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Emily Dresner-Thornber
Works at Luminal, Inc
Attended University of Michigan
Lives in Laurel, MD
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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I take no credit for the content of this. A (very successful, very professional and very awesome) woman I know explained her matrix to me, and I have merely diagrammed it. 
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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In time for Gencon, we look at the Economics of Piracy.  The King hired the Murder Hobos to clear the pirates from his waters.  He gave them Letters of Marque so they can freely attack pirates at whim. But...why?

Why does the King have a pirate problem?  
What are the pirates getting out of pirating?  
What risks and rewards do pirates face?
What are the pirates stealing?
And what happens when the oceans flood with Too Many Pirates?

So many questions!  Are you sure you want to be a pirate when you grow up?  Also, the only thing worse than a Bard is a Warlock Economist.
Piracy is simply another form of market speculation, albeit an extremely violent one. When making the choice to raid a ship, or even become pirates at all, the would-be pirates make a conscious ri...
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I'm sure that the warlock's new hat is very magical!
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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This is another one taken from history and molded to my whims.  For those wanting the reference, the story is based on Suleiman Aga, Ambassador from the Ottoman Empire to the court of Louis XIV the Sun King. According to historical record, he called him "Louis," work a remarkable hat, and hugged.  

Also, coffee!  And what happens when Murder Hobos discover coffee and drink it!

#gaming   #dungeonsanddragons  
These weren’t any normal berries. They were magic berries! Later, he gave the leftovers to the Druids. They popped the berries in hot water and made a drink. Coffee was born.
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+Stephen John Smoogen It's very likely someone will go and bring back chocolate.  Not sure if it's the same characters, though.
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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A story about Elven mythology, scant resources, tall buildings, and sunlight.  Those who have, have the sun.  Those who don't, dwell in shadow and eternal twilight.

#gaming   #dungeonanddragons
"My tribe’s Goddess is a Goddess of building. She has shown me the way and the way is up. We have plenty of room for us all to live together in harmony! We will build our city up the canyon wall...
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Sadly yes, true.  The Sunless not only are deprived of sunlight, they are slaves to gravity.
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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What happens when a down on his luck God of the Dead needs - and finds - a business model?

#gaming #dungeonsandragons

http://www.critical-hits.com/blog/2015/05/26/caravans-of-the-dead/
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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Sigil!  City of Doors!  City of the Planes!  City of people making crazy bets on everything not nailed to the floor!  I gave Sigil a very early modern trading house, a bank, and let traders sit in bars, get drunk, and bet on everything not nailed down.  You, too, can ship across the Planes one step ahead of the next fad!

Peeps can easily file off the Sigil from this to make it their own thing.

#dungeonsanddragon   #planescape   #economics  #gaming
Don’t, they point out, ship goods across downtown Sigil. Don’t be the tiny bison guy. Use the gate towns. That’s what they’re for – so to speak. Build up big warehouse networks, find goods on P...
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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I've read a number of fantasy settings and almost all of them have the same formula:  something happens in the beginning, nothing happens for a very long time and then change appears and it's time for heroes to return the realm to peace, prosperity, and autocratic dictatorship.  Is that the best thing?  Probably not. It's probably better to let the bad guys win, let chaos fill the void, and change happen. But then we don't have Joseph Campbell visions of heroism!

I'm musing here how to build a society like that and settled on using 16th century Neo-Confucianism more or less as a model.  The Ming overreaction to foisting off their Mongol conquerors was so strong they moved to xenophobia (with the Ch'ing making this 10,000x worse).  But they had good methods for establishing stagnation -- professional bureaucracy, ancestor worship, prescribed books approved by the Emperor, etc.  This is how North Korea is structured today.  And interestingly enough, the Neo-Confucian model fits almost all generic fantasy settings!  

I tweaked the timelines by allowing the Dynasts to be hyper-conservative Elves but even with Elves, decay sets in around the third generation of inheritance.  Essentially this is a society ruled by Elves in the Elven vision of timelessness and control.   

And I'm fascinated how the only thing that can ever save the world is the ancient weapon left by the ancients and never the new things made by, say, physics.

I originally thought about the conquerors who come along more like the Mongols. In my mind, Dwarves, like Mongols, are the exception.

Anyway, fun stuff.

#gaming   #dungeonsanddragons
Nothing lasts forever unless it exists in a hermetically sealed box. But the Elves are smart and they stack the deck. These particular Elves (good and shining all) built their Empire like so.
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We did a fun campaign set in Arthurian Roman Britain except the Romans were elves so the Empire retracted from Britain when the first Emperor died and most of the elves went home to squabble in civil wars. Much fun! (And the Welsh were dragons.)
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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This is taking a bit more straight from the historical record.  Gregor MacGregor was a real guy. He really did claim he fought with Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. He really did become a pirate, take a tiny island off the coast of Florida and try to sell it to James Monroe.  Then James Monroe rejected the deal and Gregor MacGregor was forced to sell the island back to other pirates.  He really did con a huge number of Scottish peasants to try and settle the Mosquito Coast.  And he is the only person in history to float government bonds for a country that literally did not exist.  Naturally the bondholders got wiped out (although the Mayor of London, who floated the original loan did okay...)

The South American Mining Mania of 1822-1825 is less explored than the South Sea Bubble or Tulipmania or the Mississippi Company but it's full of the same kind of insane gonzo.

Here, we can use this guy and this moment in history to set up an entire campaign.  "So you've been conned by a very slick con artist and he's dumped you on an inhospitable coast with 100 other Murder Hobos of varying alignments.  How do you survive?"

My reference came from a lengthy article written in 1927 via Project MUSE from the Hispanola Historical Review.  The Wikipedia article does him no justice.

#gaming   #dungeonsanddragons  
His Highness Baston Kale, the Lord, King, Conqueror and Tehei of Purotu, a small, unknown, far-off country on the Frontier. Ruggedly handsome, lover of audacious medals, and sporting amazing sideb...
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Once again, robust historical research turned into gaming richness!!!
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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Imagine your only knowledge about China comes from watching "Red Cliffs" (which is an awesome movie go rent/stream it.)  Or your entire knowledge of Japan is cat girls and sushi?  Or what we knew about Russia during the Cold War came entirely from Tom Clancy novels?

What if everything we know about the Underdark was a media play?  And the simplistic tales about Menzoberranzan were make believe and the Underdark monsters -- which are, arguably, bizarre -- were designed by committee?

What if Mindflayers wore pants?
"The Grell have a rich background. They float. They suck brains right through eye sockets. I designed them so they not only kill, but write philosophy."
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Red Cliff. I think I saw that!
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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This comes straight from a combination of the Portuguese Age of Discovery and Frederick Pohl's "Gateway."   Portugal was dead broke when they wanted to con people to crew boats and send people off into the horrible unknown (full of natives and dragons and who knows what.)  They couldn't afford to pay people up front.  Instead they said, hey, you know, to pay everyone equally, here's this box.  Put as much stuff into the box as you can and you keep that.  Now off you go.  And it worked for nearly a century.   How else did Magellan's trip around the world get funded?  Not by paying people.  This scheme pops up as late as the Opium Wars.  It's quite brilliant.

The actual article here lays out the rules and should be easily transplanted in a game.   Have a broke Kingdom full of Murder Hobos?  Want to incentivize them to go Murder Hobo somewhere else and make a profit?  Here you go...

#gaming  #dungeonsanddragons  
“You can raid any dungeon. You can massacre any people. You can steal anything. But you keep what you put in that box and I get the overflow.”
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(I played a murderhobo in Pirates, sob.)
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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What happens in a Kingdom with agnatic primogeniture succession laws with easy and convenient royal crown access to Raise Dead and Resurrection spells?  How much fun is it for everyone?

#gaming   #dungeonsanddragons  
The King’s most fundamental concern during his reign is his Throne. But what happens to succession planning when the regime has resurrection spells standing by, assuming access to diamonds is not a...
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I have some additional, future thoughts about weaponized healing but I really like the political dimension you spun on things +Ezekiel Lake.  It sets up a nice and very nasty succession war/civil war situation with clean lines of factions.  
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Emily Dresner-Thornber

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Starting equipment!  Modrons!  Price ceilings!  Piracy!  Adventures out on the planes!  What happens when Primus of the Modrons decides the starting equipment list in the #dungeonsanddragons  5th edition players handbook is the guide for a fully planned economy on the Prime Material Plane?

Plus a bonus CHART.  Because charts.

#economics   #gaming   #modrons  
The Primus requests they make one simple change: have their governments impose a Modron-calculated and -approved planned economy with set price ceilings on starting equipment items.
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Best writing method EVER.
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Software Architect
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Python, C++, Ruby, Cloud Computing, Cloud Architecture, MySQL, Agile, SCRUM, Java, Web Application Security, Network Security, Massively Distributed Systems, Big EVERYTHING!, Big Data, System Architecture, Writing, Editing
Employment
  • Luminal, Inc
    Director of Engineering Services, 2014 - present
  • ZeniMax Online Studio
    Principal Online Architect, 2011 - 2014
  • MerchantLink, LLC
    Software Architect, 2005 - 2011
  • SoftMed LLC
    Software Engineer, 2003 - 2005
  • NFR Security
    Software Engineer, 2001 - 2003
  • Media Station
    Software Engineer, 1998 - 2001
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Laurel, MD
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Detroit, MI - Germantown, MD - Ann Arbor, MI - Brighton MI
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System architect, computer security nerd, gamer, and knitter from Laurel, MD.  I write code!  I think about things!  I do stuff!
Education
  • University of Michigan
    Computer Engineering, 1991 - 1997
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