Thursday, October 20, 2011

The 10 Sexiest Halloween Costumes

Are you in the Halloween spirit yet?

10. Pink Ranger

-my other car is a pterodactyl

The power rangers was a hit TV show for kids based on universal values like teamwork, and marketing Japanese toys to American kids. Unfortunately, while we all have fond memories of Japan’s greatest cash cow, the power rangers themselves don’t really lend themselves to good Halloween costumes.

-the lack of visibility means it’s only a matter of time before your “friends” start throwing stuff at your head

That’s why this sexy pink ranger costume looks just enough like power rangers to remind you of the show while actually just being a dress with sunglasses.

9. Green Witch

-the broom is iconic symbol of witchcraft because witches are girls, and boys don’t like cleaning

At first glance, this outfit doesn’t look that sexy. On second glance, you realise this “outfit” is about 90% socks and cape. A good look for someone who wants to be sexy, but not overtly skanky.

8. Boxing Girl

- She’s been punching perverts in the face since she was 16

Well, it’s a lot of legs, abs, and product placement. This outfit works partly because the UFC is so popular right now. Unfortunately, the shoes are sold separately, cost as much as the costume and I’m not sure the outfit really works without them. The biggest problem with this outfit is that it’s only a matter of time before someone gets drunks and wants to fight you.

7. Gangsta

-she lives a lavish lifestyle by providing the means to life destroying addictions

This outfit took the classic look of a 1930’s gangster, and
added stockings. If you want to be a confident businesswoman, this outfits for
you. If you want to be a naughty bad girl, this outfit’s for you. If you like
holding toy guns and shouting “pew pew pew!” this outfit’s for you.

6. Zombie School Girl

- she fools around because she hates her parents, she eats brains because they’re delicious

Lets be honest, the sexy school girl thing has really run its course. It’s old, unoriginal, and seems vaguely permissive of statutory rape. The zombie school girl however feels like a funny twist on a sexy classic. This won’t be sexy to everyone because blood and gore kinda kills the mood, but that’s the beauty of the costume. Its takes one of our oldest sex fantasies and adds a certain wrongness to it (well, more so than usual anyway). Nothing lets a man know you’re more than just a pretty face than eating his.

5. Anime Wonder Woman

- did she always wear that much metal?

This is not the wonder woman you know and love. No one knows why, but some reason DC comics thought it would be fun to sell a line of action figures that were nothing more than anime versions of their classic characters with no real story or explanation as to why.

-oh yeah right

The animefication of wonder woman resulted in her revealing spandex costume getting changed into an even more revealing plate armour costume. Also, instead of tying up bad guys with a rope for arrest and trial, she just straight up cuts them with a sword. Anime wonder woman makes a great Halloween costume for the strange mixture of familiar and novel it has. Too bad the costume doesn’t include the sword, but I’m not sure you’re Halloween party could handle that much badassery.

- sometimes, just sometimes, shameless money grabs create something AWESOME

4. Sexy Vampire Costume #105603

- the only thing stopping vampires from world domination is their “I’m obviously a vampire” outfits

Vampire costumes make up about 50% of all Halloween costumes, and this outfit is getting my vote for best in class this year. A mostly black miniskirt with just enough red to draw attention to your boobs, this costume has all the elements of sexy darkness. Stockings? Check. Collar? Check. Cape? Check. Cute little hat? Check. This is a strong showing in the very competitive vampire market.

3. Red Riding Hood

-wolf sold separately

It’s a well known fact that red is the colour of sex. Both men and woman are drawn to it. It’s hard wired into the brain. This outfit brings a whole lot of red to the table. The story is a classic tale of good and evil where good is really stupid and will believe anything evil tells her.

- “a short cut? thanks flesh eating monster!”

It probably says all sorts of terrible things that guys find this sexy. Unfortunately, this costume in particular runs at about $220.

2. Army Girl

-the army still uses the don’t ask don’t tell policy where skanks are concerned

This is a strong combination of adorable and hotness. Little hats, and little ties that project innocence to the mind with just enough red trim to draw the eyes to places that make you feel guilty. Not to mention that there are little patriotic star near anything that can be unzipped, untied, or unclasped. It’s like the outfit is purposefully sending you mixed messages.

1. Kitana

- she’s a ninja princess! Look, it made sense when I was 12, ok?

Oh what? Kitana? They make Mortal Kombat Halloween costumes now? Excuse me:

-and click to order, that’s better

Where was I? Oh right, Kitana. She wears a tiara because she’s a princess, a mask because she’s a ninja, and skimpy outfits because she’s a video game character. What else do you need to know? Innocence is sexy. Mystery is sexy. Ergo, ninja princess. It’s not hard to see why this hot. Every
great costume has a certain amount of cultural relevance to make it more than just another skimpy outfit. Mortal Kombat has been around since 1992, and even people who’ve never played it have seen it somewhere

-violence? Why whatever do you mean...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Playing Blood Bowl on an Empty Stomach

Everyone who’s ever coached a Vampire team can tell you that no other team will force you to think outside the Box in the same way. Even the Halflings for all the suckiness at least have a straightforward strategy of running the ball without getting clobbered. I’m writing this to lend a little help to fellow creatures of the night, and mainly because I don’t see anyone else giving any advice for Vampires. What the Hell, better me than no one, right?

I’ve played Vampires and Lizardmen, so I guess you could say I’m a little unconventional. I’ve had one successful vampire team, and one team that were all but forced into retirement. What happened was a matter of poor choice on the starting lineup. See if you can figure out which team succeeded and which one failed:

Lineup A:
3 Vampires $330,000
9 Thralls 360,000
4 Re-rolls 280,000
3 Fan-Factor 30,000

Lineup B:
3 Vampires $330,000
10 Thralls 400,000
3 Re-Rolls 210,000
6 Fan-Factor 60,000

Even Non-vampire coaches know that Vampires need re-rolls just to be functional before they even consider trying to win. The key to making a successful vampire team is to maximize your re-rolls early, and then treat them like the precious commodities they are. Don’t go for it unless you have to. Just imaging how you would think if you were immortal; put most of your focus on the long term growth of your team. Use thralls whenever possible to pick up the ball. If a vampire is well positioned, leave him where he is!

I play in a small league with 4 friends, and while lineup A led the league in scoring, lineup B was traded in for Lizardmen after half the team acquired niggling injuries, with at least one thrall being maimed a game. Alas, on the final game with lineup B while I waited for Lizardmen to arrive in the mail, a vampire rolled the mighty 12 on his advancement to get Strength 5. Murphey’s Law is a bitch! In the near future I plan to use yet another lineup:

2 Vampires $220,000
9 Thralls 360,000
5 Re-rolls 350,000
7 Fan-Factor 70,000

Remember, the more re-rolls you can get while they’re cheap, they better your team will be in the long run.

These guys truly are players to fear because they are the only player that can hit hard, and carry the ball with ease. They’re like elven Linemen on steroids. That said, while they’re very good of giving hits, they’re not very good at taking hits. AV 8 isn’t bad, but with only a handful on the field in the early stages, you can count on your vampires being hit over and over again. These guys have one major job in my opinion: GET TOUCHDOWNS! If you’re serious about winning games, don’t let your vampires get into a fist fight with Black Orcs and Chaos Warriors. Yes, you got equal strength, but worse AV. You would be much better off dodging away on a 2+. Vampires don’t belong on the LOS, they should be on the wings, weaving through with Agility 4, and smacking the thrower with Strength 4 to show why the Vampires are worth their high price. The vampire team has the unique ability to send powerful hitters deep into enemy territory, and that’s where they do the most damage. Trust me; played correctly, the vampires have a very strong defense. Your opponent will realize that it’s almost impossible to stop a vampire from reaching the ball carrier.

Thralls are fragile. Even against goblins, they tend to take a pretty hard pounding. Try to protect your thralls as much as possible because smart coaches will K’O as many thralls as possible because they know the vampires will fall that much quicker without a nearby food supply. Remember most castle sieges were one by starving out the defenders. Overall, you would probably be ill-advised to get too attached to these walking hospital bills.

On the other hand, these guys are the unsung heroes of your team. They do all the work while the vampires get all the attention! The main incentive for protecting these guys is money. You need to save up for the 6 vampires you one day hope to have, and you’ll never get there if you’re always replacing the thrall that died last week. Any game that your thralls can walk away from should be considered a win. Your opponent will also consider that a loss because they didn’t get as many SPP as they assumed they would.

Skill Development

Choosing skills for your team is all about minimizing the re-rolls you use, so you can save them for Bloodlust rolls. This goal will inform the choices you make for Thralls, but especially for vampires.

Thralls are fairly straightforward. They won’t live long enough to gain more than a few skills. They are the work horse of the team, and should take skills that suit that roll. The first couple should take block, so you don’t have to rely on vampires for hitting. Next you need Sure Hands because the last thing you want to do is burn a re-roll early in the first half. Kick, Dirty Player, Dauntless, and Pass Block are all skills fit for a cheap thrall. Any doubles should always be spent on dodge. A thrall with dodge has a very good chance of making it to old age, and anything you can do to drop re-rolls will help your team immensely. Taking Leadership is one option, but you’re really just giving that thrall a death sentence. Your opponents know all too well how much you need your re-rolls. Taking dodge will cost less money in the long run.

Likewise, if you get a stat increase and need to choose between more movement and more armor. Take the armor. It will cost less money in the long run. Do you see the pattern? You main priority with thralls is keeping them alive, and this task will require ALL of your cunning.

Vampires are an entirely different matter. Between your apothecary and your regeneration, you can expect your vamps to be around for a long time, and they acquire SPP very quickly. You critical issue is cutting back on the number of re-rolls your vampires suck up. The first strategy is to take the pro skill for all your vampires so they cut down the number of times they waste re-rolls on Bloodlust. I prefer a different tactic however. The dodge skill will ultimately be far more useful for cutting down on re-rolls used. Not to mention your vampire will spend less time on the ground thanks to dodge because he take hits better, and avoid them all together. Dodge will also be much better for getting TD’s and subsequently SPP than Block. Dodge will help you win games, keep your vampires alive, and most importantly save re-rolls. Also, when a vampire is hungry he’ll need to be able to get to a thrall to avoid being sent off. Dodge will allow you to make a quick risk free detour towards your human slaves. All too often, my vampires get hurt failing a dodge roll immediately after failing a Bloodlust roll. Call it the “1 and then 1 again curse.”

Vampires have so many skills to choose from, you’re going to need to specialize your vampires to be able to fully cover them all. You should not try to develop one into your thrower however. A thrall would be far better suited to that safe position. Here are a couple of suggested builds.

Standard Vamp: Dodge, Block, Sure Feet, Sure Hands
This vampire contributes to the team by conserving as many re-rolls as possible. Bloodlust should be the only time he uses a re-roll, and should be the most numerous build on your team.

Blocker Vamp: Guard, Block, Pro, Mighty Blow
This vampire sits on the line of scrimmage and takes on tough guys in the opposing lineup. Someone has to do it, and you should always have a thrall adjacent to this guy so he doesn’t have to run for a meal. I have a very important reason for taking Guard before block. Remember to build up thralls with the Block, and partner them up with the Blocker Vamp. Thralls don’t need to make a bloodlust roll in order to hit the bad guys, so it makes good sense to hit with your thralls first, letting the Blocker Vamp handle whoever’s still standing. Taking Guard on all your vampires is the third and most theoretical plan for cutting down on re-rolls. Aim to have a third of your Vamps on the front line. Even though he’s built for standing still, don’t forget that you can dodge on a 2+ if you need to.

Runner Vamp: Dodge, Sure Feet, Side Step, Sprint
This will be the last build you start working on. This vampire’s sole existence is to lend some fast scoring touchdowns to your team. It’s up to you whether or not to use this build. The biggest road block is that your thralls can’t keep up with a speed demon, and the runner may get sent off if there are no thralls nearby.

In Play

The Line of Scrimmage
As you start to build blocker Vamps, you’ll be able to slow the advance of hard hitting teams. Your vampires should collect skills twice as fast as Chaos warriors and other behemoths. Until then however you should put all your vampires on the LOS, and then dodge away on a 2+ leaving the blockers in the dust. Always avoid a head to head against better armored opponents when you can just sneak away.

Using the Carrot
To advance the ball, have a thrall pick it up, and then hand it off to a vampire. You now have a strength 4 player carrying the ball, and you did it without rolling for bloodlust. Next send a thrall where you want the vampire to move to, and then move the vampire. Even if you roll a 1 for bloodlust, you can save a re-roll by just moving up to your scout, and rewarding him with a bite. No one ever said the life of a thrall was easy! I always paint my thralls to show various neck bites they’ve acquired. Why Mr. Ed Ible has already been bitten 38 times! This tactic is even more useful when you have the dodge skill.

Saving Re-rolls
Regardless of whether you’re receiving or kicking you should always try to play conservatively in the early turns, relying mostly on your thralls to stall for time, and just biting a thrall on bad bloodlust rolls rather than burning re-rolls early in the game. If you’ve played right, you should have 3 Re-rolls remaining for the final 3 turns. Now it’s time to kick your vampires into overdrive. The sooner you can reach the stage where you have one re-roll per turn, the more successful a coach you’ll be. The vampire team can be very powerful once they hit their stride and re-rolls are no longer an issue. Everything can be done by a vamp on a 2+ and they’re hard to take down by anyone other than power teams. The downside is that you can’t really predict what the board will be by this stage, which is why being a vampire coach will require some out of the box thinking. The good news is that vampires are likely to be good at whatever crazy idea you’ve concocted for them.

Closing Thoughts: How Could I improve the vampire team?
If I could say anything to the designers, I would ask for a way for Thralls to become vampires. The whole point of vampires is that they can turn humans into one of them, and the thralls are hoping to get the gift of immortality from their undead masters. There should be some pay off for their effort, no? After all, undead teams get to make zombies, why shouldn’t vampires be able to promote their most promising thralls into their ranks. I would propose that whenever a thrall becomes a casualty as a result of being bitten by a vampire, the coach can have the option of “turning” the thrall at the end of the match for the cost of $70,000. This thrall then has his strength, agility, and armor increase by 1 each, and his model is switched out for one of the appropriate type. The thrall retains all of his current skills and SPP, and gains regeneration, Bloodlust, Hypnotic Gaze. This would give a much needed boost to the vampire team (which they REALLY need), and makes perfect sense with fluff making the coach feel a lot more like a vampire.

Let the tryouts begin!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Intelligent Design: The Bogosity Factor

Bogosity Factor: to make bogus or otherwise disprove. An idea is said to have a bogsity factor when a corresponding idea must also be accepted in order to be true, but that the implied assumption is so outlandish that it can not be accepted. An idea that has a bogosity factor is often notable by the appearance of being correct only to fall apart after close examination.

What is Intelligent Design (hence forth ID)? Does ID belong in the class room? Is ID a valid science? These are the questions I set out to answer today. Essentially, ID is a compromise between evolution and creationism. It takes the boring theory of evolution set forth by Charles Darwin in Origin of the Species, and jazzes it up with some divine goodness. ID is a new “scientific” theory that explains how life as we know exists today. To understand its rationale, we must revisit evolution and creationism.

The Theory of Evolution (in a nutshell).

1. Each generation of organisms is a random distribution of traits and abilities.
2. Too many offspring are born for all the creatures to survive; hence there is a struggle for survival.
3. Because of the variety of creatures, some species are better suited and survive while weaker organisms perish.
4. The surviving creatures breed, and their advantageous traits are inherited by their children.


1.God created the animals on earth, and each was given the tools they needed to survive indefinitely.
2. God created man in his own image, and gave man dominion over earth.
3. Thus, humanity is special, and unique from all life on earth.

The biggest problem creationists have with evolution is the implied conclusion that man is not special. Moreover, the idea that we are in fact quite similar to primates is repulsive to say the least. To teach evolution to children will diminish their conviction in God, and also their desire pray to God because there is no longer any reason to believe he is sympathetic to man’s emotions. Finally, evolution implies that God is completely inactive (relative to earth) and may not even exist at all. Ergo, we have controversy. Also note that creationists are aware that Charles Darwin was an atheist (like me), and suspect his motives for proposing his theory of evolution is of a sinister nature. They suggest that Darwin was actively trying to convert people to atheism, and that he improperly applied scientific rigor to his findings (or maybe outright falsified them). After all attempts to bring creationism into the science class have failed, a new theory has emerged which is neither evolution nor creation, but somewhere in between.

What is Intelligent Design (ID)?

ID is a math based argument to prove the existence of God by applying statistical theory to Darwin’s theory. ID accepts that animals are born with advantageous traits that prove to be beneficial to survival, and can also be inherited creating new species. However, ID points to the statistical likelihood of these adaptations occurring, and concludes that it can not occur by random chance alone because there is a vastly more probable that a species will not change at all. ID proponents argue the mathematical improbability of evolution is a bogsity factor, and so attempt to refine Darwin’s theory.

Intelligent Design
1. Organisms have a random distribution of traits and abilities.
2. Some of these traits are mathematically impossible to have occurred, yet they happened anyway. These traits are remarkably beneficial to the survival of these isolated animals.
3. Same as evolution.
4. Same as evolution.
5. Natural selection occurs, but only against insurmountable odds. We infer that an intelligent designer was responsible for this inexplicable result.

You see? Evolution isn’t random at all; it’s a miracle! We can also conclude that the intellect of man was adaptation caused by divine will. God created man, just not in the literal sense that the bible describes. This also clearly shows that God exists, and that there is an established moral law that we must follow; our greatest adaptation is thus the ability to define right from wrong. Remember kids, if you pray to God, and lead hardworking Christian lives, your children may be the lucky few to have laser vision or the ability to create storms with their minds!

Wait! What’s wrong with ID? Isn’t it a fair compromise to both sides?
1. Evolution can occur naturally, it is not a mathematical impossibility.
2. Even if it were shown to be mathematically impossible, it’s bogus to say “GOD DID IT!”
3. The theory is untestable. It implies that the process is invisible and undetectable. We can never disprove ID.

Evolution IS mathematically possible mainly because of time; the earth is well over 4,000,000,000 years of age. It doesn’t matter how unlikely something is in any one generation; the sheer number of trials is enough to give you a reasonable chance of it occurring. For 1 billion years, life on earth was exclusively single celled organisms. The jump to organisms with multiple cells was extremely unlikely. That’s why it took so much longer than any other adaptation. The dinosaurs were around for are about half that amount of time, and dinosaurs are divided into 3 time periods based on physiology.

Saying that you’ve proven something to be so mathematically unlikely to have occurred, and that therefore we have obvious proof of a creator is absurd. It’s the same as when someone survives a near death experience, and becomes a born again believer. Even the deadliest of cancers have a survival rate, just because it was extremely unlikely that you’d be one of the minority that survives doesn’t upset the balance of things so greatly that you have proof of God’s love. Just because a plague has a 99% mortality rate is no basis for believing that a divine being is saving the other 1%.

Obviously, since I believe this theory is false, I can not agree to have this theory taught along side evolution in the science class. What would it take to convince me that ID actually occurs? Well, I’d have to think about that….

ID Experiment

Our goal is to find some clue that a creative intelligence is actively assisting in the evolution of life on earth. According to ID, the impossible is in fact possible because God makes it possible. However, survival is ultimately linked to the environment that a species lives in. Therefore, we should be able to test for God’s will by drastically altering the needs for survival of a species, and if any members of that species survive by unnaturally rapid adaptation, we infer that God took action to save this species.

1. Collect a normal population of rabbits. 1 million to be exact.
2. Take the rabbits to the middle of the ocean, and drop them off. This will be their new environment that they must adapt to in order to survive.
3. Provide just enough assistance for one generation of new rabbits to be born.
4. Appeal to a creator to save the bunnies. Maybe light a candle or something.
5. Observe results (aka the glory of God’s creation).

Evolution: These rabbits will die because they can’t possibly make the adaptations necessary to survive in only one generation. Note that evolution takes thousands of years, if not millions.

Creation: These rabbits will die. They simply weren’t designed for this. Note that these two theories finally agree on something!

Intelligent Design: One male and one female will be born with gills, flippers, or any other combination of adaptations that obviously increase the odds of survival. Note that I’ll take a wide variety of adaptations, including poisonous fur (for protection from predators of course), as proof of an act of God

ID makes the prediction of divine assistance in the survival of species around the earth. According to ID, even the impossible should take place. Once we have established that the survival of species is based on miracles, it would be perfectly fine to teach this theory to school children.

How would an ID theorist…cough cough, creationist, cough, cough… respond to my experiment?

Why Rabbits?
I’m trying to give ID a fair shot here. If anything can breed fast enough to survive this experiment, it would be rabbits.

You can’t just summon God to act whenever you want?
Well, that’s my point actually. No one can prove God doesn’t exist, can they? No one can prove that any given event isn’t a miracle, can they? This theory will always be safe eternally because no one can disprove it due to the intangible nature of divine beings. That is the bogosity factor behind ID. Saying that ID is just as valid as evolution simply because it is possible is absolutely bogus! The burden of proof lies with the proponents of a scientific theory. It is there responsibility to prove the existence of God. We shouldn’t assume God exists just because we can’t prove otherwise. We can’t put someone in jail because they can’t prove their innocence, but because we have proven their guilt. Theories that can’t be tested don’t have any place in the science lab.

But evolution can’t be disproved either, just like ID.
Yes it can. A single out of place fossil would shatter everything for evolutionists! When I say out of place, I mean in terms of time. The earth is formed in layers, and we age fossils according to their place in the sand. If so much as one fossil was found in a place it wasn’t supposed to be, we would know Darwin screwed up. There are thousands of fossils, and evolution is still standing tall. Just because creationists can’t find a way to attack evolution, doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Every new find is a potential threat to Evolution.


Making a compromise only makes sense if the two opposing sides are equally matched. Evolution has a title wave of evidence backing it up where as creationism makes vague observations which apparently are miracles. Evolution is accepted around the world by modern nations. The southern states of the US are the last refuge of creationism. Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, and even mainstream Protestants have accepted evolution as an explanation for the “How.” They understand that the purpose of a religion is to provide a “Why.” I think the Buddha himself put it best. One day he was being pressured by a monk to lay out how the earth was created, but the Buddha was reluctant. The monk insisted that a religion ought to tell people how the earth was created. The Buddha explained that having a creation myth is unnecessary. Demanding a creation myth before embracing the teachings of Buddhism would be as ridiculous as a man who had been wounded by a poison arrow, but refused any and all aid until he knew who had shot him, and which village he came from. Adam and Eve is fundamentally a story that teaches people about the danger of temptation. The moral listen is worth teaching by itself; it doesn’t matter whether or not it ACTUALLY happened!
In conclusion, a religion should be judged on the merits of its moral teachings rather than the believability of its creation story, and therefore the creationist effort to bring their religion into the science room is a waste of their time.

/end of rant/

"There is nothing more dangerous than a man who thinks he's right with God."
-Malcom Reynolds

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Origins of Roxton D’Tharashk

Theses are the words spoken by Roxton, a male Half-orc Barbarian of the Shadow Marshes, describing himself to the Five-fingers crew and the circumstances that led to his arrival on the Golden Dragon.

“I had the typical childhood of any half-orc living in the Shadow Marshes, which is to say I didn’t have a typical childhood at all; the Shadow Marshes are a wild place where only the strong survive. I lived in a nomadic tribe that wandered the countryside in a perpetual search of nothing. My tribe was a mix of humans and orcs living in harmony with each other and the wilderness. My mother was beautiful woman, and I was fortunate enough to inherit mostly her looks too except for the obviously abnormal size for a human. When I was child, my mother gave me a curved dagger that had belonged to my father before he died.”

“My adventure began when my tribe became the target of a ferocious black wolf; a man eater as they say. The beast stalked the nomads wherever they traveled sometimes brazenly watching from a far terrifying as if to mock us. His coat was black as night, and his eyes were red with the blood of my people. No matter how hard they tried, the tribe’s greatest hunters could not catch the evil creature for he was cunning beyond any normal wolf. I was still in my adolescence then, and one stormy night; he came for me. He snuck into my tent, and dragged me away into the night. I awoke much latter in a cave with the scattered remains of human bones everywhere. I escaped the creature’s lair, but I was completely lost without the faintest clue of how to return to my tribe. It was not long before I realized I had not escaped at all; I was being toyed with, hunted for sadistic sport.”

“I ran night and day terrified to sleep even for a moment. At all times I could feel the black wolf watching me. When I was at last too exhausted to run any further, the beast moved in for the kill. The wolf lunged at my throat, and I felt my blood spill out over the earth. I looked up into the stars, and at the very moment that I felt sure that I would die, I reached for the curved blade of my father. With a might cry, I slashed the black devil across the face cutting his eyeball. The creature ran off into the night as I collapsed onto the ground.”

“I awoke to find myself back amongst my people. The black wolf hunted my people no more, and was heralded as a hero. When the wounds on my throat finally healed, I was shocked to find that rather than a scar, a mystical mark, like a tattoo, had been branded on my flesh. From that day forth I was an expert tracker, and I was soon indoctrinated into the House Tharashk who told me that I was blessed with a dragonmark of finding. I entered the prospecting business of finding and locating dragonshards for sale to the eastern lands. I quickly had a small fortune for myself that led me to be selected by the house for a very special mission.”

“House Tharashk was trying to establish itself in the far off continent of Xen’drik, and was commanded to head there to help establish the prospecting business there. My abilities as a warrior were instrumental to my selection due to the prevalent danger I would find at Xen’drik. They told me to head for the city of Sharn, and to board the Golden Dragon, which they had provided me with a ticket. I boarded a ship carrying dragonshards bound for the city.”

“Throughout the voyage, I had the uneasy feeling that I was being watched. On board with me was strange man wearing antlers upon his head and a scar across his eye. He never approached me, but at all times seemed almost obsessed with me. The night before we reached the city, I found myself face to face with the grim man.”

“What do you want with me? Should I know you?” I said to him frankly.

“You might not remember me, but I’ve been waiting a long time for this very moment.”

“He smiled an evil smile as he began to grow fur about his face, and hunched over onto all fours. Before me stood the black wolf that had tormented me so many years before. Unprepared and deeply terrified, he mauled me. I began to gain the upper hand, but the foul shapeshifter became a giant eagle flying off into the night. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized the bastard had flown off with my ticket to Golden Dragon!”
“The skyship guards of the Golden Dragon refused me entrance without my ticket, and I was divested that I has failed my guild. I watched the ship from afar when I say an eagle circling the skyship, and I was fumed with anger. Luck turned my way however as I heard screaming on board the ship. I saw men fighting monsters, and I did not waste the opportunity to sneak aboard. Among the corpses slung about the ship, I saw the shapeshifter dead. I quickly took back my ticket. After that I heard from one of the crew that a bomb was on board and I rushed downstairs to offer my assistance, and that is where I met you, the five-finger crew.”

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Blood Bowl Skill Statistics: Article 1

This article is the first in a series for anyone interested in playing Bloodbowl, the fantasy football game (and that assumes that the reader knows the rules of the game). As any player knows, Bloodbowl involves a whole lot of dice rolling, and in many cases, a failed roll results in a turnover, which is never a good thing. The best way to avoid a turnover is acquiring skills for your players that are relevant to the dice rolls likely to be made for the particular player. This article (and subsequent ones) will discuss various skills in mathematical terms of success or failure including chance of success with and without the skill. Skills such as block, pass, dodge and catch are not discussed in this article because their value is obvious and many positional players start of with the skills. For the purpose of simplicity article, the “average player” will often be used as the assumed ability scores for the purpose of determining probabilities; the average player has no skills unless stated otherwise.

TABLE 1: The “average player’s” stats [equivalent to a human lineman]
MA ST AG AM Skills
6 3 3 8 none

Hopefully, this article will allow the player to better understand the value of giving players mathematically complex skills in the development of their team roster. The first skill we will discuss is the skill of champions: Diving Catch!
Diving Catch:

How good is diving catch? Diving Catch would be better described as the skill of misfits than champions. Succeeding in life despite incompetence is the objective of the diving catch skill. For teams that are bad at passing, it’s very good, but less so for teams that are already well adept at throwing. First, we need to understand what goes into a pass.

Neither the thrower, nor the catcher is in an opposing player’s tackle zone.
The pass is a short pass.
The opponent is not in position to intercept the ball.

To make a successful pass requires both a throw and catch from each player, and the probability of success can defined by this equation.

PS = ST * SC where:

PS is the probability of success
ST is the chance to successfully throw
SC is the chance to successfully catch

Throwing the ball in this case has no modifiers, and the average player needs a 4. Catching the ball is easier if the thrower is accurate, which gives a +1 to the catcher, so only needs a 3+.

PS = (3/6) * (4/6)
PS = .333

That’s not very good is it; 77.7% of time, you will fail, causing a turnover. Since several teams have throwers and catchers, it’s useful to repeat this equation assuming the thrower and catcher have the pass and catch skills, respectively. Each player can now reroll the die if they fail adding to CT and CC the probability that they will fail the first attempt times the odds that they will succeed the second attempt:

Success with a reroll:
PS = CS1 + CF1*CS2 where
CS1 is the chance to succeed the first attempt.
CF1 is the chance to fail the first attempt.
CS2 is the chance to succeed on the second attempt.

Most people know already knew how to calculate, but I mention it anyway because this mini-formula comes into to play a lot in bloodbowl. In this instance, both the thrower and catcher now use the reroll formula to boost their odds of success:

PS = [(3/6) + (3/6)*(3/6)] * [(4/6) + (2/6)*(4/6)]
PS = .75 * .889
PS = .667

Well, that’s better, but hardly an ideal scenario and we already assumed that the opponent would do nothing to stop you! This is where diving catch comes into to play by boosting the odds that the catcher may attempt to catch the ball if the thrower throws an inaccurate pass. The ball must scatter to position where it is in the catchers tackle zone (1 of 8 squares). The new equation for a successful pass looks like this:

PS = (TA * CA) + (TI * DC * CU) where
PS is the probability to succeed
TA is the chance the throwing an accurate throw.
CA is the chance of successfully catching an accurate pass.
TI is the chance of throwing an inaccurate pass.
DC is the chance the ball will scatter to square where a catch attempt can be made after an inaccurate pass by the thrower.
CU is the chance of catching an inaccurate pass.

Note that DC can only have one of two values under assumption 1 above: when the catcher does and does not have the diving catch skill. The scattering of the ball is independent of either player’s ability scores. Actually, this equation always represented PS, but without diving catch, the DC is so low that it’s not worth considering. What is the DC for player without the diving catch skill? It must scatter directly back to his square on the third, and only the third, scatter role. Look at the following illustration:

The centre dot represents the catcher, while the squares around him are empty. The squares beside him are equivalent from a mathematical perspective for our purpose, and so are the squares diagonal to the player. If the ball goes straight upwards [or to any of the other black dots], the second scatter must keep the ball exactly one square away from the player before it can scatter to him, and there is a 4/8 chance of this occurring. The ball then has 1/8 chance of going the player occupied square no matter which of the four square it went to on the second roll. If the ball goes to a white dot on the first roll, it must go to one of the two adjacent black dots on the second roll. The final calculation is:

DC = (4/8)*(4/8)*(1/8) + (4/8)*(2/8)*(1/8)
DC = 0.031 + 0.016
DC = 0.047

There is slightly less that a 1/20 chance of the catcher being able to catch an inaccurate pass, but what about when the player. Determining the DC for a player with diving catch involves a similar process, working out the allowable rolls one by one, but this time, the 8 dots themselves are also squares where the ball can land in. Actually, if the ball scatter directly back to the catcher on the second roll, the catcher will be able to attempt a catch no matter what the third roll! I will not spell out the process a second time, but the odds of being able to attempt a catch are:

Black dots on first roll

(4/8)*(2/8)*(5/8) = 0.078
(4/8)*(2/8)*(3/8) = 0.047
(4/8)*(2/8)*(2/8) = 0.031
(4/8)*(1/8)*(3/8) = 0.023
Total: = 0.179

White dots on first roll

(4/8)*(2/8)*(5/8) = 0.078
(4/8)*(2/8)*(3/8) = 0.047
(4/8)*(2/8)*(2/8) = 0.031
(4/8)*(1/8)*(1/8) = 0.008
Total: = 0.164
Note: this table omits the special case where the second roll is directly back to the catcher, which can happen no matter what the 1st or 3rd roll is.

DC = (8/8)*(1/8)*(8/8) + 0.170 + 0.164
DC = 0.459

The DC improves dramatically when the catcher has a diving catch skill, increasing 41.2%! The real question is how much does this increase the likelihood of a successful pass? Let’s recalculate PS for both skilled and unskilled players using the new equation, and assuming the catcher has the diving catch skill.

PS = (TA * CA) + (TI * DC * CU)
PS = (3/6)*(4/6) + (3/6)*0.459*(3/6)
PS = 0.333 + 0.115
PS = 0.448

Two average players have about a 50/50 shot at making a short pass under these conditions, and for skilled players:

PS = (TA * CA) + (TI * DC * CU)
PS = [(3/6) + (3/6)*(3/6)] * [(4/6) + (2/6)*(4/6)] + [((3/6)*(3/6))*0.459*((3/6) + (3/6)*(3/6))]
PS = (0.75 * 0.889) + (0.25*0.459*0.75)
PS = 0.667 + 0.086
PS = 0.753

TABLE 2: the statistical benefit to making a completion with diving catch skill
Players Catcher doesn’t have Diving Catch skill Catcher does have Diving Catch skill
Skilled 0.333 0.448
unskilled 0.667 0.753

Finally, our players now have a decent chance of making the pass, succeeding ¾ of the time. How good is the diving catch skill? Well, it depends on the TI really; the more likely the thrower is to fail, the more likely the diving catch skill is to be useful. The hail merry pass is often the best combination for someone with diving catch as it is always inaccurate. The odds of any thrower successfully making a hail merry pass are always (5/6), which is represented by the constant, HM, in the following equation:

PS = hm * DC * CU
PS = (5/6) * 0.459 * (3/6)
PS = 0.191

A favorite of bloodbowl teams with no positional players, the hail merry pass allows the coach a 1/5 chance of making any pass to anywhere on the field, including one end zone to the other despite having an extremely inept thrower. Would a wood elf coach ever give this skill one of his catchers? Well, as the range of the pass increases to long bomb, the TI also increases, so let’s assume both the thrower with agility 4 has pass, the catcher has agility 4, catch, and diving catch, and the throw is a long bomb.

PS = (TA * CA) + (TI * DC * CU)
PS = [(2/6) + (4/6)*(2/6))*((5/6) + (1/6)*(5/6)] + [((2/6)*(2/6))*0.459*((4/6)*(2/6)*(4/6))]

PS = 0.889*0.972 + 0.111*.0459*0.889
PS = 0.864 + 0.045
PS = 0.909

Obviously, such a catcher probably wouldn’t bother with skill unless they already had several other skills, but none the less diving catch did help the coach increase his confidence 4.5%, which is better than nothing. The decision is yours, but hopefully this article was of some interest by providing some solid numbers for strategic decision making. Let me know if you any skills you want to see analyzed for the next article.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mortal Kombat, Lin Kuei, & Philosophy

I recently learned that Midway, the developers of the Mortal Kombat franchise, have already started planning for an 8th Mortal Kombat game to be released on the next generation system in “2008, Novemberish.” The makers claim it will be a totally new game system much like the Deadly Alliance game which saved the franchise from extinction, and returned Mortal Kombat to its former glory. The new game story and feel will supposedly be much darker and grittier than any other game.

I remember playing Mortal Kombat for the first time as a child when my older cousin introduced me to the game. In fact, it was actually the first video game I ever played. People always think I’m crazy when I say that, but it’s completely true. This is also why I don’t get really excited by the chance to play the original Mario Bros. on the “old school” NES, which apparently causes a Nerdgasm for every other male on the planet. Go figure. Anyway, the first video game I ever owned myself was Mortal Kombat 3 for PC. Mortal Kombat is my personal Mario Bros. game that brings back childhood memories of violence, magic & of course, ninjas. To me, Mortal Kombat is easily the best fighting game due in large part to each character having developed storyline that creates a feeling of role playing a fantasy character. I feel a little inspired now to write about some of my favorite characters in the MK storyline, Sub-Zero and the three cybernetic warriors: Sektor, Cyrax, & Smoke. All of which belong to the reclusive Lin Kuei, a secret band of ninja assassins. This is my personal speculation on the meaning of these characters stories and where their development is leading them.

Sub-Zero, Jr.:
Quite possibly the most popular character in the MK genre, Sub-Zero has been in virtually all the series’ games. All fans are aware that there are in fact 2 Sub-Zeros who both were members of the Lin-Kuei clan, but the elder was slain in the first MK by Scorpian, an undead wraith seeking revenge for his own murder. Being a cold-hearted mercenary whose misdeeds tainted his soul with pure evil energy, Sub-Zero Sr. murder at the hands of, Scorpion, causes him to become a wraith himself going by the allias, Noob Saibot.

Sub-Zero Jr. by contrast, is destined to be one of the protectors of Earthrealm, chosen by Raiden, a thunder god responsible for the protection of earth against invasion by other Gods from Warlike dimensions. Raiden watches over his soul and provides him with guidance. Shao Kahn, ruler of Outworld, can absorb the souls of mortals to gain God like power, but Raiden’s protection prevents his chosen warriors from ever having their soul taken away. Sub-Zero fully embraces his destiny and is characterized as being merciful despite an enigmatic and secretive nature. Sub-Zero is the reformed villain [having been a member of the Lin Kuei before fulfilling his destiny], who not only seeks to help fight those who would conquer earth like Shao Kahn, but furthermore grants mercy, empathy, and guidance to other characters in the game who frequently try to betray and/or kill him. Frost, Smoke, Sareena, and Noob Saibot [his brother] are all evil characters in the game, but Sub-Zero continually offers them opportunities for redemption and forgiveness. This has nearly gotten him killed many times, and so far, only Sareena [who ironically happens to be a demon] has been persuaded to fight for good. It is so far unclear whether there is a romantic relationship between these two. Sub-Zero has also become the Grand Master of the Lin Kuei clan, which originally tried to have him executed for treachery, and now he molds the clan into a force for protecting earth.

Sub-Zero, as the name suggests, can control water and temperatures allowing him to freeze his opponents, making him very dangerous in battle. Frost, and his elder brother also have this ability. They are supposedly all descended from a civilization, unfortunately named, the Cryomancers. Personally this came as a surprise to me. One of his martial arts styles in the games is ‘Dragon,’ and he wears a dragon medallion that signifies his leadership of the Lin Kuei. Then in his Deception ending, a tarkatan warrior exclaims to Sub-Zero “Long live the Dragon King.” I was almost convinced that Sub-Zero’s powers were the result of some draconic heritage; perhaps a dragon that breathed cold frost instead of fire mated with the original Cryomancer? I know that sounds a little Dungeons & Dragonsish, but come on: Cryomancers?!? I can only hope that Ed Boon, MK’s creator, is reading this somewhere as the name cryomancer simply makes me cringe with lameness. No offense intended.


In Mortal Kombat 3, the Lin Kuei had decided to modernize the clan with the latest technology turning their best warriors into cyborgs. Of the three that were eventually were created, Sektor was the first, apparently volunteering for the inhumane automation due to zealous loyalty to the clan. As a consequence, Sektor has no soul, and his human identity is of little importance to the storyline since Sektor’s actions are completely driven by his programming, which is assumed to be an extremely intelligent AI. The other two cyborgs, Cyrax and Smoke, have retained fragments of their human personality, but Sektor has not; his conversion was a complete success from that perspective. However, despite the absence of a soul or any memories of his human life, Sektor still became self aware, displays traits of arrogance and selfishness, and is completely uncontrollable as he often seeks power for himself killing anyone who gets in his way without remorse or any sign of emotion at all. Sektor is similar to the machines in the “The matrix” or the Cylons from “Battlestar Galactica,” seeing machines as the ideal form and superior to humans. He is a kind of Pandora’s Box.

The first mission of the three cyborgs was to hunt down and terminate Sub-Zero for refusing to become a cyborg and leaving the clan. However, Sektor abandoned the man hunt during Shao Kahn’s, the ruler of Outworld, invasion of earthrealm. As Kahn’s armies searched the realm for Raiden’s chosen warriors, Sektor concluded if earth was destroyed, there would be indirect consequences for the Lin Kuei. Loosely interpreting his programming of absolute loyalty, he engaged Shao Kahn’s army without being ordered to by the Lin Kuei, otensibly for the clan's own protection. Sektor’s first act of free will was mass homicide. Although Shao Kahn’s army certainly were not good men, one imagines the fight was a little one sided against the stealthy mechanized killing machine.

Sektor’s behavior only became more self-determined and violent. Ultimately, Sketor concluded that the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei was inferior, and tried to steal the Dragon Medallion that signified the clan’s leader. After killing the grandmaster, Sektor was stopped from claiming the Dragon Medallion by Sub-Zero who defeated Sektor and became Grand master of the Lin Kuei. Sektor fled to Japan, and is currently trying to establish a new clan. He has ambitions to rule Japan with his own army of his automated cyborgs.

The second to undergo the transformation process, Cyrax is not described as volunteering for automation as was the case with Sektor, but he apparently did not resist the process either. Cyrax loses his soul as a result, but slowly begins to have flashbacks of his human life finally regaining his soul with the help of Sonya and Jax, characters in the game that investigate events in other realms on behalf of the US government. Some philosophers adhere to a belief that humans are not born with souls, but rather earn the soul throughout life. Discovering the purpose of one’s existence is an essential component of growth for a soul. To me, Cyrax is the philosopher of Mortal Kombat. His quest to restore his humanity is deeply rooted in finding a reason to live; a purpose or cause that is worth fighting for.

Like the other Cyborgs, Cyrax hunts down Sub-Zero, but is defeated and re-programmed to assassinate Shao Kahn. Shao Kahn retreats to Outworld after being defeated before Cyrax can carry out his directive. Unfortunately for Cyrax, his mission becomes impossible to carry out. Worse still, the now disbanded Lin Kuei do not send him any new orders, and Cyrax’s programming malfunctions due to his lack direction and purpose. He wanders out into the desert for no reason at all and continues to do so indefinitely. During this time, Cyrax is trying deperately to determine what would be meaningful, but can not do so because he has no attainable goal. He begins to remember his old life before he became a machine until he is found and repaired by the Sonya and Jax of the Outworld Investigation Agency. It becomes apparent, that the human inside of Cyrax has reasserted itself, and Cyrax has successfully reclaimed his soul. Cyrax hopes to be fully human one day, but for the time being, he has become a member of the Outworld Investigation Agency to repay Sonya and Jax for saving him from a pointless existence. Sonya and Jax are reluctant to make further modifications to Cyrax’s programming because he might lose what little personality he has. Cyrax tells them that being a machine that has no purpose is not a life worth living. He is willing to risk death to regain his humanity since he believes that at the moment, he is not alive in the true sense of the word.

Last, but not least is Smoke. Smoke, my favorite type of hero, the tragic hero. A tragic hero is someone who despite good intentions is responsible for great atrocities due to circumstances that he can not control, and thus, the audience feels pity for him. Smoke was the third and final cyborg assassin created by the Lin Kuei. However, the human smoke, a grey template ninja, was a hidden opponent in Mortal Kombat 2 before the automation took place in Mortal Kombat 3. Smoke is close friend of Sub-Zero and aids Sub-Zero secretly in Mortal Kombat 2. It is unknown where smoke gets his powers from, but he is a shape shifter that can take the form a grey mist which allows him to become invisible and teleport by becoming incorporeal at will. Even when corporeal, he can surround himself with smoke which is incapacitating to others [stinking cloud special move]. Like Sub-Zero, Smoke refused to become an automated cyborg like Sektor and Cyrax, but was captured and forced into the automation process against his will. Smoke apparently retains his magical powers while at the same time possessing the upgrades of the cyborg body while in corporeal form. This double threat, if you will, makes him perhaps one of the deadliest warriors of all.

However, a malfunction occurred in his automation. Smoke fundamentally had a good soul and furthermore, a destiny. Smoke was chosen by Raiden to be one of the warriors to protect earth. Sektor and Cyrax despite losing their humanity, find a way to regain their free will by achieving self awareness. Smoke on the other hand, is never able to fully control his actions, but keeps his soul. Smoke is a prisoner in his artificial body because he obviously feels great pangs of guilt whenever he asserts himself, while the machine obediently murders whoever his master tells him to. Despite trying to kill Sub-Zero as per programmed, Sub-Zero helps Smoke free himself from his nightmare and fight the programming. Before Shao Kahn retreats, he takes Smoke as a war trophy for his palace.

Years later, after Shao Kahn is killed by the deadly alliance, Noob Saibot finds smoke in the abandoned fortress of the late emperor. Smoke reawakens the cyborg with commands to obey only him. Apparently, Smoke is no longer in control of his actions. Noob Saibot had developed a plan to take control of the Netherrealm [a hell dimension] for himself using Smoke as a template. Noob and Smoke encounter Sub-Zero who once again tries to help Smoke regain his humanity, but smoke tries to kill Sub-Zero at Noob’s command. Only with the help of Sareena does Sub-Zero escape his elder brother and former friend with his life. Smoke is described as having difficulty when he enters the netherrealm because “perhaps there is some good left in the cyborg.”

Smoke seems to have gone almost insane, and it is unclear how much control he ever really has over his actions. In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, both the human and cyber Smoker are available, but the Bio of human Smoke indicates that he is not really human at all, rather smoke is imagining himself as a human fighting to protect earth. It seems that being denied the right to complete his destiny causes great trauma for Smoke. Like any good tragic hero, his origins would otherwise make him an admirable and noble man, but keeping his soul causes him to be completely sporadic. His power and unstable psyche puts everyone around him in danger. However, Raiden has predicted that he will play an influential role in protecting earth, if he doesn’t destroy it first. However doubtful, there is always a small hope that Smoke will do the right thing as his programming and his soul are locked in an eternal struggle for dominance.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Celebrity Look-Alikes