Sympathy for the Drow - De-Vilifying the Dark Elves
The "Evil" races in DnD have always rubbed me kinda the wrong way. Partly once I learned that a lot of them come from racist stereotypes (Orcs, Drow, and Goblins in particular) and also just because it doesn't make sense to me. Even Nazi Germany had variation and dissenters and it only lasted for 12 years. Why would a clearly evil society never change over hundreds of years? In my opinion, a story is only as good as it's villains. So, I've set out to try and make the traditionally evil races slightly more believable and even sympathetic in places. Now, I've not been a DM very long, only like three years. But the first campaign I ever ran was through Curse of Strahd which paints the Vistani (an itinerant society heavily based on the real world Romani) as a conniving group of thieves, murders, and vampire-worshipers. Thankfully, I found through reddit and other sites how to steer away from the racists depictions of the Vistani and making them seem like, at worst, opportunists. So, I hope to be able to do that with some other of the classic DnD antagonist races. I've read some other phenomenal post on here about evil races that totally inspired me as well. There's a great twopart post about Decolonizing D&D which I adore. The post about alignment is easily my favorite. There's a couple great ones on Orcs and Yuan-Ti too so if some of my ideas are lifted from them, I hope y'all consider it flattery instead of theft. So, here are some primer notes before I get into it. For creating the Dark Elves, I tried to keep as much as I could from the books. Obviously some stuff has to get thrown out the window though. I also tried to standardize calling them Dark Elves instead of Drow partly because I feel like Drow has a much nastier sound to it and calling them Dark Elves follows the naming convention with the High and Wood Elves. I tried to model them after real-life matriarchal societies like the Mosuo people of China and their pantheon after real deities like the Greeks, Romans, and Norse. I also quickly realized that building a society is inseparable from geography. Where a people are from effects their language, values, mythology, history, and family structure. I've tried to outline details I think are necessary to making this society realistic while leaving it open ended enough to be place-able in different worlds with relative ease. All that aside, lets get into the meat of it.
The Dark Elves: Elven Outcasts
The Elves are a varied and magical people that come from many planes and many environments within them. But none are met with more distrust and fear than the Dark Elves. Easily set apart from their cousins by their charcoal or pitch-black skin, pink-red eyes, hair of grays and whites, and shorter stature, these people have earned a reputation as killers, thieves, demon worshipers, and liars. But history is a cruel mistress, something the Dark Elves know better than most.
The Divine Divide
As the legends go, when the world was still young, Corellon Larethian lived on the Plane of Arvandor with his fellow Primal Elves. They were wild and mutable, emotional and free in all things. They changed shapes at will, gave and took freely to and from the world, and never stayed in any location too long. They wandered to and fro, scattering their peoples across almost every plane. However, this unbridled freedom was not without a price. Arguments, feuds, and small scale wars were incredibly common between them. Some elves would find themselves stranded on far off planes after most of their companions impulsively decided to leave. Their self serving impulses drove them to often completely disregard the needs or wants of others if they went against their own desires. And their reckless revelry was wreaking havoc on the natural world with Elven parties decimating whole planes of edible plants, wild game, and drinkable water. One such Primal Elf began to see the destruction of their ways and talked to other elves about their actions. Slowly, this Elf by the name of Lolth amassed a small following of devotees that saw the negative ramifications of their inconsiderate freedom. Lolth and her followers agreed to take on fixed forms to show recognition of the dangers that impulsivity could bring. Lolth led this small group of devotees to Corellon to ask for his support. Now, Corellon did not lead these Primal Elves: he was just as wild as the best of them and did not take kindly to others telling him what to do. But he was the First Elf ever born and was universally respected amongst the Primal Elves and if Lolth could convince him, others would surely follow. Corellon listened to her proposition and agreed that they should change to prevent more destruction and conflict, but refused to order his kinsfolk into any action. He was an Elf, same as all of them, and he wouldn’t dare order around his family. He balked when Lolth asked him to take a concrete form as a show of solidarity and brushed her off as a killjoy. Lolth was unsatisfied with this outcome and her following set out to convince each Elf to change their ways to preserve the beauty of the worlds. However, without the support of Corellon, many elves refused her offer. Her anger grew with each failure and her opinion of Corellon turned sour, something she made no attempt to hide from her Elven siblings. Now, Corellon is a proud god and once he caught wind that Lolth was bad mouthing him in an attempt to win over others, he became enraged. He railed against Lolth calling her a snake-tongued thief and Lolth called him incompetent and cruel. Their tempers flared and all the elves chose sides between Corellon’s freedom and Lolth’s stability. During this great debate, the Primal Elves turned to violence. The Dark Elves maintain that Corellon’s side threw the first blow, while the High Elves claim that it came from Lolth’s side. No matter the source, this violent outburst soured relations between Lolth and Corellon forever after. He cast her and her followers out of Arvandor and barred her from ever returning. He also cast all but his most trusted kin from Arvandor, forcing them all to live lives on other worlds out of fear of another perceived insurrection. Thus, the Seldarine remain in Arvandor to judge the souls of Corellon’s faithful when they die and Lolth takes refuge in Arcadia with her pantheon where she minds the souls of the Drow. Corellon’s faithful call her pantheon the Dark Seldarine, while her faithful call it the Myrkalfar.
Myrkalfar: The Spider Mother’s House
Lolth the Spider Queen is the unquestioned head of the Myrkalfar, with all other deities seen as her divine family. Lolth is considered at times to be fickle or even cruel, but her ire is never gained without good reason. A very involved deity, her followers constantly search for signs of her favor or scorn in everyday life. When a Dark Elf contemplates a risky or controversial decision, they consult priestesses or perform their own rites which often gives them direct and succinct answers. She serves as an example to matriarchs of Drow families as demanding yet understanding, punishing yet guiding. She asks for a lot of her priestesses, demanding they be an unflinching example of everything a strong leader should be. The Myrkalfar is often presented as a divine household, with Lolth as the matron. Keptolo is the consort of Lolth and considered to be the ideal of what a male should be. Beautiful and kind, strong and hard working, he helps Lolth in everything she does. Sometimes he serves as a messenger, other times as an agent of redemption, sometimes as a divine healer. When a Dark Elf is tasked with a divine charge, he is usually the one to deliver the message and guide them through their charge. He serves also as a fertility deity and is often worshiped by women or men seeking a child. Outsiders see him as a weak and subservient husband to Lolth, but his faithfulness to his matron is considered a virtue and his status as a “husband” is relatively alien to the Dark Elves as they have no binding marriage in their society. If Keptolo is the agent of Lolth’s mercy, Kiaransalee is the agent of her vengeance. She is the eldest daughter of Lolth and Keptolo and one that Dark Elves pray to when they feel wronged. Only the most binding and serious contracts are signed under her name. To break an oath made under her name is sure to bring destruction. She is also the governor of the dead, judging the souls of those passed in the afterlife. She opposes the mindless undead created by mortals, but spirits and revenants that return to finish unresolved business amongst the living are considered under her protection. Should a Dark Elf encounter a returned spirit that is seeking vengeance, it’s their duty to leave them on their way and pray that the spirit isn’t there for them. This reverence of certain undead is something many outsiders consider downright evil. Selvetarm is the Dark Elven warrior goddess and youngest daughter of Lolth. Often depicted with eight arms, she represents the pinnacle of hand to hand martial prowess, but often is without restraint. She serves as both an inspiration for warriors, and a warning. Vhaeraun is the eldest son of Lolth and governs ambition and stealth. Both of these traits are not necessarily vilified, but worship of him is highly scrutinized. Haughty and rash, tales of him often include deceiving his fellow gods for good and ill and more often than not are cautionary ones. He’s depicted as wearing a mask, either as some punishment for endangering Lolth and her family or to hide his identity for various schemes, possibly both. Malyk is Lolth’s youngest son and a youthful deity of change and growth. He’s often seen as a bouncing young boy that Lolth and her family have to reign in from wild misadventures. His freedom and curiosity is often seen as a double edged sword, both gaining him great riches but also putting him in tremendous peril. He has strong ties to sorcerers and when a child is born with innate magical talent, he is often the one thanked for it. He serves as an outlet for a Dark Elves youthful chaotic nature, but also warns them of the ramifications of their actions. Ghaunadur is a strange figure in the pantheon. Their place in the family is a bit of a mystery, sometimes called the sibling of Lolth, or her child, or even as Lolth’s parent. What makes them truly unique is that they are a formless deity, something that Lolth once warred with Corellon over. The legends go that when Ghaunadur joined Lolth, they refused to give up their changeable nature. When questioned, Ghaunadur pointed to the slimes, oozes, and formless creatures of the world and said that they wished to protect them from the Elves and the Elves from them. Lolth agreed, cementing their position as the deity of the changing forms of nature. Their favored creature is the ooze, but they govern all natural creatures. Dark Elves often pray to Ghaunadur to protect them from the creatures that lurk in the depths of the forest. Zinzerena is Lolth’s sister and is the goddess of poisons, illusions, and magic. Viewed as an elderly and patient figure, she often serves as council to Lolth in desperate times. She’s said to be the mother of all poisons and venoms and her teachings are all about finding the wisest solution to a problem. Zinzerena teaches that even though the spider is small, it’s bite can still fell a panther. Despite her perceived age, she’s considered the younger sister of Lolth and is thought to be incredibly quick and nimble: a reminder that not everything is as it seems. Eilistraee is Lolth’s niece and daughter of Zinzerena. Considered the black sheep of the pantheon, she serves as a goddess of redemption and moonlight. Dark Elves that turn their back on their family or scorn traditions will sometimes find themselves turned to Driders, half-spider half-Dark Elf creatures shunned by all. Eilistraee is said to watch over these creatures and if they are repentant, offer them challenges that they could complete to redeem themselves. Lolth often views her with contempt or mistrust, but never hates her and maintains her place in the pantheon. Dark Elven faithful rarely worship her as the others. She’s also one of the only deities of the Myrkalfar to claim no animosity toward the Seldarine and their faithful. Spiders are the sacred animal of Lolth and are often used as an example of social order and the importance of family bonds. Each strand of silk serves the web as whole. More literally, the giant spiders of the Underdark are multifaceted and incredibly useful creatures. Serving as beasts of burden, war steeds, meat producers, household guardians, and silk producers, they are present in almost every facet of society. Their silks are used in everything from wound dressings to armor to architecture. To kill or steal another family's spider is considered akin to stealing a member of the family. Smaller and more poisonous spiders are often kept in temples and their webs are used as divining tools for priestesses.
The recorded history of the Dark Elves is full of contradictions from High Elf and Dark Elf sources. What historians can agree on is when the Elves of the Prime Material arrived, the followers of Lolth secluded from their Wood and High cousins and retreated into the Azelarien, also known as the Green Sea in Common. A massive forest, nearly 1 million square miles of dense and vibrant trees, that grows denser and darker the farther in one ventures. For countless eons, the High, Wood, and Dark Elves lived in relative harmony in their own corner of the world. High Elves lived near the forests in towns and villages, the Wood Elves lived in the lightly forested outlands of the Green Sea, and the Dark Elves lived deep in the central forests which was so dense that very little light reached the forest floor. As time passed and their villages turned to cities, the High Elves began expanding into the forest, chopping some down to build homes and heat their furnaces. This began pushing into the territory of the Wood Elves and eventually the Dark Elves as well. These two peoples formed a shaky alliance to push back the expansive tide of the far larger High Elven armies. This alliance proved successful however and the High Elven forces began losing ground. What happened next is a matter of some debate. High Elven historians attest that the Dark Elven armies used Wood Elven soldiers as unwitting bait to lure the High Elven armies into a trap, thus causing a schism between them. Dark Elven historians state that the Wood Elven armies turned on them after the Wood Elves met in secret with High Elven leaders and bargained for their independence. Some Wood Elven historians claim that after a brutal defeat on the field, they were met by High Elven dignitaries that offered them clemency if they turned on their allies. They initially refused, but after the dignitaries threatened to make the same offer to the Dark Elves, they had no choice but to accept. No matter the cause, the histories agree that the Wood Elves turned on their erstwhile allies and helped push the Dark Elves into a rapid loss of ground. Facing the might of the two armies with their own relatively small one, the Dark Elves were beaten into a hasty retreat into their own territory. Losing every open encounter, the Dark Elf matrons developed a new strategy of combat. The armies switched from training as many as quickly as they could, to training only a select few in multiple different forms of combat and magic. As the High and Wood Elves advanced into their territory, they quickly found their supply lines cut out from under them, their soldiers ambushed while sleeping, their scouts captured, and their leaders assassinated. And even if they would make it to a Dark Elf settlement, they would find it abandoned and booby-trapped, warned by their fast and silent scouts. If the Dark Elves couldn’t face their enemies head-on, they would weaken them with quick and decisive strikes. Eventually, the war ground to a stalemate. The High Elves couldn’t push into the Dark Elf territory far enough to capture any cities of note without taking severe casualties and the Dark Elves were only managing to hold the invading armies back and couldn’t muster a force strong enough to push back to the enemy capital. Thus, the war cooled into a tense peace. The leaders came together to draw borders, but neither side fully forgave nor forgot one another’s actions. High and Wood Elves viewed the change in tactics by the Dark Elves as an unethical violation of the standards of war. The Dark Elves felt a particular animosity toward the Wood Elves, considering them backstabbers in their darkest hour.
Dark Elf Families: Matrons of Order
The Dark Elf society, to an outsider, looks like an oppressive and cruel society of slave traders and backstabbers. But the truth is more subtle. The Dark Elves value tradition and filial piety above almost all else. To a Dark Elven citizen, their family name is their most valuable possession and they are taught from a very young age that to look after their parents and their younger siblings is the highest virtue. Ancestors that have achieved great things often have shrines in a household alongside the gods themselves. A Dark Elf going against the will of their family is considered one of the highest taboos and often causes them to be outcast from Dark Elven society as a whole. Dark Elf society is matrilineal meaning that the eldest woman in each family is revered as the household leader and receives great respect from her family and society. This also means that the males of the society don’t inherit wealth as frequently as the females. Dark Elven families are quite large, often with multiple generations along with aunts, uncles, and cousins living in the same household. New children almost always reside with their mother. Males of the society are expected to care not for their own biological children, but for the children born to their sisters, aunts, or nieces. This results in a striking amount of sexual freedom for both men and women, but is often viewed from the outside as promiscuity. The Dark Elves do not marry in the traditional sense, instead favoring long term partners with one another that can end at any time with no concerns to material wealth or ownership. However, to become a member of a Dark Elf family is not entirely a matter of heritage. When a family that cannot support another child has one, they are often adopted by more well to do families and raised as one of their own. These adopted children are considered just as legitimate as if they were born into the family. Also, should a family lose all their heirs or become destitute, they often ask to become assimilated into other families for their own safety. The latter is considered a morose ceremony as the members of the smaller family forsake their surnames. To take in such a family is both an extreme honor and grim burden, as it means ending another family's line. The borders of Dark Elven civilization only goes so far as there are trees so many newer up and coming families have expanded underground, a difficult and slow endeavor. This has put multiple houses at odds with one another for territory. However, Dark Elves do not tolerate open hostility between families as they have a very strong sense of collective identity. Dark Elves do not war against fellow Dark Elves, same as a spider does not fight its own web. This leads to many tensions and conflicts needing to be resolved in other ways. Most families will attempt a diplomatic solution, but when that isn’t an option, sabotage and coercion is the favored outlet. Murder is considered a bridge too far by most houses, but subterfuge in almost every other facet is, while not accepted, tolerated. Legends of Lolth’s rebellion and the tension of their enclosed territory have imbued the Dark Elves with a strong sense of symbiosis with nature and conservancy. Sustainable living is the cornerstone of Dark Elf society. In the wild, no creature is killed or plant destroyed unless it’s a matter of self defense or necessary to survival.
Dark Elven Sex and Gender
As with many Elven peoples, sexuality is seen as a fluid and non-binary matter. Same sex relationships are usually seen as just as acceptable as male-female relationships. Since Dark Elves have no marriage structure, same sex life partners are common and widely accepted. Inheritance is passed along by the family as a whole, not linearly, meaning some houses may have matrons with no direct biological descendants while still serving at the elder matron. Power dynamics in relationships are still a factor, with the elder female in a gay relationship considered slightly above their partner socially and is seen as the inheritor in cases of property or genealogy. Male same sex relationships are accepted with little controversy. Since children are passed down their mothers line, the males have no social obligation to sire an heir as with other societies. Transgender and transexual Dark Elves are met with slightly more controversy. Lolth’s rejection of the Primal Elves mutable forms is sometimes cited against transgender and transexual Dark Elves. Ghaunadur, however, is considered the patron god of these people and teaches that just as they are part of nature, they can change their forms. Many of these people join the religious order of Ghaunadur, serving in various roles both in religious ceremonies and as forest guides. Some even consider them to be blessed by Ghaunadur and are highly sought after in forays into the forests for protection. Children born to transgender Dark Elves are still expected to be a part of their eldest mother’s family or eldest father if no woman is part of the union.
Slavery Amongst the Dark Elves
While the Dark Elves do take slaves, their slavery doesn’t look the same as many other societies. When a family becomes indebted to another and they cannot pay off the debt, a member of their family, usually male, will be sent to work for the owed family. They give him room and board and are expected to care for him as if he were one of their own. He’ll work for them for an agreed upon amount of time before returning to his native family. Injury or misuse of this person is often grounds for them to leave and the debt to be nullified. Children born to servant fathers needn’t worry about inheriting their father’s status since they’re considered to be their mother’s child. On the rare occasion that a female servant has a child while in servitude, the child is returned to the mother’s family to be raised by her family while she works off the remaining debt. Some trade of servants does occur between houses, with indentured servants being traded for goods or services or even other servants of special skills, but the family of the servant reserves the right to veto such a trade for any reason. During their frequent clashes with external armies, the Dark Elves do sometimes take prisoners of war, though very rarely are they used for slave labor. They never bring them back to major settlements, often keeping them on the outskirts of their territory to prevent them from learning critical knowledge of their territory. Most prisoners are held as bargaining chips to be traded for passage, supplies, or captured Dark Elves. Captured military leaders are sometimes brought to Dark Elven cities to be tried for their crimes against their people.
Dark Elven Government: Independent Houses
Unlike many other cultures, the Dark Elves lack a centralized government. Societal etiquette govern the standard for how certain crimes and disagreements should be handled, but each family unit acts as its own governing body. Disagreements within families are thus resolved internally. Inter-family disputes are resolved in multiple different ways. Most often, the two matrons of the family will meet and agree on terms to fairly compensate both sides. In cases when these talks deteriorate, the High Priestess of Lolth is often called to serve as the mediator and serves as the ruling body between disputes. Her rulings are final and indisputable, as she is considered the mouthpiece of Lolth’s will. In times of crisis, historically the many houses of the Dark Elves have convened to discuss threats to all of Dark Elven society. This is uncommon as it’s difficult logistically to gather all the matrons in the same place at the same time, so often houses are represented by either the second eldest woman of the family or the eldest daughter of the matron. The High Priestess of Lolth often resides over these meetings as an arbiter in the event of split decisions or in delivering guidance from Lolth herself. There's my take on the Dark Elves. Any comments, suggestions, questions, outrages, and critiques are welcomed. This is my first comprehensive look at a whole race so if I've missed things, I'll try and patch them up. I'd like to do similar things for Orcs, Goblinoids, Kobolds, and others so those might be seen soon. Thanks!
Since 1983, I have lived, worked and raised a family in a progressive, egalitarian, income-sharing intentional community (or commune) of 100 people in rural Virginia. AMA.
Hello Reddit! My name is Keenan Dakota, I have lived at Twin Oaks, an income-sharing, intentional community in rural Virginia for 36 years, since 1983. I grew up in northern Virginia, my parents worked in government. I went to George Mason University where I studied business management. I joined Twin Oaks when I was 23 because I lost faith in the underpinnings of capitalism and looking for a better model. I have stayed because over time capitalism hasn't looked any better, and its a great place to raise children. While at Twin Oaks, I raised two boys to adulthood, constructed several buildings, managed the building maintenance program, have managed some of the business lines at different times. Proof this is me. A younger photo of me at Twin Oaks.Here is a video interview of me about living at Twin Oaks.Photo of Twin Oaks members at the 50th anniversary. Some things that make life here different from the mainstream:
The labor system - all work is considered equal, whether you are earning income for the community or not. Cooking/cleaning counts the same as planning the annual budget. Also, you don't have to do the same job all week - your day can be a mix of indoor and outdoor work, you have freedom to arrange your day, and you can gain skills in a wide array of tasks and trades.
Non-gender binary, queer and trans people are very welcome at Twin Oaks. People introduce themselves with their pronouns and a significant number of our members go by they/them.
Verbal consent culture is very important here. It is not okay to touch anyone without asking.
Nudity and partial nudity is allowed in some parts of the farm, such as in the sauna, swimming hole, on the hiking trails, etc.
Our social norms prohibit using phones in common areas when other members are present, with the exception of a few cafe-style spaces.
Every day we provide a home-cooked, plant-based lunch and dinner with options for special diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and no onions & garlic.
Raising kids here is easier. Some of the time that parents spend raising their children counts towards their labor quota. Many of the kids are home-schooled or "unschooled", and they spend more time outside than in front of a screen. The kids have no problem passing the state's annual standardized test to move onto the next grade level.
We have a shared clothing resource called Commie Clothes, which is like a free thrift store. Borrow something and then return it dirty, and it gets washed and re-hung up.
More about Twin Oaks: Twin Oaks is an intentional community in rural central Virginia, made up of around 90 adult members and 15 children. Since the community's beginning in 1967, our way of life has reflected our values of cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology. We do not have a group religion; our beliefs are diverse. We do not have a central leader; we govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees. We are self-supporting economically, and partly self-sufficient. We are income-sharing. Each member works 42 hours a week in the community's business and domestic areas. Each member receives housing, food, healthcare, and personal spending money from the community. We have open-slots and are accepting applications for new members. All prospective new members must participate in a three-week visitor program. Applicants to join must leave for 30 days after their visit while the community decides on their application. We offer a $5 tour on Saturdays of the property, starting in March. More info here. Ask me anything! TL;DR: Opted out of the rat-race and retired at 23 to live in the woods with a bunch of hippies. EDIT: Thanks for all the questions! If you want some photos of the farm, you can check out our instagram. EDIT2: I'm answering new, original questions again today. Sort by new and scroll through the trolls to see more of my responses. EDIT3: We DO have food with onion & garlic! At meals, there is the regular food, PLUS alternative options for vegan/vegetarian/no gluten/no onions & garlic. EDIT4: Some of you have been asking if we are a cult. No, we are not. We don't have a central leader or common religion. Here are characteristics of cults, FYI. Edit: Yikes! Did I mention that I am 60? Reddit is not my native land. I don't understand the hostile, angry and seemingly deliberately obtuse comments on here. And Soooo many people! Anyway, to the angry crowd: Twin Oaks poses no threat to anyone, we are 100 people out of a country of 330 million? Twin Oaks reached its current maximum population about 25 years ago, so not growing fast, or at all. Members come and go from Twin Oaks. There are, my guess is, 800 ex-members of Twin Oaks, so we aren't holding on to everyone who joins—certainly, no one is held against their will. Twin Oaks is in rural Virginia, but we really aren't insular, isolated, gated or scared of the mainstream culture. We have scheduled tours of the whole property. Local government officials, like building inspectors, come to Twin Oaks with some frequency. People at Twin Oaks like to travel and manage to do so. I personally, know lots of people in the area, I am also a runner, so I leave the property probably every day. There are lots of news stories about Twin Oaks over the years. If you are worried about Twin Oaks, maybe you could go read what the mainstream (and alternative) media have to say. Except about equality Twin Oaks is not particularly dogmatic about anything. (I know some people at Twin Oaks will disagree with that statement.) Twin Oaks isn't really hypocritical about Capitalism, Socialism, or Communism, we just don't identify those concepts as something that we are trying to do. Twin Oaks is not trying to DO Communism, we are trying to live a good life with equally empowered citizens—which has led us to try to maintain economic parity among members. Communists also do that. In making decisions in the community I don't remember anyone trying to support or oppose an idea due to excess or insufficient Communism, Socialism, or Capitalism. In most practical senses those words aren't useful and don't mean anything. So, no need to hammer Twin Oaks for being insufficiently pure, or hypocritical. Twin Oaks is very similar to the Kibbutz in Israel. If anyone has concerns or questions about what would happen if places like Twin Oaks suddenly became much larger and more common, read about the history of the Kibbutz, which may have grown to possibly 1% of the population at their largest? There was and is no fight with Capitalism from the kibbutz—or with the State. My point is—not a threat. To the other people who think that the ideas of Twin Oaks are interesting, I want you to know it is possible to live at Twin Oaks (or places like Twin Oaks) and happily live ones entire life. There is no central, critical failing that makes the idea not work. And plenty of upside. But do lots of research first. Twin Oaks maintains a massive web site. (Anyway, it takes a long time to read.) But what I would like to see is more people starting more egalitarian, income-sharing communities. I think that there is a need for a community that is designed and built by families, and who also share income, and provide mutual support with labor and money. If you love this concept, maybe consider gathering together other people and starting your own. Ideologically speaking: -Ecology: the best response to ecological problems is for humans to use fewer resources. The easiest way to use fewer resources is to share resources. Living communally vastly cuts down on resource use without reducing quality of life. -Equality: ideologically speaking, most people accept the idea that all humans have equal rights, but most social structures operate in ways that are fundamentally unequal. If we truly believe in equality then we ought to be willing to put our bodies where our ideology is. In a truly equal world, the issues of sexism and racism and all other forms of discrimination would, essentially, not exist. -Democracy: Twin Oaks uses all manner of decision-making models and tools to try to include everyone and to keep people equally empowered. There is no useful word for this. We do use a majority vote sometimes, as a fallback. But sometimes we use consensus. We sometimes use sociocracy (dynamic governance). The word "Isocracy" (decision-making among equals), would be useful to describe Twin Oaks' decision-making model, but Lev in Australia has written an incomprehensible "definition" on Wikipedia, that he keeps changing back when someone corrects it. -Happiness: The overarching goal of all ideologies is to make people happy, right? I mean, isn't it? Capitalism is based upon the belief that motivation is crucial to human aspiration and success (and therefore more happiness). Under Capitalism, equality is a detriment because it hinders motivation (less fear of failure, or striving for success). Twin Oaks believes that humans are happier when they are equal, and equally empowered. So the place to start up the ladder of happiness is to first make everyone equal. Well, Twin Oaks is mainly still working on that first step. EDIT5: Some have asked about videos - here are links to documentaries about Twin Oaks by BBC, VICE and RT.
[Table] Asteroid Day AMA – We’re engineers and scientists working on a mission that could, one day, help save humankind from asteroid extinction. Ask us anything!
Source There are several people answering: Paolo Martino is PM, Marco Micheli is MM, Heli Greus is HG, Detlef Koschny is DVK, and Aidan Cowley is AC.
Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it?
Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.
Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.
I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario?
DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.
Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do?
DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.
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Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies?
DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.
Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea
DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
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What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua?
DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever?
DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page http://neo.ssa.esa.int. The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.
In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029?
DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!
Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.
Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years?
Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.
No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.
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How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories?
In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.
However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.
There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth?
DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.
Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth?
DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.
For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.
Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems?
DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.
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There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money.
DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.
President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface?
DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.
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Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC
I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out?
Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC
By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect?
PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)
The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.
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Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth?
DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.
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Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth?
PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.
I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers?
Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).
HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.
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So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers?
I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.
If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to?
Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_Itokawa), which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC
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Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.
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Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that.
DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.
After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken?
Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC
PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..
can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space?
DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.
How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment?
DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.
Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand?
As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.
In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).
Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.
In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.
We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.
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DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.
Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids.
Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.
It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
What are your favourite sci-fi series?
DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.
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Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC
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When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.
When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object.
The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.
And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.
What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction?
Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith
Will 2020's climax be a really big rock?
DVK: Let's hope not...
Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise?
The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.
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Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed?
Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.
Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth?
DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.
I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time!
DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.
As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)
What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid?
The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.
Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.
These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.
Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.
From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.
The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.
What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"?
It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.
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That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List?
Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.
And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!
What inspired you to go into this field of study?
I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.
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DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.
As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option?
DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).
It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission?
DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).
If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.
Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.
I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is??
DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - https://www.imca.cc/. They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.
Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness?
At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC
What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field?
It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.
I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.
Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).
After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.
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DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.
What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years?
Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite?
No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?
How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit?
DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page.
If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.
Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that.
DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.
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Under a continuous spike inside the number of fake binary cases inside the financial world, we advise a person to stay risk-free, secure and never ever invest a lot of money to be able to a particular broker without actually verifying who it is. Binary Book Scam is something that needs to be spoken about right now. Trying to the fact and duping men and women on the similar lines as the particular way, pretty much similar to the previous ones. Following a thorough investigation, we found out there that the company has literally duped hundreds of investors together with millions of bucks up to now. One of the most prominent things about the Binary Book Scam is the way it was dealt wiith was the high deposit amounts that it exhibited. High returns have been promised but these kinds of high returns any time it comes in order to binary trading will be simply not achievable at all. We were indeed convinced that it was a scam. We found out there that it presented five different varieties of accounts, each of which needed a minimum deposit of $1000. The worst part had been that the features of the account sorts were not described on the website, which evidently was against the rules in the trade since Binary Account deposits usually begin from $10 for most legit binary option sites. Back in 2017, Lee Elbaz, the CEO of Yukom, was arrested by the US FBI for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If you don’t know what Yukom is, it is the parent company of BinaryBook and Big Option. BigOption has already been said established as a scam and we are pretty sure that Binary Book is following the same footsteps as well. There is also an FPA Traders Court guilty vote against this company. The FPA recommends a high level of caution dealing with Binary Book unless this issue can be resolved. Binary Book has also been added to the CFTC's RED list for illegally soliciting U.S. Residents, clearly signifying the fact that there are reasons why it ended up being a fraudulent service. Binary Book Scam was also captured red-handed by us all due to the reality that there had been plagiarized educational substance and plagiarised About Us page about their website. Actually the words in addition to conditions page that will the binary book website had been something that had been fake. After this many trials and errors, we determined to finally determine that binary book scam is a thing that is soon likely to unfold and because a result, one should not trade any sort of funds with typically the trader. Also, according to certain testers from various binary forums, the company offered a lot of private data as to when they signed up for the company, these people started getting a new lot of junk e-mail emails from various binary sites around the world. This is plainly indicative of the particular fact that they will sell private data for a cost, which is clearly against the rules and regulations of a financial setup. About First Option Recovery First Option Recovery is the numero uno choice when it comes to fund recoveries across the globe. They have the best in class attorneys and legal advisors who help them solve financial frauds on a daily basis. They have recovered over $19 million so far with over a decade in service. Owing to the team of 128+ attorneys, lawyers and banking experts, they have been the forefront of the fund recovery industry since the time of its inception. They have a success rate of over 90% and with such finesse and perfection, they can well be the best fund recovery group not just in the United States alone, but all over the world, it seems. Do contact them to know more about the services that they offer.
Why implement new UI (ultra super 4k) if old gives you money?
WINK has a big goal we want to play a big role in the online casino industry not limited to a tron dapp. The reason we implement the new UI is that it is fundamental for multi-currencies. Only with multi-currencies, can WINK grow big. WINk is not satisfied with being the best Tron DAPP. We will only be satisfied when we are the best of our kind, within the entire cryptocurrency community.
How does one win a drop?
Drops are not win a drop, drops are paid out every day for holding and freezing the tokens (WIN LIVE DICE & RAKE) from each drop pool.
Can I play dice with JST token?
It is a pity that you cannot now, but we’ll try to see whether JST token can be supported in the future.
Do you know when the monthly report will be released?
We are preparing for it. As the third party live game providers always provide their invoice on the 10th of each month, we need some time to calculate, finish the buyback and burn. So usually we will send the monthly report from 15th to 19th of each month.
joined momentarily just to say 8 months later price is still falling lolz. Could it be the massive supply of WIN or is it the fear people have of the team dumping. Or is it the fact that no one knows who the team is? I’ll leave this here, I don’t want to argue. Peace
The team is working to increase the value of WIN. WIN Price is undervalued we believe due to lack of knowledge about its utility. Mass marketing across all current large cryptocurrency platforms must ensue at our earliest convenience. Multi-currency is not performing to its full potential. By increasing the sizes of the sub token drop pools - WIN pool will dramatically increase also. As the mother token of the platform WIN will need to showcase its potential and the increased drop amounts will have a very positive effect on the WIN pool and market price. At the same time, Rake has great potential. According to the data from 2019, Dice contributed 60% to the entire platform revenue, Live contributed 36%, whilst Rake only 4%. This shows us that Rake has great potential. We are working to improve the Rake product. We are aware of the changes that need making and the areas that require attention to bring increased revenue to WIN. When the new website and multi-currencies support is complete, we will push out a new poker product combined with aggressive promotion and partners, we believe that there will be a dramatic increase in Rake revenue once this is completed. RAKE relinquishes 40% of its profits to the WIN drop pool, meaning it is by far the most underused and undervalued section of the platform in our current forecast. We aim to change this and bring our RAKE platform to a much higher industry-standard as is expected from our players. At this moment in time, we are in the process of upgrading the website. We are developing and designing a new user interface that allows for multi-currency drops to be enabled and a more user-friendly experience all around. We expect this to be completed by mid-June. The new website will support a swift and easy to follow login process, allowing players to easily access the WINK website via registration with an email address and experience the centralized LIVE casino games that are available and newly added Binary options trading that WINk offers under this section. Alongside this, it will support all major currencies from the top 100 cryptocurrency market. Which will exponentially expand the target audience and change the current playeuser base: who are currently only Tron DAPP users and open it up to every crypto user in the community as well as traditional online gamblers who seek gameplay that truly rewards them back for their wagering. When completed, WINk can quickly start mass marketing campaigns and greatly enhance its current market share, which in turn can bring the entire platform's revenue, user dividends, and WIN's tokens market price to a much higher level and standard. WINk is not satisfied with being the best Tron DAPP. We will only be satisfied when we are the best of our kind, within the entire cryptocurrency community. Date: 15/05/20
What was this big giveaway for? The giveaways we do on twitter are always to improve and increase our engagement and social media presence. We still feel that many people do not know about WIN and the more people that hear about is means the more chances we have of improving our user numbers and improve platform growth
For this Twitter Giveaway, we want to get some exposure on twitter and telegram. That is a normal way for promotion. Of course, it is not the massive promotion we mentioned before.
On May everything going according to the Plan and we can expect a new UI and Dice game at the end of the month? Or there any updates about that?
Everything goes according to the plan. It is supposed to be a new UI in May. About the Dice game, we will launch immediately once the new website goes smoothly.
Is that wheel of fortune game new on live ? Evolution games are available to us and when the game is released we will be requesting it for wink.
We are managing a great relationship with hub88. We will discuss the new game with them and I am sure they will give us a satisfactory answer.
Most big div pools come from mining, and if people stop to mine dividends are not so great. Do you have something in mind to keep people mine?
I think there are two reasons for people mining. The first, playing games for fun.Which is why we will continue to bring more content and great games to the platform. Secondly people want the tokens to be able to increase their daily dividends, we will bring more value to the platform by adding partners continually under the current sub sections. This will bring more players and more value which will bring people to mind which of course brings higher dividends
Is there any chance of getting a date for listing of dice and Live? We do not have a set date yet for the listing of LIVE or DICE the community will be informed when it has been decided
Regarding the listing, we have to negotiate the specific date with exchanges. We are doing some preparation works now to get the subtoken listed on time.
Where does the new scratch card(e gaming) game come?
In-house. Developed by WINk developers. We Will inform you where on the site it is going when it’s finished Thanks community! It is all about today’s Questions and Answers section. If you have more questions, please feedback in the main channel. The mods will forward the questions to the team and we’ll try to answer them on a daily basis. Thanks again for your support!Enjoy your gaming and WIN big!
Where’s the best place to live in light of collapse?
Ok we are 323 comments in on the collapse post and 98% didn’t bother to make even a slightly thoughtful answer. So... i guess i will be the change i want to see in the world First off, If you are the fatalistic nihlistic type you can just go where you think it will be nice to die, maybe that is with friends and family, maybe it is on a beach in mexico, or feeding your body to the last polar bear. For everyone else that still has the instinct and drive for self-preservation….
What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse?
First let's question the question.
What difference does it make to know "What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse"? The answer is dependent upon your own personal situation. Your personal situation has limiting factors.
Imagine you are a goat herder in Somalia during a multi year drought and there is no grass for feeding your animals. You have to sell them for dirt cheap because everyone else is also trying to sell off everything they can to get money thus depressing the goat prices further. Now the price of food is skyrocketing because there is no grass and the farmers crops failed, everyone is trying to buy up a hoard of food because everyone knows it is going to be a hard year. You manage to get the equivalent of $120USD in cash after selling practically everything you own but held onto one breeding pair of your healthiest goats you plan to use to regain a livelihood after the drought is over.
Imagine you are a billionaire with a fueled up superyacht, a helicopter, and a private plane. You have practically unlimited money, friends who are rich and connected in other countries, and a whole slew of passports, visas, and secondary citizenships, all else failing you can buy citizenships in most countries for less than $2million investment and pay a teams of specialists to expedite the process.
Your personal Limiting Factors constrain you usually somewhere between those extremes, everyone has different options. If we assume you are asking the question "What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse" because you want to have the best standard of living available for as long as possible or simply survive the incoming population bottleneck, then the practical question becomes ...
"What are the best places to be, leading up to or during collapse, that i can get to, and establish myself in such a way that I can maintain the best standard of living possible for as long as I can or simply increase my probability of surviving the incoming population bottleneck."
It is important to ask this question to constrain the search space to the possible. It makes fuck-all difference if a somali goat herder knows about the ToP SeCret ElitE mULtibiLLioNaIre New ZEaLand sOUth IsLaNd ReDoUbt BuNkeR CoMmUnITy It is not going to help him and should not be in the search space as a survival strategy. TL:DR Constrain your search space to what is realistically achievable for you.
Start with your baseline probability of survival and increase it.
Don't let a search for "best place" stop you from achieving "good enough place" or "better than where i was previously place".
You are just trying to be an early adopter of increasing your survival probability stats before the non collapse-pilled masses.
Think of surviving bottlenecks like surviving a charging bear attack, you don't need to be able to outrun the bear, you only need to be able to outrun the slowest people in the group up to the point the bear's appetite is satiated.
What are the best places to be, leading up to or during collapse, that i can get to, and establish myself in such a way that I can maintain the best standard of living possible for as long as I can or simply increase my probability of surviving the incoming population bottleneck."
Ok now lets question the new question some more...
In order to answer this we need to untangle some of the subjective and objective elements. The objective elements of human survival are well known.
Optimizing location is a series of subjective trade-offs. There is no perfect place, they all have advantages and disadvantages. So you must decide your personal preference of which goods and bads you most desire and what your scenario expectations are of the future. Your personal preferences and collapse expectations mean the “best area” is specific to you. What you can achieve and what do you desire, find the overlap between the two, then do research to find the place that gives you the most goods with the least bads and increases your probability of survival and standard of living. One of the best strategies is to adapt yourself to your local circumstances to take advantage of the advantages, and plan ahead to mitigate the disadvantages, it is really all most people can do for themselves. Do you like not living in unbearable heat, maybe moving to greenland is NOT a better option than just buying 400watts of solar panels and attaching it to a small efficient AC that keeps one room of your house cool even during summer electricity blackouts. Most problems have multiple solutions, it is worth it to take time and think about things from an economic perspective and different time horizon perspectives. Increasing your optionality is better than narrowing it when it comes to survival, rather than the binary thinking, of “go way out into the northern mountains, farm and live in a bunker” versus “be a full time yuppie and ignore collapse issues”. Getting 2 acres you can put a cheap used rv camper on and go do permaculture on during weekends, near enough your place of employment/where you live, is probably a better plan. Indeed the small dacha’s and country gardens helped many people survive the collapse of the USSR. They would spend weekends and haul potatoes/veggies back to the city with them on the bus. Hedge your bets to cover the most scenarios including the most likely scenarios like losing your job or getting in a car accident. Survival and thriving always has and always will involve dynamic adaptation. Here is a very short list of some of potential trade-offs that you may need to think about and some brief descriptions of how they can affect things. This is NOT meant to be a systematic or exhaustive analysis, this is just me stream-of-conscious flowing on strong coffee to help others start thinking about it for themselves. There are unlimited variables
Hot versus cold
A lot of people in the forum think they it is somehow optimal for them to move to canada or greenland. Someone in eastern kansas moving to canada is not necessary, remember even in RCP8.5 business as usual scenario kansas by the end of the century still won’t be as hot as texas is currently. If there are already people living in hotter dryer areas now, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pack up your shit and move to the arctic, just enjoy the longer summers. At least base it on something scientific like the expectation of when that area will cross the 35C wetbulb survivability threshold, so if you live in Bandar Mahshahr then yes move somewhere else now is time.
Do you have children?
Moving somewhere may not be needed if you can live out your expected natural lifespan before things get too bad, especially with the climate. If you have children you may want to move to account for the expectations during their future lifetimes.
Wet versus dry
Wet places usually have more disease and insect loads for people and crops. In dry places it is harder to raise food, net primary productivity is usually lower, except where irrigation is available but there are usually less pests including plant fungal diseases like powdery mildew. There are Europeans living in certain parts of africa whom can only inhabit those areas currently because of antimalarial drugs, pesticides and mosquito nets. The native populations are full of people heterozygous for sickle cell which gives them resistance/immunity to the malaria, just a long view consideration.
Seasonality of rainfall
if you get all your rainfall in the summer you usually live in a region where the muggy wetbulb temps are higher and will be getting higher. You are more likely to get floods during the growing season. If you get rainfall mainly in the winter like mediteranean climates you will usually have dry summers with low humidity so deadly wetbulb temps should not be a problem but maintaining summer vegetables requires irrigation. If using rainfed agriculture you will have different crop choices, which areas grow the types of food you like?
Sunny versus overcast
Sunny areas are great for some dark skinned people and needed for vitamin D production in post collapse scenarios unless you have a good dietary source, black people in dim areas get Vitamin D deficiency diseases like rickets and have higher mortality in a hard enough crash. Gecko skinned gingers thrive better in overcast areas. Lots of people currently exist in environments they are biologically maladapted to, they are only able to live there because of modern fortified foods/supplements and medical care. Bright sunlight destroys folate (needed for reproduction) in pale people and causes skin cancer. Some people get S.A.D. and commit suicide in the gloomy winters of the pacific northwest USA. Just because a place is good in lots of other ways, you should not consider it if it will leave suicidal.
Growing season, long versus short
Long growing season usually means more heat for longer, more times to grow crops but usually less optimal conditions. Short seasons means you have to compress a lot more work in a shorter amount of time. It also means trees grow slower and growing your own fuel supply takes more land footprint while you simultaneously need more heating fuel. Places like iowa have moderate/short growing season but the high lattitude makes for long daylength which increases productivity during the moderate/short growing season. Rainfall is concentrated during the summer and soils highly fertile but it is practically one giant biocide saturated monoculture of death. It doesn’t matter if the you live in a fecund area if your future children die of bluebaby syndrome from the nitrate pollution in the well-water or end up mentally retarded from the chlorpyrifos spray drift bioaccumulating and destroying neural development in utero.
Let's be real here, most of you need to have employment to live, even as things crumble in a slow crash the vast majority will be dependent on employment and purchasing in the marketplace that which they need for subsistence. Cities are almost always better for employment. Keep in mind recently and historically, even prior to the industrial revolution, people were more often moving to cities to escape collapse scenarios in real life. You can look at africa and the middle east today. The reason is the city with its dense network effects can command food from a diversity of sources and the economics incentivize shipping surplus to cities. In times where the economics don't incentivize it governments usually seize it and send it to the cities. There is lots of historical precedent showing this, despite the general ruralist zeitgiest among collapsniks thinking that they need a homestead in the country. Employment or entitlements has been and will be the primary way people meet subsistence needs even in most collapse scenarios. Even in 3rd world areas that are experiencing famines, war, full infrastructure breakdown and conditions that are equivalent to 1st worlder visions of total collapse, people still wake up, go to work pulling weeds for the local land baron, get paid and then go buy a bowl of millet from the store.
High versus low wages.
some areas have low wages but this can come with benefits like low cost of living and people being pre-adapted to living through cooperative social behaviors and "ghetto rigging" improvisation. Last time i was in some shithole parts of arkansas i noticed just about every rural person had a decent sized garden, more than any other state i've been to. They feel compelled to share unlike some high-income places where people are clawing for money to pay rents or status seeking in a dog eat dog competitive environment. I have lived in quite a few homeless encampments and one thing that surprises people is how everyone gives away all surplus among each other, this is a paleolithic variance smoothing strategy, it is supernaturally effective and feels natural once you do it. I see it re-evolve over and over in poor people.
Education levels and sociability of the population
Is the area culturally acceptable to you? Are you acceptable to the people of the area?
There are places that may have all sorts of good qualities but they are filled with ignorant racist meth head bible belt sociopaths who will torment you out of sheer boredom. Some places get full of these people and they reinforce the ignorance and shittiness into a dominant culture that you will be fighting against if you move there. When moving to a place where you are an outsider and the community is hostile to allowing assimilation that can reduce your survival odds. See various historical genocides.
Distance from food sources
Being close to a food source like right on a farm you grow on is great but if you have crop failure you may have no draw to bring in the food. Distance should be measured multiple ways including the strength and reliability of the transportation networks and the energetic distance for transport in energy descent scenarios. Think of the number of connections in the network you can draw from. In a city there are many stores each store sourcing from thousands of farmers, if a few farmers or stores fail there are still plenty of options. Some small rural towns depopulate once the single local walmart closes. Do you trust the local weather and your own potential self sufficiency more than markets/entitlements and transport resilience? Across what scenarios and time spans?
Legal rights and entitlements availability
Solid legal rights and strong property law is great if you are part of the ownership class but when you are dispossessed, lack of legal enforcement can give you a higher standard of living because you can build shelter and do side hustles things without having "the man" come slap you down. In a place like western Europe you may have recourse to welfare entitlements and unemployment insurance payments to buy food in financial crashes and slow crash scenarios, in some countries things like this are not available, this is more important than most people think. Indeed most recent famines occur where food is present but people just have no way to buy it because they are brokeAF, you don't see rich people in those areas starving.
Water flows towards money. Just because there is a stream nearby doesn't mean you will be able to take water from it, you may need water rights while government is still able to enforce such edicts. Alternatively you may have impeccable senior water rights but the government enforcement is defunded and someone with zero water rights is upstream from you sucking the entire creek dry during a crash. Rainfall vs irrigation. rainfall allows a form of independence but having reliable irrigation can smooth out catastrophic variance in rain shortfalls. Don’t forget irrigation management was a major factor in the formation of early oppressive states.
Even prior to the industrial revolution, in cities that had Sea Ports, the population in those cities had higher survival rates than those living in the countryside during famines. Transportation is critical. More transportation modes plane, train, automobile, bikepaths, all different roads, rails, canals, rivers etc. These transports allow goods to flow, which generally helps satisfy regional shortages. Some people judge the main threat to be people taking what they have, usually it is governments doing the taking in the historical record but many are concerned with mythical hordes. If you subscribe to this paranoia about people robbing your homestead you may enjoy being as minimally connected as possible to the transport system. You must determine based on your own preferences and expectations. Good transport is a double edged sword, it means food/resources can also be shipped out of your area towards money/powerful people, remember ownership norms and enforcement rarely disappear during collapse-like periods, indeed the ownership class still sends supplies to the highest bidder which may not be you, see Irish Gorta Mor for example.
In places like london way back when they still burned wood as cooking and heating fuel there were estates just outside the city that were highly organized coppice producers that fueled the city. Wood is heavy and only so much could be carried in a cartload considering they relied on animal traction. There was a distance where bringing the wood to london to sell would not make you any money even despite you getting wood for free because the cost of the journey feeding yourself and animal took the entire value of the wood. These effects are worth thinking about across different transport scenarios. Assets become stranded and likewise things can become uneconomical to ship to you when you need things produced in the city. The wood producing estates outside london were well off financially and smaller estate size could provide higher income than the much more distant estates that were an order of magnitude larger. Transport matters, markets and trade continue to exist in practically every collapse and even in supermax prisons, expect to use markets as a survival strategy, it is more likely than you living some isolated mountain man scenario.
(the older a soil is geologically X how much rainfall it gets) is what generally determines how fertile it is. The best soils are those that are relatively new and have been subjected to just enough rainfall to match the evapotranspiration rate, this minimizes nutrients leaching out, these are the mollisols/chernozems of the prairies. Because the water is just-enough in those zones they are also right at the edge where they can have major droughts with even slightly less rainfall. Wetter areas generally have less inherent soil fertility because of more leaching of nutrients but have more room for rainfall variability without plants meeting water deficiency.
your social ties family friends locations
Having a positive social environment with people you love while just getting by, is better than doing well financially and being socially isolated, for most people. Don’t abandon good family and friends if you can avoid it, it is usually not worth it. “Social capital” has always been a key to human flourishing. Many people in the collapse of the USSR survived on “blat”, not by relocating. A real world social network for altruistic reciprocity is a survival tool.
Proximity to imperialist countries with militaries that may want/need your resources for themselves or their people
Places like ukraine, some of the best farmland in the world, a country may seem optimal in many ways but historically this advantage was noted by outsiders and it has been at the crossroads of empires which means they suffered tremendously in war. The devastation of war and imperialism negated much of the natural benefits of the area when it comes to survival rates. This is something to consider. In parts of africa there is more conflict in abundant zones with more food, outside of famine zones because paramilitaries are supported from the land there and controlling the food supply is used as weapon of political power. Concentration of resources can make areas more dangerous, it makes attacking them economical.
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Q: I made a post about how statistics and machine learning techniques are showing that while XP changes did in fact make stomps less likely, they aren't turning out as well as the game was back before the "2018 Gameplay Changes": https://heroeshearth.com/b/ghostdunk/read/what-statistcs-and-machine-learning-can-teach-us-about-the-gameplay-changes-in-heroes-of-the-storm/ My question: are you looking at altering the XP changes at all? Would you ever consider reverting the XP changes, or even reverting the game back to 2017? A: Firstly, thank you so much for the analysis! We greatly appreciate the work that went into it. We've got some additional thoughts on it that we'd like to share with everyone shortly!
Q: How do you feel about the state of weirdest heroes Chogall, Murky, Lost Vikings, and Abathur? It looks to me like one of them is too popular and the others are too unfavored. A: This is somewhat of a difficult question to answer, as I believe it is a complicated issue.I really enjoy the weird, unique heroes that our game has to offer. I play the heroes that you listed a lot and enjoy them immensely (just ask any of the other Balance guys who are in this AMA). That being said, in my experience it’s extremely rare that these kinds of fringe characters exist in a space where they enjoy a lot of popularity while also being enjoyable to play with and against. I’ve found this to be true not only in our game, but in just about any game. While I’d love to live in a world where these characters are fun, balanced, feel good to play with and against, while also retaining their full flavor and unique space in the game, I think that it would require an unreasonable amount of work and would have a very high chance of failure. I also believe that, inevitably, most attempts to make these characters more mainstream would result in stripping away more and more of what makes them unique, as their special traits are directly at odds with what makes them unfun to play with or against in the first place. My perspective now with these kinds of heroes is that am not eager to overhaul them, but I would instead massage and tweak them to be better versions of themselves over time. The recent changes to Cho’gall are an example of this, where I was looking to just make the hero more fun to play and have more interesting and competitive choices in their talents. I think we can make these heroes a little more mainstream and fun to use, but it’s important to me to keep their uniqueness as much as possible while doing so, unless they are a large problem at some level of play. If they are creating a huge amount of disruption for many players, then I think it’s more warranted to remove some of their uniqueness in the name of a better play experience for everyone. I hope this adequately answers your question!
Q: But how can you massage Abathur? where are its shoulders? A: Crap.
Q: In most redesigns and recent heroes, you've gone for the "apples to apples" philosophy which basically means that we no longer get to pick the direction of our heroes. Will that be changed? To give an example with Zagara, before her remake she had a viable creep build but that was killed off entirely and now there's basically no build at all for her. You can pretty much random the talents now as they end up doing basically the same thing in slightly different ways. Level 1: You now do a bit more damage in PvE, regardless of what you actually need or want. Level 4: Your auto attacks now do a bit more damage, regardless of what you actually need or want. Level 7: You now have slightly better poke, regardless of what you actually need or want. Level 13: You now gain a slight bit of survivability, regardless of what you actually need or want. Level 16: Your Hydras are a bit more effective, regardless of what you actually need or want. Level 20: Don't even get me started, she has no level 20 unless you picked Nydus. There's basically no point in even having a talent selection system with a tree design like Zagaras, there's no choice of direction at all apart from her lvl 10. The same theme can be seen in hero after hero, especially after being remake. Like Rexxar for example. Will you revert the "apples to apples" philosophy as it basically means no choice of direction at all for the player? A: Short answer: One of the core tenets of design is that by creating limitations, you gain greater freedom in all the areas where you don't limit yourself, and can focus on making these areas awesome. We think the "apples to apples" actually allows us to make more interesting Talents and push the limits of what Talents provide as a whole. Now the long answer: Let's start with the major goals of the Talent system, just so we have a common language. To give a sense of growth to your Hero over the course of the game To add replayability to a Hero by giving you multiple interesting choices that changes the way you play them from game to game To add customization and ownership to your Hero that fits your preferred playstyle Now, over time, we've played with a lot different styles of Talent trees all trying to fulfill these goals, and we've learned a few things. 95% of the time, if a large majority of the Talent tiers offer vastly different choices (aka apples to oranges), one of them becomes dominant. Healers want healing. Damage dealers want damage. While in a perfect world these would all be really compelling and awesome choices, it rarely works out that way even after considerable efforts at tuning post ship. In order for tanky Talents on Valla to be attractive one-off choices, we need to make them really powerful. And if those choices are on almost every tier, then there's the option of Valla building almost exclusively tanky options, which would deviate from how we think the Hero should play. Offering this much variance typically means we need to dilute the effective power of the Talents or remove synergies within them, because if Jaina could choose 6 Talent tiers that all augmented her damage in a synergistic way, there is a huge jump in the power that a Jaina can deal by the end game. So instead we try to concentrate the coolness of the Talents into less choices that can be really synergistic and awesome and BIG COOL WOW MOMENTS. There are a few cases where "apples to oranges" does work, though we usually only do it on a few tiers. Continuing the Jaina example, at level 13 she can choose to take Ice Barrier (survivability), Icy Veins (damage), or Storm Front (something in-between). Now, we can make Ice Barrier a really powerful defensive Talent for Jaina that you can splash into your regular build, and have it feel like a meaningful change to the way you play your character. The most common place you'll see these hybrid tiers are on our Bruisers, as they are hybrid characters to begin with, and often survivabilty = damage for melee characters (staying in the fight means more damage). But we try to only do these 1 or 2 times on a Hero, for the reasons stated prior. Now, if you haven't noticed, we're always working on Talent trees. We can basically tinker with them forever to try and get them right, and we've learned so much over time from iterating on them. Some of the examples you bring up of Zagara and Rexxar have traditionally been difficult trees to get right, and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see some more work done on them as we continue (you could say that about any Talent tree to be honest). We are trying to add interesting ways to play that are different. We just don't want to take the easy way out and say that simply because Valla can get tanky, it's a fun way to be different. We instead try to focus on more nuanced gameplay, like Hungering Arrow or Hatred Builds, and making sure that there are reasons to take each of these.
Q: Very good design philosophy. Has there been any consideration for talents designed to 'soften' a hard counter? Example: a talent for Butcher that gives him move speed or other small buff when blinded. (You could even call it Blind Rage!) Talents that depolarize the matchup without removing the counter entirely. These can be placed in 'important' talent tiers so you must give something up to avoid the hard counter. Depolarizing these matchups seems a very desirable goal and I feel the talent system is uniquely suited to it. A: We've talked about it in the past, but it's an area we tread lightly. We like the cleanliness of having Physical Armor or Blind be the counter to Basic Attackers. Then saying you could take Talents that say "oh but wait it's not", creates a sort of arms race that isn't something we're excited to pursue.
Q: Now that there's no competitive scene to worry about, does the balance team have more creative freedom than they used to? Are we going to see reworks or even new heroes that push the meta boundaries again like Abathur and Cho'Gall? A: It’s still a bit early to say, as there are people out there who are playing Heroes of the Storm competitively. What I can say that right now we have been exploring being more liberal and less scared to make bolder changes in our balance patches, which you’ve seen over the last couple of months. I personally feel that these changes make the game feel more fresh and fun, and would love to continue doing more of these kinds of changes going forward. I would like to pose the question you all since you own the game just as much as us. Do you like the direction that we have been going recently with larger balance patches that include more functionality changes and influence more heroes compared to what we have in the past?
Q: In the last balance update it was joked that "we're going to make you want to pick Aether Walker". Why not make it so that the mana reduction part of it is always active and only the CD reduction is based on when you last took damage? A: I like the way you think.
Q: Will Chen ever get to see a rework of some sort or balance? A: Yes.
Q: Can we have some spoilers? A: I don't want to give away any specifics, but so far the results have been... Staggering.
Q: Heya! Level 140+ Ming here! What do you think about the Li Ming threads that are asking for the Calamity damage to become baseline and to give her waveclear back? Are you still ok with her 3% scaling for basic abilities and 5% scaling for heroics? (Personally I'm not a huge fan of this) Since Ming is such a mana hungry hero, should all her lvl 1 talents provide more mana efficiency? Maybe Astral Presence increased to 35% (50% was indeed too strong, but 25% feels too late), Aether Walker could remove the mana cost for Teleport unconditionally and only keep the condition for the cd reduction. And also Force Armor could return some mana per Missile that hits an enemy Hero. A: I would say that as a whole we are fairly happy with where Li Ming stands. She is still an incredibly popular hero who is performing adequately for how often she is picked. Her talents could use some improvement, but honestly for how long they have existed compared to how often we have changed them, they have also been doing fairly well. Regarding her talent diversity, I’ve made some strides in this regard recently, and I think you can expect a similar style of changes going forward. In regards to Calamity, I don’t think we’ll see a world where we make it baseline. From her inception, Li-Ming was intended to not have the greatest wave clear in exchange for her powerful poke and ability to dramatically turn a team fight when she scores takedowns. Giving her great wave clear would be a gigantic buff which would inevitably cause us to nerf other parts of her kit that better relate to her core identity. In regards to her scaling, it is something we could look at but it hasn’t caused any issues, so I’m hesitant to change it when she is performing so well already. Her Mana costs are intended to be significant, particularly in moments where she’s getting resets on the enemy team. I can see a world where we make her Level 1 talents a little more potent in this regard, but we definitely still want to see her run out of Mana in long fights or when she gets resets.
Q: I would love to know what's still coming. The role rework is nearly complete, right? What's next after that? Any plans to expose player MMR? Any plans to add all of the ARAM maps to the custom games map list? Is in-game clan support still a possibility? Any hope for an in-game tournament mode? Will I ever be able to spectate a friend's match? Is the public API still in the works? Will we ever be able to read 'official' stats instead of relying on incomplete data collected by fan sites like Hotslogs? I just want to know what to look forward to next :) A: We are discussing the pros and cons of exposing MMR and have asked for the communities thoughts about it :) There are no current plans to add the ARAM maps to custom games, but we do have some plans for ARAM in general that are under development. Clans are still a very real possibility. It's all a matter of passion and prioritizing, and I know this is very high for both the community and us as developers. Tournament Mode is something we have always wanted and we have discussed finding a way to make it a reality. The infrastructure for creating teams (what Team League originally was) is still around, and could be the starting point to automating tournaments. That said, there are so many questions to answer and development time costs to examine. The ability to spectate has been explored and is not impossible, although there are some significant technical hurdles that would have to be solved. Pat talks about that a bit more in depth in another post. A public API is something I would love to get to the players but I don't have any current information on it to share.
Q: What are the highest priorities for the game right now? A: We have some immediate things that we want to do to get the game stabilized, including fixing the AI that we broke recently and delivering the Ranked Play improvements being outlined by the team here today. From there, our ongoing focus will continue to be around making improvements, changes, and additions to the game (design/balance/content/technology) that keep it feeling fresh and fun, as often as we can. As the team settles and we get through some of these urgent endeavors, everyone on the team is empowered to be asking themselves what the most impactful thing they can do for the game and for our players is each day. And we'll do as many of those things as we can, as quickly as we can. Your input continues to be critical in our plans, so thank you for being a part of this.
Q: It looks horrible that you have left the AI broken for so long. It makes it seem like HOTS is just not a priority for Blizzard - since clearly a bug that hurts gameplay so much would be fixed immediately in Overwatch. Actions speak a lot louder than words. Or, lack of action in fixing this bug tell us more than carefully-written words in an AMA. Please fix this soon, as it ruins so many games. A: We agree that the way the AI broke is unacceptable and have been working very hard on a series of fixes that are in test. It's really important to us to fix this without introducing new issues or exacerbating the current issues, so the testing process is more involved than other changes that we make to the game. As you've probably seen from our past missteps, rollbacks and fixes are usually much faster and easier to turn around than this one, and we're really disappointed that things got to this state and are taking this long to rectify. We're eager to get this fixed - thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Q: Balance: How do you feel about Deckard Cain right now? It looks like he's under-performing a lot. A: Deckard Cain is an interesting hero. He was a monster at the higher levels of play not too long ago, and then we nerfed him fairly significantly and have slowly been bringing him back up since. He is still a bit weak, so you can expect him to get some more buffs in the future. We are taking an incremental approach to bringing him back up in his win rate as he can quickly dominate the Healers in the game when he is too strong.
Q: ( Balance ) Why is block based on the number of times attacked instead of a timed amount such as a magic defense buff. I feel the talents that utilize block are easily negated by rapid attacking heroes such as lucio, Dva, and Genji. Am I missing something here, or would this not be a better way to go to make block a more useful talent? On a side note, I would personally like to see more cross universe skins, like the butcherlisk, goblin junk rat, and death wing dva. Just my opinion. Thanks for your continued dedication and support for this amazing game! A: We've traditionally made Block and similar Talents use charge based effects so that they were especially useful when trading. The idea behind them originally was that you could feel free to go in when your Block charges were available, and then back away when they were gone. There's also something visceral about getting a high block value on a few attacks, as opposed to spreading it out over a duration. And if we were to try and create a really short duration high value Physical Armor, it would be noodley since it's much more difficult to anticipate exactly when your opponent is going to Basic Attack you. It's true that it's less powerful against fast Basic Attacks like Tracer or Tychus, but in general we think there are already plenty of counters to Basic Attacks so having Block only be effective sometimes is a positive.
Q: The most recent balance patch has buffed lots of weak talents, rather than nerfing the strong ones like before. Is this related to the cancellation of professional matches? Or just to try a new approach? In addition, almost every hero’s modification has a developer's comment now. Why? Will it continue in the future? A: Since the new year we have been trying a new approach where we make more changes to more heroes. This is something that I have been passionate about for some time, and we feel like it’s a good time to try to be more experimental with our balance patches. We also have been wanting to increase developer communication, and our last balance patch was an experiment with having every change come with a developer comment. This is still something new for us, so please let us know if you want to have larger balance patches like we have had, and if you want to have every change come with a developer comment. This is not something that we have to do and we can change this, but right now we feel like it has been good for the game.
Q: Will it be possible to have fixed teams per seasons (with a Team MMR instead of a personal MMR and special rewards) in the future? A: It is definitely possible! In fact, the original launch of Team League was designed to do this exact thing. While we ultimately changed that design direction, we have very recently started early talks about potentially bringing it back in some form. We all know how incredible and rewarding the game is when played with a static group of friends and we are looking to prioritize the features that would most dramatically help players find and play with their buddies!
Q: The current version has too many ranged mage heroes. A large proportion of the total damage output is of ability damage. Now the DPS contest is more like an exchange of abilities. Valla, Tracer, Greymane and other heroes become less playable, and they require much resources from the supports. Is there any plan to adjust this in the future? A: This is a fantastic question. Honestly we haven’t discussed the parity between Basic Attack heroes vs. ability based heroes at length recently, and I think it is a discussion worth having. I cannot promise any changes right now, but I will bring this up to the team and see where we stand in this regard.
Q: Are there any balance changes coming for valeera? As a long time valeera main I love her to pieces but I feel forced to pick a similar build every game (sinister strike + ambush build), and she feels like she could use some tweaking. Blade Flurry especially feels like a waste of energy in fights, and using it almost always reduces my effectiveness. 40 energy is very steep for an ability that doesn't deal all that much damage, and doesn't help you stick to your target like sinister strike does. I would also like her scope of usefulness to be expanded a little. I very rarely get to pick her in draft as she's so niche, and even in those situations where she can work, i feel a nagging feeling that I could be having a higher impact on other heroes (Like varian in the anti dive role, or most other melee assassins if you're drafting her in a stitches comp or something to blow someone up). In my experience the most uniquely powerful thing she can really do is shut a hero like butcher or artanis down almost permanently with the insane blind uptime from level 13 onward. Ambush build is her best right now, because it allows her to actually secure kills, and because the CDR on vanish is so important. She basically just has to spend her time waiting for imperius to land a Q or kerrigan to land a combo or something like that, then jump on the target and delete them with the team. Easily the most effective way to play her. But not really something exclusive to valeera. Death from above's CDR means you can swap targets more effectively, run away sooner if you need to, and even ambush a second time for even more damage. Unfortunately, this doesn't work with CC so you feel kind of forced into ambushing. Not because it is most effective, but because it gives you CDR on vanish which is just that important. Valeera really misses nightslayer. I'll say that much. The seal fate + sinister strike build basically relies on hunting down people who are wandering around alone late game which won't happen if your opponents have brains, so it really falls off. The teamfight power of this isn't strong enough. She is very bad at diving the enemy team as her damage isn't hard to heal off, she has mediocre escape tools, and she isn't good at switching targets mid fight. She's more like "jump on someone, dump everything on them, and hope they die" which she again isn't really good enough at to play her in that role. Her stun is not long enough to set up kills like other heroes can unfortunately. Being teleported BEHIND the target is often more of a curse than a blessing, as it means you'll be in the middle of the enemy team and easy to punish (another reason why death from above's cooldown reduction is so important, without it you can't even attempt to make a play like this safely, but with it you can do it once in a while). Because of this, she really cannot be the one to initiate on the target, and when your tank is isolating someone you'll get the most out of ambush build to maximize your damage. Her anti-dive power is really limited to shutting down a single diver. Illidan, butcher, genji, and so on can be shut down, but you can only shut down one at a time. She can peel reasonably well against one hero, and that's really it. A coordinated dive with anub, etc, genji, kara, and so on will leave you unable to really do much. She's more of "anti one diver" than anti dive. A: I think we've mentioned this in past AMAs, which unfortunately reminds me that we haven't been able to get changes for Valeera out to you all in a timely manor. I'll try to give you what our current opinion of Valeera is (at least right now): Having a bunch of Talents that focus on only 1 opener isn't ideal, since it discourages you from ever using the other openers She's always towed the line between viable and frustrating, mainly due to having burst and CC on the same kit. One of our original goals for the Hero was to be the "anti-carry", being able to really shut down the throughput of 1 particular character. Obviously there are challenges to make this dream come true without being frustrating if you're the chosen prey of Valeera, so we'll have to see how that goes as we refine her place in the Nexus.
Q: One of the primary criticisms of HotS that's existed since the game's inception (and the primary reason I now believe HotS never took off against primary competitors) is reduced player agency vs other Mobas, i.e. reduced individual impact (or the perception thereof). My question is: Are there any plans to make core adjustments to increase player agency? A: This exact concern is probably the largest and longest running in our bullpen. We love the team-experience that Heroes has brought the genre, but have always been looking for ways to also allow individuals to show off their skill. If you look at the history of the game, a lot of design decisions and changes have been pointed towards this direction. Quest talents were directly evolved from trying to find ways to create skill-based asymmetrical power spikes throughout the game. You will also notice that a lot of our reworks and newer Heroes have dramatically higher skill-ceilings, allowing talented players to really showcase the power potential behind the Hero. As for the future, I don't think we will ever stop trying to find new and creative ways to allow individuals a chance to show-off how good they are and make huge plays. All this said, the heart of the game is based on winning or losing together as a team. For some fun insight - we have done quite a bit of experimenting around ripping out team levels completely but every time we do it, the game starts to unravel and loses a lot of the magic that makes it so incredible. However, I doubt that we will ever stop trying these things because even when they ultimately fail, it helps us understand and reinforce the largest core pillar of our game!
Q: Has the suspension of HGC influenced the development team on the hero/map balancing? A: The short answer is that the change is still relatively new, though we are currently experimenting with being more liberal with our balance changes, and have been making more changes that in the past we would have seen as being too risky with a constant competitive league running. Our focus with our changes is still to make the most fun game possible, and while we will always look at high level play, we are looking to be more bold with our balance changes in the near future. Please feel encouraged to give us feedback on whether or not you like this shift in our balance patches, as this is not something that we always have to do, even if it is what we want to experiment with for now.
Q: Thrall: Recently, development has deliberately walked back the “Quests everywhere!” philosophy they first rolled out on Thrall. The hero is in a good spot, but his tree suffers from over-emphasis on quests (and some that are just too punishing/inferior). Do you intend to go back and brush up his tree to match the departure from over-saturation of quests, or is he in a good enough spot that you’d rather leave him alone? (Thrall is still my favorite hero, BTW, and I really like his rework. Not knocking him or the job you’ve done with him, just curious!) A: One of the cool things about Talent trees is that they can have their own unique flavor on each Hero. In Thrall's case, he has quite a few quests, but we think that's something that makes his Talents different and for the most part work on the character. I wouldn't expect us to do this type of thing very often however. And let's be honest, Thunderstorm isn't exactly a quest Talent, we just use the quest pings for it. In fact (keep this between you and me), we're planning on removing the quest classification of the Talent, which will reduce Thrall from 3 to 2 Tiers of Talents that are quests.
Q: Is there any plan to rework Kharazim's Transcendence and Insight builds? I can't but help feel that the requirement to land free punches in order to function as a strong healer is less about the player's skill and more about whether the opposition chooses to let you do it, either through negligence or lack of coordination or whatever. A: We don't have any plans to drastically rework Transcendence or Insight. While we think there's some small changes we can make to his Talents to allow him to be a little more consistent with his ability to Basic Attack in general, statistically Insight and Transcendence have comparable winrates, and while Iron Fists is the most picked at high level, the other two are still close. We try to walk the line with Kharazim between making Transcendence and Insight a meaningful portion of his power pie, without making the healer feel like he can't heal unless he can manage to punch people an entire fight.
Q: Is there any plan to rework malthael tormented souls and/or buffing "passive" build? Or maybe even reworking him again? A: We don’t have any plans to rework Malthael. However, while Tormented Souls is performing appropriately compared to Last Rites, I agree that it is a little simple and could use some love functionally to make it more interesting. I’ve made a note to see what we can do to spruce it up sometime soon ™.
Q: Are there any situations where you would consider large nerfs in a single patch instead of several small nerfs across several patches? I've noticed that many high-performing heroes like Hanzo and Maiev would receive several, small nerfs over many patches that, at least from my point of view, would do very little to reduce the massive impact they have in my drafts and games. I've also seen this with buffs for heroes like Lunara, who has received a single buff to a single talent across multiple patches as opposed to getting several buffs at once. While I'm sure small buffs and nerfs are preferred to prevent over-buffing or over-nerfing a hero, are there any situations you would consider more dramatic changes to push a hero up or down in power much faster than they currently move? A: The scale of the changes we do to a hero are almost always to scale with the challenges that they are posing at any particular time. I am however fairly comfortable in saying that in most cases small incremental changes are the preferred way to do things. The biggest reason is that, like you pointed out, there is much less risk of overshooting and creating a new problem. There have been some times in the past that we have done larger changes when we felt they were warranted, with some examples being changing Garrosh’s Q or Zarya’s trait tuning when she released. However, generally we feel it’s much healthier for the game to do small changes over time and saving the large, dramatic changes only for times when they are absolutely necessary.
Q: Balance: How do you choose which underperforming Talents to buff and/or to buff first? I noticed you buffed some only, with probably more to come in the future. I love how you balanced the game during the last Season! A: There are quite a few factors we consider when doing minor talent tweaks like the ones you’ve seen over the past few balance patches. This isn't a complete list, but I’ll try and touch on a few with some personal examples: Is the talent fun? I would be hard pressed to precisely define what makes a talent ‘fun’, but, generally, it’s creating interesting choices that have meaningful impacts on the way the hero interacts with other heroes and their overall environment. Sometimes talents are overly focused to the point where they become binary (and thus unfun) choices. For example Lt. Morales’ Vanadium Plating talent (Level 7 Safeguard) used to only provide its bonus against Stun effects. While the bonus it provided was great (55 armor!), it was so situational that you hardly ever saw its effects and that made it not very fun. Now, with Root effects granting the bonus as well, you can reasonably expect to see a fat 55 next to your allies’ nameplate several times during a game and feel good about the choice you made. Is the talent under-performing numerically, or does it have a structural problem keeping it from being valued? Talents that provide very linear bonuses to the things the hero should be doing already are very easy to analyze and change while talents that have more intangible or circumstantial benefits are harder to address. A great example would be the recent changes to Li-Ming’s Aether Walker (Level 1 Teleport). While the fantasy and mechanics of zippin’ and zoopin’ around the battlefield is really cool and satisfying, it’s hard to pin down exactly how much value you’re getting from it over the course of the game. Compare that to Power Hungry which very obviously makes your blue bar fill up faster and your purple pew pews make bigger numbers. Adding Magic Missile damage to the talent was a good way of injecting guaranteed value to an otherwise circumstantial pick. Does the talent work against the prevailing ‘meta’ of the hero? I won’t speak for all our designers, but from my experience, once your designs are in the hands of countless players of all skill levels all over the world, your understanding of individual pieces of the design will change. It’s exciting to see how heroes are played when they’re out in the wild because players have a wide variety of playstyles, aptitudes, and opinions as to how a hero should be used. When this sort of case arises, we go back to the drawing board and try to retool the talent to align more with player expectations. A personal example for me is the Azmodan rework and his level 1 Q talents. While he was intentionally being pointed more towards PvP teamfighting, I wanted to keep a PvE option available in the form of the Greed talent. Unfortunately for me, the efficacy of his PvP potential was seized upon by players and Azmodan’s meta role as a lane controlling soak machine fell to the wayside in favor of pure artillery poke. No matter how much PvE power we could pump into this talent, it was not going to be picked against the other talents that helped Azmodan get big beefy dunks.
Q: Is there any chance for a Tassadar rework? I hate being flamed for playing my favorite hero on QM. A: Absolutely! While we're not ready to share specific details yet, I can say that we're steering him towards the spell caster fantasy and play-style you would expect of a High Templar.
Q: Man this is the most exciting thing I’ve read in here. I love tassadar but I wish you’d just remove the shield ability, it doesn’t fit his fantasy whatsoever. Also his trait is just weird and isn’t a high Templar ability. Put power into his damage and make him the mage he should have been for years now. A: I will say that we've drawn a lot of inspiration from the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic and hope to capture the fantasy it invokes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_XwzBMTJaM
Q: Actually a Design question: Will you rework your wording to allow less confusion of sub-roles? Having a "Mage" is extremely confusing for new players since they think "Nova can't be a mage because she has a sniper rifle". Also, you have a word (Mage) for Spell Damage Dealers (which doesn't discriminate between Melee Spell Damage or Ranged) but you don't have a word for Ranged Basic Attack Damage Dealers which is a gigantic mouthful. Why hasn't this been properly researched and implemented? A: Thanks for the feedback! I'll bring this up to the designers before we rollout the UI for expanded roles role in an upcoming patch.
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