Lay 1-4 Staking Plan - The Staking Machine

My best friend is “That Guy”!

In the 20 years I’ve been playing, I’m fortunate to have very few horror experiences. I guess thats because for the majority of that time, I’ve been lucky to have had gm’d for the same group. As time goes by people get married, get jobs, move, schedule conflicts, and basically life arises and this group eventually moved to gaming from twice a week to once to once a month and eventually not at all.
I mentioned in my previous story a sorcerer. The player of the sorcerer and i are still best friends, despite it being close to 15 years since that story happened. A about two years ago i moved in with him and one day he told me he wanted to run a mutants and masterminds adventure based on the SCP stories. I thought that sounded awesome. For those of you who don’t know, SCP is an online collection of stories about a fictional organization that tracks down and contains monsters and artifacts, locking them away and studying them and Mutants and masterminds is a superhero rpg. So in my head I’m picturing a cross between the company from heroes meets Cthulhu meets Spider-Man! He invites one of his friends from college who we will call “mark, and i invite one of my old players who we will call Kevin. Then of course there’s the GM, who I’ll call Steven and myself. On game day, Kevin can’t make it, but we forge ahead anyway. After making characters the three of us play through about half a session before Steven wraps it up for the night saying he needs time to “think about what will happen next.” We had only been playing for 2 1/2 hours, counting character creation. He told me later he hadn’t even come up with the monster yet despite it being his idea and he set up the date for playing, and wasn’t working at the time. A week later he calls the campaign because he just can’t figure out anything to do with it and its cutting into his time playing video games.
This could have been the end. This should have been the end, but it wasn’t. I had played again and I liked it. We had 4 people who were committing to a regular game, whose schedules all lined up, and I wanted to run. I talk with Steven and let him know that i want to run a campaign. Ive already spoken with Kevin and mark and even got a hold of one of my other players who i will call Vince to join in a Star Wars group, and invited Steven to join. I told him the idea was that it would be fireflyesq. An episodic adventure of a crew who were an ensemble cast, sort of speak, just trying to get along. Doing missions to keep their ship up and running and get some money on the side. Those who were on the outskirts of the law and society, who could be a. Bounty hunter one week and a smuggler the next. Making friends and enemies in every port along the way.
“I want to be the pilot.” Were his first words. I’m cool with that. No one else had chosen any roles on the ship yet, he was the first person who I spoke to about what the plot would be, and we’re typically first come first serve when it comes to characters. Besides, it would all be figured out in session zero. If anyone had any problems with a that they could talk it out then. I nodded and gave the ok. “And I want to own the ship.” well, i thought. The ship has to belong to someone.
But still. “I don’t know....” I began. Him cutting me off
“If I’m piloting it might as well be my ship.”
“Fair enough.” I shrugged, not really seeing the harm that could do. Its not as if everyone wouldn’t have a stake in the ship and missions based around each character anyway.
“And i want to be a member of the rebellion.”
“You did catch that I wasn’t going to make the rebellion and empire a big thing. I mean, they would give you an occasional mission or sometimes you may have to outrun one of their ships, but that was about it.”
“I wan’t to be in the rebellion or I’m not going to play.” That wasn’t the full threat and I knew it. From his tone he wouldn’t just not play, but he would whine and be as obnoxious as he could during game time to make it hard for the players.
I sigh. I could make this work. Sure, he could be an undercover operative. That could be pretty fun. I’ve done that myself. Occasionally he would get jobs that would secretly help the rebellion cause. And then the group could start to figure it out, making it a mystery. What is in the thing they are smuggling, or whose the person they are hunting for a bounty, until they eventually figure out they are working for the rebellion. Yeah, that could be a fun thing behind the scenes. “Okay,” I begin. “But just a warning not everyone on the ship will be working for the rebellion.” About to lay out this idea for him, when he cuts me off.
“If they aren’t rebellion I wouldn’t let them on my ship.”
I blink. I had told him point blank that I didn’t want to run a rebellion/empire war campaign. That I didn’t want it to be a central point besides for background. “What?” I asked disbelieving. “You did catch what i said, right?”
“Yeah, but if I’m the pilot AND its my ship, then I wouldn’t let anyone onboard who wasn’t a member of the rebellion. We would be doing rebellion work and jobs.”
I sighed again. For the sake of my friendship and the peace in my home, I agreed. Making a retreat to my room before he could dictate the game to me further. In my room I start thinking. ‘Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. I hadn’t told anyone else what i was planning on with the story besides for a Star Wars campaign. I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate as a gm, so I was planning on using published adventures and adventure hooks from the fantasy flight games twitter, and I could still do that. I would just have to use some age of rebellion books instead of edge of the empire. Really, its not what i was planning on running, but i could still make it work. If this was the last of it, I wouldn’t be writing this story.
Skip forward a few days to character creation/first session. I had picked up an introductory module for age of rebellion and familiarized myself with it. Steve, just as he had promised had made a pilot. It was a very well rounded character, having a little of every ability but only real focus is piloting. A good support character and honestly i was pretty happy with it. Mark had made a sniper specializing in heavy two handed ranged weaponry. Kevin made an infiltrator talker character, and Vince made an engineer droid who could only talk in imperial propaganda as he had originally been a rebel spy. Anytime anyone starts talking about their character, Steve chimes in. Someone has electronics. So does Steve. Someone has mechanics? So does Steve. Someone had medicine? Steve doesn’t, but thats okay cuz Steve is “da biggest and bestest pilot in the galaxy.” Something we heard several times during creation.
The module begins with the group going to a rebel base under assault! Steve refuses to allow anyone to help him pilot despite the fact his ship was made for 2 pilots, because “I’m the pilot, so I’m the only one who should. Besides, I’m da biggest and bestest pilot in the rebellion, so i don’t need your help!” They’re being pursued by tie fighters AND have to fly through a cavern with long hanging stalactites and stalagmites while under fire, plus at a penalty with out a copilot. One of the players says they can at least use the turret and Steve tries to shoot it down, saying “this is my ship and no one will do anything in it but me!” I step in and bring up that Mark had gunnery skill, and kevin could help pilot the ship, and Vince could be repairing the ship during this. “No! This is my ship and the only thing I’m good at!” We all roll our eyes.
By some miracle he brings the ship in close enough to the base for its guns to shoot off the tie fighters, but the ship is messed up, and Steven is mad. Muttering angrily under his breath mad.
In the next phase of the adventure there is an ATAT making its way down a canyon right to the base, its supported with 4 at-st’s and something like 50-100 storm troopers. In the canyon there is a walkway carved that has explosives planted on it and an electronics check is needed to cause them to go boom. The droid has the bet electronics so he volunteers, playing a clip of “for the empire!” There are blaster canons along the cliff edge that can be used with a gunnery check to slow down the walkers. Marks character who had gunnery volunteers to use one. There are hidden entry ways allowing for combat with the troops in the canyon, the Kevin volunteers thinking he can use his cloaking shield and claws to take down troopers quietly, and speeders that can be piloted to help slow the walkers and provide cover for the cannons. Everyone turns to Steve is again, the ‘biggest and bestest pilot in the galaxy!’ Steve says “what’s the point? The OP will just try to screw me over like he did on the way in here! He obviously has it out for me!”
I wanted to explode, but thankfully the rest of the group had my back. They reminded him how he refused to let them do anything. He didn’t let the gunner shoot, he dind’t let the copilot copilot, he didn’t let the mechanic fix, and instead they had to watch him do everything. He sighed and dropped the point, still shooting daggers at me and tried to figure out where best to go. He was reminded once again about the speeders, but just shook his head and muttered something about me. “I could do the explosives. I have one rank in computer.” The droid had 3. “I could use the turret. I have one rank in gunnery.” The Gunnar had 3. He began to argue with everyone that because he had a 1 rank in something, he obviously was the best choice for everything. I can shoot! I can use computers! I can do this, so i should do this and you should do something else. The rest of the group had had enough at this point and were arguing back. Finally, after some test roles were done and they compared the size of their cocks, i mean dice pools, he agreed to fire a blaster pistol from the canyon face.
The battle itself isn’t important. The droid made the booms go boom, the group slowed down the enemies enough for him to reach the explosives, and the party won. The only noteworthy point was that that gunners canon took a hit which gave him a critical injury when it exploded. In the ffg games a critical you roll a D% and the higher you roll the worse it is. If you roll a 140 you’re dead. Each critical compounding adding +10 to the check until it’s healed. He rolled and his arm was paralyzed. That was where i called that session.
Afterward, i spoke with Steve and let him know that it wasn’t just his story. This was a group campaign, and that everyone can do something, and even if it isn’t him, he can still cheer them on or offer his help. He said yeah, he knew and he would do better next session. I let it slide. He and I had spoke, he seemed to know what he had done was wrong. The party had stood up for themselves as well, and he apologized. I thought it would get better. Then the next session happened.
In between sessions i had made a new character for Mark to take over since his was badly injured. I had made another heavy weapons expert, so the party didn’t lose that damage, with some medical capability, that being something the party was missing. When we begin, and people are taking out their character sheets, I inform everyone that the good part about being in an army like they were is that when someone is injured or killed, there can be someone new assigned to the unit. I take out the character i had made Mark and said if he wanted to he could play this, or he could make up a new character and bring that one in instead until his gunner was healed. Steven has a fit.
“You can’t just bring in a new character!”
“Why not?” I ask in a calm voice. I am very proud that i stayed in a calm, reasonable voice for this entire fight.
“Because you just can’t!”
“Yes, yes Mark can if he chooses to.”
“How are you gonna explain it in game? It doesn’t make any sense?”
“I’m pretty sure i just did. They are someone new assigned to your unit.”
“But where are they gonna come from?”
“The rebellion, of course.”
“But what about party cohesion?”
“You’re in the army. Your cohesion is whoever youre ordered to be with. Besides, its not permenant. And this character fills a void your were missing. He’s not only a heavy weapon specialist like Marks old character, but also a medic.” I say with a smile handing the sheet over to Mark. “Again that is if you choose to use him. Like i said, you can build a new..”
“The rebellion won’t fix him up! He’s just some random soldier!” I can almost hear him saying “he’s not my awesome, bestest pilot in the galaxy.”
Looking back at Steven, “why not. The rebellion has an entire medical frigate. And he’ll get a baseline prosthetic arms, not anything special that will give him bonuses, that is if the bacta doesn’t take care of it.”
This fight went on for nearly 5 minutes with poor Mark caught in the middle. Finally Steven plays his trump card.
“If i was injured, i wouldn’t want to bring in a new character or be healed. I’d want to play through it!”
Mark sighed. “Its okay, I’ll stick with my Gunner.” Looking dejected he handed me back the sheet. He had actually been excited about the medic, eyes lighting up looking over, pointing out interesting things it could do. Steve looked triumphant.
“Are you sure? You don’t need to let Steven dictate your character. You are a two handed specialist who lost a hand. The weapons you could use you don’t have any ranks in, plus you have a penalty from the injury, and if you take a crit it’s guaranteed to be worse. On top of that, your armor is ruined from the explosion so you’re defenseless. This isn’t Stevens decision to make, its not his character, its yours.”
“Yeah, i guess I’m sure.” With Mark having made his decision there was nothing else i could do.
“Okay.” Sigh. “I guess you can go to the quartermaster and get a new set of armor and a blaster pistol so you can have a weapon.”
“No he can’t! We don’t have time!” Again Steve butts in.
“I guess i won’t.” Mark says, giving in. I let Mark know he could but he shakes his head no and asks to move on.
In the next section of the adventure its revealed there is a traitor and its up to the party to figure out who it is. The group narrows down its list of suspects, and split. Half the group goes to do background research and half go to interrogate the first suspect. Steve decides to take mark with him and talk to the suspect because he has a rank in intimidation so he can do it.
“But i have more ranks in intimidate and persuasion and a higher presence...” Kevin began, being a talking specialist at that.
“Its okay, i have 1 rank, and I want to do it and ill do it better.”
“Okay,” said Kevin, just done with it.
“I’d rather go with and help with research. I’m pretty hurt...” Mark began
“I’m about to confront a traitor. You’re the only other fighter here and i want some protection.” Kevin and i scoffed, remembering that close quarters combat was a speciality of Kevin’s.
I stuck with the droid and kevins character, letting them know what they found could be fed to the interrogators and help them with their checks. A few checks in and i hear
“I want to interrogate the suspect!” Steven announces loudly, speaking over me while i was in the middle of letting them know what they found.
“Okay, hold on just one second, let me finish with them.”
“No! I want to interrogate him.”
“I got that, but I’m with the other party and...”
“They can wait until after i talk to him. what they’re doing doesn’t matter anyway.”
Vince says “just do it. You can come back to us.” Giving me a long suffering look that only a big brother can (note, hes not my big brother, but he is Kevin’s).
“Okay” i say, turning my attention to Steven. “What’s the plan.”
“Me and kevin are going to interrogate the first suspect. I want to do it!”
Steven starts questioning, and rolls a success, but a despair. A despair is a crit bad thing in the ffg games. The man realizing that he had been found pulls out his blaster and shoots Steven in the face with a stun bolt, knocking him out. “But thats not fair! I have one rank in intimidation!”
“Yes,” responded Vince. “And hes a trained imperial spy who realized his cover was blown and protected himself. Maybe next time let the person who specialized in talking do the talking, or let the researchers finish the research because we had just found that out and could have warned you!”
Mark goes down next, the guy who didn’t want to be there, and was forced to by Steve, goes down. Since he already had a critical injury, he takes another one. This time he loses his entire arm, and the spy escapes. I ask Mark if he wants to bring in a new character, because this is the time i could. “Someone could have seen what happened and come along,” i reason, pulling out the backup character i had made.
“No he doesn’t!”
Mark rolled his eyes and shook his head. The group tracks down the villain, and the guy who is a two handed ranged weapon specialist is forced to fight the martial artist with one arm, no armor, and no weapon already injured. He goes down in the first round, and get a new critical injury, now permenantly paralyzed from the waist down. And before the villain is taken out, the Steve, who was so proud of his 1 rank in ranged light crit misses, hitting mark and giving him one last injury, causing permanent brain damage. After they won the fight, Steve said he needed a break. I stayed behind and spoke with Steve while everyone left.
“I really messed up tonight.”
“Yeah.”
“I’m ashamed of how i behaved in this game so far.”
“Your should be.”
“It’s because of me Mark needs a new character, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.”
“I’m gonna stay out the rest of the night.”
“That’s probably a good idea. I’ll tell the guys youre not feeling well.”
“Thanks.”
We finished that nights session without Steven, and in the next week he texted a personal apology to every player. Despite all of us agreeing to give him another chance, he didn’t play the next week either. That was the last session as life once again reared its ugly head. To me he didn’t just apologize for the railroading, for pushing around the other players, but also for forcing me to run a game that i didn’t want to run. That surprised me, i thought he had forgotten that.
Though we’re no longer roommates, Steven is still one of my best friends. We speak at least once a week. He is one of the most generous and caring people i know. He is the kind of man who will give you the shirt off of his back and ask if you’re okay while doing it. He loves to tell stories and wants to help make the world a better place, even if he doesn’t know how to. He will talk about video games and anime and cars for hours, and will help you move, even if you moved the weekend before. And i mean lifting the heavy stuff too. I put this here because its easy to judge someone based on their worse times, but with him those moments are fleeting. This is who is normally is.
TLDR: player railroads the gm into playing a game he didn’t want to play, forces himself into every role, and then browbeats the other players until it kills their character.
Edit. I’ve been asked a lot why I allowed him to do so much. While when he started in game i spoke to him when the events occurred, let him know he was over stepping boundaries, stealing the spotlight, and called him out on his various actions, and spoke with him after the session to remind him this was a team game, I want to explain why I allowed him so much freedom when it came to dictating terms of the game beforehand. Something I didn’t mention was that I was going through a divorce and he had allowed me to move in with him. I didn’t want to lose my home and become homeless again because of a game.
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Horse Racing Tips - How To Lay Favourites And Make A Profit Every Single Day

For all of you that are reading this that do not know what "Laying" is, it is simply YOU predicting 1 horse in any race that will NOT win that race. In effect YOU become a bookmaker and take bets from people who think that the horse WILL win.
I do not know if you have your own system or you use horse racing tips from a tipster, but this a very simple horse racing system anybody can use.
It is not complicated at all and it is simply pressing 1 button on Betfair exactly the same as you would if placing a win single bet {Pink lay button instead of the blue win button}
Some people will tell you that laying horses is a sure fire way to end up in the "poor house" and they would be dead right if you don't do it properly and this goes for ANY bet you have, not just laying.
Say for example we have a 12 runner horse race and you wanted to bet 1 of these to win that race, you will then have ALL the other 11 horses running AGAINST you and are trying to stop your 1 selection from winning.
Now on the other hand we have a 12 runner horse race and we pick 1 horse to LOSE {lay} we now have ALL the other 11 horses running FOR US and if any of those 11 horses win that race WE WIN!!
Some tipster give these kind of horse racing tips and I can assure that if done properly it can make you quite a lot of money!
So the odds are WITH you and not AGAINST you when laying.
The only problem with laying horses to lose is with YOU and the way you select them. You would imagine that "Laying" the outsider in all races would certainly stand you in good stead as the majority of them lose and you would win the majority of the time BUT unfortunately if you take that course you WILL come unstuck at some point and you WOULD wipe out any previous profits plus more from your original betting banks, as they do win now and again.
Lets just imagine that the outsider in every race was 33/1 and you wanted just £10 profit per race, to win that £10 you would have a liability of £330, meaning that if that horse were to win YOU would LOSE £330, just not worth the risk!! You would only need 1 per week to wipe you out.
==The "Favourite"==
Some of you probably think that I am a bit mad at this point, why would I lay the best horse in every race... what kind of horse racing tips is this??
Well, simply put the BEST horse in any race may NOT really be the best horse! The favourite in ANY race is only the favourite because WE make it the favourite by placing lots of money on it, it's as simple as that.
So if 1,000 people who DON'T know what they are doing place £1000 each on the same horse then it could become the favourite even though its last run was down on Blackpool pleasure beach!
What we are going to do is to find "false" favourites, favourites that because of one reason or another shouldn't really be favourite.
Statistics show that favourite win their races just 30% of the time, some races are GOOD for favourite and some races are BAD for favourites.
Would you bet a 6/4 favourite in an 18 runner handicap race? I certainly would not BUT I would lay it, with the other 17 runners ALL running for me.... these is common sense horse racing tips!
Your liabilities are also good with you only risking £15 if the odds were 6/4 {2.5 on Betfair} to win £10, I'm sure you would agree that this is a lot better than the example above where you risk a LOT more for the same reward.
You may now see why "Laying" can be quite safe and very profitable.
==The Selections==
This part really is very simple and it will not take you long to find quite a few "False Favourites" Just follow the rules over the page.
1: Armed with either your daily newspaper or at the racing post website {Or Both} simply select the races with the most number of runners in them.
2: Ideally, you should look for handicap races which have 16 runners or more.
3: If you can find any, Apprentice races and women jockey races are very good for laying the favourite.
4: Once you have these marked off , simply go through them and pick all the "Handicap" races. These are the races that are best to concentrate on.
5: Pick out any handicap races that have odds for the favourite quoted as no more than 7/4.
6: The above horses would be DEFINATE bets, don't worry if there aren't any on certain days, simply go to any race that has 16 runners or more.
7: Some days you may find that there are no 16 runner or above races, if this happens simply look for 14 runners etc.
8: If the odds are 2.8 and lower, then these are DEFINATE bets.
9: Do NOT lay selections that are below 1.9 on betfair, although a fair few of these lose, a fair few of them win as well and that we DON'T want.
When sticking to the above you will have great success when laying horses, when also using a sensible staking plan BUT if you add the following few rules to the above then you will achieve even more success.
So here is my personal horse racing tips:
1: After making your selections, either at the racing post website or any daily newspaper, just check to see if your horse is a "Course & Distance" winner {Shown as CD NEXT TO THE HORSE}. If it is then DON'T lay it.
2: Is your selection carrying any more or less weight than it did in its last race? If it is carrying more weight then LAY it, if it is carrying less weight then do NOT lay it.
4: Is your selection stepping up or stepping down in trip? if so then you SHOULD consider laying it.
5: Has your selection either a lady or apprentice jockey riding it? If so then LAY it because they DO make errors of judgement.
Apart from the above to make this work you will also need a sensible staking plan, one that will keep your money relatively safe and make your whole betting experience an enjoyable one.
I use something quite simple and recommend you do it this way as well but you are obviously at liberty to do whatever you like.
I will take a £1,000 betting bank as an example:
Divide your betting bank by 200, so in this example it is £5. So a profit target on day 1 of £5 per race. I know exactly what you are thinking at this point..."Not quite as much as I was hoping for!!!"
Well, admittedly its not a lot but if you are aiming for say 8 such races per day, then £40 is not to be sniffed at, and remember this is only day 1, from day 2 your profit target may well be £6 per race. Trust me on this one, it doesn't take too long to get your betting banks built up enough so that you are aiming for £25, £50 or even £100 per race.
To put it all into perspective let us say that you achieve an easy 5 winning bets per day, that's an overall percentage profit of 2.5% DAILY or nearly 18% total weekly profit added to your betting banks or to give it a monetary value NEARLY £1000 profit in the first 4 weeks.
Take it to week 8 and your betting bank has now grown to £3800 and from there on in you will be aiming for a race profit of £20, or £100 per day @ 5 winning races per day.
As long as you look at any of your gambling activities as a long term BUSINESS venture, then you will achieve much more than if you look at it as a quick source of income to help out with any financial difficulties that you may have.
==Golden Rules ( The Real Horse Racing Tips! )==
1: After making your selections, either at the racing post website or any daily newspaper, just check to see if your horse is a "Course & Distance" winner {Shown as CD NEXT TO THE HORSE}. If it is then DON'T lay it.
2: Is your selection carrying any more or less weight than it did in its last race? If it is carrying more weight then LAY it, if it is carrying less weight then do NOT lay it.
4: Is your selection stepping up or stepping down in trip? if so then you SHOULD consider laying it.
5: Has your selection either a lady or apprentice jockey riding it? If so then LAY it because they DO make errors of judgement.
Apart from the above to make this work you will also need a sensible staking plan, one that will keep your money relatively safe and make your whole betting experience an enjoyable one.
I use something quite simple and recommend you do it this way as well but you are obviously at liberty to do whatever you like.
submitted by MediumEmployer to Paulickinfo [link] [comments]

A Lengthy, Comprehensive Analysis of “The Last of Us: Part II”’s Controversy, Responding to Prominent Criticisms, and Discussing Criticisms of My Own

About a month ago, I wrote a post to provide some clarity regarding the leak Naughty Dog sprung about a month ago. In it, I addressed some of the criticisms that were being levied at the time without unveiling any of the spoiled material, that way my curious spoiler-virgins would go unsullied until release day. There, I explained why all the major criticisms at the time weren't (and still aren't) warranted. Toward the end of the post, I noted that the outrage was not only political, but also emotional. I correctly predicted that there would be some spoiler-virgins that would not be pleased with the game's controversial narrative direction. I wish I'd been taking bets because not only was I right, I was right to an extent I never imagined. The response to this game has been chaotic, to say the least. This post will explore this phenomenon, directly respond to the most prominent criticisms and those who make them, and address my own criticisms of the game (as well as how I believe those flaws can be fixed).

Part 1: The Chaotic Controversy

I need to lay my cards on the table: I thought this was a fantastic game. Having purposefully indulged in the leaks back in April, I knew about every major death/plot twist before it happened, and I approached the story with an open mind. While I thought TLOU was a great game, TLOU2 blew me away with its darker, more complicated themes, the tiny details that collectively enrich the game's themes of gray morality, superb character interactions, the gosh diddly darn adorable relationship between Ellie and Dina, the endearing big sister-little siblings dynamic between Abby and Yara/Lev, and the excellently crafted set pieces that made each part of the game unique. I also loved the new gameplay mechanics that made stealth satisfying, such as crafting silencers for the pistol or taking cover in tall grass/ferns. It irks me to no end that such an obviously great game has received so much undeserved abuse. Can it be criticized? Of course it can. There's always room for criticism, but I think this is downright pathetic.
It should be noted that this avalanche of negative reception is not coming from a single body of grievances. It is, in fact, coming from up to at least three different factions. Sometimes there is crossover between factions, but a member of one faction should not be immediately assumed to belong to another.
Faction 1: "Get Woke, Go Broke!"- The Reactionaries
Not every person who dislikes/criticizes TLOU2 is a homophobe/transphobe/racist/misogynist. Make no mistake, though: there is a significant portion of "h8ers" that most certainly are angry at this game solely for its unapologetic progressivism. These are The Reactionaries. The anti-SJWs.The anti-feminists. The "YouTube skeptics". The traditionalists. Whatever you want to call them. Back in 2018, TLOU2 took E3 by storm with not only a gameplay trailer but also a front-and-center kiss between Ellie and Dina, marking a historic moment for LGBT inclusion in video games. While the explicit romance did receive some negative feedback from The Reactionaries1, the worst was yet to come. Fast forward to April of 2020. Naughty Dog sprung a devastating leak that revealed every card TLOU2 had up its sleeve. Controversy ensued, particularly around a new character named Abby, who was presumed to be male-to-female transgender due to her masculine features and silhouette. A contemptuous amount of abusive anti-transgender slurs and jokes were subsequently forwarded against Abby on places like 4chan, Reddit, and even YouTube. These assumptions ended up being bullshit, but that didn’t stop TLOU2 from solely representing itself. No, April 2020 was the moment this game became more than itself; it became a symbol for progressivism in high-profile video games–a perceived weapon in a culture war. If you think these people and their audiences only make up a small portion of this outrage mob, think again:
1Name: "Naughty Dog's SJW Agenda in Gaming Exposed"
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Views: 160,000+

Name: “Last of Us Part 2 Ending Leaks Reveal Progressive Agenda”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 70,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Influenced by SJW Anita Sarkeesian”
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Name: “Last of Us 2 Spoiler Talk, This Gets Really Woke!”
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Views: 65,000+

Name: “LGBT Activists: The Last of Us 2 Needs MORE WOKE Representation!”
Uploaded by: Lauren Chen (Roaming Millennial)
Views: 30,000+

Name: “The Last of Us Part 2 LEAKS ONLINE | Another Franchise Falls To SJW Pandering”
Uploaded by: Geeks + Gamers
Views: 180,000+
Sometimes it seems like TLOU2 goes out of its way to stick it to these people, what with its female-driven narrative, unapologetic pro-LGBT stance, and racial diversity. It should be said that TLOU2’s progressivism is a neutral element in terms of how it contributes to the story’s quality, and the game should be neither defended or criticized solely on these grounds. It is, however, a heartening sign that these people’s neanderthalic values are dying out. Stay mad, you slobbering troglodytes.
To close this section, it is undeniable that this specific contention with TLOU2 is not in the minority of the overall controversy surrounding the game. If you are not a fan of this game for unrelated reasons, I’m afraid it is a fact of life that you are going to have to perpetually disavow and distance yourself from these people when you criticize the game. Some of The Reactionaries are wise enough to realize that “it’s bad because it’s woke” is a flimsy criticism, so they will cling to any other criticism that simultaneously grants them credibility and tears the game down, no matter how unwarranted or slanderous that criticism is. They are disguising themselves as one of you. If you are arguing about this game with someone, do not get mad at your interlocutor when they have to verify that your criticism doesn’t come from a place of bigotry, and stop pretending everyone is eager to use bigotry as a scapegoat that dismisses good-faith criticism.
Faction 2: “Neil Disrespected the Fans!” - The Entitled Fan
The Entitled Fan thinks TLOU2 is a poorly-written game simply because they did not like the themes it explores or the narrative direction it takes. Whatever it was they wanted, TLOU2 didn’t do it, so that means the game had bad writing!
Faction 2, on the surface, is similar to another group of people I dub “The Disappointed Fan”, but there’s a key difference that separates the two: whether or not they think the game was poorly written, and if they do think the game was poorly written, why they think the game was poorly written. The Disappointed Fan is not its own faction because they can fall into either Faction 3 (which I will discuss next) or Faction 2. When The Disappointed Fan falls into Faction 2, that is when they evolve into The Entitled Fan.
Before we proceed with my addressal of this faction, let me make something really clear: if you didn’t like the game because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, this section doesn’t apply to you unless you think the game was poorly written because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Got that? This isn’t me calling you entitled just because the game disappointed you. With that said, let’s move on.
Never go into a piece of media with expectations.
Judging by a lot of the discourse I’ve seen regarding this game, many people were expecting to simply get more of what TLOU was, this time with prettier graphics. As such, I’ve seen several posts, videos, comments, etc. that keep comparing TLOU2 to TLOU, then criticizing it for not containing a certain element that was in TLOU.
“TLOU Ellie was funny, but now she’s not.”
“TLOU was about a blossoming father-daughter relationship, but TLOU2 shits all over that.”
“TLOU had Ellie’s immunity as a source of hope. TLOU2 is just nihilistic and depressing.”
“TLOU didn’t throw a character I don’t like at me and force me to play as her.”
Stop. Stop judging this game for what it’s not. Judge this game for what it set out to do and how well it did so.
So what did this game set out to do? TLOU2 sought to be a dark tragedy surrounding the true toll of violence on the end of the perpetrator and the recipient. It’s a tale showing how a tragedy blackened our plucky heroine into a beast aching for destruction which, in the end, only resulted in more tragedy. It’s a tale that explores how the heroes in our eyes may be the villains in the eyes of another and vice versa. Hot dog did it depict these themes with brutal proficiency. Whether or not you personally like these themes or the writer’s decision to explore them is irrelevant to the story’s artistic quality. To act otherwise is beyond annoying; it’s childish and entitled. Yeah, I said it. I think it’s outrageously entitled for someone to lash out at a writer for not writing a story the way they wanted it to be written.
I think TLOU2, for its depressing themes/atmosphere, is of a specific, bitter taste many may not find appetizing. That's fine. Personally, I get a thrill out of stories that take the Shakespearean tragedy angle because stories that give its protagonist(s) an undeservedly tragic ending are rare and particularly gutsy. I think this direction, on top of being unique, is fascinating... and most of all, especially fitting for a world like TLOU. Let me ask you something: did you honestly think this game was going to give Ellie or Joel a happy ending? TLOU has always been a grim series about the loss of everything people held dear. Their homes. Their security. Their family. Their friends. Their own lives. Those who are calling TLOU2 "ToNaLlY iNcOnSiStEnT" must've missed how TLOU depicted this inescapable aspect of this hellscape: it sucks for everyone, and nobody is safe! If TLOU2 never had the guts to pull off what it pulled off, the series as a whole would've wound up bankrupt of stakes and suspense. Who the hell’s going to care about an action scene if we knew the author couldn't scrounge up the temerity to disrobe the main characters of their plot-armor?
If you were disappointed that the game did not meet your expectations... I'm sorry. I genuinely am. It sucks when something you've been looking forward to ends up being different from what you were expecting. This is why I said what I said near the beginning of this section: never go into a piece of media with expectations. Chances are, they won't be fulfilled. Not only will expectations leave you disappointed, they'll also close you off to something you may have otherwise appreciated.
Unfortunately, many fans were already too emotionally attached to Ellie and Joel to possibly consider the idea that they're villains in another perspective (especially the latter). The game wasn’t even asking the players to like Abby and co. over Team Jackson; it just wanted you to at least acknowledge that Abby’s course of action was sympathetic in her perspective. There's nothing inherently bad about being emotionally attached to a character, but Jesus Christ is it frustrating when that emotional attachment makes people unreceptive to an unconventional narrative direction.
Naughty Dog decided to take a controversial, but fitting, route with the next chapter of TLOU, and whether some people like it or not, they did an outstanding job. No, the professional critics were not bribed by Sony. No, the defenders are not deliriously fooling themselves into liking the game because they spent years emotionally invested in the project. No, the defenders are not SJWs who “secretly know the game sucks but are defending it because it advances their political agenda”. We've simply looked beyond our emotional biases and saw this game for what it is: a nuanced, gut-wrenching tragedy. I'm sick of hearing otherwise from a bunch of entitled children who are too busy longing for a game that isn't there instead of analyzing the game that is.
Faction 3: “Why ‘The Last of Us: Part II’ Doesn’t Work” - The Good Faith Critics
The final hostile faction against this game are The Good Faith Critics. While they accuse TLOU2 of being poorly written, they do so not through an emotional or political lens, but through a critical lens. While I have counterarguments to almost all of their criticisms, Faction 3 tends to be the least toxic of the three factions. For that, I tip my hat to most of them for actually behaving like civil adults that are capable of having a critical discussion about TLOU2’s potential hiccups.
I will address their most prominent criticisms one-by-one in the next part of this post. But first I need to mention the last combatant in this bloody battleground:
The Opposing Side: The Professional Critics
While the audience response to TLOU2 is almost literally split straight down the middle, the professional response to has been overwhelmingly homogeneous in TLOU2's favor.
It has been a common sentiment that professional art critics/reviewers are pompous and not worth listening to–that their "professional opinion" is not worth more than the average Joe's. This sentiment stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the job of a media critic. It is the job of critics and analysts to know how to take a story apart and understand what makes it tick. Once they've arrived at a proper diagnosis, they relay it to their audience. The audience can then make an informed decision over whether or not that movie/game/book/etc. is worth their time or money. Professional critics are supposed to abandon their personal opinions and emotions while reviewing a work and view it strictly through an analytical lens.
That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that almost all of this game’s praise is coming from the people who are specifically trained to disassemble and analyze the inner mechanisms of a story… and almost all of the antagonism is made by... oh, how do I put this... casuals who in large part have no interest or experience in the art of storytelling (in addition to the YouTubers who’ve realized they can make some sweet ad revenue off the outrage).
And no, I'm not siding with the critics here because they affirm my enjoyment of this game. There are plenty of cases in which I agree with critical praise for pieces of art I personally don't like, my favorite example being "Persona 5". I went into "Persona 5" with an open mind genuinely believing I'd fall in love with it. The opposite happened. I couldn't connect or empathize with the characters for the life of me. I thought the gameplay was restrictive and repetitive. I didn't like the jazzy music style. I didn't like the minimalistic, toon-shaded art style. Suffice it to say I don't like "Persona 5". However, despite my personal opinions on "Persona 5", I'd be insane to dare insist it is a bad game. While they failed to click with me, the characters were fleshed out, rarely written with inconsistent behavior, and had a ton of rich dialogue. While it's not to this metalhead's taste, the snazzy music is competently composed and played. The gameplay features unique mechanics that were sturdily programmed (i.e., very few bugs/glitches). "Persona 5" deserved every 5/5, 10/10, 90%+ score it got because it is a well-crafted game. Anybody who's honest should be able to say the same for TLOU2, regardless of whether or not they personally enjoyed it.
It is worth mentioning that there is a certain sect of the internet, usually those from Factions 1 and 2 (or both), that insist there was an under-the-table quid pro quo that occurred between Sony and major game reviewers. As I do with every conspiracy theorist I encounter, I’ll simply quote the late Christopher Hitchens to these people: “that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Let’s move on.

Part 2: Responding to Criticisms

"If I were to lose you, I would surely lose myself."
Joel's song at the beginning of the game foreshadows Ellie's spiral into darkness. The blackening of Ellie's personality over the course of the game was not bad or inconsistent writing, it was intentional and seamlessly executed. One of the first things that struck me as I played through the first few hours of the game was how consistent Ellie's dialogue was with the last game. As the game progresses, Ellie devolves into a restless, cold-blooded girl who is fixated on nothing but vengeance, even if that means throwing away a peaceful life. All of this culminates into one of the game's most important scenes, where Ellie finally realizes that her pursuit of revenge stripped her of everything she held dear–even herself.
A tragic hero at its finest.
I appreciated how TLOU2 starred a variety of characters that fall under the LGBT umbrella. Not only does it normalize LGBT people (which is good), it was also a refreshing change of pace that truly makes this game stand out. I also appreciated how TLOU2 had this sort of diversity without patronizingly pandering to these groups. TLOU2 treats every LGBT member of its cast as real people whose status doesn't make them exempt them from hardship. Dina and Ellie's disagreement is a component of this, for it is treated no differently than any straight couple's. They're not two lesbians who have a bitter end; they're two romantic partners who have a disagreement, which, believe it or not, happens to people in relationships. If Ellie were Elliot, the dynamic between him and Dina wouldn't have to be altered. That, friends, is how you write LGBT people: you don't treat them any differently than non-LGBT people!
I should briefly lay another one of my cards on the table: I approached Abby with an open mind, but also trepidation. Unexpectedly, she ended up becoming my favorite character from the franchise. What is discussed in my response to this particular criticism is part of the reason why.
Ellie and Abby are different people with different backgrounds. Unlike Ellie, Abby is a literal soldier who distinguished herself in the WLF as one of their top Seraphite killers. The result is a jaded girl who copes with trauma on an internal level; she bottles up her sorrows, seldom making them outwardly apparent. When her stoicism does slip, her insecurities usually escape in the form of snappishness2. No, this isn’t me desperately clawing to delegitimize this criticism. It is simply a fact that (and I hate to sound pretentious here) Abby is indeed a well-written but also complicated character that is difficult to read on a surface-level. Diagnosing her thoughts2,3,4, motivations5, reactions, and desires6 often requires a more attentive analysis, as they are rarely expressed in a straightforward manner (except in extraordinary circumstances). Here are some independent points that should paint a picture of what I mean:
1.
2Abby: "Hey. Why have you been avoiding me?"
Mel: "I wasn't avoiding you."
Abby: "C'mon. You've barely said anything to me since Jackson."
Mel: "I don't know... I guess I was... Shook by Jackson too."
Abby: "You don't think Joel deserved what he got?"
Mel: "I think he deserved worse, I just... I just wish I didn't take part in it."
Abby: "I get it. What kind of person could do that, right?"
Mel: "I'm not saying that."
Abby: "Let's see if there's a way to the hatch."
Mel: "All right..."
This exchange from Seattle Day 1 more than suggests Abby has begun to internally acknowledge that the way she killed Joel was inhumanely brutal, and she’s already having second thoughts.
2. 3Since the player is not always directly told Abby’s thoughts, they are often relayed through dream sequences. Each of Abby’s dreams return her to the exact same hall in St. Mary's Hospital and end with her opening the door to the operating room where her father was murdered. The repetitiveness of these dreams communicates that Abby has never gotten over Jerry’s death, and it is constantly on her mind. This is further exemplified by her continued interest in collecting state quarters: one of the only connections she still has to her father. You'll notice, however, that Abby never speaks of this issue–not even to her friends. Compare this to Ellie, who is very open about her grief over the death of Joel.
3. 4At the end of Seattle Day 1, Abby finds Owen in the cabin cruiser at the aquarium. This is when Owen reveals his plan to travel to Santa Barbara to find the remaining Fireflies, a decision for which Abby chides Owen. We then get this exchange:
Abby: Sorry I grew up. You should try it.
Owen: Oh yeah? How do I do that, Abby? Should I go find the people who killed *my* family? Cut into 'em? I could torture them until they're crying in their own-"
Abby interrupts Owen violently, shoving him into the cabin’s walls. She does this because she knows what she did to Joel was cruel and perhaps unjustified, and she cannot bear to listen to Owen remind her of her monstrous actions. Their clash then shifts into a rough lovemaking session. This sex scene was not implemented arbitrarily; this is Abby trying to make the guilt go away. She’s desperate for any kind of temporary pleasure (like a night of coital bliss with the man she loves) that could distract her from her regrets. Unfortunately, this rash action ultimately exacerbates her guilt.
4. 5Abby’s motivations for returning to Yara and Lev are externally dubious. Some players may think Abby helped them out of pity or a sense of obligation since they saved her from being lynched. Mel suspects that Abby wanted to use the kids as a means to manipulatively gain the favor of Owen (who’d begun to grow sympathetic toward the Seraphites). In reality, it’s none of those things. Abby was motivated by a desire to cleanse herself of guilt. Guilt for animalistically torturing Joel to a degree that even made her friends uncomfortable2. Guilt for betraying Mel by sleeping with Owen. Guilt for not being there to save her father. The most beautiful part of Abby’s arc, I believe, is how these selfish motivations evolve into a fiercely protective fraternal love for Yara and Lev.
5. 6In the scene where Abby prepares to slice Dina’s throat, her enthusiastic “good” upon discovering that Dina was pregnant was born not out of sadism, but a grief-fueled desire for Hammurabian justice. This is a component of how she copes with losing her friend Mel, who was also pregnant. “Good”, in this instance, translates to: “oh, you killed my pregnant friend? Then I’ll kill your pregnant friend”. Lev, thankfully, pulls Abby out of her vengeful tunnel vision before she could follow through with the deed.
6. All of this is not to say Abby is 100% a hardened killer who never reacts to trauma in the moment; during gameplay, after you kill your first two Wolves as Abby, she is programmed to always exclaim: “oh shit… shit!” in a severely distressed tone. She is mortified that she is killing her own comrades to protect Lev.
Does this complex style of characterization make Abby difficult for many to empathize with? Probably. I can understand why many people are unreceptive to her semi-abrasive disposition, especially if they’ve already decided to hate her from the get-go. Is it impossible to empathize with her? Absolutely not, especially if you are willing to analyze her with an open mind. Does her polarizing depiction make her poorly written? Hell no. A well-written character is not always universally likable, and Abby is an exemplar of this. For her nuanced portrayal, subtle execution, endearing dynamic with Yara and Lev, and continued mercifulness toward Ellie, I think Abby is a remarkable (and woefully misunderstood) character.
While Ellie does hate Abby for killing Joel, she also hates Abby because she represents something Ellie has spent years wrestling with: what Joel did in Salt Lake City, an act for which Ellie has never forgiven Joel. It was never revealed to Ellie that Abby's quest to kill Joel was to avenge her father, so she has always operated under the notion that Abby and co. traveled to Jackson to avenge humanity, which had been robbed of its only chance at a cure. Thus, in Ellie's perspective, Abby is an agent of karma–the inevitable consequence of Joel's actions. Abby's very existence, to Ellie, is a reminder of how Joel took away her chance of making her life meaningful.
While drowning Abby, a glimpse of Joel strumming his guitar on his porch flashes through her mind. It isn't too long later in the game when it is revealed that this is a memory of the night Ellie makes her first conscious effort toward forgiving Joel for his selfishness. When Ellie releases Abby, this isn't her forgiving Abby; this is her forgiving Joel.
This particular criticism is so silly I almost consider it to tread in the “dishonest” territory. While TLOU2 is undoubtedly more violent than a bulk of its M-rated peers, it has most certainly not earned the crown of that category. Here is a fatality from “Mortal Kombat (2011)”, where Kung Lao drags his opponent crotch-first through a buzz saw until they’re sliced perfectly in half. Here is the first combat scene in “Bioshock: Infinite” where Booker DeWitt slams the face of a policeman into an operating Sky-Hook. Here is a scene from the beginning of “Resident Evil 2: Remake” where Elliot Edward’s hip is torn off his torso, entrails hanging out in all their glory. Here is a scene from “Spec Ops: The Line” where the player is revealed to have deployed white phosphorus on military relief efforts and civilians. For Satan’s sake, here is Joel getting his jaw torn off his face by a Bloater. This objection against TLOU2 is nothing more than a red herring that has been brought up and blown out of proportion for dishonest purposes. Since when were Gamers™ concerned about violence in video games? That’s the job of Karens and Republican politicians. If we take a step back from the outrage, we’ll see that the degree of violence portrayed in TLOU2 is not abnormal–if anything, it’s tamer than some of its contemporaries.
But even if TLOU2 were the most violent video game ever made, that has no bearing on whether or not the story is well-written. If anything, its exorbitant violence is justified since it actually serves a narrative and thematic purpose in this game, unlike the scenes I mentioned above (except “Spec-Ops: The Line”). In a story that focuses on the emotional consequences of horrendous acts the main characters perpetrate, violence is an excellent tool that adds stakes, highlights the ruthlessness of its world, and most importantly, shows the audience how traumatizing brutalization can be, which helps you empathize with distraught characters. If your stomach is too weak to handle this kind of violence, that’s fine, but it isn’t an objective mark against the game.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that TLOU2 respects Joel by making him the most important figure in the entire game. Joel is at the center of everything. His morally gray legacy lives on in an adult Ellie, the privilege she gets to experience in her peaceful life with Dina, her pursuit of revenge, Abby's pursuit of revenge, and the continued misery the rest of the world faces with the Cordyceps fungus. Killing off a character is not always the end of that character’s role, and that’s especially the case with Joel. His presence, be it implicit or explicit, can be felt everywhere in the game. I believe this was an excellent way to handle a character as morally dubious as Joel. It wouldn’t be right if the story allowed him to live the rest of his life peacefully in Jackson–not after condemning humanity. Millions will continue to die and suffer because of what he did. However, it would also be cruel of the story to simply kill and leave him by the wayside. Selfish or not, he was still a grieving father who obeyed the urge to save the one he loved, something anyone can empathize with. Joel deserved death for his betrayal of humankind, but he did not deserve to be demonized. TLOU2, as demonstrated by the flashback sequences, treated Joel as anything but a villain.

Part 3: Criticisms From Yours Truly

It's time for me to lay down my shield and pick up my sword. Here we go!
A neat addition to the game was how human enemies call out to their fallen comrades by name. This humanizes the enemies and tremendously adds to the game’s exploration of the consequences of violence. However, this remarkable detail falls flat on its face thanks to one hiccup: names are repeated a lot. By the time Ellie killed her third Ashley, I was having a difficult time taking this detail seriously.
But that’s just a nit-pick. Time for me to break out the big guns. My biggest grievance with this game can be summed up in two words: Santa Barbara. Santa McFreaking Barbara. Like a malicious Cordyceps that hijacks the mind and distorts its host into something unrecognizable, the Santa Barbara segment takes TLOU2 and warps it until you have to keep reminding yourself you're playing the same game you were playing an hour ago. The characters it built. The message it built. The themes it built. It is all thrown out the window. Here's why:
1. The Rattlers and their portrayal betray the game's theme of ambiguous morality. The Rattlers are unapologetically sinister, what with how they enslave their captives with a degree of brutality that makes death preferable. They keep and taunt their captives even after they become mindless zombies, which is unjustifiably sadistic. They tie up and leave their misbehaving slaves to die in a macabre yard of decaying bodies that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle ages. Unlike the Seraphites or the WLF, both of which are shown to have sympathetic qualities, the Rattlers are blackened to the bone and indefensible. This results in the most explicit case of thematic inconsistency I've ever seen in any professionally-written story.
2. Finally, the worst offender: the time skip. While I felt a tense emotional investment in the Ellie vs. Abby fight in the theater, I felt the opposite during the Ellie vs. Abby fight on the coast of Santa Barbara, which was supposed to be the emotional peak of the story. Here's the difference between these two events:
-In the theater, I had a deep investment in both of the involved characters. I'd spent 25+ hours watching both girls brave the dangers of Seattle. I saw Ellie banter with Dina, cope with the trauma of losing Joel, discover a new type of infected, chase and beat the snot out of Nora, discover the Seraphites, kill Owen and Mel, and surrender to Abby to protect Tommy. I saw Abby's interpersonal drama with her WLF comrades, meet and bond with Yara and Lev, cross the bridges, descend deeper and deeper into the infected hotel, face the terrifying Rat King, refuse to move from Isaac's line of fire, and grieve after discovering her murdered loved ones. These were the characters I was with every step of the way as they seamlessly evolved during the trio of days in Seattle, and I wanted neither of them to get hurt by the end of it.
-On the shores of Santa Barbara, I didn't know who either character was. I guess Ellie helped Dina start a farmhouse and deliver a baby, dealt with chronic PTSD attacks, and shared a peaceful life with Dina and JJ on the farm, but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into? I guess Abby had been enslaved, beaten, starved, and on the cusp of escape (only to be denied it), but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into?
Whoever these new characters are, they're not the ones we spent the entire game getting to know. Those characters are long dead and gone, lost in the 1-2 years between Seattle Day 3 and the moment we first find Ellie in the farmhouse. As much as I hate to say it, the Santa Barbara segment, in only a mere hour, renders all the hours that came before it obsolete. Worthless. A waste of time.
This isn't me getting upset at the ending. I have no qualms with it at all. How we got there is where the issue lies. Is there a solution to this massive problem? Yes, and it's quite simple: time. It would've been worlds better if this game ended with Abby and Lev leaving the theater (preferably on this screen), which makes for a juicy cliff hanger that leads into Part III (which is probably inevitable with sales like these). If Part III was almost or entirely dedicated to fleshing out the Santa Barbara segment, I firmly believe these problems would cease to exist.
Time would allow us to marinate in the aftermath of Seattle. Maybe we get to see Ellie and Dina search for a farmhouse to claim. Get some sheep. Plant their crops. Dust up the house and make it a home. See Ellie's simultaneous terror and joy when JJ finally comes into their lives. See the ups and downs of Ellie and Dina's shared parenthood. In the meantime, packs of infected and wandering bandits are sure to spring up, providing the player with some stimulating combat as Ellie and Dina defend their new home and family. But in the meantime... Ellie wrestles with night terrors. She continues to see and hear Joel in his final hour. She sees Abby lurking in the theater, but she can't reach her weapon fast enough! The PTSD Ellie carries provides an undercurrent of negativity to her and Dina's otherwise peaceful life, and the pressure only builds over time. It makes her colder. Snappier. Maybe she even occasionally lashes out at Dina, only to quickly apologize afterward. But one day, Tommy pays his first visit in months, and he's brought a map and some information...
Time would allow us to see Abby and Lev's journey to Santa Barbara and their search for the Fireflies. Their big sister-little brother bond grows stronger in their adventures. They probably have lots of run-ins with the infected. A trader probably tips them off to the Rattlers in the area. When they're ambushed and kidnapped, Abby does everything in her power to resist their captors to make sure Lev isn't mistreated, as his transgender status likely puts him at considerable risk for abuse. Resistance is her initial instinct, but she quickly realizes that she can exchange her compliance for Lev's safety. So she works gruesome jobs for gruesome hours. Maybe after realizing how much leverage they have over this talented soldier, the Rattlers give her a weapon and force her to help hunt for escapees and unfortunate travelers (of course, if she turns her weapon against her captors, they'll make sure Lev faces a fate worse than death). After months, Abby finally builds up the confidence to stage an escape with Lev... but their operation fails. She is punished severely for her misconduct. She's starved. Tortured. Beaten. We see her spirit break, and her body emaciates until she is just as weak and helpless as the man she killed in Wyoming. She thinks of him and wonders if this was how he felt. Once the Rattlers are through with making an example out of her and Lev, they're strung up and left to die among dozens of corpses... until a familiar voice comes calling through the fog...
Unfortunately, as it exists now, the rushed nature of the Santa Barbara segment alienated the player from all of the characters involved-even Ellie, who the player is in control of throughout the entirety of the segment. Now, alienating an audience from characters via a time jump can certainly be used to great effect in some stories, but one such story is not this one. For 30ish hours, TLOU2 established itself as the kind of story that earned your investment through subtle character growth. What is the natural predator of incremental character growth? Time skips that gloss over major character-altering events. This was a disastrous decision on the writer's part, and it critically injures what I'd otherwise call a nigh flawless game.

Conclusion

Yes, my criticism of the Santa Barbara section was harsh, but it heartens me to remember it was only ~1.5 hours long. I wouldn't dare condemn the entire ~30-hour game for a fraction of a fraction of its content, especially not when the rest of it was as masterful as it was. A poorly paced ending does not make a story bad, and shame on anyone who thinks it does. It's about the journey, after all, not the destination, and by Satan was this an emotionally thrilling journey indeed. Excluding its ending, I’m glad to give it the highest praises I can offer. Unfortunately, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, this sequel may have cemented itself as the most controversial game ever made. I think that’s a crying shame because this is a great game that often goes where no game has gone before. It is one of the few games that not only challenged its players mechanically, but *mentally,* for it encouraged them to question their biases and see the reasons behind every seemingly evil action. It made giant steps forward for social progress, playing a part in making the world a better place for everyone. I sometimes fear the vitriolic reaction to this game may intimidate future screenwriters from making such bold decisions for their stories, and I believe that would ultimately hold the medium back from its fullest potential, particularly in the storytelling department. I have hope and a little bit of faith that this work of art will eventually stand the test of time, especially once the outrage simmers. Cheers to the developers for making such a wild ride, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
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Incomprehensive guide to asx BNPL companies (Z1P, SPT, OPY, SZL)

Disclaimer: Bought Zip at $2.52, then more at $2.17 for base cost of $2.32, hoped for an entry to the US market via QuadPay as they had a 15% stake. Bought more at $5.50 after announcement. Base cost now $2.93. Will likely buy into Sezzle soon, as well. All information here could be wrong, DYOR. Mkt caps are from Friday's close price.
Splitit and Sezzle USD converted to AUD at a rate of <1 USD = 1.45716 AUD>
TLDR at the end.

Zip Co. ($Z1P)

Mkt Cap: 2.55b
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 1.95m 1.8m ↑11%
Merchants 22.7k 20.8k ↑ 9%
TTV 518m 562m ↓ 8%
Revenue 45m 38.5m ↑17%
 

QuadPay

Acquired for 403m by Zip Co.
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 1.5m ?? ??
Merchants 3.5k ?? ??
TTV 225m 245m ↓8%
Revenue 17.8m 18m ↓1%
 

OpenPay ($OPY)

Mkt Cap: 257m
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 250k 206k ↑19%
Merchants 2k 1.8k ↑10%
TTV 45m 49.5m ↓9.5%
Revenue 5.3m 4.6m ↑14%
 

Splitit ($SPT)

Mkt Cap: 250m
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 107k 118k ↓9.7%
Merchants 862 720 ↑18%
TTV 34.5m 39.5m ↓13%
Revenue 957k 630k ↑41%

Sezzle ($SZL)

Mkt Cap: 606m
Quarter ending March 31, 2020.  
March Quarter December Quarter Change
Customers 1.15m 914k ↑22%
Merchants 12.7k 10k ↑23%
TTV 173.5m 153m ↑12.5%
Revenue ?? ?? ??
 

OpenPay ($OPY)

OPY was overpriced at $3.50 (Mkt Cap: 380m) in comparison to its listed competitors for where they are currently. They're only usable where OpenPay is accepted, for which there aren't many places outside of automotive and healthcare. The "big names" OpenPay tout, like Smiggle and Bonds, are what I call BNPL whores. They accept anyone: Afterpay, Zip, OpenPay, Humm, your mum's necklace. At retailers that offer multiple BNPLs, customers will just choose who they're familiar with, and they're unlikely to be familiar with OpenPay.
You should also note that as of their April 30th Update they said that they have a "strong balance sheet and growth funding positions means no immediate need for any equity raising". Of course, one month later after the explosion of their Share Price they committed to an equity raise. This is either a sudden change of course, or an opportune decision to take advantage of a bloated Share Price. New shares priced at $2.40. Either way I don't like it.
Not confident for their long-term survival. But they are showing good growth, and if you're one to bet it all on the small dogs for the mid-term, OpenPay beats out Splitit handily. Personally, I need to have faith in the execs to invest, which I don't, and for that reason: I'm out.

Spitit ($SPT)

If Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm are the Year 12 cool kids, and Zip and Sezzle are the younger, more hip cool kids in year 10, then Splitit is the special needs kid who hasn't realised he's soiled himself until he's told. Splitit operates in the US, uses the Stripe platform with QuadPay, and is partnered with Visa as is Afterpay. I don't think the 'partnerships' are as exciting as they sound. Just provides access to their tools.
Like Sezzle, Splitit can be integrated into retailers Shopify sites if they choose to. Not too sure how long this will last, as Shopify has recently stated they will be coming out with their own BNPL solution called Shop Pay Instalments. Besides, while they're both currently small and relatively unknown overall, Sezzle is more well-known in the states over Splitit. If Shopify merchants choose these integrations they will more than likely go with whichever they're familiar with: Sezzle.
Splitit's "Active Shoppers" has fallen slightly for the 3rd straight quarter, dating back to Q32019, and is only up 2% since this same time last year (Q12019). Pretty poor for a rapidly growing space.
Now for why they're special needs. One of the most 'popular' retailers on the Splitit site is Purple, which was announced as an addition last month. However, Purple doesn't even offer Splitit, Affirm straight yoinked Purple from underneath them and they are now their BNPL solution. Splitit is either too slow to realise, or just don't update their site enough. Their quarterly update listed Scorptec as a new addition, but what's the first thing you see on Scorptec's website? Zip Money. I randomly selected other merchants on their store directory, and it is very difficult to tell if they even offer Splitit in a lot of cases. You've gotta do some digging. Their exposure and branding is trash. It's great that you can offer your services "anywhere Visa is accepted", but you have to have people using your app for that. No one is using your app if they don't know who the fuck you are.

Sezzle ($SZL)

In complete contrast to Splitit, for the most part it's easy to tell when a site offers Sezzle. The logo is subjectively appealing, and can often be seen on the retailers homepage. Also unlike Splitit, the stores in their directory actually offer Sezzle, which probably points to them being aware and updating their page; Splitit could learn something.
Currently, the downside to Sezzle is they only offer their services with retailers who are signed up with them. Although, focusing on retailer expansion should help with brand exposure. BNPL solutions get a good chuck of money from Merchant Fees, fees they don't see when users use their "anywhere" solutions through their respective apps. But, when customers use their 'anywhere' solutions through the app at retailers, the BNPL provider will then approach the retailer to get them to sign up, further expanding their exclusive offerings. Sezzle will be looking to take advantage of this with Sezzle Up. A virtual card will be created, much like Zip and QuadPay do, but with Sezzle rewards and credit integrated. Sezzle looks to be trying to innovate in the space, which is a good look for them.
In comparison, Sezzle's active customer base is up 22% for the quarter, compared to Splitit's %2 for the year. (Period ending March).

Zip Co. & QuadPay ($Z1P not $ZIP)

With this acquisition, ZIP will be looking at a combined annualised TTV of $3b, Revenue of $250m, 26k merchants and 3.5m customers. However, 1Q2020 showed a TTV of 225m for QuadPay, 4Q2019 showed a TTV of 245m and 3Q2019 showed a TTV of 71m. QuadPay was previously the BNPL solution for Amazon US from my previous research late April, which no longer seems to be the case post acquisition news. In my opinion, QuadPay was likely added to Amazon US sometime late Q3 or early Q4, which resulted in the huge TTV jump. If this is true, you should expect a dramatic decrease in performance in QuadPay's 2Q2020 results, which you might not hear about as QuadPay is private and the acquisition doesn't complete until 1Q2021. This should siginificantly impact the pro-forma numbers of Zip+Quad.
The way I see it, Klarna is the big pimp daddy in Europe. Afterpay is the big pimp daddy in Australia. They're both, with Affirm, still fighting for market share in the US with a grand pimp yet to be decided. If they're top 3 in US currently, Zip will be entering the race in 4th place post acquisition.
Both Zip and QuadPay offer their services at any retailer through the use of a virtual card, this is where QuadPay uses the services of Stripe. They also have some big name retailers helping with exposure to drive users to their app. Zip has Amazon AU, and was trailed by Apple in Australia for use on their online store. CFO Martin Brooke thinks the trial was 'successful' and they're currently "taking the next steps". Although Apple does already do similar financing through their Apple Card. QuadPay was exclusively available on Amazon US before the acquisition announcement. Amazon US was likely providing massive amounts of exposure for QuadPay. I emailed Zip's investor email to find out if I'm mistaken that they were Amazon's BNPL provider during my research late April.
For future outlook, Zip has a 25% stake in PayFlex, which is a South African company. Other acquisitions already completed include PartPay, PocketBoook, Spotcap. Their brands are Zip Pay, Zip Money and Zip Biz. Quadpay and Sezzle are at similar stages of growth in the US, and Zip will be looking to leverage the $200m investment from Susquehanna International (100m Convertible Notes & 100m Warrants) to quickly scale their operations in the US to steam ahead of Sezzle.

Overall:

The downtick in TTV across the board, barring Sezzle, is expected with the March quarter coming off from a busy holiday period in the December quarter.
Everyone's trying to snag the US market right now. Afterpay is one of the last holdouts for the "use anywhere" solution everyone else is peddling through their apps. Klarna, Affirm, Splitit, Zip, QuadPay are going this route, and Sezzle will soon follow. Just have to wait and see if Afterpay follows. Winners will be whoever can snag the big name/popular retailers in with exclusivity deals, to drive exposure and push users to their apps, snowballing retailer on-boarding. Revenue and TTV are more important than Merchant Numbers. It's better to have a few quality, big name merchants with hundreds of thousands to millions of customers, over thousands of no-name merchants with hundreds to thousands of customers on each. Right now Afterpay has Ebay, Zip has Amazon AU (not that big in this country, was expecting them to have Amazon US post acquisition), Affirm has Walmart, Klarna's snagging popular clothing retailers.
I think Afterpay is going to need to join the "Use Anywhere" party, although with the amount of retailers they're on-boarding it's not necessary right now. They encourage their users to message retailers that don't offer Afterpay to encourage them to come onboard. The "Use Anywhere" solution is great, but it brings in less money, and in Splitit's case with no one knowing who you are and therefore not using your app, altogether useless.
Sezzle will do all right grabbing the 'hip' retailers, and will show good growth in the short to mid-term. Zip will be strong in the short to mid-term post acquisition, and have a strong footing in the US out the gate for a potential long-term future. I'm already onboard Zip, but I'll be jumping Sezzle as well. I would be onboard Afterpay, but imo it's too late and you'll see more %capitalgrowth with the first two from here.
TLDR; OpenPay was overpriced at $3.50 but is better than Splitit and should be priced higher than them. Snap decision change within a month or dodgy capital snagging? Who knows. Splitit suffering from very poor brand exposure + poor user growth. Sezzle fresh, innovating in the BNPL space with Sezzle Up but might get outpaced by QuadPay post-acquisition. Will buy them to benefit from short to mid-term growth. Zip on potentially shaky ground, will need to get some big names early for their US push. They're a high risk speculative buy with a lot of potential upside.
After a rocky March, BNPL's across the board are seeing large upticks across April, May and June. Possibly a combination of the stimulus announcements/rollouts and isolation. Might update this once the next quarter results are out.
Other BNPLs are available: Humm, Bundll, LayBuy, Latitude Pay, DivideBuy, PayItLater, PayRight, LimePay, Make it Mine, Shop Pay Instalments, FuturePay, LaterPay, Four, SunBit, (insert your own).
submitted by HussySmurf to ausstocks [link] [comments]

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #5: Round 1 Match 19: Jenny and Gabanna Vs Cowboy Dan and Dory

The results are in for Match 17. The winner is…
Judecca Highrollers, with a score of 77 to Suburban Regalia’s 74!
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Judecca Highrollers 17-13 Just as it had seemed the gap in popularity had begun to close down to singular amounts, a last-minute turn re-secured Klein’s popularity lead by a slight margin.
Quality Tie 25-25 Reasoning
JoJolity Suburban Regalia 25-26 Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10
Klein panted as the edge of the incinerator grew closer and closer. The speed of the belt and the staggering wounds inflicted by Remix throughout their battle were taking a deadly toll. The incinerator died down mere seconds before his opponent went over the edge into the still slightly glowing pit. He didn't know if they would make it out, and at this point he didn't care. He counted down the meters until he finally succumbed. His end came in 3 meters. 2 meters. 1 meter. Suddenly, the beltway started to slow. With one last dash from [Koan Sound] Klein bursted away from that fiery maw and landed on his knees, feeling the bits of metal and plastic digging into his knees and legs. The belt finally slowed to a stop, Klein less than a meter from the edge of the incinerator. He cried out in a mixture of pain and triumph. Klein Bras-Cheche Hitsugi had once again beaten his fate. Tears of joy and grief spilled down his face. The black that had claimed his fathers before him had been condemned to the pit by his hand.
As he looked up towards the dirty fluorescent lights and his heart again dropped. Dozens of men and women lined the pit, eyes filled with dull, rusty grey light and small arms trained on him. Was this his end, after such a triumph, to be shot to death in this damned pit? No. Fuck that. Klein, despite his injuries, stood. He locked eyes with each of the people that surrounded him. “If you're gonna shoot me dead, then shoot me while I stand on my own two feet. I am Klein Bras-Cheche Heitsugi, and whether I leave this pit alive or dead I have defeated a curse and made my ancestors proud...”
The people on the edge of the pit stood silently. The sound of metal scraping against the ground began to grow closer and closer. A man in a silver hard hat with a thick moustache, and grey rusty smoke pouring out of their eyes appeared on the edge of the pit and stared at Klein intently. A woman standing next to him turned and spoke, “What do you think about this boss, is he with VALKYRIE or the factory owners? If so we gotta put him down”.
The man hopped the ledge and landed directly in front of him. His nose was less than half a meter away from Klein. He stood observing him for a second before speaking. “Nah, I don't think he is one of those bastards. Watching him fight told me more than enough about the kind of person we are dealing with. He goes for quick strikes and sweeps, but it isn't clean. He didn't learn that in any dojo or combat training. No, that comes from years of experience and hard knocks. Additionally he isn't standing indignantly before us because he has some title or presumed authority, but because he knows that he is undeniable, and that no man has the right to stand above him. Based on what we witnessed today, I’d say that very few men could claim such a thing. I think that on any normal day on this grey earth, I'd let this man go, or ask him to grab a beer.”
As the crowd surrounding him smiled and nodded in agreement, exchanging murmurs of approval, Klein’s grimace slowly faded and a slight smile crossed his face. This man wasn't trying to intimidate him, he was measuring him up. To this man he wasn't a worm or someone to be scared of, but a person worthy of respect. “Yeah no, he isn’t a merc or some bullshit tough guy... but there hasn't been a normal day in a while, and I’d rather be safe than sorry, so you are coming with us so we can have a chat over lunch.”
Before the first son had a chance to respond a fist slammed into his face, finally knocking him down for the count.
If you thought this battle on a beltway was tense, check out this assasination game between a troll, a chemist, and a pair of detectives, all of whom had better things to do than get sucked into this by some forgettable girl… There’s still over a day to vote there!
Scenario
Los Fortuna City Hall - Downtown
It had been a few weeks since Gabanna had read a newspaper article on a Chairman Wedding March, and needless to say she had been… interested in the man ever since. His hardliner stances against stand users and forceful moves to limit their activities within the city had certainly caught her interest, and investigation into his history had only brought up more interesting information. It seemed that he had been Chairman for quite some time, somewhat strange considering this city and its populace. Her curiosity getting the better of her, Gabanna decided that if she was going to get any more information on the man, she would have to get close to him. However, due to attacks and the growing amount of violence in the city it had gotten harder and harder to get close to the man, with only other Council members and the press. However, Gabanna was nothing if not persistent. Getting the bodyguarding job was no easy task, and forcing Jenny to agree to it was even more challenging. In the end she was convinced taking a job as bodyguard for Councilman Great Days would be worth it to get more information on this interesting figure.
Jenny, on the other hand, had little to no interest in being in such a public place. Staying out of the limelight was generally the best way for a dead woman to stay dead. Gabanna had been relentless for days telling her the job would be worth it. She offered cash, a raise, and even threatened to dock her pay after that. However, eventually, if just to have some time to her damn self. When she woke up to a sour smell and saw Gabanna sitting in her apartment, smoking a cigarette and staring angrily at her she had to relent. It may not have been what she wanted, but no amount of febreeze could get that acrid smell out of her place, and she would make sure to spend the pay from the damn mission on getting back at her boss. No one was going to push around Badass Jenny Kidd
Elsewhere at Los Fortuna City Hall
Dory and Cowboy Dan had just arrived at city hall, on the trail of a lead that could make a serious difference to the city. Weeks ago, the Baker Street Rat Pack had uncovered a crime scene and taken in its only survivor, who even after being questioned, never actually ditched hanging around the team. Ever inspired by the broader vigilante ideal, Dead Weather had used the team as a springboard for tracking down one specific murderer. It took until now for it to occur to him that this “man with golden eyes” might have some connection to city hall, the place that seemed to set him on people’s trails to begin with.
Humoring the idea and digging a little into the subject, Peter’s intel had pointed to something monumental about to potentially be unveiled at that very place, the gathering of council members and news reporters going in and out of the building made that obvious enough to see. That wasn’t what they were here for, though. Unless the man himself was important to the announcement, their expectation was that he’d be present somewhere keeping watch.
Unfortunately, despite making the connection, Dead Weather just wasn’t combat effective enough to be the one that showed up to scope things out. That burden fell to the proper members of the Rat Pack. To that end, both Dory and Cowboy Dan had stepped up and taken jobs as bodyguards for a certain Councilman by the name of Golden Week as their cover for being in city hall, but all he had instructed them to do was... wait outside the building. Seems he put too much trust in the security inside, rather than the two people hired to bring him here.
Dan was itching for the killer to make his move already. Take someone out and get caught, step out of the shadows and be identified to get chased down, anything to make this less boring. This trip to city hall was just going to be a worthless stakeout if nothing happened today. Dory, on the other hand, could only hope that nobody would end up getting hurt here. The killer wasn’t going to be easy to find, and with all the important people here, another slaughter would be enough to send the city into disarray.
A pair of golden eyes with a certain fire in them surveyed the area.
He settled a pair of aviator sunglasses onto his face, made sure his hair was partially obscured with his police cap, and adjusted his badge. It didn’t matter that two of these three items were stolen from a man that was dead now, nobody was going to check his badge number, and the cap wasn’t bloodstained. All that mattered was a moment of appearing authoritative and inconspicuous. All that mattered was striking first, against whoever was planning on ruining this moment. The man walked through the city hall’s lobby, nodding and giving faint smiles to the assorted politicians and politician wannabes gathered in the more open areas, all smiling back.
His ‘opponent’ could be any one of them. Time was running short, if anyone was going to make a move, and that did nothing to stop him from stressing over it still. These politician types spend so much on travel security, and then walk around like everyone is trustworthy. It’s stupid. When you draw people together, you invite friction. Anyone ought to know better to let their guard down when preparing something so polarizing. So bold! So bold, in fact, that even though council chairman Wedding March was delivering his speech today from a closed room from a short distance as a safety measure, he was doing so from a room that overlooked a courtyard with people on the ground level.
The man took his place standing outside the door to that very room. No, he couldn’t defend against a sniper if it came to that. That’d be ridiculous. Rather, if any stand user wanted to smash that door down and bludgeon chairman March to death, they’d have to go through him first.
Another man, middle-aged, overweight, and balding, clad in a well-tailored white suit, walked by where the ‘officer’ was standing, flanked by a pair of interns, whom held respectively a stack of papers and a tray of drinks, bottled water and coffee, which they would like clockwork hand to the man and allow him to take a sip of, before he handed it back - it was the first time the man had seen this guy up close, but there wasn’t a shred of doubt about it that this was Councilor March. Briefly, the Chairman muttered to one of his unpaid aides, “Soon… soon it’ll all come together, after over thirty years of playing their game. Today is the start of Los Fortuna no longer being beholden to those bastards who destroy this city time and time again… I bet I can even swing Cavallo if I just do what I always do and kill this.” Stand Users, the disguised witness was sure March was talking about there… He’d never heard a man speak with such open contempt towards the like, but in a way, he couldn’t help but respect just that. As he walked past him, March gave him a little nod after eyeing the uniform. “Thank you for your service.”
March, then, moved to his designated space, looking out into the area before him and thinking about his further moves… Not only were his fellow councilors in attendance, but local politicians, ordinary people - his people. For all he knew, some of them were Stand Users, but all in all, it would make little difference to him.
Let them hear his declaration of war.
The microphone sprung to life, ringing and drawing the attention of all in attendance. “My fellow citizens of Los Fortuna,” he started, as he was known always to do, “I have given you decades of my life, in proud service to you… No, you have given ME decades of your lives, to help you as best I can, to work with all of the good people who struggle and strive to survive every single day in this city. It is my only great anguish and great regret, in fact, that I cannot do more… That, in spite of my love for you, and how your reciprocation has placed me as the face of our Metropolitan council, there still yet has been tragedy after tragedy which has defined this city. And of many of those, I think, it is something of an open secret that there is a ‘root cause’ at the center of it all which we’ve been too frightened of to so much as say a word! Why, just weeks ago, just south of one of my very own speeches, the murder of a former crime lord on North Island, relating to one of these ‘root causes,’ kickstarted an incident which absolutely humiliated the good men of North Island Police, and ended with the mutilation and murder of officer Inner Circle on the job.”
‘Crime Lord…’ The observer figured that was referring to Adidas Fischer, that old bastard he’d tossed out a window; apparently he used to be a way bigger deal in the 90s, but ever since, his old mob had crumbled and he was just some common Stand-grifter; certainly, for his fearsome reputation, he’d turned out to be a paper tiger in an actual fight.
He’d hoped that the police noticing those two Stand Users in the area, notorious as North Island PD were, might do something permanent themselves, but in the end, one of the fuckers had gotten away, and then he’d heard the other was bailed without effort too and #FreeStone even became a hashtag. More and more, the man felt it; he was a kindred spirit with this councilman, even if he was the very thing that he hated.
“Still, police are searching for the men responsible, but it has shown me once more, more surely than ever, that our good law enforcement are not currently equipped to deal with such problems, that this is something which in so many overlapping ways, our system needs to change to never allow it to happen again! First off, the ‘dueling laws’ which have been on this city’s books since the seventeenth century are archaic, and so vaguely worded that, especially for the ‘root causes’ of this place, they can, with minimal effort, effectively get away with legalized murder. I know that they are one of the longest-remaining pieces of the old Fortuna Compact legislature, our original city Constitution, and that some are hesitant to change, but it is one which needs to be done to prevent us from descending into barbarism, vigilantism, and exploitation! And furthermore, in order to address the crisis of our law enforcement’s glaring need to better enforce the law and protect this city’s people, I have been in many, many talks with Arazu Allday of the ODIN corporation, and Ugo McBasie, the head of its security subsidiary Valkyrie, and I intend to see brought into law, for the corporation’s outstanding contribution to the city, past, present, and hopefully the future, a seat for ODIN upon this city council, of equal weight to any one of the district representatives and myself.”
More power to ODIN, restriction of these laws… That, it might prove inconvenient, actually. But, so long as he remained close to the situation, could infiltrate police and learn procedures, he could still do his important work, perhaps, and-
“And finally, while all of these are for the good of this city, the final thing I now strive to push our City Council towards is to demand that the organizations which seek to protect the interests of these ‘root causes’ of this city’s problems, such as the all-too-powerful school board of Midnight Sun University, cooperate with us, give us their lists and their research, so that as we further increase the protections over this city’s people, we can truly identify and preempt the actions of the specially empowered whom they prop up even further! This city is defined by the ebb and flow and will and whim of the ‘Stand User,’ and because of this, tragedy is a constant cycle! Like clockwork, these things happen! As I introduce these bills to my colleagues to your uproaring applause, I mean to ensure that nothing like the so-called ‘Earthquakes’ of the 1990s, which cost me and so many others friends, family, respected mentors, which literally split and flooded the ground beneath us and forced us to build canals to contain the damage, ever happens again! And we will become an example to the rest of the world in this way!”
Wait, what? That, then… That was a step which would be far too problematic for him.
Something needed to be done, then… So be it. The man standing guard sighed, and reached a hand into his coat, pulling a claw hammer out and approaching the room.
As Councilman March took an impactful pause he took in the applause and the sounds of the cameras snapping. One frame of the man showed him standing powerful. The next showed the back of his head being blasted off by a high velocity hammer at a perfect angle. Many things hit the ground at once. March’s corpse, cameras and notebooks, and several of March’s supporters. In a moment the conference had gone from a civil affair to the site of an assasination. What happened next made it a warzone.
A sniper round whizzed by the assailant where March stood moments before and promptly embedded itself in a journalist that was in the line of fire. Screams echoed out through the halls of the city, and people started sprinting. Anyone running was a target for the gunman, and bullets, whizzing through windows on completely opposite sides of the building and striking down public figures and civilians alike across the building. Anyone who didn't run hit the floor. Some were trampled, some just racked back in forth in place, but four stand users in the audience had one thing on their collective minds: Action.
Gabanna’s phone lit up, and in the commotion she’d just overheard, she was quick to pick it up. “What’s goin’ on in there? You ain’t dead, are ya?”
Great Days was on the line whispering frantically, so that was a ‘no.’ “H-help us..! There was this whole big speech going on but now March is dead, and-and-and-and… And there’s somebody attacking us. It must be some kind of Stand..! Please, I know what he was saying, but this city needs you! I… I’ll vote against all that shit if you get me out alive, promise! I’ll owe you my life!”
Gabanna scoured the room quickly, managing to find her charge, and tapped Jenny to get her attention, “If it’s safe where you are, stay put sir, we’ll come and get you.” Looked like things were about to get busy.
From Gabanna’s words alone she could tell something bad happened inside. “What… What the hell’s going on in there?” Jenny nervously asked.
“It's nothing we can’t handle now, come on, we got a job to do.” Gabanna, with confidence, turned to enter the building. “I’ve seen what your ‘Offspring’ can do around the restaurant, darlin’. You’re probably the best person for the job I can ask for on this one.”
“Won’t they be fine without us?” Jenny asked halfheartedly; she knew it wasn’t true, but the several risks involved caused her to hesitate. Besides that, she had a feeling she was suspected, and wished to maintain appearances as not who she said she was, even if she never bothered with a proper pseudonym.
“Sweetie, we got hired to do a job and there are people’s lives at stake. But you already knew that. Come on now, all you need is a little push.” Gabanna reassured her.
Jenny paused, a bit conflicted on what to do, but ultimately, she realized that this wasn’t something it would be appropriate to just run away from and leave to happen as it does. “Alright… let’s go.”
Shots could be heard around the city hall. Somebody, maybe even multiple, people were still shooting from the windows. Their first shot had missed its mark, but now with Wedding March already dead, the mark seemed to have shifted to any poor soul that found themselves under the sniper’s reticle.
Various bodies lay strewn about the hall, some with burns and frostbite, with more joining them as time passes. It’s evident by the methodic gunshots that this sniper isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, yet his shots are coming from many directions that pinpointing his location is nigh impossible.
“Please, you gotta help me… I-I’m sorry for supporting him, really I am, I was afraid, he’s powerful at city hall and this is my district! He would’ve ruined me if I didn’t, ruined all of this! I’m sorry! I’ll be good from now on!” Councilman Golden Week was practically crying. “I’ll do anything, I’ll even double your pay if you get me out of here alive and in one piece!” Dory listened to the man bargain on the other end of the phone, feeling a bit guilty about their employer.
“Alright sir, what do we have to do?” Dory asked, keeping a hand on Cowboy Dan’s shoulder to stop him from running in after the killer alone.
“Get me to the garden, it will be safer there. Away from all this madness, at the very least!” Dory frowned quizzically at the man’s words.
“If he wants to go to the garden, let him go to the garden. And let go of me, Dory!” Cowboy Dan interrupted. The killer was here- whoever was behind all of this couldn't have gotten far.
Dory strategically muffled the phone to cut out Dan’s words, “Alright sir, just wait right there and we will be right with you.”
Today was going to be rough, but it could get much worse if you didn’t do anything about it. Right now the councilmen were the priority, you could always get another lead on the killer after this mess is over.
Open The Game!
Location: Los Fortuna City Hall, here is a rough map of the area. The place is more or less 100 meters wide and 60 meters long with the players denoted by the circles in their respective team colors with BSRP at the Top Center and BADD GUYS at the Bottom Center.
The teams’ respective councilmen are represented by the triangles on the left side with BSRP’s charge at the Bottom Left and and BADD GUYS’s charge at the Top Left.
Currently the lobby and council chambers are fairly crowded with panicked people running and making their way to the top and bottom middle exits. A number of people have also taken to hiding behind the front desk, under tables and chairs, and pretty much anywhere there is space to hide.
The green rectangle on the right side is the designated drop off point to bring the councilmen to. The small light blue rectangles on the right side are more doorways that weren’t on the original map.
The rooms are all labeled and have whatever you would expect from a place like this.
Each room also seems to be under a strange gravity effects, the Orange Room has 1.5 times Earth’s gravity, the Grey Rooms have normal gravity, the Yellow Rooms have moon gravity, the Green Rooms have a westward pull, the Blue Rooms have a sideways pull towards the south side, and the Pink Room room will have you have a sideways pull towards the north side. Regarding the pull effects of the Green, Blue and Pink Rooms, you can go against them with some moderate difficulty, but the councilmen are very susceptible and cannot walk or make any headway against them on their own. Strangely enough, these gravity effects only seem to be affecting people and stands. Among the chaos of everything, if this is a Stand effect, Cowboy Dan is currently unable to locate its sources to ‘take’ and, if he makes the efforts to, will fail to.
Goal: Escort your charge to the designated zone as quickly as possible!
Additional Information:
Councilman Great Days and Golden Week both have 2s in all physical stats and irrelevant skills for the purposes of this match. They will mostly be hiding in the area they start in before the players get to them and will follow their respective players out and hide behind them as best they can. Also it’s worth mentioning, leaving the map through anywhere other than the designated zone with the councilmen is disallowed for this match as it will likely get specifically them killed.
For the right three rooms as well, there is a highly skilled sniper that can fire on you from any angle. Be wary, the faster you move and the closer to the windows you are the more likely they are to notice and fire on you. They will target the councilmen if they notice them, but will also shoot at you if you make yourself an easy target. Damage sustained is at an equivalent to A-power.
Here are the interactions Make Everyone Happy and the Mechanical Birds have with the opponents’ stands:
Stand MEH Ability
Champagne Supernova when [Make Everyone Happy] shoots some of [Champagne Supernova]'s goop, up to a cubic meter from the goop disappears, and the [Mechanical Bird] will summon an amount of goop equal to the amount that was taken originally wherever it hits that can't leave D range of that area. For the next five seconds, the pile of goop can be controlled by Dan similar to how Dory can control it. If the goop is taken further than D range away from the point of contact of the original bullet, it'll be sent flying back to it. After the five seconds pass, the goop becomes inert (but still can't be taken more than D range away from the point of contact), but can be "reabsorbed" by Dory should they get within D range of it (and will now treat Dory as the center of its range).
The Offspring Upon shooting a clone generated by [The Offspring], the clone disappears, and the [Mechanical Bird] will summon a similar clone on the next living being that it hits (if the clone is an arm, it'll summon an arm on the next thing it hits). Cowboy Dan will be able to control this clone for the next five seconds, before it withers away and disappears.
Doja Cat If a [Bottom Bitch] is shot by [Make Everyone Happy], the resulting [Mechanical Bird] will be similar to one of MEH's regular bullets, but will be able to dive into and emerge from the material that the [Bottom Bitch] was made of, being able to move within it and emerge back out from it similar to how a [Bottom Bitch] would be able to.
In related news, the untimely passing of the Council Chairman is, in its own way, an opportunity. Upon the early removal from office of the Council Chairman, literally any individual in the Los Fortuna Metropolitan Area will then be allowed to run in an emergency special election for the position, so long as they are living and receive sufficient public support to appear on the ballot. This is another of the holdovers of the 1600s’ Fortuna Compact. What this means is, if you would like, your character can run for the position. Ten names will appear on the ballot at the end of the first round, with priority on the final roster given to each team, if they desire, getting at least one ‘spot’ on there. Player characters who are accepted T5 participants only. Details on the process will be given soon in the official tourney Discord.
Team Combatant JoJolity
BADD GUYS Jenny Kidd and Gabanna Dolce “I have no intention of running away… And I haven't from the beginning” There are more people here than just the councilman that are in danger, get as many other people brought to safety as you can.
Baker Street Rat Pack Dory Hunk and Cowboy Dan “I'm telling you that there's a way to save Okuyasu and for that… I just need to touch him!” This chaos may get out of hand with everybody panicking, get as many other people brought to safety as you can.
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to R1 Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by Dungeon_Dice to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #5: Round 1 Match 12 Alexis and Cybil Vs Admiral Pineapples and Rudolph

“届けて, 切なさには名前をつけようか ‘Snow halation!’”
The harpoon lodged itself into the Ocean Soul’s chest following a powerful toss from Pork Soda, the beast desperately trying to hit the tether to destroy it and release the harpoon, to no avail. The Ocean Soul had underestimated its opponents, who were currently singing some sort of song, perhaps a sort of war cry, meant to display their superior strength.
“想いが重なるまで待てずに, 悔しいけど好きって純情”
It had to do something! It released the Calamus Root in store within its mouth, ready to spit it out, before Sayonara Kodoku picked the Ocean Soul up, shut its mouth tight, and tossed it over to Pork Soda. With a thrust of its fingers, the porcine stand pierced the Ocean Soul’s eyes, blinding it.
Then, the two stands rushed at it, sending forwards a barrage of blows, breaking bones, claws, and disorientating it, before getting ready for a finisher. Pork Soda picked the Ocean Soul up by its tail and began spinning around, the rapid movement disorientating the fish and sending it closer and closer to its doom.
No, no! It couldn’t let this be! The Ocean Soul was a hunter, and even if its prey had gotten a leg up on it this time, it wasn’t going to give up! It could barely remain conscious under the pressure as the porcine stand spun it around, its already severe wounds getting exacerbated, but it had to do something!
Just one shot! Just one precise shot and it could use the opportunity to escape, to recover! The porcine stand was spinning it around by its tail, so the Ocean Soul could calculate the stand’s position! It just needed to regain its bearings, focus on getting a shot aimed, and it could use its spit to-
SLAM!
With a brutal impact, the Ocean Soul was slammed into a nearby rock. It felt itself sinking in the water as the two stands approached it, its imminent doom coming closer and closer with every movement they made.
It needed to escape, but it couldn’t bring itself to move. The two stands made their way towards it, floating above the ground as they loomed over the barely conscious beast.
Was this going to be it for the Ocean Soul?
“微熱の中 ためらってもダメだね, 飛び込む勇気に賛成 まもなく start!”
Like hell it was.
Gathering the little remaining energy it had, the Ocean Soul spat out the Calamus Root stored within its mouth, mixed with its saliva. Hitting the ground underneath the two stands, two long spikes quickly sprouted out of it and towards their bodies.
Though Sayonara Kodoku’s tough skin didn’t get pierced, the force of the growing spike sent it flying into the air, incapacitating it, if only for a moment. Meanwhile, Pork Soda wasn’t as lucky as it, the spike piercing through the left side of its body, tearing through its left leg and shoulder. The Ocean Soul couldn’t hear anything from underwater, but it was sure that its user was reeling in pain right about now.
Using the remainder of its energy, the Ocean Soul bolted away, desperately trying to remain conscious as it swam away from what it once considered its prey. It didn’t even look backwards, fearing that doing so would give its opponents the time they needed to finish it off for good. It didn’t even keep track of how far it swam, or for how long its opponents had chased it, or if they had done so at all. Its body was searing in pain, broken bones and wounds all over it.
Eventually, it couldn’t bring itself to swim any further, losing consciousness and sinking down into the ocean, not even the searing pain keeping it awake as it began to rest.
The Ocean Soul had lost, but this wasn’t the end of the beast. Though barely, it had managed to escape this encounter with its life.
The results are in for Match 10. The winner is…
‘Agnes’ Bayley and Prince Cosmo, with a score of 80 to the Ocean Soul’s 60!
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Players 25-5 The word of the voterbase was clear: the vast majority felt that the Ocean Soul was handily defeated by the players.
Quality Players 23-22 Reasoning
JoJolity Ocean Soul 22-23 Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10
“AAAAGH! GODDAMIT, STUPID FUCKING FISH!!” Agnes screamed in pain while clutching his leg, body strewn onto the nearest island, carried by Sayonara Kodoku. “IT STABBED THROUGH MY GODDAMN LEG!! FROM THE FOOT, TO MY WAIST, TO MY FUCKING SHOULDER! AAARGH, DAMMIT, WHERE’S JENNY WHEN YOU NEED HER!!”
“You should be happy we got away with our lives. The Ocean Soul isn’t going to come finish us off any time soon after what we did to it.”
“OH, REAL RICH COMING FROM THE ONE WHO DIDN’T GET STABBED IN THE FUCKING LEG BY THAT MONSTER. DO YOU WANT ME TO STAB YOU AS WELL SO YOU CAN SEE HOW IT FEELS?!” Agnes started rummaging around his surroundings with his right hand, searching for a sharp object to use for his “demonstration”.
“Frankly, you deserve it. Don’t forget that you are the cause for this all. Were it not for your foolishness, Webb would still be alive, and this would not have happened to you.” Cosmo chided.
“PFFF- WHATEVER!” In between his heavy breathing and pained cries, Agnes let out an audible sigh. “Fffffuck this, I’m gonna check my phone to see if there’s any connection here so that we can get the hell out of this place ASAP!” Agnes picked up his phone and pulled it up, taking a look at it.
“That will not be necessary. There is no connection here anyways, and I am certain that a helicopter has been sent out to retrieve us, or at the very least ascertain what might have happened to-” “Shut up, I’m getting a message from Cairo. ‘Don’t worry, Agnes, we have sent your location over to Vitus, and help should arrive in about fifteen minutes.’” Agnes looked at his phone in confusion. “Vitus? Who’s that asshole?”
“Vitus is the man who sent the helicopters out. The one which you indirectly crashed. Nonetheless, let me see that - I have a hard time believing that your phone is capable of picking up a signal when we’re so far away from any cellular towers.”
“And why should I care about what you believe, huh? Here, take a look for yourself!” Agnes shoved the phone in front of Cosmo's face, the dog looking intently at it and seeing… nothing beyond a simple homescreen. “What is this supposed to be. This is your phone’s home screen, and though that horrendous chimera at its center is an affront to anything and everything I believe in, there is no notification here. Could it be that you are perhaps hallucinating from the pain?”
“Wh- you can’t see it?! Don’t fuck with me!” Looking at the dog’s deadpan expression, Agnes could tell that that wasn’t the case. He looked over at the phone, spotting it right there, as clear as day - a notification for an sms from Cairo themselves, containing what he read out loud! “Fuck you, I’m not hallucinating! If anything, you are!”
Cosmo was about to retort, when he spotted something over the distance - a sailboat. It was old and decrepit, seemingly having gone through significant damage and yet still remaining intact, somehow. It clearly didn’t belong to Vitus, and likely wasn’t Cairo’s either. On the boat, he saw a silhouette of a haggard man, but the distance meant that he couldn’t exactly tell exactly what he looked like.
“Someone is coming.”
It wouldn’t be much longer before Agnes and Cosmo were able to get back onland, learn what terrible things they’d missed, even if they still had a wait and a talk ahead of them. Left to nurse grievous wounds, this seaborne menace has seen this chapter of aggression momentarily closed, but further inland, the waters of a laundromat are being braved by a time traveler and a woman in chains.
Scenario:
Sound’s Garden Eastern Strip - A Golden Limousine
The evening was beginning to set in, the lights of the islands of the area beginning to flash on and dot the sky as two women rode through the city, looking out through the windows as they relaxed in luxury. Cybil Antoine was one to travel in style, and now, with a companion in tow, was no exception.
“A strip that absolutely comes alive at night… Makes me feel almost nostalgic for Vegas,” her redheaded travel companion mused as she looked out, “speakin’ of which… you ever play anything like that, Cyby? Cards, slots, so on. We could try Heartache Casino, maybe, if we have time sometime… I bet you’d just have to throw your name around to get up on its higher floors.”
“It’s Cybil,” the wealthy woman emphasized, with an exhaustion begotten by this having been far from the first time, “or Miss Antoine… Either way, I am not a ‘Cyby.’ Get it right next time, alright?”
“Right, yeah, I know you’ve told me… I’m just a nicknamer by heart. Cross my heart, though! It won’t happen again!” Alexis Williams seemed… As serious as she could get about something like that, as curiously carefree, even devil-may-care, as the performer could get.
“Commit it to memory, then. Despite how much a fool you can act, I’m sure you know how much I had to pull to get you onto this stage.”
“Believe me, I do appreciate it!” Alexis answered, focus now turned away from the topic of gambling and onto that. “Putting on a show at one of the biggest stages in Los Fortuna, bigger than anything I’ve done before… I know our group has had some bad luck lately, with Bucket causing that trouble down at the fish market, and how down on herself Leo has been since that dumb show she said she got roped into, but we’re still the freakin’ Judecca Highrollers, right? I want to show the world that, and from their box, I want to show the rest of our team that we’ve got no better option than to face it all with a grin.”
“How very like you,” Cybil answered, neutral in her tone, careful not to betray the affection in such a statement as she pondered their current status, where they would be playing.
Alexis wouldn’t be headlining, unfortunately, though admittedly, her act wasn’t the sort of thing that did that anyway. Rather, a certain piece of immensely beloved local talent, a rocking performer who went by TD/MD, would be having her play immediately before her at the Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater, just a drive over a rapidly approaching bridge away. Cybil had been a little annoyed that one of her statues had been overshadowed by a plane crashing near it, not to mention had a desire to spread further the local influence of their team, and so she had arranged with the heads of the entertainment industry of Los Fortuna to see to it that her personal favorite performer among the allies and associates she’d made was onstage at the best possible place for a person wanting to be noticed.
She curled her lips at a cell phone which found its way to its hand, then, narrowing her eyes at its screen. “No word back from your backing band… Where are they? How inconsiderate not to send word on this, especially at how that Mr. Sins recommended them so glowingly.”
“I’m sure they’ll show,” Alexis answered, “and if not… We can make do, can’t we?”
“Of course,” Cybil answered, only to have her eye finally drawn back out the window by the sight of a vehicle which had pulled into the lane directly next to theirs as their limousine crossed the bridge.
Another golden limousine was directly next to them now, this one almost pointedly bigger, longer, more decked out in jewelry, and it seemed to be headed exactly the same way. Cybil, rather than confused or alarmed at the coincidence, simply thought aloud, “that would probably be Mr. Sins… Speak of the devil.”
“Amazing how quickly his casino recovered from nearly burning down…” Alexis mused aloud. “I heard that one of the people who trashed it sent him to the hospital, too.”
“An overreaction I’m certain, from what I know about the man. Absolutely terrified of a little pain, a little elbow grease… I’m not one to gossip, but I can’t help but wonder how a man like him even managed to become so prominent, so consistently successful.”
“Right,” Alexis answered, smirking and putting her finger up to her lips, “I won’t spread that around, then. I know how to schmooze with that type if the need arises.”
Los Fortuna Canals - The SS Sledge Sister
Admiral Pineapples was more comfortable on his own boat, but as far as the fleet of the Masters of Funky Action went, there was no real reason to send out more than one boat for this right now.
“Man, I can’t believe nobody else is ridin’ with me,” his companion, Rudolf Pavlova, said after downing an entire bottle of water in a single gulp, on the tail end of an hourlong keytar solo. “The rest of the Masters better at least make it to the Alexander! It’d really bum me out harder than when Wrenn shot me down if none a’them made it!”
Sorry, but I’m really more the headlining type! Playing second-fiddle to a man in a speedo opening for some local star sounds fun and all, but, I’d totally just overshadow them, I bet! So I should really probably stay out of it! That sentence, clear in its passive-aggressive scathingness, had put Wrenn Aflight’s declining of this gig pretty succinctly. As the man more or less everybody on the team could tolerate, listen to, and generally have a good time with, Admiral had been tasked with asking the other star performer of the team to join Rudolf on the gig he’d accepted opening up for locally beloved rock star and all-around idol TD/MD.
Not wanting to break Rudolf’s heart, he more or less told him the short version, ‘he couldn’t make it,’ and then volunteered his own services for the younger man. “You won’t be out there with none of your allies, though, Nureyev! For I, Admiral Pineapples, will aid you in coordinating every moment of your work! This will be one of the worthiest usages of my tactical mind in a long time, I’m sure!”
“I hope you’ve gotten those hour-long solos out of your system now, Nureyev,” Pineapples warned with an amused, lax tone, “you’re only going to have thirty minutes onstage before the headliner has to get ready, and there’ll be trouble if you bleed into that.”
“I know, I know,” Rudolf answered, casually, as he slipped into an open-chested bathrobe mainly meant to function as the legal requirement of public decency until it was time to perform, “I’m not one to step on anyone’s toes, let alone the star of the show. Live and let live, yeah?”
“I’m curious, though, and you never told me…” The Admiral asked, cracking open a beverage of his own and taking a sip, “how did you manage to get such a part as this in the first place?”
“Oh, that’s simple!” Rudolf said, the thought to answer having simply not occurred to him.
A few weeks ago - A beach in the Waterfront District.
“Alright! Thank you, Los Fortuna! I’m here all day, and all night, and all tomorrow too, baby! Party never stops!” Rudolf had just finished the latest of his performances to a small crowd of beachgoers, shredding through the end of his one-man keytar rendition of 2112 and transitioning into a truly epic medley of the extended Family Guy, American Dad, and Cleveland Show OPs.
As the crowd dispersed, a corporate suit-looking type of guy, bronze-skinned with neatly-groomed hair, remained, eyeing his keytar curiously and smiling artificially. “That was an excellent show, Mr… Pavlova, I think it was? You have such an undeniable energy about you that I can see when I lay eyes upon you… You’ve star material.”
“Am I being poached?” Rudolf asked, tilting his head, “‘cuz I assure you, I am a free agent! Not about to be scooped up by some label and forced to chill out the party churnin’ out music I don’t feel in my soul.”
“Nothing so abrupt, no… I’m a Manager, representing TD/MD. You can call me Thutmose. Anyway, she has a concert approaching rapidly, and we’re struggling and scrambling to find local, new talent and performers to open for her. We’ve managed to secure a lot of artists already, but the most important spot… Playing right before her… That, still, we have a particular need for, and I think you would serve it perfectly.”
“So I accepted!” In the present day, Rudolf finished, “why not, yeah? I can spread the party to tens of thousands at one of the biggest venues in town!”
“Scouted on the street, hm… That’s awfully lucky.” Something about this struck Admiral as odd, but he supposed it was all the more reason it was good he was backing his friend and ally up. He had a strong hunch there was more to it than appeared.
Rudolf’s party yacht would disembark soon, ported on the central-most island of the places which made up Sound’s Garden, and the party would make their way forward from there.
Sound’s Garden West Side - Outside the Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater
At the same time, a self-important first step was taken out of a pair of golden limousines, one a heel clacking first out of it and a short, stocky woman in pinstripe emerging, the other dress shoes leading up to a tall, lean man in a gold and yellow tux, grinning and running a hand through his slicked-back hair.
Cybil Antoine hadn’t had the “pleasure” of a personal conversation with Tigran Sins before, but had happened to overhear some of him during her meeting with that Thutmose man, and then and there, she had known everything about him, and knew that she had already had the displeasure of knowing dozens of men like him.
Still, though, one needed to be cordial in times like this, so as Alexis came out behind her, and a very strongly built-looking, mean-looking man with brown hair and a nice vest, attached to the lapel of which was a Heartache Casino brooch (a bouncer? A bodyguard?) stood by Tigran waiting to see what he wanted or what he did, she approached the man who dared to try and be more golden than her Stand. “Mr. Sins, I believe… I believe we’ve crossed paths, briefly, but we didn’t really have a chance to speak.”
The man tensed a bit, only to relax slightly again when he saw that Cybil intended only to speak. “Cybil Antoine, right? I’ve heard you’ve been making a hell of a lot of waves around town lately, so I must say I’m excited to meet you too.” He looked back past her, towards Alexis standing and stretching outside of her team’s limo. “Would that be your star you’ve got going on? Certainly she’s got charm.”
“Hi, right in front of you,” Alexis answered, teasingly passive-aggressively waving, “yeah, I’m going up before TD/MD.”
“She’s a very important star around here, you know… So you’d better put on a show that leaves them wanting for more of the best.” Tigran’s attendant spoke, then, sounding dead serious as he looked them over. “A lot of people have come here just for this, just for her sake… It is completely imperative you keep that in mind.”
Tigran simply nodded, concurring, “couldn’t have said it better myself, Fox.”
Shortly after that, the pairs went their separate ways, shifting through VIP areas of the area of the main structure of the amphitheater, series of comfortably shielded stadium halls that it was.
“Still no sign of the band… Still no word from them either. I’m cross now.”
Alexis, then, stopped in her trail, looking at a schedule which had been printed out and emblazoned upon a green room wall. “Uh, Cybil, you’re gonna wanna take a look at this.”
“Hm?” Cybil raised an eyebrow, turning to face what her partner was pointing at, and then glared again. “Who the hell is Nureyev, and why are they listed at the same time as you?”
“There’s gotta be some kinda mixup or somethin’, man… I know about this ‘Alexis Williams’ it talks about, and hear she’s a Vegas Performer, damn fine one at that who can really strut her stuff. But we ain’t in Vegas at all, so what gives?” Rudolf himself was gesturing at a printout version of much the same piece of programming, he and Admiral Pineapples having wandered much the same series of halls.
“Hrm…” Admiral, now, took a look at the sheet himself, combing over the names before Rudolf on the list and speaking names aloud. “‘Arancini,’ ‘Tenacious-er E,’ ‘Guy and the Fieris’ Heavy Metal Barbershop Quarter,’ all as scheduled… What the hell? Yeah. We’re the only acts double-booked like this, and you say you don’t know this woman personally?”
“Not in the slightest,” Rudolf said, “never laid personal eyes upon her! So maybe there’s a typo, yeah… I know! We could track down Thutmose! But, uh… Where the hell’s Thutmose right now?”
A distorted voice shout-whispered, “I heard that he was visiting TD/MD’s green room.”
“Huh? Oh, thanks!” Rudolf accepted that advice uncritically, beginning to make his way, but Pineapples looked, at least, in the direction it came from, seeing then flashes of a short-looking person in a maroon turban, face bandaged but mouth section bulging with something hidden underneath, and a pair of aviator goggles, as well as a tunic, trousers, and many bulky scarves adorned in the forms of climbing stick figures.
Looking at the man, Pineapples couldn’t help but feel suspicious, but hell, there was a lot shady going on here. “Yes, thank you, Mister… Who am I thanking?”
“No,” the figure answered dismissively, “think little of it… I’m just another interested party watching the show. If there’s confusion, then, I want to see it resolved fast! If you’ll excuse me, though, I need to make my way to my box…”
“Strange man…” Pineapples shook his head, not wanting to leave Rudolf alone to deal with this strange situation. He knew from hearsay and rumor that there were some truly dangerous things lurking in the bowels of Sound’s Garden, and Rudolf, more heart than head, was bound to be barreling into it.
Sound’s Garden - The largest and nicest green room in the halls of the Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater.
Metra Doria sat before a makeup chair as assistants fussed and fussed with her hair, her face, her clothes, occasionally being met with polite thanks, compliments, or idle chit-chat, representing a sort of familiarity the team had had with the pale, short-dark-haired girl with a single blue streak through her front left locks. She stared at her own dressed-up eyes in the mirror, one silver, one blue and at once black-striped through the iris. As she sat here, initially clad pretty casually and low-key, she was Metra, but as the outfit she had selected was put together, she would become TD/MD.
She was being cordial before now, but all of the small talk had ended as soon as her manager came into the scene, knocking, being invited to come in, and then doing so.
“How’s the show going, Thutmose? I wish I could see Guy and the Fieris do their thing, but… Makeup, I swear.”
“There’s… People insisting upon speaking, Metra. They’re performers, the ones before you, and they seem annoyed. I tried to shoo them away and tell them to work it out, but that only incensed the old-timers with them, and now they want to speak to you. I tried telling them it was a waste of your time, but-”
“This close to going on?” Metra narrowed her eyes at the reflected form of her manager. Always, it was one thing after another with this guy. Though most of the time, one might assume there was something not worth it going on here, she knew Thutmose well enough to know there might be problems. She sighed, shutting her eyes now. “It had better be important… Let ‘em in.”
And like that, a quartet of two twenty-somethings, a middle-aged woman, and an old man barreled in through the door at once, all talking over one another and expressing confusion with the other’s very existence and presence. It was making the half-prepared girl more uncomfortable than sitting in a chair for awhile just to get ready for a show often did, so she raised her voice, calmly but authoritatively, literally seeming to drown out their babbling in the process. “Quiet down, alright?! One at a time.”
There was a little more whispering among the four, then, and it was the pinstripe-suited woman who stepped forward among them to speak the crowd’s mind. “TD/MD, I presume… This ‘Thutmose’ man, he has made a grave mistake in the scheduling. My associate Alexis here, and this half-nude man carrying a keytar around, they have not met before today, and they certainly did not intend to collaborate before you. Your manager has refused to listen to reason about this, so we are taking the matter straight past him to you… Resolve it at once, and we can be on our way.”
“What?” Metra, facing them all, blinked, shaking her head and glaring at Thutmose. “Again? How does this keep happening? You overbook acts right before me, and it’s such a disaster I’ve started to need to allot extra time to cleanup guys after those sets… It was bad enough before, but it’s seriously getting out of hand, man. I can’t keep dealing with you if you treat everyone else you deal with like this. You’re done working with me. We’re through.”
“B-but… But Metra..!” Thutmose was flabbergasted, looking almost terrified at the prospect. “Please, be reasonable..! I need this job, understand? I’ve got gambling debts, and-”
“Whoa whoa whoa,” the keytarist (Rudolf, or Nureyev, according to the program) interjected then, “let’s not ruin a man’s life over me and Lexy here, yeah? I looked into the history of this place, the Alexander Dickinson… Named after a big dead deal Philanthropist, so basically a dude from the 90's who gave his all to culture in this city, funded all kinds’a stuff! Would a man like that want a man to be fired in his own memorial stadium?”
The logic seemed to confuse nearly everyone there, not least of all Metra, whose response, after a moment, was, “Huh? You… Are you saying it doesn’t bother you?”
“He’s saying that!” Thutmose pleaded. “I am certain he’s saying that!”
“I don’t mind, either…” The redheaded Alexis said next, nodding and looking around at nothing in particular. “Yeah, I think we can work with that… The band he set us up with bailed on us anyway, right? So… Music might help, and it’s not like the things we do step on each other’s toes, yeah? So whatever, I’m sure we’ll still leave a bigger impression.”
Cybil, then, pursed her lips. “If it doesn’t make a difference to you, then, and we’re all on the same page… But still, this is so very inconvenient.”
“Agreed…” Pineapples looked to Thutmose. “Be more responsible in the future, aye? I think even if you keep your job right now, you’re gonna be on thin ice for now. And give up on gambling, if it’s sunken you this far.”
Metra nodded. “Agreed. I can’t guarantee I won’t start looking for a new manager, but… You’ve been good to me, at least. Clean up your act.” Then, she looked over the quartet. “I’m seriously sorry about this… You say you had backup, but they’re not showing up now? I, uh… I don’t know what happened to whoever those were, or why they fell through, but I have something I can do to help both of your shows exist at once: six of the best stagehands I've got.”
At that, the star snapped her fingers, and from the shadowy corners of the room emerged two trios, three men in a pose one well-versed on incidents in the early 20th century Roman Colosseum might compare to Awakening One’s Masters appearing before the Masters of Funky Action, three women in turn also sliding in before the Judecca Highrollers in perfect sync, stepping in with the coordination one might associate with, as a weird example, teenage mobsters jazzed about a dude being sent to the ninth circle of hell.
All six were muscular, clad in black sleeveless shirts, leather gloves, pants, boots, and bandannas over their heads, and all around, they gave off auras of immense reliability.
“Harry, Mark, and John, and Thorn, Dusk, and Luna… I kid you not, these guys can basically do anything and everything you ask of them. If they didn’t much prefer supporting other people to being in the limelight themselves, they would be as big as I am. Treat them well, they’ll learn fast, and they’ll be invaluable to making your bits work. But, uh… I’d hurry it up. Guy and the Fieris probably only have a couple more encores in them, and then you’ll have fifteen to set up. I wish you all luck..!”
Metra Doria had been a bit of a miracle for the grateful performers and put-off older supporters, who had in turn both begun to explain their intended strategies and how those might change to their crew members, who understood alarmingly fast.
“Man…” Rudolf whistled in relief, chuckling. “What a scare that was… But you, Lexy? You’re alright, actually.”
“Thanks,” Alexis answered in turn, still trying to figure this guy out, “you don’t seem bad yourself… I almost kinda feel bad that we’re gonna totally eclipse you out there.”
“Y’think so, huh?” Rudolf answered with a grin, pointing forward with a friendly competitiveness. “Well, the party don’t get drowned out by a damn thing! I’m gonna get all these good people pumped as hell, and they’ll be cheerin’ for me even when that Metra chick goes on!”
“Ooh, I’m starting to feel a bit competitive…” Alexis answered, good-naturedly chuckling and folding her arms. “Wanna see who gets the crowd more pumped? Loser, uh… Buys the winner overpriced concert t-shirts. These things need stakes, right? Heh…”
At the somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion, Rudolf nodded. “Sure, yeah! That, and the pride of bein’ one of the best in the city! May the best team win!”
OPEN THE GAME!
Location: The Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater, one of the biggest outdoor venues in the entirety of the Metropolitan area, in the buildup to TD/MD’s headlining act, wherein both of your teams have had a performer set to open for her. The place is packed at a capacity of tens of thousands of people.
The stage is a competently designed semicircle which is roughly 30 meters across for length and maximum width, with plenty of room all over and the various necessary fixtures upheld off the ground. It is raised up about 2 meters off the ground. Its back half is partially covered by the overhanging roof of the backstage area a dozen meters above.
The backstage area spreads out about 10 meters from both sides and the back of the stage, being somewhat indoorsy and absolutely full of things one could expect an excellent stage production to have, including, of course, sturdy rafters which lead up to the ceiling area overtop the stage. Both sides have had time to arrange for some extra things to be brought in.
Goal: With a leadup of fifteen minutes before acts, and a half an hour where both of your performers are onstage at once, you have a show to put on, and that is not getting ruined by this overbooking. So, with Rudolf and Alexis up on stage, and Pineapples and Cybil each operating their abilities and managing a three-person stage crew, outperform your opponents!
Given the vastly different skill-sets of the competitors, the goal is to execute on your vision better than your opponent executes on theirs. You will be judged and voted on the following criteria, in decreasing priority:
  • Feasibility - Whether your performance is actually within the bounds of what your Stand and Stats would imply.
  • Skill Use - A close second in relevance; how well you integrate your User Skills and Stats into your performance. While your Skills will help in completing this objective, they do not provide an automatic advantage by merely existing and must be woven into your strats, as per usual. Even the best of artists can have abysmal live performances.
  • Stand Use - Similar to the above, and similarly important. How cool, creative, and well-integrated is your Stand use. Put another way, wow the judges, voters, and viewers at home! This is more or less just the same as before.
  • Environment Use - How well you use and integrate the auditorium - its features, its backstage, its stage, and the hearts and passions of its occupants - into your performance.
  • Efficiency - How much quality footage you obtain and how well you use your time. This does not mean that setup for more complex performances is automatically penalized, but do try to minimize ‘deadtime’ and maximize the amount you perform.
Additional Information: There is a huge simp for TD/MD in the audience of the match, and he is connected enough that he will have both of you successfully and canonically killed if you ruin the show before the headliner can go on; therefore, murdering your opponents or audience members (“the ol’ Abraham Lincoln Tech” as they say in the biz) on an audience member is a loss condition. Not at all a moral thing for the record.
Stage Crew members for the respective teams (Harry, Mark, and John on the MFAs, Thorn, Dusk, and Luna on the Highrollers, if you care about their names) have 4s in strength, agility, endurance, Stagehand, and Backup; pretty much, anything their associated team asks them to do, they’ll be able to do, at minimum, competently. Though they won’t, like, murder for you. Generally you can use them for moving props on/off stage, extra bodies or on-stage back up performers, speaker and soundboard control, and/or on-stage camera crew as well as managing any other stage controls. Pretty much everything save for pyronetics and lighting is in their purview.
There are also dedicated lighting guys, totally neutral in your squabbles, who are going to do an entirely too good job adjusting their focus and making things work exactly as is needed so attention is on the stars of the show. They will also be coordinated with a third party camera crew that will be streaming the live feed onto screens for the audience. These feeds can be replaced or split screened with your own crew’s footage, but otherwise they will generally be in control of what is shown on-screen.
Players can be assumed to already have well-rehearsed their plans of action, the in-universe basis for the modified plans of the match, and have knowledge about every aspect of the stage, even if parts of their initial plan obviously need to be modified to account for new challengers also occupying stage space. If something performance related isn’t insanely, “years of training to do competently required” level hard, but would still require some practice ahead of time, they have had it to, at absolute max, somewhere between a 2 and a 3. Players, don’t overly-game this, though; the ‘stars’ of your performances should be the sheeted unique abilities of you, your skills, and your Stands.
All stands can be seen on camera and on the live feed for the audience's viewing pleasure.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Judecca Highrollers Alexis Williams “This one is for the guy who keeps yelling from the Balcony, and it’s called ‘We Hate You, Please Die.’” Gymnastics is a sport of rhythm and pace, this performance should be no different for keeping your momentum. Make as seamless transitions as you can between the acts of your performance!
Judecca Highrollers Cybil Antoine “Prepare to have your minds obliterated by… The boys! And Crash!” You have a whole crew of people working for you here, no need to do any heavy lifting by yourself. This is their job after all, better put them to work since that’s what they are here for. Make the most use out of your stage hands in your performance!
Masters of Funky Action Rudolf "Nureyev" Pavlova “What is with this band? They’ve… changed. Have you noticed they don’t have instruments? Where’s all this amazing noise coming from?” Keeping the audience’s attention for a full 30 minutes should be a piece of cake for the world’s greatest dancer, you can keep the party rocking even between your different acts. Make as seamless transitions as you can between the acts of your performance!
Masters of Funky Action Admiral Pineapples “You and your fireballs and your demon hipster chicks / you’re talking the talk and it’s pretty slick / You think you’re so great, but you’re missing the point / You gotta have friendship and courage and whatever!” You’re all in this show together, you and your crew of stage hand. Everybody should be contributing here, no man left behind. Make the most use out of your stage hands in your performance!
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by Dungeon_Dice to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

4 Bet staking plans. Lay staking plans :-Lay a Percentage Of A Profit Target Lay to a Set Liability. Rolling Lays 4 Lay staking plans . Take a look at the free on-line calculators on the "Free Calcs" web page. One Point Lay staking plan & One point Bet staking plan. This is staking method can be applied to betting or laying. Betting or laying If there is one simple thing you can do to get better at betting, it’s to use a robust staking plan. There is no glamour to it, and very few systems providers explain it properly (except occasionally to go a bit mystical about Fibonacci or something similar!). But in my experience, good staking is the bedrock of successful betting. The previous section discussed how much of your wager to place on each selection in a betting market. What it didn’t discuss was how to choose your initial stake in the first place. The Kelly Criterion, which is discussed in a later section, outlines a formal methodology for choosing a stake amount, but for those who want something simpler, this section discusses some more basic staking plans. The Benchmark Is the Level Risk Staking Plan. A level risk staking plan means risking a fixed stake or ‘unit’ per bet (e.g. £5 stakes throughout my Mug Betting Experiment).A selection system that doesn’t produce a profit on a level stake basis won’t profit under any staking plan. Fundamentally it needs to have a positive edge.. There are two types of level-risk staking plans: The Maria Lay Betting Staking Plan . The Maria Staking Plan is a lay staking plan that is named after a username of a forum member that was involved in a thread that turned £3000 into over £100,000 in just over 300 days (303) in real time in front of hundreds of other members.

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