the most sense as the first victim, considering her friend from Europe, who I've named Phoebe Coronus, would make a more interesting rival for Athena, as her adherence to the scientific method and traditionalist views on the Jurist System would be a perfect foil to Athena's more psychological driven methods and her desire to revolutionize the court system along with Phoenix. It also gives Ema another character arc of doubting if her childhood dream was really her true calling in life, which I feel would be a natural progression for Ema's character, since she has a different conflict in every game that she appears in. Finally, it just gives more opportunity to expand on Athena's time studying in Europe, since Ema and Coronus could now fit into that timeline organically. Lana's role in the story wouldn't be forgotten after case 1 either, as two of the most important characters in the game have close connections to her, which would have a huge impact on the trajectory of the story as a whole, which I feel is an important aspect that the first case needs to establish. -The pun names for this case are: Elias Coggs (Alias and Cogs, which refers to his past under the Witness Protection Program as well as his cyborg like appearance.) Connie Scout (Con and Scout, because she's conning everybody into thinking she's just an ordinary university student while also being a spy for the Phantom's organization.) Phoebe Coronus (Her last name refers to her profession as a coroner. Her first and last name actually have a secret meaning as well if one of the letters from her last name is removed, but I'll leave it up to you to see if you can decipher the real meaning behind her name. -Lastly, here are the basic plotlines for the other cases of the game. These are only going to be a couple sentences each, since this post has gone on long enough already. Episode 2-Turnabout Judgment: Picking up right where we left off, Phoenix and Athena attend the Murder Mystery Party organized by Juniper's grandmother, Willow Woods, and Juniper notes that the victim in the game bears similarities to how her own grandfather died a year ago. But when one of the guests at the party winds up dead, it's Juniper's grandmother, a former judge, that ends up in the defendant's seat, and Juniper and Athena team up to acquit her of all charges against prosecutor Phoebe Coronus while Phoenix is off helping another guest at the party with a matter of their own. Loosely based on a fancase on Ace Attorney Online: A Game of Turnabout. Episode 3-The Sponsored Turnabout: During the Summer Olympics, Juniper, Athena, and Simon Blackquill all attend a game together. But when a stray firecracker causes an explosion that causes some debris to crash onto the referee for the game, a former Borginian athlete who had a grudge against the victim and is suspected to be part of the Phantom's organization ends up in the defendant's chair, and Blackquill encourages Athena and Juniper to take on the case due to a previous connection with the defendant, and the trio have to rethink their own biases against the suspect to eventually take down the true culprit of the case, the Executive of the Reality News Network who perpetuated the myth of the Dark Age of the Law after the UR-1 incident. Coronus is still the prosecutor for this case. Episode 4-Turnabout Roulette: In the filler case of the game, Trucy makes reservations at a fancy bar where she's planning on showing Phoenix part of her upcoming performance, but when the two realize that she accidentally made reservations at the Rivales Casino, and a shooting occurs in the middle of the day, Phoenix is forced into defending Brawly Rivales after his own father was murdered. Coronus is the prosecutor again in this trial, but she's noticably more lenient on Phoenix. The main focus of the case would be on the relationship between Phoenix and Trucy. Episode 5-Turnabout for Justice: A science expo is being held at the Cosmos Space Center, and the five participants in the showcase are Ema Skye, Phoebe Coronus, Elias Coggs, a C.E.O. of a famous company, who is also sponsoring the event, and surprisingly Aura Blackquill are all participating in the event. But when an accidental explosion occurs in the middle of the event, everyone is evacuated from the scene with two notable exceptions: Phoebe Coronus and Aura Blackquill. After the fire dies down a bit, some officers go in to investigate the scene, and are surprised to find Aura Blackquill leaning over the victim, Phoebe Coronus's body. Aura Blackquill is named the prime suspect for the case, and it's up to Athena and Blackquill to find her innocence, as Phoenix and Trucy don't want anything to do with her after the kidnapping incident two years ago, and Juniper is rooting for her guilt as well, since she remembers how she used to hate Athena all those years ago. Willow Woods would be the judge for this trial, and Miles Edgeworth calls in prosecutor Franziska von Karma to head the case. Episode Special-Turnabout Reconciliation: It's been one year since Garan has been dethroned, and Khura'in is hosting an international arts festival as an act of goodwill to its new allies. Trucy, Klavier, and Lamiroir are all participating in their own act in the show, and Ema was invited by Prosecutor Nahyuta Sahdmadhi as well. But when a murder happens in the middle of the show, Lamiroir is under suspicion of murder, and Apollo and Trucy finally learn their familial secret. Prosecutor Sahdmadhi is the prosecutor for the case, and Rayfa and Amara make some cameo appearances as well. Sorry for the long post lol. Tell me what you think of these ideas in the comments.
Mobile Games, some thoughts on FF All the Bravest and Dissidia FF Opera Omnia
So I downloaded every free FF mobile game I could find on the Android store. Talking about the actual mobile games, not PS1 games that were ported or whatever. The Dimensions games will have to wait for another time. And I'm really sad Mobius has been removed. Oh well. Last two! All the Bravest and Opera Omnia, let's go. For my thoughts on FFXV: A New Empire and FF: Record Keeper, have a look here: https://www.reddit.com/FinalFantasy/comments/i15qxq/mobile_games_some_thoughts_on_ffxv_a_new_empire/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x For my thoughts on FF: Brave Exvius and War of the Visions: FF Brave Exvius, have a look here: https://www.reddit.com/FinalFantasy/comments/i7or3z/mobile_games_some_thoughts_on_ff_brave_exvius_and/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x FF All the Bravest Final Fantasy: All the Bravest. Released in 2013 and developed by Kyoto based software and game developer BitGroove. Some of these folks worked on Kingdom Hearts Chains of Memories, and later on the KH Union χ mobile game. And apparently worked on UI design for Kingdom Hearts III! It's cute. This is more of a toy really. Something to fiddle with for a bit. I don't mind it. There's no story, aside from some vague intro text about world merging, darkness, and heroes coming to fight it. Anyway, you travel from section to section of a world map, each themed after one main line Final Fantasy game. You fight four battles from that game, and then move on. One battle against random enemies, a boss fight against the likes of Gilgamesh or the Four Fiends, then another battle of random enemies, then the bossfight agains the main antagonist of that game. Kefka, Golbez, etc. And then you move on. The sounds design is a horrible cacophony of attack sounds with classic FF music in the background and the graphics are very basic old school sprite stuff. I was hoping the game would go into the 3D games as well and do cute sprite art for them like Record Keeper did. But nope, it's just FFI-VI for the first six areas. And then they reuse three of those old games for the last three areas. They do have FFVII, X and XIII areas, but you gotta buy them. There's also 35 jobs/characters from later FF games you can pay to unlock. What makes this game unique is that they basically took the turn based battle system; four characters with timers before they get to attack. And used the extra vertical screen space of the phone to just add way more characters below that. It's a silly idea, it looks silly, it's cute and funny. The game's title screen is that iconic shot from Final Fantasy I, of the four warriors of light on the hill overlooking the castle. Except it's a dozen warriors now. I giggled. So yeah. The battle system is super simple, it's barely a battle system. You tap a unit, it attacks. No other controls besides that. So to order your entire mass of units to attack, you tap them all, or just swipe accross them. And then you swipe some more. And swipe. Keep swiping. Yeah, rub that screen squeaky clean! Each time one of your units is hit, they die. And get replaced after three minutes of real time waiting. In between battles all your units are healed up. But on a big boss fight, you might find yourself wiping halfway. Just wait an hour and you can continue fighting with a fresh batch of cannon fodder. Rub some more. Clean that screen. And win. Your army slowly grows, your units get better weapons, and you unlock more jobs. But it's all random and there's no control or management or anything like that. Just keep swiping the screen, watch the little dudes and ladies attack, watch your party grow and move on to the next fight. It reminds me of the era of mobile phone games where they were more like toys, and any interaction with the phone screen at all was exciting. It's a simpler game than any of the other gacha gambling hall mobile games I've looked at so far. There's microtransactions, to buy some of the more popular characters or unlock some locations. And you can buy an hourglass that revives your full party instantly. The game also gives you ten of those hourglasses for free. So you get to see quite a chunk of the game before it all slows down and you're either paying, or waiting. But again, I was done playing with it by that point and didn't mind just waiting a bit before I could play more. That's it really, I already spend more words on this one then I expected. It's fine and inoffensive and cute. My phone screen was so shiny after I was done playing. Dissidia FF Opera Omnia Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia, released in 2017, developed by Square Enix and Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo (Woah! These are game studios I actually know!). A spin off of the Dissidia fighting games. You don't really need to know any of the story of Dissidia though. Two gods, Materia and Spiritus, are pitting familiar heroes and villains from across the Final Fantasy games against each other. All that fighting is tiring. So Materia created a peaceful world for the heroes to chill in. That's where the game takes place. But oh no! Dark portals are opening and evil monsters are coming through to ruin the vacation world! Materia sends her moogle helper out to gather up heroes, fight back and figure out what why etc. So you travel around hex based areas, similar to Dissidia's dungeons. You gather up allies. Watch cutscenes of cute interactions between the heroes, and evil shenanigans by the baddies. And you fight turn based battles, using a system that's similar to the one used in the actual Dissidia games. All the character are aware of what happened in their own games, and they get plucked from various points in their respective stories. Cecil is still the grim dark knight he is early in his game, but Zidane and Vivi seem to be fully aware of who Kuja is and what he did. So as a fan of the series you get to play the guessing game of "where in the story did this character come from?" And man, the writers in this game really know their Final Fantasy. There's so many subtle character traits, more overt behaviours and catch phrases that show that they really really understand the characters they're writing. It's lovely and really cute. Yuna having to explain what a summoner is to the Type 0 characters, because summoners aren't a thing in that world. Zidane is flirty with every girl, but in just the right way that fits his character perfectly. The moment Bartz joins up, he immediately looks at everyone's outfits to figure out their jobs. It's also nice that they include characters from the sequels and spin off games like Crystal Chronicles or XIII-2. The writing and party interactions are the big selling point of this game for me. The bigger story seems to be fairly shallow, straightforward. Skipping ahead to act 2 for a bit, it does look like the plot has some twists. But nothing too shocking. And don't expect drama and tragedy from the characters either, it's all lighthearted and cute. Like Zidane, Vaan and Yuffie discussing their motivations for thieving. The battle system is great fun too. Based around the same push-and-pull bravery system the fighting games have. But turn based this time. So each character has HP and Bravery. You build up your Bravery, while lowering the enemy's Bravery, with special attacks. The number of Bravery points you have determines the damage you will do when you unleach an HP attack. At max Bravery you can slice away half the enemy's HP easily. At zero Bravery your character will be staggered. This goes for the enemy as well. It's similar to the stagger mechanic in FFXIII and FFVIIR as well. So yeah, it's all about finding the right balance between the two types of attack, and switching at just the right moment. There's also status effects, buffs, summons, friends you can call in. It's a well fleshed out system, and fun to play with. Or just turn it to auto battle if you want to grind away at the story or level up some new character you just got. It's cleverly balanced so that even a low level character can hold their own pretty well. This helps a lot, because you'll keep getting new characters throughout the story and they all start at level 1. But the game is never too easy. I wasn't instakilling every battle. I like that the game actually gives you new characters and money and all that just for playing the story. I know! Imagine that! You don't need to engage with the gambling aspects at all if you don't want to! And it will feel like any other single player game. Whereas in both Brave Exvius games for example, you could ignore the gambling just fine, but you would barely get any new characters for doing so. Of course Opera Omnia will still bombard you with log in bonuses and ads before you can even get to any of the main menus. Menus which are, as usual, labyrinthine and intentionally confusing. And there's ads everywhere. The world map has a permanent ad in the top left trying to lure you to temporary events and 'sales'. It has all the gacha trapping where you can get items, gear, xp boosts and characters by throwing money at Square and poking your daily roulette wheels. This game is friendly about it though. They are less pushy than other games. Each time you boot up the game you get this message. Warning you about the gacha stuff and telling minors to ask their parents for permission to engage with it: \"Please kindly note that while this game is free, certain items are not. We ask that minors receive permission from their parents or guardian before making any purchases\" Nice, mobile game developers with a conscience. That's a nice thing. I also appreciate how the game warns you to back up your data regularly. It's nice to see a developer for a mobile game like this taking some social responsibility. Treating the players like human beings and not just a wallet with arms and legs. Even if it's just little things like this. It reminds me of the disclaimer FFXI always had, that tells you to go outside and see your family and friends occasionally, and not get too absorbed by the game. It's a small thing, but I respect the devs for adding it. The art style is atrocious and the characters look horrible. Music is great though! The original battle themes rock my socks off. And they are regularly switched up by classic FF tunes, or remixes thereof. It doesn't feel as expensive as War of the Visions did, no fancy Japanese and English voice acting on every bit of dialogue and no fancy CG opening cutscene. There are a lot of short Japanese only voice acted sentences though and battle cries for each character. It's fun to hear all their Japanese voices. This game does feel like something that would be at home on a console or handheld. A lot of effort by a lot of talented folks went into making and maintaining it. New characters with entire story chapters get added pretty regularly and there's a huuuuge backlog of old events and bonus chapters you can dive into. Anyhoo. Yeah. That's basically it. It's a good game. I'll keep playing this and War of the Visions just because both have great battle systems, a neat story and a lot of love and effort put into their production. If you're looking for a fun turn based battle system and hanging out with your favourite FF characters. Go play Opera Omnia! That's what surprised me the most, that the FF fanservice was not just empty husks that look like the characters, but they actually talk and feel like they dropped right out of their respective games. The end So yea, what did I learn after playing all these mobile games? The intrusive ads and gambling shit is bad. But you can ignore it in pretty much all these games (except A New Empire), and just play them as if it was a regular single player game. Which is good, because I don't enjoy throwing hundreds of euros at a casino and I wanted to see if these games held up compared to the console entries. And looking at them as regular single player games, War of the Visions and Opera Omnia clearly stand out as the best of these games. On par with the other spin offs like a Dissidia or Type 0 in my opinion. I'd recommend Opera Omnia to any fan of the series. And War of the Visions to any fan of the Tactics games. For the price of free, both of these are definitely worth checking out for a few hours. And if you enjoy those. Record Keeper and Brave Exvius are enjoyable too. No need to check All the Bravest. And very much avoid A New Empire completely. As it is, the money you can spend in Opera Omnia or War of the Visions is never worth what it gets you. Spending €80,- in Opera Omnia only gets you a third of the gil I already earned just by playing a few hours. And only enough space bucks to unlock maybe ten characters. If you're lucky at the roulette wheel. But the single player campaigns in these two games would definitely be worth some money in my eyes. If these games ever showed up on Steam/Switch/PS4 for like €30,- without the gambling mechanics, I would buy them. So setting that as your budget in the in-game currency store seems reasonable.
For ways to make money to afford the new DLC content, along with methods to make an empty lobby to do CEO/MC work, check the Mega Guide. Tips
You only need $50,000 to register as a VIP! If you have at least that much, you can register as a VIP for 4 hours and get access to VIP missions (which can be done in an invite only session), giving you a lucrative way to save up.
If you own both a crate warehouse and vehicle warehouse, you could use them together to make more money overtime than you could by using either exclusively. Use your sourcing/exports between crate pickups and sales, and you'll be getting the best of both worlds, gaining from the postive money-making aspects of both.
Content and Prices
Content that has initially released with the update.
Southern San Andreas Super Autos
Weeny Issi Sport - $897,000
Vapid Caracara 4x4 - $875,000
Annis S80RR: $2.6million
Enus Paragon R: $905,000
Obey 8F Drafter: $718,000
Truffade Thrax: $2.3million
Cash Pad: $1.5million
Party Penthouse: $3.78million
High Roller: $6.5million
"Design Your Own": $1.5million
Colour options: $215,000 or $258,500
Pattern options: $92,000 - $210,000
Lounge Area: $400,000
Media Room: $500,000
Bar and Party Hub: $700,000
Private Dealer: $1.1million
Extra Bedroom: $200,000
As this is a Casino-centric update, there's plenty of ways to gamble away your hard-grinded money. The gambling in this game centers around a new form of currency, called Chips. These chips are pretty much like real-world gambling chips, with a one-to-one dollar value, except you keep your chips when you leave the casino. Chips are an actual currency in GTA Online, as they can be used to purchase exclusive items from a shop inside the casino, along with being used to bet with when playing the Gambling Games, listed below
Slot Machines: There's plenty of options to choose from, but they all perform the same way. Spend some chips, and let the RNG decide whether or not you earn anything from it.
Blackjack: Casino style blackjack with up to four simultaneous players, all of which play against the dealer. Anyone who beats the dealer individually wins, anyone who the dealer beats individually loses, and if the dealer gets Blackjack (an Ace and 10/face-card), everyone immediately loses. Assuming your initial hand isn't a Blackjack, you have the option of doubling-down, which doubles your initial bet with the caveat of only being able to hit once.
Poker: Three-card poker. You make your bets, check your hand, and similar to Blackjack, each player wins if their hand is better than the dealer's, and the dealer beats whoever has a worse hand than him. While there is no option to double-down, how much you win does depend on how good of a hand you have. The better your hand, the more you win. Also, while you can fold your hand, you lose your initial bet anyway.
Horse Racing: Pretty much standard horse racing bettering. You choose a horse, you put your money down, and if you bet correctly, you get double the amount you bet in return. Otherwise, you just lose the amount you bet.
To gain more chips, there is a counter inside the casino where you can buy them, however you are limited in how many you can buy per day (real-world 24 hours). As standard, you can buy a maximum of 20,000 chips per day, but if you own a penthouse of any tier, you can buy up to 50,000 chips per day. Chips can also be traded in for money, but there does not appear to be a limit on this. No matter how many chips you win from gambling, it appears that you can trade them all in at once for the equivalent dollar value. Lastly, there is the Wheel. It's a roulette wheel that you can only spin once per day, which costs $500 per spin. There are twenty reward slots, and since some rewards are in multiple slots, they have greater chances of being selected. The biggest note about this wheel however is that there is one slot in which you can win a free car! What makes this so significant is that since the car takes a 1/20 slot on the wheel, that means you still have a 5% chance of winning a free high-value vehicle! Compared to most online games, that's pretty much the most generous RNG you can get.
Business and Missions
Are there any differences between the penthouses For once, yes! Well, technically... they're the same basic property layout, but each option gives you different addon options.
The Cash Pad: The basic Penthouse with no property addons available . You cannot purchase a garage, extra bedroom, lounge, etc. with the Cash Pad. You can, however, purchase penthouse customizations (colour and wall patterns).
The Party Penthouse: Gives you certain of the addon options: the main Penthouse, the Extra Bedroom, the Lounge Area, the Spa, and the Bar and Party Hub. You are locked to these options, no more, no less.
The High Roller: Gives you all of the property addons as standard, and the most expensive penthouse customization options... this means that you cannot choose your own colour and wall patterns with this version.
The "Design Your Own": ...What should be the standard option. It gives you the basic penthouse and allows you to choose which addons and customizations you want, with an extra cost for each one, of course. Just get this one. You can also renovate this option later, allowing you to purchase more addons and change your customizations later.
What do the Penthouse Addons do?
Lounge Area: Allows you to purchase the other Penthouse Addons (except for the Extra Bedroom and Garage, which are the only items addons that can be purchased without a Lounge).
Media Room: You know the cinemas around Los Santos? The ones that play a few 5 minute animated films on repeat? That, but in a Penthouse.
Spa: Gives you access to a hot tub and a Personal Stylist. The Stylist's services are the same as the ones spread around Los Santos (hair, contacts, and make up), but they're all free.
Bar and Party Hub: Allows you to consume drinks that instantly intoxicate your character, along with access to special arcade games that aren't available anywhere else in the game.
Private Dealer: Allows you to play gambling games in your penthouse.
Office: Adds a standard computer, a Gun Locker, and a money vault (don't get excited, it's just aesthetic).
Extra Bedroom: Bedrooms in owned properties in GTA Online are used as spawn points, so why can you pay to have an extra one? Because you can now allow a friend of yours to claim it! The Extra Bedroom allows a friend of yours to use your penthouse as a spawn apparently, though the exact implementation of this is not completely clear.
Garage: Access to the Penthouse's garage bay.
How do I get the armored car?
To recieve the Enus Paragon R (Armoured), you have to complete the Diamond Casino's mission series, which you must own a penthouse to access. Once of the missions are complete, you'll be given the vehicle for free! But remember, it's uninsured and you only get it once, so immediately go into passive mode and take it to the nearest Los Santos Customs to insure it, or else you could lose the vehicle permanently.
Good news, passive mode has been fixed!
Passive Mode can now no longer be active when using a weaponized vehicle
A Passive Mode cooldown of 2 minutes is now in place for players who have just killed another player
Players now must wait 5 minutes before they can activate Passive Mode again after disabling it
Players now must wait 30 seconds before they can disable Passive Mode after activating it
These changes make is so that grievers can no longer abuse passive mode, or at least no where near as easily. If you start to get the upper-hand on a griefer and destroy whatever death-machine they're using to troll you, or if you confront them in a death-machine of your own, they can't abuse Passive Mode to try to get the upper-hand on you!
Check the Mega Guide for ways to push yourself into a public Online session with no one else in it. Keep in mind that some missions and abilities are unavailable if there's no one else with you though!
Bugs and Glitches
Apparently on PS4 and Xbox One, you must have full size of GTA V available to download the update, so if you have less than ~60GB free, you may have trouble downloading the update. This does not mean that the entire game is re-downloaded, it just means that the update may not download if you don't have that much space available.
Pivlichino's Classic Casino Games (steal my filler episode)
Pivlichino's Classic, Casino de Ravnica Last night I ran an impromptu session as a filler episode as I was missing 3 out 6 players. It was a success that I will repeat as filler in the future. I had about 45 minutes to prep, so frantically started searching Reddit for DnD playable Casino games and settled for the following (changing the names for some). I had read up a little about Feather, and came across Pivlic and that he has a Casino with a boxing ring in it. I already had found a map several months back that fit that perfectly from AfternoonMaps ( AfternoonMaps ). I played him as a charismatic showman Orzhov wanting to "help you cleanse your sin in a fun way". Pivlic sent out Indentured Spirits with flyers to the players. They thought it was a special invitation, but realised when they arrived that they had just gotten spam advertisements. Promotional flyer sent out randomly by Indentured Spirits Pivlic personally welcomed them at the casino (it's called Pivlichino's Classic because he also runs a 5 Michelin star equivalent restaurant on the Millennial Platform), and told about the games available:
A game from the 1980's but most recently popularized by the game Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Involves 2 players. A player rolls 6d6, then chooses which dice to keep and which to roll. If you don't score you lose all points from that round. First to 2000 pts wins. Scoring:
single 1 = 100 pts
single 5 = 50 pts
Three of a kind = 100 x that number pts (e.g. 3x4's = 400 pts)
Three 1's = 1000 pts
Four or more a kind is double the points of three of a kind (e.g. 4x4's = 800 pts, 5x4's = 1600 pts)
I don't know the real world name of this game, but I remember reading about it a long time ago, and ProfQuirrell jogged my memory of it. I decided to name it Opulence to fit the Orzhov theme. Each Player picks a number from 1 to 6 and bets any amount. Dealer rolls 3d6. You then compare the rolls with what the player's number.
1 match = amount x 2
2 match = amount x 3
3 match = amount x 4
This game is deceptive, since it looks like a very fair game, but is slightly weighted in the house's favour. My players spent the most money on this, as it's very quick to play. I could see this or a variant also be used as a form of slot machine.
Pugilism payout varies depending on opponent
The centre of the casino features a boxing/wrestling ring and has 3 opponents on any given night. Rules:
The ring itself has a magical aura that "blunts" weapons used within, to avoid evisceration and death. The weapons are fine once outside of the ring again.
If you bring in armor to the ring, your opponent also gets armor (I just did a quick +3 or +4 AC depending on the opponent)
If you bring a weapon to the ring, your opponent also gets the same weapon (or equivalent)
No magic to be used, though feats and racial abilities are fair game.
Standard Soldier stat block (AC 16 in armor, AC 18 with Shield, AC 11 without armor). Payout of 1.5:1 for combatant, 1.25:1 for watchers.
Indentured Servant stat block (AC 11 without armor, AC 14 "with armor"). Payout 2:1 for combatants, 1.5:1 for watchers.
Hybrid Shocker stat block (AC 12 without armor, AC 16 "with armor"). Payout 3:1 for combatants, 2:1 for watchers.
The fights were enjoyable for my players, and the final bout of my Articifer Armorer player vs the Shocker was a nail-biter. Power Armour slugging it out against the electric tentacles left them both at sub 3 HP when the final Tentacle lightning damage struck the artificer down. I also had the Spirit fly out of reach of the player a lot, so he had to get creative and jump off the turn buckle to actually get hits in. Lots of fun wrestling moves were thrown.
When I read u/Turin082's post last month about a card game where you bet your stats, I KNEW I needed to include it somehow in my campaign. It came a bit sooner expected. I renamed the game Ravnicante (Pronounced like Ravnic-Ante, not Ravni-cant-e), and made it the unique game that Pivlichino's Classic is known for. This game plays very similiarly to Texas Hold'Em (please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not very familiar with Poker). Each player rolls 2d12's in secret (we play on Roll20 so they can whisper it to me), then the dealer rolls 3d12's that are revealed immediately, and 2d12's that are revealed as the game progresses. Most of the traditional Poker hands exist, though there are no Aces or Jokers, and Kings and Queens are both equal to 12. A player can bet any of the following:
hit dice (temporarily)
hit dice (permanently changing max amount of dice)
proficiencies (only skills they are proficient with, if they lose it's gone, if they win they get expertise)
Ability Score (must be in an ability you have at least a +0 modifier in, so no going hard into the negatives)
Mana points (I use a mana points system in addition to spell slots, works sorta like inspiration)
Class features (Bardic inspirations dice, Fighting Styles, Channel Divinity uses, amount of Rage dice etc. Get creative!)
Spell slots (permanent loss or increase in the level bet)
Spells themselves (permantly lose the spell knowledge, or gain a buff to it like an die increase from d6->d8 damage)
Anything that could become a flaw (your courage, your oldest memory, your prized cheesecake recipe. Point is, get creative!)
Opponents and what they'll wager (in order):
Alisha Fuerto, Azorius Precog Mage (she can see the 4th die immediately when the dealer rolls)
(1) Detect Thoughts spell
(2) 1 point of Dexterity
(3) Precognitive Insight use
(4) Precognitive Insight use
(5) Glimpse the Temporal Flood
(6) Precognitive Insight use
(7) Truesight 120ft.
Severn Ate-Nighn, Gruul Goblin Anarch (he'll try to Intimidate opponents to fold)
(1) Siege Monster
(2) Survival skill proficiency
(3) Fury of the Small
(4) 1 point of Strength
(6) His courage (will flee if he loses it)
Oppor the Tunist, Human Rakdos High-wire Performer (will joke about dismemberment and torture to unsettle opponents)
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Riot Games Designed League to Be Manipulative & Addicting
If you don't want to read this, there's a video version of my post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkHptO9JqAE Someone at Riot once said they wanted League of Legends to grow so much that it’s practiced like any other great sport in history. Just like kids get together at the local soccer-field to play ball, Riot envisions a future where League is as ubiquitous in human culture. A videogame that lasts forever. This is a businessman’s wet dream. Riot’s Marc Merrill put it more cynically, “Imagine we invented basketball, but we own every basketball court on earth, we sell you the shoes, and we built the NBA." As the years take its toll on the now decade old game, it seems like an unlikely future. But that hasn’t stopped Riot from trying to lengthen the life of League as much as they possible. Take the popular game mode URF. It’s a mode where every character is essentially in God mode and it’s super fun. It’s hands-down the most beloved game-mode and the community loves it. So why is it only available every few months and not all the time? Riot revealed that whenever they let players play URF, they see an initial boost in players coming back to the game. But when they remove it, the overall player base decreases as a result. URF is so much more fun compared to the main game, that for the majority of the player base, when it’s gone they stop playing the game entirely. For a regular game, this wouldn’t be a problem. Having a variety of choices so that players can customize their experience to their liking is what most games do. You don’t see games like Smash Bros. restricting player choice to manage the fun. But, Riot wants a forever game, they don’t want to build a videogame, they want to build an institution. And so instead of giving players what they want, they have to rely on carefully managing content in such a way to sustain the player base. They drip-feed fun in a carefully researched, mechanical way to keep people hooked longer. It’s really kind of freaky how much they rely on hidden metrics to adjudicate the player experience. To Riot, you don’t know what you want. THEY know what you want, and they’ll make you play the game their way. Another place they do this is the ranked system. Instead of offering a simple ELO system where you’re given a number and depending on your performance it goes up and down, League uses a HIDDEN ELO system, where your real rank is obscured by a superfluous ranking system made up of tiers and divisions. Your placement on the tiers is entirely meaningless, the real magic behind the matchmaking system lies in your hidden ELO. But it’s not shown to the player. So you’re placed on an endless treadmill of progression where you’re constantly chasing that next carrot. Instead of showing you your real rank and letting you climb and fall depending on your performance, the ranked system artificially lengthens the climb to keep you playing for the entire season. What would take a handful of games in an ELO system is lengthened to ten, twenty, thirty games since you have to climb through each division, and in between every tier you have to win a promotional series to rank up. Ranking up is called “the grind” for a reason, it’s designed to be a process that keeps you coming back for months on end. These kinds of dictatorial design decisions are usually justified by game developers by saying that “they promote “player satisfaction.” Another game that comes to mind is Splatoon 2, where the maps and game modes available to the player are limited to whatever the roulette let’s you play. And while I generally disagree with this megalomaniacal approach to game design, in Splatoon 2 it’s generally harmless. It’s a $60 game you pay for without any microtransactions. League follows the “games-as-a-service” model, where it’s designed to be a continuous source of revenue for Riot Games. While Splatoon 2’s rotating game modes are the result of overconfident designers, League’s manipulative design is meant to suck more money out of the player overtime. After all, if you’re putting in 10 games a week, you can spend $10 for that Lee Sin skin, right? So when you combine the competitive aspect, the manipulative design and the free-to-play model, we’re left with a dangerous concoction. A game designed not to be fun, but to ensnare and addict. Jim Sterling has a master-class video on the predatory design of free-to-play games and how they rely on getting people hopelessly addicted to turn a profit. I won’t go over that here, but League follows the same design principals as any other scummy, exploitative iPhone game. And Riot are WELL AWARE of the danger in their games design, they just don’t care. Google search “League of Legends and addiction” and you’ll find thousands of heartbreaking stories of people who were sucked in and found themselves lost in the void that League of Legends can be. And every game can have people addicted to it, people can be addicted to anything. But overtime, Riot has only expanded the predatory nature of League. Skins have only gotten more expensive, a suite of new cosmetics from ward skins, to icons and emotes have given Riot entirely new ways to suck money out of their player base. The Hextech Crafting system that was introduced a few years back is just a gambling minigame, and Eternals are a paid feature that most other games offer for free. Riot continues to build new systems around the base game that’s meticulously designed to keep the player base grinding away with the illusion of progression that has just enough well-timed hits of dopamine to keep most people playing for years. And they HAVE to do this if they want to keep people around. Because their refusal to make URF a permanent gamemode shows that the League of Legends formula just isn’t fun enough on it’s own to fuel a highly profitable player base for 10 years. Riot has to rely on these external systems or else most players would leave to any other game. All for the pursuit of their eternal golden goose. I remember I was playing a ranked game once, and I started raging at a teammate after things weren’t going so well. Someone on the team had enough and replied, “Chill, you’re not going to be on LCS” which is the professional league, and I didn’t really know how to respond. With one message, a random player had completely undone the spectacle Riot had built up. As much as we’ve been conditioned to believe otherwise, “the grind” is meaningless. All these systems of progression we’ve been told have value are really just ways for Riot to keep us around long enough to vacuum all the money from our wallets. And by all the money, I mean it. In 2017, League pulled in over $2.1 billion dollars! People often give Riot Games credit for being generous when offering the base game for free, but it’s not an act of generosity. Just the same way casinos offer drinks on the house, free-to-play is just a way to get you in the door. What do you guys think?
The Sol Anomaly - 003 [The plot thickens! It now has the consistency of molasses.] The second rule: lightning never strikes the same place twice, both literally and figuratively. You see, time-streams vibrate. They're like stretched-out rubber bands being plucked by the randomness and chaos of cosmic forces. You rewind to the exact same second, and there will be little changes. Most of the time, they're barely perceptible. But lightning? Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Polarized sunglasses flicker when you're not on the null-tensor timeline (making them pretty much useless, for me at least.) Random number generators in computers - well, certain ones, anyway - will give different results. By the way, for you lotteries and casinos out there, take note: laser-scattering RNGs are a great way to keep time travelers from cheating the system. Decks of cards and roulette wheels? Not so much. Turns out that all that weird quantum randomness you see is actually the result of time vibrating like a string on a violin. Or maybe time vibrating is because of the randomness. The causality of it doesn't matter much. These vibrations aren't usually enough to push time off track. But when you're working within an unstable system, like flying a plane through an atmosphere, there are so many variables that you can feel it. Time gets very smooth and...slippery, and maintaining control is like sprinting on a fresh layer of ice on a frozen-over lake. Analogies. It's the only way I can explain this to you. Sensing changes in time isn't really like any other sense. It's intuitive, and you can't describe it to someone who has never experienced it, just like how you can't effectively describe the difference between red and green to a colorblind person. It feels like music, tastes like wind, shocks you like a live wire. When you change time, it feels like you're mentally pushing yourself through dense air, or water, or concrete that isn't quite solid yet. At this moment? I feel like I'm being pulled in every direction at once, flung through the air with abandon like a leaf in a hurricane. And that unpredictability of time? It lines up in a perfect storm, and everything goes horribly wrong. -=:=- "It's a good day for such a sport." Hierloch is a strange one, I think, and glance over at the Maere student. They seem distinctly uncomfortable to be in such proximity to their prejudiced teacher, and especially in this environment: a bloodsport arena, where Maere criminals are sentenced to death for violations of the Maere Code. "They're all sociopathic, by nature," Hierloch is saying. "It's a miracle they made it to the space age. You wouldn't know about that, though, would you," he adds with a nod to the Maere pupil, "being a second-generation Ambassador." The Maere Ambassadors were genetically engineered for social compatibility with other species. "A telepath," chuckles Hierloch. "A Maere telepath, of all the ridiculous jokes the universe plays." I'm almost certain that Hierloch is inebriated. I mouth a sympathetic sorry to the Maere, who is staring blankly at the back of the seat in front of them, probably wishing they were anywhere but here. I feel a pressure in the back of my mind, and a soft whisper: Thank you. "Exzia," says Hierloch, again on a tangent. "Have you profiled the Anomaly yet? What's the misconception this time?" Misconceptions. Hierloch has a mostly unsupported theory that all Anomalies are actually exhibiting the same phenomenon, and the differences are purely a matter of mental models. What does he know? I think. He doesn't have any talent himself. I'd like to see him try and "adjust his biases." He sure has a lot of them. "Um," I say, trying to remember the information I gathered. "Young female, point of origin is Sol - they're not a prominent spacefaring race yet but they're promising - " "Yes, I know all that," he interrupts. "Get to the point, girl." "Time travel," I say. "She thinks it's time travel." Hierloch stares at the fielding ring for a time, watching the combatants struggle for life. They're armed only with sticks, and have to beat the other to death if they are to have a chance of survival. This match is very one-sided. A starving thief against a trained war criminal. I look away as the thief meets a cruel end, but I can hear the crunch as his skull loses its structural integrity. The teacher chuckles as some unseen puzzle in his mind comes together. "Time travel," he says, and laughs harder, until he's practically doubled over in the seat, gasping for air. "That's rich, that is." "It makes sense. A lot of us see it that way." "It does not, as I've told you too many times. It's not called time travel. It's called desynchronized mnesia, and that's still merely an analogy. Tell me, what do you know of the Sirens?" The question catches me off guard. What do the Sirens have to do with anything? Sirens are a very old and long-lived spacefaring species, but they're incredibly alien, even by the standards of an interstellar alliance. Any communication is limited to "Yes", "No", and "Thank you", as their language has no verbs or nouns to speak of, and translating it is an exercise in futility. "They're traders. They're easy to steal from. They look like giant starfish." Hierloch laughs. "Easy to steal from? What have you been doing in your free time, piracy?" Gods above, shut up, I think. Hierloch is a great teacher, but he's also an arrogant ass. A mental nudge and feeling of amusement tells me the Maere agrees. "Yes, they are easy to steal from, as they lack the mental model of object permanence. But they're also lacking something more particular, and yet..." he prompts. He's lost me, and I say so. "They have no experiential memory, girl! Don't you remember that from your studies?" "Not really," I say. "They were boring." There's only so much you can write about intelligent starfish that no one knows how to talk to. "So explain to me why a species with no concept of time makes better 'time travelers' than the rest of you! Why Sirens are the only students who get it?" Hierloch is an admirer of the Sirens, I know that much. And that's an understatement - it's a borderline fetishized obsession. "I don't know, sir. That doesn't make any sense." He snorts. "Well, I'm not giving you the answer." He never does, preferring to let us puzzle them out ourselves. Three, two, one... Right on cue, he says, "But I will give you a hint. The definition of desynchronized mnesia, in the best terms I've ever heard it put, is accurately misremembering events in no particular order." Hierloch loves his hints, and they are nothing if not entirely unhelpful. "I don't know." "I didn't expect you to. Now, watch. I arranged for the human to come here. Perhaps this display will enlighten you." The militant criminal waves his bloodied stick in the air, reveling the applause of the crowd. He's fucked. He doesn't have a chance against an Anomaly. A wave of sadness from the Maere, and I get a vague impression of the criminal being someone they once knew. I wince. "Now, Exzia - and you - watch. A mere mortal, scum less than dirt, against a goddess." The gate opens, and the crowd roars.
So, I've been thinking of this as a location. An ancient golem, the size of a mountain, created with magic and machinery. It's broken and abandoned now, but when it was operational, it would house hundreds of people, enough to fill a city. Gorm would walk around the country, with people either permanently living on him, or using him like a bus, to get from city to city. Let's say it takes Gorm a weeks to make a full lap of the country. I was describing this to my friend, and then I hit him with the "and it's also a casino." Gorm is a full casino, it's like a walking Las Vegas. Inside it's abandoned body players can find a whole bunch of things, like roulette elementals, dice demons, card constructs, decrepit war-forged security units, or enchanted poker chips. My current idea for a story involving Gorm is that he's sitting in the ocean near a merfolk city. The merfolk would like it gone, as it's a bit in the way, and the dwarves, as well as everyone else, would love to have him up and walking again. So they send you with an NPC mechanic to go restart Gorm. But little did everyone else know that once you get inside Gorm you discover that an Eldritch being is trying to corrupt and control the ancient golem, and you have to free and fix Gorm!
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How a one off character ended my entire Shadowrun campaign the best way possible by abusing Edge
I recently discovered CritCrab and after listening to the story about the 40k Inquisition campaign going off the rails in the most spectacular way, I wanted to share my own story of delightful derailment. I was the DM and I tend to run my games of Shadowrun very Pink Mohawk because that's how I learned to play it. For those of you not familiar with the term, Pink Mohawk refers to a very outlandish, almost cartoonish and theatrical style of game. These were very high profile runners with very high stakes. Also of note is this was early on in my career of DMing games in general. I've ran a handful of campaigns before this one, but at the time I tended to lift heavy "inspiration" from other forms of media for my overall story. Before this campaign we did one based entirely on James Bond movies and it was a blast! Quite literally at the end. Anyway, the overall plot for the campaign of this story was based on/stolen from Metal Gear Rising. So the group consisted of: Alex: One of my best friends. He was playing a sexually deviant spy or something. Tony: My first DM for DnD a few years before. He was playing a technomancer that was a true mercenary. Thomas: A friend from high school. Tbh, I don't remember his character in this specific campaign. It's been a few years. And finally there is the main character of this story, Bertrand. Bertrand was another friend from high school and a living god among us. When people ask me who is the best person I know at trpgs, I always answer with him. He can make the most memorable characters and amazing campaigns. He introduced us to Shadowrun a few years before and that campaign is still my favorite one I've ever been in. After highschool Bertrand moved away for college and so we weren't able to play with him as much. However when I learned he would be coming back to town to visit, I just had to have him join us for a session. It was late game, I planned on only having two or three more missions before everything would be wrapped up and ended, so what harm would there be in having him join in right before things started ramping up? And this is how he ended my campaign early in the most beautiful and spectacular way possible. So Bertrand shows up with this gambler character. Looking over his character sheet/chummer file, I noticed he has maxed out his Edge score. Now Edge in Shadowrun 4e was a little bit broken, or we could've been using it wrong idk. It's basically a luck stat and characters can choose either to spend edge, which for example can give you extra dice in your pool, or you can burn it, which allows you to auto succeed a task but you permanently lose that point of edge. Bertrand had 7 of these all to use in a game he would only be in once… So the party goes to kill time before a mission at some casino in Latin America. Alex goes to flirt with some waiters/waitresses and Tony goes to make money at Blackjack. Bertrand goes to find a shady door in the back of the casino. He goes up to the guard and asks "where are the REAL games being played?" The guard nods and opens the door to reveal a backroom with people playing Russian Roulette. Bertrand immediately starts to play. After getting lucky the first few rounds he calls a guard over and says "Sooo, where's the boss man at? Go bring him down and see if he wants to play!" Another thing about this gambler besides high edge is he also had high charisma. He rolled well and the owner of the casino came down. After succeeding another persuasion check (and calling him a chicken), the owner agrees to play. Bertrand then says "this is a pretty nice place you've got here. Why don't we raise the stakes a bit, really get into the thrill of the moment? If you lose I get your casino." Another insanely high check and the owner agrees. So this time Bertrand does get the bullet, but by burning edge, he survived! I can't remember if I made him burn an additional one to make the cylinder also skip so the bullet goes to the owner, or if they just played another round, but either way this random gambler wins the party an entire casino. So with the actual plot, the party finds a research lab in the town's sewers that has been abducting street orphans and lobotomizing their brains to ship off to some PMC in the states. They hop a plane in order to storm the PMC's headquarters and get the children's brains back. They fight their way up until they reach the top floor where the BBEG was (actually it was his second in command but they didn't know that and now probably never will). As they enter there are rows and rows of computer towers each with brains inside. The BBEG begins to explain how he's running the still alive children through simulators in order to make child soldier cyber zombies. Now I like to have my NPCs make logical decisions, and so as cliche as it is I had the BBEG offer the party to join his organization. Afterall, they did kill a lot of his commanders in the past so the upper leadership was a bit bare. To my surprise, every single party member truly had no morals and they all agreed. All except Bertrand, who's character had some human decency. At this time I get a message from him on my phone. He had just made a successful persuasion check to allow the others to let him walk away since he didn't want to have a part in the whole child soldier thing. I read the message. He wants to burn every point of edge he had left to PLANT HAND GRENADES ON EACH PARTY MEMBER AS HE IS WALKING OUT. I try not to die laughing. Bertrand walks out, and two minutes later all of the evil party members explode in spectacular fashion. We in-game time skip a week and the main party wakes up in the hospital. In order not to die, they too burnt all their edge. They now have fancy new cyborg bodies courtesy of their new employer, and they are PISSED. They completely forget about the main plot and set off to kill the gambler. Meanwhile Bertrand had met up with a contact of the party and escaped to an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Mexico. He knew he was going to be hunted down, so he prepared for them. The main party finally finds out where he's at, and so they board a speed boat and floor it to the island. They take every weapon they have with them to make sure Bertrand is dead. By this time, I realize the campaign was unsalvageable, so I continued events that were happening in the background. They arrive at the island and as Alex takes a step onto the beach, the party hears a click. Bertrand had set landmines across the entire island. And that is how my Shadowrun campaign got derailed by one man playing for a single session. A bit of context, they were originally supposed to stop the world from being wiped by a doomsday machine after they finished at the PMC headquarters. Seeing how they never made it to that, they couldn't stop it. They did eventually catch the gambler, but the doomsday machine went off right before they could kill him. I should also say none of the players were upset at Bertrand both during and after all of this. We've all played together before and they found it hilarious. Overall, it was a fun way to end the campaign. tl:dr, Friend from out of town joins a Shadowrun campaign for a single session. Party decides to support using child soldiers, so friend sneaks live grenades on them. And later landmines. Campaign ends.
I know many atheists would love to debate me on this, but I've got trial next week and don't have time to get into a debate with everyone, so I'm keeping this Christians-Only. Despite my long history of proficiency and public speaking in the apologetics arena, I really am generally opposed to the way apologetics is used today. But a recent conversation reminded me that what cultural churchianity presents to the public about our faith is not always an accurate representation of what the Bible actually says and means, and therefore there is value in apologetic discourse to get our own reigned in when they say things. The topic at hand is specifically on faith. Most unbelievers have severe contempt for Christianity because they believe we operate on blind faith. This isn't surprising, given the way Christians are portrayed to the public. And we do it to ourselves! Ever since social media took off, self-professed "Christians" say all kinds of things about what it means to be a Christian without actually reading the Bible or studying it for themselves. Result? Social media representation of Christianity is based significantly on the sayings of people whose only understanding of Scripture comes from the 5 minutes of the sermon they actually paid attention to and remember ... and other social media memes made up of interesting-sounding quotes and verses isolated from their context. For a small touch of humor to prove my point, I've always loved this particular pic: https://i0.wp.com/www.focuspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Context.jpg?resize=412%2C450&ssl=1. Now onward. EVERYTHING IS FAITH-BASED The atheist view is interesting. I'm an attorney, so I can say that with few exceptions, a criminal court, for example, cannot (1) rely on circumstantial evidence alone, and (2) rely on hearsay as evidence. When most atheists reach a conclusion that God does not exist, they're virtually always relying on these two things.
For most, they trust that author of the articles they read aren't twisting/manipulating the facts (which we all know is rare nowadays).
Then they're trusting that the editor didn't make the author slant his article a certain way or only publish a portion of the article or only post the articles in favor of one conclusion to the exclusion of balancing information.
They're also trusting that the scientific journal the author researched when writing the article is accurately reporting the information, and that the publisheeditor of that journal isn't slanting things toward a specific view in order to make a profit or retain better clients.
Then, they're also trusting that the scientist who actually did the research had no agenda/bias when conducting the experiment (which most atheists allege is impossible as to scientists who are Christian, yet claim it is possible for scientists who are atheist).
Even if the scientist has no agenda/bias, they're trusting that the experiment accounted for every possible variable and contingency without unintentional bias in its structure.
Then, because no test can conclusively prove there is no god, they're relying on multiple conclusions, following the above path for each one, to reach a definitive statement ("There is no God") based on the circumstantial implications of what these multiple studies have shown.
It is no secret that big name researchers who make scientific journals a lot of money have threatened their publishers, "If you publish studies in contradiction with my findings, I will find a different publisher." As a result, many publishers are bullied by their own researchers who have an agenda to prove. I once actually cross-examined an "expert" (nationally renown authority on child psychology who flew in from the other side of the country for this particular trial) on the stand who admitted that he did this to his publisher, which is why research opposing his theories is sparsely reported in scientific journals - and if it is published, it's in the less prominent journals. As a further example of this process going wrong, consider the guy who published all the research about vaccinations being harmful, causing all kinds of problems in young children. That sent ripples all throughout the scientific community and many people took that as evidence and relied on it in refusing to vaccinate their children. That guy made a huge profit off of those publications. Then it came out (I believe by his own admission) that he manipulated the experiments and research results in order to get that profit, when, in fact, none of it was true to begin with. The fact that something is reported in a scientific journal does not inherently make it true or reliable. We all operate within margins of error, whether that error is active (as in the case of intentional deceit, as above) or passive (an imperfect process). FAITH AND THE JUDICIARY Now, when an atheist says that they believe there is no God, unless he/she is a one-person super-scientist who actually performed or reproduced by themselves, without help, every single experiment they relied on to reach that conclusion ... unless they're that person, somewhere in the mix they're relying on (1) hearsay, (2) circumstantial evidence, or (3) both. To be clear, even if they are that super-scientist, they're still relying on circumstantial evidence alone. Circumstantial Evidence Circumstantial evidence is that which relies on inferences and "connect the dots" logic. The fact that someone's finger prints were found at the scene of the crime does not prove that he is guilty. It only proves that he was there. As an attorney, I can note it's often touted that circumstantial evidence alone is not enough. Our legal system says, "We would rather let a murderer run the streets than say that's enough to make a conclusion." What does that say about the standards used by most professing atheists? Direct evidence, on the other hand, affirmatively proves the truth of a thing. A witness testifying: "I saw him do it" is direct evidence. A video of the suspect shooting the victim is direct evidence. When direct evidence is presented, the only question left is the credibility of the evidence. The witness may be lying, or the video may have been tampered with. The scientific community certainly produces a lot of direct evidence. But many scientific theories that are relied upon by the broader community are the product of circumstantial evidence. There is no definitive proof that a thing is true, but they are confident enough because of all the circumstances surrounding a thing that the error margin (remember that phrase) is so small that we can treat the thing as true. This is how it is with evolution. Direct evidence would be observation of one thing directly evolving into another. We do not have any such evidence. The absence of direct evidence doesn't prove a thing false. It's just enough that our legal system would rather letter a murderer walk the streets than risk convicting a guilty man - because the error margin at that point is high enough if circumstance alone is all there is to rely on. Evolution aside, all evidence that there is no God is inherently circumstantial, which is why most atheists rely on philosophies rather than evidence to support their claim. And yet when the Christian uses philosophical thinking (admittedly, a lesser form than theological reality) to support their conclusion that there is, in fact, a God, the atheist suddenly turns around and requests evidence - and not just circumstantial evidence, but direct evidence that they themselves cannot provide for their view.
CAVEAT: I want to be clear briefly that I'm not talking about the claims of the scientists themselves. I'm talking about the mental framework of the atheist who relies on these scientific claims. I don't want to get into the cross-examination/debate of the validity of the scientific studies themselves - and quite frankly, I can't, because those scientists aren't here to say what they actually observed, how they actually ran the experiment, etc. I'm talking merely of the perspective of the atheist who relies broadly on the word of others (i.e. what he reads in blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc.) to reach his conclusions.
Hearsay Hearsay is when one person testifies about what someone else said in order to prove the truth of what was said, and that other person is not available for cross-examination. I have already described above how there is a large chain of hearsay present in most atheist's views, so I will not re-hash that here. Witness Testimony In contrast to circumstantial evidence, every court will accept first-hand testimony about what people have observed and experienced for themselves. This testimony is allowable and is considered genuine evidence upon which a jury can rely, to the degree they find the person credible. The credibility of the witnesses is almost always enhanced when a number of people testify about the same fact. Now, millions of Christians over the years testify from first-hand knowledge that God is real and Jesus is his name on this earth - and that they know this because they have seen him, heard him, felt him, smelled him, or tasted him (okay, maybe I've never heard of anyone tasting Jesus, unless we count transubstantiation). I am one such person who can, has, and will testify to this. Even so, the atheist somehow concludes that evidence which is permissible for use in our court system (my testimony) is invalid in comparison to the evidence that they rely upon, which our courts would reject (hearsay and circumstantial-only). To be clear, yes, there is a lot of room for cross-examining many Christian claims. It's possible they hallucinated their experience or that they're attributing things to God that were really caused by subconscious factors. But this is true of any fact witness. The court still lets them testify because it is valid evidence, even if there is room to discredit it. Hearsay, on the other hand, isn't even permitted in the first place. I frame all of this in a legal context for two reasons. First, to show the inconsistent standards of one who relies on our legal system and its high burden of proof before locking up murderers, yet lowers that bar significantly in order to justify reaching conclusions over which their eternal fate hangs in the balance. Second, and more importantly, to show you that your testimony matters. It is legitimate and valid evidence of the Gospel at work in the world. As Revelation 12:11 says of the "accuser," God's people will have "conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." The blood of the lamb is done. Jesus doesn't have to die again. So, the only thing left in defeating the enemy is spreading the word of your testimony. Who will you spread it to? UNDERSTANDING FAITH Not too long ago, I wrote up a very in-depth post on what faith actually means. I'm not going to re-hash that here. Suffice it to say, my conclusion is that the concepts of faith and faithfulness are inextricably linked. I'm not arguing that faith is the same as works or that works can save a person - just read the post for more insight there.
To be succinct: Theologically, faith is the gap between what we know and what we do.
I know that I had food in my refrigerator last night. Instead of buying more groceries on the way home, I'm going to go straight home on faith that the food is still there and nobody robbed me or my wife and kids didn't eat it all or throw it away. I have no certainty or knowledge, but I believe this to be the case to such a degree that I orient my actions around that belief. This isn't blind faith because I have reason to believe it. I know that my fridge is full most days that I come home. I know that the food in the fridge was of sufficient quantity that my family could eat it all. I know my family has no history of throwing away perfectly good food. I know what Jesus has done in my life and the lives of many other people who testify about him, including what I have observed of them. On faith I choose to live in the implications of what this evidence means if true, even though I don't have absolute knowledge. I could have hallucinated things I've seen. I could have a mental disorder that causes me to have a misunderstanding of my perception of reality. But on faith I am willing to assume that these unlikely scenarios are not the case. A jury member knows that the forensic analyst testified that the gun had the accused's finger prints on it. He has faith that the analyst is telling the truth and not lying to cover up something. He also has faith that someone didn't plant the accused's finger prints on the gun before the analyst got it in order to frame him. He also has faith that the analyst's tools and fingerprint recognition software are reliable and accurate and that the machines didn't malfunction. He also has faith that the processes and procedures used to ensure the machinery is functioning properly actually do achieve the intended result. While I don't handle criminal defense cases anymore, my dad does - and he has gotten people acquitted because of some of these things and more. A jury can only know what is said and shown in the courtroom. Everything beyond that, they take on the faith of the credibility of the witnesses to bridge the gap between what they can know (ex. the evidence actually in front of them) and the ultimate verdict that they render. That is why it is a proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard, not proof beyond all doubt. The fact that one may act even when there is some room for doubt is an action on faith. With the understanding that faith is this gap between what we know and what we do, we can see why some people can get confused about where in the spectrum salvation actually happens - is it when we accept as fact-knowledge that Jesus died, or when we start living on it? That's not a debate I intend to get into here. But this framework does help us understand why Paul in 1 Cor. 2, for example, seems to down-play knowledge and persuasion in his soteriological efforts. It's not merely about persuading people, but about bridging the truth of what has happened to the life-changing internalization of that truth, which functions in a person's spirit. PROBABILITY AND INFORMED FAITH In a recent conversation, after laying out the above, the other person suggested that I was no longer talking about faith-based decisions, but about probabilistic evaluation where the probability is mitigated by "repeated physical experiment, and replicated results." Perhaps a better way to word it in this context is that faith is the probability gap between what we know and how we orient our actions. Faith doesn't mean acting on the improbable scenario. It is any decision we make based on a probabilistic assessment.
Blind faith would look like going to a casino, assessing the probability that the ball on the roulette table will land on 22 black, realizing that it's equally as probable as any other solution, having no evidence to assume 22 black is more probable than any other route, but putting my money on 22 black anyway with a hope and expectation that I may actually win. (Yes, hope is tied to faith too, per Hebrews 11:1)
Ordinary faith looks like trust in our everyday experiences to continue producing the same results they always do, like the chair.
Informed faith looks like active investigation of a matter, knowing that the investigation doesn't produce 100% absolute proof of the result, but acting on that expected result all the same.
I investigate the roulette table and discover a magnet beneath 22 black and can feel a metal weight inside the edge of the ball. I can't have absolute knowledge that physics of the magnet will actually cause it to land in 22 black, but I have faith in what I've been taught about magnetism and the reliability of the people who taught it to me and in my own experiences on the refrigerator, and I have faith that the person who put that magnet under 22 black knew what he was doing and that his rigging system will work, and because of my investigation and confirmation of these things, I bet on 22 black. That is still faith. It's informed faith.
Before sitting down on my chair, rather than just sitting I decide to investigate. I check to make sure nothing happened to it since I last sat on it. I get a screw-driver to confirm that all the screws are tight and not loose. I look for structural problems. I have faith that my investigation of the structural integrity of the chair is sufficient to conclude that it can hold my weight. Now, it's possible that my investigation missed something - I can't know for sure. Maybe there's a crack in the shaft beneath the metal external ring that causes it to topple when I sit - and who knows how it got there. But I have informed myself first, to the best of my capacity, and am willing to act on the conclusion of my informed opinion. This is faith. It's informed faith.
MARGIN OF ERROR Most of science is informed faith. We cannot know definitively that we have an exact, precise model for discerning truth that will still be used 1,000,000 years in the future because it's so perfect and flawless right now. There are imperfections and holes in every system. I have a degree in statistical methodology. One of the things we were taught is that EVERY system has room for error, and therefore all experimentation is only considered reliable within a certain margin of error. We can get that margin of error extremely small. But that probability gap - the probability that the error has occurred - is still a faith gap. There is faith that this error has not occurred. And therefore ...
We board planes that fly in the sky on the assumption that the manufacturer of the plane maintained a sufficiently small enough probability of error when creating the parts and putting it together that it will stay up and not fall apart and crash.
We send our kids to counselors on the assumption that psychological research has actually found true and accurate things about how the human mind works and that their recommendations are actually healthy for the long-term interests of our children (though I actually refute this claim on a number of occasions).
We let the accounting department at the office manage our paycheck, 401K contributions, tax payments, etc. on faith that they're going to do all of these things wisely and not embezzle from us, even though we know this is a common affair.
Shifting from blind to normal to informed faith is just a matter of reducing the probability gap. But the fact is that there is always a margin of error and room for doubt, and that gap is always faith. Everyone lives on faith, whether we like to admit it or not. The important question is what we're going to place our faith in. QUANTITY OF EVIDENCE Now, despite the terminology, most atheists say they're really agnostic - that atheism doesn't say there is definitive proof that there is no God; rather, it only claims that in the absence of satisfactory evidence they must assume there is not one. But one person's quantification of what constitutes satisfactory evidence is different from another's. A few hundred years ago people were ridiculed for believing things based on sketchy evidence that years later turned out to be true and proven. This happens all the time. One of my favorite stories is about Ignaz Semmelweis, the guy who discovered that washing hands before delivering babies would decrease infant and mother mortality rates. As this article puts it:
Though he didn’t know anything about germs, he assumed it was a lack of cleanliness causing unnecessary deaths ... It seems straightforward enough, but news of washing hands didn’t go over well in the rest of Europe ... the medical world completely rejected him, viewing him as an embarrassment. The rejection drove him to alcoholism, depression, and isolation. He even penned several letters lashing out at his critics, noting that the doctors who rejected his work were “irresponsible murderers” and “ignoramuses.” Toward the end of his life, he was sent to a mental asylum, where he died forgotten by his peers. Decades later, germ theory immerged [sic] with the likes of Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister practicing medicine with hygienic procedures, proving that Semmelweis’ idea indeed saved lives.
Or consider William Harvey, who discovered the way blood circulation worked in the 17th century. Galen was a 2nd century doctor and philosopher whose mistaken beliefs had been relied on for 1,500 year until Harvey entered the scene. The same article as above notes:
Though most of his writings were incorrect, people still held strong to his [Galen's] beliefs, even 1,500 years later. As a result, Harvey’s findings were ridiculed, and many doctors in the 17th century noted that they would “rather err with Galen than proclaim the truth with Harvey.” In his later years, ostracized by the scientific world, Harvey became a recluse, living life in private and peace rather than launching again on what he called “the faithless sea.”
In other words, he believed that faith in the absence of absolute evidence was a necessary part of the scientific process - that this is how we have the balls to develop crazy hypotheses that sometimes actually pay off. But insistence on the null hypothsesis simply because a certain error of margin hasn't been crossed can lead to horrendous results and ridicule of those who actually do find the truth, even if they don't have the means to prove it beyond a socially acceptable error of margin at the time. PERCEPTION OF EVIDENCE Now, a common response to all of this is to say that the error margin in Christianity is extremely high - so high that no rational person would ever bet a dime on it. Someone commented: "Your 'faith' in Jesus is quite worse than the probability of putting your life savings on a single roulette number. But you don't go into the casino and put all your money on 22 black." First, in the post of mine that I referenced above on faith, I reference the viability of Pascal's wager. If I knew that I would not lose money on 22 black, but could potentially profit greatly from it, I absolutely would put my life savings on that. But this is even beside the point. The fact is that even the scientific community, per the examples of Semmelweis and Harvey above, was willing to reject actual truth simply because it had not crossed their error margin threshold yet. As a result, countless people died due to unsanitized hands or poor understanding of the circulatory system. The reason the scientific community didn't see this is because they were not privy to the same evidence and experience that these men had. These men were curious, investigated, saw a pattern, and reached a conclusion and the scientific community was committed to remaining rooted in their prevailing preconceived notions about sanitation and the circulatory system. When atheists lash out about a lack of evidence, it is because we, as believers, have personal knowledge that they lack. We are all privy to the same archaeological records, creationist research, etc. that everyone else is. That's not what's lacking. What's lacking is that I know what God has done in my life and the lives of those around me, and I have personally witnessed not merely physical miracles, but spiritual transformations that have no other explanation. For example, Narcissistic Personality Disorder was considered incurable (along with all PDs) through approximately 2012 when dialectic behavioral therapy began being associated with treatment of personality disorders. I know a man who hit every box for NPD in the early 2000s as an adult - not just the minimum requirements, but every indicia of NPD. Before psychological science thought it curable, I saw his salvation transform him so radically that his NPD was entirely and permanently removed and without the 2 years of intensive DBT with both group and individual sessions weekly that is not considered the only scientific way to cure PDs. Diagnosis gone, and no counselor could take the credit. That type of complete transformation of a person effectuates a spiritual shift that Paul talks about as the foundation of his ministry efforts in 1 Cor. 2 - not persuasive arguments and evidence, but a demonstration of the power of the Spirit through his testimony. And every time Paul shared his testimony as evidence of the Gospel, he spoke of the radical transformation that happened within him that proves the intensity of the Spirit that can be at work in others. But this is internally experiential. Most people simply cannot understand it because they don't live it. They must know and understand you and see the Spirit's work in you in order to accept the change - which is why relationships are so essential in evangelism, because you are working with people who can attest that something has changed, just as the blind person Jesus healed that confounded the Pharisees because they knew the man while he was still blind. They could not deny the change. Atheists do not have a similar frame of reference, and without such proof through spiritual transformation (indeed, because they deny the existence of the spirit itself), they only look at the rote archaeological record and want 100% knowledge proof before they will orient their lives toward acting on the implications of what that knowledge would mean if true (i.e. the faith gap). Just as Semmelweis and Harvey had personal experience and observation that the rest of the scientific community did not see - and were shamed and ridiculed for it - so also do Christians have a different weight of evidence that the atheist community simply does not see. And I'm not sure they can in the absence of being in a loving brotherhood among believers. That fellowship is the context in which the Spirit best works and moves and proves his power - though that's a much larger conversation. SEMANTICS Now, some atheists (as has been said before) may argue: "But what you're describing here is not faith. You're describing scientific reasoning and calling it faith. So this is really all a semantics issue." There are a few issues I have with this reasoning.
First, it's an atheist trying to define what the Bible means without believing in the Bible in the first place or having the Spirit to lead them into truth on the matter.
It goes back to how I started this post: that having poor and uninformed definitions of faith that get utilized by social media "Christians" is causing other people to make false assumptions about what it means to have faith in the first place.
It presents that all religious faith is blind faith, whereas scientific faith is reasonable and informed faith. This is a false distinction and there is no reason to believe Christian faith is in any way blind.
So let's take the cultural connotations out of the world entirely and focus solely on the framework within the definition usage. As long as we're on the same wave-length of definitions, we should be able to reach reasonable conclusions. My definition is consistent with the way the word "faith" is used in the Bible. If someone else believes the Bible is mis-using the word "faith," then let's have the translators use the word "bizelcross" instead. The word means nothing to me. Presumably it means nothing to you either. I just made it up. It's an empty word devoid of cultural perceptions about its meaning, so we can craft a definition of it for ourselves. Most atheists pull their definition of "religious faith" from the way it is used by cultural churchianity, which is not the same thing as biblical Christianity. Culture gets things wrong all the time - and a very brief look at Christianity will show that there is a wide gap between the two. But that is because most of church culture is formed by an uninformed public who gets their understanding of the Bible from the 5 minutes of a weekly sermon that they actually paid attention to and social media memes. In this sense, when you see popularized definitions of faith that make it seem fishy, ask yourself if that's what the Bible means by faith or if that's what cultural churchianity publicizes. In light of this distinction, let's assume that cultural churchianity's definition of faith does not actually save anyone (reference James 2 - "Can such faith save a person?" acknowledging that there are uses of the word that have no soteriological power) and that Ephesians 2:8 is better translated to say that salvation is "by grace through bizelcross alone." Now, with the cultural connotations of the word removed, and only looking at common definitions - and assuming everything from above has been a discussion of bizelcross and not cultural churchianity's use of the word faith - how much more room is there for disagreement on the underlying concept that **everyone, regardless of profession, functions on bizelcross-like probability assessments to bridge the gap between what they can know and what they do? I wish I had time to finish this post, but it's long enough as-is and I have to get back to trial prep. Happy discussions, Reddit! Let my conclusions stand: this post is NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT to be used as a new tool to combat atheism, as if you will ever persuade someone through clever arguments into lasting faith. My goal here is to refine our understanding of faith so that younger believers, social media "Christians," etc., and those who profess the things that atheists misperceive about us can come to an understanding of the true nature of faith, and this post can be a resource to use to provide a philosophical framework for those who are less inclined to read or accept my more theologically grounded and exegetical post on faith (linked above).
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Sorry for the optimistic and happy post but that was a really fun day. Downloaded and installed within half hour of DLC going live. Loved the intro movie Wandered around the Casino floor, marvelled at being in the same proximity and rubbing shoulders with other players who were not in passive! Went outside for some fresh air to look at the exterior of the new building and took some photos. Enjoyed seeing so many player vehicles all parked up and it was nice to be able to check them out in relative calm. Discovered that passive mode has changed in three major ways, 1. Passive mode has five minute cool down 2. Passive mode cannot be used for two minutes after killing a player. 3. All weaponise vehicles are now in permanent non-passive mode Thought about the implications of that a lot, weighed up the pros and cons and decided it was definitely evidence of Rockstar addressing some of the problems with griefing/ cheap kills/ passive popping etc Checked out all the websites to see if anything was new or on offer and scored some really good deals 1. The scramjet reduced by $3.5 million 2. A gorgeous Volatus helicopter (needed for aircraft concierge) reduced by just over $1 million) 3. Beautiful new stunning Enus (Bentley Continental) which I was able to transform into a GT3 car, all for less than $1 million. Discovered that when you phone Pegasus now on your mobile, all of the menus for the different types of vehicles are separate - so no longer do you have to scroll through all of them! Then time at last to actually visit my high roller penthouse..! Absolutely blown away by the level of detail and the sheer size of it. It’s like 4 luxury yachts together with a CEO office on top... The best interiors ever created in GTA. Spa, Hair stylist, private blackjack table, 2 exclusive arcade games, Champagne... all of it free. Used the limousine service from the phone in the penthouse lobby and was openmouthed to realise that I could get from the Casino to Paleto Bay in 7 seconds flat. Along with nine other preset locations around the map. Helicopter concierge requires you to pilot the aircraft yourself (much in the same way as the CEO works) and also landing on the helipad gives you the option to ‘auto land’ which is nice. (love my new Volatus with its sleek profile and retractable wheels) Stunning panoramic sunset view over the city from the south end of the penthouse with its curved windows and a very pleasant rooftop area with nice pool (which I had great fun doing cannonballs into from the helipad) lol Back into the casino and after a few games of roulette and blackjack I was up by about 15,000 chips and then I spun the wheel and won another 25,000... Tried some slot machines and a couple of horseraces, Went shopping, had a chuckle over some of the wall art and other trinkets and avoided the temptation of buying a mask that turned my head into a large Strawberry 🍓 Admired the new Bugatti on show and hoped that I can win it! Checked out the public garage and my own private 10 car penthouse parking. Easy to access and looks really good. And then just a short while ago I realised that I hadn’t even thought about conflict or weapons or the usual BS that goes on on the streets of LS... In conclusion, the Diamond Casino and Resort is a quality update and already it feels like before it - GTA was missing something. With all of the things listed above I spent $13.5 million but I had a great day and I am actually really looking forward to spending some time here again. It is a very long time since I have said this but -thank you Rockstar; you did OK with this one 👏 Things the Penthouse doesn’t have: CEO Office (There is an office but the terminal is just for Internet) Snacks Sprunk/Cola machines. Things the Penthouse does have: Limited decor colour options Included Wall Safe and Weapons locker. I think if I parked my Terrorbyte outside the Casino, I would have everything I need in one place! By the way they also changed the interaction menu so that the Avenger, Terrorbyte, MOC etc are all listed in the same place under Services. Along with the Pegasus menu, those are some pretty good quality of life changes. Yes it’s super easy to be cynical and ungrateful but for a game I bought four years ago for about £30, I’m pretty happy I haven’t been shortchanged 😃 (level 442)
Logan age 26 Struggling musician, lives in Vegas. Takes odd jobs like magician's assistant and Ubering people around. Cooks top ramen with a sprinkle of cheese and an egg because it makes him feel fancy. Owns a YouTube channel although not a successful one. He's talented he just doesn't have the marketing savvy. Into conspiracy theory videos. Stays up late sometimes watching 10-15 videos in a row going from simple UFO / Bob Lazar stuff, to debating whether the earth is flat using 6th grade Trigonometry. He knows it's not flat, but sometimes he looks up and can't help but wonder. He's that shady guy at coffee houses. Wears a scarf to places that you don't expect people to wear scarfs. Always has stubble but never a full beard. Which is odd because you rarely see him shaving, you'd think his stubble was permanently tattooed on his face. Hosts various open mic nights around the city every other week. People mistake him for Russell Brand until they hear him speak. "Russell! Russell!" you'd hear them running up on the strip trying to take a selfie, sometimes he just goes with it. One night our would-be British celebrity picks up a couple in his Uber. They're young in their mid 20s. The woman has wavy brown hair, in a navy blue mini skirt with dark red heels and a white blouse. As soon as they get in the car she starts crying begging the man who appears to be her husband to stay. She appears to be a little tipsy and has a pizza stain on her right shoulder. Logan can see from the mirror, aside from being a messy eater, she's also very worried for her husband's well being. "Honey I can't let you go all that way alone. Don't they have housing for spouses on the base?" She begs. "No.. normally yes but... Baby we can talk about this when we get home. Please.." The man looks as though he fears she might say something that might get them both killed. "How dare you leave me all alone while you go to fucking ANTARCTICA!!!! What the fuck is so great about Antarctica anyway? Do they have hot Antarctican strippers on the base? I bet that's what it is. You're cheating on me with a whale!!!!!" She laughs with tears in her eyes. "Baby I told you..\Looking at Logan glaring at him in the rear-view\** It's.... it's classified". "CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED THAT'S ALL YOU EVER SAY! I'M YOUR WIFE!!!!!!! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME THINGS ANYWAY!!! Like that time you told me about the space craft they found in New Mexico. And the portal in Africa. And the pasta colander Gina found in Switzerland"- hiccuuppp "....Theparticle colliderinGeneva, Switzerland*... Dear you're so drunk... Please.." "YEAH THAT THING!!!! IF YOU TOLD ME ABOUT THAT WHY CAN'T YOU TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON IN ANTARCTICA!?" ".... I'm so sorry sir she had a little too much to drink tonight. You can just let us out over here. Thank you. Here's a tip. For the disturbance." He hands Logan $100 bill. As if to keep quiet about what he had just heard. "Hey" said Logan to the man who had just handed him a crisp hundo. Being a conspiracy nut himself and having done tons of research on Antarctica, Logan needed to know more but he couldn't let on that he wanted to know more. "Are you guys hiring? For... for that trip I mean... Uber... doesn't pay very well at all. And well... I could reaaally get out of this damned heat, a change of pace in Antarctica sounds exciting." Faking desperation, thinking it would help his case. People sometimes take pity on you if you plead nicely, Logan has learned. "I'm not supposed to say... and normally I wouldn't. But.. you've got that same look in your eye that I once had. So... I definitely did not tell you that we're leaving from Los Angeles in 2 days. And if you were somehow to show up at this address with a suitcase and a sad story, you might get hired as a cook on board our ship. The captain has a soft spot for sad stories. But I didn't say that. Have a good night." Logan thought for a minute. "A cook... hmm... I don't know how to cook...But I gotta get on that boat somehow... I don't have a lot of money either.. Ahhhh who am I kidding. Me? Antarctica? Pshhhhhhh" With a swipe of his finger on his smart phone that fit snug into the cup holder of his silver and black SUV, he logged off the UBER app and headed to the Circus Circus with a crisp hundred dollar bill. He hands his keys to the parking attendant who gives him a claim ticket. "You can come to me later for free parking validation sir!!" "Thanks......Hmm.. I like what they did with the remodel" Logan says under his breath as he passes a gaudy slot machine decorated with polar bears, ice bergs and a huge fan set up to blow cold air on your face every time you pull the lever. "Worth it just to get out of the heat, I'd say.." Something pulled him towards that specific slot machine. Maybe it was the remnant of a frantic woman drunkenly babbling on about government conspiracies or maybe it was... fate. With a fold, a tug and a whirling grinding of the tiny conveyor belt, Logan had a feeling he would never see that hundred dollar bill again. Part of a 50s doo-wap song begins to play on the machine before a loud obnoxious voice takes over. "ARE YOU READY TO PLAY BYEEEEEEE POLARRRRRR!!!!!! LETS GET READY TO CRUMBLLLLLLLEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!.... THESE ICE BERGS!!!!!!! Choose your bet and pull the lever! Try max bet for a chance to win 20 free spins and an entry into our million dollar jackpot at the end of the night!!!!!" "Yeah right... I just want the free buffet. It's reasonable? Come on. Give me a buffet" As Logan presses max bet, pulls the lever and the warm musty air blows on his face from the fan that obviously needs a can of freon, Logan can't help but wonder if he should have just got a buffet with the hundred dollar bill. "Well too late now" The machine starts whirling and spinning, a video of a big ice wall pops up as a bunch of birds in military uniforms attempt to jump over it as each number counts down. Sorry you lose. Admiral Bird is sad. Try again? Logan goes to spin again but it won't budge. He glances over at the sign that reads "Max Bet $100" "Wow I spent $100 on one spin???? Are you serious??? What a rip off..." As Logan stands up from the chair that looked more like a throne and had 10 ice swords sticking out of it with a vortex in the middle, he hears another whirling printing noise coming from the machine. "Keep this ticket for the million dollar drawing at the end of the night! Your number is 74819!! If 74819 gets called, show this ticket to the concierge to collect your prize. Not valid if you leave the casino before the drawing. Not valid if you go to the bathroom before the drawing. Not valid if folded. Not valid if you validate your parking. Void where prohibited" "Geeez what a load of crap.. Not valid not valid, you'd think they would just print "GFYS" and be done with it". $100 was all Logan was willing to spend at the casino. He knows the slots are rigged, but he also knows they're on a certain percentage payout, meaning if enough money goes in, some money has to come out. $100 is his limit. It's a rule. With a rule like that you'd think he knows what he's doing, except the most he's ever won was $900 on a malfunctioning roulette machine in Atlantic City. Logan heads for the door to go validate his parking when he hears on the loud speaker: "Greeeeetings Circus Circus fam!!! We're about to announce the winner of our million dollar jackpot drawing. BEtter not VaLidAte your parking just yet!! We'll be calling out one number every 5 minutes until the final number is drawn!!!!" Logan looks at the parking attendant and snatches his ticket back before he had a chance to stamp it. "Awe mannnnn they pay me for every stamp" The attendant with red hair and braces cried. "Shut up kid, I'm trying to hear this" "ANd nOw the MOMENT YOU'VE ALL been waiting for.... the million dollar drawing!! FIRST NUMBER IN 30 SECONDS!!!!!" The parking attendant tries to stamp Logan's ticket without him noticing. Logan stares at him with a Bruce Lee stare that said "I'll kill you with subtitles". "If your number has a 3 in itttttttttt!!!!!!!!" - Logan exhales and reaches to give the parking attendant the ticket he's been drooling over like Gollum at a wedding rehearsal. "Then you're out of luck because the first number is 7!!!!!!!!" "NOT TODAY GOLLUM!!!!!!!" - Logan snatches the ticket back and starts to run as the attendant hisses. The attendant chases Logan around the casino with his freshly inked stamp while each number brings him closer to the prize. Logan careful not to fold it or enter any bathrooms before the final number gets called. Finally Logan seemed to lose the red haired parking attendant and found refuge sitting near an old lady in fishnet stockings playing a fortune teller slot. Trying to keep his cool knowing he's only 1 number away from a million dollar jackpot (minus taxes of course), he tries to make small talk with the aunt-like fishnet wearer. "So.. do you have one of those tickets too?" A little giggle comes out as the woman pulls the lever to the slot in front of her. "No..... I don't. But I do have.... a PARKING VALIDATION STAMP!!!!!!!" What Logan thought to be a nice old woman woman turns her head to reveal a toothy grin from the red haired parking attendant. "Holy shit what are they paying you guys???? I'm not even mad.. That's impressive.. No really, like how you did your eye shadow? It's a lovely color on you. It looks like Egyptian markings!" The parking attendant blushes. "Oh you really think -" *AND NOW THE FINAL NUMBER!!!! 9!!!!!! If your ticket says 74819 then head to the cashier right away to collect your prize!!!!!" Logan takes off running towards the cashier. The attendant doesn't chase after him, instead just sits there feeling sad because he actually thought Logan was complimenting his eye shadow. "I would have let him off the hook ya know. I've validated parking for so long, no one ever... validated my markings....." Some time later, Logan sitting in the back room of the Circus Circus cashier cage with a team of people making sure that he didn't get his parking validated or took a bathroom break, trying to find any loop hole to deny him a payout. A short chubby bald man holding a cigar, dressed in a short black suit snarled at Logan while a team of data scientists prepare Matplotlib graphs from camera footage in Jupyter Notebooks on a server a few feet away. The short man looked like Dr Eggman played by Danny Devito joining the Men in Black. "Okay Fine you got us, kid. Here take your damned cash. You earned it fair and square." Leading Logan into the "back-back" room filled with the sound of cash rolling through the electrical money counters and yellow paper bands with a tiny bit of glue being wrapped around and tightened against stacks of green currency with old men's pictures printed in the center to denote dollar amount. "1 million dollars. Minus taxes and parking attendant therapy fee that's 6 hundred thousand, 3 hundred and 68 dollars annnnd 46 cents." The short balding Eggman said. "Parking attendant therapy fee? Seriously?" "Look kid, we can give you 6 hundred grand and change or free parking validation. Which will it be???" Sensing that this isn't your average casino, and that this isn't an average situation, realizing the reality that he was just hours ago driving for $10 dollars a ride, now having over half a million after tax dollars in his face, he said what any human in his position would say. "I'll take the cash...." 2 days, 40 grand and 5 high class call girls later.. Logan arrives to the address scribbled on the back of an Ale house business card. Turns out it was an abandoned building. The guy was just messing with him. "I drove 4 hours for nothing.. Maybe she was just wasted. Antarctica sounded so cool though. The mystery. I need to know what they're hiding... Man how am I gonna get to Antarctica?" Driving down the industrial complex, Logan spots a travel agency. "Maybe they have a cruise?" The door opens with a BEEEEEEP and a jingle of door chimes with the atmosphere of a knock off 7/11 on a back alley road. It even had those little red and green door beads that lead to the back room where you just know there's a round table and an elderly group of ethnic gentlemen in tank tops smoking cigarettes and complaining about the "races". "Can I help you?" A tall dark gentleman in a red and yellow Hawaiian shirt with curly black hair said in a rough southern British accent. Which was weird because he seemed.. not British. "Uh...... yes do you guys have anything for Antarctica?" "Ohhh quite booked up eeem'afraid. Yup till September." "Well that's only next week..." "Of 2022 eem'afrraiid, yup it's quite a while yup." "Why... are you talking like that?" "Look we're booked up bruv. If you wanna have a go at one of our Hawaiian cruises I can put you on the next boat to Waikiki which leaves in an hour." "Dude come on, how can I get to Antarctica? I got money..." "How much money?" "I'll spend 100k on it if I have to. I want to go to Antarctica." "Hmmmmmmmmm wellll woi didn'tcha say so govna, come on back let's have a look at our private charters why don't we". The clearly not British man in the tacky Hawaiian shirt led Logan down past the rasta beads to the back room which.. looked exactly as Logan presumed "Ayeeeeeee Earl man wants to go to Antarctica. Got 100k" "100k? To go to Antarctica? Why? Can't he wait til 2022 it's only 4k. What's the rush?" Both the tall dark gentleman stare confused at Logan. Logan himself looks a bit bewildered. When he really thought about it, he hadn't even made a plan. "Just get to Antarctica" was the plan. But as to what was next once he got there he hadn't given really much thought. "To be honest I have no clue myself, I just... wanna go. See the sights.." Logan said not wanting to raise any red flags. "THATS E SPEEEREEEET" the clearly not British man shouted, as both Logan and his counter-part looked frightened. "Sorry... I mean... yeah man that's the spirit!" Earl peered down at Logan through his black rimmed prescription glasses in confusion and doubt, wondering if he's actually got the 100k to spend. "For 100k I'll take ye there and back. But how'loi know you got the monay" said Earl who didn't before but now has a very thick Scottish accent. "Well I just won a jackpot from the Circus Circus in Vegas. See here's a bag full of money. They even zip locked stacks for me at a nominal fee." "Circus Circus eh? A wise guy eh? Oi want payment up front and en cash. And ye gotta sign a waver, if'n ye die in and or around the boat during any time from here to Antarctica and back, you hold SaberTooth Charter LLC indemifiable for all liability and such." The other clearly not British man chimed in "Yeah indemnifiable!" ".......I'm gonna have to think about it...." Logan said, backing away slowly, clearly uncomfortable, trying to peacefully exit the building. "Okay fine fine... I'll drop the accent and you can pay half now, half when we get there. 3 meals a day, whole crew ready to do your bidding. It'll take 4 weeks. We'll stop in Guadalajara, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru, Chile straight to Antarctica. If you've got any specific spots you'd like to check out along the way, we'll try to accommodate you. Fair enough?" "Deal." said Logan. (Chapter Two)
(First) (Previous) (Next) (Patreon) (This is a double-release, sort of - it's the previous chapter from Janaxia's, then Semari's PoVs. It was a bit of a writing exercise, but let me know what you think!) Janaxia took a slow, steady breath, focusing her magical powers to pull her outfit into position, making sure everything was in order. Would it really be so hard for Stathis to pay her attention (and compliments) for once? It had been quite some effort to acquire, to say nothing of ensuring it fit correctly, requiring either magical powers or several servants to properly don. Instead, Stathis was nothing but critical, saying that she looked like a cult leader! As if any cult leader would dress with such style and verve – most were grubby little degenerates, grubbing around for anyone desperate enough to believe their lies, without any interest in the finer things in life beyond a petty, vulgar venality. And their ‘style’ rarely extended further than drab robes. Even the guide here would stand out amongst such a rabble, her robe of fine cotton, belted with an elegantly chic sash of green and silver (that also served to highlight an attractively trim waist), far beyond the reach of any petty cult! Although at least Stathis had put some effort in, managing some amount of dash and swagger in a well-cut suit, not entirely unsuitable for the occasion, her blonde hair tied up into a crown braid. The trousers could stand to be a touch tighter around her posterior and thighs though, maybe some golden piping down the side. Semari was as scruffy as ever though, hair looking as though she had hacked it short with a knife, her clothing, well, sturdy was the most polite term that could be applied, an utterly disappointing lack of style. A shame really – there was decided potential there, but all gone to waste. From the look on Stathis’ face, she hadn’t been expecting to see such finely-rendered carvings, imitation of course, but depicting a number of famous romantic scenes from history and legend, gods and heroes enjoying their revels. Even Semari showed some interest, looking at them intently as they passed. Likely more interested in their prurient appeal than the true history, but it was a start. The place had been refurbished somewhat since she had last visited, the grand doors (previously plain, banded wood, more reminiscent of a fortress than a place of pleasure) having been replaced. The detail was exquisite, a copy of the Rapture of the Golden Band rendered in full detail, even including the officially banned 8th panel. Then some mechanism pulled the doors open, a scent of agarwood drifting past, a flamboyant display of wealth. The décor inside was certainly gaudier than Janaxia could truly consider tasteful, but the Khem’s business must be thriving, to support such a place. And Lady Kamarni was present, showing the breadth of their appeal. Although quite why she seemed to want to associate with Semari was a baffling mystery – it was entirely possible to have someone save one’s life and not fawn over them! Thoughts of the mysterious angel from that tiresome affair with Karilimanath’s hoard flashed through her mind, before she dismissed them – the being hadn’t been seen since, and her companions refused to talk about it. In other times, it might have been worthwhile greeting the woman, but there were other affairs to deal with, she her face seemed drawn and taut, likely a sign of poor luck at the tables. Anef and Asai were both as well-dressed as ever, even managing to make their altered arms appear stylish, having the confidence to show them off rather than try and hide them. She introduced herself, mercifully managing to find the words without having to reveal her own ailment. She sat down, weaving a swift use of her magical power to tug her outfit into a position flattering when reclining, making sure she was presented to her best advantage. And of course, Stathis, with all the grace one would expect of the nouveau riche, almost ruined the moment entirely, asking if they were running a murder cult. Did she have to be so crass? She was talented with a blade, to be sure, and her mother and sister were both impressive figures themselves, but Stathis did seem a touch lacking compared to such luminaries. And of course, there was the mystery of who her father was – Carissia was the product of an ancient and noble bloodline from her patriarch, but rumour had dogged the youngest Iristari for years. Not that Janaxia held truck with such gossip, of course, but it was decidedly mysterious, even if likely banal. And now Stathis was threatening to sic Carissia on the place, as Janaxia accepted the drink she was offered. Aged Gauthaut, brewed from rare slimes, themselves fed only the finest grapes, refined and processed over decades, the drink smooth on her palette. She smiled at Anef, as Asai and Stathis came to an agreement, wondering if they would stay long enough to renew their acquaintanceship. Considering the events of the last time they had seen each other, where the pair had gained their unusual markings, they seemed remarkably affable; she had done what she could at the time to explain what she could the events of that night (which had, as far as she could tell, been entirely out of her control), but had feared they might be less accepting. As long as none of the rest of her family wished to use the house, then it should be acceptable to stay. Violence and action suddenly erupted, as everyone drew weapons and starting swinging for each other. Janaxia tried to look appropriately shocked and distraught, portraying what she imagined an innocent young woman caught up in such machinations would look like. And then Stathis quite ruined the effect, hauling her off the couch, quite undoing elements of couture. Could the woman never deal with a situation without resorting to violence? A guard charged at her, club held high, escalating matters rapidly. Janaxia gestured, hitting him square on, and sending him flying downwards, out of sight. He really should learn to read the atmosphere – this was simply theatrics, rather than anything to get excited about! Although the sounds coming from downstairs, where Semari had leapt to, indicated things were rather more serious, with likely some property damage. ‘Stop! She has a hostage!’ Asai shouted. Janaxia found herself yanked backwards, a sword suddenly against her throat, even as she managed to activate her magical powers, an invisible aura of protection snapping into existence around her. ‘Stand your men down, or I’ll cut her throat!’ That Anef was just barely holding back laughter cut almost as deeply as the potential danger to her ensemble, as Stathis’ fumbled around, hand running over her body, overly reminiscent of a drunken noble whose ardour had outpaced their tolerance for alcohol. Although the forcefulness did have a certain appeal, if perhaps better suited for a more private setting. Do please fumble less!Try and show some class, if it isn’t too much trouble? Stathis grumbled something back, lost in the general sounds of chaos. Backing down the stairs was complicated, much like dancing with a far less skilled partner, who didn’t particularly want to cooperate, and could cause considerable harm if things went awry. The sharp edge of the blade was a decided nuisance, as she pressed herself tightly against her erstwhile “captor”. Still, they somehow made it down without Janaxia getting her throat slit, as Stathis tried to solidify her grip, wrapping an arm around Janaxia’s chest, comfortably restraining her. Janaxia focused her magical powers, making sure nothing inappropriate was displayed, as a bronze disc shot past them, clanging on the far wall. While there was a certain frisson in having her vision forcibly restricted and being forcibly unaware of quite what destruction was being wrecked out of sight, it was also decidedly inconvenient, especially if she happened to be struck herself! , Asai slowly advanced, blade at the ready, face serious. ‘You will regret the day you crossed us. There will be a reckoning, and it won’t be to your favour!’ Abandoning herself to Stathis’ power, it was a simple thing to slide her hair loose and make it flick and toss around, hopefully the very image of a young ingenue, being troubled by some rapscallion rogue, forcibly pressing their suit above their station. ‘Oh, please help me, I have been captured by this rough brute of a knight!’ ‘Stay back, or I slit her throat!’ At least try and make an effort, Stathis. The woman sounded as though she were bored! A little emoting wasn’t that hard, especially in these circumstances, and would make the thing much more entertaining. Even if the proclamation did send warm breath tickling Janaxia’s ears, fluttering her hair, and quite distracting her. Stathis continued to move backwards, Janaxia now having a better sense of her movement and steps, feeling her strong musculature and allowing herself to be guided, as they moved back past Semari, surrounded by a circle of downed guards and wrecked furniture. Semari, even worse at dramatics than Stathis, just shrugged and slowly sauntered towards the exit with them, even giving a cheeky wave to Lady Kamarni as they passed. Janaxia tried to catch her eye, but she only seemed to notice Semari. Some people, despite their nobility, really had no taste. Eventually, they were outside the casino chamber, doors clanging shut. As the blade moved away from her throat, she turned to give Stathis a piece of her mind, before strong hands encircled her waist, Stathis simply hoisting her up and throwing Janaxia over her shoulder, as if she were just a sack of food, then running for the exit. It took all Janaxia’s efforts on keeping her outfit from attaining a level of dishabille entirely beyond what was appropriate for such a place, meaning she couldn’t make her opinions on the matter heard, even with her telepathy. While some rough treatment could, on occasion, be entertaining, this was quite beyond the pale! She bounced on Stathis’ shoulder, air getting pushed from her lungs with every stride, an overly firm hand on her derriere keeping her firmly in place, and threatening to tug her clothing into quite indelicate positions. When she was deposited back on the ground, it took her several long moments to collect herself, her thoughts hazy and her backside slightly sore from the tight grip. She settled for simply glaring at Stathis, trying to put the full force of her disapproval into a look. From the lack of response, the woman was entirely insensate to the insult she was responsible for, as she led them away, through a thoroughly disgusting network of alleys and backstreets, until they were safely away.
Redcastle 11.2 (Semari)
The wall was warm underfoot, Semari’s shoes thin enough for her to feel the heat the stone was releasing. Beneath her, Stathis and Janaxia were bickering, Stathis gesturing at Janaxia’s latest clothing. It looked spooky, uncomfortable and a bit evil around the edges, but that was pretty much Janaxia all over, and it wasn’t as though Stathis had to wear it. The door was far too obvious for a real thief’s hideout, the snake’s head knocker a loud sign that something shady, but not too shady, was going on. The door was opened by a robed figure, looking fake-eldritch with a plain robe and a flashy belt led them down a long hallway, full of dramatic lights, and lined with creepy-sexy statues. Semari paused, trying to work out how practical they were, bodies shaped and contorted around and into each other in all sorts of interesting ways. Small slots revealed side chambers, for those that liked an audience, or to make a show. Giant metal doors, showing more people fucking, blocked their way, some magic sliding them open as they approached. Semari nodded to herself in satisfaction. This was what a shady casino operated by dodgy folk should look like – cheap gold paint on the walls, massive chandeliers (that looked sturdy enough to bear her weight) hung from the high ceiling, shallow pits filled with cushions and cavorting entertainers dotting the floor, shady looking guards glaring at them from the walls. The floor was sticky underfoot, cloyingly thick incense not enough to cover the scent of spilt booze, sweat and other fluids. She eyed up the guards, all mean-looking, but a bit too comfortable, more used to poking fat merchants and nobles rather than proper violence. This place looked like it could be fun – no fighting pits, at least not yet, but lots of things to break if she needed a weapon. She waved at Kamarni, enjoying a game of dice. For a noble, she seemed OK, although a bit fluttery. But she knew nice places to eat, and was friendly without being too weird about it. Although she’d been odd recently, suddenly really boring and stiff and cold, like Misutira. The bosses were up above, the usual set-up, somewhere they could see and be seen. Two, twins, both with creepy demon arms, pointy teeth, probably not entirely human. The only surprise was that none of their boys had mirrored the red arms – if you get a thing like that, work it, make it the gang marker or whatever. Seemed a waste, really. But they had their boys well-trained, letting them through without even some token barking or staredown, up into their private bar. Janaxia hugged them both, apparently trusting them enough to get close. Although they didn’t have any obvious weapons (other than claws on those creepy demon arms), both had a few scars, their clothing smart, but practical to move on. The guy was definitely a brawler and a looker, tight trousers and open shirt, easy on the eyes. Might be worth fighting, see if he could move, or if the muscles were just for show. He sat down, showing himself at ease, typical gang boss chilling in his domain. She grinned at him, getting a tight smile in return, as a lackey handed her a shot. She knocked it back – sweet and thick, slightly bitter, probably some fancy noble thing. Tasted good, although she’d rather have a beer. Stathis spoke, sounding irritated and tired. ‘Look, I don’t really care about the gambling. But, Demons. They will destroy everything, destroy the world, all that stuff. So, unless you want to be devoured by howling monsters from the endless chaos outside of existence, it would be helpful if you were to tell me anything murder-cult related that you might have seen. Ritual circles, creepy murders, that sort of thing.’ ‘And what may we expect in return from you, Stathis of the House of Iristari?’ The woman approached Stathis, squaring up against her in an open challenge to see if Stathis would back down. ‘OK, I’ll make you a deal. You tell me what I need to know, and I don’t tell Carissia about this place.’ Semari made a face. Carissia just showed up, stuff happened, and she’d bought that magical demon-goat. Goats! Weird furry horned bastards, always plotting something. As they bickered, Semari took another shot, the taste seeming better this time, looking out over the casino and brothel. Looked pretty classy, in a fun, trashy way – must be fairly well run as quite a lot of the staff weren’t just thugs in suits, the cauliflower ears and broken noses being reserved for the guards. There were some side-rooms equipped for some of the weird stuff nobles got up to, but still no fighting pits, which was a shame. Stathis and Asai were staring each other down, at the point they were either about to fight or fuck. ‘There are certain… considerations we must take into account. I’m sure certain associates of ours will have taken note that a Knight of the Sun paid us a visit, for example.’ ‘OK, so we have a big dramatic fight, you make like you threw us out, then you tell us? I’m sure you know we’re at Janaxia’s place, send a letter or something.’ The man reached behind his chair, pulling out some knives, balanced for quick, nasty cuts, the sort of thing people would survive, but have big, nasty scars. His sister pulled out a sword, clumsily swinging at Stathis, who blocked the attack. ‘Get out!’ The guards below reacted impressively fast, gathering together and making a beeline for the stairs. Semari leapt from the balcony, grabbing hold onto the chandelier, swinging it once to gain momentum before letting go to let herself sail through the air, slamming into the ground in front of a group of guards. Her guess was right, they weren’t used to fighting, as she spun and ducked through them, punching out, knocking them to the ground, stopping them getting past. She broke a chair, using the legs as paired clubs, flicking out and striking vulnerable points, trying not to do anything too permanent. More of them kept coming, goons and thugs spilling out of side rooms, so many they got in each other’s way. Well, that just made her life easier! The brawl continued, as Stathis slowly shuffled past her, sword against Janaxia’s throat, a rather sloppily-caught hostage. Knives were better for that! And most hostages didn’t look like they were enjoying quite so much, but, then again, nobles were weird. Stathis was mostly normal, except for the occasional wings and stuff, and getting all weird when asked about it. It was so unfair that she couldn’t give her wings away, when she clearly didn’t want them! And she still hadn’t taken Semari flying! Semari struck her bracer, lightning streaking through her, vision flicking white for a second. With the burst of strength she jumped forward, landing on the roulette table and hooking the spinning disc with a foot, kicking it up into the air and catching it. The ‘clong!’ it made when she clocked a guard across the face was deeply satisfying, before she spun around and then released it, sending it hurtling just above another cluster of guards, smacking into the wall and distracting them enough for her to charge in. She’d always wanted to try that, but Kethys had always told her “no” before. Stathis at least was less controlling, although worse at hugging. Get a move on! Janaxia’s head-talk thing was weird, but kinda cool. Why couldn’t she learn that? Everyone else could do cool stuff. Still, the amount of damage she’d done was fun to see, loads of guards groaning on the floor, several tables reduced to kindling, the staff picking up stray chips and coins when they thought no-one was looking. She grinned at Lady Kamarni, a stray snatch of music coming to mind, “There was an old wizard of menace, who had quite the extraordinary…” As soon as they were outside, she started running, having experienced this part of a heist before, when they most important thing was to get away, as fast as possible. Even Stathis knew this bit, although the closest thing she had to a treasure was Janaxia, slung over her shoulder and bouncing up and down with every step, costume flapping, magical shimmering the only thing keeping it in place. The expression on her face was curious, the crimson tinge to her cheeks seeming more than entirely justified by being bounced up and down on Stathis’ shoulder.
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