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On the Edge of the Map

Hack & Slash - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 13:30

I still recall when I had to wait till Monday to call the Library of Congress to find out things. 

You don't really know what's out there. We see a lot more of it. A cat with a thumb. A fish standing on land. Some weird underwater squiggly giving inspiration to the Flumph. 

A few months ago, I wrote an article On the Lie of Colonialism in Dungeons and Dragons. I still believe my core thesis in that post. In the entirety of my experience of gaming, I have never had a group that didn't treat or deal with sentient culture-having creatures in a modern "enlightened" way. They always helped the oppressed. They fight against those with power for the good of the people. Even in evil campaigns, they were concerned about Order against Chaos. 

In the real world, there is no objective morality. There's no glowing purple-green force one can syphon that by it nature is inimical to the existence of life. There explicitly is in Dungeons & Dragons. You can see it with magic. 

But,

I mean, people overreact right? "Oh, hey, what a miserable take this guy has in an article I didn't read, but will publicly complain about on twitter as a preening gesture for my preferred ingroup!"

But, 

I have direct experience of working with several extremely low-income high-risk cultural groups. I spent five years in Alaska working with Yup'ik and Cup'ik native tribes. I have experience working with economically disadvantaged cultures in my local area. And I find it strange to have to say this, but this isn't because of any 'white savior' complex. Frankly, you can't save shit. Like, it is in a very straightforward way, the government using money to directly ease the extinction of a culture. And let me tell you, the destruction of a culture is not pretty. 

But,

Maybe

Maybe I haven't been to that edge of the map. Maybe one of monkeys banging away on typewriters that fit into their pocket, knew something that I did not. So I've been looking into it. Partly because I'm working on large semi-historical adventure for a. . . uh. . . a thing. . . that I'm clearly not supposed to be talking about. 

But it takes place in the colonial era. My initial weeks of research led me, to a conclusion that seems obvious in hindsight, that if an adventure is literally set in a colonial time, in an area nations were fighting over colonies, you can't avoid having colonization in the adventure.

So, what does this mean? Is the act of pretending to be a wizard who engages in slaying orcs, somehow some kind of dog-whistle racist activity? Well, MyFarog and Racial Holy War are universally derided and maligned for their obvious racism. I've never seen or heard of anyone running one of those racial cleansing simulators, so if role-playing were some front full of people engaging in genocide fantasies, I would expect them to be more popular. I mean, maybe those tables are out there, full of people who live their lives like extras who get killed in an action movie. 

But, you know, edge of the map. I went out (and am out) listening to lectures, reading and listening to those who do understand the issues, and people who are not like me. I mean, we are all different. That is to say, we all possess infinite worth, but our externals can be radically different. This is something I've carried inside as a truth, that I hold with a fervor equal to its arbitrariness. I.e. total.  Now I'm not done thinking, but it seems pretty obvious from my study that when we engage in entertainment via movies, table-top games, video games, reading, story-telling, we construct tales of overcoming adversity versus the self, other people, nature, supernatural, technology and society.

That is, you can totally pretend to shoot bad guys and that doesn't make you a bad person.

That isn't the end of it. 

There are clearly depictions of racial stereotypes in the monster manual c.f. dervishes, hobgoblins, et. al. that represent a bigoted view of culture inherited from the sword and sandal novels of the early and mid-twentieth century. A bigoted view Gygax clearly had, and I know for a fact there were people who did not have that bigoted view in 1970. 

And what do you do about a thinking culture's children after your murder their adults for being on your land before you got there?

Therein is the rub. You can make the game match cultural understandings and expectations, but you can't stop someone from being a racist douche. So you kind of have to play by some unspoken rules. E.g. You can't have an inhuman enemy that you kill without compunction who has its own culture and values. If they do have a culture, they must have a value that is deleterious to your very existence, which makes it palatable to kill them. Or you've got to expect your players not to want to kill them.

The thing is, and by far, I'm no arbiter of the state of the world.

But I've never seen a game or met a person who doesn't play by these rules. In point of fact, in every game in my entire life I've been involved in, covering these questions has always been done explicitly at the table, to make sure we aren't engaging in some nefarious act. 

In fact, it's an ancient trope, being the exact point of U2, The Danger at Dunwater (1982). You are given the location of the lair of the lizard men, but they are just chill dudes, who's really just arming themselves to protect themselves from the cuthonic undersea horrors of the Sahuagin. It's an adventure that literally is about understanding cultural differences to avoid conflict. I've been in and run the adventure an astounding amount of times. Sometimes it takes a fight or two, but there's a 100% rate of 'Oh Geeze, these aren't the bad guys, let's help them defend against the evil, which neither of us could defeat apart', which is a literal parable about why racism is bad.

So has the game "Since its inception in the ‘70s, . . . had profound issues surrounding racism and the colonialist mindset. Fifth Edition has done little to mitigate these issues, and if anything, the West Marches only make the longstanding rot more visible."- Izirion's Enchridiion of the West Marches

I mean, yes. The game has had stereotypical and inappropriate representation. e.g. please do not look at the cover of X8 Drums on Fire Mountain. (I told you not to look.)

Does the game have a colonialist mindset? It's feudal. It has depictions in monsters that have been used to demonify other cultures. Are antibiotics colonial? Spiritually, the core of the game is about going into the chaotic unknown and retrieving knowledge to return to strengthen society and further the cause of order and man.

The argument is, yes. We do so. To take the world and bring it to order, imposes by definition an unjust order. Order itself is a problem. Too much and the world becomes frozen and rigid. I mean, did you see earlier where I used the common colonialist trope of "we are making things better for you." when I mentioned Antibiotics?

You see, while listening and thinking and pouring over tomes, which amazingly enough is my actual job (Made possible by awesome people who give me money! You too can join this exclusive club of raising the volume of a voice you like. Blame capitalism.) It occurred to me that the discussion, and there is a discussion, is about how to respect autonomy, dismantle unjust hierarchies, eliminate unfair exploitation, and make the world a better place.

Which, funnily enough, is exactly what the fuck Dungeons and Dragons is about.

There's no answer to the question. We still remain as a species in the period of unknowing. Maybe there will be an answer to the question of a perfect society one day. Hell, I don't have to wait till Monday morning to call the Library of Congress to find things out anymore. But the game itself is literally about answering the question: what is right, what is just, and what is within my power to improve?

The game itself deals with profound issues. Important ones. Like racism and the colonial mindset. Fifth edition hasn't done anything to mitigate this, it's still about important things, like Freedom and Representation. The game is about personally taking agency and being confronted with this question. It is about what colonialism means and what complicity and rebellion cost. It's about what it means to be a hero. So when I say that colonialism in Dungeons and Dragons is a lie, what I mean is that the idea of our personal exploration of these issues is somehow bigoted or racist is, as the kids say, a bad take.

And I would hope, in my heart of hearts, when you venture into the West Marches, beyond the edge of the map, that the longstanding rot is clear and visible, so your blade may strike true when you fight for justice. 

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this post finds you and yours well. I've very recently solved looming housing insecurity, and it occurred to me no one should have to suffer housing insecurity. If your interested in helping, there are a lot of resources that allow you to help out locally and nationally. We are in for a rough decade—and we can make it through, together. Tell your loved ones you love them. 

The whole colonialism issue strikes me as "Satanic Panic-ish" because where are the people sacrificing these children? Is this something that is really happening, or is it a reaction to the ambiguity of what other people might do 'wrong' while playing a game? I don't think so, but don't know for sure. It seems somewhat self-selecting, racists are almost by definition provincial, and role-playing does require a lot of traits that are contraindicated to someone who has racist beliefs. What's the angle on targeting it? I'm not sure. But there's a definite disconnect between the claims and the reality. What, exactly do we do about racism? Forty years of anti-racist propaganda and societal efforts, and. . . nothing. Still Racism. It might be, I think, related to genetic in-group/out-group stuff and I don't know how we get rid of that. I don't have to know to play D&D. 

If you're curious, I'll put the old article up Friday and you can read it then.

If you're interested in something cool, I have some crazy art in this adventure about a dungeon inside a dead sea god. There's other factions and goals, it's a really smart adventure. So much cool stuff and my art, too! Take a look at Voyages on the Zontani Sea!

And, oh, it's so crazy. Dungeons and Dragons is so crazy popular, JeShields who's both a technical and spiritual mentor of mine creates crazy high quality art. It's so good. Someone like it so much, they are turning the art into 3-d miniatures? It's just awesome. I think everyone should go have a look. Just to see how cool it is to take a 2D old school type illustration and turn it into a monster. 

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Beware card skimmers this Black Friday

Malwarebytes - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 10:23

The UK’s top cybercops are urging owners of small online shops to “protect their customers and profits” by guarding against card skimmers in the frenetic shopping period that starts with Black Friday, which lands on November 26 this year.

The warning comes from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)—which is part of GCHQ, the UK’s equivalent to the NSA—which says it identified 4,151 compromised online shops up to the end of September.

Card skimmers, also know as web skimmers, are bits of malicious software that are injected into legitimate websites, so they can steal shoppers’ credit card details. The skimmers read the details as users type them into the sites’ payment forms, or replace the payment forms with convincing fakes.

The longer that cybercriminals can keep their card skimmers on a website before its customers or owners notice, the more money they will make, so they take care to be as unobtrusive as possible. Unsurprisingly, Malwarebytes’ own research has shown that card skimming activity tends to ramp up on the busiest shopping days, when the most money changes hands. And some of the biggest shopping days of the year are nearly upon us, starting with Black Friday, the biggest of them all.

For the uninitiated, Black Friday is the annual celebration of peak capitalism that commemorates the symbolic moment that retailers go “in to the black” for the year and start to make a profit. If you’re wondering why shoppers would be so keen to celebrate the mechanics of retail accountancy, it’s because shops mark the occasion (the Friday that follows Thanksgiving in the US) with extravagant sales, offers, and deals.

The NCSC is rightly concerned that with record amounts of money expected to slosh about on the Internet in the next few days, cybercriminals will be hard at work, spoiling everyone’s fun.

Yes, you

It is worth noting that the NCSC’s announcement uses the word “small” no less than four times— “small online shops”; “small business sites”; “small online retailers”; “small and medium-sized online retailers”—in a short announcement that also mentions “SMEs” twice, and says it is written for “small & medium sized organisations”.

On the off-chance the point still hasn’t landed, let me spell it out for you: The NCSC would like you to know that no online business is small enough to ignore the threat of card skimmers.

I will add a personal note to that too. If you assume you are too small to be attacked by a card skimmer and your customers later find out their card details were stolen while on your site, they will expect you to have cared a great deal more. At least that’s how I felt when it happened to me.

Not just Magento

Although its guidance is aimed at all e-commerce retailers, the NCSC makes specific mention of sites built on the Magento platform, which it says has been particularly popular with cybercriminals lately:

The majority of the online shops used for skimming identified by the NCSC had been compromised via a known vulnerability in Magento, a popular e-commerce platform.

However, your takeaway after reading that should not be “Magento” so much as “known vulnerability”. Cybercriminals do not care that you’re running Magento, they only care that you are running a system they can exploit because it contains a known vulnerability, and any system with a known vulnerability will do, thanks. It so happens that Magento has been a prime target recently, but every decent e-commerce system has known vulnerabilities. Not using Magento is no protection whatsoever.

What really matters is whether or not ecommerce sites are patched promptly when fixes for vulnerabilities are made available. Which is why the NCSC’s headline guidance is “Retailers are urged to ensure that Magento—and any other software they use—is up to date”.

Keeping website software up to date will certainly take you a very long way indeed in terms of protecting against card skimmers, but there is more to it than that.

For the “more to it than that”, the NCSC point readers to the British Retail Consortium’s Cyber Resilience Toolkit for Retail, and its own website, which is full of useful cybersecurity advice, although neither resource is specifically about card skimming.

I would like to humbly suggest that readers should also consult our own guidance on how to defend your website against card skimmers. Our easy-to-digest advice is aimed at preventing card skimming specifically and explains how card skimming gangs find victims; why everyone is a potential target; how to avoid a website breach; how to protect your customers from a card skimmer if you are breached; and how to detect card skimmers as quickly as possible.

The post Beware card skimmers this Black Friday appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

Mobius, Sword & Sorcery, & 'The Willow' 1988 Film Concept artwork As Influence On Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 07:15
 So over the last couple of weeks I've been posting Mobius classic artwork from a wide variety of sources. Having discovered Mobius back in the Seventies in the pages of Heavy Metal magazine.  It didn't take me long to have my lizard brain incorporate him as a major influence on Sword & Sorcery rpg campaigns back in the Eighties. According to Wikipedia on Mobius; "Jean Henri Gaston Giraud was a Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1560

Looking For Group - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 05:00

The post 1560 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Giants of Chaos - Giant Chieftains, The Forces of Chaos, & B2 Keep on the Borderlands -ACK's Stormbringer Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 01:29
Eric Pape's illustration for Lyrics and Old World Idylls by Madison J. Cawein (1907)."...so King Arthur shookAnd headlong flung Sir Accolon. Then took,Tearing away, that scabbard from his sideAnd hurled it through the lists, that far and wideGulped in the battle breathless. Then, still wroth,He seized Excalibur; and grasped of bothWild hands, swung trenchant, and brought glittering downOn rising Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

REVIEW: Jenny – The Doctor’s Daughter 2: Still Running – A Wild and Witty Adventure

Blogtor Who - Thu, 11/25/2021 - 00:27

The Doctor’s Daughter is Still Running towards the danger, in four sparkling new tales of derring do Jenny is back! Georgia Tennant returns as the Doctor’s daughter, first seen in the Doctor Who episode, well, The Doctor’s Daughter for a second boxset of adventures from Big Finish Productions. And with them they bring a tremendous […]

The post REVIEW: Jenny – The Doctor’s Daughter 2: Still Running – A Wild and Witty Adventure appeared first on Blogtor Who.

Categories: Doctor Who Feeds

[REVIEW] In the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe

Beyond Fomalhaut - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 21:08

In the Shadow of
Tower SilveraxeIn the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe (2021)

by Jacob Fleming

Published by Gelatinous Cubism Press

Low- to mid-level

In a sense, the mini-sandbox is one of the holy grails of old-school gaming. The idea of a home base, a wilderness with minor points of interest, and a dungeon or three to top it off is the clearest expression of a home campaign. From Hommlet to Herth, and from Bone Hill to The Forsaken Wilderness, the pattern has been unbroken, even if relatively few published modules give you the whole sandbox, toys included. (The Vault of Larin Karr, for mid-level PCs, is the best example in print that I know of.) This is one genre which is easier to build piecemeal at home by the game table than prepare in a publication-ready format.

In the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe, a 60-page, zine-format module for Old-School Essentials, is a fully realised mini-setting describing the locales of the Gemthrone Wilderness, a mountainous territory arranged around a central valley occupied by a particularly dense and dangerous old-growth forest named The Labyrinth of Shadows. Dwarven settlements and ruins ring the central valley, connected by well-mapped trails; the Labyrinth is trackless and inhabited by the most dangerous monsters. In addition to wilderness exploration procedures, the module provides a description of five settlements (including the town of Karn Buldahr) and nine dungeons of various sizes (from 5-6-room lairs to a main feature with five levels and 33 areas total). The power curve goes from beginning-level to some fairly deadly stuff – maybe 4th to 5th level or so. Rumours, mysterious glyphs, treasure maps, the remains of an advanced ancient civilisation, and local politics complicate the picture, and create a layer of connections to bring it all together.

Hiking Trip, But With HobgoblinsTower Silveraxe follows the trends in vogue in the modern old-school gaming scene. It is heavily focused on tight editing and effective presentation. Every page spread is laid out in a precise way that eliminates the need for page flipping: all the maps and key you need are there before you. The dungeon maps are precise and clean affairs, with local random encounter charts tucked into a corner. I was particularly impressed with the wilderness cartography, which takes the form of an elegant hiking map with contour lines, trail distances, and points of interest. This format has lots of potential, and I hope people will do more with it in the future. (Minor nitpick: my inner textbook editor is screaming in rage at sight of the page numbering, which puts odd numbers on the left and even on the right. How dare you.)

Here we come to the Achilles heel of the module. Following trends in vogue in the modern old-school gaming scene, Tower Silveraxe has sacrificed interest for accessibility. It is well-rounded, impeccably made, nicely interconnected, but the content is just sort of mediocre. One could call it vanilla, but the term is misleading. For instance, the original TSR modules were often quite vanilla, but even so, they always had interesting twists like the orc/carrion crawler caverns/weird shrine under Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, or the pool room and the whole “retired adventurers’ home base” aspect of In Search of the Unknown. Unfortunately, this is the “generic, flavourless” sort of vanilla that works with standard tropes and does not really improve on them, or use them innovatively.

A lot of the module text is remarkably facile. Consider Karn Buldahr, the dwarven town. There are 14 keyed locations, very few of which actually add anything beyond the baseline. The Traveller’s Inn is “a modest inn, just outside the western gate, (…) welcoming to all travellers, even in the early hours of the night.”The Stables are “Owned and run by Kreel Coalbraid. Only mules and carts are available to purchase.” The guards are stout. The General Store & Outfitters sells adventuring gear. The Crafters Quarter is “where nearly all skilled crafters conduct their trade.” There is very little here that could not be improvised on the basis of “Dwarftown. Population: dwarves”. Karn Buldahr occupies an uncomfortable middle ground between minimalism, which does not give you much, but occupies little place, and an actual in-depth treatment which elaborates on the basic concepts until they transcend a generic quality. Here lies the trap of the format: it is all on a spread of two facing pages, which either stifled the author’s creativity, or made him stretch a thin concept beyond its sensible limits. In fact, Karn Buldahr does have things of interest which deserve notice: a theatre putting on modernist plays everyone goes to but nobody confesses to not understanding (the Quirk differentiating the place from other dwarven towns), the local tradition of The Airing of Grievances (the Detail which drives home the dwarven connection), and a magic-user looking for crystals (the Adventure Hook). There are four decent rumours. This is good stuff, surrounded by several paragraphs of eh and meh.

Similar problems affect the nine mini-dungeons. The size is all right for something you find in a wilderness (although Bone Hill would beg to differ), and the concepts – looted tomb, abandoned mine, haunted tower, cave shrine, etc. – are good, with decent variety. It is, again, the encounters which suffer. They are very rote, very standard dungeon encounters of the monster/treasure/trap variety, missing a sense of wonder or deeper challenge that would make people start to pay attention. The treasure is usually coins contained in chests and such, and generic +1 items. The monsters are usually small groups of standard critters. You don’t get the “oh crap, 45 goblins! How do we solve this one?” kind of encounter here.

The encounters end up remarkably shallow. Many details in the key add nothing to the information already found on the map:

“Large room with six huge stone pillars. 2 doors – one south and another goes east on the north end of the room.”

“There is a tunnel to the north and a door to on the south wall. The room is empty.”

Seemingly interesting details do not, in fact, add to the interaction potential of the module, and are left as undeveloped cyphers:

“This room contains many shelves of books. A library for the elf stewards.

>> Books: All journals and logs written by the elves throughout the centuries.

>> Treasure: 3 spell scrolls (shield, knock, and hold portal)

“The stairs descend to a large room with four large statues of figures with heads bowed. At the end of the room is a sturdy iron door.”

Touch the Eye.
Touch the Eeeeye!If you read that last one, your spidey sense is probably telling you this is going to be a great “deeper level” setpiece with a portcullis trap, animated statues, poison gas, flooding, or monsters attacking from behind secret doors. But nothing really happens, and the imagery is left unexploited. Of course, not every such room needs to be a deathtrap. Red herrings play an important role in messing with the players and either deplete their resources or lull them into a false sense of security before the iron door mimic eats them for lunch. Too bad this is a pattern that repeats through Tower Silveraxe, and most similar opportunities are also missed. There are a few exceptions: good foreshadowing down in the main dungeon, which offers progressive hints of a large, dangerous monster’s presence; a cyclopean idol with an obviously telegraphed but still oh-so-fun poison gas trap; or mysteries which span multiple adventure sites. However, the majority of encounters in the adventure are very plain, and the payoff of finding something really unique and off the wall is not present. This is a shame, because the setup is virtually crying out for it.

In the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe is, therefore, a module with excellent structure and relatively weak content. I would not want to savage it – there is obvious craft in how it is put together – but I cannot help but believe the “layout-correctness” has not helped this one, and that it does not live up to its own implicit promise. Your players would probably have a reasonably good time playing it; it does not make any egregious mistakes, and just letting the players loose in the sandbox often produces a spark that sets even middling material aflame. This is what it is: solid, functional, but falling way short of excellence. Potential for improvement? Yes. Room for improvement? Yes, and lots of it.

No playtesters are credited in this publication.

Rating: *** / *****

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A KING’S VENGEANCE Is A Steampunk Revenge Story Coming In December From Scout Comics

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 19:26

A vexed warrior who was once a loving father and husband is brought back to life 25 years later to avenge the demons responsible.

WRITER: Peter Ricq and Davila LeBlanc

ARTIST: Peter Ricq

STORY EDITORS: Fronc Ng and Philippe Ivanusic Vallee

SCOUT EDITOR: Malissa White

A King’s Revenge is a steampunk medieval fantasy adventure wrapped in an action packed revenge story. We follow King Olric who on the last day of a 4 year war confronts the demon responsible. Unable to kill him, the demon assumes the form of his son and slays Olfric. Resurrected by necromancer Beltho Krane 25 years later, Beltho offers Olfric vengeance in exchange for his service. Together, the pair hunt the demon and all those connected to his and his family’s death. Even if it means taking them on one enemy at a time. Inspired by Conan The Barbarian, Robocop, Game of Thrones and Hellboy, fans of  will love this story.

Quote from Andy Patch, Contributing Editor, ThePullbox.com

“If Ricq and LeBlanc’s writing and story is R.E. Howard meets Edward Neumeier, then Ricq’s art is Mike Mignola meets Box Brown. Deceptively simple, highly stylized, a little cartoony and a whole lot gory, Ricq’s deeply-shadowed style is highly reminiscent of Mignola’s Hellboy, while his faces are a bit of Brown’s Is This Guy For Real (both identified as inspirations by Ricq himself).”

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

FantaCo to publish Eerie Publications the Complete covers, the Whole Bloody Mess!

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 19:22

 

On the 60s and 70s newsstands, the notorious Eerie Publications magazine covers shocked petrified comic readers everywhere with garish sideshow covers depicting torture, and gore.

These shocking covers burned themselves into the brain of everyone who saw them.

Now for the first time, collecting every known cover from this putrid publisher presented chronologically, fully annotated and in full ‘Picto-Color’. The good, the bad, and the ugly – the Whole Bloody Mess in one book available in March 2022.

Collected by Eerie Publications collector/historian/author Mike Howlett.

FantaCo is offering preorders serialized and numbered with an exclusive set of ten Eerie Publications trading cards for a limited time.

Available for preorder at www.fantaco.net

 

Mike Howlett is author of The Weird World of Eerie Publications: Comic Gore That Warped Millions of Young Minds, The Worst of Eerie Publications (Chilling Archives of Horror Comics!) and The Weird Indexes of Eerie Publications.

 

240 Pages, March 2021. Softcover $39.95, Smyth sewn hardcover $59.95

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

GFL – Page 0073

Looking For Group - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 19:19

Grouping For Looks is a page-by-page retelling of the Looking For Group saga through the lens of a mirror universe where Cale is a goateed tyrant and Richard is a holy soul trying to set him on a good path. […]

The post GFL – Page 0073 appeared first on Looking For Group.

Categories: Web Comics

Mail Call! Emperor's Choice Arduin Grimoire Bundle (Arduin Grimoire volumes 1-9!) Unboxing

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 18:29
Hoping that your Thanksgiving preparpation has gone smashingly! I'm very appreciative of having a roof over my head, four squares a day, a job, and a hobby that has given me some amazing friends & opportunities. And this little beauty came today. so excited to have this package! Lo do I see the Arduin Grimoire Bundle (Arduin Grimoire volumes 1-9 in my mail box today! Excellent turkey day reading Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

“Free Steam games” videos promise much, deliver malware

Malwarebytes - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 16:46

Gamers are a hot target for scammers, especially in the run up to Christmas. Major games are released throughout the last few months of any year, and the FOMO (fear of missing out) is strong. Especially if said titles offer pre-order exclusive bonuses, or deals and discounts for a few weeks after the game launches.

There’s a lot of big titles hitting digital storefronts at the moment. In the last few weeks alone we’ve seen the release of:

  • Skyrim Anniversary Edition
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Jurassic World Evolution 2
  • Halo Infinite (portions of it, with more to come)
  • Myth of Empires
  • Battlefield 2042

Add other upcoming titles and older ones updated for the festive season into the mix, and it’s fertile ground for people up to no good.

Bogus YouTube videos promise much, deliver little

We’ve seen a lot of activity on YouTube in the last 24 hours in relation to dubious videos. They ride on the coat tails of common searches for “free” versions of popular titles like Skyrim, CSGO, PUBG, Cyberpunk, and more. Other videos focus on Call of Duty, GTAV, Fallout 4, and DayZ.

In all cases, “free Steam keys” are the name of the fake out game. No matter which of the many accounts post up these videos, they all typically link to the same download hosting site.

When free games lead to Malware

The file offered up for download is SteamKeyGeneration.rar, weighing in at 4.19MB. YouTube pages containing the link offer the following instructions:

“Download the ExLoader, open the RAR file, open the EXE file”

The .RAR is password protected, with the password being supplied in the YouTube description. Once the executable runs on the target system, it’s infected by the owner’s own hand.

We detect the file as Trojan.Malpack. This is a generic name given to files which have been packed suspiciously. The actual payload can be anything at all, but this form of packing files is not typically used for legitimate purposes. We’ve seen similar attacks like this previously. In 2018, Fortnite gamers were targeted by scammers pushing Trojan.Malpack files as Fortnite freebies. If the files were downloaded and run on the target system, the reward for doing so was data theft.

Part of a bigger campaign, or a standalone?

YouTube has definitely had some trouble along these lines recently. Researchers at Cluster25 spotted similar activity, targeting a multitude of interests including how-to guides, cryptocurrency, VPN software, and more. In those cases, activity seems to be primarily geared towards two infection paths.

Videos with bit(dot)ly links send victims to download sites such as Mega. Unshortened links redirect to taplink(dot)cc to push Racoon Stealer. Target machines are scanned for card details, passwords, cryptocurrency wallets and other forms of data. This is all harvested and sent on to the attacker.

There are similarities, despite the final destination links being different to those mentioned – such as the password requirement, the similarities in scam setup. Of course, this isn’t a particularly new or novel tactic for YouTube attacks. Including a link to an off-site compressed file on free file hosting, and disabling comments so nobody can point out they’ve had things stolen is video portal shenanigans 101.

You also tend to see one major campaign hit and enjoy success, and then lots of smaller would-be scammers jump on the bandwagon and before long everybody is doing it.

Tips to avoid scams

Whether this is part of the same campaign, a spin-off, or is simply inspired by it, you should avoid any promise of free games deploying these techniques on YouTube. The warning signs are:

  1. Too good to be true claims of Steam (or another platform) being “hacked”, with free games being the end result.
  2. Brand new accounts with no other content than these videos. Much older accounts which have been dormant until now, or display a sudden shift in content produced. Were they making videos of their cats until last week and now they’re all about hacked Skyrim downloads? Beware.
  3. Comments disabled. Anybody linking to off-site files and turning off the comments may not have your best interests at heart.

Getting your hands on a cool new game at a discount is always good news, but sometimes the hidden cost is just too high.

The post “Free Steam games” videos promise much, deliver malware appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

CATCH UP WITH KATE BISHOP’S CANINE COMPANION!

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 16:11

‘LUCKY THE PIZZA DOG’ INFINITY COMIC LAUNCHES ON MARVEL UNLIMITED

ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24

 

Just in time for Kate Bishop’s small-screen debut, Lucky the Pizza Dog is getting his own story! On Wednesday, November 24, the LUCKY THE PIZZA DOG one-shot launches exclusively on Marvel Unlimited in the Infinity Comics format.

LUCKY THE PIZZA DOG

Writer, Artist & Colorist: Jason Loo

              Editor: Caitlin O’Connell

In LUCKY DELIVERS, Kate Bishop waits for her pizza to arrive. And waits. And waits… What’s a Hawkeye’s best friend to do but some investigating of his own? You can count on Pizza Dog to save the day… and dinner!

Marvel Unlimited is a one-stop destination for over 29,000 comics spanning the entire Marvel Universe. The app available on For iPhone®, iPad®, Android devices™ and web. For more information on new Marvel Unlimited comics, please visit: www.marvel.com/unlimited

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

AWA (Artists, Writers & Artisans) Announces That PRIMOS

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 16:09

An All-New Latinx Superhero Comic Series from Comedian, Actor, Writer, and Producer, Al Madrigal and Artist Carlo Barberi, Will Be Available February 2, 2022

 

Every Issue of the PRIMOS Series will be Available in both Spanish and English Versions at their Release

 

AWA (Artists, Writers, & Artisans), the creative business that develops ground-breaking original stories owned by creators across all forms of exploitation including publishing, film, television and NFTs, announced today that the All-New Latinx Superhero Comic Series, PRIMOS will debut February 2, 2022 in both Spanish and English (solicitation date: November 19, 2021).  From the mind of renowned Latinx comedian, actor, writer and producer Al Madrigal (The Daily Show, Morbius, Night School) and artist Carlo Barberi (Deadpool, X-Men: Milestones, Avengers No Road Home, Spider-Geddon), PRIMOS brings together three distant cousins, bound by their ancient spacefaring Mayan lineage to the historical King Janaab, with a profoundly special purpose: to save the world as we know it. They are the “Primos,” and they are Earth’s last hope.

“Al and I have been wanting to work on a project together for some time where we could share our Mexican heritage with a broad audience and create the ultimate Latinx heroes for the 21st Century. PRIMOS is the Latinx Guardians of the Galaxy; they squabble with each other, they assemble as a team, and ultimately save the universe,” said Axel Alonso, AWA’s Chief Creative Officer.

“The lack of Mexican representation in the superhero genre is surprising to say the least.  Everyone, including Latinos, should be able to see heroic but flawed, badass versions of themselves represented in media,” said Madrigal. “I couldn’t be happier to work on PRIMOS with three formidable Mexicans: Carlo Barberi, an incredible artist, along with my friends Felipe Flores and Axel Alonso.”

PRIMOS #1

Writer: Al Madrigal

Artist: Carlo Barberi

Release Date: February 2, 2022

Pre-Order Deadline: January 10, 2022

The ultimate Latinx heroes for the 21st Century are here!  Centuries ago, two Mayan brothers constructed a spacecraft that sent them hurtling into outer space.  Returned to Earth only to find their culture and civilization destroyed, one of the brothers vows revenge and seeks to decimate the planet with intergalactic technology gathered on his travels.  To prevent this, his sibling creates a contingency plan that activates the world’s protectors – three descendants of their own family who have been granted great power.  Now, the fate of the universe lies in the hands of three cousins scattered throughout Central and North America who have never even met.

 

PRIMOS #1 will be available in both Spanish and English versions at comics shops, Amazon.com, Simon & Schuster, ComiXology, Amazon Kindle, GlobalComix, on February 2, 2022.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

MooglyCAL2021 – Block #24

Moogly - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 16:00

It’s time for our final square – block 24 in the MooglyCAL2021! This beautiful square is courtesy of Stitches N Scraps – the Steampunk Cyanide Square features puff stitches, post stitches, and tons of texture. Get all the details for this free crochet along, as well as the free pattern links below! Disclaimer: This post...

Read More

The post MooglyCAL2021 – Block #24 appeared first on moogly. Please visit www.mooglyblog.com for this post. If you are viewing this on another site they have scraped the content from my website without permission. Thank you for your support.

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Categories: Crochet Life

REVIEW CORNER: Simpsons Comics # 51

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 14:51

Simpsons Comics # 51
“Bart and Lisa and Marge and Homer and Maggie (to a lesser extend) vs. Thanksgiving”
Writer: Scott M. Gimple
Penciller: Oscar Gonzalez Loyo
Inker: Tim Bavington
Colorist: Art Villanueva
Letterer: Karen Bates
“What Would Happen If…Cletus Went To College??”
Writer: Scott M. Gimple
Penciller: Phil Ortiz
Inker: Scott McRae
Colorist: Art Villanueva
Letterer: Karen Bates
Cover Date: October 2000
Rating:
Now that Thanksgiving is around the corner, this week I’ll take a look at Simpsons Comics # 51 that celebrates the holiday in the most hilarious way.

While Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together and break bread, it’s not that way for The Simpsons. In this issue, Lisa is protesting Thanksgiving, Bart wants to get to Try ‘N Save to buy the hottest video game and Homer invited the gang at Moe’s for Thanksgiving dinner……without telling Marge, and to matters worse, Homer ate the entire turkey; Lisa and Grandpa head to a casino where the former gets a good look at the commercialism of Thanksgiving, Homer, meanwhile, gets roped into helping Smithers free Mr. Burns from the clutches of three angry turkeys after his guillotine malfunctioned (“Drat It! I knew Volvo couldn’t build a better guillotine”- heh, heh) then Bart comes across a group of orphans and sacrifices the release of a video game to give them a Thanksgiving they will never forget.

I really enjoyed how all the subplots of this issue came together in a timely manner and the sillier moments really help make this story amusing such as Homer and Smithers wearing containment suits to rescue Mr. Burns, then Smithers activates a fail-safe in Homer’s containment suits (By releasing bird seeds – Yeah, it’s extremely silly) while Marge will go to any lengths to secure a turkey (There’s a brilliant Indiana Jones reference thrown in for the heck of it); This story succeeds in being goofy but it does make for a great Thanksgiving story. The backup feature “What would happen if…Cletus went to College??” sees Springfield’s resident slack-jawed yokel enrolled in Springfield University and brings his unique (and bizarre) way of life for the academic side, it’s a funny story and it fills up the rest of the issue. This issue of Simpsons Comics is a laugh romp from beginning to end and still holds up as a reminder that this is series is by far funnier than the past few seasons of the show. And that’s saying a lot.

Next week, I’ll kick off my reviews of Hawkeye stories in honor of the Disney+ series so thanks for sticking around and I will see you all next time.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

He’s the the ultimate lawman of the future at any size – Judge Dredd is heading up a brand new line of action figures in 2022!

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 14:22

Rebellion and Hiya Toys are proud to announce a new line of four-inch and six-inch articulated figures based on the world of Judge Dredd, from the pages of the bestselling comic British comic, 2000 AD!

Hitting stores in time for Judge Dredd’s 45th anniversary in March, this brand new range of fully possible figures draw on more than four decades of ground-breaking comic books set in the world of the classic character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in 1977.

The new collaboration begins with two 1:18 scale, four inch PVC action figures – the legendary lawman of the future, Judge Dredd, and his ultimate foe – the superfiend, Judge Death!

One of the world’s most famous comic book characters, Judge Dredd has been patrolling the mean streets of Mega-City for forty-five years and this dynamic and fully poseable figure of perfectly captures his iconic look, drawing on the artwork of legendary artists such as Carlos Ezquerra, Mick McMahon, Brian Bolland, Cliff Robinson and more!

With 19 points of articulation, he comes with shoulder and joint pads, chain and badge of office, boot holster, utility belt, and imposing helmet. He also comes to with trademark Lawgiver gun, which also fits into the holster on his boot, and Daystick club accessories. Hailing from another dimension, Judge Death is the undead mass murderer who has declared that all life is a crime! Based on the iconic character design and art by co-creator Brian Bolland, as well as the work of artists Cliff Robinson and Garry Leach, the Judge Death figure comes with 18 point of articulation and a gruesome human heart accessory! Available to order from retailers and to trade from this month, and releasing in March 2022, both will come shipped in an attractive protective cardboard window box.

Dredd and Death will be followed in the spring by 1:18 figures of Death’s compatriots in carnage, the terror-inducing Judge Fear, in April (available to order from December) and the lord of decay, Judge Mortis, in May (available to order from January).

And no Judge is complete with his fully-armed ride – Judge Dredd’s iconic motorbike, the Lawmaster, will be available as a set to order from March and hit shelves in July.

In June, Hiya will launch the 1:12 (six-inch) line with Judge Dredd (available to order from February), Judge Death in August (available to order from April), Judge Fear in September (available to order from May) and Judge Mortis in October (available to order from June).

Jason Kinglsey OBE, CEO of Rebellion, said: “The fans have been clamouring for new action figures based on the incredible world created by Wagner and Ezquerra, so we’re delighted to be able to announce our partnership with Hiya Toys in time for 2000 AD and Judge Dredd’s forty-fifth anniversaries. Hiya Toys have a great track record for quality and the designs for these figures have blown us away, they look faithful to the comics and with great little details that show how much care and attention has even poured into them. There are so many amazing characters to choose from in this world, we can’t wait to see what’s next!”

The 2000 AD action figures from Hiya Toys will be available to order from these retailers:

International

US and North America

Other territories:

For trade enquiries, the 2000 AD action figures from Hiya Toys will be available to order from these distributors:

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

Windows Installer vulnerability becomes actively exploited zero-day

Malwarebytes - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 14:21

Sometimes the ways in which malicious code gets in the hands of cybercriminals is frustrating for those in the industry, and incomprehensible to those on the outside.

A quick summary of the events in the history of this exploit:

  • A researcher found a flaw in Windows Installer that would allow an attacker to delete targeted files on an affected system with elevated privileges.
  • Microsoft patched the vulnerability in November’s Patch Tuesday update.
  • The researcher found a way to circumvent the patch and this time decided not to engage in responsible disclosure because he got frustrated with Microsoft’s bug bounty program.
  • The researcher’s PoC is being tested in the wild and cybercriminals could be preparing the first real attacks exploiting this vulnerability.

Let’s have a look at what is going on and how it came to this.

The vulnerability

Publicly disclosed computer security flaws are listed in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. Its goal is to make it easier to share data across separate vulnerability capabilities (tools, databases, and services).

The vulnerability in question was listed as CVE-2021-41379 and is a local Windows Installer Elevation of Privilege (EoP) vulnerability. If successfully exploited, the bypass could give attackers SYSTEM privileges on up-to-date devices running the latest Windows releases, including Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server 2022.

By exploiting this zero-day, threat actors that already have limited access to compromised systems can elevate their privileges and use these privileges to spread laterally within a target network.

The patch

Microsoft patched the vulnerability in the November Patch Tuesday updates. But according to the researcher, the bug was not fixed correctly. He discovered a new variant during the analysis of the CVE-2021-41379 patch.

With the new variant, an attacker will be able to run programs with a higher privilege than they are entitled to. To be clear, an attacker using the new variant must already have access and the ability to run code on a target victim’s machine, but now they can run the code with SYSTEM privileges thanks to the exploit.

The frustration

The researcher appears to have been so disappointed in Microsoft after he responsibly disclosed the vulnerability by means of the Trend Micro zero-day initiative, that he decided to skip that path altogether when he found the new method to bypass the patch. The researcher published a new version of the proof of concept (PoC) exploit, which is even more powerful than the original exploit.

Apparently the main reason for his frustration was the reward level.

““Microsoft’s rewards have been very bad since April 2020; the community wouldn’t make these kinds of decisions if Microsoft took its rewards seriously.”

In the wild

Several security vendors have noticed malware samples in the wild that are attempting to take advantage of this vulnerability. A quick search on VirusTotal showed dozens of different files that tried to do this. This may be some threat actors testing the exploit code to turn it into something they can use in their attacks, along with some researchers trying out different ways to use and stop the exploit. It is worrying nonetheless to see once again how quick attackers are able to weaponize publicly available exploit code.

Mitigation

The researcher recommends users wait for Microsoft to release a security patch, due to the complexity of this vulnerability, although he doesn’t seem confident that Microsoft will get it right this time.

“Any attempt to patch the binary directly will break windows installer. So you better wait and see how Microsoft will screw the patch again.”

Microsoft says it is working on it. In the meantime, Malwarebytes Premium and business users are protected, because our programs detect the files using this vulnerability as Exploit.Agent.

Malwarebytes detects and stops the exploit

Stay safe, everyone!

The post Windows Installer vulnerability becomes actively exploited zero-day appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

Categories: Techie Feeds

JAMES TYNION IV’S CONTRIBUTIONS WILL BE COLLECTED INTO RAZORBLADES: SMALL CUTS SPECIAL THIS APRIL

First Comics News - Wed, 11/24/2021 - 14:14

PORTLAND, Ore. 11/24/2021 — Horror fans rejoice! Razorblades: Small Cuts Special #1—collecting all of bestselling writer James Tynion IV’s tales of terror published in the popular Razorblades: The Horror Magazine so far—will land on shelves this April.

This special issue includes art from Martin Simmonds (The Department of Truth), Josh Hixson (Batman/Fortnite: Foundation), and more. This special collector’s item also reprints the debut of Killboy, Tynion’s original character with Batman collaborator Ricardo Lopez Ortiz.

Razorblades: Small Cuts Special #1 (Diamond Code DEC210150) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, April 27.

For fans that can’t get enough Razorblades thrills, Tynion IV will also team with Steve Foxe (Party & Prey, TKO’s Tales of Terror) to bring the entire terror sensation so far to Image. It will be collected into a deluxe hardcover format and hit shelves on the same day, Wednesday April 27.

Razorblades: The Horror Magazine features nearly 400 pages of chills and thrills from some of the most cutting-edge names in the genre. From monsters in the closet to bodies stuffed into washing machines, Razorblades redefines horror comics for the next era. This hardcover will also feature prose, illustrations, and in-depth interviews with horror icons like Scott Snyder.

Razorblades hardcover edition (ISBN: 978-1-5343-2124-3) will collect Razorblades issues #1-5 and be available on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 and in bookstores on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. It can be pre-ordered at your local comic book shop or independent bookstore or via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Indigo.

Razorblades will also be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Google Play.

The digital and limited print run of Razorblades: The Horror Magazine #5 is on sale now at ReadRazorblades.com, where horror fans can get a taste of the series ahead of the hardcover collection next year.

Categories: Comic Book Blogs

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