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  1. oh right, I suppose I need the mandatory award...

    oh right, I suppose I need the mandatory award for writing this

    @ any friendly mod
  2. I had 95% of this written before the recent anon...

    Quote Originally Posted by Apoc (#8)
    Relate this to the recent anon game

    While it's fresh in minds
    I had 95% of this written before the recent anon mash was played, but sure, let's give it a shot as it's a good example of how some of the principles listed above apply!

    As a refresher, or for those unaware, Apoc is referring to the recent Halloween Mash, a game played on anonymous accounts that ended on N4 with a mafia victory. The wolves were pretty much in control from the word go and while it wasn't a full-on powerwolfing situation, it fit well enough to suit our purposes here.

    I was in the unique position of being specially recruited to spectate the game, along with Voxxicus and Newcomb. Each night phase (and, after a time, on some dayphases as well) we would collectively be able to send messages, limited to 15 words, that would be received by certain players of both alignments. There was no expectation that we'd have to give reads or help solve the game with these messages, as we weren't players... but when you lock me/Voxx/Newcomb in a room together with a mafia game in progress, naturally we're gonna try to solve and townside.

    On N3, one of the players in the game decided to activate an ability that allowed one of the three of us to take the account over for the next dayphase and actually play. It was decided that I would be the one to enter in, and the situation on the ground was such that the wolves were extremely close to reaching parity. The ratio at that point was something like 11:9. So this was a pretty good testing ground to put some of the article's principles in action.

    For the first part of the article's suggestions above, namely the "identifying your own role" bit, I didn't need to really do anything as my takeover of the account had rendered me unlynchable for the day and the town pretty much collectively decided early on that they didn't have any better ideas than to follow me anyway. So I didn't need to overcome that particular hurdle and instead was able to get straight to the part of identifying the other player archetypes.

    I hadn't been religiously following the game before my "sub" in, but some ISOing on N2 pointed me to Fanciful Fairy (SmartBomb) as a player who had made some pretty wolfy posts. Newcomb/Voxx/myself sent messages on N2, D3, and N3 saying as much, and while this partly caused Fairy to get pressure, his wagon had never quite taken off. Confirmation bias was well in play, but this absolutely felt to me like a hit on the classic "player in the POE but never seriously pushed" archetype and I figured there was a good chance of that player being a wolf.

    Similarly, some of Newcomb's ISOing on N3 pointed to Mumbling Mummy (vanity.) as another likely wolf. We put the two together and realized that there was a distinct pattern of Mummy blowing off those who wanted to pressure Fairy despite acknowledging that there was really nothing redeeming in Fairy's iso. The raw posts can be found in the below spoiler:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5507)
    Quote Originally Posted by Stupendous Student (#5503)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5501)
    banana
    monkey
    ringmaster
    pharaoh

    seems decent for a primitive shots list
    I'd add Fairy (based on my own read more than the spirits by the way), but this one has my thumbs up I guess
    yeah i guess so based on the spirit message but uh

    i can't get myself to trust it yet
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5532)
    your case on fairy seems kinda weaksauce tbh student

    it's basically "yeah good thoughts overall but nothing stemmed from one post they made" and then them just voting and ita'ing a bunch of villagers

    i don't get the point you're making on the "i'm allergic to something in soldier's iso" thing. voting and ita'ing a bunch of villagers is wolfy on the surface but it like... means basically nothing. why is fairy voting and ita'ing a bunch of villagers wolfy?

    the fact that you're so convinced on it perplexes me
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5534)
    i'm not going oppose ita shots on fairy

    i just think this case is very weak
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5547)
    Quote Originally Posted by Stupendous Student (#5537)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5532)
    your case on fairy seems kinda weaksauce tbh student

    it's basically "yeah good thoughts overall but nothing stemmed from one post they made" and then them just voting and ita'ing a bunch of villagers

    i don't get the point you're making on the "i'm allergic to something in soldier's iso" thing. voting and ita'ing a bunch of villagers is wolfy on the surface but it like... means basically nothing. why is fairy voting and ita'ing a bunch of villagers wolfy?

    the fact that you're so convinced on it perplexes me
    Look, I'm bad at explaining things. Let me try and collect things in a more sensible format.
    i await it!

    fairy's iso doesn't hold up overall now. but i absolutely wouldn't ita them over banana, ringmaster, or pharaoh
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5699)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile Mouse (#5698)
    Quote Originally Posted by Bumbling Bee (#5691)
    Any list that is 5 or less people?

    I hate big lists.
    monkey
    ringmaster
    pharaoh
    fairy
    deer
    seal of approval on this
    Mummy gives a seal of approval to a shots list with Fairy on it, but spends the entire time focusing elsewhere:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5761)
    ringmaster and pharaoh need to be disposed of from the werewolf wagon

    lemme look at the other names real quick...
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5771)
    i don't want pirate dead... yet

    yeah bad shot on cheerleader and voted werewolf but they're sorta villagery regardless!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5819)
    Quote Originally Posted by Stupendous Student (#5817)
    hey if you're looking for no depth of thought, go kill Fairy
    yes i'm getting desperate now
    but i'm actually right this time, I swear
    i understand you're tunneled but

    i want pharaoh and ringmaster dead first
    Quote Originally Posted by Mumbling Mummy (#5866)
    Quote Originally Posted by Big-hearted Burglar (#5863)
    Not gonna be around for ITA 2. Who's the shot?
    imo the best shots atm are on pharaoh or ringmaster

    for any other spicy shots... apparently foxy is slightly spicy. princess doesn't actually ping as villagery atm


    This pattern made it pretty clear that Mummy was actively seeking to preserve the pro-wolf status quo while at the same time reinforcing the initial read on Fairy that their wagon was actively being prevented from becoming truly threatening - and in a wolfy way, too. This led me to believe that Fairy was a strong wolf role considering the defense of someone who really had not been posting well (sorry sb).

    The tl;dr of all this is that we were able to cobble together a lynch on Fairy, who was the strongest wolf role in the game. Town then proceeded to lose on N4 due to it being 11:9 at Start of Day 4 and the perfect storm of night actions not coming to pass.

    ---

    I'm leaving out other archetypes (and again, not every archetype in the article will happen in every powerwolf gamestate!), but this serves as a function of a) my unique entry into the game and how it IMMEDIATELY warped around me due to these circumstances, and b) the 11:9 ratio, which I'd call not so much an "unfavorable" gamestate as "the wolves running out the clock".

    Still though, it serves as a good example. Not everybody has the luxury of reading the game from on high before entering in, but if you can manage it, it can be useful!
  3. Gonna try to find some time to respond in-depth...

    Gonna try to find some time to respond in-depth tomorrow, but a couple of quick hits before I go to sleep:

    - SR covered the role in player voting, you want to give the people that actually took part in Champs a reasonable amount of agency

    - Against differentiating the games on any level aside from phaselengths (this includes a sliding post limit/different setups per game) because inevitably someone's preference is gonna be left out during the later rounds. Better to keep the playing field level right from the very start, and this means unified format/post count rules

    - To each their own regarding the boring-ness of Mountainous (will have more setup talk tomorrow)

    - Postcap lifted 1 hour before EOD instead of 2 hours is something I don't have a problem with

    - 100% against full transparency for vote justification for the reasons already stated. So much potential to be abused.
  4. Not really, but I'll explain further: First of...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chemist1422 (#8)
    I'm not sure if this is what GH was talking about wrt poison setup but I think replacing the N1 kill with a poison instead of moving it to N2 benefits the village, as it counters the info loss from moving the kill to N2

    Also another issue with mountainous is how difficult it can be to swing momentum, which is why I suggest that all champs participants be quizzed on GH's mafia university article prior to the game
    Not really, but I'll explain further:

    First of all, on principle I don't think that that delaying the kill is a net gain for wolves. Yes, town loses info for an extra stage, but that's more than countered by the fact that an N1 kill (and thus presumably somebody who the wolves want out of the game) is in the thread for another day.

    Secondly, I'm against poison setups because the person who is poisoned, assuming the poison is announced, becomes almost an innocent child and there's too much of a chance of the game getting warped around that single slot, which isn't ideal in a tournament setting (which is why we'll have another full Cop setup, for example).
  5. I'd like to start out this post saying that,...

    I'd like to start out this post saying that, while still overall successful at its aims, the specific combination of this year's setup and administration - while no fault of those who ran it - has exposed certain flaws in the overall Champs system. I do not seek to levy blame at anyone for these flaws, as they have mostly not been a major issue since I first started following the series in Season 3. Nor am I saying that the entire system itself is flawed and needs a dramatic overhaul, because in my opinion it is not and it does not. Rather, I merely want to point out said flaws within the system, engage in discussion about them, and most important, move us towards solutions that will help address these flaws and keep Champs fresh moving forward into the future.

    To those who have seen me around in specchat (or especially both of the jury chats I have been in), much of what I am proposing will not come as much of a surprise. That said, I still think it's useful to organize my thoughts and put everything in one place for the purpose of a structured discussion.

    I will organize this post into two parts: The problems that I have identified that are either specific to this season or series-wide will be the first part, and my proposed solutions for next year's setup (and potentially moving forward) will be the second. We begin with the problems.

    Problems

    Before we talk about the more ingrained issues with the current Champs format, let's talk about Season 6 specifically. Much has been made about this season's setup Mad17, its flaws, its suitability or lack thereof for Champs, and the fact that 13 of the 14 games this season ended in a mafia victory.

    It's worth noting that the decision to go with Mad17 was borne out of multiple desires: First of all, Thingyman had long wished for a season with a role-heavy setup, one not having been done since Season 1. This makes sense in practice as there are a lot of mafia communities over the internet that have far more experience with role madness games than the typically more vanilla MU-style games of this size. Secondly, due to a variety of reasons that would take far long to get into here, the organizing team got a late start on deciding and implementing the setup this year in the preseason, and thus there wasn't quite enough time as was probably ideal for testing, refining, etc.

    The end result was Mad17, a setup that is interesting in concept but that I think tried to do too much. It had the near impossible task of satisfying the communities that were more used to role madness setups while at the same time being tournament-appropriate. While trying to straddle the line between these two extremes, it ended up not being good for either. It certainly did have some improvements than past Champs setups in how it handled common flaws - such as reducing the likelihood that the N1 kill, previously somewhat of a blind spot in terms of player voting - was a strong player kill, overall there were other ways that this could be accomplished without also bringing along Mad17's baggage.

    The heavily mafia-skewed outcomes of the 14 total games, while not entirely the setup's fault, were probably the most damning outcome of Mad17 being implemented. I will not speak of specifics and whether or not all of the group and individual mafia wins deserved their victories or not, but anytime you have a supposedly balanced setup that result in 92.8% of the games ending in mafia wins, a good number of them being sweeps or only one wolf dying, then you have improperly failed to balance the setup for the Champs format and its unique challenges.

    Champs is always going to be inherently wolfsided due to the unfamiliarity of the players with each other/the culture clash as well as the presence of Champs Hero Syndrome in town play that can interfere with good teamwork. But there are other setups out there that can solve issues such as the N1 problem like Mad17 did without exacerbating other issues already present.

    Series-wide

    The biggest overall issue of Champs is bloat.

    Thingyman's main goal when starting this series was to bring together mafia communities from all corners of the internet, get them interacting with each other, and provide them a safe harbor of sorts when natural forum decay over time meant that the communities would die out. It's a noble goal, and I can understand why he's invited as many communities as possible in the past, but it's has become logistically unfeasible to continue to expand the series.

    For starters, everything has taken longer. From the start of Game 1 to Beck being crowned champion, Season 6 took one week under six months. This is not ideal for anyone: the players, the organizers, the jury, and the spectators. The longer the series takes, the more people's plans change. Real life happens. The amounts of subs needed increase as the games get further out from the the start of the season. Attention waxes and wanes. Momentum is lost.

    Continuing to grow Champs and extending the timeframe does not work. Continuing to grow Champs and condensing it into a more reasonable 4-5 month period is simply too much to ask for the organizers and especially the jury.

    Two years ago, after Season 4 had concluded, I thought we were nearing the tipping point. We are now at it.

    I already talked about the problems with indefinitely extending the timeframe for Champs. In terms of the other option, you can't work around this by just getting rid of the jury because you want that safety net in place to help out the players who don't quite get the totals they need in qualifier postgame voting.

    The only solution is to condense the number of players and communities. I understand that this goes against the initial mission of Champs and Thingy's goal, but the only alternatives I see are logistically unfeasible and would hurt the tournament in the long run if it becomes poorly-run. We need to make a hard decision, and I think that decision is to consolidate our gains, at least for a year.

    ---

    Changing course for a minute, the other yearslong debate in Champs is whether the series as a whole is primarily a tournament designed to find the best mafia players out there or whether it's more of a social event. This question has been asked and answered by none other than Thingy himself (primarily a social event with the tournament elements still important but secondary), but the intentional ambiguity means that the advancement process is occasionally bumpy and invites controversy. Particularly in a season such as this one when you have a setup that leads to an incredibly unbalanced set of results, it puts the voters and jury in the unfortunate position of having to separate player skill from results perhaps more diametrically than they should.

    Adding to this is the lack of a level playing field between those players who received a direct advancement to the finale and those who had to go through the wildcards. If you're truly finding a season champion, then the range of skills shown between those who went the direct route and those did not is not ideal.

    This was less of an issue in the past. In Season 3, for example, 1/17 of the finale slots (before subs) were designated to be filled by wildcard players. But that number has gone up. In Season 4, it was 4/15. The past two years, it has been 6/17. What we need is a reunification of the number of games each advancee plays while at the same time making sure that the finale becomes the true centerpiece event of Champs as opposed to the "bronze medal game" and the perceived gulf in quality from the wildcards that it has been memed as for longer than I can remember.

    In other words, let's put everyone back on a level playing field and give a head nod to those who are more "tournament focused" while still maintaining the overall #1 goal of community interaction and socialization.

    My proposed solution

    Again, to those who have been in specchat or the Season 6 jurychat, very little of what I'm about to propose is new here. For those who might have missed it though, or for those simply curious, I'll provide explainers to each point below.

    Qualifier format: 10 qualifiers of 15 players each, 150 total communities
    Game setup: Tournament Mountainous (or find a name that's less dumb)
    12:3, wolves don't get a n1 but get to kill two people on n2 (1 kill per night thereafter)
    Postcap: 200 per day, lifted 2 hours before EOD
    Postgame advancement: Top 2 spots in player voting go to a semifinal game (20 total)
    Jury: Jury picks 25 additional players for a semifinal game
    Semifinal setup: 3 total semifinal games, player voting only in terms of advancement thereafter
    Finale setup: 5 players from each semifinal game voted into finale


    Qualifier format: Kind of discussed above in the "problems" section, but this format would cut down on the number of communities which will keep the entire series to a more manageable size. In addition, the reduced number of players per game will mean that each individual game is easier to follow along with.

    Game setup: Ok, let's talk about Mountainous. For those unfamiliar with the term, "mountainous" refers to no power roles of any kind being present: simply vanilla towns vs. mafia goons. Ever since the series moved to MU, Season 4 had the most balanced winrate: 9:5 mafia:town (6:5 in qualifiers), with 7 of those games reaching a Final 3. Season 4 was also the season with a Mountainous setup. Say what you will about Mountainous, but if you're looking for something balanced and useful for tournament play, this is the way to go. Its only flaw in a Champs setting besides being potentially boring, shut up dya is that there's no way to stop the N1 kill from being simply the most dangerous townie and thus unfortunately penalizing that player in the postgame voting due to recency bias on the voters' parts as well as that player simply not having enough time to shine.

    Enter the proposed setup. It still retains the mountainous structure and the overall kill distribution, it simply delays the first kill by one additional night. More people have the chance to display their skills. Unlike in Mountainous Arson, the wolves don't have to decide anything on N1 so they're not locked in should the game take a turn and worry about lynching the person they have "primed" to die. Poison variants would create de facto innocent children and warp the game too much around them - not ideal in a champs setting. Mountainous Desperado might work but similarly would most likely warp the game and postgame voting around whoever is assigned the gun at SOD3. The proposed setup, on the other hand, preserves the integrity of Mountainous, makes it more fair for people trying to advance, and maybe even slightly townsides it which counteracts the inherent wolfsided-ness of Champs anyway.

    Postcap: Overall, I think the implementation of the postcap was a success this year. While I recognize that some people strongly disliked it and felt it cramped their natural style (s/o to FTFlush among others), I think it brings more to the table than it takes away as a whole and allows people who can't no-life the game to not get completely swallowed up. Raising it to 200 next season accounts for two fewer players at the start of the game, giving folks like Macdougall more room to play with, and still keeps the principle intact.

    Postgame advancement: The biggest change of this proposal is that it removes the possibility of direct advancement to the finale. However, for reasons discussed above and the increasing importance of the wildcard games (widely considered to be a good thing), this is probably for the best overall. It once again levels the playing field, and while there is no distinction between the 1st place finisher in a qualifier and the others anymore, it's worth noting that Season 3 did not distinguish between the top two vote-getters in qualifiers, so there is precedent.

    Jury: Still plays a role in this setup, deciding 25 advancees. This should be a reasonable balance between player agency as well as impartial decision. As a two-time juror, I have personal experience with the jury process and everything it entails and think that this is fine. An alternative is sending the top three finishers in each qualifier (30 overall) and having the jury pick the remaining 15. The 20:25 ratio is more in line with recent player vote : jury advancement ratios, but I have no problem with it becoming 30:15 if that's what public opinion is in favor of.

    Semifinal setup: We're removing the term "wildcard" in this variant because nobody gets to bypass it and it's no longer considered a "second chance" of sorts. I think everyone is in agreement that the wildcard games of years past have been of extremely high quality (sometimes even higher quality than the finale), so there's not really a reason to not keep a good trend going here. The main issue is one of schedule creep, tied into the "bloat" problem above, but a more structured approach to allowing for dates and schedules in general should counteract this. The important thing is finishing qualifiers and revealing the wildcard/semifinal/jury selections around July 4th and especially before MU Anniversary, and with more preseason preparation as well as a lighter amount of qualifiers, this shouldn't be a problem.

    Finale setup: Should be fairly self-explanatory. 5 advancees from each semifinal game ensures that, for once, the finale might actually be the highest-quality game of the tournament.

    ---

    Anyway, this has been a long post but some of it contains thoughts that have circulated in my head for years now. The most important thing to get out of this is that we need to tighten up the overall schedule/tournament structure as well as choose a setup that's fair for all players. Hopefully this will work out as planned and next year we can all get back to the more customary arguments of which wolf was most egregiously robbed in the postgame voting.
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    Completed Edit: Thanks to CFox for letting me play for a...

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#8452)
    Spirit/Genie here.

    Diva, I knew you were Pirate. The most frustrating thing for yesterday was that a) I couldn't openly metaread you because of game rules, and b) there wasn't enough time for us to find common ground so I kind of had to triage on getting Fairy lynched.

    All part of the game is all, have no ill will towards you whatsoever.
    Edit: Thanks to CFox for letting me play for a day!
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    Completed Spirit/Genie here. Diva, I knew you were...

    Spirit/Genie here.

    Diva, I knew you were Pirate. The most frustrating thing for yesterday was that a) I couldn't openly metaread you because of game rules, and b) there wasn't enough time for us to find common ground so I kind of had to triage on getting Fairy lynched.

    All part of the game is all, have no ill will towards you whatsoever.
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    Completed GG vanity. Good posting at the end there man. ...

    GG vanity. Good posting at the end there man.

    Re: salt, I definitely understand it, every word I said in this post was true:

    Quote Originally Posted by Generous Genie (#7730)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ghoulish Ghost (#7725)
    I DO understand
    what the Headless Horseman says,
    and it's...strange indeed:

    Game has frozen still.
    There's no fighting, nobody
    trying for a change.

    Now, whether that means
    that the wolves are quite content
    or have just resigned...

    Let's hope for the best
    that they're cowering in fear
    of the Genie's wrath.
    My hope is that they're tilted. It's a weird thing to hope for, but picture yourself as a wolf: you've played well, collectively, for 3+ dayphases and you're probably a single day away from wrapping the game up. All of a sudden there's this mechanic out of nowhere saying that A RANDOM SPECTATOR who has been following the game (which always, always is followed from a villagery perspective because that's what specs do) and has actively tried to solve is now in the thread, essentially cleared by the role itself, and is imposing his reads and uniting the town.

    Like, I'm not a wolf or anything, but it's a $#@! sandwich to be served for sure.

    Selfishly, I hope that's what they're feeling because that means that #TeamSpirits is on the right track with our solving. But emotionally yeah I can absolutely understand what they're feeling like (assuming I'm right anyway. If I'm wrong and they're using these types of posts in their #popping-bottles channel then I'm just gonna try to laugh this one off and deny this game's existence for the rest of time).
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    Completed Despite my incessant bitching in spirit chat, I...

    Despite my incessant bitching in spirit chat, I had a fun time - thanks to the hosts for letting me take part and pairing me with some really fun players. Thanks to the hosts in general for running this - I can tell you all spent a lot of time designing and working on this game, and the effort shows. This was a true labor of love and I'm happy to have taken part in it.

    Congrats of course to the wolves on a strong game.

    GH/spirit/Genie
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    McGinty

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    Gaming Week 1 is in the books, so I'm leaving this...

    Week 1 is in the books, so I'm leaving this unspoiled.

    One of the many themes that Bioware introduced in ME1 specifically only to kind of put aside in the sequels was the issue of humanity's rapid advancement through the galactic ranks. Obviously we're just starting out here but already we're seeing it with some backstory: just how prepared is humanity, really, for this? The in-universe history is legitimately startling (and probably an example of Writers Cannot Do Math): only a generation or two ago, humanity was alone and just starting space travel in force. Then, by means of the Prothean data cache on Mars, we not only found mass effect technology, but applied it, started opening relays, held our own in a skirmish with the biggest military power in the galaxy, joined the community, got an embassy, started colonizing the Attican Traverse in force, pissed the batarians off enough to have them withdraw from the Citadel, got in a quasi-military conflict with them and again held our own, and are now - if word is correct - on the cusp of getting a council seat. That's... a lot.

    I can certainly understand the other species' hesitance and unease over humanity with all of that happening, because in the grander scheme of things we really have zero experience whatsoever. Captain Anderson, who's still young enough to be in active service, was born before any of the above paragraph happened, for (biotic) God's sake. To the asari especially, all of this has happened in a blink of an eye, and already we're clamoring for more more more.

    Unintentionally, I'm finding my Shepard mirroring humanity's path and probably will be taking a more realistic approach than what Bioware kind of rails you on. Yes, she survived the Blitz and acquitted herself well at Eden Prime, but really, what else has she done? Canonically, this visit to the Citadel was her first time ever there, and as her bumbling about with the investigation has proven, she's not exactly the most subtle and practiced figure beyond shooting things. And now she's a Spectre.

    It's a lot to think about.
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    Gaming Eden Prime is actually my favorite opening...

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#75)
    Anywho, here are my thoughts on the actual chunk we're doing this week.



    Eden Prime: For a tutorial section, it's pretty good. On replays the feeling of just wanting to get it over with is still there, but not quite as much as in other games, and it has some good level design (level design is a big complaint for me in Mass Effect, as I've said, but I'll still hold off for now), so I do actually enjoy it. Nice that the guy that bites it right at the start is a reference to Leroy Jenkins. Not much else to comment on really on the main story, other than overall it grew on me more each time I played it. The first few times I felt it was kinda obvious Saren was going to be a bad guy, but I guess the more I thought about it the more I could relate to the fact that he used to be a well respected spectre and the fact that he's a baddie is a complete and utter surprise to everyone not on Shepard's team, goes for both the council and Nihlus.

    Eden Prime is actually my favorite opening mission in any Bioware game, and it is by some distance. It strikes the right balance between mystery, action, character development, and a good plot hook to keep you interested. You get your requisite deaths like Jenkins (lol) and Nihlus, but IMO Bioware straddles the line nicely here between hitting you with deaths for shock value but not going overboard with it. Too often they fall into the trap of killing too many people off and having the initial setpieces be too dark (looking at you, Dragon Age Origins) and you're wondering why you just bothered investing 2+ hours of gametime into getting to know all these supporting characters only for them to pull the rug out from under you.

    Great mission, great introduction to the game and series as a whole. I think it actually improves with multiple playthroughs.
  13. Completed Now that that's done, I'd like to extend my...

    Now that that's done, I'd like to extend my serious congratulations to Beck, Mac, Spiny, LLD, Apoc, and everyone else for taking part in this Championships. You all played a wonderful game I was very happy to host for you all.

    I sincerely hope you all enjoyed this experience, made friends, and in general gained a new appreciation for the whole of the mafia community. Congrats to Beck once again on his win and I'll see you all next season.

    GH

  14. Completed Conclusion https://i.imgur.com/QwNFvWw.png ...

    Conclusion


    The finish line was in sight at last. After weeks, seemingly months, seemingly geological epochs of pogoing across two continents and four countries, the six remaining racers had braved the worst of the Sahara and the renewed fighting between the Malian government forces and the Tuareg rebels looking certainly worse for the wear, but still mostly in one piece.

    They would carry this experience with them for the remainder of their lives. It had been, everyone agreed, the most strenuous and trying Great Northerner in memory - from all of the deaths, to the dust storm in the Sahara, to the constant fear of the Red Valkyries, to the literal *racing on a pogo stick through an active war zone*, but it was now mostly over. The billion dollars had never been closer, and the dusty walls of Timbuktu were in sight.


    The ancient "city of gold", once one of the world's greatest trading centers due to its strategic location between the vast riches of the Mali empire and the access to the Maghreb and points north, Timbuktu had mostly ceased to become relevant once sea trade had rendered overland travel through the Sahara obsolete some centuries ago, but it had always retained its air of mystery in certain (European and western) circles. When Henri Pogeaux had first devised the idea of the Great Overlander in the middle of the Twentieth Century, a long and grueling race through the desert with the promise of incalculable riches awaiting the winner, Timbuktu had seemed the obvious finish line.

    Making the ancient trading center suitable for prime time has been an ongoing task, especially in recent years with the instability in this part of Mali. However, with the natural prestige that came with the city's name as well as the global attention that it has received from being the finish line to the richest and most dangerous in the world, Timbuktu escaped the worst of the Northern Mali conflict at its height and so far the recent resurgence in fighting has not touched its borders - almost as if the rebels were following orders to not go near it.

    Nothing would spoil the city's day in the light as the six remaining pogoers approached its ancient walls. Thus was Timbuktu ready to receive its due.


    Which racer would cross the finish line first though? With the eruption of the fighting in the area and the abandonment of the designated route in the name of safety, Race HQ and all other official sources had ceased fully tracking and placing the remaining contestants. Regnault, Puntambekar, Ri, Musungu, Davies, and Steinlage each came equipped with a GPS, but even that was unreliable at best in the harsh environment they were traveling through. In other words, the race for a billion was still completely open.

    ---

    The exact finish line was the Sankoré Madrasah (more familiar to Civilization players as the University of Sankore), located near the geographic center of Timbuktu. All of the gates from the walls of the old city were roughly equidistant to its location and thus equally viable by the racers - provided that they had gotten to each gate at the same time. As a result, the international TV coverage needed to keep an eye on all four gates.

    Coming up on the Northern Gate were two players that had taken a direct route through the city's fighting: North Korea's Ri Yong-ju and France's Rene Regnault. The two were a contrast in styles. The impoverished, mysterious North Korean had had the most haphazard of pogo sticks by far that started to fall apart nearly immediately. However, her skill at field repair and her expert handling of adversity had allowed her to make up for this and even lead the race for a point before coming closest to death in the northern Malian villages touched by the fighting. Meanwhile, the Frenchman, one of the most famous people in the world, had thrown off all criticisms that he was all style and no substance by weathering the storm and always maintaining a presence at or near the front. He had lost weight, had a gaunt look on his face that almost certainly was not there at the start of the race, and his golden stick was now dust-colored like everything else that had passed through the desert, but he was still there, still racing, still alive.

    Ri's resourcefulness had won her many plaudits, but at the end of the day she could not match Regnault's pure skill. He had passed her roughly ten miles out from Timbuktu, saluting her as he went by, and she was aware of her fate, hoping that the Frenchman would win so that she could at least obtain second. Regnault, for his part, was close to collapsing from exhaustion before the pass, and he was hanging on to the last vestiges of his adrenaline to try to see him through.

    At the Eastern Gate was a single solitary pogoer: Kenya's Cheris Musungu. The former marathoner had weathered the harsh conditions of the race perhaps better than anyone else in the field, but she was deterred from the most direct route by fear that the Tuareg rebels, targeting the mostly black African Malian forces, would target her. Instead, she had taken the long way around to be safe, hoping that her superior conditioning would make up the difference. Musungu was mere minutes away from finding out if this was the case and if she was the first African racer to win the Great Overlander.

    Most of the attention, however, was focused at the Western Gate, where all three racers were in sight of one another and desperately trying to summon their final reserves of energy to provide one last boost. The USA's Michelle Steinlage, who had controversially aided the Tuareg rebels on live TV in order to clear the road more quickly, New Zealand's Larissa Davies, who had finally postponed the search for her husband Mick after a dead end in the Sahara in order to finish first, and India's Narender Puntambekar, a former leading racer after the Atlas Mountains before a series of mishaps in the Sahara had caused him to fall back, were all vying for the win. Steinlage was leading the three, but she was having a hard time trying to fend off Davies for the lead, using every single blocking tactic in her arsenal to try to make up for the Kiwi's seemingly greater energy and motivation.

    And thus the racers closed in from three directions. Ri and Puntembekar were out of it; it was down to Regnault from the north, Musungu from the east, and Steinlage and Davies from the west. The unique tower of the madrassa was in sight for all, looming, getting closer in the distance, only maybe one or two more blocks to go. Musungu thought she could see the others, she thought she had a bead on Regnault but wasn't sure about the western two, she decided to keep pogoing, the Frenchman put on a burst of speed to the north, the Kiwi made one last pass attempt against the American, not long now -

    And then, from the south, a figure decked out all in red pogo'd her way into the square and edged everybody out in the winner's circle.

    Regnault was so surprised that he tunnel vision'd onto this mysterious figure, lost all track of his peripheral surroundings, and ended up crashing into Musungu. Similarly, neither Steinlage nor Davies wanted to stop, and both of them blazed right by this mysterious figure without stopping until their momentum carried them into the tangle of piled-up racers just outside the circle. With everybody coughing and checking their sticks for damage, they finally looked up and saw the person who had beaten them all...

    Isabela Castaño?

    "But... you died! In Marrakech!"

    The Spaniard sported a brilliant smile as she shook the hand of the Credit Suisse representative on site to deliver her the billion. "It seemed that way, didn't it? But the Red Valkyries needed a false flag to throw everyone off the scent, and so I played the part. I got a nice rest for a few hours playing a corpse, this allowed me to pass through the desert and follow my own route unnoticed while everyone else faced trials and tribulations... everyone wins!"

    "I think not," said the race Director, Joachim Ducard, only a hint of annoyance seeping into his voice as he ambled over, still puffing on his cigar. "An excellent performance, Ms. Castaño, but one that's invalid. You just admitted coordination with the Red Valkyries group, and the official race clearly states that anyone affiliated with them is-

    "You're one to talk," she said, snatching the cigar right out of the Director's hand and puffing some smoke of her own in his face. "The Red Valkyries may seek to eliminate racers, yes, but you threatened to upend the entire geopolitical situation just for the sake of ratings and gambling wages. Arming rebels and reigniting a previously-dormant conflict? You've got bigger problems than me winning to worry about. And by the way, check my GPS data, I ran a clean route."

    "I have no idea what you're talking ab-" he started to say, and then stopped when he spotted a full dozen armed UN peacekeepers marching into the area, clearly headed straight for him.

    "Director, this is going to go one of the two ways," Castaño said, clearly enjoying herself. "You're seconds away from being arrested and will almost certainly be put on trial for crimes against humanity at the Hague in a few months. The only question is whether that trial is private... or if it's *public*, just like your entire motivation for doing this in the first place. What's it gonna be, Director?"

    Ducard glared at the seemingly resurrected Spaniard, then glanced back at the UN forces, now mere steps away from him, and then looked back at Castaño. He sighed.

    "Congratulations on winning the 2019 Great Overlander, Isabela Castaño."

    She smiled. It had been a long, hard, strenuous race - one that future generations would easily call the most grueling Great Overlander of them all - but she had won.




    Beck is revealed to be Isabela Castaño (Spain)!

    Isabela Castaño has won the 2019 Great Overlander!

    Beck is the Season 6 Mafia Champion!



    Fin
  15. Replies
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    1,015

    Gaming As it turns out, none of the NG+ Shepards I have...

    As it turns out, none of the NG+ Shepards I have on this computer had the right combination of background that I wanted, so I ended up making a new one from scratch. Meet Alexandra, an instant contender for worst driver's license photo of all time:



    Profile:
    Femshep (duh)
    Vanguard
    Spacer background
    War Hero military service record

    Psychological profile:
    Yep, this is the pure paragon background. The idea that I have for this Shepard is that Alexandra - Greek for "defender of man" - was groomed from birth by her Alliance mother Hannah and, uh, completely nonrepresented father, who we'll call Jeff, to fight and to lead. She was, in a sense, born for this job (a completely risk-free shakedown run of a new vessel captained by one of the Alliance's most decorated figures), but she hasn't been truly tested. Yes, she can fight, there are hundreds of dead Batarians on Elysium that could attest to this if they weren't dead, but she hasn't ever really had to lead.

    So with this in mind, we'll see where the trilogy takes her.

    The Spacer background traditionally hasn't really appealed to me as much as Earthborn and Colonist, and I think the lack of struggle in Shepard's background is a big part of why. S/he's had to deal with truly difficult situations and/or tragedy in the other two, whereas a Spacer has a pretty comparatively charmed life. Similarly, the War Hero service history compounds this - Sole Survivor deals with overcoming tragedy, and Ruthless specifically already has Shepard in a position of leadership and having him/her make a hard decision.

    So my plan is to throw Alexandra, still kind of green overall, into this meat grinder of a situation and try to chart a *somewhat* realistic progression of her general outlook. This run is not going to be perfect, and this is by design.
  16. Completed As the racers made their way through the northern...

    As the racers made their way through the northern half of Mali, the Sahara Desert finally started to recede and signs of civilization once again made themselves known. First there vegetation, then actual vehicles, and then signs of human habitation. Unfortunately, all of these reemerging signs came with disturbing implications.


    The long-simmering conflict between the government and the northern Tuareg rebels had, in the past week, fully erupted to an intensity not seen since 2013. Nobody was quite sure of the cause. A ceasefire agreement had been signed years ago and was being upheld by everyone save for the most die-hard fighters. The remnants of the militant Islamists, the al-Qaeda and ISIS branches, that had tried to move in and establish themselves in the chaos, had been defeated. Stability - if not full peace - had been advancing in the region for quite some time.

    So why specifically was the conflict restarting now? Who was even left to fight? And where were the rebels getting their funding and equipment from after all this time? All of these were troubling questions that the international intelligence communities were at a loss answering.

    One thing that happened though, is that the conflict was far more salient and had much more global prominence this time around. This, of course, was entirely due to the fact that six racers on pogo sticks were passing directly through the area on their way to try to claim a billion-dollar prize, with international coverage in their immediate wake. As a result, horrifying images of the conflict were beamed worldwide, and the usual sporting pundits were desperately trying to educate themselves on the conflict in an attempt to appear the most informed.


    The true chaos began when the racers were informed through their emergency channel to and from Race HQ that due to "unplanned disruptions" in the area, Rule 1 (all racers must follow the designated route) was temporarily being suspended and that the racers could simply find the path to Timbuktu they found quickest and safest without having to worry about disqualification. Of course, as they hadn't planned for this contingency with their teams pre-race, and given how maps of the area weren't exactly reliable or in vogue, results were varied.

    Some of the racers, deciding not to brave the unknown, decided to press on ahead with the given route. Ri Yong-ju, leading the race and thus most willing to preserve the status quo, was one of these. Her decision was rewarded by a firefight taking place in the village she just happened to be passing through, causing her to hunker down and hide in the cellar of one of the buildings for hours while the gunfire raged around her. The North Korean had seemingly shrugged off every hazard the Great Overlander had thrown at her to this point, but as there was very little non-political crime in her home country, this was something different entirely for her. She had never felt more scared or helpless as she watched her lead presumably evaporate.

    Rene Regnault also decided to stick to the original route. In another village further south, he too ran into a firefight, but this one quickly evaporated simply by his presence and star power. The top pogo racer in the world was, naturally, an international icon, and a few choice words, a kind grin, and a couple of autographs and selfies was enough to persuade the rebels to move, and he bounced through that particular town without further incident. Defying all predictions of doom, it looked as if the French short-track specialist would be very much a factor thousands of miles in.

    Given that the conflict was primarily between the ethnic Berber Tuareg people and the black African Mali government, the Kenyan pogoer Cheris Musungu decided not to take any chances and gave every possible sign of civilization a very wide berth. As a result of this, she found that she didn't have to stop out of fear of being shot at any point, but even the former marathoner was approaching the physical breaking point. Her extra time in the Sahara and away from any comforts whatsoever were a hard burden to shoulder indeed.

    Meanwhile, Michelle Steinlage decided to take advantage of the situation. Born and raised in west Texas, this climate and the gunfire out in the desert was nothing new to her. Coming up on a village under siege from the rebels, Steinlage quickly acted and made contact with the rebels, asking for a gun. The bemused Tuaregs gave one to her and, in a move that sparked outrage and furious political debate back home, she joined the fighting and helped drive the government forces out of the village more quickly so that she could pass through and resume racing. "Whatever it takes!" she shouted to a camera as she bounced by.

    Ever the resourceful racer, Narender Puntambekar made a complete pit stop in the first village he saw, using his money to restock on food and water, and using the leftover to hire the services of a guide. After haggling the man down to 2/3 of what he was initially demanding, the Indian racer requested a route that got him to Timbuktu quickly and without any problems from the rebels or government soldiers. Two hours later, he and his guide were at a small camp out by an oasis where six men in military fatigues were demanding the rest of his possessions. He groaned. What was once a promising lead after the Atlases had now almost surely evaporated, and it looked like he would be pogoing into Timbuktu wearing only underwear.

    Last of all was Larissa Davies. Torn between wanting to avoid her husband's fate and desperately trying to get information on him, ultimately her curiosity and desire overcame her fear and she found herself speaking with the leader of an armed band of Tuareg rebels, nearly with tears in her eyes. However, reality soon set in as showing the man the picture of Mick she carried with her everywhere did nothing, and she had no languages in common with anyone there. Accepting that nothing could be done at this time, she vowed to race on and spend however much of the billion it took to get answers.

    The going was fraught and perilous, but in a departure from the race, none of them died. They made their way through the danger and came ever closer to true civilization, where the conflict had yet to touch. The miles melted away, and the Sahara and all of its troubles were now mostly behind them.

    Just a few more bounces would take them closer to Timbuktu and the finish line.




    STANDINGS:
    ???: Rene Regnault (France)
    ???: Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    ???: Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    ???: Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    ???: Narender Puntambekar (India)
    ???: Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    OUT: Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    OUT: Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    OUT: Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    OUT: Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    OUT: Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    OUT. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    To Be Concluded
  17. Completed Race HQ Madrid, Spain Everybody in the main...

    Race HQ
    Madrid, Spain


    Everybody in the main control room was on edge as the remaining racers prepared to cross the border from Algeria into Mali - the final border crossing and the final country of the Great Overlander. A small group was huddled together in one corner of the room, softly discussing various plans that had been set in motion. These included the regional race supervisor responsible for the Northern Mali sector, the official representative for Credit Suisse who would soon fly out to Timbuktu and present the first finisher with $1 billion at the finish line, and the poor, beleagured research assistant.

    "So then you are assured that there will be no transportation... difficulties?" the representative asked. "The conflict reigniting in recent days has surprised everyone with its suddenness and intensity. It would be unfortunate should the rebels cause more problems than necessary."

    "Everything has been arranged," the supervisor replied. "You will fly in to Algiers and take a charter to Timbuktu from there. My colleague responsible for Algeria assures me that the rebels do not have any influence that far north and would not dare disrupt operations in that country regardless. There are certain elements in that government that have long been sympathetic to the rebel cause."

    "Excellent," said the representative. "I must say, your assurances aside, that I am quite relieved to be traveling by air instead of overland. How the rebels were able to arm so quickly remains a mystery, but from everything I have heard their weapons are of top quality and they aren't afraid to deploy them."

    "Yes, well, not all of us can be Rene Regnault and pogo their way through the desert, after all." The two men softly laughed and shook hands as the representative departed to catch his flight.

    "Excuse me, Supervisor?" the research assistant finally blurted. "Is it not traditional for the Director to meet with Credit Suisse to oversee final operations before the representative's departure? Where is Director Ducard?"

    The supervisor turned around as if he had heard a piercing scream. "Sssssh!" he hissed. "Have you never heard of such a thing as plausible deniability?"

    "I mean yes, but - "

    "Well I haven't!" he said. "The Director is very busy ensuring that the final legs of this Great Overlander go off without a hitch and cannot be disturbed at the moment. Under his leadership this race is projected to be the most lucrative for us yet and he cannot risk turning his attention away and doing something that would detract from that!" With that, the supervisor walked away and made himself busy staring at a video screen set up at the border crossing checkpoint the racers would visit.

    This left the research assistant, once again, to her own thoughts. "This race might be the most lucrative ever... but will there even be a chance for the next race to top it in five years if this keeps up? Will there even *be* a next race?"


    ---

    Timbiktu Cercle
    Mali-Algeria Border



    The fence and accompanying border infrastructure rose out of the desert like some great monolith of old. It had broken the monotony of landscape that the racers were experiencing so sharply that at first the entire thing was deemed to be one giant mirage.

    But the racers kept pogoing closer to it, and the "mirage" only grew in both size and detail, and ultimately they each individually came to the conclusion that they had, in fact, rejoined civilization, however briefly.

    Algeria had fortified its long border with Mali at the height of the latter country's Tuareg rebellion earlier in the decade as the fighting had threatened to spill over into the Maghreb country. While the fighting had mostly died down (at least, until the surprising resurgence over the past few days) since then and the two countries were trying to resume full levels of trade and normalize relations, the border security was as high as ever. Thus, passing through *this* border checkpoint would have all of the official chutzpah behind it the same as the one from Spain into Morocco, though without any of the accompanying fanfare.

    Ever since the dust storm of past days, the racers had settled into a sort of routine. They would pogo some during the day, but mostly rest - it was simply too hot and draining to fully exert themselves. They would instead get most of their miles in during the comparatively cooler nights. This sudden shift in active hours proved to be yet another complication for the beleaguered racers, but it was nothing compared to what they had already experienced by this point.

    The racers obviously weren't fully aware of this, but it seemed like that ever since the dust storm, the Red Valkyries had accomplished their mission. There was no need to further attack or kill any of them as the billion dollars had already been secured. Those of the racers who were not part of the group tried to ponder the implications of this, but anything was better than focusing on how hot and miserable they all were. Still, it was impossible to deny that there had been a sort of loosening of the tension, as if the critical moment had come and gone.

    And yet, there were still worries. This one bit of civilization aside, they were no means out of the desert, and the state of the border readiness had alarmed them. They had expected something similar to the Morocco-Algeria border; a small checkpoint populated by sleepy soldiers just marking time until their shift ended. These Malian soldiers seemed sharp, alert, paranoid. Almost as if they were expecting something.

    None of their pre-race research had prepared the racers for this. Had something happened since the Great Overlander began in Barcelona? There was some talk of an old conflict from earlier in the decade that had threatened a radical route change in the 2014 race, but that was 5 years ago and the conflict had mostly ended since then. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Still though, everybody tried to put it out of their mind. They were continuing to put miles behind them and were taking advantage of this brief period of air conditioning as their papers were checked. This was welcome. This was heaven.

    Ri Yong-ju was the first to cross into Mali, the final country of the race. In the distance, she could hear the unmistakable sound of gunfire.
  18. Completed I don't have the authority level in the server to...

    I don't have the authority level in the server to create a permanent invite, but here's one for wolfchat good for 24 hours:

    https://discord.gg/KqQJf5
  19. Completed It was a pleasure to host for everyone. Congrats...

    It was a pleasure to host for everyone. Congrats to the mafia for a fantastic performance and condolences to the town for an amazing effort, especially at the end.

    I'll have more personal-appropriate comments later on (in addition to flavor to fill the gaps between now and when Lissa announces the postgame votes), but for now, celebrate: it's finally over!
  20. Completed Day 5 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/8p5amMs.png ...

    Day 5 Flavor


    Parts of the Sahara are, despite its reputation, hospitable. Parts are beautiful. Parts are passable. Parts are even livable.

    The Tanezrouft, the section of desert that the remaining racers were pogoing through, was not one of these parts.


    The beautiful starry vistas of the desert at night was now past them all. The desert now offered nothing remotely acceptable to humanity. It was hot, it was dry, it was uniform, and it was forever.






    It was like this for miles upon countless miles, with little more than rudimentary GPS systems to guide the racers. At certain, extremely desolate points, even the GPS failed and it was down to the racers' intuitions and compasses to guide them on. And yet still they pogo'd, despite the increasing monotony of the terrain, and their progressive lack of water (save for those who stocked up beforehand, such as Steinlage). Still they pogo'd, despite rumors of a recent flare-up in rebel activity in the general vicinity. Still they pogo'd, despite their tiredness and paranoia.

    Still they pogo'd, despite the dust storm approaching on the horizon.


    The storm overtook them all, forcing everyone off their pogo sticks as they coped as best as they could. Nobody had any semblance of shelter, not in that particular stretch of that particular desert, so it all came down to will and luck. Not even the emergency transponders that each racer carried that would provide them safety in exchange for forfeiting the race would save them now, as no rescue was possible until after the storm passed. They were truly beyond all help.

    Some racers handled the storm better than others. Regnault seemed mostly miffed that the sand would take the sheen off his clothing and golden pogo stick, but otherwise gutted the conditions out with more or less no issue. Similarly, Larissa Davies, fully aware that this sort of thing may be what caused the disappearance of her husband five years ago, seemingly dared the storm to take her, not moving but not letting the constant blow of sand and dust to get to her. The racer who handled it best was probably Ri, who simply disassembled her makeshift pogo stick and used the parts (along with some clothing) to construct a rudimentary shelter in the desert to provide protection from the elements.

    Others were not so lucky or capable. Narender Puntambekar, in first place and smelling the billion, desperately tried to press ahead for a bit before being caught in a gust so strong that he and his stick were blown off course. After skidding around for yards upon yards and losing all sense of direction in the maelstrom, the Indian racer finally saw sense and hunkered down. Cheris Musungu, who had been seemingly made of diamond during the race as not a single thing had gotten to her, finally showed weakness and broke down sobbing after her third hour in the storm with no sign of it stopping. The only thing it accomplished was her getting sand stuck to the trail that her tears had left on her face.

    But the person who took it worst was certainly Pablo Rey. A technician of the highest order, the Argentinian had always carried the most complicated and intricate pogo stick and had used it to excellent effect, though he had gradually been ceding ground since Marrakesh as the race had gotten less and less regulated. He knew more than anyone that the Sahara and its conditions would be murder on his stick and thought he was ready for it, but seeing it happen in real time was another story entirely.

    He was one with his stick. The stick was one with him. The sand was getting to his stick, thus the sand was getting to him. His special sealant he had packed to protect against any foreign intrusions, no matter how miniscule, was failing. Even though he couldn't see a thing, certainly not something as small as a failing sealant, he knew this with every fiber of his being. The stick spoke to him, sung to him. As it had always done. And now, even over the unceasing howl of the wind and sand, he could hear the song again. And it was discordant.

    These intrusions would have to be dealt with. So Rey set to disassembling his pogo stick in the middle of a harsh dust storm in order to get the dust out. He picked at random, grain by grain, flicking them away, seemingly uncomprehending that for each grain of sand he took out of his disassembled stick, hundreds more would get in. He continued at this task for quite some time, first with a determined expression on his face.

    But over time, the determined expression morphed into a smirk. Then an outright grin. Then he began to chuckle. Then laugh. And then, five hours into the dust storm to end all dust storms, he began to cackle.

    The sound quickly got carried away in the storm, but anyone who would have been close enough to hear it would have recognized it as the sound of sheer insanity. The race had finally broken him. All of the obstacles of Spain and Morocco had been dealt with but here, out in the middle of nowhere, in one of the most desolate places on earth, the antithesis on what he had built his entire racing career around, the Argentinian had snapped. Fully and completely.

    With the remnants of his pogo stick now fully overwhelmed by sand and dust, Rey had deemed his task complete. He threw the part he was working on aside, swept his hand behind him to clear away any debris, and lay on his back, continuing to cackle. He did this for the next roughly ninety seconds, until the constant expulsion of breath made him start to choke. Had he tried to inhale, he would have found it wouldn't have mattered due to the sheer quantity of foreign matter around him. But he didn't even try to inhale. He was past that.

    He was past everything.




    STANDINGS:
    1. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    2. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    3. Rene Regnault (France)
    4. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    5. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    6. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    OUT: Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    OUT: Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    OUT: Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    OUT: Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    OUT: Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    OUT. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Spiny Creature has been cuddled! They were:
    Town
  21. Completed Night 4 Flavor ...

    Night 4 Flavor



    The border crossing from Spain to Morocco was a giant festival. The racers who were able to catch the first ferry from Tarifa to Tangier in the morning were feted by a cheering crowd on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar as they crossed the ferry, with live music playing and banners waving as they passed throughout. The idea was to continue to keep them motivated and further shepherd them on their journey.

    The border crossing from Morocco to Algeria was a small military checkpoint where a few nondescript Algerian soldiers checked the racers' papers and examined their pogo sticks to make sure they weren't concealing any illegal substances, after which they waved them through.

    Such was the tone and the tenor of the current stage of the Great Overlander. The glamor was behind everybody. Now it was just a grueling endurance test: who could hop through some of the most inhospitable places known to man on a pogo stick the fastest?

    For most people, the suffering began quickly, albeit for different reasons. Narender Puntambekar, who had navigated the Atlas Mountains so skillfully, was past his his main point of emphasis and simply was not feeling the desert, being unable to get into a groove. Pablo Rey, who had been ceding ground all day, had an issue at the border as he took particular umbrage at the inspection of his overly-intricate pogo stick, got in a shouting match with the Algerian soldiers, and ended up nearly causing an international incident before the supervisor, clearly just wanting a normal evening, grunted and waved him through. Michelle Steinlage, trying to remember her Duolingo Arabic lessons she took in preparation for this leg of the race, completely fumbled a question and asked one of the inspectors if Tuesday would be a good place to borrow a steamroller. This question caused some confusion and eventually alarm (what possible innocent and non-subversive use would an American pogo stick racer have for a steamroller?), but eventually they got it sorted out and she passed through. So did everyone.


    If one is absolutely implored to cross the Sahara overland, the best way to do so by far is doing so at night. For starters, the temperature, while still oppressive, is at least bearable. For another, the landscape isn't blinding like it is in the day with the blazing sun overhead, but still well-let enough. Thirdly, on a clear night, said landscape is well-lit enough because the view can be absolutely beautiful.

    Such was the case on the first night that the racers of the Great Overlander entered the desert. It was enough to give them all, even those who were singlemindedly focused on winning, pause. Rene Regnault, the vain, self-obsessed, glory seeking Frenchman, actually dismounted from his golden pogo stick and lay back in the sand, taking a few minutes to drink the earth in around him.

    Some racers took longer than others, though. Three of the four women remaining: Musungu, Davies, and Ri, briefly stopped to take the landscape in and then promptly continued, each with their own reasons for pressing on. The Sahara had to be acknowledged and respected, yes, but there was still a race to be won and each was laser-focused on doing so.


    Eduardo Gonzalez was pogoing through the desert, utterly alone, when he heard the sound of an engine coming up behind him. The car, an 4x4 clearly designed for off-road driving, pulled over beside him and out stepped a man wearing a red uniform. Clearly realizing that this was for him, Gonzalez dismounted.

    The driver looked frantic. "Eduardo Watch Out! There is a red dot on your chest! It's the Sniper!!!"

    The man ran back to his car and a second later threw what appeared to be a bulletproof vest out the window before speeding off again. Alarmed, Gonzalez quickly moved to put it on, realizing far too late that it was a vest covered with C4 explosives.

    It was too late to take the vest though, the button was pushed, and Gonzalez went KABLOOEE!

    A laser pointer was found at the scene...




    STANDINGS:
    1. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    2. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    3. Rene Regnault (France)
    4. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    5. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    6. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    7. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    OUT: Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    OUT: Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    OUT: Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    OUT: Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    OUT. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Macdougall has been killed! They were:
    Town
  22. Completed Wow, this has been a long night phase, hasn't it?...

    Wow, this has been a long night phase, hasn't it? There are still 8 hours to go!



  23. Completed Race HQ Madrid, Spain "We're sending the...

    Race HQ
    Madrid, Spain


    "We're sending the racers into this?" the researcher asked.

    "We're sending the racers into this," the Director said.



    "I want cameras on the ground and in the air, people," Ducard continued. Word has it that fighting has unexpectedly picked up in the past day or two and we're going to document every second of it. Look sharp!"

    The researcher had spent the past two days sleeplessly studying the Mali conflict and the possible dangers it had on the racers. It had mostly petered out, and she was surprised by it suddenly intensifying. With weapons and supplies running low after so long, this sort of thing was only possible if the rebel side received an injection of cash or supplies from an outside source.

    What that outside source was, and why it had acted now, she was trying to convince herself she was better off not knowing.
  24. Completed Day 4 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/9cPBvHe.png ...

    Day 4 Flavor


    The Atlas Mountains, most people agreed, was where the race *truly* began.


    Viewable from Marrakesh and carving a good part of Morocco in half, they stood as the final imposing barrier that the racers had to cross between the confines of civilization and the long, steady drive into the desert. They represented a veil, a barrier that only those who were deemed worthy could pass.

    Eduardo Gonzalez, the Mexican 6-time champion, had always hated these mountains. He had raced in the Great Overlander three times prior to 2019. The route had taken him through the same general area in two of those races, and in one of them, the 2009 race, he had faltered in them to the point where it was widely considered to have cost him the race (he had finished second). Now in the twilight of his career, Gonzalez sighed as he stared down his nemesis once more. He wasn't as spry as he used to be, and while he had done well to keep pace with the leaders, he knew that he had probably failed to do enough. The mountains had ended him before, and they would be the end of him again. Nonetheless, he began the pogo climb up through the designated pass.

    Ruminations aside, the Atlases also provided the greatest shakeup of racers so far. The "standard" racers, those who thrived on the primary pogo stick racing circuits, the short-track racers such as Gonzalez, Regnault, and Rey, suffered and fell back. In this vacuum stepped those more accustomed to harsh climates and tricky terrain.

    The last true mountaineer remaining, India's Narender Puntambekar, had been hanging around in the upper bracket for most of the race, content with his position and generally not overly pushing himself. In the Atlases past Marrakesh, though, it was time to make his move. Exhibiting a superior command of pogo stick form when racing up a mountain, he made his move and sailed past obstacles that all ahead of him were having difficulties with, coming down on the other side in outright first place.

    Similarly, and much more surprisingly, North Korea's Ri Yong-Ju also had an easy time in the pass, with her makeshift and field-repaired pogo stick barely holding together. Analysts and talking heads discussing this section afterwards would attribute her unexpected success to "wait, what's North Korea's geography look like? Do they have mountains there? Hey, can we get a map over- wow, holy crap, they have a LOT of mountains! Oh wow, ok, yeah, damn! We really don't know anything about them over there, do we?" Larissa Davies, her ankle problems mostly behind her, capably navigated her own way through the pass, though not without a pitfall or two.

    The elevation never quite dropped back off to sea level, but with the racers on the other side of the mountains, true, modern, 21st century civilization was now well and truly behind them. The towns got smaller and further apart. The land grew harsher, as it progressively had been ever since they swung inland from the coast. And everybody could feel the increasing lack of moisture in the air.

    The last major population center they passed through was Ouarzazate, most popularly known in the west as the filming site for scenes from
    Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator. This spoke to the city's remoteness and isolation from the major cities such as Rabat and Casablanca, and yet everyone passing through it knew that it was still akin to New York City or Tokyo compared to what lay ahead.


    After Ouarzazate, the desert picked up in earnest. While it wasn't fully overcoming everything yet, all of the racers made sure to get off their pogo sticks and stock up on supplies before heading onward. Michelle Steinlage, taking no chances, blew her entire remaining supply of money on water and products designed to retain as much of it as possible. She knew that time was running out and pushing herself through the desert would be the only way to make up ground.

    One person particularly looking forward to the Sahara stretch was Qatar's Saad Al Thani. The royal and the entire might of QSI had designed a rigorous preparation regime for him specifically designed around handling the rigors of the Sahara, taking advantage of Qatar's own unforgiving inner geography at times. This singular focus on the Great Overlander's toughest stretch had, at times, cost him elsewhere, such as in Spain or the coastal part of Morocco, but soon, his time would be coming up.

    All he had to do was just make it over the mountains for good. He had scaled the pass and come out unscathed, more or less, but the downhill portion was always tricky as well. It still wasn't flat ground. It still wasn't typical terrain. It still wasn't safe.

    One bounce. Al Thani was close. Another bounce. He could see the ground leveling off just ahead of him. One more. He was almost there. One more. Another would do it. One more and -

    "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS! I'M FINALLY FREE! THE WORST PART IS OVER! AT LAAAAAAAASSSSSST!!!"

    The sound of his triumphant roar carried, and echoed. It reverberated throughout the valley for miles around... and for miles above. And then, it caused a reaction.


    "Uh oh."

    And suddenly, Al Thani was back on the short track, a time trial, a race for his life. He was pushing himself to the absolute limit, breaking his personal best, shattering it, probably shattering the world sprint record too, but it was of no good, the avalanche was still gaining, the roar getting louder, the snow continuing to gain, and then - it overcame him, the world was white, the sound all-encompassing - and then there was silence.

    The old pogo stick racing aphorism, "you can pogo as fast as you want but you'll never be able to out-pogo an avalanche", first popularized by the racers who had made their bones in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy at the foot of the Alps, had never quite made its way to the flat, hot plains of Qatar.

    ---

    The remaining racers pressed onward, deeper into the desert. The last town of any significance was Zagora, and the last population center of any kind was a nondescript village known as M'Hamid. There, the national road that they had been following to that point ended. There, the Sahara Desert truly began.







    STANDINGS:
    1. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    2. Rene Regnault (France)
    3. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    4. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    5. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    6. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    7. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    8. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    OUT: Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    OUT: Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    OUT: Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    OUT. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    112 has been cuddled! They were:
    Town
  25. Completed Night 3 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/Kf0dhOA.png...

    Night 3 Flavor


    The city of Marrakesh is easily Morocco's most popular tourist destination for a number of reasons. Tangier is more of a point of transit than a destination in itself. Meknes and Rabat are too much of a "working city". Casablanca is considered too modern and not Moroccan enough. Fez is considered *too* Moroccan, for everything that implies about western tourists. Marrakesh, though, is in the Goldilocks zone: juuuuuuuust the right combination of exotic and yet catering to attract curious travelers from across the globe.

    The centerpiece of Marrakesh and its main attraction to tourists is probably its downtown medina, specifically the Jemaa el-Fnaa. This twisting labyrinth of shops and stalls at the heart of Marrakesh's old city attracts bargain hunters and culture seekers internationally, and, as every guide to the city both in print and online is quick to point out, it is very easy to get lost within its confines.

    Such was the case for the pogo stick racers who passed through the city on the third night of the 2019 Great Overlander.


    It was here that first-place Rene Regnault, defying the predictions that he would fade as the race wore on, showed his true quality. Sharing a common language with many of the Moroccan vendors (French) and deploying his incredible star power to maximum effect, Regnault was soon surrounded by a throng of local children cheering him on. He leaned over and, without breaking stride, spoke to them with a smirk on his face.

    "Now, none of you would be bad hosts and lead me to your uncle's stall instead of showing the way through, right?" His golden stick gleamed. The sheer force of his personality was having a tangible, almost physical effect. They were his. Whatever the original goal of the children was, whether to make some money from him, their sponsors, or simply to experience him, they were enraptured and ran through the streets, with the race leader following. And so, Regnault passed through the medina without incident.

    Similarly, near the back of the pack and despite his royal background, the Qatari Saad Al Thani also had an easy time due to knowledge of Arabic. While there was quite a bit of distance and separation between Qatari and Moroccan Arabic, the language was still the language and he was easily able to navigate signs to follow the landmarks to get him out of the suffocating medina.


    Other racers, though, were not so lucky. Some, without the help of locals or knowledge of the language, just fell victim to the standard fate of getting lost and resigned themselves to hopping around aimlessly on their pogo sticks for a while until they found an exit. Others, such as Cheris Musungu, were actively misled. She was taken down a dark alley to a door of looked to be a tannery and quickly found herself surrounded by men demanding money.

    "Ugh, not this $#@! again," she said, before dismounting from her pogo stick, taking it in her hand, and wielding it as a weapon, summarily beating down all four of her accosters in the span of 20 seconds before checking her stick for damage and resuming the race.

    Many of the children who correctly led Regnault through the medina without incident were the same as those who purposely led Musungu and others such as Puntambakar astray for the promise of money. But there was one child who had purposely held back from all of this, one child who had a far different goal in mind.

    Late in the night, Vasily Radionov, speaking no Arabic, Berber, French, Spanish, English, or any other remotely common language that would allow him to communicate with the locals, pogo'd around, exhausted, lost, and desperate; in last place but with no real way to make up ground. He was despairing: the Russian had very unexpectedly qualified for the Great Overlander and had been fully caught up in the glitz and glamor, but now, under the lights of the medina stalls, all of that was faded and this was his reality. He was trapped in something that was hopelessly beyond him.

    In this moment of despair, a lone child, maybe about 12 years old, walked up to him. "Are you lost, mister?" he said in broken Russian. Finally, a connection!

    Radionov ignored the oddity of a Moroccan child being able to speak Russian in his delight. Wordlessly, breathlessly, he nodded.

    "I'll show you out, come on!" And the two of them moved forward, one running, the other on a pogo stick, deeper and deeper into the confines of the medina.


    After about 5 minutes of this, the child who could speak Russian stopped, as did his charge. Similarly to what Musungu had faced some time ago, Radionov suddenly found himself surrounded by accosters. Unlike with Musungu, they were uninterested in money. They were also armed.

    They were also wearing red.

    The last thing that the stranger in a strange land saw before losing consciousness was the body of Isabela Castaño, dragged not-particularly-effectively out of sight.




    STANDINGS:
    1. Rene Regnault (France)
    2. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    3. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    4. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    5. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    6. Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    7. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    8. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    9. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    OUT: Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    OUT: Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    OUT. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Adrian was killed! They were:
    Town


    Beck was killed! They were:
    Mafia
  26. Completed Happy birthday Lissa ...

    Happy birthday @Lissa

  27. Completed The Panel Tamland: Well, this has certainly...

    The Panel

    Tamland: Well, this has certainly been a most exciting Great Overlander so far. As the racers have mostly settled down for the evening - no more Lasse Abramcziks to burn the midnight oil - we turn to our three-man panel to discuss the happenings of the race. Joining me this evening live from Casablanca are the executive director of Golden Gambling, Harry Crankshaw, two-time World Champion of Pogo Stick Racing Danielle Beauxhomme, and chair of the Department of Metaphysics at Bangalore University Sanjay Valhalia. Thank you for joining me tonight, everyone.

    Beauxhomme: A pleasure.

    Tamland: We begin the discussions with the biggest topic by far of the Great Overlander to this point: nearly half the field of racers has turned up dead at various points. Now, the Red Valkyries are rumored to be responsible for at least two of the deaths, but probably not all. What does this mean for both the remainder of the race and the future of the sport of pogo stick racing as a whole? Harry, we'll lead off with you.

    Crankshaw: Thank you, Jim. It's very clear that this is a most distressing development, even though the deaths *have* attracted boffo numbers and record amounts of wagers at our sports books.

    Tamland: Indeed.

    Crankshaw: All of that said, let me focus on the deaths. It's fairly clear that Lucien Laporte was killed by the Valkyries, that much was confirmed. In addition, they have claimed responsibility for one of Abramczik's and Adílson's murders, though we're not entirely sure on the details there. But where does that leave the others? Morten Harders literally got drunk on power and paid for it with his life. Francesco Vallefuoco got ripped apart by an angry mob. There's the leftover of Abramczik or Adílson. And then just an hour or two ago we got word that Janine Bodie had an allergic reaction to some sort of herbal tea. The Great Overlander has always been particularly dangerous, but are the actions of the Red Valkyries statistically significant enough for us to pay attention?

    Tamland: You speak of these deaths, tragic as they are, as if they were unavoidable.

    Crankshaw: In essence, I do. The entirety of human history is a case study in the fact that nothing is certain and particularly safety is not guaranteed. Think of traditional historical fail-safes that have done just that, failed, and then compare that to the extreme conditions and lack of safety nets that the Great Overlander features, and really, something like this happening is a mathematical certainty.

    Valhalia: Well, I think that's a callous way of looking at things, even coming from a gambling executive.

    Crankshaw: My thoughts on this are entirely divorced from my own position of employment. The rigors of mathematics and the odds involved in calculation are quite clear that -

    Beauxhomme: Ah, Harry, I see where you're going with this, but allow me to save you some breath. George Berkley already pointed out the flaw in your upcoming argument in 1734. How are we truly to believe that math is fully and completely rigorous?

    Crankshaw: You are, I take it, referring to The Analyst?

    Beauxhomme: Precisely. We can say that nothing is truly mathematically certain when the entire basis of calculus is built on the foundation of compensating for and cancelling out errors. This is no substitution for a true, scientifically correct result. Until Berkley's arguments are satisfactorily refuted - which they have not been in nearly 300 years since publication - then I must take the opposite position that these deaths were inevitable.

    Crankshaw: Frankly Danielle, I'm surprised that you didn't cite his famous "ghosts of departed quantities" passage just a moment ago there. You're becoming more disciplined in your debating skills.

    Beauxhomme: I mean, it is an excellent line, but it's just not fully relevant to the topic at hand. If you like, I can turn the topic of discussion to something where me breaking the line out would be more in context.

    Crankshaw: That's quite all right, thank you. The flaw in your argument - and in Berkley's, which he acknowledges in The Analyst while in the process of making it in the first place - is that he never discounts the fundamental *truth* of calculus. His dispute is with the method, but he concedes that the results are accurate, and that is what I'm most concerned with here.

    Beauxhomme: But you simply cannot divorce a result from a poor foundation upon which it is constructed on. The entire thing is a fallacia suppositionis. Furthermore, if you accept the empiricist school of thought as correct, then these infinitesimal expressions simply do not exist in the first place, which again removes the foundations entirely.

    Crankshaw: Ah but see Danielle, while Berkley was in essence correct on a limited scale at the time, the rigors of calculus and other mathematics have developed over time where his criticism is no longer valid. The entire concept of the limit, for instance -

    Beauxhomme: Was not remotely fleshed out in 1734.

    Crankshaw: - overrides his criticisms, thank you. But let's go back to what you said about empiricism.

    Beauxhomme: Yes, let's. A main foundation of your argument regarding the inevitability of racers dying at the rate we have seen them die raises the question of the problem of induction, just as Hume did in his Enquiry concerning Human Understanding.

    Crankshaw: I fail to see how it relates.

    Beauxhomme: Specifically, the problem of induction raising the issue that just because things have always happened one way in the past - racers not dying in mass quantities during a single race - means that this may not necessarily be the case for an infinite period into the future.

    Crankshaw: Yes, but that leads into my point. Let's say that the safety features are improved and that the Great Overlander takes place on an entirely closed and controlled course in the future and stops all form of death or injury for the next run or three of it. According to the problem of induction, past success metaphysically does not guarantee future performance, so why bother trying in the first place?

    Beauxhomme: But again, you are wagering everything on "maybes" that have little foundation. Furthermore, you're failing to take into account external factors such as decreased viewer attention due to the element of danger and the like.

    Crankshaw: Please Danielle, I'm not an undergraduate. The pogo stick -

    Tamland: I'm sorry to interrupt, but we're nearly out of time and I'd like to see if Dr. Valhalia would like to chime in before we cut to break. Doctor?

    Valhalia: To be honest Jim, this entire thing is exhausting. I just wanted to talk about sports!

    Tamland: There you have it, folks. Thanks to our three panelists for joining me this evening. Up next: the musical segment, featuring Taylor Swift!
  28. Completed Day 3 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/7aw2I3l.png...

    Day 3 Flavor



    Morocco beckoned.


    The truly strenuous part of the Great Overlander had not yet begun, the part where the pogoers swung inland from the coast, saw fewer signs of civilization, and prepared to get swallowed up by the vast emptiness that was the Sahara. But with Tarifa and Spain behind them, the racers knew that a new stage of the race was just beginning. They welcomed the Berber country's many charms and challenges as they knew that every bounce took them that much closer to victory and billionaire status.

    Word was starting to spread amongst them that racers were being killed. All contact between the racers and their prep teams was strictly forbidden once the race started, this was a rule in every pogo event, but when word wants to get out there is no force in the universe that can stop it. Between the mutterings picked up from the crowd, the warning issued through official channels on the first night of the race, Adílson's body turning up in Tarifa, and the disappearance of Lasse Abramczik sometime overnight, it was easy to figure out what was going on.

    It added a new dimension of fear for them. Death on the Great Overlander was not unheard of, especially in the Sahara, but outright *murder* was something else entirely. The only such deliberate killing in recent history was five years ago. Larissa Davies knew of the background well: the victim had been her husband, Mick.

    She had finally bitten the bullet and delayed her ferry departure, seeking medical treatment for her ankle in Tarifa upon her arrival that morning before setting off for the far less reliable-in-health-matters Morocco. Her time waiting and then later being treated allowed her the rare opportunity to collect her own thoughts. Inevitably, they flashed back to five years ago, tracking Mick's progress on the Big Board in Seville, disappointed that he had pipped her in qualifying but so happy for him as he got to live his dream. The pride she had felt when he surprisingly took the lead over Gonzalez and maintained it heading into Sahara. Her sense of giddy anticipation as she flew to Timbuktu with the other VIPs, hopefully ready to greet Mick as he crossed the finish line first. The disappointment of seeing someone else take his spot. The escalating confusion when more and more people emerged and he was not one of them. And then the gradual, awful comprehension that something had gone catastrophically wrong in the desert.

    What was supposed to be a joyous occasion had turned into the first of a series of consecutive worst days of her life. And now, people were dying on this race again? Were being actively *killed*, as was what was suspected to have happened to Mick? Was she sure that she wanted to do this?

    Of course, it was a silly question. Her path had been laid out for her long ago. She *had* to. She sighed, touching her taped-up ankle and mounting her pogo stick.

    ---


    As they passed through Casablanca, Isabela Castaño started falling back. The high of racing through her home country and home city behind her, all she had to rely on now was her innate skill, which was never as much as that of other racers. Saad Al Thani fell back as well, his prep team having misunderstood the geography and climate of Morocco and insisted that he start desert conservation mode immediately when Al Thani was still on the relatively mild coast.

    The recipient of these gradual fallbacks was America's Michelle Steinlage. Always one of the stronger racers in the field, she had found herself mostly around the middle-to-back of the pack ever since she had gotten turned around on the first day. But she had raced cleanly since then and limited her stops to what was absolutely necessary. As the less-skilled racers were starting to falter, the American was only starting to heat up, it seemed.

    And one of the less-skilled racers was Janine Bodie of the Bahamas. Earlier, she had made the decision not to push herself beyond the limits of Casablanca, even though Regnault and the other leaders had passed through hours ago. Coming to terms with the fact that she simply was too out of practice to truly contend, Bodie decided to simply enjoy herself in a way that she had been unable to in any previous Great Overlander.

    So, she checked herself into a hotel off the beaten path (in Casablanca, this meant outside of the crowded business district by the coast) and enjoyed a cup of local tea before checking in. It was handmade, the proprietor had ensured, with ingredients sourced from Berber traders. All of this sounded great to Bodie - until she took her first sip.

    Completely unbeknownst to her, one of the ingredients sourced from Berber traders was a rare herb grown only at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. She had no way of knowing that the exact biochemical composition of this herb was something she was deathly allergic to.

    The process took minutes. Her face turned red, then purple, as she stumbled out and then collapsed on the floor, desperately gasping for air. The proprietor did everything in his power to keep Bodie alive, trying the Heimlich Maneuver on her more than once, but of course there was nothing to eject for her air canal. Shortly after, the gasping stopped.

    Working quickly, the proprietor called the police to report the incident and hopefully dispose of the body. He had friends in the force; if they could handle this situation quietly then there was a chance that his Yelp rating wouldn't completely tank.




    STANDINGS:
    1. Rene Regnault (France)
    2. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    3. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    4. Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    5. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    6. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    7. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    8. Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    9. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    10. Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    11. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    OUT. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Keldeo has been cuddled! They were:
    Town
  29. Completed Night 2 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/vWemIDN.png...

    Night 2 Flavor


    Lasse Abramczik knew only one speed: as fast as possible. Nonetheless, after his setback in Cartagena earlier that day at the hands of the riled-up crowd, he pushed himself to go even harder, quite possibly harder than he ever had before. Working with no sleep whatsoever and with only the barest minimum of food, Abramczik was working on a deadline: he had to get to Tarifa before the ferry to Tangier closed.

    Pushing himself to the absolute limit, Abramczik took no notice of his surroundings. The street signs, cheering crowds, and geographical features of his travels all blurred together as he bounced by them in his pogo stick. They were all part of the background. The only thing that mattered was the setting sun.

    He thought he had made up time after Cartagena. He wasn't sure how much. But he was expending every last possible effort to get to Tarifa on schedule and knew that even he couldn't keep this pace up forever. He desperately needed a break in more ways than one. Hopefully he would get one with the ferry waiting for him. He knew it would be close.

    As Abramczik pogo'd into Tarifa the sun had fully set and twilight was upon him. He raced down to the docks, not particularly caring if he ran anybody over or not. He knew this would be a matter of seconds.

    And then he saw it. The ferry was pulling away. He had missed it by maybe a couple of minutes.


    Cursing, he allowed himself a momentary break while thinking up a new plan. He may have missed the ferry, but this wasn't over.

    ---

    Meanwhile, the faster of other racers began to pogo into Tarifa, one at a time. While Abramczik has been hoping to catch the evening ferry, everybody else's goal was to be on the first ferry in the morning before other people arrived. This traditionally was how it had worked in the past, usually the first 2-3 racers getting on the first ferry and then the pogoers being somewhat evenly spread out after that, and this race was no exception.

    Those who did get in during the night all took their own approaches. Rene Regnault, currently in second place before the great meetup, decided to find a particular favorite cafe of his and ordered a plate of choice cuts, chatting amicably with the enthralled cafegoers. Spain's favorite Isabela Castaño, knowing that her home-field advantage was about to disappear, went straight to the closest hotel to the docks, checked herself in, and began to strategize for the route ahead.


    Being able to check into Tarifa on the second night was the goal, and with Abramczik setting a blistering pace like nobody had ever before, more racers had made it in. The crowd cheered as the first group pogo'd in one by one: Gonzalez, then Puntambekar, then Rey, then Musungu. The racers who made it in and were able to reward themselves with some semblance of a rest, which was proving tremendously advantageous.

    Further back, all was not well. The person who probably could have used a break and civilization most was the ailing Larissa Davies. Her ankle, twisted the first evening of the race, had never gotten a chance to properly heal and she was falling further and further back despite the people of Cartagena letting her pass through without incident. She gamely tried for Tarifa but at around midnight, knew it was no hope and curled up by a roadside tree.

    The last to arrive in Tarifa that night was Brazil's Adílson. Though most establishments were open due to Spain's culture of late nights, the Brazilian pogoer swore off all of that. A devout Catholic dating back to his earliest days, Adílson wanted to get some semblance of organized prayer in before he entered the part of the race where mosques far outnumbered churches. Finding the doors to the Iglesia de San Mateo open, he went inside and sought solitude.

    He did not find solitude. As he knelt before the altar and began to pray, Adílson was totally unaware of the figure concealed on the other side, waiting for the Brazilian to close his eyes and fully become embraced in prayer as he offered himself up to God. Once he did so, the assailant leaped over the altar, aprinted towards Adílson, and slit his throat with a knife midstride as he continued to run out one of the side doors. The entire process from jump to murder to exit took less than five seconds.

    ---

    The city of Tangier lay just across the Strait of Gibraltar. Its bright lights and infinite promises were taunting him. Abramczik could take it no longer.


    He had examined the rulebook. Direct forward progress was only permissible by pogo stick, with the sole exception of crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. The rule did not, however, elaborate on *how* said strait could be crossed. In addition, the spirit of the rulebook was very clear that the *fastest* progress could be only made by pogo stick. The organizers of the Great Overlander had, in the past, given no penalty to racers who had walked forward for some distance. In essence, Abramczik believed that he had both the letter and the spirit of the law on his side for what he was about to do.

    With that in mind, he tucked his pogo stick under his arm, walked out to the furthestmost dock in Tarifa, the southernmost point in the entirety of continental Europe, and dove into the water. He would swim across to Tangier.

    Instantly he knew that this was a poor idea. Despite being a well-trained athlete at the peak of his physical ability, the man was still physically and mentally exhausted from a day and a half straight of pogoing. Secondly, riding a pogo stick was entirely different from swimming. Thirdly, he was still awkwardly carrying said pogo stick while trying to swim and hadn't even thought about the implications of getting it wet to such a degree. Fourthly, Tangier was *far*. He could see the lights across the way but it was still a distance of miles.

    Fifthly, it was dark. This most of all.

    Lasse Abramczik, the man on a mission, was so intent on getting to his goal, so singleminded in the pursuit of his task, he tuned everything else out and had done so all race. On land, this meant crowds and other distractions. At sea, this meant two men in a small motorboat. One of whom was driving it, the other of whom was setting up a rifle, aiming, and firing a single shot directly at him.

    In the dark, nobody noticed a small patch of the sea turn red before the sheer volume of water at the point where the Mediterranean Sea met the Atlantic Ocean caused the color to dissolve.




    STANDINGS:
    1. Rene Regnault (France)
    2. Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    3. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    4. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    5. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    6. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    7. Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    8. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    9. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    10. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    11. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    12. Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    OUT: Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    OUT: Adílson (Brazil)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Apoc was killed! They were:
    Town


    shawnad2006 was killed! They were:
    Town
  30. Completed Race HQ Madrid, Spain "And this is confirmed?...

    Race HQ
    Madrid, Spain


    "And this is confirmed? Four racers?"

    "At the start, anyway," said the researcher, holding a stack of papers in her hand. "We're not sure if any of the four Red Valkyries were any of the three people out of the race or not."

    "So you don't have names then?" asked the regional racer supervisor assigned to southern Spain.

    "Correct, only numbers."

    "I don't like this," the supervisor said. "We banned the Valkyries decades ago because they were killing other pogo racers on the field in the name of getting a competitive advantage. It was the biggest scandal of the 80s and damn near killed the sport, and we were lucky that they were never active in a Great Overlander. If they're back? Now? During our centerpiece event?"

    "What do you think we should do?"

    "Call the race off. It's the only way to be completely sure about this. We might be able to talk about restarting from the racers' current positions in a couple of months or something once the threat has been dealt with."

    "Boss, what do you think of all this?"

    A third figure had entered the conversation. Joachim Ducard, the legendary race director who had overseen six Great Overlanders, cut an imposing figure as he puffed on his cigar and pondered the implications of all this. Smoking had, of course, been banned in most public indoor spaces some time ago, but as nobody dared to try to impose this rule on Ducard, he remained puffing day in and day out, the only consolation being him agreeing to renovations that would improve the building's ventilation systems.

    "Three racers have already died, one of them being directly confirmed to be the work of the Red Valkyries?"

    "Yes, Director."

    "Mmm." Ducard inhaled, exhaled. "And this was during the first evening of the race?"

    "Yes, Director."

    "Are you aware that after the news of this broke, our global ratings jumped by 23% on the second day and that the boost to wagers has been even higher than that?"

    "No, Director."

    Ducard took another puff. "The Red Valkyries are a menace and must be stopped for the good of the sport. But at the same time, it's become very clear to me that this great drama has captured the public's interest like nothing before it. These are numbers that we simply cannot ignore."

    The supervisor looked taken aback. "Do you mean to say that-?"

    "We have the unique opportunity to put on a truly transcendent event that the entire world will be discussing. For decades now, people have speculated the massive amount of attention that would be given to the first competition where the losers are killed. Through the actions of the Red Valkyries, that competition has become the 2019 Great Overlander, and so far all of our numbers suggest that the historical speculations have been correct."

    "So... what do we do?" asked the researcher.

    "We do nothing," said Ducard, his expression blank behind the cloud of smoke that obscured his face. "By all means, continue looking into the matter to determine the identity of these Red Valkyries so that we can come down hard on them post-race, but in the meantime we let this play out and watch the money roll in. Ladies and gentlemen, the public has spoken and they have demanded death. It is our duty as entertainment purveyors to give the people what they want. Order up even more coverage, we don't want to miss a single twist or turn here. Oh, and while we're at it, find out if there's anyone in this organization who has a connection to Mali. Let's see if we can't get those bandits in the Sahara active and motivated by the time the racers pass through." Without waiting for a response, Ducard strode off, simultaneously responding to an alert in his earpiece while texting somebody about an entirely different matter.

    "Right... then... I guess I'd... better get to it," said the researcher, her disbelief at the situation causing her to act on autopilot more than anything else.

    The supervisor was more clearheaded, but utterly despondent at the situation in which he knew that he could do nothing to prevent. "God help us all."
  31. Completed Racer Interviews In certain quiet periods...

    Racer Interviews

    In certain quiet periods during the Great Overlander, it's customary for TV networks to fill time by airing in-depth interviews conducted pre-race with the participants. Now is one of those times. First up: North Korean curiosity Ri Yong-Ju!

    Tamland: Ms. Ri, thank you for joining us. I guess the first question I want to ask is, how on earth did you get your start in pogo racing?

    Ri: Happy to be here, Jim. I imagine that I got my start just like anybody else around the world. In my copious amount of leisure time that is allotted to me after I have completed my daily workload in the name of increasing the prosperity of the Korean nation under the guidance of our Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, my first action was always to turn on the television or radio and witness the exploits of the great pogo racers before me. I was hooked probably starting around the age of eight?

    Tamland: So North Korean TV carried pogo racing? This seems contradictory to reports that-

    Ri: Oh, yes. Carlo Vallefuoco, the Chilean Jumpers, all of them were so exciting! I knew that that was what I wanted to do when growing up, be just like them.

    Tamland: Yes, but all knowledge we know of North Korea says that foreign media is strictly controlled if allowed in at all. It seems strange that something as chaotic as a sporting event would pass through like that. In addition, no defector interviewed has ever spoken of the pogo stick being known in your country.

    Ri: (pausing) I'm so sorry, my interpreter informs me that was a particularly difficult translation. But for all of my adoring fans out there, I'd be happy to let you know that my favorite food is in fact soup!

    Tamland: ...yes, moving on. Let's talk about your sensational border crossing on a pogo stick, which put you on the international map. If you are still on good terms with the Kim regime and, as you state, have not defected, why bother to risk the dangers of the DMZ so dramatically? Surely there was an easier way to try to obtain access to the sport of international pogo stick racing?

    Ri: Why yes, I was very surprised when I realized that there was more than one kind of soup as well after I first crossed the border. The world is truly a fascinating place. But overall I think my favorite soup would still be what I was first introduced to back home: leek and bark soup. Sometimes you simply cannot beat what you know best.

    Tamland: (staring daggers at the Korean interpreter): Thank you for your time, Ms. Ri.

    ---

    Up next is the current race leader, Germany's Lasse Abramczik!

    Tamland: Lasse, thank you for joining us today.

    Abramczik: When is this interview set to air?

    Tamland: Uh... (motions off-camera) Hey Frank, when is this set airing? Is that confirmed? Ok, sorry about that, Lasse. My producers tell me that this is going to air at some point on the second night of the race.

    Abramczik: Right, okay. I know the stories about me. The Mad Münchener. I know my reputation. I know what happened in the last race. That I'm just all about speed at the expense of everything else and don't have a head for strategy. This is a foolish assumption. I do have a plan, you know? My team and I have actually worked it out in great detail, we've spent nearly a year planning for this eventuality and running various tests and trials. Our calculations are accurate and this is about to pay off in a big way, at least I'm hopeful of such. It's not all about speed, you know.

    Tamland: Then what is it about?

    Abramczik: Timing. There is a single chokepoint in this race, and that's the crossing point at the Strait of Gibraltar from Tarifa to Tangier. Everywhere else in the race, only skill separates us. But at that exact spot, that's where people can be bunched up together as they wait for the next ferry over to Tangier arrives. But there's one thing about the ferry that I don't think the other racers will have factored into their calculations that I have.

    Tamland: And what's that?

    Abramczik: The ferry closes at night.

    Tamland: Pardon my ignorance, but what do the ferry's operating hours have to do with anything?

    Abramczik: Everything! Now, traditionally when starting from Barcelona or at a similar point, the racers usually cross the strait at some time on the fourth day. Sometimes there's bunching up, but generally the race order is preserved. However,Ii I can make it to Tarifa and to the ferry by the time it closes on the third day, I will have a tremendous advantage. I can get a full rest in Tangier, go to sleep early - which is absolutely unheard of on this race - wake up fully refreshed, and still have a lead headed into Morocco.

    Tamland: Getting into Tarifa by ferry operating hours on the third day is quite the feat. Do you think you're up to it?

    Abramczik: Jim, this is why my plan is to pogo for three days straight without stopping for food or sleep. This has been my plan since even before the last time I raced this course. The four days of wandering around Spain before I fell into the water? That was the start of me acclimatizing my body to these conditions. It will be tight, but my team and I are confident that we will get it done. If I get a night's lead on everybody else then I can maintain normal sleeping hours and still have a huge lead.

    Tamland: So your plan is just to go for as long as you can without sleep and then let it all catch up at once? And you just... do this regularly? Are you sure that's healthy?

    Abramczik: I don't know, but it's pretty hype though!!!!!!!!!!

    Tamland: Well, you seem very determined. There you have it, folks. Lasse Abramczik, the man determined to be the latest to test the thin line between genius and madness.

    ---

    Our final interviewee is Janine Bodie of the Bahamas!

    Tamland: Janine, it's been quite some time since we've had you on. So my first question is, how has retirement been treating you?

    Bodie: (laughs) Well Jim, it's a pleasure to be back, first of all. But I have to say, once you've settled down into Monaco, it takes a lot to pry you out of that routine!

    Tamland: I wouldn't know! (both laugh) But then, there's certainly a reason why you have pried yourself out of that routine, isn't there?

    Bodie: Unfortunately yes Jim, that's absolutely correct. As you all know, while I'm living in Monaco, I am originally from the Bahamas, specifically the wonderful city of Freeport. As of last month, Freeport and many other locales nearby are greatly suffering from the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has wrought. The recovery process has already begun, but it's going to be a long and costly road back. Nobody is sure of what the exact death toll is yet, and as of October 1st, 424 people are still marked "missing".

    Tamland: Terrible situation indeed. So you're doing what you can to help out?

    Bodie: That's absolutely right. I may only be one person, and I have already donated $1 million US to the recovery effort out of my own pocket, but from everything I've seen, this looks like the type of thing that's going to take billions, with a B.

    Tamland: And the prize of the Great Overlander can help with that.

    Bodie: Bingo. As soon as I heard that it hit Freeport and Abaco, I knew what I had to do. I haven't had much time to train, but I still have years of skill behind me and nobody is more motivated than I am to finish first.

    Tamland: That's all well and good, but as you're well aware, motivation in the Great Overlander isn't everything. Do you have any specific plans or strategies to help secure your victory?

    Bodie: Frankly Jim, at this point I'm less concerned with "winning" than I am with making sure the people of the Bahamas get the help they need. So I'm hereby challenging all of the pogo racing fans, gamblers, and bookmakers out there to please donate whatever you can. Pogo stick racing is a global sport, and as we've seen with this year's field as well as those in years past, a great pogo racer can come from anywhere in the world. I'm living proof of that. For all we know, the next world champion might still be living without a home or without power in the ruins of Freeport right now. So give them a chance and help the Bahamas get back on its feet! This race has provided so much entertainment and potentially money to people, I ask that you give back now.

    Tamland: A noble sentiment indeed. Thank you for your time, Janine, and I wish you the best of luck out there.

    Bodie: Thanks, Jim. Always happy to chat with you.



    If you'd like to donate to the Hurrican Dorian recovery effort, you can find a list of charities through this link.
  32. Completed Day 2 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/pZ9xBxV.png...

    Day 2 Flavor



    The city of Cartagena in Spain is, at first glance, a sleepy little port on the Mediterranean in the mostly nondescript province of Murcia. Certainly, it has its charms: The picturesque Roman Theater in the center of town is very well-preserved and in good enough condition to host a number of events throughout the year. Rumor has it that its soccer team has the potential to be a European powerhouse. But its main attraction almost certainly has to be the fortnight-long festival known as Carthaginians and Romans, where everybody in the city dresses up as one of the two sides in the ancient conflict known as the Punic Wars and celebrates the city's past glory and epic fights over its control.

    In any normal year, the festival on its own is enough to cause its own special brand of chaos. But when the festival is timed with the running of the Great Overlander, which is scheduled to pass through the city, where one of the racers in the field is originally from Cartagena itself... then you see a recipe for true mayhem.

    Preparations began an evening before. Organized groups of festivalgoers had anticipated this moment and would ensure that hometown hero Isabela Castaño would pass through unencumbered. Every *other* racer, though... well...






    Every other racer would have to prepare for the testudo formation just as the ancient Carthaginians did more than two millennia prior.*


    *NOTE: The ancient Carthaginians in all likelihood did not face the testudo formation. This tactic was in all likelihood developed and codified by the time of the Marian reforms around 107 BC when he created cohorts and the concept of a professional army. Before that time, including the Punic wars fought between the Romans and the Carthaginians in the 3rd century BC, the Roman military consisted primarily of citizen-soldiers fighting in the manipular formation under the three classes of hastati, principes, and triarii; these groups all fought differently and the testudo was thus unlikely to happen.


    When day broke, and the racers started passing through, they would all be forced to pogo their way through throngs of crowds, in uniform, alternatively "fighting" each other in mock battle or working in unison to deny the racers passage.

    Each racer tried a different tactic to go through. First up, Lasse Abramczik, never one for subtlety, just did his best to plow straight through and found that his momentum counted for nothing against a wall of determined humanity. He was stopped dead, fell off his stick, tried again, received the same result, and eventually just gave up and, carrying his stick, walked on his own two feet and just tried to shove his way through. The experienced Eduardo Gonzalez, knowing it was more trouble than it was worth to try to fight his way through, pogo'd along side streets and alleys, each more winding than the last, trying to find a clear path. He didn't run into as many people, but still lost time. Kenya's Cheris Musungu, who had studied the course ahead of time and knew what was coming, decided to skirt the city entirely, taking a roundabout path. Saad Al Thani, the Qatari royal, invoked his leanings and tried to enlist police assistance, but they were just as eager to see a Spaniard win as everybody else in the crowd and declared that the festivalgoers had every legal right to crowd the streets as the permits had been sorted out months ahead of time. Furthermore, Rule 4 of the Rules of the Great Overlander only disallowed *intentional* interference, and this had nothing to do with a racer setting it up beforehand.

    No matter what option the racers took, though, everybody lost time thanks to the morass of humanity celebrating a 2,000 year old conflict.


    Everybody, that is, save for Castaño. As she entered the municipal limits of Cartagena, loud whistles began to blow all throughout the city. That was the revelers' cue to cease fighting and partying. And as the local favorite rode by, the crowd in front of her parted, Romans on the left, Carthaginians on the right, both ancient nemeses united in cheering on their favorite daughter. Confetti shot out of cannons overhead, bathing her in a sea of red and gold, a big smile on her face as she bounced as fast as she could on her pogo stick down the streets of her hometown, fulfilling a childhood dream. For the most part she stayed focused - after all, there was no point in being gifted a great advantage like this if you were too distracted to use it - but she did shout out one "VAMOS CARTAGENA!" to the crowd as they roared their appreciation in response.

    Pablo Rey was trailing right behind, having decided beforehand to intentionally draft Castaño to take advantage of her easy passage through the city, but the crowd was ready for her as they quickly closed ranks and Rey was simply swallowed up in the quickly-resuming chaos.

    Aside from Castaño, the only racer to get something of a pass from the crowd (of those who had dared to test them in the first place) was Larissa Davies of New Zealand. Feeling sympathetic to her story of redemption for her husband, and with her clearly not at her best due to the ankle injury from the previous night, the Spanish crowd respectfully parted to allow Davies passage (though without the fanfare and confetti), which she acknowledged with grateful waves and blown kisses.

    The day wore on, and the revelers only grew rowdier. Fueled by increasing amounts of alcohol and the continuing influence of mob mentality, some of the "fighters" grew emboldened to do more daring things. Flashier attacks with their weapons, more bloodlust-inducing chants; with emotions already running high due to the racers of the Great Overlander passing through, the situation was primed to spiral out of control.

    And then, with the worst possible timing, Francesco Vallefuoco entered the city center. Just to his luck, he happened to pogo down a street that was populated primarily by Carthaginians. The "soldiers" stared at the one Italian in their midst, everybody struck dumb for a moment. Even the pogoer himself had stopped. And then, things started up again.

    "ROMAN SCUM!" somebody bellowed, and just like that the crowd charged as one towards the completely bewildered Vallefuoco, who knew nothing about this event and hailed from Piedmont anyway. At that critical moment, the Italian's fight-or-flight instinct abandoned him, and all he could do was shout at the uncaring frenzied mass racing towards him that he was from just outside Turin and was in no way, shape, or form a Roman, having only visited the city for the first time a mere four years ago. The crowd, in response to this reasoned point of debate, threw him off his stick and closed in around him. "FOR HANNIBAL!" they screamed. "FOR DIDO! FOR SAGUNTUM!"

    Most of the weapons that the "Carthaginians" carried were made of plastic or fiber or cardboard. Some of them, though, were not. At the end of the frenzy, only two things were certain: that Francesco Vallefuoco would not repeat the achievements of his father and grandfather by winning the Great Overlander, and that 2,164 years after the destruction of Carthage, the Punic Wars had claimed one more victim.




    STANDINGS:
    1. Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    2. Rene Regnault (France)
    3. Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    4. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    5. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    6. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    7. Adílson (Brazil)
    8. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    9. Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    10. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    11. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    12. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    13. Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    14. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    OUT: Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    WaywardSon has been cuddled! They were:
    City
  33. Completed Night 1 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/yK0G7KI.png...

    Night 1 Flavor


    Every pogo racer had a different approach for how they dealt with the unique challenges of racing at night given that there was no defined rest period whatsoever. Lasse Abramczik, the German, believed in one speed and one speed only and just flat-out raced through the night, forgoing sleep entirely. On the other hand, the Argentine Pablo Rey got something close to a full night's rest, believing in a sharp mind was the best remedy to handle the unique stresses of this race.

    Most racers, though, were somewhere in between, grabbing quick naps for an hour or so at a time during the night but otherwise maintaining a steady pace. Regardless of their needs for sleep, their fear of Abramczik opening too big of a lead to be caught and their paranoia that other racers would get ten fewer minutes of sleep was enough to keep them from getting too much shut-eye. The only question was the manner in which they would sleep.

    In the back of the pack, Michelle Steinlage, trying to make up ground after taking a wrong turn earlier in the day, did her best to muffle a celebration when she saw Vasily Radionov sleeping on the side of the road. But Radionov was a neophyte and had never raced in the Great Overlander before. He was unaware of the psychological boost provided to other racers whenever they passed somebody napping on the side of the road. Most racers who knew what they were doing chose their accomodations more carefully.

    National favorite Isabela Castaño had it easiest, with every possible roadside overnight lodging point setting up a room for her beforehand and preparing everything so she could immediately fall asleep should she decide to rest at any particular establishment. In this manner Castaño had the best of both worlds, both getting a good quality rest but not spending too much time off her pogo stick.

    Two of the more motivated racers in the group, Janine Bodie of the Bahamas and Larissa Davies of New Zealand pushed themselves far beyond where they had individually planned to stop during the first night pre-race. Bodie took too long to find a place to sleep for the night and wasted nearly a half hour looking for a hotel or other accommodation where the proprietor or anyone on duty was still awake and available for the evening before calling off the search and finding a tree in a park to rest her head on. Davies, meanwhile, allowed her concentration to lapse, landed on an awkwardly-placed rock, and fell off her stick as a result. This fall twisted her ankle somewhat, which is never an injury you want and pretty much ceased any progress she would make for the night. She hoped the injury wouldn't be too bad in the morning.

    Italy's Vallefuoco, who did not get off to the best start on the first day, tried to push through the night as best as he could, but he was clearly tiring and when the time came to scale a particularly steep-looking hill, he called it a night and instead passed out right then and there on the slope of the hill.


    (One hour previously, Brazil's Adílson had scaled the same hill without issue and his persistence was rewarded by a particularly convenient and comfortable motel located shortly past the crest.)

    The honor of the worst night, though, went to Canada's Lucien Lapointe. Having decided to get some brief shut-eye in a ditch just off the side of the road, he found himself rudely awakened by more than one individual shining a small but intense flashlight right in his eye.

    "Lucien Lapointe?" one of them asked once their quarry had regained some semblance of awareness.

    "Huh? Whozza... fans? Mmmmgg... against the rules... leave me alone."

    "We're with INTERPOL, monsieur," said another. "You are hereby placed under arrest for the murder of Jonathan Burrie."

    "INTERPOL... wha-? I didn't... wait... not INTERPOL uniforms. They don't wear red!" he said, suddenly feeling very much awake.

    "Indeed they do not," said the first "agent" in response. "But I think you and I both know that we're not *actually* with INTERPOL."

    A scream pierced the Valencian countryside, unheard by anyone save for the parties directly involved. And just like that, the second Canadian pogo stick racer had died in less than a month.




    STANDINGS:
    1. Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    2. Rene Regnault (France)
    3. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    4. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    5. Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    6. Adílson (Brazil)
    7. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    8. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    9. Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    10. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    11. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    12. Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    13. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    14. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    15. Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    OUT: Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Evenstar was killed! They were:
    Town
  34. Because then they'll invariably come back with...

    Quote Originally Posted by Logic (#63)
    How is no one tagging and ribbing the known Pats fans when they lose in this?
    Because then they'll invariably come back with talk about what the score is IRL with Brady being the GOAT and 6 RINGZZZZZZ and #NoDaysOff and just $#@!ing slit my throat now
  35. Completed Pogo Stick Racing: A History The pogo stick...

    Pogo Stick Racing: A History

    The pogo stick was invented in 1920 by two Germans named Max Pohlig and Ernst Gottschall. The name of the stick is derived from the first two letters of each man's last name. The pogo stick was first destined to be little more than a leisure activity with little salience outside the Weimar Republic until 1936 when three Germans, fleeing Nazi persecutions, pogo'd their way across the French border and requested asylum. Bemused by this unusual means of border-crossing, the French granted it and the news of this strange device spread.

    By 1939, the pogo stick had become something of a curiosity among the intelligentsia of Western Europe, with local pogo clubs being set up across various countryside villas as members raced each other across the grounds. Inter-club competitions were just beginning, but then the war put a stop to anything being organized beyond an extremely local level.

    The pogo stick remained in people's minds, though. In 1944, days after the Allied landing at Normandy, an American force of special operatives pogo'd behind enemy lines in a daring operation to rescue a local leader of the French Resistance in order to sabotage German defenses. Operation Bounceback was an unqualified success and the story of its exploits was made into the smash hit 1966 film Springing Into Action starring a young Clint Eastwood.

    After the war, the pogo stick's popularity only grew and soon, organizational races were being held in the USA, Western Europe, and Australia. The sport soon gained popularity in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc as well after the famous 1957 Dublin Summit when Nikita Khrushchev, seeing the sport for the first time, announced that it was an excellent athletic activity for Soviet youth as it promoted both exercise and equality.

    The Great Overlander was conceived in 1962 when the coincidentally-named Henri Pogeaux, a Swiss financier with far too much time and money on his hands, read the old tales of the great explorers of old such as Leo Africanus and separately Mansa Musa and his fantastic wealth. All of these ideas germinated in Pogeaux's mind and the result was a cross-continental pogo race starting in Spain, crossing over to Morocco, heading through the heart of the Sahara Desert, and finally ending up in that great ancient crossroads of trade, Timbuktu. The first edition was run in 1964 and was self-financed by Pogeaux, and has run in five-year intervals ever since.

    Eventually, as pogo stick racing became normalized and codified under a sole body, the sport grew and became a worldwide phenomenon. There is a yearly circuit of courses that determine annual champions, but the Great Overlander and its unique challenges still attracts the most attention by far and is considered the most prestigious pogo race. Its vast prize that it offers the winner - currently set at $1 billion USD - is financed through gambling. The governing body of pogo racing made a deal with all major and minor bookmakers some decades back to recoup 0.5% of all bets as a gambling "tax" of sorts, and the Great Overlander is the single most wagered-upon event in the world. In essence, the race pays for itself.

    While the race brings unique controversies, such as its unsafe nature and sordid past history with bandits in the Saharan stretch, not to mention the continued rumors of influence from the banned Red Valkyries group, overall the Great Overlander specifically and pogo stick racing in general has never been more popular.
  36. Osweiler cost me $55 in a bet last year when I...

    Osweiler cost me $55 in a bet last year when I went down to AC for the day - it was his first game as a spot starter (for the Dolphins too, ironically) and they were playing the Bears D. I took the Bears at -7 and ran and he $#@!ing won the game for them outright.

    Ever since then I've learned never to count the Lobster out.
  37. Completed Late that first night, all racers, whether still...

    Late that first night, all racers, whether still racing or resting, received a transmission through a secure channel in their gear. This channel was reserved for announcements from Race HQ itself and usually referred to matters of the utmost importance, such as imminent danger ahead or a winner crossing the finish line.


    The transmission came through oddly distorted.

    "...received unverified information tha-zzzkkkhhhzzzhggttzzzz- known as the Red Valkyries may have infiltra-kkkkzzzhhhzzhzhkzkhzkzh- uncertain at this time-krrrzhzhrhzkkzkhzrkz- proceed with extreme caution when encountering fellow racers-kkhzrhrz- repeat, extreme caution when encountering-khtkzhkzhkttrrhzhrzZHK*"
  38. Completed Day 1 Flavor https://i.imgur.com/p4yoQ9Z.png...

    Day 1 Flavor



    It took less than an hour for the racers to depart the city limits of Barcelona. It took another hour for them to leave any trace of the city behind. Soon, they were all pogoing across the countryside of Catalonia, having achieved separation from each other.

    As expected, the two short-track specialists, Abramczik and Regnault, got off to the fastest starts and led the pack outside of the city limits. The Dane Morten Harders , unveiling his highly-touted "wonder stick", was surprisingly in close pursuit, followed by the rest of the pack that was more or less evenly spaced out.

    Local favorite Isabela Castaño always had a clear path and one that was free of bumps, hazards, or other obstructions that would mysteriously be present for racers both before and after her that took that path, but she was not able to parley this advantage into anything more than a middle-of-the-pack position.

    At one point about 4 hours into the race, long after they had left the city limits and were at the countryside, both the Indian Narender Puntambekar and the American Michelle Steinlage came up to a complicated interchange at roughly the same exact time. Neither racer wanting to stall their momentum to examine the route they had at their disposal, both relied on their memory and gut. Steinlage, who had the slight lead, decided to project confidence and went right. Puntambekar, who had spent the last several years in Peru and could actually read the Spanish language and thus knew where he was going, smirked and went left.

    The honor of the first mechanical breakdown of the race went, perhaps unsurprisingly, to the North Korean Ri Yong-Ju. While intriguing, her background did not allow her access to the kind of funding and sponsorships that other, more decorated, racers took for granted and thus her pogo stick was of a poorer quality. When her stick began to fall apart, Ri, undeterred, simply dismounted, backtracked into the town she had just exited, and emerged 15 minutes later with three separate pieces of scrap metal sticking out of various holes in her stick that nevertheless allowed it to keep functioning.

    "The Juche philosophy that dictates life back home places a high emphasis on self-reliance," she said through a translator while being interviewed. "I would be doing a disservice to my country and its Beloved Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un if I did not practice it while abroad."

    With the possible exception of Steinlage dropping back in the pack due to her getting lost, the general racing order was more or less what the betting public expected. The top echelon of racers still had a lead at this early stage of the race, the middle of the pack was populated by those who were either biding their time (Rey, Adílson) or racing in the Great Overlander for the first time (Al Thani, Musungu), and the back consisted of those who were either long shots to begin with (Vallefuoco, Radionov) or out of practice (Bodie). But then, shortly before sundown, the first shock of the race happened.

    Rene Regnault, one of the two pace setters to this point in the race, started dropping back. This was nothing out of the ordinary, as he was conserving energy for the hard days to come, but the shock was how quickly he was passed by Morten Harders for second. The Dane, touting his "wonder stick", had clearly kicked it into another gear at this portion in the race, and, not satisfied with second, even gained ground on and eventually passed Abramczik himself!

    Flush with ecstasy after his latest creation had proven itself worthy, Harders decided that getting drunk off power wasn't enough and decided to get regular old drunk. Stopping at the next establishment he saw, the Dane set his pogo stick down and strode in, demanding attention.

    "Barkeep," he shouted, "A round of your finest whiskey for myself, and one of your second-finest for everybody in here!" Total silence greeted him.

    "Sir, this is a winery," the "barkeep" finally responded. "It was on the sign literally right outside. You couldn't tell by the acres of grapes on the vine surrounding the property?"


    "Oh," said Harders. "Fine, uh... a bottle of your... I guess the Carignan? I'm celebrating my imminent victory! With this wonder stick I simply can't be beat!"

    Five bottles later and with the sun fully set, Harders stumbled out of the winery, remounted his pogo stick, and decided that he would press on to Valencia before finding a nice luxury hotel to spend the night in. At no point did any of his senses tell him this was a very bad idea.

    The road was dark, the night was cloudy, and Harders had lost all sense of direction. Within three minutes, he was traveling in the wrong direction. Within ten, his wonder stick had launched him right off a cliff into the river valley below.





    STANDINGS:
    1. Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    2. Rene Regnault (France)
    3. Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    4. Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    5. Narender Puntambekar (India)
    6. Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    7. Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    8. Adílson (Brazil)
    9. Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    10. Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    11. Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    12. Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    13. Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    14. Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    15. Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    16. Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    OUT: Morten Harders (Denmark)



    Reddevil19 has been cuddled! They were:
    Town
  39. gg Dendrek, sorry you weren't able to finish out....

    gg Dendrek, sorry you weren't able to finish out. Hope you'll stick around!
  40. You beat the Patriots twice, literally nothing...

    You beat the Patriots twice, literally nothing else matters.

    (also wentz leading the mvp race i guess but i'll focus here)
  41. Please do not spoil your alignment, role, or any...

    Please do not spoil your alignment, role, or any night actions here (or in specchat, should you join).



    Thanks for your consideration.

    - Management
  42. sorry for the super late rand, all just do...

    sorry for the super late rand, all

    just do what I do and blame Lissa
  43. Completed Pregame Flavor ...

    Pregame Flavor



    The exact route of the Great Overlander, the longest and most prestigious pogo stick in the world, is always closely guarded and changes from race to race. Nevertheless, there are certain consistencies: It always starts at a major city in central or northern Spain, progresses south through the country until it meets the crossing point at Tarifa, usually follows a somewhat undemanding path through Morocco before entering the Sahara, and always, *always* finishes in the legendary city of gold, Timbuktu.

    This race's starting point was at the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. Splendidly decked out for the occasion, the Neo-Mudéjar archway overlooked the opening avenue that was flanked by eighteen flags repeating: the seventeen flags representing the nationalities of the seventeen racers and the flag of International Pogo Racing Federation, the body overseeing the Great Overlander. Stripes of scarlet and gold and black and deep blue alternated with each other and other colors and shapes as the parade of nations concluded and the crowd gasped in awe at the spectacle.

    Four by four the racers were adorned, the metallic sheens of their sticks gleaming in the bright sunlight. Ahead of them all, closest to the starting line, was the top qualifier, Frenchman Rene Regnault, his stick a dazzling gold with a silver RR embossed three quarters of the way down, his uniform matching this color pattern. Everyone behind him was adorned in their own particular style, but none could match Regnault's splendor.

    The persistent rumor swirling among the crowd of onlookers was that of the Red Valkyries pogo group having secretly converted a number of racers beforehand and having them work in unison to achieve their goal, but this nasty bit of hearsay was quickly put to rest as the military flyover bathed the crowd and racers in aftervapors of red, yellow, and red: the national colors of Spain.

    After the flyover commenced the fireworks, and after the fireworks commenced the starting lights: once all three lit up and the gun was fired, they would be off. For the first time all pre-race celebration, the crowd quieted down: such was the tradition of beginning the greatest race known to man. At precisely the strike of noon, the three lights blazed and somewhere, some public official fired the gun. The gunshot returned the sound. The crowd roared. The 2019 Great Overlander had begun.

    With millions packing the avenues of Barcelona and billions watching around the world, seventeen men and women bounced down a street on pogo sticks as fast as they could.
  44. Completed THE RULES OF THE 2019 GREAT OVERLANDER as...

    THE RULES OF THE 2019 GREAT OVERLANDER
    as codified in the General Session of the 2017 International Pogo Conference in Sao Paulo


    1) All racers must follow the designated route. They are allowed to go off-route if it is deemed to take them out of their way, but no shortcuts are permitted.

    2) All forward progress must be made solely through the racer's own power on a pogo stick, with the sole exception of the crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar. Loopholes such as riding the pogo stick while on a train, etc, are expressly forbidden.

    3) There are NO mandatory rest periods. Keeping with the tradition of the Great Overlander, racers must balance the need for food, sleep, etc. with the possibility that their competitors will instead keep racing.

    4) Intentional interference with other racers is strictly forbidden. Due to past abuse of this rule and its exact wording, a vote was taken by the Executive Committee to remove the word "intentional" from Rule 4. The motion failed in a contentious 11-10 decision.

    5) If a racer gets lost, or runs into equipment failure, or experiences other travel problems, no help will be given. Each racer will be equipped with a communication device to Race HQ; should they activate it and request assistance, assistance will be provided but that racer will automatically forfeit.

    6) All pogo sticks must follow standard approved guidelines. This rule, first implemented in 1990 in the aftermath of The Rocket Fuel Incident, remains in place.

    7) The first racer to cross the finish line receives $1 billion USD. This is contingent on the racer not breaking any rules. Representatives from Credit Suisse will be on hand at the finish line to facilitate the transfer.

    8) Past winners of the Great Overlander are ineligible to compete. They have better things to do with their prize money anyway.

    9) ANYONE AFFILIATED WITH THE DANGEROUS "RED VALKYRIES" POGO GROUP IS BANNED.




    THE RACERS

    Lasse Abramczik (Germany)
    Nicknamed the Mad Münchener, Abramczik has no use for general race strategy and has two speeds: fast, and faster. This M.O. is fantastic on the short track but this race is... not that. In his last Great Overlander five years ago, Abramczik famously pushed himself so hard that he went four days without stopping to eat or sleep at all, getting himself completely turned around and pogoing straight into the Guadiana River. When asked about adjustments he'll make to prevent that from happening again, Abramczik proclaimed that he would just have to go faster so that he finished the race before he ran into those sorts of issues.

    Adílson (Brazil)
    Adílson is a long race specialist who was born in the Brazilian highlands deep in the interior of the country. Far away from the coast and the culture that has come to define the country, Adílson has rigorously trained in the unforgiving Jalapão area of Tocantins. He hopes that this preparation will serve him well in the notoriously difficult Great Overlander.

    Janine Bodie (Bahamas)
    The most decorated pogo racer from the Caribbean in history, Bodie has been enjoying a well-deserved retirement for the past two years, with her career winnings allowing her access to a lavish lifestyle in Monaco. However, after Hurricane Dorian devastated her hometown of Freeport a month before the race, she announced she was coming out of retirement for a one-off race, vowing to donate all proceeds towards the recovery effort. Her cause is just and she was a great racer in her heyday, but the question on everybody's lips is just how out practice she is.

    Isabela Castaño (Spain)
    A talented racer, while not quite in the top echelon. Will certainly get a boost as the first segment of the race takes place in her home country - more specifically, her home city of Cartagena, where her brother plays for the local soccer team. The tradition of locals having an impact on the Great Overlander may just continue this year as the people of Spain will surely be behind their favorite daughter.

    Larissa Davies (New Zealand)
    Five years ago, in the 2014 Great Overlander, Davies's husband Mick was running the race of his life, pulling a surprising first place when the racers entered into the Sahara stretch. He disappeared into the vast desert and was never heard from again. Larissa has refused to give interviews about the incident or answer questions related to Mick in the pre-race press circuit, but it's common knowledge that she has been obsessively preparing for this moment for the past five years.

    Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico)
    One of the most decorated pogo racers in the history of the sport and a 6-time World Pogo Champion, Gonzalez is trying to win the one prize that has eluded him for the fourth time. Since the Great Overlander is only run once every five years, everyone only has a limited number of chances to win. With two separate 2nd place finishes and a 3rd under his belt, the aging Gonzalez is all too aware that this is probably his last shot at glory.

    Morten Harders (Denmark)
    Earlier this year, Harders set the all time record for disqualifications due to his pogo stick not meeting standard approved guidelines. Always one to push the envelope to the absolute limit in the name of competitive advantage, Harders has promised to unveil a "wonder stick" that hasn't been anything close to what people have seen before and at the same time swears up down is within the acceptable guidelines. May or may not be related to anyone affiliated with Mafia Universe.

    Lucien Lapointe (Canada)
    One of the most controversial racers in the field. The Great Overlander has a longstanding policy of allowing one racer per country, and Lapointe originally lost out on qualifying by a hair to his fierce rival Jonathan Burrie. However, just a week ago, Burrie was sensationally found dead in his home under mysterious circumstances, reopening the spot up for Lapointe. With a cloud of suspicion surrounding him and rumor that an arrest warrant is imminent, Lapointe seems remarkably unperturbed by the entire series of events and is looking forward to racing.

    Cheris Musungu (Kenya)
    Musungu is a famous marathoner who took up pogo for the first time a mere two years ago out of a desire to make more money. While she has yet to win a race, her improvement since she started pogoing is very noticeable. Furthermore, while her technical skills and stick maintenance aren't exactly top notch, her conditioning from years of marathon racing is second to none.

    Narender Puntambekar (India)
    In his heyday, Puntambekar was one of the best pogo racers on the circuit, ready to challenge for first place on a wide variety of courses. However, prevailing wisdom is that his best years are behind him, aided by the Indian government banning all pogo training on the slopes of the high-altitude Himalayas after a compatriot of his caused a small avalanche three years ago. Deprived of this unique training advantage, Puntambekar has since relocated to the Peruvian Andes in an attempt to recreate the conditions that brought him so much success, but he has on many occasions remarked that it's not quite the same.

    Vasily Radionov (Russia)
    A curiosity to most of his people as he hails from far-off Pacific-based Vladivostok as opposed to the more concentrated population centers west of the Urals, Radionov broke onto the pogo racing scene with a shocking upset over far more well-established names to qualify for the Great Northerner. He's currently an object of fascination in both the national and international media and is more or less a complete unknown. The rumors of doping persist, of course, and Radionov has taken it in style, remarking that perhaps it would be better for his career in the long run if he only finished in the middle of the pack.

    Rene Regnault (France)
    The odds-on favorite to take the prize this year. A pogo superstar at the top of his game, Regnault is handsome and daring, bringing in tens of millions of Euros in endorsements annually and pulling off maneuvers that nobody's ever seen before. However, Regnault is a short track specialist, and while he's certainly won longer races before, the unique challenges of the Great Overlander may not play to his strengths.

    Pablo Rey (Argentina)
    A very technical pogo racer. Pablo Rey's form on the stick is considered to be the best out there and he has a borderline obsession with keeping his pogo stick in the best condition possible. Has no time for flashy racers like Regnault and insiders speculate that the sometimes-harsh conditions of the Great Overlander will be enough to drive him mad. Then again, his attention to detail might serve him well if and when things start to break down around him.

    Ri Yong-Ju (North Korea)
    North Korea has no pogo racing infrastructure to speak of, and the sport is nearly unheard of within its borders. Yet late one night, seemingly out of nowhere, she managed to successfully pogo her way across the Korean DMZ, the most heavily-fortified military border in the world. By far the most mysterious racer in the field, Ri has refused to renounce her North Korean citizenship and has denied claims that she has defected, only claiming she crossed the border in order to take part in pogo racing. So far she has been bizarrely successful at it.

    Michelle Steinlage (USA)
    The Great American Hope. No American has ever won the Great Overlander, but pundits think that Steinlage has the best chance of breaking the streak. Formerly derided for simply being the face for advertising campaigns back home, she showed the world her considerable pogo skills by winning a surprise victory over Regnault in the Arabian Derby, and has been at or near the top of the pack ever since.

    Saad Al Thani (Qatar)
    A distant relative of the ruling Emir, Al Thani has used his royal connections and his country's policy of exercising soft power through sporting prestige to secure a top-level pogo racing license. While the resources poured into attempting to put Saad in the upper echelon of racers have so far not panned out, QSI have been specifically targeting this race for years and have constructed a rigorous training regimen explicitly designed for the unique challenges of the Great Overlander.

    Francesco Vallefuoco (Italy)
    Part of the third generation of a very famous pogo family, both Vallefuoco's father and grandfather have won the Great Overlander in the past. These riches have set the family up for life, but now they race for prestige more than anything else. The young Vallefuoco is a talented racer, but there are whispers in some circles that he secured a spot in this year's lineup because of his last name rather than any particular skill.
  45. The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race Graveyard Chat

    The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race Graveyard Chat

    Welcome to the The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race Graveyard thread!

    If you are seeing this, you must be dead. Now that you are dead, you are no longer allowed to talk to living players. You can discuss the game here.

    This thread will be made public at the end of the game.
  46. Completed The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race: Game...

    The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race: Game Information!

    This is an automated game of Mafia.


    Setup - 17 Players

    CLOSED
    • POST RESTRICTION: You may only post 175 times per Day phase. This restriction will be lifted 2 hours before phase end.
    • Majority will be in effect starting Day 2. Day 2 onward will end the instant a majority is reached.
    • Town wins when all threats to Town have been eliminated.
    • Mafia factions win when they achieve Parity and all other evil factions have been eliminated at any time.
    • Votes are automatically locked in at LYLO.
    • No Lynching is enabled. Vote for No Lynch to forgo a lynch that Day.
    • Mafia factional kills are mandatory. Mafia must submit a factional kill each night, or a player outside their faction will be chosen at random.
    • Mafia factional kills are assigned. They can be tracked, watched, or roleblocked.
    • Mafia share a factional Night Kill, which is a single standard shot for their faction.
    • Mafia may communicate at any time.
    • Tied votes will result in a player being lynched at random from among the tied players.

    Phase Lengths

    Days are 48 hours in length. Nights are 24 hours in length.

    Players

    @112
    @Beck
    @DaBackpack
    @Dendrek
    @Evenstar
    @Fable
    @Geo
    @Keldeo
    @Lady Lambdadelta
    @Macdougall
    @NANOOKTHECONQUEROR
    @Pawn Lelouch
    @RedDevil19
    @Spiny Creature
    @SwedishSkumbag
    @The Sun Fan
    @WaywardSon

    FAQ

    Are you unsure about how actions are processed or how roles interact with each other? Then read more here:

    ORDER OF OPERATIONS

    Night actions are processed in this order:

    Strongman kills
    Roleblocks
    Jails
    Doctors
    Bodyguards
    Kills
    Investigations
    Backups

    When an action was submitted during the night will never matter when the actions are processed.

    ACTION FEEDBACK

    These are the results you will get when you submit certain actions.

    Non-investigative roles when they submit an action (they also receive this if they are roleblocked):

    Your action on Player A was received.
    Investigative actions return results even if the target dies on the same night.

    Actions that count as visits are counted as visits even if the actor dies on the same night.

    Investigative roles (Tracker, Cop, etc.) when roleblocked:

    Your action on Player B did not return any results.
    Trackers when tracking a person that didn't visit anyone (or if they targeted a Ninja):

    Player C did not visit anyone.
    Watchers when watching a person that wasn't visited by anyone (or only visited by a Ninja):

    Player D was not visited by anyone.
    Alignment Cop when investigating a town-aligned player (or a Godfather):

    Player E is Town
    Watcher when watching a person that was visited by multiple people:

    Player F was visited by Player G, Player H, Player I
    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    How do I submit my action?
    Use the form below the game thread. If your role has a night action, the form will only be visible during night phases. It's not possible to submit actions in advance of the night phase.

    What does it mean if the Mafia Host says that night kills are assigned?
    In games with this setting turned on, the member of the mafia team that made the most recent night kill submission will be the one assigned to the kill, which means that the kill can be blocked if a Town Roleblocker or Town Jailkeeper target the mafia player in question. Similarly, the kill can be tracked and watched by Town Trackers and Town Watchers. If this setting isn't turned on, then it doesn't matter who the last person to submit the mafia kill is, as the kill is unblockable and untrackable in this case.

    Where do I find example role PM's?
    This thread contains example role PM's for all roles currently supported by the Modbot as well as information on the various modifiers. Here you will find the answers to a lot of questions not covered in this FAQ section.

    Which roles can self-target?
    Only Watchers are able to use their ability on themselves at night. This means that Doctors or Jailkeepers aren't able to protect themselves, for example.

    Which roles are not able to target the same players on consecutive nights?
    Doctors, Jailkeepers, and Roleblockers are not allowed to target the same player twice in a row. Everyone else is, including Bodyguards. Note that this non-consecutive restriction still holds true even if one of these three roles were blocked the night before when targeting the person that they're attempting to target again.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A and Jailkeeper B or Roleblocker A and Roleblocker B target each other (and are not targetted by other blockers)?
    In the case of Jailkeepers, they will block and protect each other. In the case of Roleblockers, they also block each other. This means that the two players are trackable to each other that night by Trackers and Watchers. It also means that if one of them is mafia and happens to simultaneously be the one submitting the factional kill that night in a game with assigned kills, then this kill is blocked. This same principle applies to longer loops. I.e. in a A > B > C > D > A loop, everyone is blocked.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A targets Roleblocker B who targets Jailkeeper A?
    Jailkeeper A will be blocked in this scenario. Refer to the order of operations: Roleblocks process before jails.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A targets Roleblocker B who targets Player C?
    As stated above, roleblocks process before jails, so Roleblocker B will successfully block Player C. I.e. Jailkeeper A will fail to block Roleblocker B, but will still protect Roleblocker B.

    What happens if Jailkeeper A targets Jailkeeper B and Jailkeeper B targets Jailkeeper C (who isn't targeting any of the former two)?
    In this case, Jailkeeper A would prevent Jailkeeper B's block from occuring, meaning that Jailkeeper C's action is not blocked.

    If an X-Shot role is blocked while using a shot, do they lose that shot forever?
    Yes. A 1-shot Vigilante being blocked while attempting to kill someone will not have their shot refunded.

    If someone with a Strongman modifier kills Player A who is protected by Bodyguard B, who dies?
    Player A will die, and Bodyguard B will survive.

    Can a mafia team choose not to kill anyone during a night?
    The host can determine this using the Mafia Factional Kill setting. Kills can be mandatory, optional, or disabled altogether.

    The default is No. The mafia factional kill is compulsory. This is done in order to avoid deadlocked games where the town keeps no lynching and the mafia refuses to submit a kill. If the game has assigned kills, it will be randomized which member of the team is carrying out the kill.

    If there is only one mafia member left in a game without assigned kills, can the mafia factional kill then be blocked and/or tracked?
    No.

    Can the mafia submit a kill for one of their own members?
    No.

    If I kill someone, does their night action, if they have one, still succeed?
    Yes, killing someone doesn't prevent them from performing their night action (unless they investigated someone, in which case they will not receive a report). Refer to the order of operations: All kills happen at the end of the night, and everyone pulls the trigger simultaneously.

    Can individual night actions be proxied on mafia teams?
    No. If the mafia team has a Mafia Roleblocker, for example, and they want to use this role's action, then the player occupying that slot must submit the action themselves.

    If a Lover is shot during the night, while the other Lover is protected that night, does the other Lover still die?
    Yes. It's not possible to prevent a Lover from dying of love sickness.

    If a Bodyguard protects Lover A, while Lover B is shot during that same night, what happens?
    A dies of love sickness and Bodyguard lives.

    If there are any Innocent Childs in the game, are these confirmed in the thread right when the game begins?
    No. Innocent Childs are able to decide themselves when or if they wish to have the Modbot confirm their role and alignment in the thread. Note that this is exclusively a day action and that it can take up to one minute for the Modbot to process the action.

    What results are Alignment Cops, Full Cops and Role Cops given if they investigate a Godfather or a Miller?
    Alignment Cops are told "Town" for Godfathers and "Mafia" for Millers. Full Cops are told "Vanilla Town" for Godfathers and "Mafia Goon" for Millers. Role Cops are told "Godfather" for Godfathers and "Miller" for Millers.

    Can Role Cops tell the difference between a Vanilla Town and Mafia Goon?
    No. They are told "Vanilla" when investigating either of these two roles.

    If I roleblock someone with a Bulletproof Vest, will that nullify the effect of the vest?
    No. Bulletproof Vests are passive modifiers that cannot be blocked from working.

    If I roleblock Masons, Neighbors or Lovers with out of thread communication privileges, can I prevent them from talking at night?
    No.

    If I roleblock a Godfather, will they still be revealed as being town-aligned to Alignment Cops and Full Cops that night?
    Yes.

    USING THE SOFTWARE

    Are you wondering about how to vote, submit night actions or multi-isolate players? Read about this and more here:

    VOTING BBCODES

    Our forum votes for someone by using the vote tags: [V]Thingyman[/V]. Preview:

    ##Vote Thingyman

    Make sure that you spell out the full, correct name. Abbreviations or misspelled names will not be registered by the Modbot.

    To unvote, use the tags: [UNV][/UNV] . When unvoting you do not need to enter the name of the person that you are unvoting. Preview:

    ##Unvote

    VOTING BUTTONS

    You can also quickly vote for someone by clicking on the box with a checkmark icon, which will bring up an alphabetized dropdown containing the names of living players:



    This will insert [V][/V] tags with the name of the player you selected in the dropdown, perfect every time.

    Click the empty checkbox button to insert [UNV][/UNV].

    SUBMITTING NIGHT ACTIONS

    If you have a night action, simply submit this at night by scrolling to the bottom of the game thread. Here you will find a night action form like this:



    Click the dropdown and select the player whom you wish to use your night action on. You can change it as many times as you wish before the deadline expires.

    CALLING UP A VOTECOUNT

    Votecounts will appear automatically at various intervals, but you can also call up votecounts yourself by following these steps:

    First, you need to apply to join "Mafia Game Hosts" under Permission Groups.

    Second, once your request has been approved, you will be able to call up votecounts by simply pushing the "Post Votecount" button in the top right corner of any game thread that you'd like an updated votecount for.


    VIEWING VOTE HISTORY

    There are three ways to access the vote history for any game.

    1. Click on the "Vote History" button in the top right corner of the game thread:

    2. Click on the "View Vote History" link, which accompanies all votecounts:

    3. Click on Modbot in the top forum menu. This will give you a list of ongoing and completed games:



      Next, simply click on "Vote History" to view all votes for that game.

    Following any of the above three steps will bring you to an overview like this one:



    Click on a Voter's username to view all of the votes by their slot.

    Click on a Target's username to view all of the votes for their slot.

    ISOLATING A PLAYER'S POSTS

    If you wish to read a player's posts in isolation, simply click on "ISO" in the top right corner of one of that player's posts in the relevant thread as illustrated here:



    Alternatively, you can access a player's posts in isolation by clicking on the number next to "Replies:" in the forum lobby.



    Doing so will pull up a window listing the post counts for everyone who has posted in that thread. You access someone's posts in isolation by simply clicking on the number next to "Posts:" for that person.



    The ISO view itself has Quote and Multi-Quote buttons inside it, which will make it very easy to quickly quote a lot of a player's posts for analysis or commentary:


    MULTI-ISOLATING

    If you wish to read not just one player's posts, but you want to ISO multiple players, then click the "Multi ISO" button to the left of "Game Tools" and select the players in question as shown here:


    MULTI-QUOTING WHILE THREAD IS LOCKED

    Note that you can multi-quote posts from even locked game threads. This is useful for when you wish to reread the game and do work during night phases.

    After quoting the relevant posts, you simply open a different, opened thread and press "Go Advanced". Then add the quotes to your post by clicking the prompt below the post area as shown here:



    Now, of course you can't post your work in the game thread while the thread is locked, but you can copy paste and save your work to a local file or the cloud and have it ready to post the very next day phase (if you're still alive, that is).

    BOOKMARKS

    Whenever you open a game thread, you are able to bookmark posts. This is for many players an important tool for keeping track of and remembering vital pieces of information, reads, claims etc.

    Also, note that these bookmarks are saved to your user account, meaning that it eliminates the trouble associated with keeping notes between different computers/devices.

    If you want to bookmark a post, you simply scroll to the post that you want to bookmark and press "Set Bookmark" as shown here:



    This will call up 5 different colored icons (Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, and Black) on the right side of the post in question. You can click any of these icons, which will then prompt you to include a note for the post.

    If you don't want to include a note, you don't have to - just leave it blank. The color coding in itself can be a valuable tool. Maybe you want to use Red bookmarks for posts that you find suspicious, Green bookmarks for posts that you find townie, Black bookmarks for posts containing claims, or whatever system you can think of that will be helpful to you.



    Once this is done, you have now successfully bookmarked a post with a certain color and maybe even a note. If you wish to remove the bookmark again, click on "Unset Bookmark".

    How do I access bookmarks?

    There are two ways to access your bookmarks.
    1. Inside a game thread, you can access the bookmarks for that specific game by simply right clicking on the "Bookmark" button and opening the link.

      This will bring you to a separate page that is automatically filtered to only show bookmarks from the game thread that you accessed the page from.
    2. You can also access your bookmarks by going to Features in the site's top menu:



      This will bring you to a page where no bookmarks are shown by default. However, you have several filtering options.

      You can filter by Game, by Player and by Color - and all of them at once if you so wish.

      Here's an example of filtering by only red bookmarks in one specific game:



    If you want to be taken directly to one of your bookmarked posts, you just click the post number.

    How do I quote bookmarks?

    You can also multi-quote bookmarked posts by clicking the little "+" button seen above on the far right side of each bookmark.

    Once you have multi-quoted all the bookmarked posts that you want to quote, you will then have to go to the game thread in which you wish to quote the bookmarked posts.

    Here you have two ways of quoting the posts.

    1. Click on "Reply With Quote" on another post as shown here:



      You will then probably want to delete the last post quoted in the reply box, but otherwise you should be good to go.
    2. Or you can do the more smooth option and click the "Reply To Thread" button at the top and bottom of the game thread - as shown here:



      By doing this you will open up a reply box containing only your multi-quoted bookmarked posts.
  47. The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race Mafia Chat

    The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race Mafia Chat

    Welcome to the The Billion-Dollar Pogo Stick Race Mafia thread! You may interact with your Mafia team here.

    Mafia Team

    Beck (Mafia Tracker | x1 Strongman | Cycle 1, 3)
    DaBackpack (Mafia Doctor | Cycle 2, 4)
    Geo (Macho Mafia Watcher | Cycle 1)
    Lady Lambdadelta (Mafia Jack of All Trades (x1 Role Cop, x1 Roleblocker, x1 Tracker) | Cycle 1, 2, 3)

    This thread will be made public at the end of the game.
  48. Replies
    1,934
    Views
    56,787

    Hey folks, While we await the rand, allow me...

    Hey folks,

    While we await the rand, allow me this opportunity to say as your host that it's a pleasure to run the game for everyone. Let's have a good, clean, friendly game, try your best, and most importantly, have fun!

    Best of luck to all.
  49. The saddest part of this draft class is that I...

    The saddest part of this draft class is that I don't see any funny/awesome Madden names in it (yet). Coffee's probably the closest, and even that's not much more than a "meh" for me.
  50. Somewhere, the ghosts of the 2007 Appalachian...

    Somewhere, the ghosts of the 2007 Appalachian State football team are smiling down on this UMass squad.

    Good start, looking forward to more!
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We hope you stick around!
Role of the Day
Lawyer

The Lawyer is a mafia-aligned role who may target a fellow mafia-aligned player each night and make them view as town if investigated by a Cop ability.