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The QueueMar 28, 2024 11:59 am CT

The Queue: What lovely teeth

No, you’re working on your own tabletop RPG with crazy time travelers going back in time and catching prehistoric animals and releasing them in, say, Greece in BCE 1200 just because they think it’s funny.

Tabletop RPG design is wild and I’m winging it, guys.

Anyway, it’s the Queue. Let’s goooooooooooooooo.


TTRPG Q4tRossiQ: what do you do when you can’t decide what type of character to play? My gaming friends want to test out Daggerheart, and we’ve got plans to do a session zero next month, but I’m trying to choose between multiple options that all seem like fun. I have a terrible habit of deciding what to play and then wanting to play something else right away, so I made up three characters, and now I want to play them all. Thoughts?

What I do:

  • Get into a new game, join or start a group
  • Schedule a Session Zero
  • Get super excited and make a character
  • Immediately make at least four other characters
  • Choice paralysis hits, I can’t decide which one to play

In the past, I have done several things to deal with this. My usual default is to literally random roll to decide — I ended up playing a Cat Lady Barbarian in Joe’s campaign that way, I just rolled 1d5 to pick from the various character ideas I had.

The most recent, I showed the characters I had to the GM, he said he liked the backstory on the robot Angel made by a dead God character, so that’s the one I’m playing.

The most fun I ever had was the campaign where I ended up playing all of the character ideas I had. Every week I’d play a different character, the party would be confused about who I was and what happened to the last guy, but every NPC who knew the group would always greet the new character by name and insist he’d always been in the group, and whatever character I was currently playing said the exact same thing. Turned out the magic rock I’d picked up in the first dungeon forced me to roll a d20 every session, and if I rolled above a 7 I had to switch characters as the magic rock altered reality.


Does a planet need a sun to support life?  Or could a rogue body just circle the fringes of a quasar and still be homeostatic enough to support life that would one day make World of Warcraft?

Yes, but everything would need to line up just right. A planet without a star that was circling the fringes of a quasar would need to be in the right place — many quasars are created by a black hole in the center of a galaxy that is extraordinarily massive, well over millions or even billions of times the mass of our sun. These black holes create enormous bursts of radiation and are more luminous than entire galaxies. So you’d need to be far enough away from said quasar that the radiation didn’t sterilize the planet of all life and that it didn’t drift into a range where the sheer light emitted from the accretion disk around the black hole would cook the planet like an egg in a microwave.

Remember, the Sun heats the Earth through radiation, including light radiation — the enormous heat of the surface of the sun can’t be really transferred to Earth any other way through the near total vacuum between them. Now, imagine Earth orbiting ULAS J1120+0641, which is 28 billion light years away (and thus, when we look at it, it’s 28 billion years in the past) — that thing had a luminosity that is 6.3×10 to the 13th power, or 63000000000000 times brighter than the Sun.

Even the closest quasar known, the one in Markarian 231, is only 538 million light years away. It has a stellar mass over 100 million times that of our sun, and its luminosity is roughly 3.6 x 10 to the 12th power. And it’s infrared luminosity, which would heat the planet up even faster. So, your proposed sunless world would be better off entirely without a stellar body to orbit than being anywhere remotely near a quasar.

You could theoretically have such a world — perhaps lost by the stellar cloud that created it during the formation of a star or torn away from its original orbital path by a near collision between two suns, or what have you — but in order to support life similar enough to us for it to create an MMO, they’d need a source of warmth that was simultaneously constant enough to be reliable and yet non destructive enough for life to be able to survive the heat being generated. Earth’s geothermal power is insufficient for that, and we have a core that has been routinely ‘wound up’ by impacts from objects ranging from a small fist sized ball to a planet nearly the size of Mars that created our moon.


Ok, I’m trying out Plunderstorm and I legit don’t get some of what’s going on. I mean I get collecting treasure/loot on the ground, and fighting mobs and looking for spells but the pvp part of it blows. I mean I don’t have a clue what spells I’m picking up necessarily and I’m dyeing while trying to figure them out. Do I have to stay once I’m dead too earn rep/credit or can I bail and keep the plunder/rep/whatever I’m earning before I die?
I guess I need 18 more levels for the bird and then it can go away for me.

The major difficulty I have with Battle Royale gameplay is that, ultimately, it feels very futile to me. If you have 60 players, 59  of them will lose. I guess you could view placing high as a moral victory, but it usually isn’t an actual victory, since only one person gets that. I think that’s why I stopped Plunderstorming after 2 days.


Rossi: what are your thoughts on… the ‘triassic tank’ unearthed in Texas, a croc cousin that lived 215 million years ago? Would this be the ultimate dinosaur prehistoric tank?

It depends on what qualifies an animal to be the ‘ultimate prehistoric tank’.

The animal in question is an Aetosaur, and we’ve known about them for a long while. Heck, this specimen itself was found in 1989. Now, the Aetosaur in question, Garzapelta muelleri, was only 3.5 meters long, which is pretty average for a member of the Aetosaurini and while it had pretty impressive osteoderms forming the carapace of its armor — convergently evolving spiked armor similar to those found on other species in different genera of the clade like the Desmatosuchni.

The real great thing about this specimen isn’t its size, but how it preserves structures we haven’t had great looks at up to now. We have a really good look at the various osteoderms making up its armor and I love seeing that. We’ll learn a lot about other Aetosaurs by studying this specimen.

But I wouldn’t put an Aetosaur ahead of an Ankylosaur unless we’re deliberately excluding dinosaurs entirely, and even if we are, there are other prehistoric ‘tanks’ to consider depending on your criteria. For example, Doedicurus, a member of the Glyptodotinae, was at least the same size as Garzapelta and weighed more, plus it had more complete armor and a spiked tail club. It’s not a dinosaur — it’s a mammal and one that was related to modern armadillos in the Xenarthran superorder — but it’s also a prehistoric armored animal.

Even if you want to limit the question to the Triassic, which would disqualify both Ankylosaurini and the Xenarthrans, that leaves us with options like Lisowicia, a non mammalian therapsid that survived the great dying. It lacked armor but its sheer size and power would put it in the running.  And then there’s Fasolasuchus, a Raurisuchian archosaur (think a crocodile cousin, about as closely related as the Aetosaurini were) that may have been over 10 meters long and likely hunted early Sauropods.

Being bigger than Allosaurus would get and rivaling all but the largest theropods, Fasolasuchus was a behemoth. So was Garzapelta the ultimate Triassic tank? No, it wasn’t even the biggest of the Aetosaurs, but it’s still a cool fossil that teaches us a lot about these fascinating prehistoric reptiles.

Okay, that’s the Queue. Take care everyone.

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Filed Under: Not A Dinosaur

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