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Augur V2 is the next big step in Defi

This 6 month old Augur V2 video got me excited. I thought I’d share its value proposition, which I feel is currently being overlooked.
If you’ve been in the space for some time, you know what Augur is: a decentralized prediction market and the biggest (in ETH)/earliest ICO on Ethereum. Prediction markets allow for better forecasting by leveraging the power of incentivized wisdom of the crowd. V2 will soon launch with a revamped UI, cheap 0x orders and stablecoin integration. It’s set to become the most accessible, fair and open betting platform out there.
What you may not realize is its impact in the Defi space. Each market/prediction/question is represented by a token that can be traded in other Defi apps. This gives it incredible flexibility. Consider these possibilities:
This synergetic composability gets incredibly interesting when combined with other Defi legos. How about token sets based on bets between the ratios of active addresses on Ethereum vs Bitcoin? Why not make a Uniswap pair between a Real-T token and a bet against Detroit real-estate to hedge your position and gain transaction fees on the side?
Tokenomics
With growing interest over new Defi tokens, REP will no doubt position itself among the top. It’s one of the few that actually benefits from using a blockchain and has a utility that isn’t just governance related. Staked REP consensus is used to validate markets and collect fees in the process.
We’ve seen most successful Defi tokens pick up steam, especially in the past month, as mirrored by their sharp price increases: BNT +200%, KNC +90%, LEND + 70%, MKR +60%, LRC +140%. Augur V1 markets aren’t being used right now since the long awaited V2 is just around the corner. The repeated additional delays in V2’s launch date have kept its price comparatively low.
With that in mind, if one believes in the team’s ability to deliver and for Defi to continue growing, REP seems to be an extremely strong long term play. Whether you're a token holder or not, you'll likely see its contribution in many spheres of the Defi world. The above examples only scratch the surface of what it enables.
Disclaimer - I own some REP
For more info: Augur V2 Whitepaper Final pre-launch tasks The Augur Edge by pacific_Oc3an
submitted by Owdy to ethfinance [link] [comments]

ANSWERS: Mastering engineer Alain Paul (Tommy Four Seven, Paula Temple) responds to your AMAs

Back in May, I posted the AMA for mastering engineer and producer Alain Paul. Since Alain isn't on social media, we collaborated together offline to compile his responses to all your questions. Here are his answers, and there are some real nuggets of truth hidden here. I highly recommend you read through them all if you are at all interested in techno production or mastering in general.
What traits would you consider important for a person, independently of his (production) skills? What would be one of the best skills/traits to have as a person which can be passed on to your production mindset and your overall sound quality? (via maka (Discord))
Someone who wants to be a mastering engineer should have the personality of a robot. The more like a robot you are the more tracks you can master. For me, not being a robot, I struggle to work on tracks in a conveyor belt fashion and absolutely need to take lots of breaks and days off so my capacity is far lower than some other engineers who I know who sit there 8 hours a day and bosh tracks out like machines. But that’s mastering. If you are asking about creativity, I find that the opposite is important. Don’t be a robot. Be weird, wonderful, unpredictable, arrogant and all the things your average employer doesn’t want to hear….. but you need consistency and perseverance otherwise you will never make it. Most guys I know who have success have been going at it for many years.
When it comes to techno, what steps do you usually follow to master a track and are there issues we should consider that most tracks have? (via Caen83)
Often the kick isn’t strong enough. Hats are too loud. Stereo imaging is not mono compatible. They are the main problems I see on a routine basis.
What are the top 3 most common mix critique fixes you give, excluding simple balancing (hat too loud etc) and too hot mixes (peaks too high/clipping)? (via Arry_Propah)
Well, hats too loud is probably the third most common. Hats could also mean in this context shakers or any kind of high perc which is not sitting in the mix. Mostly that is just levels but it can also be EQ. Often people will try and view their mix in pigeon holes. They want the kick to occupy a certain frequency range, the top line to be in another frequency range and the hats to be in another etc. But the end result of this method of mixing is very often an over-EQed sound and I will usually get the stems and try make the frequency response of the sounds more balanced again and bring back some of the detail lost in the mix by this style of over EQing. Second most frequent thing hat got to be weird stereo imaging / mono compatibility issues. Especially with less experienced artists, there is a tendency to put ultra stereo widening stuff on all the sounds or even on the whole mix. This is one of the worst things you can do while mixing and I reject a lot of mixes because of this. It is far better to mix completely mono than mix “over wide”. But of course the best way is to mix with a strong mono image with supplementary stereo effects to make it sound nicer, but going crazy with the stereo invariably kills the mix. And in first place, by far the most common one is not getting the kick to sit right in the mix. And that isn’t just a level thing. Over the years I had to deal with a lot of kick problems and find a lot of different solutions, anywhere from EQ to gating to sample triggering. The kick is the most important part of most dance tracks so it has to sound right.
Is there any approach we can do during mixing that would make master EQing come out better? Things we should avoid or things we can push (via brucereyne)
Every track is different and everyone’s mixing tastes are different but some general rules do apply especially to techno or electronic dance music generally, such as: the kick is often the foundation of the track, if any other element of the mix is significantly louder than the kick, or the kick seems quiet, you should probably reconsider or at least be aware that this choice is unusual. HiHats should not be too loud. If you turn the mix up loud and the hats hurt your ears then they are too loud. If you have some kind of sub bass or bass line, this should generally not be louder either in terms of perception or peak level than the kick drum. If it is, the bass might be too loud or your kick might be too quiet. Jungle / Drum and Bass can have exceptions to the kick / bass ratio but techno can rarely have a feeble kick and still sound great.
whats the biggest advantage and disadvantage of a multiband compressor vs a single band compressor as a main "glue" compressor in the master chain. (via gombocrec)
I find the biggest disadvantage of using a multi band compressor on the sum is that it generally will just add huge amounts of mush and transient degradation and significantly decrease the quality of the mix, so I generally will stay away. But the advantage is that it can sometimes save a poor mix where the session has been lost and there aren’t any stems, if there is some weird sound that jumps out etc. Using it as some type of “glue” though is generally a bad idea in my eyes and I see a lot of inexperienced people doing this with bad results. Just because you can get things louder it doesn’t mean it is better. Very rarely is multi band on the sum a desirable thing in professional mastering.
What would be your number one tip for creating a sparkly high end that isn't harsh? Is it simply a case of some choice eq moves? Is a very focused compression band on the high end a good idea? (via Willlockyear)
I think this question is a compositional question disguised as a technical question. Let me explain…. Go and switch on a 909 or equivalent, software or hardware it doesn’t really matter, run your finger across all the steps on the hihat channel and press play and listen loud to the constant 16th note hats. After a very short amount of time it should start to fatigue your ears an insane amount. You might feel your ears “compressing” or just feel like you don’t want to listen to this because it is unpleasant. Now, if you dial in a very loud, long, full, bassy 4/4 kick, the hats will hurt your ears much less because you aren’t just getting blasted in one frequency range. The difference is huge and you haven’t used any EQ, compression or studio tricks, it is simply compositional. Back to mastering…. I will sometimes get a mix where the artist thinks the top end is harsh, then I listen to the mix and it has constant loud hats. Well it is not even about the mastering or mixing process, constant loud hats with no variation are just simply harsh. And it made worse if you have a very short, tight kick and not that much bass going on in the track generally because there is no frequencies from the bass balancing the high frequency assault of the hats. So rather than thinking about reaching for a compressor or EQ, try to change it compositionally by using side chaning on the hats or making the kick fuller or longer, or adding a thicker bassline, or sparsen out the hats a bit. When you have a great sounding mix in terms of composition, then it is much easier to get a great sounding mix technically and much less work is needed in mastering. But if you’ve done all than and are still looking for a super crisp top end, there are some tricks. Either using stuff like shimmery reverbs on your pads etc or try bussing some of the percussion sounds to two busses. A wet bus and a dry bus. On the wet bus you can boost the high frequency EQ a lot into a distortion. Then turn down the wet bus very low in the mix and feed it in until it thickens the highs but doesn’t become obvious.
What are some more creative techniques for gluing a track together besides reverb and compression (i.e. if you want to keep a track as dry as possible)? (via rorykoehler)
You say besides compression…. Well I totally get that it is all too common to slap an expensive compressor across the sum and fool yourself into thinking it sounds better because it is expensive. The more someone pays for a hardware compressor or the more shiny the plugin interface, the more people tend to hear magical “glue” properties. I personally think much of that is nonsense. Simply running everything through a stereo compressor isn’t the solution to sticking your mix together. The solution is crafting a nice mix and more importantly the compositional process itself. But this is exactly where compression comes in. If you aren’t using side chain compression, or using your modular system or Ableton modulation sources to really create dynamics and interplay between sounds then your mix won’t sound glued together because the elements in your tune aren’t vibing together. If you use side chain compression, gate dynamics, VCA and VCF modulation with LFOs and subtle envelopes from loads of triggers, your going to create a huge amount of dynamics as part of the compositional process and this will serve to glue everything together as part of the compositional process. And you will never want more glue as part of the mix because the tune will already vibe. In the mastering process, if a tune needs more glue, I will never run it though a stereo compressor or feed in reverb or whatever tricks other people reckon create glue. Generally I am going to be asking for stems and I will add some dynamics and interplay between the sounds using whatever modulations are appropriate for the tune.
The biggest thing I struggle with is lack of visibility below <50Hz (with my nearfields) and how that impacts my productions. Given the importance of these frequencies in techno it feels like painting with a blindfold. Other than cross referencing with headphones/subpac is there any other advice you could offer? (via MrSkruff)
You just need decent headphones. Don’t try and look at the sound on an FFT. I know some mastering engineers who religiously look at their FFTs to understand what is happening at lower frequencies but this is a total amateur mistake unless they are using very specialist software. This is because each bar on a spectrum analysis chart represents one “bin”. And if you switch to a line graph, you don’t get any more detail, it is still just the same bins but with a line drawn between each. The amount of bins are determined by your window size… it is not uncommon to use 1024 bins across the spectrum analyser. Think about that, only a thousand data points across all audio frequencies. Mostly commonly the accuracy is linear. This means, to cut a long technical story short, you only have a few data points under 50Hz. Maybe you might have only two data points, it depends on the window size. So what are you going to find out with two data points? Basically it tells you almost nothing. It is totally useless. So you might think, OK well then why don’t I ramp up the window size to get more accuracy? You can do that, you could have a window size of a million. The problem is, it will take a million samples of audio playback before you have a reading so you will have an unusably slow spectrum analyser. So there is a huge tradeoff between speed and accuracy. Either the FFT is so slow you can’t use it, or it is so inaccurate that you can’t use it. Either way you can’t use it for low frequencies. So get some decent headphones. If you are on a budget, get some medium price Sony ear buds and you can at least use them to listen to music on the train. If budget, size and weight is less important, grab a pair of Audeze LCD2 - and I’d check out the closed back version too - or other good planar magnetic headphones.
On the mastering chain, do you cut/roll off frequencies below 20hz? On the mastering chain or kick/bass groups, do you mono the low frequencies? For example, I often use the 'Utility' in Ableton to make <100-150hz mono. (via zimoofficial)
In mastering there is nothing that you do just because “you are supposed to always do it this way”. So I do not cut frequencies below 20hz as a routine thing. But if there is a DC offset, which seems to be more common with my house / disco clients as they run their mixes through all sorts of weird and wonderful vintage gear, I will use low shelving or high passing to get rid of unwanted stuff outside of the intended audio band. Narrowing the stereo image in the bass frequencies is something I do a lot of when artists have an unfocused stereo field. There is little benefit to having “wide stereo bass”. You struggle to cut it to vinyl, it leads to unpredictable results in clubs and in my opinion it doesn’t even sound good anyway. I generally try not to have a “sound” as a mastering engineer, other than well balanced and professional, but one thing I will happily accept as a characteristic of any “sound” I might have, would be you don’t get swirly, murky mud bass with my masters. No mud shall pass.
How often are you EQing to correct something in a mix as oppose to EQing just for tone? In regards to EQing for tone- if this is something done often- are there certain frequencies that you adjust/accentuate based on the genre you’re working with or based on an individual song basis? For example- many modern songs have the “smiley face curve” on the analyzer - bumped lows, scooped mids, bumped highs (via brucereyne)
Generally if there is something wrong in the mix, I will request stems or give mix feedback. I will only be very invasive with EQ if the client has lost the original session and it sounds bad and I need to be heavy handed to save a bad mix. The sound I shoot for in terms of tone, I am always looking for a balanced sound. I never EQ with a deliberate smiley curve just because that is “somehow supposed to be good”, because if you do this you lose the power and details of the mids. If you always EQ bright then you lose the warmth of the lows. If you always add lots of bass you lose the clarity of the highs. The only way which I think sounds good is to have a balanced sound. However, if you look at different genres on a spectrum analyser you might notice different kinds of general patterns but the variation is too big between songs in each genre to have that as any useful indicator of the way you should master a track. So stuff like EQ matching is all pretty much just nonsense in my opinion.
Different styles and subgenres have varying tonal and dynamic characteristics. How do you as a mastering engineer account fojudge this in determining whether a submitted track is within parameters of a "good mix"? E.g. Harsh Mentor - Salve is quite different from Tommy Four Seven - Dead Ocean. (via BedsitAudio)
Some mastering engineers do what I call “genre curving” and I used to be guilty of this myself when I first started out with mastering before I really knew what I was doing. When I first started out I was using Izotope Ozone back when it was quite new, I’m pretty sure it was version 3. Anyway you could take “snapshots” of tracks and I took a bunch of snapshots of reference house and techno tracks and figured out that they were very similar how they looked. So I just used to match the curve of the track I was attempting to master, to the reference. And that was it. This is how I started off around about 15 years ago trying to understand how to master stuff but obviously this is not very professional. Sooner or later I realised that if a track had a longer kick drum it would have more bass on the curve than if it had a shorter kick drum, which lead me to reduce the bass too much on the long kick drums and boost the bass too much with the short kick drums and then it would either sound feeble or distort easily, and I wouldn’t get the right volume and it didn’t sound very balanced. So then I felt like I had no more reference point and no benchmark to achieve any consistency….. as my attempt to achieve consistency ironically just ended up making things sound even less consistent! The solution is that you need to listen to a ton of music critically and you slowly develop an ear for what a balanced track sounds like. It’s like trying to ride a bike. At first it seems hard and you don’t really know what you are doing, but once you have developed the feel for it, you are able to do it. But just because you can ride a bike it doesn’t mean you are going to be good enough to ride a halfpipe. For that you need lots and lots of practice and there is absolutely no shortcut. If you try and drop in on a huge halfpipe first time because you have read a book on BMX, then you will just hurt yourself. Same with mastering. There is no technical knowledge or trick you can use, it is all just lots of practise.
What do you believe are the biggest trends in techno production and mastering right now? Where are we heading? (via teegeeteegeeteegee)
Mastering is all over the place in techno because you have a mixture of engineers. People sending their stuff to professional mastering studios and getting a proper job done but also artists trying to do it themselves and ending up with weird results. When working with someone new, they might send me a badly mastered track as a reference and say “I want this loudness” and also send me a professionally mastered track and say “but I want the richness and clarity of this track”. And I have to explain that the loud one is distorting and sounds like someone throwing a bag of spanners down the stairs whereas the professionally mastered one is slightly quieter but actually sounds great. Anyone can make anything sound loud by smashing it through a distortion plugin and boosting the high frequencies but that isn’t the way to make something sound great. The problem is, when DJs play a mixture of unpro mastered tracks with professional tracks, either they have to use the gain knobs (which of course any good DJ would normally do) or the unpro mastered tracks will sound louder. There is a tendency to hear a louder track as sounding better just because it is louder (this is the classic mastering loudness war thing) but the issue in techno is that it is possible to just run an entire track through a distortion unit whereas more other genres you can’t. So there is a practical limit of common sense in most other genres but in techno, especially with the tougher stuff, there is seemingly no need for common sense in certain parts of the scene when people think the clipping and insane distortion sound good. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with listening to a square wave if that is your thing, but you just cannot expect to get a richer more complex dynamic track to sound equally loud. Most decent artists absolutely understand this though and don’t care about the extra loudness when it comes at the cost of sacrificing everything else
Given that modern techno requires such a cohesive sound, do you recommend producers work with comp/limiting on the master channel pre mastering? Does you have artists that give you looser mixes to allow you to do higher quality comp/limiting in the mastering stage? (via teegeeteegeeteegee)
Most artists I work with use a limiter (or just straight clipping) on the sum while they are composing and mixing the track. You can go as crazy as you want with limiting while working on your music. But the second you send it to be mastered you need to bounce the tracks with the limiter turned off and any compressor or saturation you have on the sum need to definitely be turned off otherwise I will reject the mixes. Sometimes the artist will send a reference with a limiter and it might even be louder than my master. But the artist can pretty much always hear that my master sounds better and more balanced and so I do not try and “beat the loudness” of their demo masters. Everyone I work with values a high quality end result more than a crap result which is extremely loud. And I know this because I refuse to work with artists that only want loud. But sure, when you are composing feel free to use limiting and I actually do recommend working with or at least checking your mix with a loud limiter setting because you can often pick up very quickly on soggy sounding kicks or unreasonably loud bass etc.
Do techno producers these days tend to cut too much low end in their mixes? What tips would you give us for tighter low end that would work in a club setting? (via sonicloophole)
There is not one trend in the mixes I receive. I’d say that over half the mixes are too dull and a very large amount are too bright. It is the vast minority which have perfect tonality. Some significant and increasing portion of the mixes I receive have nonsensical stereo widening and out-of-phase elements. The increase in use of stereo widening plugins is causing issues for people’s ability to mix nicely. The best bet is to uninstall any stereo widening plugins you have. If it sounds “super wide”, it is probably just out of phase and will disappear when played in mono leading to a low quality feeble mix. Always check mono.
What is your all-time favourite techno track production wise (if it's more than one that's also fine ofc). (via Dr_eyebrow)
There are so many tracks out there which just sound perfect in terms of their technical presentation / sound quality. This has been made very easy by artists using pristine quality sample library sounds in their music and the increasingly easy to use DAWs like Ableton. But when I listen to music, especially techno, it’s not the technical presentation which makes a track become one of my favourite, it is the creativity of the track and how it makes me feel. That’s why when I make my own music, I step well outside of the zone of being a mastering engineer and write stuff which doesn’t necessarily have the best sound quality but makes me feel something (like SHARDS - Three - A2). So my taste in techno in terms of my favourite tracks follow the same idea…. So for example I remember when Tommy Four Seven made Armed 3 a decade ago and I heard it in Berghain, that was something new for me and the track stuck with me as being this weird and brilliant anomaly of techno before anyone else was really doing that kind of sound. Or when Szare released Scored, that was a real favourite of mine at the time, whether you can call that strictly techno or not. Like stuff which you can’t work out if it is pretending to be techno but really isn’t or if it is actually techno but is just an anomaly. Who is to say? Ancient methods - Drop Out was the coolest thing when I first heard that. SØS Gunver Ryberg makes some crazy material. SNTS and Headless Horseman make some of my favourite dark rolling tracks. Maybe I’m just influenced by the fact that I’ve worked with those artists but I will often hear one track somewhere and immediately fall in love with the creativity amid a cloud of good sounding average tracks. Making your track sound good in a technical way is important, but the creativity to make something which breaks the mould is much cooler.
What techno genre is hardest to master? Industrial techno has harsh transients, melodic techno has a larger dynamic range, etc. (via dangayle)
To me everything is the same difficulty to master in terms of subgenres. It isn’t really the style of music it is the specific track which might be difficult and it generally has more to do with the person who composed and mixed the track. A pro melodic techno producer will submit an equally good quality mix to a pro industrial sounding producer. It is generally the inexperienced producer which create more of a challenge.
Is it easieharder to master tracks that were created fully in the box vs tracks that come from modular or other live performances? (via dangayle)
Not really, it really depends on the material. Actually modular setups can sometimes create weird frequencies and be harder to manage than purely digital in the box sourced sounds. Also you can get a higher noise floor with modular gear to the point of it being really problematic. Despite this I am a huge fan of eurorack.
What is the best book on mixing and mastering? Old or new. Analog and digital. Thank you. (via MILOFUZZ1)
Books don't teach you how to mix, an internship in a decent studio does. I've done a bunch of unpaid internships in my time and by the time I joined Calyx Mastering in 2014 I thought I was pretty good, up to that point I had been earning a living from Mastering for around 6 years and out of the many applicants and after their very difficult job application mastering test, I was the one that got the job. Then the first day I started working there I had my ego deflated and suddenly felt like a complete amateur with the super high quality expectations there. By that time I already knew all the theoretical stuff you'd read in a book - it was the experience of working in a team of elite engineers which taught me the biggest lessons, not the theoretical stuff.
How do you feel about using the following on the master buss: Saturation, Stereo widening, Mono-izing low frequencies, Low cuts between 10-50 Hz, Hight cuts between 15-20+ kHz, Using AD style clipper at the end, Multiband or standard compression for glu, (via fukinay)
Saturation: generally a bad idea unless it is in parallel Stereo widening: disaster, don’t do this Mono bass: generally a good idea Low cuts: generally not necessary unless you have a DC offset or problematic stuff High cuts: not generally necessary unless you have TV frequencies Clipping: bad idea Multiband compressor: bad idea Stereo compressor: generally a bad idea unless in parallel
In a untreated room, while using sonarworks or ik multimedia Arc2, how accurate can the mix and mastering be? (via Sonictrade)
Speaker correction does just that, it corrects the speakers. It doesn’t correct the room. Stuff which claims that it is room correction is generally a gimmick. This is because a poorly treated bad sounding room has problems in both the frequency domain and more importantly time domain. So you set your mic up to measure the response at your listening position and you do the sweeps and come up with a correction curve. Great, you have corrected the frequency response if you head is exactly where the mic was. Move a bit to the left or right, or back or forwards and you lose the sweet spot. Now sitting in the new position you might have a worse (deeper valley or higher peak) than you had with the room correction turned off because you may have moved out of a high pressure standing wave into low pressure in respect to those frequencies. So where you sit is very important in determining whether you are going to get the “flat” frequency response or a completely messed up one. In practise, if you stay generally in the right position the frequency response might possibly be good enough to work with but then you have a whole new problem which can be even worse than having an uneven frequency response… that is the problem of resonances. Especially in the lower and lower mid frequencies. This makes certain notes sound longer than they are. If you have a resonance around 50-60Hz you will always have a completely inaccurate understanding of how your kick sounds and when you play your mix elsewhere it is possible that your kick sounds very short and feeble whereas it sounded huge and beefy in your studio room. This is why speaker correction solutions should be seen as supplements to room treatment and second in line, not first in line. Getting some bass traps and basic acoustic treatment doesn’t cost huge amounts… if you have a modular system you can probably afford to treat your room. But if you are on a budget it is very easy to make DIY solutions using rockwool based DIY traps. Just make sure to use a mask and a very thin layer of plastic under the fabric to keep the fibres from escaping through the fabric and being breathed in.
Kind of curious the theory behind why one of my mixes that hits at -8 LUFS sounding softer than another mix at roughly the same LUFS. Is there an element in my mix that is hitting harder, say my kick, that is louder in one and taking up more of my headroom? (via Dudemanbro88)
LUFS is not an accurate determiner of loudness despite the fact that it was designed specifically to do just that and everyone now seems to think it is a more accurate determiner of loudness than their own ears. It is actually quite difficult to create a calculated number to say how loud humans will perceive sound. Traditionally everyone has used RMS but it is well know that RMS is very bass influenced. That is, if you have a very bassy recording and a very trebbly recording and then normalised them to the same RMS value, the bassy recording would sound much quieter. So the broadcast industry experts came up with a solution using the K weighting system to deemphasise the influence of bass frequencies on the meter readings. And this is what LUFS is. It isn’t a perfect system and it doesn’t even come close to resembling Fletcher Munson curves. I personally don’t care all that much about LUFS. It is useful in broadcast standards but not so useful in mastering for club music, at least not yet.
Any tips to avoid the dreaded "mud" when trying to put together an extremely bass heavy track? I really seem to like tracks that have a lot going on around that 40hz mark, but its a very hard area to monitor and mix properly! (via NothingSuss1)
40Hz is a bit too low to reproduce well on many club systems. People think that club systems are big and powerful and can rumble strongly at any frequency they throw at it. The truth is, while club PA systems are generally very big and powerful, it takes a crazy amount of power and also good room acoustics to successfully reproduce frequencies in the 30-40Hz range with visceral loudness and low distortion. If you test drive your tracks regularly in clubs you will see that staying closer to the 50Hz - 65Hz range for kick frequencies is often a safer bet. You need to turn those very low frequencies up loudly in your mix to get them to cut through and then you end up with mud. So it is less of a mix thing and more of a compositional thing to create a mix with low amounts of mud. Or you could also celebrate the mud. Maybe listen to some Sunn 0))).
What is your opinion whether mastering process should influence how well and pleasant the music sounds, or only and exclusively affect the loudness and conformance to standards? (via fourthtuna)
I generally work with the artist to achieve the best possible sound, whatever that takes, but I will not intervene in the creative / compositional process. If you think that it is maybe sort of unfair that some people get external help in making their tracks sound better, then I’d say that, although having a professional mix and mastering job is very beneficial, if the actual tune isn’t good in terms of artistry, then no amount of mastering is going to make it a decent track.
Is analog mastering better than digital? (via Caen83)
Today there is no such thing as analogue mastering. There is mastering exclusively with hardware…. In which case you might use a hardware limiter such as the Waves L2 but this is digital not analogue. Then you have to convert it back to digital at some point if you want to release the music digitally anyway. If you take analogue mastering to mean analogue EQ and compression, then what happens if you don’t need to use compression? Then all you mean by analogue mastering is analogue EQ. In which case, is analogue EQ better than digital? I’d say not necessarily. I do use analogue EQ but I don’t know of any analogue EQ that can be used as a ganged stereo dynamic EQ. So limiting yourself to using only analogue EQ would be a huge downgrade. In short, in modern times, analogue mastering (whatever that is taken to mean) is generally worse in my opinion than a hybrid or fully digital approach.
With plug-ins becoming more and more powerful, Acustica emulating high end tube EQs, and even Softube with the 1:1 Weiss EQ and Compressor, do you think mastering will ever change from analog to hybrid, with just converters and plug-ins? (via secus_official)
It already changed years ago. Very few people do 100% analogue mastering because the limiters are pretty much always going to be digital and the end format is pretty much always digital too. You only generally get all-analogue mastering for speciality projects, like recording to tape and then mastering from tape to vinyl with no digital gear. So in this sense, the whole mastering industry had already gone hybrid many years ago. In 2020 I’d hazard a guess at saying that there are more digital mastering engineers than there are people using analogue EQ. The Weiss gear by the way is, and always was, digital. If what you mean is not analogue but “hardware”. Well I don’t really know how meaningful that is. If you have the L2 or the Weiss stuff running in a box in a rack or on your computer if it is the same code processing the digital signal. In fact many engineers sold their hardware L2s because the newer plugins sounded better.
What are some of your favourite tracks you mastered and can you tell what exactly you like hearing in them and mastering them. (via arneleadk)
Tommy Four Seven’s album Veer was an especially cool album to master. To me that album is an obvious landmark in modern techno. Because of the complexity of the production and the massive amount of layers and detail Tommy likes to use in his tracks it was a big challenge to get sounding as weighty as it needed to be whilst preserving all of the details, clearing some of the mud caused by the complexity in the low end, getting the optimal stereo image to sound wide and full but at the same time be very mono compatible. It had to be loud yet dynamic and hard hitting but graceful in the detail of the sounds. It had to do everything all at once which is the most difficult thing possible in mastering because mastering is normally a balancing act.
What is the difference between tracks you get from seasoned professionals (Paula Temple, T47) vs those you get from new producers? (via dangayle)
Generally the quality of the mixes are instantly recognisable and they don’t make common errors like having the hihats far too loud in the mix etc. Also they know what works in a club and what will cut through on the sound systems and they won’t compose tracks with sounds which don’t translate well in those environments. Beyond the music itself you can generally tell someone who is a pro by the lack of concern for control over the mastering process. When I get a track from one of my long term record labels or artists, a wetransfer email will turn up in my inbox with no note. I master whatever it is and send the masters back and invoice them. They pay the invoice within a week and that is the end of the process, no revisions. With new producers, the same kind of job will take 20 emails and maybe a revision or two after I have requested stems and given mix feedback.
From a mastering engineer's perspective, should producers have their tracks mastered before shopping them to labels, or should they leave that up to the label itself? (via dangayle)
Generally labels like to get their stuff mastered by their own preferred mastering guy and they could even suggest changes to the tracks before they signed them. So there is a reasonably high chance that you will not actually release the masters you pay to get done, and they will need to be redone. However, the question is whether having the tracks mastered so they sound their best, might actually have gotten the attention of the label… maybe if it had not been mastered and sounded a bit more rough, the label may have overlooked it. I would generally advise mastering your stuff if you are confident with the tracks and have the budget as it could be the edge which gets you the deal.
Do you master your own productions as Shards/These Hidden Hands, or are you too close to the music to be objective? (via dangayle)
I have mastered every Shards and THH record. Objectivity comes with time away from listening to the music. You cannot make a track and master it the same evening but you can make an album, have a two week holiday and come back and master it with an increased amount of objectivity, not optimal amounts but enough to do a pretty good job if you can focus. Generally the test is, listen back in a year and if you think “oh shit” then you should probably ask another engineer next time. But with Shards and THH I still think I did a good job looking back, in fact I use one of my Shards tracks as a calibration / reference track and I think that our second THH album, Vicarious Memories, is one of the best album masters I’ve done and I use the track The Telepath as one of my most important references for testing new monitors and headphones. It seems to work for me but some other mastering engineers insist on having other people masters their own music. I guess it would be interesting to get another engineer to master the next THH record and then compare it with my own master to see if my objectivity really is impeded… but then again, last time I did that with a Shards track which came out on another label, I had to end up submitting my own master because I hated the master their engineer came up with.
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Half-bear, half-owl, all-murder. The ferocious Owlbear might look cute, but its only interest in you is how tasty you are - Lore & History

If we had to rank the ugliest Dungeons & Dragons monsters, the Owlbear is definitely near the top along with the otyugh and the AD&D orcs. The Owlbear was created by Gary Gygax who was looking for new monsters for his players to fight. He found this kaiju monster toy in a small shop that labeled it as a ‘prehistoric animal’ and, along with other great monsters like the rust monster and the bulette, inducted it into the game. While the Owlbear was originally modeled by a toy company in China, it’s growth and development in Dungeons & Dragons can be credited to Gary Gygax and all the designers after him.
If you find yourself curious as to what the original toy Gygax designed the Owlbear off of, luckily Tony Diterlizzi, the awesome artist who did a lot of work for Planescape and the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual, shared it on his blog as well as a few others that Gygax had created. It’s fascinating to see these old chinasaurs and makes you want to run to a dollar store and see what horrifying ‘dinosaurs’ you can find to throw at your own party.
 

OD&D - Owl Bear

No. Appearing: 2-5
Armor Class: 5
Move: 12”
Hit Dice: 5
% in Lair: 40%
No. of Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite
Damage/Attack: 1-6/claw****, 1-12/bite
Treasure: C
**** hug on score of 18 or better causes 2-16 points of additional damage
The Owlbear, or as it was actually introduced Owl Bear, was featured in the supplement, Greyhawk (1975). The story behind its creation was that Gygax used a plastic toy from the Godzilla movies created by the company in Hong Kong. These toys were the inspiration behind a few of the early monsters Gygax used in his early games. Tim Kask, one of the first playtesters who later became the editor for Dragon magazine tells the story as follows:
There once was an unknown company in Hong Kong that made a bag of weird animal-things that were then sold in what once were called dime stores or variety stores for like $.99. I know of four other very early monsters based on them. Gary and I talked about how hard it was to find monster figures, and how one day he came upon this bag of weird beasts…He nearly ran home, eager as a kid to get home and open his baseball cards.
Tim Kask, Forums on Dragonsfoot.org
Kask goes on to say that the figures were the inspiration for the rust monster, purple worm, carrion crawler, umber hulk, and, of course, the Owlbear. Looking at a picture of this odd yellow-colored toy, we aren’t sure how he thought the creature looks like a combination of a bear and an owl. It seems more like a twisted version of Big Bird from Sesame Street if Big Bird was a flesh-eating, homicidal maniac.
The creature that Gygax created is described as having a ‘horrid visage and disposition’ but we suppose if people kept calling us horrid looking, we’d be angsty too. Their bodies are furry with thick skin, and its head has feathers covering most of that area. Our poor, genetically confused creature is one nasty customer, as it had multiple dangerous attacks. The Owlbear was able to attack with its giant beak, though calling the thing on its face a beak doesn’t really do it justice as it is a massive curved protrusion. While the attack is actually listed as a bite, we’re sure its not the Owlbear’s teeth that cause the damage. We’re convinced it’s the beak that the creature tries to impale you upon that does most of the damage.
Next up for our horrifying genetic mistake is that it gets a bit goofy with its claw attacks. Instead of trying to open your head with its can-opener beak, the Owlbear can make two claw attacks. If the DM rolls an 18+ on the attack, the Owlbear gets to hug you. Now, this isn’t a nice gentle squeeze from grandma, but a hug from a creature that is 8 feet tall and weighs around 1,500 pounds. You’ll take 2-16 points of damage and settle for a handshake next time.
 

Basic D&D - Owlbear

Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5
Move: 120’ (40’)
Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite
Damage: 1-8 each
No. Appearing: 1-4
Save As: Fighter 3
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: C
Alignment: Neutral
The Owlbear is introduced in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1971) followed by the Basic Sets from 1981 and 1983. For such a confusing and strange creature, the description is incredibly brief and a bit… strange. We understand why the Owlbear would live in the deep dark forest, but underground? Owls and bears live in the forest, not a dungeon. Described as a bear-like creature with an owl head, there is no picture in the book, leaving our imagination to conjure up all sorts of horrible visions, speaking of horrible… they are still described as 'horrid', which we are sure only makes the Owlbear angrier.
The Owlbear is described as being over 8 feet tall when it’s standing on its hind legs and weighs over 1,500 pounds, this doesn’t paint a very cuddly picture. They are also described as being foul-tempered and that they attack when encountered as they are always hungry. Now, what could you imagine a ferocious Owlbear likes to eat? Well, you probably guessed correctly and its meat, and guess what humanoids are made of… meat! So, the Owlbear is just one more monster in the long line of them that likes to eat your character. Tasty.
The Owlbear retains their painful hug, but now it only happens if they hit you with both claws instead of just getting a high roll on the attack. Add that to the potential of being hit three times and you could be having a very bad day very quickly. Their hit dice are nothing to scoff at either, as a White Dragon in this version only has 6 HD. They also have an AC of 5, which is surprisingly decent, especially for a creature that is unable to wear armor. So now we have a giant owl-headed bear with a good amount of hit points and decent armor that can hug you to death. Fun times.
The Owlbear later gets some time to shine as it shows up in Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991), the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game Set (1994), and the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game Set (1999). Unfortunately, the creature’s stats and descriptions never see an update.
 

AD&D - Owlbear

Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 2-5
Armor Class: 5
Move: 12”
Hit Dice: 5+2
% in Lair: 30%
Treasure Type: C
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-6/1-6/2-12
Special Attacks: Hug
Special Defenses: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral
Size: L (8’ tall)
Psionic Ability: Nil
The Owlbear appears in the Monster Manual (1977) and this edition brings it just a bit more information to chew on. Before we dive into talking about this horrid beast, we have to talk about the picture that comes along with the description. The drawing is based on the toy that was the inspiration for the Owlbear, and it is incredibly spot on… in the worst way. Its body looks nothing like a bear and its head has no resemblance to that of an owl, and the last time we checked a bear doesn’t have a giant tail. We’re not sure why it’s arms and legs have less hair on them, but they are noticeably paler than the rest of the body. It has a hunchback and a strange gizzard-like neck. The head is… ridiculous is the only appropriate word for it, it looks like it’s wearing a strange looking hat made of what we can only assume is feathers. The face is less of a face and more of one giant beak with tiny little teeth and one narrow eye. Thank goodness for the Owlbear that the only other picture on the page is that of the otyugh, who has a face, not even a mother could love.
The Owlbear gets a tiny bit of backstory, as it is surmised that the creation of this foul beast may have come about at the hands of a wizard, which is just code for 'Nobody wanted to think too hard about a bear and an owl getting it on'. This makes us feel slightly bad for the Owlbears, they are incredibly grumpy and hungry and they didn’t ask for this life!
Owlbears are described as a combination of brown fur and yellow feathers, it’s beak is a much lighter color, from yellow to ivory. They can still weigh up to 1,500 pounds, and it’s cruel eyes are usually red-rimmed, as if it had been crying. Maybe it saw itself in a mirror or the highly polished shield of a paladin perhaps, and finally saw what it looked like. We feel for it, that’s a daily occurrence for us.
The Owlbear can be found in deep dark forests or underground labyrinths. While exploring those lost ruins and labyrinths, you may also stumble across Mr. and Mrs. Owlbear in their lair, and there is a 1 in 4 chance that they’ll have a few little ones running around. There is also a chance that their young haven’t hatched yet and that there are up to 6 eggs just ready to be plundered by adventurers for a nice omelet. Since the Owlbear comes from an egg, we have to figure that the genetic experiments resulted in more owl DNA than just the strange owl head and feathers. Now, we talked about using the Owlbear eggs to make an omelet, but before you get that fire going, let’s talk about gold. Owlbear eggs are worth up to 2,000 gold while the young go for 5,000 gold. Of course, the Owlbears aren’t just going to let you take their young, Owlbears fight to the death, no matter the stakes plus there is a 50% chance that the Owlbear ‘cubs’ you are hoping for will be full-grown and fight side by side with mom and dad.
The rest of the Owlbear is largely unchanged from the previous editions and they are still known for giving their bear hugs, though it states that anywho is locked in this hug takes the damage at the start of the Owlbear’s turn every round… which is gotta be horrifying for those trying to save their party member. All they see is the fighter get a massive hug, and then they start hearing screams as bones begin breaking and the gleaming owl beak of the Owlbear begins pecking and biting into the fighter’s head, trying to break it open like a kinder egg… We wonder what the surprise will be! Probably nothing, we all know that fighters aren’t the brightest.
 

2e - Owlbear

Climate/Terrain: Temperate Forest
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Pack
Activity Cycle: Late afternoon/early evening
Diet: Carnivore
Intelligence: Low (5-7)
Treasure: (C)
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: 1 (2-8)
Armor Class: 5
Movement: 12
Hit Dice: 5+2
THAC0: 15
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-6/1-6/2-12
Special Attacks: Hug
Special Defenses: Nil
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: L (8’ tall)
Morale: Steady (11-12) + Special
XP Value: 420
The Owlbear appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989) and is later added to the Monstrous Manual (1993). The picture in the Monstrous Compendium gets slightly better and features just the top half of the ferocious beast and you can make our more details! Wicked claws, horrifying owl beak and… teeth… lots of teeth. It’s like staring into the mouth of a penguin and being horrified by what you see. In the Monstrous Manual, we get a full-color drawing of the beast by Tony DiTerlizzi and it is as whimsical as anything else he has drawn! Brown fur with owl feathers, a tongue sticking out, and wicked claws… we still don’t want to get lost in a forest with one of them, but at least it won’t be as embarrassing to die by this beast than before. No one wants to die to a homicidal Big Bird.
Their description and background remain the same except for a few humorous additions, and it's actually kind of sad. Typically in 2e, we get a full page of information about the exotic life of the creatures and how they reside in their ecosystem with words crammed into every part of the page… the poor Owlbear has plenty of room leftover on the page and has a glaring block of white space that could be used to give it a more interesting backstory and ecology! Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, our Owlbear is still created by a mad wizard, it is implied that upon creation, the Owlbear killed the wizard. We hope it was a slow and painful death, Mother Nature should not be screwed with in such a horrifying way. The Owlbear also gets its own language, if you consider screeching at various pitches a language. We can only imagine the terror of being trapped in a labyrinth and hearing that noise echoing throughout the maze.
How and where they live also remains mostly the same, and now they can also live in caves and hollow tree stumps. Caves we get, but hollow tree stumps? That had to be one big ass tree, especially if they expect there to be a pack of them. Speaking of packs, when an Owlbear couple decides to settle down and make a family, they claim up to two square miles as their own. Don’t trespass, as they are very touchy about visitors, and will try to kill you immediately. As we have mentioned before, the Owlbear will fight to the death. Now you can use that to your advantage, as their crazed fury blinds them to the dangers you can create for them. The text suggests that you lure them off a cliff or drop a bunch of boulders on them. It does go on to say, of course, that is only if you can find a cliff. Even with a low Intelligence, we’re pretty sure the Owlbear won’t do this, but if it does, you’d better hope you’re not being hugged when it happens.
We are given a bit of information in regards to the ecology of the Owlbear and the text describes a creature that lives with the results of two creatures being smashed together through magic. Living 20 years, they are warm-blooded animals, like a bear would be, but like an owl, their cubs are hatched from what must be really, really large eggs. They are carnivores and are only interested in anything tasty like rabbits, snakes, bears, and one must always assume humanoids because we are incredibly delicious. Their sleep patterns are a lot like that of a teenager in that they don’t rise until noon and then hunt all afternoon and night until they tucker themselves out and go to sleep at midnight. They hate the cold and their bear tendencies shine through in the winter when they hibernate, though there are rumors of arctic Owlbears… so watch out. Lastly, they can’t be domesticated, and why anyone would ever want one is beyond us. If you need a hug that badly, go visit your mom. They are captured and sold in markets throughout the world, where they command a high price and many a powerful person has purchased an Owlbear to serve as an unwitting protector of their owner’s property.
In 1995, we are given an interesting article in Dragon #214 (February), the Ecology of the Owlbear by Johnathan Richards. This article tells the story of how two adventurers almost got themselves killed by Owlbears. The two adventurers, a grizzled old veteran Griff, and a young apprentice Colin who has no business going out in the wilderness. They track down an Owlbear and use honey to distract the poor creature and end up killing it with a poisoned crossbow bolt. Of course, you’d assume that Griff, who basically brags to know everything about Owlbears would know that some Owlbears mate and have babies. While Griff is skinning the first Owlbear, the second Owlbear comes out of a cave and gets a little upset, and we might say unreasonable, and begins attacking the two. Somehow, they survive the encounter and find a few Owlbear eggs to sell in the market.
Now, this piece in the article is especially interesting because they provide ways of augmenting the normal Owlbear and giving it even more owl and bear traits, this does make a stronger monster but does give it a lot more flavor to its mechanics. Owlbears, even after you killed them, still want to fight for several more rounds before it finally decides to die… We recommend distracting them with the one thing bears apparently can’t resist. Honey! Honey is one of the few things that an Owlbear loves to eat, the other things being you and anything else filled with delicious meat.
Owlbears, like bears, mark their territories by sharpening their claws on trees, though they can’t climb a tree… which seems a bit weird seeing as how bears can climb trees and owls can roost in them. Luckily for you though, you can hide in a tree and be safe from the horrid beast below you on the forest floor, unlucky for you because you are stuck in that tree. Owlbears are known for waiting days, angrily waiting for you to come down so it can show you just how pissed off it is. They are also known for being so strong as to knock fully matured trees down, so there’s that too.
This updated Owlbear also gains a few other characteristics of its owl half, like it can swivel its head a full 270 degrees and can quickly whip its head back and forth with ease. In the realm of the weird, the Owlbear has a third transparent eyelid that provides an extra layer of protection, as the young Colin finds out when he tries to blind the Owlbear by throwing dirt into its face. Just as the owl does, the Owlbear tears its food into chunks and doesn’t bother chewing as it gulps those chunks down. What it can’t digest gets turned into leftover pellets that it spits up as owl pellets.
At the end of the article, we are introduced to two new Owlbears, which are later reprinted in the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three (1996), The Artic Owlbear and the Flying Owlbear. As you can probably guess, one lives in the cold and snow, and the other can fly. The Arctic Owlbear has more hit dice than our regular Owlbear and is a snowy white color, giving it great camouflage as it waits in the snow, ready to pounce. Also, its a mix of a polar bear and a snow owl. The Flying Owlbear can fly, which is a very disturbing thought. As if dealing with a regular Owlbear isn’t bad enough, now it can rain down death from the sky and are incredibly stealthy and hard to notice until the wizard suddenly learns to fly and soars away to be eaten in the clouds.
The last Owlbear of 2nd edition is featured in Dungeon #63 (July 1997) and is part of an adventure called Hunt for the Heirophant by Chris Doyle. The Owlbear featured is a Dire Owlbear of immense size and strength, it has more hit points, deals more damage and is a ferocious brute who was placed in stasis because a wizard wanted to use it as a guard. The party must fight the Dire Owlbear and the wizard asks that they don’t kill it… which we are sure is going over well for the fighter caught in its hug and is currently being lobotomized by a bird beak.
 

3e/3.5e - Owlbear

Large Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 5d10+25 (52 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 15 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +5 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple +5/+14
Attacks: Claw +9 melee (1d6+5)
Full Attack: Claw +9 melee (1d6+5) and bite +4 melee (1d8+2)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5ft.
Special Attacks: Improved Grab
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +5, Will +2
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 12, Con 21, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 10
Skills: Listen +8, Spot +8
Feats: Alertness, Track
Climate/Terrain: Temperate forests
Orgnization: Solitary, pair, or pack (3-8)
Challenge Rating: 4
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 6-8 HD (large); 9-15 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment: -
The owlbear appears in the Monster Manual (2000/2003) and before we talk about the shockingly small amount of information our fine-feathered and furry-murder-beast received in this edition, we first have to discuss the Owlbear’s picture. It’s once again back to standing upright and its arms are these odd feather-covered appendages that look more like wings than arms. Its yellow-brownish color gives it a regal look which would be great if its facial expression wasn’t one that said it was going to rip your throat out. All in all, it looks like a person dressed up in a giant bird suit screaming because they can’t get out. Or maybe someone is playing a horrible prank on a bear and glued on some feathers and a beak, and the bear is upset… either way, probably best not to get too close, they look dangerous.
The short description provided leaves a lot to be desired, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about. They are active during the day or night, and it largely depends on the available prey in the area, so now breakfast is no longer safe from them. Eggs and young Owlbears still fetch a handsome reward, and now you have the privilege of paying an exorbitant amount, 2,000 gp, to an Owlbear trainer if you want one of your very own… which, is probably the safest thing to do. If the Owlbear is going to murder someone, its better that its the trainer and not you… that way you can get your 2,000 gp back from the thoroughly shredded body. Finally, the term ‘hug’ is dropped, as the attack is now referred to as an improved grab ability and honestly… we kind of miss the idea of the Owlbear squeezing people to death like their a tube of toothpaste and it's trying to squeeze every drop out.
Fortunately for us, the Owlbear appears in many other places during this edition and even appears as an Owlbear Skeleton in the 3.5 Monster Manual! The creature provided is based on a template for creating skeletons, so while it doesn’t build on the lore… it does mean that just when you thought you were safe, clearing the nearby lands of Owlbear infestations, you now have the distinct possibility of having to fight one of these undead monsters. Life isn’t fair sometimes.
In the Forgotten Realms supplement Unapproachable East (2003), you can take your very own Owlbear feat called the Owlbear Berserker. Your barbarian lodge totem is an Owlbear and when you take this feat you get to make an unarmed attack, dealing 1d6 points of damage with a successful grapple check. We assume it's based on the owlbear’s hug ability since you probably don’t have a giant beak to peck with when the target is grappled.
After that comes a few other variant Owlbears, like the Flying Owlbear in the Dungeons #84 (January 2001) adventure The Dying of the Light, or the Ancient Owlbear in the Dungeon #107 (February 2004) adventure Mellorn Hospitality. The last type of Owlbear in this edition appears in the Bestiary of Kyrnn (2004, 2007) which has an Ankholian Undead Owlbear as one more creature to feed our nightmares. The Ankholian Undead is a template that you can apply to any monster you want and provides several additional undead abilities that provide a far more fearsome opponent than some sort of skeleton. An interesting fact about Ankholian undead creatures is that they get a breath weapon that gives them the ability to spew a 30-foot cone of green flame that doesn’t burn you, instead, it does slam you with cold damage and its usable once per minute. And just when you thought that that pack of Owlbear Skeletons would be the worst thing you had to face today…
 

4e - Owlbear

Level 8 Elite Brute
Large fey beast / XP 700
Initiative +6 / Senses Perception +12; low-light vision
HP 212; Bloodied 106; see also stunning screech
AC 22; Fortitude 22, Reflex 19, Will 20
Saving Throws +2
Speed 7
Action Points 1
Claw (standard; at will) Reach 2; 12 vs. AC; 2d6+5 damage
Double Attack (standard; at will) The owlbear makes two claw attacks. if both claws hit the same target, the target is grabbed (until escape).
Bite (standard; at will) Grabbed target only; automatic hit; 4d8+5 damage.
Stunning Screech (free, when first bloodied, encounter) Close burst 1; +10 vs. Fortitude; the target is stunned (save ends).
Alignment Unaligned / Languages -
Str 20 (+9) Dex 14 (+6) Wis 16 (+7) Con 16 (+7) Int 2 (+0) Cha 10 (+4)
The Owlbear appears in the Monster Manual (2008) and the first thing that we should mention is that they are now considered fey beasts… will get back to that. To keep up our tradition, let’s talk about the artwork. It looks good… suspiciously too good, which makes us wonder if some sort of Big Owlbear lobby is out there and bribed WotC to make a fearsome, scary, and accurate drawing of an Owlbear. Long claws, deadly beak, and a beautiful blending of feathers to fur… it took up till 4th edition to finally get some good artwork of the Owlbear and it was worth it.
Going back to the fey beast, the creature is no longer described as the creation of an insane wizard, but a predator from the Feywild. They live in the forest and in caves, hunt either during the day or night, mate, and reproduce. They somehow slipped over to the natural world and as far as we are concerned, the Feywild can have them back.
The claw/grab/crush attack, formally known as the hug attack remains, with the Owlbear grappling the target if it hits with both claw attacks and automatically bitting any target they grab on to. Owlbears also gain a new attack called the Stunning Screech, which allows them to screech so loud it will make your ears bleed and cause you to be stunned. It will then charge you down and begin attacking you with even more aggression and renew its tight squeeze to get at your meat flavored filling.
We are also introduced to the Winterclaw Owlbear, which is just a meaner, colder, and probably angrier Owlbear. While the Winterclaw loses its Stunning Screech, it gains a new cold attack known as Frost Wall. While this ability no longer stuns their prey, it instead sends out literal ice and immobilizes their target so that the Winterclaw can hang out a bit, talk about life and then begin squeezing you like a twinkie.
The lore goes on to describe how the inhabitants of the Feywild like to tame the Owlbears, using them to guard their territories. This is further expanded on in the Monster Vault Box Set (2010) which provides several new Owlbears to hug your party to death as well as a bit more information about the ecology of the Owlbear. They are gifted with the vision of the owl and the raw power of the bear. They just love to kill things and if they are in a prey-rich area, they will strew their territory with lots of dead bodies to attract scavengers. They will then sneak up on those pesky scavengers and eat them, displaying any leftovers to attract even more scavengers for it to lazily feed on.
Most describe the lairs of these Owlbears as horrendously smelly, and we are sure that the smell of rotting meat has to be bad… though some in the Feywild use this to their advantage and specifically set up their treetop communities over the lairs of these smelly Owlbears. The elves will have their beautiful cities guarded below them by the Owlbears, and hopefully, they have a constant strong wind to push away the overwhelming stench. This book also provides information on Young Owlbears, Trained Owlbears, and the Wind-Claw Owlbear who gets a new ability called Disembowel. Much like a massive hug, the Wind-Claw can attack you twice with its claws. If it hits on both attacks, it stuns you by disemboweling you… We are pretty confident that that would do a bit more than just stun us but probably kill us too.
 

5e - Owlbear

Large monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 59 (7d10 + 21)
Speed 40 ft.
STR 20 (+5) | DEX 12 (+1) | CON 17 (+3 ) | INT 3 (-4) | WIS 12 (+1) | CHA 7 (-2)
Skills Perception +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages -
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Keen Sight and Smell. The owlbear has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or smell
Multiattack. The owlbear makes two attacks: one with its beak and one of its claws.
Beak. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) piercing damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) slashing damage.
The Owlbear is introduced in the Monster Manual (2014) and the picture of the Owlbear is well-drawn and looks like a bear with an owl face. We’ve got some questions for the artists though, the Owlbear has had fur that has been brown, yellow, light yellow, dark brown, light brown, and is described as having the body of a bear… So why the sudden change to light purple? It may be nitpicking, but the purple color is throwing us off, along with it just feeling a bit uncanny. Honestly, we prefer the 4e version of the Owlbear whereas this just feels a bit too abstract with its strange arm wings.
Luckily for us, the lore provided for 5e makes up for its odd artwork and the Owlbear, instead of getting one origin story, gets two. Our first story is that an insane wizard created the Owlbear, which makes for a good story but still has no basis in fact that anyone can find. There is still no name, and all we get is that the Owlbears probably killed their creator. Maybe the wizard’s name has been in front of us the whole time. Just like Frankenstein is actually the name of the doctor who created the monster, maybe Owlbear is the name of the wizard who created the monster! Just let that sink in, these creatures were created by the Archmage Owlbear and he created them in his image… err… name? Your welcome for fixing this bit of lore you never knew you needed.
Of course, their second origin story is from 4e and is that they are from the Feywild and somehow made the crossing over to the Material Plane. While this second story seems more plausible, how much do you trust Elves? Let us ask that question a different way, how badly do you want there to be an Archmage Owlbear? You know which story we prefer.
Focusing on the facts known about the Owlbear, it is still extremely mean and will attack anything or anyone on sight. They live in the deep dark forest or caves, and apparently, they are very bad housekeepers. Their lairs are made up of scattered bones, blood, and the remains of their victims. They live either by themselves or if they have fallen in love with the right Owlbear, you may encounter a happy family of our furry-feathered-murder-beasts. A lot of the lore is actually taken directly from 4e’s Monster Vault, though some of it is slightly rewritten, and we still have elves using them to guard the ground beneath the tree-cities. While we are sure that the nearby neighbors of the elf-cities would complain about their property values dropping, no one in their right mind ever says anything since there is an Owlbear!
The first of the two biggest changes to the Owlbear deals with how it attacks. While the claw and beak attack remain, there are no more hugs of any sort. Our incredibly friendly Owlbear no longer has any chance to grapple its target and squeeze it to death. Is this even the Owlbear anymore? That was its signature move and they decided to take it away! While the damage is relatively high for its challenge rating, it just isn’t that terrifying. This travesty has yet to be resolved and they have had 6 years to correct their error, so one has to imagine this was done on purpose. Shame on you WotC, shame on you.
The second change is kind of cool, although nothing will compensate for the loss of the hug attack. Building on the 4e Owlbear that could be tamed, 5e takes it one step further. An Owlbear can now be trained to do all sorts of ‘domesticated’ tasks. Hobgoblins use them as war beasts and certain giants keep them as pets. Out in the wild frontier, the inhabitants love themselves some Owlbear as they use them as guards, which isn’t exactly a new thing, but they also train them to be ridden. We are pretty sure riding into town on an Owlbear would make you the biggest badass the locals have ever seen. Of course, what is even more badass is that you could ride them in Owlbear races! The image of a dozen or so of these 1,500-pound creatures galloping around a dirt track in the middle of nowhere is both exhilarating and terrifying. Especially as a lot of the people bet on not just who wins but who gets eaten first by their vicious mount.
Unfortunately for the Owlbear, it has largely been used as part of a random encounter and rarely provides much to the story across every edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Even in 5e, it appears in several adventures as a random encounter like in The Lost Mine of Phandelver (2014), Princes of the Apocalypse (2015), and Storm King’s Thunder (2016).
If you’re a DM and have a burning desire to watch your players freak out at the sight of this horrid creature, throw one into your campaign. If you are a player and you see one of these horrifying creatures running towards you and screeching like an owl out of hell, well… hopefully, you are playing 5th edition and you don’t have to worry about that massive bear-hug that will pop you like a pimple.
On a side note, we have created something that no one asked for! Now YOU can create your very own genetic mistake and throw a surprise curve ball at your players!

Build-An-Owlbear - Three charts to customize your own Owlbear!

Have a monster you'd like to see explored throughout the editions? Let us know in the comments!

Past Deep Dives

Creatures: Aboleth / Beholder / Displacer Beast / Flumph / Gelatinous Cube / Grell / Hobgoblin / Kobold / Kraken / Kuo-Toa / Lich / Lizardfolk / Mimic / Mind Flayer / Nothic / Rakshasa / Sahuagin / Umber Hulk / Vampire / Werewolf / Xorn
Spells: Fireball Spell / Lost Spells / Wish Spell
Other: Barbarian Class / Wizard Class / The History of Bigby / The History of the Blood War / The History of Vecna
submitted by varansl to DnDBehindTheScreen [link] [comments]

[OC] The 150 Greatest Characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FINALE: #10-1

We are here! A lot of people have been saying how much they can't wait to read the top ten, and at last, that day has come. Sorry for the delay since #20-11, I've had a few other things on my plate. But today, on the twelve year anniversary of Iron Man's release, we're finally here! But first, a look back on the top 150 to date:
150.Yon-Rogg
149.Betty Ross
148.Vanessa Marianna-Fisk
147.Trevor Slattery
146.Proxima Midnight
145.Hogun
144.Aldrich Killian (The Mandarin)
143.Jiaying
142.Harold Meachum
141.Jeffrey Mace
140.The Collector
139.Bakuto
138.Willis Stryker (Diamondback)
137.Harley Keener
136.Ivan Vanko (Whiplash)
135.Brock Rumlow (Crossbones)
134.Davos
133.Jane Foster
132.Joy Meachum
131.Christine Palmer
130.Dormammu
129.Lady Sif
128.Thaddeus Ross
127.Alexandra Reid
126.Sharon Carter
125.Erik Selvig
124.Nobu Yoshioka
123.Nakia
122.Sonny Burch
121.Malcolm Ducasse
120.Elena Rodriguez (Yo-Yo)
119.Happy Hogan
118.Stick
117.Amy Bendix
116.Ray Nadeem
115.The Grandmaster
114.Ward Meachum
113.Darcy Lewis
112.Lincoln Campbell
111.Hela
110.Arnim Zola
109.Alexander Pierce
108.Claire Temple
107.Frigga
106.Ulysses Klaue
105.Obadiah Stane (Iron Monger)
104.Wong
103.Jeri Hogarth
102.Yinsen
101.Pepper Potts
100.M’Baku
99.Ego
98.Karl Mordo
97.Ned Leeds
96.Korg
95.Mantis
94.William Rawlins (Agent Orange)
93.May Parker
92.Raina
91.Lewis Wilson
90.Janet Van Dyne
89.Justin Hammer
88.Johann Schmidt (Red Skull)
87.Maria Hill
86.Ebony Maw
85.Lash
84.Trish Walker
83.Curtis Hoyle
82.Ben Urich
81.Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver)
80.Madame Gao
79.Danny Rand (Iron Fist)
78.James Wesley
77.David Lieberman (Micro)
76.Howard Stark
75.Michelle Jones
74.Misty Knight
73.Calvin Zabo
72.Foggy Nelson
71.John McIver (Bushmaster)
70.Ava Starr (Ghost)
69.Elektra
68.Hive
67.Heimdall
66.Colleen Wing
65.Talos
64.John Pilgrim
63.Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird)
62.Karen Page
61.Luis
60.Cornell Stokes (Cottonmouth)
59.Helmut Zemo
58.Dinah Madani
57.Yondu
56.Adrian Toomes (Vulture)
55.James Rhodes (War Machine)
54.Billy Russo
53.Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie
52.Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)
51.Jessica Jones
50.Okoye
49.Quentin Beck (Mysterio)
48.Aida
47.Odin
46.Hank Pym
45.Jemma Simmons
44.Ancient One
43.Luke Cage
42.Robbie Reyes (Ghost Rider)
41.Ultron
40.Melinda May
39.Vision
38.Groot
37.Nick Fury
36.Clint Barton (Hawkeye)
35.Sam Wilson (Falcon)
34.Hernan Alvarez (Shades)
33.Lance Hunter
32.Valkyrie
31.Hope Van Dyne (Wasp)
30.Gamora
29.Benjamin Poindexter (Bullseye)
28.T’Challa (Black Panther)
27.Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch)
26.Phil Coulson
25.Leo Fitz
24.Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow)
23.Drax the Destroyer
22.Peggy Carter
21.Mariah Dillard
20.Grant Ward
19.Kilgrave
18.Daisy Johnson (Quake)
17.Scott Lang (Ant-Man)
16.Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier)
15.Bruce Banner (Hulk)
14.Wilson Fisk (Kingpin)
13.Erik Killmonger
12.Frank Castle (The Punisher)
11.Nebula
#10. Stephen Strange (Doctor Strange)
Sometimes, the fans just get it right. Legions of MCU fans were clamoring Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to cast Benedict Cumberbatch in the role as the Sorcerer Supreme, and when Feige and co relented, the result was golden. Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful heroes in the MCU, going from a crippled shell of himself at the beginning of his first film to a supremely powerful Master of the Mystic Arts by the end. It's usually said that Doctor Strange doesn't have any actual "superpowers" so to speak, but I tend to disagree: I believe Stephen Strange's super power is his iron will, absolutely unbreakable by anyone in the universe. He let himself be killed, over and over again, for what probably amounted to centuries or millennia, if not for millions of years. And he never tapped out, he never relented. Doctor Strange is unmatched not just in his mystical power, but in his pure resolve to protect the physical world from all harm and destruction.
#9. Rocket Raccoon
Rocket Raccoon has been another member of the 'pleasant surprise' category in the MCU. He was always great, starting as the funniest Guardian and vehicle for a legendary performance by Bradley Cooper. But over the course of Rocket's four film appearances, we've learned about a complex character who's been hurt by everyone he's ever been close to and is grappling with the fact that he was made into something he never asked to be. At the same time though, for all the powerful emotional stuff going on with the character of Rocket, he is still just hilarious. A sarcastic quote for each and every occasion, the insistence that he's the captain of the Guardians' ship, and of course the scene where Bucky picks him up and spins him around killing outriders in Wakanda, which is the greatest scene in the MCU bar none.
#8. Thor
Thor, Son of Odin, King of Asgard, Guardian of the Nine Realms. The original Thor was the third MCU movie I saw in theaters, and I wasn't expecting much out of it. But like Iron Man before it, Thor was a massive surprise. Thor as a character has had one of the longest, most tumultuous journeys of any character in the franchise, and considering he's lived over 1,500 years old, those thirteen years he's been here have changed everything in the blink of an eye. Thor has one by one lost everyone from his old life on Asgard, leaving him alone in his life, the oldest man on earth by a few centuries and with hardly anyone he can truly relate to. Still, Thor suits up and goes to battle for a planet he's only recently known over and over again, putting his life on the line for people he will outlive by a few centuries more. Thor isn't just the ultimate warrior, he's also a great man and a good friend.
#7. Matt Murdock (Daredevil)
The first MCU superhero to be adapted to the small screen, the portrayal of Matt Murdock was knocked clear out of the park. Charlie Cox was one of the MCU's greatest castings, and the writing behind the character does true justice to one of the great comic heroes of all time. Matt Murdock is a man defined by his struggle to adhere to his vigorous moral code when the criminals he's fighting are bound by no such restriction. Still, even though every thug he beats up lives to tell the tale, it only serves to spread word about the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, and make the worst of society think twice about what they do in the shadows. Though it's now up in limbo whether we'll ever see Matt don his famous red suit again, should he not return there's still solace in a perfect final scene, where the Daredevil beats Wilson Fisk to a bloody husk and announces, with great authority and possibly even relief, that the Kingpin had been beaten.
#6. Peter Quill (Star-Lord)
With Peter Quill, Marvel had the unique challenge of having to build a famous movie hero out of an unknown comic character. Only Marvel's diehards had any idea about any of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Quill included, and so when the 2014 team movie became a smash hit, it was a surprise to many. It didn't hurt to have Chris Pratt in the role, bringing a goofy charisma that only a few actors can pull off. But what makes Quill so great is that beyond the wisecracking man-child is a layered character with a lot of internal tumult, mostly suppressed but often appearing when Quill loses control of his emotions. Peter lost his mother at a young age, something he was never taught to deal with, and every time since that he found himself a new family, it wasn't long before death took them too. It was obviously a strategic disaster for Peter to lose his cool on Titan, but doesn't he deserve it at this point? Everyone he's ever loved promptly died, and he finally found the person responsible for one of them. You can't expect him not to beat the crap out of Thanos there.
#5. Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Powers can fall upon the strangest people sometimes, and unlike the genius billionaires, norse gods and born war heroes of the Marvel world, Peter Parker was just a kid, one who was really unprepared to be a superhero in any way. Sure he's quite intelligent for his young age, but suddenly becoming the strongest human alive and having abilities on par with the superheroes he admired was a pretty stark change for Peter. Ever since his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, we've gotten to watch Peter learn just what his role is in this greater universe of superheroes, where someone like him is in position to truly enact positive change. It's of course also worth noting that Tom Holland has been fantastic in the role, especially up against Hulk-sized expectations from people who may have been rooting for Dylan O'Brien or Logan Lerman. One of the MCU's most iconic moments came in that first Civil War trailer when Spidey snatched away Captain America's shield landed in frame for his first appearance alongside the Avengers, right back where he belongs. Spider-Man is home, and this whole big journey wouldn't be as special without him.
#4. Thanos
Marvel's Darth Vader, teased from the shadows for years and then finally unveiled in grand fashion. Thanos flipped over everything we thought we knew about superhero movie villains when he not only did not die in Avengers: Infinity War, but he actually won. Not in the Helmut Zemo "lost but still won" way, but Thanos won outright. He went to each infinity stone and fought and killed whoever he had to fight and kill in order to take them, and then he did. There's no other MCU villain with that kind of performance. Tony Stark feared Thanos before he even met him, and he was clearly right to do so. Thanos took advantage of a divided Avengers team and walked right past them to achieve his goal and decimate half the universe. While he didn't have the absolute most fleshed-out backstory or the very most sympathetic motivation, Thanos was the perfect blend of being a legitimate threat and layered character. The role of being the villain in the final, ultimate climax of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a task the size of the universe itself, and Thanos rose to the challenge.
#3. Loki
The first enemy to assemble the Avengers stands behind only Ledger's Joker in the hierarchy of comic movie villains, but as a character he's so much more than just that. Loki's arc from his first appearance nine years ago has been long and winding, and always captivating and heartbreaking. The adopted son of Odin, Prince of Asgard, felt a burden to rule that only he could fulfill, but his (perhaps justified) self-aspiration was met with a blatant preference toward his older brother, and immediately thereafter the revelation he had not been born to royalty at all. After being set adrift in the cosmos, Loki found himself a mind slave to the mad titan Thanos, landing him eventually into an Asgardian prison cell. From there he was shunned by most of his family, with his most cherished relative, his mother, being killed unceremoniously shortly thereafter. When Loki finally achieved redemption, found peace and restored his relationship with his brother, it was not long before the life was squeezed out of his frail windpipe by the galactic terrorist whose clutches he thought he'd escaped. Not only was Loki's character journey well-written and well-executed, you can't talk about Loki without mentioning the masterful performance of Tom Hiddleston. Hiddleston brought just the amount of charm that the god of mischief deserves, making it not at all hard to believe that Loki could take over the kingdom of Asgard by merit of his deceptive charisma alone.
#2. Steve Rogers (Captain America)
The leader of the Avengers, the man with the iron heart, the humanity that tied gods and monsters back down to Earth. Steve Rogers is, in his own words, "just a kid from Brooklyn", but what's inside of him made him so much more. Captain America wasn't just a name to reflect the spangly suit that Steve Rogers wore to battle, it was a symbol of the qualities we as Americans like to strive to reflect: perseverance, fortitude, and the unwavering commitment to do what's right regardless of how hard it is. There's a lot of moments you can point to as the definitive moment of Steve's character, but I can't think of a better choice than when Steve, with a broken body, broken shield, and broken home stood alone against the entire legions of Thanos's army. It didn't matter what the odds were. It didn't matter that he could stand down and bargain for his survival. All that mattered was the mission, and there was nothing in the universe that could stop Steve from fighting for what was right. And when the portals opened behind his backs, ushering in the armies of the world to stand against Thanos's tyranny, a powerful statement was made that those who are willing to lay it all down on the line usually don't do so alone.
"The price of freedom is high; it always has been. But it's a price I'm willing to pay. And if I'm the only one, then so be it. But I'm willing to bet I'm not."
#1. Tony Stark (Iron Man)
It all began with one man, one man who wasn't born great, and didn't have it thrust upon him; rather he achieved it, he built it from scratch when all hope was lost. Because Tony wasn't strong enough to punch his way out of that cave, nor could he shoot lasers from his fists, shrink to microscopic size, or run past the speed of light. He used the one thing the terrorists couldn't take away from his: his mind. He didn't have the means to escape readily available to him, so he built them. Tony Stark's superpower is his brain, and his ironclad will. Everything in the MCU, from the very most grounded to the most bizarre and cosmic, all stemmed from Tony Stark's story, the journey he began twelve years ago. Iron Man ushered in a new era of not just cinema, but global culture. Tony Stark has been at the center of this great big saga since day one; he is the most compelling and most complex character with the most impactful presence in the 23 films of the MCU so far. The greatest accomplishment of this great big universe, is the man behind the ARC reactor. And when it all came to a head, the culmination of a decade plus of excitement and joy and tears and laughter, the climax it had all been building up to...the journey of one man, the one that eleven years prior saw him clinging to life in that cave, finally saw its conclusion. The MCU is Tony Stark. He is its heart, its soul, and of course, its greatest character.
Thank you all for coming along on this journey with me, I hope you've enjoyed reading these as much as I've enjoyed making them!
#150-141
#140-131
#130-121
#120-111
#110-101
#100-91
#90-81
#80-71
#70-61
#60-51
#50-41
#40-31
#30-21
#20-11
submitted by gamedemon24 to marvelstudios [link] [comments]

Trademaster of the Eternal Empire; a suggestion for improving trading while keeping GGG's values

Trademaster of the Eternal Empire; a suggestion for improving trading while keeping GGG's values
In this video from 2014 Chris mentions that while GGG had planned to have masters in your hideout sell items for you, they ultimately gave up on the idea.
GGG wants trading to have three components;
  • Component 1: Finding the seller (Contact)
  • Component 2: Agreeing on the price (Bargain)
  • Component 3: Actual transaction (Trade)
Having a master sell items with a buyout would violate the 2nd component, and Chris asked for feedback. A lot has changed since 2014 in Path of Exile, but the trade system (aside from the available tools) has not. Below is my attempt at fixing the 2nd component above while keeping GGG's trade philosophy and player ease in mind.

Introducing "Trademaster of the Eternal Empire"


Image: Totee (Credit @ Crônicas Rpg)
Trademaster of the Eternal Empire (or simply Totee) is a purchasable NPC found in the Account Feature of the Shop (Limit: 1 per account). Totee can be placed in your hideout, and comes with a single Premium Quad Stash/Normal size stash tab (up to GGG to decide). He can automatically sell items to other players, but comes with a catch. Haunted by the images of the Purity Rebellion and the trade blockade of Kingdom of Kaom on Oriath, Totee will never reveal the cost of an item to anyone else but his master. I guess old habits just die hard.
Here is a simple transaction:
  • Player A places a Kaom's Heart on Totee's inventory, and sets the price to 12 Exalted Orbs (©Chris).
  • The item gets indexed on the official PoE Trade website, but the price is permanently veiled to other players. See this image for a mock-up.
  • Player B wants to buy the item from Totee, so they initiate contact (Component 1):
"@Player A Hi, I would like to buy your "Kaom's Heart" from Totee (position: left 8, top 6). "
  • Player B is invited to the party, and they teleport to Player A's Hideout. And now, the Bargain (Component 2) begins:
  • Player B can only make ONE offer per item, per day. There are 3 outcomes;
  1. If the offer is exactly the same as the (hidden) price, Player B buys the item from Totee instantly.
  2. If the offer is higher than the (hidden) price, Player B buys the item from Totee instantly with the currency that they offered.
  3. If the offer is lower than the (hidden) price, Player A can either reject or accept the offer. If rejected, currency is transferred back to Player B and they can no longer make an offer for the same item on that day.
The bargaining comes with an extra mind-game; since the price is never revealed to Player B, Player A has the freedom to tell Player B that an item is actually set to a higher price than what is listed. Player B has no way of knowing. By matching that price, both parties have actually agreed on a set currency and effectively haggled the price. Player B can also simply make an offer of what they think an item should be worth.
  • The actual Trade (Component 3) is seamless; Player B buys the item instantly (If their offer is good enough), Player A can collect the currency from Totee once they are back in their Hideout. Player A can accept/decline offers either in their Hideout, or via a new, non-intrusive UI menu. Player B can cancel their offer (remotely) anytime they want, or there could be a time limit until the offer runs out.

What this system hopes to achieve

  1. Items Still Matter. Totee has a limited inventory (equal to a Quad Stash or Normal stash, depending on what GGG feels is appropriate), and limited to one Totee per account. People will not use this as their 1-2 chaos dump stash, but for good/great/godlike items, or for selling bulk items (10 Prismatic Catalyst for 40c, 50 Jagged Fossils for 100c, etc.). Depending on GGG's stance and possibly other implications, the "Vanilla" currency (Exalts, Fuses, Chaoses, etc.) may be disallowed to sell via Totee.
  2. This is not Easy Trading. Totee makes the component 3 (change of items and currency between two players) easier, but the actual spirit of bargaining for prices is still there. You still use the same tools to search for an item (trade online API), you still have to whisper someone and they still need to accept you into their party/hideout. This way the seller doesn't have to stop their mapping/boss killing/master hunting run just so they can physically give someone else an item. Trade is not easier, just more convenient for both parties. Since trade is not easier, the item drop rates are not influenced.
  3. It's not (less?) vulnerable to automation compared to an Auction House. The seller still needs to invite someone to their party. In order for the trade to be instant, the buyer has to either match or outbid the (hidden) price. Unless bots start paying tons of exalts for low level uniques, I can't see how this could affect the economy negatively.
  4. It makes the game more social. Whether it's the mind-games created by the veiled price system, or spending time in someone else's hideout, this system would increase player interaction. You could be visiting someone else's Hideout for a Kaom's Heart, but a ring catches your eye as well. It's perfect for your build! You wonder if you should make an offer for one item or both. Maybe ask the seller to see if they will tell you some ballpark for the prices... In addition, you can now finally show off every little detail of your hideout because players have a reason to spend time there.

Bits and pieces

  • The owner of Totee can set a (hidden) currency exchange rate to determine whether an offer is higher. For instance, if you set that 1 Exalt = 125 chaos, and your item is (stealthily) priced at 1 Exalt, 126 chaos will be accepted but 124 will not.
  • Totee is supposed to be an addition to the current trading system and not a complete replacement, this is why he is limited to one per account / one tab.
  • Whether any currencies can be placed on Totee is up for debate. Personally whispering 30 people to buy Jagged Fossils, only to have 4 party invites at the same time after 2 minutes (that you inevitably miss because you could not catch their name), and only being able to buy 1 Fossil from the first person who invited you, is a miserable experience. On Totee you can sell "convenience" as well; 50 Jagged Fossils would be 100 Chaos if purchased one by one, but since you are selling 50 at once I bet people would pay 130-140 just for the convenience.
  • Completely not the point of this post, but I think that 200 points would be a fair price for Totee.
Below is a simple poll (open for 3 days, you may need to switch to New Reddit format to see the poll). Please let me know if Totee is something that could be useful to you and if you have any criticisms about this system write below. Thanks for reading.

Poll: Would Totee help alleviate some of the problems with trading?

View Poll
submitted by Ikeda_kouji to pathofexile [link] [comments]

“About 24 hours after arriving from Moscow, a private jet regularly used by the head [German Gref “co-chair of Putin’s A.I. board”†] of Russia's largest state-run bank remained at an airport just a short drive from where Donald Trump is vacationing.” – Inquisitr (2020)

Inquisitr—Mystery Deepens Over Why Kremlin Bank CEO’s Plane Remains In Florida, 50 Miles From Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago
(1/5/2020) “Almost 24 hours after landing at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Florida early on Saturday morning, as The Inquisitr reported, a private jet frequently used by the CEO of Russia’s largest state-owned-bank remained on the ground there—about 50 miles south of Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach where Donald Trump is vacationing until Sunday afternoon.
Whether Sberbank CEO German Gref† was aboard the plane when it arrived on a 12-hour, 23-minute nonstop flight from Moscow remains unconfirmed. Russian media has reported that the plane, a Gulfstream G650 operated by Jet Air Group with the tail number RA-10204, is used frequently and perhaps exclusively by Gref.
(UPDATE: According to flight records posted by the site FlightAware, the Sberbank jet departed Fort Lauderdale at 12:23 a.m. EST on Sunday morning, just 21 hours and 34 minutes after it arrived from Moscow—where it landed on the return trip at 6:17 p.m. local time, or 10:17 a.m. EST, a nine-hour, 53 minute flight.)
Flight records posted to Twitter show that the plane made the same nonstop flight from Moscow to Fort Lauderdale last year, on the same dates. On January 4, 2019, the plane landed in Fort Lauderdale at 2:49 a.m., according to the records. In 2020, the plane arrived at the same airport on the same date, landing at 2:31 a.m.
Last year, however, Trump did not spend his holiday break at his Mar-a-Lago Club, remaining in the White House during what was then an ongoing government shutdown. On January 4,Trump was indeed present at Mar-a-Lago but left the estate at 9:55 a.m.—six hours and 24 minutes after the Sberbank jet touched down—to visit Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. He remained at the golf club until 3:12 p.m., according to a public schedule posted by FactBase.
Sberbank has been under United States economic sanctions since 2014, over its involvement in Russia’s annexation of the territory of Crimea from Ukraine. In November 2013, however, Gref himself co-hosted a party honoring Trump in Moscow, during Trump’s visit there for the Miss Universe beauty pageant, according to a report by The Daily Beast. Trump was then the owner of the pageant.
Following Trump’s return to the United States following the 2013 event, he received a mysterious ‘gift’ from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The gift was reportedly ‘a black lacquered box’, but the contents of the box have never been publicly revealed.
Like the contents of the ‘gift’ from Putin to Trump, the purpose of the Sberbank private jet’s trip to Florida from Moscow is also a mystery, even as the plan sits on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale airport as of 1:30 a.m. EST on Sunday.
According to the online flight records from 2019, the Gulfstream private jet departed from Fort Lauderdale 30 hours and 11 minutes after landing there, making another nonstop flight back to Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport (SVO) in Moscow.” http://web.archive.org/web/20200106153745/https://www.inquisitr.com/5821555/kremlin-bank-ceo-jet-florida-donald-trump
†Herman (German) Gref:
[“Sberbank, headed by Herman Gref, the other co-chair of Putin’s A.I. board, is also among the banks providing biometric services that feed into the Digital Profile System.” – Claims Journal (2019)]
•Vedomosti (Russia)—Sberbank Invested in Facial Recognition Technology (11/17/2017) “Sberbank Recognizes a Customer by Sight: The Bank intends to provide biometric access to any of its services.” http://vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2017/11/17/742077-raspoznavaniya-lits (http://archive.is/sbLOR) [Translated]
•Bloomberg—The Day Trump Came to Moscow: Oligarchs, Miss Universe and Nobu (12/21/2016) “Meeting with top group of Russian financiers, industrialists; They discussed a possible Trump Tower and inspected sites The last time Donald Trump made an appearance in Moscow was November 2013 for the Miss Universe contest he famously owned. It was a glittering event filled with carefully choreographed photographs and parties. Then another, more private, invitation arrived: Come to Nobu to meet more than a dozen of Russia’s top businessmen, including Herman Gref, the chief executive officer of state-controlled Sberbank PJSC, Russia’s biggest bank. Gref, who was President Vladimir Putin’s economy minister from 2000 to 2007, organized the meeting together with Aras Agalarov, the founder of Crocus Group, one of the country’s largest real-estate companies, which was hosting the beauty pageant at one of its concert halls.” http://bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-21/the-day-trump-came-to-moscow-oligarchs-miss-universe-and-nobu (http://archive.is/7X1bc)
•NBC News—Putin Rival Ties Kushner Meeting to Kremlin Bankers (10/17/2017) “A prominent exiled Russian oligarch said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that he is nearly certain Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not ‘acting on his own behalf’ when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December. The pointed remarks come from a longtime Putin rival, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil executive who was Russia's richest man before he was imprisoned and exiled by the Kremlin. ’I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way’, Khodorkovsky told MSNBC’s Ari Melber in his first U.S. television interview since Trump took office. [...] His former head of human resources, Sergey Gorkov, now runs a Kremlin bank and met with Kushner in December last year. The U.S. has accused Gorkov's bank of providing cover for Russian spies. Khodorkovsky says Gorkov was a ‘fine employee’ who ‘carries out orders’, suggesting the banker would not have been acting alone in meeting with a senior figure of the incoming Trump administration. ‘I have no doubt that he wouldn’t do anything on his own behalf’, Khodorkovsky said. Khodorkovsky also said he believes Gorkov's orders come from either Andrey Kostin or Herman [German] Gref, who both run Kremlin-backed banks that were sanctioned by the Obama administration.” http://web.archive.org/web/20190706131958/https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/putin-rival-ties-kushner-meeting-kremlin-bankers-n811631 [“Hermann Gräf, better known as Herman Gref*, is a Russian politician and businessman. He was the Minister of Economics and Trade of Russia from May 2000 to September 2007. He is the CEO and chairman of the executive board of Sberbank, the largest Russian bank.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Gref]
•Fast Company—Russia’s Largest Bank Just Launched a State-Of-The-Art Coding School to Ease Dependence on Western Tech; Sberbank, which is currently under U.S. sanctions and whose CEO [Gref] has ties to Trump, launched School 21 in Moscow last week. (11/30/2018) “The biggest bank in Russia, which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2014, just launched a state-of-the-art coding school in Moscow that aims to train thousands of world-class software engineers in the arts of cybersecurity, gaming, and the latest AI technology for years to come. School 21, which operates under the umbrella of Ecole 42, a global pioneer in IT education backed by French billionaire Xavier Niel, is wholly owned by Sberbank. It is free, open to aspiring coders from 18 to 30 years old, and has 21 levels of proficiency. The school is highly competitive—its inaugural program has a class of 500 students out of more than 85,000 applicants, and the plan is to scale up to 2,500 a year in the long term, according to Business FM radio station. Sberbank told Fast Company that it plans to run two more application cycles next year, one in the winter and one in the spring, and that it might open a second office in St. Petersburg. The school’s launch is raising concerns about Russia training thousands of highly skilled cyber specialists at a time when the United States is expanding its sanctions against Russian entities, including Sberbank-xbacked properties, and amid heightened tensions in Europe last week over a naval skirmish between Russian and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait. It also comes against the backdrop of the Russian government’s disinformation efforts in elections around the globe, which the Kremlin has vehemently denied. In addition, Sberbank has been in the spotlight due to the history of high-level connections between the bank’s leadership, the Russian government and Donald Trump’s associates before he became U.S. president. It was bank chairman Herman Gref who set up Trump’s meeting with Russian businessmen during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 in Moscow, an event which Sberbank co-sponsored, while Trump was exploring building a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump’s hotel plans are making headlines again this week due to the plea deal that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen negotiated with the Mueller probe–Cohen admitted that he lied when he previously claimed that the deal fell through in January 2016, now conceding that talks for a Trump Tower in Moscow continued up until June 2016.’ Russia’s largest bank just launched a state-of-the-art coding school to ease dependence on Western tech; Sberbank, which is currently under U.S. sanctions and whose CEO has ties to Trump, launched School 21 in Moscow last week.” http://web.archive.org/web/20181201002817/https://www.fastcompany.com/90274333/russias-largest-bank-just-launched-a-coding-school-to-ease-dependence-on-western-tech
•Claims Journal—Vladimir Putin Wants Everyone to Love the Way He Watches Them (10/22/2019) “Officials in Moscow have spent the last few years methodically assembling one of the most comprehensive video-surveillance operations in the world. The public-private network of as many as 200,000 cameras records 1.5 billion hours of footage a year that can be accessed by 16,000 government employees, intelligence officers and law-enforcement personnel. Now the entire system is about to be equipped with what City Hall is billing as some of the most advanced facial-recognition software outside of China, claiming it will be more accurate and easier to search than London’s older, bigger network. The upgrade will dramatically expand a pilot program that led to the capture of as many as 10 wanted criminals a month either at major public events or inside the city’s warren of 269 metro stations. Moscow’s embrace of the technology, which the West is increasingly curtailing in response to public pressure, is being challenged in courts on political and legal grounds by opponents of President Vladimir Putin. But the monitoring tool is just one of several Russia is deploying, including mandatory recordings of all cellular calls. Many of the initiatives are based on recent advances in artificial intelligence, a science Putin sees as the ticket to global domination for whichever nation masters it first. Putin and lieutenants led by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin say measures such as geolocating every active in the country, creating ‘digital profiles’ of each adult and collating online complaints against authorities are all necessary to ensure public safety and improve services. They’re betting most voters will accept further privacy curbs like the facial-recognition rollout in exchange for safer streets and greater convenience in their daily lives. ‘We’re conducting experiments in schools, clinics, hospitals and in transport to introduce this technology, which, of course, will facilitate the work of a huge number of people and make these industries more efficient’, Sobyanin told Putin at a meeting on artificial intelligence earlier this year. While so-called authoritarian tech, from automatic people trackers to online censorship bots, has triggered a worldwide debate about the proper balance between governing and surveilling, Moscow has so far made a better case for Big Brother than most cities. Russia’s capital ranks No. 1 among 40 metropolises in the latest UN survey of ‘e-government effectiveness in the delivery of public services’. London, by comparison, is fourth, Shanghai 11th and New York 14th. [...] Sberbank, headed by Herman Gref, the other co-chair of Putin’s A.I. board, is also among the banks providing biometric services that feed into the Digital Profile System. The support of Gref is vital to the success of the program because Sberbank serves as a payment agent for most household bills in addition to safeguarding almost half of the country’s savings. Gref is fond of repeating the mantra ‘big data is the new oil’, but privacy experts say the concentration of so much personal information in a single database will make Russia an ideal target for identity thieves, not unlike Equifax Inc. The U.S. consumer-scorer was breached in 2017, exposing the credit histories of more than 145 million people. (Sberbank itself was the victim of a data leak affecting as many as 60 million clients, Kommersant reported this month. The bank said the incident impacted just 5,000 holders of its credit cards.) Potentially more worrisome in a country routinely accused of harassing the political opposition is that the new database could be a precursor of the kind of ‘social credit’ system China is developing. It’s a name-and-shame way to keep tabs on the behavior of the population by issuing grades, with demerits applied for things like smoking or circulating whatever’s deemed fake news. In 2016, the company launched the FindFace website and application. With the help of it, it was possible to find a person’s profile in VKontakte in a few seconds. The launch of the ‘innovation dating service’, as the company initially positioned it, provoked a series of scandals—users deanonimized not only fellow travelers in the subway, but porn actresses and rally participants, the technology was used even by the Bellingcat investigation team. And then they told about the application in the ‘Wait for me’ program on Channel One, and NtechLab, as Kabakov said, began to receive ‘five offers of cooperation per day’. Now the founders explain that FindFace was just a showcase that helped pitch technology. For example, with help from FindFace German [Herman] Gref† deanonimized his secretary within one second after being introduced to the algorithm, according to someone familiar with the head of Sberbank. But in 2018 both the site and the FindFace application were unexpectedly closed. This had to be done because of possible complaints, including from VKontakte, says one of the interlocutors of The Bell. Spending time and money on the courts did not make sense; the founders of NtechLab already understood that they would not make money on recognizing pretty girls.” http://web.archive.org/web/20191024034256/https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2019/10/22/293704.htm
•The Moscow Times—Russia To Grant Police Access to Bank Customers’ Biometric Data (12/19/2017) “Russia’s police and intelligence services will gain access to bank customers’ biometric data without their consent under new legislation making its way through the State Duma. Russia’s Communications Ministry and the Central Bank are overseeing a pilot project that will use personal biometric data to remotely verify bank account applications by late 2018. The Rostelecom state telecoms provider will operate the project, despite widespread concerns over state surveillance, data storage and privacy rights. A state deputy co-authoring the bill was cited as saying that ‘law enforcement officers will not have unlimited access to the system’ and that data would only be provided after official requests, the Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday. According to the draft bill, Rostelecom would be required to share bank customers’ biometric data without their consent with Russia’s Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB). The data collected will include facial images and voice recordings, and may be expanded to iris recognition, palm and fingerprint scanning, according to Rostelecom. ‘If a person is law abiding then they will have no reason to worry’, Elman Mekhtiev, the vice-president of the Russian Association of Banks, was cited as saying by Vedomosti.” http://web.archive.org/web/20191121205917/https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2017/12/19/russia-to-grant-police-access-to-bank-customers-biometric-data-a59987
•The Moscow Times—Moscow Arrests 42 Suspects Using New Facial Recognition Technology in Metro Stations (5/24/2018) “A pilot project implementing facial recognition technology in Moscow has reportedly led to the arrests of 42 suspects in a month. Moscow has ramped up video surveillance ahead of the FIFA World Cup that kicks off in three weeks, including with facial recognition capabilities at metro stations capable of identifying 20 faces per second. Around 50,000 photographs of wanted suspects have been uploaded into the Moscow metro system, the state-owned Sberbank vice president Stanislav Kuznetsov told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency Thursday. ‘As a result, 42 repeat offenders were detained at four metro stations in a month,’ Kuznetsov was quoted as saying. He said Sberbank CEO German Gref plans to discuss expanding the facial-recognition system beyond four metro stations with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin at the annual economic forum underway in St. Petersburg. Sberbank acquired a stake in the VisionLabs facial recognition company last fall to create a ‘unique biometric identifier’ involving face, voice and retina identification.” http://themoscowtimes.com/news/moscow-arrests-42-suspects-using-new-facial-recognition-technology-in-metro-stations-61567 (http://archive.is/qU8WU)
•The Bell (Russia)—The Russian Elite is Jostling to Solve Putin’s “2024 Problem” (7/20/2019) “This week we look at how a senior official wants President Vladimir Putin stay in power after his current term ends in 2024. We also explain why protests over the exclusion of independent candidates from local elections is a sign of a system under strain, and how Moscow is set to roll-out one of the world’s biggest face recognition systems. The Russian elite is jostling to solve Putin’s ‘2024 problem’ The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, this week publicly offered a solution to Putin’s ‘2024 problem’—what to do about the constitutional limit on two consecutive presidential terms. Volodin, who was previously oversaw domestic politics in the Kremlin, published an article (Rus) in the State Duma’s official magazine laying out his idea for changing the constitution to give parliament more authority. [...] Why the world should care: The Russian elite is increasingly obsessed with the ‘2024 problem’, and jostling within the elite is already well underway. At present, a variation of Volodin’s plan seems the most likely outcome. [...] Protests over Moscow’s local elections highlight cracks in the system: If the Kremlin wants to keep Putin in power beyond 2024, it will have to improve the functioning of its political management machine. Anger this week over local elections in the capital revealed how the system is faltering: the authorities’ ineptitude turned the vote—in which no one was interested—into a trigger for repeated demonstrations† in downtown Moscow. [...] Why the world should care: The Kremlin’s political management machine is coping less well with each passing election, and their failure in Moscow significant—in a crisis, the country’s fate will be decided in the capital. This is a bad sign ahead of the 2021 Duma elections, and a blow to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, whose name appears in discussions of presidential candidates in 2024. Moscow is set to install a state-of-the-art face recognition system: While paranoid internet users across the world call for a boycott of FaceApp, the Russian app that generates an image of an elderly you, Moscow City Hall is building the world’s largest face recognition system. Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, will take part in development and has already collected the biometrical data of tens of millions of Russians. - Moscow City Hall announced a tender this year for 105,000 video cameras with face recognition software. As of now, only 1,500 have been installed, but the police have already used them to identify and arrest about 100 criminals. According to The Bell’s calculations, the new system will cost no less than $50 million, a price tag that the city can easily afford. - There are three main bidders: Ntechlab, which was founded by people close to the Presidential Administration and two companies in which Sberbank is a shareholder: Speech Technology Center and VisionLabs. - Market sources say that Moscow’s face recognition system, once rolled out, will only be comparable in size with systems already in place in China. - Sberbank looks well placed to provide the raw data to make the system work. Since last year, the bank has been collecting biometric data from its clients (93 million people), and in December, CEO German [Herman] Gref said they already have data from ‘millions of people’. Why the World Should Care: Concentrating resources could mean Russia becomes the world’s number two player in face recognition systems. Remember this when you visit Moscow, walk the city’s streets and see the mounted cameras on every building.” http://web.archive.org/web/20190801101206/http://thebell.io/en/the-russian-elite-is-jostling-to-solve-putin-s-2024-problem
[“A more advanced operation could use the full suite of services utilized by companies to track political attitudes on social media across all congressional districts, analyze who is most likely to vote and where, and then launch, almost instantly, a customized campaign at a highly localized level to discourage voting in the most vulnerable districts. Such a campaign, due to its highly personalized structure, would likely have significant impact on voting behavior.” – Brookings Institution (2008)]
•Brookings Institution—Weapons of the Weak: Russia and AI-driven Asymmetric Warfare (2018) “‘Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.’ – Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2017 Speaking to Russian students on the first day of the school year in September 2017, Putin squarely positioned Russia in the technological arms race for artificial intelligence (AI). Putin’s comment signaled that, like China and the United States, Russia sees itself engaged in direct geopolitical competition with the world’s great powers, and AI is the currency that Russia is betting on. [...] Currently, Moscow is pursuing investments in at least two directions: select conventional military and defense technologies where the Kremlin believes it can still hold comparative advantage over the West and high-impact, low-cost asymmetric warfare to correct the imbalance between Russia and the West in the conventional domain. The former—Russia’s development and use of AI-driven military technologies and weapons—has received significant attention. AI has the potential to hyperpower Russia’s use of disinformation... And unlike in the conventional military space, the United States and Europe are ill-equipped to respond to AI-driven asymmetric warfare in the information space. The latter—the implications of AI for asymmetric political warfare—remains unexplored. Yet, such nonconventional tools—cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, political influence, and illicit finance—have become a central tenet of Russia’s strategy toward the West and one with which Russia has been able to project power and influence beyond its immediate neighborhood. In particular, AI has the potential to hyperpower Russia’s use of disinformation—the intentional spread of false and misleading information for the purpose of influencing politics and societies. And unlike in the conventional military space, the United States and Europe are ill-equipped to respond to AI-driven asymmetric warfare (ADAW) in the information space. Russian Information Warfare at Home and Abroad: Putin came to power in 2000, and since then, information control and manipulation has become a key element of the Kremlin’s domestic and foreign policy. At home, this has meant repression of independent media and civil society, state control of traditional and digital media, and deepening government surveillance. For example, Russia’s surveillance system, SORM (System of Operative-Search Measures) allows the FSB (Federal Security Service) and other government agencies to monitor and remotely access ISP servers and communications without the ISPs’ knowledge. In 2016, a new package of laws, the so-called Yarovaya amendments, required telecom providers, social media platforms, and messaging services to store user data for three years and allow the FSB access to users’ metadata and encrypted communications. While there is little known information on how Russian intelligence agencies are using these data, their very collection suggests that the Kremlin is experimenting with AI-driven analysis to identify potential political dissenters. The government is also experimenting with facial recognition technologies in conjunction with CCTV. Moscow alone has approximately 170,000 cameras, at least 5,000 of which have been outfitted with facial expression recognition technology from NTechLabs. Still, Moscow’s capacity to control and surveil the digital domain at home remains limited, as exemplified by the battle between the messaging app Telegram and the Russian government in early 2018. Telegram, one of the few homegrown Russian tech companies, refused to hand over its encryption keys to the FSB in early 2018. What followed was a haphazard government attempt to ban Telegram by blocking tens of millions of IP addresses, which led to massive disruptions in unrelated services, such as cloud providers, online games, and mobile banking apps. Unlike Beijing, which has effectively sought to censor and control the internet as new technologies have developed, Moscow has not been able to implement similar controls preemptively. The result is that even a relatively small company like Telegram is able to outmaneuver and embarrass the Russian state. Despite such setbacks, however, Moscow seems set to continue on a path toward ‘digital authoritarianism’—using its increasingly unfettered access to citizens’ personal data to build better microtargeting capabilities that enhance social control, censor behavior and speech, and curtail counter-regime activities. Under Putin, Cold War-era ‘active measures’—overt or covert influence operations aimed at influencing public opinion and politics abroad—have been revived and adapted to the digital age. Externally, Russian information warfare (informatsionaya voyna) has become part and parcel of Russian strategic thinking in foreign policy. Moscow has long seen the West as involved in an information war against it—a notion enshrined in Russia’s 2015 national security strategy, which sees the United States and its allies as seeking to contain Russia by exerting ‘informational pressure…’ in an ‘intensifying confrontation in the global information arena.’ Under Putin, Cold War-era ‘active measures’—overt or covert influence operations aimed at influencing public opinion and politics abroad—have been revived and adapted to the digital age. Information warfare (or information manipulation) has emerged as a core component of a broader influence strategy. At the same time, the line between conventional (or traditional) and nonconventional (or asymmetric) warfare has blurred in Russian military thinking. ‘The erosion of the distinction between war and peace, and the emergence of a grey zone’ has been one of the most striking developments in the Russian approach to warfare, according to Chatham House’s Keir Giles. Warfare, from this perspective, exists on a spectrum in which ‘political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures’ are used to lay the groundwork for last resort military operations. The importance of information warfare on the spectrum of war has increased considerably in 21st century warfare, according to contemporary Russian military thought. Maskirovka, the Soviet/Russian term for the art of deception and concealment in both military and nonmilitary operations, is a key concept that figures prominently into Russian strategic thinking. The theory is broader than the narrow definition of military deception. In the conventional military domain, it includes the deployment of decoys, camouflage, and misleading information to deceive the enemy on the battlefield. The use of ‘little green men,’ or unmarked soldiers and mercenaries, in Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 is one example of maskirovka in military practice. So is the use of fake weapons and heavy machinery: one Russian company is producing an army of inflatable missiles, tanks, and jets that appear real in satellite imagery. Maskirovka, as a theory and operational practice, also applies to nonmilitary asymmetric operations. Modern Russian disinformation and cyber attacks against the West rely on obfuscation and deception in line with the guiding principles of maskirovka. During the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, for example, Russian citizens working in a troll factory in St. Petersburg, known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), set up fake social media accounts pretending to be real Americans. These personas then spread conspiracy theories, disinformation, and divisive content meant to amplify societal polarization by pitting opposing groups against each other. The IRA troll factory itself, while operating with the knowledge and support of the Kremlin and the Russian intelligence services, was founded and managed by proxy: a Russian oligarch known as ‘Putin’s chef,’ Yevgeny Prigozhin. Concord, a catering company controlled by Prigozhin, was the main funder and manager of the IRA, and it went to great lengths to conceal the company’s involvement, including the setting up a web of fourteen bank accounts to transfer funding to the IRA. Such obfuscation tactics were designed to conceal the true source and goals of the influence operations in the United Stated while allowing the Kremlin to retain plausible deniability if the operations were uncovered—nonconventional maskirovka in practice. On the whole, Russia’s limited financial resources, the shift in strategic thinking toward information warfare, and the continued prevalence of maskirovka as a guiding principle of engagement, strongly suggest that in the near term, Moscow will ramp up the development of AI-enabled information warfare. Russia will not be the driver or innovator of these new technologies due its financial and human capital constraints. But, as it has already done in its attacks against the West, it will continue to co-opt existing commercially available technologies to serve as weapons of asymmetric warfare. AI-driven Asymmetric Warfare: The Kremlin’s greatest innovation in its information operations against the West has not been technical. Rather, Moscow’s savviness has been to recognize that: (1) ready-made commercial tools and digital platforms can be easily weaponized; and (2) digital information warfare is cost-effective and high-impact, making it the perfect weapon of a technologically and economically weak power. AI-driven asymmetric warfare (ADAW) capabilities could provide Russia with additional comparative advantage. Digital information warfare is cost-effective and high-impact, making it the perfect weapon of a technologically and economically weak power. U.S. government and independent investigations into Russia’s influence campaign against the United States during the 2016 elections reveal the low cost of that effort. Based on publicly available information, we know that the Russian effort included: the purchase of ads on Facebook (estimated cost $100,000)27 and Google (approximate cost $4,700), set up of approximately 36,000 automated bot accounts on Twitter, operation of the IRA troll farm (estimated cost $240,000 over the course of two years), an intelligence gathering trip carried out by two Russian agents posing as tourists in 2014 (estimated cost $50,000), production of misleading or divisive content (pictures, memes, etc.), plus additional costs related to the cyber attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. In sum, the total known cost of the most high-profile influence operation against the United States is likely around one million dollars. The relatively low level of investment produced high returns. On Facebook alone, Russian linked content from the IRA reached 125 million Americans. This is because the Russian strategy relied on ready-made tools designed for commercial online marketing and advertising: the Kremlin simply used the same online advertising tools that companies would use to sell and promote its products and adapted them to spread disinformation. Since the U.S. operation, these tools and others have evolved and present new opportunities for far more damaging but increasingly low-cost and difficult-to-attribute ADAW operations. Three threat vectors in particular require immediate attention. First, advances in deep learning are making synthetic media content quick, cheap, and easy to produce. AI-enabled audio and video manipulation, so-called ‘deep fakes,’ is already available through easy-to-use apps such as Face2Face, which allows for one person’s expressions to be mapped onto another face in a target video. Video to Video Synthesis can synthesize realistic video based a baseline of inputs. Other tools can synthesize realistic photographs of AI-rendered faces, reproduce videos and audio of any world leader, and synthesize street scenes to appear in a different season. Using these tools, China recently unveiled an AI made news anchor. As the barriers of entry for accessing such tools continue to decrease, their appeal to low-resource actors will increase. Whereas most Russian disinformation content has been static (e.g., false news stories, memes, graphically designed ads), advances in learning AI will turn disinformation dynamic (e.g. video, audio). Because audio and video can easily be shared on smart phones and do not require literacy, dynamic disinformation content will be able to reach a broader audience in more countries. For example, in India, false videos shared through Whatsapp incited riots and murders. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Whatsapp (owned by Facebook) is an end-to-end encrypted messaging platform, which means that content shared via the platform is basically unmonitored and untraceable. The ‘democratization of disinformation’ will make it difficult for governments to counter AI-driven disinformation. Advances in machine learning are producing algorithms that ‘continuously learn how to more effectively replicate the appearance of reality,’ which means that ‘deep fakes cannot easily be detected by other algorithms.’ Russia, China, and others could harness these new publicly available technologies to undermine Western soft power or public diplomacy efforts around the world. Debunking or attributing such content will require far more resources than the cost of production, and it will be difficult if not impossible to do so in real time. Second, advances in affective computing and natural language processing will make it easier to manipulate human emotions and extract sensitive information without ever hacking an email account. In 2017, Chinese researchers created an ‘emotional chatting machine’ based on data users shared on Weibo, the Chinese social media site. As AI gains access to more personal data, it will become increasingly customized and personalized to appeal to and manipulate specific users. Coupled with advances in natural learning processing, such as voice recognition, this means that affective systems will be able to mimic, respond to, and predict human emotions expressed through text, voice, or facial expressions. Some evidence suggests that humans are quite willing to form personal relationships, share deeply personal information, and interact for long periods of time with AI designed to form relationships. These systems could be used to gather information from high value targets—such as intelligence officers or political figures—by exploiting their vices and patterns of behavior. Advances in affective computing and natural language processing will make it easier to manipulate human emotions and extract sensitive information without ever hacking an email account. Third, deep fakes and emotionally manipulative content will be able to reach the intended audience with a high degree of precision due to advances in content distribution networks. ‘Precision propaganda’ is the set of interconnected tools that comprise an ‘ecosystem of services that enable highly targeted political communications that reach millions of people with customized messages.’ The full scope of this ecosystem, which includes data collection, advertising platforms, and search engine optimization, aims to parse out audiences in granular detail and identify new receptive audiences will be ‘supercharged’ by advances in AI. The content that users see online is the end product of an underlying multi-billion dollar industry that involves thousands of companies that work together to assess individuals’ preferences, attitudes, and tastes to ensure maximum efficiency, profitability, and real-time responsiveness of content delivery. Russian operations (as far as we know), relied on the most basic of these tools. But, as Ghosh and Scott suggest, a more advanced operation could use the full suite of services utilized by companies to track political attitudes on social media across all congressional districts, analyze who is most likely to vote and where, and then launch, almost instantly, a customized campaign at a highly localized level to discourage voting in the most vulnerable districts. Such a campaign, due to its highly personalized structure, would likely have significant impact on voting behavior. Once the precision of this distribution ecosystem is paired with emotionally manipulative deep fake content delivered by online entities that appear to be human, the line between fact and fiction will cease to exist. And Hannah Arendt’s prediction of a world in which there is no truth and no trust may still come to pass.“ http://www.brookings.edu/research/weapons-of-the-weak-russia-and-ai-driven-asymmetric-warfare (http://archive.is/mMlyN)
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Dreadful hunters of the night, with insatiable dark appetites and unrelenting force. History & Lore of the Vampire

The Vampire has been the star of over 190 movies, and if you add in books and TV shows… well, we can’t be bothered to count that much. The Vampire has been woven into our culture, especially over the last 100 years that it is hard to imagine a world without them.
You can’t talk Vampires without first mentioning Dracula, who is far and away from the most famous of all vampires… err, sorry Strahd. Most people agree that Bela Lugosi provided the world with the best portrayal of Dracula in Dracula (1931), but one could argue that Max Schreck in Nosferatu (1922) was way creepier.
But Count Dracula isn’t the only Vampire, here are just a few other actors who have played vampires other than Dracula. Sorry if we missed your favorite Vampire from film and TV, but the list is really long: Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys (1987), Paul “Pee Wee” Reubens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Christopher Walken in The Addiction (1995), Wesley Snipes in Blade (1998), Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows (2012), and Dominic Cooper in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012). These may not represent the best Vampires in cinematic history, but it proves the next point we wanted to make. Vampires have been interpreted in so many ways throughout history, there is no right or wrong way to play one. Sutherland gave us a Vampire in the throes of teenage angst, Snipes played a famous comic book Vampire, Dark Shadows was campy fun, and Vampires even met and saved the president of the United States! One person's vision of a Vampire will most likely be different than yours.
Why do we bring this up? We all know Strahd, as he is the most famous of all Vampires in Dungeons & Dragons. Vampires were always serious evil creatures that you didn’t want to run into, and Strahd was no different. Strahd was one of the first baddies to be given a fully fleshed out background. He was played as the serious BBEG, no messing around and he was out to kill you. In 5e, Strahd spreads his acting wings and allows the DM to have the ability to play him in several ways. Sure, he’s a bad guy that wants to kill you, but now he wants to play with his food first.
So let’s take a look at the Vampire and how they have changed throughout the editions of Dungeons & Dragons.
 

OD&D - Vampire

No. Appearing: 1-6
Armor Class: 2
Move: 12", Fly: 18”
Hit Dice: 7-9
% in Lair: 20%
Treasure Type: F
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: Special
Save: F7/M12
Alignment: Chaos
The Vampire was introduced in the Dungeons & Dragons White Box (1974). The very first thing the description tells us is that the Vampire is an undead creature and not a lycanthrope. Those of you that have been living under a rock and want to know why on earth the vampire might be considered a lycanthrope can go on to read that they can change into a giant bat or a gaseous form. How big of a giant bat? We have no idea, but being a giant bat is pretty cool and implies pretty big.
Then, we descend into every other Vampire stereotype that is out there. Direct sunlight equals one dead and crispy Vampire. Impaled through the heart with a wooden stake… dead. Sign of the cross, shown a mirror or given a piece of pizza with extra garlic? Our blood-sucking friend runs away, hissing and cursing you that he’ll be back. Bedtime for the Vampire equals sleeping in their coffin during daylight hours. You can be charmed by the Vampire, doing the evil one’s bidding, or more likely, being convinced to go give him a hug so he can suck you dry. If men-types (This is the terminology used in the book. Got to love the sexist 70’s) are killed by a Vampire, they will become one and be under the control of the one that made them. One thing we found odd was there was no mention of holy water causing damage to them. That seems to us to be the biggest damage-causing attack missing, and it’s too bad, cause any cleric worth their salt will have some on them and would love to splash it on the undead.
Now that the stereotypes are covered, the creators add in some of their own “flavor” to our favorite cape-wearing bad guy. If a Vampire is submerged in running water they are killed. Researching vampire lore, there isn’t any mention of running water killing Vampires, but that they cannot cross running water. A lesser-known defense is that because vampires are unclean and unholy creatures, they can not cross running water because running water is perceived as clean and pure. The water has to be moving, as stagnant water has a higher chance of being diseased and containing bacteria that cause these diseases.
Next up are the powers of the Vampire and they aren’t great if you are a player. It can regenerate, summon a few pets to join the fight or charm themselves a few new friends from the party. Now, when we say summon a few pets, we mean Vampires can summon 10 to 100 bats or rats, or 3 to 18 wolves. That’s a lot of pets, and the fact that they can always stare at your party members and charm them just keeps stacking the deck against you.
Finally, we get into the whole “drinking your blood” vampire thing. The description gets a little convoluted on this issue.
…otherwise they can be hit only as Spectres, but such hits do not kill them but only force them to assume gaseous form if they lose all hit points. Vampires drain two life energy levels as do Spectres when they hit an opponent in combat.
Dungeons & Dragons White Box (1974)
We feel like the creators were tired by the time they got to the “v” monster section and didn’t feel like creating a whole new set of rules for the effects of drinking the blood of their victims, so instead, they made the ability the same as the spectre. It’s not that we can’t get behind this, because when you stop and think about it, it makes complete sense. Not setting up a whole set of new mechanics is a smart call and makes it easier for the DM. The problem is we wish they had given it a better description instead of falling back on the term ‘energy drain’. It’s technically correct, but you could have at least mentioned they needed to drive their fangs into the neck of their victims to drain their energy. They are called bloodsuckers for a reason folks!
 

Basic D&D - Vampire

Armor Class: 2
Move: 120’ (40’), Flying: 180’ (60’)
Hit Dice: 7-9
No. of Attacks: 1 touch + special
Damage/Attack: 1-10 + energy drain
No. Appearing: 1-4 (1-6)
Save As: Fighter 7-9
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: F
Alignment: Chaotic
The Vampire next shows up in Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977). Not much changes in this version, but a few things are clarified and adjusted. They may not be exciting but are important to help further develop the creature. Of utmost importance is that the energy drain is clearly defined. In the White Box, there is no actual definition of energy drain beyond how they describe it in passing in the wight’s monster information, which is you remove a hit die and level from the character.
“Energy Drain: A successful hit by certain undead monsters will drain energy from the victim. Unlike other special attacks, there is no saving throw against an energy drain. Each energy drain will destroy one level of experience of a character, or one hit die of a monster. The creature drained of energy loses all the benefits (attack level, saving throws, spells, etc.) of the former level. This effect cannot be cured.”
D&D Expert Booklet (1981)
Vampires are unaffected by sleep, charm, and hold spells. It makes sense and follows the basic mechanics of other undead creatures in Dungeons & Dragons. A character slain by a Vampire will return from death as a Vampire in 3 days. It’s good that they specify the length of time it takes to turn the creature since the previous edition left it wide open for interpretation. There is no mention of how to prevent this from happening, which is too bad since your party now has an amount of time to potentially find a cure for your new undead condition… maybe a preemptive stake through the heart?
You can still be charmed by a Vampire, falling completely under their control. And because Vampires cannot use spells or magic… you know they are going to target the Magic-User first so they can cast our favorite “fuck you” spell at their allies… Fireball.
We also get additional details on the weaknesses of Vampires. A Vampire may take the form of a human, a dire wolf, a giant bat, or a gaseous cloud at will, but doing so takes 1 round. It may not be much, but a round where they can’t attack is a big deal. In dire wolf or giant bat form, the Vampire will move, attack, and do damage according to the statistics for those creatures. The Vampire's armor class, hit dice, morale, and saving throws remain unchanged. They get the best of both worlds in this scenario. When they change into gaseous form, a Vampire can fly at the listed speed and has immunity to all weapon attacks. A Vampire cannot attack while in gaseous form. This is an escape form, as they can move through cracks in the walls, to a height where they are out of reach, and under dungeon doors.
Speaking of weaknesses, this edition goes on to clarify that silver weapons do nothing against the Vampire, holy symbols only stop them if the symbol is directly in their path and that the Vampire needs to sleep in a coffin with a bottom layer of dirt from where they used to live. Which seems like an interesting distinction for any Vampire that wishes to travel the world and is forced to bring a coffin of dirt from his homeland, and depending on how specific you want to get, the dirt from his childhood home’s garden.
 

AD&D - Vampire

Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1-4
Armor Class: 1
Move: 12”/18”
Hit Dice: 8+3
% in Lair: 25%
Treasure: F
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 5-10
Special Attacks: Energy Drain
Special Defenses: +1 or better magic weapon to hit
Magic Resistance: See Description
Intelligence: Exceptional
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Size: M
Psionic Ability: Nil
In 1st edition, the Vampire appears in the Monster Manual (1977) and once again, our bloodsucking buddy gets a little more powerful than in the previous editions. One of the best lines in all of the Vampire descriptions through the editions is that the Vampire must rest in a coffin or ‘similar receptacle’. We have no idea what a similar receptacle is, but the wording makes us smile.
Vampires see a nice bump in their attacks, with a hit now dealing 5-10 damage plus an energy drain of 2 levels. That’s nuts. You get hit once and you lose 2 levels worth of experience, hit points, abilities that you can’t get back? You don’t want to be the tank when you’re fighting a Vampire. Even if you end up killing the Vampire, if your tank dies, they are still going to come back as a free-willed Vampire. We’re not sure how many players will feel comfortable with Grak the Vampire, formerly Grak the Barbarian from the party, but we can’t imagine it’s many.
Killing a Vampire gets annoyingly hard. You think that you’ve landed that killing blow on your undead enemy only to see them turn into a gas cloud and high tail it for their coffin. They need to get back within 12 turns and when they get back to the sanctuary of the coffin, they need to sleep for 8 hours. After a brief siesta, our rejuvenated friend will turn back into humanoid form. Hopefully, you can follow the cloud back to the coffin, as you can bet your ass the Vampire will hunt you down once they are all healed up… and the sun isn’t up.
Remember how driving a stake through the Vampire’s heart would kill it? Now it only kills it until someone is dumb enough to remove the stake. For the Vampire to truly be dead, you need to cut its head off and fill its mouth with holy wafers. That’s wafers, not water. We’ve seen no other mention of holy wafers anywhere in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, so you’ll probably just have to leave that stake in its heart, hide the body and take its head with you on all your adventures in search of holy wafers.
This edition also introduces us to the Eastern Vampire. While they lose the ability to charm people and cannot transform themselves into a gaseous mist on command, they are invisible. Losing the ability to charm their intended victims may seem like a nerf, but because they are invisible, they can sneak up behind you and bite your neck, it doesn’t seem like that big of a loss.
One last thing…remember our complaint about holy water not doing anything against Vampires? Now it does 2-7 points of damage per vial. If you’re the cleric that’s great since you don’t want to get too close.
In May 1979, Dragon #25 came out, and with it came a huge influx of new vampires to add to your game. We aren’t talking about 1 or 2 new vampires, but 14 new vampires! This includes the: alp, catacano, mulo, noferat, vlkodlak and many, many more. They have expanded abilities, like the Burcolakas, from Greece, can kill by naming a victim and commanding them to take a fatal action. And that’s all we hear on that… no more information on how that works, so let’s check out another one.
The Ekimmu, from Assyria, is invisible and it still has the ability to charm other creatures. Furthermore, it can also magic jar its opponents… which seems pretty sensible as far as a Vampire pantry is concerned. And lastly, it can only be killed if you subdue it long enough for a wooden sword to kill it. Which brings to question… can you count a wooden stake as a wooden sword if everyone convinces the Ekimmu it really is just a fat, short rapier?
And it only gets crazier from there. One last example is the Krvopijac Vampire, from Bulgaria, which you can find its coffin by putting a virgin on a black foal, this doesn’t specify sex or age so that’s easy to accomplish. Throw a few babies on a saddle and then you let the black foal walk around the suspected area that the Krvopijac Vampire’s sleeping area is, wherever the foal refuses to go is where your Vampire is sleeping away. Then to stop the Vampire, you can chain it to its coffin with a rope of wildflowers, which the magazines helpfully points out might eventually break, or you could have your cleric order the Vampire’s soul into a vial of blood and then chuck that into the fire… Neither seems like really doable options for killing a Krvopijac Vampire… Oh! We swear one last thing… it only has one nostril so that’s horrifying.
 

2e - Vampire

Climate/Terrain: Any land
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Solitary
Activity **Cycle: Night
Diet: Special
Treasure: F
Intelligence: Exceptional (15-16)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
No. Appearing: 1-4
Armor Class: 1
Movement: 12, Fl 18 (C)
Hit Dice: 8+3
THAC0: 11
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 5-10
Special Attacks: Energy Drain
Special Defenses: +1 or better magic weapon to hit
Magic Resistance: See Description
Size: M (5 1/2’-6 1/2’)
Morale: Champion (16)
XP Value: 8,000
The Vampire in 2nd edition first appears in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989) and then reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993). We’ve done a good job not bitching about the art lately, but in 2e it is godawful. Purple must be the favorite color of Vampires because both pictures from the Monstrous Manual have them wearing a lot of purple. The picture of the male Vampire is of a poor fashion ignoramus, wearing a dark purple cloak, a purple tunic with matching purple sash and purple tights. We are at a total loss of words. Of course, that has nothing on the artwork for the Monstrous Compendium as it depicts a vampire snarling, though instead of fear it inflicts a sense of… hilarity? It seems to have shaved about half of its hair, has some fierce eyebrows and we can’t tell if it's laughing, crying or just being creepy... Maybe it needs to sneeze?
The changes in this edition are few but interesting. The Vampire can shape change only into a bat now, but can still disperse its human body to assume gaseous form. If the Vampire wasn’t creepy enough already, it now crawls up a wall and onto the ceiling by the benefit of having the spider climb ability. The last big change is the inclusion of another piece of old school vampire lore. Vampires can not enter into a home without being invited by the owner. Once it has it, it may come and go as it pleases. Better hope you make that charm save, or your new best pal will easily convince you to have him in for tea and some blood.
As always, the 2nd edition dives deeper than the previous editions, providing us with an in-depth look into the lifestyle and ecology of the creature. Vampires have only contempt and hatred for the world around them. They choose to live in areas of death and desolation. Ruined castles or chapels with large cemeteries are popular lairs for them. These dark and gloomy places remind them of the lives they used to have, which brings them great sorrow, and a depressed Vampire is probably not one you want to run into. Since they have lost the life they once knew and are cursed with immortality, they are creatures of pure evil, seeking to bring terror to those around them. Having all the time in the world allows them to methodically plan, only setting their schemes into action when they are certain of success.
Turning their victims is not done for any sort of pleasure. These new Vampires are servants of their master, doing their bidding, no matter how dangerous or trivial it may be. Turned Vampires will often serve as meat shields for their master, being commanded to protect their lord at all costs. So becoming a Vampire bitch can either be very boring or very deadly, depending on your new boss.
2nd edition also brings to us one of the greatest villains in Dungeons & Dragons culture, and you probably already know his name. Strahd von Zarovich. We aren’t going to dive too deep into his history as he is only one of the hundreds of Vampires, but we will give a brief overview of his introduction.
Strahd von Zarovich was created by Tracy and Laura Hickman who created this villain and his home, Ravenloft, over the course of 5 years before releasing him as the villain of the I6: Ravenloft adventure module, released in 1983. He struck fear into fans, and many find him to be a compelling villain. To keep it as spoiler-free as possible, he had done things in his life that was evil and horrible, but many fans can understand where he was coming from and why he did certain things that he did. When it comes time to defeat him, you have to feel a bit of sadness as to what has become of this man searching for love.
Strahd’s home of Ravenloft was later turned into the Ravenloft Campaign setting in the same year, 1983, and became the home for many of the iconic villains of this edition. Ravenloft was made up of different land pieces in a pocket dimension that the prisoners, those like Strahd who were stuck in their lands, would not be able to escape from but had all the power. The prisons, which is really what they were, would only be removed if the prisoners could finally repent for what they have done. This is all ruled over by the Dark Powers, mysterious entities that like to torture the prisoners of the Dark Lands by tempting them with what they wanted most during their life.
 

3e/3.5e - Vampire

Sample Vampire, 5th-Level Human Fighter
Medium Undead (Augmented Humanoid)
Hit Dice: 5d12 (60 hp) / Initiative: +6 / Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 23 (+3 Dex, +6 natural, +4 masterwork chain), touch 13, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+11
Attack: Claw Slam +11 melee (1d6+9 plus energy drain) or +1 spiked chain +13 melee (2d4+12) or masterwork shortbow +9 ranged (1d6/×3)
Full Attack: Slam +11 melee (1d6+9 plus energy drain) or +1 spiked chain +13 melee (2d4+12) or masterwork shortbow +9 ranged (1d6/×3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft. (1o ft. with spiked chain)
Special Attacks: Blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, dominate, energy drain
Special Qualities: Alternate form, damage reduction 10/silver and magic, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 5, gaseous form, resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10, spider climb, undead traits, vampire weaknesses
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +4
Abilities: Str 22, Dex 17, Con —, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 12
Skills: Bluff +9, Climb +10, Hide +10, Listen +17, Move Silently +10, Ride +11, Search +9, Sense Motive +11, Spot +17
Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat ReflexesB, DodgeB, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (spiked chain), Improved InitiativeB, Lightning ReflexesB, Mobility, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (spiked chain), Weapon Specialization (spiked chain)
Environment: Temperate plains / Organization: Solitary / Treasure: Double Standard
Challenge Rating: 7 / Alignment: Always evil (any)
Advancement: By character class / Level Adjustment: +5
The Vampire in 3.5e is found in the Monster Manual (2000/2003) and has a very different strategy for how it is created and utilized. The description starts by giving us two sample Vampires, a 5th level human fighter and a 9th level half-elf monk/4th level shadowdancer. In 3.5e, Vampires do not have base stats, rather they are created using an acquired template that can be used to make humanoid or monstrous humanoid creatures (referred to hereafter as the base creature) into a blood-sucking monster. A Vampire uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities, however, there are some notable changes. Since Vampires are dead, you change the creature’s type to the undead. Current and future Hit Dice are now d12s. The Vampire’s base speed remains the same, and if the base creature had a swim speed, the Vampire retains the ability to swim and is not vulnerable to immersion in running water. That is a huge benefit for the Vampire, as it takes away one of the core ways to damage/kill them.
We finally get the Vampire to drink blood via the Blood Drain Ability! A Vampire now can suck blood from a living victim with its fangs by making a grapple check. If successful, it sucks the target’s blood, draining 1d4 of its Constitution each round the target is grappled. Every round the Vampire can use this ability and it gains 5 temporary hit points. If you’re the wizard, it’s just one more reason to stay way in the back and cast spells from a distance.
Children of the Night is the summoning of furry helpers ability that Vampires have had in all prior editions, but with a minor change. They can still summon creatures to assist them against those pesky mortals, but no more 100 rats for the DM to keep track of. Once per day, the Vampire can call forth 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard action. It’s not a huge change since the number of swarms is equivalent to the previous amounts able to be summoned, but it surely helps with the speed of gameplay.
Dominate replaces their Charm ability. The description is great, as it states that the vampire crushes the will of its target by looking into its eyes. No more friendly charm with a smile, instead they obliterate your hapless soul with just one look. The Vampire must use an action and pick one target, meaning that it does not affect any character just looking at the Vampire. Fail your Will save and you are under the Vampire’s control as if he had cast a 12th level Dominate spell. With a range of 30 ft. we strongly advise covering your eyes and making your attacks blind!
Back to the annoying Energy Drain ability. It is modified a little bit, for now, the target must be successfully hit by a vampire’s slam attack and they lose two levels. Also, for every level it drains you of, the Vampire gains 5 temporary hit points. As we have stated before, this ability is incredibly powerful, and being the tank sucks when fighting a Vampire… actually being anything fighting a Vampire is going to suck… You get it? It’s funny because a Vampire sucks blood… Do you get it now? Sigh, we’ll stop with the jokes.
Create Spawn spells out in great detail the old and new ways the character becomes a Vampire after dying at the evil fiend’s hands. If a character is slain by a Vampire’s energy drain or if the Vampire instead drains the victim’s Constitution to 0 or lower, it rises as a vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial. Since at any given time a Vampire may have up to twice its Hit Dice in vampire spawn, it is possible that the whole party could be enslaved, making for an interesting campaign moving forward.
The rest of the Vampire remains pretty much the same. Special abilities such as turning into a bat, the creepy ability to spider climb, etc are all still there, and the method of killing one doesn’t change. There are a handful more vampires created for this edition scattered through a few adventure books, dragon magazine, and other places, but none of them can top the craziness of the vampires from earlier editions. Did you know that there was a vampire in 1st edition that could be killed by putting it in a circle of rice?
 

4e - Vampire

Vampire Lord (Human Rogue) - Level 11 Lurker
Medium natural humanoid (undead) XP 1,200
Initiative +12 / Senses Perception +10; darkvision
Regeneration 10 (does not function while exposed to direct sunlight)
HP 186; Bloodied 93
AC 29; Fortitude 30, Reflex 27, Will 25
Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 necrotic; Vulnerable 10 radiant
Saving Throws +2 / Speed 8, climb 4 (spider climb) / Action Points 1
Short Sword (standard; at-will) ✦ Weapon +13 vs. AC; 1d6 + 8 damage.
Spiked Chain (standard; at-will) ✦ Weapon +13 vs. AC; 2d4 + 8 damage.
Deft Strike (standard; at-will) ✦ Weapon The vampire lord moves up to 2 squares and makes a melee basic attack at a +2 bonus.
Imperiling Strike (standard; encounter) +15 vs. Fortitude; 1d6 + 10 damage, and the target takes a –3 penalty to AC and Reflex defenses until the end of the vampire lord’s next turn.
Blood Drain (standard; recharges when an adjacent creature becomes bloodied) ✦ Healing Requires combat advantage; +13 vs. Fortitude; 2d12 + 8 damage, the target is weakened (save ends), and the vampire lord regains 46 hit points; see also combat advantage.
Dominating Gaze (minor; recharge 6) ✦ Charm Ranged 5; +13 vs. Will; the target is dominated (save ends, with a –2 penalty on the saving throw). Aftereffect: The target is dazed (save ends). The vampire lord can dominate only one creature at a time.
Combat Advantage The vampire lord deals an extra 3d6 damage with its attacks against any target it has combat advantage against.
Mist Form (standard; encounter) ✦ Polymorph The vampire lord becomes insubstantial and gains a fly speed of 12, but cannot make attacks. The vampire lord can remain in mist form for up to 1 hour or end the effect as a minor action.
Second Wind (standard; encounter) ✦ Healing The vampire lord spends a healing surge and regains 46 hit points. The vampire gains a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of its next turn
Alignment Evil / Languages Common
Skills Acrobatics +15, Athletics +18, Bluff +13, Intimidate +13, Stealth +15, Thievery +15
Str 26 (+13) | Dex 20 (+10) | Wis 11 (+5) | Con 13 (+6) | Int 12 (+6) | Cha 16 (+8)
Equipment leather armor, shortsword
The 4th edition Vampire found in the Monster Manual (2008) is short on description but big on changes to our bloodsucking friend. A Vampire that can turn others into vampire spawn is now referred to as a Vampire Lord. The Vampire Lord does lose some of the abilities they had when they were mortal in order to gain a Vampire’s special abilities. One such ability is the new* Dark Gift of the Undying*, where the Vampire Lord, in the name of Orcus, transforms another being into another Vampire Lord.
The Dark Gift ability is quite pricy, costing up 80,000 gp to perform, but some may feel that it’s a small price to pay to become immortal. What happens is, after you pay a current Vampire Lord, he takes you out to the graveyard at night. There you drink some of each other's blood, upon which time you die… so sad. The Vampire Lord buries you, does his ritual mumbo jumbo, and prays to Orcus. At sunset the next day, you rise from the ground as a brand spanking new Vampire Lord. The ritual is ruined if a Raise Dead spell is cast on you or some jerk comes along and cuts your head off, so it’s best to keep the number of people that know your plan to a minimum.
4e removes some of the ways you can repel and kill a Vampire, you know since it wasn’t hard enough to do already. Now, Vampires don’t care if you invite them into your home or not, but will just stroll on in and slaughter you and your family. Running water and garlic do nothing but at least you won’t stink as if you work in a pizzeria now. Wooden stakes hurt them, but no more so than any other sharp weapon.
While the Vampire still likes to mope by themselves, it is possible for them to have a traveling posse to doing their bidding. One Vampire Lord is likely hanging out with a wight commander, wight minions and vampire spawns. If you and your friends stumble upon this crew, we hope you have either a level 20 cleric or your running shoes on.
Lastly, there are options in a supplement book Heroes of Shadow (2011) that allow you to take the Vampire class and become the dark lord you always dreamed of! Which is really inclusive to all of our Dark Lords out there.
 

5e - Vampire

** Vampire** / Medium undead (shapechanger), lawful evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 144 (17d8+68)
Speed 30 ft.
Str 18 (+4) | Dex 18 (+4) | Con 18 (+4) | Int 17 (+3) | Wis 15 (+2) | Cha 18 (+4)
Skills Perception +7, Stealth +9
Damage Resistances necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 17
Languages the languages it knew in life
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)
Shapechanger. If the vampire isn't in sun light or running water, it can use its action to polymorph in to a Tiny bat or a Medium cloud of mist, or back into its true form. While in bat form, the vampire can't speak, its walking speed is 5 feet, and it has a flying speed of 30 feet. Its statistics, other than its size and speed, are unchanged. Anything it is wearing transforms with it, but nothing it is carrying does. It reverts to its true form if it dies. While in mist form, the vampire can't take any actions, speak, or manipulate objects. It is weightless, has a flying speed of 20 feet, can hover, and can enter a hostile creature's space and stop there. In addition , if air can pass through a space, the mist can do so without squeezing, and it can't pass through water. It has advantage on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution saving throws, and it is immune to all nonmagical damage, except the damage it takes from sunlight.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the vampire fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
Misty Escape. When it drops to 0 hit points outside its resting place, the vampire transforms into a cloud of mist (as in the Shapechanger trait) instead of falling unconscious, provided that it isn't in sun light or running water. If it can't transform, it is destroyed. While it has 0 hit points in mist form , it can't revert to its vampire form, and it must reach its resting place within 2 hours or be destroyed. Once in its resting place, it reverts to its vampire form . It is then paralyzed until it regains at least 1 hit point. After spending 1 hour in its resting place with 0 hit points, it regains 1 hit point.
Regeneration. The vampire regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and isn't in sun light or running water. lfthe vampire takes radiant damage or damage from holy water, this trait doesn't function at the start of the vampire's next turn.
Spider Climb. The vampire can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Vampire Weaknesses. The vampire has the following flaws: Forbiddance. The vampire can't enter a residence without an invitation from one of the occupants.
Harmed by Running Water. The vampire takes 20 acid damage if it ends its turn in running water.
Stake to the Heart. If a piercing weapon made of wood is driven into the vampire's heart while the vampire is incapacitated in its resting place, the vampire is paralyzed until the stake is removed.
Sunlight Hypersensitivity. The vampire takes 20 radiant damage when it starts its turn in sunlight. While in sunlight, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
Multiattack (Vampire Form Only). The vampire makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite attack.
Unarmed Strike (Vampire Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. Instead of dealing damage, the vampire can grapple the target (escape DC 18).
Bite (Bat or Vampire Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one willing creature, or a creature that is grappled by the vampire, incapacitated, or restrained. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) piercing damage plus 10 (3d6) necrotic damage. The target's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the vampire regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises the following night as a vampire spawn under the vampire's control.
Charm. The vampire targets one humanoid it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the vampire , the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed by the vampire. The charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn't under the vampire's control, it takes the vampire's requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for the vampire's bite attack. Each time the vampire or the vampire's companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until the vampire is destroyed , is on a different plane of existence than the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.
Children of the Night (1/Day). The vampire magically calls 2d4 swarms of bats or rats, provided that the sun isn't up. While outdoors, the vampire can call 3d6 wolves instead. The called creatures arrive in 1d4 rounds, acting as allies of the vampire and obeying its spoken commands. The beasts remain for 1 hour, until the vampire dies, or until the vampire dismisses them as a bonus action.
At last, we arrive at the current incarnation of the Vampire, found in the Monster Manual (2014). Vampires in 5e are now given the power and respect they deserve, as they are now extremely powerful, much more so than in the previous editions. The stats and abilities increase across the board and at a CR 13, they are not creatures to be trifled with.
The only two truly unique features in 5e are the small blurb paying homage to the greatest Vampire and BBEG in Dungeons & Dragons lore, Strahd von Zarovich, and a detailed and ghoulish description of a Vampire’s lair. Our Vampire can once again Charm creatures, they can summon small swarms of bats and rats, and they drain blood like a real, gods-fearing Vampire!
The Strahd piece is a brief background and doesn’t really do his story justice. Why is this important and in the Monster Manual? It’s the first mention of Strahd in any of the Vampire descriptions and he has been constantly voted the most iconic of all the BBEG’s in all of Dungeons & Dragons, so it only seems right that he is paid homage.
We also are provided with a detailed description of a Vampire’s lair. This is more of a flavor addition to the creature but is worth mentioning. Playing into the concept that Vampires are vain creatures, they choose opulent castles, keeps, or the like, but they must be defensible and in hard to reach locations. It makes sense since this is where the Vampire hides its coffin, without which it is doomed. The coffin will also be guarded by vampire spawn and other creatures that worship the Vampire.
Speaking of vampire spawn, they are created when the Vampire drains you of your blood with their fangs, and then you get put into the ground. You then rise that night as a vampire spawn and are under the complete and total control of the Vampire. The only way you can be an independent Vampire is if you partake of your master Vampire’s blood… Amazingly, it goes on to say that Vampires are reluctant to give up control over you… weird. You’d think such well adjusted and normal monsters wouldn’t want to have slaves they can control with their every whim.
The land around the Vampire’s home is not a place you’d want to vacation. Surrounded by a thick fog, characters can make out twisted and disturbing shapes and figures in the fog. The area is full of our Vampire’s friendly furry creatures like rats, bats, and wolves. In other words, the land around his castle is eerie as hell and very reminiscent of Ravenloft. When you stumble into this landscape, hopefully, you and your party will start to realize the gravity of the situation you’re in.
That is the Vampire from across the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons and it has had a pretty smooth ride. Unlock some other horror movie monsters, like the werewolf, it never stops being terrifying.
Got a monster or lore you'd like to see the history of? Let us know in the comments!
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