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submitted by freispiele to u/freispiele [link] [comments]

2020 NFL Draft Review FINAL - AFC West + links to all divisions - Analysis and Career Predictions for Each Team's Draft Class

The AFC West is the final division in the 2020 NFL Draft review series. Catch up on the other installments of this 2020 NFL Draft review series with the NFC West, AFC South, NFC South, AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, and NFC North.
Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.
Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level. I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. Nevertheless, this is a fun exercise and gives us a chance to review how each team approached the draft.


Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.
Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.
As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that here). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.
So here is the next installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:
5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position. 4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position. 3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production. 2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions. 1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.
Next up, the AFC West.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders came into the draft with needs at wide receiver and cornerback. They wasted no time addressing those positions and ended up taking two corners and two-and-a-half wide receivers total. I think they aced this draft, but not for the reasons you might think.
Las Vegas opted for speed over production by selecting Henry Ruggs III (3) as the first receiver off the board. Ruggs played a supporting role alongside lead dog Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, but ran a 4.28 at the combine and aced the draft process. His speed popped on film, as he routinely cribbed slants and ran by people in the SEC. Ruggs was lauded for his competitiveness and edge, particularly as a blocker, which directly conflicts with my notes of his film. I noted missed blocks, him getting tossed, and labeled him as “weak.” Perhaps I watched the wrong games or my standards are too high.
As far as receiving the football, Ruggs was fantastic, making highlight diving catches and using his hops to climb the later and show off his above-average hands. There are two major unknowns with Ruggs - how he will deal with being the No. 1 option, and how he will develop as a route-runner. Unfortunately, I do not believe he will live up to his physical attributes. Derek Carr ranked 25th in Air Yards Per Completion last year, and while accurate, has never excelled at utilizing a deep threat. I also have a hard time endorsing a player who was not the number one receiver on his own team to be the number one receiver in a loaded draft class.
At No. 19, the Raiders took Damon Arnette (3), which was a surprise to some. I had Arnette going in the first round in my first mock draft of the year and liked his film more than most. His skillset is that of a quality starting corner, despite unorthodox technique and tendencies. Arnette’s play was up-and-down at Ohio State, in part due to being thrown at so much. He showed weird stances and punches from all different angles and body alignments in press coverage, but generally got the job done.
At the NFL level, if unique individual technique is effective, coaches don’t care. Arnette is more comfortable in press than off and will give up the inside. Most importantly, he can get his head around defending vertical routes in man. He was competitive and alert on film, flying down in run support and showing the necessary swagger and short memory needed from a pro corner. He’s going to get beat, but I like his transition to the league as someone who’s been picked on a bit but kept getting better.
At No. 80, the Raiders took one of my favorite players in the draft in Lynn Bowden Jr (4). Lynn Bowden Jr. played quarterback and receiver at Kentucky and is most known for throwing a punch in a pre-game scuffle before the Belk Bowl. Bowden’s film is that of a grown man with an edge. His receiver film shows nothing in terms of advanced route-running, but his speed absolutely plays and his hands are good enough. His quarterback and returner film shows joystick moves in the open field and elusiveness that rivals Lamb and Shenault. I don’t know if he’s a pro wide receiver (neither do the Raiders), but I’ve seen too many converted quarterbacks have success to bet against his natural football traits. I expect Jon Gruden to use him all over the field and for him to be one of the most explosive swiss army-knife weapons of this generation.
With the very next pick, the Raiders again took one of my favorite players in Bryan Edwards (4) of South Carolina. Edwards was the No. 15 overall player on my board so I obviously loved this pick. Aside from injury concerns and a few miscommunication issues working the boundary with his quarterback, Edwards’ film was outstanding. He’s technically sound with strong hands, tremendous contact balance, evidence of beating press, and great concentration skills. As a physical run-after-catch threat, he’s dynamic and strong. He is the prototype big-bodied NFL receiver in terms of traits, plucking the ball and transitioning as a runner smoothly. I predict he’ll be better than Ruggs. He just needs to get and stay healthy.
I think Tanner Muse (2) can be a special-teamer (tripping up J.K. Dobbins was a gigantic play in the National Semifinal), and John Simpson (3) was a steal. I love mauler guards who fall due to a lack of quickness. Simpson is physical and sometimes dominant in the run game. His stance gives away pass or run, but he can be coached and work on his body to develop into a starting guard.
The Raiders took yet another one of “my guys” in Amik Robertson (4) at pick No. 139. I had Robertson ranked 75th overall and featured him in this article. Robertson is tiny and his film isn’t without flaws, but I am always a proponent of taking players whose main knock is lack of size. I think Robertson will struggle with the brute size and strength of NFL football, and I actually don’t think he’s that fast (didn’t run a 40). But as far as being a pure football player and having coverage instincts and ball skills, Robertson is unbelievable.
Robertson plays big, talks a lot, and backs it up. He jacked up the 6-6 Collin Johnson at the line of scrimmage and almost mossed No. 16 on Texas. He’s able to match everything, has a smooth pedal, and gives up almost no separation in man. Slight jersey tug but disciplined hands play in the league. His production at the college level was unreal - 14 interceptions, 2 blocked kicks, 3 defensive touchdowns, and an onside kick return for a touchdown. I worry about his tackling, but I project him to be one of the best slot cover men in the league.
The Raiders chose to stick with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, despite having enough draft ammo to move around and take one of the quarterbacks. I loved what they did with most of their picks. Carr now has more weapons and zero excuses. This is a huge year for him.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers came into the draft with primary needs at quarterback and inside linebacker. They addressed those needs in the first round, selecting the No. 3 and No. 8 players on my board.
The madmen did it. They took Justin Herbert (4) at 6. After being inundated with negative Justin Herbert analysis, I went back for a second look at the former Oregon Duck. In terms of college performance, Herbert’s film is reminiscent of recent busts, including Mitchell Trubisky. He lacks ideal anticipation, inexplicably misses some throws, and wasn’t always trusted by his coaching staff. It is also fair to wonder about his transition, coming from a screen-heavy, spread system at Oregon.
However, evaluating NFL prospects is not just about college performance - it’s about projecting traits. Scouting quarterbacks is difficult, and there’s a reason so many teams miss. A lot of times teams fall in love with physical traits such as arm talent and are burned because the player struggles with the complexities, speed, and decision-making difficulty of the NFL game. I believe a critical look at Herbert’s film through the lens of traits-based scouting gets him to potential franchise quarterback level worthy of a high pick. Like with all prospects, his ultimate NFL fate will come down to a lot of surrounding and unknown factors such as situation, coaching, and intangibles. I will pick my No. 3 overall prospect to succeed. His traits are that of a franchise quarterback and his intelligence and athleticism will help his transition.
Arm talent, throwing on the run, short-level accuracy, ball handling, and mobility make Justin Herbert the complete package in terms of traits. He poorly placed just one throw under five yards in the games I watched. He has good footwork, touch, and excels with play-action. The translatable trait that makes me confident is his ability to look like the best player on the field in the face of pressure. Herbert can move around and deliver strikes on the run or simply use his legs as a weapon. He also showed the ability to go through full-field "rainbow" reads. Players with his running ability can afford to not be the most accurate passers in the world. He showed off his rushing skills in the Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin.
I understand the negatives, but with good coaching, I think Herbert can develop into a franchise quarterback as a mix between Josh Allen and Cam Newton.
After selecting their quarterback at 6, the Chargers traded up for the best inside linebacker in the draft in Kenneth Murray (5). Murray had a productive and storied career at Oklahoma, displaying all the traits of a great pro off-ball linebacker for the Sooners. His speed and instincts make him a sideline to sideline threat, and he has the strength on contact of a thumper. His tackling technique is terrific, pointing to his ability to be coachable. He’s a little out of control at times, but he’s better than Devin White. The move up was worth it.
The Chargers want to bring Justin Herbert along slowly, and will look to make the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The surrounding talent is enough to take them there. With young stud defenders at all three levels, the Bolts just need to build an offensive line and add weaponry for Herbert to compete with the Chiefs in a few years.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos came into the draft with a clear plan - get Drew Lock some weapons. To say they achieved their goal would be an understatement. Their haul included my No. 7 overall player and my No. 1 tight end.
Jerry Jeudy (5) suffered from some prospect fatigue as analysts scrambled to poke holes in his game. While most of his success did come from the slot at Alabama, it’s not like his traits don’t translate to the outside. In Denver, Jeudy can man the slot primarily, whereas if he went to the Jets he may have had to learn an entirely new position. The only question about Jeudy is whether or not Drew Lock is good enough to allow him to reach his extremely high ceiling.
Jeudy has amazing quickness, length, and top-notch speed, but is known most for being an outstanding route-runner. He is the best route-runner I have ever scouted in college. He understands the nuances of changing speeds, is quick with a plan, and shows an uncommon ability to separate that surely translates to the pro game. He’ll be a star if Drew Lock proves to be competent.
With their second pick, the Broncos doubled down on wide receiver with K.J. Hamler (2) of Penn State. Hamler is the prototypical deep threat and an excellent complement to Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in theory. He might be too small for the NFL, but his college film shows route-running ability on slot fades and out routes that rival most pros. His main weaknesses are due to his lack of size, as he struggles in contested catch situations and is dominated by strength in terms of ball security.
Hamler made a couple of tremendous sliding catches but does not display much in terms of hands an almost exclusively body-catcher. It’s a common misconception that receivers are never taught to catch with their body as coaches will teach it in certain situations. Hamler can succeed in the NFL, but there are too many mouths to feed in Denver for him to be more than a situational deep threat.
Michael Ojemudia (2) has the athletic profile and size to be a starter, but his film doesn’t show the natural football traits of a pro. He isn’t physical enough and doesn’t show great awareness in zone, letting receivers get behind him.
Lloyd Cushenberry (2) was one of the most overrated prospects in the draft. He’s a classic case of a decorated collegiate who gets overdrafted due to great character. He was beaten badly by the Texas nose tackle and generally lacks balance.
McTelvin Agim (1) was overdrafted as a former five-star recruit who didn’t dominate in the SEC. He has the size and tools to be a rotational defensive lineman, but plays too high and bends at the waist, losing leverage and balance too easily.
Denver's best pick after Jeudy was Albert Okwuegbunam (3). His size/hands mix is rare and his physical ability is special. After last season I thought he’d be a high pick, but he never seemed to put it together. He’s an instant red-zone threat as a project with huge upside.
The draft community is giving high praise to this Broncos class. I think they nailed their first pick but wasn’t overly impressed with the rest of the haul. Denver’s defense is loaded with talented veterans and a returning Bradley Chubb, so Drew Lock’s progress will be an intriguing storyline in the AFC Wild Card race.

Kansas City Chiefs

Congratulations to the Chiefs and their fans on winning the Super Bowl. The World Champs came into the draft without any pressing needs and selected three extremely talented young prospects with their first three picks.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4) is a perfect fit in Andy Reid’s offense. My No. 2 running back, CEH reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew. His lack of height is a non-issue, if not a positive, as he gives defenders a small target on his way to eluding tacklers and making guys miss. He's short but sturdy. His film against Alabama was inspiring, breaking tackles and moving piles against defenders twice his size. His best trait is his ability as a receiver, showing advanced route-running skills and soft hands. He’s competitive, fiery, and tough.
While he didn’t quite excel against the Georgia pros, he’s going to have so much space with Patrick Mahomes it’s scary. His 4.6 40 shows a lack of ideal long speed, but his ten-yard split was among the best for running backs at the combine. Amazing fit, PPR fantasy points everywhere.
Willie Gay Jr. (3) has very inconsistent film and character red flags. Andy Reid took a chance on Marcus Peters years ago, who has had a very good pro career. The Chiefs culture should keep Gay on the right track. His film in 2018 was better than 2019, as he had more splash plays and tackled better. In 2019, some of his film showed poor angles and undisciplined missed fits. His speed plays and if he puts in any work at all his floor is a talented special teamer. I think Reid gets the most out of him and he starts at linebacker as a rookie. The burst and pop when he hits people is impressive.
Lucas Niang (3) has a very ugly body, but I liked his film a lot. He has a small lower half and is fat up top, which teams usually don’t like. He can be effective and quick, and has functional strength and movement skills despite his odd shape. I had him at No. 39 on my big board and project him to be a starting right tackle whenever the Chiefs need one. Solid pick.
The Chiefs have the best player in the NFL and a good enough defense. They should be favored to win it all again. The main takeaway from this class is that Andy Reid running backs are fantasy gold and he just got one that fits his scheme perfectly.
That wraps up the 2020 draft review series. Thank you so much for reading. On to 2021!
AFC West article with gifs:
NFC West:
AFC South:
NFC South:
AFC East:
NFC East:
AFC North:
NFC North:
submitted by gpngc to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]

A Tale of Giants, Pt 3 (conclusion)

This is to conclude my adventure notes, thoughts, and lessons learned from forcing myself to use different monsters and having one of my players admit that he killed his family to the rest of the group.
Like those posts, this is probably going to be wrong. So I'll try to break it up into digestible sections with titles - and I'll try to be less wordy with future contributions to the subreddit. But I'm a man of the people, and McSkids said s/he wanted this.

The Second Adventure

Istelastrix needs your help

In case you don't remember from Part 2 of these posts, or didn't read the other ones: Istelastrix was the enigmatic villain of my party's last adventure. What ostensibly began as a quest to evict some squatters from a brother-of-a-friend's new mansion, devolved into a quest to save a paper drake from undead fey.
After my party made it home and celebrated a job well done, Istelastrix inexplicably turned up with considerable embarrassment. She needed the party's help. As it turns out, she was turned into an undead as part of a bargain with the Fey Queen of Night and Magic, to deliver or destroy an ancient fey-killing artifact to the archfey. The paperdrake the party now has in its possession has the map Istelastrix needs to find the artifact, and thus win her independence.
Of course, the party believed Istelastrix's story - ancient artifact, evil giants, world shattering power, that kind of thing - they just didn't believe she had truly altruistic intentions. After all, how many undead do you meet that are good guys? Well here comes one of my attempts to present my party with an interesting, nuanced, sympathetic ally. Istelastrix took a fool's bargain, inexorably tied to the whims of a capricious patron, desperate for her independence from the damnable archfey - she wants the same independence and freedom that was an overarching theme of the general campaign, where the party had conquered a ruined keep and declared its independence/sovereignty from the rest of the world.
My party didn't care very much. I think it was a two-part failure: One, I didn't do a good job engaging my players in a way that made them care about the NPC. I played her as a stilted, standoffish, and secretive NPC who was clearly embarrassed to need the party's help and lashed out at them frequently as a result. If we had concluded the adventure, she was supposed to have a turning point eventually where the players got some insight to her mental state / motivation, which hopefully would have made them understand. Two, I didn't do a good job of estimating what my players cared about; my players, like the stereotype of women you learn from every "pickup artist" tutorial, knew if they wanted to like an NPC within the first 10 minutes and disregarded anyone who didn't make the cut.
Unfortunately, that is the biggest weakness (for me) with Roll20. It's very hard to gauge what engages my party, and what falls completely flat. As the DM, your job is to facilitate fun; for most groups, I would argue that you can measure fun by how much everyone laughs or cheers, but there is a lot to be said for building tension, or even using frustration, confusion, mystery, subtlety, and other tools to engage your players. But (at least for me) it takes a lot of nonverbal cues to see if you are getting the intended effect or not. And some players play with push-to-talk, so you may make them roll out of their chair laughing or shouting triumphantly, but if they don't hit the button it's like your DMing is met with complete silence. Maybe my party could all invest in webcams, but then I couldn't DM in my PJs and stuff my face.
I've run into a similar situation again in the campaign I'm currently running. My party met a vampire Lady who made a dark pact with Evil forces as a way to prolong her life long enough to be able to free her husband from an Imprisonment spell. The party popped in long enough to borrow some of her late husband's research notes on Vecna and 86'd. And again, I don't think it's a failure to make a complex character - it's a failure to make a complex character that engages my party. All of the creative writing and lore in the world is useless in actual D&D play if you don't supply it with a reason for your players to care. It's honestly one of my most recurring problems, and I'm sure it's something a lot of DMs have experienced: I'll put in a lot of effort to part of my world, only for my party to care way more about throwaway comments and improvised details.

Istelastrix's Quest

According to Istelastrix, there is an island that is magically protected, but conveniently nearby to the party's current location. Unlike a normal location on the map, however, sailing to this island isn't just about going to the right place; it requires sailing at the right angle, at the right time, and even thinking about the right thing. Why? A wizard did it.
Anyway, Istelastrix carries two important things: A magic adamantine sword that does force damage, and a Rod of Anti-Magic. I don't know what the real RoAM does according to the DMG, but for the purposes of my game, the Rod permanently dispels any effect or magic item it is touched to. Including artifacts. I didn't think this would be a big deal because it was on the NPC's belt, it wasn't something the party could just abuse as much as they wanted. I was wrong.
She was given the Rod by her benefactor. If Istelastrix could not recover the McGuffin magic artifact, she was to touch the Rod to it and destroy it.
After some terse negotiation, the party agreed to hand over the paperdrake so it could display the map it was hiding, but they had to come with Istelastrix to ensure this artifact isn't going to be stolen for nefarious purposes. She acquiesced, after putting up a show of argument; in reality, she was terrified of her quest. Trying to recover the McGuffin is how she died, after all, and there were no second 2nd chances if she died on the island again.

So what is this artifact? What does it do? What is it named?

That was all kept pretty vague... I always thought "well I don't need that info for a couple sessions, I'll think of something when I need to." I don't even remember what the artifact is called. Something giant-sounding, like the Ahlmhammer or something. The point is that it's somewhere on this island, and there are 3-8 party level appropriate encounters on the way. I'm going to start calling it McG for short because McGuffin gets repetitive.

To The Island


The party grabbed some no-name NPCs and a ship we... uh... liberated from its owners during a previous adventure. The players + Istelastrix set sail, and immediately ran into DM fiat. You see, the island is shrouded in fog; worse, the ocean itself is one giant speaker for the Bardjotun. Unbeknownst to the party, the giant with bard levels that was supposed to be the BBEG lived deep underneath the island; he had brass tubes bored through miles of rock, reaching from the ceiling of his chamber up into the ocean overhead; which he played his instrument, it reverberated all of these pipes and made the ocean for a mile around ripple with his enchanting music. Is this realistic at all? No. But I think it makes a pretty badass bard villain.
Anyway, the party had to roll an arbitrarily high saving throw to resist the bard's magic. They all failed because that's what I needed to happen for the adventure to continue. Pro tip: That is one of the best signs that you didn't write a very good adventure.
The party wakes up to find their ship damaged and marooned on a beach, with their crew missing. Footsteps in the sand lead into the jungle. Where did the crew go? Where are we? How do we get back off the island? Do we roll initiative yet?

The Island

The first clue the party got that the island was unnatural, other than the fact that it requires a magic map to find, is the way that it continually slopes upward. Almost like a rounded pyramid or layers of concentric rings, the island came to a point with an impressive mountain peak at its center, but there was a lot of jungle between the party and the island center.
The second clue the party got involved the number of gorillas. The party had the creeping sensation that they were being watched as they passed into the jungle. I don't remember exactly how or what happened, but they realized that seemingly intelligent gorillas were following them from a safe distance. Then they became paranoid of all animals they encountered.
One of the big dangers on the island was a reflavored enemy: The Plantercap. If you take the stats of an ettercap, and replace its web spitting ability with an identical sap glob spitting ability, give it weakness to fire, and some swarms of insects, and suddenly your party is fighting Bellsprout.
The party also encountered the remains of a giant's camp. Including a giant-sized lean-to, and a giant-sized fire pit. In case the party still hadn't realized by now, the adventure was going to include a lot of giants.

The Village of Hill Giants

To the party's surprise, they encountered a village of hill giants. They expected an impossible fight to break out, but realized that the giants didn't pay any attention to them. Out of curiosity, the party found a hill giant that could speak Common, and asked him wtf was going on.
The hill giant explained that "little people" came through the village all the time on their way to serve the Bardjotun. They were the first travelers to ever stop and talk to them. The hill giant didn't understand what was going on, but the party was able to piece together the fact that most people were in a trance from the bard's magic, and walked through the hill giant village on their way to be enslaved, killed, eaten, or whatever the bard did with them. They also learned about the "Builders," and after a fashion they realized that the hill giant was talking about the gorillas. If the party wanted more information, they needed to go find "Markopolos."
The party thought the -opolos name meant they were looking for a city, not a person. You would think as soon as they met Markopolos they would realize it was his name, but I kid you not they assumed the NPC who said "I am Markopolos" was speaking euphemistically, like if one of those inspirational Youtube commercials had 30 people say "I am New York" and stand in solidarity or something. It took almost a whole session for me to realize that they still thought they were looking for a city.

Markopolos's Trouble

The party comes to a large break in the jungle, and finds several things they did not expect:
  1. The gorillas work in teams to transport all kinds of materials and supplies. This includes buckets of dirt, or huge stone blocks that are lashed to two or more gorillas to drag behind them. Some are even using tools like pickaxes or shovels to help gather materials, and drag them off to unknown purposes in the jungle. Some head towards the center mountain, some head towards the beach.
  2. There is a colorful tent and market stall on an artificial plateau. The land has been scooped up in a wide, deep circle. A foppishly dressed humanoid chitters to himself nervously, trapped on the island.
  3. A female fire giant seems to be orchestrating the entire thing, directing the gorillas' work and occasionally yelling insults at the merchant.
According to the hill giants, the party needs Markopolos's help to reach the center of the island. They realize the fire giant is using the name "Markopolos" between her insults, which are mostly in Giant. She is mad at, and has trapped, the NPC they need!
As it turns out, Jadeowyn Flamepearl (Jade-oh-win) is another helpful giant. She's also the entire reason why I started writing Part 1 and my motivation to do Part 2 of these posts. And here I am 2 weeks later just finally getting to her. Anyway, I went into a lot of detail describing Ms. Flamepearl and unlike my other NPCs, she went over really well with my party. A lot of these ideas come from reading up on fire giant lore in the MM and Volo's Guide:
Jadeowyn is metal. Her ear rings are the metal bands from casks of ale; her lapel button is a halfling's buckler shield; her necklace is made from the melted down blades of her enemies; the ring on one of her fingers is a piton she beat into shape; etc etc. She didn't wear a ton of jewelry, but everything she wore used to be some kind of weapon, tool, or other metal object. I wish I remembered what key words to google to find the picture I used for her. I think she even pierced one of her ears with a gnome's spear.
Well as the party came to find out, Markopolos was an unusually gabby lizardfolk. He referred to himself with the impressive title "Markopolos the Merchantomancer" (he's mortal enemies with one of my other characters, a goblin who calls himself a Salesmanomancer). He was in a bit of a tiff with his now ex-girlfriend, Jadeowyn. How does a fire giant and a lizardfolk fall in love? I'm not entirely sure. But she used to be top dog on the island and the main enforcer for the Bardjotun; she even did the design and construction on the giant's underground lair, replete with all the pipes that allow him to project his music to ships passing within a few miles of the island. That was until the Bardjotun decided that the low-class stone giants should live in the mountain instead, and kicked her out. Suffice to say, she's actually happy to find out the party is not under the bard's trance effect, and is glad to help them defeat the bard - but she isn't letting Markopolos leave until he apologizes.
What did Markopolos do? He did what any bad boyfriend does: He promised to get Jadeowyn a beautiful new piece of jewelry for their anniversary, with zero plan on how to get it. He's trapped on the island just like everyone else, and it's not exactly teeming with high end jewelry stores.
Thinking quickly, Markopolos took a dagger from an adventurer who died on the island. It had a glistening diamond pommel; he gave it to Jadeowyn and told her it was a "nose stud." She went to stick it in her nose but realized what it was. She obviously doesn't care about impaling herself with (comparatively) small weapons as jewelry, as I already described; she's upset because Mark lied to her about what the gift was. So Jadeowyn used her innate move earth ability and her army of gorillas to carve a moat around Mark's merchant tent until he apologized.
Markopolos now needs the party to either find him a suitable piece of jewelry to apologize with, or to go recover the dagger so he can present it to Jadeowyn with honesty. Either way, it was not the kind of sidequest my party was expecting XD.

Recovering the Dagger

My players decided looking for the dagger was easier. They knew that Jadeowyn angrily flung it into the jungle, and that a beast referred to as Snarfrattle collected discarded trinkets. Its lair was nearby and lo and behold, he didn't in fact have the dagger in his hoard + some gold and other goodies. You may be thinking wow that was a really short, easy problem to solve, not much of a quest, but I did not plan for the party sticking around this long. Jadeowyn did her job of giving more exposition and warning the party that they needed to fight stone giants, now I needed Markopolos free to show the party where to go.
Snarfrattle, the party discovered, was a polymorphed young dragon with an appropriate Cr to their level. The encounter was a super rush job because I did not prep for this session very well. They fought a giant hyena in a cave that had a breath weapon like a dragon, and when its HP got low enough it revealed itself as a black or green dragon (I don't remember which he was), and the party killed him. I did zero foreshadowing that Snarfrattle wasn't just a giant animal or giving the party any kind of warning on what they were about to fight.
They party succeeded, however. No one went down in the fight... except Istelastrix. And while she lay on the ground making death saving throws, the party debated whether they should kill her, leave her for dead, or heal her. They still did not trust her, after all, and they didn't see her as useful anymore now that they were on the island and knew about the artifact they could take for themselves. Well the party compromised and agreed to heal her - after one of the players stole her Rod of Anti-Magic and disenchanted her sword and her armor. Yeah. Imagine waking up and your warlock pact weapon is just a mundane piece of metal. Definitely the last thing I expected my players to do. I obviously didn't want it to happen; I had envisioned Istelastrix standing by the party's side heroically in the final battle with the BBEG, but I gave my players the resource and the opportunity to make her nearly inconsequential. Good thing she still had Eldritch Blast.
The party returned with the dagger, which indeed had a gleaming diamond pommel. They took it back to Markopolos, and coached him on how to apologize to Jadeowyn. Her heart melted "like ore in the furnace" and she took him back. She thought the diamond was too gaudy, however, and pried it from the dagger's hilt before sticking it in her nose as the most badass nose stud of all time.

A Brief Aside on Magic Items

The diamond itself was a magic item I generated from random rolls in the DMG. I think it had the "quirk" that it causes flowers to bloom, butterflies to gather, and small animals to frolic in the presence of the owner. My party decided it wasn't worth attuning to and threw it in a sack with all the other misbegotten magic items.
Speaking of which, the party by this point had acquired another magic item: A brimstone-and-ash colored cloak that gave the wearer resistance to fire damage, and the ability to cast shape lava (like shape water, but, lava). I had a vague plan to include lava as an obstacle later in the adventure, but we didn't get there. Again, I rolled on some of the random tables in the DMG just to see if I would find anything interesting to further characterize the cloak. It was made by a water genasi to help kill fire genasi. Or maybe the other way around, I don't remember. What I do remember is that the cloak was inscribed with what looked like fish swimming through the ash and lava decorating the coat; anyone who knew Aquan or Primordial however, could recognize the pictographic language as a series of insults about how much Elemental Fire sucks.
Markopolos had a couple of terrible magic items for sale, most of which only existed for comedic purposes. One of the items was a Wand of Magic Detection, with a gem that glowed when around magic items; the problem is, it detected itself, so it always glowed. What the players didn't think about is that the wand is perfect for detecting anti-magic fields and other effects, since that would cause the gem to stop glowing, but I couldn't force them to purchase something their characters couldn't think of a use for. Especially when everything else for sale was some kind of gimmick, they definitely viewed the Wand already in the mindset that it was totally useless.

Markopolos's Help

After Markopolos was forgiven, Jadeowyn quickly refilled the ground around his tent. They hugged and had a d'aww moment with the party, then Markopolos immediately started trying to sell the party his piles of junk. All of the good magic items and valuables collected from other ships marooned on the island were used by the Bardjotun, so Mark could only cobble together a pile of rejects.
The party asked Markopolos how to reach the center of the island. They totally believed what the hill giant told them, that only Mark knew how to get there... I honestly hadn't decided whether Mark was running a scam, if what he told the players is true, or if even Mark was tricked by superstition. But Mark explained the following:
Long ago, the world had more gods. Due to backstory events in the lore, domains were consolidated and a lot of lesser gods died. The now-extinct inhabitants of this island, however, worshiped a god of Games and Chance who petitioned the Goddess of Luck; he would peacefully acquiesce control of his domains, and even work for the more powerful god, he just wanted to retain influence on the island.
So far, the party had only passed through artificial parts of the island. The gorillas, or the "Builders" as the hill giants called them, were under magical compulsion to follow Jadeowyn's commands, and she was instructed to make the island bigger and taller. So they slowly expanded the island over time in all directions, creating the unnatural, sloping, circular shape, and the way the island culminated in a point. Technically none of this was part of the island that this god controlled, so his rules did not apply; but Markopolos's merchant stall was at the threshold, before fate and magic turned over to this local god's control.
In order to appease the god of Games and Chance, and bring him honor, or at least not incur his wrath, the party had to agree to a game and place bets to cross through the god's territory. What kind of game? A race.

Deathrace 2000

Among all of Markopolos's garbage, he had a handful of valuable items for rent: Whistles, shaped like different animals, that summoned fantastic steeds 1/day. The players, Mark himself and Istelastrix had a number of animals to pick. I don't remember all of the options off the top of my head. I do remember putting almost no effort into balancing the animals or the race itself. IIRC their options were:
  1. Stench cow, an auroch, or some other fantasy bovine. Strong, but slow. I think the party made Istelastrix ride the stench cow? I remember whatever they picked for her, she was unhappy about it.
  2. Dire Weasel. Had a burrow and a climb speed, and could burrow slowly with a rider.
  3. Dire Basilisk Lizard. Could run across water or lava, as long as its movement did not end on water or lava.
  4. Dire Ferret. It had a unique "Play Dead" option that gave it advantage on Deception checks to play dead, and it extended this ability to its rider. You think that wouldn't be helpful in a race...
  5. Some other goofy options.
Each animal had pros and cons, such as a different movement speed, or the ability to climb or move on certain surfaces, or some kind of unique ability. They also had a higher or lower animal handling DC for things like dashing, jumping over gaps, or charging enemies.
Each animal was unique, so each player had to pick a different one and compare their pros/cons. They paid a rental fee, and got the worst/cheapest option for Istelastrix. Then they settled in for what they thought would be a straightforward race.
I put 3 random maps together: A twisting path up a hill with a bridge spanning a river, a maze-like expansive sewer system with no clear exit, and a more straightforward maze-like warehouse.
The first map was simple. The player who chose the basilisk ran straight across the river, for what they thought would be a huge lead; another player polymorphed his mount into a flying creature and went straight for the top of the hill. The other two players got off to a slower start, and lost even more time when a water weird attacked from hiding underneath the bridge and almost killed Markopolos.
The second map was the bulk of the session. The sewer was very large, and admittedly very very empty with little-to-no indication to the players of where they should be going, or even what they should be looking for. Again, this is a big fail on the DM's part. The fact that they were racing each other provided enough tension that it didn't matter if several rounds of initiative were just used to roll animal handling and exploring the sewers; I didn't need a lot of traps or enemies to keep the game entertaining. What I should have done, however, is figured out a good way to direct the players somehow. As any lazy DM knows, it's dangerous to throw up random maps you found online; your players will notice details you didn't, and their imagination will fixate on things you never intended to be important. So the party spent a lot of time smacking their heads on things, thinking they found the exit or a puzzle to solve or something. I at least shouldn't have made the exit "this nondescript door that an exploring player would blaze past."
The sewers had a number of random encounters that the split party bumbled into. This included a spider-infested tunnel with a dead drow cultist still clutching her Staff of Arachnidkind (requires attunement, grants immunity to poison, the ability to command spiders below Cr 1, and spiders above Cr 1 are never hostile by default), a gaggle of hungry molds, an otyugh, some giant spiders, and some undead.
Eventually, a player decided to open the random, nondescript door in a tunnel they already passed through a couple times, and found the escape up into a warehouse. He raced to the end... of the campaign.

Total Cliffhanger

Unfortunately, that was the last session we played. A player shouted in triumph at blazing across the finish line, closely followed by his companions; they asked with excitement what they found, now that they were finally past the thick obscuring jungle, and I said "we'll find out... next time."
By this point, I had not developed a good fortitude for being DM, and I was prone to getting burned out. That is part of the reason why I only DM'd in between the "main" plot adventures, and most of what I ran was 1-2 sessions long. But this time I was several sessions in, and we had been interrupted with a lot of missed sessions due to schedules or technical errors or real life drama. I was relying more and more on improv or throwing together notes the night before we played. So I only had a vague mental plan for what was upcoming.
I try to be a better DM now. If I have 4 people showing up to a game, trusting each other with 4+ hours of their weekend, I feel like I owe them the best experience I can provide. I don't feel the need to run a perfect session every time, but as a DM or as a player it's important that you value the time and the experience of everyone playing. Sometimes that's as simple as learning how your class mechanics work so you don't have to ask every time.
But I digress. The adventure path I had in my head involved having to fight through the stone giants to make entry to the mountain at the center of the island. The stone giants were living in a home Jadeowyn carved out for herself, so it had a blended fire-stone giant aesthetic, including some good Lawful Evil torture devices and other things to remind the party what Jadeowyn is, and even though she's an outlier from the typical fire giant, she obviously still lives up to some of the expectations of the race.
The Bardjotun was not going to be as crazy a fight as I foreshadowed each session. The big deal was going to be fighting the troll Vaprak left to guard the McG. While the party was distracted with holding the troll off, Istelastrix was going to grab the McG for herself, and say something like "Aha! Finally! I have obtained the McGuffin! Come get it, Archfey!" and when the Archfey appeared to collect it, wham betrayal Istelastrix uses it to kill the archfey. The party is then blamed for the massive upset to the courts and powerbalance of the fey, and Istelastrix would lose her warlock abilities. I was going to roll her up as a fighter who joined the party and acted like a spell caster, and was still coming to terms with the fact that she had none of her warlock abilities.
After real life shenanigans calmed back down, I started a new campaign with the same DM. During a session I DM'd, she appeared in much the same state as she appeared in this campaign diary: Embarrassed and angry about her lot in life. Imagine a lawyer's suit stretched over her armor. She appeared with a set of arraignment paperwork to interrogate two party members for "crimes against the fabric of reality." They had genuinely done something wrong that I don't remember, and then she had a dozen trumped up charges accusing them of working for Asmodeus and crazy stuff like that. At the end of the trial, the Archfey of Night and Magic (the assassination attempt failed, and this lawyer stuff was Istelastrix's punishment) assigned Istelastrix as a "caseworker" to document any further criminality the party committed.
That's how I came to play Istelastrix in the Tomb of Annihilation. She got unceremoniously thrown in lava 1 round into combat with the soulmonger.
I think I'm going to keep her in my DM back pocket for the rest of time as a character or NPC whose backstory includes dying several times, and always being brought back to undeath and thrown into an even worse situation by her archfey as punishment. So years from now when I'm playing, she can talk about all the different adventuring parties who abandoned her, or let her die, or disenchanted all of her stuff, and it's all stories from actual games.
Markopolos and Jadeowyn, unfortunately, broke up after the events of the campaign :(. Markopolos is now merchantomancing in a Sigil-like trade port city, and Jadeowyn is... well I'm going to link this post to one of my players so he can reminiscence. He'll find out what's become of Jadeowyn soon :).
submitted by Applejaxc to mattcolville [link] [comments]

I'mma head out

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submitted by TastyUdders to OneWordBan [link] [comments]

Would anyone want to read the rest of this story? Should I turn this in to a book?

How would I expand this? I want to write a book.

Junior year of University, I was approached by M(atty)M(oe) he was goading me to apply to a community service organization, the Bonner program, which rewards students accepted with a $5,000 check. Reluctantly, I applied and shockingly I was accepted into the program, which also included the aforementioned scholarship. Upon receipt of the scholarship check I stood at my mailbox for about 10 minutes $5000 seemed like a small fortune to me, a check of $5000 was almost license to drink myself into oblivion, or throw my fraternity a party completely funded by yours truly.
Nervously, I walked over to the registrars office of Stetson University and said; "Ummm I believe you’ve made a mistake, this check does not belong to me…" They tell me in return, "No that’s your award for being accepted into Bonner."
My head was spinning from the absolute good fortune of doggedly pursuing the philanthropic streak in me, and heeding MMs advice. I was trying to decide what to do with the money; "I could throw my fraternity a party…I could invest it, but any investment right now is suicide…I could buy a motorcycle…" I decided to go with motorcycle, not immediate suicide, I would at least get an dopamine rush on a daily basis. I might even attract a few girls!
Side note: the 'investment option" would have been the best option, I was presenting the equity: SNA, to the board of trustees for purchase into the school endowment portfolio, at time of check receipt, SNA (Snap-On), the equity I was presenting, was trading around $30-35/share (it touched $29/share on the day I made my presentation). At time of writing SNA was trading at $183.59/share. Upon receipt of the scholarship money that was gifted to me, for my good deeds towards humanity, I could have bought 5000/35 = 142 shares of SNA, 142*183=~$30,000. Though no (not) sane 20 year old kid would want to lock their money up for eternity and buy stocks and bonds, that is for old people… like 25 year olds.
I went down to Deland Motorsports with my best friend to browse a few insane 'crotch rockets,' Id learnt that an I-4, or inline 4 cylinder, motorcycle would be vastly overpowered for a 'squid*. Accepting this, I decided on a , very powerful Suzuki SV650s, a sane choice for a "noob."
*squirrely kid
With the final signature of some loan document (stupidly I wasnt not paying very close attention to the verbiage, or amounts - pretty incredible for a finance major) a sudden Dopamine wave went through my body. Holy shit, I thought, do I own another motor vehicle? Im going to get so many girls(!) but I am dating JL… Perhaps her friends will badger her incessantly, and she'll cave and bring another girl into the mix.
None of that happened. Though I did hook up with one if the 'hottest' girls at Stetson, MC, and she specifically said: "you look so 'hawt' riding your motorcycle back from intramural Soccer games, shirtless." Which I interpreted as a flirtatious vote lauding the purchase of that death machine, exactly the type of thing I had in mind when making the purchase. Then there was CZ, Im fairly certain she didn’t have a sexual motivation activated by the motorcycle, this was just a girl who was 'thirsty.' The summer between Junior and Senior year I was selected (incredibly) for an internship with Morgan Stanley, I remember getting the call, in April 2007:
"Hello, could we speak with Nicolas Uppal?"
ohhhh shit what did I do now? "Speaking" I said
"Congratulations Nicolas! You’ve been selected to be a Junior Financial analyst with the GWMG group at Morgan Stanley! You have two options: Beverly Hills or Downtown LA"
All my friends and family can tell you how I was constantly professing to 'adore city life,' and how 'I felt empty if I did not see anything in the sky.' However, the option laid out in front of me required some deliberation, time I did not have. "Uh uh uh Beverly Hills" I blurted out.
"Excellent choice we will send you a confirmation email with the next steps included. Welcome aboard."
Holy sh!t, I thought, im a rising Senior and I already have employment plans.
I immediately called my mother, and let her know the great news.
"I hope you & BPJ approve of this." Quickly explain the Morgan Stanley tale.
"Bien sur que il va etre excite, et mois aussi!"
"Awesome, I have class, talk to you soon, love you."
And with that I thought my future was coming together. I putted around campus for the remainder of my Junior and Senior years, occasionally riding out to Daytona beach, thinking: "this is so cool thank god for this helmet though, I didn’t have the cash to buy one there! Im glad the dealer included one with the sale." That call came at the perfect time to fully let loose over spring break.
For Spring Break; I went to Key West with GA, EM, CF, and DS - we had a blast. I don’t think there was a 5-minute space when all 5 of us were not drunk or high. Then, GA and I had the brilliant idea of renting 49cc scooters and terrorizing Duvall St. We were wrong, Duvall St. terrorized us, EM got into a fight with a bouncer at some popular bar on the strip on Duvall St. EM destroyed him, he just sat on the entrance steps as all 5 of us stumbled in, then 10 minutes and 5 drinks later, we stumbled out, mounted our scooters and safely made it back to our motel, this episode only reinforced my feeling of being invincible.
The next day GA and I were racing on the mopeds around Key West, seeing some traffic up ahead I decided to ramp on to the sidewalk and ride on the sidewalk and 'bunnyhop' down off the sidewalk, thus ensuring my victory. GA pulled up next to me laughing his ass off, from that point forward it didn’t matter if we were drunk, high, or both - we were jumping off sidewalks. Amazingly, none of us went down, except for CF who gave the scooter too much throttle on the sand, lost the rear end and the scooter fishtailed out from underneath him in some sand. Schadenfreude, I thought. Good thing im (slightly) more skilled at riding scooters.
We then had our final night out, just got really drunk didn’t do anything to prepare for the ride back up to Dea(d)land, and await the final 2 months of school.
In the final 2 months of Senior year I attended Ultra Music Festival, I was so in to progressive house and was known around campus for my love affair with House music. In fact DS and I hosted a radio show called "Techno story time," where we would 'drop' the sickest track we had heard during the previous week, and between tracks I would tell an 'R'/'X' rated story of the debauchery. Looking back on this, I must've seemed like such a douchebag, literally kissing and telling whoever had the misfortune of tuning in. Ultra (UMF) was in Miami a 7 hour drive, too pusillanimous to take 'Brutus,' (I wanted to keep him in excellent condition, keep the mileage low) I decided to take the motorcycle.
I recall that going to Miami on a motorcycle was so draining, but as always I was able to overcome that challenge and arrive in Miami with time to spare. I crashed on JLs brothers couch at UM, what an awesome guy for putting up with a smelly, dirty guy who was banging his sister. Damn, in retrospect, I cant really forgive myself for breaking up with JL a year later
At Ultra Music Fest had an awesome time, I didn’t do any drugs, get drunk, or makeout/flirt/hookup with anyone else or smoke Cannabis (although you could smell the cannabis smoke 2-3 miles away). On the drive back, I decided to go as fast as I could (actually I just really really missed JL and wanted to get to Stetson sooner) I remember having the bike at 135 MPH (engine speed limit, were it not for that or I wouldve gone much faster - so that speed limiter was a good thing) for ~30 minutes on the long and boring interior highway FL91. 91 to I-4 to US 17 to JLs arms!
The final 2 months until graduation were essentially a self-imposed retirement; I had no projects due, no finals and before leaving to Ultra Fest '09 I had just given my bond presentation. I was a free man - with no employment lined up. The drawbacks of going to a small, unknown and not-well-connected-outside-of-Florida school were beginning to become apparent
During graduation, I don’t know why I was so somber, I stuck around after graduating for a few nights to party with the boys and be with JL before I departed towards the unknown of adulthood. Upon returning to Atlanta I just assumed that I would be able to 'crash' in my old room, without having a job. Luckily, about 4 months in to my joblessness my great friend from school KD was able to hook up an interview for me with his company, AT&T. I interviewed well, but I really think KD had it already arranged to have me hired, they just wanted to vet me. I interviewed and was subsequently hired to do some business analytics/data cleaning. While working at AT&T I did great work making fun of my superior AM, however, I was not entirely clear on my task. I know I was supposed to measure the times from product purchase to online implementation. Beyond that, However the work was a sinecure until I was hired by MS. We moved buildings, 1 block to a massive, wide open cubicle farm, there may have been ~1000 cubicles in that room - and my cubicle was positioned so that the screen of my computer was visible to everyone who walked in.
Despite being assigned to a less than desirable spot. I worked, not hard but I made sure I completed all my tasks. About 2 months into my 'shafting' I decided to fly to FLL, Ft. Lauderdale, to visit JL, I missed her so badly. I didn’t just miss the sex, I missed the affection, I missed the unconditional love. I had no idea what it was that drew me so close to JL, but I kept going to her. While I was visiting JL she suggested that we go to a dog racing track, having only been to one before, I went to a dog racing track in Daytona Beach with AGs dad and my BFF NB, I agreed the event was not too memorable. However, on the drive back from the track I received a call from the connection I made during my internship with MS, the Managing Director of HR, CNG.
CNG informed me of a position in Coral Gables, Miami FL working with one of her friends JFG. Since I was already in Naples, 90 miles from Miami, I replied with: "I can be there to interview in two days…" With that I experienced another endorphin rush, I ffelt like my future was being laid out in front of me, I just had to secure this job, work my ass off, endure a few years of menial pay until I am promoted to 'Associate' and pay for JL to move in with me. This was especially alluring to me because it seemed like my best friends were getting amazing jobs; RL (my best friend) was working at a PE shop in ATL, and my good friend MS was consulting with McKinsey in Dubai, then again they went to awesome schools Emory and Wharton, respectively.
After my interview with JFG I drove back to Naples for a night before flying back to Atlanta,. It finally felt like I was entering adulthood. I got the position in Miami, I then attempted to put in my two weeks at AT&T when I tried to put in my two weeks my supervisor, AM, said: "No need, you don’t need to come back tomorrow." So with that I was a free man for 2 months, it felt eerily similar to finishing Stetson. I set about organising my departure and move to Miami.
I quickly realised that I was too poor to remotely make a down payment on a condo sight-unseen, so I meekly implored JL to ask her brother, RL, to allow me to crash on his couch for '1 week at most.' I felt like such a bum, living in the UM dorms, working for MS but not having a place to call my own. I had to make a change, so I went around my office asking if anyone needed or knew of anyone who needed a roommate. Luckily, a friend of my then boss, JFG, also had an analyst on his team, RM. We met and quickly agreed to cohabitate an apartment.
Living with RM was fairly easy, he was a very agreeable roommate, I think I pulled the best hand out of the deal,I made sure I got the master suite of the apartment while paying 10% less than RM, I feel like an asshole thinking back on it - but capitalism makes you do things against your human nature. We got into an ok apartment if it were not for the recession of 08-09 we would have never been able to afford it.
About 2 months after I finalized living with RM, Ultra '11 was gearing up, knowing that I was not earning enough to afford a $230 ticket, I begged JL to buy the ticket for our 2 year anniversary. She did! I thought; oh man I love this girl so much, I cant wait to spend the rest o my life with her. My friends GA and DS also were at UMF '11, we had a blast. None of us got too high, drunk or messed up, and strangely I never got GA or EM back to my apartment even though it was 2 blocks from Bayfront park.
I recouped for 12 hours, slept off the alcohol and cannabis, and showed up for work that Monday, probably looking like shit. A few months later, I decided to look up my Boss during my internship, GD. When we connected he was so glad to hear from me, he was unsure if I had been hired. Two calls later he gave me two things: a task to test a Mercedes E55 AMG(we were both gearheads), a job offer in Beverly Hills. Having just the task to test drive the car wouldve been enough, but a job offer in LA? My mind began racing, I had a flexible start date so I was able to gradually close things out and speak with my portfolio manager. Although a favor was called in to get me hired, JFG had no qualms about letting me go.
A month later I went out for my birthday with KG, we werent dating but she had an enormous crush on me, infact she came to Stetson to visut me, much to the chagrin of Jenny. We went to a few small bars, and ended up at club LIV, it was there I met the most beautiful girl I ever laid eyes on, Viviane G. from Rio, much to my amazement she was in to me as well (probably because at the time I had a head of black hair, this made me look like a Brazilian model). Vivi (as I called her) and I hit it off we spent the rest of my time in Miami together, we never kissed, this is why I felt ok staying with Jenny.
Then, a car and yacht show, 1 block from my apartment spurred the motivation to call and break up with Jenny, strangely. I thought Vivi was the woman of my dreams, I didn’t take in to consideration everything Jenny, and her family, had done for me
I took 2 months to finish up in Miami, going out every night to get the last feel of Miami nightlife before I ventured out to the great unknown west. Once again, like in Miami, I arrived in LA and had to 'crash' on my moms good friend LDs guest bedroom, until I got my situation squared away. I was able to quickly secure an apartment 2 blocks from Hollywood Ave., with a view of the Hollywood sign. "Oh man," I thought "I must be the flossiest Stetson graduate right now." I soon came to learn that DS was in LA too, we linked up and I found my smoking/drinking partner while I was in LA.
Work in the Beverly Hills branch of Morgan Stanley was not overly intense, I was just working with a few extra figures. This increase in amount magnified any mistake I made, and I made quite a few mistakes, luckily these were only mistakes on internal reporting documents my managers (one in Beverly Hills and the other in Boston) were pretty cool with it, but still pointed these mistakes out. I remember the team assistant, AT, being so gorgeous, she was taken, or I wouldve been all over that, I wanted to marry her. There were three women that I wanted to marry: 1 - Vivi, 2 - Jenny, 3 - AT
About 2 months in to living in Los Angeles AT, told me about the website Thrillist. I thought "wow Thrillist is so cool, all these awesome events…wait whats thus 'Rental Car Rally?'" The more I read about it, the more I became supremely interested and thought, oh man my friend GA would be PERFECT as my co pilot. I kept thinking about all the hijinks we would get in to, and the speeding, and the (name your debaucherous activity here). GA flew out to LA, we secured a rental Camaro SS coupe and headed for the rally.
We get to the staging area and we see a flood of other cars, buses, and people dressed in ridiculous outfits "this is going to be too much fun!" we said to each other. As the staging process moves on we see some incredible car decorations, and at the end of the pre-rally warm up we are given the option to race on a circle track, being the speed demons that GA & I were, we A B S O L U T E L Y took full advantage of that option. There was no passing allowed, and a quarter track length between each racer. We stage in line - our turn comes up and I bury the throttle, the rear tires barely having grip as we rocket onto the track, I didn’t dare to go above 125 MPH sine I was unsure about the condition of the tires. As we finished what was essentially a penis-size competition, I decided to do an enormous burnout in the middle of the track. After that burnout we were off to the races.
The rally was set up as a series of checkpoints, you have to take a photo at each checkpoint for proof you were there. First checkpoint: LA Zoo. Going to a zoo during the day is interesting, and smelly. At night however, its frightening different sounds and screams from other ralliers in the distance, we took a photo and drove, withi the speed limits, o course, to the next check point. This checkpoint was an abandoned ski lodge, perfect for messing around on abandoned ski lifts. After the ski lodge, we vebtured out into the desert, we only had 1 checkpoint between the LA Zoo and Vegas, and that checkpoint was on the very western edge of Nevada, a brothel - GA said he had no interest in buyin their "product," I remarked to GA how sad I as that I didnt "dip my pen in Dutch ink" while I was in Amsterdam with KD, yet I too was leery of getting some western Nevada 'strange.' We terorized a few trailer parks, doing insane burnouts and leaving the trailer parkhood in dust.
GA and I get to the strip, our rental Camaro SS was filthy, but we gave no fuc*s. We pull up the crappy little off-strip motel, a motel that was likely used by the hookers around Las Vegas, toss our bags on the floor and crashed for about 4 hours. Our room was right be the Lima Bean shaped pool so we could hear the fellow ralliers horsing around by the pool. Greg gets up, looks out the window, tosses me a Natural Light and says; "the only way to detox is to retox muthaf*****!"
To which I replied :"that’s excellent, but first pack a bowl beforeI shower to get this wester Nevada hooker scent off me…"
We both get out to the pool and EVERYONE rom the starting line is there, they were all really really drunk. Since I was a little tired, and wanted to be on my game for gambling that night, I didn’t drink or smoke. The night rolled around and we rustled up some grub on the strip, then we went to MGM to gamble: "Im not putting more than $50 down for chips…"
"Cool, imma do $100, you broke bitch" GA said.
We decide to play some slots (yawn), some Roulette (yawn), then I said I wanted to play some BlackJack. We walked up to the black jack table, waited for the dealer to reshuffle, and jumped in. I felt really smart so I thought I could count cards, after a few hands I started to turn a $5 to $10 to $20 profit, leaving me with $50, the exact same as I started with I thought: "ok, I can quit now, or go for glory, and put 80% down…" Me being the dumb kid I was, I decided to put $40 down and risk it all.
"ohhhh the little piker thinks hes got game!?" The dealer said
"Ehhhh" I replied
The cards come out and I get a 9 and a King.
"I bet you want a hit…"
"Nah, the only hit im taking will be the hit of Cannabis I take after I win this hand"
"Ok kid"
The dealer got a 5, Queen. "I bet you want a hit…" I said in a snarky tone
He took a card, a 7.
I said: "Id like to close out, please"
"Awwww poor kid cant play!?"
"Id like to close out, please"
"Ok tough guy"
I take my chips, get them cashed, and wound up with $95. I turned to GA: "I see how this can get addictive, I turned a 90% ROI!"
"We both laughed, piled into the Camaro, and GA drove us back to LA. GA hung out with DS for an extra day in LA while I was at work - about a month went by before my portfolio manager GD told me I needed to get to Boston to meet the other half of the team, I had only spoken to AS & SG on the phone, trying to explain how to use my messed up spreadsheets. Upon the meeting I figured: "Im already in the North East, I will swing down to NYC to visit RL, RN & MS.
The first night we were itogether, we just went out, got drunk, went to MS' friends apartment, but she wasn’t home yet. So MS and I decided to sleep, on the loor, in front of her door in a fairly swanky Upper East Side apartment. Early that morning MS and I were both awoken by a securoty guard kicking our feet: "uhhhh whats goin on here?"
"oh, sorry we got locked out by our friend she didn’t come home last night, do you all have a lounge?"
"yep, to the right of the front desk"
"Awesome, thank you"
MS and I slept on couches (what a luxury until JP came home. We got cleaned up and I grabbed my bag and went to MS, RN, and RLs apartment. Except it was a 2-bedroom. RL has converted a narrow, but very tall closet into a bedroom/loft. RL and I had been friends since high school, so I felt ok asking him if I could toss my stuff in his room. It was Saturday night, so we all got cleaned up, grabbed a pizza ate in, and got hyped for Saturday night.
"Where should we go?" asked RN.
Me:"I really wanna go to Pacha near westside highway! I get a podcast every week by them, and they have awesome music!"
RN asks:"Ok, everybody cool with Pacha?"
MS:"I wanna hit a college bar, maybe we go there to pregame, then Pacha?"
Me: "yeah that sounds splendifferous"
We set out, at the college bar, I ended up taking 3 shots and I was done for, I cant remember a thing. I stumble up to the bar and ask or a Heineken. "Ohhh is that for me?" An unseen girl asked
"Sure, if we go home tonight."
Not being able to believe my ears, I turned around and I see this really cuteAsian girl with her hand out.
"hmm youre pretty thirsty huh?"
"Like you wouldn’t believe" as she snatched the beer out of my hand
"Well maybe you can give me some private tutoring, so I do believe."
"Im a great teacher"
"Well, I kinda suck at school, anything you can do?"
"Well as far as sucking, I think we can work something out"
"well, Ill be sure to get you an extra juicy Apple"
"Sounds delicious"
We danced, occasionally kissing, and made our way back to RL, RN & MS' apartment. When we got there I realized I had no bed to sleep on, only a couch, but RL being the good friend he is said: "Y'all can sleep (wink) in my bed."
"The dungeon!? Yesssss. Thanks man."
So, this girl (didn’t and still don’t know her name) amble up the ladder, she was wearing a skirt and wanted to go first. "Ok I know where this is going…to the bed!"
"Aww cant we play teachestudent first?"
"Only if I get a taste of that Apple I brought you..."
The next morning was my flight out to LA at 4:56 PM, so I had time to grab brunch with the guys before I left. We ate on Chelsea Pier, I felt obliged to 'kiss and tell,' and extol them with my heroics. In retrospect, they probably didn’t want to hear it, I banged some random, probabky nasty girl on RLs bed. We finished lunch had some fun on Chelsea pier, and I flew back to LA. While back in Beverly Hills I was incredibly tire, but I took pride in recounting every detail to DV, knowing AT could hear. I stupidly thought: "if she hears how much fun im having, she might get jealous and want to hangout with me." I was such a devious little shit.
I finish telling DV just as GD walks in to hear the punchline; "…so I brought her back and got her on my friends bed!" GD walks to his station, with four screens (I used to think the ore screens you have the more of a boss you are, now I think the less you have to involve yourself with day-to-day, and intraday moves the more of a 'boss' you are) I can feel him staring at me smiling my ass of, he says "I WANT TO FU*KING HEAR!" So I launch into my tale (or should I say tail).
Later that week I called my father while biking to the gym. I called him because I made an error In the execution of a large fixed income trade, the price of the underlying security moved away from the price quoted, normally this would not matter since we had discretion over trading - meaning we would not need client approval. However, this was a trade for our largest client making a large fixed income purchase, so $.01 makes a big difference when the quantity purchased is in the millions. My father recounts this story to me as an almost emblematic admission of previous of apprehension towards him, and my subsequent of rectification.
As theNYC buzz began to wear off, I started going to bars around LA; SkyBar, and Viper Room one night my two buddies DS & DS, and I all agreed that we should go to Club Avalon, I was a huge electronic progressive house music aficionado so going to world famous club Avalon was *almost* as sweet as NYC with my bros. DS and I cohosted 'Techno Storytime' on the school radio, so we were super pumped to hear some much in the 110 - 130 BPM range.
Still feeling the nightlife buzz from NYC, I found myself able to easily to talk to girls. Doug and I were kinda wall flowers/club explorers, neither one of us has been to Avalon, but upon exploring it we both agreed, DS would love it too, we should start meeting there monthly. The night wore on, I found myself uninterested in paying $12.00 for a bottle if Heineken, so I started to hit on some women, DS and I had explored too much and I only had 30 minutes to seal the deal. So I got to work, quickly scored the number, but we got sidetracked talking about a subject I really, really enjoy; political analysis.
We talked political analysis I wish I could remember what she was saying, she was so on the ball, that awareness only increased my attraction to her. We talked for a bit, we went to the outside portion of the club, seeing her in the moonlight I thought; "shit, she is magnificent, screw AT if I land her. Her looks combined with her intellect make her a superwoman, exactly the type of woman I want carrying my seed. By this point 20 minutes had elapsed, and the club began emptying, "oh shit better seal th-"
"It was amazing talking to you, but I have to find my friends."
"Wait, maybe we…"
She was gone from my life, at least I had her number…
I moped back to DS, he asked me: "Howd it go man!?"
I started yelling that 'I couldn’t seal the f$%^ing deal!"
"Its cool man, this is a big city, im sure youll have other shots, lets catch a cab back to my crib, smoke a bowl watch a movie and forget about all this."
"Aight dude that sounds awesome."
So, we go out to the taxi area, DS and I just bullshitting, and he stop talking: "…so DS has this sick fader on his turn tab…. Wait, what was the name of the girl you were talking to?"
"Why? K(atie)A(ltman…)
"D what the…."
"Oh Shit that’s Katie!"
He yells -"KATIE!!!!!!"
She turns around as she is getting in to her cab, with her buddies. I sprint over to her cab wrench the cab door open, and ride with the back to their apartment in Laurel Canyon. From here, I don’t have a clear memory of what happened but I woke up in my bed the next morning. "Shit" I thought, did I walk back to Franklin from Laurel Canyon? Guess I don’t need to work out today! So I rolled back over and dozed for another 45minutes until I get a text from the girl who was sweating me at the gym, CS.
A little back story on CR; I was always checking her out, so was always pushing her massive chest out when I would walk by and she was on a machine. Then one day she walked up behind me while I was doing pushups, waited for me to finish me set… "ninety eight…ninety nine…one hundered, I don’t know I you were listening there I did 100 pushups, ha ha ha
"Is that rom a movie???"
"Ohhhh, well lets see how you do with me riding yourback!"
"Wait what?"
CR straddled my back and plopped down. I pretended to not be able do any with her on my back. "Come on muscle man, make me ride you!"
"Um, im not sure I feel comfortable announcing to the gym that you want to fuck me"
"Who said that, that wishful thinking man…"
"How about we compare our wishes, what is a good night next week to take you to dinner?"
"Sunday night"
"I am a nurse so I work weird hours, but next Sunday night, lets get take out, a bottle of wine and some…youre from India right?"
"Ok, some Hindu Kush, sit on the beach in Santa Monica and share dinner."
"Whoa, yes ma'am!"
"Southern thing, I tell you about on Sunday night."
"Can't wait" She said with a smile
I left the LA Fitness on Hollywood BLVD. next to the Chinese Theater in a dream state. Then I realized that Sunday night was 2 nights away! Shit I need to get wine and a ton of Hindu Kush! I secured the Hindu Kush (too much), but not the wine, I wanted to get Red, and White to give her the option. Since I has just moved into my new apartment, I didn’t have time to set everything up, so I didn’t have time to buy a cooler to chill the white wine; "I will have to buy it the night of."
I searched my room and couldn’t find any more bud, so I decided to Meet DS and DS for dinner, we wound up going to a bar too - oops! Needless to say I didn’t get to pick up the wine, or the Kush, id have to pick it up before the date, tomorrow. "Hey do you guys know I any dispensaries are open on Sunday??
"They arent, but our friend owns one, he'll sell to you."
So, I contact DS and DS' buddy; I meet him and buy absolutely too much bud, and buy some gummies too, I swing back by my apartment on Franklin, drop off the dry bud" CR and I wont need that much, and get a call from DS, Ds and crew: "Yooo nuppal, were gonna go catch a movie, you down?"
"Yeah man lets do it!"
I quickly grab my backpack, remembering that I needed to pick up the wine, and knowing I needed to bring some bud. I hopped on my bike and roade over to East Hollywood to catch a flick with them. I pull up, get off the bike as theyre rolling up, I swing my backpack across, thinking im going to light up. I open the back pack… "Hey guys lets do this before…" Open the back pack a but more and reach in feeling for my bowl and the tupperware with the dry kush, and realizing that I hadnt unpacked the edibles that id bought. So, I skipped the dry bud and said: "hey guys I just bought these edibles, lets each grab some gummies and watch the movie…"
"Alright dude, but Edibles will hit when the movie is ending, but yeah man!"
So we take some gummies, and watch the movie. DS was right, the gummies did begin to take effect as the movie ended: "shit" I thought "Im gonna have to ride to Santa Monica while pretty high…no big deal, I hate riding high though." As Im riding down Sunset BLVD, heading west towards Santa Monica I happen to look up at the sky during a red light. The magnificence of a South-Western Southern California sunset is something everyone must enjoy, similar to the colors a Monet painting. I stared up at the sky for longer than the light was red, so people behind me became agitated. I quickly moved down Sunset blvd. at the famous (or infamous) intersection of Sunset Blvd. & Larrabee St. in West Hollywood.
Still mesmerized by the sunset, yet trying to focus, I see a clapped out For Expedition come from Larrabee, turning left onto Sunset the intended turn was in my path. I took a second to process "this is my path what the fuohhhh," going from euphoric joy to life saving maneuvers is not something they teach in MSF school, good thing I never went. After processing his intended trajectory I slammed on the brakes,
A part-time bartender at the Viper Room "didn’t see his red light due to sun" and was under assume every light is 'Green' for him. So he decided that even though there is traffic on Sunset, he would rather turn o make sure there was no traffic going in his intended direction on Sunset. I knew that grabbing too much front brake would send me headfirst into the pavement and his car, and into my coffin. So, I decided to overapply the rear brake, lay the bike down and hope for the best, I guess 'the best' of an inherently shitty situation did occur, I lived! However, while sliding through the Sunset & Larrabee intersection my back connected with the end of his passenger-side running board, my brand new Scorpion Exo-1000 hit the running board as well. Instantly knocked out. According to the report filed by the ambulance driver I was 'unresponsive' at the scene, but no external blood, save a bit of road rash were my jacket bunched up underneath my left arm, I suffered a 'severe' DAI brain injury (Diffuse Axonal Injury) and 26 brain bleeds.
Luckily, the ambulance ride was at most 8 minutes to Cedars-Siani Beverly Hills, this hospital was on my commute path to and from work, on Maple Dr. I always wondered what the building was, so much property in the heart of Beverly Hills however, this was NOT the method I intended to find out about this building. Must have been a funny scene in the office the next Monday. "Looks like Nick is late again" said AT
My dad gave me my first laugh post injury, we agree that laughter is the vanguard of healing mental and physical ailments.
submitted by baby_meatus to stories [link] [comments]

Why SpaceX Dreams Of Colonization But Must Dream Of All Space And How We Might Get There

Why SpaceX Dreams Of Colonization But Must Dream Of All Space And How We Might Get There
Elon Musk’s had a sentiment sometime last year that it would be easier for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to land on the Moon [or Mars] than it would be to convince National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) they could. This is likely no longer true. While publicly Administrator Jim Bridenstine appears to do his best to treat both Commercial Crew Program (CCDev) Partners Boeing and SpaceX equally, reading between the lines of his Congressional budget response, I believe Bridenstine is fully behind SpaceX not just with launching American Astronauts with Rockets on American Soil (AARAS) but moving forward forward with Project Artemis, deep space, Mars, or any future NASA missions.
Old Space and New Space
With the CCDev Admin. Bridenstine has himself, personally, been afforded an opportunity to work hand in hand with both partners; with this deep dive into the operations and culture the he now has a clear understanding on the differences between how “old space” of Boeing versus “new space”of “SpaceX” conducts themselves during their success and failures.
Admin. Bridenstine has seen the true measure and dedication of the entire SpaceX team, from entry level engineers to the top management including the CEO & Chief Engineer Elon Musk. NASA’s Administrator has witnessed firsthand how SpaceX can quickly adapt, how motivated SpaceX is to its goal of spaceflight and human colonization of space, and the kind of leadership Musk can provide for those working SpaceX, the space industry, and the entire public. Administrator Bridenstine having compared “new space” to “old space” - has seen the future, and that future is now.
Both Boeing and SpaceX have seen their fair share of setbacks and failures on the road to AARAS. When this non-official race started, Boeing was legacy and seen as the clear leader. Not only had years of experience building spacecraft but a proven track record flying them. Boeing was already working on SLS and Orion and at the time NASA not only seemed pleased with their projects, they admired them as the only real possible future.
SpaceX, when selected did have some success with Commercial Resupply Services (CRS), but later suffered from tarnished record as one of their Falcon 9 (F9) rockets failed during the 7th resupply mission. A year later another F9 failed during propellant loading while on the pad during static fire testing. While SpaceX seriously underbid Boeing by a large margin, most all considered them to be the fall back or the secondary cheaper option to the more sure bet of Boeing. Asking most any space insider at the time to bet who would be first to the ISS, money would have been on Boeing.
Now the shoe is on the other foot after what seemed to be smooth sailing for Boeing development. When a root cause analysis is applied to the origin of these failures at Boeing and SpaceX, it shows a fundamentally different foundation for errors and more importantly how these errors are a reflection of the type of company Boeing and SpaceX are. With the first SpaceX failure, it appears to revolve around an issue between parts failing below specification and not being rated to work at the cryogenic temperatures SpaceX was submitting them to. The second failure had to do with some unknown or lesser known interaction of carbon/metal/oxygen in material science.
Boeing’s mishaps during the most recent Starliner test flight was especially concerning; not only with a series of errors that should have been part of the readiness testing prior to launch, but even more worrying was how NASA was able to determine that Boeing, who opted for process verification over testing verification, was not following their own process guidelines to prevent such an issue - then seemed to blame its NASA overseers for not catching them. Beyond what problems lie within Boeing from within the Aviation division some of these issues seem systemic and cultural within the company as a whole. Error and failures occur, but what is troubling is how the company handles and responds to them (or doesn’t until forced).
A Paradigm that Shapes the Company and Leads a Nation
There are two main types of people when going into a fight: those who follow the warrior ethos and those who follow the survivor mentality. When you are trying to survive, in your mind you think dying is a real possibility and you need to do what you can to survive. The warrior ethos thinks only of defeating enemies.
What defines a great company? A great company does not just dominate its market or industry; nor does it simply exist for long periods of time. A great company shapes the way people live, it changes how all other businesses operate, and it serves as a berating disruptive force. This is accomplished not through hyping and making people believe they are great, but through delivering actual goods, services, and products.
Now, there are two possibilities at play. The first is that in previous generations Boeing once was a great amazing American company a leader in the Aviation and Aerospace industries, leading to its legacy that led to selection for SLS, Orion, and now CCDev. The second is that Boeing never truly met the criteria to be a great company its secure market position only existing feeding off the teet of taxpayers and it is only now with real competition that the truth is being exposed. With all the systemic failures that have continued to plague this company and continued dangerous ways it handles them, it is clear it is not learning or trying to learn from these failures.
Whichever the case, many great people may work for the company, but the Boeing that exists today is a survivor and their mentality is to minimize risks to ensure survival. If they were a great company they will never return to the warrior they might have been before the Boeing 2707. Taking chances on technologies that could take us to Mars or beyond could lead to major failures and that is too much or too costly of a risk for a survivor mindset company. It is not interested in big dreams only big pocketbooks, and I believe the indication is what Administrator Bridenstine has seen from Boeing has him concerned.
SpaceX, comparatively, is following the warrior ethos, setting up goals and not letting the fear of failure prevent them from fighting on to the next. SpaceX is not afraid to make mistakes and when errors are made they use them to use them to improve not only their vehicles, but allow the knowledge and technology to improve all spaceflight. What Administrator Bridenstine has seen from Musk and SpaceX not only seems to have him encouraged but has him excited.
NASA’s and SpaceX’s goals on human spaceflight are aligned; NASA’s and Boeing’s are not.
Politics, Funding, and what the Public will Tolerate
I believe SpaceX now has the full weight of the support of the NASA Administrator. What this means without getting into the mess of politics; if one were to extract the the historic record of an incumbent president with a decent economy SpaceX should have that support for another 4.5 years (written before coronavirus outbreak). At their rate of improvement we are looking at the largest shift in space since Apollo.
With support from the Executive Branch of the US Government, one must look at the Legislature. What does it look like for House and Senate elections? The current Democrat controlled House did pass a pretty atrocious aforementioned spending bill that would have handed the keys of spaceflight over to Boeing and prevented private partnerships with SpaceX and other companies on pretty much everything, not just the Moon or Mars. This is likely not a partisan issue along party lines, as this is more an issue with lobbying. The funding must also contend with infamous legends in the Senate like Rep. Sen. Richard Shelby from Alabama who has long harmed space exploration and science in favor of jobs and financial kickbacks.
At the heart of impossible dreams, such as becoming a space faring civilization, is the reality that it requires thinking and invention of something intangible - science and knowledge that cannot yet be imagined. If it cannot yet be imagined it cannot be quantified, if it cannot be quantified, it cannot be given a value. However, it is invaluable once you have it, but has no value while you do not. The public has little patience knowingly* spending money on the intangible or what they cannot imagine, but it is these ideas and inventions that are the very foundation for all advancement in modern health and technology. People's lives are forever improved because we pushed and explored our boundaries into the unknown. The core issue is that Congress, thus the public is the crux for any exploration, including space, and they need something tangible to believe in. This is what I am focusing on today.
Do or Do Not; There is No Try
Every step and decision that SpaceX makes must align with the dream of getting to Mars, building a sustainable colony, and making humanity a space faring civilization so that the light of life will not be extinguished. Spending the time asking the right question can be more important than spending the time answering correct answers to the wrong questions. As Elon said in his interview with Tim Dodd, the best part is no part. Elon also likes to design along first principles and we can see in a lot of his business how disruptive and amazing these kinds of principles, among others, can be.
Right now SpaceX is blasting off like a rocketship getting their first 9 meter (9m) Starship (SS) and Superheavy (SH) parts prepped in Boca Chica (BC) for the 20 kilometers (20k) and orbital tests later this year. These are key milestones necessary for their goal of sending 9m cargo versions of SS to Mars in 2022 and assisting NASA with their Artemis program to the Moon. However, the biggest reason for the push for the 9m SS is that the 9m SS can launch ~540 Starlink satellites for a fraction of the cost with an est. of $5 million or lower compared to $30 million with Falcon 9 (F9). Not only does this reduce a substantial burden of cost for SpaceX for Starlink, but ramps up production and potential revenue for funding further missions going to Mars necessary for SpaceX.
When Starlink is successful, thereby funding secured for their Mars Shot, what does the timeline look like for SpaceX? It is aggressive, yet within grasp, cargo to be launched to Mars in 2022 and humans launched early as 2024. We must ask do these radical timelines align as the best way of building a sustainable colony on Mars? Dr. Robert Zubrin brings up this question quite often. He does not want to see boots, flags, pictures, come home, forget senario. In what way does SpaceX doing a couple of early one off cargo and astronaut missions to Mars do for one day sending entire waves of colony ships there? The answer is quite obvious to all of us, besides very important testing and validation of equipment, it is to make people believe we can do it.
Right now if you talk to the average US taxpayer who has seen rocket launches like SpaceX F9 land, but don’t know the first thing about them and you tell them that Space Launch System (SLS) NASA is responsible for cost taxpayers 2+ billion dollars is not reusable and the F9 costs ~$50 million, they ask well why isn’t the SLS reusable and why does it cost so much? The brilliant people who lobby jobs at Congress to keep jobs in certain districts knew this would be problematic for voters especially when there are specific laws in place for waste, fraud, and abuse. So they went and created a mission that only SLS could do (*in a single launch) in order to justify its existence.
Now when that question is asked, they can tell their voters, “the SLS is state of the art technology derived from the Space Shuttle that is the most powerful* rocket that exists* today and far more capable* than that little Falcon 9, it can even take our American Astronauts back to the Moon* from American Soil!”. Obviously we all here know that that Starship is going to be a serious disruption to this entire industry, these Congresspeople, Senators, and the Space Industry. But the thing is even though the mission and size of the Lunar Gateway is rather unnecessary and was a waste because it only existed to justify the existence of a jobs program, it doesn’t mean similar concepts are invalid when addressed by Starship and SpaceX to benefit the core mission.
We want to Remember History with Wings, but it Belongs to those with Anchors
On September 12th, 1962 President John F. Kennedy gave his historic speech that forever changed the direction of a nation and a world. Leading the path of the United States to drive forward into the unknown, to strive to overcome challenges that are difficult is part what defines us as human beings, and that we are not just content looking at the stars wondering what exciting discoveries may be up there versus instead of fighting over scabbles over soil.
However 50 years ago today, on March 7th 1970 President Richard M. Nixon changed officially undid that directive, with general support from the public. Setting the space program on part with any other domestic program or policy, reduction in the NASA budget, and effectively ending all human spaceflight beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) where we have remained for Fifty Years. LEO has become a dirty word for human spaceflight. Space Station is synonymous with a Middle-Age of space exploration.
As much as the International Space Station (ISS) has provided goods amounts of scientific research and good will between once enemy nations, it has felt more of an anchor than as a stepping stone. Even the Lunar Orbiting Gateway (LOG) which exists only to give SLS a mission only it can do on paper, (*in a single launch) can provide more amazing scientific studies for astronauts and scientists for the Moon. Perhaps it can even provide some deep space research, but ultimately it provides very little in real funding and technology that moves us any closer to a colony on the Moon or Mars. However, just because these are poor examples of stations doesn’t mean space stations are anchors.
Colonization needs more than a Railroad and only SpaceX can Build it
SpaceX is developing and building a 9m Starship with core mission the core mission to colonize Mars but is also using the 9m SS to launch Starlink missions to provide the funding that core mission. Using technology to gain an overlapping benefit is necessary to reach extraordinary goals. In order to reach that amazing goal of being multiplanetary civilization there are several types of technologies, methodologies, and simply partnerships that need to be developed and tested in space before colony ships can begin departing to Mars. As pointed out in a recent interview with Joe Rogan, Astronaut Garrett Reisman said we have research on 1g+, we have research in microgravity ~0g, but not much in between. We don’t know the effects on the human body, plants, or animals of .38g on Mars or .16g long term effects on Luna. In fact right now SpaceX plans to send humans from Earth at 1g, fly for about 3 months at 0g using resistive training exercises to prevent bone and muscle loss, then land at .38g on Mars. On return simply reverse. NASA on the other hand probably has been granted Congressional approval to put together a preliminary panel to decide to study the matter in 2069.
We have the ISS, but it is not designed or capable of large scale gravity research of this kind. There are several companies attempting to make launchable modules, but even then there are manufactures that produce blowup dolls that seem to generate less controversy. However, there is one company that is capable and part of their core mission to build something that would allow others to study this and that is SpaceX. Such a large scale station has a number of advantages that only SpaceX can leverage.
One, it can be built with the same stainless steel used to build Starship. It is cheap, plentiful, mass-manufactured, easy to repair, and having steel in orbit could always be repurposed for other tasks (ships) in the future. Two, once the station(s) is built SpaceX can access it quickly, easily, and inexpensively with Starship; this means when companies and Congress are forced by opportunity to use this gift it ensures continued partnership with SpaceX on current and future endeavours, something the current House budget bill tries to prevent. Three, since SpaceX can place this in a non-ISS eccentric orbit and in a more friendly equatorial orbit it can rendezvou more often. Rather than having a backlog of NASA Astronauts who have to make a cut to do work in space with this station(s) and variable gravity, low launch costs, and when partnered with Starship it can be a frequented workplace. NASA could have an entire workforce and staff placed there. On Monday morning you take Starship up, on Friday you take one home.
Biggest Hurdle for Multi-Planetary Civilization is not Technical
Why do these things matter? How does a massive orbital station help the core mission of SpaceX reach colonization of Mars? I was talking with a few people the other week about going to Mars as I am someone who believes it is the grandest adventure one could take. I am one of those people who has the goal, to be at that point in life that, I can sell my home, buy a ticket, move to Mars, and live on a hostile planet with other human beings so that one day a thriving civilization will arise from dust. However, when listening to Rogan talk to the Astronaut Reisman, he thinks only crazy people will go. That is when it dawned on me after all these conversations, why a massive station matters. Why seeing huge rocket land and it seeming so routine and normal matters. Why the public’s perception of space, not just of people going wanting to colonize Mars, but all space, matters.
For the average person, the taxpayer to support what NASA does, to get Congressional and Senate support, they have to see it as normal and reasonable. The public no longer has the stomach for the excitement of the amazing and unknown, only the safe and maybe slightly a little bit out there. We need funding for more than rockets to get there; we need more than a rail road, we need more than Starship to colonize and send people to Mars.
We Can’t Wait
Part of what SpaceX does is to push that edge so that edge that once seemed impossible now seems probable until that probable becomes normal and expected, but we must not just dream big, but we must also think wide. We need a large gravity station that can test long-term effects of Mars and Moon like gravity on humans, plants, and animals, including embryonic development because if we are going to have a colony we need to have babies. Ethically we can not wait to put our best minds on the problems of human development for colony research into reproduction until after we are colonizing, we need to start now. Life, uh, finds a way. It can end miracuously or terribly tragically and it is something we have to have figured out before people land there.
We need this station to test out plant strains whether grown in Martian soil or hydroponically in .38g or .16g best grow, not when we first set boots there, but now, so it's ready for when we get there. We need to see how cats, dogs, fish, cows, pigs, etc live, grow, react to being in these types of environments. Part of the reason we seek to make life multi-planetary is so that the consciousness and life are not extinguished should something happen on Earth. If we go alone not only is that a lonely way to go it would be selfish. Besides, as much as people ethically want lab grown meat, there should be a backup if the fate of humanity is at risk.
We want to joke about space tourism being a joke for someone going up for 20 mins, or a couple of orbits, let’s stop making it a joke and make it a real thing. Space isn’t a joke, space isn’t the future, space is now, and space should be as real for every day folk as taking a cruise. It needs to be that if we want to explore the oceans of Europa with manned subs or see the rings of Saturn for ourselves.
Colonizing Mars, are we just going there to die? Life needs things to live and there is more to life than growing food, eating, defecating, sleeping, and breeding. We don’t just want to live on Mars to die on Mars, or Space, or the Moon. We want to live on Mars or on the Moon or in Space - SO we can explore it. We don’t just want to get up in the morning sip our coffee watch the blue sunrise of mars and think, with that calm melancholy of contentment “yup I’m done”, no, we get up with a spark of life and think, “I’ve got so much more to do and see!” Yeah getting there, landing there* (in one piece), and living there is a big piece of the puzzle, but we have to remember part of getting somewhere is the journey getting there. We need to remember Mars is part of the journey not the end. There are other gardens to build and maintain before we get there, and after..
Switching to Stainless Steel Changed Everything
How big would such a gravity research station be? How would you launch such an orbital station? While I may not get these numbers right, first draft I propose building a 20 meter launch vehicle; Uber Heavy (UH) lifter and Super Starship (SSS), the UH sitting roughly the same height as the current Super Heavy (SH) and the SSS roughly only 20 meters taller than the SS (with exception to special mission designed fairings). The purpose of this vehicle is to launch 18m ring sections of Starship grade stainless steel with a robotic system that would weld these sections to create massive tubular ring for a station. A floating donut if you will.
The SSS would have a robot system protruding out of the end and would act like a spider spinning a web with each 18m ring section completed. First unfurling the rolled cut coiled stainless steel from the cargo bay, then welding the single seam weld to create the ring and birthing the first ring. A secondary precut curve strip would be welded on by the robot and the ring would in forward as another ring would have its single seam welded before welded to the curve strip and the ring the whole section would then be continuously pushed out of the SSS. Again imagine a spider spinning its web or a birthing process. This process may take multiple launches depending on how big of a ring is made and the robot may need to be removed from the ship for ring completion.
Once this ring is completed on opposing sides strong docking ports, preferably with potential to rotate Starship can dock and provide energy to boost, spin, and despin. However, this ring can be completed multiple times to create multiple stations for different uses such as fuel depots, where the larger 20m SSS can drop off fuel for the fleets of 9m SS and avoid thousands of launches to send hundreds of ships to Mars. Or one can connect multiple rings together and weld plates to create a drum tube like the Nauvoo from the Expanse.
Why a single 20m vehicle?
Why build a SpaceX Gravity Spin Station?
Ultimately SpaceX can always get to Mars by itself, it has all the tools in place to eventually get people, and probably one day a colony there. But with public support, NASA, and the US government the speed and reliability of such an accomplishment is that much stronger. It would no longer be the pursuit of the few great minds of our civilization, but a grand undertaking realized by a civilization as a whole. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why space must be made great again, so that whatever accomplishments we strive to make as individuals, can be championed as part of humanity.
If some us or our descendants look back at a pale blue dot and remember that only the tiniest of a fraction of a percent cared to make life interplanetary and the rest never bothered to take their gaze off the horizon to even notice that pale red dot, then that tribal divides we have here on planet are going to look childish in comparison.
Space is more than just Mars, more than just the Moon, and when SpaceX changed to stainless steel it completely changed the paradigm for everything we ever considered what was possible for what should come next in space, whether space stations, rockets, vehicles, landers, or whatever you can imagine. Right now, the 9 meter Starship is a legacy part. It exists because SpaceX needs to deliver Starlink, but when you think of it everyone is still thinking in the old paradigm of what is possible. Space is big, so much more is possible, you just have to dream big and dream of all space.
[links/sources: order of 1st mention]
submitted by -spartacus- to spacex [link] [comments]

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