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Seekers Beyond the Shroud -- Review and Thoughts

Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a Solo modern day occult RPG, written by Alex T. for Blackoath Entertainment. I first stumbled upon it on Kickstarter in October of 2019, and immediately backed it. There are few deliberately designed Solo RPG's, and its promise of solo rules, robust system, and setting was irresistible. I received my print copy this summer, but haven't had a chance until recently to play it. Now that I have, I wanted to do a quick review of the game, based on both my reading of it as well as the couple of sessions I've been able to play. While most of the review will be discussing the book itself, I'll include some notes on my play experience in spoilers.
Layout and Design
The book itself is solid. The cover image is cool and evocative--and the art in general is very well done. I only backed at the softcover level, but it's a solid and well designed layout. Actually, better than some of the recent games I've bought from more established companies.
Setting
It's modern day London. Your character has gone through some traumatic and horrifying experience that awakened them to the greater supernatural world. After much searching, you have come to the Omphalos, a secret town populated by mystics, monsters, and other...things. There, you begin your journey of both personal enlightenment and personal power.
Character Creation
Seekers uses the 6 classic attributes--Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma, with Will replacing Wisdom. The scale is from 1-20, with all starting at 10. You then get an additional 20 points to further customize your character.
I ended up putting my points into Dexterity, Will, Intelligence, and Charisma. I figured Will and Intelligence are key to any aspiring wizard, and--desiring to do something different than a rogue bad ass--I was hoping that Dexterity and Charisma would give me options to solve issues with something other than direct violence. This would become an issue later on.
Next, you have "Secondary Attributes"--Hit Points (Con x10) or Sanity (Int x10) and the like. Then, you have Skills. They're pretty much what you would expect, a mix of combat and non-combat. You have 250 points to spend on the skills, but are limited to no more than 50 in any skill at creation. Some skills have a base value derived from your attributes (for example, One-Handed Melee starts with a value equal to your Str+Dex, while Persuade starts with a value equal to your Charisma X2), while other skills--the mystical ones--begin at 0 and can only be increased through gameplay. If you use a skill 5 times, you can make a Skill-Up roll. If you roll above the current value (i.e.: fail), you add 1 point to the skill.
Given that I had a decent Dex, my combat skills were decent to begin with. I wanted to play an "ordinary joe" kind of character, so I spend my points on skills like Technology, Linguistics, and Persuade. I finally caved to my min/maxing tendencies though, and ended up boosting Parry and Sneak as high as I could, with a smattering of points in other combat skills. I had quite a few in the mid-40's, so my "mild mannered accountant" was surprisingly dangerous. Or so I thought.
Backgrounds
After the basics are done, you roll a d10 for your Background. Each provides and in-depth backstory for your character, and details the traumatic and often horrific moment that set you on the path of magic. Each also provides various penalties and bonuses that further modify your character.
I rolled the "Near Death Experience"--my PC was a workaholic who almost dies of a heart attack. While "dead," he encounter a horrific spirit that he just barely managed to evade. Upon waking, he through aside his career and sought out some explanation for what he had seen. He has a bonus to Psychic Combat--which is used in the Astral Plane--but a penalty to his Constitution and Charisma. I had left my Con at 10, so it dropped to 9, and my Hit Points also dropped from 100 to 90. I wasn't worried though, as I had intended to be more sneaky and charming than tough.
He said foreshadowingly.
Combat
Combat is relatively simple. As you approach a foe, you make an Initiative roll on a d20. Each foe has a static Initiative value; if you beat it, you go first and if not, then they do. If you beat them on the first turn, you have a chance to surprise or avoid them entirely. All combat rolls are done by the player. If an enemy attacks, you need to make a defensive roll (Parry, Dodge, or Find Cover) to avoid their attack, and you make your offensive roll (like One Handed Melee) to hit them. Certain foes are Veterans, and apply penalties to these rolls. Different types of weapons do different amounts of damage--like 2d10+10 for a pistol. In the intro adventure, the PC gains a "talent" that grants them a flat +25 to their damage from then on. Most foes have roughly 100-130 Hit Points, so even with the player bonus, it can take quite a few rounds to get through even minor enemies.
The Mystical World
The next few sections are some of the most interesting, describing the Astral World, Magic, Summoning and Binding Spirits, and the like. I haven't had a chance to really dig into this aspect of the game, however.
The Omphalos and Scenarios
The core of the game is the Omphalos, a hub of trade, commerce, knowledge and intrigue. Here the PC can buy and sell gear, learn new knowledge, encounter the strange denizens of this world, and get missions for various factions. There are four listed in the book, each with their own agendas and philosophy. Each has constant need for "foot soldiers" to do various unsavory tasks for them, and as you gain Favor with each, they provide various bonuses and spells and other benefits.
>! So, I finished the intro scenario, had some knowledge of the greater world, and had been introduced to the Omphalos. Time for the first "real" adventure! First, I roll on the Emphalos Daily Event table and got "quiet day"--things are calm today, and prices are low. I have only a few obols (the currency of the magical realm), so any discount is nice. Then I roll for Encounters, and get "pickpocket." There's no roll to avoid this, so my PC loses 100 obols. This is more than I have, so I am no broke. Desperate for work, I see who is hiring. There are 4 factions, and each might have a represented in town that day, based on a roll of 7+ on a D10. I roll for each, and only one is present, the Causa Scientiae a particularly rational and Order focused faction. I then roll for the Scenario--I get "recover." One of their artifacts has fallen into mortal hands and is in a museum. They want me to recover it for them. Given the setup, there will only be mortal guards--which is nice--and they don't want me to kill anyone. In fact, each guard I kill will cost me the possible Favor reward with the faction. Works for me--I don't want to kill anyone either.!<
I could refuse job, but risk losing Favor with them. Given that they are the only ones hiring today, I'm loathe to refuse. Plus the job seems up my alley--no magics needed (and I have none), and I should avoid all combat. Since other types of mission are "kill everything on site" or "kill everything and cast a really tough ritual" I figure I'm unlikely to get a better mission.
Next I go to the scenario design. There are a number of possible locations, and each has a unique setup, Events, and Discoveries. This is probably my favorite part of the game. I roll some dice, get a list of rooms and locations, and then create a simple map for my explorations. I know given the setup that the artifact in question will be discovered in the 16th room. But, a roleplayer is gonna roleplay, so I decide my PC will make a beeline for the Archives, assuming that the object surely must be there. And, if not, it will have the necessary paperwork showing where the object is.
Each room has unique odds for three different types of encounters--Enemies, Events, and Discoveries. I begin at the Entrance, and have no enemies but an Event reveals Drug Fueled Goons--apparently the guards here are all high as hell, and have a bonus of 20 to their Hit Points, but a -10 to combat. So, tougher to kill, but easier to hit and avoid.
The next room I enter is the Lobby, and there's a guard present. The guard rules state that they will attack on site. I could use an alternate rule that lets you talk past human-type foes but, well, I am breaking in and they are all drugged the hell up, so I stick with the basic rules. Still, I try to avoid them but fail in my starting initiative roll. The battle begins, and the dice are on my side. It's a running gun battle, but I'm able to kill the guard. When he's wounded, he calls for backup, and the dice gods are still smiling at me, and I make it through that battle without any injuries. I'm upset at my failure to avoid combat--and losing Favor with my client--but after some nasty battles in the intro adventure, I start to think I'm getting things sorted out.
I continue exploring and even manage to successfully sneak past a guard. As I'm exploring one of the administration offices, I run into another one. This time I can't avoid him, and another fight ensues. This time, the dice don't roll so well. He quickly gets the better of me, and I end up taking a lot damage. And with only 90 Hit Points, it's far more than I'm comfortable with. I decide to run.
To run away, you need to roll a D20 and, like initiative, and beat their Dexterity but even still they get a free attack on you. Not that it matters, as I fail to disengage. After two rounds spent trying to run away, my PC is shot dead on some secretaries desk and my game came to a close.
Concluding Thoughts
Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a very interesting game. Obviously, a ton of thought, love, and work has been poured into this game. And there is a lot I love about it--the world, the discussions on magic and spirits, the mission setup system--all top notch. But, there are some things that didn't quite work for me.
I'll probably give the game another shot. But, instead of playing an average guy awakening to a wider world, I'll probably go with a more "badass" character and hope he can survive the first few missions. In Seekers, knowing ancient languages is nice, but real mages know how to use a Glock.
TLDR
Seekers Beyond the Shroud is an interesting Solo RPG of modern occult shenanigans. it has a lot of very interesting and fun mechanics to bring the game to life, but suffers from some bad editing (make sure you play through the intro scenario or you WILL miss a key "PC Bonus") and an unforgiving system. Still, worth checking out for any Solo gamer interested in more contemporary game.
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Greed is Subtle

The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet.
Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured.
Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it.
During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper.
Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss.
"Hello?" Ghen answered.
"Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details."
"Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?"
"No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about."
Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?"
"Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up."
Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically.
As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?"
Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery."
Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans?
"Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time."
A week later.
At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting.
"Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?"
All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts.
"Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!"
Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing?
"Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded."
"Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost.
"Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount."
"So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked.
"If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder."
"And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists.
"Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options."
Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket.
"What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time.
Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately."
"And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone.
"Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!"
"And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money.
"Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?"
Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working?
As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase.
And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times.
Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way.
Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies.
And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits?
Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more.
...
There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept?
Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there.
"Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?"
"Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down.
"Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form.
"I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little."
"Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod.
"As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact.
"Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so."
Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually."
"Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?"
"Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest."
"Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?"
"If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated.
"So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?"
"Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case.
"Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted."
"Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise.
"What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious."
"I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?"
Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold."
"A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted.
Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares."
Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later.
After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always.
"I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?"
"I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?"
"I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch."
"You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor.
"I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle."
"I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk.
Several weeks later.
Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt.
While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route.
After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891.
And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it.
And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back?
His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful.
By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs.
What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real?
It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off.
As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen.
"What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments.
"D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car.
"You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!"
"How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh.
"Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!"
Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares."
Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?"
"Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?"
"Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin."
And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?"
Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?"
"Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!"
"Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it."
"Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited."
"By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them."
"Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go."
Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?"
Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it."
...
It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%.
Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way?
What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching?
He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late.
Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well.
"I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?"
Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say."
"Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?"
"Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them.
They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus.
"May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar."
Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please."
"Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean.
Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him.
Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high?
And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm.
And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money.
And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible.
The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it.
Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing.
Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal.
Three Years Later.
Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat.
It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply.
Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik.
Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes.
Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery.
"Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon."
"Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik.
"Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good."
"What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik."
Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month."
"I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk."
"You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently."
"Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know."
"Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?"
"I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement."
Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?"
AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
submitted by SynthoStellar to HFY [link] [comments]

A proposal to eliminate the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland

This is a long one. There is no TL;DR, but Google tells me it should take about 10 minutes to read. Or, you can skip to The Plan - Summary if you want the bullet points.
But why should you give this any time at all?
My background is in data analysis. Making sense of numbers is what I do for a living. I have been studying COVID-19 since I was locked down in March and the experience has been frustrating in equal measure. The difference between what was happening on the ground, and the story that the media told was genuinely alarming. The government / NPHET never even tried to stop the virus getting into the country, and no one held them to account for their (non)decisions. The disastrous consequences are all around us, and much of it was preventable.
Six months later, and the country has barely moved on. The ‘experts’ have no goals and little control over the virus. The media frame every issue as a crass binary choice between more or less restrictions and are otherwise happy just to have people to point their fingers at. The government / NPHET has nothing to offer the people, other than admonishments to do better and repeated cycle of restrictions.
Meanwhile students, artists, the over 70s, small business owners, the entire events and hospitality industries, and regular people who cannot WFH have been left swinging in the wind. Some have been evicted, others are relying on drugs to get by. This situation is not just a problem for one or two parts of our society: this is a widespread degradation of our quality of life. If I can do anything to help, I feel obliged to try.

Context
As I see it, we have three choices:
I won’t argue over technocratic definitions like ‘elimination’, ‘eradication’ or ‘suppression’. These distinctions are semantic in an environment of oppressive civic restrictions, mass unemployment, waves of business closures, and general misery. Whatever gets us to a place where we can live our lives as normal (or close enough), and the public health infrastructure can take care of the virus, that’s what I’m aiming for.
This proposal cannot work without public support. No proposal can work without public support. Public adherence is the single most important variable in the equation, yet it is the one that the politicians and the media and the ‘experts’ have ignored. FG burned through a lot of goodwill in the first lockdown (and money, and resources, and lives…). Instead of vilifying people who aren’t adhering to the rules, policymakers need to recognise the sacrifices that the people made (which were subsequently squandered) and they need to earn that trust back.
This proposal cannot work without support from the North. That doesn’t mean that we need to convince them to adopt our plan. It means we need to convince them that the goal is worthwhile and achievable. From there we can work together to coordinate our policies. Managing our own affairs with competence, would be a good start. Picking up the phone to talk to them, instead of trying to browbeat them through the media, would also help.
Irrespective of your goals or beliefs, some facts are certain: there will be lockdowns, there will be government spending to support the economy, and the virus will demand public health resources. All of that will happen in the coming months and years, whether we have a plan or not. The question is whether those resources are used to solve the problem, or whether they are wasted on a plan that keeps us going around in circles.
So yes, there will be lockdowns in this proposal, but they will not be FG lockdowns i.e. lock them down and throw away the key. Through intelligent policies and a greater mobilisation of resources, we can do so much more with our lockdowns to reduce the burden on the people and make their experience more tolerable. Indeed, that trade-off always exists in public policy: better policymaking = happier people. Which is why the politicians usually get the blame, and rightly so.
We need to move to a more ‘war time’ mindset. Not because we need a shared enemy to unite us, but because we need to mobilise every possible resource at our disposal and focus it on the single most important issue affecting us all. We need more tests, we need vehicles for mobile testing units, we need facilities for quarantines. Wherever there is spare capacity, we need to find a way to put it to good use. We need to take most of the power away from the narrow-minded medics, and get the rest of our society and our civic infrastructure involved in planning e.g. community representatives, legal experts, business leaders, An Garda, the army etc.
People want to invest in their communities, they want to help their friends and neighbours. There are people all over the country who would rather be volunteering as part of a national plan to get rid of COVID-19, than to be sitting at home on the PUP, going crazy listening to the ‘experts’ – who failed to prevent this – talk about more lockdowns. We need to harness that latent energy and build it into the plan.
One of the most important factors that is within our control, is the degree to which policymakers communicate with the people. And I mean real communication, not press releases or attention-seeking speeches from the other side of the world. We need to talk to the people, listen to them, answer their questions, take their feedback on board. The people aren’t stupid. They know a good plan when they see it – which is why few are paying attention to the ‘Living With The Virus’ stuff – and they have valuable information that can help make that plan work.
Underlying these points is a need to create intelligent rules, and to enforce them strictly. Strict does not mean harsh. Strict enforcement is not authoritarianism, and it is not an invitation to a fight; it is simply administrative competence. In the context of a contagious outbreak, administrative competence is the difference between life and death.
I’ll finish this section with the caveat that all parameters are suggestions or placeholders. The exact numbers will depend on resources, on more data and further analysis, and on input from communities and other stakeholders – all of which is within our control.

The Plan – Summary
Like any problem in life, if you can’t solve it directly, you break it down into smaller, less complex parts.
Instead of putting the whole country into lockdown and trying to eradicate the virus from the whole island at the same time – a miserable experience for all – we should go county by county until the job is done. We seal off a county, flood it with resources, clear it of COVID-19, and then let it reopen as normal. We repeat the process for neighbouring counties and then combine them when they are cleared, to create a larger ‘Cleared Zone’. The process continues and the Cleared Zone keeps growing until it covers the whole island.
This approach allows us to focus our resources on one area at a time (nurses, doctors, tests, volunteers etc) instead of spreading them over the whole country. We can be more comprehensive in our testing and quarantining measures, and more confident in our plans. Short, sharp, strict lockdowns work best.
By maximising the ratio of resources to population, we also lower the burden on the people. In particular, we minimise the amount of time that people spend in lockdown, and the less time they spend in lockdown, the more likely the plan is to work.
This structured approach also makes it easier for us to measure our progress and make reliable forecasts. We can allocate our resources more efficiently and plan our responses more effectively. Observers can watch our progress and judge for themselves whether it is a good idea (i.e. politicians in the North and / or protestors in Dublin).
Perhaps most important of all, the structure makes it easier to explain the idea to the people and get buy-in before anything happens. We can outline the plan, explain how it works, explain how it compares to the alternatives, and then give them realistic estimates of what would be required and how long it would take. Then we can hear their feedback and take the conversation and planning from there.
I have heard any people talking about elimination and ZeroCovid, but do any of them have a plan for getting to zero? Or a plan to get the people on board?
Step 1: More structure and responsibility from leaders
Step 2: Less uncertainty, easier decisions, better outcomes, less stress for everyone
Step 3: Profit. Elimination.

The Plan – Implementation
We isolate a county and lock it down for an initial 3 weeks. An Garda man the county borders. They are supported by the army, who provide boots on the ground so that An Garda aren’t stretched. Most routes are closed off so that all essential travel goes through a few well-manned checkpoints. If we do a good job with planning and communication, there won’t be much work to do.
We test systemically high-risk households and high-risk individuals early and often i.e. large households and essential workers. With help from local volunteers, medics screen as many people as possible every day. We use multiple measures and repeated applications to improve the quality of our results. We want to identify and remove cases at the earliest possible point, both to reduce the chance of further infection, and to protect the individual’s health.
Low risk confirmed cases (young / healthy) go to a safe and comfortable quarantine. Local hotels and guest houses could be used, ideally before we invest in building quarantine facilities. Local taxis, kitted out with extra protective equipment, could take them there. High risk confirmed cases (older / comorbidities) go by ambulance to local medical facilities as required.
During this period, we work with local politicians, community leaders, residence associations etc to ensure that everyone is looked after (in reality, these conversations will have started weeks before). We get our neighbourhoods communicating, looking out for each other, making sure they’ve got enough food or heating or whatever else they need. Local volunteers and taxi drivers can do odd jobs like sending packages, collecting prescriptions, lifting heavy stuff, or just checking in on people. If it is feasible, we can even invite local artists to play gigs for people in their streets or apartments.
Towards the end of the second week, we begin a mass testing program with the ultimate goal of testing every person in the county (scale depends on resources). Once we have completed the tests and cleared the confirmed cases into quarantine, we can begin a slow, staggered opening process. We must be especially conservative at this point to ensure no slippage.
When one county is clear, we move to the next one, and repeat the process. When we have cleared two bordering counties, we can join them together in a bigger Cleared Zone and the process continues from there. Eventually the Cleared Zone covers the whole country, except Dublin (or more realistically, the Pale).
What would the other counties do while they wait for their turn? I’m assuming that, they would be doing whatever the ‘Living With The Virus’ plan dictates. This proposal succeeds in line with what happens in the sealed off zones, so I am more concerned with them. However, it would speed up the process if the bordering counties could be encouraged to get a head start. If the plan is going successfully, I’m confident they would.
With its population density and its complexity, Dublin / the Pale will be the last county to be cleared. However, given that every other county would be cleared by that point, and with so much effort having been put in, it might make more sense just to burn Dublin down. We could go with a concrete mausoleum as per Chernobyl, but it might be easier and quicker if we just raised the city and started from scratch. The country needs to rebalance, so it’d be two birds with one stone.
Or maybe we call that plan B. Dublin’s plan A would follow the same principles as for the rest of the country. Break it into smaller parts, focus resources on one area at a time, use layers of risk measures where precision isn’t an option, and get cases as early as possible, using whatever resources available. By that stage the rest of the country would be clear and the demand for medical resources low. We would have learned a lot along the way, and we would have plenty of ammo to throw at the problem.
In general, the more resources we have, the faster we can move. The county by county approach that I have outlined above is too slow. With greater resources, we can increase the number of counties that are being cleared at any one time. One option is to work by province. Another would be to define the zones with respect to observed travel routes, in order to reduce the risk of leakage and reduce the inconvenience on local communities.
At the end of the day, lines have to be drawn somewhere, and some people will inevitably lose out. The better we communicate with people in advance, the lower the burden on the people and the more of these problems we can avoid.
Following on from that, one of the skills we need to take from this crisis is the ability to isolate and quarantine regions. Whether it is a city, a town, a county, a specific building, or even the entire country, we need to be able to seal it off and control movement in and out. This is an essential tool for outbreak management – whatever the outbreak and whatever the disease.
The same goes for individuals. We need to be able to create and operate safe, comfortable, and effective quarantines, and to do so at short notice. It should be a matter of national embarrassment that FG and NPHET couldn’t even organise a quarantine in a pandemic.
The whole process might take 3 to 4 months. That means we would have cut off all non-essential air travel for that time, but it doesn’t mean the whole country is in lockdown for 3 or 4 months. The lockdown is staggered, and the individual’s experience will depend on their location and their place in the ‘queue’.
The first group of counties to go into lockdown will also be the first to come out. Once they have eliminated the spread of the virus, they will return to a normal, although somewhat isolated, society. The experience steadily improves as more and more counties join them in the Cleared Zone (or steadily deteriorates, depending on your county pride).
While the first group is in lockdown, the rest of the country continues as normal i.e. living with the virus. Everyone watches as the first group goes through its lockdown (just think of the #banter). Several weeks later, as the first group is opening up, the second group is preparing to go in to lockdown. As the second group comes out, the third group goes in etc etc and the staggered lockdowns roll like a wave across the country.
Every county goes from Living With The Virus -> intelligent lockdown (needs a better name) -> Cleared Zone. The earlier you are in the queue, the less time you spend Living With The Virus and the more time you spend in the Cleared Zone. The individual would only be in a strict lockdown for a matter of weeks, maybe 3-6 depending on the complexity of the region and the resources available. For counties with smaller populations that have shown that they can do a good lockdown, it will be quicker. For Dublin, it will be slower.

Strengths
I think this proposal has a lot of strengths. It’s a plan, for a start. We haven’t had a plan since this thing began (the FG lockdown wasn’t a plan – it was the inevitable consequence of not having a plan). The leaders take more responsibility to lower the burden on the people, it mobilises idle resources, and it fosters communication and community across the country.
These are three strengths that I want to emphasise.
1 It provides clarity
This might be the most important point.
Uncertainty is painful. Uncertainty is a cost. Even if the bad thing is unlikely to happen, just the fact that it is a risk, or that it could happen means that you live with a cloud over your head. Suffering is bad enough on its own, but suffering for an unknown length of time is torture. And if that period is determined at the whim of a politician or an ‘expert’, that is a recipe for society-wide anger and even civil disorder.
With this proposal, we can forecast the length of the period of lockdown with greater accuracy. The people will be able to understand what is being asked of them. We can make plans around resources required versus those available. The economists can make forecasts. Businesses can plan their finances. The people can plan their weddings, book their holidays, get back to training, sign up for courses, and have things to look forward to.
At the end of the day, any successful proposal must remove the uncertainty and provide meaningful clarity to households and businesses.
2 Never let a crisis go to waste
This plan will require tools and capabilities like rapid local testing, safe quarantines, rapid isolation of towns and regions, emergency decision-making frameworks etc. If we don’t have a capability, then we need to build it. When people say ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ this is what they mean: you build the tools in the crisis that will help you protect yourself from the next one.
Nature works the same way. You lift weights until the muscle fibres tear, then they grow back stronger. We build aerobic endurance by pushing ourselves to a limit, then our body naturally reacts to increase the limit. A vaccine works similarly by stimulating antibodies for the disease. Well, we need a civic emergency vaccine for Ireland. These tools are the antibodies that will protect us next time. The sooner we build them, the better. Now is the time, not later.
3 It's the only way we can protect the economy
The risk to the economy isn’t the next few months of revenue. We can borrow to cover lost income in the short run. The real risk is a wave of defaults that precipitates a financial crisis.
As more individuals and businesses are put under financial pressure, more borrowers will default on their debts. But one man’s debt is another man’s asset, so as the borrowers default, the lender’s financial situation also deteriorates. Defaults are contagious, and if a wave of defaults threatens a major lender, the entire financial system will be at risk.
Only an elimination plan can protect the economy. Along with the virus and the uncertainty it creates, we need to eliminate the risk of financial contagion.

Weaknesses
Could ya be arsed

The End Goal
Think about what’s on the other side of this…
This is a massive challenge – the kind that defines a nation. However you think of your community, this would give you something to be proud of for generations. It would be like Italia ’90, except 10 times bigger, because we would be the players, we would be the ones making it happen.
We’d become the first country in Europe to eliminate the virus. And of all the countries in the world, we’d be doing it from the largest deficit too. Those Taiwanese and Kiwis made it easy for themselves with their preparation and their travel restrictions and their competent leaders. Our challenge is much greater than theirs, but they show us what is possible.
Have you ever wanted to scoff at the Germans for being disorganised? Wouldn’t you love to have a reason to mock the Danes? Aren’t you sick of hearing about New Zealand? Let’s make the Kiwis sick of hearing about the Irish!
If we take this challenge on, the world’s media will be on us. The FT, the Economist, the NYT, the Guardian, Monacle, Wired, the New Scientist, China Daily, RT, Good Housekeeping, Horse and Hound, PornHub… all of these international media empires would be tracking our progress, interviewing key people, reporting daily, willing us on. The world is desperate for good news, and we can be the ones to give it to them.
We would become a model for other nations to follow. They would take the Irish model and adapt it to their own situation. Instead of us copying other nations, they would be copying us. Instead of a pat on the head for the diddy little Irish fellas, we would be literally LEADING THE WORLD.
Back at home, we get our lives back, and society can breathe again, free of restrictions. The over 70s come out of hibernation. The students go back to university. The protests stop because people go back to work and we announce an inquiry into what exactly happened in February and March. The pubs go back to being pubs. Our hospitality industry is taken off life support. The tidal wave of bankruptcies is avoided. We can play sport and celebrate the wins. We stop talking about things we can or can't do. Just imagine that first session... And imagine how good it would feel knowing that you had worked for it, and knowing that you had set the nation on a better path for generations to come...
I think it’s worth a lash! Don’t you?
submitted by 4SMD1MCW to ireland [link] [comments]

GE2020: The Roar of the Swing Voter

Hi everyone, this is my first ever post here.
I run a little website called The Thought Experiment where I talk about various issues, some of them Singapore related. And one of my main interests is Singaporean politics. With the GE2020 election results, I thought I should pen down my take on what us as the electorate were trying to say.
If you like what I wrote, I also wrote another article on the state of play for GE2020 during the campaigning period, as well as 2 other articles related to GE2015 back when it was taking place.
If you don't like what I wrote, that's ok! I think the beauty of freedom of expression is that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm always happy to get feedback, because I do think that more public discourse about our local politics helps us to be more politically aware as a whole.
Just thought I'll share my article here to see what you guys make of it :D
Article Starts Here:
During the campaigning period, both sides sought to portray an extreme scenario of what would happen if voters did not vote for them. The Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) warned that Singaporeans that their political opponents “might eventually replace the government after July 10”. Meanwhile, the Worker’s Party (WP) stated that “there was a real risk of a wipeout of elected opposition MPs at the July 10 polls”.
Today is July 11th. As we all know, neither of these scenarios came to pass. The PAP comfortably retained its super-majority in Parliament, winning 83 out of 93 elected MP seats. But just as in GE2011, another Group Representation Constituency (GRC) has fallen to the WP. In addition, the PAP saw its vote share drop drastically, down almost 9% to 61.2% from 69.9% in GE2015.
Singapore’s electorate is unique in that a significant proportion is comprised of swing voters: Voters who don’t hold any blind allegiance to any political party, but vote based on a variety of factors both micro and macro. The above extreme scenarios were clearly targeted at these swing voters. Well, the swing voters have made their choice, their roar sending 4 more elected opposition MPs into Parliament. This article aims to unpack that roar and what it means for the state of Singaporean politics going forward.
1. The PAP is still the preferred party to form Singapore’s Government
Yes, this may come across as blindingly obvious, but it still needs to be said. The swing voter is by its very definition, liable to changes of opinion. And a large factor that determines how a swing voter votes is their perception of how their fellow swing voters are voting. If swing voters perceive that most swing voters are leaning towards voting for the opposition, they might feel compelled to vote for the incumbent. And if the reverse is true, swing voters might feel the need to shore up opposition support.
Why is this so? This is because the swing voter is trying to push the vote result into a sweet spot – one that lies between the two extreme scenarios espoused by either side. They don’t want the PAP to sweep all 93 seats in a ‘white tsunami’. Neither do they want the opposition to claim so much territory that the PAP is too weak to form the Government on its own. But because each swing voter only has a binary choice: either they vote for one side or the other (I’m ignoring the third option where they simply spoil their vote), they can’t very well say “I want to vote 0.6 for the PAP and 0.4 for the Opposition with my vote”. And so we can expect the swing voter bloc to continue being a source of uncertainty for both sides in future elections, as long as swing voters are still convinced that the PAP should be the Government.
2. Voters no longer believe that the PAP needs a ‘strong mandate’ to govern. They also don’t buy into the NCMP scheme.
Throughout the campaign period, the PAP repeatedly exhorted voters to vote for them alone. Granted, they couldn’t very well give any ground to the opposition without a fight. And therefore there was an attempt to equate voting for the PAP as voting for Singapore’s best interests. However, the main message that voters got was this: PAP will only be able to steer Singapore out of the Covid-19 pandemic if it has a strong mandate from the people.
What is a strong mandate, you may ask? While no PAP candidate publicly confirmed it, their incessant harping on the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme as the PAP’s win-win solution for having the PAP in power and a largely de-fanged opposition presence in parliament shows that the PAP truly wanted a parliament where it held every single seat.
Clearly, the electorate has different ideas, handing Sengkang GRC to the WP and slashing the PAP’s margins in previous strongholds such as West Coast, Choa Chu Kang and Tanjong Pagar by double digit percentages. There is no doubt from the results that swing voters are convinced that a PAP supermajority is not good for Singapore. They are no longer convinced that to vote for the opposition is a vote against Singapore. They have realized, as members of a maturing democracy surely must, that one can vote for the opposition, yet still be pro-Singapore.
3. Social Media and the Internet are rewriting the electorate’s perception.
In the past, there was no way to have an easily accessible record of historical events. With the only information source available being biased mainstream media, Singaporeans could only rely on that to fill in the gaps in their memories. Therefore, Operation Coldstore became a myth of the past, and Chee Soon Juan became a crackpot in the eyes of the people, someone who should never be allowed into Parliament.
Fast forward to today. Chee won 45.2% of the votes in Bukit Batok’s Single Member Constituency (SMC). His party-mate, Dr. Paul Tambyah did even better, winning 46.26% of the votes in Bukit Panjang SMC. For someone previously seen as unfit for public office, this is an extremely good result.
Chee has been running for elections in Singapore for a long time, and only now is there a significant change in the way he is perceived (and supported) by the electorate. Why? Because of social media and the internet, two things which the PAP does not have absolute control over. With the ability to conduct interviews with social media personalities as well as upload party videos on Youtube, he has been able to display a side of himself to people that the PAP did not want them to see: someone who is merely human just like them, but who is standing up for what he believes in.
4. Reserved Election Shenanigans and Tan Cheng Block: The electorate has not forgotten.
Tan Cheng Bock almost became our President in 2011. There are many who say that if Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say had not run, Tony Tan would not have been elected. In March 2016, Tan Cheng Bock publicly declared his interest to run for the next Presidential Election that would be held in 2017. The close result of 2011 and Tan Cheng Bock’s imminent candidacy made the upcoming Presidential Election one that was eagerly anticipated.
That is, until the PAP shut down his bid for the presidency just a few months later in September 2016, using its supermajority in Parliament to pass a “reserved election” in which only members of a particular race could take part. Under the new rules that they had drawn up for themselves, it was decreed that only Malays could take part. And not just any Malay. The candidate had to either be a senior executive managing a firm that had S$500 million in shareholders’ equity, or be the Speaker of Parliament or a similarly high post in the public sector (the exact criteria are a bit more in-depth than this, but this is the gist of it. You can find the full criteria here). And who was the Speaker of Parliament at the time? Mdm Halimah, who was conveniently of the right race (Although there was some hooha about her actually being Indian). With the extremely strict private sector criteria and the PAP being able to effectively control who the public sector candidate was, it came as no surprise that Mdm Halimah was declared the only eligible candidate on Nomination Day. A day later, she was Singapore’s President. And all without a single vote cast by any Singaporean.
Of course, the PAP denied that this was a move specifically aimed at blocking Tan Cheng Bock’s bid for the presidency. Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s current Minister of Trade and Industry, stated in 2017 that the Government was prepared to pay the political price over making these changes to the Constitution.
We can clearly see from the GE2020 results that a price was indeed paid. A loss of almost 9% of vote share is very significant, although a combination of the first-past-the-post rule and the GRC system ensured that the PAP still won 89.2% of the seats in Parliament despite only garnering 61.2% of the votes. On the whole, it’s naught but a scratch to the PAP’s overwhelming dominance in Parliament. The PAP still retains its supermajority and can make changes to the Constitution anytime that it likes. But the swing voters have sent a clear signal that they have not been persuaded by the PAP’s rationale.
5. Swing Voters do not want Racial Politics.
In 2019, Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and the man who is next in line to be Prime Minister (PM) commented that Singapore was not ready to have a non-Chinese PM. He further added that race is an issue that always arises at election-time in Singapore.
Let us now consider the GE2015 results. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s Senior Minister and someone whom many have expressed keenness to be Singapore’s next PM, obtained 79.28% of the vote share in Jurong GRC. This was above even the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who scored 78.63% in Ang Mo Kio GRC. Tharman’s score was the highest in the entire election.
And now let us consider the GE2020 results. Tharman scored 74.62% in Jurong, again the highest scorer of the entire election, while Hsien Loong scored 71.91%. So Tharman beat the current PM again, and by an even bigger margin than the last time. Furthermore, Swee Keat, who made the infamous comments above, scored just 53.41% in East Coast.
Yes, I know I’m ignoring a lot of other factors that influenced these results. But don’t these results show conclusively that Heng’s comments were wrong? We have an Indian leading both the current and future PM in both elections, but yet PAP still feels the need to say that Singapore “hasn’t arrived” at a stage where we can vote without race in mind. In fact, this was the same rationale that supposedly led to the reserved presidency as mentioned in my earlier point.
The swing voters have spoken, and it is exceedingly clear to me that the electorate does not care what our highest office-holders are in terms of race, whether it be the PM or the President. Our Singapore pledge firmly states “regardless of race”, and I think the results have shown that we as a people have taken it to heart. But has the PAP?
6. Voters will not be so easily manipulated.
On one hand, Singaporeans were exhorted to stay home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Contact tracing became mandatory, and groups of more than 5 are prohibited.
But on the other hand, we are also told that it’s absolutely necessary to hold an election during this same period, for Singaporeans to wait in long lines and in close proximity to each other as we congregate to cast our vote, all because the PAP needs a strong mandate.
On one hand, Heng Swee Keat lambasted the Worker’s Party, claiming that it was “playing games with voters” over their refusal to confirm if they would accept NCMP seats.
But on the other hand, Heng Swee Keat was moved to the East Coast GRC at the eleventh hour in a surprise move to secure the constituency. (As mentioned above, he was aptly rewarded for this with a razor-thin margin of just 53.41% of the votes.)
On one hand, Masagos Zulkifli, PAP Vice-Chairman stated that “candidates should not be defined by a single moment in time or in their career, but judged instead by their growth throughout their life”. He said this in defense of Ivan Lim, who appears to be the very first candidate in Singaporean politics to have been pushed into retracting his candidacy by the power of non-mainstream media.
But on the other hand, the PAP called on the WP to make clear its stand on Raeesah Khan, a WP candidate who ran (and won) in Sengkang GRC for this election, stating that the Police investigation into Raeesah’s comments made on social media was “a serious matter which goes to the fundamental principles on which our country has been built”.
On one hand, Chan Chun Sing stated in 2015, referring to SingFirst’s policies about giving allowances to the young and the elderly, “Some of them promised you $300 per month. I say, please don’t insult my residents. You think…. they are here to be bribed?”
On the other hand, the PAP Government has just given out several handouts under its many budgets to help Singaporeans cope with the Covid-19 situation. [To be clear, I totally approve of these handouts. What I don’t approve is that the PAP felt the need to lambast similar policies as bribery in the past. Comparing a policy with a crime is a political low blow in my book.]
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. And so did the electorate in this election, putting their vote where it counted to show their disdain for the heavy-handedness and double standards that the PAP has displayed for this election.
Conclusion
I don’t say the above to put down the PAP. The PAP would have you believe that to not support them is equivalent to not wanting what’s best for Singapore. This is a false dichotomy that must be stamped out, and I am glad to see our swing voters taking a real stand with this election.
No, I say the above as a harsh but ultimately supportive letter to the PAP. As everyone can see from the results, we all still firmly believe that the PAP should be the Government. We still have faith that PAP has the leadership to take us forward and out of the Covid-19 crisis.
But we also want to send the PAP a strong signal with this vote, to bring them down from their ivory towers and down to the ground. Enough with the double standards. Enough with the heavy-handedness. Singaporeans have clearly stated their desire for a more mature democracy, and that means more alternative voices in Parliament. The PAP needs to stop acting as the father who knows it all, and to start acting as the bigger brother who can work hand in hand with his alternative younger brother towards what’s best for the entire family: Singapore.
There is a real chance that the PAP will not listen, though. As Lee Hsien Loong admitted in a rally in 2006, “if there are 10, 20… opposition members in Parliament… I have to spent my time thinking what is the right way to fix them”.
Now, the PAP has POFMA at its disposal. It still has the supermajority in Parliament, making them able to change any law in Singapore, even the Constitution at will. We have already seen them put these tools to use for its own benefit. Let us see if the PAP will continue as it has always done, or will it take this opportunity to change itself for the better. Whatever the case, we will be watching, and we will be waiting to make our roar heard once again five years down the road.
Majulah Singapura!
Article Ends Here.
Here's the link to the actual article:
https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2020/07/11/ge2020-the-roar-of-the-swing-vote
And here's the link to the other political articles I've written about Singapore:
https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2020/07/07/ge2020-the-state-of-play/
https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2015/09/10/ge2015-voting-wisely/
https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2015/09/05/expectations-of-the-opposition/
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[META] The Rules and their Entirety

These are the rules, everything that pertains to everyone who wishes to make any sort of interaction within this sub. Per the last META, clarity has been given in regards to bulk-type sales. Since EVERYTHING is here for you all to read, we expect there to be less issues with rule infractions and general confusion as to what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. We devote our time and energy for this sub to continuously never reach a balance amongst the users.
Our goal is to ensure the subreddit itself sticks around, along with trying to keep the userbase from being taken advantage of. Our rules make sense to some, and none to others but they serve a purpose. Regardless of how you feel, these are the rules and it is expected they be followed. At the time this post becomes visible, all of what’s listed below will be enforced as a hard rule, no more wrist slaps or babysitting.

Reporting Rules

Here are the Subreddit Reportable violations. Violating these rules will get you a ban.

Reddit Rules:

Reddit Rules regarding Firearms
No firearm sales. No Ammunition sales. No primers or gunpowder, as they are considered explosives.
No selling or distributing of files related to 3D printed firearms.
If you have no idea what this is referring to, please educate yourself before posting anything related to 3D printing files by reading up on them at the following websites:
Firearms: A Firearm is considered the serialized receiver or assembly of a working firearm. If you are unsure if an item is prohibited, contact the mods prior to posting it.
80% lowers and completion kits are not included in this prohibition as they are not firearms yet.
Bump-Stocks are considered Machine Guns by the ATF and are therefore prohibited from trading on the sub.
Binary Triggers, Cranks, and Rubber bands and other such items are not (currently) affected by this prohibition (unless Admins change their minds later).
Explosives & Hazmat: Gunpowder and Live Primers are considered as explosives and Hazardous Materials and are therefore prohibited from trade.
Ammunition: Reddit Admins use the ATF definition of ammunition which is as follows:
The term “Ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm. The term shall not include (a) any shotgun shot or pellet not designed for use as the single, complete projectile load for one shotgun hull or casing, nor (b) any unloaded, non-metallic shotgun hull or casing not having a primer. 27 § 478.11
Brass and projectiles posted here will result in an immediate suspension by Reddit Admins, so if we find it first we will remove it.
Any violation of these above rules will result in a ban by us, or a site-wide suspension by Admins and their Anti-Evil goosesteppers.
Anyone attempting to skirt Reddit Rules will be given a 7 day ban on the first offense, a 30 day ban on the second offense, and a permaban thereafter due to the fact that Admins will use the bad behavior of a few to justify shutting down the sub for good.

Posting Rules:

This sub is for private sales only. Vendors must post in Gundeals or GunAccessoryVendors
Clarification on Vendor Rule: Don't include links to your business website, we are not a referral system, do your business on here. Please see the Reddit Self Promotion page for details on that. Reddit admins don't like you cutting in on their ad revenue. We do not support VENDORS, I.E. if you buy another company's products in bulk (such as Magpul), and just act as a distributoreseller, your business is not welcome here. That is /GunDeals territory. If you have an FFL, you cannot do business on here because are considered a firearm business, and cannot solicit any transactions involving firearms.
The limit on bulk sales/bulk items is 10, that means 10 of the same individual item can be posted for sale or trade. If you have 10 Geissele triggers, but only 4 are flat and 6 are curved, that will still count as 10, as they're the same branded trigger and likely purchased at the same time. If there are 3 OD Green items and 7 FDE that are otherwise the same item, that still count as 10. If you post 10 items of the same in one day, 10 the next, and 10 the following day after that, that will be viewed as vendor activity. To keep such things from happening, it will be limited to one sale of this type, per user, per week. The ONLY EXCEPTION to this rule is old magazines, as it is common for users to purge off part of their mag collection.
Please follow these rules when creating a listing: Prefix your title with the transaction type:
[WTS] - Want To Sell
[WTB] - Want To Buy
[WTT] - Want To Trade
[GIFT] - Gun It Forward Tactically
Suffix your title with your state (e.g. (GA) or (NY)). This will help incentivize local sales and could impact shipping costs. Also, it could affect legality of some items such as magazines and those accessories deemed as "assault weapon" parts by certain states.
Postings should all follow this general format as an example: "[WTS] M16A2 Carry Handle - $60 (VA)". If you do not list the price in the title, ensure that it is listed in the comments. Include a Dollar sign ($) or the bot will remove it.
Postings without a price value may be removed after a period of time. WTB posts require valid offering prices, and will be removed if they do not have one.
Postings with prices such as "$1 for the bot" or "$1,000,000 for the bot" that are intended to bypass our rules and automated removal system instead of posting a valid price, will be removed and a temporary ban will be issued immediately.
Postings without pictures will be removed immediately, unless these posts are WTB.
Do not post an item for sale if you do not have it in your possession at the time of posting. This includes an item you may have purchased elsewhere, you decided you don’t want it and it’s on its way to you, but it has yet to arrive. If you don’t have it, don’t post it.
If you post stock images of an item in your WTS/WTT post, that will result in a temp ban if it is your first time doing so, possibly permanent if done on multiple occasions. If you post images of someone else’s photos for “your” item, this will be viewed as scamming tactics and you will receive a permaban, immediately.
If you drop your price, use the Price Drop/NSFW Tag. If your items sell, use the Complete/Spoiler tag. Please don't delete the price of an item if it sells, because that can be used by people in the future to gauge what similar items may be worth.
If your post does not receive the traction you're wanting, refrain from reposting within a 24 hour time frame. You may repost after the 24 hours has passed, and a price drop is not required, but encouraged. Deleting your post and reposting afterwards is viewed as trying to evade this rule. It will be met with removal and a temp ban, possibly longer if done more than once.
Want to Buy/Sell/Trade (WTB/WTS/WTT): These transactions all require a price value for the item. If a listing does not include a price it may be removed and re-listed once it is in compliance. Giving an unrealistic price to avoid this rule will be treated as a rule violation. Examples of this are "WTB scope, $1" or "WTT Upper, $9999". Additionally, you must list what you are looking for in [WTT] posts. Fielding offers, testing the waters or any other post attempt to try and skirt this rule will result in the post being removed.
Gifting items forward: (GIFT) If you have small odds and ends that aren't worth much and the cost of shipping is prohibitive, you are allowed to offer items for free. The gifter is allowed to request compensation for shipping only, and can request a flair upgrade in the feedback thread for the transaction. If the receiver pays for shipping, they can also request a flair upgrade, but if they get the item for free, no flair upgrades for the recipient. Flair upgrades of this type are limited in order to avoid abuse, i.e. giving away 20 A2 grips in order to get +20 rep is not authorized.
Accounts with 5 or less flair (you must have at least 6) on GAFS are NOT eligible to participate in giveaways, due to users from other subs coming to win stuff without ever participating in GAFS, or GAFS users making multiple new burner accounts to enter giveaways.
New accounts (under 30 days of age) are not able to create WTS or WTT ads, nor should they offer things for sale in the comments of other peoples' posts. To prevent scams, new users can only post Want to Buy threads. If you want to attempt to bypass this account age requirement, you must be able to provide moderators evidence of a good trading history on another reputable online forum, such as Calgunner or AR15.com where you can show a longstanding history of positive trade feedback. If this is completed, moderators may provide an exception and allow WTS/WTT posts to be submitted by new users, with a warning caveat to any potential buyers to avoid using risky payment methods until the seller has had a chance to develop a positive trading reputation.
Any new accounts that utilize this subreddit that create names that are similar to a mods (i.e. sxbbzxro, sxbzxxro, subzxro, etc.) may be removed from participating here due to the possibility of confusing/having the ability to manipulate users into thinking they are in fact a mod.
Price Checks (PC): Because PC listings were abused by many to bypass the price rule, fish for "best offers", and otherwise snipe sales, they have been disabled after overwhelming support from the community.
We have a feedback system in place. The current month's flair thread is On the Sidebar, and is usually Stickied at the top as well. Check there for the specific directions. DO NOT create a thread for a sale that has already happened, or has happened in a different sub/website/forum etc. The Flair system is only for feedback for exchanges in /GAFS. Any attempts to game the flair system will be seen as an attempt to establish trust for scam purposes, and will be banned accordingly.
Law Enforcement: Be aware, we do not offer exemptions to any individuals who may have LE credentials. Due to the difficulty of verifying employment, possible job changes, leaving/termination from said job, etc. we treat all users as civilians. Any local and federal laws apply to all individuals who utilize this subreddit. Read up and stay up-to-date on these laws and regulations, you will be expected to know and abide by them. Failure to do so may lead to a ban.
External Sales:
NO LINKS to your external sales on TacSwap, eBay, Facebook, Armslist, Gunbroker, etc. Sales in multiple locations are allowed, but don't just provide a link to sale elsewhere. Make your listing here. The only caveat to these rules is to show a price point elsewhere if someone here has an item that is grossly overpriced, or is looking for an item.
This sub is not a "highest bid gets the item" format. There are also no lotteries for items i.e. 10 chances at $10 each to purchase a $75 flashlight with a random number generated to pick the winner.
High Value or Counterfeit Items:
To deter the sale of counterfeit products, any item that is serialized must have a picture of the serial. As firearms are not allowed for sale here, this shouldn't present a privacy issue to anyone. This policy covers items such as EOTechs, Aimpoints, Trijicons, etc. Along with this, if you're selling anything that's "new-in-box", you must unseal it and show the contents of said box/package.
No Stolen Property. If you are selling a knockoff item, indicate that fact. Items such as bipods, BUIS, flashlights, holsters, and scopes/optics are known to have some gray market options. KAC USMC Stamped Rear Sights are not stolen property and are allowed on here, unless another member can provide proof from a DoD source that they are in fact considered stolen government property.
All GAFS logos, icons, banners and visual content related to this subreddit, belong to the moderator team. Do not create/manufacture/produce items with this content onto itself. It is forbidden to profit off the GAFS name, unless discussed with the modteam in advance and given permission.

Shipping/Insurance Rules:

The official policy is for the mods to not get involved with issues regarding lost packages, provided that the parties can prove it was actually lost. If you feel like insurance should be added to your transaction, please take care to add that before finalizing terms.

General Rules:

WARNING: Be aware of all state and federal laws that apply to you and any parties involved in a firearms-related transaction. You are responsible for knowing and following the law. This Subreddit and its staff are in no way responsible for informing you of the law, but will make every effort to do so. As a buyer, be familiar with your state/county/city rules. As a seller, do not knowingly sell prohibited items to areas that have laws against your items, such as certain capacity magazines. Any person, buyer, or seller, who knowingly solicits a trade that is illegal for them may be subject to a ban.
Respect all federal and local laws for any transaction you take part in. This includes federal drug laws. Drug activity tied to your account tied to any other issues is sufficient grounds for banning. Here is the ATF Letter that explains why any suspected drug activity, including marijuana, is grounds for immediate banning from the sub. Illegal gun activity such as unregistered SBRs, AOWs, destructive devices, DIAS or lightning links in your reddit profile (in or outside the sub) can be reason for banning. Do not spread bad information regarding laws.
Any item you post for sale is expected to be in your current possession. If this is not the case, you must specify this in the listing. Circumstances such as selling for a friend is allowed, but pictures of your items are required to be shared to the public. You do not need an imgur.com account in order to host pictures of your item on imgur, so that is not an excuse.
If you are scammed, inform the mods as soon as you can so that we may investigate and ban the offending parties if necessary.
Do not post the personal information of any Reddit users. The exception to this is if someone uses PayPal to scam a member, this information may be sent to the mods to prevent others from also being scammed. Doxxing people will not be tolerated.
Do not antagonize posters about their price, opinion, or sexual orientation (etc). This translates to be a general rule of "no dickish behavior". If you disagree with someone's price, and can post evidence that their item has a current or recent better price elsewhere such as a link to a vendor, that information is authorized to be posted. That is not antagonism. People may comment on prices and offer counter-offers, as long as behavior is not insulting or unprofessional. If you feel that someone is being unprofessional regarding pricing, report it and the mods will evaluate the case. They are the determining factor whether behavior warrants muting, temporary banning, or permanent banning based on severity of incident, past behavior, and other factors. If your behavior does not contribute towards the positive image of firearms ownership, your participation in this subreddit may not be welcome.
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[SHARE] Fulfilled Textbook Request Megathread #4

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The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 29, 114–123.(self) 6 [Book] Interaction of Media, Cognition, and Learning - Gavriel Salomon(self) 4 [Article] Oxygen and Diverse Nutrients Influence the Water Kefir Fermentation Process / Laureys D., Aerts M., Vandamme P., De Vuyst L.(self) 5 [Article] [HeinOnline] The Artificial Reason of the Law or: What Lawyers Know, by Charles Fried(self) 1 [Book] Structure And Mechanism In Protein Science: A Guide To Enzyme Catalysis And Protein Folding (Structural Biology) by Alan Fersht Reprint Edition(self) 3 [Article] Neurostimulation Therapies for Primary Headache Disorders: Present and Future(self) 3 [Article] Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation Reduces Nociceptive Behaviour in an Orofacial Pain Model(self) 4 [Article] Characterization of Degradation Behavior for PLGA in Various pH Condition by Simple Liquid Chromatography Method Yoo, Je Young | Kim, Jong Min | Seo, Kwang Su | Jeong, Yong Kyun | Lee, Hai Bang | Khang, Gilson(self) 1 [Thesis] Winton, Douglas Walter(self) 3 [Article] Denis Muzerelle, “Dating Manuscripts: What Is at Stake in the Steps Usually (but Infrequently) Taken,”(self) 1 Needs Digitizing [ARTICLE] Francesca Ferrari - Il fatto notorio e la rete Internet(self) 1 Needs Digitizing [ARTICLE] Francesca Ferrari - Il fatto notorio e la rete Internet(self) 4 [Book] Practising Italian Grammar(self) 3 [Book] Growth, Distribution, and Prices(self) 5 [Book] Conflict and Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific New Geopolitical Realities Edited ByAsh Rossiter, Brendon J. 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Wells and Ralph Ellison: Need the Effect of One Invisible Man on Another Be Itself Invisible?"(self) 2 [Book] Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice for Design 30th Edition(self) 1 [Book] Disk recording. Vol. 1-2. An anthology of articles on disk recording from the pages of the Journal of the Audio engineering society Vol. 1-Vol. 28 (1953-1980). 1(self) 1 [Book] Cityscapes of Modernity: Critical Explorations by David Frisby(self) 1 [Book] Art and the Senses | Edited by Francesca Bacci and David Melcher(self) 1 [eBook] Mastering A&P with Pearson eText(self) 1 [Book] Emotionen: Eine Einführung für beratende, therapeutische, pädagogische und soziale Berufe(self) 3 [article] Conceptualizing Behavior Disorders in Terms of Resistance to Intervention(self) 1 [ARTICLE] 'Hegel, Hinduism, and Freedom', Merold Westphal, The Owl of Minerva, Volume 20, Issue 2, Spring 1989, Pages 193-204(self) 1 [Book] Machine Learning in Chemistry(self) 1 [Book] Youth and media(self) 7 1 [Article] The Beneficial Effect of Physical Exercise on Inflammatory Makers in Older Individuals Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2020 Jun 6. Pablo Gómez-Rubio, Isabel Trapero(self) 2 [Article] On the Determination of the Number, Size, Spacing, and Volume Fraction of Spherical Second-Phase Particles from Extraction Replicas(self) 5 [Book] Remington and Klein's Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant 8th Edition by Christopher Wilson Victor Nizet Yvonne Maldonado Jack Remington Jerome Klein(self) 1 [Other] (Monthly Newspaper in France) Le Monde Diplomatique (English Edition) June 2020.(self) 1 [Other] (Monthly Newspaper in France) Le Monde Diplomatique (English Edition) May 2020.(self) 1 [BOOK] Crime and Markets - Vincenzo Ruggiero(self) 2 [Book] The Search for Meaning by Dennis Ford(self) 1 [Book] The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do?(self) 1 [Chapter] Gustav Mahler, the Wunderhorn years: chronicles and commentaries Vol. 2 -- pp. 408-410(self) 4 [Article] [Heinonline] 2 old Articles from the African Journal of International and Comparative Law(self) 4 [ARTICLE] 'Ways of Prediction, Ways of Rhetoric' Philippe-Joseph Salazar, Philosophy & Rhetoric Vol. 50, No. 4 (2017), pp. 390-408(self) 1 [Article] [Needs Digitizing] Wells, J. C. (1986). A standardized machine-readable phonetic notation. In Conference Publication No. 258. International Conference on Speech Input / Output; Techniques and Applications, 24–26 March 1986. London: Institute of Electrical Engineers, 134–137.(self) 4 [Book] (BRILL) Indian Diaspora: Voices of the Diasporic Elders in Five Countries(self) 1 [BOOK] 'Hegel, freedom, and modernity' by Merold Westphal, 1992(self) 1 [Supplement] Panza MJ, Graupensperger S, Agans JP, Doré I, Vella SA, Evans MB. Adolescent sport participation and symptoms of anxiety and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sport and exercise psychology. 2020 May 21;42(3):201-18.(self) 2 [Article] Cooley at al. (2019). Complex intersections of race and class: Among social liberals, learning about White privilege reduces sympathy, increases blame, and decreases external attributions for White people struggling with poverty(self) 4 [Book] [Brill] Resolving Conflicts in the Law : Essays in Honour of Lea Brilmayer(self) 1 [Book] Master Medicine: General and Systematic Pathology 3rd Edition(self) 4 [book] Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century - A Global History by Ira M. Lapidus(self) 4 [Article] [Heinonline] Conflicts between the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court of Justice by Tullio Treves(self) 3 [Book] Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders(self) 1 [BOOK] 'Wrestling with Archons: Gnosticism as a Critical Theory of Culture' by JONATHAN CAHANA-BLUM, 2018(self) 1 [Other] XXI Century | Bullfrog Films(self) 4 [BOOK] The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI(self) 4 [Book] Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity (JSTOR) by Barker, Harms, & Linduiqst(self) 7 [Book] Health Informatics: An Interprofessional Approach, 2nd Edition(self) 2 [Article] Rapport and friendship in ethnographic research(self) 4 [BOOK] 'Žižek on race: Toward an Anti-Racist Future' by Zahi Zalloua, Bloomsbury, 2020(self) 3 [BOOK] Classical Antiquity in Video Games by Christian Rollinger(self) 1 [Thesis] Sandro, Paolo - Creation and application of law: a neglected distinction. ERA - Edinburgh(self) 3 [Article] belated: interruption(self) 4 [Article] Reusable and Recyclable Graphene Masks with Outstanding Superhydrophobic and Photothermal Performances(self) 8 [Article] Randomized Algorithms in Number Theory(self) 4 [Book] The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities and Art History(self) 5 [Article] Regulatory cell therapy in kidney transplantation (The ONE Study): a harmonised design and analysis of seven non-randomised, single-arm, phase 1/2A trials by Sawitzki et al.(self) 0 1 [Book] Asian Freedoms: The Idea of Freedom in East and Southeast Asia (Cambridge), eds. David Kelly & Anthony Reid(self) 2 [Article] Local Mitochondrial ATP Production Regulates Endothelial Fatty Acid Uptake and Transport, by A. Ibrahim N. Yucel B. Kim Z. Arany(self) 4 [Chapter] Modeling Liquid–Liquid Extraction for Critical Elements Separations: An overview, (Chukwunwike O. Iloeje, 2020).(self) 6 [Article] Electrical stimulation in white oyster mushroom (Pleurotus florida) production, by I. Roshita, K. M. P. Nurfazira, C. Shi Fern, and M. S. Nur Ain(self) 1 [Book] Screen Adaptation: Impure Cinema by Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan(self) 4 [Book] Earth’s Insights (Callicott 1997)(self) 1 [Book] Viscosity of Pure Organic Liquids and Binary Liquid Mixtures 2017(self) 2 [BOOK] Needed: A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the Hebrew language for readers of English(self) 1 [Book] Hydrothermal chemistry of zeolites(self) 5 [Chapter] 2 chapters from A History of the United States Author: Philip Jenkins 3. Expansion and Crisis, 1825–65 6. Expansion and Crisis, 1825–65(self) 4 [Chapter] 8. The Fall of Actually Existing Socialism Authors: Prof. Geoffrey Swain, Dr. Nigel Swain(self) 5 [article] Sci-Hub didn't work for this article so I hope someone could help me !(self) 4 [Book] Evil Men, James Dawes(self) 1 [Chapter] from the book The Versailles Settlement Peacemaking after the First World War, 1919-1923 by Alan Sharp chapter 2. The Paris Peace Conference chapter 3. The League of Nations(self) 2 [Book] Macroeconomics(self) 1 [Article] "Eleutherna, the Orthi Petra Necropolis: Slewn by the Iron" by Nicholas Chr. Stampolidis.(self) 3 [Book] Contemporary Linguistics(self) 4 [Article](http://www.eurekaselect.com/137993/article)(self) 1 [Article](http://www.eurekaselect.com/137993/article)(self) 3 [Book] Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry(self) 1 [BOOK] Mastering Chemistry eBook(self) 3 [Book] The Oxford Handbook of Sovereign Wealth Funds(self) 1 [Book] "Marx, Marxism and Utopia" by Darren Webb (2000)(self) 5 [Article] "Law and Society", by Joachim J. Savelsberg, Lara L. Cleveland, in Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology(self) 2 [BOOK] Encouraging Pro-Environmental Behaviour - What Works, What Doesn't, and Why (2019)(self) 1 [BOOK] ''Guide for the economic design of circular metal silos'' by J.M. Rotter(self) 3 [BooK](JSTOR) The Evolved Apprentice: How Evolution Made Humans Unique by Kim Sterelny(self) 13 [Article] Matthews, Graham 2020 Pandemic, recession...: Capitalism is a Sick System. Green Left Weekly 1257, 2020.(self) 1 [BOOK]A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the Hebrew language for readers of English(self) 1 [Article] Sound Levels in Nursing Homes by Laura L. Joosse(self) 1 [Book] China Upside Down: Currency, Society, and Ideologies, 1808–1856 by Man-houng Lin(self) 3 [Book] The SAGE Handbook of Propaganda (2019)(self) 1 [BOOK] 'Lacan and Religion', by Aron Dunlap, Routledge, 2016(self) 2 [Book] Making It in the Market: Richard Ney's Low-Risk System for Stock Market Investors(self) 1 [Book] Comprendre les langues romanes(self) 1 [book] Derecho romano clásico, Betancourt(self) 6 [Book] The Oxford Handbook of Information Structure (2016)(self) 1 [book] pls help me find Physiotherapy in mental health and psychiatry(self) 4 [Article] Denationalization by Sir John Fischer Williams(self) 1 [BOOK] Statistical Methods for the Social and Behavioural Sciences - A Model-Based Approach (David B. Flora)(self) 1 [ARTICLE] Care as a Political Concept by Joan C. Tronto(self) 1 [Chapter] Agnieszka Uberman "English and Polish figurative language employing components of the frame of death" Cognitive Linguistics in the Year 2017. Peter Lang(self) 1 [book] Petroleum Contracts and International Law by Rudolf Dolzer(self) 1 [Book] A Short History of Persian Literature At the Bahmanī, the ‘Ādilshāhī and the Qutbshāhī Courts – Deccan(self) 4 [Book] A Japanese Advertising Agency: An Anthropology of Media and Markets (Routledge) by Brian Moeran(self) 1 [Book] The Way of Synthesis: Evolution of Design and Methods for Natural Products(self) 1 [book] ما في القرآن الكريم - دراسة نحوية(self) 6 [Book] (JSTOR) First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America by David J. Meltzer(self)
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Betrayal as a Core Game Mechanic

Before we begin: what do you think Betrayal would and should look like as a core game mechanic? What expectations do you have for it? In addition, try to think of what Betrayal's place would be in the game were it simply implemented exactly as is, but somewhat less common than it is at the moment because it will compete with other masters for appearances (assuming they're mutually exclusive).
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS:

"Core" league vs "current" league
Description of problem: This isn't actually a problem, just a byproduct of GGG's league design. I decided to talk about this at the very start to differentiate between two things: How GGG "should" design a current league and how GGG should adapt that league into core content. The league's content is stretched to last for three months, and since the encounter rate is high, the rewards are correspondingly miniscule. Content that is now core has a relatively lower encounter rate, but the rewards are larger per encounter (but still small to make up for the fact that content has been cumulative for years on end, lending to how crazy maps can get). Since temporary leagues have long been the de facto "way" of playing the game, people seem to have forgotten GGG's disclaimers that temporary league balance has a high likelihood of being off. GGG rarely hits out of the park on the first try, but they have a history of nailing it the next time around. Invasion was nerfed, Necrovigil and Phylacteral Link were removed, Order of the Frozen Sky isn't horrific anymore, Malachai was nerfed, Bestiary was fixed, Betrayal's bugs were (eventually) fixed, and so forth. I have faith that GGG will do what's right and I'm looking forward to what GGG will do with a "core" Betrayal because the "league" Betrayal is already history at this point. We're already in the preliminary stages of the next round of new league hypebuilding.

Betrayal Safehouse loot is bad and so is low-level farming
Description of problem: At the core of ARPGs, everything comes back to loot. We're not helping Zana because we care; we want to snatch the eyes right out of Uber Elder's writhing head. This talk will be split into two parts: Safehouses and Veiled items. Let's start with Safehouses. Here is a graphic of all Betrayal rewards and how I have personally ranked them, according to their value within BSC and the opportunity cost of putting a member in one branch and not another. Some of these could be shifted around according to one's preferences (some people don't want to deal with Guff's benches, other people don't value Cameria's legacy Uniques because the chances of getting something good are too low, etc). But this is a rough guide for what most players will see when they get Safehouse loot.
Total # of possible rewards: 68 # of good rewards: 15 # of middling rewards: 16 # of bad rewards: 37
# of level-scaled rewards: 15 # of good rewards scaled by level: 0 # of middling rewards scaled by level: 0 # of bad rewards scaled by level: 15
Let's talk about the three types of rewards I've delineated.
The Good: GGG did well with the good rewards. Stuff like turning Rare amulets into Talismans (effectively solving Talisman's long-standing problem of being inferior Rare items because you could never control the explicit rolls), adding White sockets to any gear (not just craftable bases like Delve's Fractured Fossils), "free" Exalt slams, breaking the quality cap, and so forth. PoE is a character building game and giving players these kinds of small optimizations (on top of the big and risky stuff like double-corruption rooms) is precisely what separates the top builds on poe.ninja from the budget cookie-cutter stuff with inferior performance. In fact, I wouldn't mind them being at their current rarity level once they go core because that's just how strong they are.
The Bad: Thing #1 is that it's okay for the Syndicate to have bad rewards. It would have happened regardless of design since even when all things are good, some things are relatively less good. Additionally, if everything was good in a generic and non-specific way, the Syndicate as a whole would lack flavor. For example, Leo gives Torment Scarabs because he's the Ghost of PvP Past and Tormented Spirits are about as fun and rewarding as PoE PvP in 2019. Jokes aside, it's also possible to mitigate the bad rewards by interrogating these people for intel in lieu of others because they don't matter anyways, unlike a 3* Cameria in Intervention. So we can't deny that Betrayal's got flavor. The bad news is that the flavor is "the juice that leaks out from the bottom of black garbage bags". Instead of "everything being good so nothing matters", we have "almost nothing is good, so only a few things matter". Really, I don't know what GGG was thinking when it came to some of Vagan, Haku, and Elreon's rewards. They literally drop less than a white unrolled map for all the effort that goes into making a Safehouse.
Thing #2 is that there's too much "bad". Much of it could be converted to "middling" with some adjustment, which would make an undesirable safehouse outcome much less galling to swallow. Alternatively, many "bad" rewards would simply become less relevant if syndicate manipulation had more quality of life and less tedium. If Betrayal was simply dumped into the core game with a lower encounter rate right now, it would be frustrating to deal with and a mediocre gameplay experience as a result.
The Middle: The middling rewards mostly relate to items you can get from other sources, like Fossils, Fragments, Essences, Currencies, Divination Cards, and Maps. In the case of Maps and anything to do with them, I think some of the devaluation can also be blamed on Pure Breachstones, which have inflated supply (The HarbingeBeachhead effect).
The problem is simple: It is more efficient to obtain those items from other sources (including their original sources) than it is to farm the Syndicate for them. I'm not advocating for the reverse, because then only the Syndicate would be relevant content unless it was significantly gated. But as it stands, Korell's fossils are a joke because doing Delve for them is better. Stacks or spreads of random Divination cards are a joke because it's better to use a Divination Card scarab on a zone that actually gives the Divination card you want in a somewhat deterministic fashion (You know, the point of Divination cards); Gravicius ain't no Putrid Cloister. Fragments are better farmed from the trade website and twinned triple boss corrupted maps and currencies and uniques are better found simply by running a map.
Betrayal does not scale well with area level:
Oh boy, here we go.
This. This right here. This is the reason why we were running Harbour Bridge and Foothills for the whole league. This is the reason why people were able to target-farm Pure Breachstones and pump out more than half the amount of level 100s in Standard (the cumulative history of the game) in a single league. If Betrayal's content and rewards had scaled more appropriately with area level, we could have had a league that excels in both low and high-level content, like Delve.
So, you do easy stuff, you should get meh rewards. If you do hard stuff, you should get good rewards. One of the most fundamental ingrained ideas behind gaming design. What constitutes "hard stuff" can be difficult to describe at times since the layered content and occasional lack of visual clarity in PoE creates difficulty spikes and each build and player is challenged by different aspects of the game. But content design and controlled encounters can remove the possibility of difficulty spiking due to unexpected variables, which means Betrayal has less excuses for its ratio of difficulty to reward. You feel bored when you do hundreds of hours of monotonous low-level zones. You feel excited when something challenges you and forces you to upgrade your build and pay close attention to positioning and enemy patterns. You feel betrayed when hard content gives you bad loot and you feel annoyed when easy content gives you good loot because the game's design gives you a begrudging reason to do the tedious and easy content as opposed to the more varied difficult content. That's what Betrayal, as a league, was.
If you look at the second row of my table above, you'll see that less than a fourth of all possible Safehouse rewards scale with area level. And all of them are "bad" outcomes. Arguably, Jorgin's "Aspect rares" are potentially middling because you could split them with a Bestiary recipe and get a craftable base in case you're not finding a Fenumal Hybrid Spider or a Farric whatever, thus enabling SSF builds. And that part of Jorgin is good because it gives a partially deterministic outcome. Here's the other commonality between all of these bad, level-scaling rewards: there are a lot of rare item outcomes. Hell, I didn't even read this thread, but it probably does an excellent job of explaining the numerous problems with rare items. As it stands, there is virtually no reason to do Betrayal in Tier 16 maps: you get plenty of risk, without a corresponding increase in reward.
Proposed solutions to problem: The solution should be grounded in thinking about "where" Betrayal fits in the loot acquisition possibilities of the game as a whole. Delve, for example, is an all-rounded system with good scaling that bolsters Rare item crafting. Bestiary is mostly mid to end-game with respect to customizing flasks, obtaining random Unique items, and using obscure crafting techniques. Incursion falls into the same mold, with Alva's temples being the most influential as a supplement for early mapping (map drops within the Temple of Atzoatl) and for various powerful "crafting benches" and upgraded Incursion Uniques that are reserved for the elite (or ludicrously lucky) of Wraeclast. Bloodlines, Nemesis, Invasion, Beyond, Domination, and various other leagues are instance and enemy seasoning.
What I mean when I say "where does Betrayal belong" is that Betrayal has a tremendous untapped niche that has been buried all along because of GGG's flawed reward distribution. This niche is "deterministic farming". Manipulating the Syndicate and targeting certain members in certain branches to get Harbinger Orbs to upgrade your stagnant map pool or getting crucial gem levels on your spells to get an extra power boost, that's what I'd really love to do. Betrayal could be like Divination cards 2.0 in giving mid to end-game players a solid process for obtaining otherwise obscure items and niche services that will really push their itemization to the next level while also giving lower-level players powerful Rare items and crafting options while leveling. Frankly, I have no idea what I'd want to make this happen, so this is just an idea at present. So what I'm suggesting will merely be tweaks on top of what exists at the moment rather than a radical overhaul to bring Betrayal more in line with something like Divination cards.
The good rewards are fine and could even be a little rarer (especially to preserve the value and intrigue of those services). Especially Pure Breachstones. Look, I enjoy being level 100 as much as any of you guys, but it's a little ridiculous, right? That this single Safehouse outcome alone was so influential as to influence gem experience markets, map valuation, rare jewelry markets, build archetypes, and generate a majority of "the reason why people are running Harbour Bridge"? We know it, GGG knows it; it's going to be destroyed harder than CoC was in the past.
The middling rewards are largely a ratio of reward against tedium and quantity. If GGG can balance this ratio, it'll just work. Make Betrayal less tedious to manipulate; more on that later. Make the currency-based rewards drop a guaranteed higher-tier currency of the respective type or a higher quantity of the lower tiers. Essences of Hysteria, Delirium, etc. Faceted and Hollow fossils. Divine and Annulment Orbs. Uber Atziri fragments. That's what we should be seeing once Betrayal goes core. Make quantity scale with the 3* mechanic and make quality scale with area level, because a level 60 3* Syndicate member is far less dangerous than a level 83 1* Syndicate member.
The bad rewards need to either be scaled up or changed entirely, full stop. On an individual basis, my ideas:
  1. Aisling's stashes should drop more Veiled items now that the Syndicate will be less common.
  2. Elreon should give more Unique items or give a guaranteed higher rarity tier of them. Every league has given increased means to obtain Unique items and compared to them, Elreon is an utter joke. I get more Uniques from completing one Incursion in a yellow map than I do from Elreon.
  3. Why does Haku give items with quality in Research. I can buy Whetstones and Armourer scraps from vendors. Even Delve gives "Superior" (30% quality) items, which I'd count as better than Haku. What does Haku even "do" in Transportation?
  4. Hillock map quality. This would only be valued back in the days when people Exalted maps.
  5. ITF should give more Breach Splinters, more Abyss Jewels. To be honest, I'm not sure why they gave it Abyss Jewels instead of Breach Rings. Maybe because they realized that Breach Rings are hot garbage.
  6. More Talismans from Jorgin, perhaps with a guaranteed cascade of tiers and even some Tier 4 Greatwolfs (not the Unique variety), which we haven't seen since the days of Rigwald. Most if not all of the Talisman affixes are useful, hence why I don't distinguish so much between tiers 1 to 3 and would want equal access to all of them.
  7. For SSF, I'd rate Riker as a middling pick because ilvl100 can be useful for some bases and a choice of Unique is better than Elreon's "Rain of Alch Shards". But it's still not great since we're getting "one" item and it's probably not great. Better options would be the obvious pick, not sure what would fly besides that. Maybe if we could go between five Trapped tabs, pick out five items, and get two randomly out of five? It'd ruin the deterministic flavor though, which I like about Trapped stashes. I'd almost even like a Tetris or matching game.
  8. Tora should give the highest tier of enchant on bases of the best possible item variant. Getting a Merciless Labyrinth enchant on utter trash is disheartening. Shaper or Elder influence would be a welcome addition as well.
  9. Vagan.
The sad part about the level-scaling was that GGG could have done it before this point. They could have done it all along and made Betrayal a truly great league.
So, what should they do going forward? I've read some people who proposed that the 3* system should be abolished completely and that all rewards should simply be scaled by area level, but I don't see why they couldn't utilize both systems. As I said earlier, quantity should scale with the 3* mechanic and quality should scale with area level because the latter is the far more dangerous (and important, if we want to incentivize playing in high-level content).
  1. As I said for currency stashes, give a chance to drop either one of a high-tier currency or several lower-tier currencies of the same type.
  2. Intervention stashes should perform similarly. Make the 3* continue to give a guaranteed gilded scarab of the member's type (since this worked fine in the league), but make area level scale linearly with chances to give additional Polished or Rusted Scarabs (with an extra Scarab being granted per 6 levels divisible past area level 65 (so an area level 83 zone gives a neat chance to give 4 Scarabs per stash and 1-3 in anything less). I'm assuming that Scarabs will stay locked behind Betrayal instead of becoming a general currency drop, but we could get an Annulment Orb treatment.
  3. Research rewards are tricky, since they consist of crafting bench services that can't really be meaningfully changed and are already very good. But change some of the crappy ones, my god...
    1. Gravicius is a joke: the tier of card given should at least be of the same rarity tier, or it could be something like a Tier 3 Sacrifice chamber where a card with a same "set count" is given (thus drastically revaluing 8-set cards).
    2. Or it could be changed to "create duplicates of an inserted card", with the number scaling according to Gravicius' level and the set count of that card.
  4. Janus and Cadiro as a whole need to be rebalanced; it's a crying shame for such a widely praised league with solid early-mid game integration and SSF potential to go to waste because Cadiro is now an overcharging Rare jewelry vendor.
  5. Haku should do something completely different. My idea is to upgrade items with "low" base into items of a "high" base. This has been a longstanding idea, but I've never heard it mentioned with respect to the Syndicate (which surprises me, since the Syndicate is all about outlandish ideas). For example, going from a Destroyer Regalia to a Vaal Regalia. Obviously, not all items have a 1:1 example like this, so the applications would need to be done on a case by case basis.
  6. Several rare-item related rewards should be changed to have a deterministic mod on them or provide a craftable base a la Jorgin's Aspect items. "More Rare items to identify" is not the solution. Identifying items is a tedious exercise in item-filtering that takes away from gameplay and adds to unnecessary micro-management that is no different from the end of an Incursion or Delve node. Giving us something to craft and sink currency into; that's engaging, that's "Delve meta-mod item" kinda stuff right there. The Syndicate is all about customization, so give us something to customize. Abyss jewels could have Delve fossil modifiers already on them, Rare items with Essence mods could drop, sealed Bestiary Orbs with beasts inside... the possibilities are far larger than what GGG has laid forth
  7. This is the most outlandish idea I've thought of yet: Make the Syndicate change rewards per league, like Zana. They could still stick to general themes, but any way to shake up potential future metas involving Betrayal as a core league mechanic is huge. Especially with respect to the "discovery" theme of Betrayal, if we had to relearn what the rewards were each league. I seriously didn't think of this until just now and I don't think GGG will do it, but it's an interesting proposition for sure.

Betrayal Veiled items are bad but not that bad
Description of problem: Veiled items share the same problems as rare items because they are rare items with a crafted affix on top. As one's crafting bench completion increases, Veiled items become increasingly useless to pick up and annoying to unveil. The veiled signature mods of Syndicate members, in particular, require special attention to obtain. 20 chaos orbs for It that Fled veiled mods will become far worse in future leagues.
Proposed solution to problem: Rare items are another can of worms, so it's regrettable that there's no way to make veiled item drops impactful beyond early game, recipe unlocking, and the occasional very rare good item. The crafting bench problem will not be alleviated by making veiled items more rare (an assumed condition of Betrayal going core exactly as it is now): you'll simply have the same problem at the top-end with a corresponding increase in the price of unveiled items,crafting services, and scamming. Solutions are numerous, but they all boil down to "make more veiled items drop" because it is likely that the difficulty of finishing one's crafting bench may even be intentional. Veiled items could drop in the core game and not merely from Syndicate members. Syndicate members could have a guaranteed drop of at least one veiled item. More Syndicate members could spawn per encounter, or Jun could become an Alva-style master and be encountered multiple times per instance, but only spawn the encounter once you speak with her (rather than running across them in the wild as we do now, as the spawning of one Syndicate encounter removes the existence of previous unfinished ones due to the Betrayal board increments by "turns". I was going to suggest making unveils more likely to give unknown or incomplete recipes, but the way veiled items generate prohibits that. Finally, GGG could shake up crafting as we know it in 3.6 and add more recipes, move some veiled mods to in-map recipes, or make Syndicate members themselves drop recipe objects that grant the recipe in question.


Manipulating the Syndicate feels bad
Description of problem: While having two choices per encounter may have worked for Incursion, it doesn't work for Betrayal. With Incursion, you get 11 encounters and that's it; each one increments progress, even if you die and fail to kill either of the Architects.
With Betrayal, encounters do not necessarily increment progress towards a Safehouse because other options continually come up. I said that there were "two" options per member per encounter, but in practice, this number is often lower. While interrogation will guarantee that progress increases, it is generally reserved for moving undesirable members around to allow desired members to fill their places or for keeping a safehouse locked because it decreases the quality of rewards from the interrogated member and lowers their rank, resulting in less intelligence and necessitating yet more executions to level members up. In the course of "naturally" playing Betrayal (as opposed to targeted farming), interrogation is mathematically the least efficient option, if necessary at times to cap off a Safehouse.
While GGG may have envisioned Betrayal like a tidal pool with patterns constantly in flux, ultimately yielding a beneficial outcome, we players would rather have a bird in a hand than some unknown garbage in the bush. Thus, valued members are rarely interrogated (because there's no guarantee that they'd return to their original position due to the randomness involved in encounters) and single-member encounters are often utterly useless, especially for the purposes of securing intelligence. The reward design of the Syndicate coupled with the mechanics of progressing towards a Safehouse result in an optimal and preferable structure that largely removes the annoyances of the two inferior Syndicate branches (Transportation and Fortification) while promoting investment into a few key members in Research and Intervention. Theoretically, it would also be possible to farm Fortification and Transportation quite rapidly and profitably because they are more common than their sister branches, but again, the reward structure dissuades this type of farming.
The specter of level-scaling also rears its head here. While higher area levels seem to increase the chance for multiple Syndicate members to spawn (alongside appropriate relationships), they also increase the difficulty of the encounter multiplicatively. Red map mods on top of higher area level on top of whatever items and ranks the Syndicate members have on top of there simply being more members around to attack you. By contrast, Harbour Bridge farming is extremely tame. There's also time to take into consideration: higher level areas take more time to clear than Harbour Bridge or Foothills, assuming that the same build were to deal with both. While a high level area might have extra features that might give returns for the time invested (aka, you do the rest of the map after you do the Syndicate), there's nothing quite so fast and precise as farming the Syndicate in Foothill. Level scaling also has absolutely no effect on intel gains, apart from the possibility of spawning more members (which is more safely and rapidly done by creating new instances in low level zones).
Of course, what I've mentioned thus far is if everything in the Syndicate works like clockwork and people simply go into encounters, click whichever buttons, and go on their merry way. What actually happens is that players are constantly forced to walk away from encounters because the given options would actually set them back.
It feels bad to walk away from Betrayal encounters. Or from any encounter in general. Take Alva, for example. Due to the way instance generation works, her three appearances within an instance sharply limit our ability to get specific Tier 3 Temple rooms (namely, the highly desired Corruption and Sacrifice rooms). When an instance is created, content is not generated as it is encountered; it is created all at once. This means that Alva cannot offer to affect the same room more than once within a single set of three Incursions (whereas she was capable of offering consecutive upgrades during Incursion league). If you were to naturally do 3-3-3-2 Incursions, you would only have 4 chances to affect a given room in the Temple. There is a small trick you can do to increase your chances of affecting a desirable room: When Alva offers a room, that offer remains on the table if you leave the instance and spawn a new Alva elsewhere. Consequently, if you get a bad offer from Alva, you can just skip her current Incursion, spawn another Alva, and then the other 2 Incursions in the new set of 3 cannot be that "bad" offer that she's currently got.
The problem is that this trick increases the amount of time it would take you to access a temple. Let's say you constantly perform this trick, such that you only effectively do 2 Incursions per Alva. Instead of taking 4 Alvas to access a Temple, it would take 6. In addition, let's say you're getting Alva on high pack size maps or maps with desirable Divination cards. If you skip an Alva encounter in that instance, you're losing out on loot and experience. This is technically a trade-off, as you are trading away Alva encounters in order to potentially get better results from your Temple. But that's not what it feels like, due to the opportunity costs involved with walking away from Alva.
And now let's bring it back to Betrayal. When you meet the Syndicate, what's the worst that could happen? Well, you might get members who won't be kicked out, or you'll kick them out but they just come back, or desirable members will try to leave, or they'll offer to remove all rivalries when you don't want to, or they'll offer to become trusted, or they'll offer to do some kind of betrayal that you don't want (which are most of what happens when it's down to two people, hence the preference for rivalries over trusted statuses), or you'll simply only get one lone guy to show up and it isn't because he's 3* and can't summon unranked members, it's because you just got bad RNG, and you'll have no choice but to turn tail and gloomily walk out of that Research lab. And it'll keep on happening over and over, though at least Betrayal going core means you won't get this crap happening in every single instance.
That's what I mean when I say manipulating the Syndicate feels bad. If the league went core exactly as it is today, with an appearance rate shared between all of the masters, you would virtually never complete a safehouse with desirable outcomes.
I would be remiss to not mention that there are quality of life problems with the Syndicate that have nothing to do with the league's mechanical design. For instance, the visual web of lines connecting members can become so tangled as to be incomprehensible. Only dialogue outputted to chat can give clear indicators of what each member thinks of their colleagues (because the infighting tends to be unnoticeable in the storm of VFX that typically occupy any PoE player's screen or the enemies die too quickly to do anything). Syndicate members can also rarely die out of bounds while performing movement skills. Finally, there are persistent damage skills on some Syndicate members and mobs that can annoy someone who's just trying to bargain with the fallen, including the electrified nets and Cameria's icicle cone. These self-same skill effects will also become invisible if you go too far off-screen and come back.
But wait. There's more.
The Mastermind.
It's Catarina. Spoilers, by the way. People have different opinions about the design of the fight. Some people think that the visual effects of the attacks, the relative scarcity of flask-granting adds, the indicators for how to progress the phases of the fight, and the area of denial mechanics that limit the viability of some build types within that fight are bad. Others think that her fight is the best thing since sliced bread. So the design of her fight is not necessarily a problem, though it's worth a mention because it's contentious.
What is a problem is how she interacts with the Syndicate. As GGG's own statistics have shown, players have still deemed it more punishing than not to actually complete her fight. Even after they adjusted her fight to give the rewards of the four safehouse leaders at the time of her defeat. Even though many of her dropped items are somewhat expensive thanks to a lack of supply. This is down to the Syndicate being a pain in the ass to manipulate and set back up (especially once you've locked undesirable members into undesirable branches and prefer to keep them that way) on top of her fight resetting the entire Syndicate's members and progress. In addition, if you fail the fight, you reset all of her progress . This isn't really important considering how people mostly only fight her for challenge-related purposes (and the loot is simply a byproduct), but it is noticeably more punishing than most other endgame boss fights. Shaper and Uber Elder can simply be fought again and are known to be tough but fair. Catarina is hardly so gracious. Even though it turns out she's always hiding in the Forbidden Vault, you've got to find her all over again.
If Betrayal goes core exactly as it is, barring some people who would like to get some of her exclusive crafts for services in the new league, I don't see why people would bother with her fight. It would still be more profitable to farm for scarabs and crafting benches than to screw up a painstakingly laid Syndicate.
Proposed solution to problem: To reiterate, the problems with the mechanics of the Syndicate include the binary choice system a la Incursion, the undesirable outcomes of any given Betrayal offer (including the interrogation option), the tedium caused by the random nature of said offers compounded with the fact that you only get a few choices in the matter, and the fact that progressing the Syndicate and getting better rewards from it has nearly no relation to high level content. Oh, and the Mastermind may as well not exist. Here are some options:
In closing, I would rather Betrayal get a "Bestiary" treatment if GGG doesn't have a game plan for how they're going to make it into core content. Better to wait a few months and do the job right than to botch it. Betrayal is tied to a lot of crafting options at the moment, but they could be moved to environmental Atlas recipes for the time being or veiled items could drop regardless of the Syndicate's presence in Wraeclast (a little odd to have a Veiled master without a Syndicate to fight though, hence why I'm fairly certain GGG already has something up their sleeve for this). GGG has invested a lot of resources into writing and polishing Betrayal and creatively engineering its mechanics, and it shows. Most content that GGG has ever made tends to return in one way or another, thanks to how asset use and systems design work in this game. It isn't a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when". I hope GGG makes the right calls on this and I look forward to what you guys think should be done.
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