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Politics as she is Played with 3d6

The recent death of Gary Gygax, who together with Dave Arneson invented Dungeons and Dragons, coincides with a most interesting period in the American Presidential primary season, as three hopeful monsters slouch towards an appointment with the polls in October or November or sometime around then. (You can tell how much attention I pay to US politics.) Anyway, in an attempt to correct my woeful ignorance of the state of play, I decided to turn to AD&D as the analysis tool du jour, and consulted my battered copy of the Monster Manual in hope of shedding some light on the crypt. After all, as Douglas Adams remarked, the whole point of voting for flesh-eating lizards in any election is that if you don't vote, the wrong lizard might get in. (Never mind the fact that, as one of those furrin people, I don't get a vote.)

Here's what my Monster Manual had to say on the matter: (NB: it's a 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual; I never could get the hang of those new-fangled 2nd edition rules.)

John McCain (Demon Prince of Republicans.) (Lesser God.)

FREQUENCY: Very rare
MOVE: 3" (72" per flight sector on the campaign jet)
HIT DICE: 200 hit points (But first you have to defeat 4d8 Secret Service Agents)
% IN LAIR: 0%
TREASURE TYPE: All your NATO base are belong to us!
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Invades Iran. Takes 100d20 casualties in first strike while inflicting 20 x 100d20 civilian casualties. Followed by war of attrition, economic collapse, recrimination.
SPECIAL ATTACKS: 5% chance of 30,000 Megaton nuclear first strike on Upper Volta.
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +3 or better weapon to hit. In event of combat, 20% chance of heart attack per round, followed by the swearing in of President Santorum. You wouldn't want that, would you?)
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 80% (10% vs. mind control spells by Cheney.)
CHARISMA: 12 (16 to neocons)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil if under control of Cheney; otherwise Chaotic neutral.
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/29,950* (* for impeachment)

A huge, ancient, carnivorous dinosaur from the swamps at the heart of Republican country, not unlike Godzilla in appearance and wrinkled integument, McCain has seen better years. Nevertheless he can breathe fire and threaten to stomp flat the capital city of any country that Fox News disapproves of with the best of them.

The biggest danger in facing off against a McCain is that he might be under the mind control of the Svengali-like Cheney, Prince of Darkness. In this case, he is likely to be lethally aggressive and even more unpredictable than usual.

Hilary Clinton (Demon Queen of Pork Belly Futures.) (Lesser Goddess.)

FREQUENCY: Very rare
ARMOUR CLASS: -7 (But -4 if encountered in the same campaign as a Bill Clinton)
MOVE: 3" (72" per flight sector on the campaign jet)
HIT DICE: 200 hit points (But first you have to defeat 4d8 Secret Service Agents)
% IN LAIR: 0%
TREASURE TYPE: The future is ... Pork!
DAMAGE/ATTACK: captures 2-16 superdelegates; 20% chance to cast Slime per round
SPECIAL ATTACKS: If sustaining damage, 33% chance per round of invoking Bill Clinton to fight alongside her. See also Big Dog.)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +4 Fundraising, Regeneration, +3 or better weapon to hit.
CHARISMA: 17 (Democrats)/ -1 (Republicans)
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Neutral (Will steal anything that's not nailed down, especially if she can construe it as lawful appropriation. Depending on the meaning of the word "it".)
SIZE: 14
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/12,250* (* for impeachment)

As with all Clintons, Hillary exudes negative charisma towards Republicans. Otherwise, she's a classic machine reptile.

Barack Obama (Demon Prince of Upsetting Applecarts.) (Lesser God.)

FREQUENCY: Very rare
MOVE: 3" (72" per flight sector on the campaign jet)
HIT DICE: 200 hit points (But first you have to defeat 4d8 Secret Service Agents — unless attacking in Texas, Florida, or other Republican-held states)
% IN LAIR: 0%
TREASURE TYPE: Budget Deficit: -500,000 million G.P. plus compound interest
NO. OF ATTACKS: 0 (He runs a clean campaign).
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Makes his opponents look foolish: -1 Charisma per round engaged in combat polite debate.
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Casts Mass Charm 1 per round engaged in combat polite debate.
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +5 Fundraising, Regeneration, +3 or better weapon to hit.
CHARISMA: 18(100) (Democrats) / 12 (Republicans)
ALIGNMENT: Law Professor
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/89,950* (* for impeachment)

Handsome, intelligent, charismatic, and he manages to sound absolutely wonderful ... but how do you know what else is lurking under that sleek exterior? The Obama's main advantage in combat is that he makes everyone else in the melee look absurdly aggressive or foolishly short-sighted, sapping their Charisma. Probably the lesser evil, so once you elect him you'll have the luxury of knowing you've been eaten by the right lizard god.



Hey, (s)he'll be your President too... best to pay more attention so long as your island has a "special relationship."...


so long as your island has a "special relationship."

We paid you off about 15 months ago. It's over, deal with it.


The "special relationship" has, for at least the past decade, consisted of a US president saying "bend over" and a prime minister saying "how far?"

It's been said that the British and French carried away entirely opposite messages from Suez -- the British figured, "we can't achieve anything without US backing, so we must ensure US backing at all costs", and the French thought, "the US will shaft us at any opportunity, so we must be vigilant and look to our own resources at all costs".

Fifty years on, it looks like the French were right.


Vice-President Santorum? Just how long has it been since you paid attention to US politics? That guy got voted out in '06, and has no currency left. Now Charlie Crist, he's viable and about as creepily populist as they come.


Brett, remember "you won't have Dick to kick around any more"?

Never say "never" in politics. Until they're staked out at a crossroads with a mouthful of garlic.


For an example of another nation who has chosen to back out of a special relationship with the US... see Iran.


Did "Law Professor" become a character alignment in AD&D? Yet another reason to stay with the classics.


Would that be the one that could take Basra and Sadr City tomorrow, whilst accumulating a giant sovereign-wealth fund from high oil prices?


So bush would be defined as high priest of Cheney? Oh, there's no percentile on charisma, only on strength you geek.


Fifty years on, it looks like the French were right.

It's the nukes I envy (the power plants, not the force de crappe).


Damn! Just when Upper Volta was least expecting it!!! They should have take the example of Lower Volta to heart!!


Won't be Santorum, he hasn't toiled in the wilderness long enough. Even Nixon had to work for a few years.

My money is on Sarah Palin, Republican governor of Alaska. She's popular, attractive, and young. Admittedly adding her to the ticket would not sit well with the misogynists in the crowd, but she'd probably pull in some moderate votes.


So what are the stats for that high level lich, Cheney? (Kept alive by implanted magic box next to his heart. To kill must reach box.)


Good point Adrian at 10 - If the UK government does decide to commission some more they'll take decades to build using private finance initiatives which will fleece the taxpayer & probably won't work (if recent government IT projects are anything to go by).


Wow, I wonder which of the 3 Charlie likes?


It'd be interesting to have Cheney as a comparable, here's a first shot: Richard "Dick" Cheney (Prince of Darker than Darkness) FREQUENCY: Very rare NO APPEARING: 1 ARMOUR CLASS:-4 MOVE: 2" (36" per Fox News brief) HIT DICE: 100 hit points (But first you have to defeat 8d8 Secret Service Agents. Ability to regenerate.) % IN LAIR: 5% TREASURE TYPE: Huge; 4d20 Man-sized safes. NO. OF ATTACKS: 5 (from all four sides, and underneath) DAMAGE/ATTACK: Invades Afghanistan. Invades Iraq. Bankrupts economy. SPECIAL ATTACKS: 5% chance of torture base, Echo Chamber SPECIAL DEFENSES: +5 versus subpoena, 10% of heart attack per round, (+3 spontaneous generation if puppy blood is available) MAGIC RESISTANCE: 20% INTELLIGENCE: Normal CHARISMA: 4 (18 to neocons) ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil. (But will twist law to its own objectives) SIZE: M LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/100,000 (* for impeachment, but you have to subpoena first) If you crossed a T-Rex with a velociraptor from the heart of Republican country, you'd be off to a good start. Aggressive, lethal, gruff, works in shadows, doesn't care what you think. It can breate acid. And lightning.


I suspect that Obama is actually a mind flayer impersonating a law professor. Now about that 10th level druid Nader......


McCain Chaotic neutral when not controlled by Cheney? That's just ... not right.

McCain, clearly, is Chaotic Evil when controlled by Cheney, and Lawful Evil otherwise. But he's always evil.


Randolph #13 - as well as the coiteries of lesser demons serving both sides - the RNC, DNC, DLC, Heritage Foundation, Karl Rove (Lesser Prince of Lies), and the Wisdom-sapping "Mass Media" spell used by many of the candidates and their minions (with varying levels of success).


Stephen @18: if he's chaotic and he's got his hands on the nuclear football, who cares whether he's neutral or evil? He's still dangerous!


I think including the shade of Dick Cheney in a D&D game would earn you a visit from the Laundry; whoops! chthonic entity!


Hillary Clinton is a size 14? Truly this is set in some strange alternate universe.


TC @22: UK size 14 is US size 12, if that's any better.


Greg @ 7

Sure, "Law Professor' is shorthand for "Lawful Nitpicking".


Will someone, PLEASE, invade Iran already, so we can move to something else? This subject begins to smell. 8-)


Anatoly @25: so you want to one-up Basil Liddell-Hart by starting a land war in Asia on two fronts? Some people are never satisfied!


Very nice. Only one nit to pick: as far as we know, McCain has thus far shunned Secret Service protection (it's not required, and probably won't be forced on him until he's officially the candidate).


Demon gods? Gives them too much credit, methinks. Though I think the evidence is good that Hillary ascended to political lichdom sometime around 1998 or so. Obama and McCain will never defeat her unless they can first locate her phylactery.


I can tell this is from 1st edition...Upper Volta has been Burkina Faso for over twenty years.

Re post 26, a guerrilla war has no front (or the front is everywhere), so really invading Iran (or Syria) would not make for three fronts in fact, it would allow a connection between Afghanistan and Iraq. To be really exciting, we (the US) needs to invade North Korea...and it would also be good for China then to take over Taiwan.

I often wonder who will the US have a special relationship to after our empire collapses...the Philippines, perhaps, since it is a former colony?


You have woefully under-represented The Hillary's negative charisma with Republicans, but otherwise good-o. And there's nothing that says that the French and the British can't both have been right.

Plus side of choosing the right lizard: might offer your PM lube.


Anyone willing to attempt Ralph Nader's stats?


Notes for your next Laundry: encryption keys can remain in RAM for 10 mins or more after shutdown and be recovered. The scientists managed to recover them much later, too, but the limiting factor was their supply of liquid nitrogen.

But the 10mins was achieved with a can of compressed air, as typically used to blast Cheeto dust from wingnuts' keyboards. One for Bob to pack with his leatherman and Treo 750.


Jon@31: We bloody damn know better than to try Nader's stats this time around, thankyouverymuch.

Quite right about Santorum. I would say the obvious choice for Repugnant VP would be the former governor of Florida, Jeb Smith - if only his name were actually Smith.


At the end of the 2008 election cycle, I ended up posting this to talk.bizarre :

In another forum, Crisper asked (regarding the US Presidential Election): >Goddammit, where's the fucking Dungeon Master, anyway? GM: Roll your final election night success rolls. GWB: [rolls] 11! Marginal success. AG: [rolls] 11! Also marginal success. GM: Ok. Let's see how bad this is... [rolls] 18. Well. Isn't that special. Critical chaos table ... GWB, isn't your brother in charge of Florida? GWB: Yeah... but he's a NPC... GM: Too bad. AG, Florida was called for you on election night, but has shifted back to GWB by ... [rolls] twelve hundred votes. Al has a [rolls] 0.2% lead in the popular vote but is losing the electoral college if Florida stays in GWB's column. AG: Recount! Recount! GWB: No fair, if I'm winning... GM: Marginal success. GWB: But that was a success! GM: [rolls] 18 again! An excellent success. The election authorities in one of the Florida counties screwed up the ballot so all the voters with IQ under 100 or over 75 years old voted for the wrong person or twice. GWB: Aaaaaaa AG: I sue! No, wait, I don't sue, the *voters* sue... GM: Roll to convince some voters to sue. AG: ...[rolls] 14! I got 'em! GWB: This is just terrible. We can't be doing this to the country. Concede already, Al. AG: Did the media see that? Did they? GM: GWB, make a saving throw versus media. GWB: [rolls] 8. Nope. GM: Make a saving throw versus public opinion. GWB: [rolls] 12. Close enough? GM: People are shaking their heads, but not trying to burn down your house. GWB: Whew. GM: [rolls] 17. Excellent. The first recount results show GWB's lead narrowing to... [rolls] 350 votes! AG: I want a hand recount. GWB: No, you don't. AG: It says I can have a hand recount. It's on Page 41 of the Election Masters Guide, third paragraph, second sentence. GWB: Don't be a Wussy Rules Lawyer. GM: [flips pages] He's right. GWB: Well Damnit. I'm suing to stop him anyways. GM: You're suing to overturn the rules? GWB: Damn straight. GM: Oh-kay... roll for it. GWB: [rolls] 15! Hey, look at that, I got a 15! GM: Good, but not good enough to overturn a game rule... AG: Haw Haw. GWB: See if I share my pizza with you next time. AG: Hey, don't get Snippy. TO BE CONTINUED -george "Where's that Eratta sheet?"

@33: Right. I should have remembered the consequences of saying that name (rolling saving throw ) ...


Oh, so that's what all this Republican/Democrat stuff is that's going on over there? Now I understand...


as far as we know, McCain has thus far shunned Secret Service protection

As most of the people who might consider shooting one of the other candidates would probably rather vote for him, seems a safe enough choice.


Charlie@26: I'm a bad person, I laughed.


Lovely monsters, but maybe they'd be better portrayed as player characters. There's been so much talk about experience levels... I remember being fed up with the arbitrary nature of D&D experience points and then enchanted with the Runequest and CoC rules systems, where each time a player tries out a skill their per centage chance of success improves. In the games it seemed more realistic than level progression. But then, when it comes to real life politicians, I realise that neither works. Imagine if the US president got wiser every time he tried invading a sovereign nation! Completely unrealistic. So realism notwithstanding, here's the call: presidential skillsets, anybody?


It was the coup d'etat and the Mad Emperor which wrecked the Traveller game. And I liked the MegaTraveller version of the rules.



Stephen @18: if he's chaotic and he's got his hands on the nuclear football, who cares whether he's neutral or evil? He's still dangerous!

Suddenly all I can hear is President Bruce Campbell saying, "Chaotic Neutral?...Lawful Evil? I'm the one with the football."


Alex@32: Notes for your next Laundry: encryption keys can remain in RAM for 10 mins or more after shutdown and be recovered. The scientists managed to recover them much later, too, but the limiting factor was their supply of liquid nitrogen.

But the 10mins was achieved with a can of compressed air, as typically used to blast Cheeto dust from wingnuts' keyboards. One for Bob to pack with his leatherman and Treo 750.

That's especially encouraging, given this news about the Department of Homeland Security confiscating laptops:


Come election night, everybody in the whole world gets to roll a saving throw ...

DM: OK, roll 6.2 E9 d20. Umm, not good. Now roll 12.4 E9 d6. Oh, too bad.


I tend to think of them more as players than as creatures. Clinton is clearly a munchkin of the rules lawyer subspecies ("I'll argue for whatever interpretation of the rules gives me the most hit dice!"); McCain is a real man; Obama is a real roleplayer.

And I suppose that Paul and Nader are both loonies.


Did someone call for Nader? Too easy...

Ralph Nader (Demon Prince of Independants) (Lesser God.)

FREQUENCY: Very rare
MOVE: 0.0001" (You wish he would just move on, but he doesn't.)
HIT DICE: 2 hit points (But check that AC!)
% IN LAIR: 0%
TREASURE TYPE: A couple of old books
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Takes 1d10 percentage points of the popular vote from the Democratic candidate
SPECIAL ATTACKS: 80% chance of reminding you about his "consumer rights" victories 30 years ago (causing instant sleep and loss of initiative)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +10 or better weapon to hit, and note the AC (again!)- it's hard to get a killer blow on this guy!)
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 80% (0% vs. suggestions that he run again)
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/109,950* (* for actually getting the guy elected)

An ancient "consumer rights" warrior who has had Raise Dead cast on him so many times, and lived so many lives, that he exists in a permanent, magical state of life/death/undeath. This essentially makes him immune to damage of any kind, and it would take a very inventive party indeed to kill him off. Note that no XP is actually gained for killing him -- only for the impossible task of actually getting him elected.


Nah, D&D is for wimps, try making Rolemaster characters!


Excellent choice of rules system for this analysis. Later editions of the D&D franchise lack the expressive power and potential for profound insight.


Apropos @32, @42: there is a simple solution: remember to shut your bloody laptop down!. Do it ten minutes before you head for the airport -- that should do the trick. (NB: I mean really shut down and switch off, as in: power-up and reboot required, not some form of ACPI sleep or hibernate-to-disk.) That ought to give the RAM time to settle.

Yes, it's bloody annoying, but there's an even simpler alternative: don't leave anything on your laptop that you don't want the police to find.

And in the very near future I expect to see a Linux kernel module show up that runs with an init script triggered by entering run level 0 and that unloads all other modules then applies DoD 5220-22-M to every address outside kernel space. Or something like that.

(Shan: I'm going to try and add some line breaks to your last posting to make it more readable ...)


Well, yes. PS, have just switched to OpenSUSE/KDE; much smarter, better acpi support. Have also just this morning finished HALTING STATE (for the second time, of course, but first time in consensus reality), swiftly following on JENNIFER. (KML's EXECUTION CHANNEL is next up; I decided I'd better read some of these people's books)

Were you at all inspired by The Producers?


I wonder what happens if I say "McCain! McCain! McCain!"

%${%&+'${`%&NO CARRIER
51: 14 You forgot

SPECIAL ATTACKS: 1d10+5 chance Birding Gun attack - 1d4 damage, -5 charisma - (you lose your dignity and look the fool)


Charlie: You'd also better make sure to erase the swap space, which will be quite slow (so not something done on every single shutdown). (A good use for one of those runlevels that nobody uses, perhaps?)


McCain's charisma goes down with conservatives, not up. However, he does get a +4 charisma bonus with the media when attacking his own party. Or maybe he plays two characters, one of which is "The Maverick."


Nix: very aggressive garbage collection ought to do for the swap space. It's an interesting problem, but I'd assume the SELinux folks have already looked at it until proven otherwise. Then again, with multi-GB machines, why bother with swap at all? (For basic office use, my Asus Eee with 1Gb of RAM is happy running Firefox, TBird, and OpenOffice without any swap. Still has a few hundred megs free, as well.)


Um... these are second edition stats. You really need to update to 3.5.



re "special relationship": With so many separatist movements in the world, I've always had a contrarian urge to undo a few separations. Why not undo the American Revolution?


46: text input buffer is too small....


Why not undo the American Revolution?

You mean us Colonials are going to have to eat bangers and mash all the time? Oh Noes! * Rolls d20, covering eyes and praying to all the gods that be, in alphabetical order *


Rich, those are first edition stats. I gave up AD&D back in 1983 after playing one form or another for all of my teens. (Yes, the campaign I was in from age I started on Basic D&D then switched to the original rules; we added bits of AD&D as it came out.)

Bruce @58: on the other hand, undoing the American revolution would presumably mean re-merging the UK and USA as they stand today. In which case, you can expect the centre of gravity of politics in the new-old nation to move sharply leftwards.


Don't worry about undoing the American Revolution. The Bushits have already done that with malice aforethought. Go ahead, throw that tea in Boston Harbor. We hates tea anyway. We gots us Faux-TV to broadcast directly into the minds of the empty li'l peckerheads out there in TV viewing land who'd let us steal every dime they have and then thank us because we's the Crusteeyans, praise Jeebus. All your brains are belong to us!

Love, Karl R.


5% chance in his lair is too low for Cheney. He's there more often than not, hanging upside down from the rafters, when he isn't out showing himself to his enemies that is. I wonder if he's got the other Palantir?


I don't see much point in the advice to upgrade to D&D3.5, give that D&D4 is due out any month now. If the premise is "go with the crowd," the crowd will be buying a whole new set of rules books; if you consider sticking with 3.5 a legitimate choice, then surely sticking with 1 is a legitimate choice too.

Though it's kind of academic for me; I've put my gaming resources into the shift from GURPS 3/e to GURPS 4/e. I stuck with 3/e for my recently ended Transhuman Space campaign, rather than convert in midstream, but I'm about to start two new campaigns in 4/e. GURPS is just a better fit to the kind of games I want to run.


@3 - I think it's sad (some might rightfully call it hypocritical) that we refer to the "special relationship" in a positive context when needing their help but turn around and use it in a negative context when we don't. As for the French analogy, let's consider this scenario... what if something truly horrid was happening and at that moment in time the Americans were stretched thin and only in a position to help either the U.K. or France - whom do you think they would help? I have no doubt it would be the U.K. and I'm bloody happy that's the case. Lastly, as far as the French suggesting "the US will shaft us at any opportunity" - well, all I can say is considering the reputation the French themselves have for shafting others, including those who have repeatedly helped them, it is laughable for them, of all people, to say such a thing.


Sadly, I think we should have gone with the French.

But may I just add, as a polite Englishman, that all the time I've spent in your wonderful country with my apparently endearing accent has given me the opportunity to enjoy many, many special relationships with your womenfolk. Not the brightest bunch, but terribly enthusiastic.

Maybe if some of you spent a little less time playing Dungeons and Dragons... oh, never mind.


Can we get a Ron Paul write up also? He hasn't dropped out.


Ron Paul (Demon Prince of Libertarians) (Lesser God.)

FREQUENCY: Very rare NO APPEARING: 1 ARMOUR CLASS: -4 MOVE: 3" HIT DICE: 200 % IN LAIR: 0% TREASURE TYPE: Once encountered no mosters will be able to keep any treasure in their horde unless it is made of gold NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 DAMAGE/ATTACK: None SPECIAL ATTACKS: Makes other candidates appear stupid. SPECIAL DEFENSES: Casts heal on self once per round as a free action(He's a doctor) Automatically cancels all actions that are not mentioned in the very first edition of the very first book of the rules. Casts charm with 100% success on teenagers and any charceter with an INT above 16

MAGIC RESISTANCE: 80% (100% vs. confusion or befuddle)INTELLIGENCE: Genius CHARISMA: 18 (4 to republicans or democrats) ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good SIZE: M LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/1000000* (* for actually getting the guy elected)


Yeah, Charlie U R so right! As I recall Suez was in '51, just a few short years after us imperialist Yanks had liberated France from the Nazis, so naturally they did the smart thing. Maybe you Brits should have declined a 'special relationship' with us even sooner--thereby sparing us all the lives and tax dollars we poured into your continent over the next half-century and yourselves from the shame of living under our 'nuclear umbrella'. What arrogant scum we are. And our ratbag politicians are clearly inferior to avatars of the people like Blair and Brown.

I'm halfway through Iain Banks' latest, and you know, happy as I am to see him return to the Culture novels, I still can't help but feel that his surprisingly slack prose in spots might be improved just a teeny bit if it was being translated from the German. Just think, soon Hitler's Iron Dream will come true and Scotland will become an actual part of France and Germany! Maybe then we filthy Americans can finally go home. And you guys can spend all your time online complaining about us and write scifi novels about our evil corporations in outer space. Oh wait...


MS @63: you don't study realpolitik, do you?

Clark @66: you seem to think electing Ron Paul would be a good thing, right? I'm sure the KGB relics running the Kremlin right now would agree with you.

Apropos @67: I call Bingo! Or maybe Mornington Crescent. (Looks like a lively wiggler, too -- I wonder how long he'll last?)


I seem to remember that in some version of D&D or AD&D the "% IN LAIR" statistic was misprinted as "% LIAR".

I can't find it in my Monster Manual, but I have the Nth printing of them, not any first ones, and D&D is one of the very last versions. (Not the 3rd version. I played mostly 2nd Edition AD&D, nowadays other rpgs.)


MS @63 "if [...] the Americans were stretched thin and only in a position to help either the U.K. or France - whom do you think they would help?"

Ummmm, themselves?

Charlie @48: my formatting looked ok in the preview! Apologies for not getting it right...


Shan @70: exactly!

(No problem with the formatting, honestly.)


It's amusing to see foreigners comment on US campaigns.

Charlie, Obama's campaigns haven't been clean since 2000, when he ran for Congress and was beaten by Bobby Rush, who ran on a platform of "I am blacker than Obama."

That taught Obama a valuable lesson, and ever since, he's gotten tighter and tighter with the powers that be in Illinois politics. It's gotten to the point where Mayor Daley II (who is corrupt as a summer day in St. Petersburg is long) is making phone calls on Obama's behalf. (Obama endorsed Daley the last time Da Mare came up for election, so Daley could hardly not return the favor, I suppose.)

I'll give him this, though: his leaks to the press and smear campaigns are a lot more subtle than Hillary's, and a lot harder to trace back to him.

Maybe that's a point in his favor (his dirty business is done so much better than that of the other candidates!), but it ain't a sign he's clean.


Just posted this to the R&D folder at work. But 1st edition stat blocks, ick. Old school, but ick, heh. :)


As I recall Suez was in '51

You are Daniel Davies sockpuppeting and I claim my prize.


To Nader's stats, add WISDOM = 3.


Can't believe no one's gone for the GWB stats yet.

George W. Bush (Demon Prince of Republicans.) (Lesser God.)

FREQUENCY: Very rare NO APPEARING: 1 ARMOUR CLASS: -7 MOVE: 6" (12" on mountain bike) HIT DICE: 250 hit points (But first you have to defeat 8d8 Secret Service Agents and Laura) % IN LAIR: 20% TREASURE TYPE: Mountains of gold, covered in blood. NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 DAMAGE/ATTACK: Shock and awe effects only, save vs. Rod, Staff, or Propaganda negates. SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon: Confusing speech, 30' cone. (Save negates) SPECIAL DEFENSES: +3 or better weapon to hit, attackers affected by confusing speech drop weapons and mindlessly repeat, "Bold leader. Strong. Decisive." Will also try to bite any suspected Democrats. MAGIC RESISTANCE: 0%. Under influence of Charm Person spell cast by Cheney. INTELLIGENCE: Semi- (4) CHARISMA: 9 (23 to conservatives) ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil SIZE: M LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: X/59,950* (* for impeachment)


JB @76: I'd modify Bush's Move stats to add 1" (in opposite direction) on Segway...


My money is on Sarah Palin, Republican governor of Alaska.

Oh, come on, kids. We're talking Republicans here. It's gonna be a white male millionaire. Also, given Huckabee's staying power, and Obama's appeal to that demographic, it'll have to be a fundamentalist.

I'd bet on Gary Bauer.


Charlie: Swap space is a solved problem, as is disk encryption in general. You just encrypt your swap space with a new random number selected every time you boot. Decent OS's have been able to do this for years, many even with a simple install option. As soon as memory is wiped, the key is lost, never to be known again.

As for the memory persistence issue, well, that's something that can only be solved in hardware.

What you can do in principle (though as far as I know, no OS implements this properly) is to implement secure hibernate-to-disk. Hibernate to disk basically works by saving your memory state to disk (in Linux, to swap). If your disk is encrypted, your hibernate state had better be, too. Now, assuming memory was cleared at shutdown, at boot the OS must ask you for a password before it can grok the data in the hibernate file and put itself back together.

Sleep to RAM or "stolen laptop" on the other hand, can only be solved in hardware. The actual solution would have to be an encrypting memory controller that scrambles RAM automatically, though again nothing like that exists (or is likely to exist soon, as it would slow things down quite a bit, not to mention that governments tend to be fanatically opposed to real security).

Of course, I rather think the hubbub about memory persistence is pretty funny. People are decrying a theoretical exploit against highly secure laptops, in a world where giant raving hordes of slobbering zombie Win-toys run rampant over the internet, attacking millions of computers per second without their owners even having a clue, and where pretty much any "secure" installation can be penetrated by a man in a pest control uniform and a flash drive.

Seriously, if you want security and have any reason to even consider a "virus scanner," you've already lost. The general thought on computer security these days is that every system will be inevitably rooted, 0wned, and join the raving hordes within minutes, and there's nothing anyone can do but run a few virus tools to try to keep their system basically functional at a minimal level. Data security? If you have ever had a virus, even once, the black hats have all your data and own you utterly.


Actually, I suppose I was a little pessimistic there. Not about the state of computer security -- about sleep-to-ram.

In principle, the ACPI sleep / sleep to ram problem can be solved in more or less the same way as the sleep to disk. When you ask the computer to sleep itself (eg. by closing the lid and pressing the lid closed button), the OS could encrypt all of core memory with your password hash, except for a tiny little mini-kernel which does nothing but power up a few devices (eg. the keyboard and screen) and ask you for the password. When it gets the right one, it can decrypt core memory and reactivate the real OS.

But, of course, no OS does this yet. And considering the horrific state of ACPI in hardware (or for that matter, the amazing sloppiness of things like "lock screen" implementations), I wouldn't hold my breath... the "mini kernel" probably wouldn't be so mini.


ACPI: is there any conceivable reason why it should be so difficult to make things like increment or decrement screen brightness standard? GAAAARRGH! There are only two options for Christ's sake; UP and DOWN.


Didn`t Upper Volta change name to Burkina Faso some ages ago? I reckon

I reckon McCain reminds me of a nosferatu in desperate need of a blood transfusion.

With regards to the liberation of France, 67: at least the french and british had the balls to declare war on Germany, even though the campaign itself wasnt terribly succesfully conducted by the french (apart from Narvik). Last I looked, USA entered the war after being attacked by Japan, and then declared war upon by Germany. Seems the liberation of France was a fairly self-serving act?


Sorry, can't provide D&D version at the moment :) , but off my site

you can download and play the candidates in a boxing match. Punch the hell out of any of them. It's free


@67: I think the missing ingredient you need to fully appreciate IMB's novels is called a sense of humour.


For Ron Paul you need to add something like:

Secret Libertarian - special attacks on all Federal Programs except Defense. +2 attacks on IRS, +1 attack on Medicare, Social Security, Energy Dept and Science Research.


With regard to Britain and France.

You've had a few too many. A good friend of yours says, "I'll ride along with you, and try to nudge your wheel enough to keep you out of trouble." A vaguely friendly acquaintance tries to take your keys.

Who's better for you?


@86: what are you trying to ask? I don't follow.


He's saying that the US is the drunk driver (driving all the way to Iraq) and that the UK is the enabler while France would have been more likely to practise 'tough love' and take the US' keys.

Which is a reasonably decent metaphor,up to a point. But I don't think the Machiavellian doings of the great powers can be fully captured by such a metaphor.


In fact, further reflection on the matter spurs me to view that metaphor as a pretty bloody awful one. . .


The real enemy is the almost 6 billion people (Pakistan, India, China) that are just east of Iran and Afghanistan. Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan become a blocking corridor to Europe and Israel. I mean seriously, what do you think will happen if a real famine hits that area?

As far as the canidates go, excellent job on doing a D&D cutover. I played the original back in 74 with my friends in school then. We had some great times and MMO's nowadays can't hold a candle to real people sitting around a table having fun in a dungeon hack. :)


Mike: your maths is a bit wonky. Even 3 billion is on the high side for the population of Pakistan, India, and China. And if a real famine hits the area? They'll do what they've always done. Hint: looting your neighbour's granaries to deal with a local shortage went out with the industrial revolution.


Hillary Clinton's move should be smaller than Obama's or McCain's. Shorter legs and heels.

Her attack is also a 100% chance of 'keeping all options open' on Iran and a 50% chance of attacking.


I'm a Democrat, but you'd have to put McCain's charisma higher than Hillary's. Polling shows that even though Democrats hate McCain's policies, many are actually willing to vote for him. Remember, we love our borderline-senile old white men, they remind us of Reagan. I think we really want a completely deranged leader, but the media guilt-trips us when he's young, virile and insane. With a white geezer, there's the respect factor, so we can get the dementia we're looking for while the media perceives gravitas.

Luke Jackson


I�m still waiting for the attack on Iran you predicted for the 2006 midterm elections. Oh well.


Lol. What you have to remember when making blanket statements about the US is that Bush actually represents the (by far) minority of Americans. More people actually voted against him than for him.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 10, 2008 12:43 PM.

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